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[MC]D10S 3

Chapter 6

Chapter Notes

Dun dun, more drama! Warning for mild violence in this chapter.

The guards took Neymar's limp body from his arms.

The healers had arrived and were fussing over him while the guests at the gathering tittered among themselves, shocked by what was unfolding in front of them. The murmuring only got louder as the Duke entered surrounded by more of the castle guards. He looked disheveled, his clothing wrinkled, hair in disarray, a thin sheen of sweat covering his skin. He had scratches as well, no doubt from Neymar trying to get away.

Cristiano's blood boiled.

Marcelo was standing near him, it would be so easy to grab his dagger and put an end to the Duke once and for all - he could do it quickly, slit Mourinho's throat before the guards even knew what was going on.

And then he'd end up executed at worst and exiled at best.

"My King, there's been a terrible misunderstanding," the Duke said. Cristiano glanced up at Messi, who looked furious as well, his usually pale skin a dark shade of pink, his brown eyes wide and burning. "Things between your concubine and I ... well, they got a bit out of hand. But I assure you I meant him no harm."

Cristiano wanted to scream. Neymar's face was swollen and bleeding, like he'd been struck repeatedly, and his tan skin was mottled with purple and red marks, especially around his neck.

"Leave now," the King said, voice eerily quiet. "Return to Chelsea. Never set foot in my castle again."

"Leave?" Cristiano blurted, words tumbling out without his permission. "You're just going to let him go? After what he did?!"

It was a mistake to question the King. He knew it as he was speaking. But the injustice of it wouldn't allow him to stay quiet. Mourinho looked delighted by this turn of events, eyes wide and eager. No doubt he'd return to Chelsea and tell of the King's weakness, his inability to keep a leash on his own whore.

"Bite your tongue," Marcelo said into his ear, putting a soothing hand on his arm. Cristiano's white tunic was stained with Neymar's blood, and the sight of it made him rage all over again.

"This does not concern you. Stay silent," Messi ordered. He looked angry, but pleading as well, and Cristiano knew it was because he'd have no choice but to punish Cristiano if he kept speaking out of turn. But Cristiano couldn't stop himself.

"This is your fault," he said harshly, and Messi reeled back a step as if he'd been struck. "You should have been protecting him, but instead you were staking a silly claim on me like some jealous, lovesick fool!"

He regretted the words the instant they left his mouth. It wasn't Messi's fault, not really. No one could have known the Duke would go this far. But his pride wouldn't let him apologize.

The party guests were staring at them, waiting to see what the King would do. Cristiano knew what was coming - Messi couldn't allow him to speak so disrespectfully, especially not in the presence of the Duke. He couldn't show any weakness.

He was forced to his knees by the guards before he'd even realized he'd been grabbed, and only a heartbeat later his king was backhanding him brutally across the face. He could taste blood but he didn't allow himself to cry out, just glared fiercely up at Messi. The King looked pained and sick to his stomach, but that didn't stop him from striking Cristiano again, an open-handed slap against his other cheek.

"Take him to the dungeon. Get him out of my sight," the King bit out. The was more commotion as he was dragged out of the great hall, everyone was staring at him, but he held his head up and marched forward on his own two feet.

He was stripped roughly when he finally got to the dungeons, clothing torn off, jewelry removed - but Cristiano didn't truly feel naked until they took off his diamond collar.

It was replaced quickly with an ugly iron neck shackle meant to humble and humiliate, and his arms were wrenched above his head and tethered to the stone ceiling. He refused to speak to or look at any of them, not even when Marcelo's pitying eyes passed over him. It was an intensely uncomfortable position and his cheeks throbbed where Messi had struck him, but he refused to wince. He would accept his punishment, whatever it was, with dignity.

No one said anything to him as they filed out of the dungeon, only Marcelo glancing back at him with concern obvious on his friendly face. Cristiano just looked away, and with the loud click of an iron bolt, he was alone.

Chapter 7

Chapter Notes

I'm sorry for the continued drama! I swear it will get happier soon!

He didn't know how long he was kept chained - one day? two? - when they finally retrieved him from the dungeon, dragging him up to the baths. They scrubbed him clean, shaved him and took him to the healer to be examined. He couldn't walk on his own and had to be carried by two guards, his arms dangling uselessly at his sides, for which the healer put a salve and some bandages on. He could barely keep his eyes open during all of it, barely aware of where he was as he was dragged from one place to the next, finally ending up in Messi's bedchamber once he was suitable to be in the presence of the king. Cristiano was barely awake when he was laid gently onto the king's bed.

