a/n: new story being written at hyper speed. will be alternating this with 'because eff you, that's why' so worry not! chapter for that will probably be out tomorrow. anyway, hope you like my brand new boys *rubs hands evilly*

- 1

- in which the thug prince, glorious and prone to temper is he, meets the pauper & doesn't kill him.

The back steps of St. Guilford's Private School were a place few students frequented. They were the haunt of Stephen Elliot, the Thug Prince, glorious and prone to temper tantrums was he.

Loosely decorated in heavy black eye-liner and chains that attached to anything that would have them, Stephen was a stunningly unapproachable lad who used his collection of alkaline scowls and deep-set frowns to keep potential irritants away. He hadn't any friends and he preferred it that way. Friendships were like microwave ovens – messy, unpredictable, and better off operated by someone else.

But, we stray. All you really need to know is that no one went to those back steps except Stephen. On the day that this story begins, however, Stephen found himself not as alone on those steps as he thought.

The day was Tuesday, the tenth of October, approximately two thousand and eleven years after Jesus Christ, an unassuming carpenter from Bethlehem, had had a misunderstanding with a few romans, a nail, and a cross. School had been over for a little over an hour, but Stephen still held court over his back step kingdom, smoking his cigarette and lolling back on the railing that supported the steps.

Summer was tailgaiting winter now, so the days were getting dark much much faster. It was barely half four and already it looked like on-coming seven. Quasi-opaque shadows poured into the courtyard, submerging it in inky grey and then inky black as the sun fell further. There wasn't much for them to play with back here – the rubbish skip on the far side of the perimeter, a picnic table or two for who knows what, a basketball hoop without a net, Stephen himself – but the shadows didn't mind. A playground was a play ground even if it had one swing.

And so they inked the skip in their ephemeral graffiti remaking it in images of monsters, and intertwined themselves in the basketball pole's ring creating a shadow net to hurl themselves through, and they had tea and biscuits at the empty tables. Across Stephen they played games of keep away and tag, alternating between digging around in his hollow cheekbones for gold and covering them up completely. They were a bit like children, really. Cute when you were looking at them. Dangerous as all hell if they were hiding something.

Suddenly, Stephen started and sat up, ears primed to the sound that had alerted them. The shadows spilled off his face like black current, leaving behind the glow from the lone pair of security lights on the school's towers.

In Stephen's kingdom there were only two types of sounds: the sound of silence and the sound of trouble. The sound of silence was easy to distinguish – t'was a symphony of yowling cats and rustling bits of crisp packets and the whistling of wind through rapidly stripping trees – what nature sounded like when no one was listening. The sound of trouble, however was always human. This sound was definitely the latter.

Flicking the cigarette out of his fingers, he rose to his feet, one hand set out in front of him defensively and the other sunk into the deep pockets of his trench, curled around the switch blade he kept nestled there. It was the only form of backup Stephen had and the only form he needed as far as he was concerned. Henchmen, while nice to look at, could not conveniently be stuffed away in a pocket. And they talked too much.

Taking the steps two at a time, Stephen swung into the courtyard, marking his descent in the studied stomp of his steal-toed boots. It was not unusual for him to be set upon by other thug lords; in fact, it was expected, but it didn't make it any less annoying. He had never asked for his crown and it irked him that he constantly had to defend it or risk having his arse handed to him.

The sound came again, louder, and from the direction of the rubbish skip. He neared it slowly, a perplexed frown on his face. His knife-hand unclenched. This wasn't the sound of a dozen or so post-pubescent aggros out to overcompensate for something. It was too nervous and twitchy and the breathing that accompanied, shrill, like a little girls'.

What in the hell?

At the front of the skip, Stephen placed both gloved hands on its cover, and, with a heave, shoved it upwards. Immediately, a small figure leapt out at him from the gloom, spindly arms throwing themselves around his neck, momentum throwing him off his balance and onto his back. The skip's cover slammed down.

"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" the flying creature, now the wriggling-on-top-of-Stephen creature, enthused ecstatically. "Oh my god, thank you!" Before he could stop it, it reached down and kissed him on both cheeks, then pulled back with a self-satisfied smirk. "Thank you!"

For a minute, Stephen was too stunned to do anything. Then his breath caught up with the situation and his frown hardened to an outright glare. "If you don't get the fuck off of me, I am going to stuff you back in the rubbish!" he hissed.

Rubbish-skip creature's eyes widened and it scrambled off, a bit like a spider with limbs it had not quite learned to coordinate. It wiped its dirty hands on its clothes and hurried to help Stephen up, but Stephen batted the childish hands away. He was fairly sure if he actually tugged on that hand, the spindly thing would just collapse on top of him again.

"Thanks again," it said, when Stephen was finally on his feet. "I thought no one was going to come and I'd get stuck in there the whole night and there was this terribly smelly nappy in there, which smelt so bad I passed out, and when I came to it was still smelling and I thought I was going to kill myself to get away from it and, seriously, I could kiss you again–"

Stephen glared at it askance as he wiped his cheeks off. "Don't."

"N-no, I was just saying that I could, not that I–"

"Just don't."

Rubbish-skip creature's eyes lowered bashfully. "Okay," it said in a very small voice.

It was dark, but Stephen could make out that the creature was in fact a boy with sandy brown hair, gigantic brown eyes, and a freckly face. Although he was a tiny welp of a thing, only about three quarters of Stephen's length, Stephen hazarded, from his ill-fitting uniform, that he was a secondary school student like him. Various bits of rubbish hung off his person, but, despite this, his lips stretched in the biggest grin Stephen had ever actually seen on a person.

Stephen rubbed at his cheeks harder. He could still feel the small lips on his skin, like they'd somehow branded themselves in spit. Out of the corner of his eye, he scrutinized the grinning boy next to him with unconcealed suspicion. He may not have been a thug lord and his gang come to beat on him, but Stephen was starting to think that this dwarf like thing might indeed be worse. Who the fuck kissed random people they didn't even know?

Rubbish-skip boy seemed to understand that his time in the presence of the prince was now over and did not follow when Stephen turned on heal and walked away. However, just as Stephen was reaching the gates rubbish skip boy cupped his hands around his mouth like a bull horn and yelled.

"My name is Austen Allard and I thank you thug prince of St Guilford's! I thank you!"

Stephen didn't turn back.

Little did he know that this was only the beginning of his troubles.