AU inspired by King Midas and Florence & the Machine.
"Midas is king and he holds me so tight and turns me to gold in the sunlight."
~Florence & the Machine, “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”
Title: Gold in the Sunlight
Summary: “You are already like gold, my dear, my sweet, my heart. Gold in the sunlight, silver in the moonlight, a precious jewel through and through.”
The healers all say the same thing.
"There is nothing we can do to help you."
Tim is sorry, too. When he had finally found his happiness, the sickness from his childhood reared its ugly head once more. He’s sorry because he thought he’d been getting better - the pain hadn’t bothered him for years - since meeting Jason. He was getting better.
Jason made him better.
Tim wants to scream and cry, pull the expensive curtains from their windows and flip over tables filled for a feast. He wants to take the chaos inside of him and reflect it to the world.
But he has to be strong, a pillar. For Jason.
"Don’t tell the King," he begs. "Don’t tell the King."
They all nod and promise not to tell, and they send him off with pitying looks and offers to at least ease some of his suffering.
But there is no cure, no easy way to bear this kind of suffering.
Tim refuses to see any of them, but he can feel the burn of tears behind his eyes.
The King shall not discover the truth. This will be Tim’s secret, his burden alone.
The disease eats away at Tim’s body from the inside, slowly. Soon, he might not be able to hide at all.
Either way, it would have been impossible to keep Jason from noticing it completely. He spends hours a day just contemplating the beauty of Tim’s face, his body, his skin, all of him. For now, Tim can hide the physical effects but the emotional ones, not so much.
"Lover-mine, what ales you?"
Tim doesn’t flinch. If he wasn’t so worried, he might have laughed at the irony of Jason’s word choice.
"Nothing, my King. I feel as fine as a hummingbird in a garden of cosmos."
Jason doesn’t exactly frown, but his eyebrows stretch downward. Tim longs to reach out and smooth the lines in his forehead, to tell him, "It is okay, I will be alright. As long as you are by my side and I by yours, everything will be fine."
But he has already told enough lies (ommission of truth is also a lie, is it not?) and he is loathe to remove his hands from where they press against the King’s warm chest.
Tim gets a long look from his lover, but after a smile, to show Jason that he is alright without speaking, Jason returns to rubbing Tim’s neck. The sweat there is too cool, but beneath his leather gloves, Jason cannot tell.
Over the balcony, morning dew still clings to flower petals. A mixture of sweet scents wafts in on a soft breeze. Cicadas buzz in the distance, and Tim falls asleep to their song.
In the mornings, Tim is always first to rise. But today, he wants to bask in the sunlight for a little while longer. Reveling in its warmth and in the warmth Jason leaves behind, Tim stretches like a cat with a full belly, even though he has not had an appetite for days. The sheets glide against his skin. He misses this already.
He knows Jason will be sad. Because of him. Because he is not strong enough. Jason will break.
The pain that comes with this knowledge is a hurt different from the one that claws at his stomach, burns in his lungs.
Some days, he wishes he’d never met Jason. So that Jason would never be sad. Because of him. But with a bitter taste of guilt and shame, he takes back the thought. Tim is not conceited, but he knows that he means the world to Jason. This is something Jason has never, will never, let him forget. This is something Tim would never have known if not for Jason.
He is Jason’s world. And Jason is his.
If Tim could fix this, fix himself, he would. But there isn’t any cure, in all the kingdom and beyond, even with all the gold Jason can make with a single touch.
The garden looks its best this time of year, and Jason should be out there right now, waiting for Tim to join him. But Tim cannot even muster the strength to get out of bed. With great effort, he rolls over and pretends he can see the top of Jason’s head bobbing among the rose bushes, looking for him.
Once in a while, Jason must attend meetings. He is King after all. He has responsibilities he must attend to. Tim understands and sends Jason off with a kiss, several kisses, because he understands. That a whole kingdom is more important than a sick, dying man. Even if Jason doesn’t think so. Doesn’t think to think so, because he has no idea.
Jason pries himself from Tim reluctantly, returning each kiss twofold, with promises to return soon. His leather-clad hand slides out of Tim’s at the last possible moment, and Tim’s hand hovers in the air, still reaching for his King.
It wavers, taking too much strength that Tim doesn’t have, to hold it up in the air, but he does well to hide it.
Jason smiles and sends him one last look, one that promises a swift return and makes Tim shiver even though it is summer.
The door shuts softly, trailing after Jason’s gold and ruby robes. In the privacy of their chambers, Tim examines the thin papery skin of his skeleton hand. Tries to recall the feel of Jason against him, with difficulty.
Jason has always been careful with Tim, careful about touching him, with his hands especially. He never forgets his gloves, specially lined with rare material, found deep in the faeries’ forest. He’d turned half a meadow to have them made just so that he could hold Tim. He rarely takes them off, but when he does, he always makes Tim wait twenty rooms over.
It had been an accident, the first time, with Prince Damian’s first dog. Jason hadn’t meant to, but the dog, it had been such a grand creature, and so eager, jumping into his arms. It made Jason laugh, and he’d reached forward to steady himself. It was an accident.
Tim knows that sometimes, Jason still visits that dog in the locked room with all the golden things he doesn’t need or hadn’t meant to create. Locked not to discourage thieves but to hide away regret. Damian hasn’t completely forgiven his brother but he has moved on. Jason, though…
He hears Jason calling for him (is the meeting over so quickly?) and Tim hopes someone will pass by their room so that he may ask for them to bring him to their King.
