Donavan scanned the rows upon rows of seats that stretched out below him through his opera glasses, studying all the people that had packed into the theater, crowding each other right up to the orchestra pit. Beyond the small area where the musicians were warming up, the stage was lit, but the curtain was down. Just below him, he spotted one of the theater attendants, counting heads to see how many more tickets could be sold. Tartuffe had always been very popular, after all, and it was likely to be completely sold out. “Excuse me,” Donavan called to the attendant to get his attention. “Do you know who will be sharing this box with us?” The attendant looked up quickly and bowed to Donavan, quite fooled by his curly blond wig and short mustache.
“Oh yes, just a moment, monsieur. Let me check the register.” The man thumbed through the stack of papers he was holding, checking the list of names carefully. He didn’t recognize the name of the blond gentleman and his young nephew, but the man who had bought the seat next to them he recognized immediately as one of the theater’s most loyal patrons. “Ah,” he said with a smile, “tonight you’ll be sharing the box with the son of the Allemagneian ambassador, M. Kaiser.” The attendant bowed again kindly before returning to his work.
Satisfied, Donavan sat back again and grinned at Faustino. “That will be interesting, at least.” Donavan commented to Faustino, passing him the opera glasses. He’d been hoping to rent the entire box so that he and Faustino could have it to themselves, but he hadn’t bought tickets soon enough, and a box with one other had been the best he could do.
Faustino smiled back. "I hope he won't be annoying," he commented blandly, accepting the glasses. He was very excited to be here with Donavan, as Donavan had usually left him behind before on his outings, but he was still a little overwhelmed by it all. After all, he had to remember that, for the time being, his name wasn't Faustino Esparanza, but Amaury Granville, nephew to Celestin Granville, who was actually Donavan. That was all fine and well, but on top of it, he had to wear this uncomfortable blonde wig and pale powder makeup, and Donavan was even worse. Faustino always thought of Donavan as attractive, and liked to look at him, but now, with his strange disguise getup, Faustino found him rather ugly, and it upset his sensitivities. Really, this all seemed like a lot of work to go to a play, but whatever Donavan wanted, he wanted, and so here he was. And, really, it wasn't so bad. It was still him and it was still Donavan and they were still together.
Upon arriving at the theater, Julian was disappointed to learn that someone had bought the seats next to him at the last minute. He was still depressed and distraught, and he’d been hoping to enjoy the play alone. There wasn’t much he could do, though; he desperately need the distraction from reality that only a play could provide; he’d already been to see Nicephore once, but that evening had only made him feel more humiliated, desperate, and thoroughly defeated. He needed to forget the world for a while and lose himself to the power of good writing and acting. He trudged up the stairs to the box and opened the door slowly, startled to see that the two people he was to be seated next to where already there. He tried and failed to summon up a polite smile before slumping into his seat next to a young blond boy. “Good evening.” He sighed pathetically.
Donavan was surprised and somewhat amused by the man’s appearance and tone; he seemed quite depressed and Donavan, who always took a keen interest in the suffering of others, wondered why. “Hello,” he smiled in a friendly way. “You must be Monsieur Kaiser?”
Julian nodded glumly. He didn’t care how or why the man knew his name. He’d probably asked; Julian knew he was well known and liked by the theater staff.
“It’s nice to meet you,” Donavan continued, ignoring the other’s impolite behavior. He was determined to make the best of sharing a box with him, and Donavan was certain some interesting story could be worked out of him eventually. He seemed like the type to go on for hours if one could only get him started talking. “My name is Celestin Granville, and this is my nephew, Amaury.”
Faustino summoned a smile. "Good evening," he greeted, determined to be pleasant if Donavan wanted him to be. The other man seemed extremely sullen, and Faustino wondered what his problem was. Well, whatever it was, he would probably begin to feel at least a little better soon. Faustino knew Donavan had that sort of effect on people.
Donavan smiled his praise at Faustino, pleased with his manners. He knew the other man would warm up eventually—he was sitting next to Faustino, after all, and he was too cute to stay depressed around for long, Donavan believed. “Have you seen the play before?” Donavan asked in an attempted to start a conversation. He knew people were still filing in, and the play wasn’t likely to start for another twenty minutes or so. Besides, Donavan wanted to get him warmed up soon so that they’d have entertainment during the intermission.
