"You know, as long as you're honest, things will be fine. Marika will understand for sure."
Such had been Lynn's words to Chiaki from earlier in the day. Chiaki bit her lip, and her legs seemed to move of their own accord toward Marika's house. She had only come to Lynn for advice on computers and electronic warfare, and somehow they had ended up talking about Marika instead.
Chiaki's cheeks grew warm, and not even the chill night air could ease her blush. Were her feelings that obvious? Even her own father had noticed, and his encouragement had grown almost unbearable.
And yet with his blessing she had transferred to Hakuoh Academy for good, all for the sake of a single person.
She clenched her fingers and froze, her gaze locked upon the starry sky. In space pirates such as herself had only the stars for company, and no one could keep secrets from the stars. They were always watching, and it was surrounded by those same stars certain true feelings had been revealed.
"It was Jenny who kissed me first. She was always honest like that, and I couldn't help but trust her. Sometimes I wish I had been the one to kiss her first, but when she kissed me, I could finally be honest with my own feelings too. Do you understand?"
"Yes, you two trust each other very much."
"Heh, yeah, we really do. That's why I can be honest with her."
Chiaki's blush deepened. In space trust was most important, and she remembered clearly the kiss Lynn and Jenny had shared on the Bentenmaru - that was love born of trust. Even Chiaki could understand that much.
Finally she came in front of the gate to Marika's house, and still only the stars could see her. Perhaps she could be more honest in the vastness of space, but it had been on this planet, the Sea of the Morning Star, that they had first met. So, as the stars continued to watch her, she pressed the button to the intercom.
Chiaki inhaled a deep breath and hesitated for just a moment. "This is Chiaki Kurihara. I apologize for calling so late, but may I please speak with Marika Kato?"
"Huh? Oh, hello Chiaki-chan!" Marika's voice was sudden yet not wholly unwelcome. "I'll be there in a moment!"
Chiaki took a step back, and soon the gate began to open, revealing Marika rushing toward her. She gulped; Marika was always blinding, even against the faint glow of the stars.
Marika smiled brightly, and she seemed to be slightly out of breath. "I'm glad to see you, Chiaki-chan. Ririka-san isn't here right now, but you can come in if you like."
"Ah, that won't be necessary." Chiaki adjusted her glasses, and still her cheeks burned. "I… simply needed to tell you something."
Marika's smile vanished, and worry filled her blue eyes. "You've been talking with Lynn-sempai a lot, and she says you've been really stressed lately."
"Tch…" Chiaki inhaled yet another deep breath and willed her expression to remain neutral. "It is nothing to worry about. I just needed to ask for her advice on certain matters, that's all.
That familiar bright smile returned to Marika's face. "That's a relief! What did you ask her about?"
"There… there is something I need to tell you," Chiaki forced out as her fingers balled into fists, and her heart pounded painfully against her chest. "I… I…"
Marika tilted her head. "Chiaki-chan?"
Chiaki grit her teeth. Her mouth had grown too dry to speak, and she could hear nothing but her own racing heartbeat. What was she supposed to do now? She had come too far to turn away once again. She had to be honest.
And if she could not speak, she simply had to show Marika how she truly felt.
Thus she gripped Marika's shoulders and kissed her before giving herself another chance to hesitate.
Marika's eyes went wide, and once Chiaki broke the kiss, her face was a bright, almost glowing red. "Chiaki-chan?" she stammered.
With shaking hands Chiaki cupped Marika's face and leaned in close to her. "Do you understand, Marika Kato?"
Marika was still a moment longer, and then she beamed and embraced Chiaki tightly. "Of course!" she exclaimed, laughing. "I love you too!"
"Among the stars to trust someone is the greatest honor," Chiaki whispered, wrapping her trembling arms around Marika's back. "And you are the one I trust most."
"Eheh, you're embarrassing me!" Marika giggled, and when she pulled away from Chiaki, her cheeks were still red. "But I really am honored. Thank you, Chiaki-chan."
Chiaki cleared her throat loudly. "Well, that is what I needed to tell you, so I shouldn't keep you any longer."
Marika seized Chiaki's arm, her fingers surprisingly tight. "Hey, you can't just leave right after kissing me like that! At least stay a little longer!"
Despite herself Chiaki could not help but smile. "All right, if you insist, I would be happy to."
A mischievous smirk came upon Marika's lips, and with only the stars watching them, she pulled Chiaki closer for another kiss.
epilogue: another first kiss from years ago
Lynn normally was not one to dwell on the past, but since encouraging Chiaki to be honest about her feelings toward Marika, she could not help but reminisce about her own first kiss.
One night, some time after joining Hakuoh Academy's Yacht Club, Lynn had stayed late in the clubroom, searching through all the old files on the computer. Even despite her reputation as a hacker, all the members and especially current vice-president Jenny Dolitte had welcomed her with open arms, calling her a powerful potential ally.
Lynn rubbed her eyes; she had grown too tired staring at the computer screen all day, but there was still so much information to be found. She stretched her arms, and her eyes remained glued to the screen; it had been Jenny who suggested she looked through the old files, and she could not disagree. Even the third-year members could not compare to Jenny's radiance, and Lynn had no doubt that Jenny would be the next club president.
She chuckled silently to herself. Maybe she had fallen in love with Jenny at first sight, and for now just being near Jenny was enough for her.
The door opened, startling Lynn, and Jenny stepped inside. "Oh, Lynn, you're still here."
"Hi, Jenny-sempai," Lynn said, wishing her racing heart would calm. "I just needed to check a few things."
Jenny put her hand on her hip. "My, such a dedicated worker." She smirked. "And since we're finally alone, there's something I need to tell you."
Lynn hoped Jenny could not see how much she was blushing. "W-What is it?"
"I've been thinking of starting my own transport company. 'Fairy Jane' sounds like a good name, doesn't it?"
"Huh? But doesn't your family already have a transport company?"
Jenny waved her hand dismissively. "It, ah, is having some problems, to say the least, so a fresh start would be best." Her smirk grew wider. "And there's something rather grand about starting a whole new company from the ground up with just your own two hands, isn't it?"
"Well, yeah, if you put it that way." Lynn laughed. "So why are you telling me all this?"
"Because I need you."
Lynn turned her face away, and her cheeks grew warm. "What are you talking about? I'm a hacker, so I won't be any good for a legit company."
"Your computer and programming skills are second-to-none. Your past doesn't matter at all, and I told you, you'd be a powerful ally. And besides, I trust you."
"Jenny-sempai…?" was all Lynn could force out, and her heart raced.
Jenny's smile did not waver. She came closer to Lynn and cupped her face, and then pressed her lips against Lynn's.
In that moment, Lynn's life had changed forever.
"Lynn, there's no one in the universe I trust more than you, so please, stay by my side."