The coat hung on Break's coat rack, washed, laundered, and dried. It smelled like flowers now, because Break had convinced Sharon's servant to wash it. Giving it back to Liam should have been easy. Liam had been spending more time at Rufus Barma's house since the incident (Break hoped it was because Cheryl had injured the idiot duke and the man was now partially paralyzed) but that did not mean he was not still working for the Rainsworth's. Break saw Liam around the Rainsworth residence, doing Pandora's work, doing Cheryl's work, chasing after Sharon.
Break, a master at avoiding work, was able to avoid Liam around Pandora easily, and also found it no effort to avoid Liam while he was working for the Rainsworth's. Although, avoiding Liam often meant avoiding Sharon too, and Sharon had noticed, and commented on it.
That was the reason why Break had tossed the coat diffidently over one shoulder and set out for Pandora. It was bad enough that he was an admitted coward, and that everyone had found out about Kevin Regnard, he was not going to have Sharon outing Break's feelings for Liam to all and sundry.
Especially not to Raven or Oz. Break would send himself back to the Abyss first.
Oz would probably try to set them *up*.
So, while there were other factors at play, it was truly the coat that was at fault, and since the coat was Liam's, it turned out to be *all Liam's fault* in the end.
If Break was a normal, aka boring, member of Pandora, he would have gone in through the front door. News of his arrival would have skittered through Pandora's gossips like a rat on roller skates, and by the time Break had finally tacked Liam down Liam would have heard from at least three people that Xerxes Break was wandering around. Of course, Break WASN'T normal, and as such did not use the front door. Also, a great many of Pandora's staff, though they knew what he looked like, had never been formally introduced and as such weren't sure if that debonair looking fellow with the doll on his shoulder and the giant flapping sleeves was really Xerxes Break.
Despite Liam's loud, and often aggravated, use of Break's full name.
So, no one announced that Break was coming, no one knew he had come (he had entered through a little known secret passage-way that deposited him in the second floor, west wing drawing room) and Break was allowed to wander peacefully through Pandora in search for the owner of the large and rather comfy coat. (Break would admit, he had considered keeping it.) So it was no real surprise that when Break finally found Liam (in the *library* of all places) that Liam was not alone.
"Ha ha ha ha ha." A familiar, sickening voice laughed, followed by the sound of fabric rubbing against flesh, and Liam's familiar knee-jerk response of 'gggggggggk!' "Brother…"
Break paused with the door partially open, but not quite. He could feel something inside of him… not snap, but maybe bend a little. Dent. Something inside of him was dented. Although Liam was protesting.
"Mister Vincent." Liam managed, after he had stopped screaming. "Mister… not again."
Rustle, rustle, thump. Break peeked through the barely open door. Liam had pressed Vincent Nightray down onto one of the chaises in the library, but Vincent Nightray's determined clingy hands were still attached to Liam. In fact, they were just now sliding to cling to Liam's rear, nearly bringing him down onto the couch.
"Mi-" Liam pushed up his sliding glasses, a sure sign of frustration. "Oh PLEASE wake up." And then Liam did something Break had never thought he would do. Liam *shook* Vincent Nightray.
Perhaps because he thought he was alone, but Break stored this rather aggressive behavior in the back of his mind, for further perusal and consideration.
"Mmm?" Vincent's hands unclenched from around Liam's waist, and disappeared. Break had a rather limited view, but he assumed they had vanished to lie on Vincent's lap, or maybe to run through his hair. "Mmm. Aaah. Oh. Liam. Did I fall asleep again?"
Again? Break leaned closer. How dare Vincent Nightray… it was a good thing that Vincent Nightray had his purpose, and that Raven was Vincent's brother, otherwise Vincent Nightray would be long, long, long dead.
"Mister Vi- your chain!" The close eyed dormouse had appeared, curled up around Vincent's head, it's tail wrapped around Vincent like a rope. Liam took a surprised step back, allowing Break to see more of Vincent. Vincent looked tired, slightly ruffled, but not at all surprised.
"Oh yes, just ignore Yamane." Vincent Nightray waved his hand in the air, as if to wave away the chain like so much cigarette smoke.
"Yes, well, Mister Vincent." Liam pushed up his glasses, and adjusted his suit. Break noticed, for the first time, that Liam had not requisitioned another Pandora coat. Perhaps on Liam's poor servant's budget he could not afford one. "Please don't do it again."
Liam turned away, no doubt to head back to his work, when Vincent Nightray caught his elbow. "Liam. Can you tell me… just what is your allegiance to Xerxes Break?"
Break could see nothing of Liam's face, but he could imagine. Outraged, scandalized, and perhaps a little embarrassed. "Excuse me!" More than a little embarrassment colored Liam's voice. "Mister Vincent I do not think that it is your place to-"
"Humor me, Liam." Vincent Nightray smiled, his eyes closing as the smile took over the bottom portion of his face. Like a barracuda, but with less teeth. Vincent's chain faded away into nothingness. "I am asking as a member of Pandora, since your friendship with Xerxes Break impacts your duties."
Liam jerked his arm out of Vincent's hold. "It does no-" Outrage, now, how interesting. Because of Vincent's snooping, or because of the insult to Liam's ability to handle such distractions? Not that Liam could. Xerxes always got a rise out of Liam.
"It does. Didn't you stand between your master, and Xerxes Break?"
