Fandom/ Pairing: The Bijou - Liam/Topaz
Rating: PG? (Some violence)
A/N: So this is kind of dedicated to laylah since it's all her fault I love these boys as much as I do. *hearts massively* [Hope the way I use the names isn't too confusing for everyone.] This is an AU fic, very loosely based on the general state of affairs of German-occupied Europe during WWII.
Summary: The Casmillian resistance to the Hanaein invasion has proven to be much stronger than anticipated. The most dangerous of these insurgents are known simply as the Jewel Thieves.
“Brilliant.” Tristan glanced quickly towards Kai. “How’re we doing with the cameras?”
“Jade’s ready when we are,” Kai responded promptly, one hand to his earpiece.
Galvin swallowed hard. “How long can he give us?” he asked, trying to ignore the nervous, fluttery feeling in the pit of his stomach.
The rueful look Kai threw him was not comforting in the slightest. “Twenty minutes,” he said grimly.
Which was cutting it tight, even for them.
Tristan’s teeth flashed in the dim as he grinned. “Well, we’d better be marvelous then, hadn’t we?” He pushed himself out of his crouch, soft-soled shoes making no sound on the polished tiles. “No turning back now, boyos. Let’s go do what we do best.” A wink thrown at Kai. “Whenever your boyfriend’s ready, sweetheart.”
Kai rolled his eyes. “You’re such an ass.”
Tristan chuckled, completely unrepentant. “You know you love me best.”
Kai muttered something highly unflattering about Tristan’s parentage, then shifted his hand again to relay the message to Matthias back at the café. Listening to Kai murmur in the tense quiet, Galvin found himself fighting down a sudden and very real urge to panic.
Which was ridiculous, really. He’d been part of the resistance for months now, first as a spy and now a thief, and they’d never yet met a security set-up they couldn’t overcome. And alright, so maybe they’d never taken on such a well-guarded network before, but that really wasn’t any reason to worry. He was just nervous because he’d never been this close to the Central Tower before, that was all. Just because the slightest mistake would have them carted off by the Hanaein guard and public executed in a suitably embarrassing and painful fashion didn’t mean he had any reason to panic. Really.
Galvin’s throat felt very dry. He swallowed again, trying not to think about it.
Kai was waving one hand significantly at Jacob. “Cameras going to automatic feed in three…two…one…”
A sharp cutting motion with his arm and Jacob’s fingers danced through the final sequence, the door sliding open with a low hydraulic hiss.
“Let’s move!” Tristan ordered, and Kai and Galvin hustled past while Daniel tugged the jammer cords free from the control panel and Jacob stowed them hurriedly in his pack.
“Come on!” Tristan urged as the twins shifted, stood, and moved together, darting through with Tristan hot on their heels.
The door snicked shut and they were in, alone in the dim and facing the biggest challenge they’d ever had.
Not that that was going to stop them, even if Galvin’s heart was threatening to beat itself right out of his chest in worry. Lady Corlinne’s Jewel Thieves were professionals, after all.
The air was almost breathlessly still, not the slightest hint of an alarm betraying their intrusion, and Galvin turned his attention carefully to the room they were standing in. There wasn’t really much to see.
An unimpressive-looking office, dominated by three standard issue desks that were far too tidy for their owners to be particularly hard-working employees. A potted plant drooped against one wall, beside a old-fashioned coffee maker and a slim, slat-covered window. Round nighttime running lights buzzed faintly overhead, filtering down onto the furnishings with a weak, sepia sort of glow.
Tristan was standing very still, face unusually blank as he peered carefully around the room. “Over there,” he said after a moment, nodding his chin towards a plain section of paneled wall that looked exactly the same as all the others. He started across the floor. “Come on.”
They all fell into step without question, and Galvin shook his head in wry amusement. It was always amazing what Tristan could do when he was actually being serious for once.
Tristan caught Galvin’s expression and smirked. “Child’s play.”
Which, considering how long Tristan had been doing this, was probably almost true.
