Oh, and just to be clear, the chapters aren't meant to be divided up, they only are because LJ won't let me post something 30 pages long. ^^; so they're divided up rather awkwardly, sorry ;
Chapter: 3, part 1
Claimer: All characters belong to us. :D;
Warnings: Excessive violence and killing, drug abuse, angst, fluff, and yaoi, of course!
It had been nearly two weeks since Dragomir had promised to bake Niles pastries, and in that time almost nothing of interest had occurred. The Berceuse Malheureuse remained as illusive as ever, even after the public trial of Fillipus Rutgers, who was sentenced to a minimum of three years in prison for treason to the monarchy and several petty crimes, and both Dragomir and Niles had received no new assignments from Colonel Rousseau. The Colonel had in fact been rather illusive of late, and there were rumors floating around that he was gearing up for another one of his extravagant parties for which he was quite famous. Of course, that was of little relevance to Dragomir, as there was little to no chance he would be invited to such an event. What was of more pertinence to him however was the imminent recovery of his arm; which was no longer confined to a sling. He still had to wear several layers of thick bandages, but even so, the newly regained freedom was a relief. Dragomir started to practice fencing again, and took advantage to the range to brush up on his marksmanship as well. But most importantly, at least to him, he started to cook again. Once he felt relatively back in the habit of preparing food, he dug out an old recipe box and started work on a verity of pastries which he intended to give to Niles.
Twelve days after Niles’s dinner visit, Dragomir walked to work with a large box of sweets tucked under his arm. It felt rather awkward to be delivering baked goods to a subordinate, but Dragomir was looking forward to delivering the promised pastries. He arrived late to work that morning, as per his usual, and slipped into the room quietly, only bowing as the Major looked up. Dragomir had decided the night before to wait until the lunch break to give Niles the box, and so greeted the Corporal with a quick smile as he walked past his desk to his own. Stowing the pastries safely under his desk, Dragomir noticed a small, lavishly decorated envelop sitting on his desk. He opened it slowly, preserving the wax seal to the best of his ability, and removed a folded piece of parchment. What appeared to be a letter was written in a bold scrawling hand which represented the picture of pristine elegance. Such precise beauty, Dragomir concluded, could only be the work of Colonel Rousseau. Unfortunately, Dragomir had no hope of deciphering the beautiful writing, and so decided to ask Niles for help later.
Niles smiled back eagerly at his superior, his eyes lingering on the Lieutenant's back as he walked away. In the two weeks that had passed, he had had many long discussions with himself, and had finally come to terms with the fact that he had fallen into a helpless state of adoration towards the other man. He had the feeling that "hopeless adoration" was his mind's euphemism for "love", but he hadn't had the courage to even yet admit that to himself. Still, "hopeless adoration" was a step forward and a fairly precise way to describe his state; every time he was in the same room as the Lieutenant, he was distracted; he found himself daydreaming when he should have been working; and he couldn't even hold a normal conversation with his superior without becoming flustered. Still, he knew there was nothing he could do about it, and he was trying hard to fight the symptoms of his new condition.
As the Lieutenant walked away, Niles wondered briefly what was in the box that he was carrying, but quickly tried to get back to work. He had other things to worry about; other things to depress him. Earlier that morning, Niles had arrived to the office to find Colonel Rousseau delivering envelopes to various people. Niles, after being ignored completely, was not surprised to find that all of the commissioned officers had received fancy envelopes labeled "Invitation" and he had received nothing. Not that it really mattered, he was used to being left out, but, despite what he told himself, it was still a little painful. Especially since this time, even Lt. Hirlea would be leaving him behind.
The morning passed relatively quickly, which was a good thing as far as Dragomir was concerned. Seeing Niles that morning had only made him all the more impatient to give the Corporal his sweets. Dragomir kept impatiently glancing up at the clock in between the each of the sets of papers he signed, and thankfully, it wasn’t long before the Major announced that she would be leaving for lunch. This was the unspoken announcement that everyone else in the office was free to go as well. Dragomir immediately retrieved the box and got to his feet, quickly making his way over to Niles’s desk. “This is for you.” He grinned, sliding the container across the heavily varnished wood towards his superior as he took a seat on the edge of the Corporal’s desk.
