Summary: Bastien meets with the king and Alice has an unwanted visitor.
Notes: Everything is on fire! Everything is terrible! Please pay close attention to the content warnings if you have any triggers.
CW: sexual assault, violence, blood, references to suicide and murder
New to the series? Catch up here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8,Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18
Bastien followed Constantine into the king’s study.
“Close the door,” Constantine said as he sat down behind the desk. “Sit down.”
Bastien did as he was told. Constantine pulled a ring of keys out of his pocket and unlocked a drawer, removing a file folder and setting it down on the desk in front of him.
“Unlock your phone,” Constantine said, holding out his hand. Concern immediately flooded Bastien, but he did as his king asked. Constantine took the phone and pulled a pair of reading glasses from his chest pocket, settling them on his nose. “Darn screens are so small,” he said with a chuckle as he tapped the screen. “Either that or I’m just too old. Now where is…oh, you have her saved as ‘Gray.’ That’s right. Regina was amused by your little nicknames.”
“Sir, what are you doing?” Bastien asked, his palms beginning to sweat, his heart pounding. Constantine ignored him, tapping out a message on the phone before he hit send. He put the phone in the middle of the desk. Moments later, it began to buzz with an incoming call.
“Let it ring,” the king said.
Alone in her room after a long day of riding, Alice was exhausted. She pulled off the borrowed outfit from Hana and set it aside; she’d have to have it sent through the laundry service before returning it. Clad only in her bra and underwear, Alice started to head to the wardrobe when she heard her phone buzz from the bed. She stopped and went over to the bed to pick up the phone.
I’m sorry, Gray, but I can’t continue our relationship. I never should have gotten involved with a suitor and I need to focus on my job. This is over.
Alice momentarily faltered on her feet, catching her balance on one of the heavy wood pillars of the four poster bed as she stared at the screen. She couldn’t believe what she was reading; it didn’t sound like him, and yet no one else knew his nickname for her. She hit the call button and put the phone up to her ear.
“This is Bastien Lykel. Please leave a message.”
Alice hit the end button on her screen and stared at her phone with shaking hands as tears stood in her eyes. Her senses started to blur like a flash bomb had gone off inside of her mind and she couldn’t think clearly. There had to be an explanation. She sat on the edge of the mattress and took a deep breath. Alice was about to try Bastien again when she got an incoming call and accidentally answered it.
“What’s wrong, why do you sound weird?” Frankie asked.
“I don’t…um…I don’t know,” Alice said, trying to formulate her thoughts. “I just got a text from Bastien…I think he just broke up with me.”
“He’s a grown man in his forties, what is he doing sending a breakup text like he’s fourteen?”
“I don’t know, this doesn’t make any sense,” Alice said.
“Did you call him? Or talk to him in person?” Frankie asked. “Because it’s always possible someone else got his phone.”
“He used his nickname for me…”
“In a breakup text? That’s weird.”
“I tried to call him, but there was no answer,” Alice said.
“Go try again,” Frankie said. “And keep me posted–let me know if you need anything. I’m not above flying out to Cordonia to kick someone’s ass.”
Alice thanked her and hung up. She took another deep breath, wiping away the tears from her face, before she dialed again. The phone rang and rang and rang until his familiar voice came on the line.”
“This is Bastien Lykel. Please leave–”
Alice hung up and dropped her phone on the bed, trying to think. She needed to talk to him; maybe she should just get dressed and go to his room. It was much earlier than she usually went there, but she needed an explanation. This couldn’t wait.
Behind her, the bedroom door opened.
The phone stopped its second round of buzzing, still sitting in the middle of the desk like a bomb. Bastien was having a hard time breathing; he had no idea what the king had done, but it couldn’t be good if she’d called twice in a row. He expected a third call to come through, but the phone stayed still and silent.
“Bastien, do you remember the day Liam’s mother died?” Constantine asked.
“Of course.” There were certain things Bastien could not erase from his mind after over twenty years as a royal guard, and the death of Liam’s mother, Eleanor, was one of them. The official story released to the public was that she’d died in her sleep from an undiagnosed heart condition. The reality however, was far different. If he closed his eyes, Bastien could still see the scene perfectly. The queen lying slumped in the bathtub, bathed in red water. One of her arms hung over the side, dark drips of dried blood splattered beneath her delicate hand. Bastien’s then-supervisor had convened with the king and they’d decided to create the story to protect not only Liam, but the queen’s reputation.
