A/N: i'm like a million years late to this party but jack you poor soul i wish i could help you
Jack doesn't strike women. Jack doesn't strike women. Jonathan Benjamin, son of King Silas, prince of Gilboa — does not strike women.
Yet Jack is no son, he is no Jonathan. He is no prince (faggot). He was stripped of his last name's title and the privileges it brings. Times he used to dream and lust after a world where he had no title, he was a simple man, who could kiss whom he wishes should the clock chime midnight on New Years. He imagined wide eyes and a boyish grin against his lips.
But that is no more.
The first time Lucinda fell pregnant, he could taste the freedom on his lips. No more long hours into the night, shoving his cock into her again and again and wishing for the inevitable release. He hated her. Wished he could strike her, if he were such a man.
He could feel the end approaching. He could leave. He'd flee the country and live somewhere sunny and warm, the wayward prince. He'd marry someone. A man.
(But still reaching — still yearning — for the wide eyes and boyish grin, the laugh like bells in his ears, the thin frame and knobbly spine. Still waiting. He is no saint, he has no favor in God's eyes. Joseph lived nobly. He died to save him from the hatred that threatened to bubble up inside until it boiled him alive. God would favor him, would honor him, and he would be accepted with open arms. And yet, and yet, and yet.)
"I'm sorry, Jack." Lucinda's whimper still rang in his ear. Lost the baby. Miscarriage. I'm sorry, Jack, for keeping you here.
Michelle visits him. She wasn't supposed to, but she befriended the guard loyal to the King long ago, and they grew soft in her presence. She walked silently and intently to the gate and slipped inside, waiting in the study with the fireplace burning to ask him the same question each time.
And he could not give her the answer she desired. He could not tell her what was running through his head each moment of his treachery, each moment he partook in treason against his country. The greed and the power and (you are no prince, faggot). You are no king.
Instead, in front of the fireplace and downing the scotch, he would whisper to her about Joseph.
He would tell her how he met him, how the very second he laid eyes on him, he felt something. Jack would tell her about Joseph's ambitions. His father so desperately wanted him to be a surgeon, something to benefit his country and earn him money, but Joseph secretly wanted to teach children.
Jack used to scoff at that. "Children in favor of organs and donors." There were no right answers to Joseph's future. But he wanted to teach children.
Jack related tales of laughter with Joseph, how he was funny and likable and kind. He had no agendas, no quarrels with anyone. He lived his life well, the way a man should, the way Jack wished he had. Joseph loved without restraint. He did not hide himself from the world.
Joseph was brave.
"You loved him," Michelle whispers back, shaking her head, and Jack would not hear, and Lucinda would stand in the doorway, tears dribbling down her chin, wan and thin and betrayed. A husband who loved a man, the shame.
Jack tells quietly of the night he said goodbye. The lights were down. He could be anyone he wanted, faceless, nameless, a faggot walking hand-in-hand down the street. No one to ask him questions, no camera flashes in his face. Joseph's body warm beneath him. No words. Just that primal instinct, the skin-on-skin, the touch of lips.
Real. The only real thing he's ever known.
"I was a coward," Jack says, tongue thick and fuzzy with the booze, words running together. "He was too brave for me."
And Michelle wouldn't even look at him. Lucinda's tears would fall. Joseph would grow a little blurrier in Jack's dreams, as he reaches for him, yearning to touch what he's so perfectly destroyed.