Niles blinked at the box. "For me, sir?" He lifted the lid and looked inside, then gasped with surprise and delight. The box was filled with sweet pastries, just as he had told the Lieutenant that he had liked. "Oh, Sir! These are lovely! Thank you so much!" He stared at them, starry eyed, for only a moment more before he carefully lifted an éclair out of the box and took a bite. It was just the right amount of sweetness; the cream was the perfect texture, and the chocolate the perfect accent. "Oh, sir!" he exclaimed, his voice rang with delight, much like a small child receiving a gift. "These are amazing! You're such a good chef!"
“I’m glad you like them.” Dragomir beamed. “I found a good recipe, so I think I can start making them for you more often, if you like.” Dragomir was looking forward to doing so, too; it was so nice to make Niles happy. Dragomir smiled contentedly, scooting further on to Niles’s desk so he was more comfortable. As he moved, he heard the sound of paper crinkling in his jacket pocket and remembered the envelope. He retrieved the parchment from his coat and passed it to the Corporal. “I can’t read this.” He said, glancing around. “The handwriting has too many curls.” He added, just to be safe. “Do you mind telling me what it says? It’s from the Colonel, right?”
"You'd do that for me? Oh, Sir, that's- that's- Oh, that would be so wonderful! But- I mean- I don't want to be a burden. I mean, if you want to-" Niles tried to calm himself, biting his lip and not managing to kill the smile that was stuck on his face. "Thank you, sir. You've made me so happy."
When the Lieutenant handed him the letter, Niles smiled sadly and accepted it. "Oh, of course I'll read it for you, Sir. The envelope says 'Invitation'." He opened the letter and pulled out the fancy paper, looking over it. "'You are cordially invited to a banquet and ball at the residence of Colonel Perceval Rousseau from 7 pm to 1 am on Saturday, November 12, 1701. You are invited to bring a guest." Trying to avoid looking like a kicked puppy, Niles smiled back at his superior. "Congratulations. You got invited to one of the Colonel's parties."
“Huh.” Dragomir took the invite back and looked it over. “I can’t imagine why the Colonel would invite me…” Looking at the invite obviously did him no good so he set it down. “I may as well go though, just to see if they’re all that they are cracked up to be, you know?” Dragomir laughed lightly then realized that Niles’s mood had changed considerably. Wondering vaguely why, he went over the invite in his mind. “So, one guest.” Dragomir paused. He didn’t want Viorica to be out that late because she’d be going to classes at the university the next day. “Why don’t you come with me?” Dragomir asked, leaning towards Niles with a broad grin. It was the perfect idea and Dragomir had no idea why he hadn’t thought of Niles first. Dragomir had wanted to spend more time with Niles outside of work for a while, but had been hesitant to ask him over to his house again. Going to the party together was perfect, and Dragomir figured that Niles would probably be used to these sorts of events and so could give him a hand with any unusual formalities.
Niles' eyes widened in disbelief and his heart rate sped up so much he was sure Dragomir could hear it. "Me, sir?" He blushed a deep red, putting his hands to his face. "You're...you're asking me?" He must be dreaming, surely he was dreaming. The Lieutenant couldn't be asking him...? But he looked earnest enough, and Niles could think of no other explanation.... When he could keep his voice steady, Niles smiled, thoroughly excitedly. "Sir, I-I'd love to go!"
“That’s great!” Dragomir said happily, sliding off the desk. “It’s a week from today, right?” Dragomir was really thrilled about going now that he knew Niles would be there too, and he was practically bubbling. There was plenty of time to get the details worked out, but he was too excited to wait. “We could take you automobile there after we’re done at work, and stop at you’re house first again.” he was pacing a bit, and he forced himself to stand still as they worked out the rest of the details.
When lunch was over, Dragomir returned to his desk not caring that he hadn’t gotten to eat anything. He couldn’t imagine was he was so happy about this whole thing; he’d never been to a party before because he could never understand why anyone would find them interesting. But the idea of going with Niles changed everything. It would be really great to go together and enjoy the event in the company of a close friend, Dragomir thought.
Dragomir spent the rest of the week worrying about what the party would be like and weather or not he could play along well enough to keep Niles from looking bad. How he came off was of no concern to Dragomir, but he didn’t want to ruin anything for Niles. To quell some of his nervousness, he told Viorica about the event and she agreed to help him brush up his minuet. They only had time to practice a few nights before it was time for the Colonel’s Banquet, but Dragomir was satisfied.
