Claimer: All characters are ours
Warnings: Lots of violence, some yaoi, and Pierre, of course. XD
Algernon smiled sweetly at the woman who sat facing him and the small child standing beside her, her hand grasping his tightly. "Are we understood, Madame Esparanza?"
She scowled slightly at him. "So you're asking me to hold a secret conference with the king of Hispania asking him to end hostilities against Gallia, as well as vaguely inform him of your plans in order to form an alliance?"
"That is correct, Madame. I know you will do an excellent job." His voice was laden with sugary-sweetness.
She nodded slowly, seemingly thinking it over for a moment. "All right, General. But who will take care of my child while I'm away? You certainly do not expect me to take him on such a dangerous trip, nor to leave him unattended for such a lengthy period of time?" The boy perked up slightly at the mention of him, but he was well trained and remained silent.
Algernon laughed. "Of course I've made arrangements for him, don't worry yourself! I have hired a most trustworthy man to look after young Faustino during your absence. As a matter of fact, he should be here presently, and you may judge him for yourself, if you wish." Percy would be arriving any minute now, with Donavan D'Aubigne. Algernon smiled knowingly, and Eliana seemed to be convinced. For now, all he could do was wait.
Perceval stood outside of Algernon’s office and readied himself to enter before glancing sidelong at the man who stood next to him. He felt a little self conscious, as the other seemed to be scrutinizing him, but he ignored it and made a final adjustment to his jacket.
“Do you do that every time you go to see him, cousin?” The man inquired, feigning interest as he stroked a prosthetic goatee. Perceval shot him a disgusted look and opened the door, stepping back to hold it for him. The man sauntered in casually, and Perceval followed, shutting the door tightly behind himself.
“May I present Monsieur D’Aubigne, my cousin.” Perceval said, bowing low and formally to both Algernon and Eliana.
“That would be me, my lady.” He bowed to her ostentatiously after a polite nod to Algernon. “Though you, madam, may call me Donavan.” Donavan said as he straightened up and flashed a charming grin before adjusting his long dark his dark curls.
“Would you take that off, cousin? You look terrible.” Perceval said curtly.
“Ah yes, you’ll have to excuse the disguise. I’m afraid without it; the arrangement of this audience would have been most difficult.” He turned away and slipped his hand under the scalp of the wig and slid it off carefully before letting down a long ponytail of strawberry blond hair. He then ripped the moustache off without so much as a flinch and turned back again with a showy little bow. Perceval rolled his eyes distastefully and turned to Algernon.
“I’m so sorry to have kept you waiting, sir.” He said sweetly with another bow.
Algernon smirked. "That's quite all right, M. D’Aubigne. He rose, offering a hand to Madame Esparanza and helping her to her feet. "M. D’Aubigne will be watching after young master Esparanza, should you deem him a worthy guardian."
Eliana looked over Donavan for a moment, seemingly scrutinizing him.
Algernon was pleased that he was such an attractive, trustworthy-seeming man; everything was working out well. He smirked slightly and waited for her decision.
After a moment, Madame Esparanza nodded slightly. "All right. I will allow M. D’Aubigne to watch Faustino until I return. I am placing a great deal of trust in you, General Comandant, and I expect that I will not have misplaced it." She gave Algernon a warning look, which he pretended to heed.
"Of course, Madame. You can place your faith in me." He smiled and kissed her hand, making sure to lay the sweetness on thick. "M. D’Aubigne is an extremely trustworthy man. Please, do as I ask you, as much relies on it. Your son will be fine." She nodded, curtsied curtly, then turned to her son.
"Faustino." Her voice was stern but caring. "Behave for M. D’Aubigne, and do what he tells you. I'll be back as soon as I can, all right?"
He looked a little sad, but nodded. "All right, Mommy." He hesitated a moment, then hugged her. "I'll miss you."
She softened. "I'll miss you, too, but I know you'll have a great time while I'm gone. Bye now, all right? I love you."
