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i'm a king with no crown

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He was being hired for a long-term job, Tiago knew that much. But the baron was droning on and on and Tiago was, quite frankly, bored. Steal something, kill someone or other, blah blah blah. He was much more interested in the blond standing on his left, who was seemingly also being hired. Not a hair was out of place, his outfit was impeccable, and he was standing at attention, back ramrod straight. He was certainly impressive, to say the least. “Cyril,” Tiago thought Le Fleur had called him. He made a mental note to introduce himself to his new compatriot sooner rather than later. Excellent work relations were the key to success, after all, and Tiago certainly prided himself on his ability to succeed.

“Well, gentlemen?” Le Fleur sanctimoniously cleared his throat, snapping Tiago’s focus back on him. “Do the terms sound agreeable to you?”

“Long job, lots of money, no consequences?” Tiago flashed him a smile with too many teeth.

He caught Cyril giving him a sidelong glance out of the corner of his eye, and turned the smile onto him. “Can’t think of a better offer.”

Cyril only smiled at him in return.

---

“I can’t believe that, that child escaped me like that! And with two others!”

Cyril was pacing back and forth across the room, absolutely furious. Tiago tracked him with lazy eyes as he carefully polished his bow. The man had returned from the warehouse nearly an hour ago in such a state that Tiago had been mildly concerned he was going to destroy the room in his rage. The fact that these apparent children had broken Cyril’s (almost infuriating) calm facade made the situation nearly comical. Children who had managed to outwit both Le Fleur and a god? Amusing, to say the least.

“Dearest, is all the anger warranted? They are children after all. Children can easily be found, especially considering what they stole. Check the halfling thieves guild in the morning. More likely than not you’ll find your precious gem th-”

“The halfling disappeared into thin air, taking the Rivers boy and some dwarf with him. Magic, Tiago.”

Tiago set the bow to the side, intrigued. “New players, then? That’s certainly something.”

Seemingly exhausted by his pacing, Cyril sat down next to him. Tiago coaxed him into laying down, his head resting in his lap. As he carded his fingers through the golden locks, Cyril relaxed by degrees. “Calm yourself my love. We’ll retrieve the Eye soon enough. It’s not as if the Rivers boy is particularly...subtle. And the other seems flashy as well. A few unruly children? They don’t stand a chance against the two of us.” He dropped a kiss on his lover’s forehead, and that seemed to finally placate him at last.

“I suppose. Between Le Fleur and the Kadarians, they couldn’t possibly hide away for too long even if they could get out of the city.”

“Exactly. Now you should rest. You overexerted yourself tonight.”

“Mmm. I suppose.”

Tiago smiled down at him before nudging him up so that he could move his bow and the polishing kit off the bed. When he turned back around, Cyril was already asleep.

---

The wagon was rattling every molecule of his being. It was overwhelming agony. He felt as if he was being remade and unmade again in mere seconds. He screamed and heard it echo in his own ears, a hollow inhuman cry. Eventually he got his wits about him enough to realize he was being restrained and he wrested himself away from his probable captor. Instinctually his hand dropped to the dagger at his side and he held it firmly, ready to defend himself if necessary. Admittedly, his adversaries had an advantage on him, seeing as it was pitch black in the wagon, but not much of one. Tiago began frantically searching for any sound of movement so he could strike at a moment’s notice. How many of them were there and how had he even found himself in this situation? His breathing was shallow and he struggled to get it under control.

“Sit down.”

He knew that voice. He knew that voice. He would recognize that voice anywhere. It meant safety, it meant everything would be alright after all.

Tiago was suddenly struck with the sensation of immense exhaustion, like someone had dropped two bags of bricks on his shoulders. And he collapsed, luckily finding the carriage seat instead of the unforgiving floor. He heard the dagger clatter to the floor before he ever felt it slip from his fingers. Someone sat next to him and gently lowered his head into their lap, a practiced action that Tiago sank into gratefully. One hand slipped over his eyes, and the other ran through his hair in a calming manner.

