A/N: Hello there, all! Hitsugi reporting in to bring another update! Sorry I took a while with this one. Now that college has started up again, the updates will be all over the place. But this year my classes work in a way that MIGHT favor more updates, but no promises, especially when I'm writing other things as well and am also in a Fiction Writing class this semester. In short, much writing will be afoot!
Anywho, the song for this chapter's title is by Vermillion Lies. This one is probably the most soothing and tame song so far, for a variety of reasons, mostly since this chapter is mostly about Glen and Jack getting a little closer (or not. YOU'LL SEE), as well as Ada and Oz. So I thought the chapter called for a song like this -smiles- I like it anyhow, it's something nice to listen to as you drift to sleep -sways-
Please enjoy -bows-
6th Arrangement: Drift
It was very hard not to panic. With every jostle and sway of his body inside the fast-paced carriage ride, Jack's stomach lurched. Charlotte and Fang might've said things to him, but their voices weren't reaching him, even when he saw their lips moving. He didn't register much of anything really, not until the castle gates were opened up to them and the carriage came to a holt. The footman came, but Jack rushed past him as soon as the door opened. His guards called after him, but Jack had the singular purpose right then to seek out the only person with enough power to help him with this situation.
With no decorum and neither the care to have some, Jack ran through the castle's hall, calling out for Glen. Servants and wandering knights gave him bewildered looks, horrified that a thief was going around shouting for the king like his name was bloody murder. He supposed he could've stopped to one of them and asked where Glen was, but there seemed to be no time for that, and his legs kept moving. Jack had just managed to get to the second floor before a pair of strong hands grabbed him and tossed him flat on his back on the wall. Charlotte was glaring at him beneath her now mussed hair. Taking a deep inhale - and from Jack's experience, he knew that meant a rather loud voice was about to bark at him - she gripped him by the collar.
"Now where the bloody hell do you get off shouting like that!?" she demanded, her breath heavy against his collar. She shoved him further into the wall, knocking his head against it painfully. "Have you completely lost your mind!? Do you remember who you are and where you are at!?"
"That has nothing to do with this!" Jack said in a rush. "Just tell me where King Glen is! Please!"
Charlotte stared at him incredulously. "You're stark-raving mad," she said in a disbelieving muse. But her astonishment didn't last long. The next second she was growling at him and readjusting her grip on his collar. "Causing all this trouble... Fang and I should lock you away right now!"
"Charlotte," came a more gentle voice further down the flight of stairs. Glen was standing there, so still and calm it was as if he had been a mere statue in the hall until finally deciding to come to life. Slanted violet eyes gazed up at the two of them, and the faintest hint of displeasure was written on his face.
Jack was still trying to catch his breath, but it didn't stop him for making a move towards Glen. Charlotte growled and kept her fist tight against him to keep him from moving. "Your Majesty!" they both managed to address in unison - one desparately, the other tersely.
Glen took a single step up. "What is going on? I have others coming to me warning me about Jack running about in the castle." He said this matter-of-factually, holding no accusatory tone towards the blond-haired man. It was simply a fact. And he was willing to hear what it was Jack had to say to this. The patient stare he gave Jack said as much. Charlotte seemed to see it too and remained silent, even when she still kept him pinned to the wall.
"Sire," Jack began breathlessly, "my brother and sister are missing."
Glen was immediately more attentive, taking another two steps up, his eyes widening slightly. "Explain, please." He gave Charlotte a glance.
"Release him, if you would. Jack doesn't have the eyes of one scheming."
Charlotte looked like she would argue - her face was flushed quite an angered shade of red - but obediantly her hands fell to her sides. Jack didn't make any hastened movements but just turned to Glen imploringly. "My siblings are missing," he repeated, as calmly as he could this time. "We went over to my home, and they weren't there. They have nowhere else to go. I was taken so suddenly yesterday, what if..." He stopped right there, seeing what he was beginning to insinuate, and quickly moved forward to his plea. "If they're not home, I don't know where they could be. They didn't even make it home, everything was the same...!"
In a few seconds, Glen was standing before him, a bit shorter since he was on a lower step. Jack thought maybe to correct that, that perhaps it wasn't proper that the king's eyes should settle on his collar while he stood higher, but all that nonsense flew out of Jack's mind when pale hands gripped his shoulders reassuringly, grounding him. Suddenly he was forced to look down into those electric shades of purple, and Jack's breath hitched, forcing him to calm down, even when he felt his eyes simultaneously well up with tears.
Oh... It's still there. Glen still has eyes that wordlessly pry me open and already knows the answer. That was the feeling Jack got yet again.
