Sorry for the really slow updates and a Special Thank You to Katrin for all the motivation!

And also for all those readers who still like this story, thank you for your patience!


What now?

Justin couldn't breathe and his chest constricted with unbearable tightness. His thinking was becoming obscure as time ticked by.

Brandon had laid the most explosive news on his head. An execution?

He had played with death in the beginning by defying everyone without a single care in the world but now standing so close to it made him restless and uneasy. Part of him was constantly telling him that this wasn't, couldn't be true.

He clutched at his clothes, almost fearing that if he didn't his heart might just fly out. He needed to use his head right now, not his exploding heart.

He slowly thought about what Brandon had said, analysing each heavy word in his head.

Brian's family wanting him dead seemed plausible. Cynthia was the only one who showed some sort of interest towards him, the rest, well never really cared. They hadn't put much effort in learning to know him nor did Justin care about them. They were in complete agreement, or so he thought.

But what about the rest of Brandon's story about Brian spying on him? Could that be true?

Justin's shoulders slumped dejectedly. His rational side leaned towards it being true. He was a very powerful king, he probably never trusted anyone. For the first time he wished he had the power to doubt but there seemed a very slight margin of error for this entire ordeal to be false.

Brian fucked him, more than what could be considered appropriate or reasonable but he had never said a word that was in the least convincing that he had truly liked him or even wanted him outside the domain of their bedroom. Could it be that he had gotten bored with him? He closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around his shoulders. Everything felt cold, draining his remaining warmth into a dark pit.

The bottle of poison lay cold against the thin fabric of his pocket and strangely enough, it felt heavy. Brandon expected him to use it. He only saw that it was just. What's wrong to kill a man who would kill you? He had asked. It was fair question but…that equation had flaws, somehow…

Brian may seem cold-hearted and conceited but clearly over these few months Justin had been exposed to something more substantial underneath. Was all that an illusion to ease and rationalize his guilty conscience that started to develop a craving for their mind-blowing sex? Justin blushed at that thought.

Could he really poison Brian and watch him choke to his death? Could he act nonchalant about it all? Could freedom be achieved by causing death of another?

It would be almost a week before Brian would come back from his travels. A week to live. A week to invest on how to survive.


THREE DAYS LATER, AFTER MIDNIGHT

Justin slept late that night, playing with the bottle of poison with his hand. He placed it inside one of the drawers beside him and soon fell asleep.

It was the time of the night when everything was perfectly still and everything was pitch black.

That was the very time Justin had woken up and when he did, it was sudden like lightning. His heart thumped hard against his chest, tears tore from his eyes. In that moment his body stood in the no-man's land between reality and a dream, his head however was still living inside his contorted version of reality. Justin's hands tried to feel for another body beside him. There was none. His heart dropped with a resounding thud.

His inner fears had been awoken by his subconscious and it played like a well-versed horror drama in his head. He hastily wiped the wetness from his cheeks. For a few seconds, he blinked at the darkness around him finding it only increased his anxiety. He then slowly reclined back into his bed and curled up.

Fear from the pit of his stomach had burned his insides and he desperately tried to distract himself but the images stilled right before his eyes. Haunting him even in the wake of reality…It was Brian's lifeless body and his blood soaked the bed and more. Some spilled drop by drop onto the floor below making a large thick puddle on the floor. It almost looked black. What terrified him the most were Brian's eyes. They didn't blink, they only stared at him.

When Justin tried touching him, he pulled back his hand almost immediately. It was icy cold and bony rigid to touch. Justin was mortified.

All of a sudden, the door crashed open and Justin jumped a mile back, hitting his head back against the headboard.

"Justin!" The man yelled.

Justin squinted his eyes. He couldn't see who it was. It was too bright at first but then the image became clearer. The dark blond hair, the bare chest with the scar. It was Brandon. Relief washed over him. A friend! Brandon cared for him right? He said he wanted to look out for him.

"Brandon! Its…" Before he could say anything significant, Brandon burst with excitement.

"You've killed him! You've killed the King!" He yelled and he cheered.

"I didn't…!" Justin yelled back feverishly.

Brandon wasn't listening. Justin deduced he had gone mad. But when he looked down, he immediately understood why Brandon had cut short so quickly to that conclusion. When did that happen? His hands were covered with blood. He frowned.

He examined them for what seemed hours, just his hands in blood…Brian's blood. "I don't understand" Justin muttered to himself.

Justin moved closer to the corpse. He stared right into Brian's eyes. He felt an ache, he had never experienced. It didn't cause pain but something far worse than he could possibly imagine. It petrified him till the very core of his soul. Justin moved closer and hid his face in the crook of Brian's neck. He kissed his cold skin. "Wake up Brian, please…" He whispered painfully.

"Please…"

Justin's bloody hands smothered Brian's face, covering him in red. Tears started to fall and Justin made sure his face was well hidden. He didn't want Brian to think he was weak, did he?

"Brian…" He spoke softly. With his bloody hands he tried to hold Brian's face to make him look, to persuade him to say something but there was nothing.

Nothing

A feeling of helplessness overwhelmed him completely.

And then Justin had woken up.

He'd never felt more alone and scared in his life before. Not even when he was sent here by force, not even when Brian treated him like he was something to be used. No, nothing even came close…watching Brian's lifeless shook him to his deepest core.

Justin's eyes opened wide. He knew he wasn't going to get any sleep. He lit the candle beside him and pulled the bedside drawer open. He looked at the tiny bottle lying horizontally in its place. It looked so innocent and sturdy sitting there while Justin felt completely the opposite.

He was in a very strange position, in four days he would become the meat for scavengers and here he was crying for Brian's dreamt death. God, there were no boundaries for his ability to be pathetic.

However asinine it sounded to the third ear, he missed Brian. Right now, right here in this bed. He wished he could talk to Brian. Tell him everything…

Justin then shook his head. That would only make matters worse. Honestly, what were the chances of this becoming a lie? Maybe he'd smirk and say that he'd be glad he needn't be the bearer of bad news this time. Justin frowned unconsciously.

Another thing that bothered him was the fact that Brian had completely forgotten about the fact that he'd promised him that he'd take him to see his family. Now he was on an expedition on his own while he was left here alone without a second thought.

He wondered what Brian was doing, right now this time. Was he fast asleep or was he wide awake, like him? Did he have some other toy at his disposal to cure this particular lonely night? An image burned in his head and a surge of heated jealousy coursed through his body and his face flushed to his body's intense reaction.

His body thoroughly confused his mind. Frankly, it embarrassed him.

Justin slowly twirled the bottle in his hand. He still had a decision to make.

Why was it so hard, when the reason was so strong? It was true he had become mentally ill, this would be a proof. He wanted to protect the very person that had set out to destroy him from the very beginning.

Still…He wouldn't…He couldn't.

Justin's fingers clenched and unclenched. Who was he fooling? He thought sadly. He realized that he had made a decision the second Brandon had slipped him the poison. He could never do it. Justin had agonized for days and had come to the same conclusion once again.

Resignation first, and anger second filled his mind. His heart ached, his stomach tightening. He whispered to empty space next to him "I really hateyou Brian Kinney, hate you so much"

The light suddenly vanished and blackness erupted silently.

The candle had burnt till the end.

Justin sighed noisily. He threw the bottle back and blocked it out of his view. He would dispose that quietly, later mostly. It wasn't one of his priorities. He wondered what Brandon would say if he knew he had rejected his plan.

Justin lay awake, far into the morning. His body weary but his mind was reluctant to sleep, constantly thinking, every minute seemed to count when he knew his end was close.

The sun wasn't quite bright but Justin jumped off the bed, tapping from an energy source he never knew he had.

So Brian wanted him out of his life?

Then he would grant Brian's wish…all by himself.


MEANWHILE...

"I can't believe we're going back, Sire" Michael exclaimed. They had started their journey back a night ago and it was preposterous. No longer was he able to understand Brian.

Brian ignored him, his eyes out of focused and yawned ungraciously. He didn't get enough sleep last night.

"Tell me once again Sire, this reason you've stated before that made no sense to me the other night"

Brian all of a sudden declared that they were leaving. He had made him cancel all the dinners they were supposed to attend. When he demanded to know why they left, Brian replied cryptically that he had forgotten something. When he asked what exactly it was he had forgotten, Brian didn't utter a word.

"Michael, calm yourself. You're tiring your little head." Brian replied bored.

Michael continued to whine none the less.

