Title: The Printing Press
Author: Traxits
Fandom: Star Ocean: The Second Story/Second Evolution
Pairing: Chisato + Precis, friendship, pre-femme-slash.
Rating: T (teen, for angst).
Content Notes: Major angst, hurt/comfort.
Word Count: 989 words.
Request: Star Ocean 2, Chisato + Precis: new lives in an old world - everyone else is moving on, why can't we?
Summary: Chisato struggles to deal with her new reality; her new life on Expel.
Author's Note(s): Written for the "Are You Game?" community on Dreamwidth.

[[ … One-Shot … ]]

A month ago, this world ended, but mine still pulsed vibrantly in the night sky, drifting free and untamed. We, the Nedians, had no understanding that Expel had even existed really, let alone been destroyed in an attempt to unleash the ultimate evil upon our own world. In the end, good triumphed, but at a cost. Two weeks ago, I had a mother, I had a bedroom above her shop, I had a job with the most prestigious newspaper in the world. Now I am a drifter. I am

"Alone." Her hand dropped the pen, and Chisato watched as ink splattered over the page, the last paper she had left from her home. There would be no more finely pressed Nedian pages, no more lined paper on which she could write her daily thoughts. Quickly, she averted her face as she felt her throat closing, her chest tightening. She didn't want water stains on the page as well.

She dabbed the ink off as best she could, her hands trembling, tears making the task more difficult than it should have been. Energy Nede was gone. Her parents– her life. Unable to stand it, she shoved herself away from the desk, grabbed her black jacket and tugged it around herself as she stumbled out the door. Her feet seemed to catch up with herself just before she started to run, letting Linga fall away from her. If she ran hard enough, fast enough, Expel disappeared and she could close her eyes, pretend she was on her treadmill back in the Centropolis.

Inevitably, she ended at the edge of the cliff overlook the Sacred Grounds of Linga, and she fell to her knees, the crushed grass wafting a sweet scent up to her nose. Everything on Expel was green, green or dirt and nothing was paved. There was no more sticky tar under her feet, no more blistering heat as she trudged back into the office, her story just as hot in her hand. For that matter, there was no more office, no more stories to chase.

It wasn't until she felt someone's arms wrap around her that she broke, that the tears forced themselves free and fell from her face to the ground. Expel was drinking her, soul and body, claiming her, trying to welcome someone who didn't want to be there. She reached up, her hand touching the arms locked around her shoulders.

"It's okay, Chisato... Let it out." The voice was comforting, and when she felt the person lean against her, her eyes closed.

"P-Precis," the name was hard to say, with her throat so tight. She was choking around it.

"Just cry." Precis rocked against her, and Chisato found it absurdly easy to do as suggested. The tears, now that they'd started, weren't about to stop. She couldn't help herself, didn't want to. No one else had cried for Nede; no one else would. Her memory of her home was all that was left, besides what impressions the Expellians had developed during their short stay.

And Noel's memory. A fresh wave of tears bubbled up at that thought. Noel had disappeared somewhere in Expel, and Chisato had discovered that she couldn't even lean on him for comfort. The last Nedians in existence, and they were apart.

Precis rubbed her back, and they sat there for a long time, Chisato sobbing, Precis holding her. It wasn't the first time this had happened, and Chisato knew that no matter how hard she struggled to adapt, to fit in, it wouldn't be the last time. By the time she finally managed to stop her crying, Precis had rocked back to sit on the ground instead of crouching, pulling Chisato with her in the motion.

Another moment, and then Chisato leaned up, away from Precis. She managed a very faint smile when Precis didn't let her get too far though. Hands callused from heavy work with machinery lifted to wipe away the streaks that the tears had left, and then Precis pressed a soft kiss to Chisato's cheek.

"Let's head back," she murmured, and when Chisato nodded, Precis helped her to her feet. The road back was a long one, but Precis never faltered, never sighed. She simply held Chisato's hand, offered her a warm smile, and by the time they were back in town, Chisato could feel that torrential anger, the horror that had sent her running, fading with each step. The tightness in her chest began to relax.

Precis didn't take her back to the inn though. Instead, they wandered through the town, back toward Precis's home. Chisato breathed in deeply, her eyes closing at the scent of oil and metal, the closest thing she had to Nede. When they entered the garage, Chisato stopped, her eyes widening at a suspiciously familiar looking hunk of metal in the middle of the room.

Precis glanced back at her, a wide grin on her face. "It's smaller than the ones in Centropolis," she began, and Chisato shook her head, lifting a hand to cover her mouth.

"No, it's … Does it really work?" She looked back toward Precis, and at Precis's nod, she simply sank to her knees. "You made a printing press from memory?"

A blush lit Precis's face, and she nodded again. "You explained how they work. I... I thought we might start a paper for the university."

Chisato lifted her head, taking in the way Precis looked at her, all at once hopeful and eager. She bit her bottom lip, terrified, for just a moment, that it was a dream, that she would open her eyes any moment and the machine in front of her would be gone. But nothing happened, nothing except Precis moving closer to her, touching her arm softly as she waited for an answer.

"Yes," Chisato whispered, letting her hand fall from her mouth. "I think we can do that."