~I do not own Teahouse nor do I own Xanthe and Linneus, though I wish I did own Linneus.~

Linneus and Xanthe had been each been busy with their work lately. Though Linneus had lost one of his most frequent clients. He still had enough work to keep him pretty busy and with Xanthe running the brothel he had even more work. Plus it seemed any free moment Xanthe had lately was spent with Lilith, which Linneus absolutely hated.

So he was quiet happy to take on the task of delivering Xanthe his coffee. And since Lilith had been teasing him about acting like one of the help again he knew he wouldn't be walking in on anything he didn't want to see.

Linneus set Xanthe's coffee down before taking a seat in from of his desk and sipping his tea cautiously. He set it down since it was still too hot to drink. "I miss spending time with you like this Xanthe." He gave his friend a kind smile. Even if they weren't even going to talk Linneus was happy just sitting there watching Xanthe work. The older male always seemed so frazzled and Linneus found it cute.

Xanthe was working on his paperwork and wasn't going to bother looking up until he heard his pink haired friend speak. He was happy to find him free of the jewelry he liked to wear. "Work keeps us both busy. You know that." Xanthe met his gaze with a lot of intensity. Glad for the fresh coffee and the company as cold as he may have seemed. "As we grow up we take on more responsibilities." Perhaps the anecdote was inadequate, but Xanthe was trying.

"Yes I know. That doesn't mean I don't miss times like this. I have always enjoyed the time we've got to spend together ever since we were kids." Linneus blushed a little and picked up his tea pretending to sip it even though it was still hot. He just didn't want to look at his friend while he was blushing.

Xanthe was quick to reach over the desk and grip the rim of the teacup, bringing it away from Linneus' mouth before he could get a sip. Simulated or not. With just enough insistence he guided the teacup down to the desk again. "Be careful. You don't want to burn your tongue."

Linneus only blushed more at that. He couldn't help but love Xanthe all the more when he would look out for him like that. And speaking of looking out for him he had to address a point that had been eating at him. "You made Liard go away because he hurt me didn't you?" Linneus may not have really loved Liard. And definitely not as much as he loved Xanthe but Liard loved him as much as someone could love a prostitute and Linneus loved that.

There was a tense moment in the room as Xanthe thought of how to approach the answer to the inquiry. Finally he replied. "Abuse is something that I by policy find damaging to the value of the business I run. I do not write contracts that allow anyone in the house to be beaten. Understand?" He tried to make it sound as if he wasn't treating Linneus special. He couldn't let the other know he loved him.

"I understand. Just because Liard liked seeing the marks he left the other clients may not like seeing the bruises. You have to keep the interest of the majority in mind even if Liard was my top paying client. I still wish you would have at least let me keep my crown though. It made me feel special...like a princess." He added the last part softly. Though he had a feeling the other would know even if he didn't catch the words.

"Some other client can bring you another headpiece. I don't see the problem." Ok so he did have a little regret for taking away all of the jewelry he knew Linneus loved so dearly. But it was for the best he reasoned. Even if he did feel cruel for turning a blind eye to such things. "Give it another few weeks and another client will bring you another gift."

Linneus nodded. "You're probably right." Now he felt bad for complaining. It really wasn't like him. Being without his pretty jewelry made him feel like he was just one of the help again. Not that he really ever minded being one of the help. But being a courtesan gave him the ability to at least be loved for a little while.

Xanthe watched Linneus' expression. There was something heart braking there. And it made him feel...something. He couldn't, wouldn't describe it. "You look fine. Really." He tried to make Linneus feel better at least. Though he was poor at it. He tried.

Linneus smiled and blushed a little picking up his tea and sipping it. Too most people what Xanthe said wasn't really a compliment, but Linneus knew it was and not just a brothel owner trying to soothe one of the courtesans so he'd do his job. "Thank you Xanthe."

Glancing away Xanthe tried not to notice the small warmth that filled him at Linneus' thanks. Nor did he want to imagine what sort of headdress he would of had made for the courtesan if he ever had the opportunity. "You're welcome. Sometimes I think you...look best without the jewelry. I mean it's like you hide behind it."

Xanthe was right about that. He did hide behind the jewelry. It helped him feel like he wasn't just an orphan whose father sold him to pay off a debt when he was only five. Almost every piece was a present from a client because they knew he liked to look beautiful. And knowing they'd give him something even though they didn't have to felt nice. Linneus blushed more at Xanthe's words though. He wasn't sure what to say to that. "My clients like it. They say it makes me more exotic. And they make me more beautiful. I may not be the top earner, but I do try my best Xanthe." He sipped his tea and looked up at Xanthe. "Would you like me to not wear it when I don't have a client then?"

Linneus without the jewelry took him back to simpler days. When he was just the help and Xanthe didn't have to worry about finding him people to sleep with for money. It had just been Linneus pure and simple. "Yes I think that's a good idea. No jewelry when you're not with a client." He had the urge to reach out and cup his chin to turn his head so he would look him in the eyes but he resisted.

Linneus would do anything to keep Xanthe happy and hopefully win his love from that ugly man in a dress Lilith. Even give up his beautiful jewels and just be plain. He set his cup down and watched Xanthe. He wished for the old days when it was just them and they'd get to sit together when Xanthe read him stories and they drank their tea and coffee together. "I would do anything for you Xanthe." He told the other man softly. Not sure if he really wanted the other to know.

As always it seemed hard for Xanthe to get kind words out. But he found his reply almost natural all things considered. "I know you would. I know."

Linneus smiled a little. Though the man across from him didn't seem to really grasp what he was trying to tell him. Part of him wanted to blurt out that he loved Xanthe; that he was the Prince he always hoped for. Another part wanted to just kiss him. But the part that won was the part of him the forced himself to stay calm and sipped his tea once again.

