Summary: Haunted by dark memories of his past, Albel battles to admit his deep emotions for Sophia, while she struggles to let go of the life she has always known. When Fayt arrives with the intent of taking Sophia back to Earth, will their relationship survive his efforts to tear them apart? Or will a tragedy of their own doing threaten to drive them apart forever?
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Ocean Till the End of Time or the respective characters. Chuck Norris can and does.
Warnings: Language, sex, violence and character deaths. Sophia might be OOC because I've made her more mature and not as idiotic.
A/N: No! Why am I writing an Albel/Sophia story? Normally I hate this pairing (I support Sophia bashing- well, I used to)… but now I seem to have changed my mind. This couple can work and I seem to have gotten a taste for it. Don't think this means I've abandoned AlbelxNel, but I now write AlbelxSophia as well.
Read and review (please?)
Chapter One: Where Passion Lies
The white folds wrapped themselves around her legs as she stood against the wind, her hair fluttering behind her in silken waves as she continued her silent and lonely vigil over him. The one she watched was moving in the valley below, slaughtering every beast and monster in his path with swift strokes of his beloved sword. The roars and shrieks of agony echoed in her ears and she flinched at the sight of the blood splattering against the dull rock and staining the dust crimson. He fought tirelessly, locked in a dance of death with the katana as his partner, and the enemy could only fall at his feet, unable to resist the melodious allure of his blade. She resisted the urge to call out his name when she thought she saw him falter, but resolved to say nothing and raised the staff clenched tightly in her hand, murmuring the incantation of a healing spell under her breath. Her breath caught in her throat when he raised his head as the glowing light surrounded his lithe form, and his crimson gaze met hers.
Standing there in the valley, covered in the blood of his enemy, he was the embodiment of desire and she wanted him. If she was to be punished for coming here, then so be it. Sophia no longer cared what he ordered her to do and was prepared to accept his punishment if it meant being near him. She lost sight of him for a moment as he disappeared into the shadows below the hill, and she waited quietly, returning her staff to the sheath strapped to her back. The soft crunch of footsteps sounded behind her, followed by a sharp click as he slid his bloodstained sword back into the ornate sheath at his side.
"Why did you come back?" his voice was husky and dry, and she suspected he must have been fighting for quite some time, taking no time to drink water. The swordsman seemed to live only to make life more difficult for himself.
She turned to face him, her green eyes burning with defiance and longing. "I wanted to see you," she replied softly. "It's been so long, that I…"
Albel glared at her coldly. "I meant for you to return to your planet and remain there, maggot. I specifically instructed you to never return to this world. Can you not even understand a simple command?"
Sophia winced at the insult delivered so callously but gazed imploringly into his eyes, gripping his arm with a sudden determinism. "Albel, I had to see you again."
He regarded the young woman standing in front of him, the short white dress that hugged the curves of her slim body, and the familiar way in which her rich brown locks fell over her shoulders to graze the hint of cleavage peeking over the modest neckline of the dress. White boots and a winged staff spreading out from behind her shoulders completed the angelic look, her appearance the picture of innocence. She returned the gaze, her eyes travelling over the severe black military uniform that he wore and the dark hair that begged her to run her fingers through the soft strands.
She smiled softly and he cursed at the way the smile illuminated her beautiful face. "I see you've lost your penchant for more alternative dress, Albel." True enough, the sarong and purple boots were gone, and had been replaced with a simple black shirt and pants, standard military boots and a dark purple cloak thrown around his thin shoulders. But the thick metal collar still encased his throat, a length of chain dangling past the neck of his shirt. He had never, in all the months she had known him, removed it from his neck. With a flush, she remembered how she herself had yanked on the chain to pull him closer when they had…
The memory brought a torrent of painful reminiscences to her, and she sighed, remembering the faint scents of leather and vanilla that had remained in her clothes, even weeks after she had left.
The captain ignored her, tearing his gaze away from the gentle curve of her lips. "You should not have come here," he said flatly.
The smile disappeared and he felt a tinge of regret that he was the cause of the light fading slightly in her emerald orbs. "I missed you."
Albel turned abruptly away from her and began striding down the hill, back to the gorge where he had been assigned to exterminate monsters. Frustrated tears pooled in her eyes and she ran after him, grabbing his arm with both small hands. "I missed you so much I thought I was going to die!" she blurted out, unable to stop the tears finally spilling over onto her cheeks.
