Claimer: All characters and plots=OURS
Rating: R for violence
Warnings: Yaoi, almost-rape, violence, blood, etc.
It was only his second day off of his crutches, but Dragomir was already noticing his strength returning, bit by bit. It was starting to be hard for him to recall how venerable and weak he’d felt only weeks earlier, but he was still acutely aware of his own uselessness in protecting Niles from the abuse he’d been forced to endure on a daily basis since the arrival of his old superiors. Their time at home and short intervals away from the office had become their only time to be together at all, and Dragomir spent most of their time at work pointedly keeping himself from doing so much as looking at Niles.
He’d do anything to keep the Major from finding an excuse to punish Niles on his own account, even at the expense of going to such great lengths so as to completely ignore Niles and everything that was happening to him. It made Dragomir sick to remain so distant, and he hated himself bitterly for not being able to do anything for Niles at all, and sometimes not even realizing what it was that was being done to him. It was only when they were safely back at home together that Dragomir would discover some new bruise or other injury, and each time it happened, he cursed his own worthlessness and lamented his weakness. Even so, Dragomir knew Niles was strong. He seemed to be managing, and Dragomir knew had he to keep his distance for Niles’s sake. And for Niles, he could do anything.
As they were arriving to work early, (which they’d taken to doing to keep Niles from getting into trouble for being supposedly late,) Dragomir glanced quickly around them, down the hall, and stopped abruptly a few feet in front of the door, taking Niles’s hand gently in his. He pulled the other into a soft kiss, running his hands lightly over Niles’s shoulder-length ponytailed hair. “Good luck today…” He said somewhat lamely, pulling apart after only a few seconds.
Niles smiled back weakly. "Thanks," he replied softly, looking up at Dragomir only a moment longer before reverting his gaze to his feet, where it remained for most of the day. Moving to the door, he knocked lightly, then held it open for Dragomir to enter before him. He followed Dragomir inside, not daring to look at him again as he made his way to his desk, so far isolated from anyone, and immediately got to work on the forms he found waiting on his desk along with a note: "Christian- we don't feel like filling these out. Do it for us. -Holtcombe." He didn't dare to sigh as he set the note aside and began filling out the paperwork in the pile.
Lawley looked up when Christian and the foreigner entered the room, rising as they settled. He ignored Christian for the time being; the twins could take care of him if need be, and strode over towards the Captain. Today he would begin to set the plan in action, and he needed to speak with one of his main suspects.
"Good morning, Captain," he greeted with a steely smile. "If it isn't too inconvenient for you presently, may I have a word with you in private? It's about an upcoming mission, and is of the utmost importance." His politeness masked the order, as well as the joy he was getting from the hatred with which the foreigner was looking back at him. Maybe he'd get another excuse to punish Christian especially this morning...that would be the perfect way to start off the day.
“Yes sir,” Dragomir growled through his teeth, bowing deeply to soften his resentful manner at least somewhat. He wondered vaguely why it had to be private; a mission was just a mission, after all, and everyone would surely be briefed on it sooner or later anyway, even if they had something in particular they wanted just him to do. And what Dragomir still couldn’t figure out was what exactly they were going to do to try and catch the rat. As much as he despised their presence, he truly hoped they’d find out who the spy was quickly and get rid of him. Dragomir hated the idea of working so closely to someone still affiliated with the Berceuse Malheureuse, and wished the other officers all the best of luck in catching the traitor.
"Excellent," Lawley replied with a pleasant smile, leading the foreigner over to a discrete corner of the office behind the area in which were his, the twins', the Lt. Colonel's, and Christian's desks. Pulling over his own chair, he offered it to the foreigner. "Please, make yourself comfortable. I know you were injured recently, and I'd hate to put you in pain. I do apologize for the inconvenience, but your part in this mission is absolutely crucial and no one else in the brigade may know." His voice and expression turned firm. "Do you understand? No one else at all besides myself and the Officers Holtcombe may know about this. You may tell no one, military personnel or not, speak not one word of what I am about to tell you, or else the entire mission and the safety of those involved may be in extreme jeopardy. Do I make myself clear?"
“Thank you sir,” Dragomir said lowly, taking the chair only to be polite, and listening intently. He wondered what could possibly be so important that he had to keep it entirely to himself, and he was surprised it was to him the information was being entrusted. He couldn’t recall any other time a superior officer had given him such crucial information, and he generally held the belief that despite his seven years of dedicated service, he was still somewhat mistrusted. So now to at last be trusted with some important task that would perhaps expedite the capture of the traitor, was rather excited, and it showed on his face. “Yes sir, I understand.” He inclined his head, trying to sound solemn and keep his spite for the Colonel and his eagerness for the mission out of his voice.
"I'm so glad you understand," Lawley replied. "Then here is your assignment." He handed the foreigner a slip of paper with an address written on it. "At 3:00 pm today, you are to meet a woman by the name of Helene LeRoy at that location. She is currently in the employment of a brothel which we think to be a money laundering establishment for the Berceuse Malheureuse. She was contacted earlier this morning and arranged for this meeting with you. You are to request of her the key to the safe in which the brothel's monetary records are kept, to be delivered to us on the day of the operation. Do you understand?"
“Yes sir,” Dragomir nodded, carefully going over everything the Colonel had just told him. He didn’t like the mission, and he especially hated the idea of dragging a poor girl into the military’s mess, but he knew that the only way they’d be able to prove the Berceuse Malheureuse’s connection to the brothel was through their records and files. He also knew that for the prostitute, the work would be incredibly dangerous, and that should the Berceuse Malheureuse find out what she was doing, they’d kill her in an instant. He shuddered at the thought, and pushed his own terrible memories of a similar instance from his head with a deep breath. “Sir, will the military be able to guarantee her protection after she’s completed the job?” He refused to get her involved unless he knew there was something they would be able to do for her after the fact. The truth of the matter was that after a Berceuse Malheureuse betrayal, she probably wouldn’t even be able to walk on the streets alone without being targeted, and she would definitely require protection for a very long time.
