Claimer: Ours, not yours
Warnings: Violence, possibly language, yaoi, and Pierre. He deserves his own warning. XD;
Algernon had company again, he always had company these days, it seemed. This company, however, was particularly obnoxious, a Warrant Officer Alice Johnson. As useful as she was, Algernon found her voice rather grating and her appearance generally unattractive; and, of course, there was the fact that she was a woman. Algernon, as a rule, didn't like women, they were emotional and illogical, and generally hard to manipulate. But he didn't need to manipulate Alice; Alice was head over heels for him as it was. That made it easier, he supposed. And she really was useful. He just wished she would be quiet every once in a while.
When she finally finished her long speech about how he was wonderful and everyone else she had to deal with was inferior, Algernon smiled graciously. "And you are such a great help to me, dear. The opium with which you supplied me served its purpose wonderfully."
She smiled a giggled. "It was no problem, sir. Anything for you, sir.” She leaned forward towards him, blushing faintly and batting her eyelashes. Algernon did not find this attractive in the least, but smiled and pretended to. He hurried to find a topic of conversation.
"Alice, my dear, thank you so much for taking such a burdensome part in our little plan. I know how much work it must be for a lady such as yourself."
She sighed dramatically, and put a hand to her face. "It is rather difficult, but for you, sir, I'm doing my best. I've already gotten myself invited to one of her private parties."
"Excellent," Algernon praised. Good. The plan was running smoothly. "I'm very pleased.”
Alice seemed about to say something, but Algernon was saved by a knock on the door. Good. Percy was here, then he would be rid of Alice quickly enough.
Perceval opened the door slowly, letting himself in as politely and quietly as he could. He then bowed extravagantly to Algernon and completely ignored the Warrant Officer. He loathed and despised Alice Johnson more then anyone he’d ever had the misfortune of dealing with on a day to day basis. “Dealing with her” was just about all he could manage, as he practically became sick every time she was around. He was not fooled by her pretentious act and faked innocence, and he simply hated everything about her appearance. To make matters worse, she was infatuated with Algernon. Perceval hated to see Algernon suffer through her company, and was disgusted by her continues displays of affection. He hated to see Algernon lower himself to be around her, but he knew he had to tolerate her existence in order for her to carry out her part of Algernon’s magnificent plan. “Sir,” Perceval said sweetly, bowing again. “If you have a moment, I have some information to convey.” He straightened up and fixed his hair, smiling pleasantly.
Algernon rose, nodding to Perceval. "Oh, of course I have time, Percy. If you would wait a minute so I can bid our lovely Warrant Officer farewell, I will be with you momentarily." He smiled at the Colonel before offering Alice a hand and helping her to her feet.
"Thank you so much, Alice, but I have other matters to attend to. I look forward to the next time we meet." He kissed her hand before letting go, and watched her giggle and blush. So obnoxious, couldn't she get a hold of herself?
"Thank you, sir. I'm sure we'll have a chance to talk again soon. I'll do perfectly at the party, just as you told me, and report back right away." She gave Perceval a very specific sneer as she continued, "I'm sure you'll be very pleased with my work, sir." She then turned to go, walking pointedly past Perceval and flipping her hair in a particularly rude manner, not bowing in the slightest. Then, with a final coy smile and little curtsy to Algernon, she left the office.
Algernon then turned to Percy, who looked as if he was pouting, a partially apologetic look on his face. "I am sorry, Percy, really. But she makes herself very useful, and I have to take advantage of it." He walked over to the Colonel, loosely pulling a strand of hair from behind the other man's ear and twirling it around his finger. "You understand, don't you?" He smirked slightly. "You know she's expendable... you are my prized possession."
Perceval let his eyes slide shut, practically purring with appreciation as Algernon toyed with the piece of his hair. Of course he understood; Algernon, in all of his foresight and intelligence, knew Perceval’s worth was far above and beyond that of Alice Johnson, and his undying trust in his superior would never falter. “Yes, sir…” Perceval replied dreamily, a shiver running down his spine.
"Good, good," Algernon murmured, feeling the hair between his fingers before releasing it and moving instead to kiss the Colonel softly on the lips. Pulling away after a moment or so, he smiled at the other man. "You're so understanding of me, Percy." Running a hand down the side of the Colonel's face, he then stepped away, gesturing towards the sofa in his office. "Now, do come take a seat, Percy, and tell me what it is you have to say." He sat down himself, crossing his legs primly. "Your voice is so much more beautiful than hers, you know. Come, bring me news."