“Cyril? Cyril what’s happening? What’s going on?” He couldn’t keep the rising panic out of his voice. He sounded like a frightened child and, for a moment, felt disgusted with himself. Who was he to be frightened? He was a god, the world should be scared of him. But the thought was fleeting, and all he could do was curl up further into Cyril.

“Hush, love. I need to finish your eyes. I promise all will be well soon enough.” Tiago sighed softly. And then Cyril started working again.

It itched horrendously. He wanted to reach up and relieve the sensation somehow, or even push Cyril’s hands away, but any motion towards his face led to Cyril smacking his hand away brusquely before returning the hand to Tiago’s hair. While he worked, he helped Tiago work through the events that led up to this moment. Tiago would have laughed if the situation wasn’t so… ludicrous? Unbelievable? Enraging? He’d been bested by these, these children? These baby gods who barely had a grasp on their own divinities? Him?

“I’m going to kill them.” He growled. “Screw Le Fleur, screw the pay. I’m going to kill every single one of them, starting with that halfling.”

Cyril’s hand stilled in his hair for a moment, and Tiago could hear his slow intake of breath. “Hush. Your eyes should be done. See for yourself,” he said, before lifting the hand that had covered his eyes.

As Tiago suddenly adjusted to the lantern light illuminating the carriage, he sat up and retrieved his dagger off the floor. Everything seemed to be in working order, and he curled and uncurled his fingers in front of him, as if assessing that they were are still there. As if Cyril’s work would have been anything less than perfect. When he turned his gaze onto the other man, Cyril let out a soft gasp.

“What? What’s-”

“Nothing’s wrong. It’s just-” he cut himself off with a sharp chuckle. “I seemed to have left my mark on you. That certainly wasn’t intentional.”

“What did you do?”

“Don’t be cross, but it seems one of your eyes is gold.” Cyril grapsed Tiago by the sides of his face and leaned his forehead against his. “I thought I’d lost you. I thought you were too far gone and that you’d left me alone. Don’t- You can’t do that to me again.”

Some hard knot of anger melted in Tiago’s chest, and pulled Cyril’s face down a fraction, kissing him furiously. When the two parted, Tiago offered him a crooked smile. “Who are we to fear death, my love? We’re gods.”

Cyril nodded at him firmly, the moment of vulnerability clearly over, and pulled himself away from Tiago fully. “We’ll have to report the fight to Le Fleur and regroup to come up with a better strategy now that…”

Tiago allowed the man’s planning to melt away as he leaned back against the wall of the carriage, content to let him carry on while he embraced the warmth of life once more. He had a revenge of his own to plan, after all.

---

It took Cyril nearly being skewered on the end of a Kadarian sword for Tiago to finally reach the threshold of bullshit he was willing to put up with for money. He slaughtered the man with maybe a bit more viciousness than was necessary, but never let it be said that Tiago would never go far enough for his lover. When the last of the soldiers were dead, Tiago rushed over to Cyril to check on him, despite the other man’s apparent annoyance.

“For the last time, Reise, I’m fine. I’m completely uninjured. The fool-” he spitefully kicked at his would-be murderer’s corpse to emphasize the point. “Missed me. Barely, but he missed all the same. Stop fussing over me, I’m not incapable.”

“No I know you’re not but still.” Tiago looked him over anyway. “I should’ve been paying more attention, I should’ve been faster. I don’t know what I would do if-” The words hung unspoken between them, heavy and charged.

“You’re fast, not infallible. Lest you’ve forgotten, there’s only one perfect person in this relationship, and it’s me.” He patted Tiago’s face, although it was more a smack than anything meant to be comforting, before pulling away from his grasp. “Now let’s move to a safer location before even more if these bastards show up to finish what the others tried to start.”

“Smart thinking.”

“That’s why I’m paid to be the brains and the looks, and you’re the muscle.”

There was no bite behind the words, though, and Tiago wrapped an arm around Cyril’s waist as they walked towards their quarters. Cyril shot him a withering look, but leaned into the touch, so Tiago continued with a slight, relieved smile. “I’m done with this Le Fleur shit, Ril.”