Lawley nodded in confirmation; should she survive, he had arranged for the woman to be accommodated for. After all, she was very attractive, and, if nothing else, Lawley wouldn't mind taking her in himself. "Indeed. We can promise Miss LeRoy protection as well as employment by the military once the mission is accomplished. Do you find that satisfactory, Captain?" There was a bit of an edge in his voice; he felt like the foreigner was questioning him, but still, it was a legitimate concern. "If that will be all, then you may return to work. Make sure everything you need to do is completed by three."
“Yes sir, I will.” Dragomir got to his feet and bowed deeply, relieved that the Colonel had been accommodating of his questions and had already made arrangements for the girl. He made his way back to his desk and withdrew the stack of paperwork which had been growing increasingly high ever since the new officer’s arrival. Dragomir had struggled by himself and somehow completed three forms, but three in comparison to the hundred or so he had left was negligible. Sighing, he stole a glance at Niles and wished things could be back to normal. Already all this involvement with the prostitute was forcing him to recall a whole slew of unpleasant memories, and he wanted nothing more than to be with Niles to take his mind off of his three o’clock appointment and all the possible repercussions it might invoke.
Niles looked up from the Holtcombes' paperwork to glance briefly at Dragomir. The Lt. Colonel had called Dragomir away and talked to him in private for quite some time, and Niles was worried about what was going on. He hoped that the Lt. Colonel wasn't planning on doing anything to hurt Dragomir in any way...But then he noticed the Major looking at him, and he quickly looked back down to his papers. Even if something bad was going on for Dragomir, it wouldn't help if he got punished, as well. He could only hope things were going all right.
Dragomir got an impressive five forms finished by a quarter to three, and feeling somewhat disgruntled, decided he’d had enough torture for the day and pushed aside the papers a little early, standing and extracting the few spare armaments he kept in his desk, holstering them all and making his way towards the door. Then, on a whim, he stopped in front of Captain Kaiser’s desk and waited a few moments before Julian looked up from his work with an expression of irritation and exasperation.
“What do you want?” Julian asked snottily, folding his arms on his desk and glaring up at Dragomir.
“I have to run an errand for the Colonel.” Dragomir said tersely. For all his efforts, Julian always refused to treat him with any decency at all, and Dragomir wasn’t sure how much more he could put up with. “I might not be back until a little while after work. Can you let Niles know not to worry?”
Julian didn’t know why Niles could ever be worried about such a terrible brute, but he nodded anyway, glad to be able to help Niles in any possible way, even if it meant inadvertently helping Dragomir. “All right.” He sighed; looking back down at his paperwork and noting with annoyance that Dragomir neglected to thank him before going to bow to the superiors and excusing himself for the day.
Niles watched hopelessly as Dragomir left the room, his stomach churning as he wondered what was going on. While Dragomir had been in the office with him, he had always felt that, though he was afraid of being punished, Dragomir was always there for him, and it gave him a little feeling of security, no matter what. But now, he was stripped of his only protection, he was all alone, and it was terrifying.
The day went on slowly and Niles could barely concentrate through his anxiety, but, miraculously, nothing happened, and when work let out at five, he felt a great deal of relief. He decided he would wait in the parking lot for Dragomir to return from whatever he was doing; though he was still a little worried for Dragomir, he was feeling decidedly better about the whole ordeal. He was just putting away his things for the day, however, when he heard the door shut, and he looked up in surprise. The room was now empty, and only he and Colonel Lawley remained. His stomach knotted and he felt his hands begin to shake. Burried memories resurfaced a great deal faster than he could have imagined.
"Wait just a moment, Warrant Officer," the Colonel said calmly, making his way over towards Niles' desk.
Niles swallowed, nodding as respectfully as he could without trembling. "Y-yes, sir."The Colonel slowed to a stop in front of Niles, smiling in what Niles came to realize was a seductive manner. "Come now, Warrant Officer, please don't be so cold...Why don't you spend the evening with me tonight?"
Once outside headquarters, Dragomir extracted the small slip of paper with the address and started in the general direction of the slums, assuming their place of meeting would be somewhere in that neighborhood. Sure enough, after a good half hour of walking as he sounded out the address painstakingly slowly, he at last realized the place on the paper was a small inn and bar a long ways out of the way, and outside Berceuse Malheureuse territory. Pleased with himself for deciphering the address, he adjusted his course and walked briskly toward his destination.
By the time he’d arrived at the bar however, the spring had completely left his step, and his limp was decidedly worse than it had been at the start of the day. He rubbed his leg carefully, wincing at the dull throbbing pain, and hobbled slowly up the steps of the establishment. There were only a few people inside; two drunkards seated at the bar, a few men gathered around the billiards table, several attractive-looking waitresses moving around entertaining the men in a rather bawdy fashion, and three others seated around a table at the front of the room. Dragomir noted that the three stopped talking at the sight of his uniform, and all of them took long exaggerated swigs from their glasses of ale to look busy. Ignoring them, Dragomir quickly assessed the layout of the room in case anything went wrong, and carefully studied each of the bar’s patrons. From the assortment of shabby-looking men and waitresses, Helene LeRoy was easy to distinguish. The petite blond was seated alone in a secluded corner, and she was looking at him somewhat fearfully.
Her large brown eyes recalled to him a similar girl from many years before, and an unpleasant taste came to his mouth as he remembered the disastrous encounter that had become his salvation. Shuddering and forcing the thought from his mind, Dragomir approached the girl slowly. Helene was a different girl, and their meeting was under vastly different circumstances. Perhaps through her decision to cooperate with the military, she could start a better life and a new profession. He was hopeful for her possibilities, and approached her table with a kind smile, slowly taking a seat.
“Hello, sir,” she said softly, lowering her head and looking down at the table.
“It’s nice to meet you, Miss LeRoy,” Dragomir said courteously. “Thank you agreeing to come here today.”
