Author: Just a little fluff to balance the drama of KYEC. In this, Varian and Arthas are both kids with Varian living in Lordaeron as Stormwind is being rebuilt.

Disclaimer: If I owned WoW, would I be writing fanfiction?

Warnings: None that I can think of. This is really tame.

"C'mon Varian, it'll be fun."

"No. The last time we did something you thought would be 'fun' we were banned from an entire wing of the castle for a month."

"Aw, but they shouldn't've left magical texts just lying about! And anyway, you looked good with bright pink hair."

"Very funny, Arthas," Varian drawled and crossed his arms across his chest. "If I remember correctly, it looked like a winter veil tree had been plopped on your head for about a week. Didn't some birds try to nest in it?"

Arthas pouted. "They did not."

A sullen silence radiated off the heir to Lordaeron and Varian sighed.

The exiled royalty hated to admit it, but the trouble he got into with Arthas always ended up being worth it. Sometimes he hated how people thought of him already as a king when he really wasn't ready for it. Sure, he was learning everything a young man of his station should, but it seemed like people forgot he also was, y'know, not king yet.

Varian eventually asked, dread in his voice, "What're you planning?"

Arthas' face immediately brightened. "Oh, it's nothing much. Just a little exploring."

"We are not going into Undercity."

"What, are you scared?"

Varian frowned. "I'm not scared!"

"Then why don't you want to go?"

"Because it's dangerous!"

"You are scared!"
"Am not!" Varian huffed as his temper began to manifest. "It's just stupid to go somewhere you'll be hurt."

"So you're scared and weak?"

Varian bristled. "Fine! But you'd better not back out, Arthas."

Arthas grinned, the gesture pure mischief. "Never!"

I'm going to regret this, aren't I?

"Follow me, I know a way in that isn't through the elevators."

Varian scowled at the ground before he followed the heir to Lordaeron. Varian had a sneaking suspicion that Arthas would be the death of his father, if only because the boy acted more on whim than anything else.

Not like he could talk. But he did think at least a little bit more.

Varian was glad that he was in his practice clothes, since, while good quality, they were abused, so might make it less obvious that he was the visiting royalty, as would the hood that was on the cloak he had hurriedly grabbed.

Varian followed Arthas through twisting subterranean corridors, stale water splashing against his boots as things he didn't want to name passed his feet.

"Arthas! Slow down!" Varian hissed as the smaller boy moved nimbly through the tunnels that wound beneath the castle. To his dismay, Varian came to a fork in the tunnels and couldn't figure out which way Arthas had vanished, and he had no idea how to get back to the surface.

"I'm going to kill that brat," he muttered as chose the left fork on instinct.

He eventually emerged in Undercity proper, and stepped carefully out of a small door after he had pulled up the hood of his cloak.

For a subterranean complex, the ceilings were fairly high, although there was an omnipresent dank, musty smell that made his nose wrinkle. He much preferred the open air.

Varian felt that the best way to not get killed was to either stay out of sight or appear as if he knew what he was doing.

He decided staying out of sight was the better option. Thankfully, Undercity was a place of shadows, so finding some to stick to was relatively easy.

He had no idea where the elevators out of the place were, but he distantly remembered hearing about sewers that he could escape through.

I'll probably find the sewers. It'll be gross, but I think it'll attract less attention.

Varian eventually discovered that he needn't have worried about attracting attention. As long as he didn't openly gawk, people were content to ignore him.

I suppose Undercity isn't a place you go to meet with people you want to be associated with.

Still, now that he was in the forsaken area beneath the bright jewel of Lordaeron, he was…curious.

I hate you, Arthas, Varian groused inwardly.

As he covertly looked around, he saw all the things that no-one wanted a boy of his station to know about.

He saw fascinating, obviously illegal weapons that his hands itched to hold, discovered poisons and reagents too dangerous to be sold in normal venues, overheard secrets whispered in dark corners that would never make it to the surface, and caught fleeting glimpses of people that he would otherwise only meet after they had a dagger in his back.

It was a dangerous, deadly place that had his entire body tense and his senses on high alert. He didn't want to be taken unaware—not in a place like Undercity.

However, the wrong turn in the right place brought him up short and made him stare.

Thankfully, neither man noticed his presence, caught up with each other as they were, and Varian darted back the way he had come and traveled along the opposite curve of the wall. He kept his head down and could feel his face burn in a blush.

Oh Light. I'm going to kill Arthas when I find him again. That…they…

Varian shook his head forcibly, and the gesture drew his eyes to a hole he hadn't seen before. Toxically glowing sludge seeped out of it, and he clambered as quickly as his adrenaline-driven body would let him up onto the platform. He ran along the edge of the sewage, and the shock and embarrassment he had felt slowly drained from him. He finally reached the edge of the tunnel and took in grateful gulps of fresh air.

"Light," he muttered, a strangely rough edge to his voice imparted by the strength of the emotion he was feeling. "He is dead. D-e-a-d dead."

Varian carefully climbed down to the ground and grimaced at the state of his being. His boots were ruined, the edge of his cloak was coated in substances he didn't want to name, he stunk, and he couldn't get the fleeting image out of his head.

His hand went to his forehead and he voiced a sound that was more befitting one of the hunting hounds that the royal family kept than a person.

It was oddly cathartic.

He jerked off the cloak he had been wearing and tossed the soiled thing in the bushes, his boots following shortly afterwards.

He had liked those boots.

However, his pants were still serviceable, which was a relief.

Varian grimaced and scratched his head vigorously, a snippet of a glimpse flashing through his mind.

He knew that there were men who preferred other men. While he could partially sympathize because girls were gross, he hadn't really understood what that meant. He hadn't put together that the things he saw some of the more amorous teenaged servants do could apply to two men as well. He hadn't realized that what some people spoke of in metaphor and conspiratorial whispers could also be done by two people of the same sex.

Varian shuddered and pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes in an attempt to banish the image of the warped intimacy that refused to leave him alone.

The sound pulled from his throat was desperate, disgusted, and angry and all he could momentarily think about was making Arthas suffer like he was.

The emotion was vehemently pushed aside, though, and he felt a small tremor of shame run through him. It was an unworthy thought—especially since he was a guest in King Terenas' home.

He'd just have to settle for pulling a vindictive prank on the younger prince.

Varian shuddered once before he started towards the main entrance of the capital city, and tried to figure out how to explain his state.

He eventually decided that he'd blame it all on Arthas and see how things turned out.