"Oz and Ada... Please, sire, help me look for them. Please, my king, please..." Jack felt every bit of how petty he was. But without his siblings,
who was he doing this for? Why was he here? Without both of them, Jack had nothing to go back to, and nothing to look forward to. Oz and Ada were his whole world, his only family left. If he couldn't see them again, Jack worried deeply, full of regret as he reflected back on the kind of older brother he had been. Far from the conventional guardian, and much more likely to be frowned upon or spit on. And now it was likely his siblings were left with nothing...in a world that would hurt them.
Jack had been hurt before. He had been hurt in every beastly way, and it ate him up inside to think of possibility that Oz and little Ada could go through anything out there on their own if they were not found quickly. It was true that Oz was in charge whenever Jack was out, but...but... Could his little brother's cleverness and nature really keep them out of trouble?
Then Oswald was cupping his face, a thumb softly swiping away a stray tear that was starting to fall down Jack's cheek. The gesture, gentle and intimate, startled Jack. Any time to question the king about it though fled when Glen spoke himself. Gazing meaningfully at Jack, he said, "I'll help you look for them. I'll send out search parties for them as soon as today." In a whisper, and still keeping his eyes intently fixed on Jack's, he murmured seriously, "We shall get them back. I'll return them to you, I swear it, Jack. This lament won't be prolonged - you have my solemn vow as King of Sablier."
Needless to say, Jack was thoroughly touched by gesture, though he had no way how to respond to such sincere generosity. All he could do was gratefully think, Charlotte was right. Glen is such an admirable man... Suddenly remembering that the pink-haired woman was still there, he glanced over his shoulder at her. Glen followed his eyes.
"Charlotte, go calm down the fuss that's going around. I'll summon my esquires and the knights to the throne room soon." With one nod, Charlotte hesitantly went down the stairs, glancing back at the two men once before her footfalls fell away. Jack's gaze followed her down until she was out of sight.
She looked bewildered.
"Jack, you should have a drink and sit down for a bit," Glen advised. Sensing the blond's protest, he said, "It wouldn't do to be in such a state when looking for your brother and sister. You'll lose your common sense."
After hesitating for a few seconds, Jack finally nodded. Soon the two of them were in a sitting room, a small table of polished wood between them as a minute later, tea was brought in for them by a slightly flushed maid. Glen thanked her and bid her dismissal after she poured the tea into their cups, and Jack wondered when it was he had called for a maid to make tea. He supposed she must've been in an hurry, that was for sure.
The calming aroma of chamomile wafted from his cup, and a bit less shakily, he began dumping spoonfuls of sugar into it. He knew Glen's eyes were on him, even when the king's hands were working to mindlessly stir a silver spoon into his brew. He was seeming to be waiting for something, and quietly, Jack took his first sip, feeling the tea warm his insides. With that assurance that the blond was calming down some, Glen said gently, "Can you think of any place where all of you frequent? Perhaps they believed you would return within the day, and waited for you." His voice held a slight strain - a king shouldn't blame himself over such a trifle, but the guard had acted under his command to practically snatch Jack away.
And Jack knew that this sort of matter carried something for Glen. Not something like the king's responsibility, however. By this time, the blond was fairly certain he knew enough about Glen to conclude that.
Placing his cup down, Jack could only shake his head. "Oz would know to take them home. But if something happened before they got there, in the middle of the festival perhaps..."
"Although I can understand your concern and want to worry over such possibilities, we're not here to discuss those," Glen said, velvet voice just enough to wrap around Jack like a blanket. Although his insides still swirled, he managed to relax just a bit.
"There's...an old woman who takes care of them when I am out during the day," he began to explain. Glen nodded approvingly, encouraging him. "It's possible they went to her. She runs an orphanage." He hoped Glen wouldn't question why he'd leave his siblings in an orphanage on a regular basis.
Even though there was a clear question in his eyes, making Glen regard Jack a bit more carefully, he did not utter a word about it. Jack supposed right then that the location and safety of his siblings took first priority at the moment. Glen nodded. "Then checking there first would be the prudent thing," he declared. "What about neighbors?"
"I'm not on familiar terms with my neighbors, as you might imagine," Jack replied, more quietly. Trying to keep up his charade was the last thing on his mind right now, but it would be stupid of him to drop it right then. Glen was right. He had to keep his composure. He punctuated the end of his reponse with another deep sip from his tea, taking a slow breath afterward.
Glen sensed the calming drop in Jack's mood and crossed his fingers together. "What do your siblings look like?"
"People say Oz looks just like me, but with shorter hair," Jack said with a small smile. Oz used to protest he looked nothing like Jack, but once their mother pulled out an old photograph of Jack and put it side-by-side with Oz's face. Both boys couldn't deny the resemblance then. "And Ada has the same blond hair and green eyes like us. She's still very small. Really cute face with childishly round cheeks." It warmed him a bit to remember the smile his little sister always gave him. "Ah, Oz is about this high, and Ada right around here. My sister may be the youngest, but...my brother's health isn't the best. That's what I'm worried about as well..."