"Bye, Mommy," he replied, watching as his mother turned on her heel with a last smile to him and walked out the door.
With Eliana gone, Algernon turned to Donavan, smiling. "The rest is in your hands, M. D’Aubigne." He walked over to the other man, admiring the prettiness in his features, similar to Percy's. Unable to resist, he took a piece of Donavan's strawberry blonde hair between his fingers and smirked. "I look forward to hearing of your progress."
“Then I’ll be certain to keep you informed, Mister Comandant.” Donavan said in an affected and rather flirtatious voice. He knew his cousin was bound to get jealous of whatever attention he received from the General, and reveled in the thought of Perceval’s insecurity. Sure enough he had gone a shade red and was shaking slightly in an effort to conceal his indignation.
“Well,” Perceval shuddered, trying to smile, “I suppose proper introductions must be made.” He said taking the boy by the shoulder rather roughly and leading him over to where Donavan and Algernon still stood. “Wouldn’t you agree, Donavan?”
“Oh yes, of course, dear cousin.” Donavan smiled at him brightly as if he had committed no offence, even though Perceval’s voice had made it obvious that he was thoroughly upset. Donavan then kneeled down so that he was at the same level as the boy and smiled reassuringly at him. “My name is Donavan. Shall I call you Master Esparanza?”
Faustino blinked. "Yes, that would be fine, sir," he replied in the manner that his mother had taught him. "Thank you for taking care of me while my mother is away." He smiled politely, nodding at Donavan. He seemed like a nice enough man.
Algernon looked on from a few feet away, glad that things were going according to plans. Glancing to Percy, pouting in the corner, a smiled crept across his face. Things were definitely going well.
“You needn’t thank me, young master. It’s a pleasure.” Donavan said cordially, getting to his feet. “Now then, I think it’d be best if we took our leave.” He smiled and bowed elaborately to Algernon and than quickly replaced both is wig and false moustache effortlessly before reaching down and taking Faustino by the hand. They made their way to the door and Donavan bowed a final time as they took their leave. Perceval stood at the ready to shut the door behind them, which he with an imposing finality.
“You’ll have to forgive my cousin’s gusto, sir. I must say I find it repulsive, and my only hope is that it did not offend you.” Perceval bowed apologetically. His voice however, betrayed his feelings of relief. He was ashamed to admit, even to himself, that he didn’t like the fact that Algernon acted casually around his cousin, and he couldn’t help but fell jealous regardless of the situation.
Algernon smirked. "Of course, you needn't apologize for him, Percy," he replied, making his was over towards the other man. "If anything, you seemed to be the one who was offended." He ran his hand down the side of Perceval's face, looking vaguely concerned. "I wish you wouldn't feel that way... jealousy isn't appealing on you. Need I give you another promotion to make you believe me?"
Perceval tilted his head and nuzzled against the hand unconsciously, but blushed at the mention of his promotion. Just a few days after Algernon had completed his mourning for the late General Devereux, he’d promoted Perceval to Brigadier General. “I’m so sorry, sir.” Perceval said quickly. He didn’t mean to be jealous, and if Algernon had picked up on it and found it unappealing, he would have to do everything he could to curtail the tendency. “That won’t be necessary, sir.” He would have bowed, but the feel of Algernon’s hand against his cheek distracted him and he couldn’t help take a small step closer instead.
A smile slid across Algernon's face, and he nodded. "It's quite all right, Percy," he replied softly, leaning in for a hard kiss. Nipping slightly at Perceval's lip as he pulled away and smirking as the Brigadier General melted under his touch, he added, "I don't mind feeling wanted every once in a while."