As their work day came to a close on the twelfth, Dragomir sauntered confidently over to Nile’s desk, doing his best to look as though he were completely ready. “Are we ready to go?” Dragomir asked smiling slightly.
Niles nodded excitedly, standing up in a hurry. He knew all of the commissioned officers in their chain of command were attending the party, so there was no need to worry about leaving a little early. "Let's go, Sir!" He led the way out to his automobile, opening the passenger door for the Lieutenant before hurrying to the driver's side himself.
The drive home felt slower than it really was, as he was nearly overflowing with excitement, but he knew he wouldn't take too much time at home. He had laid out his outfit, chosen almost a week in advance, so his time would be at a minimum. Hurrying inside, he dressed in his pale blue jacket with silver embroidery and matching accessories, choosing a light blue embroidered cravat and matching blouse. He had planned everything out, down to the pale blue ribbon in his hair and matching shoes with silver buckles. After giving himself a once-over in the mirror, he hurried back out to the car and got in. "Do I look all right, sir?" he asked with a smile before starting the automobile back up. He had memorized the directions to the Colonel's house; hopefully, in all his excitement, he could remember the way.
“Of course.” Dragomir grinned, examining the detail in Niles’s outfit. Everything fit together so nicely Dragomir was surprised Niles could have dressed so quickly. Of course, Niles seemed to have a talent for those sorts of things. However he’d managed, he looked really good. Viorica had certainly known what she was talking about. Niles did look excellent in blue. The pale blue, Dragomir noted, had a subtle elegance to it and it looked amazing with Niles’s pale hair. Dragomir thought briefly what it would be like the dress up so formally, but the thought was fleeting and soon replaced be excitement as they neared the Colonels mansion.
They pulled up under the main automobile port of the Rousseau estate where a servant was waiting to take the car and park it. The man opened the doors for both of them before taking the keys and going round the circular drive which snaked elegantly around a series of fountains lit with candles for the occasion. Another servant appeared to escort them in to the ball room where the party was to be held.
The room was already bustling with guests, most of whom were crowded around the sprawling banquet table which was loaded with the finest and most outrageous of dishes imaginable. At either end of the table was a large campaign fountain surrounded by the most delicate of crystal goblets. Crystal was all the rage in the place currently, at it was evident the Colonel was doing his best to keep up with all the fickle fashions and trends of the day.
Managing to tear his eyes away from the extravagant spread of food, Dragomir took a moment to take in his surroundings. The ballroom floor was a rich mocha colored marble with fine tile inlays around the edge by the walls, which were of the same marble. Huge pillars ran around the edge of the central area, which was reserved for dancing, and supported a balcony from which guest could watch the dances. The balcony completely encircled the room, breaking only at the far end for huge pained windows and delicate brass doors which lead out onto a veranda overlooking the garden. Looking up, Dragomir noticed three wrought iron chandlers from which dangled exquisite cut crystal bangles which reflected and refracted the light cast by the multitude of new electric candles the chandelier supported.
Dragomir was thoroughly taken aback by the splendor of the whole presentation; he had never seen anything so lavish in his entire life. He had little time to be awed though, as the Colonel was approaching.
“Lieutenant Hirlea!” Perceval exclaimed, as if he’d only just noticed them. He walked gracefully over to them, his elegant form gliding over the dance floor in an outrageous party outfit. He greeted Dragomir as if they were close friends with two implied kisses to each cheek, a gesture which always surprised Dragomir as he was of the mind that the Colonel generally disliked him. Nevertheless, Dragomir was as congenial as he could manage, returning the gesture and complementing the Colonel before moving aside to announce Niles as his guest. “Ah, Corporal. How good of you to come.” Perceval grimaced. He seemed quite surprised by Dragomir’s guest choice but said nothing. “If you’ll excuse me gentlemen, I have to continue greeting my guests.” He smiled and bowed deeply to them, as was the customary gesture of the host. As Dragomir watched Perceval walk towards the far end of the room, he got the feeling that Colonel Rousseau had been hoping Dragomir wouldn’t come. With a smirk at the thought, Dragomir turned to Niles.
“What do you want to do first?” Dragomir asked excitedly.
As Niles took in all the sights around him, he was thoroughly overwhelmed. Fashion, it seemed, had changed over the past 20 years, as the Colonel's ballroom was decorated very differently from his own, which was not nearly so well kept. Niles had always wondered if it was even possible to fill a whole ballroom with people, but the Colonel made it seem easy, and he was amazed.