Brian closed his eyes. Images of a certain blond appeared in his head. He had originally planned to bring Justin with him but after their little but emotionally off-putting tiff last night about his past, he felt uncomfortable being around Justin knowing those beautiful eyes watched him with undisguised disgust. He couldn't stand it. He wasn't exactly proud of what he had done but it had to be done. He wished Justin would understand that someday and he was willing to wait however long it would take for him to come to terms with his past.

Soon after they had reached the first town of Mayvale to sport a drink and catch some rest. He quickly regretted his decision to leave the boy back at the palace. Especially when he found himself searching for the blond unconsciously. More than once.

A surge of excitement rushed through his body in anticipation of seeing his boy again. His Justin…This scorching anticipation was breathtakingly new and he embraced it with every fibre of his being. Usually his consorts used to be one of his least priorities, that was indeed changing.

Thinking about Justin was awakening parts of his body and he groaned silently when he felt the blood pooling to his groin.


BACK AT THE PALACE, AN HOUR LATER

Theodore was surprised to find Justin in his study, sitting in a chair opposite his unoccupied desk. He was spinning a glass paper weight round and round against the sturdy wooden table.

The sound of the rolling glass in the tense silence of the room made the back of his hair stand up.

"Prince, what are you doing here?"

His voice had startled Justin and the glass in Justin's hand slipped and skid across the desk and bounced off noiselessly as it fell to the rug below. He turned around to look at Theodore.

Justin averted his eyes from Theodore's sharp gaze. He stood up slowly and walked towards the man.

"I want some letters posted" Justin told him.

Theodore raised his eyebrows in question but immediately nodded his head. "Very well Prince, you know the procedure. You can drop those by my study. They'll be sent once the king is back."

At first, he didn't understand why it mattered that Justin would have the need to inform him, then he realised that Brian was on an expedition and it was only natural that Justin would come to him. Every month Justin would write letters to his family which would then be cross-checked by Brian himself and later sealed with the royal stamp before it would be sent.

Justin moved a step closer and instantly he could visibly feel Theodore's fear as his body turned rigid immediately.

"Is there something else you want?" He almost whispered because the nearness was making queasy as hell.

"I want them sent right now"

Theodore stepped back, he let out a breath he had no idea he held till now. The prince's eyes were densely intense. He couldn't look away.

His voice wavered slightly when he spoke and unconsciously he was taking steps away, slower and further away. "Prince, I'm afraid I can't do that. I can't send them unless Brian approves. Let me remind you, my loyalty is to the king"

Justin didn't flinch; in fact there was no visible change in expression. He wore a face of pure determination and that perturbed Theodore.

"I don't understand Theodore. Am I not trustworthy enough? One letter to a friend? Is that so bad?" Justin asked.

Justin sighed softly. "I just...please...I need to do this Theodore."

Theodore felt his heart deluge in massive guilt when he heard his soft desperate plea. He knew he always had a soft corner for Justin. He was just so innocent. He couldn't find it in his heart to say no. He knew how difficult it was to tolerate Brian, maybe this time he could…just for once. The boy wanted to open his heart to someone without Brian prying on him. It seemed quite fair and harmless.

Yet, there was something about this whole scenario which made him uncomfortable. He sucked in a long breath and told him firmly.

"To whom do you intend to send the letter?"

"Ah…A friend"

Theodore quickly surmised it must have been a male friend. Maybe more than a 'friend'? He wondered silently. He knew the consorts weren't allowed to participate in conversations that involved other men excluding those of familial nature. "On one condition then...I'll send the letter only after I approve of it."

Justin inhaled sharply. Trying hard not to show annoyance. He tried to reply as calmly as possible.

"There's no need Theodore. You see I'm only writing to find out his well-being. Nothing more than that! Brian wouldn't be able to understand that. He'd come to devious conclusions. You of all people can understand that, can't you?"

Theodore nodded but his head was clearly somewhere else.

"I will never ask anything else from you, Theodore. I'm only worried for him, that's all" Justin besieged him with further guilt.

"Well okay…" Theodore agreed reluctantly in the end. It probably was harmless but Brian would see it as something far worse. He knew how possessive Brian could get.

Justin all of a sudden, extended his hand. Sighing in relief. "Thank you Theodore" He smiled warmly.

Theodore hesitated at first but slowly met his hand half way. What have I just done? Suddenly the guilt flaming inside his head made him feel intoxicated.

Justin observed Theodore's superficial smile trying its very hard to spread across his face.

He almost felt sorry for putting Theodore through this.


With shaking hands, Theodore quickly opened Brian's study.

"Quickly Prince, get in..."

"Once you're done. You can issue the king's royal stamp. It's located in the top right drawer. Here's the key for it." He searched his pockets for a tiny little key. Once he placed it in Justin's hand, he continued his instructions. "You then, place it along with his other letters. He places them in a letter tray beside his desk, you wouldn't miss it. It would be well camouflaged then and I'll send yours along with them"

Justin nodded courtly in response and flashed a smile to once again acknowledge his help.

"Good news, the King's on an expedition..." He said, more to himself than to Justin and closed the door behind him with a resounding thud.

Justin faced away from the door, his eyes slowly scanning the room. He took in every inch of the grand walls decorated with paintings. Everything was in scrutinizing order. Brian's scent was blatant as the morning sun making his senses burn with excitement. He could feel him in every inch of this grand space. He was everywhere embracing him tightly but at the same time his presence was a screeching absence.

Justin tilted his head upwards to observe the paintings closely. Were they gifted? He wondered since the art in each painting seemed slightly different from one and another, a unique signature from each artist seemed to be subtly woven in. But he could be wrong, it could be very much in reason if Brian had these done in desire from his narcissist within. Justin quickly observed, in every one of them Brian was pictured glorious, magnificent a stride with his sword and blood that illuminated on his wounds. They were all brutal but impressive at the same time.

At the farther end, there were a few more paintings lined up against the wall. They were covered with a silken blanket. Justin suppressed the curiosity for the time being.

He viewed the rows of shelves of books with amusement kept aside to his farther right. Brian had time to read? And in the centre was the grand desk.

Justin's fingers moved deftly across the edge of the desk, his eyes searching.

On the desk were sheets of paper stacked in one end of the corner, a feathered ink pen sat idly next to its pool of blue. Justin settled into the comfortable arm chair and felt quite small in it. He couldn't help but feel powerful, feel like Brian. Thinking about it sent shivers down Justin's body. He imagined how it must be, to have anything and anyone to control and play as he liked. The sense of power was indeed overwhelming. It was kind of intoxicating. He could understand why people fought for it, died for it.

Justin quietly shook those thoughts of away. He quickly grabbed a piece of paper, slid the pen into his hands without much proper thought to what he was actually going to write.

The first person that came to his mind was his father. That was obviously the valid choice.

The ink began to soak through the paper.

Dear Father...

I need your help to escape from this place. I'm no more welcome in these grounds…

Justin stopped, for two reasons mainly…

The first one being; he sounded well beyond pathetic. What could his father possibly do? He would panic, he knew that for sure. He could never coordinate his emotions properly; he'd act in panic and maybe even confront Brian in hurried attempt to first know the well-being of his son. His confrontation would be an absolute disaster and his father might even join him in the ride to hell. This letter would kill his father before he was killed.

Justin crushed the paper in his hands and started once more. He paused for a few seconds, the nib hanging dangerously close to the paper, a few drops of ink spluttering on to the paper in impatience.

He took in a large amount of air into his lungs and pushed the nib onto the paper.

Dear Chris…

I need your help.

Wait for me at the Winston's Woods near the palace's boundaries. I'll meet you when the sun hits the horizon, in exactly two days from now.

Don't ask why. Don't tell anyone. In fact, consider this as an order. Bring necessary supplies and together we will escape.

I look forward for our meeting. Do not disappoint me and be careful, the men in this kingdom are strongly loyal to their leader.

Love, Justin

Justin read and reread it again, that should be enough.

Justin reached for the stamping equipment in the top right drawer. There was a small tray of red clay-like substance and small stamping instrument. He pulled an envelope, enclosed the paper and sealed it shut with the stamp. The seal had the symbol of a dashing sword and letters that could be hardly read that spelt 'Kinney'. On the back of the envelope, he scribbled the name of his own kingdom and scrawled Chris's name in fine, small font.

Beside the desk was a small wooden box where Brian had placed letters that needed to be sent. There were three of them left. Justin surmised that those letters are the ones Theodore would send along with his.