"What's his ailment?"
Jack shook his head. "I don't know. No one ever does, and the doctors we meet only make guesses and give us all these medicines that never seem to help." He stared down into his cup, seeing his murky reflection within that hid none of his hardships that were projecting on his expression. "I want to get him to a better doctor, a proper one that will really help him, but..." But that requires too much money. The end of the sentence hung noticeably, and Glen read the unsaid line.
Glen got up from his seat smoothly, eyes completely fixated on Jack as he took to the blond's side, a hand reaching out for him once more. Green eyes widened a bit, remembering a gentle thumb wiping away his tear. It was so painfully embarrassing on more than one level, but a chance for a repeat ended when Glen's hand rested on Jack's shoulder. "Take a few more minutes. I know you must be anxious, but take a few more minutes, please. As soon as you're done with your tea, we can gather up and send out search parties. I'll give you your own horse so that you may go by the orphanage." A slightly regretful look passed over Glen's handsome face. "I'm sorry that I cannot go myself. But if you need access to anything, if it is in my power, I'll grant it to you."
"S-sire..." Jack was taken aback yet again by Glen's words. Of course it was obvious a king would do whatever he could to help out his people, but... Jack didn't think about it. This was the most kind anyone had been with him. He doesn't know who I am. He came to the conclusion it didn't matter - nothing could change how grateful he was right then. His hand twitched up to cover Glen's own, but he quickly realized how improper that would be and put his hand down.
The king smiled slightly. "I told you the formalities aren't necessary when we are alone," he said.
Jack could think up one scenario he was quite familiar with in which Glen's words became practically a rule. Of course, Glen hadn't meant it in that manner, he knew. Which meant that the raven-haired man was just kind. Really kind. No one had ever given him such a gesture of kindness before, except for perhaps Arthur. Something about Glen though seemed different. Jack's eyes swam in gratitude, and he nodded, smiling a bit. "Thank you, Glen," he said. Speaking of Arthur, however... Jack fumbled over his words. "A-ah, right. You allowed me out in the first place so I could visit my friend. About that-"
"It's fine," Glen reassured, slipping his hand away. He offered his own small smile. "That's not the priority right now. We can speak of it once your siblings are safe with you."
Jack couldn't find the words to properly thank him. Full of gratefulness and admiration, Jack flushed slightly, although he told himself it was because of the tea he was no hastily gulping down, his eyes downcast and staring at nothing. Afterward, once Glen had finished his cup as well and a maid had come to collect their dishes, the two men retired from the room, on their way to the grand hall.
"I shall call upon my esquires and as many knights as possible that can cover great ground," Glen proclaimed during their walk, apparently in deep thought.
Jack balked at the idea. "Sir- Glen, with all due respect, that's not necessary at all. Such highly-trained men... I-I think they're a bit overqualified to go as a search party for...for my brother and sister." He licked his lips, trying to put his reasoning delicately. "That is, if I could just have Fang and Charlotte, as well as myself once I have a horse, I think that will be sufficient enough."
Glen gave him a pleading look, something Jack hadn't expected at all. It took him aback to see such a look on the man's regal face. What was it that would make Glen make such a pitiful expression, eyes glistening yet not quite filling with tears, brow furrowed yet not quite distressed. Jack stared, captured by the plea on the king's countenance. They had stopped walking completely.
"I told you, Jack," began Glen solumnly. "Finding Oz and Ada is the top priority. Your position or occupation... That they are just two children of many in the kingdom... Or that you're overwhelmed... I do not know what your reasons are for thinking that I cannot send out my best men to find your siblings, but I want to find them just as much as you do. You are in need, and I am not in the habit of ignoring someone when they call out to me."
Jack struggled to voice a suitable reason. "It's...an inconvenience. No one in this castle thinks highly of me, anyhow. I'm used to doing things on my own."
Glen tilted his head slightly, expression hardening a bit even though his voice remained gentle. "Then may I ask why you called upon my assistance in the first place?" he inquired quietly.
"I..." He could think of nothing to say, not to that. Jack had been the one to beg for Glen, tears in his eyes, and in such a desperate state. He bit his lip. "Well... Glen, you know magick, yes?"
"I do," replied the raven-haired man with something of a proud half-smile.
"Then perhaps," began Jack, "you could know of some spell to help me locate my siblings? I hadn't considered it when I first came in, but if you do know of such a spell, then it would save time as well as manpower." He pushed away thoughts of crystal balls or things of that sort, thinking spells would be a less offensive term - not that he knew anything of magick anyhow.