When his superior asked him the question, Niles thought a moment. "Ah...um...I'm really not sure, Sir. I suppose we could have a look around?" He knew his suggestion was poor, but he really was feeling overwhelmed by everything, and, of course, the fact that he was here with Lt. Hirlea, and his thought process was relatively inhibited. However, he was soon saved by an exclamation from behind them.
"Lt. Hirlea! Fancy meeting you here!" Niles turned to see Major Delancy approaching them, smiling cheerfully. As she greeted his superior with an embrace and kisses, Niles couldn't help but look at her attire. He had never really thought about the fact that, outside of work, she was also a woman, and could get dressed up, as well. This evening, she wore a deep navy blue gown with cream coloured accents and lace, as well as a pearl necklace and earrings to compliment it. With her hair up and curled, Niles barely recognized her as she turned to him with a smile.
"And Corporal! I had no idea you'd be here, as well." She seemed happy to see him, and greeted him cheerfully. "This is quite a party, isn't it?" She stepped back and smiled at both of them.
“Indeed.” Dragomir grinned. It was interesting to see her outside of work and not in a uniform, but he didn’t want to star so he looked around at the room again. He was still a little lost as to what he ought to be doing, and wasn’t quite sure if now would be an appropriate time for small talk. He decided that if nothing else, he could at least be polite. “Can I get you both a drink?” He asked, bowing slightly to both Major and Corporal.
Niles started at being addressed again. "Oh! Ah- yes, please, sir, thank you!" He trotted after the Lieutenant, along with the Major, over towards the foods. The table must have been 100 meters long, and it was covered with unimaginable amounts of elaborately prepared foods. There was everything from fall fruits to meat to marzipan carefully molded into delicate seeming leaves and small fruits, as well as a multitude of different chocolates and cheeses, and at least 10 different types of breads. Niles was awed by it all as he followed his superior over to the champagne.
He was distracted from the displays of food, however, when a sparkling crystal glass of champagne was pressed into his hand. He thanked the Lieutenant hurriedly before taking a sip. Niles didn't drink champagne all that often, but he could tell that this was extremely high quality stuff. "Wow," he remarked, blinking up at Lt. Hirlea and Major Delancy. "This is really nice, isn't it?"
Dragomir took a sip, rather more then was polite, sampling the flavor. “Yeah, really nice.” He grinned, admiring the cup. He was surprised the thing didn’t just break in his hand, it was so delicate. This was his first time using glassware and he was quite impressed. “Colonel Rousseau really spares no expense with these things, does he? Everything’s is so fancy!” Dragomir commented, looking down the table at the expanse of food laid out. He wondered vaguely if this was the sort of stuff aristocrats ate on a regular basis and felt a little bad putting Niles through his dinner. He dismissed the thought quickly though, turning back to grin at Niles. “Are you hungry?” he asked. Asking lame questions seemed to be the best course of action, as Dragomir rather failed at creating small talk.
"Oh, yeah, let's go get something to eat," Niles agreed, moving over towards the food. He had never seen so many elaborate dishes laid out in one place, and was awed by the variety and detail of the dishes. True, he had a lot of these dishes at home, but the presentation was something altogether novel to him. He decided to try a little bit of everything, since it probably all was exquisite.
As they were getting their food, the Major excused herself, saying she saw someone else that she knew. Niles wondered how anyone found anyone else at these parties, since there were so many people, and was glad that he had come with the Lieutenant. He would have been even more lost if he was on his own. Smiling up at the other man, he said softly, "I'm really glad that you asked me to come with you, sir."
Dragomir was in the process of examining a beautiful marzipan leaf but stopped and returned Nile’s smile with a bright grin. “I’m relieved that you could come.” Dragomir said, eating the leaf quickly. It was different then he had expected it to be, but he really liked the texture. “This is interesting.” He said off handedly as he picked up a few more of the confections and placed them onto his plate before turning back to Niles. “I don’t think I’d have come if you weren’t with me.” Dragomir smiled, with a slight blush. Realizing how silly that must have sounded, he quickly grabbed another leaf and handed it to Niles. “You should try these! They’re really different.”
