[http://rp.eliteskills.com/vc.php?c=387893 [pic http://i.imgur.com/FeWfB37.jpg]] [http://rp.eliteskills.com/vc.php?c=387862 [pic http://i.imgur.com/aU7bt1D.jpg]]
Reiley didn't throw the letter into the black sea as Mai would have thought he would. In fact, he passed the letter over in partly a vain hope that the pirate would solve all his problems. That the once upon a time prince would sweep him off his feet like he was cliche princess waiting to get rescued from a castle. But he was in fact not a princess, and Reiley was more of disgraced prince then an actual prince anymore.
[i "Do whatever you think is right, huh?"] Mai hummed, not entirely realizing that he had voiced his thoughts out loud, repeating the pirate's comment by posing it as a question. And then the former Fruit prince left him alone along the rail of the deck, with only his own thoughts for company as he guided the ship in the right direction.
If he wanted someone to sweep him off his feet, ultimately he first had to do it with himself. And that was something about Reiley that contrasted so sharply from Shaoran when they were kids. The pirate gives him the independence to do his own thing, but supports him when he needs it. Maybe Shaoran was so trapped in his status as a knight he just wanted to trap someone else with him.
So he did, that is sweep himself of his own feet, crumpling the letter between wide calloused fingers and let the piece of parchment fall into the sea below. Watching it get tossed around the unrelenting waves before disappearing from sight. He felt free, like he let go of a weight that was holding him back.
On that note Mai turned, the dark haired man striding away from the railing and closer towards where his companion remained. In the silence, or what silence there was between the bitter wind, the rocking waves, and creaking boat, he heard Reiley's quiet apology. And he laughed, at least he laughed until the laugh turned into wet cough instead.
[center [pic http://i.imgur.com/tOSBhPJ.jpg]]
Reiley truly hadn't wanted to read that letter. He was afraid he would take out his frustrations on Mai, and even now that fear was a reality. He was being an ass to the one person who he respected and cared for. But he was too prideful to admit that he was in the wrong or when he was jealous. Especially when it came to a man who had more power than he could have ever hoped to have. Despite being a prince, he knew that having cast aside his crown at a young age meant he had no power in Estrye; he was lesser than that of someone who had married into power- like Shaoran. It made him wonder if the empress knew what kind of man she had married.
Without speaking, the red haired man made his way over to his companion and took the letter from his hands. The words filled him with tempestuous sea of rage that he had no idea he possessed. “Mai,” Reiley sighed. No, he wouldn't do any more harm than he already had. He was an adult who could make his own choices- good or bad. It wasn't for him to decide the brunette's fate. “Do whatever you think is right. I promised you your freedom, and I intend to keep my promise whenever we're done finding my ship.” Though he had half a mind to toss the parchment into the sea beneath them, he simply handed it back to Mai to do with whatever he wanted.
“Let's go there first then. An expensive ship like the Carina would definitely catch the attention of those prudes,” He spoke of the people in the Sweets. They were far too prudish for his liking, and all so stuck up in their own traditions for him to enjoy being around one of them for far too long. “My only hope is that she isn't at the bottom of the ocean by now.” He had feared that for so long when he realized that his ship was indeed missing. That somehow his crew would have sank it for some reason or another. He feared that more than he feared it being in the hands of an inexperienced captain.
With some effort, Reiley carefully turned the ship so that it would sail in the other direction- towards the Sweet's Kingdom who were enemies with his brother as he'd assisted Miyuki in returning back to her own kingdom. “I'm sorry, Mai.” His words were quiet, and almost inaudible, but he knew that the brunette had heard him.
The mousy haired thief had been first confused when Reiley abruptly stopped talking to him, only to find out later what had triggered the event- Shaoran's letter. Mai was cursing both Shaoran and Alois- the first for the letter in the first place, and the latter for telling his brother about it. Their relationship was still tentative at best at times, and the shadow found himself retreating a bit more. Why did it feel like his relationship with Reiley was always one step forward, two steps back?