The girl nodded, shaking slightly. Dragomir could tell she was quite terrified at the prospect of meeting with someone from the military, and he wished he’d had the foresight to change before their visit. At least then perhaps the two of them might not stand out quite so much. Looking away from the girl and trying not to think about who she reminded him of, he took another glance around the room. It was obvious that everyone in the bar had been staring at them by they way all of them simultaneously whipped their heads around and pretended to be looking at something else. Sighing, Dragomir got to his feet.
“I think we better move to a room. I’ll go get a key.” He smiled again at the girl, hoping to put her more at ease away from the other customers, but she sat unmoving in her chair. He furrowed his brow and left her for the few minutes it took to get the key to a room—which the owner gave to him for free since he was in uniform. Arriving back at the table, Dragomir extended his arm and asked congenially, “Shall we?” The girl responded by looking up at him, her eyes wet with tears, and getting to her feet slowly, taking his arm with apparent reluctance.
Once they’d made their way up the stairs and Dragomir had shut and locked the door securely behind them, he took a seat on the bed and watched as Helene moved slowly and deliberately across the room, pausing in front of him. Her face seemed to be set with resolve, and carefully, she lifted a hand to her collar and pulled gently at the bow, unraveling it and causing her bodice to loosen around her small waist and bust. In a smooth and fluid motion, Helene took another step closer to him and leaned forward, closing her eyes and placing a delicate hand on his lap.
Blushing, Dragomir grabbed her by the arm quickly pushing her away, and the tears returned to her eyes and spilled onto her cheeks. “What are you doing!?” he demanded, forgetting himself and probably scaring her even more than she had been before.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” Helene said twice quickly, shying away and slipping her thin arm out of his grasp. “I didn’t know what you wanted, please, do whatever you want to me!” She seemed terrified, and, calming himself down enough to think clearly, Dragomir wondered what sort of awful clients she’d had before. He knew they must have been sick, though; the poor girl was probably only twelve or thirteen.
“I’m sorry,” Dragomir said earnestly, running his hand through his hair and taking a deep breath. “There’s been a misunderstanding,” he said carefully, not watching as the girl quickly relaced her bodice. “I-I’m not here for…for that.” She looked at him briefly, and the expression of both surprise and relief was clearly visible in her eyes. Finding his voice and managing to speak steadily, he said slowly, “On behalf of the military, I have a very big favor to ask of you, Miss LeRoy.”
Lawley lifted a hand to Niles's face, caressing his cheek lightly. "Spend the night with me, Christian."
Niles stumbled over his words, trying in vain to find the best way out of this, trying desperately to avoid a repeat of what had happened three years ago. "Th-thank you, sir, I'm very flattered, but, really sir, I don't think that will be a possibility, because, sir, I have other obligations, sir, and I'm really really sorry and...I'd really like to, but I can't, sir." He swallowed, hoping that the Colonel would back off.
The Colonel's eyes narrowed and he shook his head, tightening his grip on Niles' chin. "I don't believe that was a request, Warrant Officer."
Niles' breath caught in his throat and he paled as the Colonel's other hand roamed down his body, stopping just below his waist, fingering him through his clothing. "Don't look so afraid, Warrant Officer. So long as you cooperate, I'll make it feel good for you, too." His smirk frightened Niles, but there was nothing he could do. He was trapped, he was terrified, he was absolutely helpless.
Dragomir explained in as much detail as he could the military’s plan to raid the brothel in which Helene was currently employed. Her expression of fear remained present as Dragomir described the role she was to play, and Dragomir began to worry that they were asking too much of her. Concluding his explanation, he looked gently at the small girl and thought of his older sister and how she’d been killed for her envolvement in a prostitution ring. He tried not to let his own fear for her life show on her face, and smiled encouragingly at her. “Do you think you can do it?”
“Y-yes,” Helene said shakily. “Mr. Bovary…the owner…likes me, sir,” she said slowly, looking down at the floor. “I should be able to get the key from him before…before you come, sir.” She looked up at him abruptly and the tears streamed steadily down her checks. “But if they find out, if they know, they’ll kill me!”
Dragomir’s heart wrenched at the simple truth of it, and he could think of no way to reassure her. “You must be very careful. I have faith in you.” He smiled weakly, and felt cold and hollow for putting her into such a dangerous position. “The military and the country is counting on you for this, Helene. Please, I know you can do it.”
She sniffled and wiped her eyes on the sleeve of her dress. “But even if I do do it, they’ll still come after me… Why me? Why does it have to be me?” Her tears started anew, and Dragomir felt even worse than before.
Slowly, he took a step forward and put an arm around her tiny shaking frame. “The military will provide you with complete protection after it’s all over, I promise.” He could not address her second question, and really had no idea why she’d been selected.
“A-all right…” she said weakly at last, and Dragomir could tell she had agreed only to keep herself from getting into trouble with the military. It was quite obvious that she was terribly frightened, and his heart went out to her.
“Thank you Helene, you’re very brave.”
The Colonel had backed Niles against the wall, and was now in the process of letting his hands roam freely over his body; Niles could do nothing but hold back his tears and his whimpers, not knowing what else to do. There was no way out for him, he was trapped, and he had given up. There was no fighting against the Colonel, there was this or punishment, and Niles could see no way to win.
He was startled when, all of a sudden, the Colonel's hands were gone, and let his eyes, previously squeezed shut, open slightly. The Colonel smiled wickedly back at him. "Take off your jacket, Warrant Officer."
Niles couldn't help but let out a whimper as he nodded and did as told, his hands moving to clumsily begin unbuttoning the article of clothing. It took longer than usual, but he finally managed to open the article and shrug it off. The Colonel smirked, nodding. "Your shirt, too."
