No Heroics, No Regrets
A House of Cards: To Play The King Fanfic
By Auburn Red
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. They are the proud creations of Michael Dobbes and Andrew Davies. The setting of this is shortly after David Mycroft's resignation announcement and right before and after the "street theatre performance." The abdication has not yet taken place. Oh and I chickened out when giving the King his first name I know, but I didn't want it to be so obvious that he was supposed to be Charles.
The bus pulled over onto the next rest area near the outskirts of Manchester so many of the passengers and the driver could stretch their legs. The car holding the king stopped right ahead of them. True to his word, David Mycroft refused to answer a single question about his startling announcement. He hoped that what he said would be enough for their pens and papers.
Chloe Carmichael stood next to him as he watched the king speaking to his driver explaining the schedule for next legs of the tour. He nodded at Chloe and David who nodded back, clearly he did not know what his Chief of Staff was about to do.
"You're going to tell him now?" Chloe asked.
"Well it would seem prudent to be me and not some reporter trying to get another story out of him." David offered.
"Are you sure that you don't want to see the rest of the tour first," the young woman asked.
David shook his head. "No, this was your idea, your event, it should be you."
The two looked at their leader, their monarch, in some ways their friend. Chloe suddenly felt sad somehow like this was the end of an era. "Who's going to take care of him now?" she asked.
"You will," David said squeezing her shoulder. "I have complete faith in you. In fact, it makes my resignation that much easier knowing that he will be in your hands, the best most capable hands, aside from my own of course."
Chloe laughed but it was forced. "I'm really going to miss you David. Who will I argue with?" She joked. She bit her lip to keep tears from falling. No, this was a public event she was absolutely not to show any vulnerabilities.
"I'm sure given your charming personality finding someone else won't be difficult," David said. Chloe laughed as the two embraced.
"Is he worth it?" she had to ask.
David started. "Who?" he asked. He was half-tempted to go back to his old routine of deny, compromise, hide but no he had to prove to everyone especially to himself that he could live as an out and proud openly gay man.
"The reason you're resigning," Chloe asked. Almost as if offering an explanation, she shrugged. "I figured it was more than just a general principle that led to this. I figure there was another more important reason."
"There is and yes," David said. " We can't marry of course, but I'm prepared to take what I can get."
"I know what that feels like," the young woman said wistfully glancing in the direction of the king. He was looking through the crowd at his two aides, a puzzled look on his face but did not yet approach them. David caught the expression on Chloe's face. It disappeared quickly, but he could recognize it, one beyond admiration, one of respect, affection, adoration, and yes one of love. She cleared her throat as if realizing just from a wordless expression that she revealed too much. David knew that look, recognized it. He wore it himself on that first day at Cambridge University when a handsome dark-haired student arrived, grinned at David like he knew him his whole life, and said "Please while I'm here, call me Edward, Eddie, Ned. Even call me 'Hey you over there,' but for God's sake don't call me Your Highness or Sir." Of course that adolescent infatuation evaporated when David became aware that romantic feelings would never be requited from the then-Prince of Wales. Instead it evolved over time into a close brotherly friendship.
"I could ask you the same thing," David answered nodding over at the king."Is he worth it? The reason you're staying?"
Chloe looked squarely at him silent for a long time. For a few seconds, David hoped that he hadn't read his colleague's expression wrong. He certainly deserved her to strike back in anger accusing him of sexism, racism, or simply thinking of her as some addle-brained female who wanted to sleep her way to the top. But when her face softened, he knew that he was right.
"It's not fair," she said glancing down as if acknowledging the racial differences between herself and the King. "Neither of us are allowed to be accepted with the ones we love."
"Maybe someday," he suggested.
Chloe nodded. "That's why we're here. That's what he fights for, what we all fight for." David nodded and the two shook hands. No doubt Chloe would look after His Majesty admirably. She was hot-headed and idealistic, but she was also a loyal tigress who would protect him to the end and strike at any of his opponents. David knew that he was leaving the King in the best of hands.
"I must go tell him," David said. He was about to walk forward when he whispered. "Cheer up, maybe you'll be Queen Consort someday."
Chloe laughed. "I highly doubt that. For now I'll just take better equipped Council block flats and a more humanitarian Parliament." Though Chloe had to admit with a PM like Francis Urquhart pulling the strings, the chances of a black woman being declared Queen Consort were greater than getting those goals met. Oh well whoever said politics was easy. "Like you, I'm just ready to take what I can get."