He placed it neatly under the three letters. Hoping dearly that it would be sent without Brian's notice.

This was it! There was no going back now.

Unexpectedly in the matter of blinking second, the door sprung with Theodore gesturing wildly with his arms.

What the fuck…


(ELEVEN MINUTES AGO) THEODORE'S FLASHBACK

Theodore heavy with guilt walked back to his study, murmuring cuss words at himself for being such a fool. He sat at his desk with big thump.

He ran his fingers through his hair impatiently when his ears suddenly perked and he was startled by an unusual welcoming musical tune, followed by rattle created by moving horses and turning wheels.

"It couldn't be..." He whispered to himself. "No, it couldn't" He denied.

Theodore quickly rushed out of his room and walked towards the entrance of the palace. The closer he moved towards it, the more his liquid vacillating assumptions begin to solidify at an alarming rate. Obstructing his brain to function properly.

The king was back.

Brian was back.

Theodore knew his heart had exploded inside because he stood there frozen in that very spot like a statue with his eyes wide open.

There was only one thing that was running in his mind besides the fact that part of him was screaming in frenzied terror.

Justin was in Brian's study.

Justin was in BRIAN'S study who was writing a mysterious letter to god knows who and Christ, what was he planning on writing in that letter again?

Theodore started berating himself, throwing profanities at himself like a mad man. He knew he shouldn't have fallen for his heart-melting pleas and those blue eyes. What was he thinking?

And before he could act, he saw Brian coming inside ushering everyone to disappear.

He wasn't in a good mood. It was etched on his face. Excellent...Just what he needed!

"Sire..." Theodore started to greet the irate king. He prayed silently, a mantra repeating in his head. Please, not the study...not the study. Not the study…please, please…

"Unlock my study. I have work to do"

"Ah.." He opened his mouth but nothing came out.

Theodore almost fainted, almost. He was already sweating like a man who had run barefoot around the world with no rest stop.

Justin, Justin, Justin. One name rang in Theodore's head in shrilling volumes.

"Is something wrong?" Brian asked, his eyebrow rose when his treasurer's face drained more blood. He looked sickly insipid.

Brian stood there waiting for him to reply.

"Oh no, of course not!" Theodore laughed quickly to cover up his previous emotional slip.

Brian tightened his lips, obviously a little suspicious. He said simply "Then go…"

Theodore walked, his king at his heels.

This was it.

This was going to be last minute before he would be faced with his death. Christ, he would be known as a traitor for the rest of his life.

Another minute till he reached the study. He could almost picture of what was about to come, like some sort of sick nightmare that he couldn't wake up from.

He would open the door and then Brian would see Justin. It would then lead to more panicking and in the end the finger would be pointed at him. Indeed, a beautiful story.

He knew the door was already unlocked but he pretended to insert the key, hoping and praying that Justin on the inside would somehow know that Brian was here and he would hide behind a shelf or two.

"Brian!"

Theodore turned his head. It was Cynthia.

Thank God, Thank Cynthia!

He partially opened the door, his body half way in before he started to gesture wildly.

He hoped with his life that Justin had understood him.


PRESENT TIME- BRIAN'S POV- OUTSIDE BRIAN'S STUDY

"Cynthia, a reason for your rush?" Brian asked.

"We searched everywhere Brian" Cynthia grimaced. She hoped that she'd be able to find the thief.

It was about the missing bottle from her room that had been stolen the other night.

"Everywhere?" Brian prodded, sceptical that his sister had actually searchedeverything.

Cynthia cautiously nodded her head before she answered, lowering her voice.

"Except your bedroom" She mumbled while she shifted her feet and stared at them.

Brian's heart dropped and his face fell but he recomposed quickly "There's no reason to spare that room, is there?"

Cynthia nodded unsurely.

They both knew exactly what that meant, if they would find that bottle in Brian's room. It would directly point to Justin as the culprit. No doubt about that. Brian reassured himself that scenario will never happen.


INSIDE THE STUDY (PRESENT TIME) JUSTIN'S POV

While Brian and Cynthia were engaged in their conversation, Theodore was on a mission.

He opened the door and began to quickly but violently gesture to warn Justin.

Justin picked up the signals fast. He looked up and figured out on what was happening in seconds. He immediately understood and it wasn't because of Theodore's gestures but Brian's voice.

Brian was HERE, right outside. He could identify that voice anywhere. Panic spread through him like a flash flood. He cursed under his breath.

His mind blind with fear, he hurriedly slid the stamping equipment into one of the drawers. His hands trembled violently the entire time.

Justin obviously couldn't get out, so he quickly searched for a hiding spot. His eyes darting to and fro around the room. When he felt the conversation dying out, he immediately slid behind the last bookshelf where it was conveniently dark. From that vantage point the only images he could see were the books lying in the shelf opposite to him but if he would scamper towards the edge, it was possible to see the entire room in a glance.


The minute Brian stepped into the room, he knew something wasn't right. The whole feel of the room seemed disturbed. It all started when he observed that his chair hadn't been pushed in. That really wasn't enough to stir his bones but when he moved closer to the desk, that's when he realised his suspicions weren't exactly imaginary. He crushed his brows together in confusion and slowly picked up the feathered pen, it was soaking wet with ink. Furthermore there were few drops of ink on the desk. He dried and cleaned the pen using a cloth and set it back in its place.

Brian turned towards Theodore who was fidgeting with his fingers. What was making Theodore nervous? He wondered.

Leaning back casually against the edge of the desk, eyes narrowed he asked coldly. "So…"

"Who"

"Was"

"Here?" He enunciated each word slowly. Every word falling of his lips like a slick dagger striking both Justin and Theodore alike.

Theodore's heart started ramming against his chest. Droplets of sweat were forming on his forehead. He dabbed his head with his sleeve.

"I...I don't understand, Sire" He said quickly with a strained smile.

Brian looked at him, eyebrow raised. Never had he seen Theodore act this strange before.

"What part of my question could you possibly not understand, Theodore?" Brian barked, moving from amusement to annoyance.

Brian observed Theodore rubbing his palms up and down his cloth-covered thigh.

"Someone was obviously here, who was it?" Brian crossed his arms against his chest.

Justin shut his eyes hard. If Theodore spilled the truth, he was a dead man. The place in shelf's corner was suffocating him. His heart was no longer beating; it was vibrating with a shrill cry. He desperately hoped and hoped that Theodore wouldn't admit the truth.

"Oh" Theodore coughed suddenly. "I remember now. I'm not feeling myself today, Sire. It was only me Sire, I had an urgent letter to send to my…my uh-mother and I gained access to your room for the royal seal."

"Mother?" Brian asked cutting him off.

"Ah yes Sire, she isn't feeling too well" Theodore added nervously.

"You must be worried as hell, you are acting quite strange" He commented, scrutinizing Theodore with his eyes.

Brian pinched the bridge of his nose. It made sense, sort of...it wasn't the first time this happened where Theodore accessed his room for a quick emergency. He glanced at his desk. He frowned at the drops of ink scattered across the desk and the unclosed ink bottle. Leaving it untidy, this wasn't exactly a characteristic feature of Theodore. He was usually immaculate. And since when did Theodore sit in his chair? The story felt somewhat incomplete but he decided to let it go. He trusted Theodore, if there was something he needed to tell him, he would.

Whatever it was he was willing to put it on the back burner. Frankly he just wanted to be alone now, not solve the mystery of who used his bloody ink. Maybe Theodore was in a hurry of some sort. Yes, that must be it.

"You could spare a few days and visit your Mother." Brian suggested, hoping maybe it would ease his anxiety.

"Yes, of course. Thank you Sire"

"Shall I take my leave?" Theodore asked.

Brian nodded. He noticed Theodore nervously glancing at the back of his room before turning away and disappearing.

Brian was definitely going to dig a little deeper.

Justin relaxed temporarily, glad that Theodore hadn't spilled the beans but he had made such a poor excuse. Justin momentarily wondered if it would work.

Justin felt his body simmering with heat yet he was shivering. Fear was consuming him. He wrapped his knees closer to support his head, clenching his body tightly. He felt so weak and scared. He didn't want to imagine what would happen if Brian saw him and knew what he'd done. He swallowed hard. He would tear him apart piece by piece this time. There would be no pity.

He wondered quietly to why Brian had returned from his trip earlier than expected. What could be the reason?

Justin shifted to edge and peered into the light. His heart rate tripled.

