A/N: Okay guys, first of all thanks a lot for answering my questions. The rating will remain T for now, the references are coming one by one (I decided to draw Malik and the rest as well. The links will be in my profile) and about the smut: I'll think about it and maybe I'll write it since nobody seems to mind. And I'll also wait with the category, let's see how it all develops.
Marikshipper, Leviathan of the Sea (Don't be sorry if I do something wrong. It's much appreciated), Kyuubi's Kit 2, Anamique4 (Anytime! Thanks for your beautiful reviews~), Zukofan2005 (Yes, I meant yaoi), Kerashi-chan (I've never read about a nice father for Malik ever before either. Thought the poor boy could have one for a change~), Jaims17 (I agree, there's not enough citronshipping and it's a shame that most long stories have been abandoned. I will do my best so this won't happen to my story as well! And I'm a big angst fan myself, so you can expect some~)
Just thank you so much, I do appreciate all the love! Admittedly, this chapter isn't my favorite although it's full of citronshipping from head to toe (you better not get used to this). Have any of you ever watched a Bollywood movie? If yes, then this might remind you of one. Musical-ness ahead! (You have been warned)
The group had made it back home, to Djane, at long last. Everyone was exhausted since it had not only been the journey but also a heated battle with the Pharaoh's guards. Malik was especially tired. So many things had happened in the past few days that also his small body was suffering from all the stress. He felt as if his whole being was aching but he was guessing that this came with being unused to riding for so long without taking regular breaks. He wondered how the others were able to cope with all this. Their stamina was certainly admirable. After all they rode so much and even had to fight. Malik had even fallen asleep while they had been riding but the others had no possibility to do that. Thinking about it like that, Malik felt even more like a burden now. Before, he would not have cared so much. He would have told himself that it was their own fault for kidnapping him, but now that he knew the truth, things were different. He felt as if he had some sort of responsibility now. He was their prince after all. He had always been the prince in one way or another but he had been kept inside the palace walls all his life, hence he never realized how his people could suffer for him. His chest felt heavy now, as if something was pulling him down.
He looked up as he heard the rustling of fabric. Akefia was stripping himself off his robes. He carelessly let them drop to the carpeted floor, feeling as much at home as one could in their own house. Malik was sitting on the edge of the bed as he watched the other take off his cloak. Unconsciously, he let his eyes wander over the flawless, tanned skin under which hard muscles rippled with every movement. He was completely unharmed although he had fought against a whole troop. But even Malik could see how worn out the Thief King was. It was no wonder, so it did not surprise the boy at all. If anything, he only felt more guilty. He began to fiddle with one of his sleeves and shifted his gaze to an uninteresting spot on the floor. "I... I am sorry", he whispered, not managing to say it loudly but Akefia heard it anyway.
The Thief King abruptly stopped what he was doing and slowly turned his head to study the boy. Malik was not looking at him, he could not bring himself to when he felt so guilty. "For what?" the thief asked carefully and fully turned around to give the little prince his undivided attention.
"For..." The boy let his head hang low as he muttered, "...for being such a burden."
The older male shook his head slightly and went to kneel in front of the boy. He waited for the child to raise his head and look at him but he kept staring at his lap. "Malik, look at me." But the boy gave no response. The thief sighed and lifted the boy's chin with one strong hand to create eye contact. That had been no request but an order. Akefia immediately noticed how glassy those lavender eyes were and how pained they looked. The fingers that had previously been occupied by the boy's chin slowly went up to cup his cheek.
"You are not a burden", he assured the young boy. "Why would you think that?"
"But", Malik protested and turned his head to escape the thief's affectionate gesture, "everyone... everyone was put in danger because of me. And some also got hurt and they had to endure so much. And if it wasn't for me-"
"Then we wouldn't have had to go through all of this. That's true", Akefia admitted and Malik lowered his head again. So he had been right and not even Akefia denied it. "However", the thief continued, "everyone did what they did of their own free will. All of us voluntarily did this because it was for you."
Malik was silent after that. The unevitable question came to his mind - Why? He had been told that Akefia was supposed to protect him but why did everyone else risk their lives for him? He could not understand why. As he could not understand many other things he had discovered with his capture. "Why...?" he thought aloud. "Why are you doing this for me?" He lifted his head again. He tried to find the answer in the thief's eyes but they did not reveal a single emotion like everyone else's eyes did. He could not read those eyes. Were they unreadable? Or was it his own eyes that were not able to read?