“What.” It was a low-toned statement, no question at all. He wasn’t confused, no, he was daring Tiago to clarify.

“I’m serious. I’ve died for his petty revenge plan, you nearly died tonight chasing his half-baked lead that didn’t even turn out. We’re bigger than this, better than this. I want out.”

“It’s not just about Le Fleur, don’t forget, they’ve still got-”

“Yes yes, they’ve got your Eye. I’m not saying stop looking for it, and I’m certainly not saying we give up on tracking down the godlings at all. What I’m saying is why should the two of us be working as Le Fleur’s errand boys.” Tiago nearly spat the last words out.

There was silence at his side, but Tiago knew that only meant that Cyril was considering his words. They walked for several more minutes before Cyril spoke.

“Let’s go retrieve my Fists before we meet back up with the good Baron in case he gets any… ideas after our announcement. I’d rather not have to kill his entire squadron of goons. It would be such a mess.”

“Of course. I couldn’t’ve planned better myself.”

“I know.”

After Cyril shrunk down the Fists and stuffed them into some kind of magic bag they’d lifted off the corpse of one of the Kadarian’s, they headed back to Le Fleur’s house, where he was waiting for them rather impatiently.

“Where have you been? You’re nearly an hour late, and empty handed no less.”

“Shut up Henri.”

“You’re going to listen to us for once.”

“We’re done being your lap dogs. Effective immediately, we are terminating our contract with you.”

Le Fleur sputtered indignantly and turned a rather fascinating shade of red. Tiago wondered if his head might pop off if he continued on like that. “Who exactly do you two think yo-”

He cut off with a strangled gasp, and Tiago saw Cyril gazing down at the baron with a cool glare of disinterest, one finger lazily outstretched towards him, effectively silencing him. “I don’t know who you think you’re talking to right now. Tiago. Do you know who the good baron is addressing?” Cyril was positively purring. Tiago gave Le Fleur the same many-toothed grin as the day he’d hired him, and this time, he made sure he recognized it for the threat it was.

“Why no, Cyril, I certainly don’t. Surely it’s not us. After all, we’re the ones with all the real power here.” To emphasize his point, he rested his hand casually on the pommel of his dagger, wrist bent to pull it from its sheath in an instant if necessary.

“I certainly thought so. Thank you for the confirmation. So, Le Fleur. This is what you’re going to do. You’re going to pull the rest of the gold you owe us for services rendered, plus a little extra for harm suffered tonight at the hands of the Antitheots, and you’re going to leave us alone. Because if you don’t, things will get very unpleasant for you, very quickly. Do you understand? Squeak for yes.”

Le Fleur glared at Cyril before giving an affirmative. Cyril dropped the hold, and Le Fleur took a few deep, shuddering breaths before going into the safe in his office and pulling out four portioned bags and thrusting them into Tiago’s outstretched hands with a disgusted look.

“Take your money and get out of my sights before I call the guards on you.”

Tiago turned to Cyril with comically wide eyes. “Was that a threat, Ril?”

“I do believe it was.” Cyril shot Le Fleur a dangerous look and the man wilted.

Tiago was in Le Fleur’s face before he could blink, gold abandoned on the floor in favor of the knife that was currently in his hand, and, more importantly, pressed against the baron’s throat.

“Look, Henri. I’m not as level headed as Cyril over there. I’m a bit more… impulsive, let’s say. I don’t mind making a mess of things. So, before you threaten two gods I want you to think.” He put a little more pressure on the knife, not enough to break skin, but certainly enough to make Le Fleur sweat. “I want you to really think about whether or not that’s the smart choice. You’re a smart man, Henri. I trust you’ll make the right decision here.”

And then he was back next to Cyril, dagger sheathed and gold in hand. “Let’s go Cyril. I wouldn’t want to keep the baron up at this indecent hour.”

“Of course not. Good evening, Baron.”

The two left the man shaking in rage behind them, matching smug looks plastered on their faces.

“So, where to, Tiago?” Cyril asked as soon as they were off Le Fleur’s grounds.

“Well, dearest, I hear Wessel’s nice this time of year.”