Genre: AU, Angst, Romance, Adventure
Pairings: A lot but mainly Hanchul with snippets of Henwook, Kyumi, Eunhae, Sungwon, Kangteuk, Yunjae, Yoosu, and possibly more
Disclamer: I don't own Suju, or any of the characters. I wish I did, but sadly....:tear tear:
Summary: Hangeng is a dancing boy given as a gift to Prince Heechul for his birthday. Unfortunately, there are nobles who want power and an intricate web of misunderstanding, betrayals, and heartbreak may condemn fate's original plan.
Hangeng was with Jaebum again. It was a quiet morning with Heechul having run off with Kibum about something. Jaebum had then asked for him and Hangeng had come. Now they sat side by side in silence as if there were unspoken feelings in the air that desperately needed to be cleared
“Hangeng what do you want?” He asked softly.
The dancer jerked his head up, eyeing Jaebum with surprise. More often than not, Jaebum spoke to him about himself, about his own goals, his own background, but had never asked Hangeng a question so profound and deep.
The man turned onto his side and studied Hangeng’s face. “Answer me truthfully. What do you want if you could have anything in the world?”
A vision of Heechul flashed through Hangeng’s mind. His face serious and focused. Laughing and teasing. The look he gets when he got annoyed or angry. They were imprinted in his memory. The only answer was Heechul, but could he say that? There were rules of society that meant they would never be than a secret behind closed doors. Heechul would marry eventually, bring forth an heir and Hangeng would be tossed to the side, nothing but a mere memory and temptation of what could have been.
Instead of answering he kept his silence, looking at his hands. Jaebum didn’t need an answer.
“It’s Heechul isn’t it?” He asked quietly. “You love him.”
Hangeng said nothing making Jaebum give a bitter chuckle and shake his head.
The dancer looked at him in surprise. Jaebum wasn’t looking at him. Instead he looked straight out the window as if he was in a place that was already far away from where Hangeng was.
He turned and smiled at him before leaning in, slowly, hesitant.
Hangeng stiffened. His lips were gentle as if he wanted to Hangeng to know that he was capable of being caring and loving, that Hangeng wasn’t forced to do anything. His fingers went into Hangeng’s hair before they broke apart. Jaebum looked at Hangeng with gentle adoring eyes before he let his fingers fall from his face.
Neither of them heard the soft gasp behind the cracked door of Jaebum’s room. Hangeng never knew as he left the room, what an earthquake he had caused.
Kyuhyun knew that moment that Hangeng left Heechul’s chamber that something was up. Heechul had already left with Kibum after being sent for by Kangin for a quick conversation about the readiness of the archers in case the palace was attacked. Thus he had followed the dancer straight to the knight’s wing, into what he knew was Jaebum’s bedchambers.
What struck Kyuhyun as odd was the path that Hangeng took. Instead of heading straight there, the dancer took many turns, backtracked several times, paused in various locations around the palace before stopping at his destination. He heard the murmur of voices through the cracked door and knew that this was something Heechul needed to see.
His movements were quick as he strode to find Heechul in the courtyard tossing pebbles into the koi pond.
“My prince,” He said. “There’s something you need to see.”
“Don’t you think you’ve done enough damage?” Heechul hissed looking up at him. “I have half a mind to drown you in this pond right now.”
Kyuhyun looked away. “I shouldn’t have said what I did at the meeting, but please Heechul hyung, trust me this time. You need to see this. Judge for yourself what is before your eyes.”
“What are you talking about?” Heechul asked, a look of confusion darkening his beautiful eyes.
Kyuhyun sighed. “It’s Hangeng. He’s with Jaebum right now.”
Heechul had never ran so fast in his life.
Standing outside Jaebum’s door, he saw clearly the gentle kiss exchanged between the two of them. His gasp was soft, but his hands were gripped tightly into fists. Kyuhyun looked grim at the pain that flickered across Heechul’s face but knew that he had to see this for his own safety.
Heechul’s voice was cold when he turned away from the door and said softly. “As soon as the lovebirds are done, have Siwon arrest them and bring them to me.”
“Yes your majesty.” Kyuhyun said just as softly with a bow.
Hangeng was looking for Heechul when Siwon found him. The man’s expression was furious and Hangeng was completely at a loss when Siwon roughly shoved him down.
“What are you doing?” Hangeng yelled, surprise evident in his voice as it was too early for fear to set in.
Siwon grabbed him by the collar and shoved him against the wall, tying his hands behind his back roughly.