They stopped in front of the not-as-normal-as-it-looked wall and Kai pursed his lips thoughtfully. “Topaz?” he murmured softly and Galvin stepped forward with his hands cupped together, bracing his feet widely as he hoisted Kai up to take a closer look.
It only took Kai a moment to find the panel Jaiven had told them about. Moving quickly but quietly, Kai prised the metal facing free of its bracket and passed it carefully down to a waiting Daniel. There was nothing but darkness in the space left behind but Kai didn’t pause, just hoisted himself neatly up onto his forearms and slithered inside.
They waited for a moment.
Well-oiled gears swished in the darkness and Galvin stepped back as Kai slid the hidden door open.
“It’s clear,” Kai hissed, beckoning. “Let’s go.”
They filed singly through the slim gap, careful not to brush against the edges of the door. The space beyond was narrow and dark, without even the faint running lights of the office behind to brighten the way. Galvin reached up to fiddle with the filter on his goggles, and saw the others do the same out of the corner of his eye.
“How are we doing?” Tristan asked, as calm as if he was back at the café taking orders.
“16 minutes, 38 seconds left,” Kai told him.
“Well,” Tristan said airily, unconcerned to the last. “We’d better get moving then. After you, Onyx.”
Kai fell easily into step, a faint shadow in the dark as he led them down the long, echoing hallway. Galvin crept quietly after him, Tristan grinning but silent at his side. The twins would be coming up right behind them, Galvin knew, though he didn’t bother listening for them. They were all far too good at what they did for that.
The hall felt about ten miles long, but Galvin doubted it was more than a handful of moments later when it opened into another office, as much unlike the one they’d left behind as the moon to the sun. This office was part of the real operations of the Hanaein bureaucracy and it showed in the overfull cabinets and the bank of computer towers whirring steadily at the back of the room. The single desk was positively littered with files, some of which had migrated to uneven little batches on the floor. Two hallways branched off at angles on either side of the room.
Galvin could feel a satisfied grin curling his lips. Now this was more like it.
Tristan was eyeing the haphazardly-stacked desk with a faint frown.
Daniel made a curious sound.
“Where do we start?” Jacob translated, quiet even over his mic. “Here?”
“Not enough time to go through it all,” Tristan sighed, with a shake of his head. “And Opal’s informant said there should be at least three more offices we’ll need to hit so we can’t all sit around sorting paper in here.”
“I can take care of this room,” Kai offered, stepping forward. “Why don’t you guys check out the hallways?”
“Well!” Tristan eyed him with an appraising smirk that rarely boded well for anyone. “Look who’s being all grown up and responsible today!”
Galvin sighed, knowing where this was headed. “Come on, Jasper,” he said, snagging the end of Tristan’s trailing braid and tugging the idiot towards the right hall. “We haven’t got time for you two to get into a pissing match right now.”
“Why Topaz!” Tristan exclaimed, grinning fit to burst. “I never took you for the jealous type!”
Galvin ignored him, twisting over one shoulder to meet the amused looks on the twins’ faces with all the blank professionalism he could muster. “Can you two check that way?” he asked, flicking his eyes towards the other hallway. “Collect everything you can and we’ll have Jade sort through it back at base.”
Matching nods. “Understood,” Jacob said. Daniel turned with him and they both vanished wordlessly into the shadows. Kai was already photographing the files scattered across the table, quick hands fishing in his pockets for a data transmitter to get to work on the computers.
“So, um,” a voice spoke in Galvin’s ear, and he realized that Tristan was grinning at him with a look that was one part sheepish and three parts cheekily amused. “You can give my hair back now, Topaz. I promise to be good.”
Galvin snorted. “Unlikely.” He let go of him anyway, determined not to be jealous of the smooth lope Tristan settled into as soon as he was free. Now was not the time.
They hadn’t gone more than ten steps down the hall when they came across a locked door on the left side. Galvin glanced over at Tristan questioningly.
Tristan grinned and gestured magnanimously. “Be my guest, sunshine.”
“Gee, thanks,” Galvin muttered, fighting back an eye roll as he fished an electric pick out of his sleeve. Tristan chuckled and carried on down the hall, the flicker his red hair there and gone in the dark.