He'd taken to sleeping outside on the deck more often then before, despite the fact that the nights grew colder the longer they sailed. When questioned about it he admitted that being below deck at times made him feel trapped. It was a sharp reminder that despite having experience sailing, he was still ages away from the skill and poise Reiley had, ordering around the rest of the crew, and doing his job with both speed and efficiency.
Still, even after leaving on a separate ship, Reiley had yet to directly have a conversation with the dark eyed thief. And the tips of the thief's ears had gone perpetually pink in protest of the chill winds that battered at them all times of day and night. That is, until today that is.
Mai didn't look at Reiley when he first heard the other's footsteps creak closer, nor did her turn when the pirate started to speak. His gaze kept to the sea before them, leaning lightly on one of the ship's railings like it might break if he put too much weight on it. Reiley wasn't wrong, to an extent. He had thought about returning the Shaoran's side. Going on this journey with the Fruit Delegation hadn't fixed the emptiness he had felt for so long. And deep down, he knew being in the Drinks Empire wouldn't fix it either. It wasn't until the red head insulted the Emperor Consort that Mai finally turned around to look at him, once again bracing himself against the rail of the ship, stifling laughter as he did. And then came a different topic of discussion. Where had he'd seen the Carina last. Reiley's beloved ship.
[#870082 "After the ship left you, we headed towards a Sweets Kingdom port.... not the main one of course. I think it was closer to the Grain Kingdom border? Of course, once I got off the ship, I didn't stay very long. The Sweets Kingdom is one of the kingdoms that really doesn't like me."] [i Especially after helping Miyuki and Shaoran leave.] But he left that part out.
[#870082 "I still have it you know, if you want to see it,"] Mai remarked during a beat of silence. Slowly his hand falls into his pocket, fingers deftly pinching at the parchment that he had once crumpled up, but decided against throwing it away. He lifted the folded piece of paper in a silent, but open invitation for Reilley to take it. He supposed as an afterthought that the letter had to do with him also, at least to the extent that Shaoran references the ex-prince as 'Alois' silly brother'.
[center [pic http://i.imgur.com/tOSBhPJ.jpg]]
In the days that followed, Reiley had found out about the letter that Shaoran had sent Mai. He was none too pleased that the snake of a man would dare to ask for him to crawl back into his bed after he had tossed him away like nothing more than a piece of garbage. He didn't want Mai to go back to him and allow the man to ruin what little progress he'd made in their short time together. But it wasn't as though he could stop Mai from doing whatever it was he wanted to do as he had promised the man his freedom, but he would have another thing coming if he thought he'd go back to Shaoran alone. If the man could be useful in locating his ship, he would allow him to play some role in their adventure together.
They'd dropped Alois and the rest of his crew off on the Ember Isles, and left on a smaller, borrowed boat so that the others could get back to Estrye when they were finished with this mission of theirs. He no longer had any interest in whatever Alois was planning, and had opted out of continuing the journey with them. While he knew that Alois wasn't pleased with his decision, he allowed Reiley to do as he wished, and the ruby headed thief set off on his own journey with Mai.
It'd been a few days since he'd spoken directly to Mai. Reiley was still pouting over having discovered the letter through Alois who mentioned that Shaoran had sent mail when they were still on the mainland. He made his way onto the deck of the unfamiliar boat- hating the way that it creaked in the water. The last owner hadn't known how to take care of it that was for certain. “I know what you want to do, but you're not getting rid of me so easily,” Reiley shook his head as if to prove his point. “I told you he ain't shit.”
He paused for a moment, but decided that topic was best saved for a later time. “Where did you see the Carina last? We'll start there,” Reiley asked Mai curiously. The last place should have been in a port near that stash of treasure he'd been searching for, but Mai had said that he sailed with them for some time after that before disappearing, so there was really no telling.
It was almost amusing, how different their upbringings were. Yet at the same time, how similar they were. At least Mai's father had cared. At least, he cared in the sense that the only way he survived was with Mai doing all the work. Oh how nobles let their guard down for a little kid, as opposed to an old scruffy man.
