Claimer: Dragomir is V's specifically, and mine by association ^^;;
Warnings: violence, crude language, language in general, the normal stuff...
This happens directly following Dragomir's first backstory~
It was difficult for Dragomir to walk; he couldn’t remember what the doctor had told him of his condition, but his legs felt limp beneath him, and his chest heaved to take a ragged breath at each step. He though a rib or two might be broken, and as he started away from his house, Viorica ran after him, crying, and caught his arm. Tatiana hurried after her; she understood the gravity of the situation and would be leading the family to a place she knew.
Dragomir stuck to the allies and leaned against the hard brick walls of the decrepit houses for support; he had a long way to walk and it was imperative he kept out of sight of the Berceuse Malheureuse.
Though he’d made good money working under Donavan for the four years he’d survived as a bodyguard for one of the most polarizing crime lords in the whole country, as poor Dacian immigrants, his large family had never been able to afford residence in any but the poorest slums. The contrast, as he made his way into a nicer part of the city, was striking. He was out of Berceuse Malheureuse territory; he was approaching the state military’s central headquarters located in Galia’s capital city. The palace, too, was located in the central part of the city, and the area was crawling with military personnel on patrol or enjoying the afternoon air on one of their frequent breaks.
It was the rich who worked mostly in the armed services, not the poor, and their uniforms and standard issue equipment were coveted by the Berceuse Malheureuse for their high quality. The institution, as far as Dragomir was concerned, suffered from an enormous amount of corruption; though the military was the Berceuse Malheureuse’s primary enemy, the two organizations had, supposedly unknown to the crown and to the public, cooperated under several instances for mutual profit. The men and women employed in the service generally came from wealthy families— they were the second or third sons who’d never inherit anything, the jaded thrill-seekers, and the misguided few who thought they could do good for the world. The majority of the officers had, in fact, bought their ranks at inordinate costs, and the chain of command was decidedly skewed by favors and reciprocity.
Still, Dragomir had no where else to go. He knew the military would be in a hurry to arrest him; the warrant for Donavan and all persons tied to him had been issued years ago by the Queen herself, who believed that Donavan had been gaining far too much influence since the upheaval caused by his defiance of the previous Berceuse Malheureuse powers. Donavan had never been caught, and Dragomir was certain that he would be the first to turn himself in and willingly divulge organization secrets. The military had its prisoners, of course, but in the past, Donavan had been careful to slip an assassin inside the fortress to off any man important enough to know information worth anything to the military. Donavan was a slippery character, and the military would be eager to get all the information he had to offer. Dragomir fancied he could turn himself in and trade information about Donavan and the Berceuse Malheureuse in exchange for a lighter sentence and protection for his family.
He spotted an officer reclining in the shade of a building a few yards ahead and hurried, as best he could with his injuries, over to the man. The officer was started by his appearance; it wasn’t often a person so obviously poor and in such a miserable state of health approached the military headquarters. The man drew his pistol immediately, and pointed it shakily at Dragomir, who lifted both arms painfully into the air.
“I’m unarmed.” Dragomir said blankly, turning around slowly as the man approached and felt down his sides and confirmed that his scabbard was empty. With a pained sardonic smile, Dragomir said tightly “I’m with the Berceuse Malheureuse. I serve directly under Donavan D’Aubigne, and I’m here to turn myself in.” The man gasped in shock and called over backup instantly; Dragomir counted his blessings that the officer had been level-headed enough not to shoot him on the spot, and went limp as some enlisted men repeated the officer’s previous check for weapons and cuffed his hands behind his back. Dragomir was very weak from his injuries, and the long walk to the center of the city had drained him completely. As the officer and his men urged him forward with the barrel of a gun at the back of his head, his feet became heavy beneath him and his vision blurred and darkened.
Dragomir woke up to vigorous shaking and opened his eyes to find himself seated at a table with his hands and feet bound tightly. Across from him was the officer who he’d gone to first, and behind him was an enlisted man, the one who roused him.