Perceval's heart rate sped to an incredible speed, lurching up into his throat as Algernon pulled away. He brought a hand to his lips, savoring the fleeting feeling for a moment before joining his superior on the sofa. He took his seat on the side opposite Algernon and folded his hands and legs neatly, composing himself in order to deliver his information. The praise Algernon had offered made Perceval swell slightly with pride, and he instantly donned his most charming voice and face, selecting his words carefully. "Unfortunately sir, our objective was not completed in full. The man under question has not been executed, sir." His voice remained official, and his wording was noncommittal, however he trusted Algernon would understand. "It seems the twenty men I dispatched were not enough, sir." Perceval said with a regretful sigh, looking down at his hands in his lap. It was such a travesty that the Berceuse Malheureuse had failed. Perceval suffered not because of the loss of men, however, but the failure to terminate Lieutenant Hirlea. He'd been so looking forward to that disgusting peasant’s death that he had prepared a speech to present at the funeral. However, things were not to be. Perceval knew he would have another chance and smiled slightly to himself before looking up at his superior. "However, I expect everything went according to plan on your end?" Of course it had, Algernon never made mistakes or miscalculations and Perceval smiled brighter at the thought.
Algernon nodded, calculating his options. "That is unfortunate... however, I am confident that I successfully gained the trust of our Corporal. He was extremely intolerant of the sedatives, and they worked very effectively on him. Unfortunately, I'm sure that since the Lieutenant lived, he will quickly regain the boy's trust..." He thought for a moment, then slowly continued, "But that's all right. We can conserve our losses this way, and I still have the trump card of blood relation." He looked at Perceval pointedly, giving orders, "You are to keep Lt. Hirlea and his Corporal busy until the plan is executed, at which time they, along with Major Delancy, can be put to death. In the mean time, I will keep Corporal Christian's trust so they do not begin to suspect anything. Understood?" He smiled charismatically, confident that this small matter wouldn't upset the plan.
“Yes sir, of course.” Perceval nodded holding his head down for the appropriate amount of time before looking back up at Algernon contentedly. Even though he’d not gotten an execution now, he was happy knowing it would come later. He was especially pleased that Algernon didn’t think they’d suffered a terrible loose. Algernon had excellent foresight and could adjust his plan precisely to fit whatever circumstances happened to be and Perceval highly admired that quality. Of course, Perceval adored everything about Algernon, but that was beside the point. “I think I have the ideal way to keep them occupied, sir.” Perceval’s eyes narrowed with delight; this time, he would not fail Algernon.
Algernon smiled back. "Wonderful. This change of plans may even be for the better, then." He put a hand to his face, as if thinking for a moment. "I do believe we need to begin the training of Madame Esparanza's son in the near future, if we want him to be anywhere near well enough trained by the time we need him. It will be quite the task to turn an 8-year-old boy into an assassin, if I do say so, but I'm sure it can be done. It's all tragic, really, but measures need to be taken when they're called for. I trust you have talked to Donavan D’Aubigne about the matter?" He looked at Perceval expectantly, knowing that it would have been taken care of long ago. He knew Perceval always completed his orders to the smallest detail, but he liked asking and praising the other man. To see him get so elated at being praised gave Algernon quite a rush, being in such control over him.
“Yes sir.” Perceval smiled rather deviously, delighted that Algernon held such confidence in him. He’d talked to Donavan D’Aubigne a few weeks earlier and discussed plans for training the child. “As a matter of fact, I was considering assigning our very own Lieutenant and his Corporal to gather information on Mr. D’Aubigne.” Donavan was the only man Perceval thought fit to be the subject of the extravagant wild goose chase they needed as a distraction. He was elusive enough that there would be no way for them to find any information, especially if Perceval feed them false facts. “At your discretion, of course, sir.” Perceval added quickly. Running a hand over a stray lock of hair, he composed himself perfectly and offered a charming smile, not wanting his slight slip to be seen as a slip of manners. “As I’m sure you’re well aware, Donavan D’Aubigne and Lieutenant Hirlea share some history…it could make things very interesting, sir.”
"Of course, of course," Algernon agreed vaguely. "As always, you have impeccable planning, Percy." He nodded, making a mental note to himself. "I'll extend an invitation to Madame Esparanza, then. This is moving along quite well, don't you agree? Just on schedule. Everything should be prepared in time." He smiled darkly, thinking about what was to come. "In the near future, I will be running this country. What do you think of that, Percy?"
