Game of Love—Cliff's Black Heart Event

by taitofan

Rated PG-13 for yaoi

Disclaimer: Since Jack couldn't marry guys and Claire couldn't marry girls, it's safe to assume that I don't own the Harvest Moon: Mineral Town games.

Author's Note: Welcome to title, the companion piece to Events of the Heart. While it's not required that you read that to get this, I do recommend it, as I'll be referencing that fic here and this fic there. For example, this chapter takes place between chapters one and two of EotH. Each chapter I'll tell you where these take place, in case you follow both. Now, I will warn you that Jack and Claire's characterization are based on the way I played them. Yes, I made Jack do girly stuff and Claire was a tomboy. I love them dearly. Lastly, before we start, I'll mention that this fic will contain Cliff's four heart events, Cliff's two random events, five "romantic" festivals, and three ending chapters for fourteen chapters total—one more than EotH. And all that said… Enjoy the first chapter!

Flames do nothing but make me laugh, although I'll listen to any CC you have. Please read, review, and enjoy! Finished 10-09-06

What a scam. A clean peaceful farm indeed. The place was overgrown and falling apart. That mayor was just lucky he'd been able to calm Claire down before she cracked his skull with that hammer of hers…

Jack and Claire were the new owners of Futago Farm. They'd moved to Mineral Town with their puppy Koinu in hopes of proving their family wrong about them. Claire was not just a tomboy lesbian who liked to get dirty, literally. Jack was not just a gay guy who was better off being a chef than a farmer. True, they were mostly accurate, but not completely! The Futago twins were more than that, much more!

…True, the very first day Claire decided she'd take care of the fields and animals while Jack would do the cooking and run errands, but still… Their parents didn't know they hadn't switched roles like they'd sworn they would before they moved. They were twenty-one now—their parents didn't have to know everything they did…

It was now their sixth day at the farm, and Jack was still trying to find his way around town. He knew where Rose Square was, as well as the beach. He'd met Zack their first day there, though Claire had been the one to talk to him, seeing as he had no real plans to work in the fields. Clichéd or not, he preferred to be clean thank you very much. No, Jack had met the other occupant of that household when Won had come to their door their second day and sold him that expensive apple. Something with a bunch of letters… He couldn't remember what, but he had a feeling it was just a regular apple. Oh well, it might still come in handy… He hoped.

He also knew where the Poultry Farm was, only because it was right next door to them and he passed it whenever he ventured into town. He remembered that the third farm and the blacksmith were somewhere near there, and the inn and wine store the next road up. There was a library he planned on checking out soon, and a clinic somewhere that he had a feeling his sister would be visiting sooner or later. Probably sooner knowing her. And there was a store that he was supposed to be visiting so he could buy some seeds for Claire while she was clearing the weeds in their field. If only he could remember which one it was… He probably should have slowed down to read the signs, but he'd hoped he could just hurry along and find it by sight…

'Looks like I was wrong… I hope Claire doesn't need those seeds right away… Well, what's this? A church? Yeah, I've definitely gone too far. Better turn back… Though maybe I should introduce myself… But then again…'

He wasn't always so indecisive, but he and his twin had never had good experiences with churches. The last time they'd gone to a service it was when they were sixteen. They'd gone to a holiday ceremony with their parents and Claire had decided, for whatever reason, that flirting with the pastor's daughter was a good idea. After Jack had stood up for his twin, they'd both been outed and their parents would never take them back there again. Not that they'd complained of course. And surely, if a big city church had been so close-minded, a small town church would be just as bad, if not worse…

But then again, that guy at the Poultry Farm—Rick he believed was his name—made Jack's nearly perfect gaydar go off the charts, so who knew? Maybe Mineral Town was different; maybe he could actually settle down here with a nice, cute guy and his sister could do the same with a girl… And what better way to gauge the morals of a town then to go to their religious hub?

His mind made up, Jack silently apologized for keeping Claire waiting and walked into the church.

'Well, it's nice looking at least…'

It didn't seem like it was used all that often. There weren't very many pews, and other than those, there was only an altar, an organ, and two doors. One led to the confessional he was sure, though he wasn't sure about the other. The lack of occupants wasn't extremely surprising, considering it was eleven in the morning on a Thursday. There only seemed to be two people in fact, a middle-aged man who was obviously the pastor, and…

And oh god, Jack was in love.

Well, maybe not in love, though the thought of finding a life partner in a church of all places was rather ironic, but definitely lust at first sight that could very well lead to love as long as that gorgeous man was at least bisexual. Oh, how Jack hoped he was… A handsome brunet sat in the front pew, staring at his shoes. Jack could only see his profile, but that's all he needed. Unless there rest of his face was horribly scarred, this guy got an A plus in the "aesthetically pleasing" category. Now, as long as he wasn't a jerk or married, Jack would take back every doubt he'd ever had about Mineral Town…

"Hello, have we met before?" Jack snapped out of his ogling and guiltily turned to the pastor he'd been unintentionally ignoring, as if the man could read his thoughts. But since he was smiling kindly, Jack doubted it.

"Uh, no. I'm Jack. I live on the farm with my sister Claire. I just wanted to check this place out…" The man nodded, the smile still on his face. Jack had a feeling that it didn't leave very often.

"Ah yes, I've heard about you two. Quite the project you've taken on! Well, my name is Carter. I'm the pastor here as I'm sure you've realized. It's very nice to meet you Jack." He stuck out his hand and Jack shook it, liking Carter already. As long as he didn't end up being a homophobe, the farmer had a feeling they'd get along just fine.

"Likewise." Carter glanced over at the man who'd caught Jack's eye, then motioned the younger man closer when he didn't look up.