"Sometimes that's all anyone can do," David answered as he approached the king. Chloe nodded. This was one point that she and David would certainly have to agree.
If David harbored any illusions that telling the king would be any easier than it would be telling Chloe or the press, they ended now. "No," the monarch shook his head. "No, you can't resign. I won't allow it! I reject your resignation."
Despite the gravity of the situation, David couldn't resist almost a laugh. The king's pout and petulent tone made the former Chief of Staff understand how her Late Majesty or one of the servants must have felt to placate his friend when he was a young child. It's a good thing that he's taking it like an adult, David wryly thought. "Sir," he said with an almost grin. "It's the only way."
"I told you that your personal life has no bearing on your job," the King reminded him.
"I know, sir, and I respect that," David sadly replied. "In a perfect world, that would be enough. But, we both know, it's not." The monarch nodded. "If I stay, anything that you and Chloe do to make the role of Buckingham Palace more prominent wouldn't matter at all. The focus would be entirely on me and my private life. Knowing Urquhart, things would certainly become difficult to the point where I would be forced to be removed."
"It's not a victory," King Edward said.
"Sometimes it has to be a retreat," David answered.
His Majesty nodded gravely. It was clear he stil didn't like it but certainly understood. He answered. "I will write you the most splendid reference ever."
"I am honored to have it, sir," David smiled. The king stuck out his hand and David shook it warmly.
"I am going to miss you," King Edward said sadly.
"I will miss you too, sir," David answered. He felt his eyes begin to fill. There was an equal shine in the king's.
There was a silent moment when the king pulled his friend to his side and embraced him warmly. "Remember, I am still going to need a friend."
"I know," David answered. "So will I." He pulled away and shook his head. "I had better go. You have an appearance to make."
The king nodded. "Will you need a ride? Are you sure that you don't want to wait?"
"Yes, sir, I'm sure," David answered. "This is where I get off. I'll find another way home." Home, he thought happily. He couldn't wait to go back to the apartment which to him held more treasures than Buckingham Palace ever could. Home to the loving arms of Ken Charterhouse.
"Of course," the king said. He turned around and headed to Chloe Carmichael and the waiting press as the two returned to the bus, the car, and to Manchester. David waved them off ready to take another bus to return to London. He checked his watch. If he timed it just right, he would be able to stop by a jeweler's on his way home.
Ken Charterhouse was not one to get frantic, but he certainly was now. He had been on the phone talking to nearly every hospital that he could find hoping to find any further information. He paced back and forth running his hands through his hair arguing with the attendant. "It's M-Y-C-R-O-F-T, David Mycroft, he would have been admitted with the king's entourage."
"I'm sorry sir," the attendant said. "I haven't heard anything more about it and even if I had I can only give out that information to immediate family members." He could hear the unspoken, Which you are not, in her tone.
Ken clenched his teeth in frustration. This felt like only the 100th time he had heard something like that today. He supposed that being the boyfriend/live-in of the Chief of Staff of Buckingham Palace didn't exactly count for anything. He sighed knowing that this was a dead end, "Alright, alright thank you!" He hung up the phone and paced once again.
He had heard the breaking news. There appeared to be some sort of riot, or assasination attempt involving the King and his people. Even though press was there, details were sketchy. Ken was on the phone trying to find anything more and whether David was hurt, but everyone he called was always the same: No we don't know anything more, no we did not admit the King or any of his people, no we cannot give that information out to you. Ken hoped, prayed to any and all deities that were listening that David wasn't hurt or even there, but he knew his lover. He knew how loyal he was to His Majesty. If The King were the victim of an assasination attempt, David Mycroft would have leapt in front and taken the bullet meant for him. That's the type of person that he was. For a brief moment Ken inwardly cursed the King, Buckingham Palace, Parliament, the PM and any and all people involved for making him possibly lose the love his life so shortly after meeting him.
He was about to dial the number for Buckingham Palace when the phone rang. He picked it up. "Hello?" he asked warily hoping that it would be David.
"Excuse me," a female voice spoke. Ken tried his best to hide his disappointment. "I'm trying to reach David Mycroft."
"He isn't here," Ken replied bracing himself for her to be a reporter.
