It was a bright and cheerful afternoon. The sun was shining, birds were singing, the flowers were all in bloom, dancing merrily to the light breeze that brushed against them. It was the kind of afternoon that would see all children outside, happily playing with their friends and toys. All but one.

Janus had been living with the Mystics for three years now. In that course of time, the Mystics had become engaged in a war with the humans and their distaste in him had only grown. He was, of course, still their slave, and after about a year and a half of repeated "discipline sessions", as Flea would call them, he lost much of his prior arrogance and would not put up as much of a fight when told to do something, though he would still act like the spoiled prince he was toward Slash. At the moment, he was knelt by the river bed, trying desperately to remove the unidentifiable stains from Ozzie's clothes, which were to be worn that night to celebrate a victory on the battlefield, which was proving to be an even more daunting task than usual.

Not only did he have Ozzie's usual filth to deal with, but there were strange marks appearing on the garments that he could swear were not previously there. These marks looked like burns, some going straight through the fabric, creating a hole the size of his fingertips. However, Ozzie never went near anything hot enough to create such marks, and they seemed to appear only after Janus touched something.

This is just great. Now they're going to make me sew, too.

Flinging the offending garment to the ground in frustration, Janus fell back onto the grass, closing his eyes and relaxing in the warm sunlight, a luxury in which he seldom took part in. However, just as he was about to drift off, he was suddenly flipped over onto to his stomach, courtesy of a rather harsh kick delivered to his side.

"Git up, human. Sir Slash is asking fer 'is tea, an' he wants you ta bring it to 'im."

Rolling over to lie on his back again, while clutching his side, Janus looked up to find the castle's cook towering over him, a look of sheer distaste plastered onto his face.

"Hurry up now. Or should Ah tell Sir Flea tha' you were sleepin' without permission?"

Not really in the mood to walk around with a black eye for the next few days, Janus shakily made his way to his feet, still trying to regain his composure after having the wind knocked out of him earlier.

"It's about time, human. Ah still don' see why Sir Flea an' Sir Ozzie keep ya. Yer lazy, slow, an' ya stink like th' filthy human ya are! Ya should 'ave been killed on the spot, Ah say. Well, it's not mah place ta be questionin' them. Go on, then. Ya know where the tea's at. Ah've got ta git back ta makin' the victory celebration meal."

With that, the cook turned and walked away, leaving Janus to go about his work on his own.

Upon entering the kitchen, Janus found complete and total chaos. Everyone was rushing around, things were knocked over, and the cook, having arrived there only a few minutes prior to Janus, was enraged at the state of his kitchen.

"Look et this place! Ah leave ya alone fer five minutes an' this is wha' 'appens?"

Janus, knowing full well that if the cook spotted him his anger would be turned in his direction, hastily walked toward the cabinet in which the tea was kept, being careful to avoid the kitchen attendants, as well as the cook, on his way.

Though he managed not to be seen on for awhile, it was not long before he felt someone gently nudge his shoulder. Turning to see who it was, Janus saw Elbram, a young gargoyle

"Hey Janus. What took you?"

Out of the entire Mystic race, Elbram was the only one who Janus even halfway considered a friend. For some reason, he didn't treat Janus like dirt unless he was being watched, and even then he would always apologize for anything he did. Giving him a weak smile, Janus waved slightly, and then turned back to the tea kettle.

"What? You're not mad about earlier, are you? I really am sorry, Janus. I just couldn't let the others know I was being nice to you. I didn't mean to kick you that hard…I just don't know my own strength." Turning back to Elbram, Janus shook his head. Elbram thought for awhile before something seemed to hit him.

"Ohhhhh…I get it…Flea still hasn't taken off that silence spell, has he." Once again, Janus shook his head. "Jeeze! It's been four days! I'll bet he forgot. Well, when you get your voice back, you'll have to tell me what you said. It must have been good. But…in the meantime," he began, looking at something behind Janus, "you might want to clean up the mess your tea kettle's making."

Whipping around, Janus saw that the water had started to boil over, threatening to extinguish the fire and beginning soak the floor. Quickly removing the kettle and throwing a nearby rag onto the ground to soak up the water, Janus poured the water into the cup he had prepared for the tea.

"I hope that cup isn't too hot to carry. Judging by the grumbling I heard on my way down here, Slash isn't going to wait for it to cool off. Well, I'll let you get back to work, Janus. Bye!" Smiling at Elbram's retreating back, Janus picked up the cup and began to walk toward Slash's chambers, not noticing the small amount of frost that formed around his fingers.