Perceval smiled, shutting his eyes slowly as if he were envisioning the idea. “I’m highly looking forward to it, sir.”
Dragomir leaned casually against the front wall of his rather decrepit garden enclosure as he stared blankly at the filthy street before him. It would be nice not to have to walk to work any more. Starting today, Niles was going to pick him up before work in the mornings. Of course, Pierre was bitter about this new arrangement; he had to leave a full ten minuets earlier than Dragomir to get to the same building, but as Niles’s automobile only sat two, there was no way for him to tag along, a relief for both Dragomir and Niles. Also, Dragomir was confident Pierre would not have to walk for too long; he was likely to lose his job after no more then a month, and Dragomir had reassured him that would be the eventual outcome. Dragomir smirked slightly to himself at the thought, speculating how long Pierre would manage to keep his job, the newest of over a dozen he’d tried so far. Dragomir thought he heard the sound of an engine and straightened up quickly. It had only been a day since he’d seen the Corporal, but he couldn’t help but feel it had been far longer.
Niles slowed to a stop about a block away from Dragomir's house, checking his hair in the mirror in the automobile before starting off again. He had woken up extra early that morning to make sure that he looked his absolute best before heading off to pick up his superior. Now, as he pulled up in front of the house, he felt strangely nervous. It wasn't as if he hadn't worked with this man for every day for almost a month now, but...yet...it seemed as if it was the first time all over again.
He took a deep breath, then parked the automobile and climbed out. Seeing that Dragomir had been waiting for him, he blushed and hurried over to him. "Ah- good morning! I'm sorry to make you wait!"
“No problem.” Dragomir grinned with more ease then he felt. Seeing Niles now, he was stricken by how simply amazing the Corporal looked, as usual, of course. Now that things had shifted considerably, Dragomir knew that he was probably going to be noticing Niles’s attractiveness a lot more often, and he felt slightly awkward at the thought. Additionally, he realized that he didn’t really know if he should now act differently, or what it was that was expected of him.
After second’s deliberation, he decided that it didn’t matter how he acted; he never did anything according to what was expected. Pleased with his conclusion, Dragomir scooped up one of Niles’s hands and kissed it politely. “I haven’t been waiting too long.” He smirked over the hand and down at Niles. “Thank you for giving me a ride.” Dragomir added, releasing his hold with a small smile.
Niles blushed deeply as he felt Dragomir's lips on his hand, and he fumbled with words. "I- I'm glad you weren't waiting. A-and really, I'm glad to be able to do something for you, si- I mean, Dragomir." He blushed again, still feeling a little strange using the name. It was almost like it was too good to be true, and he tried hard not to seem awkward.
Moving back towards the car, he hurried to the passenger's side. "Here, let me get the door for you!" He couldn't seem so flustered...calm down, calm down! He took a deep breath, then smiled at the other man. Unfortunately, he got a good look at Dragomir for the first time that morning, and was sent into a deep blush again. He was so handsome! Niles could faint, but he resisted, instead working on fighting down the blush again.
Seeing Niles blush caused Dragomir to do so as well, a flash of worry going through his mind. He looked away quickly and laughed uneasily. “It must be pretty out of the way for you to come all the way here.” He paused for a moment and then smirked, returning his gaze back to Niles, who’d opened his door. “I’m relieved not to have to walk with Pierre, though. You’re a real lifesaver.” He said as he got in. Niles went around and took his seat as well, starting up the engine. “You know, don’t worry about getting the door for me, Niles.” Dragomir chuckled, amused by the fact that he himself hadn’t initially noticed. “I don’t want you to feel like you have to do things for me as my subordinate.” Dragomir paused for a minute and smiled brightly. “Just...be you, and be with me.”
Niles blushed over at him, then, without even thinking, fell into a warm smile. "All right. I'll try my hardest." He looked back to the wheel as he began to drive, pulling away from the house and off down the street. The smile lingered on his face as he thought of the man beside him, and it wouldn't go away. "I- I guess no one's ever wanted me to be... to be myself before, or to be with me... It makes me... so happy." He blushed at his own words, but the smile stayed in place the whole time, mirroring the bubble of joy welling inside him.