"Eat," Messi said sternly. Cristiano was propped up on the pillows, regarding Messi dazedly as the king held something up to his lips. It was a piece of bread, plain and boring, but it was the most appetizing thing Cristiano had ever seen, and he accepted the offering, devouring it hungrily. Messi dutifully fed him small pieces of bread and gave him sips of water, until Cristiano regained his coherence.

"Ney - Neymar?" Cristiano asked hoarsely.

"He's fine. Still bruised, but he'll make a full recovery. The Duke is gone, back to Chelsea, and no doubt by now he's told everyone about King Messi and his disobedient whore," the King said irritably. Cristiano was too weak and too stubborn to even pretend to be sorry, just dropping back against the pillows once his stomach was full. Messi slammed the glass of water down on the little food tray.

"One of my advisers told me to have you flogged within an inch of your life. The other told me to banish you entirely," the king said, standing at the foot of the big four-poster bed, watching Cristiano like a hawk.

"So do it," Cristiano said. He was too tired to fight. He only wanted to sleep now, in the King's huge bed, wrapped tight in his wiry arms. Messi groaned in frustration, tugging at his soft dark hair.

"Do you understand why I had to hit you? Why I had to chain you in the dungeon?" Messi asked, sitting down beside Cristiano and cupping his bruised cheek. Cristiano let it happen, too exhausted to pull away, just watching the king's anguished face. He seemed more upset about his actions than Cristiano was.

"You couldn't appear weak," Cristiano said simply. "I knew what the consequences of my actions would be. I will accept any punishment you give with dignity and honor. But may I speak freely, Your Grace?"

"We are alone. Say what you will," Messi said, thumb skimming across the mottled purple mark on Cristiano's face, looking once again sick to his stomach.

"A truly strong king would not be so concerned with what others thought of him. You are a lion. You should act like one." Cristiano lifted his aching arm as much as he could, putting his hand on top of Messi's and linking their fingers. The king stared at him for a long moment.

"It isn't that simple," he said quietly. "I do not expect you to understand," he murmured, squeezing Cristiano's hand gently.

"I understand perfectly. You concern yourself too much with the opinions of men whose opinions mean nothing. Let the Duke spread his gossip, why does it concern you? You have the finest army in the word, only a fool would attack your borders. And the Duke is a vile man, but a fool he is not. It seems you fear words more than swords, my king."

Messi looked away, sighing heavily. "I have to punish you. Your insolence cannot be allowed to stand," the king said, so quietly Cristiano had to strain to hear him. "I will do it myself. Tomorrow, in the courtyard. 5 lashes."

"Do 10," Cristiano said flatly. "5 will make you seem soft. And you cannot have that, can you?"

Messi threw his head back, making a frustrated noise. "Why do you question me? Why can you not accept your place? Your life is a pampered one, there are many who would gladly switch places with you, who would be eager to live in the palace and warm my bed in exchange for the finest food and wine and silks and jewels in the land. But nothing I give you makes you happy."

"You putting a collar on me does not make me a dog," Cristiano said simply. "No matter how many diamonds you put on my chains, they are still chains. I accepted my fate when you bested me in a duel and I've tried to make the best of my new life. You can make me your slave, Lionel, but you cannot make me enjoy it."

Messi looked shocked at Cristiano's use of his first name. Cristiano imagined no one had called him that since the death of his father and older brother in the plague epidemic.

"If I free you - " Messi started, running a hand through his hair. "You will leave. Won't you? You would not even look back."

"You presume to know my mind? Are you an oracle, can you see the future? Or a warlock who can read my thoughts?" Cristiano asked, an edge to his voice now. Messi was the most confident man in the world when he held a sword, but when it came to everything else, he was insecure in a way not befitting a king. Cristiano thought he would never understand it.

"Do I tell a lie?" Messi asked, not looking at him. Cristiano sighed.

"Maybe I would. I don't know, Your Grace. I thought - I thought that I would hate you for as long as I lived, that first night, when you made me yours. When you cut my hair and shaved me and put me in silks and diamonds. But then I saw the real you: not King Messi, but Lionel. You were nothing like I thought you'd be."

Cristiano let his head fall back against the pillows. Messi stared at his boots, listening without speaking, his fingers still laced with Cristiano's. "You love me. Do not deny it. Everyone can see it ... even I see it now. But I do not love you." Messi shut his eyes briefly. His face was almost blank, but Cristiano knew him well enough to know that he was in pain. He continued on.

