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Cold Dark Night

Title: Cold Dark Night
Fandom: Star Ocean 3
Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profit gained. This is a fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Cliff/Albel
Rating: MA
Summary: Five years post-game, Cliff makes a stop on Elicoor II to check on how Fate and Albel are doing. However, he finds Albel alone on a colder-than-usual winter's evening...
Notes: Ye Olde Blanket Scenario!

Cliff landed the small craft far outside of Airyglyph, hopefully beyond any watchful eyes. While the UP3 hadn't been changed much in the wake of the 'incident', Cliff was fairly sure that no one had bothered tracking him to Elicoor. Besides, it was a little late for a good part of the planet anyway. They couldn't very well unsee the events from five years previous.

Maria and Sophia had asked the same thing of him - check on Fate. While messages from Fate were sometimes frequent, they were never very in depth which left both women to worry a bit. Cliff was fairly sure that he would have been more worried had Fate sent a flowery missive about his feelings.

He shook his head at the thought. He quite liked women - they just confused the daylights out of him.

The sun was low in the sky by the time Cliff tromped into Airyglyph and the chill was starting to set in. With the choice between tavern and inn, however, Cliff took the tavern and settled close to the roaring fire with a large mug of heavily-spiked cider.

A little too interested in the dancing flames, Cliff barely noticed when a familiar form slipped into the seat beside him sometime later. Normally he would have looked up, but the night didn't feel right for fighting. Things were entirely too calm.


Cliff smiled at the voice, already forming a response.

"Last time I checked, I was definitely still me," he said as he looked into dark red eyes. Albel looked older, but not at all old, which was a good thing. The cold had forced the royal general into a bit more clothing than Cliff remembered him ever wearing, though.

"What are you doing here?"

Cliff shrugged off the tone, fairly sure that Albel simply assumed that off-world presence meant there was danger.

"Looking for Fate," Cliff said before taking another swig from his mug. "He with you?"

Albel frowned and moved his gaze to the flame. "No."

"Well, I was asked to check up on him and was in a nearby star system anyway..." Cliff began as he curiously watched Albel. Albel's hair was longer and he seemed a bit more... subdued than Cliff remembered.

"Try Aquaria, if you're looking for that maggot," Albel said flatly. He tensed like he was going to stand and walk away, but he didn't.

"Things are peaceful here," Cliff surmised. "You must be bored."

A familiar smirk formed on Albel's face.

"There are still soldiers to train and if I require a real challenge, I can find one," Albel said. He raised his right hand, signaling for the serving wench to bring him a drink. "Tomorrow, I wouldn't mind seeing how out of practice you are."

"Hey..." But Cliff just chuckled. A good workout would be rather fun. "That sounds fair enough."

Albel almost smiled. The wench handed him a full mug and winked, not bothering to collect any coins from him.

"And after that, you'll go looking for that fool," Albel said between swallows. "Fate's women sent you?"

"Something like that," Cliff replied. He was curious about how Albel had modified his metal arm to fit beneath a shirt, but if there had been a technological jump... He found himself staring at metal fingers that reflected the firelight as Albel drank.

Frowning when Albel realized he was being watched, he opened his mouth to speak but didn't bother with words. Instead he simply rose and headed off towards the bar to drop off his mug.

"Hey, wait!" Cliff hadn't meant to call out loudly enough to be heard over the rest of the patrons. But he was a little tired and a little inebriated and a little happy to have found a comrade so quickly.

Albel paused long enough for Cliff to jump over his chair and catch up.

"Sorry," Cliff mumbled. "But you didn't tell me where to meet you tomorrow."

Shaking his head as though he'd rather not ever see Cliff again, Albel finally spoke: "Come with me. You can stay in the castle."

Cliff kept his mouth shut for the duration of the walk.

"You'll have to stay with me," Albel said as the guards admitted them into the main entranceway. "The guest rooms are full from the holiday last week."

He paused.

"You wouldn't have found a room at the inn."

A little unsure just how he was supposed to respond, Cliff dumbly nodded. The thought of spending the night with Albel - actually with Albel and not just in the same general space - was a little distressing. The Elicoorian hadn't stopped being wickedly attractive and while Cliff preferred and quite enjoyed women, he wasn't sure he'd outright refuse Albel.