"I have a small favor to ask you if you don't mind. I saw you watching that young man when you came in, and since you seem nice, I think you might be just the thing he needs." Oh, Jack wished he meant that the way it sounded… "His name is Cliff, and he moved here just a short time before you and your sister did. The problem is, he's extremely shy, and he hasn't made a single friend. I think I might even be the only person he's spoken more than ten words to. So, I was hoping you could talk to him and be his friend…?" …Jack suddenly loved his life.

"Of course! I mean, it's terrible not to have any friends, and I really haven't made any yet myself, so sure, I'd love to help." Carter's smile widened at that, and he nodded happily.

"Wonderful! Thank you very much! Just try your best to get him to talk. I'm counting on you!" Oh no, no pressure to get the hot shy guy to open up to him, right? Well, it wasn't as if Jack wouldn't try his hardest… The quicker he got Cliff to be his friend the quicker he could find out if they had a future together.

And Jack really hoped that was the case.

"Well, I'll do my best…" Carter patted his shoulder, leaving Jack to walk over to the front pew where Cliff was sitting.

'Okay, don't be nervous. Carter says he's shy, so I just need to play it cool, not blush no matter how hot he is, and I'll be fine…'

"Hello, my name's Jack. I just moved on the old farm about a week ago with my sister. And you are…?" He knew of course, but it was a good icebreaker.

"…Ah…. Hi…" Cliff's shaky voice was a bit hard to hear since he was talking to his shoes, but still. Jack could come up with hundreds of words to describe it. Being the romantic chef-wannabe he was, the word "honey" sprang to mind. "Um… My name is Cliff…" That news wasn't anything new, but when Cliff finally lifted his head up, Jack felt his heart speed up. If his profile was gorgeous, then seeing his face was… Indescribable. If he ended up being straight, Jack didn't know what he'd do. It'd probably involve a ton of ice cream and putting up with Claire reminding him for the umpteenth time that she was the sister, not him.

"H-hello Cliff. It's nice to meet you." He knew staring was rude, but really now. Cliff had those eyes you could get lost in… He figured that if the whole chef thing didn't work out, he could always write the perfect cheesy romance novel. His staring wasn't as discreet as he'd hoped though, as Cliff quickly colored under his intense gaze.

"… …Ah… Do I have something on my face…?" It took a lot of willpower not to say "Absolute perfection."

"No! Sorry… You just, um, looked kind of familiar." Lame excuse or not, Cliff nodded in acceptance.

"Oh… I…" Man, Carter wasn't exaggerating how shy he was… If anything, he was underestimating it. "Ah… I'm nervous… I'm sorry, I can't talk…" Well, that wouldn't do! Jack was at least going to be friends with him, no matter what he had to do…

"Hey, just relax! I don't bite." 'Unless you're into that,' he added mentally.

"Okay…" Cliff closed his eyes and took a deep breath, then opened them and finally lost that look that reminded Jack of a scared rabbit. "I feel much better now. Thank you Jack." Jack felt his cheeks heat when Cliff said his name. Oh man, he had it bad

"Oh, it's no problem." No problem at all.

"So, you're running the farm with your sister… What do you do exactly?" He was tempted to lie, but he'd never been very good at doing that…

"Well, Claire works in the fields and does most of the animal work, and I cook and run errands around town. I got a fishing rod from Zack, so I'll probably try that soon, and Claire said something about trying mining one of these days. What do you do?" If Cliff thought that their reverse roles were odd, he didn't say anything about it.

"I don't have a job yet… Right now, I'm staying in the inn with the money I had from before I came here. Well, good luck on your farm." Jack noticed that Cliff obviously didn't want to talk about that anymore, so he nodded.

"Thanks. I'll tell Claire someone finally wished us luck… Oh! Oh man, I was supposed to be buying seeds for Claire! She's going to kill me… Cliff, I'm so sorry, but I have to go. Are you here often? We can talk more later." Cliff nodded, the color back in his cheeks, though Jack wasn't entirely sure why.

"Y-yes… I'm always here or at the inn… I'll look forward to seeing you again… G-goodbye Jack." Hoping that Cliff would take it as a sign of "manly bonding," Jack grabbed Cliff's hand and shook it while saying his own good byes and rushing out of the church to find that darn store.

He completely missed Cliff's face flushing a deep red at the contact.

"I'm back!" Jack yelled as he ran across the field, not stopping until he was at his sister's side. "Turnips, potatoes, and cucumbers. Here." The blonde took them, giving her brother a suspicious look.

"Jack… Even if you got lost, it shouldn't have taken you that long. What were you doing?" As Jack launched into his explanation about going into the church and meeting the hottest guy alive, Claire rolled her eyes and started working. Didn't it figure? Less than a week and he'd already found someone to make him act like a lovesick teenage girl…

Well, for his sake, she hoped this guy didn't end up being straight like all the others…

"Well, what did you think of Jack, Cliff?" Cliff, face still beat red, found it impossible to look Carter in the eye.

"Well, he… He's…"

"Just your type?" Carter offered, amused by Cliff's startled expression. "We've already discussed this Cliff. No matter what happened in the past—"

"I know," Cliff cut in, "but having those thoughts in a church…" Carter's smile slowly disappeared. If the younger man kept thinking like that, he'd never find his happiness…

"Cliff, God loves all of his children, no matter what. I know that your family thought otherwise, but I assure you, what they told you was misinformed. There I nothing wrong with your feelings. Now I'll ask again; what did you think of Jack?" Cliff still seemed hesitant, but a ghost of a smile graced his lips.

"He… He's nice, and seems like a very strong person, and… He's very handsome." Carter's smile returned at the confession.

Maybe there was hope for him yet.