The Art of Persuasion

Summary: When Fayt devises a scheme to convince Albel to go on a group holiday, he enlists Sophia without knowing that his best friend has ulterior motives. Will the intrepid bluenette be able to handle the true art of persuasion according to her and the Wicked one?

Disclaimer: This authoress does not own Star Ocean or any of the respective characters. Sadly, it is only an unrequited dream.

Warnings: Bad humour, OOC-ness, sexual themes.

A/N: Once again, a humour one shot from yours truly. Read, enjoy AND review!

"You have to come."

"No."

"It will be fun, I promise."

"No."

Irritation boiled up in Fayt until he was sure he would explode. Why was Albel being so difficult? Actually, the swordsman was behaving as per normal and the bluenette was surprised that Albel had not tried to slice him in half yet.

The said man was currently sitting on the wall, basking in the sunshine and looking regally down on Fayt. He was also aiming his katana at passing butterflies but that was simply the Nox way of enjoying nature: target practice. Their weaving flight was good for practising against tricky opponents in his twisted opinion.

"Please?"

He stared at Fayt and sneered. "Worm, I told you that I would not accompany you. Do I have to pound it into your thick skull?"

"Fine, have it your way. I'm not going to be reduced to begging!"

But after several moments of silence, Fayt threw himself on his knees. "Albel, you have to come on holiday with us!"

Distracted by a passing butterfly, Albel did not even give the bluenette a glance. "No."

"But you have to!"

Jumping down from the ledge, Albel gave him a hard rap on the head with the reverse edge of his katana. "That is my final answer, maggot. NO."

Fayt whimpered and clutched the spot where cold steel had met his skull. "But it'll be good for you to see the galaxy. You know, meeting new people, having new experiences…" he faltered when the swordsman fixed him with a glare that would have given Romero nightmares.

"I have enough experience from being dragged all over the galaxy to fight your battles," he replied acidly. "You forced me into facing that madman Creator and a host of other idiots. Were it not for the opportunity to grow stronger, it would have been a complete waste of my time."

"Wait, I never forced you into fighting with us. You could have left anytime you wanted," the bluenette protested. "Nobody asked you to stay."

"You would have all died if it wasn't for me. I had no choice in the matter."

"So you do care, huh?"

"…"

"Look, it's a short holiday. One week and I promise you'll never have to do it again."

"… Which part of NO did your tiny brain not understand?"

"C'mon Albel, everyone else is coming along."

"Good, another reason for me not to go." Abruptly, he turned on his heel and stalked across the courtyard, the whipping braids giving him the look of a very irritated cat.

Fayt watched him walk away and then smirked. "That means Sophia is tagging along too, you know."

The swordsman stopped to glare at him and then shrugged. "What makes you think that makes any difference?" he asked coldly.

A hundred different reasons jumped to mind: the way he stared at her, the way he actually refrained from calling her worm or maggot, the way he tended to watch her back in battle, the way in which he was actually civil towards her… Fayt would have found it very sweet if Albel was not a homicidal maniac whose hobby it was to slice and dice everyone in reach. Okay, he was exaggerating a bit but it was close to the truth. And of course, Albel would vehemently deny all of the above but everyone else knew he was lying through his teeth.

"Oh, I don't know," the bluenette said casually. "Just a thought."

Albel stared at him suspiciously with narrowed red eyes. "Then make sure it stays in you empty head," he growled. "I have no more time to waste with your foolishness."

Fayt only smiled mysteriously at the insult, his clever brain already formulating a devious plot. "Okay Albel," he said seriously. "I promise not to bother you any more about going on holiday with us."

But by the time I put my plan into action, you'll be begging to come with us.

It was time to visit Sophia.

"YOU WANT ME TO WHAT?"

Fayt ducked avoid the steamed bun, which hit the wall behind him with a splat. "Sophia, this is the only way to get Albel to cooperate."

The livid brunette stood with her hands on her hips, the flowered apron around her waist not making her look any less threatening. "I cannot believe you would even have the nerve to suggest that to me!"

"Well, I know that you bought a very pretty one-"

"That makes no difference!"

"It would look really good on you-"

"…"

The wooden spoon in her hand was doing all the talking for Sophia and the bluenette eyed it nervously.

"Albel will love it!"

Silence fell.

"He will?"

Fayt smiled at the rose pink blush spreading like wildfire across her face. "Once he sees you in it, we'll have no problem in convincing him to come with us."