Perhaps just because he liked being alive.

"Why are you being so nice?" Cliff finally asked.

"You're welcome to sleep on the floor, or outside," Albel shot back. "Fool..."

"I'd rather not freeze," Cliff replied as they stepped into Albel's dark room. Closing the door behind himself, Cliff waited for Albel to light a lantern before moving. He didn't have much in the way of possessions - little enough that he'd dragged around the bag without really thinking. It dropped to the floor and Cliff kicked it out of the way. Despite having some sort of heat drifting up through a grate, the room was far from warm.

Albel lit a lantern on his bedside table and glared over at Cliff.

"We'd best turn in," Cliff said quickly. The sooner the night was over, the better.

What Cliff was not expecting was for Albel to nod and start to undress. Really, it was too cold not to sleep in a full set of clothing unless the blankets on Albel's bed were a good dozen times warmer than they looked.

"Your arm..." Cliff couldn't help himself. The intricacy and design of the metal was flawless and looked like work he'd seen elsewhere in the galaxy. It was a far cry from the crude claws Albel had once had, though no doubt the man kept those for any potential battles.

"That maggot - Fate - made it," Albel said. He sounded almost sad and suddenly everything was clear in Cliff's mind. Fate had stayed behind to be with Albel, after all. But he'd never realized that things had gone the particular route they had.

"The workmanship..."

"Still binds at night," Albel said quickly, and coldly. "I refuse to be trapped by my own body."

Cliff tried to smile as he kicked off his boots. That was a simple enough reason to be treated with the pale, scarred skin of Albel's upper half.

"Wouldn't be fair," Cliff said almost without thinking. They were both men and it was fairly cold and the bed would be better for whatever was - or wasn't - going to happen.

Albel muttered something quite likely distasteful about fairness that Cliff couldn't quite hear. Another drink would go a long way even though he was fairly sure he'd had more than enough. Cliff wondered if Albel would punch him or just verbally berate him. He'd probably have to sleep on the floor.

Cliff knew that he wasn't thinking, but he didn't want to think about it.

Instead, he set his boots by his bag and then took off his heavy jacket, letting it drape over his other belongings. After a few seconds, the room didn't seem quite so cold - still uncomfortable, but not ridiculously so. There was, however, definitely something to be said for temperature-controlled spacecraft.

"Go on," Albel commanded and it took a second for Cliff to realize that Albel was talking about getting under the thick blankets of the bed, not one of the many more interesting things that flashed through Cliff's mind.

Cliff nodded, complying quickly. No sense in letting any potential heat out.

"That maggot kicked in his sleep," Albel said as he climbed in beside Cliff. The bed was smaller than it looked, though considering that he was quite likely the first person to share it in some time, Cliff decided it wasn't worth mentioning.

"I won't," Cliff replied quickly, attempting to gesture to himself. "I'll stay right here."

Somehow, in the process, he managed to slide his hand right across Albel's side. They both froze for a moment.

"Good night." Albel said flatly, half-rolling over so that his back was to Cliff.

"Hey..." For some reason, Cliff thought it was a good idea to clarify his intentions. "That was accidental."

"You must think I'm a fool," Albel spat before reaching over to lift the glass shield on the lantern and put it out with his claw hand.

"You'd know if I meant to do it," Cliff continued, a little confused by his own statement but nevertheless reaching to grasp a firm handful of Albel's ass. "Like this."

"What are you...?" Albel made the mistake of turning back in Cliff's direction, which opened him up for a quick, daring kiss.

"See?" Cliff questioned.

"Maggot," Albel spat before grabbing Cliff and kissing him fiercely, metal fingers digging into Cliff's shoulder. Momentarily stunned, Cliff fumbled for a moment, unsure of where to put his own hands.

When Albel pulled back, Cliff relaxed a bit, fairly sure that Albel was not going to use the opportunity to kill him.

"Well?" Albel asked, quite thoroughly challenging him. Cliff smirked in the darkness - he was not going to be terribly gentle to Albel, after all, now that he was sure that Albel wanted the same thing.

"Thought you might need to catch you breath," Cliff said before sliding a hand down Albel's stomach. He undid the tie on Albel's skirt with little difficulty, trying not to get distracted by Albel's fingers tugging almost absently at his hair.