The smile fell a bit from Glen's lips, a contemplative look crossing his face. He took a few steps away from Jack, still thinking. "I do. But such spells aren't as easy as you think, otherwise I'd have been able to find someone like you much sooner." Stopping, he glanced out a nearby window.
"What would you need?"
"Something personal of the ones I'm locating," said Glen concisely, turning to the blond. "Something with the person's aura well soaked into the object's being. An article of clothing, a necklace, something bodily like a lock of hair - or even, say, blood - would be the most ideal."
"I have none of those with me," Jack said dejectedly. Just as quickly, he brightened up. "But if you'll permit me to go back to my home, I'll most definitely have something there to give you."
Glen did not take long to consider. He nodded, albeit it held no enthusiasm. More of grim resignment. "Yes, that would be a good course of action." He said it so numbly, that it was enough to cause Jack worry. Before the blond could inquire about it however, Glen added, "We won't have a need to gather in the throne room then. You may leave immediately. I'll accompany you down to the stables and give you a horse." With another curt nod, he silently turned away.
It occurred to Jack to follow him, but he was still confused. Just moments ago, Glen had been adamant about finding Oz and Ada, but now...something was wrong. The blond recounted the events of the past few minutes, trying to pinpoint when exactly something had happened to make the king's mood darken.
It had been when he inquired about the spell. Was that wrong, perhaps? Had he been pretentious in asking for Glen to use his magickal powers to help? Jack quietly made his way to Glen. He had been stupid. Surely there had been a reason Glen didn't bring up the locating spell before, if it had been an option in the first place. But what would be that reason?
The answer hit him instantly. Glen was still looking a bit tired, but he was staring at the blond questioningly. Jack glanced down. "Glen?"
He decided to be outright with it. "You've tried this spell before, haven't you?"
Glen didn't look surprised that Jack had figured it out. In fact, he looked even more tired, a dark sort of dullness taking over the brilliance of his purple eyes. "It didn't work," he said in a small sigh. He left it at that, slowly glancing away before turning to continue leading Jack down the hall. There was still much Jack wanted to ask about it, but he too left it at that. Best not to ask when another delicate subject was over them. To say what just happened didn't pique his interest would be a lie though, and so Jack tucked it away for later.
By the time they reached ground level, however, another sort of ruckus had sprung up. Glen looked just as weary as Jack appeared curious. "I must say, there has nary been a dull moment since you've come by, Jack, and it's only been a day." Glen gave the blond a pointed look, even when the ends up his lips twitched upward just slightly.
Jack glanced away. "Well, the effect is different for everyone." More on point, he asked, "What's going on?"
"I think us standing right here might help us figure it out. I have a feeling the trouble is coming to us."
The words couldn't have been spoken any sooner. The previously empty hall was now flooding with a small strem of people, mostly guards it seemed to be, with Fang right there in front of their formation. A chase was going on, and the two criminals were shrieking and yelling out fervent protests before their words fell short at the sight of the king before them.
At least, that's what Jack had assumed when the two stopped in their tracks.
"S-Stop them!" exclaimed Fang.
"Ah, no wait, please!" protested one, keeping the other close to their side.
They were two maids, based on the uniform of a red dress and white apron trimmed in black. Thier caps had fallen askew during the chase, and now both, red in the face, glanced up at Jack with wide, green eyes.
Jack nearly choked. "Wh..."
"Jack!" cried Ada happily, springing up to him, almost attempting to climb him like a tree in attempts to get up into his arms.
"Ada!?" Jack numbly stared down at his sister, then slowly, with dread, looked toward the other maid. He blanched. "Oz!?"
There was a limit, or supposed to be one, on how far Oz was willing to go to accomplish things sometimes. Jack knew there was little to nothing that Oz would find ridiculous enough to do in order for something to happen, and apparently dressing up as a woman - a royal maid no less - hadn't leaned in the favor of shame enough to make Oz not do it. As it was, Jack's brother was standing there grinning like he hadn't a single care in the world, albeit he was breathless and stepping pointedly away from Fang and the other guards.
"Looks like we finally found you," he said, adjusting his cap.
Fang was looking wide-eyed at the blond-haired man. "Jack...?"
Ada made a pleased nosie when Jack finally adjusted enough to the situation and picked her up. Slapping a firm hand on Oz's head, he announced,
with much embarrassment, "These are my brother and sister." He turned to face Glen. "I'm terribly sorry for the commotion this caused, but had I known they were under our nose all along... Wait!" He rounded on Oz, bending down to his level. "What's wrong with the two of you!? Why weren't you at home? And how did you even obtain these outfits - in your sizes, no less...," he added in a confused murmur, tugging on Ada's petite maid dress. Circumstances aside, it did look quite nice on her... Jack quickly snapped out of that thought. "Well?"
