Disclaimer: I do not own Tales of Zestiria, it belongs to Bandai Namco. If I did, we'd get a whole lot more than just a smile from Mikleo in the second epilogue, and more than just a friendly conversation about "the future" in Lastonbell.
AN: Yes, more Sore/Miku Zestiria fic. Because the ending is so bittersweet, it woke up every single plot bunny that went into hibernation the past few years with a vengeance. This one will probably end up as a multi-chapter fic, with no real plot, just snapshots into the centuries spent between the end of the game and the second epilogue. For now, it's mostly canon compliant, but I will admit my initial playthrough isn't complete (pretty sure I missed out on a few side quests) and I haven't had a chance to play the Alisha DLC yet (because the plot bunnies attacked me that badly).
The Years Between: Chapter 1, The Aftermath
He felt, more than saw, the moment Heldalf died. He could feel his Sub Lord pact with Lailah dissolving as the even as he gave him the only good bye he could. By the time they landed outside Artorius's Throne with Rose, the pillar of light had gone up. It would be a marker for all that was to come. Of hard times, and slow progress.
Of living, without him.
The enormity of that realization crushed him more than any malevolent domain they'd encountered, and he dropped to his knees. At some point, he'd dropped his staff to the ground with a clatter, hands covering his eyes as tears blinded him. Here it was, the separation Gramps had always warned him of, only far sooner than he had ever expected.
He supposed there was a tiny light far, far, far off into the distance. At some point, he would return. But the when was unknown. They had discussed the possibility centuries, well within a Seraph's life span, but if it were millenia or longer . . .
No, he would wait, wait, and remain untainted by the burden he found himself carrying. When the time came, he would be there to greet him as himself; that was the only way he could repay him for the task he had taken upon himself.
Long, gentle arms circled his shoulders as a melodic voice tried to soothe the ache that threatened to consume him. But even that voice broke down in mere moments, joining his melancholy prayer to the column of light. Another set of arms joined the first, this one whispering words of sympathy and understanding instead of the usual teasing. Two more sets joined in, each whispering words encouragement - "he'll be back, for sure".
Time passed, how long, he wasn't even sure, but slowly, surely, he broke apart from the impromptu group hug and wiped off the last of his tears. Thankfully, the hellions in the immediate area had been cleansed the moment the pillar had appeared, and the journey back to Elysia was uneventful. Reliefs and murals he had neglected to examine on their mad rush into the depths of the Mt. Mabinogio Ruins to save Gramps held no interest for him now – what was the point, when he wasn't here to relish in the discovery and discussion with him?
They trudged ever onward, back toward Gramp's cottage, back to where Kyme and the other Seraphim of the village were waiting. Their approach to the door was met by the door opening, Kyme's face expectant as he examined the tired group in the moonlight, hesitating when he noticed the one face that was missing.
"Sorey?" he asked as the others gathered outside the cottage.
Mikleo couldn't find it in himself to say anything, and merely shook his head instead, closing his eyes to keep the prickling from turning into anything more.
"Sorey-san sacrificed everything for us, for the world, at the end," Lailah filled in. She gestured to the bright pillar of light in the night sky. "He offered himself up as Maotelus's vessel, to purify the malevolence that brought about the Age of Chaos."
"I see," Kyme replied, surveying the clearly worn out group. "You are tired, and we still have a few provisions Zenrus had saved from when Sorey lived here. Perhaps you can make use of them."
Wearily the group trudged in, and Lailah obligingly started a fire in the fire pit when Rose struggled to start one with her flint stone. A quick meal of dried meat and preserved vegetables with hot tea was passed around, and the group quickly settled down to rest as Kyme and the others left to begin cleaning up the village. Soon, the cottage was filled with the sounds of gentle snores and deep breaths as one by one, the group drifted off to an exhausted sleep.
All, except for Mikleo. For him, the chorus was familiar enough – the light snores from Rose, gentle breaths from Lailah and Edna, deeper heavier breaths from Zaveid – but without Sorey's deep rhythmic breaths and occasional snores, it was incomplete. To him, Sorey's sleep driven breathing was a sign of life, of assurances that they had survived to see another day, that he was still there. And when he couldn't hear the chorus, it was because he and Rose were sharing a double bed room at an inn, but that was okay – even better, really, because he could rest inside Sorey, surrounded by his warmth and devotion.
But all of that was long gone.
Suddenly feeling confined, he quietly rose to his feet, and walked outside, legs on autopilot as he let his thoughts wander. The gentle night breeze tickled his hair as he found himself outside familiar door. Opening the door, the inside was much the same as they'd left it in their brief stop in the town. Carefully, he cleared the way to the bed, and sat down on it like he used to do before everything happened. Shucking his shoes, he laid on top of the slightly dirty covers, reaching over out of habit, only to be greeted by empty air. His eyes prickled as the enormity of the loss hit him, and this time, he didn't fight it, and simply let them flow as he choked out three simple words to the empty space next to him.
"I miss you."