Dragomir walked Helene to just before the border of the Berceuse Malheureuse’s territory, where she assured him she would be all right on her own. He was reluctant, but knew that in his current condition, his leg would cause him too much trouble to fight, should it be necessary, and he was in a hurry to get back to headquarters and to Niles. After the encounter with the little girl that reminded him so much of the prostitute whose name he’d never learned and who had inadvertently changed his life forever, he felt thoroughly shaken, and felt the need to seek comfort in Niles. Despite the strict instructions against sharing information that the Colonel had issues him, Dragomir would tell Niles; he had to. He didn’t think he could keep it all bottled up after his encounter with Helene. He started back towards headquarters with a firm resolve; at this rate, he’d be just over fifteen minutes late, and he still had a long and painful walk ahead of him.
Niles had lost control somewhere alone the line, and the tears were now rolling down his face silently as the Colonel's mouth trailed over his now-bare chest, licking and nipping, completely unaware of Niles' crying. After what felt like forever, he pulled away, licking his lips. He then noticed that Niles was crying, and smiled again. "Now, now, Christian, don't be afraid. I promised you I'd make it feel good for you, didn't I? It can't possibly be all bad." When Niles didn't respond beside nodding, he shrugged. "Well, I'll just have to...convince you." He smirked, once again pressing at Niles through his knickers before moving to the buttons, beginning to undo them. Niles squeezed his eyes shut once more and gritted his teeth, feeling nothing but despair.
Coming back to reality out of a daydream about Niles, Julian glanced at his watch and realized he’d been waiting a half hour or more outside headquarters for him to emerge, and decided that it would be best if he returned inside to see if Niles needed any help in whatever extra work he was doing to finish up his day. Aside from that, Julian did have a message to deliver, even if it was a decidedly misfortunate one… Julian found it despicable that Dragomir, the oaf, was forcing Niles to wait for him after work, and that Niles, in all his exemplariness, had decided to work overtime instead of simply waiting around.
Julian sighed at the thought of how much he admired Niles, and wondered what things would be like once he finally rescued him from Dragomir. Then, the idea dawned on him; perhaps today could be that day. Perhaps, instead of informing Niles Dragomir was out on an errand, Julian could simply tell him Dragomir had left, and console Niles and offer him a shoulder to cry on, and a place of refuge in his own estate. Julian smiled to himself proudly and picked up his pace, speeding through the halls toward the office, eager to execute his new plan.
Julian opened the door slowly, not wanting to disturb Niles’s work, and glanced quickly around the room. He realized that Niles was not at his desk and opened the door the rest of the way, stepping inside and glancing around. He spotted Niles pressed against the far wall, shirtless, with his head back and eyes shut tightly, tears streaming forth, and the Colonel, knelt in front of him, his hands at Niles’s knickers. Julian stumbled back dumbly, not registering just what was taking place at first, and grasped the door, blinking. “Wha-what?” he gasped without thinking, before he could stop himself.
Niles didn't hear Julian come into the room; he was completely oblivious to anything beyond the Colonel, who was currently in the process of sliding his knickers from his hips, but his superior heard and quickly pulled away, standing to face the door. Niles opened his eyes in surprise and stared, wide-eyed, at Julian, filled with worry of the punishment he might face for arriving at such an inopportune time. The Colonel, however, only glared icily for a long minute before pursing his lips to speak.
"Anyone hears about this, Captain, anyone, and you had better inform your next of kin, because I can promise you that you won't live to see the morning." And with that, he brushed past Julian and was gone, leaving Niles to collapse into a sobbing mess on the floor. Relief flooded him, but the terror had left him without strength, and so he remained in the crumpled heap, letting the tears come.
Julian watched, wide-eyed and open mouthed, as the Colonel disappeared down the hall, his mind racing with everything he’d just seen and the threat he’d just heard. Really, what was going on? The Colonel and Niles were…about to do something. That was obvious. Julian turned back to Niles and realized that he’d fallen to the floor, and started, making his way over to Niles as fast as he could. “Niles! Are you all right?” Julian asked quickly, for lack of much else to say.
He didn’t know what to think; could Niles possibly be involved with yet another man? Perhaps, Julian reasoned, Niles and the Colonel were involved, but it all ended, badly, when Niles was transferred...and after they were reunited, the Colonel picked on him mercilessly for it, only later discovering he wanted him back at any cost. That certainly would make sense because this…this was rape. Or attempted rape. Julian was so grateful he’d made it in time, and he took a deep breath of relief, forcing himself not to think about Niles’ current state of undress. Gently, Julian scooped Niles into his arms and brushed away his tears. “You’re safe now; he’s gone and he won’t try it again. I’m here, don’t worry…” He felt his words must sound rather hallow, and he held Niles all the tighter for it. Julian couldn’t understand why he was so deft with words and poetry, until it really mattered, at which point nothing he said ever had the strength to convey what he felt. “Come with me…I’ll take care of you,” Julian said somewhat shakily. He had to do something about Niles now; he couldn’t be left alone, and he couldn’t be left in the care of a brutish barbarian. No, Julian had to take him away and protect him from all the people that would do him harm, all the people who would try to manipulate him, and the people who’d somehow worked their ways undeservingly into Niles’s life.
Niles sniffed into Julian's chest, his crying slowly subsiding. When he finally had a general hold on himself, he looked up at Julian. "Th-thank you, sir," he managed, wiping at his eyes. "I...I was just so afraid, I didn't know what to do..." He swallowed and wiped his face again, trying to make himself presentable again when he suddenly realized how naked he was. On top of that, there were now red marks all across his body left by the Colonel, and he felt his horror burn across his face in a blush. "Ah! I'm sorry, sir, I'm not dressed--!" He pulled away quickly, grabbing frantically for his shirt and pulling it on haphazardly and tugging his knickers back up to a decent place on his waist, tucking his wrinkled blouse back into them before snatching his jacket and putting it back on to the best of his ability.