"Maybe I could. I do not presume to know what the future holds. But I do know that I cannot love you the way you desire while you keep me in chains."

Messi stared at his feet. He was hard to read at the best of times, but now he was giving Cristiano nothing, his face utterly impassive.

"I'm sorry," Messi said at last. "I cannot let you go."

Cristiano nodded. "Then I have nothing more to say to you, Your Grace."

Cristiano shut his eyes. The king untwined their fingers and quietly left the bedchamber, leaving Cristiano alone once more.

Cristiano couldn't remember the last time his hands had felt so cold.

Chapter 8

Chapter Notes

A bit of a break from the drama! Cristiano and Neymar have a much needed talk.

Neymar was still in the infirmary recuperating when Cristiano was brought in so the healer could tend to his wounds. Cristiano's back felt like it was on fire from the whipping the king had given him, his skin throbbing and aching, though thankfully not bleeding. He was laid down on his stomach, head pillowed on his arms while the healer cleaned him up.

"Neymar. How are you?" Cristiano asked quietly, gazing over at the young man. His face and body were still badly bruised but he was awake and lucid, seeming more or less back to his normal self.

"I'm all right. What happened to you?" Neymar asked, nodding to Cristiano's back.

"I spoke out of turn. The king disciplined me," Cristiano said simply. It wasn't the first time Cristiano's mouth had gotten him into trouble - during his days as a soldier his back had tasted the lash more than once.

"For defending me?" Neymar said, looking slightly horrified. Cristiano smiled sadly.

"His Grace had no choice. He couldn't appear weak in front of his subjects, and particularly not in front of - well, him," Cristiano said. He didn't want to mention Mourinho's name, especially in front of Neymar.

"Still, though. You were only doing what you thought was right. I don't - well, I just ... thank you," Neymar finished awkwardly. Cristiano smiled a bit.

"You're welcome. I am glad to see you doing better, even if we've never been especially friendly," Cristiano said, hissing quietly as the healer spread a salve over his wounds. The King had only given him five lashes instead of ten, but it was still incredibly painful, burning even though the healer's hands were gentle. He suspected the King stopped early to spare himself more than Cristiano - he hadn't been able to hide his anguish as Cristiano was carried limply out of the courtyard once his punishment was completed.

"It was never personal, Cristiano," Neymar explained. Cristiano nodded.

"I know. You envy my relationship with the king," he said, matter-of-factly. Neymar looked away. "I never intended to take him away from you. And you needn't worry that he'll send you away. This is your home, Neymar, and it always will be."

Neymar let out a sigh. "I know that. I just ... I wish he loved me as I love him," the boy said sadly. Cristiano felt like laughing at the irony of it, but he forced it down.

"He does love you, Neymar. Perhaps not in the way you wish he did, but he does love you," Cristiano reassured him. Neymar just looked down at his lap. "You're an attractive young man. There's options for you out there."

Neymar shook his head a bit. "I know. But I think I need time." He glanced over at Cristiano. "Why do you hate it here so much, Cristiano? The king is kind to you, he always has been. There are worse lives you could have."

"I'm a soldier at heart. I wasn't built to be a king's pet," Cristiano said softly. "I don't hate it, Neymar. I don't hate the king, either. I just wish I had to freedom to decide for myself whether to stay here or go elsewhere."

"I was bred for this. From the time I could walk, really. I was told I would live in a beautiful castle and serve the king and I would be loved and taken care of for the rest of my life. I never even considered doing something else," Neymar confessed. Cristiano smiled slightly.

"I think -" Cristiano was cut off by a commotion outside the infirmary doors, then a moment later James' friendly face appeared in is field of vision. Cristiano chuckled a bit - he wasn't the least bit surprised to see the younger man had forced his way past the guard so he could see his friend.

"Cristiano! How are you doing? Are you all right? Are you in pain?" James asked quickly, stroking his hair and fussing over him. Cristiano playfully batted at his hands, laughing.

"I'll be all right. I think you're giving Sergio here grey hair, though," Cristiano laughed as the guard stalked into the room with a scowl on his face.

"You can't be in here. He needs to rest," Sergio said firmly, taking James' arm and tugging him away.

"I'll be back to visit tomorrow," James said, wriggling in Sergio's grip. "I'm coming, calm down. And hello, Ney," James said with a bright smile. Neymar returned the smile, then looked down at his hands and mumbled shyly. Sergio marched him out of the room and shut the door firmly behind him, leaving Cristiano and Neymar alone with the healer once more.