He heaved a shaky sigh. "Why would you put your life on the line to save me? I am of no use to you. All I do is breathe your air."
But the Thief King shook his head once more. "You are wrong. Have you forgotten who you are?"
"What kind of question is that?" Malik muttered emotionlessly. "I have just found out who I am. How could I forget it so fast?"
"Then you also realize that you are destined to become the next Thief King." Akefia chuckled amusedly. "But don't think that just because you are Khalid's heir, I will make it easy for you."
The little blond blinked in confusion. "What do you mean?" He had a bad feeling that he would not like what it meant.
"That, little prince, means that you will have to train hard to gain my title. You did not really believe that I would give it to you so easily, did you?"
"Actually..." Malik shifted uneasily. "I have not even thought about this yet."
The thief chuckled again. "You must have a lot on your mind if you haven't even thought about it yet." Malik scratch his cheek sheepishly. Indeed, how came he had not thought about something so important yet? "But I guess it is only understandable. The previous days have been full of events for you. Maybe it is better if you rest for now." Akefia was about to stand up but felt his wrist being capture.
"Wait", the boy pleaded but looked down at the carpeted floor, flustered. "I am not tired", he lied. For once he really cared about being strong for someone else. In this case he denied his exhaustion because he felt guilty. Guilty because everyone had gone through so much for him while all he had done was nothing at all. Therefore he wanted to be stronger so Akefia would not have to worry about his well-being. Worry? Thinking that the thief would worry about him made him feel even more guilty. The thought alone seemed conceited. Whatever the case was, pondering that could wait for later. "We can discuss this now... b-but only if you wish to", he quickly added, for he feared that maybe the thief wanted to leave the subject for another time because he himself was exhausted.
Akefia slowly lowered himself back on his knee again and put a hand over the one that was still on his wrist. Malik tried his best not to look at the other but that only made it easier for the thief to read him. "There is nothing to discuss. We will begin your training soon and then I will explain everything to you. Now don't worry about that and rest."
Their eyes met and Akefia graced him with an amused smile. It strangely made the boy's chest feel less heavy. "Tomorrow is the festival. I hope that you will enjoy yourself." The thief then raised the little noble's hand to his face. Malik tensed up at first but quickly relaxed again as Akefia gently kissed the back of his hand. He knew that maybe he should not but he was slowly getting used to the thief's touch. It reminded him of the embraces he occassionally shared with Ishizu. He did not remember a time, though, when anyone had kissed him. And now he was beginning to wonder whether the thief did this out of respect or whether it really was as affectionate as it felt in that moment. In the beginning he had not even given it any thought, it had simply scared him no matter how the thief touched him. In his eyes he had been a dangerous criminal whose intentions were unclear. But the curtain had risen and things were clearer than ever before and as uncertain as if in thick fog at the same time. Now it was different. He did not feel uncomfortable around the thief but it did not feel as familiar as with Ishizu. It did not feel brotherly as it did with Atemu and he was also not a father figure like the Pharaoh had been. He could not put his finger on it. Somehow it felt as if he had known Akefia for forever. Of course, he had known him before his time in the palace. But since he had lost those memories, the thief had become a stranger to him and it should be as if he had never met him before. But it was different. It was something inbetween 'never met before' and 'known for forever'. He could not find the right category for him and that made him feel as if he was lost. But knowing that this person kissing his hand could not be a complete stranger gave him reassurance. It was not only the knowledge, though. He could feel it somewhere in the depths of his heart.
Akefia released the boy's hand again and straightened up. This time he was not held back. "Sleep well", he said as he exited the room.
"You too", Malik murmured in return but the thief had already left and probably not heard a word.
Ever since he had met the man, he had had this one name on his mind. For some reason he felt the need to voice it now for the first time.
"...'Kefi..." It sounded so strangely familiar coming from his own mouth even though he had never said that name before. After hearing himself say it, it took him only a few brief moments to realize just whose name that was. It was an abbreviation of the name 'Akefia'. The boy let a hand run through his silky blond hair. He was getting this foreign feeling of knowing and not knowing again.
"Did I... use to call him that?"