"And really, it's not a problem to drive you," he added as they made their way down the road. "It's not too far out of the way, and... well, of course, I'd do anything for you." Again, he couldn't believe the words coming out of his mouth, but, really it was the truth, and his blush deepened at the thought.
“Thank you.” Dragomir said earnestly, his smile softening. Niles looked lovely when he smiled, Dragomir decided, feeling instantly at peace and contented just by looking at the Corporal’s soft features. He would have kept on admiring for the length of the drive, if he hadn’t become abruptly embarrassed and turned away, looking down at his bandaged left hand. The cuts were deep enough that it would take a week or more to heal completely, but Viorica had forced him to pour alcohol over it that morning, apparently to ward off infection. Viorica seemed to know a lot about medicine, so Dragomir was confident it would heal nicely. In the meantime, his right arm was back to hurting again, but Niles had gotten it tight enough that the bleeding had stopped and the stinging had subsided. Dragomir smiled fondly remembering how embarrassed Niles had been about the ordeal. Still, Dragomir was appreciative and rubbed his arm thoughtfully, turning to look out the window. They were almost at headquarters now, and Dragomir turned grinning to Niles. “You know, I think this will be the first time that I’m not going to be late since I’ve been back.”
Niles laughed softly. "Well, I'm glad I can help, then." He smiled as they pulled into the parking lot of the headquarters and parked. Parking the automobile, he suddenly remembered where they were, and hurried to get out and open the door on the other side for Dragomir. Blushing, he explained, "I guess I had better do this for you here... sir." He didn't want to get them in trouble, after all.
They headed inside, and Niles hurried ahead to knock and get the door for his superior. He smiled softly at Dragomir as he held the door for the other man, then followed inside. Shutting the door behind him, he bowed deeply for the Major, who quirked an eyebrow at their arrival together. "Good morning, Corporal Christian... and Lt. Hirlea, fancy you being here this early." She gave them both a grin, and Niles blushed. "G-Good morning, sir."
After bowing, Dragomir made a distinct effort to saunter over to his desk, wanting to act as normal as he could. “Good morning Major.” Dragomir said brightly as he took his seat. “Since it’s only going to be getting colder, Ni-Corporal Christian has agreed to pick me up in the mornings in his automobile, sir.” Dragomir explained, transforming his almost-slip into something that sounded a bit like a stutter. Smiling to cover, he started riffling through the papers on his desk. “I hurt my hand pretty badly yesterday, though. Thank you for the day off, sir. The Corporal and I will be starting our report now, but I think that because of my hand, I’ll have to ask Niles to write most of it, sir.” Dragomir said his voice full of false regret. That said, he gathered up some papers, and moved to sit on Niles’s desk, taking advantage of the chance to be close to the other.
Niles arranged himself at his desk, getting out paper and ink. Dipping his quill into the ink well, he looked up at Dragomir, waiting for dictation with a smile. "Of course, sir."
Major Delancy, however, grinned, tapping her quill against her chin. "You're lucky, Lieutenant, that you have 'Niles' to do all your writing for you, or else you might find yourself in quite a bind." She then moved to smirk at Niles, raising her eyebrows inquisitively. "And I do imagine the Corporal might get tired of your consistent use of his desk as a chair."
Niles looked up at her quickly. "Oh, no, sir, really- I don't mind." He blushed lightly, then looked back up to Dragomir. "How shall I begin, sir?"
Dragomir blushed vividly, at last realizing his mistake. Deciding to lessen the impact of both his previous errors, he slid off the edge of the desk and onto the floor, standing on his knees and bracing his elbows against the table. “Uhh...” He stalled, still feeling a little flustered. He wondered weather the Major was still watching them, but he didn’t want to risk a look, fearing that it would only cause more blood to rise to his cheeks if she noticed. Instead, he focused his attention on Niles. Doing so didn’t help his blush subside any, but it did make him fell better. “I’d say that you should start by…” He began, but his voice trailed off as the door opened and everyone in the office collectively stopped and looked up to see who it was.
Colonel Rousseau walked into the room elegantly, pausing and everyone stood to bow appropriately. He smiled neatly, looking over everyone briefly intern before his gaze fell on to Niles and Dragomir. He sauntered gracefully over to where the two of them still stood as the rest of the people in the room took their seats again and resumed their work. “Oh goodness!” Colonel Rousseau exclaimed dramatically. “I heard what happened to you both and I felt simply terrible! Oh, the ordeal that you must have been through! If I’d only known how difficult the mission would have been, I would never have sent you two alone. I must say that I’m truly relieved to see you both safe and back here in one piece.” He smiled again, his face slightly drawn in concern. Dragomir noticed a small twitch is his lip however, and wondered how much of his concern the Colonel was faking. Dragomir played along though and smiled.