“How dare you?” He hissed in the dancer’s ear. “You tricked me. You tricked all of us. How dare you mess with Heechul’s heart the way you did? Don’t you know how much heartbreak he’s been through? How dare you betray him when he has done nothing but right by you?”
That was when Hangeng knew that the others knew about Jaebum. He bit his lip and felt tears cling to his eyes from shame for his actions and the pain in his arms as Siwon roughly shoved him forward, a total contrast from the usually gentle knight he was.
Siwon looked broken as he looked at Hangeng. “I trusted you.” He said softly. “I thought you were our friend. We loved you. We loved you and you betrayed us. Jaebum’s already confessed to conspiracy to overthrow the king and you are a part of it aren’t you?”
Hangeng said nothing as Siwon’s gaze bore into him.
Finally the big knight shook his head. “You disgust me.”
The comment hurt more than the pain of his side connecting with the ground when Siwon threw him onto the ground before Heechul’s feet in the grand hall. The hall was full of people. Hangeng could see Donghae with his gaze of surprise. Yesung and Eunhyuk with faces of pure disappointment. Kyuhyun’s, full of hatred. Even Ryeowook and Sungmin, two of his closest friends in the palace looked as if they were staring at a stranger. Only Henry looked almost curious as if he was watching a new lesson unfold and it had nothing to do with him. He forced himself to look up at the darkened expressions of Leeteuk and Kangin and the stoic one of Heechul.
Kangin was the first to speak. “Heechul, he is your slave. Deal with him as you see fit.” The king said wearily.
Heechul walked toward his dancer as Hangeng kneeled before him. “Confess slave!” He commanded, iron control in his furious voice. “Confess your betrayal or I swear I will have Kyuhyun extract it from you in the dungeons.”
It was a stab in the heart when Heechul called him ‘slave’. In all the time that they had fallen for each other, Heechul had never called him that, not even jokingly and it hurt to hear it fall from his lips. He looked up and caught sight of Typhon among the courtiers. The contract was still in effect. It still bound him in ways chains never could.
I love you Heechul. He thought to himself. I hope one day you will learn the truth and forgive me.
“Yes. I betrayed you.” He said, his voice loud in the silent hall. “I plotted with Jaebum to overthrow you and your family.”
Hearing it was completely different than suspecting it. Heechul felt pain grip his heart and squeeze as he looked at his slave…no his lover…on the floor before him.
“Was any of it real?” He asked softly as he bent over and tilted Hangeng’s face upward to face him.
Hangeng bit the inside of his cheek to keep from crying and sobbing as he looked at the broken and hurt look in Heechul’s eyes. He swallowed. It was best to spare Heechul from the complexity of his feelings. To tell the prince that he had indeed loved him and cared for him and would give his own life for him, would only be detrimental at this point. Let Heechul think Hangeng never loved him. Let Heechul hate him. That pain faded more quickly than unrequited love or the memory of a failed relationship. Let him think there had been no relationship in the first place. Nothing to get over.
He looked away from the prince staring at him.
The sound of a slap and a cry of pain resonated through the room as Heechul lost his iron control. The force of the hit and the anger behind it knocked Hangeng over onto his side and he struggled to get back up. Heechul was furious.
“I took care of you!” He screamed. “I gave you more freedom than any master ever did! I gave you a home, friends, a place to fit in! I loved you! I took care of you! I protected you and argued for you when your loyalty was under suspicion!”
Hangeng hung his head and said nothing, infuriating the prince more.
“You ungrateful whore.” He hissed. “You liar and betrayer! From today on, you are dead to me. I never want to see you again!”
Blinking back tears, Heechul turned and stormed from the hall, leaving the final ruling to a grim Kangin and a disappointed looking Leeteuk. Heechul couldn’t stand to be in the same room as Hangeng anymore. Could not stand the idea that he had loved the dancer, loved and adored him and that the slave had warmed his heart in a way he never thought possible.
It wasn’t real.
None of it had been real.
Heechul had been played the fool.
Watching his son exit, Kangin felt cold fury burn in his chest. Although he rarely expressed it, he loved his son and was extremely protective over the prince. He had given Hangeng the benefit of the doubt and the ungrateful bastard has simply tossed it aside to harm Heechul, causing him to retreat even farther into the shell he had built of cynicism and insults.
He stood and walked toward the slave, who did not move from his position lying on his side. Tears clung to the beautiful boy’s eyes and Kangin did not know if he cried from shame or from what he knew would happen next.