When he was at least somewhat decent again, he turned back to Julian, only now processing his words. It sounded so enticing...but then he remembered, Dragomir still wasn't back! He had to wait for Dragomir...and besides, he really felt more than anything right now the need to be safe in Dragomir's arms... He was extremely grateful for Julian rescuing him, and for taking care of him, but he really needed Dragomir to be comforting him. Slowly, he shook his head. "I'm...I'm really sorry, sir, but I...I need to wait for Dragomir, to take him home...I can't just leave him here, sir..."
Julian hated to hear Niles express concern for the cruel and unloving Dragomir, but he knew Niles was still under his control. Julian was confident that once he extracted Niles from Dragomir and showed him what life could and should really be like, Niles would relinquish his affection for Dragomir completely and come to the realization that they were kindred souls, meant to be together. “Niles,” Julian said slowly, “We need to get you out of here. You can come with me—I’m sure Dragomir can handle himself.” He smiled with reassuring confidence; even if he was injured, like a feral animal, Julian was sure Dragomir would survive. Gently, he helped Niles to his feet and smiled again. “It’ll be all right, trust me.”
Niles was uneasy with the whole idea of leaving Dragomir behind, but he was so weak, and there wasn't a whole lot that he could do. He clung to Julian's arm tightly as he tried to regain his balance on his feet, looking down at them. "Well...all right...but...wouldn't it be all right, sir, if we waited for him for just a little longer, outside? I'm sure he'll be back soon..." He looked up at Julian pleadingly.
Julian hesitated a moment, helping Niles to walk towards the door. “He…he left to run an errand, he said. He didn’t know when he’d be back, and it could be very very late,” Julian lied. “I think you need to get some rest… I want to make sure you’re somewhere safe first, and then I’ll come back and pick up Dragomir and let him know what happened,” Julian lied again, feeling guilty, but knowing that it was what had to be done, for Niles' sake. He paused again before adding for good measure, “I’m sure he’d agree that your health and safety is of the utmost priority.” As that was what Julian believed, he knew it was important to keep Niles away from Dragomir in his current fragile state.
Niles didn't feel right agreeing, but at this point, he didn't see any other option. "All...all right," he replied with a submissive nod, trembling slightly and leaning in to Julian again to support him. "I guess it's all right...as long as he knows..." He couldn't help but give in, his mind and body were still recovering from the horrible experience, and worrying made it all worse. Julian wouldn't lie to him, he knew that, and so he allowed his superior to lead him out of the room and down the hallway, towards the main exit.
Julian smiled down at Niles, again feeling guilty and manipulative. However, he was doing it to protect Niles and save him from everything, and he felt the ends justified the means. Carefully, he pushed open the door and helped Niles to ease outside into the crisp evening air. He glanced around quickly, almost fearful that the Colonel would come after them to carry out his threat and reclaim Niles for his own, and started at the sight of a figure with an uneven gait approaching.
Dragomir immediately spotted Niles as he emerged from the building, and noted that he was leaning against Captain Kaiser for support, apparently injured. Despite his exhaustion and aching leg, Dragomir put on a burst of speed and made it to the two as the reached the bottom of the last few steps. “What happened?” he asked urgently, taking Niles from Julian without a word of thanks or acknowledgement, directing all the questions and his attention to Niles. “Are you hurt?”
Niles threw himself at Dragomir, once more descending into tears and he wrapped his arms tightly around Dragomir's waist. "Oh, Dragomir, I'm so glad you're here...It was so horrible...the Colonel...he tried to...he...it was so awful! If Julian hadn't walked into the room, he would have for sure! It was so terrible! I couldn't do anything... Oh, I'm so glad you're here..." He looked up into Dragomir's eyes, fear still remaining in his own tearful ones.
“What?” Dragomir asked concernedly, looking back into Niles’s eyes. Noticing the fear, his voice lowered slightly and his brows furrowed. “What did he try to do?” Dragomir’s face flushed with anger at the thought of the Colonel doing anything at all to Niles, and his rage grew at the thought of how terrible it must have been to put Niles into his current state. “Where is he?”
Julian couldn’t believe how closed he’d been to rescuing Niles, and how easily it had all been taken away. He felt as though he’d let Niles down by allowing him to be taken immediately from him, and could hardly believe Niles would still think to credit him for any sort of rescue at all… Though he was safe from the Colonel, Julian felt that Niles would never truly be safe until he was completely disentangled from Dragomir’s sinister clutches. He watched angrily as the hypocritical scene played out before him, loathing the way Dragomir seemed to hold Niles with such love and affection, and at the same time feeling impossibly jealous. However, at Dragomir’s question, Julian started. He couldn’t bring himself to repeat what he’d seen, so he plainly answered, “The Colonel left when I arrived,” in as stern a fashion as he could, hoping Dragomir wouldn’t ask again. “Niles needs to be tended to immediately… Please, I hope you’ll leave it to me.” He said the last sentence softly, looking over Niles with concern, doubtful that Dragomir would be able to manage any sort of tender care.
Niles glanced away from Dragomir to Julian for a moment and managed a small smile. "Thank you, Julian, you've been so good to me...but don't worry, I'll be fine. I don't want to trouble you anymore, and I'm sure Dragomir won't mind..." He looked up to Dragomir, giving him a 'right?' look; he really just wanted to be with Dragomir now, and he buried his face in Dragomir's chest again, his tears finally slowing to a stop.
Dragomir suppressed the feeling of pleasure he received for Niles’s steady refusal of Julian’s aid, and looked up to the other Captain. “Thank you for everything you’ve done up until this point,” he said earnestly, for he was truly grateful. If Julian’s presence had in anyway saved Niles from some horrific punishment, he owed Julian all the gratitude he could muster, tenfold. “I’m sure we can handle it from here.” Dragomir smiled somewhat tightly to Julain and braced himself to take on Niles’s weight before scooping him into his arms. He winced at the tingling sensation in his leg, but it was overpowered by his desperation to take care of Niles and do whatever he could for him, especially since he still didn’t know all that had happened.