“Thank you for your concern, sir.” Dragomir said with a quick bow. The Colonel nodded understandingly, his lips slightly pursed and his brow furrowed.
“Well, I’m just so thankful that you both appear to be alright,” he said, as he looked the two of them over for injuries. “But I must inform you that I have yet another assignment. I can assure you however, that this assignment is of quite a different nature.” Dragomir found it hard to believe the Colonel felt any remorse for assigning them something new so soon after their last mishap, but he continued to smile with polite interest. “Now, this may come off as a bit of surprise initially, but I think the both of you are more than qualified to take on this sort of thing. I would like the two of you to investigate Donavan D’Aubigne.” Dragomir felt his jaw practically drop open. Surely the Colonel wasn’t serious? They couldn’t really be going after Donavan? Dragomir started to say something, but Colonel Rousseau continued before he had the chance. “I know you’ve had some history with Mr. D’Aubigne, Lieutenant, but that is exactly why I think it’s only fitting that you should be the one to finally bring him into custody.” The Colonel wore a disarmingly evil smile and Dragomir found himself simply too stunned to speak. Colonel Rousseau seemed rather put off by Dragomir’s atrocious laps in manners and lack of response and so turned to Niles, hoping for a better reaction.
Niles, flustered by everything that was going on, stuttered when the attention was suddenly turned to him. Dropping into a bow, he stammered, "Yes, sir-- I mean, of course, sir!" This did not seem to cut it, however, as the Colonel pursed his lips before nodding. He left them the file, presumably on Donavan D’Aubigne, before once more taking his leave, saying very little in the process.
Niles turned to Dragomir, looking towards the file he now held. "If you'd like, sir, I'll read it for you," he offered with a smile, extending a hand to accept the folder. Then, more softly: "And... sir, what did the Colonel mean when he said you had some history with this guy? Have you tried to catch him before, or something?"
Dragomir shook his head, passing the folder to Niles. “No, nothing so noble as that.” He grimaced. He didn’t really want to tell Niles about that ordeal… he was worried Niles would think less of him. But it was worse to keep the other in the dark completely, and Dragomir resolved to tell Niles everything soon. Now however, he didn’t want to think about it. “He’s an important member of the Berceuse Malheureuse; I gave the military information on him once, and he came after me with a vengeance.” Dragomir sighed. This assignment seemed terrible; its only saving grace was that he would be working with Niles, and that in and of itself was enough to give Dragomir a sense of pleasure.
"Oh, I see, sir," Niles replied, wide eyed. "Were you hurt, sir? That seems terrible, to have that kind of criminal after you!" He flipped open the file folder, leafing through the information, of which there was little. "...I guess I really don't need to read much of this to you, sir. Most of it is your statements." He half-laughed, putting a hand behind his head. "Of course, I'll read it if you'd like me to, anyway, sir."
“He and his lackeys got me pretty bad, and still have the scars to show for it, too. But I got through it.” Dragomir said, summoning up a smile. “I’m not surprised there isn’t much on him, though; he’s really allusive.” He said, leaning forward to examine the sheets of information. Sure enough, he could read his own name on many of the papers which all stated that he was the informant. Dragomir wondered if the papers mentioned under what sort of conditions Dragomir had divulged the information, and hoped it was relatively nondescript. “I don’t even know where to start with this investigation, honestly. I guess you should read me the other stuff they have on him… Particularly the newer information. It was a long time ago that I was involved.”
Niles gaped disbelievingly. "Oh, sir, that's horrible! You're so brave to have turned in such a dangerous criminal!" He gave Dragomir an admiring look before turning his attention back to the file. "Let's see...here it says that his father, Laurent D'Aubigne, is a rich Gallian aristocrat who has publicly disowned his son for being involved with the Berceuse Malheureuse. Um... nothing else, really, I don't think, sir... Nothing else that you didn't tell, sir." Niles now felt a great deal of awe towards his superior, for having done such a dangerous thing for the sake of justice.