“Hangeng of Tohoshin, for your treason against the kingdom of Sujun, I sentence you to the gallows to hang until your death.” He said, his voice like ice.
Hangeng said nothing but bowed his head in acceptance as he was yanked onto his feet by a furious looking Siwon and cold Kibum. There was no word of protest from the dancer, no denying his crime or begging for his life. No…the man was both silent and stoic as he was carried out.
Kangin turned to Leeteuk. “Perhaps the rebellion dies with Jaebum and Hangeng.” He said.
Leeteuk glared at the broader man. “There is more to this than we are seeing.” He said, almost angrily before turning on his heel and disappearing around the corner. If Kangin wanted to carry out murder, Leeteuk wanted no part of it.
Sungmin had never seen Siwon so angry. The big knight had stormed into the mews startling all the birds into alarmed squawks and calls. Sungmin had to shush them and bribe them with meat to quiet them.
“Siwon, calm down.” Sungmin said softly.
“How can I calm down when that slave boy could have killed Heechul and I never even saw it!?” Siwon demanded.
Sungmin touched his arm and looked at him with eyes that were full of adoration and pain. “None of us saw it and some of us still don’t believe it.” He replied.
Siwon raised his expressive eyebrows at the falconer. “What are you talking about? He betrayed Heechul. He confessed it, from his own lips!”
Sungmin clapped his mouth shut and distracted himself with an eagle cawing madly at Siwon. There was no talking to the big knight when he was like this. He had always been protective of Heechul and Sungmin knew that Siwon had heard Hangeng’s confession and believed it. “Of course of course.” He said dismissively. “Don’t mind me.”
At that moment, Siwon was too angry to care what Sungmin was suggesting. Too angry to care that Sungmin had not believed on word of what fell out of Hangeng’s mouth.
“You don’t believe he’s guilty do you?” Eunhyuk asked in the silence of his chambers.
Donghae who was busy limbering his bow stopped his motions to look at his best friend. “No I don’t.”
Eunhyuk raised his eyebrows and moved to sit beside him. “Explain please.”
“It was too easy.” Donghae said. “Out of nowhere, he simply confesses. Doesn’t even deny it. Guilty people deny it, beg for their lives, anything to get themselves out of trouble. His answers were too brief…too simple. He never elaborated on anything, just agreed with whatever Heechul and Kangin threw at him.”
“Perhaps it is because they were right.”
Donghae shook his head violently. “No,” Then his childlike eyes turned themselves onto Eunhyuk and the knight froze.
“You don’t believe it either.”
Eunhyuk sat back and frowned. “It doesn’t matter what I believe.”
“It does to me.”
The knight sighed. “I don’t believe it either. We know him too well. He’s too patient, too caring, just too Hangeng. I mean he had so many chances to kill Heechul and yet he never did. Remember that time when they got lost in the snow storm? He brought Heechul back alive. He could’ve killed him then and no one would’ve known it was anything more than nature.”
Donghae nodded eagerly. “And remember the time he plucked Yesung out of the lake when the ice cracked and he fell in, even though they both ended up shaking with cold for the next day?”
“It doesn’t make sense he would do things like that only to betray Heechul for power.”
A soft knock broke through their conversation. Sungmin’s head poke into the door.
“You guys don’t believe he did it either do you?” The falconer asked.
The two nods that answered were all the convincing he needed to slip in and shut the door behind them.
If Hangeng had known that he had had three supporters in the quiet bedchamber wing of the palace, the dungeon cells would have been less ominous than they seemed to be.
The wall was cold against his back and the floor damp against his legs as he sat on the floor and closed his eyes. If he opened them, he’d remember where he was and why he was there. Heechul’s expression of pain and hurt cut through his chest, straight to his heart in an agonizing pain that he had never thought he was capable of feeling.
He wanted to rip his own heart out and slam it into the floor until it was nothing but tiny shards just so that he could stop feeling, stop feeling the loss of someone he loved so much and the necessity of the hurt he had to cause his prince.
His only consolation was that he did it to protect him. According to their contract, Hangeng had done his part. He had been a part of the rebellion long enough to ensure Heechul’s safety. Executions took time and if through his death Heechul would remain safe from harm then he’d be willing to die a thousand times for him.
“I love you.” He murmured softly. “Even if you’ll never know it. I love you.”
Then he broke down and allowed his tears to fall, agonizing sobs ripping through his body as he shook and allowed every tear to leave a permanent mark on the dirty filled prison floor.