Summary: Charon isn't sleeping, and Pain knows exactly why.
Notes: This story has some very slight shounen-ai between Charon and Pain. For those not familiar with the term, it basically means that there will be moments in the story that include a tiny bit of flirting from either or both characters. Considering that Faeries' Landing has it fair share of shounen-ai moments, this really shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Pain wasn't surprised to find Charon still in his office, even though it was long past midnight. It wasn't rare for the second in command to work late into the night, especially considering that the King had a habit of hindering more than helping. But usually even Charon understood that sleep was a necessity, even if he chose to bunk down in the small bed-sit just off his office instead of returning back home to his apartment.
Considering that Charon's apartment was usually a mess of scrolls and empty coffee cups, Pain generally thought that the bed-sit was a much wiser option, but only if it was actually used. As it was, Charon was sitting at his desk, slouched slightly in his chair. If Charon had been working then Pain would have known that everything was running along like normal, but instead of burning holes in paperwork, tired eyes were instead quietly watching the screen on the far side of the room, observing what was going on down in the human world.
And more specifically, what was going on with his sister.
Pain let out a sigh that was an equal mixture of amusement and frustration, before slipping in and plopping himself down on the corner of Charon's desk. He ignored the glare Charon gave him – it was a worry just on its own that the glare held no real heat – and turned his attention solely to the screen, watching as Medea came up with another overly elaborate scheme.
This was starting to get ridiculous.
"You know, it's not like she's going to really attempt anything now that she knows I'm keeping an eye on her," Pain said casually, visually brightening as his own sister entered the room, disrupting Medea's plans. "This would be so much better if we had popcorn, I hope you realise. We could even throw it at all the people we didn't like!"
"This isn't some joke, Pain." And Charon should have said it with cold anger in his voice, or heated annoyance flashing in his eyes, but there was instead only an aching tiredness that was heavy with concern.
"No popcorn then?" Pain said the words mournfully. "You really are a cheap date." THAT brought a slight flicker of annoyance, and Pain grinned. "There are better things that popcorn, anyway." With a snap of his fingers (and he pitied those poor humans and their lack of magic) a large mug appeared in his outstretched hand.
Charon didn't even look at him. "Alcohol doesn't solve everything, Pain. It's certainly inappropriate and completely unprofessional to be drinking it here."
"One, Mr High and Mighty, the drink is not for me." Pain cut Charon off before he could heatedly interject, and this was already much better. "And two, it's not alcohol." He pushed the drink towards Charon, who glanced warily down at the drink. "See?"
And it was perhaps the clearest sign yet that Charon was dead on his feet and not thinking straight that he picked up the mug and took a slow sip without any further questions. It wasn't that Charon didn't trust Pain, exactly, and more that Charon simply knew him too well to expect anything to be quite so simple. Pain watched, amused, as surprise flickered briefly across Charon's features before he took another sip, his hands wrapping tighter around the mug and his eyes drifting traitorously shut for a couple of seconds.
"I haven't had hot chocolate since I was a child." Charon admitted, a small smile forming. "Medea and I use to have it on cold winter days, after having played out for far too long in the snow." The smile became nostalgic. "She was so normal back then." Pain snorted. "Well, comparatively so," came the much needed amendment. Charon sighed as he turned back to the screen. "Now, she's just so obsessive about everything."
It was a trait that obviously ran in the family.
"Charon, I promised that I wouldn't let anything happen to Medea, and I won't. I know how important she is to you, and I know that if our positions were reversed, that you would do the same for Fanta." Pain didn't mention that he had a feeling that Charon already had interfered on Fanta's behalf even when such a thing was forbidden. "I swear, Charon." He smiled, a warm friendly smile that was for once completely sincere and honest. "I will not allow anyone to hurt your sister, not even Medea herself."
Charon's grip tightened around the mug.
"Medea is not the one who needs protecting, the innocent human is." It was exactly what Charon was supposed to say, and Pain knew that on some level, Charon believed it. But on a different level, the one where Medea was not merely a pesky faerie (although she was obviously still that), but also his younger sister, the words rang hollow.
"That's your job description, not mine. I'm obviously better at multi-tasking because I can save everyone at once!" He didn't get a chance to smirk, as the moment the words were out he was dumped on the floor. "Is this your subtle way of telling me you're off to get some sleep and want me to leave?"
"Yes, Sir!" Throwing in a mock salute, Pain turned sharply on his heels and mock-marched to the door.
"Pain, wait." Sometimes, Charon could be so predictable. Pain executed a perfect turn that would make any military man proud so that he was facing the other man again. Charon seemed almost flustered once he had Pain's attention, and he rubbed his forehead tiredly before speaking. "Why? Why all this?" He gestured to the drink in his hand, somehow managing to encompass the whole of their encounter in the mug of hot chocolate.
Pain had a feeling that Charon knew already what he was going to say, or at least, that Charon thought he did. Charon was used to people wanting to become close to him because of his beautiful sister or his political position, and considering that Charon damn well knew that Pain didn't envy him one bit for all the paperwork he had to do, chances were Charon thought this involved Medea in some way.
"Because I think you're cuter when you don't have bags under your eyes," Pain replied with a wide grin, and the last thing he saw before he disappeared were Charon's wide, taken aback eyes.
He dropped in hours later to check if Charon had taken the hint and headed off to bed, and wasn't all that surprised when he found that the other man hadn't moved from his seat. But, the screen was off and Charon was asleep, his fingers still wrapped loosely around the empty mug on his desk.
It was close enough.