Authors Notes: This fic is based on a very amusing picture my fiance drew for me...it was too funny not to write something to go with it!
Disclaimer: I do not own the boys. I make no profit from this.
Darc rose from his seated position as he finally spotted his brother making his way towards him. He was hungry, tired and aching after the disastrous events of the day and just wanted to get some rest. The two of them had been making their way back towards Ragnoth when Big Owl's engine had malfunctioned, proving Darc's initial suspicions that the ominous-looking human machine was not to be trusted. They had been forced to perform an emergency crash landing on the continent of Halshinne, the crippled aircraft coming to a bone-jarring halt in the middle of Kanara Desert.
Not only had both twins been thrown from their feet, crashing painfully into the airship's machinery, but they had then been left with no choice but to trek for hours across the desert and into the Democratic Republic of Dilzweld with limited supplies in order to reach the main city, the only place they were likely to find the materials needed to make the repairs to their damaged ship.
Once outside the city walls, Kharg had suggested he go and ascertain whether it was safe for Darc to enter. While human-deimos relationships were slowly improving following the defeat of the Lord of the Black Abyss, there were of course some places that were more resistant to change; the newly formed Democratic Republic of Dilzweld being one of them. Darc had been waiting for his brother's return for over an hour and was beginning to get restless when Kharg had finally reappeared.
'What took you so long?' Darc grumbled as his twin came to a stop in front of him.
'There were...a few problems,' Kharg replied, biting his lip.
'What kind of problems?' Darc asked suspiciously, picking up on the decidedly apologetic air that surrounded his twin.
'Well...they weren't too keen on the idea of letting a deimos into their city, but I did manage to convince them it would be ok. So long as we abide by certain...conditions.'
'Conditions?' Darc raised one eyebrow.
'Yeah,' Kharg replied as he pulled his right hand from behind his back and held out a length of chain with what looked to be a collar attached.
'What's that for?' Darc questioned, confused.
'They said you could come in...providing I keep you on a leash at all times. You need to put this on.'
'You want me...to do...what?' Darc spoke dangerously slowly though gritted teeth, having to exert enormous will power in order to control his temper. The turbulent expression on his face must have alerted Kharg to this fact, as Darc noticed the blond tense his muscles in preparation to defend himself.
'Look, they're not going to let you in otherwise and you don't want to stay out here all night do you?' The lighter twin took a tentative step towards his brother, the offending article trailing from his right hand.
'Come any closer to me with that thing and I'll smash your haughty face in!' Darc spat, his deep red eyes glittering menacingly with anger.
'Just calm down, I'm not going to do anything unless you let me,' Kharg soothed, 'but seriously, what do you propose to do if you don't come inside? It's taken us the best part of a day to get here, and we need materials if we're going to get the airship fixed up. Besides, I'm tired and I'm hungry. I'm going in no matter what you decide.'
'I'll go back to the airship and wait for you,' Darc replied, a hint of uncertainty colouring his voice.
'You'd rather walk six hours back to Big Owl, attempting to find your way through Kanara Desert alone, than put this on for just as long as it takes to get the airship parts and some rest?' Kharg questioned incredulously.
'Yes,' Darc growled, scowling.
'It'll be dark soon, and it gets really cold in the desert at night. You'll freeze. Besides, you need to rest as much as I do,' Kharg continued persistently.
'Just shut the hell up! I'm not doing it and that's final, don't you dare mention it again! I'll take my chances with the desert. Besides, deimos are studier than you pathetic humans, I won't feel the cold,' the half-Drakyr insisted, sounding more as though he was trying to convince himself of the latter part of his statement than trying to convince his brother.
'Fine,' the blond twin sighed, bringing his hand up to cover his face in exasperation, 'you do what you want. I'm going into the city.'
As Kharg turned away from him and took a step back in the direction of the gates, Darc let himself relax. Although he felt somewhat apprehensive about finding his way back through the desert to where their airship had crashed, anything seemed preferable compared with allowing himself to be degraded and treated like an animal. He'd had enough of that to last a lifetime and secretly felt more than a little hurt that his brother would even suggest it, even though he knew Kharg had no way of knowing it wouldn't be the first time he had been made to wear a collar.