“Of course.” Julian snapped. He cleared his throat, regretting his rudeness and started over. “I quite like it,” he sighed. “I hope it will cheer me up the way it usually does…”
Donavan smiled, nodding knowingly. “I see. I hope so too.” He replied brightly. “It’s my favorite, but it’s Amaury’s first time here.”
Faustino was protesting before he realized. "But I have read it, uncle," he interjected, careful not to say Donavan's name by accident. "As well as a few other things by Moliere. So, it's not really that much of a new thing for me." He didn't, after all, want Donavan or this stranger to look down on him for his lack of play-going.
“Have you?” Julian asked, sitting up a bit straighter, rather impressed. He was always pleased to hear about fellow members of the literary-inclined, and the fact that this boy, who must have only been around eight or so, had already begun to read plays, excited him to no end. “That’s wonderful! What did you think of them? I just love Moliere.” Julian managed a smile at last, and decided to double check the boy’s age. “How old are you, Amaury?” He asked sweetly.
Donavan smirked crossing his arms proudly. Just as he’d suspected. Faustino had easily won over their unsuspecting prey that was to be their source of entertainment before, after, and in-between the play.
"Eight and a half," Faustino proclaimed proudly, "And I do like them. They're funny." Truth be told, Faustino didn't really understand all the depths of the plays, but had read them before Donavan recommended them, and had been amused by the humorous aspects. "Which one was your favourite, M. Kaiser?" He smiled sweetly; Donavan wanted him to make this man open up, after all, and he was doing his best.
“Only eight and a half? You look much older. You have such grown-up tastes, too!” Julian said sweetly, pressing his palms together excitedly. “I have to say that Tartuffe is probably my favorite of Moliere as well, but I must admit that my true passion, as far as plays are concerned, is for Shakespeare.”
“Really?” Donavan asked. He didn’t have to feign interest at all, which surprised him. “Then surely you must speak Albionian?”
“I do!” Julian exclaimed proudly.
Donavan smirked and leaned over Faustino slightly. “How lucky I am to have met you.” He said smoothly in Albionian. “It seems we have a lot in common.”
“Your accent is impeccable,” Julian replied elatedly in Albionian as well.
“As is yours. I’m an actor.” He explained. Or he used to be, but that didn’t matter. Donavan was already developing a story, and he knew Faustino would be able to work with whatever he was presented.
“Ah! I am but a fierce admirer!” Julian practically swooned. He was surprised by how much this chance encounter with just two intelligent people had cheered his spirits. It seemed that aside from Niles, he’d been denied the pleasure of speaking with likeminded individuals for far too long. “Will you be teaching you nephew?” Julian asked hopefully, switching back to Gallian and smiling down at the young boy once again.
“I intend to,” Donavan said fondly, looking down at Faustino as well. “Amaury is very talented. I’m confident he’ll be able to pick it up quite rapidly.”
Faustino smiled agreeably; he had no idea what was going on in the foreign language, but he figured things were going well for Donavan. He was glad that the other man had stopped patronizing him, though, and was about to relax when the topic of conversation shifted back to him again. Apparently, he was to be taught Albionian (or maybe that was just part of the act? But he didn't think so), with which Faustino had no qualms, and he brightened at the complement from Donavan. "I can't wait," he chimed happily. After all, he already spoke Hispanian, learning a third language couldn't be too terribly hard, and anything Donavan wanted to teach him, he was eager to learn.
People shuffled around obligingly, moving their feet this way and that to make way for Dragomir and Niles as they squeezed through to get to their seats. It was quite crowed that evening, and they’d only just gotten their tickets the day before, so while the seats weren’t optimal as far as watching the play effectively went, they would be good for keeping an eye on the crowd. So far, neither of them had spotted Donavan, but they’d only just arrived and they knew he would be in disguise. Dragomir figured their best bet would be to wait until intermission when everyone would leave their seats to mingle and stretch their legs. Hopefully then he’d have a chance to look at the theater patrons closely.
Dragomir dropped into his seat heavily and grinned up at Niles, waiting for him to do the same. Though they were there on business, Dragomir intended to make every effort to ensure they enjoyed themselves, at least until the real work began. He held the folding seat down for Niles and waited for him to get settled before pulling out the pair of binoculars he’d used in Hispania and looking over the crowd. It never hurt to run a preliminary check, after all. Satisfied that Donavan wasn’t in the audience directly in front of them, he put the binoculars down and turned again to Niles, admiring his outfit. It was always a treat to see him out of uniform.