Reiley wasn't wrong - it was the choices they made that brought them together. Just as the red head chose to rebel against his family, which lead him to become a fearsome pirate thief, Mai chose to become Shaoran's shadowy assistant. If he hadn't had done so, who knows where he would have ended up? Would he have even met Reiley at all? In that sense, he was grateful for having spent so much time working for the Drinks Empire. For all the pain it brought, he also met the Fruits Kingdom prince because of it.
But maybe the red headed man didn't entirely get it. He kept talking about how not knowing who he was was a good thing. Maybe for Reiley it would be. But for Mai, it just contributed to that feeling of being lost. It was like a 100 piece puzzle put together, but only having 99 pieces. Missing a piece of himself for so long, he didn't know what it felt like to be whole anymore.
And then suddenly their fingers were intertwined and Reiley was speaking, saying his titles, and thanking him for staying even though Mai knew without the pirate prince, where else would he go? And then they were kissing, short and chaste, but not any less passionate because of that. It ended far to quickly for Mai's liking, much to his surprise.
[#870082 "Stop talking about him, and keep kissing me you idiot."] Mai whispered, breathlessly, surging closer where Reiley had expanded the distance between them. With bated breath he waited, mouth lingering mere inches from the pirate prince's own. The only witnesses the twinkling stars and the faint sea breeze. [i Make me forget.]
[center [pic http://i.imgur.com/tOSBhPJ.jpg]]
Reiley shook his head. He didn't belong in that world. He didn't want to be well groomed and trained in etiquette. Perhaps his upbringing, had his father actually given a damn about the rest of his children, wouldn't have allowed for such deviation, but he was actually happy that he'd been given so much freedom. “I'm not cut out for that life. I would have driven myself crazy trying to amount to something in my family's eyes. Besides, if I had chosen to remain as a Prince I would have never met you- or at least we would never have been as close as we are. Or as we were I guess. Who knows.” He had no way of knowing if the two of them would have even met. Perhaps in another life, life wouldn’t have brought their paths to intersect.
At the thought of Mai not knowing who he really was, Reiley smiled and leaned over to his brunette companion. “Maybe you not knowing who you are is a good thing. You can just start over and be the man you want to be.” Mai had no obligations to anyone- despite him seemingly tying himself down to the emperor consort, and Reiley envied that freedom. “But I’ll help you to the best of my ability find your place once we find my ship.” For now, he owed Alois for the pardon, and he supposed so did Mai- even though he hated the thought of Mai being obligated to another royal.
The man breathed out a sigh as Mai’s hand was placed on his own. He moved his hand only to turn his palm upward and take the other man's hand in his own as if to say that he wasn't going anywhere. For now, they had this freedom to be alone.
“Listen, the only man's titles I want you to remember are mine. Reiley Guo, Captain of the Carina, Second Crowned-Prince of the Guo Dynasty, third in line for the throne. And I'm not afraid to punch an asshole regardless of title in the nose.” Just because he was a royal by marriage now made no difference to Reiley.
“Thanks for sticking around, Mai. I know this is hard for you, but it makes me glad.” He could have just left at this point, but the fact that he had stayed spoke volumes. The red-haired man leaned closer and pressed a kiss to the male’s lips, and even though it was too short for his liking, it was better to be short than to press his luck. “He wasn’t better than me, right?” He teased with the raise of a scarlet eyebrow and a small laugh.
[#870082 "What a pair of 'friends' we make."] Mai scoffed, a sharp bitter note. [#870082 "You a prince, who doesn't want to be a prince. And me, a nobo- a thief whose had so many aliases that he doesn't even know who he is anymore."]
He was grateful, despite the bitterness. Grateful to have at least Reiley, because otherwise he had no one else. Maybe he didn't say it out loud, but it was there in his body language. How tense shoulders slumped and relaxed as the Fruits Prince spoke, in the barely there sigh that bubbled from his lungs. The short, calloused fingers that crept forward, settling on the red head's hand in such a tentative manner as if Mai was afraid of waking up to find that this was all a dream. That it was not Reiley reassuring him that he was a person that mattered, no matter what anyone else had said. It was a common theme since they had reunited and Mai had broken down.
[i You matter. You exist not to serve someone else, but to be your own person. You don't have to hide in the shadows anymore. You can do what you want without waiting for orders.]