Alone in the quiet, Galvin crouched down in front of the door, the polished floor tiles cold through the thin material of his bodysuit. He inserted his pick delicately into the lock, probing carefully.
::There are four offices in this hallway,:: one of the twins said suddenly over the mic. It was probably Jacob – Daniel hardly ever talked to anyone anymore – but since they’d never quite been able to prove that Daniel didn’t use the mic, it was generally easier not to wonder. ::Shouldn’t take more than eight minutes to download the information.::
::Only one office on this end,:: Tristan’s voice responded. ::Gimme two minutes and I’ll be there to help. Onyx, you just keep doing what you’re doing. You too, Topaz.::
Galvin made an absent noise of agreement, still digging at the lock. The last pin caught with a click and he hummed in satisfaction as the door catch came free with only the faintest whine of protest. Stowing the pick away Galvin slid the door carefully open, peering curiously into the room.
It wasn’t an office. Galvin lingered in the doorway, taking in the bank of flat monitors and the single empty chair sitting before the low table. A security phone and a forgotten cup of coffee sat on the table, tinged blue by the wash of colour off the monitors. Galvin’s eyes flicked instinctively over the security feeds, but the patch Matthias had done seemed to be working; none of the dozen or so screens showed the faintest hint of his friends or their unlawful entry.
Shifting his weight uncertainly, Galvin wondered if he ought to try and track down some old security footage or something while he was here. Matthias might have been able to find something useful, or even Lucien, but Galvin had never been any good at hacking. He’d be as likely to set off every alarm in the building as download something helpful.
“Yeah,” he muttered with a sigh. “Cause that’s just what we need right now. Nothing useful here,” he said a little louder. “I’ll be right down to help Lapis and Lazuli.”
::Gotcha, sweetheart,:: Tristan answered, with a wink Galvin swore he could actually hear. ::We’ll miss you terribly till then.::
Galvin shook his head and shifted back towards the door. His gaze skimmed absently across the blue-tinged tabletop as he turned and Galvin froze, blood turning suddenly to ice in his veins as he stared.
There was still steam rising from the coffee cup.
His body was moving even before his mind had quite caught up, spinning into a low kick in the same instant as a broad arm swooshed through the air where his head had been the second before. His heel glanced off something solid and he managed enough of a glance up to get the impression of someone large and muscular before he was scuttling backwards, trying to get away. Tall, dark and scary rushed after him, damn fast for a man than big, and Galvin backpedaled desperately, cursing the limited vision afforded by his clunky goggles.
His shoulder hit the side of the desk and suddenly the guard was there, one massive fist driving straight towards Galvin’s face.
Galvin lunged forward, rolling through widely braced legs and feeling the whoosh of air as broad knuckles swung past him, striking wood hard enough that the whole table jerked a good half foot back. The cup tumbled over, sending coffee pattering irregularly onto the floor, but Galvin hardly noticed, scrambling for the door. A hand clamped tightly around his ankle and he stumbled, striking his chin heavily off the floor. The world spun.
::Topaz!:: a voice was yelling in his ear, barely audible over the ringing in Galvin’s ears. Tristan. ::What in the seven hells is going on over there?::
He was being pulled backwards. Galvin twisted sharply, driving his free heel into the back of the guard’s knee with all the strength he could manage. A sharp hiss in the dark above him and the iron grip on his ankle loosened fractionally. Galvin squirmed fiercely, goggles jerked wildly askew as he slithered forward on his stomach. He felt rather than saw his attacker turn and redoubled his dragging scrabble, trying to put some distance between them.
He wasn’t fast enough.
The guard seized him by the collar and hauled bodily upwards, dangling him a good foot off the ground. Galvin flailed, gasping for air, but the guy had a good grip on him now, his widely-braced feet steady despite Galvin’s thrashing. Panicked, Galvin lashed out with a kick, only to suck in a pained breath when the man caught his ankle again, the strong grip tightening warningly.
