Star Ocean: Anamnesis has brought me full circle to this project, ten years later. I literally almost forgot this even existed. To everyone who might still frequent this site and was kind enough to review: I'm sorry. I promised a continuation and I failed to deliver. Writer's block and life have a way of catching up to me, but I don't consider that an excuse to an audience.
It really stirred me to find, when I was randomly looking up some Fayt/Maria stuff for old time's sake, my fic was actually linked as a top contribution to the pairing on a very well-written post on livejournal (I think?) by the username krile back in 2006. Here we are in 2018 and it inspired me enough to finish the story, minus the epic adventure I previously had in mind. Just an epilogue that we can all be satisfied with.
...I need to brush up on my Star Ocean 3 lingo, because I haven't actually played through that game in almost 15 years, but I trust I can still give these lovebirds the ending they deserve. My writing has evolved beyond what it was back then, but I'm not going to rewrite anything this time. Well, at least not until the story is actually FINISHED. Then I might go back and improve the overall flow of the first two chapters.
Without further ado, the long-awaited chapter 3.
As before, 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... last I checked anyway.
Chapter 3: No More Silence
To say Fayt was starting to lose his cool was a severe understatement.
It wouldn't be long before Maria arrived on Elicoor II. He had talked to her earlier in the day, a short conversation to make sure they were on the same page - he had mentioned before he had been staying at Woltar's mansion, to which Maria wisely concluded that the mining settlement of Kirsla would be the most convenient place to meet up. Now that their reunion was reduced to a mere waiting game, Fayt's feelings were stuck somewhere between excited and uneasy, and dammit did he look every inch the part.
It might have been a blessing in disguise, then, that Albel caught him pacing in the foyer late in the morning, prompting the sarong-flaunting leader of Airyglyph's Black Brigade to kindly inform the squirmy maggot that maybe his nerves would be better served if he kept his hands busy. Fortunately, there were two workshops in town where Fayt could dive headlong into doing just that, and after he had started to tinker and collaborate with some of his fellow inventors, it was with some wonder that he realized his hands weren't even trembling anymore. So, that was twice in one week now that Albel Nox - Albel Nox - had imparted on him some really solid advice. It was almost like he knew how to play this game already...
"Well, if his relationship with Nel is any indication? I'd wager he already does."
Welch flashed a toothy grin, in a way that only the most endearing, twin-tailed, 4D interloper could whenever there was any opening at all for romantic gossip. Fayt hadn't told her he was already onto her schtick but that, my friends, was a story for another time.
"They hang out a lot," Fayt conceded to a point, removing a pair of protective goggles he had been using to cover his eyes. There could be a lot of flash and fire in the workshop, depending on the project - not to mention the smell of sulfur was quite strong at the moment. "I'm not sure what their relationship is, though. Albel doesn't really talk to me about it. Neither does Nel."
"Pfft. You would have to be blind not to see it. Or very dense. I mean, you ARE pretty dense, aren't you, Mister Ladykiller?"
In saying that, Welch had leaned in and nudged Fayt with her elbow a few times, flashing her eyebrows up and down at him coquettishly. Unfazed, and looking thoroughly unimpressed, Fayt pinched and pulled on her cheek lightly in reprimand, to which she played along all too happily by feigning injury in the cutest voice she could muster.
"I might be dense but I'm not braindead, Welch," Fayt chided her, albeit in good humor. "Remind me again why you're loafing around Kirsla?"
She rubbed her cheek with a pout when he finally let go of her. "That's mean! I'm not loafing around. You just haven't called in a new patent in months! The Guild Master and I were starting to get worried."
"What? Really? It couldn't have been that long..."
Fayt's surprise was genuine, and Welch could appreciate that, but that didn't stop her from locking her hands to her hips and staring him down with those brown eyes that said I'm right and you're wrong. All the while, Fayt fact checked her claim as he took out his compact communicator and navigated the screens to the history log.
He frowned deeply. "Wow. It really has been that long. I'm sorry! I should have checked in with you guys."
Welch sighed and waved her hand at him dismissively. "It's fine, it's fine. I'm just glad you're okay," she said before tilting her head curiously to size up something behind him. Her attention popped back to him very quickly though, with a suddenly broad smile plastered across her face. "But nevermind that. I hear your girlfriend's visiting today?"
"Huh? ...you mean Maria? I, uh, don't know if she counts as a girlfriend, unless you mean that in the most platonic way possible... Wait, how do you even know about that?!"
Fayt only had enough time to wonder whether to blame Albel, Woltar, or 4D shenanigans before Welch's smile became even broader as she pointed for him to turn around. Of course, he didn't need to actually turn around for his breath to hitch in his throat and for his heart to sink straight into his stomach, but he still did it anyway. Slowly. Very slowly.
And there, standing in the dim, filtered sunlight that illuminated the workshop's many windows, he found the lady he had been expecting. Gone was the Quark commander's outfit that seemed to him as much a part of her identity as her attitude, replaced on this occasion by a white embroidered blouse that exposed her shoulders, denim jeans, and a pair of flip-flops; her long, blue hair was tied cutely with a red ribbon and flipped abreast; her makeup was lovely and not at all overdone. It all looked so simple, so casual, compared to what he was used to seeing...
Yet there was no doubt in his mind that he had never seen a woman more beautiful than this.
Fayt was gawking, for sure, and he didn't figure it out until she broke eye contact with him to look at the floor self-consciously. The long silence between them probably didn't help matters, either - or what she probably heard him tell Welch not even a minute ago.
"Maria! Hey, I, uh... This isn't really how I planned on meeting back up, haha..."
Not in the least because he was dirty and dressed in his less-than-flattering inventor overalls - he thought he had a little more time than this! Maybe Albel's advice wasn't really that great after all? Whatever the case, hindsight was always 20/20, or so the saying went. The best he could do now was stop bumbling and man up.
He took a deep breath and quickly let it go. "You look stunning."
"No need to flatter me, Fayt. Hello. It's been a while."
Maria smiled, then, and locked eyes with own heart's desire again briefly before casting a curious glance at Welch behind him. "I hope I wasn't interrupting something important?"
"Nope! I was just getting ready to leave, actually. I've confirmed that Fayt's still alive, and that's good enough for today!" the lively brunette slyly excused herself, waving. "Have fun, you two~"
They both waved back at her, each wishing her well before she was out of earshot, then lulling into a comfortable silence in her wake. This time, though, it was Maria that broke the ice, with a smile so warm it might have melted a glacier.
"Sooo... the most platonic way possible, huh?"