[#870082 "I would like to watch you punch the Emperor Consort of the Drinks Empire, Head of the Royal Guard, the Wolf of the Drinks, and Knight of Empress Cha, Shaoran von Sagnoir, in the face,"] He drawled carelessly, listing his former lovers titles off with practiced ease. [i Former lovers] if they could even be called lovers at all. If anything, it was more of a one-sided love. Just like his father before him, the only person a Sagnoir could ever truly love was the Cha in which he protected. Still, his dark green eyes glanced over to Reiley anyway, crinkled in amusement and eyebrow quirked in a manner that could only be a silent [i I'll believe it when I see it]. His hand remaining on top of the other man's during the entire exchange.
Then his gaze flickered up to the sky above. The stars, the clouds, the wide expanse of sails fluttering gently in the breeze. And in the silence, a soft, almost whispered, almost unsure one-worded question.
[center [pic http://i.imgur.com/tOSBhPJ.jpg]]
He was glad when Mai responded, but his smile had turned downward into a frown when he'd heard what the man had to say. The first thing he wanted to do after he got his ship back was to sail into Drink's Kingdom waters just to punch that asshole that called him the Emperor Consort in the face. “I stuck by you because we're friends,” He wasn't entirely sure if he should say that they were lovers as he was sure that ship had sailed long ago, and he'd missed his chance. Mai was still pretty hopelessly head over heels for someone who'd thrown him out in exchange for a wife who had it all. “Despite our past, I'm not going to leave someone I consider to be a friend behind. You only think you're broken because people have told you that you are. People have thrown you out because they see no worth in keeping you, but you shouldn't say you have no value because it's not true.”
He'd let other people do the thinking for him, and had let people tell him that he had no value. Shaoran still had ahold of him, and Reiley wasn't sure he'd ever be able to break that bond. “You're free to stay with me on the Carina. I'd be happy to help you find where you're from. And even after that, you'd be free to sail with me as you pleased.” He opened up that offer- hoping he'd worded it in a way that showed him that there were no strings attached. Mai was free to come and go as he pleased, and the red haired male wouldn't stop him from leaving if that was what he wanted to do.
“Don't feel like just because one asshole says you're broken, and throws you out of his kingdom that all of us are like that. I don't expect you to trust me because I know I messed up by not telling you who I was. I've been running away from my past for so long that I just didn't want you to hate me too.” It had been selfish of him to keep this secret, and he knew that he'd done Mai a disservice by keeping it from him. He just hadn't wanted to be hated by someone who disliked the royal bloodlines as much as he did. Thankfully, he'd been forgiven for it, but he knew that that wound would always be there.
“Just know that if we ever go back to the Drink's Kingdom, I'm going to punch your boyfriend in the nose.” Reiley nudged the male with his elbow gently. “How else am I going to let him know that I'm going to steal you from him.” He was joking- for the most part anyway. He just wanted to lighten the mood between the two of them as he very much disliked this grim and palpable atmosphere between them at this moment in time.
[size11 There was a sudden tension in the room that bubbled like a carbonated drink overflowing in a glass. An unstoppable force in the moment, too far gone to do anything other then wait for it to recede and clean it up afterwards.
Maybe Mai pretended not to notice the shift in the atmosphere, or maybe he just didn't acknowledge it. Still, at the former prince's sharp order, Mai couldn't help but stand and exit the room without a sound, letting the air settle heavily in the room once he had disappeared out the door.
He was an obedient pet in that sense- following orders like a mindless solider rather than the sassy royal-hating thief that the pirate had come to know. It wasn't something sudden either, it was something programmed into his brain from years of following orders. Years of being a dog to the Empress and her Consort, whether said Empress herself knew it or not. Whether the thief himself knew it or not. He said he was a free man, free to do whatever pleased. But if that was the case, why did he continuously return back to the Drinks again and again?
And it wouldn't take only a night to revert those years of mechanically following orders without question. It wouldn't take only a night to repair the broken thief.