Dragomir blushed a little and wished Niles didn’t seem so impressed. He hadn’t really been brave…he’d give up the information primarily as an act of self-preservation. Dragomir worried that trying to be vague about it all now was only going to make explaining everything to Niles more difficult later. “Hmmm…” Dragomir considered briefly. “With out any up to date information, deciding on a course of action will be very difficult.” Dragomir dropped his chin to the desk and stared blankly at the surface of the polished wood. “I know a guy…” Dragomir started slowly, considering whether he really ought to make such a suggestion. There was nothing else they could do however, so his finished his proposal. “I know a guy who knows a lot of what goes on in the Berceuse Malheureuse… We might be able to track him down and ask about Donavan D'Aubigne…?”
"That sounds good, sir," Niles agreed. "But... do you think we need to write this report first?" Niles motioned to the blank paper still sitting on his desk. "I mean...it probably shouldn't take that long, anyway, right?"
Dragomir laughed lightly, getting to his feet to stretch before his legs fell asleep entirely. “I think that’s a good idea.” He said as he seated himself once again on Niles’s desk, grinning.
Dragomir recounted the events of the previous day as Niles dictated. In this manner, they managed to finish the report in good time, completing the tedious work just before the start of their lunch break. When they were dismissed for lunch, Dragomir hopped to his feet quickly and smiled happily at Niles. “Thank you for doing the writing. It really is a big help; I could even imagine doing it without you.” In the general bustle as people exited the room, Dragomir decided they would remain unnoticed if he extended Niles a small courtesy. He walked around the desk and took up one of Niles’s hands in his, pulling the other to his feet. “Shall we go and get some lunch?”
Niles blushed at the contact, looking up at Dragomir. "Ah-yes, sir! And I-I'm glad I can be of use somehow, sir." He smiled. "Writing is the least I can do for you." He followed his superior to the door, and towards the mess hall. About half way there, however, Dragomir stopped abruptly in front of him, and he hesitantly moved around to his side. He was startled to see Pierre, scowling annoyedly at them. "Well, if it isn't my dear brother-in-law and his little rich boy," he sneered unpleasantly, giving Niles a foul look before turning back to Dragomir. "Fancy meeting you here."
“Yes, fancy that.” Dragomir grimaced. “How has your morning been? Cleaning and all, I’m sure it’s been very eventful for you.”
“Oh yes. It’s terribly interesting.” Pierre snapped, crossing his arms.
“I’m glad to hear that.” Dragomir forced a fake smile. “As long as you keep a good attitude, you might actually get to keep this job.”
“And if you two can manage to keep your little involvement under wraps, then maybe you can keep your jobs.” Pierre countered. Dragomir tensed, flushing with anger. Pierre really seemed to be a foul mood, and naturally Pierre was bound to take it out on them. However, Dragomir was livid that Pierre would bring up something like that up. He didn’t want to invest any more time in the other man however, and so he started walking again.
“Worry about your own job and get back to work. Ours are of now concern to you.” Dragomir said tersely. Pierre glared at their retreating forms, but said nothing and returned to his work as told.
Once they reached the Mess Hall, they went their separate ways; Dragomir to the line of considerable length to get his food, and Niles, who always brought his own lunch, to get a table. After receiving a heaping plateful of some unidentifiable substance known as “lunch,” Dragomir located Niles and took a seat next to him. ”I’m sorry about Pierre…” Dragomir sighed, poking at his food distractedly with a fork.
"It's all right," Niles replied and with smile. "I- I know he's just going to be mean no matter what, so I try not to think about it. I...I'm glad no one was around to hear him, though..." Deep down, Niles was a little worry that they'd end up in trouble, and even though he tried to ignore it, Pierre's taunt only strengthened it.
Niles pushed the thought from his mind, instead focusing on not smelling whatever it was that Dragomir was eating. It had a very distinct unpleasant odor, and was not much of a sight, either. "Um...sir, would you like some of my food? I- I wouldn't mind, and what you have doesn't look very good."
Dragomir spooned a pile of the slop into his mouth and swallowed quickly in an effort to avoid tasting the concoction. Coughing a little and attempting to banish the flavor from his mouth by downing some liquid, Dragomir managed to smile. “I-I think I can make it…” Dragomir said hesitantly, gathering up another mouthful on his utensil. Three bites later however, he’d changed his mind and accepted Niles’s offer gratefully.