Right behind the crimson curtain stood the man he had unintentionally addressed. For once, those stormy eyes were not the calm storm they usually reflected. His eyes were wide and he stood frozen with his back facing the entrance of his house.
'Malik. He just...' His thoughts were whirling around in his head. His mind a complicated mess. The Thief King was at a loss for words. Fortunately he did not require his tongue then. He had thought he would never hear that name ever again. The nickname a little boy had given him. The little boy that had died, come back from the dead and forgotten him. The chance that he would ever hear him say it again had been so small. Yet he had said it.
The shocked expression changed drastically. A wide grin was placed onto the Thief King's face. It was not sinister, mischievous or smug. It was one of excitement. "He remembers...", he whispered to himself.
"'Kefi? What are those?" a high-pitched voice asked from beside the white haired boy. Akefia ceased eating his apple for a moment to look at the smaller boy sitting by his side. The child with platinum blond hair and pure, lavender eyes was pointing one small index finger at the dark night sky. Akefia followed his finger and then looked back at Malik.
"Do you mean the sky?" he offered but the boy shook his head frantically and pointed his finger with more eagerness at the obscure sky.
"No", he said, "Those white dots there."
"The stars?" And this time the boy nodded excitedly.
"Yes, yes! What are those?" Malik finally lowered his arm and averted all his attention to Akefia in hope to receive an answer. The older boy scratched the back of his white head as he struggled to find a fitting explanation.
"Well... I don't know that myself", he admitted and in an instant the excitement was wiped out of the child's face. Regretting his answer, Akefia quickly went on, "But... my mother always sent her prayers to them when my father went on a raid or journey."
That sparked Malik's curiosity and all his attention was on his protector again. "Why?"
Akefia shrugged in response. "When I asked her she told me that she hoped it would reached the Gods better this way. She actually only prayed to one certain star though", he explained and looked around in the black sea, searching for a certain star. When he found it he pointed at it. "Do you see the one over there? It is the brightest of them all. My mother said that it is Ra watching over us from above."
It was silent for a moment as Akefia lowered his arm again. Malik was staring at the bright star in a fascinated manner. "Does he watch over me, too?" he asked, his eyes never leaving the star.
"He better do", the older boy joked. "But even if not..." Malik finally managed to tear his eyes away from the beautiful light and shift them to Akefia. His wide, purple eyes blinked innocently as the other boy placed a hand in the center of his chest and grinned at him confidently. "...as long as this heart beats I will protect you with my life."
Malik smiled at that. He did not fully understand the meaning of those words but he understood that Akefia would always be there for him if he needed someone. And that made him happy. He scooted closer to his protector and leaned his head on his upper arm. Akefia, surprised by the action, dropped his apple which caught the blond's attention.
"Your apple fell down", he giggled and the older one felt sheepish. Nevertheless, he put an arm around the small body and pulled the boy closer who immediately cuddled up to him.
"Does he protect you, too?"
Akefia was silent for a long moment, mutely wondering. Flashes of the horrible slaughter of two years before came to his mind. The murder, the pain, the blood, the tears. And remembering this was all he needed to know the answer.
Lavender eyes gazed up at him in question but what he had wanted to ask remained unspoken. He lowered his eyes again and his arms snuck around the taller boy, letting his head rest on the other's chest. "Then I will protect 'Kefi."
The white haired boy felt the arms tighten around him protectively, yet they could not hurt him, and Akefia could not surpress the laughter anymore. So he laughed. It sounded ironic to his own ears but reassuring to the ones of the child hugging him who squeazed once more. Akefia put both of his arms around Malik and pulled him in to finally return the embrace. "Thank you, Malik", he whispered into his shoulder.
Malik awoke to the feeling of something heavy on him. Reluctantly he cracked one eye open, followed by the other one as soon as the first had adjusted to the light. His blurry vision slowly faded back to its normal self. There was something blocking his view. All Malik could make out was red. He soon realized that the red was someone's hair. Someone who was on top of him. He gasped at the realization and bolted up into a sitting position, throwing the person to the foot of the bed. He pulled the covers, together with his knees, to his chest, instinctively scooting further away from whoever it was. When he felt safe, he took his chance to take a closer look at the person who was now groaning from having hit their head.