“Dragomir Hirlea.” The officer said his name smugly, as though pleased with himself for knowing something he thought might surprise his captive. “The bodyguard of Donavan D’Aubigne. Well, well, well. What brings you to the headquarters of the royal military of Galia, monsieur?” His tone was condescending and Dragomir hated him already.
“I have information,” Dragomir grunted, “to trade.”
“At this time, we are not looking for double agents. We can’t trust them, and we know D’Aubigne wouldn’t fall for such a trick.”
Dragomir laughed bitterly, and the man’s eyes widened in surprise. Dragomir was certain they’d inspected him thoroughly before waking him, and knew the full extent of his injuries. “He did this to me,” Dragomir grunted, knowing his pain was apparent. “I want nothing to do with the Berceuse Malheureuse. I’m trying to get out.”
“I see. So you expect to tell us a few things so that we let you go, Scott-free, and then you run away with all the money you’ve swindled from your boss, is that right?” The man laughed in a disgusting way, and Dragomir shivered without answering the question that he was sure was meant to be rhetorical. “Wrong!” The officer shouted abruptly. “It isn’t that easy! We know Donavan keeps his dogs on a short leash; there isn’t anything you could possibly know that would interest us, or else he would’ve never let slime like you crawl to us the way you did.”
“I know everything.” Dragomir growled, hating the officer more and more. “Every transaction, every location, every connection. I know names. I know the names of leaders of foreign countries. I know his disguises, his haunts and his pseudonyms.” He narrowed his eyes, and the man seemed impressed. “I was his prize,” Dragomir said coldly, without the slightest exaggeration, “and I was with him every moment of every day for the four years he employed me. I know everything.”
“Well,” the man said after a moment and an uneasy glance at his subordinate, “while that all sounds very intriguing, the military isn’t interested in making any bargains.” He smirked deviously, “we don’t make deals with criminals.” Dragomir heard the sound of something heavy and wooden being dragged across the floor behind him, but didn’t remove his gaze from the officer seated across from him. “We have other methods of extracting the information we want.”
Dragomir jumped when he felt his chair being moved, and spun around to see the enlisted man pulling him towards a large barrel filled to the point of overflowing with water.
“Yes,” the officer said casually as he got to his feet, “judging by the condition you’re in, it won’t take long until you’ll tell us absolutely everything you know.” The enlisted man forced Dragomir to his tied feet and kept him from falling to the ground, directing him towards the barrel. Stunned, Dragomir cried out and tried to struggle, but the man shoved his head down into the ice cold water, and Dragomir felt the air escape his lungs in a flurry of bubbles that surrounded his submerged face. It would have been a scream, but the water muffled the sound, and he worried they would hold him there to drown.
At the last minute, they yanked his head back up roughly by the hair and threw him into the chair as he sputtered, gasping for breath, dripping, and freezing.
“Talk.” The officer said harshly, poised to take notes.
“No,” Dragomir gasped, tossing his head to get the sopping wet hair out of his eyes so he could face the man across from him. “Not until the military can guarantee protection for my family!”
“We aren’t in the business of offering protection in exchange for information we can get ourselves.” The officer replied again, and with a nod of his head, the enlisted man lifted Dragomir out of his seat again.
Dragomir thrashed helplessly, and barked, “This deal isn’t about me! Save my family! They’re innocent!” His head was submerged once again, and he tried not to think about the pounding in his ears and the freezing water as it seared his lungs and stole his breath. Coughing and spitting up the water he’d swallowed as he was lifted once again from the barrel, he shouted again, “I hope you kill me! I deserve it, just save them!” The officer laughed coldly, and the enlisted man dropped Dragomir into his seat, allowing him to flop forward onto the table.
