Behold, the remastered edition is finally here! I was a little leery about the dialogue in the last set of installments, and - after realizing I racked up a decent amount of reviews - have decided to fix that issue and continue the story. I apologize for practically forgetting about it, as I know there's very, very little in the way of FaytxMaria stories. However, keep in mind that these chapters are merely modified versions of the previous editions, and a lot of content from before is still fresh in the context. Chapter 3 will be rewritten to accomodate the changes I've made in Chapters I and II.

I do not own Star Ocean 3: Till the End of Time, any of its characters, and what have you. They belong to Tri-Ace.


Rekindle the Fire

Chapter I: Musings in the Moonlight

Three months have passed since that fateful duel with destiny...

Fayt Leingod sat crosslegged on a cradle of grass and dirt, taking a moment to relax and reflect on the adventure that transcended both space and time. The epic scope of the matter was a lot to comprehend, like the fact they were living in a video game developed by 4D beings, or the fact he was a biological weapon designed to save the universe. Anyone in their right mind would think it absurd, but the truth is the truth, and Fayt would acknowledge it for what it was worth. So what if they were fabrications of someone else's design? Most religions based their beliefs on that kind of theory, anyway. It was a tolerable concept he had come to terms with a long time ago. What he wanted to think about tonight was not the existential crisis that accompanied his journey's end, but the people who made that journey possible, and how much he missed them. Names like Cliff, Albel, Adray... Mirage, Nel, Sophia. Some still close, others light-years away, but all of them held a special place in his heart. Especially the name he skipped on purpose, whose memory pained him as much as it confused him...

"What the hell are you brooding about now?"

The serpentine voice interrupted his thoughts like a vagrant crossing an imaginary border. Fayt shook his head, unsure of what to tell himself, much less the swordsman asking the question. Luckily for him, Albel wasn't the prying type.

"Nothing really," he replied, adjusting his gaze from the stars to his metal-armed associate. "Why are you awake at such an unholy hour?"

"Do I need a reason any more than you do, fool?" Albel spat, taking a seat next to him.

"I guess not."

The sloping hills between Arias and Kirlsa were glowing with the moon's silver influence. Somewhere in the distance, a choir of crickets chirped in harmony, inspiring a sense of tranquility that neither man could embrace. The beauty of nature was as good an escape as any from the troubles of life, and sharing it with a friend, even in silence, was a little more comforting than enjoying it alone. However, sitting in silence didn't solve any problems, didn't provide any answers they might have found otherwise. So, when Fayt took a shot at a meaningful conversation, Albel found himself compelled to comply.

"You know," the bluenette began, head tilted toward the midnight sky. "I think I messed up."

Albel stared at him impassively. "Hm?"

"Yeah. I... Have you ever felt like you lost someone important to you?"

"...yes. A few times," Albel reveled in a hollow smile. "But I never let it bother me."

Fayt shifted uncomfortably. "Oh."

"...dare I ask what manner of maggot you're thinking about?"

Despite a slow start, Fayt felt encouraged by Albel's inquisitiveness. Sharing a thought or two might not be a bad idea, after all. Still, saying her name was difficult. "Maria."

"Miss Traydor, eh."

"Yeah," he confirmed, a sad smile donning his lips. "I kinda miss her."

"Fool," Albel snorted. "If you miss the girl, why don't you go see her instead of moping about it?"

"I wish it was that easy..."

A pause. "So, you're not on friendly terms anymore."

Fayt shook his head. "No, it's not that," he dismissed, downcast. "When she left, she..."

"She what?"

"She... Confessed. She told me she loved me. And I..."

Albel smirked, idly flexing his metallic claw in amusement. Maria was in love with Fayt? He got the notion that she was attracted to him, but love... Well. That was a trivial thing, anyway. Albel figured Fayt knew that, too, but the boy was obviously regretting some ill-fated decision he made along the way. Which, Albel guessed, was failing to reply.

"Bah," he muttered, pushing himself back to his feet. "Stop running away, you fool."

Fayt blinked at him. "What?"

"You heard me. If something is important to you, reach for it, even chase it if you must. You aren't getting any younger."

The boy took a long moment to contemplate those words, a moment that saw Albel saunter away from the scene. It was good advice, and considering it came from a person that rarely had anything good to say at all, Fayt took heart to his words. True, if he felt horrible for making things awkward, he could only imagine how Maria was feeling. At the very least, he owed his friend some peace of mind; at the most, he could try to compensate for lost time. She was special to him, and he wanted her to know that. There was no reason for her to suffer needlessly.

Taking a deep breath, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a spherical device. A compact communicator, the same one Cliff had given to him on Vanguard III after the brawl with Norton. Fayt felt his heart skip a beat as the screen flickered on, displaying a list of contacts saved to the memory bank. He scrolled down a few clicks until he found Maria's name. Burning with determination, he firmly pressed "send", then patiently waited for someone to answer...

Albel "the Wicked" grinned, then slipped inside the gates of Kirlsa.

Damn Woltar and his moral speeches.