[center [size17 | Time Skip |]]
They were nearly ready to leave. Mai wasn't sure how Reiley convinced his older brother that he was vital to sailing the ship across the ocean. He wasn't sure he really cared, if he was honest. It was even more surprising when a squire carrying a letter approached him while he was alone, scampering off as quickly he had appeared.
[size18 [Homemade+Apple Dear Killian,]]
[size18 [Homemade+Apple I understand if you didn't want to hear from me ever again. I hurt you. I used you, and once you got in the way, I threw you aside. I regret letting you leave with so much anger between us. I heard from Alois that you had made it over to the Fruits Kingdom and I wrote this, hoping you would receive this message.]]
[size18 [Homemade+Apple I hope one day we can find ourselves to be friends again, after all, you've been my best friend my whole life. So hear me now- there's more work to be done. It's time you cast that silly brother of Alois's aside. How long are you going to hold onto him as your plaything? Until you screw up and he tells you to leave too? The only one who will ever truly care about you is me. It's time to come home.]]
[size18 [Homemade+Apple Forever Yours,
Emperor Consort of the Drinks Empire]]
Mai clenched the letter in his fist, mood soured. But ultimately saddened. Where even was home? What was a home at all?
[center [size17 | Time Skip |]]
The first time he had sailed around on a ship with Reiley he had taken to laying on the bow side of the deck after it had been cleaned for the night when the rest of the crew, expect for the night shift, had gone below deck to sleep. He enjoyed the crisp open air and the stars overhead. He enjoyed the time alone eventually too.
It didn't take long after they set sail again that he returned to the habit, occasionally even falling asleep right there out in the open air. Lucy and some of the others teased him mercilessly when they found him the next morning snoring away, hair tussled by the relentless sea breeze.
He and the prince-turned-pirate eventually returned to being as thick as thieves once they had hit the open ocean, maybe as close as they once had been. They had changed as people, sure, but their nature towards each other had remained. At least it had once Mai finally forgiven the red head for keeping his royal status a secret. Still, there was highs and lows. Sometimes Mai would retreat into a dark room and stay there, unwilling to socialize. But for the most part his snarky personality had returned. A fire slowly returning to full strength after nearly being put out.
The dark haired thief didn't look up when the pirate took a seat next to him, voicing his opinion about finding their destination within the next couple of days. While he certainly wasn't as skilled in navigation as the pirate prince, he was maybe more knowledgeable then the others when it came to the ocean, and he couldn't help but agree with Reiley's assessment. But the light atmosphere grew heavy when the red head continued to speak.
[#870082 "If I'm honest, I'm surprised you stuck around me. No one likes a toy that's already broken."] Mai finally replied, deadpan. But he only held the expression for a moment before laughter trickled from his lips. [#870082 "Sorry, too soon for self-depreciating jokes?"]
He drew a breath and let out a sigh.
[#870082 "I guess because technically it's my fault your ship is missing in the first place I'll have to help you find it, huh? Who knows... maybe we'll get lucky and find out something about where I'm really from in the process."]
Maybe he could finally find home.
[center [pic http://i.imgur.com/tOSBhPJ.jpg]]
“Rei-Chan?” He repeated- a ruby colored brow rose slightly in curiosity. “Now, that's a turn off,” He snorted quietly. The pure fact that he'd likely learned those types of mannerisms from spending far too much time in the Drinks Empire was disconcerting to him. “Since when were you so civilized, Mai?” He turned to face the wall- pouting over the use of a nickname he already hated. He felt as though he were still competing for Mai's trust with someone he'd never met before. It left a bitter taste in his mouth, but it wasn't something that he'd admit so readily that he was jealous.
“Go get breakfast. I'll follow in a few minutes,” It was not so much a request as a command to leave him alone. Though, when Mai did leave, he felt guilty for having said what he'd said. Those types of things would only push them further away than they'd become.
「 ❤ Time Skip 」
Reiley knew that he shouldn't, but as the time that they spent together grew more and more during the expedition, he felt himself drawing closer to Mai. Whether it was love or something else, the thief hadn't the slightest idea. He'd worked hard to bring up the man's self worth in the the weeks that they'd spent together, and he felt as though there were some progress. He wasn't sure if Mai stayed only because he'd asked it of him or if he truly wanted to be here. He felt somewhat guilty for being yet another royal who- for the most part- was keeping him hostage while he was of use. Hopefully the brunette didn't see it that way though.