"You expected us to go straight home when he didn't even know where you had gone off to?" Oz returned casually.
Jack sputtered. "Of course! That's where I expected you to be once I returned."
"We had no guarantee you would return," Oz countered, raising his brows seriously. "And if you did, we had no idea when that would be."
Jack was having a difficult time coming to grips with how he should properly react. That was, there was to be no mistake he was relieved, somewhere deep down, but at the moment there was little he could be except incredulous that everything was happening so nonchalantly, like his siblings disappearance hadn't caused the biggest stir, the matter of affairs even reaching the king of Sablier himself... Jack inhaled sharply in realization, turning quickly to the raven-haired man still standing beside him.
"S-sire, I'm deeply sorry for this! I can't apologize enough for how out of hand things have gotten."
Glen didn't seem the least bit disturbed. On the contrary, his countenance was gentle, the corner of his lips raised in an amused smile as his eyes took turns taking a look at the two younger ones. There was something decidedly fond in those pools of electric purple, and the rest of Jack's apologies evaporated from his tongue, too intrigued by the sincere look of relief on Glen's face.
Oz at the very least seemed to have picked up on the shift of attention to the most important person standing there in the hall. Having the decency to at least refrain from doing a feminine curtsy, he bowed respectfully towards the king. "Good afternoon, Your Majesty," he said in what was the most humble tone Jack had ever heard from him.
Glen nodded to him. "A pleasure to meet the acquaintance of Jack's younger siblings." He glanced at Ada, who only buried her face into her older brother's shoulder in shyness.
"Ada, this is our beloved king," Jack explained to her, gently lifting her face up. "We must be very respectful towards him, alright?"
With understanding, Ada turned to look at Glen, filling up her green gaze with his regal image. In a childish attempt to copy Oz, she leaned over Jack's arms holding her, bowing. "Good afternoon, sir! Please don't be angry at me and Oz, we were just looking for Jack. He's our big brother, and we just wanted to find him! Please don't be mad!" she said in a breathless flurry.
Glen smiled, a wonderful spread of his lips that seemed to soothe the mood of everyone present. "Do not worry, Miss Ada. I am not the least bit perturbed," he reassured. He gave her a meaningful look, leaning toward her before giving her a small nod of his head in kind acknowledgement. His large hand found her tiny one, small enough that he only took it in between two fingers and his thumb as he shook it gently, earning him a pink blush from Ada's cheeks. Glen chuckled good-naturedly and looked up at Jack. "You're right. They look quite like you. If I may ask, how did you two manage to get inside the castle?"
Oz piped up. "It was during the festival, sire. We slipped inside the gates during the fireworks, when a lot of the guards were distracted by the show," he explained. "After that, we came in and found some uniforms. We stayed inside one of the servant rooms last night."
"We might need to have a little talk with the maids," Fang said in a flat voice. "To be so easily fooled that these two were actual servants... It's actually quite comical."
"We just said we were one of the maids' children," Ada said, starting to tangle her fingers into Jack's braid.
"And you mean to say Oz passed off as a daughter?" Jack pointed out blandly, casting his brother a scrutinizing look.
"Don't be silly!" chirped Oz with a rather contrasting irritated look. "No matter how you look at it, I'm a boy. But we conveniently found another maid outfit just my size. Something the maid had laid aside when she was my age. So I had no choice in the matter, you see."
That's an awfully big convenience, thought Jack. He sighed, and at the same time he went over to Oz, he felt fully exhausted. Glen had sent Fang and the others away, giving the tattooed man a last order of relaying the situation to Charlotte. Jack figured it was to give the three siblings some time on their own, even when Glen was still hovering a few feet away.
With the guards gone, Jack reached out and embraced Oz, holding Ada closer to him as well. "You two, honestly...," he said with a weary half-smile. "You have no idea how relieved I am that you're safe and sound. I'm so glad you're alright." He had half a mind to be more stern and more brother-like, maybe chastise them with orders to never repeat the scenario again, but anything close to reprimands left him. The only desire he had was to keep his beloved siblings close, and to go home and sleep on their bed. He was tired, and only now did it strike him just how taxing it had been to go around with such worry.
But it's fine now. It's fine. They're here.
"Jack, I missed you," said Ada in a watery voice. The gravity of the situation seemed to have caught up with her as well, and her eyes were swimming in tears.
Quickly, Jack tried to ease away her sadness, kissing her forehead and brushing his fingers through her hair. "It's okay, Ada. I would never leave you two for long." Oz, who had been previously stiff in surprise, relaxed into Jack's arms and wiped away some of Ada's tears with a reassuring smile.
Glen, who had watched the tender scene in silence, finally spoke up. Resting a hand on Jack's shoulder, he gave each of them a sorrowful look. "Can you ever find it in your heart to forgive me?"