There he was – Brian Kinney in all his glory. He stood still for a moment and then walked over where the paintings under the silken blankets lay. In one fluid movement, he pulled the blanket off and he stared at the painting before him.

Justin had no idea what it was, he couldn't see from that vantage point.

It was strange watching Brian this way. Brian always seemed to know what to do, the one in control, the one who could say the right words at the right time but now as he watched him, it felt different. It made him somehow more human.

Justin wondered what those paintings could possibly be, why were they kept secretive and hidden and what was the meaning behind Brian's expression?

Justin jumped a metre and the moment was deftly broken when the door opened suddenly.

Ben walked in and behind him was his partner, Michael. "Sire..." Ben started while Michael hid behind the burly body of Ben.

Justin sucked in a silent breath at that sudden intrusion, he had been so focused on watching Brian that the door being opened seemed so out of blue. Even Brian seemed startled. He didn't think Brian possessed an expression of surprise.

A flash of irritation crossed Brian's face but when he saw the worry etched on both their faces. It subsided but not completely.

"Someone better be dead…" Brian growled lowly.

Ben halted his steps. Now he wasn't so sure if this was right time to talk about this. The king clearly was troubled about something.

Brian rolled his eyes and walked closer to the couple. "Don't stop now, Benjamin"

"Sire, it's about Francis…He's missing"

Michael and Ben exchanged quick glances.

Brian blinked. He closed his eyes for a brief second, trying to remember who he was. Francis...Francis...And then suddenly it clicked to him. He was the royal spy.

"Francis? If I recall, he wasn't on duty. I think it had been months since I have personally assigned him a task. When did you realise he was missing?"

Ben glanced at Michael. For the first time, Michael spoke out loud. Stepping out of Ben's shadow albeit shyly.

"Actually Sire…" Michael started shyly. "I have something to confess"

Brian raised a brow to that. He glanced at Ben who was clearly feeling uncomfortable and he tried his best to avoid eye contact.

"Spit it out Michael. I've grown bored of being surprised or shocked for that matter"

Justin had to suppress a smile. He was increasingly becoming more curious about this matter. A confession from Michael? Justin moved a little closer to the edge.

Michael straightened his back and told him. "Sire, I was the one who recently assigned him a task. A task that had never been completed"

"What is the nature of this task?" Brian asked quietly although he was seething inside that Michael would assign tasks without asking him.

Michael glanced once more to the man beside him for some strength and then back at the king.

"T-To spy on the prince" He quickly spoke.

Justin actually had to physically close his mouth with both his hands to hold back his loud audible gasp. It was Michael that had assigned a man to spy on him?

So…it wasn't Brian?

A quiet voice loomed over him as the realisation slowly struck. Brandon had been wrong…Maybe Brian did have an inkling of trust in him.

Justin pried his ears open to listen to Brian's response. Would he be calm? Would he sense indifference? Would he pat Michael on the back for watching out for him?

Justin watched Brian's expression contuse in contained bewilderment from what little he could see from his view. He clenched his hands into a tight fist and stepped closer to Michael, towering over him.

"Please tell me, please Michael tell me that my ears are failing. Did I hear right? Did you for a minute think that you could do whatever you please?" He spoke through gritted teeth.

Michael unconsciously retreated, "I apologize dearly Sire, I..."

Brian laughed but it was empty and mocking. "You apologize? You add an apology in the end and it makes it perfectly acceptable now, is it?"

"I had reasons, Brian. Very good reasons" Michael asserted, using the king's first name to emphasize the silent trust between them.

Brian stopped Michael with a single gesture of his hand. "No,I want to know something first" He spoke, his voice calming once again.

Brian was angry? Brian's outrage sent a surge of excitement through his body. God, that alone lit a tiny candle of hope and it flickered bright in his dark heart. But Justin suppressed those feelings hard, no, it said. The anger sprouted from Michael's lack of disobedience and nothing more. Justin agreed that reason was far more plausible.

Brian continued to talk. His brows flushed together, his expression hard and his words rough.

"Tell me, did you think you were doing the rather deranged, foolish king a favour?"

"Never Sire" Michael told him confidently.

"Then what did you think?" He spat.

"I need to hear the truth" Brian demanded.

Ben looked at both of them. Brian was offended and clearly raged,but the real question was whether his reaction was a result of Michael's disobedience or maybe there was something more. Was it because his sweet Justin that could do no wrong had become the target of Michael's antics?

Justin's ear crawled towards the edge. He wanted to know what Michael's answer would be. He clutched at his chest, trying to calm his aggravated heartbeat. He could only Brian's back and the side-view faces of Michael and Ben.

Brian waited impatiently as he watched Michael prepare himself mentally.

Michael looked straight into Brian's eyes. With confidence unknown to him, he took a step forwards.

"I apologize in advance because for what I'm about to say might be blunt."

"Don't stall..." Brian warned.

Michael's shoulders slumped and the verbal diarrhoea had started and the words flowed out. "You were always so…careful. You'd never trust, certainly not someone like Justin. He never even wanted to be here to begin with!" He reasoned. He briefly looked into Brian's fiery eyes as they burned even brighter. His train of thought momentarily disappearing in response but he continued with half the courage he had begun with.

"You were infatuated with that boy, you lost reason." He concluded, somewhat shakingly.

"Michael..." Ben tried to warn him silently, nudging him with his elbow.

"Ben, don't...I want to let him know. It's what everyone else is thinking, I'm purely speaking out loud."

Brian gnashed his teeth for a second.

Justin blinked. He didn't understand what was going on. With every word Michael uttered made him tremble inside with feelings he had never experienced before. Just the fact that he might have had such an impact on Brian made him feel such strange sensations.

Michael didn't stop though, "Even after you've seen him with Brandon, even after he'd told you what he might've done with Justin."

Michael still remembered the time when they had followed Justin into the woods where they first saw Justin meeting Brandon. After Justin had left, Brandon was confronted and asked about what they had been talking about and he had shamelessly admitted that Justin was looking for something more than a friendly banter. Brian never believed him though.

Justin eyes widened in bewilderment. What? Did he hear right? Brandon had told them that he and Brandon both had been involved in something? Fear raced through him and Justin's mind deduced to the worst assumption possible. Disgust of the vilest nature ran rampant and Justin swore he'd give more than a piece of his mind to that lying bastard!

Michael inhaled sharply and without much proper thought he let out a single line that axed his entire perspective.

"Honestly Sire, Is he that good in bed that you're willing to jeopardize yourself and this entire kingdom along with you?"

Justin blushed a deep crimson red for that obscene not to mention crude question. In the next second, there was a sudden sequence of movement and Justin wasn't sure what happened but there were two sounds- a smack and a thud and the next second he saw Michael lying on the floor. A painful grunt followed and then Ben ushered to his partner's rescue.

Justin's eyes widened when he saw the blood trickling from Michael's nose.

"Sire..." Ben leapt into the conversation, holding off the king. If he wanted to save Michael, he had to interfere.

"All Michael is trying to say..." He started. "He was doing this to protect you, Sire. He was only concerned that you weren't being yourself while you were...uh enamoured with the prince"

And a silence fell upon the room. Dusted heavily with strange sense of anticipation.

Justin's heart was hammering with a force he had yet to know. He could hear blood rushing in his veins and the sound of his heart drummed in his ears. Every breath became deeper and faster.

Michael stood up but leaned partially against Ben.

Brian closed his momentarily. "Are you listening Michael?"

"Are you listening?" He growled.

"Yes Sire, I'm listening" He agreed sorely.

Brian's voice sounded resigned. Like a precious secret that he was forced to tell and it peeved him. This only made Justin more interested.

"Justin was never a threat and he will never be. So quit implying he'd endanger my life or this kingdom"

"And second, Justin isn't them. He will never be them. So don't you dare ever compare him with those pathetic sycophants."

Michael's face grew duller with each passing second. When would Brian understand that he was wrong and that he was being manipulated? The pain from Brian's blow seemed to migrate to his head and it ached painfully.

Brian felt his patience being tried as he watched Michael averting his gaze deliberately.

"Michael" He called sternly.

Walking closer to him, Brian spoke while he felt his heart swelling with…pride? "There are very few men that could hold their principles under the edge of a sword and surprisingly enough, Justin rightly belongs to one of those few. He may be ill-mannered, ridiculously stubborn but he wouldn't deceive. He couldn't…"

Justin's eyes widened and he felt blood rushing to his cheeks.