Liam choked, and Break went cold on the inside. It should be impossible for Vincent Nightray to know about anything that had gone on at that idiot Duke's house. Unless G- no, not even Gilbert, especially not Gilbert.
Vincent Nightray laughed. "I have my reasons… and the wound on your head is awful hard to miss."
Liam's arm rose, and Break wondered if the wound had scarred. "Mister Vincent." Liam said stiffly, even a shade coldly, "It is none of your business."
"I'm merely wondering, Liam." Vincent stood, and stepped forward, capturing Liam with an arm around the waste. Vincent's hand rose, Liam's earrings jingled when Vincent flicked them. "You do not seem the type of man who's loyalty is bought off. So what sort of compensation does Xerxes Break give you?"
Liam spluttered, so offended that he apparently could not formulate a response. His hands grabbed Vincent's shoulders and pushed, without any give. Break decided that now, now was the best time to enter, though of course it was not through the actual *door*. He had been hiding in one of the cupboards (easily accessed from the Maid's room under the main staircase). Pushing open the doors to the cupboard Break clambered out, noisily and obviously. When he looked up again Liam had managed to push himself out of Vincent's arms, one hand was still pressed against Vincent's chest, and Vincent's hand now rested on Liam's hip.
"Xerxes Break!" Liam shouted, loudly, aggravated, obviously having recovered his voice. Maybe Liam felt that by shouting his name often enough and loudly enough Xerxes would actually care about the scolding. Break did, but only because he loved the reaction. (Break would like to hear what Liam sounded like in bed.) Liam's hip twitched irritably, as if he was trying to shake Vincent off.
"Liam! Vincent Nightray. What a surprise to see you both here so late." Break made a show of dusting himself off, and then dusting off the coat that hung over one arm. When Break looked up again Liam's jaw was hanging, and after a second he started opening and closing his mouth like a fish. Perhaps that's what Liam's chain was.
"Xerxes Break." Vincent allowed his hand to fall casually from Liam's hip. "Well, I can see I'm not wanted here anymore. Good night…" Vincent paused suggestively, reaching up to brush gloved fingers over Liam's cheek. "Liam."
Liam did not jerk away, but his discomfort was obvious from the way his shoulders were hovering just below his ears, his hair was frazzled, and the full body shudder which racked his body. Now that Break was out of the cupboard he could see the long white scar that stretched from just in front of Liam's temple to disappear into his hairline. "Good night, Mister Vincent."
Vincent Nightray disappeared out of the library door, the solid, heavy oak swinging shut slowly behind him, and closing with a nigh-audible thunk and click.
Liam let out a long sigh.
"Eeeeeh?" Break smiled widely, hovering over Liam's shoulder. "Did you not enjoy 'Mister Vincent's' company?" Break hovered, hovered, hovered, sticking to Liam's back even though Liam had jumped violently away.
Emily spoke up from her perch on Break's shoulder. "Was he too touchy for you?"
"Xerxes Break." Liam turned around to face Break, though now they were chest to chest instead of chest to back. The difference in height is barely noticeable, although Break's shoulders are slimmer and he is just slightly shorter, but Liam's air of unimportance makes him seems smaller than he really is. "You… you were *watching*?"
Break smiled. "I came to return your coat." With exaggerated elegance Break draped the Pandora coat over Liam's shoulders.
"I was going to get another one." Liam responded stiffly. His sharply pointed eyes a rich brown-gold behind the gold rims of his glasses. "Thank you, Xerxes."
"I wouldn't want to put you out." Break's jack-o-lantern smile tipped pointedly to the side. "Or make you worry, Liam."
"That!" Liam reacted by taking a step back, and Break of course followed. One step, two steps, and finally stopping with the couch against the back of Liam's legs, as Liam wobbled, his arms flailing a bit until he balanced. "Xerxes. Don't-"
"You know, you are quite loyal to me." Xerxes pushed forward so that Liam dropped back onto the couch, seating himself with a whump. It put Liam's face in a rather interesting position, but Break didn't give Liam too much time to think about that. Break rested his gloved hands on Liam's shoulders, and pressed Liam back against the frame of the couch until he looked up into Xerxes' one red eye. "Maybe I should provide compensation."
Liam looked surprised, then affronted. "My loyalty can not be-"
Break pressed his mouth to Liam's, successfully shutting Liam up, though not serving much purpose else wise. Break stared at Liam, enjoying the shocked expression, before pulling back. "Do you think that's enough?"
Liam gaped, again, like a fish. "Xer-Xer-XERXES BRE-" Well, Break couldn't have Liam shouting his name and waking people up could he? That would be rude. And apparently the kiss hadn't been enough compensation. Keeping Liam trapped against the couch Break kissed him again, taking advantage of Liam's open mouth to slide his tongue inside, barely pulling back when Liam's teeth snapped down. Mmm, Liam had tasted like rich coffee, and sugar. Break slipped onto Liam's lap, and was not pushed off. Liam instead sat frozen under him.
"Don't freeze up now, Liam!" Break began undoing Liam's necktie and unbuttoning the top few buttons of his shirt. The silky fabric of Liam's cravat was tossed aside. "After all, we know each other's secrets, there's nothing left to hide."
Something changed then, in Liam's warm hazel eyes, and he griped Break's shoulders. Not to push Break off, but to tug him close and… kiss him, rather unsurely, driven purely on instinct. It was a terrible, awful kiss, but Break had time to train Liam right. After all, Liam was, underneath his loyalty to Pandora, Break's.
Or possibly, just broken, but time would tell.