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"It's about time, human," Slash growled as Janus slid into his room. Janus hated being in Slash's quarters. Not only was Slash able to do most anything he wanted to do to him while in his room without worrying about interference, but there were so many swords hung on the walls Janus was sure he would be impaled one day during an earthquake.

"Well hurry up! I don't have all day!"

"Calm down, Slash! The poor child is going as fast as he can without making all of your little toys fall down on top of him!"

Great…Flea's here, too. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

"Hmpf…it's not like it would be a loss," Slash retorted, snatching the cup from Janus' hands. However, after taking one small sip, the cup, and all it's contents, were promptly thrown into Janus' face.

"This tea is cold, human! Your impudence is really starting to get to me!" Slash put his hand on the hilt of a nearby sword, clearly ready to strike him down, but after receiving a cold glare from Flea, he backed off.

Janus, meanwhile, was staring at the overturned cup by his feet completely dumbstruck.

How could that have been cold? I heated it up so much he should have thrown it back at me for it being too hot…

Turning to Janus, Flea spoke, "Well, child, I hope that you have finished washing Sir Ozzie's robes. He'll be needing them soon." Seeing Janus bite his lip, Flea sighed. "Janus, you knew that those had to be done, and they should have been a long time ago. You will be punished later. You are dismissed."

Just as Janus was about to leave the room, he heard Slash call out.

"Hold it, human. Bring-"

"Honestly Slash…couldn't you call him by his name?"

"Will you shut up!?"

"It's just a name. It wont kill you to say it. Janus. See? I'm fine. Come on now. Repeat after me. Janus."

"Ja- No! I will not say that thing's name! Now shut up and let me finish! Human-" at this, Flea snorted, causing Slash to continue through gritted teeth, "-bring me my Tachi sword. I need to go let off some steam." Seeing Janus eying the walls with the utmost confusion, Slash said, still through gritted teeth and now with a twitching eye added in, "The black and gold one to your right that looks like an 'S'."

Finally spotting what he hoped was the Tachi sword, Janus lifted it off the wall, only to drop the end of it on the ground, partially due to its weight and length, but mainly just to anger Slash, which, judging by the sound of ripping fabric, was working. After literally dragging the sword across the room, Janus finally got it to Slash.

"Give me that!" he said, reaching out to snatch it away from Janus before any more harm could be done to it. However, the moment Slash touched the sword, he felt a small jolt of electricity surge through both it and him. Crying out, he dropped the sword himself this time, allowing it to clatter against the cold stone floor.

"Something wrong, Slash?" Flea questioned, a small but knowing smile painted on his effeminate features.

Looking to Flea, Slash straightened himself out before stooping to pick up his neglected sword, testing it with a few light taps before fully grabbing it.

"It was nothing. It just…shocked me. That's all." Standing up straight and turning to Janus, who was just as perplexed by what had happened as he was, Slash commanded, "There's nothing more for you to do, human. Get out."

"Actually", Flea started, still smiling, but with a bit of mischievousness mixed in, "I almost forgot to tell you Janus. You are to sit by me at tonight's celebration."

"WHAT!?" Slash, as Flea expected, was outraged. "Why would it be allowed to sit at our table!? Or even be allowed to be part of the celebration!?"

"Oh, please, Slash. He's a boy, not an it. You used to call him by the proper gender. There's no reason for you to have stopped."

"That's beside the point!"

"I don't see why it would matter. He's been doing such a good job lately I feel he deserves a reward."

"It doesn't belong there!"

"And why not? Sir Ozzie said that all Mystics, including servants, are invited."

"He's not a Mystic! Janus is a human!"

Though this was indeed a good point to any other Mystic, it was completely lost on Flea as he gasped and stood up, hugging Slash and exclaiming, "Oh! I'm so proud of you Slash! You not only called him by the proper gender but you said his name, too! Maybe there is hope for you after all!"

Slash, meanwhile, was horrified.

"Get off of me! Flea! Let go! I mean it!" he cried, trying desperately to free himself. Finally, Flea let go, sending Slash reeling backwards to land on his backside. Scrambling to stand up and regain whatever shreds of dignity remained to him, Slash dusted himself off, grabbed his sword, which had been once again dropped during his struggle with Flea, and backed away slowly to the door, eying Flea warily.

"Fine. Do what you want. Just keep that thing under control!" With that, he turned and ran from the room, knocking Janus, who had been watching the entire exchange with a strange mixture of amusement and disturbance, to the floor.

Giggling, Flea walked over to the door, motioning for Janus to follow.