His guard effectively lowered, Darc was taken completely by surprise when his brother's fist connected sharply with his temple, snapping his head back and causing him to stumble. Before he had time to recover from the unexpected attack, Kharg shoved him hard in the chest, sending him sprawling across the ground. He was still trying to work out exactly what had happened when the blond straddled him, his arms becoming pinned beneath his brother's knees, ensuring he was completely incapacitated.
'Get off me!' the furious half-deimos shouted, his ears still ringing from the force of the blow.
'Sorry Darc, but I'm not going to let you go wandering around in the desert on your own at night. You're exhausted and still pretty beaten up from the crash. I'm doing this for your own good,' Kharg intoned as he fastened the collar around his brother's neck and locked it in place.
'Like hell you are! You're enjoying this!' Darc spat, a slight note of panic entering his voice as the blond pocketed the key to the collar, ensuring that his twin would not be able to remove it.
'Don't be ridiculous. Now, we're going into the city and you're not going to cause any more fuss, is that clear?' Kharg spoke firmly, giving his brother a meaningful glare.
'It's not as though you've left me much choice, is it,' the darker twin growled, his voice taking on a decidedly petulant tone.
'Stop sulking,' Kharg sighed as he slowly pulled himself to his feet and held his hand out to his brother.
'Hmm!' Darc grunted, ignoring Kharg's offer of help as he stood up, attempting to overcome the dizziness the blow to his head had caused.
'It actually quite suits you,' the blond smirked as he wrapped the end of the leash around his hand.
'I knew you were enjoying this,' Darc threw his brother a reproachful glare.
'Come on, let's get this over with,' Kharg ignored him 'oh, and one more thing before we go inside. They were still really sceptical about letting you in, even after they gave me this, so I kinda told them you were...obedient. So can you at least try to do as you're told? Things are likely to turn nasty if you give them any reason to think you might be hostile.'
'I hate you,' Darc growled through gritted teeth, deciding then and there that there was no way he would let his brother get away with this. He would get his own back no matter how long it took.
'I'm sure you do,' the blond smiled indulgently before tugging softly on the leash, 'let's get going. I'm starving.'
Hunching his shoulders angrily and folding his arms across his chest, Darc resignedly followed his brother towards the city gates.
Darc felt his face flush with heat under the scrutiny of the people of Dilzweld as Kharg lead him through the city streets. He turned his eyes to the ground in order to avoid their stares, but was certain they were still watching him.
'It's getting late, so there's no chance of us finding the airship parts tonight. We may as well head straight over to the nearest Inn,' Kharg spoke over his shoulder, seemingly oblivious to his brother's discomfort.
'Don't talk to me,' Darc spat, his voice laced with venom.
'I thought we agreed that you're going to act like you're obedient to me,' Kharg chided him
'I didn't agree to any of this, remember?' the darker twin grunted.
'Just do it, ok?' Kharg sighed.
'Fine, but don't think I'm going to just forget about this,' Darc replied as they approached the Inn.
Kharg had evidently decided to ignore his brother's last comment as he made no response, pushing the door to the Inn open instead and leading Darc inside.
'I'm Lord Kharg Nidellia, I've had some trouble with my airship and will be needing a room for the night,' Kharg stated as he approached the woman behind the bar, Darc keeping a short distance behind him.
'We heard about you're arrival, we've been expecting you' the woman replied, peering over his shoulder in a clear attempt to get a look at the half-Drakyr.
'Great, then I'll take a room. We'll be needing food too,' Kharg smiled.
'No problem. What do you want to do with that?' the woman motioned towards Darc, 'does it sleep in the room with you or outside?'
Darc growled low in his throat, only to be rewarded with a sharp jerk on the leash and an angry glance from Kharg.
'He'll stay with me,' the blond replied.
'As you wish. If you take a seat someone will bring your food over,' the woman said as she handed over a key to one of the rooms, 'I suppose you'll be wanting food for that as well?'
'Of course,' Kharg intoned.
'Fine. Just make sure it doesn't bother anyone and keeps off the furniture.'
Darc allowed Kharg to lead him to a table in the far corner of the room, his face burning with humiliation.
'This is the worst thing you've ever done to me,' the half-Drakyr muttered as he sat on the floor beside Kharg's feet.
'That's hardly fair, this wasn't my idea,' the blond replied, absently ruffling his brother's hair.
