That Which Binds.
Pain knew better than to search for Charon in his apartment. Even though the sun had long set and most faeries were likely settling into a late dinner, there was only one place that Charon was likely to be. The guards who normally flanked the doors of his office were gone (and Pain would really have to talk to Charon about that - they had been assigned to the Prime Minster for a reason, after all), and so there were no loud protests or declarations as he let himself in. His eyes narrowed quietly when Charon didn't acknowledge him, instead, the other man seemed too focused on the large screen in front of him to have even realised that someone else was in the room. Silently, Pain watched as Charon hit a button on the remote, causing the scene to reply itself once again. Perched on the edge of his desk and with his free armed wrapped loosely around his waist, it seemed obvious that Charon had been at this for some time.
"Should I be jealous?" Pain finally said wryly when Charon hit the replay button for the third time. The momentarily tension in Charon's shoulders was the only sign of surprise Charon showed, and as he turned to face Pain it was replaced by a faint irritation that was far more like the other man.
"What are you doing here, you're supposed to be down on earth." The words held no heat, as even Charon allowed his officers to return to Avalon to sleep on occasion. A small, dark smile tugged briefly at Pain's lips. His officers. Technically, as the Royal Inspector he was supposed to fall under the sole direction of the king himself, and yet it was Charon they still all truly answered to.
"Does his highness know that you spend your evenings replaying his activities?" Pain responded instead, lazily crossing the room to where Charon stood. "I have a feeling he'd find it quite kinky." Charon rewarded him with a glare before turning the screen off with a flicker of annoyance. "How long have you been replaying the king's brief time on earth with Fanta?" He asked with curiosity as the screen faded to black, stealing away the true form of the king with it.
"Only the last hour or so." That Charon would even admit such a thing was troublesome, and for the first time Pain was able to inspect Charon up close. The other man had always worked too hard - a side effect of the king's own incompetence and boredom with anything that wasn't pretty or shiny - but there was always something that was purely Charon that shone through his tiredness. Now, however, Charon seemed drained and washed out. Pale blue eyes flickered away from Pain and back to the blank screen, but before Pain could ask what it was that Charon saw there, he spoke suddenly again. "I found nothing incriminating the first time, or the second time. Or the third, or forth, or fifth." Pain jumped when Charon slammed his hand down on his desk. "Nothing." The word was practically ground out, and with a swish of his robes Charon pushed himself away from the desk and started pacing. Pacing probably wasn't quite the right word, Pain corrected wryly as Charon spun on his heels and headed back briefly in Pain's direction before turning away again with a quiet growl. 'Stalking' seemed to be a far better description.
The question was, exactly what was it that Charon was stalking after?
Charon didn't share his thoughts out loud as he stalked past Pain once, twice, three times. That in itself wasn't rare as there were few people that Charon considered worthy of sharing his thoughts with in the first place, and while Pain was generally the exception that didn't mean that those thoughts didn't have to still be carefully teased free. It was why, when Charon went to stalk past him for the fourth time, Pain slipped in silently behind him and wrapped his arms around Charon's waist before drawing the other man back against his chest. He smirked softly into Charon's hair as he tensed in Pain's arms but made no move to pull away.
And Pain simply waited.
With an exasperated sigh, Charon relaxed back against him, blue eyes drifting closed. "I can't find anything that incriminates him, Pain." Charon's words held a strange sense of emptiness. "Not in any footage, not in any documents. The faeries I appoint to follow him are turning out to be more incompetent than usual, and while he's acting completely out of character, there's nothing I can find that ties him to anything concrete."
"Maybe you simply haven't been looking in the right places," Pain replied before placing a soft kiss against the back of Charon's neck.
"Or maybe there is a reason why I can't find anything." Charon did pull away from Pain then, stalking back over to his desk and rearranging a pile of papers stacked there. Pain knew that most people used such antics in an attempt to regain their composure, but Charon had never been 'most people'. Instead, when Charon turned around there was a quiet resignation about him that was laced through with just a touch of doubt. "What if the reason I can't find anything is because I am wrong?"