The past month had been spent trying to get his siblings and the others to an island that Alois had been interested in. Not all of them, however, were suited for traveling the seas. None of them- save for Mai- were like his crew. A few of them had somewhat neurotic tendencies the closer to the island that they got. Veloce seemed to have a hard time keeping herself together despite everyone's attempts to reassure her that she would be more than fine, and that she would be protected from whatever she was afraid of.
“We'll be there in a few days,” Reiley slid down next to Mai and craned his face up toward the sky. The clouds were few against the inky darkness of the night sky. “I was thinking that when we get there, we should split off from them and search for my ship. They'll know their way back, and I'm not the diplomat sort.” He let out a breathy laugh through his nose. “Of course, you don't have to come with me. You're free to stay with them or go wherever you feel you should. I'm sorry, Mai. I haven't treated you with the respect you deserve lately, and I feel terrible about it. I just hope it hasn't changed your opinion of me.” He gave the man a sideways smile. “Is there anything you want to do now that you have the freedom to do whatever you want?”]]
There was something immensely reassuring to the thief about falling asleep next to his pirate companion and rousing from said sleep when the other shifted in bed besides him, moaning and groaning about having to deal with a world outside their bedroom. Whatever they were now was certainly different than what they were when Mai had snuck on to Reiley's boat oh so long ago. They had certainly changed too. The dark haired man was more subdued now than ever before, although on occasion it wasn't odd to see that former firey personality come to life, typically when someone pissed him off.
The bruising along his his cheekbone and his eye had darkened considerably in the night, a sharp contrast to the sunkissed skin that lay underneath, like blues and purples and blacks and reds splattered across a white canvas. The man had certainly decked him hard, harder than he expected from a Fruits soldier. And because of it he refrained from opening his eyes, even as Reiley wiggled besides him, sunlight filtering from the window. Still, a hum from his lips as Reiley spoke his worries was to assure his companion that he was indeed paying attention.
[#870082 "Talking about your little sister in the same breath as talking about what you want to do in bed is more of a mood killer than you think, Rei-chan"] The taller man complained as he opened his eyes finally, or opened them as wide as they would go. The use of a suffix when teasing the other male a habit from being in the Drinks Empire for so long. There was more of a chance to that he hadn't even realized he had used it, voice and eyes still heavy with sleep, than to think he used it on purpose.
An appreciative keen sounding from the back of his throat as Reiley's slender fingers squeezed them closer together. But unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and if the thief was anything, late wasn't one of them. So he took it upon himself to sit up first, pulling his arms away from his partner in order to stretch, arching his back in the process.
[#870082 "If Reishia is as tough as Astrid, she'll be fine. And Veloce traveled with me here... If she can put up with me, than she'll be fine as well."] A yawn blossomed from his lips as he spoke, causing a brief pause in his words, eyes closing as he did so. And when they opened once more a soft light filtered through. The shine in his eyes lacked luster when compared to what they used to be, the last time he and Reiley saw each other. But in comparison to the dark, dead look he carried the night before, it was a small improvement.
[center [pic http://i.imgur.com/tOSBhPJ.jpg]]
[center [Abel The next morning, Reiley burrowed his face against Mai’s shoulder as the sun filtered through the open blinds that he had sworn he’d closed the night before. The maids must have already been in to make sure the red-head woke up. He let out a groan and pulled the covers over his face. “Goddamnit,” he whined softly. The warmth of his companion made him even less likely to want to get out of bed. Even though he knew they were supposed to be getting ready for their journey, he was much more content to stay here snuggled next to Mai. Though there was nothing between them as far as he was aware, he greatly enjoyed the company of another body next to him.