"Do you like James, Neymar?" Cristiano teased. Neymar just mumbled again.

"Be quiet," Neymar said, face red.

For the first time in days, Cristiano laughed.

Chapter 9

Chapter Notes

More drama and sadness! Sorry, guys! I promise the next chapter will be happier!

The king didn't send for him for weeks, not even after his back was fully healed. He sent his guards to check up on him, but Cristiano had not seen the king himself since the day of the whipping. He had thought he'd be relieved, but he was surprised to find himself missing the little man, missing the scent of him, the feel of his arms around Cristiano's waist, the gentle way he would stroke Cristiano's cheek and gaze at him as if he was the most beautiful thing in the world. With the king avoiding him, Cristiano was receiving no affection, physical or otherwise.

It made him feel lonely and annoyed. Was the king heartbroken? Or simply being petty? He seemed to have plenty of time for the other concubines, seeing a different one practically every night. Something like jealousy burned hot in Cristiano's chest.

"If you scowl any harder your face will get stuck," Neymar said. Cristiano glanced up at him quickly. "The king misses you. He doesn't say it, but it's obvious. Do you want me to talk to him for you?"

"No, no," Cristiano said with a shake of his head. He was about to say something else when a guard approached him.

"Come with me," Pique said, holding out his hand. Cristiano rose and took it, following the guard into a private room. What he saw when he entered surprised him: there was a sword, his sword, lying on the table, along with his old clothes, a satchel of water, some food, and coins. Cristiano felt his heart start to beat faster in his chest.

"What is this?" Cristiano asked, letting his hand hover over the hilt of his sword.

Pique handed him documents. "You're free. The king wishes you health and long life."

Anger welled up in Cristiano's stomach. "Is he - is he banishing me?" Cristiano asked. He was surprised to feel panic bubbling up alongside his anger. Castle Nou had been his home for so long - he couldn't return to Bernabéu, not after his defeat and capture. They would never accept him back.

"No. But you are free to go. There's enough food for a week of travel. The king is willing to provide you with a horse if you wish, and anything else you might need," Pique explained.

Cristiano's head was spinning. He grabbed the edge of the table to keep from losing his balance. "I can't - I want to see him. I want to speak with the king," he demanded. How dare Messi throw him out this way. He hurled the parchment to the ground.

Pique looked uncomfortable. "The king is not accepting visitors at this time. But you are free to stay in the castle if you wish."

"If I wish? If I wish!" Cristiano said irritably. "I'm not leaving until I see him."

Pique scowled at him and shrugged. "Then I suppose you will be here for quite a while. Good day, Cristiano."

He watched Pique's retreating back in disbelief, still leaning on the table to keep upright. This was happening too fast. He'd been dreaming of this day, of finally being granted his freedom, for so long that he almost didn't know how to react now that he had it. Where would he go? His family no doubt knew of his fate, knew of his life as La Pulga's whore - would they even want to see him after he'd disgraced their name by allowing himself to be captured alive?

They probably hated him. His old friends probably did as well. And even if they didn't hate him, they certainly thought less of him for not fighting to the death like a proper Bernabéu warrior. How could he ever face them? And all the new friends he had were here, in Castle Nou. What would James do without him? How would Cristiano earn money? No one would want a disgraced former soldier. What if he'd lost all his skills with a sword?

Cristiano swayed on his feet, heart pounding, palms sweaty. His vision was blurry and dark around the edges, his throat felt like it was trapped in a vice, and he needed to see the king immediately. Cristiano stumbled as he rushed out of the room, having no idea where he was heading as he made his way through the castle. Distantly, he could hear voices shouting at him, but he couldn't make out their words - it was as if they were speaking a different language, one he didn't know.

It was Marcelo who caught him when he finally lost consciousness.

**

There was something tickling his feet. Cristiano burrowed deeper into the king's soft bed, sighing with contentment at the familiar scent of him on the sheets, the soft brush of the fur blankets against his toes. He realized with confusion that his toes were the only thing that could feel the fur, and he jolted out of his sleep, sitting up ramrod straight.

"Calm yourself," the king said worriedly. Cristiano remembered everything suddenly, the guard, the parchment, Messi banishing him.