“Shortly before the incident, Eleanor came to me and told me she wanted a divorce. She’d found out about Regina and Eleanor wanted to leave and take Liam with her.” The king paused and Bastien stayed quiet, unsure yet of where this was going. “I considered what Eleanor said, but I couldn’t have two wives leave me. It took some doing for my reputation to survive Leo’s mother taking off. But at least then, she was smart enough to leave Leo. Eleanor wanted to take Liam and that was…unacceptable.”
“Plus, Regina wanted to be queen,” Constantine said with a shrug. “She’s more suited to it than Eleanor ever was. It takes a certain kind of woman to be queen, the kind who will do what it takes. Someone who can make the hard choices for the greater good.”
Alice turned at the sound of her bedroom door opening. “Maxwell! You have to knock! I thought we–” She froze, her words dying in her throat when she saw who it was.
He grinned, looking her up and down. She glanced down and realized she was still in her underwear. She covered herself with her hands, still too far from the wardrobe.
“What the fuck, get out!” Alice exclaimed. “What are you even going here?”
Tariq smirked and closed the door behind him. Fear rippled down her spine but she knew she had to stay focused. “Alice, come on. We both know you want this.”
“What the absolute fuck are you talking about?” Alice demanded. “Get. Out.”
His eyes darkened as he took a step towards her. She backed up until her back hit the wall. Alice surveyed her options. She didn’t want to run straight at him, and if she went around the side with the wardrobe, he could easily grab her. The only other way to circumvent him was to go over the bed, but that might slow her down too much. She glanced around; there wasn’t anything within arm’s reach she could grab if she needed it. Tariq slowly closed the distance between them.
Remember that self defense class you and Frankie took, Alice instructed herself. Eyes, nose, throat, knees, groin. There’s no other way out of here.
“I’m tired of playing games with you,” he said, his voice low and angry. He glanced over at her bed and Alice saw her opportunity. She darted around him and sprinted for the door. She grabbed the handle and flung it open. Alice took one step before she felt Tariq grab her by the hair. She screamed but he clapped a hand over her mouth, silencing her. He kicked the door shut and yanked her backwards, throwing her off balance. Alice clawed at his arm as he dragged her across the bedroom, the carpet burning her heels as she fought.
When they reached the bed, Tariq spun her around, bending her down over the end of the bed. He pinned her arms behind her back, her shoulders twisting painfully as his fingers dug into her forearms. Alice felt the tears she didn’t know she was crying dotting the blanket on the bed. Keep. Fighting.
Alice kicked backwards, aiming for his instep, his knees, anything she could reach. She managed to connect with the inside of his knee and Tariq grunted in pain, but he held tight. Suddenly, Alice felt a sharp pain once, twice on the back of her calf and ankle, causing her leg to buckle. She cried out in pain, trying to force herself to stay upright.
“Nice try,” he snarled. She could hear the sadistic smile in his voice. He yanked her hair again and she bit back the pain, teeth clenched. He laughed. “Pretend all you want; you and I both know you want this.”
Alice felt him yank down her underwear and she started to sob, struggling desperately against his grip, but to no avail. She heard the clink of the buckle as Tariq undid his belt.
Constantine opened the folder in front of him and removed a photograph. He studied it for a moment before he slid it across the desk to Bastien. Bastien felt the floor drop out from underneath him. It was the photo he and Alice had taken in New York, the one he hadn’t been able to delete when he thought he might never see her again. He looked back up at Constantine who was staring at him expectantly.
“That,” Bastien tried to say, his voice coming out as a croak. He cleared his throat and tried again. “That was taken in New York.”
“Yes, I know that,” Constantine said. “What I don’t understand is why she was taken from New York and brought here.”
“Maxwell Beaumont brought her.”
Constantine chuckled. “So she spent the night with you and immediately moved on to Liam when she got a better offer,” he mused.
Bastien felt his temper flare, but he kept his voice calm and even. “She thought she wasn’t going to see me again when Maxwell offered to sponsor her.”
“And yet she did see you again,” the king said. He opened the folder and began to sift through the pages. It took Bastien a moment to realize Constantine was looking at printouts of every text he and Alice had sent to each other.
The king finally stopped flipping through the pages and folded his hands on top of them. “Bastien, I don’t have much time left and I can no longer protect Liam. He needs to choose a queen who is willing to do what it takes, someone who can make the tough choices.” Constantine said. “Personally, I thought that a slutty waitress choosing a guard over the crown prince would be enough to turn the public against her, but Regina wasn’t convinced. The press likes the American and I can’t risk them spinning this into some romantic, forbidden love story that makes it look like the royal family doesn’t know what’s going on in our own house. Our image is still tenuous since my idiot son abdicated.” Constantine leaned back in his chair, leveling his gaze at Bastien. “We needed to do something else.”
Bastien had trouble finding his voice. “What?”
