Farce in a Minor Key
Title: Farce in a Minor Key
Fandom: Star Ocean 3
Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profit gained. This is a fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Adray, Albel, Cliff/Fate & Nel/Clair
Summary: When Albel receives an invitation to Fate and Clair's wedding, he knows something is up. Which, of course, it is. But...
Notes: For gnome for video_game_yaoi, "Albel doesn't fully understand the intent behind the eyes watching him but he's about to find out." Inspired by the Adray-Fate ending of SO3.
Albel had thrown the invitation away five times already, yet it seemed to keep reappearing on the small table beside his bed as if it was supposed to be there. He snatched it up as he crossed the room, wondering what Crosell happened to be doing that evening. Surely, if well-toasted, the invitation would not come back.
He crumpled it in his left hand, crushing the thick paper between metal fingers before tossing it behind him. The words on it had burned into his mind the first time he'd seen it - certainly there was no way a single letter would ever leave him.
Fate was getting married.
That trivial fact wasn't the part that stuck in his mind, of course. Fate could do whatever he pleased as long as he didn't go too far away for an occasional spar to near-death. But his impending marriage was to none other than Clair Lasbard, which simply reeked of farce from all angles. Something had to be in it for Fate - unless somehow he'd managed to lure both Clair and Nel into his bed.
Albel chuckled and stepped over to the window. That would be giving Fate too much credit. He simply had to be playing along with the ruse for one reason or other.
Snow was falling over the city again and it held Albel in thrall until the sole lantern in the room threatened to sputter and die.
He was barely out of town when he saw fresh blood tainting the pure white of the new snow. Albel smiled and started following the trail before remembering that he had other things to do, such as get to Arias for that farce of a wedding.
Trudging onward, Albel was in Kirsla in time to have lunch with Woltar, who did not question why his comrade had suddenly appeared with a full traveling pack yet no support soldiers.
The road to Arias was even less interesting, and as the afternoon wore on, Albel began to wish for an ambush of Proclaimers just to have something to do. He flexed his claws and looked around.
Just the thought of sitting around in Arias made him squirm. Hopefully all the pre-wedding gatherings would be spaced apart enough that he could excuse himself -- or just leave. He wasn't a stranger to the insanity of weddings - just watching them made him vow to never participate even if his life depended on it.
Fate looked almost startled to see him, something Albel believed might be related to walking in on the exact wrong moment as far as Fate (and Cliff, likely) was concerned.
"One of those wenches mentioned that I'd be sharing this room with you two," Albel drawled as he watched Cliff grab for his pants. Fate just stared, blushing.
"Don't think I didn't realize this was an utter farce," he continued as he threw down his bag near the undisturbed bed in the room. "But you maggots should at least wait til everyone has considered sleeping."
And he stalked back out of the room, not bothering to close the door. Likely everyone knew about the sham occurring, they just weren't willing to put it in words. All except...
Albel was not expecting to be pulled into a tight, bone-crushing embrace by the father of the bride. He flailed to get free, a little surprised that Adray hadn't at least flinched when he grabbed at the cool metal of Albel's left arm.
"Let go of me," Albel commanded, which only made Adray crush him more.
"Did you just get here?" Adray asked as he finally relented, though he kept an arm over Albel's shoulder. "I was looking for Fate and..."
Albel sighed inwardly. Likely, Adray was the only one not in on the little game. And it wouldn't hurt if Fate owed him one.
"I saw him outside," Albel said quickly, only to be steered around with Adray.
"Well let's go," Adray announced with a smile. "I'm so happy that my little girl is settling down..."
He continued to talk until they were outside, but Albel wasn't entirely paying attention. Actually, he really wasn't paying attention at all, focusing more on worming out of Adray's grasp without any luck.
Albel noticed one thing as the afternoon turned to evening and Adray had gotten them both exceptionally sidetracked from their non-existent Fate-hunt by way of the local tavern - after several mugs of wretched-tasting booze, Adray was an almost tolerable maggot. Far too touchy-feely, but just about almost tolerable.
By the time Nel rounded them both up, Adray was happily challenging everyone to arm wrestle and Albel had associated himself with the farthest, most secluded uninhabited corner he could locate. The alcohol was wearing off and Adray was mostly just annoying again.
"You too," Nel said as she marched over and stood in front of Albel. "Dinner is nearly ready, and you're expected to attend."
"This is ridiculous," Albel said flatly. He didn't get up.
"That I want you to come back for dinner?" Nel questioned before leaning down and whispering in Albel's ear. "Because if it's about everything else, well... It keeps a lot of peace and look how happy Adray is. Besides, with luck he'll get assigned on the other side of the world in no time and everyone can just forget the wedding ever happened."
Albel couldn't help a little chuckle. The woman had a point and it would be fun watching Clair and Fate squirm through the proceedings for the next couple of days.
"You better have made something good," he said with the barest hint of a smile as he pushed her away and stood. "Because I know you're a good cook."
"You'd better not be flirting," Nel said, eyeing him.
