Emotion in Motion—Chapter One
Rated PG-13 for yaoi
Disclaimer: If I owned Harvest Moon, the next game would be titled, "Harvest Moon: For Gay." But since that's very unlikely, it's safe to say that I don't own the games or characters.
Author's Note: Well, with one HM fic done…I've started a new one! This is based on DS Cute obviously, and has absolutely no connection to my other HM fics. Also, if things conflict between MFoMT and DS Cute, I tend to go with the latter, so keep that in mind. Not always though, like Cliff is already working at the winery like in MFoMT, and Jack helped Cliff when he collapsed, not Nami. So they're going concurrently, but not exactly…if that makes since. It doesn't matter too much, but I'll explain more if it becomes important. Um, this might seem like it's gonna be super angsty, but it isn't really. Don't let Cliff's self-esteem issue fool you. Oh, and no, this isn't going to be all heart events. More on that later though.
Flames do nothing but make me laugh, although I'll listen to any CC you have. Please read, review, and enjoy! Finished 08-26-09
Some days Cliff wasn't sure why he'd decided to stay. Why he'd taken up Jack's offer to harvest grapes, why he'd accepted working full time for Duke, why he'd said yes when Ann asked if he'd continue to stay at the Inn… He liked Mineral Town, he really did, and he'd never felt more accepted in his entire life than he did by the friends he'd made there. That was exactly the problem though. His life was better than ever…yet there was still so much they didn't know about him.
It seemed that the closer he was to the villagers, the worse off he was. Duke and Manna kept wondering when he was planning to settle down and take a wife; Doug did too, he just hinted even more heavily than they did that he should choose Ann. As for the redhead herself…
It seemed that Cliff always felt horrible whenever he was around her those days. She loved him—there was no doubt about that. She blushed and stuttered and was generally very not-Ann-like around him. She brought him lunch at work, told him constantly how much she loved having him stay there, and worst of all, she kept mentioning the blue feather for sale at Jeff's store. He was lucky that his shy nature kept her from being too brash, or he was sure she'd have proposed to him by then. If that happened, he wasn't sure what he'd do.
He hated making people upset, and turning down a proposal was perhaps the biggest upset of all. He couldn't love her though, not the way she wanted. He loved her the same way he had his little sister, and despite being one of his best friends, he didn't think he could bring himself to pretend to love her enough to marry her. It wasn't fair to either of them anyway.
The last of his close friends was Carter, though Cliff didn't see him nearly as much since he began working at the winery. The priest had tried to get him and Ann together in the start, but he seemed to have sensed that it wasn't going to work. Cliff wasn't sure if Carter had the right reasons for backing down, and neither of them said anything about it, but he was grateful either way.
Currently it was Saturday, his day off. The night before Ann had been particularly interested in trying to convince him to go to the mountain with her, and he'd decided even before he'd gone to sleep that the next day he'd leave before she awoke and finally check out Forget-Me-Not Valley. It was the only other large establishment on the island, and in the year he'd lived in Mineral Town he'd never once been there. Well, if it meant he'd go another day without having to break Ann's heart, it was worth checking out.
He knew he couldn't keep lying to her and everyone else forever…but until the time was right, he had to keep trying.
As it turned out, the walk to the valley took two hours, and Cliff imagined that if he hadn't traveled for years, the walk would have killed him. He'd first gone to the valley's inn and introduced himself, fully planning to stay the night. The owner, a kind woman named Ruby, had welcomed him warmly and allowed him to use the phone to call Mineral Town. As he'd expected, Ann was frantic. He pushed away the guilt he'd felt when she confessed she had thought he'd left for good, and told her he just needed to get away for the day. She hadn't been happy, but she let it go.
He ended up spending the day wandering around, shyly introducing himself here and there when spoken to. The few he met were friendly, but for the most part they left him alone. Most of the day was spent near a waterfall, which soothed his mind as he tried to sort through his mangled thoughts. Everyone had the right to know…but he didn't know if he could take the chance at losing everything as he had when he'd told his family the very same secret.
He left the waterfall close to midnight, still no closer to a solution than when he'd arrived.
Despite the time, Cliff found that he just wasn't tired. He probably could have walked back to Mineral Town at that point, but he knew it would be rude to wake up Ann or Doug to let him in at two in the morning. No, he decided to wander about until fatigue set in, sleep at Ruby's inn, and leave bright and early in the morning to make it back before work. Yes, that would work…
Cliff eventually took a path that led him to a small area past the main part of the valley. Whoever lived there was obviously very wealthy, judging by the looks of their mansion and highly decorated fountain. He stared at it in awe, knowing he'd never have enough money to live in a place like that, no matter how long he worked. Not that he didn't like the inn and their hospitality…but he'd be happy just to own a house one day.