"Can't you think of anything else to persuade him?" she asked doubtfully. "I don't know about this, Fayt."

He took her hand, smiling reassuringly. "What could possibly go wrong?"

"…"

"Okay, a lot could go wrong but I guarantee it won't. Trust me, I know for a fact that Albel likes you."

The blush returned with a vengeance. "Really?"

"Would I lie? Me, your best friend in the while universe?"

"Well… no."

"Come to think of it," Fayt added naughtily, "he would probably like how you look out of it a lot more."

"… Thin ice, mister. Very thin ice."

Albel was passing the time decapitating surprisingly life-like miniature models of Cliff and angsting about everything that had gone wrong in his life when someone (guess who) knocked on his door.

"Go away."

"Uh, Albel? It's me."

He paused mid-slash and stared at the head rolling across the floor. What was she doing here?

Sophia tapped on the door again. "Can I come in?"

"Do what you want," came the curt reply from within.

She gulped and pushed open the door, making sure to do it slowly. Albel could get edgy when he was irritated and when that happened it was best not to make any sudden movements.

The first thing she noticed was that there were little blonde heads all over the carpet.

Right. Sophia decided then and there that she did not want to know. The second thing she noticed was that Albel was sitting on the bed, facing the window. Which meant he was not looking at her.

Perfect.

"I know that Fayt was bugging you about going on holiday with us," she began carefully. "But I-"

He grunted, hand tightening around the hilt of his katana. "So now the maggot sent you to pester me instead?"

"No, I'm not going to say anything about the vacation. I just wanted… to ask your opinion about something."

"Drop the maggot."

She blinked. "Excuse me?"

"You wanted advice and I gave it you. Now get out. I have fifty more models to behead before dinner."

Sophia took a deep breath and let the robe fall.

Fayt owes me big time for this.

Albel turned around to snap at her some more and froze. The brunette was standing in the middle of his bedroom wearing the sexiest outfit he had ever laid eyes on.

"What do you think about my new bikini?"

He opened his mouth, but nothing came out. All he could do was stare at the scraps of pink cloth that were draped in a very indecent, yet extremely appealing manner over the innocent girl.

The bikini, as Sophia called it, was light pink with a pattern of darker flowers and was, as Fayt had mentioned before, very pretty. She had wrapped a matching short skirt around her waist to save herself any more embarrassment, but the skirt was sheer and cleverly slit up one side to leave nothing to the imagination.

Albel continued to gape, eyes travelling up and down. Once he got over the shock, his gaze finally settled resolutely on her pink pendent to avoid staring at the twin curves that beckoned his attention.

God, what was she wearing?

"Do you like it?"

He finally located his voice and mentally punched himself for thinking dirty thoughts. "Woman, what are you wearing?"

There, that sounded like a perfectly normal question. What he really wanted to say was more along the lines of 'I love the way every scrap of pink clings to your surprisingly gorgeous figure and I would love it even more if I could rip it off you'.

Wait… a thought suddenly struck his non-functioning brain. What if Sophia, cute and innocent Sophia, was trying to seduce him?

"My new bikini," she repeated. "What do you think of it?"

The swordsman swallowed. "And what is this… bikini for?"

"To swim in, of course."

"You swim in that?" Perhaps she was not attempting to seduce him. Pity. But then why was the bikini so damn scanty?

"Yeah, silly. Why, what do Elicoorians wear when they want to get wet?"

Why did she have to say the word wet? Why?

"When we wish to swim in rivers or lakes, we simply swim naked."

Oh god, why did he have to say the word naked?

A mortified blush spread across her cheeks. "N-Naked?"

Albel was amazed she even had the nerve to blush while wearing that ridiculously skimpy outfit. "We have no such things like your swimsuits," he informed her, shifting to hide himself behind a pillow. Why was he getting so damn uncomfortable?

"Oh. So, do you… like it?"

He avoided those green eyes like he did all cute things. "Wear what you want. It has nothing to do with me."

Sighing, she bent down (here Albel had to really exercise some self control) and picked up her robe. "I was just wondering because I wanted to wear it on holiday and I wasn't sure if Fayt would like it."

That did it. That magic word… Fayt.

His head snapped around. "What does that maggot have to do with the bikini?" he snarled. "You will wear no such thing around him!"