"Sire?" Jack was shocked.
"It was because of the order I had given my men that you were separated in the first place," Glen reminded, lips turned down in lament. "It was never my intention for something like this to happen. Please, forgive me." His fingers curled around Jack's shoulder in plea.
What a truly odd man King Glen is. He doesn't hide anything from his actions or words, even when he is fully aware of his position in the kingdom. After taking a look at Ada and Oz's faces of confusion and surprise, Jack put his sister down. Turning down Glen's words or attempting to correct him seemed like such a wrong thing to do on multiple accounts, so Jack offered him a smile. "My brother and sister are here now. That's a blessing that can't be overlooked, no matter the circumstances." Feeling foolish that he even had to say this obvious point, Jack said, "I don't blame you, Glen."
The king looked visibly relieved, relaxing some. Turning to Oz and Ada, he smiled a bit. "First things first. You two will need to get some new clothes."
The two children exchanged looks, examining one another in their outfits before laughing in agreement.
The duration of the day passed in a sort of peace that Jack couldn't help but think more than once was entirely misplaced. Given the situation, he expected something a lot more serious or sinister to happen as the hours went by. He expected Glen to bring up Arthur again, or the case with Lacie in general. He expected Fang and Charlotte would hound him some more and lecture him about what happened with Oz and Ada.
But expectations were being broken quite often these past few days.
Fang and Charlotte were nearly nowhere to be seen. In fact, there seemed to be a gaping absence of guards in general. If there were any around, Jack didn't know of them. Glen hadn't made any orders for anyone to be near or away from them as they went from room to room. It would've been said the king accompanied the siblings everywhere, but the actuality of the situation was the he took the time to usher them from sitting rooms to the dining hall to the bathing rooms. Until finally when the moon had risen, he introduced them lastly to the room the children would be staying in - one right across from Jack's.
Glen had entertained every question Oz and Ada gave, and shared with them many stories of his life. He even performed a bit of magick for them when Ada shyly requested it, and even Jack - albeit fascinated all the same like the others - could tell these were but parlor tricks compared to what Glen could truly do. Whatever that was, anyway. Jack had no basis of comparison, having never witnessed magick before. But it was known that one approached the Baskerville family with wariness.
By the passage of night, it became apparent how comfortable the two younger siblings were getting in the king's presence. They certainly warmed up to him better than Jack. It wasn't that he felt cold towards Glen - really, it was far from it. It was just... Jack couldn't help but be reminded of his position whenever he looked at Glen.
All I can think of is that I'm not worth enough to even look him the eye or stand before him. Glen is...far too kind, Jack thought. Even so, that same kindness was something that was saving him and what was left of his family, and that was no small matter.
Jack finished tucking in his siblings after much giggling and protests to stay up some more. Ada didn't last long, and was asleep within minutes. Jack smiled at her and kissed her forehead tenderly.
Oz was still wide awake on his bed, expression flat as he watched Jack move over to his bed. As the older brother fussed with the sheets, he felt Oz's eyes on him the entire time, and the air took a sudden note of seriousness. Oz shifted a bit when Jack pulled away. "All this day, you still haven't explained what it is you're doing here," he noted calmly. "Why were you brought here? And why do me and Ada get to stay here as well? Jack, you're not... With the King, are you?"
"Of course not!" Jack protested immediately. He grimaced at the fact Oz would even have such an insinuation, but Jack supposed it was a justified suspicion. He had whored himself out to all classes; there was no discrimination when it came to working as a prostitute in a cabaret. The only deciding factor was if an interested customer had the money for the pleasure. There was no question that Glen could pay enough to own Jack. But that was a thought Jack wouldn't dare to entertain.
He sat gently down on Oz's bed. "I'm not here for those kinds of matters."
"Then what's going on? Why were you plucked off the streets like that?"
Jack considered how to answer, weighing the pros and cons for letting Oz know the truth. "I just...I have a job entrusted to me. And the sooner I complete it, the better."
"What sort of job? Do you think maybe I could help?"
Jack could only shrug. "I'm not entirely certain about any of it, to be honest. But...if it turns out I do need your help down the road, then I'll trust you for it."
Oz hummed. "I see..." He got uncharacteristically quiet after that, stirring in his own thoughts.
Instead of acknowledging that, Jack noted, "You haven't shown any sign of your sickness today. I'm surprised. Is the medicine making you feel any better?"
Oz blinked, as if realizing he hadn't coughed or thrown up that day for the first time. "To be honest, I haven't taken any medicine since yesterday morning."
That was significant news. Oz never missed the time to take his medicine, not if Jack had anything to say about it. Jack raised his brows, surprised, but then offered a grin. "Then let's hope it stays that way. Wonder if it's the air here? A lot better than the dust back home, hmm?"
