Written by: Perpetual Thoughts and Meaning

Disclaimer: Hmm… I'll list some of the many reasons why I couldn't have made these characters… One: I can't draw in the slightest. Two: Can someone who's 13 ¾ actually make a video game? Please don't sue me, because I don't even have a hairball saved up!

Spoilers: Yes, there shall be spoilers throughout this story. If you haven't finished playing Star Ocean, then I suggest that you only read this story if you've gotten to the last boss, or to Gemity. If you haven't played the game, however, then you're okay to read it, because I'm not specific with anything else.

Summary: Albel and Cliff are partners on a mysterious mission that involves having to stick together and not kill each other in the process. Yeah, I know, it's not funny. This chapter is the prologue and explains how Albel was the one to be Cliff's partner in the wacky mission. Don't be confused about Fayt's odd manner toward Albel; if you fellow gamers remember correctly, Albel and Fayt did have the talk on Elicoor II that he spoke about. Eventually Cliff/Albel if I'm brave enough.

A/N: If you're one of the people who have read one or some of my DM/HG fics and you're wondering if I had forgotten about that shipping, you don't have anything to worry about. I just needed a break from those two, but don't get me wrong, I'm still as loyal as hell to them. I've recently gotten into yaoi, but I promised myself to never turn to Draco/Harry yaoi, because it's just nasty… These two (Albel/Cliff, I mean) however, look so adorable together! Eh, sorry… Edit Part 5: Yes, I'll continue to update the entire story when I upload a new Part/Chapter, because I'm constantly catching mistakes in my story. Someday I might be able to upload only one chapter when I update, but that day isn't today. Also, I've added more description, because I felt like my story was lacking it.

Extra note: This was going to be a one shot fanfic, but it turned out to be 40 pages. So, being the nice, caring, reasonable -She coughs, hacks, and collapses.- person I am, I took the time to make 3-paged parts for you guys! So what if no one is reading this? I'm used to it! -She's really in tears as she's typing this.-

Rating: PG-13, because most thirteen year-olds can't write rated R things without having some experience, which I thoroughly lack. Oh, also for some language, but who gives a shit if they curse a little?

Part 1: Clash of the Crewmates

One man's misery is another man's mystery.
No one cares to understand my demented means.
- Message in Blood by Pantera

They were conversing in hushed voices, a vicious man standing in the centre of the gang of mismatched crewmates, his unperturbed and haughty manner challenging their astounded and livid ones. The man donned an unusual gauntlet that covered his left arm and his right shoulder blade, his clawed left hand resting on the hilt of his sword, the Crimson Scourge, his clawed fingers tapping against its sheath. He would sometimes nod at a comment, but mostly, he would shake his head, his two platinum rattails whipping his crewmates with the action. His jet-black bangs concealed his pitiless scarlet orbs, his mouth curled into his infamous, inhumanly twisted, Albel smirk. After a few moments, he lifted his artificial hand from his blade, shook his head one last time, and made a cutting motion at his throat by running the tip of one of his razor-sharp claws gently over his throat.

"Silence," the man growled faintly, tilting his bangs out of his merciless orbs, scanning around for any sign of defiance from the crew. "We have no need for backup. I'm more than capable of completing the mission by myself and I think that he'd agree with me if we asked him that. Anyhow, seeing as I was the one who called this private meeting in the first place, I think that it's only proper that I handle it in my own manner…"

…that includes more than a few casualties… Albel finished maliciously.

"Well," Maria Traydor began, immune to Albel's piercing glare, "my only problem is that your methods are a bit inflexible at times. You may end up chopping him into little bits and pieces instead of bringing him back to the ship."

Albel's smirk grew, and he crossed his arms over his chest. "I once thought of doing those exact words," he coolly drawled, his crimson eyes reflecting his sadistic nature perfectly for a second before changing back to their usual animosity. "I know that I can't butcher him… No matter how much I desire… I went over the matter in my head before this meeting, so you can trust that we'll both return in one piece."

Yeah right, Maria wanted to say, but kept it to herself.

"I find that hard to believe," Nel Zelpher said serenely, staring thoughtfully at the other Elicoorian. "I don't know you very well, but I do know that if he got on your nerves, you'd ditch or annihilate him. I'd feel much better if one of us came along to make sure that if the situation was happening, that they'd stop you."

Albel's arrogant manner vanished and his scarlet orbs grew sinister. "It's worms like you that get on my nerves," he growled venomously. "You Aquarian scum all think the same, 'If someone from Airyglyph is involved, he'll only cause trouble.' You disgust me."

Aquarian scum? Nel thought incredulously, her bright green eyes narrowing into slits.

Fayt Leingod glanced quickly between the two Elicoorians, his emerald green eyes widening fairly. "Hold on," he whispered, breaking their stare-off. "I think that we should trust Albel on this one."

Heh, Albel thought. At least someone here has brains.

Maria stared disbelievingly at Fayt. "You can't actually believe him!" she whispered, her eyes beseeching with Fayt.

Fayt shrugged, oblivious to Maria's expression. "Albel and I had a conversation a long time ago back on Elicoor," Fayt whispered, glancing over at Albel. "I don't doubt anything that he promises. I think that you guys should, too."

Maria sighed and nodded slowly. "Fine," she muttered disagreeably, "if you trust him, I guess that I'll try as well."

Nel was silent, eying Albel critically under her burgundy bangs, and after a few moments, she nodded in agreement. "Yes," she drawled, her expression impassive, "I will, but if you go back on your promise…"

"That's what I thought," Albel murmured, deliberately interrupting Nel. "We'll be leaving at dawn, so someone should wake up Fittir and give him an update."

