A/N: Almost at that very sad part of the game. Sad. Sad. Faiiiiiiize! Also, though I would like to make a fic wherein Faize is paired with Edge, I don't have the guts for it in the end and it just turns into a friendship fic. Maybe cuz I don't see any other EdgexFaize fics . But really, in the game they sound like they're almost a couple. They even had a lover's spat xD Anyway, ahem, enough idiocy.
Disclaimer: I do not claim to own the Star Ocean franchise, nor do I make any material profit from this fiction. It is purely a fan's tribute to a fun game.
"What's wrong, Lymle? It's not like you to frown like that."
"Something's weird with Faize, 'kay?"
"Weird? What do you mean? I'll bet he's probably just tired."
"… No, something really is wrong, 'kay? 'Kay?"
Images flashed before his eyes, each one lasting no more than a moment, as if he were viewing a recording and someone had pushed the fastforward button. He recalled Edge's face as he stepped outside the Sol onto the shores of Aeos, the first other worlder the young Earthling had met. An expression of pure astonishment, disbelief. Next there was Lemuris, the inhabitants slowly turning to stone. The column of light that ultimately doomed the ones afflicted with the illness. The Cardianon mothership, the commander's body changed into something twisted and monstrous, neither flesh nor machine. The Grigori shifting, boiling out and congregating inward, not really reflecting light, more like eating it.
The alternate planet Earth, whole one moment, the next, utterly gone in a superb flash of light. It was as if it had never been.
Edge, saving Meracle from the anolmalies produced by the primitive antimatter reactor. Edge, sitting in the captain's chair of the Calnus, staring into empty space, withdrawing himself to wallow in his own regret and self doubt. Edge, dragging his feet onto an undeveloped—unspoiled—world whose history could change drastically in the blink of an eye. Edge, taking charge of saving Reimi, of deciding to save Sarah even though she was involved in the fate of an entire planet. Edge finally speaking words of conviction once more.
Edge's voice ringing in his ears.
His rapier slashed through the air, but the attacks were sloppy and uncoordinated, just a means of venting frustration rather like punching a wall or throwing something down. He could never stop seeing the girl, smiling at him as she presented him freely with the bunny reins, with the cloak of her tribe, that cloak folded so neatly and reverently by the ones who had … who had …
For some reason Edge suddenly came into his mind again. The captain hadn't noticed anything strange at all, that the same morning Sarah had been carried off, all the denizens of the tribe they'd visited the other day were suddenly gone. True, they didn't know the full extent of their culture, but they were nomads. Nomads never left their dwellings unguarded, and the elder wasn't even there. There was no reason for them to be gone all at once, just as a maiden of the Sacred Wings had been kidnapped …! How could they not have …
He slashed and stabbed, imagining piercing the bodies of those cultists. If only he had—if only he could have—
Everything froze. Suddenly he was profoundly aware of being in his hideout on the Calnus, the sword in his hand feeling cold, clammy, slippery, even heavy. The shortness of his breath burned his lungs and throat, beads of sweat rolling down his face. He started, turning around to see the captain of the Calnus. He had been hearing his voice.
"E-Edge! I didn't realize you were …"
"Are you okay?" Edge asked, and he had an odd look in his eyes, as if he were almost afraid. But that was absurd. What had Edge to be afraid of? Surely not of him? Surely not of a scrawny Eldarian that never would have beaten him in their duel if it weren't for his symbological skill.
"Yes, I'm fine." He insisted, but his eyes couldn't quite meet Edge's. They fell first to the floor, and then to the rapier blade he held in his hands, the metal seeming to shine even when there was no strong light source striking it.
"That didn't look like any training I've ever seen." The Captain said carefully, stepping to the side as if to examine Faize better. "And I never quite understood why you always hole yourself up in here instead of using the perfectly good battle simulator upstairs." Even if he had said before that it hadn't seemed strange, that working to better himself behind the scenes was very like Faize. Except it didn't seem quite that way anymore.
"True," Faize agreed, but reluctantly and only after a moment of hesitation. "However, I feel there is … much improvement I could use, and I wouldn't want to impose on anyone else who might want to use it."
Here Edge did something Faize had not expected: he sighed, rather like he would after sitting up for three days and nights caring for a child that had been ill on the brink of death, and then when it was no longer in danger of dying, complained it didn't like its food or medicine. "Faize, no one really uses the battle simulator. Lymle plays, Reimi does her own thing, Bacchus is always thinking, and Meracle spends more time sleeping and looking out the window."
"What about you, then?" Faize demanded. "You're always saying you need to get stronger, so why don't you go use it?" His voice had adopted a harsh tone he didn't mean to use, a sharp bite like a scorpion's sting. The inside of his mouth tasted sour, as if he had drunk the venom of that sting. He wanted to spit, but he would hate to mar the inside of the Calnus. It was a rather beautiful ship.
Edge tilted his head to one side, considering something. His expression didn't let by what he was thinking, not like Faize, whose thoughts were displayed as clearly on his features as if he had written them there or spoken them aloud for all to hear. "This isn't about the battle simulator, or just training at all." Those eyes, bright like the leaves of first spring, darted to Faize. "Is it?"
The Eldarian flinched from the intensity of that gaze. It wasn't that Edge was angry with Faize, they had all seen what he was like when he was angry. No, the captain was not angry at all. It was its opposite. He was calm, and he was caring. It hit Faize rather hard—that Edge actually cared. He really didn't see Eldarians, Lumerisans, Morphus, or Roakish as any different at all from Earthlings besides obvious species difference.
