Summary: CliffxAlbel ficlet. A little different take on the Peterny Inn scene.

Disclaimer: I hold no ownership to Star Ocean 3 or its characters, nor am I making a profit from this.

Rating: PG-13/T

Warnings: Shounen-ai (just boys smooching), vulgar language


Risky Business

Cliff's POV

Albel Nox was not a person to be trifled with. Everyone knew this. Even the few of us that just recently became acquainted with this planet tried as much as possible to steer clear of rousing anything dangerous in the swordsman. I shouldn't really have included myself in that last statement, though...I don't tend to follow the rules of the general population.

I took my attraction as plain curiosity at first; I'd never known anyone remotely like him before and found it only natural to be so drawn to someone so different. However, his aloof, anti-social, and unpredictably violent nature tended to complicate things a bit. And although I found his over-usage of the words 'fool', 'maggot', and 'worm' completely endearing (cough), they certainly weren't conversation builders.

It was a night spent in Peterny when he asked me something completely unexpected.

"Do you hate me?" An especially strange question given the circumstances, being woken up abruptly in the middle of the night and practically dragged out of the inn at sword point; and it took me a moment to register that he had said anything at all, the absurdity perhaps slowing down my thought process.

"What?"

He let out a light growl in annoyance. "I shouldn't need to repeat myself, maggot."

Smirking a bit, I shrugged my shoulders and answered with a question of my own. "...Should I hate you?"

"Just answer the question," Albel bit out, scowling darkly at my obvious attempt to irritate him and dodge the question.

"Well, I don't see why I should..." I trailed off, purposely not giving him a direct answer. At this he let out an incredulous scoff. I mean, you've got a fiery personality...and one fuckin' sexy body. Fortunately for me, I kept the last part to myself. I didn't quite fancy having my guts spilt all over the cobblestone, after all. It might attract unwanted attention.

"Hmph."

Giving the situation at hand a twice over, I realized how strange it really was for the other to ask such a seemingly self-conscious question. "Why are you so suddenly concerned about what I think anyway?"

"I'm not," he spat at me, obviously offended.

"Then what would you call this? I'd say someone's starting to feel a little self-conscious, huh?" The smirk remained on my face and I could see him fuming.

Somewhat unexpectedly, he reached up and grabbed the collar of my shirt. "You arrogant worm, I didn't drag your ass out here to be criticized! I asked you a simple question."

The first thing that registered in my mind was not his words, but the close proximity of his face with mine that he created. I realized it would take only a slight lean forward to capture those angry, plush lips in a kiss. Then, of course, I had to wonder how much I valued my life thinking such thoughts.

When the only thing he received was my probably unnerving stare, Albel scoffed and let go, taking a few steps away and, amazingly, almost looked embarrassed. Almost. From the distance he chose I could also see his full figure clearer and my eyes traveled from his petite face adorned with blazing ruby eyes, lower to his, I must say, almost scantily clad body, his skirt swaying every so often when a breeze blew by and successfully showed off more than it intended to as the slit rode up his leg. I couldn't help but wonder why he even wore such a girlish outfit that could easily attract unwanted attention, even if it did compliment his equally effeminate body and long hair rather nicely. I seriously doubt it was intentional, though. He didn't seem the type of person to worry over such matters as style. Once my gaze made its way back up to his face, I could sense him cringing slightly from the intense scrutiny of his body.

"What the hell is your problem?" he asked, more like muttered, in my direction, his gaze focused on some unknown point away from me.

I smirked again just because I knew it pissed him off. "Just enjoying the view."

Albel looked up, confusion written all over his face. "What's that supposed to mean?"

I waved it off with my hand. "Nothing." He frowned and I continued. "Look, I don't hate you, alright? So don't worry your pretty little head over it."

"Why?"

"Why, what?"

"Why don't you hate me?"

It was my turn to frown. "Do you want me to?"

Albel didn't reply right away, looking decidedly upset about something. "...Whatever." He turned around and started to walk back inside.

I'm not sure what provoked me to do what I did next. It could have been upon realizing that this was really the only time I'd been, and probably would ever be, alone somewhere with him. It could have also been the way the moonlight made his pale-ish skin glow and his silky hair glisten, giving him an ethereal effect that added to his beauty. It was probably a mixture of both. One thing was certain, though, I must have had some kind of death wish.

As Albel made to walk through the door, I grabbed his arm, spun him around, and before he could yell and scream obscenities at me, I leaned down and devoured his lips with my own in one of the most searing kisses I'd ever remembered giving. Despite the immediate tensing of his muscles, I took his moment of shock to snake an arm around his waist and pull him flush against me, using my other hand to reach up and untie the wraps around his hair, letting his waist-length blonde hair flow freely.

At this point I had fully expected to feel his claw-gauntlet rip through my stomach, effectively gutting me. However, Albel continued to stand motionless in my arms. Once I deemed breathing necessary, I pulled away and looked down at his flushed face, which was currently a mixture of emotions: confusion, then anger, then to something unrecognizable. I had to admit, it was rather cute.

Before he had the chance to think anything remotely violent, I leaned down again, placed a swift kiss on his cheek and headed off to bed. Looking back one more time at the disheveled figure, I decided it would be best to lock my door that night.

OWARI

Well, dang, I really meant for this to be a one-shot, but it seems to have left off (at least to me) quite unfinished. I also apologize for any awkward sentences (this was un-beta'd) and any OOC-ness. Feedback please!