Niles blushed at his superior's statement. "Ah-sir, I-" but was cut off as the Lieutenant changed the subject. It was probably a good thing, as something Niles didn't really want to say might have slipped out, and he accepted the candy with a smile. "Oh, they're decorated so nicely," he commented. "It's hard to eat them." He laughed as he took a little bite. "They are good," he agreed. He wasn't overly fond of marzipan himself, but these were just the right amount sweet to make them enjoyable. "You have good taste, sir!"
“Thanks.” Dragomir flashed a smile and continued down the table. There was so much unusual food he’d never seen before, and he wanted to try all of it. Helping himself to a roast, he looked back at what Niles was getting. He figured that he ought to at least try everything Niles picked, as the Corporal probably knew what everything actually was.
After they had both filled their plates, Dragomir headed back to the end of the table to refill the champagne he drained while they’d been gathering food. Satisfied, Dragomir returned to where he’d left Niles. The ballroom was starting to really fill up with guests, and so they moved to the edge of the room to eat. Dragomir leaned against the wall for support. His wounded arm was starting to bother him, even with the minimal weight of the champagne glass he’d assigned to it. Spotting a cluster of chairs, Dragomir dragged one over with his foot and offered it to Niles as he got another one. “I hope it’s okay if we sit for a while. My arm’s starting to bother me.” Dragomir said, rubbing the injury as he stretched his arm.
"Oh, of course, sir! I'm sorry. Can I help you with anything?" Niles asked hurriedly, hoping that he hadn't been neglectful of his superior. He sat down in the chair the Lieutenant had offered him, looking concernedly at the other man.
As they ate, Niles had more of a chance to take in the general atmosphere. As they had sat down, music began to play, and he realized that there was an orchestra situated at the other side of the ballroom. It was pleasant, dreamy, almost, and it gave Niles a happy, fuzzy feeling to be here with Lt. Hirlea. He sipped his champagne and sighed contentedly.
Dragomir enjoyed the music, feeling completely content to simply sit and enjoy the pleasant atmosphere. They finished eating without much being said, and continued to sit and listen. It wasn’t until Dragomir finished his second glass of champagne that he began to feel a little antsy. Setting the glass on the floor under his chair he stood and pulled Niles to his feet. “We should go join in the Minuet.” Dragomir grinned, gesturing at the lines of dancers that had already formed. “Are you up for it?” Dragomir asked, vaguely wondering what it would be like to dance with Niles instead of just next to him. He shock the thought from his head however as it was a completely ridiculous thought.
Niles blushed as he was pulled to his feet, trying not to think about the fact that he was once again touching the Lieutenant. "Oh-ah, that's a good idea, Sir!" he agreed with a smile. Dancing was one thing Niles knew he was at least sufficient at; he had been studying it ever since childhood and he felt comfortable with it. And so, trying to ignore the fact that he'd rather be dancing with his superior than anyone else, he followed over to join the line.
The dancing began with a new piece of music, and Niles smiled nervously over at Lt. Hirlea. Maybe his superior would see him, even for an instant, and realize that there actually was something that he was good at.
The lines of dancers moved back and forth gracefully, stepping from sided to side and gently rising and sinking, bending their knees elegantly with each step. They moved with precise unison through the One and a Fleuret, gracefully flowing from the Half Coupee to the Bouree and back to the Croupee again in time to the music.
Dragomir, much to the displeasure of his current partner, was having trouble with landing his pas menus, and kept tripping over his own feet as he tried to cross his right over his left intime with everyone else. This may have been due to the fact that most of his attention was focused on Niles, who was Dancing just a few feet away form him. The Corporal’s practiced step was quiet something else to watch, and it was evedent that Niles had been dancing for a very long time. It seemed to Dragomir that with every step Niles took, the innate beauty of the dance itself became more eveident. It was as if Dragomir had never really appricated the Minuet untill he saw Niles dance it.
Dragomir stole glaces over at Niles for nearly the entire movemnt until the crichendo, when he looked over and met the Corporal’s eyes. Felling quite throughly embarassed, Dragomir looked back to his partner and finished the last part of the dance, focusing only on his footwork.
As Niles' eyes met with the Lieutenant's, he felt his heart flutter in his chest, and he managed a small smile. He couldn't read the Lieutenant's expression at all, and wondered what he was thinking as he turned back to his partner. He had been trying to focus on the dance, but mostly, his mind had been wandering to the man next to him, as much as he tried to avoid it.