"I'd like to be alone, please." Faize turned away. He couldn't stand for Edge to look at him like that; it was like the fiery gaze of God, slicing away the surface to see what lie beneath. "I'd like to focus on my training."
"I'm not leaving you alone, Faize."
Suddenly angry,the Eldarian spun around, demanding, "And just why not? Why now do you decide to notice that something is amiss? You didn't see anything wrong on Roak, or the—" he broke off, biting down on the rest of the sentence.
"Tch. Just look at you. You look like hell. Who knows what'll happen if I leave you alone?"
Faize said nothing in response, refusing to look at Edge. He knew that he wasn't truly angry with his Earthling friend. He was angry at himself, for being powerless to protect what he wanted to shelter from the world and its cruelty. He was angry at himself, for not saying anything, for keeping it festering inside him like a parasite, until it was too late. He clenched the hilt of his rapier, so hard his knuckles were bleached white. The thin blade shook.
"… I'm sorry. I never meant to—take it out on you, Edge."
"What was wrong on Roak?" Edge asked after a strange moment of stifled silence. Faize gathered up a small amount of courage to steal a glance at his friend. The look that sliced away half his being was gone; it was just Edge looking on, brow knit with concern. "Was there something I—" he paused. "Did we screw up?"
Faize squeezed his eyes shut, but all he could see was the Opener girl, beaming at him as she handed him the bunny reins, the light of Roak's sun bathing her in liquid gold. He didn't know Roak people's life spans, but she had looked young. So very young. He didn't notice when his hands went limp, or the feeling of his sword slipping from his fingers. He just heard the clang of metal clattering on the floor.
"Faize?" Edge looked on, knees bent as if he were ready to catch the Eldarian should he fall.
"It's my fault," he whispered, breathless. "Even if no one else did, I'm the one that noticed something was wrong. You know why those tribal people weren't at their tent when we passed them the other day? Think about it. Why would an entire tribe of nomads up and leave their tent in the middle of a territory surrounded by desert and jagged mountain?"
From the corner of his eye, Faize could see Edge's face, somewhat blurred, but he could still see Edge's expression change from bewilderment to paralyzing agony. Edge's voice was soft, barely audible.
"I … don't know …"
"It was in the cultists' path. They took Sarah for their sick ceremonies, but they also took … them. They were called the Openers, and they didn't know why they were called, but the cultists took that to mean their blood would help resurrect their Archfiend." His voice broke, and he pressed his hands to his face, the full brunt of the grief falling on him like the arch of the heavens had collapsed.
"My God," Edge breathed, covering his own mouth in horror. "They did? When? Why didn't we see them in the Purgatorium?!"
"They were gone by then." Faize's hands dropped to his sides, and his voice became toneless. "The cultists that killed themselves in that antechamber. They had one of their cloaks. He folded it, almost reverently. He said they had sacrificed the entire tribe at dawn, but that Sarah's blood would actually provide the key to the resurrection."
"Oh my God, Faize--! Why didn't you say something!?" Edge looked on the verge of panic. Lord above! Now Edge knew why Faize had been so adamant about getting through the Purgatorium as quickly as they could, even if they had to blast it apart. But as Eleyna had said later that morning, if they tried to blast through the temple, they would have killed Sarah—and any others the cultists might have brought.
"We could have saved her." Faize continued as if Edge hadn't spoken. "I keep thinking, if Eleyna had simply handed over the keycard and let us on our way, if she hadn't wasted that entire night with that stupid augury … Why would it have been faster to 'show' us? Apparently the world would have been destroyed should she have been killed, but not like we'd have needed such incentive. Why would anyone wish a death at the hands of a group of insane cultists …? To resurrect their precious Archfiend?" A strangled laugh emanated from his throat.
"Faize …" Horribly, Edge saw the truth in Faize's words. It was true that Eleyna could have simply voiced what would have happened if Sarah were killed, in words and not taxing augruies that rent her, the only person that could provide them with a means of penetrating the Purgatorium, unconscious for an entire night. It was already morning by the time they finally shoved off. The morning that, according to Faize, the cultists had already murdered the entire tribe of Openers.
"And to think," Faize said, in that same strange, toneless, detached voice, "I couldn't understand why you had trouble moving forward. My silence obliterated one tribe. The other Earth was an entire planet. Even if it wasn't yours … men, women, children, animals, every spec of dust—" he stopped talking, because Edge had darted out and pulled him tightly into a hug. It was strange, the way Edge held on as if he were afraid Faize might disappear.
"I'm sorry," Edge breathed into Faize's ear. "I didn't realize what was going on. Not until …" he squeezed his eyes shut, as if by embracing his friend he could allieve every burden, heal every hurt. And while Edge's healing symbol had helped everyone whenever a healer was too far off, there were limits to its strength and reach. Faize shook his head.
"Never mind it. Just … remember … and we need to make sure nothing like it ever happens again." He sighed, gently prying Edge's arms away. "Ever."
In that moment, emerald eyes met light, crystalline almandine. The color flared from opaque to a bright, almost neon, red. Edge blinked, and in that instant, it was gone. It was a bit unsettling. Had he imagined it? Faize quirked a brow, tilting his head to one side.
"Is there something else wrong?" Faize asked, calm now. Too calm. Edge shook his head, a small smile on his face. He gently poked Faize's forehead, much like he would to Reimi, and the Eldarian blinked and made a small sound of surprise.
"Nah. Just … speak up next time, okay? And," he laughed, "I'm probably not the best one to say this, but don't do anything stupid."
Faize nodded, looking quite abashed. "O-okay. I'll … try."
But as Faize vacated his usual haunt, Edge was left wondering if his words truly reached.