"In fact, I have much to learn from Justin"

Michael swallowed hard when Brian's voice held such awe and respect, for that boy. He frowned. He had looked up to Brian all his life and for the first time he was disappointed with what he had to hear.

Brian Kinney wanting to learning from that boy! How ridiculous, it almost made him want to laugh.

"I trust him. So you will too" Brian told him quietly.

"I will not pretend I understand Sire, but I will respect your wishes. I dearly apologize for my actions" Michael briskly told him.

Brian tenderly caressed Michael's cheek regretting his previous outburst. He sighed "Michael…"

"It's okay Sire. You don't have to say it aloud. I understand"

He then turned and left abrupt. Brian sighed. He signalled Ben to walk with the gesture of his hand and slowly walked out of the room.

Realising that Brian was leaving the room, Justin slumped against the shelf in exaggerated relief.

Brian scratched the side of his forehead as he walked along side with Ben. "Ben, take care of him. Let him rest for as long as he needs"

Brian might have had lost his temper for a flash of a second there but it didn't mean that his love for Michael had been erased. As he swiped the blooded knuckles against his dark fabric, he regretted every moment of his early decision. He had actually physically assaulted the very man that stood with him from his childhood years.

Ben was right. Michael was only trying to look out for his best, but why it did upset him with such intensity? His reaction had been similar to the one he'd experience when someone would insult him. He wondered if the boy had taken residence in his mind, such that his usual selfishness and possessiveness over his own existence meddled, intertwined somewhat with Justin's.

Ben nodded absentmindedly "Of course"

"And Ben" Brian continued. Pausing a minute to clear his head.

"I want a report" Brian started but paused briefly.

"….About Theodore's family"

"Theodore Sire?"

Brian nodded impatiently. "Just the basics…The current whereabouts of his family, what they're doing, anything that could be rendered significant"

Ben nodded but he couldn't believe he would be looking searching through Theodore's personal life. What could the reason possibly be?

"I want it in less than two hours."

"Very well, Sire"


Once Brian exited, Justin waited a few more seconds before he scooted closer to the door and after gaining confidence that Brian wouldn't be returning, Justin stood up and walked quickly to the door.

Before he exited, his eyes focused on a familiar piece of art. The one that Brian had been staring earlier. Justin's heart stopped when he realized that it was the very painting he himself had created when he had still been back at home. Not wanting to stall any longer, he quickly glanced adoringly at the painting once more and left. His heart swelling with strange, upheaving emotion.

He had jogged some distance away from the study and leaned against a nearby wall to catch his breath. Christ, that was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.

Justin's mind was buzzing. His face glowed and he had a strange desire to shout excitedly, scream until his throat went dry or better run and even sprint till his legs went limp in order to get rid of all this excess energy that was coursing through him. How long had it been since he had felt this way?

He smiled to no one particular, grinning like an idiot. He ran a hand through his soft blond locks as he leaned his head against the wall.

Brian wanted him. He still wanted him.

Why did that make him so damn ecstatic?

His smile quickly disappeared when images of Brandon flitted through his mind. Every word that ever spilled out of his disgusting mouth were pure pristine lies. Rage enveloped him. He'd been a fool, he had allowed his insecurities to clog his head and he was preyed to believe the outrageous of lies.

He was such a fool. Such a fool! He was thoroughly embarrassed with himself. He felt himself redden. Could he ever tell Brian the truth?

Justin decided he'd let it go for now. There would be another time for this ridiculous tale and he'll face whatever the consequences whether be it laugher or anger. For now, he'd enjoy this bliss, for once he'd let himself be happy with no guilt, no shame. The sun finally felt like it was shining on him.

Justin briefly worried about the letter that was on its way to Chris. In twodays, he would be here. Justin shrugged mentally, Chris would wait but he knew he would eventually leave. Justin would later write a letter to tell them that everything was perfectly peachy.

Justin couldn't wait to see Brian. Just the thought sent him shrills of excitement.

He was so happy, he found his appetite returning. He scampered off to the kitchen and when he saw Michael approaching him in the opposite direction. He beamed at him, Michael in return was confused to say the least. He put an effort to smile but failed.

"Afternoon Prince" He managed to say.

"What could that be…on your face?" Justin asked innocently, pointing to a particular black-bruise on his left cheek close to his nose.

Michael muttered something incoherently and whisked past Justin.

Justin tried to stifle a chuckle in response. He couldn't help but feel smug. Brian had defended him.

As Justin sat down to eat, he couldn't help but think that staying here wasn't going to be that bad after all.


TWO HOURS LATER, BACK AT BRIAN'S STUDY

Brian returned to his office, a little dishevelled. He had wanted to see Justin but all his plans were mercilessly being thwarted. First it was his troubled sister about the stolen poison, then it was Michael's bloody confession and now…now he had to deal with Theodore.

Theodore had lied to him.

Theodore.

Out of all the people, he could've suspected for holding secrets against him, it had to be Theodore? No, it didn't seem right.

He was plain as black and white, so damn reliable. Theodore was one of the very few confidantes he had. He even found Theodore to be much more understanding than Michael. The one he could always count on. His advices weren't half bad either.

Indignation rose quickly.

What was Theodore up to?

Just as Brian had expected, a knock on the door followed by a peep and a greeting ensued.

"Afternoon Sire, I was just about to head to the dining room"

"And also Mel wanted to let you know she left to visit her in-laws, she'd back in a week"

Brian didn't respond. He only stared quietly from across the desk.

"Is there anything I could do for you, Sire?" He asked, wringing his hands together.

Silence was Brian's response. Theodore could almost see some sort of a dark, black aura emanating all around him.

He walked closer until half his body was pressed up against the desk.

"Sire?" Theodore asked, swallowing a very big lump in his throat.

Brian rubbed his forehead.

"How is your Mother?" Brian asked calmly.

"Sire…" He squeaked.

Theodore stepped back instantly. It felt like everything surrounding him had collapsed, crashed sweeping everything into the tendrils of fire that was emanating in Brian's eyes.

He had been CAUGHT.

Theodore started to lose reality and had a distinct impression that he was now standing on a wooden plank.

One more step and he'd fall to his death. Any moment now…

Brian stood up in one fluid moment. Placing one hand flat against the desk, he used the other and pulled Theodore collar, so hard that Theodore tripped and nearly fell flat on to the desk.

"I'm offended Theodore. Not because you have lied but because you think I'd actually fall for your stupid, demeaning, idiotic gimmick"

Theodore shut eyes and started to madly apologizing. "I apologize, dear God, I apologize, Sire. Please let me explain everything."

Brian slowly let go. Trying to regain his composure. "Speak Theodore, and only the truth, mind you, shall fall from that mouth of yours"

Theodore straightened his clothes and began to speak "That lie…Sire. It was a product of trying to protect a promise. A foolish promise, it was"

Brian's forehead furrowed. "Who is it that you were protecting?"

"Justin, Sire."

Shock momentarily exploded his vision as he heard Justin's name roll from Theodore's lips.

His eyes widened instantly. He asked his voice uncharacteristically high-pitched. "Justin?"

"He had a letter he wanted to send to his….uhh…" Theodore felt a bead of dread drip from his forehead.

I'm so sorry Justin. So sorry. Theodore apologized to Justin in his head.

"Send to who? SPEAK" Brian demanded sternly.

"His friend, Sire." He repeated

"But he only wanted to know his well-being! That's all! It was innocent and I felt obliged to make a pact of secrecy"

"I regret it with all my might, Sire" Theodore quietly declared, bowing his head down.

But Brian had already lost all sense of reality and the only one word he could focus on was 'his well-being' HIS?

Who was this 'friend'?

"What else did he mention about this 'friend'?" Brian spat.

Theodore was feeling so terribly guilty about his confession but in the end he had no choice. Justin had trusted him and here he was spilling every word on to this stage surrendering to a merciless judge.

Alas, he couldn't have kept it a secret either, as he'd earlier spoken; his entire loyalty was to Brian and him alone. He only wished he had never agreed to Justin. Then he wouldn't have this need to apologize and feel terribly guilty for both parties. His skills to make decisions were atrocious.

"No Sire, as I told you before I hadn't thought through it well. There was a sense of desperate plea in his eyes, I couldn't resist."

"Let me get this clear Theodore, you were willing to let him write a letter to a man we know nothing of, well okay…do we perhaps have a grip on the content of the letter? Once again, we know NOTHING, no, not even a fucking clue and you shamelessly stand before me and tell me that you fell for his begging?"