A little curious Xanthe looked down into his cup of coffee as he ventured. "What sort of things would you do for me Linneus? My paperwork?" A chuckle. Somewhat surprised at himself for making a joke.

Linneus blushed deeply. He knew he had to take this chance. He couldn't let it pass like in the kitchen the other day when he was so close to kissing Xanthe. "If that's what you want. Or I could do the things Lilith does for you." He looked at his tea not brave enough to face Xanthe after admitting that out loud. He didn't know what he'd do if Xanthe rejected him. Or worse didn't want anything to do with him anymore.

This very desk was the place where Xanthe had his last engagement with Lilith. That in itself was enough to make a small pang of guilt throb through him. Regardless of the overwhelming need he felt to protect Linneus he knew the man wasn't naive. Sex was his job. "What makes you think it would be a good idea to do that? I'm sure you have better things to do with your time. Namely making up for the client you lost." As soon as the words existed his mouth he regretted them. Accepting should be easy. Just leaning across the desk and kissing him should have been easy. For Xanthe it was much more complex.

Linneus felt his heart shatter. What was he expecting? For Xanthe to feel the same way about him? Xanthe probably just felt he was some annoying kid who always followed him around. "Of course. I'm sorry I suggested it Xanthe." He finished his tea and stood up. He tried to leave as quickly and gracefully as he could. He didn't want Xanthe seeing how much it truly hurt him that Xanthe just thought of him as a paycheck.

As if Xanthe didn't feel horrible enough about the way he was treating Linneus before. It only took a few seconds before he realized how absolutely wretched he was treating the one person he could actually be honest with. When the two of them were alone in was as though everything was different. "Linneus wait." It was a command. One that he hoped would bring the other back to sit with him though he couldn't even manage to look at him now.

Linneus stopped though he didn't turn around. He wouldn't disobey an order from Xanthe, but he would follow it to the letter. He took a few deep breaths and tried to compose himself, but the harder he tried the more tears threatened to come until they finally did. He really couldn't face Xanthe now. "Yes? Where you done with your cup of coffee too? Or did you actually need me to fill out that paper work?" That came out much more bitter than he had intended. But Linneus was hurting. He now knew the only man he truly loved didn't love him back.

"No. No, Linneus don't..." Xanthe stood right up. Then able to hear the tears on Linneus' voice and unable to stand it. If there was one thing he was weak for it was actual tears, especially because he had caused them. He moved around his desk to stride right up behind Linneus. Hands hovering over the other's shoulders, not sure if touching him would make things better or worse. "I didn't mean it like that. I didn't."

Linneus could feel the other behind him and he wanted so badly to turn around and have him hold him but after what he side he didn't think it would help any. But he did wiped his tears away and manage to compose himself a little. He turned around to face Xanthe. "Then how did you mean it?" He tried to keep himself as composed and neutral as he could looking into his old friend's face.

"Linneus..." How did he even begin to explain? Looking him in those blue tear-stricken eyes he finally garnered the courage to put both hands on his arms. Holding him a few inches away. "I simply meant that..." He had no explanation for his words it was horrible really. But he needed to say something. "It's hard for me to protect you from the things I want to when you're like...this." A prostitute. A high class prostitute but a prostitute none the less.

Watching the man in front of him stumbling to try and get the words he wanted to say out Linneus couldn't help but still love him. He gently rested a hand on his cheek. "That is sweet of you Xanthe. Truly it is. But at what point do you stop trying to protect me from everything? I'm 26 now. And if you do want to protect me wouldn't it be easier to protect me if we were together?" He had to try everything he could to get Xanthe to love him. It was the one thing he wanted most.

Though Xanthe knew they could not be together he couldn't help but agree with Linneus. It would be easier for him to be protected if they were together. No one else could touch him, leave their marks all over him like Liard had and countless others probably had. And the beautiful man simply deserved the best. Even though it was to complicated. Still Xanthe nodded to appease Linneus, reaching up to put a hand over the one brushing his check to keep it there. "It's difficult."

Linneus knew that was a no. So he just rested his head on Xanthe's chest and savored this moment. He never wanted it to end. Never wanted to have to leave his embrace. "If I really was a princess I could make you mine." He said softly.

An expression of pain crossed his face. For just a moment. Linneus knew just where to stab him where it hurt the most. He finally let his arms come around the slightly smaller male, feeling how small the other was in comparison. "If you were a princess you wouldn't need me."

The younger man looked up at him and saw the hurt. He couldn't resist. He leaned up a little bit and kissed him softly. "I would always need you Xanthe."

There was something incredible about getting a kiss like that. It was chaste and it felt so much more real that any kiss he had felt in a long time. He could only stare back. And then because it felt to good to pass up he leaned down to return the favor, eyes closing.

Linneus' eyes closed as well and enjoyed the feeling of their lips pressed together in such a sweet kiss. If they never had to leave the office and never had to face the real world Linneus would be happy because he could be here with the man he loved all of his life, for forever.

Xanthe was in over his head and he knew it. Even when he pulled out of the kiss he couldn't pull away. Instead he let himself linger there. Forehead against forehead with Linneus. Linneus opened his eyes once the kiss had ended and looked into Xanthe's golden eyes, sliding his arms around his neck. He didn't want to say or do anything to make this moment end. Nothing that he could think of to say could top this feeling.

A tentative hand patted him on the back for a moment before Xanthe realized it was much too formal, to friendly. Instead he let it rub up and down the graceful curve of the man's spine, feeling him up as well as comforting. But it felt like they could go no further.

Linneus didn't care if they went any further. Not now at least. In fact he would have liked it less if Xanthe threw him on his desk and made love to him like he was just the whore he was. No being held like this Linneus knew he had the love he always sot, even if there was nothing they could do about it.