The dance went on, and Niles tried extremely hard to focus, making small talk to the best of his ability with his partner. As he moved from partner to partner, he couldn't help but wish that he were dancing with his superior instead, and so, he was glad when the dance finished and the guests began to disperse and rearrange before the next dance started. Lt. Hirlea seemed to be hesitant to start again, and so Niles hurriedly trotted over to his side, trying to say that he was really fine with stopping as well.
As they meandered off the dance floor, something caught Niles's eye, and he glanced across the room to see the Colonel talking to someone very familiar-looking. He squinted for a second, then realized who it may be.
"Sir," he asked, glancing back to his superior. "Talking to Colonel Rousseau over there, is that Major General Mauvais?"
Dragomir followed the Corporal’s gaze to the far end of the room and squinted to try and see the other man’s face. When he turned slightly to the side, Dragomir was able to confirm his identity as the Major General, the man acting in command of the branch of the army left with in the borders of Gallia. “Yeah, it is.” Dragomir said perplexedly, furrowing his brow. It was not uncommon for subordinates to invite their commanding officers to such events, but it was uncommon for the officers to make an appearance. Additionally, not only was General Mauvais in attendance, but he was speaking to the Colonel what appeared to be social manner. Colonel Rousseau did not seem to simply be making the host’s customary social rounds, and that was what struck Dragomir as unusual. “That’s rather strange,” Dragomir commented. “Do you think they know each other outside of work?”
Niles was also perplexed, but not just by the Major General's appearance. He had never seen the man in person before, and something about him seemed eerily familiar. After a few seconds, he wrote it off as having seen him so many times in newspapers and such, and returned his attention to his superior. "I guess they must," he replied with a blink. "Or maybe the Colonel is just that charismatic?" He looked up at the Lieutenant blankly, waiting to hear his opinion.
“Maybe.” Dragomir shrugged. “He always acts like he knows just about everyone of any significance anywhere.” He added with a light chuckle. Dragomir wasn’t all that interested in the Colonel’s social standings though, so he headed back to the champagne fountain, with Niles close behind him, and got himself another glass. After taking a sip, Dragomir turned back to the Corporal. “Do you want anything while we’re here?” he asked, looking around the room. Dragomir was ready to sit around and simply watch the party now, if Niles was didn’t mind. “Do you want to go check out the balcony?”
"No, I'm fine, sir," Niles replied with a smile, and a wave of his hands. He glanced up to the balconies, then smiled at his superior. "That sounds like a good idea, sir." Following the Lieutenant, he began towards the stairways, which were elaborately decorated and polished. Niles trotted up the stairs at his superior's heels, peering down the rows of balconies. There were tables set up in each, along with many chairs and decorations of all sorts, and guests sat around smoking and drinking champagne and talking and enjoying the view. Niles followed Lt. Hirlea to an unoccupied area a ways away from the staircase. He was kind-of glad to get away from all of the people, as he was beginning to feel drowsy, and the masses of people were a bit dizzying.
Dragomir fell into a couch with complete lack of regard for any sort of appropriate comportment. Setting his glass of champagne on an end table, he decided it would have to be his last for the evening. After the three full glasses he’d had already, he was just beginning to feel the effects of the alcohol. When Niles took a seat next to him, Dragomir turned to face the Corporal and stretched his legs out briefly. “This has been really great. Thanks for coming with me.” Dragomir smiled.
Niles blushed and looked down at his hands on his lap, a small smile breaking out on his face. "T-thank you, sir. I'm glad." He bit his lip and drew up his courage, looking up at his superior. "I'm really grateful to you, sir. You're the only one who's ever taken the time to...be kind to me. Thank you, sir. I really, really don't know how I would get by without you. I-" he cut himself off, blushing sharply and looking back down to his lap. He had to be careful what he said, what he let himself say. He couldn't let his feelings slip out. Putting back on the small smile, he managed to look back up at his superior, hoping that he wouldn't seem suspicious.
Dragomir couldn’t help but blush as well when Niles looked up at him again. The Corporal seemed like he had been going to say something else, but had stopped himself for some reason. Dragomir shrugged it off though; Niles could tell him someday. But Dragomir couldn’t believe that no one had been kind to Niles before himself, because to Dragomir Niles just seemed so…well, wonderful. It was had to believe that no one had thought that of the Corporal before. “I…I really want to be there for you.” Dragomir said after a moment’s hesitation.