“You’re not some kind of hero. There’s nothing you can do for them. You’ll die, and they’ll die, like the Dacian muck they are, even if they’ve never lifted a finger against her majesty the Queen.” He chuckled at Dragomir’s coughing and pleading, enjoying the scene. “And you, the best thing you can hope to do before you die is serve this country by telling us what you know. Then at least your dying act can stand out as a just one amongst the filth that has been your deluded and worthless existence.”
The door swung open and both interrogators’ necks snapped around in surprise to see who’d interrupted them. Dragomir lifted his head with some effort and strained to see as well, gasping like a fish when he realized the identity of the officer with long dark hair and a short pointed goatee. It was one of his classic disguises, and as the man opened his mouth to speak, Dragomir recognized Donavan’s token Albionian accent that he used for the majority of his one-time infiltration acts.
“That will be quite enough, Second Lieutenant.” Donavan addressed the officer, who seemed bewildered by the appearance of a ranking officer he did not recognize. “Major Rousseau has taken an interest in this case and this man’s interrogation, and asked me to take over for you.”
“Y-yes sir.” The officer said quickly, standing and bowing almost clumsily in his hurry. Whoever ‘Major Rousseau’ was, the name seemed to Dragomir to hold a fair amount of power, which struck him as odd. In his years of living with Donavan, he’d heard the name ‘Rousseau’ used frequently in connection to the military, and had always assumed it was something Donavan had made up and threw around to sound impressive.
Donavan smiled. “Now, what has he told you?”
“Nothing yet, sir.” The officer said quickly, then added, in his defense, “we’ve only just started with the water, sir.”
“Good, that will be all, Lieutenant. You may go.” The officer and his enlisted man hurried from the room without so much as a glance back at Dragomir, and Donavan took the officer’s seat across from Dragomir with a smirk, removing the long wig as if it were a hat and setting it on the table, as though he wanted to be sure Dragomir recognized him.
“You look like shit.” Donavan said pleasantly, as if he were addressing Dragomir over a cup of tea. Dragomir laughed bitterly and hoisted himself into a more upright position. He knew Donavan had influence everywhere, but the fact that he could so easily infiltrate the military shook Dragomir to the core; there was nowhere he or his family could be safe from Donavan. Donavan smiled softly and got up, moving around the table to stand next to Dragomir. “Did you think I wouldn’t come after you?” He asked, not expecting an answer. “And I hope you weren’t so optimistic as to think that they wouldn’t hurt you, too.” He reached forward carefully to move Dragomir’s sopping wet hair out of his face, but Dragomir flinched away, nearly toppling from his seat. Donavan smirked; pleased with the way Dragomir cowered in his presence. “I can get you out, you know.” Donavan said casually, returning to his seat. “I’ve missed you.” Dragomir laughed again and started chocking on the water he’d swallowed. Donavan looked irritated, but the sweetness of his tone persisted. “I know I can’t replace you, and you know you can’t escape from me. Come back to me, Dragomir; let’s forget the bad blood between us.”
“Go fuck yourself!” Dragomir spat, half expecting to die, and flinching like he’d been hit. Donavan was, however, speechless and sat with out moving as he processed the rejection.
“Fine.” Donavan said slowly in a way that thoroughly disturbed Dragomir; it was almost as if his voice shook with emotion, and yet, at the same time, it was icy, cruel, and utterly lacking in any shred of compassion. Dragomir was shaken by the way one short word could frighten him so much, and as Donavan stood and approached him, Dragomir was gripped by utter terror.
Wordlessly, Donavan grabbed him by his coat and lifted him to his feet, shoving him against the wall roughly and pressing against him, transferring his hands to Dragomir’s throat. “I’d shoot you,” Donavan breathed, “but I think wringing the life out of you myself has a much more intimate quality, don’t you?” Dragomir gasped, thrashing to the best of his ability, but his arms and legs were bound and Donavan had him pinned. “I’ve heard,” Donavan began, flexing and slamming Dragomir against the wall for good measure, “that in the moments just before you suffocate, you become euphoric and get a rock hard boner. You’ll let me know, won’t you?”