The intruder turned out to be a boy, a small child no less. Malik estimated that he was no older than four years. He had short, messy hair of a wine red color of which a bundle of longer strands was bound together at the left side of his head. As the boy looked back up at Malik, he noted that his eyes had a similar color, only they were of a more fiery red than his hair. The strange boy rubbed a spot on his head. He had probably hit it there.
Malik scrambled closer to the intruder, now that he was sure he would not be harmed. "I'm sorry. Did I hurt you?" he asked and reached out to the boy. But the child quickly recovered, did not even begin to cry or whine, and ignored the blond's question completely. He straightened his back and held his head high as if he had not just hurt it a few secons ago.
"Are you the prince?" he asked seriously.
"Y-yes." Malik found that boy to be rather intimidating although he was but a child, a lot younger than he himself even. At that, the boy wasted no time in grabbing the noble's hand and pulling him along as he climbed off the bed.
"Wait, what are you doing?" Malik asked, confused, but let himself be dragged out of bed and out of the house. "Where are we going?" he tried again after receiving no answer only to be ignored once more. Malik decided to give it up and play along for now. It was only a strange child dragging him through the village after all. On their way, they passed by some playing children. At first they gave them strange looks but then they ran off into different directions as if scared. Malik wondered whether it had something to do with him. They stopped in front of a house that looked just like most houses in the village. The redhead entered without hesitating, dragging Malik in as well. From the inside the house looked less lifely than expected. The furniture was plain and the sand and dust on it made it look older than it truly was. He assumed that usually no one lived in this house. Why had the boy brought him here in the first place, he wondered. He looked down at said boy, waiting for an explanation. The child finally let go of the older boy and walked to stand in front of him, red eyes observing him expectantly.
"Bring her back", he ordered.
Malik blinked dumbfoundedly. "Eh?"
"I want you to bring back my mother", the boy repeated.
'His mother? Bring her back?' Malik did not understand any of this. This little boy seemed to have lost his mother and wanted her to be resurrected - by him. But why did the boy believe he could do something like that? As he tried to find an explanation to this strange situation, the boy grew more and more impatient and he crossed his arms over his chest. Malik unconsciously took a step backwards. This kid was serious.
"You said you are the prince!", the redhead exclaimed, pointing an accusing finger at the other.
"Yes, but... why do you think I could bring back your mother?" Malik asked uncertainly.
"They said that the Thief King had a powerful ka. And if you are his son then you should have a strong ka, too!" the boy explained annoyedly.
"A powerful ka?" Malik thought aloud.
"Yes. Are you deaf?" the boy said annoyedly but Malik ignored the comment. He remembered hearing that word at the palace. Ishizu had explained to him that it reflected a person's soul. The form of its creature as well as its strength depended on the person carrying it. The priests used their ka to protect the Pharaoh, she said, but he had never seen any of them. She explained that they were only used if it was an emergency. Malik concluded that the priests' ka had to be strong if they were used so rarely. But Malik, having a powerful ka? He could not imagine that but what the boy said did sound plausible. If his father's ka had been strong then was his own strong, too? But no matter if it was true or not, he could not help the boy like this. Therefore, he regretfully shook his head.
"I don't know how to do that. I am sorry...", he said and gave the other an apologetic look.
"What?" the boy asked furiously and came a step closer. "But they said that the king's ka was strong! You must be able to do it!" he then grabbed Malik's tunic and glared hatefully at him. His hands that were fisted in his shirt began to punch against his chest and Malik flinshed slightly.
"This is unfair!" the boy yelled and proceeded to hit the other's torso. "Someone has to bring her back! Bring her back!"
Malik winced as one blow directly hit his stomach with more force than expected of such a small child. "I'm sorry", he repeated between gritted teeth.
"I don't care! Bring her back!" the boy shouted. Malik could see tears running down his face as he kept pounding. Suddenly both of the boy's hands were caught by larger, stronger hands and he was pulled away from the noble. The captured boy writhed furiously and looked up at the man who was holding him back.
"Let me go, you stupid thief!" he shouted angrily while trying to free himself, feet kicking around wildly.
"How insulting", Akefia said, unimpressed, and squeazed the boy's wrists harder to make him stop struggling. "If you ever lay a finger on the prince again, I will break all of them so you will never be able to touch anything ever again. And now leave." With that the Thief King let go of the boy and harshly pushed him out of the house. The redhead stumbled and almost fell but kept his balance. He turned around once more to glare at Malik one last time and then vanished out of the dead house.
