Disclaimer: I own neither Tales of the Abyss nor any of the characters contained within.

Author's Note: I plan to submit this story at first in a series of relatively short chapters. Three chapters are planned, comprising my impression of the ending to ToA, though more is a definite possibility. This story contains huge spoilers from the ending, so read at your own peril.

A pale yellow light engulfed Van's body as he at last lost his grip on life. Eventually, the light faded, along with his body. Vandesdelca, he who would seize glory, was dead.

"Master Van… thank you!" Luke, Van's slayer, said into the void where his body had been.

When I met him, he wouldn't even thank people for saving his life, Tear mused. And now, he can even find it in his heart to forgive the man who tried to destroy the world, and he thank him for giving meaning to his life. How you've grown, Luke. I owe you my thanks for this too, Van. Goodbye… my beloved brother.

At this thought, she felt tears poised to break free from her eyes, but her soldier's instincts kicked in to hold them back. It was no time to mourn; they still had to get out of Eldrant before it collapsed.

"All right. Everybody hurry up and escape," Luke said. "I'll stay here and free Lorelei."

"Luke!" Tear exclaimed. After all this, you have to escape and live! How could you do this to yourself?! …How could you do this to me?

"It's my promise to Lorelei. This is what I need to do," he said, but Tear was no longer paying attention. As their other companions each said their piece to him, Tear was lost in a world of her own.

There's no stopping him… this is it. He may not come back-No! He has to! I'll drag him back from the abyss myself if I have to, but I'm not giving him up. Not now. But what can I do?

A sharp pain in Tear's chest came with an unwelcome reminder that however much she might wish him to come back, and however much he might wish it himself, this still might be it for Luke. This thought broke through the barriers she'd set up at Van's death, and tears started to well up in her eyes. A small part of her wanted to try to push it back, but when she saw Luke free, their other companions having said what might be their last words to him, she gave up on holding anything back and ran up to him.

"Come home!" she said between sobs. He had to.

"Tear…" he said, and met her eyes with a sad gaze. At that moment, realization finally struck her. She could see her own feelings reflected in his eyes. There was no reason for doubt, no reason for hesitation. He just needed to survive.

"You have to come home. You have to! I'll be waiting... always."

"I will. I promise. I'll come home."

Tear scrunched her eyes closed as a last effort to hold back her tears. She couldn't let what might be his last sight of her be of her crying. Thank you, Luke.

She turned, and started to walk away, not trusting herself to be able to take any more of this without bursting into tears. But she stopped herself after a couple of steps. There was one last thing she had to say. She'd recognized the look in his eyes, but she needed to make sure he knew about her feelings as well. Her voice barely above a whisper, she managed to squeak out, "Luke… I love you."

Luke didn't say anything in reply, but it didn't matter. The look he'd given her had said enough. She turned around and met his solemn gaze. His eyes once more told her all she needed to know, even if no words were coming to his mouth. He closed his eyes and gave her the slightest of nods to confirm that he'd heard her, and that he'd do whatever it took to come back. With this, he raised the Key of Lorelei and thrust it into the ground, vanishing into the embrace of Lorelei.