Brian slammed his fist hard against the desk.

Brian absorbed every word like sponge. There was something building inside him that he couldn't quite explain. Envy, anger, resentment and the worst – he was starting to doubt the very nature of Justin's character.

"If I ever, ever want to find how it must be in the mind of apathetic fool. I'd be glad to consider you for the role."

"I'm sorry…but" He squeaked.

"Get the fuck out" Brian growled.

"The letter had never been sent, Sire" He managed to say in the end.

Brian perked up to this news.

His eyes immediately fell upon the open letter box where he'd keep his letters to send and he quickly noticed there was one letter more than he had originally planning to send.

Brian bent to pick it up and to his great dismay he immediately recognized the writings of Justin scrawled on top of the envelope.


AFTER THE MOON HAD RISEN, BEDROOM

Justin hid his in the pillow. The bed sheets around him in a big heap of mess.

Where was Brian?

He was starting to feel restless. He got off the bed in one fluid movement. He decided it'd be best, if he'd find out for himself.

Justin looked into the study first and hit the jackpot. He entered room with apprehension. His heart fluttering when he saw Brian sleeping soundly, his head flat against the desk.

Justin crept slowly towards the desk not wanting to wake him up. His heart skipped a beat when Brian's face came into full view. He looked so beautiful, so peaceful. Justin chuckled silently when the corner of his mouth started to form drool. Justin gently caressed his hair. He didn't stir. In fact, he unconsciously leaned into Justin's touch. He must have been so tired.

Justin couldn't resist. He moved closer, to place a quick kiss on his cheek but the second he did, Brian's eyes opened sharply at the very second and the first thing he did was push Justin back.

"What the fuck are you doing here?" Brian asked irritated. Wiping his mouth quickly, how long had he blacked out?

Brian was stressed. He was irritable and his anger quickened whenever Justin appeared in his head. He had come early in the hope of seeing Justin, to take him along with him on the expedition and now he felt like a fucking pathetic fool. The very thought that Michael might have been right was enough to make him quiver with fury.

Now part of him wanted Justin out of his life. It'd bring immense relief, wouldn't it?

Justin flinched visibly.

"N-Nothing, I wanted to see you" Justin replied, unsure and nervous?

"Well here I am!" He exclaimed rising to his feet abrupt, that his chair moved an inch back due to the sudden force.

"Now that you have fulfilled your worthless purpose, you can leave" He replied calmly yet sternly.

Justin stared at Brian at this sudden outburst. What- What the fuck happened?

"Brian…" Justin whispered his name, astonished with widened eyes.

Brian pinched the bridge of his nose. Justin was still standing, not moving an inch. God, how did manage to still look so innocent? Almost as if nothing had happened.

Brian crooked his finger and motioned for him to come closer. Brian raised a brow to how quickly Justin walked and suddenly his chest collided with a head full of golden strands and a deliciously warm body. Justin's hands enveloped him, encircling his arms around his waist. Brian felt those soft lips press against his sternum. Did he mention that this embrace was getting tighter and tighter?

Justin never wanted to let go. He had missed him so much. Holding him felt incredibly surreal especially after everything had happened. After all those lies, those gnawing doubts, those pathetic leech-like insecurities and now here he was holding Brian and every fibre of his being felt alive once again.

Everything felt okay.

Brian wondered what made Justin act a little out of character. This small excited reaction from Justin was enough to make his heart jump and his cock liven up, it was pathetic. He restrained his arms to hold him back. He reminded himself that this Justin was an illusion. He tried his best to remember the letter Justin had written and anger bubbled up to the surface once again.

Brian looked down at him. His eyes staring back at him, stony hard and with barely hidden contempt. The way a judge looks down at a criminal. It made Justin's skin roughen with tiny bumps.

What Justin craved desperately was for Brian's touch, his perfect body, his heat, his kiss. He wanted Brian to embrace him as tightly as possible. Looking up at Brian's bored expression, his hands kept well away from his own body; Justin frowned. Had he done something wrong?

Justin slowly released his tight hold, his cheeks quickly turning crimson knowing that his actions weren't welcome in the first place.

"Is there something wrong?" Justin asked.

Brian averted his eyes, focusing on the door he answered nonchalantly. "I don't know, is there?"

Justin wasn't sure how to react to that weird cryptic statement, so he stood there expressionless and silent.

"Maybe I should go" Justin announced all of a sudden. The silence killing him inside. He had clearly come at the wrong time. Brian probably had priorities far more important than him.

Justin turned and before he could take another step he felt Brian grab his arm and pull him hard against him.

"How do you do that?" Brian asked, his face inches away from Justin's.

"Do what?" Justin asked, confused.

Make me want to fuck you, kiss you…keep you.

Brian stared into those blue eyes, welcoming the feeling of that familiar sinking. He threaded his fingers into the back of Justin's hair and pulled it back firmly eliciting a short gasp.

"You play well, Justin" Brian whispered against Justin's lobe and continued to skim his warm, wet tongue along the length of his neck. Justin's breathing became erratic when Brian stopped at the base of his neck. Brian all of a sudden bit him hard making Justin gasp in pain. Both of Justin's hands immediately grabbed Brian's arm to help him balance.

Brian swiveled them until Justin was well-pressed against the edge of the desk. His ass pressed against the edge.

Brian bit him twice along the length of his neck, causing Justin to squeeze his eyes shut and let out a raspy moan. The pain was sharp and quick and made his head reel. Brian sucked his lower lip and then bit the corner of his lower lip hard enough to draw blood and at the same time he tightened his grasp in Justin's hair causing Justin to tightly squeeze the muscles on Brian's back in an effort to dissipate pain.

Justin peered momentarily into Brian's eyes. His lower lip burned and his neck was tender as hell but something else ached desperately "Br…" Justin's voice was muffled when Brian smashed his lips against Justin's and he slipped his tongue into Justin's mouth, almost flexing him half-way back.

Justin was partly relieved when Brian's hands were now holding on to his waist instead of his hair. Justin kissed him back with the same lust-maddened enthusiasm. Justin jerked forward when Brian twisted one of his nipples hard. He'd sometimes dig his nails into Justin's ass and grip him hard. Brian consumed and captured every breathy moan and gasp that escaped from Justin's mouth.

They kissed languorously with Brian alternating with fucking Justin's mouth and biting his lower lip enjoying Justin's whimpered moans and the small trembles he'd feel. Justin offered no resistance when he bit and sucked on the already tender parts of his neck and his lips, which surprised him a little. Instead he could feel Justin trying to press and rub his cock wantonly against his thigh.

When they parted, both of their cocks were hard and leaking. With only the sounds of their erratic breathing, Brian quickly bent Justin over his desk. Pushing his chest flat against the desk and his ass for Brian to admire.

Justin blushed furiously, he could feel Brian staring at him, his ass. The heat of the desire however overwhelmed the feeling of embarrassment. Justin's heart raced while waited with anticipation and when Brian pressed his hard throbbing cock against his ass, he moaned loudly.

"Brian…" He pleaded. Fuck me

Brian leaned over him completely, continuing to rub his cock against the curved ass and whispered in his ear biting gently on his sensitive ear lobe. "I have a surprise for you tomorrow"

"Sur-pp-rise?" Justin replied somewhat stuttering as he felt Brian squeeze his ass harder than ever before sending jolts to his hard dick and causing him to leak a copious amount of precum.

Just when Justin thought things were heating up, Brian pulled him back up. He stared back at Brian with confusion etched on his face.

"Don't worry too much, you'll love it" Brian continued, observing that Justin's eyes were nothing but pools of black.

Justin didn't really give much thought to this 'surprise' with his lust-laden mind. All he really wanted was Brian's cock up his ass. When Justin reached to kiss Brian back, tip-toeing in the process and to his great surprise Brian quickly turned away and immediately increased the distance between them.

Justin blinked with a vacant expression before he felt a seer heart ripping sensation of rejection. His dick softening in the process.

"Now, if you could please leave. I have work to finish" Brian coldly interjected. He knew he had to take care of his hard on once Justin left the room. He hadn't planned to tease Justin but he couldn't help touching him. Fucking him was however, out of the question; it would further complicate the situation they were in and he wasn't sure if he could control himself to hurt Justin in the process.

Justin felt his chest constrict and he wished he could read Brian's mind, just this once.

Justin's eyes widened as his hand flew to the site of insult on his neck. He could feel the indents on his skin from Brian's teeth. He knew for sure it had turned bright blotchy red. It stung, especially his bloody lip. Fuck, Brian had been particularly aggressive…Was it bad that he had actually enjoyed this?