Niles settled into his seat beside Dragomir, smoothing his jacket out. His outfit was new, this was his first time wearing it, and he smiled self-consciously as Dragomir looked over him. His jacket was purple with gold trim, and his vest was a matching shade of paler lavender. His cravat and the lace at his wrists were also a very pale purple, and were embroidered with gold at the ends. His shoes had matching gold buckles, his short ponytail was held back with a purple ribbon. "So, you haven't seen Donavan yet?" he asked softly, looking around. He knew he wouldn't be able to tell Donavan in a disguise, but he was confident Dragomir would be able to.
“No, not yet.” Dragomir shook his head as he again scanned the seats in front of them. “He could be in one of the boxes.” He sighed after a few minutes. “If he is, we’ll just have to keep an eye out for him during intermission.” Dragomir said confidently, even as he stood up and looked around behind them, just in case he could see any of the balconies occupants.
Julian sat up quickly as one of the members of the audience distinguished themselves from the rest by standing and turning around. Julian got to his feet for a better view, hurrying to the edge of the balcony just as the other man sat down. He’d recognized him, though, without a doubt. “What’s Dragomir doing here?” He asked himself aloud rather angrily. Looking down where Dragomir was sitting, he spotted Niles next to him and realized they must have decided to go out together. Perfect. There he was trying to escape his own troubled reality and the culprit of his misery had followed him, bringing the culmination of all Julian’s desires and frustrations along with him.
Donavan’s ears perked up immediately at the name and he craned his next to confirm the man’s words. Sure enough, Dragomir was in the audience below them, with Christian seated next to him. Donavan looked down at Faustino briefly, smirking deviously as a plan began to form. “I’m sorry, what was that?” Donavan asked, pretending to be only slightly curious. “Did you spot a friend?”
“Unfortunately not.” Julian grumbled, slumping back into his seat dejectedly, his previous good mood ruined. “Just some people I work with…” He sighed, wishing as always that Niles could be something more than just a coworker and that Dragomir never even existed.
“I see.” Donavan said brightly. The man’s mood swings were seriously beginning to irritate him, but he hid it well. “And what do you do, if I might ask?” he knew the answer, but he still couldn’t wait to hear the other say it. This Kaiser person could very well prove to be more than just one evening’s distraction.
“I’m a Captain in General Rousseau’s Brigade.” Julian answered distractedly.
“General Rousseau? That would be Perceval Rousseau, correct?” At Kaiser’s solemn nod, Donavan smiled. “I know him quite well,” he said conversationally. Then, deciding to toy a little with the man, his lowered his voice knowingly and leaned over Faustino again slightly. “That means you must be working on apprehending Donavan D’Aubigne, right? Tell me, how is that going? I know I for one would sleep much better at night if I knew that criminal was off the streets, wouldn’t you, Amaury?”
Faustino nearly snorted at Donavan's final comment, but hid his amusement well. "Oh, yes, definitely, uncle! He really frightens me," he chimed, nodding vigorously. "I'll be very happy when they get him off the streets." He was really doing his best not to giggle, but it was tough, and he hoped Donavan would take over again.
“Well, I can assure you that the military is doing everything it can to keep the city safe and put that criminal to justice.” Julian would have sounded noble if his tone hadn’t been so downright depressed, and Donavan nearly burst into laughter at the whole situation. Faustino was doing a very good job of concealing his amusement, and Donavan knew they could both have a laugh about it together after the play.
“That’s good to hear.” Donavan smiled. “But you really don’t sound all that enthusiastic, Monsieur Kaiser.”
“You can just call me Julian.” Julian sighed resting his chin on his hand. “I’m sorry. You’ll have to forgive me, but seeing my coworker here rather ruined my mood…” Julian trailed, wondering vaguely why he was telling so much to this random stranger. But the man seemed nice enough, and Julian believed that anyone with a small adorable child in their presence could be trusted.
“Oh?” Donavan said with concern and a note of curiosity, encouraging further confession. “Did something happen between the two of you?” He asked, furrowing his brows.
“A lot of things.” Julian grumbled. It felt silly to be complaining to a perfect stranger, but somehow, Julian felt like this man, this Granville person would really listen to him, and might even understand his situation somehow. “He just got out of jail, you know.” Julian began, crossing his arms. “And he wouldn’t have even gotten out if it wasn’t for me!”