The food Niles brought was absolutely delicious, and Dragomir appreciate the flavor even more because he was sharing the food with Niles. The greatly improved meal passed by quickly, and they left the mess hall as soon as they’d both finished, wanting to escape the general stench that contaminated the room. They returned to the office and to Niles’s desk, Dragomir once again taking a seat on top of it. “So, do you want to go see if we can track down an informant?” Dragomir asked, grinning.
"Oh, yes sir!" Niles agreed, nodding quickly. "We're lucky you're so resourceful, sir!" He smiled as Dragomir got to his feet, and they began to head off again, but the Major stopped them. "Aren't you two forgetting something?"
Niles paled slightly and looked blankly frightened at her, and she laughed. "I need your report on your last assignment so that I can file it. What, is there something else I should know about, Corporal?"
"N-nothing, sir!" Niles replied quickly, running back to his desk and fetching the report for her. "Sorry, sir!" He bowed and handed it to her, hoping that she wouldn't think him to be acting too odd.
Dragomir smiled brightly at the Major and bowed low. “I guess we’ll be going now, sir. We’re going to do some reconnaissance on Donavan D'Aubigne. We’ll check back in at the end of the day, sir.” With a final quick bow to his superior, Dragomir ducked out of the door with Niles at his heals. They made their way ort of the building and into the open afternoon air. Dragomir made a little whistle of relief and turned to Niles brightly. “I think the Major might suspect something.” He said quirking a brow at the other as they continued walking and turned down a dingy looking side street. “What do you think, Niles?”
"I...yeah, I agree," Niles replied nodding. "You don't... you don't think she'll turn us in, do you?" He played with his jacket nervously, hanging close to Dragomir's side as they once again headed towards the not-so-nice part of town. It did make sense, however; she had been there for everything that had happened the day before, and she had been the one to tell Niles to go after him. "She...she was the one who told me to come after you yesterday," he explained, looking up at Dragomir. "So, really...I owe her a lot."
Dragomir paused and looked over at Niles. “She was the one…?” Dragomir repeated slowly before a small smile slid across his lips. “I guess I do too, then.” He said looking at Niles fondly. “I…I don’t think she’d say anything about it. But I suppose we don’t really know…” They started walking again, though at a slower pace. “I hope she won’t,” he laughed uneasily looking at Niles again for a minute. He then turned back to watch where he was going and slipped his and into Niles’s with a small sidelong grin.
"Well, she seemed to care about the whole, thing, so it doesn't seem like she'd tell..." Niles trailed off as he felt Dragomir's hand grasp his. He blushed, smiling brightly up at the other man before turning back to look at the road. They were once again moving into worse and worse parts of town, and, even though Niles was getting used to it now, he still felt a little nervous. He held Dragomir's hand a little tighter and moved a little closer, trying not to look around.
Dragomir felt bad for bringing Niles into another unpleasant neighborhood, but he really felt confident that everything would be all right. The allies they were going through now looked pretty bad, but they weren’t particularly dangerous… The fact was though, that it wasn’t Berceuse Malheureuse territory, and that made a big difference.
As they progressed deeper into the slums, Dragomir started to get the uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach that they were being followed. He tensed slightly, listening hard for any signs of movement behind them, but kept walking. A few minutes after he’d started concentrating on the noises around them, he started to think that he had only been suppositious, and was about to allow himself to relax a bit when he heard the tiniest of noise; a shuffling footstep behind them. Dropping Niles’s hand, he took hold of the hilt of his blade and stopped walking. Dragomir turned around slowly, and as he did so, three men emerged from the shadows with menacing gleams in their eyes. The look was familiar; they wanted money. He took his hand of the hilt of his sword and raised his hands passively.
“Look, we don’t want any trouble. We’re just passing through.” He said evenly.
“We don’t want any trouble either.” One of the men snapped.
“Yeah, so just drop your weapons and hand over your money!” another ordered.
“I’m afraid we can’t do that.” Dragomir was sympathetic to their cause, but refused to support crime. If he had to, he didn’t mind roughing them up a bit, especially if it forced them to rethink their lives.
“Oh really? You’re gonna regret that, mister!” the third one declared, drawing his rapier with a flourish. The other two did the same as the third began a running fleche. This man’s technique was terrible; he’d obviously had a lot to drink. Dragomir didn’t feel the need to unsheathe his sword just yet, so he sprinted forward to meet the charge, landing a fist in the stunned man’s solar plexus. He fell to the ground stuttering and gasping for air as his surprised companions began their attack. These men seemed more cautious then the first, and Dragomir had time to draw his blade before the first one lunged. Dragomir parried easily; the man’s hold on his blade was loose and inexperienced. The other man tried to catch him off guard, but Dragomir defended with a sixte, blocking an attack to his left shoulder.
