Brothers In Arms

Chapter 4 - Curiosity

Jake sat in the little Inn back in Marbaden at the end of the day, cradling a mug of ale that Will had thrust at him and watching the merry people spin and dance in front of him, laughing and singing to the band in the corner of the room. The atmosphere seemed even jollier that night and although Jake was feeling happy, he didn't feel like getting drunk and joining them. For one, he knew how out of control he got when he was drunk but there was something else that evening. Well, a few things.

For a start, he had been thinking about Will. All day, in fact. The little things that his brother had done to him over the years – all the times when he had embraced him in bed and acted so flirty with him (was that the word?) – had come back to him when they had been in the village earlier on and something was slowly dawning on him. After everything that had happened, he was surprised that he hadn't worked it out sooner but as Will said at points, he had his head in the cloud a lot of the time and was quite naive to a lot of situations. Jake knew that was true but he had never fully noticed it until now.

And for that reason, it had taken all this time for Jake to work out what was going on with Will. He didn't know if it was true and maybe he didn't want it to be – yet maybe he did – but...No, he was being silly. That thought had been going around Jake's head since this absurd idea had come to him. He knew he could have just been dreaming again. Imagining things that weren't there and exaggerating reality. That was what he did all the times when he was writing. And maybe he had just got too caught up in that. Now it had spilled over into what was actually happening and he believed it was the truth, when actually it was just his imagination.

Or was it?

Of course it was. Will would never...It was illegal, wasn't it? Or, at least, unethical. But then...Will wasn't exactly one to stick to rules and regulations. And nor was Jake, if he thought about it. After all, they made a living out of tricking other people into paying them. That wasn't exactly moral...

So...could this be true?

Jake was confused. He wished he could just know the truth but that would mean asking Will and if he was wrong...Will probably wouldn't take that very well. And Jake had enough bruises from him. This would have been worse too. It was such a...strange allegation. At points throughout the day, Jake couldn't believe he was thinking about it. They were brothers after all.

Yes, maybe that was it. Jake had just got Will's brotherly love towards him mixed up with something else and now he was just picking out all these tiny little details and making them into something that they most definitely weren't. That's what he did all of the time. Will was right. He always had his head in the clouds.

And anyway...Jake knew full well about Will's attention to women. He used to bring a new girl back up to the room what seemed like every night and Jake would usually be sickened listening to them talk and...other things. But...that brought even more questions to Jake's head.

Will used to bring girls up to the room – he still did but not near as frequently. And what of himself? If he was right about Will, what would he do? Would he accept it? Would he respond to it? And in what way?

Jake didn't know. He would just have to wait and see. That looked like the only way forward at the moment.

But, Will wasn't the only thing on his mind at that moment. He also couldn't stop thinking about something else. The castle he had seen the night before. Or, at least, that he thought he'd seen. It had frightened him at the time yet throughout the day, he had developed a certain fascination for it. Anything outside of reality made him curious – even if it did unnerve him at times – and this certainly was outside of reality. He had considered telling Will about it but he would have probably just thought he was making up stories again. Jake had thought that at times too – maybe he had just dreamt it – yet when he had looked at his journal, he had seen the grass stains that had formed when he had tripped over onto the ground just before seeing the castle appear. And plus, it had materialized in the forest where he and Will had spent so much time because of the Mirror Queen. He knew full well anything could happen in that forest.

So, naturally, he was both enchanted and curious. He wondered if it would emerge again that night and if it meant anything. Maybe he had just been a lost traveller discovering it by accident and it appeared every night. But then...surely it must have meant something? It wouldn't just appear for no reason. Nothing in Marbaden happened unless it was for a reason. Jake knew that very well after the incident with the twelve girls.

And he wanted to find out what this reason was. His interests were getting the better of him and if he didn't try and discover the castle's secrets (if it had any), he would be making up wild suggestions that wouldn't leave his mind.

Which was exactly what he was doing with Will. Or was he?

Jake decided to just leave that alone. The castle gave him something else to think about and for that, he was grateful yet as Will glanced around at him that night, his eyes bright with the drink he had too much of, he couldn't deny the flip his stomach performed. He tried looking away but before he could, Will was walking – or at least, trying to walk – over to him and perching down on the table, the mug in his hand overflowing. Will didn't know his limits at the best of times.

'' Jakey...'' he purred, drink thickening his voice. '' Jakey, why aren't you dancing?''

Jake glanced into his mug, uncomfortable when Will was this drunk. '' I don't really feel like it, Will,'' he replied quietly but Will just laughed.

'' Not even with me?'' he giggled and something lurched within Jake's stomach. He couldn't help wondering whether it was just the drink talking for Will or another thought in his mind. Someone had once told him that when a person drank too much, their true side came out. He wasn't sure if he believed that. Or if he wanted to believe that.

'' ...I'm fine, Will,'' he mumbled, hoping Will would return to his swaying women soon. '' I'd rather just sit here and write or something...''

'' Aww, Jakey, you're always writing. One day, you're gonna be famous for it...''

That was the first time Jake had ever heard that from Will. He would have been grateful and flattered on any other occasion but the way Will had said it – rather like how the besotted girls spoke to him – made him uneasy. He tried to convince himself that he was just exaggerating and blowing things out of proportion again yet when Will giggled and playfully stroked his hair, the discomfort returned.

'' But...'' he continued at last, just as the silence began to get a little awkward for Jake. '' ...if you really don't want to dance with me, then...that's okay...''

And Will laughed rather femininely again before suddenly throwing his arms around Jake. Jake immediately felt the breath get knocked out of him and he gasped, feeling almost crushed by the force Will had jumped at him. '' Will...'' he attempted to wheeze, yet Will wasn't listening. Some of his drink had spilled over onto the ragged material of the seat Jake was sitting on but instead of doing anything about it, he squeezed Jake tighter and even more overflowed. Jake doubted he needed any more drink though.

However, as Will continued to embrace him fondly, his mind gradually turned from his brother's drunkenness and to something else. He began to smile at the way he was being slowly rocked and when Will sank from the table and flopped into his lap, he found himself wrapping his arms around his waist, suddenly feeling warm and cared for. In his ear, he could hear Will muttering unintelligible things but Jake realised with another smile that it was better than hearing him say words that signified his intoxication. In fact, after a while, he was finding that he quite liked being in a situation like this. The fire was burning cosily in the corner of the room, the sound of the band was making him feel at home and Will was very warm, even if he did smell of pungent ale.

Although he was aware that they were being stared at now by the people who weren't drunk (lucky there were only a few), Jake felt his eyes begin to close. He cuddled into Will and relished how kind he was being when he began to mumble more nonsensical things into his ear, his voice lazy and slurred. But then, as a growing sense of tiredness began to come over Jake, something changed. Through the lovely, cosy mood, he felt Will bury his head into his neck and before he could stop him, his lips found his skin and fervent kisses were placed on it, getting more intimate every time.

Jake immediately froze. A playful giggle escaped Will and he tried to wrap his arms tighter around his brother but Jake refused. His eyes wide and frightened, he pulled away and stared back at Will who was still struggling to focus. He tried to say something – anything – yet his throat had gone dry and no words came out. His heart thumped and although he thought he'd never be able to stand on legs that suddenly felt so weak, he picked himself up out of Will's embrace and hurried out of the room, not once looking back.

He knew exactly where he was going.

TBC


Sorry, it's been a while but I just got caught up in a load of other stories! :)

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