"How dare you," Cristiano hissed, throwing the blankets off. He was dressed in his old clothes, the ones he had been wearing the night Messi defeated him in combat. The leather felt hot and uncomfortable after so long in silky loose tunics. He grabbed at his collar and tugged it away from his neck. "How dare you banish me!"

"I didn't banish you," the king said, face distressed. "I set you free."

"You made it very clear that you wanted me gone. Is your ego that frail? That you would send me away from the only place I can call home anymore after what you did to me - all because I told you I don't love you? How dare you," he repeated. He was furious, rage making his hands tremble. He was very glad they were alone - even if he was no longer a slave, no one would be permitted to speak to the king this way. And Cristiano knew he wasn't going to be able to hold his tongue.

Messi looked helpless, tugging at his hair the way he did when he was flustered. "That's not what's happening at all. Please calm down and listen to me," he pleaded. He sounded nothing like a king, voice breaking with emotion. Cristiano sat on the edge of the bed and folded his arms tightly over his chest. "I thought I was giving you what you wanted. You have your freedom and you can leave, return to your home. I thought it would make you happy."

Truthfully Cristiano hadn't given much thought to what he would do with his freedom if he ever had it again. He never wanted to allow himself to dream - it was too painful when he was sure he'd die a slave. But now the reality of it was slapping him in the face and making him feel dizzy all over again.

"I can't go back," he said quietly. "I can't face them. I disgraced their name."

"They're your family," Messi insisted. "I'm sure they miss you."

Cristiano shook his head. "It's different in Bernabéu. I was a Galáctico, I should have died fighting, I should have forced you to kill me, I -" he took a deep breath. The king was shaking his head, pulling at his own hair again. "But I was a coward and I didn't want to die, so I surrendered, I allowed you to make me - to turn me into a slave. You should have killed me," Cristiano said quietly. Messi surged out of his chair and took hold of Cristiano's face, cupping his cheeks firmly.

"Never say that again," he said, his soft voice breaking a bit. "Never."

Cristiano allowed himself to take comfort in the king's touch, nuzzling into those calloused hands while Messi kissed him on the forehead. The physical affection was welcome after weeks of being ignored, and Cristiano couldn't help but wind his arms around Messi's slim waist.

"I can't go home," Cristiano whispered. "There's nothing there for me anymore."

Messi clutched him tightly while Cristiano held back tears. He hadn't cried the first night, when he'd been defeated in battle and taken from his family and friends, and he would not cry now. "Stay here. With me. I will find you duties to occupy your days."

It hardly seemed real, that he was refusing to return to his home and his family. That Messi had finally set him free. There were no diamond shackles on his wrists anymore but he felt as trapped as ever, still stuck in his gilded cage. Everything was different now - he was different. The Dark Invader was long dead. He hadn't realized it until he'd held the parchment granting him his freedom in his shaking hands.

"Will you stay?" Messi asked hesitantly. Cristiano buried his face in the king's chest and nodded.

There were some things that simply could not be undone. And sometimes, there was no going back.

Chapter 10

Chapter Notes

A slightly happier chapter to let Cris and Leo get to know each other a little better as equals! Hope you guys enjoy!

Cristiano held the wooden sword up to Messi's throat and heaved out a sigh. "You're letting me win," he grumbled, helping the king to his feet.

"I am not," Messi insisted, setting his wooden weapon aside. They were alone in the courtyard, the sun setting in the distance, bathing them in orange light. They were both sweating heavily, and Cristiano took a few long pulls of water from his flask before handing to the the king. Messi took it gratefully and hungrily sucked down the cool liquid, while Cristiano tried very hard not to stare at that pale bobbing throat.

"I'm rusty." Cristiano flopped down onto a stone bench. "My skills aren't what they used to be. I even have blisters, can you believe it? I haven't had blisters since I was a boy."

Messi sat down next to him. "It will come back. You just need more practice. We'll work together, every day when I have the time."

"Thank you, Your Grace," Cristiano said honestly, taking the leather flask back from Messi and setting it aside. He grabbed a cloth off his hip and dried his sweaty face and chest, shifting as his leather trousers stuck to his legs uncomfortably. He wasn't used to dressing in the traditional garments of a warrior, more accustomed to the silky gauzy tunics he'd worn as Messi's concubine. Even without a shirt he found it difficult to maneuver, which had mostly been what allowed Messi to gain the upper hand over and over, at least until the king had started throwing their fights on purpose to give Cristiano a boost of confidence. But Cristiano knew intimately how Messi fought, and it had been more than obvious that the little flea had let him win. It was both offensive and heart-warming.