"Come now. We need to get you ready for tonight! Oh…and I suppose it is time for me to take that silence spell off, isn't it?"

With a wave of his hand, Flea sent the blue stream toward Janus, filling him with that warm sensation once again.

"It's about time!" he said before he could stop himself. His voice was scratchy from disuse, and it almost hurt to talk, but it came out anyway.

"Tut tut, child! You don't want me to have to take it away again, do you? Now then, come on! We really must get you ready!"

Fearing that Flea would try to make him wear a dress, as he had done on several occasions before, Janus dejectedly followed the older man.

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Four hours and many outfits later, Janus was sitting at a large table between a very grumpy, and still a little shaken, Slash, and a rather ecstatic Flea, who had put on even more make-up than usual. It had been decided that it would be best if he sat between the two generals as a way of protection. The other Mystics had not been pleased when they discovered that the human would be dining with them.

"Come now, Janus. Eat! You've barely even touched your meal! I would really think you would be more hungry. You didn't get breakfast this morning!"

"I'm not hungry," he grumpily replied, though he was in fact lying. He was indeed very hungry, but he didn't trust the food he was served since the cook was still mad at him for having to go get him earlier.

"Honestly, Janus. You're too suspicious! No one here is going to poison you. No one has the guts to stand up to me if they kill you," Flea replied, taking a dainty bite of his food.

Janus, however, was not convinced, and grumbled, "It wouldn't have to kill me. It could just make me miserable and sick for the next few days. Since I know that you'll make me work even if I can barely stand up, I'd rather not take the chance."

"Janus-"

"Just forget it, Flea! If the human wants to starve itself, let it! Don't waste your time on-OW! That was my leg you brat! Oh…I'm gonna-"

"Slash…" Flea said warningly.

"It kicked me!" he said, pointing an accusing finger at Janus in an attempt to defend himself. "It's been kicking me all night!"

"Have not!" Janus retorted, rising to his own defense.

"Yes you have! I've got the bruises to prove it, you little-"

"Stop it! Both of you!" Flea cut in harshly. "I would expect this kind of behavior from the Mystic children but not from a human who should know his place and especially not from a full grown general! Now knock it off and behave yourselves!"

For a time, Flea's lecture kept things calm. Slash resumed eating, grumbling something about a bossy cross-dresser and a filthy human, and Janus went back to making mush out of his food. However, such peace could only last so long as a thump was heard from under the table.

"ARG! That's IT!" Slash cried, slamming his fists onto the table and abruptly standing as the room fell silent and all eyes looked in his direction. "I've had it!"

"Slash, calm down…" Flea pleaded, looking across the room at Ozzie, who was obviously displeased at this outburst.

"No! I will not calm down! You let this little brat get away with too much! You claimed that he could use Shadow Magic-"

"Slash! Be quiet!" Flea insisted. None of the other Mystics were to know about Janus' abilities until he was able to use them, and the sudden murmuring around the room was not a good sign.

"-but he can't! If his abilities were going to awaken, they would have done so by now. He's been with us three years. Three years! Not once have I noticed him show any sign of having the ability to use magic!"

"Well, actually, Slash-"

"Can it, Flea! I'm sick of you telling me what to do and I'm sick of dealing with this brat!" Picking Janus up by the collar he threw him against the wall, where he slid to the floor in a huddled heap. "Well I'm not going to take it anymore! This ends here!"

Drawing out his sword, Slash walked over to where Janus was hunched against the wall. He didn't hesitate for a moment when the child's eyes, filled with hate, flashed red. He was determined to finish Janus off, no matter what.

However, Slash never got the chance. Just when he was about to bring his sword down and end Janus' life, he was sent flying backward, sliding across the table and knocking everything off. When he landed, unconscious, the Mystics were too stunned to so much as put out the fire that remained on his clothes.

All they could do, was look back at the stunned human child, whose hands were still smoking.

A/N: Here's my Christmas present to all of you!! An update on a story I'm sure you all thought I abandoned!! YAY!! I'm so very sorry that I haven't updated this in so long. I honestly haven't given up on it and I don't ever plan to. I just haven't really been in a let's-beat-up-a-little-kid kinda mood. And I think that this chapter was much better than the last one. I had fun with this one, if ya couldn't tell. Especially with making Slash and Janus argue, and with the cook's accent. I honestly don't know why I gave him one. It just seemed fitting. I'll try to update "It Takes Two to Tango" soon, I just felt bad for this one, so I updated it first.Well, anyway, here you go. I hope no one's too mad at me. So…read, review, and happy Chrismahanakwanzika to all!!