The suddenly click of a door carefully being shut met the brunet's ears. He watched as a man about his age with silver hair and clothes that looked very out of place in such a rural community—was that leopard print?—slinked out of the mansion, clutching something to his chest. Was…was he witnessing a theft? Or was this just an occupant sneaking out after curfew?
He didn't get the chance to think too hard about it before the mysterious man noticed that he wasn't alone. His eyes widened for but a second before he put on a self-assured grin and flicked his hair with his free hand, the bracelets on his wrist clinking together as he did so. He laughed softly before taking a few steps toward Cliff, now close enough for the brunet to see his face. The man's green eyes almost sparkled with arrogance, and suddenly Cliff knew that somehow, things were going to get interesting.
"Hello, beautiful. Walking alone tonight?" Cliff felt his whole body tense at those words. Was he…was he flirting with him? When was the last time anyone had flirted with him…? Anyone who wasn't Ann at least. The peculiar man didn't wait for an answer, instead taking another step closer and lowering his eyelids in an attempt to, what Cliff assumed, look sexier. He gulped, wanting to look away, but he couldn't seem to bring himself to do it. "Cat got your tongue, beautiful? Don't worry, I won't hurt you. You know… I'm quite a ladies' man, and a prince of the stars. You'll let me go without telling anyone, won't you? It's not every day someone with such natural beauty takes my interest after all."
Cliff really didn't know what to say. Did this man even realize he wasn't talking to a woman? Sure, Cliff knew he was a little bit on the feminine side when it came to his looks, but no one had ever actually mistaken him for a girl. He hoped the man just couldn't see too well in the dark… And…what in the world was a prince of the stars anyway?
"…My name is Cliff." Those bright green eyes widened for a second time that night, and Cliff felt his face heat up. He really had been mistaken for a woman… Great, just great.
The man opened his mouth to say something, but they were interrupted by a door suddenly being thrown open and a young woman rushing out towards them. She glared at the man, and Cliff was now positive that he was dealing with a thief.
"You! You're that famous thief who always warns his victims about his crimes ahead of time, aren't you? I had a feeling that letter I found this morning was from you… Now give back what you stole or you'll be sorry!" The man didn't look very afraid of this dainty rich girl, but there was obviously the threat of others getting involved if she screamed loud enough… He gave Cliff a long glance that the brunet didn't quite know what to make of before turning to her and putting on the exact same smile he used earlier.
"Terribly sorry, but I'm a bit pressed for time and simply must be going now. You understand, don't you?" He turned back to Cliff, that arrogant grin melting away back into an expression that he couldn't name. "Please, call me Phantom Skye. I have a feeling we'll meet again… It's written in the stars." He turned to leave then, but the girl was already headed towards them, an angry look on her face.
"Wait a minute you! Don't you dare run away!" Skye stopped, and the look he'd given Cliff twice now was once again replaced with that flirty look he'd first received. The girl stopped in her tracks once it was directed towards her.
"Hold up, beautiful. Don't let your beauty be marred by such raw anger." With that, he finally turned and fled.
The girl was so flustered that she didn't move until he was out of sight. She ran a few steps before stopping and sighing. Her face was flushed, which only darkened once she remembered that she had an audience.
"Huh, he sure is a smooth talker… He got away so easily…" She paused and giggled as she no doubt remembered the look he'd given her. "That Phantom Skye is so cool!" Cliff didn't say a thing to the poor disillusioned girl. That thief, Skye…he'd only used his charms to get away from her. He hoped she didn't think it had meant anything… "…Oh, I'm so sorry, you don't even know me! I'm Lumina. I live here with my grandmother Romana and our butler Sebastian. You must be from Mineral Town, right?"
"Y-yes, I'm Cliff. Pleased to meet you Lumina." The girl probably wasn't much younger than he was—likely Popuri's age. He knew some of the other inhabitants of Mineral Town came to the valley on a somewhat regular basis—Rick and Popuri, Doctor Trent, Mary… He wondered if any of them had met the thief before…
Then he mentally scolded himself. This wasn't the time to be thinking of that.
"Likewise. You must know Mary, right? She's a good friend of mine. I believe she mentioned you once… You work with wine, correct?" He nodded, surprised Mary had ever brought him up. He didn't really talk to the quiet librarian. If she weren't his roommate's girlfriend, they likely wouldn't talk at all.