"I have no interest in maggots like you," Albel replied quickly, walking past her and out of the tavern. Especially considering they'd both just admitted to the farce.
Dinner was delightfully awkward, full of Clair and Fate having to pretend to be a happy couple and even having to kiss a few times at Adray's urging. Maria, who must arrived from off-world while Albel was somewhere between happily drunk and unhappily drunk, kept looking at everyone with such a ridiculous level of confusion that she was threatening the whole thing. Luckily, she remained quiet during the meal and only after did she slip away with Nel.
And when she reappeared, her demeanor had changed. Either she'd been clued in or she'd had her suspicions confirmed. Albel hoped it was the latter, just because he was fairly sure that Maria wasn't completely stupid.
He'd borrowed a book from one of the shelves - Aquarian weaponry was always interesting, after all - and was leafing through when he felt his personal space being violated. Looking up, Adray was leaning over him and trying to peek, upside-down, at what Albel was reading.
"I can find you a better reference than that," Adray said with a grin. "I'm a better reference than that! Anything in there, I can tell you, and then some."
"But you don't have to take time away from your preparations, since I have this book," Albel replied coolly. "If I have any questions, I'll ask. Now go away and see if Clair needs something. Or Fate."
At least Fate and Cliff had bothered to keep their hands mostly to themselves for the night, which meant that Albel had mostly slept and was mostly rested and wanted to be out of the room as soon as possible. Mostly because he didn't expect Fate and Cliff to continue on their streak.
Tynave and Farleen were in the kitchen when he wandered in, and they all eyed one another for a long moment before deciding the safest thing to do would be ignore one another, except when he asked Farleen where he might find a nice sharp knife.
That went exactly as well as he'd expected once the words were out of his mouth.
But, in possession of a rudimentary bowl of food, Albel stalked outside into the morning sunlight and settled onto a wooden bench to eat. It was far from the worst breakfast he'd had, and far from the worst place he'd had to eat it, but he was beginning to wish he'd thrown that damned invitation away again. His head was sort of hurting. And he didn't really want to go right from breakfast to the tavern just to deal with the long expanse of time between sunrise and sunset.
"It's a lovely morning, isn't it?"
"No," Albel replied flatly before glaring up at Adray. "And unless you're bearing salt, maggot, you're interrupting my breakfast."
Adray blinked once and was gone. Albel thought himself exceptionally lucky until three bites later when Adray returned with some freshly pummeled salt on a small dish.
Albel took the salt, deposited on his rudimentary bowl of food and handed the dish back to Adray. Was the man expecting words of appreciation? Albel considered asking for a local delicacy if he'd be receiving this sort of service. Local to Airyglyph. That would at least give him a quiet day.
"You should have let me make you breakfast," Adray said after a moment, moving to lean against a partly-crumbled wall nearby. "It'd at least look better than that."
Albel just glared.
"I'll make you breakfast tomorrow," Adray declared.
"Whatever you want to do," Albel said after a long, dead moment during which he ate most of his meal. The salt did really help, he had to admit.
"And we can go out weapon shopping today," Adray continued, as if he was having a normal conversation with someone happily tolerating him. Albel sighed. It would be something to do and maybe he'd be able to find something nice. If not, well, it would still kill the day.
Things didn't start getting weird til midway through their shopping expedition, aside from Albel still going along with what could rightfully be called a 'shopping expedition'.
But since Adray had insisted that everything Albel considered would be 'a treat, you're my guest' and he did need a few things, it certainly had become more than just stopping to look at swords.
This was officially his wedding gift to Fate and Clair and they'd better damned well appreciate it.
Mid-afternoon, just as Albel was on his way up the stairs to deposit a very nice and very sharp new sword with the rest of his things in the room he was sharing, there was a commotion just outside the house that sounded like another war starting.
Albel finally smiled. Things were apparently getting interesting.
He took just a couple of seconds to relieve his burden before heading back down the stairs and out to see what had happened.
By then, everybody was in the yard, including a pair of the Queen's soldiers who looked exceptionally displeased by Adray, who was looking exceptionally displeased by them.
Albel was pleased.
"I can't leave tomorrow!" he bellowed, gesturing at the collected group. "My little girl is getting married in two days. Married! The Queen..."
"Has ordered you to be at the palace tomorrow for a new mission," one of them said quite firmly.
It almost looked like Clair was smiling. Nel was trying to cough and cover her own expression. She was failing, but Adray hadn't noticed.
Fate was the one who was quick on his feet-- possibly for the first time ever.
"Go, Adray," he said loudly. "We can put the wedding on hold til you return. It'll be even bigger and better than we were planning!"
"That's right," Clair added, rushing to stand woodenly at Fate's side. "It'll be okay. We can wait."
"But..." Adray turned and looked at them all, gaze lingering on Albel for far longer than Albel would have liked.
The next words out of Adray's mouth more than guaranteed that Albel would be heading to the tavern for the night. And possibly for the rest of the week. With Clair buying each and every one of his drinks.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!