“You…” the man started but Galvin didn’t give him a chance to finish, using the extra leverage of the double grip to whirl his other knee up, just barely missing breaking the man’s nose. The guard jerked back instinctively, and Galvin let the spin carry through, refusing to pass out as his shirt wrapped even tighter around his neck.
The man’s arm bent, trying to compensate for the shift, and Galvin swung hard at the twisted elbow, the impact jarring through his bones. Fingers slackened and Galvin fell, the breath whooshing out of his lungs as he hit the ground hard. His goggles clattered to the floor beside him but Galvin didn’t stop, powering to his hands and heels as he darted for the open door.
Then a switch flicked and the lights came on.
“Ngh!” Galvin hissed, eyes twisting shut despite his best intentions. He stumbled blindly forward, one hip glancing against the still open door and throwing him off balance.
It was all the opportunity the guard needed. Hands clamped hard around his biceps and Galvin winced as he was spun roughly around, half-blind and helpless. He braced himself determinedly, gritting his teeth for the first strike.
Except it never came.
“…Galvin?” the guard exclaimed and Galvin’s eyes flew open before he could help himself.
“Liam?!” he blurted, horrified.
It was the wrong thing to say.
Liam’s expression was murderous. “What the hell are you doing here, Galvin?” he demanded, fingers digging painfully into Galvin’s arms. “I could’ve killed you!”
Galvin just stared, hardly able to believe his bad luck. Liam. Of all the soldiers in the city, he had to run into the one who could almost make him forget how much he hated Hanaein green.
This could not get any worse.
::Topaz!:: his mic bellowed and Galvin started as he realized that Kai had been calling him for a good few minutes now.
::Are you alright Topaz?:: Kai was demanding, and Galvin could hear Tristan swearing low and sulfurous in the background. ::Answer me, god dammit!::
“G-garnet,” he managed breathlessly, hearing the timer in his headset start ticking down even as his eyes skittered away from the sudden thunderstruck expression on Liam’s face.
“You’re one of the Jewel Thieves,” Liam breathed, wondering.
::Radio silence,:: Jacob or Daniel murmured in his ear. They sounded upset. ::Fifteen seconds.::
::Oh no you fucking don’t!:: Tristan snarled. ::Nobody gets left behind on my watch. Lapis! Lazuli! Where’s that information?::
::Another seven minutes at least,:: a twin answered him.
::You’ve got five. You hear that Topaz? We’re coming to get you so don’t even think about going all noble northlander on me! Onyx! Finish up in that room – I want you back here asap!::
::On my way.::
“Don’t…” Galvin tried, but the line was dead in his ear, a vacuum of silence sucking him in. He bit his lip fretfully, only belatedly realizing that Liam was still glaring at him, his shock melting away to reveal a frighteningly grim blankness underneath.
“Unbelievable,” Liam declared shaking his head. “A Jewel Thief right under my nose all this time. I never knew you were such a good actor, Galvin.”
Galvin said nothing, more defiant than he’d have thought he could be against this man. But he was Topaz right now, not Galvin, and there were more important things at stake right now than the way his pulse skipped when Liam leaned in close.
“Not talking to me now?” Liam challenged, something almost wry in his tone though the set of his mouth was hard. “How very unlike you.”
Galvin winced despite himself, hearing the truth in that all too well. It’d become almost a habit to watch for Liam’s arrival in the afternoons, lingering impatiently in the kitchen so he’d be free to take his order. Liam hadn’t seemed to mind the attention and Galvin had grown to cherish the few words he managed to draw out of him, the quiet contentment that lit Liam’s eyes whenever he tried.
There was fire in Liam’s eyes now though, and anger mixed with something that looked almost like frustration.
“Damn it, Galvin,” Liam grated, low and fervent. Galvin really wished he’d stop saying his name. “They’re going to make you talk one way or other – do you really want to be tortured into telling them what they want to know?”
Galvin glared as best as he could, refusing to back down. They’d all known the price of failure, and he wasn’t about to betray his friends just because he’d run out of places to run. Even if it was Liam asking.