"Okay," Maria began a bit louder than intended, "I can agree with trusting you and all, but waking him up? That's simply out of the question!"

Her cause is amiable, Fayt thought, but it's directed at the wrong issue.

Albel's satisfied smirk turned acidic as he placed a claw over his lips. "Lower your voice, fool," he growled, his crimson orbs scattering about the small room.

"No," Maria interrupted him, her voice increasing. "I won't be ordered around like some slave, and I certainly won't let my friends be treated the same way!"

"Maria," Fayt tried to intervene, "you really should quiet down before he…"

"Hey guys," a sleepy voice came from the opened door. "What's with all the hollering?"

That'd better not be… Albel grumpily thought, glowering down at Maria.

Albel pushed his way out of the mob, gazing moodily up at the slightly taller blond Klausian, his mouth twisted into a venomous scowl. "One of the worms couldn't control her eagerness," he drawled, preventing himself from glancing back at Maria and mouth a threat.

"Oh," Cliff said and yawned widely, stretching his muscled arms into the air. "That's all? Man, must've been pretty bad, 'cause I could hear her between my pillows… I couldn't hear what she was hollering (at this some of the crew silently released their held breath), but it was enough for me to want to check it out…"

Albel glared icily at Maria when Cliff was yawning again. "She was excited about the latest mission so much that she couldn't contain herself," Albel replied in his usual deadpan drawl. "We planned on telling you when you woke up, but now, I guess that we'll have to tell you sooner than expected."

"Who?" Cliff asked, looking as if he'd been jolted out of his thoughts. "We have a mission?"

"Me," Maria replied, pretending to not notice Albel's fixed glare.

I'll get him back later, Maria vowed to herself.

"The mission requires only you and me," Albel calmly drawled to Cliff.

"Sounds fun," Cliff replied. "When we leavin'?"

Albel opened his mouth, expecting Cliff to hate the idea of working with him, and had to eat his words. He'd prepared a clever retort in advance, but now words seemed to fail him. He wanted to pinch himself. He didn't know if he should feel relieved or astounded, because he'd never experienced either of the two emotions often. He stared blankly up at Cliff, trying to mask his conflicting emotions, when he remembered that the Klausian was waiting for an answer.

"We'll leave at sunrise," Albel replied coldly, finally regaining the ability to speak.

"Wait a sec," Cliff said, as if his brain was actually functioning for once. "Why aren't the others coming along?"

I knew it, Albel thought gloomily, a nasty smile tugging at his lips.

"If you'd been listening to me," he sternly drawled, "then you'd know."

He never considers anyone other than himself, Nel thought, watching the two with narrowed jade orbs.

"Hey, give me a break," Cliff whined, staring down at Albel. "I'm still half-asleep, okay? Just tell me again."

"The mission only requires us," he repeated, his voice rigid, his mask unwavering.

Why's he always so cold all the time? Cliff wondered to himself.

"Chill out, okay?" Cliff said, patting Albel on his artificial arm. "I don't care if I work with you, if that's what you're so worked up about."

How'd he pierce my perfect mask? Albel wondered incredulously, his crimson orbs widening. Does he possibly know me better than I do myself?

"I'm not worried about anything," Albel brusquely replied, trying to compress his overflowing emotions, "and if you touch me again, you'll live to regret it."

Ah, I get it now! Cliff thought, his brain suddenly functional.

Cliff raised his thick eyebrows at the slightly shorter man, and a strange smile transformed his face, as if he knew something that Albel didn't. "Okay," he said in a soft tone similar to one would use with an angry child. "I get ya'."

Maybe I should've let one of those worms join the mission, Albel thought, sitting quietly down on a chair away from the rest of the crew, holding his head in both of his hands, running his clawed fingers through his black bangs.

"Hey, are you okay?" a sympathetic voice belonging to none other than the blue-haired Fayt Leingod broke his train of thought. "You seemed a bit testy, so I just wanted to make sure that you were feeling okay."

"It's none of your business," he snarled in reply. "I've always been like this. Leave me be and rejoin your filthy lot."

Fayt appeared hurt, but he persistently shook his head. "No Albel," he protested firmly, "you haven't ever been this moody before."

Who asked you? Albel wondered grumpily.

Albel's head snapped up, his scarlet orbs narrowed at the teenager. "Since when do you worms pay attention to me?" he shot back at him, his artificial arm inches from the Crimson Scourge's scabbard. "If you've been doing some spying of your own, maggot, I'll wipe the floor with your dilapidated carcass."

Fayt, however, wasn't affected by his threat. "You aren't as isolated from the rest of us as much as you think," he replied with a small smile. "Believe it or not, we do pay attention to you, and I just happened to notice your cross mood, so take it whichever way you like." He walked back to the rest of the crew, glancing back at Albel with a wider smile.

Yes, Albel thought with an ominous smile, you'll be smiling once I slice you to death…

"Their lot are maggots, filthy, little, damnable maggots," Albel grumbled darkly.

To be continued…

A/N: There definitely aren't enough Albel/Cliff fanfics out there… I mean, there are a trillion in Japanese, but the only languages that I know how to read and speak uses these characters. I can speak Japanese, but I sure as hell can't read in the language. Isn't that annoying? Anyway, I wouldn't mind if someone told me how I did. I'm not used to writing in their POVs, but I at least hope that I got some of them IC half of the time. Sayonara until next time!