Julian was still staring agape at Niles, and feeling utterly heartbroken and completely disregarded when Dragomir addressed him. Slowly, he nodded and bit his lip. “Oh…Yes…I’m glad I could help…” Julian said stupidly. He was surprised that for the second time Dragomir was making an effort at decency to him, but he was too shaken by the fact that Niles seemed to so resoundedly prefer the other man over himself. Blinking back tears and the thorough rejection, Julian nodded slowly. “Take care of him…” he said softly, almost under his breath. Dragomir nodded, however, and Julian turned resolutely towards his own automobile. Someday, he would rescue Niles, no matter what it took to win him over and show him just how much better his life could be away from Dragomir.
Niles was surprised, but relaxed into Dragomir's arms when he was lifted off his feet. He smiled fleetingly at Julian as he was carried away, then rested his head against Dragomir's shoulder, feeling a little better already. As they arrived at the automobile, Dragomir hesitated, and Niles felt the need to speak up. "I-I can still drive, Dragomir," he managed, smiling weakly, and Dragomir seemed hesitant, but obliged, setting him to his feet.
The drive home seemed to take eons, and when they arrived, Dragomir insisted on carrying him again, but finally they made it upstairs to the bedroom and Dragomir set Niles down on the bed. He sat up, fingering his messily-buttoned jacket worriedly. "Dragomir...do...do you want to..." He swallowed. "To see what-what he did to me...?" He looked away, biting his lip and fighting back the tears that threatened to return again. He couldn't bring himself to say the horrible things the Colonel had done to him, had tried to do to him, but he could still show Dragomir.
Dragomir watched Niles’s hands move uneasily across his jacket, noting again, as he’d observed during the drive home, how disheveled Niles looked. He’d obviously gotten dressed very quickly and distractedly, and Dragomir was immensely troubled. “Yes…” Dragomir said a little shakily. Having at last connected the pieces and put them all together, he was all ready quite certain what he was going to see. His emotions were running rather haywire within him, and he wasn’t quite sure whether to be furious at the Colonel’s actions or worried and concerned for Niles, and at the same time, he was still a little shaken himself from his errand that afternoon.
Niles nodded, swallowing and blinking back his tears before slowly unbuttoning his jacket, then his blouse. Slowly, he pulled the clothes back, revealing the red discolourations marring his chest. He was afraid of how Dragomir would react, if he would be upset with him, if he would be angry, and the tears broke free again, streaming down his face unhindered. "I-I'm sorry, Dragomir, there was nothing...I couldn't stop him..." He trailed as he broke down entirely, the sobs shaking his body, not knowing what to do.
Dragomir took one look at Niles’s chest, and, his fears confirmed, pulled Niles into his arms, repressing his anger easily in favor of comforting Niles. “It’s all right,” Dragomir choked, almost disbelieving of the horror he saw and the extent of the violation. “It’s not your fault…” He tilted Niles’s head back gently and pressed a kiss to his lips, desperately trying to convey his love and heal the damage the bastard Colonel had inflicted. Dragomir didn’t know what he’d do to the officer when he next saw him, but at that moment, he couldn’t allow himself to think about it. Niles was the priority. Slowly, he pulled back a little to look into Niles’s eyes and gently wiped away his tears. “You’re…you’re not hurt, are you?” Dragomir asked, anxiously, his own tears prickling at the corners of his eyes as he mentally thanked Julian again for managing to save Niles from what surely would have happened next. “Did…did he do anything else to you?”
Niles shook his head slowly, more tears coming to replace the ones Dragomir wiped away. "No, I-I'm all right," he replied, nodding slowly, shakily. "He was about to...take my- my knickers off when..." he sniffed, looking away, ashamed, "when Julian came in. He didn't get a chance to- to do anything...else..." Niles broke down into tears again as the horrid memories flooded back, recent and distant past mixing in his mind, and he leaned back into Dragomir's chest for comfort. "Not like last time..." he mumbled, not even thinking, purely unhappy.
“Last time?” Dragomir gasped, horrified. “He’s done this to you before?” he asked urgently, looking down into Niles’s eyes again. If this was a repeat offense, Dragomir absolutely could not let it slide. He would do something, regardless of repercussions, somehow. Even though he was thoroughly comforted to know that Julian really had been in time on this instance, the fact that it had happened before, and no one had been there to stop it, and no one had done anything about it, enraged Dragomir, and he knew he had to do something about it.
Niles blinked, his tears slowing to a stop momentarily, and nodded. "Yes, three years ago...I-I just don't think about it because...well..." He swallowed. "I- I didn't know any better back then, I didn't understand. He...he touched me, then he made me..." His tears started again. "He made me...with my mouth...I didn't know any better..." His face burned and he felt keenly ashamed, looking away from Dragomir, down at his hands. "I-I know I should have told you, but...I just...I didn't want to think about it, and it was so terrible...I'm so sorry..."
Dragomir flushed as well, burning with anger. He was disgusted that anyone could take advantage of Niles so cruelly and force him to do things he hardly understood at the time. He could scarcely believe the Colonel’s nerve to try it again, and now, even more than before, Dragomir longed to sock the despicable man in the face and cause some serious damage. Swallowing hard, he bit back his rage and tried to think clearly. Taking a deep breath, Dragomir turned Niles to face him again gently. “No… I understand that you’d want to forget about it…” Dragomir knew from experience that denying something from your past hardly ever worked, but even so, he believed it helped, to a certain extent, and if Niles didn’t want to talk about it, he’d understand. However, it didn’t change the fact that the Colonel’s actions were clearly a crime, and punishment was in order. “But Niles, something has got to be done about this. He should be court-marshaled.” Dragomir said seriously. “I won’t let him near you again.” He growled protectively.