Bastien’s phone buzzed on the desk between them, but Constantine didn’t break eye contact with him. Bastien could see the challenge in the king’s eyes, daring him to answer it, daring him to look. Despite his age, Constantine reminded Bastien of a snake, staying perfectly still until the smallest movement would make him lunge for the kill. Bastien held the old man’s gaze until the phone fell silent.
Alice squeezed her eyes shut when she heard Tariq lower his zipper. She felt him lean down, running his free hand up her side.
“I’m going to enjoy this,” he growled, his breath hot on her neck.
“Please…” she begged. “Don’t…”
“What, no more smart remarks?” Tariq asked.
“No…please…” Alice whimpered. “I–”
Before she could say anything else, Tariq was yanked off of her and he let her arms ago. She dropped to the floor, her shoulders singing with pain. It took Alice a moment to realize what was happening but then everything came into focus. Drake was standing over Tariq, who was quickly pulling his pants back on.
“What the fuck!” Drake shouted at him.
“Hey, man, chill out,” Tariq said as he climbed to his feet. “She came onto me.”
“Yeah, that’s why she was begging you to stop,” Drake snarled. “Get the fuck out of here. Now.”
Tariq straightened up, looking Drake in the eye. “You know what, Drake? We all tolerate you because Liam likes to go slumming for friends, but you’re trash. You’ve always been trash, you’ll always be trash, and you–”
Drake’s fist connected with Tariq’s jaw, knocking him back onto the floor. Tariq shook his head, momentarily dazed, before he lunged for Drake’s legs. Drake fell to the floor and Alice backed up, crawling until she was against the wall, squeezing her knees to her chest, unable to do anything else. Tariq landed a punch in Drake’s face before Drake grabbed him and flipped him over, pinning Tariq’s arms down underneath his knees. He punched him once, twice, three times…
“Drake.” Her voice was weak and shaky and it took a moment for it to register with him. He looked over and saw her cowering by the wall and he visibly deflated. Drake turned back to Tariq.
“Get out of here,” Drake growled. “And don’t you fucking dare go near her again.”
He climbed off of Tariq who slowly stood up, cradling his nose. Tariq stumbled towards the door and left, his unsteady footsteps retreating down the hallway. Drake walked over and slammed the door behind Tariq before he turned back to Alice.
“Alice,” he said softly. “Are you okay?”
She shook her head. Drake grabbed a blanket from the bed and gently draped it over her. Alice flinched when he got close, but she held the blanket tightly around herself, fingers digging into the soft fabrice. Drake gave her some space and walked to the other side of the room. His hands hurt and he didn’t know what else to do, so he pulled out his phone.
“This is Bastien Lykel. Please leave a message.
“You’ve always been a loyal member of the royal guard, but lately I’ve felt your focus falter,” Constantine said. “I do not have the time or patience to wait for you to end this dalliance on your own, especially in light of the threats we’ve received recently. As a result, it’s been taken care of for you.”
“What did you do?”
Constantine ignored him. “Bastien, because you have performed many years of dedicated service to the crown, I have decided to give you this one warning.” He learned forward slightly on the desk. “You know what I’ve done. You know what I’m capable of. You know how far my reach extends. I have eyes and ears everywhere.”
Bastien was momentarily transported back to Alice’s first night in Cordonia.
“There are eyes and ears everywhere in the palace. We have to be discreet.”
“Aren’t you the eyes and ears in the palace?” she asked, raising an eyebrow. Bastien lightly smacked her on the ass and she laughed.
“I am, but I’m not the only one,” he said.
Constantine continued. “If I see you anywhere near her, if you tell anyone anything I’ve told you tonight, if you interfere in any way–I will kill her.”
Bastien felt his blood run cold. He knew the king was telling the truth.
The phone began to buzz again.
“Alice, what can I do for you?” Drake asked gently. “Is there someone you want me to call…I don’t know what to do.”
“Can you get me some clothes?” she asked.
“Yes, of course,” he said quickly, hurrying to the wardrobe. “Um, anything in particular?” Alice didn’t respond, so he grabbed a pair of yoga pants and a t-shirt. He brought them over to her and set them down on the floor beside her. “I’ll go outside so you can get dressed.”
“No, don’t leave,” Alice said quickly, her heart pounding, breath coming faster. “Please, what if he–”
“Okay, okay, I won’t go,” Drake assured her. “I’m just going to go over there and face the wall until you’re ready,” he said, pointing to the far side of the room. “Okay?”