"That was not necessary", Malik said at long last, "he did not hurt me."
Akefia turned to the blond and raised a white eyebrow at him. "And I assume that punch he landed in your stomach did not hurt either."
At that, Malik shifted his eyes towards the floor guiltily. "Who is he?"
"Amun. We found him and his mother a year ago. His mother died here in this house. She had been severely injured. And that brat has been trying to find a way to bring her back ever since. He believes that if he finds someone whose ka is strong enough, it could bring her back", the thief explained.
"And... is that true? Can you resurrect a person with your ka?", the blond asked curiously.
Akefia snorted bitterly. "Nonsense. I don't know who told him that but it's impossible. Ka are no Gods. They can become as strong as one but they will never be able to bring back the dead."
"Oh..." Malik lowered his head in disappointment. At this point, the thief deemed it to be wise to change the subject entirely.
"Anyway, I have been searching for you."
"Why?" the boy asked curiously, having forgotten all about the little redhead's predicament. This small but significant victory was enough for the Thief King to show his trade-mark smirk again.
"Come with me."
The sound of quick steps echoed throughout the hallways of the Pharaoh's palace. The woman tugged at the long skirt of her night gown to be able to run faster. Her lungs already as if on fire due to the frantic pants but she had no time to worry about herself now. She rounded another corner and exited the palace into one of the backyards where she found a figure standing in the dark of the night. She slowed down a bit but hurriedly went up to the person. The man with long, brown hair had his arm outstretched on which a fully-grown hawk rested. Calmly he turned to look at the other.
"Mahado", Ishizu began but was interrupted.
"I know", the priest simply replied. "I know."
Ishizu bowed her head in a saddened manner. "So my vision was true...", she muttered to herself.
"Unfortunately yes", Mahado confirmed and busied himself with stroking the bird's feathered head. The hawk, appreciating the attention, tilted its head to grant the priest better access. "The whole troop has been killed. We clearly underestimated them."
The priestess began to protest and defend, "But we could not have known that they would be this strong. The men all did their utmost and fought the thieves as best as they could."
"I am not blaming the fallen men, Ishizu", the priest said dryly and ceased carressing the bird. "We should have sent more than one troop. What if this had been our only chance to save Prince Namu?"
The priestess shook her head disagreeingly. "No, I do not think so. From what I have seen he is fine. But we have to find their hideout. And this time we will prepare better for his rescue."
"I disagree. If there is going to be a next time then we will attack with everything we have. We will set a trap that they cannot escape. And if I have to do it myself, then so be it", the priest decided with determination and the hawk flew off of his arm into the darkness.
"Mahado, no", Ishizu commanded in a warning tone, coming a step closer. "You are not going yourself. It is too dangerous."
"I don't care. The prince is out there with these criminals all alone. I cannot possibly stay here and wait, knowing that he is in danger all the time, even as we speak now."
The priestess averted her azure eyes. She understood his feelings just too well. To her the prince was like the younger brother she never had. As an older sibling she could not wait and be unproductive either. She also wished to help the missing prince but knew that as long as the Pharaoh did not give them the permission to go, she would never be able to help. And as it was, priests were not allowed to leave the Pharaoh's side until his death. "Mahado...", she said gently and approached the other priest until she was beside him. Reluctantly, she put a hand on his shoulder and looked into his eyes with sincere concern. "I want to save him, too, but we cannot abandon our duties as priests. So, let us help by making the plan to rescue him."
Mahado thought it over as he gazed into the dark blue sky. He sighed in defeat and smiled at the woman beside him. "Alright", he said, "Let's at least report to the Pharaoh then."
The priestess nodded her head. "Yes, you are right."
The mighty sun had settled behind the horizon and the small village was once more graced with the pure black of the night sky, only the moon and stars there to illuminate the land. However, tonight was different. Tonight the village's fairground was brightly lit by torches located everywhere and a huge fire in the centre of the square. Tables after tables had been set up, decorated with colorful linen cloths and oil lamps. Various kinds of food had been placed on them - fruits, vegetables and meat, anything an Egyptian could think of. Cloths, carpets and even robes had been used to further decorate the place, hanging from nearby windows, walls and strings. People were chatting idly, enjoying drinking wine - because drinking wine was only ever possible on occassions such as a festival - and dancing. Those with the only musical talent available had begun to play their indtruments, creating music to which the eager villagers could dance. It was a relaxing tune created by soft drumming accompanied with the melody of a harp and an oud.