“Oh my. What did he do?” Donavan asked, feigning concern.
“That’s not what matters.” Julian said warily, watching himself. “What matters is that he hardly showed me any gratitude at all. He has no manners. And he’s Dacian.” He paused for a moment, debating how much he could say. The man’s face was open and kindly, however, and Julian felt encouraged to continue. “He’s an illiterate good-for-nothing from a poor family with no money at all. He even worked for Donavan D’Aubigne!”
Julian sniffled and turned away, which was very lucky for Donavan, whose expression of benevolent neutrality cracked momentarily with sheer amusement. He was quite pleased to see that Dragomir had made some friends at work, and looked forward to exploiting them.
“But that’s not even the worst of it!” Julian said passionately, as though he were delivering a speech. He looked to Granville, who seemed just as shocked by the injustice as he felt. “He has everything I’ve ever wanted—everything I deserve—and I have nothing.” Julian wiped feverishly at his eyes, though he felt a lot better than he had before. Somehow saying it all out loud to an enraptured audience made him feel a lot better…a lot less depressed, at least. It made him feel angry again, they way he had before he challenged Dragomir to a duel.
“That’s terrible.” Donavan cooed, lifting a surprised hand to cover his mouth. “Surely there’s something you can do to amend this injustice?”
“I’ve tried!” Julian moaned piteously. “I tried to outwit him in languages, and he defeated me…” Donavan found this very hard to believe, but he kept his face solemn and listened intently, searching for some bit of information that he could use. “And he… he humiliated me in a duel…” That Donavan could understand. Still, he played the unknowing helpful bystander.
“But how could he? You’re obviously the better man.” Julian’s shining eyes looked up at him piteously, as if Donavan had at last said what he’d desperately wanted to hear all along.
“There’s no way I could beat him…” Julian lamented in spite of the pity he’d just received, He was still looking for more. “He’s much stronger than I am.” Julian conceded. “And I’m not a very good duelist…”
“But you fence like a gentleman, don’t you?” Donavan said coolly, his pleasant smile curling into a smirk despite his best efforts. Julian looked slightly unnerved, but Donavan ignored it, continuing. “A poor uneducated Dacian slob probably fights like his life is on the line in every duel, does he not?”
“Yes…” Julian nodded slowly. “He fights like a wild animal.”
An apt description, Donavan decided. “Then don’t you think you need to do the same? If you want to defeat him, I mean? If he doesn’t play fair, why should you?”
Just then, the soft background music that had been issuing from the orchestra pit all evening began to grow steadily louder, building in a crescendo to begin the overture. The lights dimmed, and Donavan settled back into his seat, waiting for the play to begin. He’d left the poor incumbent officer a lot to think about, and he watched him sink back into his chair, wringing his hands nervously and hardly watching as the first actor stepped onto the stage.
Faustino could see Donavan's plan forming now, and even as the play begun, it pleased him. Donavan was arranging for this idiot of a military man to kill Dragomir, so that Donavan wouldn't have to dirty his hands. It was a very pleasant thought, though Faustino couldn't help but hope that somehow, Christian expired in the fray, as well. Unlikely as it was, he could hope, and satisfied, he sat back to enjoy the play. Since it was Donavan's favourite, after all, he knew that it was going to be his favourite, too.
Dragomir got to his feet right as the curtain fell for the intermission and the electric lights buzzed noisily back on. He offered a hand to Niles and helped him to his feet, leading the way through the crowd. In the large entry to the theater, drinks and refreshments were being served and the people from the audience were spilling outside to enjoy the warm evening air. Dragomir wanted to make sure they got out as quickly as possible so that they could watch the door and keep an eye out for Donavan as people made their way to the drinks.
About a hundred people had already filled out before them, but Dragomir had a good feeling that Donavan was still somewhere inside. “I’ll get us drinks.” Dragomir smiled, leading Niles over to where drinks were being served. They still had a good view of the doors, but they were out of the way somewhat; hopefully from their vantage point, they could see and avoid being seen. “What do you think so far?” Dragomir asked as he continued to scan everyone that emerged from the theater.
"It's a very silly play," Niles commented blandly, having trouble looking around because of his height. He hoped Dragomir, who was a good head taller than him, was having better luck. "But I like it. Thanks," he added as Dragomir handed him a drink, and contented himself with sipping it, trying his hardest to look around through the sea of people and failing rather grandly.