"Do you know what time that he will be in then?" the woman asked sounding concerned. She was probably trying to get a good story, Ken thought sourly, Well if she persisted she was going to get a Hell of a lot more than "No Comment" out of him.
"Who are you?" he asked. "How did you get this number?"
The woman sighed. "I'm sorry," she said. "I'm Chloe Carmichael, I worked with David. He gave us this number in case of emergencies."
Ken relaxed slightly. "I'm sorry, I thought you were with the press."
"That's alright," Chloe said. "If you see David, please tell him that we're alright. No one was hurt. Mostly a lot of wounded pride more than anything else." There seemed to be a tense tone to those last words as though her's was one of the wounded pride.
"He'll be relieved to hear it," Ken said. It took a moment for the news to sink in. "Wait, you mean he wasn't with you?"
"No, I assumed after he left, he had returned to London," she answered.
"I haven't seen him since this morning, since before he left for work," Ken said growing once again anxious.
"Oh," Chloe said in an understanding tone. "I suppose you're the reason. That explains everything."
"Reason for what?" Ken asked. "What happened? Where is he?"
"You mean he didn't tell you?" she asked then answered for herself. "No, I suppose he didn' , Mr-"
"Charterhouse," Ken answered. "Ken Charterhouse."
"- Mr. Charterhouse," Chloe responded. "I may be talking out of school, but he resigned shortly before we arrived in Manchester."
Ken was stunned. "No, I didn't know anything about it." He said. He was torn between being proud of his lover because he understood the reason for it and feeling sympathetic towards him because he knew how much he loved his job and how much anguish that he must have been going through before he made that decision.
"Will you please tell him to contact us at the Palace when he returns," Chloe asked. She appeared to be having a conversation with someone else for a few minutes. "Hang about, someone else wants to speak with you."
She handed the phone over and Ken received the shock of his life. "Mr. Charterhouse, we have never met before."
Ken's eyes widened and he almsot dropped the phone. Bloody hell, he cursed to himself. All protocol flew straight out the window. "Umm, Your Highness, I mean Your Excellency, Sire-" No he told himself, Your Majesty on the first reference, Sir on the second. Don't be a complete idiot. "Your Majesty. No, we have not. I'm David Mycroft's-" Oh how was he supposed to introduce himself to the King of England?
Over the phone he could hear the king's chuckle. "It's alright. I think I understand who you are. No doubt Miss Carmichael has briefed you on the situation and that no one was hurt."
Ken gave a silent prayer of thanks that his mother, God rest her soul, was no longer alive. Otherwise if she got wind of this, she would be ringing all of her friends bragging about how her son was intimate friends with His Majesty. Ken flushed feeling nervous. "Yes, Sir, I am very glad to hear it."
"And she informed you of...David's resignation," the King answered.
"Yes, sir, she has," Ken answered.
"Well I wish to speak with you for three main reasons. First, if you see him please tell him to call us at once," The King said. "He will probably be very worried."
"I know he will sir," Ken answered already knowing his lover's anxious moods. "And I will tell him."
"Second, I have already promised him that I would do whatever I can to make his resignation as even as possible," the King said. "Miss Carmichael and I are currently drafting a press release highlighting his service and loyalty to the Crown. He will want for nothing I can assure you. I already promised him a splendid reference and he will receive the highest compensation possible."
"I'm sure that he would be glad to hear that, sir," Ken said. Privately, he wondered if the King extended this courtesy of contacting the significant others for every resigned employee of the Palace.
"It's the least we could do for such valued service to the Crown," the King said."And for a friend." For a brief moment the protocol dropped and Ken could hear a human tone in the monarch's voice as though he wasn't just sad that he was losing his Press Secretary, he was sad that he was losing his best friend. The king hesitated. "Normally, we would be able to offer some pension for family members of employees but it may be impossible with circumstances being as they are- well if I can, I will see what can be done, maybe someday we may-"
Ken nodded. He knew what he was trying to say. "I understand, sir. We will be alright."
"Third and most importantly," The King began. "I have to issue a command to you-"
"-Is it a Royal Command, sir?" Ken asked and then he winced. Things were going so well. He wondered if people could still be imprisoned for being insubordinate to the King. At least he was pretty sure that the Tower was no longer in use as a prison.
