Disclaimer: I don't own Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. I only wish I did.

Author's Notes: This story can be taken as slash if that's how you perceive it as. I didn't really intend it to be when I started this piece but I guess it sort of went that way at least in a semi sort of way, if that's even possible. There might be a second chapter or a sequel to this if I get enough reviews and I actually have time and actually get my lazy hind end in gear. Any ways, enjoy and please review constructively.

My Equal, My Friend

From the time I'd first seen you in the Kirlsa Training Facility I knew you were different. One would think that it would be your striking blue hair that drew my attention, and it did, but that wasn't what keeps me so obsessed with finding out what makes you tick. No, it was your eyes that ensnared my attentions. Fathomless pools of emerald green that one could easily loose themselves in.

I'd told you that easy wins weren't my style but you easily showed me my error when you defeated me at the Bequerel Mine. You called me weak then, used my own words against me. I suppose I was weak then. I had only ever known struggle, that the strong survived and the weak were trampled. You may have still been ignorant of the ways of the world but you held a strength that I didn't want to admit I couldn't defeat.

I had thought that if I traveled with you I would find a way to beat you; you were, after all, only a rival. Looking back on that day that I was told that I was to join your little party I was humiliated that you were there to see me chained in the dungeons for treason but I hid it well behind a mask of anger and disgust. I didn't want to believe that you were from another world. If you were and you left before I was able to defeat you I would never be able to redeem myself for my loss at the mine.

I didn't know just when my opinion of you began to change; perhaps it was that night we stayed in Peterny while we prepared to go to the Mountains of Barr and the Urssa Lava Caves. I thought you were a fool for not hating me only because I wanted you to; you were a rival and I didn't want that to change. But it did, all because you gave me the one thing only the King ever did... your trust. You accepted me when no other ever tried and, in some way, I thanked you for that even though I called you a fool.

When we fought Crosell you constantly had my back, healing my wounds and ignoring your own. Truthfully, I was confused as to why you did this I was your rival after all. You caught me watching you as Nel talked with him after we defeated him a second time. I wanted to look away and deny I had ever been looking at you but your emerald eyes held my own ruby ones. I wondered if you were going to throw a biting remark, but all you did was smile and turn away as if saying that you wouldn't tell. Somehow, you became my equal, though I knew that I would never allow it to show beyond my wall of ice.

When it came time for you to leave, I left without saying good bye. I cursed myself for running away like the cowards I hated but I just couldn't stand to see you off, why I knew not, you were my equal and deserved an equals sending. It was a wonder that I was able to keep my cold, heartless facade during our travels to confront Crosell and even after as I told Woltar that I was leaving though I think that he saw passed my mask; he may be old but he has experience to fall back on and for that I give him respect.

I didn't really understand why I went to the Kirlsa Training Facility the next day; maybe it was to say farewell in my own way, on my own terms. Even so, that reasoning didn't feel entirely right which was why, I suppose, I only felt half surprised to see you appear in that swirl of light. I wasn't completely sure if you had seen me or not but that didn't really matter at the moment. What mattered was that you didn't see me for sure at all. I had been ready to jump from the wall when those... those... things... appeared across from you and your companions; that alone made me hesitate. I had a bad feeling about this.

I admit only to you that I bristled when they demanded that your companions hand you over in exchange for your father and the girl like you were some mindless... thing... that was to be owned. You are my equal and for that alone you are worthy of respect and they showed you none; for that they would pay, I'd make sure of it. It was quite ironic that in the end you ended up saving me instead of the other way around like I had intended it to be. Then again I hadn't expected those strange weapons that they carried with them. I don't pretend to know what happened after I fell unconscious though I heard from the blue haired girl, Maria, that those things have been defeated for good and that it was you who dealt the final blow. Of this fact I was glad, only you deserved the right to defeat them for the disrespect they showed you.

I admit that I was slightly intimidated by all that I saw around me when I woke up on that vessel you brought me to in order to properly heal the wounds I received from my intervention at the Kirlsa Training Facility though I made sure not to show it, especially to you. You just smiled slightly, though, as I leaned against the doorway since you saw beyond the mask. You knew I wasn't used to the things around me but you remained silent and allowed my bluff to work on the others. What you don't know is that I saw beyond your mask as well. I knew that you just lost your father because of those things, that he had saved your life, since I had been listening to the conversation from nearly the beginning.

I confess that the thought of exploring a new world intrigued me greatly since, as I said, my own world held no excitement or challenge for me any more since the war ended. Those fools were reluctant to allow me to come but you spoke out against them saying it would be a good idea. I think you were looking for a companion that wouldn't try and cheer you up, that would just be there and somehow I think that's what you saw in me, someone who could... maybe... understand. Normally I would be against such a notion but the truth be told I do understand, more than you'll ever know. Maybe someday, though, I'll tell you my story, so you know that I really do understand. I can't help but chuckle to myself at how much I've changed. Or maybe I haven't changed and you're just able to see beyond my mask to what and who I really am. All I know is that there is one thing that I know for sure has changed. I finally realize it as I stand here watching you talk with that man, Wittcomb. Because there was once a time when I would never follow another's lead; but when it comes to you I will gladly follow to where ever you lead for you are my equal... my friend.

--End--