"You've only been back at it for a few weeks. You have to give yourself time," Messi said softly, glancing over at him, and Cristiano could see the king's eyes move over his bare, sweaty torso before he dragged them back up to his face. "I've worked up an appetite. Are you hungry?"

"Starving, Your Grace," Cristiano said, rubbing his stomach. Messi eyed him again, then stood up.

"Let's go inside. I'll have the cooks prepare us a meal."

Cristiano smiled. "As His Grace desires."

**

"This is what I should have been eating," Cristiano said between bites of his roast. "Not those fruits and honey you fed me," he teased, smiling at the king. Messi gave him a doubtful look.

"You seemed to enjoy fruit and honey well enough. It's not as if it's a hardship to eat sweets," he said, taking a gulp of his wine.

Cristiano was glad the cooks still had plenty of food set aside for them as they'd skipped dinner when everyone else ate to practice in the courtyard. Even lukewarm the roast was delicious. It reminded him of his days in Bernabéu, when his mother had fed him meat and potatoes as a boy to fatten him up.

"You must have wanted me to get a little belly. Go all soft around the edges," Cristiano laughed. He stole a carrot off the king's plate and munched on it. "So I'd be nicer to cuddle with."

"I don't cuddle," the king said insistently. Cristiano rolled his eyes playfully. "I don't. You must have been imagining things."

Cristiano sipped at his own wine. He didn't usually indulge, but it had been a very long day. "Yes, I imagined all those times I awoke to your chest plastered to my back and your arm around my waist and your cock against my ass."

The king's cheeks pinkened just a bit, downing more of his wine to cover it up. "Your memory fails you. You were the one who always curled around me in your sleep. Many a night I woke up sweating like a farm animal because of you. I swear you must not even need furs in the winter, you run so hot."

"Only since I got older and bigger. I was a skinny slip of a thing when I was a boy, all skin and bones. Back then I was always cold," Cristiano said, pouring them both more wine.

"I don't believe it," the king said, head shaking side to side. "You were slender?"

"Very. And pale," Cristiano said, drinking down the deep red liquid.

Messi laughed. "Now I really don't believe it."

"I was a boy once, Your Majesty, just as you were. But I had a legacy to carry on, and so I ate and worked and ate some more until I was as strong as my father."

"What was he like? Your father?" Messi asked softly, finishing his cup of wine before setting everything aside and padding over to his big four-poster bed. Cristiano followed him, sitting down beside him as the king stretched his body out and laid down against the soft pillows. Cristiano stayed sitting. It was intimate, being alone with the king like this, and the wine had started going to his head.

"I didn't know him very well. My mother always said I was just like him, though. He was tall and handsome like me, strong, an amazing Galáctico warrior. I always wanted to follow in his footsteps. And I did, for a while. Until ... well, until." Cristiano said quietly. Messi sat up and put a hand on his back, resting his chin on Cristiano's shoulder.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry for what I did to you, Cristiano," the king murmured, hiding his face in the crook of Cristiano's neck. He was slurring slightly, more affected by the wine than Cristiano due to his smaller stature. "I was selfish. I never stopped to think about what it would do to you, I just saw you and you were so beautiful and I wanted you so much -"

"Shh." Cristiano hushed the king and guided him down onto the bed, stripping him out of his leathers. "It doesn't matter now. Dwelling on things that can't be changed is futile, and pointless."

Messi cupped his face, pulling him forward until their eyes locked. "You should contact them. Your mother and family, I know they'll want to see you, how could they not? I can help you. I'll find them and take you to them, my love, my life," Messi slurred, leaning up to kiss Cristiano desperately. Cristiano just guided him away gently and stroked his hair.

"You've had too much wine, Your Majesty," Cristiano murmured softly, nudging at Messi until he was under the soft furs. Messi shook his head, pulling Cristiano down beside him.

"Lionel, call me Lionel, if only for tonight," he said softly, stroking Cristiano's hair. Cristiano had never seen the king in this state, drunk and affectionate and desperate for him, and he couldn't help but lean down and give Messi and chaste kiss on the lips.

"Lionel. You've had too much wine. Just rest, I'll stay here and watch over you." He ran his fingers through the king's hair, smoothing the mussed strands.

Messi sighed softly, nuzzling into his palm. "I love you," the king murmured as his eyes drifted shut. Cristiano gave a tiny smile and kissed the king on the forehead.

"You really are a lovesick fool," he whispered fondly.

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