Disclaimer: I do not own Star Ocean: Till The End Of Time, or any characters from said story/game. This story is fan made for the enjoyment of fans.
A/N: My first attempt at anything Star Ocean: TTEOT related, so reviewers be nice please. I picked the pairing of Albel and Roger because when I checked out the archives here I found a lot of Fayt and Albel pairings, but not much else. I'm just here to try and change it up. This is meant to be a one shot, but I might do more if people ask. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this; I spent a lot of time on it. Reviews are greatly appreciated.
Roger and Albel: The Same
The dungeon is such a strange place to consider calling a home. After the king put me down here I grew somewhat found of my environment, so dark and cold. I felt right at home. The only two problems I had with it were that I was restrained and unable to move, and also unable to determine what went on outside my little cell. Other then those two facts', it was completely bearable. If I ever get out of this hole, I might ask the king to let me live down here.
But I don't blame them for restraining me either. They knew that I could plot an escape, and if I got out, they would have hell to pay for sentencing me to this place. Maggots, all of them, and their stupid war makes me so angry. I don't care anything about who wins or loses as long as the end result is in our favor, all I wanted was some strong warriors to slay, a place to put my abilities to the test. But alas, those stupid worms of Aquios are no challenge at all.
No the only challenge came from a young trio of warriors, two of which claim to be engineers from Greeton, a long forgotten technological super power. They are the reason I'm down here in the first place. I'll never be able to rest again until I can stand above them in triumph, and even then I know in my heart that it will never be the same again. It had been the first time I had failed since the Ascension of the Flame, and it haunts me to this day.
So when the opportunity to work with them arose, upon hearing that I was to accompany them to Crossell's lair, I wanted to refuse. In the end, the thought of seeing the outside world, and one other thing, provided me the means of joining them. I wanted to find a weakness in the group, something to exploit, and playing friend seemed like such a great excuse at the time. However, I was unprepared for a certain individual who would change my heart and warm my soul. He turned out to be the only one who accepted me at face value, and called me friend. His name is Roger S. Huxley, a Menodix child from the Sanmite Republic.
Granted, it didn't start that way at first, and in fact, the little maggot annoyed me to no end. After they had let me out and I had left Airyglyph with them, I walked a little ways behind in silence. Reflection usually didn't find it's way to me, but after being in that dungeon for ten days it felt like the first time I had felt the cold of the mountains. The snow landing on my face, and on my skin, like little specks of frozen dust, seemed like a blessing. Even as I knew how cold it was, knowing that everyone else ahead of me shivered like the worms that they are, I couldn't help but smile and take in the crisp air around me.
That marks the first time I noticed him, or at least the fact that I wasn't as alone as I thought. After sensing something I looked around eventually finding my way to the ground. It had been no wonder I hadn't noticed him before that, because he looked like a little rat with a face. He didn't even come up to my knees, and I even had to strain my neck just to look down on him. He had floppy ears, messy hair, and a big, puffy tail. He stopped when I did and continued to just stare up at me with big, brown eyes, almost as if expecting me to do a trick any second. At that moment his eyes looked like big targets, waiting for my sword to plunge into them for the only purpose of stopping them from looking at me.
"What do you want, worm!" I hiss. He jumped back at the harshness of my words, but ultimately held his ground.
"I just wanted to introduce myself, seeing as were partners and all. My name's Roger, and I'm pleased-" I just about snapped. That was all he was staring at me for?
"I don't care who you are, if you bother me again like this again, you will regret it. Now get out my sight, fool!" I'll give him this; he is idiotically brave seeing as how small he is, for even after my threat he only seemed to be taken aback. He glared at me, and then shrugged, still looking angry.
"You're loss. Don't say I didn't try," He began to run ahead much to my relief, but then I heard him mutter something. I took everything I had, but I managed to let whatever it was slide. I hate children, and I if I had known Fayt had brought one with us, I would have refused. Based on the pitch of his voice, he seemed to still be a youth, and no different then any other's I've encountered. Or so I thought . . .