Dragomir nodded in agreement. It definitely was a silly play, but he was relieved to find that the play’s former association with Donavan was beginning to slowly disappear. Being with Niles generally had that effect on him, though; with Niles, he was always able to forget his past with Donavan and start a new with Niles in a way he’d never before thought possible. He smiled softly at the thought and discreetly, without taking his eyes off of the door, from which people were still streaming, took Niles’s hand in his and squeezed lightly.
Niles blushed slightly when he felt Dragomir take his hand, smiling softly and leaning slightly against Dragomir. It was so nice to be able to go out, just the two of them, even if it was for work. Niles liked doing normal things with Dragomir; it made him feel like maybe his life was a little bit normal, too, even for all his locked-up childhood. And besides, even if not normal, having someone like Dragomir to love him and take care of him was more than he could ever want. He was extremely grateful, and he sighed contentedly, watching as Dragomir watched for Donavan.
After about fifteen minutes of watching, the steady stream of people emerging from the theater had decreased to a mere trickle and there was still no sign of Donavan. Dragomir was becoming steadily more impatient, and at the same time starting to glance around the large room somewhat anxious ad impatiently, wondering if he’d somehow missed Donavan. He’d had four drinks already as well, and Dragomir worried they were beginning to look somewhat suspicious stationed by the drinks and watching the door. “I haven’t seen him yet,” he admitted at last to Niles with a rather resigned sigh. “I think we should probably move so that people don’t start to wonder, or anything.”
"Okay," Niles replied vaguely, not wanting to give up Dragomir's hand. He wondered whether maybe Donavan hadn't come at all this time, because he didn't see how Dragomir would miss him, but then again, there were a ton of people and it was hard to tell. Either way, Niles was a little let down but not heartbroken, and was more immediately upset that he was separated from the warmth of close proximity with Dragomir's body.
Dragomir lead Niles across the room and stopped in a somewhat crowded area near the bathrooms where he hoped they could blend in while he continued to scan faces for Donavan’s. While he searched the crowd, it was difficult for Dragomir not to think about all the times he’d been to see the play in the past with Donavan; he’d seen it every year without fail for five years in a row when he’d worked with Donavan, and the memories of the different occasions were beginning to float back into his mind. Old memories were hard to suppress, especially the particularly unpleasant ones… As Dragomir’s mind began to wander, his gaze fell on the door to the bathrooms and he caught a glimpse inside as a man emerged. He shuddered slightly and looked away, back out towards the center of the room.
While Dragomir had worked officially as Donavan’s bodyguard and accompanied him everywhere under that pretence, he’d also often served as a convenient outlet for Donavan’s sexual urges. Dragomir was all too familiar with the theater bathroom and wished that he hadn’t thought about it. At the time, he’d been happy to do whatever he could for Donavan but now, the very thought of it thought disgusted him. Still…as the memory forced its way into his mind, Dragomir had to take a deep breath and swallow hard to try and clear his head. He was feeling restless and he shifted his weight, glancing around before looking down at Niles. He was ashamed to admit it, but the thoughts and memories of previous encounters were making him sweat with need. He wondered whether Niles would be up for it at all and wiped his forehead, blushing hotly.
Niles looked up to see that Dragomir had gotten rather red in the face and was sweating slightly, and wondered what was wrong. Maybe he was having bad memories about Donavan...? Niles wished there was something he could do to make it better, and tugged on Dragomir's sleeve. "...Dragomir...? What's wrong...? Can I... help...?"
Dragomir gulped nervously. There certainly was something Niles could do to help…but Dragomir was hesitant to ask for assistance. For one thing, a theater bathroom certainly wasn’t the nicest of places (it was probably dirtier than the records room back at headquarters), and for another, Dragomir hated to bring Niles into his own problem, especially since it involved memories of being with Donavan. But then again… Just having seen the play with Niles instead of with Donavan had completely alleviated all of the play’s former associations with Donavan. Perhaps…the same could be done for the bathroom. Maybe being with Niles now was exactly what Dragomir needed; he needed to be reminded that everything with Donavan was in the past—over and done with—and not worth dwelling on. He was with Niles now, and everything was different. And much much better.