Dragomir had slightly overcommitted his parry, and the man seized the opportunity with a remise. The hurried lunge without returning to en gaurde was poorly timed, and Dragomir used a coule to slide along the edge of the blade, getting in close to his opponent. The man was too surprised by Dragomir’s action that couldn’t react in his own defense. Dragomir kicked the back of his opponent’s knee, and he feel forward. Dragomir slammed the pommel of his rapier into the base of the man’s next and he feel to the ground, effectively knocked out. Stepping over the body, Dragomir whorled around to see that the man he’d punched had recovered sufficiently and was attacking Niles. There was little he could do however; the other man was coming at him, blade raised.
Niles stood, stunned, for a moment, as the men attacked, but quickly regained his senses as the first man that Dragomir had knocked to the ground began to get back to his feet. The only thing he could think was that he couldn't allow all of the men to come at Dragomir at once, and he quickly drew his rapier, preparing to attack the other man. The man drew his blade in time to block Niles' strike, but Niles was just glad he had successfully diverted the attention from his superior. He had been practicing hard since their first assignment, and he was actually managing to hold off the attacking man.
As time went on, however, he began to worry, as he was beginning to tire, and was having more and more difficulty blocking the other man's attacks. He stumbled on the uneven pavement, and the man managed to get a shallow cut into his cheek as he stumbled. He tried not to think about the pain, however. He had to keep defending himself as long as Dragomir needed him to.
Dragomir tried for a feint, but the man intercepted his attack with a lucky swing. Opting instead for a slightly stealthier tactic, Dragomir went for a false, faking an attempt at a take. When it missed, the other man seemed elated, immediately disengaging. However, Dragomir had planned for him to react that way, and jerked the tip of his sword up quickly, throwing his point with a flick so that it grazed the underside of his opponent’s arm. The man shrieked and dropped his sword clutching his arm. Dragomir raised his blade and held it to the man’s throat. He looked up at Dragomir wide eyed, his terror clearly visible.
“Run.” Dragomir said coldly. The man twitched into action and stared blankly at him for a split second before he dashed off at top speed. Dragomir spun around quickly, just in time to see Niles trip on a passe' arriere as he parried a strike. Lurching into action, his blade falling to the ground, Dragomir speed forward, catching Niles’s assailant on the shoulder and spinning the man around, his fist connecting with the man’s right cheek. The punch sent him careening backwards and into a wall. He slumped forward, unconscious.
Shaking out his hand and panting slightly, Dragomir dropped to his knees beside Niles. “Niles! Are you alright?”
Niles, slightly shaken still, nodded. "I- Yes, I'm fine." He smiled embarrassedly up at Dragomir. "I tried to keep him occupied so you wouldn't get hurt. Guess I'm still not very good. I'm sorry I'm not much of a help..." He suddenly came to the realization that he was bleeding and thought of Dragomir. "You didn't get hurt, did you?" He didn't think so, but he was still a little worried.
“No, I’m fine.” Dragomir sighed, smiling slightly though his brows were still knit with slight concern. “But it looks like he got you…” He retrieved a handkerchief from his pocket and dabbed Nile’s cut gently. “I’m sorry I didn’t get here sooner.” Dragomir said softly, allowing his hand to brush against Niles’s cheek as he pulled back, replacing the kerchief in his pocket. “Niles…” Dragomir breathed, leaning over the other so he could press a brief kiss to his lips, “You were a really big help. Thank you.” He whispered, pulling away. “I think your technique has gotten better, too.” Dragomir grinned, getting to his feet and offering Niles a hand.
Niles accepted the hand, blushing fiercely as he was pulled to his feet. "I- I'm glad I could be useful!" he stammered, trying to get a hold of himself. He needed to stop reacting this way, or he was never going to be able to think straight! But yet, it was still so novel, so absolutely wonderfully new to him that he couldn't wrap his mind around it, and he tried not to get too caught up in the thought. "You- you think I'm getting better? Really?" He bubbled excitedly, smiling up at Dragomir. "I've been practicing hard since that time a while ago so that I wouldn't let you down the next time! I'm so glad I've improved!"
As his excitement subsided, Niles looked around. "So, um... where to now?"