He halted, the muscles of his arm tensing under her touch as a shudder rippled through his body. "Sophia…"
She raised her face hopefully at the sound of her name, her green eyes glittering with tears. He grasped her trembling chin with his fingers, forcing her to look away from him. "Look there," he commanded, pointing her gaze in the direction of the horizon.
"Albel, I don't…" she tried to twist her head around to look at him, but stopped when his grip grew tighter and she gasped with pain.
"Tell me," he whispered hoarsely, "What it is that you see."
The landscape was desolate, still pitted by the scars that the Vendeeni attack had left and the vegetation had yet to fully recover, with only a few bare sticks of wood left standing. The small number of animals left alive by the end of the war was quickly dwindling because monster and dragon populations were exploding, killing livestock in murderous rampages. All in all, it was a miserable sight. Actually, it was not even a miserable sight, there was nothing.
"I see nothing," she replied honestly.
The answer satisfied him and he released her, even though his fingers lingered near her lips. But she stepped back from him, taking a deep breath. "I see nothing but the chance for rebirth, the chance for renewal!"
Albel snorted in disgust. "And what do you know of this world, maggot? In six months, everything has changed. The peace is crumbling, our people falling into war again. There is little food, the monsters run rampant, bandits rape and murder in their droves. Look at it, Sophia, and tell me that this is the world that you wanted to come back to!"
Slowly, she reached out to gently cradle his cheek in her palm. "The only world I know," she whispered tenderly, "Is the one I see when I look into your eyes, the world I feel when you hold me in your arms. And that is the only one that exists for me."
"Then you are truly blind," he spat. "Do you not have eyes, woman? There is nothing here for you!"
"You're here and that's enough!" she pushed her hair away from her face, her cheeks flushed with frustration. "Albel, the past six months without you have been the worst in my life. I can't sleep at night knowing you're so far away, I want to die for the need to be close to you! Can you even understand what I feel?"
Of course you fool, he wanted to scream at her. I never wanted you to leave, I never wanted you to get on that blasted ship! You think that I can sleep at night knowing you might be with him?
But as much as I want to deny it, you belong with Fayt. You belong to a world I cannot know. And who am I to deny you the life you deserve?
"You belong to Fayt. Not to me, Sophia. You never did."
She swallowed hard, resisting the urge to slap some sense into his thick head. "What makes you think I want to be with Fayt? Albel, after everything we did together, how could you think that I don't belong to you?"
Albel grasped her waist with his clawed hand, drawing her close to him. "Everything, Sophia? Everything meant nothing to me. When I see you and Fayt together, you share so much. Your childhood, your friendship, your families… and what do we share? Death? Destruction? War? Is that what you want to live with, what you think you deserve from me?" he growled, his arms dropping to rest at his sides.Oh, Albel…
A tear fell from her cheek onto his chest. Wrapping her arms around his waist, she rested her head on his chin, breathing in the rank smell of blood. "Before you, life was only a dream where I waited, waited for someone who I could love beyond all bounds. When I met you, Albel, I could finally wake up," she said softly, listening to the sound of his heartbeat.
A knife twisted in his chest, and he flinched. Yet you will never know that I was the one who awakened first.
How I would love to love you.
"I cannot give you what you ask of me, Sophia." When she raised her head to meet his gaze, he turned away, refusing to see the pain that he knew would be in her eyes.
"Albel, look at me."
Met only with a stony silence, she forcibly pulled his chin to look into his eyes. He glared at her without a word and she smiled sadly. Summoning all her strength, she raised a hand, and before he could react, her palm had met his cheek with a loud crack. "When will you stop lying to me, Albel?" she cried, her eyes filling once more with tears. "I want you to tell me the truth! Do you love me?"Love?
His dark hair fell over his eyes, hiding them from her as he took a step back. "You want to know how I feel?" he asked harshly, his voice sounding strange, even to his own ear.
Sophia nodded and reached for his flesh hand to entwine the fingers with her own. Without warning, he grabbed her roughly around the waist and crushed his lips to hers in a kiss, savage in its desperation. Willingly, she opened her mouth to his, her hands eagerly seeking his face, his hair. His clawed hand snatched a handful of hair, jerking her head back and allowing him to deepen the kiss. She did not protest at the violence of his embrace, having dreamed of it, indeed craved it for so long. Albel soon abandoned her lips in favour of the exposed skin of her neck and he attacked the place directly under the curve of her chin, where he knew she was particularly sensitive. She gasped at the heated contact, whispering his name in a shudder of pleasure. When his teeth grazed the hollow of her throat, she whimpered in surrender and arched against him, burying her hands in the mane that fell down his back. Albel fought to restrain himself, but now that the moment he had been fantasizing about for weeks had finally arrived, why wait?
