• Everyone crowded around Non once he arrived on the air pirate ship. They kept asking him questions and poking him for proof that he wasn’t a figure of their imagination.
    “Why didn’t you come back sooner?” Fen asks.
    Non laughs. “Cause I couldn’t get hold of you guys, duh!”
    “How did you survive the blow? We saw it erupt to smithereens!”
    “I lived cause of him” he elbows Rey in the ribs.
    “Ow, hey!” Rey grumbles. He was still carrying sleeping Maruru.
    “We should throw a party!” Roe exclaims. “I’ll get the booze!” he rushes away.
    “Let me show you the treasure we got while you were away” Fen urges Non to follow him into the forecastle.
    “Guess that leaves me with the food” Keller sighs. “Be right back” she hops on her Aier and flies out of the ship.
    The only people left on the deck were Rey, Maruru, and Ayn. There was an awkward silence.
    “So…” Rey stretches the word. “You’re the leader of this um…gang, right?”
    Ayn waits a few seconds before answering. “Yeah”
    “Cool. Would you mind if I ask how you knew this chick?” he was referring to Maruru, “And why she hates you?”
    Ayn turns a weary eye to him. “Would you mind if I asked how you saved Non and why you guys took Maruru?”
    Rey chuckled. “Nah, I don’t mind. I’d be happy to answer, though” he lets out a long breath and was about to say something but was interrupted.
    “Gross, you leach!” Maruru shrieks and punched Rey at the bottom of his chin.
    His head gets thrown back and blood seeped out of his mouth. “You b***h!” he drops Maruru on the floor. “You got a death wish? If not, you gonna get one!” he cracks his knuckles, murder in his eyes.
    “Cool it” Ayn puts a hand on Rey’s shoulder, stopping him from hurting Maruru.
    “That blood makes you look like a wuss” Maruru coos.
    “Shut up! I bit my tongue when you punched me!” Rey barks.
    “Uh huh. Where’s Non?” she was acting and talking as if Ayn wasn’t there.
    “Why would—”
    “Non!” Maruru shouts, ignoring Rey. “Non!”
    “Will you—” Rey began before he was interrupted again.
    “Huh? Yeah?” Non came out of the forecastle. He was wearing a gold crown and arm bangles. Fen came following behind.
    “Non!” Maruru says again, relieved. She makes her way towards him.
    “Oh, Maruru, it was you that called me? What do you need?” he grins.
    “An explanation for this—” she points to Rey, “—and all this” she gestures to the entire ship.
    “We stole you from you dad and now we’re staying here” he says bluntly.
    Maruru’s face brightens. “No way, no way!” she lunges forward and gives Non a hug. “You’re the best!”
    Non tumbles back a little. “Yeah, I know I am. You just can’t resist me, right?”
    “Absolutely!” she replies.
    “But why did you bring her?” Ayn asks, killing Maruru’s mood.
    “Why? Cause I’m a Fallen Star! And she’s a treasure that I happened to steal” non laughs.
    Ayn shakes his head. “People can’t be treasures”
    Non frowns. “You didn’t always think that” and he said it seriously.
    “Don’t” Ayn said as if Non was going to reveal something he shouldn’t. Maybe he was.
    Non shrugs. “Just trying to help. Why don’t you just start over?”
    Ayn doesn’t answer. He just lowers his eyes like a hurt kitty. Everyone was trading glances, wondering what the two were talking about. Then Roe comes bursting out from behind Fen.
    “Yo! I got the booze” he was carrying two kegs as if it weighed nothing. “Am I interrupting something?” he says as he took in the scene. “Non? So the princess was your girlfriend and not Ayn’s?”
    Non looks from Roe to Ayn. Ayn was giving him an intense stare. “Oh, you can tell?” Non says to Roe.
    Maruru lets go and takes a step back. “Yeah, I’m so happy to be his girlfriend”
    Non’s jaw almost drops. “What are you saying?!” then he catches Ayn’s glare and added, “I’m the one that’s happy to be your boyfriend” he smiles crookedly.
    “Really?” Maruru was surprised. “Then will you…” she closes her eyes and puckered her lips, waiting for a kiss.
    Non gapes then bites down on his bottem lip. He was trying to find away to get out of the situation quick, natural, and believable. Should he tell Maruru that he’s sick? No, he looks perfectly fine. Maybe he should just collapse right here and now. But then that’s not natural. His eyes stared pleadingly to Ayn. Then he got an idea. Non grabbed the crown on his head and threw it out of the ship. “Oh no, it fell” he hopped on his Aier and said to Ayn, “Come help!” then he flew out and straight down.
    Ayn blinked but then went on his Aier and followed Non. Maruru was still waiting for the kiss, unaware at what happened.
    “Non’s bad at acting” Roe, Fen, and Rey said at the same time.
    Ayn caught up with Non. “What are you thinking?!”
    “Nothing! I didn’t know she’d do that. She’s crazy!” Non replies. The crown was plummeting down fast.
    “Well, why did you say she was your girlfriend?”
    “You know why! Can’t you just forget about whatever happened? It’s all in the past now”
    Ayn shakes his head. “It’s not as easy as it sounds”
    “Neither is pretending to be Maruru’s boyfriend” Non grunts. It was obvious that he was frustrated. “Maruru was supposed to say ‘what the heck? I’m not your girlfriend!’ but she didn’t. And I think it has something to do with you” he glares at Ayn.
    “It’s got nothing to do with me. We just kidnapped her for ransom money and that’s all”
    “Then why is she acting that way? It’s like she confessed to you or something but you shot her down”
    Ayn laughs awkwardly. “Nah, she doesn’t like me. It hasn’t even been a day since we met”
    “Okay...” he looks doubtfully at Ayn. “Well Maruru is a weird, unpredictable person and maybe it’ll just take a few hours for her to like someone”
    “Shut up and get the crown. We got that at the Capton Ine, you know”
    “Yeah, yeah” Non accelerates, reaches out, and snatches the crown.
    They stopped and looked up to see how far down they went. The ship looked small, like it was part of the stars.
    “This reminds me of…” Ayn licks his dry lips. “That night…”
    Non crosses his arms and nods solemnly. “It does”

    to be continued