Liam scowled, fingers still locked tight around Galvin’s biceps. Galvin forced himself to meet that gaze openly, stubbornly silent.And then Liam sighed. “Why Galvin?” he demanded, almost pleading except Galvin couldn’t picture Liam begging for anything. “Do you really want to sacrifice yourself for a Casmille we can’t have anymore? I know things have changed since the occupation but it’s not like you can’t…” his eyes flicked to the blond hair falling in Galvin’s eyes and Galvin felt something inside him snap.
“Can’t what?” he spat, reckless and not caring. Liam looked startled and Galvin growled, angrier than he’d been in months. “Work in a low-paying job since they closed down the University? Live in a world where the colour of my hair is the only thing keeping me from being sent to the workhouses?”
That had happened to Ari last month – Galvin could still remember the way Ari’d kept hurling insults at the troop of green clad soldiers until one of them had hit him over the back of the head with the butt of his rifle and dragged him off. They hadn’t seen him since. It hadn’t been long after that that Lady Corlinne had moved Jacob and Daniel to manual labour in the storehouse and William had starting taking over Matthias’ shifts at the front table.
Galvin felt sick just thinking about it. “Or should I feel privileged that the Emperor deigns to let worthless white orphans like me work for pennies while my dark-skinned friends starve on the streets?” His voice rose, cracking painfully. “Well, Liam?”
A moment of sharp silence, then, “Galvin,” Liam chided, quietly and not nearly as angrily as he ought to have. “You shouldn’t speak so.”
Galvin snorted bitterly. “Why not? It’s the truth. And I’m going to hang either way, so what difference does it make?”
Something in Liam’s eyes looked almost pained at that and, when he spoke, the tone of his voice was soft and regretful. “One man’s life rarely makes that much difference in the world,” he observed.
“So I should just let them destroy everything?” Galvin asked, striving for rage though he could feel his anger ebbing in the face of Liam’s calm.
Liam was still watching him, looking more like the man Galvin had fallen for all those months ago, and Galvin sighed shakily, trying to collect his thoughts.
“My life may not be worth much,” he admitted, almost to himself. “But if it’s enough to protect those I hold dear then I’ll consider it well spent. So you may as well stop asking – I won’t tell you anything.” His mouth quirked wryly and Galvin heard himself speaking before he’d realized he’d meant to. “Though I’m glad I’ll be at least some help to you before the end, Liam.”
Liam blinked and Galvin froze, wondering if he’d be able to sink into the ground while Liam was holding him like that. “To me?” Liam asked, nonplussed. “Why?”
What the hell, Galvin thought. If he was doomed anyway, he might as well do this properly.
He managed a shaky smile. “Did you think I took extra shifts on the days you came by out of a deep and abiding love for feeding people sandwiches?”
Liam looked stunned and Galvin hunched his shoulders sheepishly. “Now that you’ve caught one of the Jewel Thieves you’re sure to be rewarded – even if you aren’t Hanaein. You might even get promoted to the Central Tower if you play your cards right. There aren’t many men who can say they’ve caught one of the Jewel Thieves after all, and we’ve been a thorn in the Emperor’s side for a long time now.” And he shouldn’t have said that, shouldn’t have said anything at all, especially about the Jewel Thieves, but he’d always been a little less objective where Liam was concerned.
Liam’s expression was very strange. “And you’re just going to throw that away?” he wanted to know, and Galvin shrugged as best as he was able.
“The resistance won’t suffer much for lack of me. And as long as I don’t talk, the Emperor won’t have won anything except another neck for the gallows.” The rest of the Jewels would probably have to stop working at the café for a while, just in case, but Lady Corlinne was far too clever to let something like this be the end of her organization. Galvin kind of wished he’d had the chance to thank her at least once.
Liam stared at him for a long moment.
“You shame me, Galvin,” he said finally, the formal cadences rolling easily off his tongue. “It seems I’ve been with the Hanaein so long I’ve forgotten what honour looks like on another.” His grip loosened and he shifted slightly, his expression almost proud as he added, “You wear your honour well.”
“Wha–?” Galvin started, but a whisper of sound in the hallway made Liam tense all over again and Galvin found himself facing an entirely new dilemma.