Dragomir gasped again for breath desperately and clawed fitfully at the wall with his tied hands in response. He was dizzy and couldn’t see; his tongue felt like raw meat swollen and numb in his mouth as froth escaped from the corners of his lips. He could feel his heart racing, fighting in its desperation to survive, before beginning to slow. He was losing consciousness—he would die.
Dragomir dropped to the floor abruptly, coughing and gasping, and curled defensively, his vision swimming. Donavan had dropped him for some reason and was walking to the door. Dragomir could see another pair of feet making their way towards Donavan; the shoes were immaculate and perfectly polished, but Dragomir couldn’t muster the strength to lift his head and see who was responsible for the final reprieve, after which he was certain Donavan would return to finish what he’d started. He could tell that the two were talking, but couldn’t make out the words. The world for Dragomir consisted only of his own excruciating pain and the seconds marked by his still racing heart as he struggled to catch his breath.
As the world slowly came back into focus, Dragomir managed to push himself up onto his arm and lean against the wall, slumping backward against it numbly. His eyelids were heavy and he longed to sleep and shut out the rest of the world, but loud voices roused him, and he strained to see what was happening in front of him; Donavan and the other man were arguing.
“What do you think you’re doing here?” The other man shouted angrily. “I could have a whole unit in here to arrest you!”
“Not before I killed you both.” Donavan said coolly.
“Why did you come here?” the other man groaned.
“To finish him off personally.” Donavan replied maliciously.
“Is he dead already?”
“No. Go and have a look, if you like.” There was a smirk on Donavan’s lips, and Dragomir, in his somewhat delirious state, had the mental image of being some sort of live stalk being appraised by one of Donavan’s friends. Though the two were clearly hostile, there was something about their interaction that made Dragomir think the two must have known each other for a long time.
“Disgusting.” The man remarked, leaning over him. Dragomir looked away and curled up a little tighter under his scrutinizing gaze. The man, he now saw, had very long blond hair that hung elegantly around his shoulders. When he straightened up at last and looked back to Donavan, Dragomir watched him as he adjusted his uniform and smoothed his hair, straining to keep himself conscious to hear what they said. “I’m surprised you bothered. He looks half dead to me.”
Donavan crossed his arms and Dragomir looked quickly at the floor hoping they both thought he’d fainted. “And you, why did you bother coming? I thought you never wanted to see either of us again?” Donavan demanded. Dragomir was somewhat intrigued and wondered who the other person Donavan was referring to. Surely not himself?
“I wanted to see your pet,” The other man replied tersely, “and see if I couldn’t make use of him myself.” A worried expression came over Donavan’s features, one that Dragomir didn’t think he’d ever seen before, and the blond man seated himself gracefully on the table, apparently pleased. “I’m surprised you decided to be a Captain, Donavan. I out rank you, you know.”
“What would you possibly want him for?” Donavan demanded, bristling, and suddenly on the defensive.
“I’m sure he has information that would prove invaluable to military.” The man sounded smug, and Dragomir prayed that what he said was true and that the blond officer really would help him. The man’s tone of voice changed suddenly, however becoming content, almost longing, and he sighed as he changed topics. “Did you hear? Algernon got me into the unit whose sole purpose is to hunt down you and your pawns.”
“Fuck you! You want me to be arrested and hung just because I didn’t go to that god damn funeral?!” Donavan shouted as the other man sprang to his feet.
“It wasn’t just any damn funeral!” The blond man now sounded like he was about to cry and Dragomir was totally lost. “You could’ve at least made an appearance in one of your ridiculous disguises! No one would have known! He was our grandfather, Donavan!”
“I didn’t give a shit for that old man.” Donavan said coldly, narrowing his eyes. In a flash, the other man had hit him in the face and Donavan had extracted his pistol, leaving a hand on his reddening cheek where he’d been struck.
