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Warning: This story contains spoilers, please don't read unless you've beaten the game. Also I will be using the English names, if that bothers you please don't read.

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Nothing Was the Same

He wasn't the Cress I remembered. He was stronger, more confident. The amount of time he and Mint had spent in the past, it was only minutes for Morrison and me, but for them it was years. They came back with two new people, and fought Dhaos with skills they had never possessed. I first I was grateful they could stop him, but then I was…shocked. He acted nothing like the Cress that was with me hours ago. He was worried about me, and still considered me a friend, but I could tell right away that things were different. He was older, more mature.

They had spent two years in Claus and Arche's time, two years that I never had. The four of them had formed bonds in that time, ties I couldn't fit into. They had so many memories they'd talk about, things I would never understand. I wasn't there and I can't change that. It saddens me. He had two years to grow stronger, two years to gain skills and knowledge and experience. I couldn't compare to that. I'd always been like an older brother to him, protecting him when he got too far into trouble. Now he was the older one, protecting me. We were nowhere near as close as we used to be.

I couldn't fit in with his friends that had already formed a tight bonds with each other, and he couldn't understand why. Cress had been close to all of us and had been my best friend for years; it pained him that we couldn't become as close to each other as he had been with all of us. What did he expect? Their skills were beyond anything Cress and I possessed in our time, of course they thought I was useless! Compared to them, I was. Even Cress seemed somewhat surprised by my lack of battle skills; he had improved a great deal. It must have been a shock to remember that this was how we used to be.

He never said so, but I know he felt sorry for me, pitied me even. When Suzu joined, I thought things would get easier. She was newer than I was, and didn't have the benefit of knowing someone beforehand. Actually, it almost made things worse. She was only eleven; the same age as my sister, yet her abilities already surpassed mine. It definitely didn't do much to help my ego.

Still, I couldn't help but feel protective of her. I felt sorry for Suzu, having to kill her own parents, but I didn't know how to help. All of us tried to be there for her, but she never wanted to talk about it so there wasn't much we could do. There was one way that I could help her, though. When the four of them would reminisce about their adventures together, we'd hang back, taking comfort in the fact that we weren't the only one being left out.

Suzu had trouble fitting in with everyone else too, though she seemed to have a crush on Cress. Actually, all the girls did. Even before this mess with Dhaos started, he was always the most popular guy in the village. Every girl had a crush on him, although I don't think he noticed. He was kind of dense like that. When Cress first showed up with Mint, we were both interested in her. Even though he had found her first and she seemed more interested in him, we both kept our distance so as not to create a conflict. He was always considerate of everyone else. Unfortunately for me, they had two years together without me in the middle, and I guess their feelings couldn't help but grow. I wonder if things would have been different if Cress had stayed behind instead, if she and I could have grown close. However, the damage is done, and there's nothing I can do to fix it.

Arche was almost in the same boat as I was. She had fallen for Cress when she first saw him, but feelings had already begun to develop between him and Mint. I could almost have felt sorry for her, if it weren't for the whining. She complained about everything. She seemed to have nothing better to do than to pick fights with me. When we first met, she said I was weak. That definitely didn't start things off well, and it only got worse. She'd constantly comment on my poor shooting skills or my less-than-friendly attitude. Adding that to the stress I already had in my life caused me to blow-up and scream at her. She'd yell something back at me and then run off in tears. That would always make me feel worse. I'd meant what I said, but I didn't want to make her cry. My sister certainly wouldn't have been proud of me.

Over the course of our journey, I began to feel closer to her, and I started to truly recognize her as an ally of mine. We'd still get into fights, but they were almost playful, more with the intent of communicating than hurting each other. With Cress and Mint in their own little world, I think she felt lonely too. Claus was from her own time, but they hadn't known each other before they met Cress, and I think she wanted someone closer to her own age, someone who could understand what she was going through. Claus already had a sweetheart back home, although they weren't officially together yet. Claus seemed like a good enough person, though we never really got the chance to know each other well, and I've come to regret that. He was kind of like a father figure for us, making sure we didn't blindly rush in and get ourselves killed. He had a good head on his shoulders and was more knowledgeable than the rest of us put together, with the possible exception of Suzu. Yet, Suzu was kind of separate from the rest of us, which made it difficult to have a conversation with her.

So Cress and Mint were together, Claus was dreaming about Milard, and Suzu was thinking about her parents, which left me and Arche. Arche was still upset about the incident with the elves, so I did the only thing I could think of to take her mind off it, I picked fights. I preferred her fighting with me to crying somewhere by herself. I'd do anything to keep her from crying.

I remember when we were in Arlee. I must have said something to her because she looked at me different, although I couldn't remember what it was. When she repeated the words to me, I knew what she was thinking, but I wasn't sure how I felt. I tried to shrug it off, but she started dragging me along and I let her. I think that's when I knew, although we didn't get a chance to really talk until after we'd defeated Dhaos.

She and Claus were returning to their own time, a hundred years before ours. Claus wouldn't live to see us again, and we wouldn't see Suzu until we were past sixty. Even though we would be able to see Arche again because half-elves live longer than humans, it was that separation that pained me most of all. It would be a hundred years for her, a long time even for a half-elf. Things could change. I was scared we'd lose our friendship, scared she'd find someone else. I was scared she'd forget about me. I didn't want to lose her. She said it wasn't really goodbye, she'd see us all again, but through it all she was crying. I tried to comfort her, telling her we'd all be waiting, and she still had Claus to keep her company. Everyone else was supportive as well, and we each returned to where we belonged.

Suzu cried when we left, even though it was breaking the ninja rule of never showing emotions. Claus was sorry he wouldn't see us again, but accepted it since we were really never supposed to meet in the first place. Cress gave him the Eternal Sword, and we returned to our own time, and they to theirs. I don't know what she'll be like when we see her again, but I hope we see her soon.

We've begun rebuilding the village. Progress is slow, but it gives me something to do to pass the time. My only plan had been to defeat Dhaos; I hadn't given much thought to my life after that. Cress and Mint are closer than ever and I won't be surprised if they get engaged soon. I don't know what I'll do when Toltus is finished. They don't have much time for me anymore. Cress is going to rebuild and run his father's school, and I'm thinking of doing something with my life too.

I think I'll build an orphanage here, help run it so kids don't have to suffer like Ami and I did. Kids can become full of hate when they think the world's against them, and I don't want it to happen to them like it did to me. I think my sister would like that. I want Arche to be here to see this, but even if she's not, I'll manage. I can still hope though. My life's no longer the same, but I can still find my place. Maybe, if I'm lucky, we can find it together.


Author's notes: Hello and thank you for reading my first Tales of Phantasia story. I hope you enjoyed it, please review and tell me how it was. Even if it's just to point out spelling mistakes, I appreciate it. Almost 30 people read my first Tales of the Abyss story, and only one person bothered to review it. I thank Windraider for taking the time to do so. Also tell me what you think of my profile; I have a poll there about what kinds of fics people dislike the most. I await your reviews!