"I'll say. How do they keep the whole place clean? Must be nice to be rich and have servants," Oz said, burrowing deeper into his covers. He gave a tired stretch, yawning as his eyes took a more dazed, heavy-lidded look.
Jack took that as his cue. He ruffled Oz's hair. "Even if you're not feeling ill, you should still have medicine on you. I'll talk to someone about that." He patted Oz's thigh then got up. "Goodnight, Oz."
"Night, Jack," Oz returned in a sleepy slur. He looked completely knocked out as soon as his eyes closed.
After taking one last loving look at his slumbering siblings, drinking in their peaceful faces, Jack exited the room and closed the door gently behind him. Really, he shouldn't have been surprised to go down the hallway and see Glen standing there in front of a window, the curtains drawn and the moonlight falling gently on him as Glen gazed out. He didn't stir, and didn't make any move to acknowledge Jack's existence until the blond came over to him.
"How are they?" he asked.
"They went to sleep just now," Jack said, resting his fingers against the heavy velvet, curling his fingers around it. Wanting not to let the pause drag out too long, Jack flushed a bit. "Um, I want to thank you, Glen. For everything you've done today."
Glen glanced over at him. His brows furrowed just slightly. "I don't know what I've done to earn thanks. I had to ask for your forgiveness today, after all," he reminded.
"That's unimportant now. I told you that I forgave you," Jack returned gently, rubbing the back of his neck. "I meant what you're doing by allowing Oz and Ada to stay here. I'm sure...this is something a lot would frown upon. To be honest, I kept thinking it was like some dream throughout the day. My siblings just looked so happy." Jack smiled at the memory. There hadn't been nearly enough times when they could have days like that. Jack chuckled. "You put up with them so well. If you'll pardon the remark, I didn't peg you to be the type of person good with kids."
A light shade of pink dusted over Glen's cheeks, seeming quite embarrassed. "There haven't been chances when I would have to handle children, so to be honest, I didn't know what to do exactly," he confessed, shifting his weight a bit.
The uncertainty made Glen appear a lot more ordinary. So much so, Jack had to chuckle again. "But they like you, you know," he said. "Especially Ada. I think she'll grow quite fond of you if you keep doing magick tricks like that."
"I wouldn't mind it," replied the raven-haired man, suddenly turning contemplative. "Lacie used to ask for such favors when we were younger. She didn't know a lot of magick yet, but at the time, my lessons had already started. I could do a fair bit of magick that was good enough to impress her. She would always wonder what kind of Worker I would be."
Jack, entirely focused on the words Glen spoke of his sister, couldn't help but curiously ask, "A worker?"
"No, not like a common worker. The term 'Worker' refers to a practitioner of magick with a strong, unique talent," explained Glen. He held up his loosely-held fist between the two if them. When he opened up his fingers, a small pearl of flame danced on Glen's palm. "There can be Fire Workers." Bringing the small flame up, he gently blew on it, extinguishing it as a tiny whirlwind twirled in its place. "Or Wind Workers. Magickal talents like that. Although there can also be Workers outside the basic elementals. Such as Metal, Blood, Flower, Space, or even Music. But only one person at a time can exist to be a particular Worker - there cannot be more than one Fire Worker in the world, and so it goes for others. Some believe it's because that talent passes on to another when the Worker dies."
An exhaling breath of awe left Jack, at both the performed magick and the explanation. "Magick is so amazing," he said dreamily. He gazed up at Glen with wide green eyes. "You're amazing."
Glen looked embarrassed again, making the whirlwind disappear when he closed his fist again, resting it at his side. "I used to tell Lacie that she could be a Music Worker. She sang all the time - songs of old, songs of her own composition... Being around her was like being around song itself. I had no doubts that she would surpass me in magick, even when she was always excited whenever I performed. But I'm a failure at magick."
Jack's smile fell. He could never imagine that being true, although he had a sinking suspicion he knew where this was going. "Glen..."
Glen stayed silent for a few heartbeats like that was all the cut off Jack needed. He turned just slightly toward the window, eyes focusing on nothing in particular, staring out into unseen memories. "I couldn't find her. When I tried the location spell, it just...failed. I couldn't see her face. I redid the spell ten different times, under different circumstances with different tools to enhance the magick, but I was making no mistakes. I simply could not find her. I suspect it to be Abyss' doing." There was no tremor of voice at the end, no resentment. Only bitter truth. That's all it ever was with Glen, it seemed. How he spoke his words was the only indicator of the type of person he was - to accept truth, no matter how painful or upsetting.