Before we set off for the Mountains of Barr, we were to make a brief detour to Peterny. Apparently, Fayt has some kind of workshop there, and they were going to spend the day working to refine our weapons and armor, specifically the blue haired maggot by the name of Maria. Supposedly, she has a weapon that will ultimately prove invaluable against the dragons, and they want to invent something stronger for her. Fools, it's a waste of time; nothing will make the fight with Crossell easier. We'll be lucky enough as it stands to be able to last five minutes. As we traveled, we encountered many monsters looking to taste flesh. We struck them down, or I should say our team of Roger, Maria, and one Adray Lasbard. I had heard of that old clown before, and he seemed to be able to hold his own against the insignificant worms that stood in our way. But what intrigued me the most was Roger. I didn't even consider that a boy his size could be so powerful. Granted, he couldn't best me, but he still managed to put up a fight of his own, and even made the killing blow a few times. Eventually the fighting roles were reversed, however, to allow the other's to rest and I, along with Fayt and Nel leading the way, made it to Peterny without incident.
When we arrived in Peterny, we got fed to much information in regards to the "game plan." Basically, tomorrow we would all hit the workshop hard, and hopefully come away with some useful items. Then it occurred to me that there had been a shop in Airyglyph we could have used, and it infuriated me that we traveled all this way to do something that could have been done before we left.
As we were given this speech, I began to notice a faint sensation on my foot. I looked down and who do I find but the little Menodix, whose tail swayed back and forth across my foot. In spite myself, I tried to ignore it, but eventually I could take it no more.
"If you don't stop wagging that tail of yours across my foot right now, I'll cut it off!" I nearly shouted, the rage within me nearly blinding my vision all ready. Seemingly oblivious to his dire situation, the maggot put his hands to his hips and, while humming defiantly, began to sway back and forth even slower yet more annoyingly then before. At that point I growled, and unsheathed my sword half way, but fast enough to make a sound. He immediately jumped and ran over to Fayt, hiding behind one of his legs, made larger by the ridiculous armor he wore on them.
"Ah! Fayt help!" He cried. I calmly put my sword back, and attempted to regain myself, but the problematic little brat wouldn't stop there.
"What's wrong?" Fayt asked concerned.
"He's gonna kill me and eat me," cried the little worm.
Fayt then glared at me with discontent and frustration. "Albel, you're scaring him!" he declared, in a tone he must of thought would scare me in return.
"And? What of it, fool?" I asked sarcastically. "The little worm started it, you know?"
"Is this true Roger?" asked Fayt looking back at him.
"No it isn't, I swear, he just started licking his lips and glaring at me and playing with his sword. He looked like he was going to kill me . . .," he said with better acting in spite of the truth then I would have hoped. He then did the most enraging thing as Fayt turned back to look at me; he stuck his tongue out at me from behind the sanctuary he thought he had. I'd prove him wrong.
"Why you little twerp," I said lunging forward, but I was abruptly cut off by Fayt moving in and placing himself between me and the maggot I intended to skewer for his insolence.
If I had been bolder at the time I probably would have just gone through Fayt, too. But something inside me forced me to stop. I can't tell if it was fear, or simply respect to his current position of authority over me, but at any rate I halted in my tracks, wickedly glaring him straight in the eyes which were extremely close to mine.
"I don't care who started it, but I'm ending it. If you cause a problem for us Albel, I'll send you back to Airyglyph, and we'll do this on our own. I'm I clear?" he said forcefully. I was taken aback slightly, but ultimately sighed in resignation and removed my eyes from his demanding ones.
"As you wish, maggot," I say coldly and then abruptly walk past them both, making eye contact with Roger as I walked by. He seemed to be doing a cross between smiling triumphantly and gloating at the same time. I broke the contact, and walked faster, hoping to get out of that town for a while before I did something someone else would regret.
I ended up sitting alone by the river just north of Peterny for longer then I can remember. Everything I tried to think about seemed to get rushed away in the stream. The hot, setting sun burned my partially exposed back, but it didn't actually register. I don't know why I chose this serenity to calm myself when normally I find the nearest thing that moves and end it's pitiful existence. Perhaps I was saving the strength I knew I would need for the upcoming fight against Crossell. I know for a fact I wasn't going soft, but the fact of the matter was I knew the odds were stacked against us, much to my sick satisfaction and my dismay. It was at this time that it occurred to me that I was helping people from an enemy country accomplish something that I had only basic knowledge of. Not that I hadn't known that I was before I decided, but now I began to ponder just what exactly changed that caused me to be paired with these worms.
After a while I went back into town and found Fayt looking over some items at a supply store table lined up along the street of the western most part of the town. My concerns from the river took hold, and I ended up asking him about the war. The conversation was surprisingly deep, to the point where I wound up getting into philosophical discussions on the matter of kingdom. Granted we had completely opposite viewpoints, but then again, I hadn't expected him to take it seriously at all. It could have been viewed as a pleasant conversation by anyone who bothered to listen, but I quickly bored of it once I understood the reason for my participation, and ultimately the events that lead to such.