Niles shook his head quickly, giving Dragomir a beseeching look. "No, please, you can't!" he pleaded desperately. "If you try to get them in any trouble, no one will believe you, and they'll have you transferred, or even court-marshaled, and then I'll be all alone with them and it'll be even worse!" He looked into Dragomir's eyes pleadingly. "There's nothing at all that you can do, and the Colonel said that if anyone found out, he would kill Julian! I don't know how they do it, but...it seems they're above the rules. So, please, it will only be worse if you try to do something. Just...just, please...protect me...?" He looked up to Dragomir pitifully, not knowing what else to do. He felt guilty enough for having done something like that before and not telling him...Dragomir was probably disgusted with him as it was...but he didn't see any other way around it.
Dragomir was taken aback by Niles’s protest, and again he felt as though Niles was asking him to sit by and do nothing while their superiors continued to hurt him. This was serious, and it required action! Dragomir bit his lip, however, thinking over what Niles was saying. It was true that it would be hard to prove what had happened, and Niles’s old superiors had already demonstrated how easily they could wriggle out of punishment… He didn’t want to be forced out of the military and away from Niles, that was for sure… And, not that he gave a damn about Julian, but the Colonel obviously knew the sort of situation he was in, and sounded as though he’d stop at nothing to cover his tracks. Sighing, Dragomir looked down, relenting. “I just wish I could do something for you…lately I’m always sitting back and doing nothing to help.” He looked up again and furrowed his brows. “I want to protect you, but I can’t do anything…” He paused, wondering if things would have been different if he had been at work that day. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there today… again I wasn’t able to do anything for you… but I’m so relieved you aren’t hurt, and if you think it’s better if I don’t do anything, then I won’t...”
Niles sighed. "I'm sorry... I-I don't know what else to do, and I don't want you to get into any trouble. Maybe...maybe they'll realize after a little while that I'm not just their...their plaything anymore. So long as you're there, you're protecting me," he replied feebly but truthfully. Giving Dragomir a last, hopeful look, he leaned back in, gently placing himself in Dragomir's arms. "Even if you don't feel like you are... you're always protecting me from being alone, and that's the worst torture of all," he explained softly, and it was true. No matter what his old superiors did to him this time around, he would never be alone again, and he could take it knowing that Dragomir would always love him, no matter what.
At Niles’s words, Dragomir pulled him a little closer and wiped his own eyes on his shoulder, touched. “Really?” He practically sniffled. For weeks now he’d been feeling miserable and useless—crippled and utterly ineffective. Niles had told him directly not to interfere, and Dragomir had felt wretched for going along with it. All that time, he'd felt like such a letdown to himself and to Niles, but what Niles said now, and the way he said it, gave Dragomir hope. Perhaps, even if not actively, he really was doing something for Niles, and that was all he wanted. If his presence bolstered Niles’s spirits even slightly, than Dragomir felt at least slightly absolved, knowing he really did make a difference for Niles. “I’m so glad…” Dragomir snuffled, pressing another light kiss to Niles’s forehead. “I’d do anything for you…I’d do anything to be with you, to protect you from everything…” Dragomir trailed somewhat regretfully, beginning to worry again about how he’d left Niles so completely that afternoon and knowing the errand had only served to add to his own misery as well. “I won’t leave your side again,” Dragomir said slowly, resolutely.
Niles wrapped his arms around Dragomir's waist tightly, nodding. "Thank you, Dragomir," he whispered, feeling a little better already. If Dragomir was always by his side, he would never have to worry about what might happen to him, no matter what sort of punishment he received. Still, Dragomir had been seeming more shaken after his most recent errand, and Niles slowly became more and more worried about what had happened to him. "Dragomir..." he asked quietly, looking up into his eyes, "What...what happened to you today? Are you all right...?" He hoped that Dragomir wouldn't try to hide it from him, whatever was troubling him.
“Yes…” Dragomir said uneasily. After everything that had just happened to Niles, Dragomir felt slightly less willing to bring up his own troubles, but he couldn't bear to keep anything from Niles, and he’d resolved earlier to explain to him all that had happened. “I’m so much better just being with you.” Dragomir smiled a little weakly, with a nod as he looked down at Niles. “But today…I had to run an errand for the Colonel,” he spat the title with disgust, wondering if the despicable officer had orchestrated it all to get at Niles, “And it brought up some unpleasant memories.” He laughed uneasily and shifted slightly to hold Nile
s a little closer, grateful for the contact and comfort. “I guess we both have things we’d rather not think about…but that probably should be told.”
Niles looked up at Dragomir, his surprise and worry showing in his eyes. "Something else...?" He was a little shaken to think that Dragomir should have more skeletons in the closet than had already been revealed, but he also knew how hard life had been for him growing up, and he consoled himself that Dragomir probably didn't want to upset him by telling him. "What-what did he have you do...? What memories...?" He bit his lip, and looked down, then leaned into Dragomir's embrace, resting against his chest. "If- If you don't want to tell me, I won't mind...but...I want to be able to help you with things like this..."
“He…he asked me to meet up with someone who works close to the Berceuse Malheureuse to gain her cooperation in an upcoming mission…” Dragomir hesitated a moment, chewing at his lip, before continuing. “She’s a prostitute.” He said bluntly, unsure of what else to say. “And she reminded me of someone.” Then, realizing that what he was saying could be construed in a completely different way than he intended, he added quickly, “I mean, she’s like a girl who was the reason I got out.” He knew it still didn’t make sense, but he was having trouble talking about it, and didn’t really know how to explain it all. Looking away, he managed at last to say the most important part of the story in a flat tone and a rough voice, lacking emotion. “She died. And I let it happen.”
Niles looked up at Dragomir again as he spoke, startled and confused. Everything that Dragomir was saying was coming at him so fast, he was barely able to comprehend it. There had been...a prostitute? And Dragomir had caused her to be killed...? What had happened? What had gone on between this girl and Dragomir? And how did this relate to the Berceuse Malheureuse and Donavan D'Aubigne? Niles was confused. "What...happened?" he managed, words coming with some difficulty.