'If you ever do that to me again, I swear I'll break your arm!' Darc jerked his head away and caught the blond's wrist in his clawed hand.
'Obedient, remember?' Kharg smirked, pulling his wrist free.
Sighing heavily, Darc folded his arms across his chest and closed his eyes, desperately trying to pretend he was somewhere else.
Darc was relieved when they had both eaten and Kharg finally lead him upstairs away from the inquisitive looks he had been receiving all evening from the other customers. He had begun to suspect that Kharg was taking twice as long as usual to finish his food just to spite him.
'Hmm, we seem to have a bit of a problem here,' the blond twin muttered as he unlocked the door to their room and stepped inside.
Following a short distance behind him, Darc scanned the room and took in the fact that there was just one bed and it was clearly only big enough for one person to sleep in.
'Stupid human invention anyway,' Darc grunted, beyond caring 'I'll sleep on the floor.'
'Yeah, I think that's what they expected you to do,' Kharg collapsed backwards onto the bed.
'So are you going to take this off now?' Darc pulled at the collar around his neck with a look of disgust painted across his face.
'Don't be ridiculous,' Kharg replied, not even glancing up, 'As if you'd ever let me put it back on once it was off. Besides, they said I should keep you on a leash at all times.'
'Fine!' Darc huffed, 'I'm going to sleep. The sooner tomorrow comes the sooner we can get out of here.'
'Hmm, I just thought of something,' Kharg sat up and threw his brother a suspicious glance, 'you wait here, I'll be back in a moment.'
Darc ignored the lighter twin as he got up and disappeared from the room. He slumped down onto the floor, exhausted from their long trek through the desert. His body ached from the impact of the crash, his head still pounded from his brother's blow and he was thoroughly fed up with the way Kharg was treating him. He was just beginning to formulate a plan of revenge to be exacted when his brother least suspected it when the blond walked back into the room. Darc watched with unguarded irritation as Kharg approached him and picked up the end of the leash.
'What are you doing now?' the half-deimos demanded.
'I'm not risking you trying to steal the key from me in the night and getting us into trouble,' Kharg answered as he wrapped the leash around the leg of the bed until it was short enough that Darc could sit up, but not stand, before snapping on the padlock he must have asked for downstairs.
'Have you any idea how much I despise you?' Darc muttered, casting his large, reproachful eyes in Kharg's direction.
'I'm sure you'll get over it,' the blond smiled pleasantly before collapsing onto the bed and turning out the light.
The following day seemed to drag on forever as Kharg went about collecting the required airship materials and sufficient supplies to sustain them on their return journey through the desert, Darc being denied entrance to any of the stores and having to be chained up outside. He had grown increasingly despondent throughout the day, not even bothering to complain when Kharg left him outside after the first few stores had refused to let him in.
'Right, I think this should be the last place we need to visit before we can get out of here,' the blond said at last as he approached the final store he had been directed to.
'Hmm,' Darc grunted as he sat cross-legged on the ground, watching detachedly whilst his brother wrapped the leash around a post beside the door and locked it in place.
'Cheer up, we'll be on our way back soon,' Kharg smiled, patting his brother affectionately on the head. It was an indication of just how dejected the half-deimos was feeling that he simply allowed his twin to do it without even the slightest hint of irritation, never mind the insults and threats that such an action would usually elicit from him.
Darc closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around his chest, attempting to block out the open stares the residence of the city were still giving him as Kharg disappeared into the store. He found some consolation in the fact that, while they watched him intently and whispered about him among themselves, none of them had actually attempted to approach him. This had been his initial concern when Kharg had insisted on chaining him up outside as he was unsure whether he could control his temper if anyone came too close to him without his brother around to intervene.
It was only a short while before Kharg returned this time, having finally collected everything they needed. He was stooping over to remove the padlock and blocking Darc's immediate view of the street when the darker twin became aware of the sound of giggling coming from behind his brother. Kharg evidently noticed it too as he stood up abruptly and turned around, revealing the small group of children standing nervously behind him.
'Hi,' Kharg greeted them, 'did you want something?'
The giggling broke out again as the children pushed one of their number forward, the boy evidently having being chosen to speak on their behalf.
'We were wondering,' the boy began, his eyes straying somewhat nervously in Darc's direction, 'If we could stroke your deimos?'