Niles flushed again, blinking up at his superior in disbelief. His voice was gone, his heart seemed to stop beating...it took a second before he told himself that he did indeed have to breathe. Had the Lieutenant just said...no, he couldn't have...but yet... Finally managing to speak, Niles blushed up at Lt. Hirlea. "...Sir...?" was all that came out, but he didn't think he could possibly try to speak again. He was flustered, but, yet, he couldn't pry his eyes away from his superior's gaze.
Dragomir panicked slightly, wondering how that must have sounded to the other. He had meant what he’d said, but if Niles took it the wrong way then…then it wouldn’t be good. It would be bad. It might…make Niles uncomfortable? Or was Dragomir feeling uncomfortable… He knew he didn’t have much time to think about it now, so he quickly searched for something he could say. “I mean-” It was hard the come up with something on the spot. “I mean whenever you need help, or a friend, or anything like that.” He said smiling cheerfully, hoping to disguise his still prevalent blush.
Niles smiled warmly, trying not to blush. "Thank you, sir. I really appreciate it. And, if there's anything I can do for you, please, just let me know..." He was feeling less flustered now, and, since he was almost back to normal, was beginning to feel the effects of the alcohol he had been drinking. His eyelids were beginning to feel heavy, and he was beginning to drift off. He blinked rapidly, trying hard to stay awake, but the warmth of his superior next to him was intoxicating, and before he knew it, the world was growing dim....
Dragomir watched as Niles started to nod off and chuckled softly as he took another sip of his champagne. He was relieved he’d cleared up his previous…slip, and glad that Niles hadn’t been too worried about it. “You’re welcome. Please let me know as well if you need any thing, either.” Dragomir said with a smirk. Niles was definitely about to fall asleep at any moment. He was just adorable that way, and there were no excuses Dragomir could use to deny it.
"Thank...you, sir..." Niles murmured, looking dimly at his superior. He knew he shouldn't be falling asleep, he just knew it, but he couldn't fight himself awake any longer... Without him realizing what was happening, his head was beginning to drop off until he was completely gone, resting against the Lieutenant's shoulder. It felt good, he thought vaguely to himself as he drifted off.
Dragomir stiffened, blushing again, as Niles fell softly against him. He stole a quick glance at the Corporal to confirm that he was asleep and then sighed softly, relaxing against the back of the couch with the intention of making Niles more comfortable. He watched the other breath peacefully for a second, and noticed how sweet Niles looked when he was asleep. Feeling quite embarrassed by his actions Dragomir jerked slightly, looking at something in the opposite direction as he helped himself to another sip of champagne. He decided, as he avoided looking at the Corporal, that Niles was simply too damn cute for description.
Niles was feeling contented...he wasn't really sure why, but every inch of his being was feeling warm and comfortable. Maybe it was because he was resting against something nice and warm and strong...
Niles jerked awake upon realizing what had happened. Looking around and seeing the Lieutenant, he blushed bright red. "Ah!! Um-sir! I'm sorry, sir, I didn't mean--I mean, I just--I couldn't--I didn't-!" The stream of words that fell rapidly from his mouth really had no meaning, but he hoped his superior could decipher the flustered apology. "I-I'm really sorry, sir." He wrung his hangs and stared pointedly at his lap, hoping that his flush would subside at least somewhat.
Dragomir laughed openly, feeling slightly affected by the alcohol. “It’s really fine.” He said, managing to stop. If anything, Niles had only proved himself even more adorable in Dragomir’s eyes. The way he blushed and stuttered it…it really had nothing to do with anything. The point was, Dragomir hadn’t minded. And that wasn’t because of anything, either. He just hadn’t minded be cause he understood how Niles felt, what with the champagne and all… And, that was probably all he was feeling too. Alcohol did some pretty weird stuff, after all.
Hoping to make Niles feel a bit better, Dragomir changed the subject. “How would you like to come over for dinner again sometime?” He asked with a grin. “We’d love to have you, and I’d make sure it was less eventful then last time.” The next time Niles came, Dragomir planed to give Tatiana enough money for her and Pierre to go out for a night.
"Oh!" Niles was startled by the invitation. "Sir, I'd love to! I mean... if I wasn't too much trouble last time, or-or anything." He really had had a generally very good time the last time, but he was worried that the Lieutenant's family might find him a lot of trouble. He managed to get himself under control and smiled back at his superior, happy to be wanted. "Thank you, sir. Thank you so much, for everything."