He was not expecting Albel to shift a bit and begin to suck at his neck, nipping at rings that couldn't possibly be visible in the darkness of the room.

Cliff gasped, all-but-forgetting that he was the one trying to get somewhere.

Albel pushed him onto his back quickly, pushing Cliff's hands away as he moved to straddle the blond. Cliff wasn't sure what to do - he reached for Albel's sides right before Albel kissed him again, absolutely demanding that his tongue be in Cliff's mouth for a bit before withdrawing to nip at Cliff's lower lip.

Managing to get his hands back where they'd been, Cliff worked at Albel's clothing. He received a delicious hiss when he pushed a hand down to grab Albel's erection.

"Is that all you want?" Albel asked, his voice a rough whisper.

Not knowing how to reply, Cliff let Albel pull away for a quick moment. Cliff, at a loss for anything to say or do, simply reached down and undid his pants.

Albel was on him almost immediately, brushing Cliff's hands away to replace them with his own. Cliff grabbed the bed beneath him when his own erection was freed, meeting the chilly night air for only seconds before Albel's mouth was on it, hot and wet. Cliff had thought that Albel's kisses were intense, but they were nothing compared to the feel of Albel's tongue on his cock. He moaned and sucked in his breath before reaching down to grab a firm handful of Albel's wild hair. Albel growled around his erection, which simply made Cliff shiver and try not to thrust his hips.

Somehow, Albel knew just when to stop and carefully withdraw, leaving Cliff shivering on the verge of sheer bliss.

Cliff fought for something eloquent, but instead he simply swore and grabbed Albel, pulling him up so that he could kiss him and try to get him somewhere near the same level of arousal. Having none of that, Albel cut the kiss short and repositioned himself over Cliff, straddling his thighs.

"Albel..." Cliff gasped, just before Albel slid up and positioned himself over Cliff's erection. Cliff reached for Albel's hips, grasping tentatively while Albel reached down to smear something wet and somewhat warm between his legs, dripping a bit onto Cliff in the process.

Albel chuckled, stroking Cliff's erection with his good hand before pressing his body down on it. Cliff tried to stay still, letting tight muscle slowly give way. Albel was breathing hard already - he paused once he was resting back on Cliff, shifting a bit before raising his body a bit and pushing back down.

"You okay?" Cliff asked, a little overwhelmed.

"Hnn." Albel moved again and Cliff took that as a yes, thrusting up a bit to meet Albel's next movement.

He kept one hand on one of Albel's hips, only a little worried that he was leaving a bruise. It was winter - if Albel stayed properly dressed, it wouldn't be visible. With his other hand, he grasped Albel's cock, stroking it roughly and earning a moan from Albel.

Cliff found himself unable to control his own volume as he was pulled closed to orgasm by Albel's body. He found himself thrusting deeper, making Albel cry out just before he gave in to the building pleasure and with a few irrhythmic movements, he came. Stilling Albel's body over his once he'd rode out his climax, Cliff turned his full attention to Albel's erection. He worked at it quickly and was not at all surprised when Albel's still-slick good hand joined his, easing his motions and guiding him forcefully.

Albel was surprisingly loud when he came, swearing and shivering and passing along half the sensation to Cliff in the process. They were both short of breath after, and as Albel shifted himself to sprawl beside Cliff, the chill of the dark room cut in, reminding them that they'd kicked most of the blankets aside.

"Go to sleep," Albel demanded, pulling the blankets up and half-rolling so that his back was again to Cliff.

Cliff chuckled softly and fixed the rest of the blankets before reaching down to fix his clothing.

"I promise not to kick you," Cliff said as he turned in the other direction.


"Good night to you too."

Cliff closed his eyes and fell asleep quickly. At one point before dawn, Albel woke him up with a bit of thrashing and soft cries, but a light shove put an end to it.

When the faintest glimmer of sun began to appear above the horizon, Cliff looked over to where Albel was still sleeping beside him, smirking ever so slightly.

He knew what he was going to do - he was going to fight a few rounds against Albel and then go find Fate. And once he'd found Fate, he was going to not-so-subtly beat some sense into the young man for not staying in Albel's bed.


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