I wondered the town aimlessly for a while afterward, visiting the tavern, and then getting fed up with the useless gossip being spat about me as I drank. The town was starting to get on my nerves; everyone was so cheery and oblivious to everything around them. I wished that I could draw my sword and put some more realism into this town. It appeared they needed something to wake them to the real world, but to bad I had to behave.
The sun had set, and twinkling stars began to fill the night sky before I finally headed over the inn on the west side of town. I walked into the inn, and I suddenly had an interesting question come to my mind. I walked through the empty halls toward the room that I was to share with the other three men in our party. Adray was snoring loudly when I walked in, and already tired, I got annoyed by it instantly. I silently walked over to the sleeping oaf, and tilted his head viscously so as to open his windpipe and stop the irritating sound. To my dismay, he didn't even wake up, but at least the room was quiet again. I then searched the other two beds in the dark to look for Fayt. I just had to know, for some reason, if there was bad blood between us. After all, I needed to know if I should watch my back.
"Fayt," I say. Many would have found how I said it to be rude considering the quiet of the environment that I stood in. It seemed quiet enough to me though, not that I cared really.
"Wha- Albel, it's you!" he said wearily as he sat up. He looked at me with what seemed like confusion, although I would have proffered a little more fear.
"We need to talk. Come with me, fool," I say and make my way back to the hallway. Only Fayt would hear of my doubts regarding the security of our alliance. But am I really to blame? After all, not even ten days ago they were my enemy. I have no reason not to be a little worried, just a little.
"Now? But it's the middle of the night!" he protested. "What you could you possibly need to talk about right now?" The last part seemed to be more to him then to me specifically, but nevertheless he rolled out of bed and followed close behind me out into the hallway. We got to the end of it where I stopped and listened to him approach from behind me before I began.
"Do you hate me?" I ask in a quiet voice, quieter and more timid then I hoped. His answer in the end was yes, and he let me have it when I didn't respond. In the middle of his little speech regarding the errors of my ways, and all the innocent people I hurt, I finally got fed up with it.
"Fine, fool. I get your point, don't beat it into the dirt." I watched him out of the corner of my eye as he returned to his room and shut the door. Well, I knew where I wouldn't be sleeping tonight. As I struggled to find a new spot to sleep for the night, I remembered that Roger had his own room given to him, for reasons I failed to understand, but weren't enough to stop me from forcing him to share.
I walked up to the door and viciously opened it, causing it to hit the wall as it came to an abrupt stop. It startled the little Menodix within and he jumped and stared at me in the hallway, his eyes widening with fear.
"Oh my God, you really are going to kill me!" He shouted trembling. "Oh please don't, sir. I'm to young to die!" His shrieking voice pierced my skull and began to shatter the little sanity I held onto.
"Quiet, fool!" I demanded and he ceased his insistent talk of his own demise, and how people would miss him if he died now, and how the world would be less good if he wasn't in it.
"You and I are sharing a room now, so move over." I state and close the door. His mouth trembles a little.
"But this is supposed to be my room. Who said?" he demands.
"I did, maggot. Did I stutter?" I reply wickedly. "Now . . . move over." I say for what I intended to be the final time.
"Oh, okay. I suppose," he responds flatly, and hops to the other side of the already small bed.
I get on it with him hesitantly and roll over onto my good arm, facing away from him. He was so light that I couldn't even feel his presence on the other side of the bed with me. There was a long period of silence and shuffling on the bed, as we began a subtle fight over the covers. Eventually, Roger spoke.
"Can you sleep?" he asked quietly.
"Not with you yapping," I snap. "Now be quiet!"
There was yet another long pause, and my mind began to drift into a state of rest. Sleep isn't the word I would use, because I never actually sleep. I'm always alert, even when only regaining my energy.
"Why are you being so mean to me?" came Roger's innocent voice through the night. I don't know why but my heart felt something to his question. I found myself unable to answer, the words I scrambled to find not coming. "I mean, I just tried to introduce myself, and you go ballistic on me."
Once again, I wanted to respond and make him return to silence. But an emotion I couldn't explain began to stir inside of me, and it chilled me. Was this . . . guilt?