To his surprise the King laughed again. Ken could tell that it wasn't a "courtesy-ha ha-you're not funny laugh." It was more of an honest, warm laugh that recognized kindness and friendship when he heard it. Ken knew why David liked His Majesty so much. He could make anyone feel comfortable and feel like they have had a friend their whole lives."Think of it as a request from one friend on behalf of another. He is one of the best men that I have ever known. If you are good to him, and even when you are not, he will be good to you. You won't find a better companion anywhere."
Ken felt tears sting his eyes. "I know sir," he replied softly.
"I am however warning you that if you are not good to him well- just you had better be," The King said with a teasing tone to his threat.
"I will be, sir," he said. "I will take good care of him."
"Yes, I can see that," the King replied. "I must leave. I just wanted to speak with you."
"Thank you sir," Ken replied. The king returned the phone to Chloe and Ken promised once more that he will tell David to call them as soon as he returned.
Less than five minutes after they hung up, David came storming into the flat. He had the same hounds of Hell look that he had that day when he walked into the Gentlemen's Club. The day when Ken felt sympathy for and fell in love with a total stranger. He dropped his briefcase, awkwardly kissed Ken, and practically sprinted on the phone. "Have you ever heard anything? My God, if anything happened I will-"
Ken held his lover by the shoulders and spoke in that soothing tone. "David, David calm down. That woman who worked with you, Miss-uh-Carmichael called not a few minutes ago. Everyone's alright, no one was hurt, probably just frightened."
David relaxed. "Thank God."
"Yes," Ken said. "They know you pretty well. They figured that you would be worried. They want you to call them." He spoke shyly. "I even got to talk to HM for a few minutes."
David approached the phone. "She shouldn't have allowed that." As if apologetically, he explained further. "He would have been anxious. No telling what he may have said. She should have given him a few minutes-"
"David will you relax," Ken laughed. "I think that he wanted to talk to me himself. He just wanted to make sure that you were well looked after."
David held his lover's hand and looked at him in silence. "I have to call them." Ken nodded. David dialed the phone. Thankfully, his security code was still intact. Of course it would be. No one would have had time to change it. He got Chloe instantly.
Figuring that David needed privacy, Ken walked into the kitchen and prepared some tea for his lover.
By the time that Ken returned to sitting room, David had hung up the phone. He had finished receiving the basics and that Chloe and Sir were alright. He was glad for it. Ken offered his lover the tea cup which he accepted. He drank some with his back turned and placed the cup on the table next to the phone. Ken wrapped his arms around David's waist and kissed his shoulder.
" I resigned today," he said.
"I know," Ken said resting his head on his shoulder "She told me."
"If I had been there-if I hadn't-," David said.
"It still would have happened anyway," Ken consoled him. "You did the right thing. No matter what I am very proud of you."
David held his lover's hand as he allowed himself to be led to the sofa. No doubt he had made the right decision. "I just I suppose later it will sink in. I don't know what I am going to do tomorrow morning."
"You are going to wake up next to me," Ken assured him giving him a healing kiss.
"I know," David said as he took Ken's hand to his face and kissing it. He pulled away and smiled. "In fact sit down, before the news broke out, I stopped somewhere." He held a small red bag next to him. "First, I want to do this right. When I told you that I loved you and you changed my life, I did mean it. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to go to Japn with you, go to clubs, wake up in your arms every day and come home every night to you. I want us to adopt children, or pets, or plants or whatever the Hell you want to adopt. The way things are going right now, fill out my UB-40 with you." The two laughed. "And if and when, we ever get the right to marry and to walk down the street and be accepted as any couple without stares and insults, there is no one that I want to do this with more than you." He handed the small bag to him. "If you are still willing, I want to make this permanent."
Ken was stunned silent as he opened the small red jeweler's box. His eyes filled with tears as he held the plain gold ring. He picked it up and placed it on his ring finger. "David," he said his voice choked with tears as he held his hands to his face. "Yes, I do." He reached over to David as the two kissed passionately and lovingly.
David pulled away and held his lover's hand in his. "If you will notice, I had it engraved. I'm not much of a poet, and it's the first thing that I thought of." He grinned sheepishly.
Ken took off the ring and read the engraved message inside: Ken, I love you. He smiled. "It's says everything that needs to be said. I love you too. You are so wonderful." He kissed him again.
David smiled offering a cheeky grin. "I have my moments."