The darker twin's head snapped up abruptly at the words and Kharg burst out laughing. Darc growled fiercely in the children's general direction, causing them to break into a new fit of giggles as they backed off slightly at the half-deimos' sign of aggression.
'Behave yourself, Darc,' Kharg grinned before returning his attention to the children, 'of course you can stroke him.'
Darc gritted his teeth and tensed his muscles in anger as the children descended on him, his head filling with an array of evil things he would love to inflict on his brother as they ran their hands over his hair, horns and the scales on his face.
'Ok ok, that's enough,' Kharg laughed at length, taking the end of the leash in his hand as the children reluctantly moved away.
'Thank you, I wish I had a pet deimos like that one!' the elected speaker chimed up before the giggling band disappeared from sight.
Darc didn't say another word as Kharg proceeded to lead them out of the city, struggling to keep his fury in check. It wasn't until they were some way beyond the city gates that he finally trusted himself to speak.
'How could you humiliate me like that? I am not your pet! Take this thing off immediately!' he spat, eyes blazing.
'Oh, come on, it was funny,' Kharg grinned, 'you should have seen your face!'
'Get...this...thing...off me!' Darc growled menacingly, balling his hands into fists.
'Oh I don't know,' Kharg teased, 'I was thinking we could keep it on. I rather liked seeing you so quiet and obedient. You were really quite good at it.'
Without warning, Darc hurled himself at his brother, sending them both crashing forcefully to the ground. Rolling over so that Kharg was pinned beneath him, the darker twin smashed his fist into the blond's face, splitting his lip.
Managing to pull one arm from beneath the furious half-Drakyr, Kharg wrapped his hand around the leash still attached to Darc's neck and pulled it fiercely downwards, forcing his brother face-down onto the ground. Seizing the opportunity, the blond placed his knee firmly on his brother's back, pulling Darc's arms up sharply behind him and causing him to cry out in pain.
'Are you going to calm down?' Kharg spoke with difficulty, the right side of his face already beginning to swell from the ferocity of his brother's blow.
'Just get off me!' the darker twin's shout was muffled by the fact that his face was still pressed against the ground.
'When you tell me you're going to calm down,' the blond replied firmly.
Darc didn't answer for some time, his breath coming in short sharp gasps as he attempted to regain control of his temper. Slowly, his breathing began to regulate and the anger-driven tension in his muscles drained away.
'I'm calm, just let me up,' he muttered at length, sounding suitably subdued.
'Good,' Kharg stood before taking hold of his brother's arm and pulling him to his feet, 'you ok?'
'I will be just as soon as you remove this thing from around my neck,' the darker twin replied petulantly, glaring at the blond man.
'Sure,' Kharg answered, beginning to feel in his pockets for the key. His expression flickered quickly from puzzlement to realisation as his brother watched him carefully.
'What is it?' Darc asked, suddenly sure he knew what the answer was going to be.
'I think the key must have fallen out of my pocket when you knocked me down,' the lighter twin shrugged apologetically.
'That's just great!' The half-deimos snarled, 'what the hell am I supposed to do now?'
'Well there's no point standing around and shouting about it,' Kharg sighed, 'come on, we'd better start looking for it.'
Both twins cast their eyes downwards to take in the dusty, rubble-strewn ground around them, realising that recovering the key was going to be no easy task.
'Sorry Darc, but we're gonna have to get going unless you want to spend another night in the city,' Kharg broke the silence they had been labouring under and rose to his feet.
The darker twin stayed where he was, scowling down at the ground in frustration. Sighing heavily in exasperation, Kharg retrieved the end of the leash and gave it a soft tug.
'Come on,' the blond intoned, pulling a bit harder until Darc reluctantly got to his feet, 'we'll figure out how to get this off once we're back in Yewbell.'
The half-deimos stayed resolutely silent as his brother began to lead him back in the direction of Kanara Desert, too despondent to insist that the lighter twin let go of the leash.
'You know, I could get used to this,' Kharg tossed Darc a sly grin over his shoulder, giving the chain a sharp tug which caused his brother to stumble, 'you're much better behaved when you're wearing that.'
Darc glared furiously at his brother's back, promising himself that he would think up something truly diabolical in revenge for what the blond had put him through over the last two days. It was a long way back to the airship; he would have plenty of time.