Niles and Dragomir walked briskly through the halls on their way to the record room. Their unit was in high gear this week; at long last the tip they’d received from Rutgers could be put to the test, and everyone was busy preparing for it. This time, it would no simple arrest. They were going to infiltrate a Berceuse Malheureuse stronghold during a crucial event and arrest, and or kill if necessary, as many members of the organization as possible. Major Delancy was overseeing all of the operations, and a large unit from Brigadier General Rousseau’s brigade composed the primary taskforce. According to the information they’d received, the Berceuse Malheureuse were meeting tonight in an old abandoned church. To Dragomir, the fact that they’d been able to uncover so much information about this meeting was disconcerting, but he had confidence in the Major, and was willing to follow her lead.
She’d sent both Dragomir and Niles to the records room to cheek and see if the military still had any of the old blueprints available from when the church was first built. Currently, the Major was working out stations for her men, and hoped to make use of the plans. It was such an old building that it was quite unlikely the records still existed, but any advantage was worth looking through the dark and musty old papers in the room.
They arrived presently, and Dragomir held the door for Niles before following him inside and shutting the door behind them. Flipping the lights on revealed a multitude of dusty boxes and books pilled about the room nearly up to the ceiling. The few shelves the room contained were also packed to the point of bursting with old records, and their task was beginning to look like a lost cause already. However to Dragomir, the solitude of the room presented a certain opportunity, which he planed to take advantage of when the time presented itself. For now, it was important that they attempted to make some sense of the organization of the room—if there was any.
“Why don’t I take this side and you look over there?” Dragomir suggested with a vaguely hopeless shrug.
"A-all right," Niles agreed, looking around in dismay. Most of the disorderly boxes were covered in a thick layer of dust, and cobwebs hung around the corners of the room. He had never seen someplace so unkempt, and was hesitant to touch any of the dirty things, but knew he had to. He wandered over to where Dragomir had pointed, pulling a box off the shelf carefully. However, as he did, a large cloud of dust was unsettled into the air, and he immediately fell into a coughing fit. Setting down the box a little less than delicately didn't help any, for another puff of dust was sent into the air, and he took a few steps back, trying to regain his breath.
“This place is filthy!” Dragomir exclaimed. The same fate had befallen him when he’d tried to retrieve a box, and now all the air in the stuffy room seemed to be contaminated with dust. Sneezing loudly, Dragomir clasped a hand over his mouth and leaned against the wall as he waited for the dust to clear enough so that he could see Niles. “Ugh, if only Pierre hadn’t lost his job we could have made him clean this place up.” Dragomir complained upon seeing that Niles wasn’t much better off. He then kneeled down and lifted the lid of the box. Luckily, the papers inside had been shielded from the dust, and that alone gave him hope for his lungs surviving the filth. Thumbing through the papers, he noticed the official stamp of the treasury and assumed that his box contained tax records. With a disgruntled sigh, Dragomir replaced the lid on the box and slid it to a different corner of the room to make sure he didn’t get confused. “How’s it coming for you?” He asked Niles as he got to his feet and selected his next box.
Niles, who was currently flipping through a pile of what appeared to be arrest warrants, shook his head. "I'm afraid not well..." he replied apologetically, replacing the lid of his box and adding it to Dragomir's stack. He took another box and carefully set it down so as not to start another dust storm. He only partially succeeded, and after another bout of coughing and sneezing, he began looking through the papers. "I wonder why the Major chose to send us to get this of all people," he half-complained. "I'm not the most capable at this sort of thing, and you're an officer...there're plenty of other people around..." he shrugged, rummaging through the new box only to find promotion paperwork.
“Yeah…” Dragomir was silent for a second, pondering what Niles had just brought up. It was true; he knew the Berceuse Malheureuse better then any of the other officers, so he of all people should be part of the planning. And why did Niles have to go do dirty work? He was of course a corporal, but there were more then enough other enlisted men to do the work like this. Dragomir decided that Major Delancy probably sent them together trying to be considerate and not split them up. Of course, thinking in that vein…maybe the Major was purposely sending them to a secluded room together? Smirking uncontrollably at the notion, Dragomir redoubled his efforts to locate the box of city blueprints. The sooner they found what they were looking for, the sooner they could take advantage of the fine opportunity the Major had so thoughtfully presented them.