“The only thing I’m looking forward to of this trip is the potential of treasure and being back in familiar territory as far as a job goes,” Being a navigator and a captain he could do. Doing this royal crap, he couldn’t. At least Alois had allowed him the decency of putting him in charge of the ship as he was the one who knew his way around one as large as the one they were taking. It wasn’t his familiar crew, and the crew that they did have likely hated him, but none of that mattered. “My only worry is that we have Veloce and Reishia with us.”
Reiley had no idea what either wanted from this trip or why they were going. He couldn’t bring himself to say no to his youngest sister after being away from her for more than six years, and Salem had seemed somewhat attached to the young girl from the Grain Kingdom. “I wish we could just stay in bed and make out- maybe see where things go~ I think I could make you forget about that loser.” He teased- giving the other a squeeze around his midsection. If this was brought up later or offended the brunette, he could just say that he was half asleep and not coherent in what he was saying.
He had promised Mai that he would help him figure out who he was, and even if he failed to do that, then the male would always have a place at his side regardless of where they were. Reiley had no interest in tossing him away for good. He was fond of Mai, and even though he did like to do his own thing, he would never outright abandon him as this Shaoran had done so. ]]
He was aware that they shifted positions. Suddenly he was more secure on the ground and there were hands wrapped around his body. And Mai took the touch in stride because he needed it. He needed someone to remind him that he was worth more than being a pawn in someone else's chess game. That he wasn't as expendable as he was led to believe.
Through the tears , the thief laughed. It was a choking, hiccup-y sound that was neither elegant nor pleasant, but a laugh all the same. [#870082 "I want you to tell the Emperor Consort of the Drinks Empire to his face that [i 'he isn't shit']."] By the time he finished the harsh laughter had dwindled down to a wheezy chortle.
Despite Reiley's soothing words there was still that small voice in his head full of doubt. A harsh reminder that Shaoran was all he had after his father died. That without him, he might have been killed long ago. Long before he met the pirate before him at least. He didn't ever think he would need saving from his savior, of all people. It was a sharp, stinking reminded that he was more a damsel in distress than a fierce opponent.
He trusted to easily. He fell head first, and his loyalty was next to none once someone earned it. And that was going to kill him one day. He was a black knight. A black knight with a bleeding heart. A parasite who clutched to any source of light. Or at least that's what he thought of himself.
[#870082 "What if I don't know what I want though?"] He whispered, pulling away slightly from the shorter man to straighten his back, having hunched over earlier to hide his face in Reiley's chest. [#870082 "What if I don't know who I am?"] Once again he drew in a sharp breath, shoulders quivering, and not just because the faint chill in the air. [#870082 "I've had so many aliases, so many masks, so many disguises. I don't remember what's real and what's fake anymore. I don't..."] His voice died in his throat and he fell silent once more.
Mai knew Reiley was teasing, but he couldn't summon enough bite to even draw a joking reply in response. He was a shell of a man who used to be so full of life. Or maybe that shell was just another mask, another wall away from the world. But at the pirate's suggestion to head inside as the evening turned to night, the thief paused again. Fingers unclenched around the other man's jacket, instead reaching out to wipe the wetness away from his face. It was the building of a mask upon is face and although the redness in his eyes, and the bruise on his face still remained, a listless smirk replaced his frown.
[#870082 "I'm not saying I'll stay, but if the bed is more comfortable than your bed on that ship of yours than I guess I need to test it out now don't I."] It took him a couple more minutes of silence before he managed to speak and although his eyes were still dead the words were filled with sass. This much he could do, pretend he was perfectly fine. But one thing was sure in his mind.
[i I'm too broken to be loved by you.]
[center [pic http://i.imgur.com/tOSBhPJ.jpg]]
[center [Abel Perhaps it had been out of spite that Reiley had said those words to Mai. They hadn’t necessarily been that close before they’d split up, but it still had felt as though he’d lost a lover or a best friend. He’d thought for sure he’d be dead or long gone by now, and being reunited brought back these feelings that he’d had when they were closer. He lowered the male to the ground, and kneeled on his knees in the grass as well- slender arms wrapping around the dark haired man’s middle. “[+cd607e I have use for you, but more importantly, I don’t want that to be all we are. You’re not just a commodity to me to use and be done with. Jesus, I didn’t even do that to you when we were sleeping together, Mai,]” He didn’t intend just to use him and toss him out as if he were someone who didn’t mean anything to him. “[+cd607e Don’t make yourself useful for someone only to have them be able to throw you away in the end. Don’t give someone that chance.]” He moved once more and rested both hands on the male’s shoulders. Red brows furrowed in concern. “[+cd607e You should move on with your life from whoever this guy was. He ain’t shit. Be who you want to be.]”