There was a reason why Charon had been the first person to suspect that the Faerie King was engaging in dangerous activities that could have an explosive impact on them all. Charon spent more time with the king than anyone else did, and it was Charon who kept tabs on exactly what it was he got up to. It wasn't simply his proximity to the king, however, which allowed Charon to first notice when things started to come apart just slightly at the seams. Charon was the closest thing that the king had ever had to a true, loyal friend. It meant that if Charon was somehow wrong about all of this, he wasn't simply betraying a monarch but someone he truly cared deeply for. Sometimes, Pain thought Charon cared a touch too much for the faerie king, but it was an affection that the king had always returned, first by keeping Charon close when others were so casually disregarded, and then by appointing him as Prime Minister even when all of his officials and advisers had strongly protested against it.
"Are you wrong?" Pain asked plainly in response, easily holding Charon's gaze. Pain certainly didn't think so - his royal pain in the arse was as guilty as sin in Pain's mind, even if he didn't yet know exactly what it was that he was guilty of. With that face, he was certainly guilty of something. Right now though, what Pain thought was completely immaterial.
"No." Charon stated, before irritably massaging his forehead with his fingers. "No, damn it. What the hell is he thinking? If he really thinks he can prolong his life by entering into some deal with Lady Samsin, he's got to be insane. Or desperate." And that was the crux of the matter. Insane and desperate were hardly traits that were considered all that worthy of a king to begin with (as common as they might tend to be, Pain allowed), but here they could lead to the entire Faerie World falling into chaos and destruction. And, all because the king liked his current form better than any of his previous ones.
There were times when Pain thought that there was a far easier way to deal with the problem of his royal highness, however Charon was a stickler for a little thing called evidence and due process.
"You should head back to your place," Charon added then, his attention drawn back to his paperwork. "It's late, you need to be up early in the morning, and I've got work to do."
"Come home with me." The words startle Charon, but not because his proposal something rare or new. Instead, it is simply that Charon had already become so lost simply in the thought of all the work that waited him that he'd likely forgotten that Pain was even there.
"Now is hardly the right time, Pain." Charon's glare only seemed to intensify as Pain closed the distance between them.
"It is always the right time," Pain responded with a wicked smile before leaning in and placing a brief kiss against Charon's unresponsive lips. "However, that was not what I meant. I don't care if you work through the night, but bring your work with you and come back with me. You spend too many hours here on your own, it's got to drive you mad." Charon especially spent far too many hours here without any guards or potentially deterring eye witnesses. Hardly a fool, Charon saw straight through Pain's attempt at manipulation.
"I can look after myself," Charon stated dryly, although a small reluctant smile tugged at his lips. While Charon never veered on the side cocky when it came to his abilities, he also refused to downplay them. In his current state, even the king himself would have difficulty taking down a full aware Charon. "It would do you best not to forget that."
"Hmm mm," He murmured in response, snaking his arms around Charon's waist and smirking slightly as he leaned in close. "Would it help if I said please?"
"You mean if you said 'please come home with me so I can protect you from the big evil king, who is obviously going to take advantage of you the moment I've left you alone?" Charon said, his left eyebrow raising in slight disbelief.
"Not at all," Pain protested lightly, and this time Charon was a touch more receptive when Pain pressed his lips against his. "If the king planned on taking advantage of you I would be too busy watching from the front row to intervene. I wouldn't put it past him, you know. He's always struck me as a kinky bastard." Charon snorted at that, but it hardly mattered as it was Charon who then kissed him.
"If you think I'm going to make a habit of this, then you are sorely mistaken." There was already a touch of sourness in Charon's words. "And I do plan on spending the evening working, I hope you realise."
"Of course!" Pain said as he summoned his cloud to carry away from the stuffy office with a smirk. "I would never expect anything less from you."
"Of course," Charon echoed dryly, before a predatory smile that Pain instantly recognised as one of his own suddenly graced Charon's lips. "In fact, I have a whole pile of paperwork set aside for you to work on as well."