"Yes, Mary is dating Gray, my roommate, and I work at the winery… A-and sorry I didn't stop that thief. I hope he didn't take anything valuable." She looked proud of herself for remembering Mary's words, and Cliff decided then that once he got back to town, he'd have to remember to say hello to her more often.
"It looked like he'd been in the kitchen, so I'm sure it wasn't anything we can't replace. So please don't worry about it. I couldn't stop him either." She sighed and shook her head, almost as if wondering why she let him get away… Well, at least that meant she probably wasn't going to pine over that man. "Well, I won't keep you any longer. Good night, and please tell Mary I said hello!" He assured her that he would, then he took his leave. Fatigue was finally setting in…
He entered the inn, saying goodnight to Ruby when he passed her, then quietly made his way to the room he'd rented. As he lay on the comfortable bed provided, he couldn't help but replay his meeting with Skye. The Phantom Thief… He was…beautiful.
'It doesn't matter,' he thought glumly as he tried to wash the thoughts of the thief from his mind. 'He only flirted with me because he thought I was a girl… I couldn't get lucky enough to have a man fall for me for once…'
And though it took a while, he finally entered a dreamless sleep, free from all thoughts of how to tell Ann he was gay and handsome thieves that just made the whole situation worse.
"—and she was just about crying, the poor girl. You really should have told her earlier Cliff! How can something that important slip your mind?"
Cliff only half listened to Duke as they worked in the wine cellar. It was spring, and work was much slower those days than when he'd first started. Normally that wouldn't be too bad, but his boss had been lecturing him about leaving for the valley without telling Ann all day long, and he was ready to go crazy. He was just glad he'd lied and said he'd forgotten rather than admit he'd gone without telling her on purpose. He'd never hear the end of that!
"And another thing—"
"Duke, you let that poor boy go right now! It's time to close up and you haven't let off him since he got here. Honestly, you know he didn't mean to hurt her. You really should—"
Sometimes Manna's rambling could get tedious, but he was immensely glad for her intervention that day. He quickly said his goodbyes—which were ignored as the couple was far too engaged in arguing to pay attention to him—and practically sprinted down the road. The last thing he need right then was to listen to them fight about him and Ann… Wasn't it bad enough that the moment he'd woken up he had to fret about everything all over again? There'd been no one in town who'd interested him, so telling her why he couldn't return her feelings hadn't been quite as urgent. But Skye…he couldn't stop thinking about him it seemed. It was ridiculous, he knew, but…
He stopped suddenly as he realized he'd made it to the church without consciously knowing he was even going that way. He'd always gone to the church after work when he'd first gotten the job, but as Ann's feelings ran deeper and he felt more and more guilty as the days went on, he hadn't been able to bring himself to go as often. Carter always said that the Harvest King and Harvest Goddess loved all of their children though…
'Maybe this is a sign…'
His mind made up, Cliff pushed open the doors and stepped inside the holy building, a familiar man standing behind the podium.
"Cliff! Hello, it's certainly been a while! How are you these days?" The brunet shut the door behind him and walked closer until he could sit on the front pew before the priest.
"Carter, I… I'm not really all that fine. I'm having problems, but I really don't know if I can talk about them…" The priest smiled warmly at the nervous young man, remembering how utterly withdrawn he used to be. Cliff had gained much more confidence since those days, but it always seemed like there was something holding him back from truly being at peace…
"Go on, you can tell me and fear no judgment. Unless you'd like to step into the confession booth?" Cliff, despite all his feelings, had to smile at that. Carter had told him once how he thought confession was rather silly when there was only one priest in a small town where everyone knew everyone else, but some people liked it, so he kept it open.
"No, that's all right. It's just that I… It's… Ann. It seems everyone wants me to marry her, including her, but I… I just can't…" Carter had thought as much. He too remembered trying to set them up one day, but after seeing how uncomfortable it made Cliff, he'd never tried it again.
"There's someone else, isn't there?" Cliff looked even more nervous, and he knew he was right. "Who is he?" Cliff opened his mouth to respond, only to have it snap back up with an audible click. His nervousness was immediately replaced with fear. Carter sighed; didn't Cliff know him better than that?
"I… I'm not—!"
"It's okay Cliff, you don't have to hide it from me. I always could sense that there was something special about you. The King and Goddess find no fault in you, and neither do I. I want you to be happy, and right now I think it will make you feel much better if you tell me what's on your mind."
The fear was gone, relief in its place. It was a much nicer sight.