"Brian?" He called out softly.

Brian didn't look up, acting as if he was reading the most important material ever set in that course of century.

"Brian…" He repeated.

"Hmm…" Brian replied.

Justin wanted to thank Brian for believing in him, for trusting him.

Justin wanted to express the multitude of feelings that were jumbled in his head. He remembered once that he had told Brian on their first sexual encounter that he'd never triumph over his heart. He wasn't so sure about it now. Justin felt that tremendous barbaric brick wall built from guilt and shame crashing and tumbling. He could see far more clearly now and he felt so much lighter.

Those three words were so ready to slip from his mouth. They were at the tip of his tongue. Threatening his mind that it would slip any moment now but Justin pursed his lips harshly and stood silently watching a rather agitated Brian do about his work.

He wasn't sure he could ever Brian understand perfectly. He won't lie, there were parts of him he strongly disliked.

In the beginning, all he saw was Brian lusting over his crude primal wants. No different from an animal, he had thought. With every passing day, he'd once catch a tentative smile or a caring word or a glimpse of an unloved boy that'd shatter every one of his judgements.

How could Justin possibly express what he felt right now? Surrender something that he had guarded strictly for so long, a merciless beast he had tried to suppress, and that was growing ever so quietly underneath the barred cage made of pretence and ignorance. For quite some time the beast listened to him, beating its wings quietly along with the hum drum of his heart but once again there he was, Brian Kinney and he set out to destroy the very confinement in his mind that was very much needed to maintain his sanity. Now it thrashed and screamed to spread its wings.

How long could he restrain it for?

I love you Brian

I

Love

You

So

Much

You had won, once again.

Instead of all that heavy romantic sludge and slime came a mundane, could even be said a pointless greeting. Justin stared at the top of Brian's head and calmly said "Good night"

Brian replied with a lazy "Hmm" never even looking up but only until the door closed shut that his bent frame stood straight up.


NEXT DAY, BEFORE THE SUN HAD SET

No one or nothing could've prepared Justin to what his surprise would be.

It came in the evening, just as the sun was about to set. Justin had slept poorly; Brian's behaviour troubled his mind. Why did Brian behave that way last night? He hadn't even come back to their chambers. Had he suddenly appeared repulsive? He didn't understand, nothing made sense!

Justin had finished a piece of cake when a guard had summoned him that Brian wanted to see him immediately. Justin's face instantly lit up.

It was in a room where Brian entertained his guests. Brian sat in one of the plush upholstery, deep in thought. He wasn't alone though. Theodore was present, who averted his eyes quickly. There was Cynthia too, reading a book quietly in another separate lounge in the corner of the room.

"Justin!" Brian called excitedly, wearing one of his fake smiles.

"Are you ready for your surprise?" With mock excitement, Brian got up and walked over to Justin.

Justin stood fixed to his spot. A black cloud seemed to ominously float above his head.

He looked at Theodore who once again bowed his head down and stared down at the floor. Something wasn't right and flit of panic rose to Justin's chest, squeezing him tightly.

Brian pulled Justin against him roughly, he dipped his head and smashed his lips against the quivering ones. There was something strange about that kiss. Justin felt suffocation, instead of arousal.

Cynthia cleared her throat from behind.

"Theodore" He called and outstretched his hand as if he was expecting Theodore to give him something, all the while piercing Justin with a stony cold gaze. With shaking hands, he slipped a sheet of paper into Brian's hands.

Justin's eyes widened and he stepped back. It was the letter that he had written the other day in his hasty plan to escape. Fuck, Fuck…FUCK

Everything made sense now; Brian's bitter attitude the other night for example.

"Brian, I can explain" Justin implored.

"Sh…" Brian pressed a finger against his lips effectively cutting him off.

"You have yet to see your surprise" He bemused taking Justin by shoulder, forcing him to face the door.

"Such an entertainment it was, reading your letter. What was more amusing was that you thought you get away with it."

Justin had seen Brian being angry, vengeful but this was nothing compared to it. Justin was terrified seeing Brian this way.

Brian was raged, clearly and Justin's weak denial only allowed him to push even harder. There was a part of him that wanted to see Justin in pain, hurting. His sadistic side roared at him to take a step higher and shove him harder into the abyss. And god, he wanted to…

"I can't wait for you to see the surprise" He added once again.

"Ben! It's time" He yelled.

Justin watched Ben walking in and his jaw dropped to the floor. For a second, his world seemed to tilt on its axis.

"C-C-Chris?" He whispered silently to himself. He wondered if he had lost his voice. He glanced at Brian and then back at Chris.

Chris was standing his hands were tied back by heavy iron-clad chains. His feet too were chained and he shuffled side to side in impatience. There were obvious signs of struggle- a red tainted cheek, bruised biceps, dried blood from the corner of his mouth and dishevelled dirty hair. His mouth tied back with a cloth and his head seemed to droop with exhaustion. A low moan escaped from his mouth that made the hairs on Justin stand up.

Justin his insides being crushed. Chris was in danger because of him!

"I thought I'd do you a favour by bringing your 'friend', lover?" Brian asked, raising his eyebrows and smirk firmly in place.

The last word stung Justin and he shut his eyes immediately. So this was where Brian's anger was sprouting from.

He turned towards Brian. "Brian, you're mistaken. He isn't…No not anymore"

"I can explain…" Justin implored.

Brian watched him with a blank stare. He almost looked bored.

He then crumpled the letter in his hands and walked over to Chris. "Remove the cloth from his mouth" Brian ordered.

The minute the cloth was removed, Chris began cursing weakly "Let ME GO" He squeaked. When Chris yelled "You bastard!" Brian promptly stuffed his mouth with that letter while he eagerly watched Justin. Good, he wanted to see fear in Justin's face. Chris's voice began to muffle with paper interfering with the vibrations from his vocal chords.

"EAT IT!" Brian yelled and pushed it further into his mouth. Chris started to sob violently, an awful sound that permeated the room and drool dripped copiously from the sides of his mouth. Brian stepped away in disgust.

"Brian!" Justin called softly. "Stop, please stop"

Justin's eyes began to cloud over and the emotional overload made him giddy and nauseous. His heart lurched in guilt when he saw Chris in that state.

Chris managed to shot Justin a deathly glare even in his pathetic state and Justin could feel the pure hatred emanating from Chris's body in massive waves.

"This has nothing to do with him! I was the one who wrote the damn letter, it was my wrong-doing. Leave him!" He yelled.

Brian walked over to Justin. He squeezed Justin's jaw hard. "Now, now Justin. Your lover is in the best of hands" He purred.

"He's NOT my…"

"We found this…" Brian said as he showed Justin a tiny bottle.

When Brian saw Justin's eyes dilate in full-knowing, his expression indicating guilt, he had an inexplicable urge to destroy something violently.

"Now, this was stolen. So please enlighten me Justin to what could be the possible motive behind this?"

"I know how this looks like! But you have to believe me Brian, I can explain, it might sound outlandish but I can explain"

"Oh really? Then go on please, I want to hear this"

"It was Brandon!" Justin blurted out. "He had given it to me. He told me I was getting executed and that I should take revenge"

"I was never going to use it" Justin added sternly.

Brian momentarily paused in shock. Brandon? His face contorted in sudden confusion.

"How is that possible?" Cynthia asked, shocked. Her eyes widened. She wore an expression of bewilderment as she glanced back at Justin. She had been the silent for the entire ordeal but now was the time she felt obliged to speak. She stood up and walked closer.

"He's been dead for more than two weeks" She stated flatly, almost like she had told him that the Sun rose in the East. A mere common fact.

"What?" Justin squeaked.

WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?

"He had accidentally drowned in that lake located in the woods. He'd been buried, Justin" Cynthia told him calmly.

Justin opened his mouth and closed it once again. He was so lost for words as his mind vibrated with waves of shock. Brandon was DEAD? TWO WEEKS AGO?

"I…How…I…d-don't u-understand" Justin blabbered. How could someone, who was supposed to be dead talk to him? How could someone be dead and yet give him something physically substantial?

Brian closed his eyes briefly. His world was becoming a mess. Part of his him wanted to believe in Justin. This entire episode was spiralling out of control. Why did Justin even use Brandon's name? Was it to deflect the blame, or maybe there was something more?

"Blaming it on a dead man? Surely I expected better, Prince" Michael spat, his appearance a surprise and obviously uninvited.