"Why should it matter what I wear around him since it is none of your business?" she snapped back, irritated that he was trying to dictate what she wore around others. Okay, she was a little pleased that he would be so jealous, but still. "You're not even going with us!"

Turning on her heel, she prepared to flounce out in a huff but a hand quickly snaked around her and slammed the door shut in her face.

"And just where do you think you're going?" he asked in a low growl.

Aware that her heart was suddenly pounding a thousand miles per second, Sophia kept still as he leaned closer. Close enough for wisps of blonde hair to tickle her cheek and lips.

"You know, I never thought you were capable of being so devious."

"M-Me?" she squeaked. "What did I do?"

He smirked, slowly pulling the robe down her shoulders. "Fayt put you up to this stunt, hoping it would be enough to convince me to come along on your idiotic vacation and instead you turn it to your own advantage. Bravo."

Sophia shivered as his hand began to gently stroke her bare arm and stared fixedly at his lips. "Fayt had nothing to do with this," she said as firmly as she could. "I just wanted to ask your opinion-"

"Keep quiet, woman."

Leisurely, methodically, he started working on the pink strings and began to personally acquaint his lips with the velvety skin across her shoulders. "Do not pretend," he said huskily, "that this is what you didn't want in the first place."

Shyly, she linked her arms around his back, playing with the braids. "How did you know?" she sighed.

"You would not lower yourself simply to persuade me to go on some foolish vacation, you wanted to persuade me for something entirely different. Something only this bikini could hope to accomplish," he replied, tossing the delicate top to the floor.

Sophia giggled. "Did it work?" she asked impishly, tugging playfully on one braid.

"What do you think?"

Pulling his head around to face her, Sophia kissed him enthusiastically, with a zest that pleasantly surprised him. Then again, he had suspected for a long time that she was a secret little firecracker.

"Does this mean you'll go?" she asked when he finally let her come up for much needed air.

"Perhaps," he said vaguely, now concentrating on the skirt.

"It's a resort planet, so I'll be wearing one of these most of the time."

All of a sudden, Albel looked very interested in what she had to say and there was a gleam in his red eyes. "You have more?"

"Yes…" she smiled, pleased that she could tickle his imagination so easily.

"Then I suppose I will have to go, if only to stop that infernal maggot from staring at my woman."

"Your woman?"

He scooped her up in one movement and grinned down at her. "Of course."

Sophia snuggled closer, raising her face to demand another kiss. "You know, somehow I get the feeling that we'll be benefiting much more from this vacation than Fayt will."

The abovementioned bluenette strolled down the corridor, enjoying the late afternoon sun and wondering if Sophia had managed to convince Albel yet. He hoped she was not too embarrassed about wearing it in front of him so deliberately. He also hoped that the swordsman had not tried anything funny with her, but Sophia was a good girl. And besides, she didn't really like Albel; he was completely not her type.

Right?

Whistling absentmindedly under his breath, the bluenette failed to sense someone walking behind him so when Albel poked him hard between the ribs, he almost jumped out of his skin. "Geez Albel, you scared me!" he said accusingly, rubbing his side.

Albel glared at him moodily and Fayt stared back. "What?"

"I will be going on this… holiday."

The green eyes brightened. "Awesome!" he exclaimed, beaming happily. "This is so cool, now everyone will be going! I really can't wait- hey, why are you grinning like that?"

The smirk grew wider. "You are so dense it even amazes me."

"What do you mean?" Fayt asked suspiciously.

"Oh, I suspect you will find out soon enough." With that cryptic statement, he stalked away, no doubt in search of a fresh victim. Fayt stared after him, puzzlement deepening his eyes into a darker emerald. What on earth was Albel talking about? And why was his hair looking so messy?

Maybe Sophia would know. And hey, there she was walking right towards him!

"Sophia!"

Wandering dreamily with a silly smile on her lips, she slowly came to a stop in front of him. "Huh?"

"So, how did it go? What happened, what did you say?"

Her smile widened. "Persuasion is an art, Fayt and the true artist never reveals their secrets."

"…What?"

She reached up to pat him reassuringly on the head. "One day, Fayt. One day you will understand."

He watched her whirl dreamily away, his confusion still strong. What had that been about? The bluenette shrugged and continued on his way to the kitchen, his mind already on the chocolate chip cookies that awaited him.

Five minutes later the answer hit him with the force of a charging Klausian.

"NOOOOO!"

The End.