A melodically singing voice suddenly tore through the air. Everyone ceased their actions, their heads turning towards the source of the voice. The crowd parted to let the person pass them by and stand in the center in front of the blazing fire. The gold bracelets jingled as the man rose his hand dramatically. The flames flickered behind his white head, their light reflected in his stormy gray eyes. The drums beat an excited rhythm as another singing tone errupted his throat, deep and clear. He took a step sideways beginning the dance, his black and golden robe swinging gracefully with his body's every move. His steps and moves seemed to melt together with the steady rhythm of the music as the thief danced. He stayed in one pose for a moment as the music halted with him.
"Tonight there is a reason for us to celebrate", he sang in a low baritone and the music went back to its steady rhythm together with his steps.
"Tonight there is a reason for us to celebrate,
because tonight he is joining us."
Whispering voices from the crowd echoed, wondering 'Who?'. The Thief King grinned and pointed into the direction of the mumbling people.
"I have seen him,
he is like us of flesh and blood.
I have seen him,
his being is as divine as that of a God."
He took a step backwards, closer to the whipping flames of the grand fire.
"He has returned for us,
awakened from the dead for us,
so tonight we shall celebrate him like a God."
Akefia put a hand on his chest to feel his heart beat as he sang on with a smug grin.
"Who is he that has found back to us,
who is he with the pure heart,
who is he that gives us reason to celebrate tonight?
At that the music became louder and faster and the crowd joined in to dance alongside the Thief King in front of the fire.
"Tonight there is a reason for us to celebrate,
tonight we let the joy take us over,
for tonight... we are reunited."
The music calmed down again and so did the dancers. Akefia went back to a calmer, steady rhythm, a few other men accompanying him.
In the dim light of the few oil lamps, that were set up on the floor of the otherwise dark room, a hand came up to massage oil onto soft, tanned skin. Another pair of hands carried a small gold chain that was placed onto a head of platinum blond hair. The pointy end of a stick dragged perfect, black lines over closed, lavender eyes. A brush painted the back of a small hand with artistic henna patterns. The flames flickered impatiently and finally the last piece, a violet scarf of thin, silky fabric, was loosely put around a slender neck.
The girl holding the brush with the rest of the henna, Kisara, took a step backwards to admire her work. She smiled and breathed a content sigh. "You are ready."
The boy slowly stood up from the seat in which he had spent hours, feeling wobbly on his legs due to not having used them in a while. His dark purple robes swung with him as he took a step towards the white haired girl. He looked up at her expectantly but averted his eyes to the floor in the next moment. He fidgeted with the hem of his black tunic, feeling self-counscious under the eyes of all these women that had prepared him. "How... how do I look?" he asked nervously.
"Like a prince", Kisara answered.
The King of Thieves slowed down his movements as the rhythm changed again. He spread his arms welcomingly as he directed the next tones towards the crowd again.
"I have seen him,
his eyes shine as brightly as the sun.
I have seen him,
his smile will make you forget whatever you have done.
He leaves everything behind for us,
changes the world for us,
so tonight we shall celebrate him like a God."
Suddenly, another voice, softer and more gentle, came from behind all the distracted people. The high notes of a ney went along with it. Once more the crowd parted to give way to the origin of the beautiful tones. A child with gorgeous amethyst eyes and sandy blond hair came into sight. He wore a short, black tunic with a belt of gold. Velvet, dark violet robes that almost reached his ankels hung from his narrow shoulders. His whole body was adorned with gold jewelery - gold chains in his hair, earrings, bracelets, anklets, necklaces. The small body moved towards the Thief King, anklets jingling with every step, making their own music.
"I have seen you,
and you showed me what is real",
the sweet voice sang as the boy took another step towards the thief who also approached him.
"...showed you what is real",
the thief repeated with considerably lower tones, getting closer and closer to the boy who continued to sing.
"I have seen you,
what you felt I can also feel."
They met in the middle, bodies only inches apart, making the boy having to tilt his head upwards. The thief's hand raised and brushed a strand of blond hair and tugged it behind the prince's ear.