“If you kill me,” the blond sniffed, “then the manor and everything he left to me will just be absorbed by the military.” He’d managed to clam himself down substantially and his voice no longer shook. “I don’t have a will, and in no way am I required to hand anything over to you or your father.” Dragomir was utterly lost again, but he’d decided he had a lot of respect for the blond officer and the fact that he seemed so unafraid of Donavan, even in his current predicament. “Leave, Donavan. Grandfather’s will held up in court, you know. You and your father aren’t getting a cent of the inheritance, and there’s nothing either of you can do.”
Donavan spat on the floor angrily, and the other man flinched in disgust. Dragomir’s thoughts were racing. The two were related? It didn’t make any sense… They had to be about the same age, but Donavan didn’t have any siblings or relatives, aside from his father, did he? Dragomir didn’t think so, but his mind felt cloudy, and he knew he was again in danger of blacking out. Either way, the blond man certainly seemed to have a lot of leverage over Donavan.
Donavan holstered his weapon furiously and retrieved his wig, pulling it back on roughly. Dragomir shivered and looked down at the floor again as Donavan shot him a final malicious look. It hadn’t occurred to Dragomir before, but throughout their entire discussion, the blond man had been standing between the two of them, shielding him from Donavan. As Donavan left the room angrily, slamming the door behind himself, Dragomir realized he owed his life to the blond man, whoever was, which meant that obviously they were united in their hatred of Donavan, regardless of extraneous circumstances.
Dragomir tried to pick himself up off of the floor but fell back against the wall again, coughing. The blond spun around quickly, startled apparently, that Dragomir was still awake. He knelt down slowly next to Dragomir and tried to conceal his expression of distain. “How are you?” The blond man inquired, his voice soft and caring, but with the slightest twang of distaste.
“I’ll live,” Dragomir coughed weakly, this time managing to sit up a little straighter. His head was spinning again, and he felt that he would faint this time for sure.
“Good,” the blond smiled softly. “You’re safe now, you know, Mr. Hirlea.”
“My family!” Dragomir said abruptly, shaking himself out of the lull of dull pain with some difficulty. “You have to… send someone to protect them.” He fell back against the wall again and hoped desperately that this man, who’d already been so kind to him, would be willing to do one more thing on his behalf.
“Of course,” the blond man replied reassuringly. He started to extend a hand of comfort to Dragomir’s shoulder, but seemed to think better of the idea, and retracted his hand quickly, almost in disgust. “I promise I’ll take care of everything. Can you tell me where they are.”
Dragomir nodded weakly, shifting positions painfully to access his pocket. Before leaving home that morning, Tatiana had written the address on a small slip of paper. Dragomir had no idea what it said, but he knew the military would be able to find them. The thought entered his mind, though, that this man may not really be looking to help him maybe he only wanted the information, and actually wouldn’t do anything to help him. Even worse…he could actually be working with Donavan. The whole fight, everything, it could have just been a show. But Dragomir knew he couldn’t think that way! He had to trust that everything would work out. There was nothing else he could do now; he knew that they couldn’t hide forever, and unless they ha protection, Donavan would hunt them down anyway. He had to try. He handed the paper to the blond man, who glanced at it briefly and smiled.
“Please, Mr. Hirlea, I assure you, everything will be fine. When you’re feeling better, I’ll meet with you for an interview.” The man stood, and once again straightened his clothing.
“I won’t talk…until I know you helped them.”
“Goodness, aren’t you brave!” he chimed, with a note of irritation in his almost sing-song voice. “Don’t worry.” He continued, this time, his voice solemn. “I’ll bring them to see you, so you’ll know.” He smiled again, and seemed like he was in a hurry to leave. Dragomir nodded, knowing he wouldn’t stay awake much longer anyway. Really, there was nothing else he could do than trust. “Good!” The blond said happily. “Well, Mr. Hirlea, I’m glad to have met you. My name is Major Percival Rousseau, and I look forward to working with you in the future.”