“It will be nice to spend more time with you outside of work.” Dragomir smiled back kindly. He was pleased that Niles had accepted his offer, and would do everything he could to make sure that this up coming visit would be especially nice. Dragomir himself planed to cook, and he could only hope that Niles would like what he prepared.
They kept up a light conversation, not really discussing anything of importance for the rest of the evening until various guests began wondering out at a quarter to one. Deciding to overstay their welcome, they both got up and went down the stairs. Dragomir felt slightly woozy, but thought he could manage to with out tripping on anything. As they left the ball room, Colonel Rousseau was waiting by the door to wish everyone a good night as they left. He bowed politely to them as they passed but didn’t speak. Exiting out into the chill air, a servant pulled up in Niles’s automobile and got out, opening both doors for them before he handed Niles the keys.
Dragomir fell, rather clumsily into his seat and grinned over at Niles. “I’m glad we went. If I ever get invited again,” for some reason, Dragomir thought it was rather unlikely, “I’ll be sure to take you as my guest.”
Niles smiled back, the darkness of the early morning hiding his blush. "Thank you, sir. I'm very flattered." As they pulled away, Niles stole glances over to see the Lieutenant slouching in his seat, looking the other way. He smiled softly to himself as he looked back to the road. So this was love... if only it was something that he could allow to persist. But, all in all, this was so much better than anything else that had ever happened to him. No, being in love wasn't that bad…
Niles spent his Sunday doing nothing but nursing his headache and daydreaming; he knew he would suffer repercussions for his drinking, but he could have cared less. The whole evening had been arguably the best 7 hours of his life, and he wasn't eager to let go of it. Multiple times, he found himself humming and dancing around the house, consequently causing the servants to start rumors about him and mutter to themselves about his mental health. But nothing, not even the pounding in his temples, could dampen his mood.
Monday rolled around, and Niles was back to being at work early, as always. His good mood had carried over, especially at the thought of seeing his superior again, and, as he went about his morning tasks cheerfully. More than once, Major Delancy asked him why he was so cheerful, or what he was humming, and he always answered "Nothing, sir. Sorry," with a slight blush and a smile. He didn't remember ever being this happy before, and, for once, he wasn't worried. Things were actually looking up.
Dragomir came in a little later then usual. Apart form the party, his weekend hadn’t gone so well. Saturday he’d been rather hung over and though he was used to the feeling the situation was worsened by Viorica’s constant pestering. She wanted to know everything that had happened at the party, and every time he told her about it, she seemed convinced he was leaving something out, no matter how much detail he went into about it. She seemed particularly interested in Niles, and Dragomir had been debating all weekend why she was so curious. He was horribly bothered by the vague idea that she might be interested in him, but had no idea why it should concern him, and certainly no idea why couldn’t stop thinking about it. Or the party. Or Niles especially. It was rather worrisome.
He bowed to the Major as he walked into the room without knocking, and headed for his desk. “Morning, Corporal.” He grinned when he walked past Niles. He wasn’t in a particularly good mood, but seeing Niles did make a difference.
Dragomir had barely taken a seat when the door opened and Colonel Rousseau sauntered in. Everyone immediately got to their feet and bowed deeply, the Colonel nodding regally in return. He waited as they all took their seats again and then stepped forward into the center of the room. “I’ve just received word that there are signs of civil unrest in the out skirts of the east side of town.” Rousseau turned to look at Dragomir sharply, knowing he’d recognize the area as a Berceuse Malheureuse territory. “Lieutenant Hirlea, you and Corporal Christian will go and investigate.”
“Yes sir.” Dragomir said getting to his feet quickly to bow again, seeing Niles do the same out of the corner of his eye.
“You are to leave immediately,” Rousseau said pushing his hair back over his shoulders. “Backup shall be deployed should you request it, but I imagine that this will be a relatively simple errand.” The Colonel seemed to sneer, as if he wouldn’t have chosen them if it had been any more difficult.
“Understood sir.” Dragomir bowed again deeply, not rising until the Colonel had turned on his heel and left the room. Straightening up, he turned to Niles. “Alright, lets get going.” Dragomir smirked. An assignment (with Niles) was just what he needed to make his day a bit more interesting.