"so tonight we shall celebrate you like a God."
Malik cast his hand aside and took several steps away from the Thief King. His feet began to move to the music that had once again picked up the pace.
"Who are you that has taken me away,
who are you that I have known for all my life,
who are you that celebrates me tonight?
Akefia as well as many other people joined the dancing boy, the drums beating wildly to the chorus, anklets jingling along as everyone sang together.
"Tonight there is a reason for us to celebrate,
tonight we let the joy take us over,
Tonight happiness will win over fear,
tonight our hearts beat together,
for tonight... we are reunited."
As the music slowed down, the blond turned around in one swift move to face the man with the white mane. The addicting sound of his sweet singing errupted his throat, making everyone feel like melting away. It made the Thief King sigh contently and for a moment he just closed his eyes, mentally drifting off into a heavenly oblivion. The boy just did not know what he was doing to him only by using his vocals. He reached out one hand towards the thief.
"I will change back to who I used to be for you,
will become stronger with every day for you,
The boy drifted off but the dancing people in the background finished the line for him.
"So tonight we shall celebrate you like a God."
Malik turned his body gracefully and was now back to back with Akefia who did nothing to push the boy away as he quite enjoyed the proximity.
"Who are you that knows everything about me,
who are you that makes me feel so strange?"
At that the Thief King whirled around to look into the boy's beatiful violet eyes. Quick, trained fingers grabbed his equally violet scarf, pulling it off. Malik reacted automatically by taking the other end of the cloth. Their eyes locked in an unannounced battle.
"Who are you that enchants me with his smile,
who are you that makes this heart go wild,
who are you that gives us reason to celebrate tonight?"
Pulling stronger on his scarf, Malik sang the last part together with the thief drawing him closer by the other end.
Akefia let go of the silky cloth as their cue to sing the last chorus.
"Tonight there is a reason for us to celebrate,
tonight we let the joy take us over,
Tonight happiness will win over fear,
tonight our hearts beat together,
for tonight... we are reunited!"
Everyone joined in, singing and dancing, and the whole place was full of people moving to the enchanting rhythm. As a result Akefia and Malik were pushed together rather unintentionally but the thief did not complain and neither did the prince. So they kept dancing. At one point, Malik thought he had stepped on the thief's foot. He looked up with the intention to apologize. But as their eyes met once more, he completely forgot about his plan and all he could do was look at those fascinating eyes. Suddenly the thief bent down and Malik felt his hands on each side of his waist. Before everything could sink in he had already been pulled up, lifted high into the air even above the thief's head. Akefia laughed heartily at him and after a moment of simply staring Malik began to laugh, too. The thief bent down again and repeated the action but put more force into lifting the boy so that for a brief moment he was flying in mid air. The boy was caught again and held on eye level with the thief who was holding him in his strong arms.
"Tonight...", Akefia sang in a whisper only for the other to hear.
"...tonight...", Malik whispered back and wound his arms around the thief's neck and embraced him.
The villagers kept dancing, oblivious to the two in the middle sharing an affectionate embrace. Oblivious to what was going through their king's head. Akefia appreciated the gesture as much as life itself. Malik had inititated it, he trusted him. Years ago he had finally accepted the fact that he would never be like this with Malik ever again. Yet here they were, standing in a crowded fairground, hugging as if it was the most natural thing to do. It was not but in that very moment, it felt natural to both of them. However, as oblivious as the dancing people were to their hug, as much oblivious were the king and his prince to the pair of eyes watching them.
As the music stopped, people began to clap and cheer. Akefia quickly put the boy in his arms back down and both clapped like the rest of the crowd did. They kept this up until the music started to play again and people went back to dancing, eating, drinking, chatting and enjoying themselves. When everyone was busy once again, Malik hesitantly averted his eyes to his right side where Akefia was standing. He quickly looked away when he met the thief's gaze but knew he should say something. He cleared his throat uneasily, wondering where the awkwardness had so suddenly come from. "How long is this festival going to last?" he finally asked.
The thief clicked his tongue. "Hmm... I would say...", he began and smirked at the boy who was waiting patiently for his answer, "Until nobody can stand anymore."
With a relieved sigh, the exhausted boy let himself drop onto the welcomingly soft bed. "Oh Gods...", he groaned as he lay with his arms stretched away from his body and his eyes closed.