Then it was as if a dam broke open; Cliff began to talk, starting with how he'd come out to his widowed mother and sister, only to be rejected by his mother. His sister, being too young to understand, hadn't said anything. He'd left and traveled, only to find his mother had died while he'd been gone, and his sister was nowhere to be found. He'd traveled more, eventually coming to Mineral Town, where Carter knew the story already. But it didn't stop there. He told about how hard it was that everyone wanted him to marry a woman he only loved as a sister, and how he didn't want to break her heart though it was inevitable. He spoke of his brief crush on Gray when he'd first moved to town, before he'd started dating Mary. Then he got to the night before…
"His name is Skye, and I know he's a thief, but I can't stop thinking about him. I can't be in love with him, I don't even know him, but I want to… I don't want to be alone anymore."
Carter waited a few moments to make sure Cliff was finished before stepping from the podium and walking towards the younger man…then he hoisted him up and enveloped him in a hug. Cliff tensed for a few moments before allowing himself to relax.
"You are a good man, and you have been very patient. I know you don't want to hurt Ann, but you need to think of your own happiness sometimes. Besides, it sounds like this thief isn't beyond redemption. You should continue to visit the valley and see if you can meet with him again. Perhaps it would be best for both of you."
Cliff didn't know if it would work. Skye was probably straight, and just because he'd finally told someone he was gay didn't necessarily mean he'd have to courage to do it again anytime soon. Still…he trusted Carter, and if he thought it was worth a shot, he'd give it a try…
If nothing else, he wanted to see that handsome man one more time.
It was nine pm; the stars were just beginning to shine brightly. In a small cabin in the woods between Forget-Me-Not Valley and Mineral Town, a lone young man stood among pots and pans, looking around with frustration in his green eyes. Skye was not having a good night. He'd just acquired some great ingredients from the mansion in the valley just the night before, and now he was burning them all up! And why…?
"Cliff," he muttered as he tossed out yet another burnt curry dish. "I can't believe I actually mistook a guy for a pretty girl… Not that he wasn't pretty too… Oh Skye, get a hold of yourself!" He finally gave up. If he kept trying that night, he'd only waste away everything else he'd taken too, and his sense of honor wouldn't allow him to get anything more without leaving a note the night before for the residents to see when they awoke. It looked like he'd be doing it again sooner rather than later though.
Skye wanted to be a chef. He wanted to make curry. He wanted to find a beautiful wife who'd love him for who he was, not how he looked. Now he had left his home in the city at the age of twenty-three with no money, ended up living in the middle of nowhere with minimal electricity, and had to resort to stealing just to try to further his dream so he could actually make something of himself one day. As for the wife thing… If the younger women of Forget-Me-Not Valley were any indication, that wasn't going to happen anytime soon. True, he'd stuck to stealing from the valley so he could hopefully move to Mineral Town one day where no one knew him, but now…
Now he wasn't so sure. He knew that man he saw last night didn't live in the valley, and occasionally he heard people walking down the dirt path outside the woods when he was out foraging for herbs. To his knowledge, the only places to live on the island were the village and the valley… If someone from the town had seen him, who knew how safe it would be there? Would Cliff even bother thinking twice about a petty thief though?
He groaned when he realized his thoughts had turned to the other man yet again.
"Why can't I stop thinking about him…? This isn't like me…" For all of Skye's bravado around girls, he really didn't know how to express himself when it came to emotions resembling love. True, there was no way he could fall in love in less than a day, but he knew that he was attracted to that man in some form.
The problem was, he'd never been attracted to another male a day in his life, and he didn't even know where he lived or anything really, other than that his name was Cliff. Yet, he was burning food he could normally make in his sleep because those purple eyes just wouldn't get out of his mind.
"Maybe it's nothing and I'll forget about him…" He glanced over at the trash bin full of burnt curry and winced. "Or maybe not."
He stared out the tiny window in the cabin, gazing up at the tiny stars that dotted the darkened sky. The stars… Fate, destiny. Was this all in the cards? Was he meant to meet Cliff, fall in love with him, and finally find the person who'd love him for more than his looks? He didn't know, but it was entirely possible. There could be a reason he'd never met the right girl, and if he was finding himself attracted to someone, why should he care if he'd never felt that way about the same gender before?
"…I shouldn't. Why should I care what anyone else thinks? If I can make Cliff fall in love with me… Maybe…I can get out of here. Maybe I can finally find what I'm missing in life."
Skye might not have necessarily wanted to be a thief, but now he was determined to successfully steal at least one thing…Cliff's heart.