Justin glanced at Michael, glaring back at him. He channelled his frustration into the balls of his fist.

"He should receive what he deserves" Michael added watching the entire scenario with a smug expression with 'I told you so!' hammering repeatedly in his head.

"Enough Michael!" Brian roared in annoyance.

"Brian..I…" Justin wasn't sure to say. He was a liar in the eyes of these people. Anything that came out of his mouth was either ignored or looked down upon. He was a traitor! Someone who had betrayed their king and who tried to kill him too. His moral status was reduced to nothing but a cheap greedy leech. And now they were on the verge of calling him insane.

Justin wanted to run. He had an uncontrollable urge to escape from these accusing faces, away from the hatred and contempt hidden behind their eyes. He wanted to desperately shut out the world.

Brian drew his sword, the sharp metal making a slicing metal sound as it ripped open. Justin's took sharp intake of breath.

Theodore left the hall quietly, his heart heavy with guilt. Justin would be dead, he was sure of it. He felt he carried part of the blame and he walked away silently to seek some solace in alcohol.

"Something doesn't feel right, Brian" Cynthia mumbled, her voice holding despair.

Brian's eyes flitted towards Cynthia. Her words resonating in his head. She left, not wanting to view carnage. She knew Brian in the end would do what he wanted to do despite what anyone said. She held no evidence for Justin's innocence. She could do nothing to protect him.

Justin stepped backwards as Brian moved forwards. He hit a wall and instantly felt the tip of the sword against his bulging adam's apple.

Then it was gone and Justin watched Brian's head swivel to inspect the room.

"I want everyone to leave this room. NOW!"

"Brian, what do we do with him?" Ben asked, tugging the chain hard resulting in Chris glaring back at Ben.

Chris was a mess, he had in fact consumed part of the parchment and his face was blotchy red with tears streaming down his face.

Brian's eyes quickly flitted towards Justin's pleading eyes and then back at Chris.

Another moment passed before Brian ordered "Let him go, he's worthless"

Justin let out a breath he had no idea he held. Chris lived. He wondered if Brian understand his pleas.

Soon the room became dead silent. Justin looked up at him, his tongue inexplicably tied. Brian wasn't ready to listen to him and he…he didn't know what to say. Was he to say that he had been a fool? That he had believed the 'dead' Brandon? Justin knew in this rage, any part of this cold truth would hiss and throw daggers at Brian. He wouldn't understand. So Justin stared back, his body and mind limp surrendering to his fate. That very fate which was written by Brian Kinney.

Justin felt so stuck. Why did he always manage to get himself into these sorts of situations?

"You've disappointed me Justin." Brian whispered menacingly into Justin's ear. It sent shivers down Justin's spine. He couldn't help but agree with Brian. If he could only turn back time, he would make all the right choices and then he would've still been in Brian's arms. Against his warm chest, he would hide his face and forget the world.

"You're no different from the rest" He concluded dryly.

And for the first time in that day, Justin felt a severe spark of indignation. "Don't…" Justin gritted through his teeth. "I'm not one of them. I'm nothing like them" He seethed.

Brian had the audacity to smirk in response "Feisty even in distraught"

Brian pushed him back hard against the wall. "I'd be more careful with that mouth of yours if I was you"

"You're standing on the very edge of my patience Justin, don't make me push you"

Justin pursed his lips and looked away.

Playing with his sword, Brian stepped back and tilted his head "As far as I know, you had wanted me dead since the day I met you. Hell, you even wanted to slice me apart the other day. So explain to me Justin. Give me one. One fucking reason why you even want me alive"

Justin pursed his lips and stared hard back at Brian. He couldn't believe that Brian was bringing up the sword incident again. He knew that Justin had felt terribly guilty for that accident. And yet he doubted him and it hurt.

Silence brewed them and their eyes met in a chaotic war.

A minute had passed.

Silence.

Another slow torturous minute had passed and surprisingly Brian seemed patient enough. His eyes hadn't left Justin's face not even for a second but his grip on his sword tightened.

In the third minute; Justin spoke, his heart beating wildly and erratically…

"I'm in love with you, Brian"

Brian's eyes widened and his body froze turning into a rigid frame.

"Is that good enough for a reason?" Justin barely whispered, his voice straining for some reason and he felt like his throat had caught on fire. He looked up through his eyelashes.

"What…" Brian managed to say. His mouth was suddenly dry and mind temporarily blank. He immediately moved closer, his eyes rapidly searching Justin's eyes, his face, anything that would point to him that he had heard something of a different matter altogether.

"I love you Brian." Justin repeated unfazed.

"Stop…stop using that word" Brian hissed like a threatened animal as he pressed Justin hard against the wall.

Why was Justin doing this? Did he know what it did to him? What it made him feel?

"That probably was the most pathetic excuse, I've ever heard the pleasure of listening to. Do you think I'm a fool Justin?" He scowled. His eyes sharp and full of fire.

The swift drawing moment of Brian's hand made Justin shiver in dire anticipation but he remained fixed to his stance. However, the awaiting slide of the sword never arrived and he slowly peeked from under his eyelashes, his eyes widening as he saw Brian's eyes piercing back at him with an stark, confused expression.

Brian's hand trembled. His hand never trembled. Not even when he first killed a man to make his father proud. It didn't even falter for a second. Killing was second nature to him. In that brief moment as he stared into those blue eyes, Brian hated his very own existence.

Justin's heart fell and he was on the verge of a break down. Brian didn't believe him. What had he expected? That Brian would come to the stark realisation and that he too would confess his undying love for him like he had suspected and then what? That they would later watch the sunset together, while they held hands and kissed. Stupid Justin

"Did you expect I would glow in pride and forget everything you've done in the brink of a second?" Brian asked, confirming Justin's doubts.

"What I did, it was reckless. I fell into a trap. I never meant any of it to happen. You have to believe me Brian" Justin replied, trying not to include Brandon's name in fear of unravelling another dramatic episode.

"I'm afraid, it's not enough," Was Brian's simple reply as he looked down.

Justin had come to the worst conclusion. Brian was going to kill him.

Brian stepped back and at once barked out an order "Get on your knees, your back straight and your head down and your hands clasped behind your back"

Anger was once again boiling within him. How dare he? Did he think he'd fall for this kind of nonsense? Love?

"NOW!" Brian hissed when Justin stood, staring back at him with a vacant expression.

Justin sat on his haunches and looked down at Brian's feet. Tears pooling at the corner of his eyes. This was it…

"Death is far too quick, too simple, too liberating"

Justin scrunched his face up in confusion.

"For you Justin, liberation is not something I wish to give"

Brian rounded Justin, circling his prey. His demeanour proud and arrogant, he spoke "Hear your punishment well for I shall not repeat"

Brian continued when Justin nodded his slightly.

He inhaled sharply before he spoke "From this very moment, you have lost all respects of royalty"

Justin's head snapped to meet Brian's. Huh? What?

"Look down, Justin!" Brian growled.

Justin reluctantly looked down, his heart hammering in his chest.

"You will wear the uniform of the lowest class, bear duties in the palace and serve the Kinney family"

Brian was turning him to a mere commoner? "You have no right, Brian. I'm a Prince, I'll always be one!"

Justin grunted as the back of Brian's hand made contact with his cheek and his head whipped to the side. It wasn't painful but it was damn humiliating. Rage was brewing inside Justin.

Brian continued calmly. "The duration of the punishment will be in my command, until I will be satisfied you will remain here"

"Brian..." Justin cried softly. This was unfair. It was downright cruel.

Brian held Justin's jaw between his thumb and other four fingers and squeezed him tight.

"Do not speak, until I have given the permission to do so. You no longer have the privileges a Prince holds, which includes calling me by my name. "

Justin felt a lump growing in his throat.

"If you do not follow Justin…there will be consequences. Remember, those consequences may not always concern you"

Justin gritted his teeth. Brian was now threatening his family too? He felt a fresh batch of tears threatening to spill.

"Do you understand?"

Justin only nodded his head, fearing that if he opened his mouth all emotions would let loose.

"Stand"

Brian held Justin's fingers in his and pulled the ring off roughly. "You had finally gotten your wish, Justin."

Justin felt a searing, tearing pain in his chest as those words resonated in his head.

Justin watched helplessly as Brian pulled his own off and pocketed them.

"Three little words, so easy to say" Brian regaled, smirk in place.

"Let's test the strength of your love, shall we?"