"I have a passion for you that refuses to die," he murmured, hoisting up her slender form to cradle her in his arms. And it's killing me inside.
Her lips searched for his and nibbled along the lines of his jaw, caressing the sweat slicked skin. "Maybe that's what we do share," she answered quietly, her warm breath tickling his earlobe. "Passion. It's what brought us together in the first place, isn't it? And it's something I only have for you."
Albel considered the possibility briefly before a familiar smirk curved his lips. "Is that enough for you now, woman?"
Sophia kissed him gently, her fingers sliding down the open neck of his shirt. "I don't care," she whispered as the skilled lips on her skin brought her to the brink of sexual madness. "Just take me now before we both go insane."
He growled, nipping her bottom lip teasingly. The darkened crimson of his eyes told her that he was prepared to throw her down right here and now, even in the open.
"Only not here," she added, linking her arms around his neck.
"It would give the monsters a show."
A raised brow told him that she was not joking and the hand brushing casually over his clothed manhood warned him that he had better hurry up. He gritted his teeth, resisting the powerful urge to rip off her dress with his hunting dagger. "You are not helping matters," he snapped irritably as he began walking as fast as he could with his precious cargo.
"I know." With that, her teeth clamped down on his exposed collarbone, biting hard enough to leave a mark. Albel growled in frustration, on the verge of losing all control.
"If you continue doing that, how do you expect me to wait until we get to the cave!"
"What else would you prefer in the middle of nowhere? You want me to take you in the dirt under a tree?"
She sighed reluctantly, stroking the spot where her teeth marks were still indented in the smooth, muscled flesh.
"Why?" Delicately, she flicked her tongue over the reddened flesh and he gritted his teeth.
"You know why."
"You are driving me insane," he hissed.
He glared down at her but when she smiled cutely at him, his resistance instantly crumbled.
Her back slammed against the stone but her involuntary gasp was lost in the recesses of the mouth moulded over her own as Albel pinned her against the wall, holding her wrists above her head and rendering her helpless. Sophia did not even care when she saw the silver flash of the dagger in his hand tearing between her breasts and down her stomach, efficiently ruining the dress she had chosen so carefully for their reunion. Once the dress had been ripped off of her, her staff fell to the floor with a clatter which both ignored. A small price to pay for the dream she had held close to her heart for so many long months.
Once she was fully naked, she locked her arms around his neck, starving for the taste of him but he pulled back for a moment, swearing as he struggled to pull his shirt off of his thin frame. She made a small sound of protest at the loss of contact, which was quickly silenced when her hands were allowed to splay over the smooth expanse of his chest, teasing the hardening buds. While her hands were occupied with his chest, her lips continued elsewhere, her tongue engaged in a mock battle with his, which Albel won effortlessly with his natural dominance.
Albel quickly realised that it would not do to take Sophia like this, her back would soon be rubbed raw from the rough rock. So, he lifted her easily and carried her to a patch of smooth stone, depositing her gently on the cave floor. He paused in the act of removing his pants, gazing down at the beautiful nymph that had him under her spell. Her hair was fanned around her face, flushed red from his embrace, her lips bruised and swollen from his kisses. She had never looked lovelier, in any other moment they had experienced together.
"Sophia…" he bent down closer to her, kneeling beside her to cup her cheek in one hand.
She smiled up at him and placed her hand over his. "What are you waiting for? "
He nodded his head in silent agreement but when she reached for him, he caught her wrists, holding them down on either side of her head. "Do you want this?"
Green eyes blinked in surprise. "Albel?"
"Do you trust me?"
Sophia took a deep breath and, freeing her hand, took his. "I trust you, Albel. More than I trust myself," she whispered, touching her lips to his palm in a light kiss.
He chuckled softly and their mouths met, again and again until their lungs burned from lack of air. Lowering himself gently on top of her, he began a trail of kisses that burned as his tongue danced across her heated skin in intricate loops. Sophia moaned his name as he tweaked a nipple between fingers calloused by swordsmanship, taking its twin into his mouth and swirling the bud in delicious circles. Encouraged by her desperate whimpers of pleasure, his hand caressed her belly in lazy strokes until he decided her breasts had received enough attention and his lips descended downwards.
