Well we found out that there were only a few stories for this section. And we couldn't let such an injustice go by. So here we have a story to add to it.
Sword:Not to mention we were a bit upset that Stocke never met up with anyone in the end! This is a story of romance!...And, uh...romance! All the characters, settings, and everything else belong to Atlus! And thank you Chocovi for beta reading this!
A Promise Upheld
It was not often that Raynie had the chance to relax in front of Alistel's bar. After her commission, things had been very busy for Marco and her. True, they were no longer at war with an overbearing nation. But that did not mean the odd threat did not arise from time to time. Cities needed to be guarded and people protected. Otherwise, more incidents, like the nearly-successful assassination of Queen Eruca, might occur in other parts of the continent. Yet those were far and few between. Most of their work consisted of just making their presence known to the citizens, who would be able to rest easier knowing that they were being watched over.
However, most of their time was spent in Alistel, filling in the positions others had left behind, like Rosch when he was promoted. Or Stocke.
Stocke. He was the main reason she came here so often when she did have downtime. True, from her little perch in front of Alistel's local pub, she had a great view of the second ward, with its shops and people running in and out of them or the local children reenacting the famous war in their pretend games. And off in the distance lied the first ward, with its wide entrance, no longer closed off and filled with a madman's lust for power, but welcoming to people of all walks of life, with inns and other necessities awaiting them just inside. Yes, the cold steel and machines still existed around different areas, but it felt warmer than it did under Hugo's reign, rather than dingy and unfeeling. And last of all, the area behind her where, at times, she could see Prime Minister Raul exit his office to visit General Rosch, who usually was huddled over a pile of paperwork.
Yes, the sight of the city was nice. But it was him that she mainly came here for, relaxing and reliving the memory of Stocke finding her so they could leave for their second assignment. However, she was not just there to dwell in the past. Raynie had sworn to him as he had to her. And she intended to keep up her end of that promise. Her heart would not let her say no even if she wanted to. Somewhere, she knew that he would hold up his end too.
Though, she had believed that more strongly than anyone else. Or maybe it was her imagination and heart blinding her to the conviction of the others, causing her to think she had the most faith in his return. Even though it had been a year since the Ritual, she had not lost any of it. In fact, it had been strengthened only a few weeks ago.
Rosch and Sonja, after taking some much needed rest and relaxation courtesy of Raul's orders, had brought back a stunning surprise. Kiel and all the others they thought had been killed were up and about, walking into the city like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Everyone had sworn up and down that they should be dead, especially Kiel himself, who confirmed that he had been completely surrounded and outmatched by some of Granorg's strongest soldiers.
When they interrogated Kiel and the others for hours at the local bar during their celebration of this happy turn of events, all they could say was that they were saved by a man in red. The young Kiel would scrunch up his dirty, energetic face and swear that their savior had told them his name. But that his memory failed him. Then he would apologize while Rosch would slap his former subordinate on the back, tell him not to fret, but give a knowing look to all the others.
Ever since that day, Raynie's feelings had only intensified. It had now been confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that Stocke was out there. And that led to many daydreams when she passed her time in that special spot. One would involve him entering the city triumphantly, being heralded as a hero by friends and strangers alike as he greeted them all and then made his way up to stairs and to her. Another dream would start with him entering the city unnoticed and probably cloaked or hidden, silently slipping by all to reach her first. All in an effort to let Raynie be the first to know that he was alive and well.
In all of them, they always ended the same way. He would declare he had come back to keep the promise they made before embracing her, much to Raynie's delight. And a goofy grin would work its way up her face, but unfortunately be interrupted by Marco, an army recruit, or something else entirely. True, she understood completely well that those such lapses into the fantasies of her own mind unsuitable for someone of her rank when on the job. But it only happened every once in a while at work. She had about as much control over her heart as she did over time after all. And her heart would pulsate loudly, cooking up various images in her mind.
Today, for her, was like any other such day. Training of the new recruits was finished and Marco had taken to joining some of the soldiers at the bar, inviting Raynie along. So still garbed in her clothes, armor, and carrying her trusty spear, she had partaken in socializing for a few brief minutes before walking outside once again to "wait" in her spot and enjoy some quiet time by sitting back, facing the bright blue sky, and closing her eyes.