Alice nodded. Drake got up and faced the wall like he promised and Alice slowly unfurled from her tightly curled position on the floor. Her shoulders stung as she put on the t-shirt but she fought through the pain. Then she slowly climbed to her feet, her leg still throbbing from where Tariq had kicked her. She quickly pulled on the yoga pants and crossed her arms, hugging herself tightly. A small flash of light caught her attention and Alice realized it was her phone, still on the bed. She limped over to the bed and grabbed her phone. There was a text message waiting for her from Frankie.
How’s it going? Any updates?
Alice clutched her phone tightly in her hand and headed into the bathroom, locking the door behind her. She climbed into the bathtub and stared at her phone.
“This is Bastien Lykel. Please leave a message.”
Alice hung up. She reopened her text messages and re-read the last one he sent. She had no idea what was going on, but she didn’t care.
Please talk to me. Something bad happened and even if you don’t want to be with me, I still need you right now.
Tariq just tried to rape me
Drake got here in time but
Please. I need you
Alice stared at all of her unanswered text messages as the tears began to fall again. She slumped down into the tub and curled into a ball.
Alice wasn’t sure how long she lay there, but a light knock on the bathroom door startled her, making her drop her phone in the tub.
“Ayers? It’s me,” Drake called through the door. “I have something for you.”
Alice slowly pulled herself up to a sitting position before carefully climbing out of the tub. She made her way to the door and unlocked it, cracking it open slightly to see Drake standing there, holding a blanket and pillow.
“Thought you might want these,” he said.
“Thank you,” she said wearily as she accepted his offering.
“If you need anything else, I’ll be right out here,” he said. “I promise.”
Alice nodded and closed the door, locking it. She climbed back into the tub with the blanket and pillow and picked up her phone. Still nothing. Alice hunkered down, pulling the blanket over her head. The air under there was warm and stuffy, but Alice didn’t care. She dialed again.
After Bastien’s phone stopped buzzing, Constantine checked his watch. He slid the phone back across the desk to Bastien.
“You can go.”
Bastien stood up and put his phone in his pocket. “Goodnight, sir,” he said with a stiff bow.
The king nodded as he collected the text message printouts and photograph to put back in the folder, not bothering to look up. Bastien left the study, closing the door behind him. He couldn’t breathe; he had to get outside. He hurried through the halls, finally emerging out into the night air. He leaned against the wall and closed his eyes, breathing heavily. With a shaking hand, he pulled his phone out of his pocket and opened his texts.
I’m sorry, Gray, but I can’t continue our relationship. I never should have–
“No, no, no,” he said, feeling the bile rise in the back of his throat.
Then his eyes focused on the last texts from Alice. He felt lightheaded, like the wind had been knocked out of him. Bastien read them over and over until the words blurred. He blinked, steadying himself before he played Drake’s voicemail.
“Bastien, you need to come to Alice’s room as soon as possible. Tariq tried to…look, man, I just need you to get here.”
Bastien wanted desperately to run to her, to take care of her, but Constantine’s words were still ringing in his ears.
“We needed to do something else.”
“If I see you anywhere near her, if you tell anyone anything I’ve told you tonight, if you interfere in any way–I will kill her.”
Bastien suddenly bent over and was violently ill. When he was done, he wiped off his mouth with the back of his hand. It was too dangerous to go to Alice–but he could see someone else.
Tariq’s door was locked when Bastien reached it, but it didn’t faze him. He could’ve unlocked it with his master key, but instead Bastien kicked it open, the door splintering before he swung out and cracked against the wall. Tariq was standing in the bathroom, holding a washcloth to his face. It looked like Drake had managed to get in a few hits.
“What the hell?” Tariq asked, annoyed. “You can’t just barge into someone’s room!”
“Funny how you care about that now,” Bastien said as he strode across the room. Tariq backed up a step but it was too late; Bastien’s fist crashed into his face, knocking him to the tiled floor. Before Tariq could recover, Bastien kicked him in the side. Tariq yelped in pain, and again when Bastien stomped on his hand. He could feel the satisfying crunch of bone under his heel.
“I should’ve broken your hand the first time you touched her,” Bastien snarled before he crouched down, punching Tariq again in the face. Tariq groaned in pain, trying to roll away. Bastien stood up, look down at him, the white bathroom tiles flecked with Tariq’s blood.
“You can’t do this,” Tariq said weakly. Bastien kicked him again the kidney, causing Tariq to jerk away and curly into a ball.
“Oh, yes I can,” Bastien said, crouching down again. “You have no idea what I’m capable of,” he said, unintentionally echoing the king as Tariq spit blood onto the floor. “You have two minutes to leave Applewood Manor before I end your worthless life with my bare hands.”
“My father…” Tariq said as he struggled to push himself up into a sitting position.
“Fuck your father,” Bastien said as he stood back up. “Your time starts now.”
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