"Never thought celebrating could be this exhausting, hm?", came the comment from across the room where the Thief King was releasing himself of all heavy jewelery he had on him. The boy nodded his head agreeingly, too tired to do anything else. When Akefia had taken off all jewelery and unnecessary garments, he looked over to a half-asleep Malik.
"Are you planning to sleep like this?" he asked in a mocking tone. Malik would have felt self-conscious if he was not too exhausted to care and therefore he simply nodded his head once more.
Akefia shook his head. "If you were not a child, I would help you take your clothes off", he said with a sly smirk. At that the boy cracked open one eye.
"I am not a child", he protested sleepily, having missed the suggestive part of the comment.
"Of course not", the thief chuckled, watching the boy yawn and close his eyes again. He then went to leave the room, saying 'good night' but the other was already asleep. He exited his house with a content expression but that changed all too quickly. In front of him stood a tall, bald man with a stoic face. Akefia frowned at him.
"What do you want, Rishid?" he asked none too friendly which did not go unnoticed by the other male.
"I want to talk to you", he replied simply. Akefia hesitated for a moment, studying the other, but motioned for him to follow him. Rishid obeyed and they ascended the stairs to the roof where they sat down on a few woven carpets.
"I hope that this is important." The threat in those words was clear even through the contained voice and calm expression. Fortunately, Rishid knew better than to unnecessarily provoke the Thief King and immediately said what he had come for.
"It's about the prince", he said.
"Is it now?", the thief responded uninterestedly, not looking at him as he spoke.
"Yes, it is. But it concerns you, too." The other still refused to show that he was paying attention but Rishid did not mind. "I know about the oath you swore. I know that your duty was to protect him-"
"Is", Akefia corrected. "So? You know and now what?"
"Well, like I said, I know that you are supposed to look after him, but I am afraid that what you are doing is beyond your original duties." The moment he said that, a cloud floated in front of the moon, further darkening the place.
"How so?" the thief asked coldly and even Rishid was beginning to feel uneasy.
"You know what I am talking about."
The taller male heaved a sigh, hoping that it did not seem too respectless towards his leader. "You are not only protecting him. You care for him like a parent."
"I still don't see your point."
"My point is that at this rate you might lose sight of your actual duties", Rishid explained as calmly as possible. "You are our leader. And I fear that if you keep getting distracted by the boy, our village will face a fate similar to that of Kul Elna."
"Listen, Rishid", Akefia said in a warning tone, his icy gaze finally meeting that of his right-hand man, "I know exactly what I am doing and what my priorities are. And at the moment, Malik is my priority. I am going to train him, and when he is ready we will take revenge on the Pharaoh. If this was everything you wanted to talk about then you can leave now."
Without any protests Rishid stood up from the carpet and went back to the stairs but halted in front of them. "I know I have no right to be telling you this...", he began in a low, serious voice, "But I advise you to keep your personal emotions out of the plan."
Akefia snorted furiously and lay back on his carpet. "I have everything under control."
"I hope so...", was the last Rishid muttered before he went down the stairs to leave his leader to himself. As soon as Akefia could not hear the other's footsteps anymore, he hit his fist against the hard floor. He gritted his teeth to keep his anger inside as best as he could.
How dare he talk to the King of Thieves like that. He had not gained this title by getting distracted, much less by letting useless emotions get in his way. He had abandoned these years ago. The only reason why he treated Malik the way he did was because of that oath. The oath he had sworn to the father of the boy who was sleeping peacefully in his bed. Because of that and nothing else. Even if Malik was still like a little brother to him, the family he had lost, he would never let his feelings get in the way or lose sight of his aim. The plan was to make a man out of this fragile little boy. And that was exactly what he would do. He would prove it. And it would begin tomorrow.
A/N: It wasn't that long, I'm sorry!
Don't even try to google the lyrics, I wrote them myself (which explains why they sound so horrible). Nothing really rhymes because I thought if they actually sang that, they'd sing it in err... Egyptian and not in English which would change a lot. And no, Rishid is not a bad guy, he's just worried.
The Become-A-Thief-King-Training begins soon and let me tell you this: When it's finished there's going to be another time-skip. I'm looking forward to it! I hope you do too. See you next time!