Unfortunately for her, just as her thoughts were beginning to wander into pleasant territories, she was tapped on the shoulder. Her eyes still closed, she assumed it to her shorter companion, probably come to invite her back inside. "Thanks, but I don't want to go back in, Marco," she said before her could ask.
"Marco's here too?"
That was not her friend's voice. It did sound familiar to her, but she could not place it. Rather, she leaned forward, opening her eyes and digging her slender fingers into them, rubbing away any trace of lethargy. "Sorry about that. Yes, he's in the bar if you need to see him."
"I do need to see him and a few others. But I need to see someone else first," the man said.
"And who would that be?" Raynie inquired, looking up, but immediately reeling back, her jaw dropping in shock. That smooth face. Those piercing, yet calm and collected blue eyes, always calculating behind that hanging blond hair. And his red attire, wrapped around a strong, athletic body that appeared a little bit older and, in her mind, a little bit taller. His sword was strapped to his waist and his blood red cape still clung to his neck. All in all, it was the man she had been thinking about these many days, still looking almost identical to when she last saw him.
"You," he answered, looking somewhat amused with the stupefied expression on her face.
She brushed aside the silver hair from her eyes, just to be sure they were not deceiving her. He really was standing there in the flesh just as she had envisioned it all those times. Her spear fell to the ground, clattering and rolling off to the side as she stood up and held a tentative hand out in front of her. It nearly touched his face, yet she hesitated, unsure if he was just a figment in a dream that her fingers would pass through, revealing some horrible truth that none of it was real and that she was merely hallucinating.
Raynie chanced it anyway, placing the very tips against the side of his face, watching him react as he closed his eyes to her sensitive fingers. Once she had traced up and down his jawline, he only confirmed what she now knew. "Yes, I'm real."
A million questions ran through her mind. Most pressing was how he was still alive and well like this. But joy overtook it, pushing those inquiries to the back of her mind. She was sure he would answer them later. All that mattered now was that he was here. He had kept his promise.
"You really came back," she managed to choke out, still having trouble finding the words to express how happy she was.
"I promised, didn't I?" he reminded her, stepping closer. "We both promised one another."
"Yes, we did," she nodded, closing the distance between their bodies. One particular nagging question burrowed its way back to the forefront. "Where have you been all this time?" Like the others, she already had an idea, but would rather hear it straight from his mouth.
"I had some other promises to keep," he answered cryptically. "Some people needed my help."
She shook her head and smiled. Even though he may have changed slightly in appearance, he was still the same Stocke. Jumping into danger and putting others before him. Which she pointed out by asking, "Don't you ever think of yourself for a change?"
"I am right now. I'm thinking of myself and what I swore to you. And now," he leaned a bit closer to her, both of their eyes suddenly focusing on the other's lips, "we can s-"
As to be expected, Marco's timing was impeccable. The short boy was oblivious to what had been occurring only moments before he rushed out of the bar after catching sight of Stocke. He ran up to the taller man and gaped at him, as flabbergasted as Raynie had been.
"It really is you!" he exclaimed excitedly.
Rather than become annoyed, Stocke just smiled and nodded. "Yeah, it is me."
Marco quickly embraced him, but pulled back as if the other were on fire. He slapped his forehead and turned to look at the offices where Raul and Rosch were. "Oh! Everyone will want to know you're here! I'll go get them!" And just like that, he was off, running as fast as his bulky armor and short legs could carry him, crying to the entire town that their hero had returned.
"Now," Stocke said, turning back to the beautiful woman in front of him.
"Where were we?" she smiled, leaning forward so that their lips met this time. They were both still new to this and they did fumble over each other at first. But the pent-up passion and longing both had felt for this moment overpowered that, providing such a memorable kiss that they would both be sorry when they had to part. Yet they knew that they would not have to worry about being separated every again. And that thought made Raynie beam, as did Marco shouting the good news from practically the rooftops.
A/N:So what's your opinion? Love it? Hate it? Think the characters are in-character?
Pen:Or are you fools blinded by the insipid love plot?
Sword:Go away you jerk!
Think Atlus would be happy or not? Whatever you think, let us know. Hope you enjoyed it.