"Something you want to talk about?" he asked quizzically. I snorted at this.
"It's none of your business, worm, now go to sleep," I commanded of him, but he wouldn't have it.
"It's okay to if you want, really. Even real men have to talk about stuff once in a while. Come on, try me. I won't laugh." Real men, I thought to myself. A real man would have been able to complete the Ascension of the Flame ceremony. A real man would have been able to vanquish his enemies, and not end up fighting by their side.
"Real men . . ." I fume. "What you would you know of such things? You're but a child," I inquire harshly.
"I may be small, but I'm no small fry," he says. "So, come on! It seems like something is troubling you. Spit it out! We've got alllll night." He states this while throwing his head back down to the pillow and actually causing the spring-loaded mattress to bounce slightly. I took the words he said in, but I still hadn't reached the point of breaking down. Yet, he had brought me the closest I had ever been in a long time.
"How about I start, then you go, okay?" he asks. I snort and actually smile.
"Whatever. Be my guest," I invite.
"Okay," he then cleared his throat. "You know that I met these guy's because they helped me? Well, it's true. See, back home I have a gang, and then there's this rival gang, you see. Anyway, long story short, I was told to grab the gold statuette from the leader of the Moon shadow clan. It was said that it would be in his hideout in the Duggus forest. So, I went, and before I knew they had captured me and put me in a cage. I thought I was a goner, but then a few hours later Fayt and the others showed up, and the helped me out, even helped me get what I was after. But, you know something?" he paused for an answer, but I didn't give one. "It still bother's me that I cheated by excepting their help. Or that if it weren't for them I may not even be here, you know?" There was another pause, but I didn't answer again. "Anyway, that's mine. Now, you're turn," he said cheerfully.
I sat on the soft bed and let the speech of Roger's sink in. His story . . . I dwelled. It's so similar to mine.
"Helllllloooooo?" he taunted. "You asleep? It wasn't that boring, come on."
"You and I," I begin in a near whisper. "We have something in common."
"Really?" Roger exclaimed. "What?"
"You and I . . . we both feel ashamed of being helped. I, too, received help at the time of my impending doom." I paused, willing myself to stop spilling the beans on the boy, but the dams had broken, and the water leaked uncontrollably out of me like a stream. Everything I had bottled up inside seemed to want to come out all at once, and it was overwhelming. Roger seemed to be listening intently, as I only heard the faint sound of his breathing behind me, amplified by the quiet, dark room. "When I was fifteen, I participated in something known as the Accession of the Flame. If I passed, I would have been the heir to the ownership of the title of Captain of the Dragon Brigade. But something went wrong, and the dragon turned against me, nearly incinerating me. But my father, he jumped in a saved me, but he took the full force of the flame and turned to ash. I only lost my arm, now replaced by this gauntlet."
"I'm sorry," said Roger, but I seemingly ignored him as I continued.
"And not only that, but until recently, Fayt and I were enemies. We still are."
"Really?" asked Roger with a hint of disbelief. I wondered if he was just playing along, since most of what I was saying to him was probably going over his head anyway. After all, he had been there in the dungeon when Woltar told me everything, so it should have come as no surprise.
"But I was unable to stop them one time, and ended up letting them get away with things that could have spelled doom for the Kingdom of Airyglyph. I too got caught and locked in a cage, and like you, if it weren't for Fayt, I would have surely spent the rest of my life down there. So, you see, you and I are a lot alike." The part on the end got added more as a side thought. I heard Roger shuffle, and once again the bed bounced a little as he moved.
"Well?" he asked.
"What?" I snap, my old-self suddenly returning.
"Don't you feel better?" he prods. I chuckled somewhat, an unusual behavior for me, but I couldn't help but admit that a part of me did feel somewhat better.
"Sure," I state flatly.
"You know something?" he asks.
"Now what?" I say sharply. "You do realize I haven't gotten a wink of rest since I came in here?"
"You're a real man after all," he says shyly. I feel myself wash over with warmth at the kindness and sincerity ever present behind those words. Still, it only lasted a second, for I wasn't about to let myself become weak with emotion.
"Go to sleep, little fool." I say flatly.
"Your welcome," he offers after a brief pause, and then rolls over, shuffling the sheet atop me a little. He took a little more from me then I would have normally been willing, but I suddenly felt in a good mood, so I let it slide.
As I felt my mind numbing again, I came to realize one thing; Roger and I were going to be fast friends, and this was only the beginning.