Determined to return the pleasure he was giving her, the brunette tried to push him back so she could reach the hardness pressing into her inner thigh, but one look stopped her in her tracks. Her lover was equally determined, and would clearly not let her touch him until he had succeeded in driving her crazy with his games.
"I am the master of this game," he murmured huskily, pressing his lips to the velvety skin covering the raised hip bones. "Master of you. You are mine."
"Y-yes," she moaned, arching into his touch. "I belong to you… only you, Albel…"
Pleased with the answer, he rewarded her by claiming her womanhood with his skilled tongue, smirking as she writhed in exquisite ecstasy, moaning a distorted version of his name, unable to think coherently.
"D-don't stop…" she pleaded, her eyes flying shut at the intense heat spreading from his mouth. Deliberately, he paused, raising crimson eyes darkened with lust.
"What was that, woman? Are you giving me orders?" he growled.
Dazed, Sophia lifted her head to give him an angry glare. "Look at it this way: do you want to stop?"
The smug expression on his pointed face told her that while he did not want to, he would just to infuriate her further. "Since you look ten times more appealing when you're angry," he teased, lifting one slim leg to dot her inner thigh with small kisses and elegant licks.
She groaned impatiently, jerking on the closest braid to pull him closer. "Stop the teasing, Albel, I want you inside me now. After waiting for six months, I think we can both skip the games."
He entwined his arms around her, lifting her up slightly, intending to ignore her and continue his teasing, but when she shifted to avoid the prosthetic hand digging into the small of her back, she accidentally brushed up against him and he froze, his grip around her waist tightening. Sophia hid a satisfied smile of her own when she saw the look of fleeting vulnerability that flitted across his strong features and knew she did not have long to wait now.
"I hate what you do to me, woman," he growled in frustration before he pushed her back onto the floor. She wrapped herself around him, her nails scraping fine lines across his spine and her legs hooking around narrow hips to rest in the small of his back. Licking his lips in anticipation, he positioned himself at her entrance, tenderly brushing sweat slicked hair away from her flushed cheeks. She gasped as he slowly pushed into her, whispering soft words of encouragement as he began to move within her with deep strokes.
His gaze, clouded by lust, was locked with hers as he clenched his teeth, carefully restraining himself from forcibly slamming into her too soon and he hissed when she dug her nails into his back and she shuddered from the ripples of pleasure that coursed through her slim form. But as the same sweet waves began to beat at his resolve, he increased the pace and force of his thrusts, bringing them both closer to the brink of their release. He breathed out her name in a hoarse growl and Sophia cried out his as she came, her fingers raking angry red lines across his back and actually drawing blood. The sudden tightening around his manhood threw him off the edge and he stiffened as he released his essence into her, panting her name under his breath like a mantra. Albel resisted the urge to collapse on top of her and she melted in his arms, both breathing a soft sigh of fulfilment. He moved himself carefully, first settling beside her and then pulling her limp form on top of his without breaking the intimate connection. With her cheek pressed against his chest, faintly gleaming with sweat, they lay together in blissful silence, limbs entangled and he groped blindly for his cloak with his prosthetic hand, throwing the purple warmth over her. Sophia snuggled closer to him, her breath whistling softly over still heated flesh.
"It's good to know that you haven't changed your style a bit since we last made love," she said, a contented sigh sweet on her lips.
"Only because I've been fantasizing about this moment since you left for Earth," he replied, his flesh arm curving around her possessively. "Planning it in my head very carefully…to every last detail, actually…"
"You should be."
Raising herself slightly over him, she punched him lightly on the shoulder. "You should be more grateful, you know. I spent a lot of my own hard earned money on this trip."
"Is it my turn to be flattered?" he asked, raising his brow quizzically.
"Worm," he retorted mockingly.
Sophia smiled and shut her eyes, one finger drawing lazy circles on his sculpted muscles. "Albel?"
"Hmm?" he leaned his head back on the floor, one hand buried in her brown hair, stroking the strands slowly.
"What, is Albel the Wicked tired already? What a pathetic display!" Teasingly, she twisted a nipple with her mouth, watching his expression turn to one of irritated eagerness. Normally, he wanted to be the one in charge and it was annoying when he was not. This would drive him absolutely crazy…which was exactly what she wanted.
"You presume too much, maggot," he growled, flipping her to the ground to lie on his cloak. He straddled her once again and pressed her lips to his, his tongue demanding entrance to hers. As lips and hands took over, the pair finally found the satisfaction and bliss that both had been longing for since their separation.
For the first time in months, both had hope of heaven.
To be continued.