He was still warm. That was the first thing he'd noticed. Why had he thought Mytho's skin would be cold to the touch? Without a heart, should he not be as cold as stone, as cold as the metal with which he'd ripped his own heart away?

Yet, there was still heat emanating from Mytho's touch, despite the vacant coolness in his eyes.

He had never known the Prince as he had been before the dreadful conclusion of the tale; could not compare this Mytho, barren of life to the other version. But he felt with every fibre of his being that he must protect this shell of what was left, had felt it ever since he'd placed his head on Mytho's chest and had felt nothing beating there.

Mytho had never responded to his touch, never reacted or even protested and perhaps that was why Fakir persisted. Perhaps he felt through sheer closeness alone he could bend the Prince to his will. He was obedient, yes of course but still continued to do foolish things like when he'd rescued the animal from the burning building, suffering injuries himself in the process. Fakir had been terrified, terrified that Mytho had so little care for his own life and had responded in the only way he knew how. He yelled at Mytho and though the prince's expression stayed the same, it did seem like he listened to his outburst.

He'd felt guilty later for losing his temper but as time went on, he began to feel less so. Mytho had to be protected after all, even from himself and Fakir was the only person standing in the way of his ultimate demise, he was sure. So then, he stopped trying to gentle his touches and keep smiling at Mytho. It had little effect anyway, so why waste the effort. Though sometimes, he wondered if this change was more for his own benefit, than Mytho's. Yes, he now behaved more and relied on Fakir for everything. Fakir should have been happy but in truth, he was worried; more worried every day that his power over the Prince would dissolve.

So, he would cling to him sometimes when even his iron will faltered. Mytho never pulled away from his touch but still, it was bittersweet. It wasn't like he ever acknowledged the embrace, just looked at him with wide eyes that showed no comprehension. Fakir would caress that ice white hair, marvelling in its softness and then he'd grip harder on the boy's skin, hard enough to leave finger marks behind.

"You'll never leave, will you Mytho? We've always been together, always. You can't survive without me, you know." He'd whisper in the boy's ear.

"I don't know," Mytho would reply, the same words he would always use when questioned. And Fakir's heart would both sink and yet he would feel a fierce kind of joy. Sadness because as always, Mytho would never really answer him. Happiness because, yes Mytho had not changed. And if he had not changed then nothing else would change and they would still remain in this thorny cage of Fakir's own making until the story ran its course.