And it seemed a bit too personal in Jack's opinion to hear such a tone, to know what kind of person Glen was because of it. "Why are you telling me this?" he asked, following Glen's gaze out the window. He saw no memories however, and only a slumbering kingdom, peaceful and unmoving.
"Since it's your task to help me find Lacie," Glen began, "it seems only logical to give you this piece of information. That and, to be honest, I haven't spoken of the incident to anyone. It was an attempt I made on my own without telling any other person." He wrapped his red cloak more over his arms until only his face remained visible, the rest of his body draped within the red cloth that appeared to Jack as more of a shield. Just how vulnerable was Glen making himself here?
This isn't right.
"I'm not a fool, Jack. I know how absurd some of my actions have been when it concerns Lacie. I know how some would refer to the whole affair when it concerned me to be mad," Glen went on explaining, no disdain in his voice. Even so, there was a crease in his brow that was growing deeper with each statement. "So when it came to trying to find Lacie on my own, I preferred to keep it my business. A child can only be pitied for so long."
He shouldn't tell me these things. It's wrong. So, so wrong...
Jack shifted, looking Glen in the eyes with a decisive sort of determination. "If I may be frank, Glen?"
Long black lashes fluttered slightly as Glen slowly returned Jack's gaze. "Of course."
"Please excuse me, but I think, given the circumstances, you should heed the suspicion everyone else in this castle has for me," Jack began in a thick tone. It occurred to him only later that this was steeling himself: standing straight, head held high as his expression remained in a slightly strained state of trying not to let a single fear escape. He took a breath. "Please don't disgrace your earlier claim not to be a fool. Although I know it is wiser to remain on your more favorable side, I also think you nor I should forget who I am. Glen...please don't trust me. I'm a liar. And my kind are never the solace people like you want."
Glen's eyes had widened slightly, but Jack didn't wish to stay long enough to see where Glen's incredulity would lead him. Bowing, Jack excused himself and calmly returned back to his room, shutting the door. For a full minute there was no indication that he was being followed or that Glen was ready to unleash some sort of wrath upon the blond-haired man.
Only when he was quite sure that he was being left alone did Jack, back pressed on the back of the door, slide down the polished wood and close his eyes, feeling the most tired he ever had in years.
"So they finally found the body, hmm?"
It was so easy to act as spectator in the dead of night, even more so when said spectator stood a good thirty feet off the ground. His feet were planted solidly on thin air, his eyes gazing down at the sight below him.
The scene was between two buildings, the shadows offering enough darkness that others would never be able to see the shadow of this young man standing above them. A small band of night guards had gathered in the alley, all murmuring to each other meaningless speculations of the crime before them. Of course, the young man already had a good idea of what it was that killed the Jetrose thief. There was only one other organization that would be able to accomplish such a feat. And if the young man's suspicions were to be believed based on the gunshot wounds, he was even sure he could name the killer.
So they're already this far, mused the young man, twirling a finger around his silver hair. He made a small humming sound as he frowned in thought. "Which means that Pandora has solved more of the mystery than I originally thought..." The look of irritation he made was enough to wither a flower upon sight.
Stupid Pandora pigs! I hate them! Meddling in all this, when it's none of their concern! He rubbed his palms all over his face, nails raking down his skin with every fervent movement. One of his nails scraped over his eye, but he hardly seemed to notice. By that second, he had stopped his frustrated movements, just enough that a sort of realization could hit him. He looked back down at the scene, like a light had been shined down on it to reveal this blessing in disguise.
Slowly, his hands slid down to his cheeks, almost cupping them in a surprised gesture as his lips formed a small 'o'. Just as quickly as his temper had flared out, it was bottled away again, and the young man was grinning.
"This was just the prelude. I'm sure if things keep progressing as they are," he murmured, grinning wider and wider, "then soon enough, our tragic play can finally begin." He clapped his hands together, pressing his fingertips against one another before his spread lips.
"If I may have the honor of opening the curtains for Act One...?"
In a dizzying gust of wind felt even below in the alley, the young man was gone. The guards all exclaimed in confusion at the sudden wind, the scent of the decaying Jetrose thief rising high in the air to perfume the shadowed town.
Ending A/N: So there you go, I threw in some fanservice. We need more Glen and Jack interactions. Look at that sexual tension between them (it's there, I promise; there's a buzzing of sheer homo in the air -shot a million times-). Even if Jack sort of fucked it up later, but all in the name of angst. By the way, Resha-kohai, look - Oz in a maid outfit after all, ohohoho (it won't be the last of it either, I can promise you that~)
I don't think there's anything much to say. Anyone want to take stabs on who the mysterious young man is? Well, keep tabs on him, he's uber-important.
Review/comment/critique, perhaps? Don't hesitate to ask a question if need be, and I'll see what I can do to answer if you're confused by anything :D