Dragomir realized just how vague his story had been, and felt terrible for having caused such confusion in Niles, espicially affter all that had happened to him. Sighing, Dragomir closed his eyes, squeezing Niles a little tighter, not wanting to let go. “I’m sorry to bring this all up…after everything…” He opened his eyes again, but looked blankly at a wall, not wanting to spare the memories any extra emotion or anything of the sort.
“We had a rat in the Berceuse Malheureuse, and Donavan…asked me to kill whoever it was.” He swallowed. It probably didn’t sound like much, certainly not in comparison with all the other terrible things Donavan had asked him to do in the past, but Dragomir hated thinking about it. “When I found the leak, it was a little girl…and I couldn’t do it...I couldn’t kill a child.” He smiled rather bitterly. “I suppose she reminded me of my sister, or something…but I didn’t do it, and I let her go. I hoped she’d get out before someone else found her, but she didn’t.” He sighed, the scars on his back tingling as he thought about what happened next. “I tried to quit the Berceuse Malheureuse.” It sounded as stupid as the entire idea had been, and Dragomir laughed dryly at the statement and its foolishness. “When Donavan fond her again, he gave me another chance to kill her, but I refused…and he beat me.” He flinched subconsciously at the thought and looked away from Niles again. It felt like a weight had been lifted from him just to tell it all, but he also felt as though he’d only passed on a part of his burden to Niles, and it was the last thing he’d ever wanted to do to him. Dragomir felt guilty for it, and clenched his jaw, hoping it was now clear, because he didn’t know how much more he could bear to discuss.
Niles stared up at Dragomir, speechless, as he told his story. He could see that Dragomir was in pain just thinking about it, and it made the scars on his own back twinge. Tears burned behind his eyes as he swallowed and tried to speak. "I... know about what he did to you," he replied softly, his voice wavering and cracking, betraying the emotion he was trying so hard to keep hidden. "Donavan...he told me. I just... I never knew the story behind it..." His hand wandered to his back, grazing over the raised disfigurements he had obtained much more recently from the same source. "I know...how horrible it must have been..." He shuddered at the thought of his own experience, and how much worse it must have been for Dragomir, and that was when he began to cry.
Dragomir felt tears come to his own eyes as well, but he didn’t let them fall. He shouldn’t have said so much, not at a time like this, not when Niles was so in need of comfort and of reassurance. “Don’t…don’t cry for me,” Dragomir said shakily, looking down at Niles and into his eyes, the sight of which made his own tears stream forth silently. Dragomir knew he’d forced Niles to recall his own painful experience with Donavan, and felt awful for it. Carefully, Dragomir moved his hand along Niles’s back to his hand, and clasped it gently, drawing it away from the reminders both of them carried. He sniffed back his tears and kissed Niles’s hand gently. “I’m sorry…” he choked, “But thank you for listening… after today, it…made me remember…” He kissed Niles softly on the lips, releasing Niles’s hand and caressing his cheek, wiping away his tears. “But after everything that happened…I’m so sorry….”
Niles nodded, sniffing and trying to hold back his tears. "I-I understand. Thank you for telling me...I wouldn't want you to have to keep anything from me. It's just so horrible...that something like that happened to you..." His hand moved subconsciously to trace the scars along his chest, but he willed it away and instead wrapped his arms tightly around Dragomir's waist, burying his face in Dragomir's chest once more. "Oh, Dragomir, I love you, I love you so much, I wish such terrible things never had to happen to you...It's all my fault that the Colonel is being so cruel to you, and I'm so sorry...I love you, Dragomir..." He had begun to cry harder again, no matter how much he tried to hold it back.
“No, don’t wish that.” Dragomir said softly, “If…if it hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have gotten out…and I wouldn’t have met you.” He smiled genuinely, though a little tearfully, and gave Niles a light squeeze. “I wouldn’t want anything to be different. Niles, I love you so much, I couldn’t imagine being with out you.” Angling Niles’s head gently once again, Dragomir captured his lips in a kiss. “I love you,” he breathed, pulling apart slowly, “and I’m so grateful for everything that happened to me that brought me to you…and I never want to leave your side again.” He paused for a moment, adding, “I’m not going to let the Colonel boss me around to get at you, either.” Dragomir stated confidently, “I’m going to be there for you, and do all that I can to protect you.”
Niles' tears were just beginning to slow when Dragomir's words sank in and they returned full force, this time with emotion for Dragomir. "Th-thank you, Dragomir..." He sniffed, looking up at him adoringly. "I wouldn't want to be without you either...I love you so much." Wiping at his eyes quickly with the back of his hand, he offered a weak smile. "Thank you so much for being there for me...I don't know what I would do without you to protect me." He leaned up, pressing a kiss to Dragomir's lips to show his affection and gratitude.
Dragomir kissed back, a wave of relief washing over him. Niles’s spirits seemed to be lifting, and he himself felt incredibly grateful to have been able to tell Niles so openly and completely all his troubles. He really didn’t know what he would have done without Niles, but he pushed the very thought from his mind and smiled slightly with relief into the kiss. “I love you,” he murmured again, lowering his head to Niles’s chest and kissing one of the red marks softly. “And I won’t let him near you again…” he kissed the next one, hoping Niles understood his sentiment as he moved slowly down Niles’s chest to try and undo some of the damage the Colonel had caused.
Niles let his eyes slide shut , his smile strengthening. "I love you, too," he whispered, his voice melting away when he felt Dragomir's soft kiss against his skin. As soon as Dragomir's lips touched the red mark, it seemed to dissolve, healed instantly by his loving care. As he attended one after another, the trail of marks lost all meaning to Niles, one after another, until he felt clean again. It was a wonderful feeling, like a weight lifted from his chest, and, spirits renewed, he brushed away the last of his tears, catching Dragomir's lips as he straightened. "Thank you, Dragomir...I love you," he whispered against Dragomir's lips, then leaned up and kissed him again, letting his eyes slide shut. So long as he had Dragomir, so long as Dragomir would love him and protect him, everything would be all right.