Reiley was feeling uncharacteristically sentimental, and was glad that the guard tended to leave him alone. Were there anyone else around, he doubted that he’d be so open with his feelings in the presence of another person. “[+cd607e You know, when we met, I thought we would just end up being someone who warms the other person’s bed. And even when I pushed you out the window, I was more afraid of losing your trust and your acceptance than I was of being captured. I lied to you and you still trust me even now or you wouldn’t have waited when I asked. I hardly think it’s deserving, but I’m glad. I thought of you as a close friend, and you were someone that I confided in- though you didn’t necessarily get the whole story sometimes, but you know a lot more about me than most people.]” He wouldn’t call what he felt for Mai love, and there was no way he would force it on him after he’d recently been rejected by someone he’d obviously had feelings for. The pirate might have been an asshole, but that didn’t mean he didn’t understand how badly it felt to be rejected.
“[+cd607e If there’s nothing else for you with me after we’re done, you should be your own person. You don’t need me to tell you who you are. Mai, you are stronger than this, and we both know it.]” He hated the fact that whatever had happened in the few years they’d been apart had broken Mai to be so dependent on someone telling him who to be and how to think. “[+cd607e I need you as a friend, a confidant, a fellow thief. But most importantly, I want you to do what you want to do. I won’t stop you from leaving if you really want to, but don’t just go from guy to guy who won’t respect you.]”
By this time, it was starting to get darker. The sky had turned orange and purple with the coming sunset. “[+cd607e We should go inside if you're coming before they start to worry. And if you tell anyone else about that sappy speech I just gave you, I won’t forgive you.]” Reiley teased. He wasn’t known for his compassion, and he preferred to keep that he wasn’t as cold as he portrayed himself to be a secret. ]]
[i So your boyfriend dumped you...] Those words irritated him a little. Maybe more than a little. It was the first time he openly admitted just how devoted he had been to Shaoran. He was no better than a princess who fell in love with her knight. He'd broken his father's number one rule of keeping your distance. That people were always going to betray you, so you always kept them at arms length. He had gotten to close, a metaphorical Icarus that got too close to the sun and was sent tumbling harshly back to the ground of reality. He had stiffened then, although he did not speak.
And when we finally did speak he had all intentions on leaving, but something made him hesitate. A single, soft command.
And wait he did, listening to Reiley drone on about how he could get him pardoned. That the pirate needed him. Oh did he now? The dark haired man threw his head over his shoulder to eye the pirate behind him.
[#870082 "So what do you want me to be then? A thief? A pirate? An assassin? Or perhaps a friend? A brother? A lover? How can I help you your m-"] He cut himself off before calling Reiley anything he might later regret. The words felt heavy in his throat, too heavy to even be considered a joke. He was used to this, fulfilling a job and then being tossed aside. Doing the dirty work, and being left to clean the mess up by himself.
[i He made his choice, now you make yours.] But what was the right choice? Killian, or Mai, or whoever he was stiffened at the squeeze to his shoulder, a gentle reminder that while he drifted through his thoughts, the pirate prince was waiting for an answer behind him. He stay still for a second longer, head bowed, a heavy intake of breath audible in the silence.
And then he turned, his rough hands latching onto the fabric of the stupid coat the red head had on, no doubt a decision of the maids. He needed this, something to keep him grounded. And with his head still bowed, his face buried in the very same jacket. It started from his knees. A slow quiver. A shaking that slowly intensified until his legs buckled and his body dipped down towards the ground, the only thing keeping him up- his fists clenched around the fabric like a lifeline. Nearly kneeling now, his voice muffled as he finally spoke once more. A single question.
[#870082 "What am I going to do when you no longer have any use for me?"]
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