"Timothy, my heart, I have been calling you for quite some time. Did you not hear me?" Jason sounds worried but his voice is gentle. Always gentle.
"What of your meeting?"
"I ended it early so that I might spend time with you, sweetling. Are you sure you are alright?"
The crease in his brow is back and Tim, once more, longs to reach forward to smooth it out. But forward implies removing himself from the wall and walking across the room.
"I have told you, my dear, I am fine. Especially now that you are within my sight." He smiles, weakly, but even when the sickness has sapped his strength, his love for Jason continues to shine strongly in his eyes.
"If you are sure—"
"—then come. Let us take a walk through the gardens."
Thankfully, they must go back the way Tim came. When Jason reaches Tim, he holds his arm out for his lover to take. Tim leans all his weight on Jason, shuffling his feet, but Jason does not notice because Tim has always had a delicate touch. And now, Tim weighs almost nothing.
Outside, Jason chatters about nothing and everything, and Tim hangs on every word, tries to absorb the shape of each sound on Jason’s lips.
The sun is warm but a cool breeze threads its fingers through Tim’s hair, across his neck. He sighs, happily, because there is no trace of lines on Jason’s forehead. His King is just as happy as he is and that’s all Tim could ask for these days.
Their pace is lazy, relaxed, as if here, in their sanctuary, together, time neither runs backward nor does it race forward. After a while, they reach an archway covered in roses. It’s where Jason first confessed his love for Tim, and he does it again and again, each time they come here together. It has been some time since the last.
"My Beloved," he goes down on bended knee and kisses Tim’s palms first and then the backs of his hands. "My One, my Only. I have loved you in the past, I love you to this day, and I will continue to love you in all the days to come. Even when our kingdom’s time has come to pass, I will always be Your King, your Jason, and you will always be my most loved, my Timothy."
Jason will love him forever. Tim will love Jason for even longer than that. And that’s when the idea comes to Tim.
He pulls Jason to his feet and kisses his face, over and over again, until no trace of skin has been left untouched by Tim’s lips. Jason cradles Tim’s face and presses their lips together, slow and sensual and for the first time in such a long, long time, Tim’s knees don’t wobble because he is weak.
When he pulls away, he drowns in the teal of Jason’s eyes. The burning within him washes away, replaced by cool relief and the weight of Jason’s hands on him, rooting him to this singular moment and all their shared moments, strung together like the pearls around Tim’s throat.
Jason rubs his thumb lovingly against Tim’s cheekbone, but Tim pulls away. He holds Jason’s hand in front of him and kisses each leather-tipped finger before reaching to pull the glove off.
He tries to pull back, but Tim tugs on his wrist and he stops.
The glove drops to the floor. The wind grows stronger as if magnified by Tim’s feelings.
Jason tries to pull back once more but not too forcefully, because his hands and Damian’s dog and Tim—
"I’m sorry." I’msorryI’msorryI’msorry. For everything, I’m sorry.
"I’m sorry," he repeats (over and over again - I’m sorry) because he can never be sorry enough.
"I love you." Forever and ever, and I’m not sorry, not about this, never, Jason, my Jason, I love you.
"Tim, no, stop. Tim!”
Tim surges into Jason’s hand. There’s a smile on his face and it is gentle but so, so immensely happy because Jason’s hand and oh, this is how it would have felt, to be held by this man. The man he loves more than the entire world, more than the rose garden and the sunshine and the feelings that make him golden from the inside out.
Before Jason has a chance to shed a single tear, Tim turns into gold forever beneath his palm.
Live a long good life, my King. My Jason.
The King grows to an old age and throughout his reign, the whole kingdom flourishes. Even for the small towns on the kingdom’s outskirts, poverty is only a distant memory. Small battles are fought, but there are no wars. It is a long, prosperous time for everyone.
Maybe too long for some.
Jason is gray now and his bones creak when he moves. He cannot move among the palace grounds as he did once before.
Life has been a long weary journey, but it is also filled with more good than most could ever dream of, certainly more than Jason thinks he ever deserved. But there is nothing he would ever take back - or give back, for that matter.
He gave the kingdom away long ago, to a younger, smaller boy - now a man - who knows how to cherish life and the blessings bestowed upon him.
But this is still his (their) home. And he has made sure to put it in good hands.
Standing over the rose garden from his (their) balcony, Jason closes his eyes and relishes in the sun’s golden warmth. Among the flowers, a statue of a young man glimmers brilliantly.
Your life has been long and good, my King. My Jason. Now rest.
Return to me.
The next morning, the King does not wake from his slumber, and they find him like that, basking in the late morning sun.
The whole kingdom longs to mourn, but how can they, when their King looks so happy, so at peace?
They bury him in his (Timothy’s) garden, among the roses he tended to so well, and watching over his grave, a beautiful young man shines gold and continues to love his King, in the past, to this day, and for all the days to come.
"What will you do when you grow tired of me?"
"I will never grow tired of you."
"But let’s say you do. What then?"
"I will love you with my body and my soul one last time, and then I will love you with my hands."
"You will turn me into gold?"
"You are already like gold, my dear, my sweet, my heart. Gold in the sunlight, silver in the moonlight, a precious jewel through and through."
Tim hums thoughtfully, his lips vibrating, tickling Jason’s arm.
"That doesn’t sound so bad."
Jason barks out a laugh, jostling Tim against his side.
"Which part, my love? The part where I grow tired of you? Or the part where I turn you into gold?"
"The part where the last thing I feel is your hands upon my skin."