Dragomir took a quick breath, making up his mind and settling on his decision before looking down at Niles and smirking slightly. As the next person emerged from the bathroom, Dragomir quickly took Niles by the hand and pulled him inside, pressing him against the wall and capturing his lips in a desperate kiss.
Niles was a little startled to be yanked into the bathroom, and even more surprised when Dragomir began kissing him. It wasn't that he didn't mind, per say, but it was not what he had been expecting at all, and it took him a moment to gather himself. He kissed back, however, and nearly forgot himself and his concerns until they broke apart again. "Dragomir--" he gasped breathlessly, "Here--? Now--?" but he was cut off again and decided that he didn't care, wrapping his arms around Dragomir's neck and kissing back wholeheartedly.
Dragomir was relieved when Niles kissed him back; he’d been worried about answering either of those questions and really had no idea what he would have said in response. But not talking about it, at least not now, made it better somehow. Dragomir didn’t think he could explain the reasoning behind his urgency and his need. Dragomir pressed Niles against the wall harder, using it as a brace as he slipped his arms up underneath Niles and lifted him into his arms. He staggered into an empty stall, not looking away from Niles and not breaking the kiss until they were inside and the door was latched. Without setting him down, Dragomir traced fleeting kisses over Niles’s neck above the collar of his jacket, making his way to his ear and nibbling lightly as he murmuring nothings against Niles’s skin while he undid the first few buttons of Niles’s jacket hurriedly. He loosened Niles’s cravat and pushed away his blouse before placing a kiss on Niles’s collarbone and biting it lightly, heatedly.
Niles gasped, tightening his arms around Dragomir's neck and letting his head fall to rest against the door. It was difficult for him to attempt anything useful in the way of clothing for his current position, braced between Dragomir and the door, but he had the feeling that, because of time and spatial constraints, they weren't going to be taking off a whole lot of clothing, anyway. Tightening his legs around Dragomir's waist, he pulled at the top few buttons of his vest, managing to undo them, but gave up partway through when he became distracted by Dragomir's lips against his skin. He couldn't help it, he whimpered and mewled, trying to pull Dragomir even closer still and thinking vaguely that maybe this wasn't, all in all, a bad idea.
Julian staid in his seat a good half hour after intermission had begun discussing the first act of the play in a great deal of depth with the Granvilles. He was very impressed by Mr. Granville’s grasp and interpretation of the play, and it was obvious that he’d seen it many times. Even little Amaury had some insights, though, and Julian was thoroughly impressed. However, glancing down at his watch, he realized he only had fifteen minutes before intermission came to a close and the next act began.
Aside from the play, Julian had a lot on his mind. In fact, he was ashamed upon his discussion with the Granvilles to realize how much of the performance he’d missed. He’d been deep in thought about his dilemma; and he’d reached the conclusion that, as appealing as Mr. Granville’s suggestion of cheating was, he simply couldn’t do it. Still, he’d been looking forward to the intermission—he needed a moment alone to compose his thoughts and think it through some more. He only hoped he wouldn’t end up running into Dragomir or Niles when left the theater because he knew he would be quite unable to handle an encounter with them now.
The lobby was very crowded, and though Julian wanted to go outside for a breath of fresh air to clear his head, he was worried he might wander too far and miss the announcement to return to his seat. So, he settled on the bathroom. It was likely to be quite, after all, and he made his way across the room and went inside. The room was empty and it would have been quiet if it weren’t for the faintest rhythmic squeezing of a door’s hinges. He snapped his head around to the stalls and realized what was going on. His cheeks flushed with embarrassment and he spun on his heel quickly with every intention of heading straight back into the lobby. A voice, however, stopped him. Niles. He knew it. He swallowed and his gut wrenched inside of his as tears prickled at the corners of his eyes. He’d hoped not to run into them, but this was infinitely worse. He heard a throaty yell form Dragomir, and thought he might be sick. After Niles’s answering cry, Julian could take it no longer. He left the bathroom and headed directly through the lobby to the doors outside. At this point, he didn’t care how much of the play he missed, and he certainly didn’t care about rules and chivalry. This had been the final straw; Mr. Granville was right. If Dragomir didn’t play by the rules, why should he? Why did Dragomir have what he deserved? It was time to put an end to all that, and Julian was determined.