The king walked into the private office when he saw Chloe seated at her desk. She had her hands on her forehead and her normally tight chignon hairstyle was in disarray as strands fell across her face. She looked up startled and attempted to pull back her hair. "Oh, Sir," she said. "I didn't hear you enter. I apologize." He could see that she had been crying.
The king sat next to his soon-to-be Chief of Staff and what his mother would have considered a disgraceful gesture with a commoner took her hand. "What's the matter," he asked.
She wiped her eyes. He was unused to seeing this passionate strong-willed young woman so tearful. Of course she had a large heart, but it was hidden by strong ideals and dedicated professionalism. The sovereign's heart went out to her. She shook her head. "It's my fault, the whole thing was my fault. No interviews, no security, I didn't think about the consequences. I only thought of what good it could do, not what harm."
"There now," the king said rubbing his employee's shoulders. "No one was hurt. It was obviously staged by Francis Urquhart, I'm sure of it."
Chloe nodded. "But I gave him the means. We walked right into it, you did. Someone could have been hurt and if you had, well I couldn't have lived with myself. It was foolish, the whole thing was stupid! 'Please Let Me Help.' It's different, I should have seen that! You're not just a common man, you're the king. There are rules and I should have obeyed them!" She fell into more sobbing, unable to control her words.
The king held her close. "Chloe, Chloe. It was a good idea, it was a wonderful idea. I would never have thought of something like this on my own. David may, but to him the consequences would have been too great and he would have never suggested it to me. It took you, to see it and you're right. We get people to notice."
"Even at the expense of all of this?" Chloe asked waving her hands around indicating the Palace, the Monarchy, everything. "At the expense of your life?"
"Sometimes we have to be willing to adapt and change to find out what works," the king told her. "And sometimes we have to take a few chances as we did today. It's a different world and there are so many new things that we should try to get the public's attention to what matters. For what it's worth, I'm glad that I went on this tour, because, well, let me explain. When my grandfather was still alive, he allowed my mother to visit the soldiers and the war sights during the Blitz. I'm sure that you have seen the pictures." Chloe nodded. She was familiar with the photographs of the Late Queen, then a young woman dressed in a military uniform waving at the crowd. "I always remember something that she told me about those days. When she waved at the crowd, when she spoke to them, she always made sure that she could see one soldier in the audience so in her mind she was waving directly at him. When I gew older and I thought more of that story, I realized that it may have worked for her but not for me. To her he was just another face in a crowd someone that she could see but not really know. She only saw the soldier never talked to him, never learned his name. I wanted to do more than that, I wanted to see and speak to the people and thanks to you, I got that chance. My mother saw the soldier in the crowd. I will always see the man on the stretcher, that woman with the baby. Those will be the faces that I will remember and why more than ever who they are and why we should care for them. Thanks to you, I got to see them, to help them, speak with them, and I am more than ever determined to make their lives better. It's all because of you that it happened."
Chloe smiled. "Sir, I don't know what to say."
"Just say that we may do another few visits like this in the future," the king winked. "I have a feeling this won't be over yet. But, this time let's do it with at least a little bit of security, just in case."
Through her tears, Chloe smiled. "Of course, sir." She wiped her tears, holding onto her hair. "My God, I must look awful. If would excuse me, sir I-"
The king held onto her shoulder with one hand. "If I may be permitted." Chloe nodded as the monarch moved his hands to the back of her head to completely undo the pins. The young woman's hair came spilling out until it tumbled past her shoulders to her waist. Chloe felt even more vulnerable but the king smiled. "Just as I thought, you look very beautiful like that." He then stammered realizing that it could be seen as an insult. "Not that you don't look beautiful the other way- I mean you always look beautiful, not that I'm objectifying you. You see I believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder-"
Chloe smiled. "Sir," she said. "I understand." She put her hands to his lips and leaned closer. The two then kissed very passionate and longing. "This can't lead much further than this," Chloe said realistically.
"I am prepared to deal with whatever the outcome if you are," The king said.
"Of course, sir," Chloe answered as the two continued.
"Chloe," the king suggested holding her close. "While you are doing these specific duties and we are in these rooms, please call me Ned."
Chloe smiled and laughed. "Of course, Ned."
That night in an apartment in West London and in the private rooms of Buckingham Palace, two couples came to a wordless agreement; there may be a lack of acceptance from society, from peers, from the people around them, but that didn't matter. They were willing to take what lay before them. With no heroics and no regrets, but with plenty of love.