“Jasper, don’t!” he cried, truly afraid now. For the resistance to lose Tristan too…
But Tristan, being Tristan, ignored him entirely, and the telltale sweep of his red hair made Galvin’s heart fall as he stepped through the door.
“I suggest you let him go,” Tristan said, as serious as Galvin had ever heard him and, oh, this wasn’t good. He’d never seen Tristan kill anyone, but he’d heard enough stories to understand the danger inherent in the slim, deadly blade in Tristan’s hand. This was going to get messy.
Only Liam seemed strangely unconcerned, the quirk of his mouth almost amused as he stared at Tristan over the top of Galvin’s head.
“Tristan,” he greeted. “Somehow I’m not surprised to see you here as well.”
“Yeah, well you’re not going to be breathing either if you don’t back off now.”“I appreciate the warning,” Liam said mildly. “Though I fear you can do naught to alter a decision that’s already been made.” Tristan tensed ominously but Liam ignored him, attention flicking back down to Galvin’s desperate stare.
“Galvin,” he said, his eyes serious. “This was not a chance meeting between you and I. I cannot yet say whether I agree with your methods, but I know that I would not see you suffer for them.” He released Galvin and stooped, collecting Galvin’s goggles and pressing them into his suddenly slack hands. “You ought to have more care for yourself – you are of more benefit to your loved ones alive than dead.”
Galvin swallowed nervously. “And what of you?” he dared, taking his courage in his hands. “What benefit is there for you in setting me free?”
And Liam smiled, sheepish and gentle and fond all at once. “Did you think I ate three times a week at Casmille’s most expensive café out of a deep and abiding fondness for the coffee?” he asked, quietly sincere.
Galvin gaped, hardly able to believe what he was hearing, and a twist of pleased amusement curled through Liam’s smile. Then he glanced over to Tristan, standing wary and still in the doorway.
“You’d best go,” Liam told him. “I don’t know how you managed to bypass the cameras, but I doubt you’ll want to push your luck much further tonight. There will be trouble indeed if you’re seen on the way out.”
Tristan smiled thinly. “You don’t need to tell me twice.” His hand closed around Galvin’s elbow, breaking into his shocked reverie. “Come on, Topaz,” he coaxed. “We’ve gotta go. I’m sure you’ll have plenty of opportunities to stare at him later.”
“Tri – Jasper!” Galvin gasped, flushing, though he didn’t protest as Tristan dragged him towards the door.
“Fare safely,” he heard Liam say and then the sudden stark blackness of the hallway fell around them and Galvin reeled, more than a little dizzy.
Tristan kept a hold of him until he regained his balance. “Let’s move it,” Tristan said then, leading the way as Galvin fumbled with his goggles. “And stick close – your mic’ll be useless until we can get Drake to rewire it and I don’t feel like losing you a second time tonight.”
“O-okay,” Galvin managed, mind whirling as they hurried down empty halls and through the front office.
“Topaz!” Kai exclaimed, quiet but heartfelt as they slipped back into the show office. “Thank the gods! What happened to you?”
“Not now,” Tristan interrupted, sliding the hidden door carefully shut. “We’re still on a schedule here, ladies. Time?” he asked.
It was Jacob who answered him. “Three minutes, fifteen seconds.”
“Really? Piece of cake,” Tristan grinned, sounding like himself again. “Let’s roll.”
“Um,” Galvin hazarded, guilt settling hard in his stomach. “What about the information?”
Jacob patted his bag. “In here. We should have more than enough for the resistance’s needs.”
“Good,” Galvin breathed, relieved, and the twins reached out to clasp his hands comfortingly, Daniel making relieved little noises in the back of his throat.
Tristan rolled his eyes behind his goggles. “More walking, less group bonding please. We’ll have to tell the story again at home anyway, so let’s not spoil it, hmm? Oh, and Topaz?” he added, as they began the trek back to the first floor. “Remind me not to make fun of your taste in men for at least a week, okay?”
“Sure, Jasper,” Galvin smiled, feeling happier than he had in a long time. “Whatever you say.”