At the end of the play, Faustino sighed and glanced to Donavan, not wanting to seem impatient by rising first. He had noted that when Captain Kaiser had returned to sit with them that he had seemed upset, and he was curious as to why, but said nothing. He knew Donavan would take care of everything, and he waited in anticipation, amused about how the evening had played out with the military officer.
After the applause had concluded, Donavan got to his feet swiftly and turned to Julian with a broad smile. “It was very good to meet you and spend an evening enjoying a masterpiece such as this together.” He bowed sweepingly in his theatrical manner, and straightened to offer a hand to help Faustino to his feet as well.
“Yes,” Julian agreed with a tight, strained smile. As little as he had watched the first act, he’d paid even less attention to the second; his mind had been buzzing, and images of Dragomir and Niles kept intruding on his thoughts. Still, he was grateful for all the advice Granville had given him. He felt that without their earlier conversation, he would have never realized the truth of the matter, and never mustered the courage to do what he now knew he must.
Donavan frowned with concern, but on this inside he smirked broadly. He knew everything was going according to plan. Right now, Julian was mentally preparing himself for an encounter with Dragomir, Donavan could just tell, and with any luck, Julian would take his advice and brake the rules of engagement. He longed to attempt to plant a few more seeds, perhaps against that Christian, or something, but Donavan knew that he could very easily get carried away, and wanted to prevent that at all costs. He smiled again, rather remorsefully, and said with a sigh, “Unfortunately, it has gotten to be rather late, and Amaury does need to get to bed.”
Julian roused himself from his depressed stupor, suddenly feeling disappointed that he couldn’t spend more time with the Granville’s. “Oh, of course. Forgive me for having kept you at all. It was certainly nice to have met you both.” He bowed to each of them intern with a sad smile and then looked up and Mr. Granville again. “I really would like to thank you for our conversation earlier this evening. It really helped me to work some things out.”
“Did it really?” Donavan asked, sounding surprised. “Well, I’m so glad to hear that!” He said congenially, placing a hand on Julian’s shoulder kindly. “I’m very glad to have been of some help, and I sincerely hope that it all goes well with your friend.” Julian nodded gratefully, and with a final exchange of bows, Donavan took Faustino by the hand and led him from the building, leaving Julian in the booth where he’d once again took his seat and buried his face in his hands. Everything had worked out perfectly, and Donavan could no longer suppress a laugh as they emerged into the night air. He gave Faustino’s hand an affectionate squeeze and smirked down at him. “You acted brilliantly tonight, Faustino.” He praised. “I couldn’t have played my part without you.”
Faustino grinned. "I'm so glad!" he exclaimed laughingly, for a moment distracted from the uncomfortable wig and oppressive makeup that he longed to remove. "But, do you really think," he continued, lowering his voice, "that that Kaiser will kill Dragomir?" He hesitated a moment. "I thought you said you wanted to do it yourself. If he can do it, why couldn't I?" He pouted slightly; that usually got him what he wanted, he had learned, and looked up at Donavan. "And do I really have to go to bed when we get home?"
Donavan laughed again. “He can’t kill Dragomir.” He assured Faustino. “But think of the chaos it will cause—he seems to be a friend of that Christian’s, after all. Maybe Dragomir will kill him by accident when they fight, you know?” It seemed a very real possibility, and the irony of the situation would be more than enough to make up for the fact that Donavan would probably be denied the pleasure of killing Dragomir himself were it to happen. Looking down at Faustino, Donavan was met with an adorable pout and he felt the feeling of bloodlust drain from his as a smile formed on his lips. “Yes, you do need to go to bed when we get back.” He replied dotingly. “Aren’t you sleepy yet?” He asked as they reached the automobile. One of the goons who’d been instructed to pick them up appeared to open the door for Faustino, and as he went around to get the other door for Donavan, Donavan ignored him and clambered into the backseat with Faustino playfully. “I’m sure you’ll be tired soon, I’m sure.”
"Oh, I see," Faustino replied, still pouting, as he leaned to rest against Donavan as the automobile started up. "And I'm really not sleepy, Donavan... I want to stay up with you." Even as he was saying it, however, he was relaxing more and more into the plush seats of the automobile, comfortable against Donavan's shoulder. "I'm not sleepy..." he insisted still, but his eyelids were getting heavy, and finally, he allowed them to close, snuggling contentedly against Donavan. It had been an eventful evening, after all, and even if he couldn't stay awake with Donavan, at least he knew they'd be together in his dreams.