Niles sighed, setting aside another box and looking inside another. Time passed slowly, box by dusty box, until finally he unearthed a particularly heavy box and dropped it on the ground. Coughing and waving away the dust, he pulled it open, then squeaked with delight. "I found blueprints!" he announced excitedly. True, they were newer blueprints of military buildings, but it was a start, and he was excited. He flashed Dragomir a smile before leafing hurriedly through the box.
Dragomir grinned happily and abandoned his box of important looking documents to join Niles in leafing through the newly found blueprints. They made their way though the military related prints and schematics, and eventually through the box without finding anything. Still, they were on the right track. However, Dragomir was beginning to get impatient and hoped they forum something soon. They moved on the next box in the stack that the first blue print box had come from, and sure enough, it too contained prints. These ones were of various buildings in the city however, and Dragomir was sure they were getting close—close enough to take a short break, at least.
Dragomir paused in his leafing through of the pill and watched Niles for a moment, admiring the way he kneeled neatly on the floor thumbed through each paper individually scanning them for a moment before setting them aside neatly. When Niles reached the end of his stack and reached forward to grab another set of schematics, Dragomir grabbed him by the arm and simultaneously pulled Niles closer while scooting forward himself so that he caught the other in a quick kiss. Pulling back slightly, Dragomir murmured, “How do you feel about taking a little break?”
Niles blushed, looking up at Dragomir. "I...I don't think I'd mind," he replied softly, putting an arm around Dragomir's neck and leaning up to kiss him again. Now that he thought about it... being all by themselves in a room where no one could see them wasn't such a bad thing. The dust and cobwebs completely left his mind, and he murmured softly pressing his body against Dragomir's.
The increased proximity with Niles elicited a light moan from Dragomir and he shifted positions to better accommodate the closeness he longed for. Engaging Niles’s lips further by deepening the kiss, Dragomir moved his hands over Niles’s form and to his collar where he undid the first few buttons in preparation for his next engagement. Then, moving a hand up and into Niles’s hair, Dragomir rand his other over Niles’s back and pulled him closer still, encouraging further contact.
Niles tilted his head slightly, letting his fingers wind into Dragomir's hair. Allowing himself to be pulled closer, he shifted his weight so that he was practically sitting on Dragomir's lap. His other hand moved to wrap around Dragomir's shoulders tightly, as if he would never let go.
Pulling away for breath, Dragomir dropped his head onto Niles’s shoulder briefly before pulling back the other’s collar and sucking lightly on the exposed skin. He knew he had to be careful not to leave any marks the uniform wouldn’t cover, but that still left a lot of skin, and Dragomir smirked slightly against Niles’s neck at the thought. Sliding his hand down Niles’s back, Dragomir loosened the sash around his waist and unclasped the straps that ran across Niles’s chest so that they slid off his shoulders and onto the ground. Pulling back a little to watch for the other’s reaction, Dragomir started undoing the buttons, working his way up slowly.
Niles inhaled sharply, gasping as he felt his clothing being undone. He didn't object, however, instead whining slightly at the loss of Dragomir's touch on his skin. He bit his lip, however; he was sure Dragomir knew what he was doing, and, at the moment, he was in no position to complain.
Dragomir finished with the buttons and slid the jacket off of Niles’s shoulders carefully. Reaching down lower, he untucked Niles’s shirt and caught his thumb under the hem. Dragging his hand slowly up Niles’s stomach, Dragomir exposed more and more of Niles’s pale skin, and admired it for only a second before descending to kiss Niles on the neck again. He ran his hands over Niles’s chest, pressing firmly before dragging his fingers lightly over the sensitive skin of his nipples. Then, dropping down again, Dragomir pressed a kiss just above where Niles’s knickers started and began working his way up Niles’s stomach and chest teasingly.
Niles cried out sharply, gasping at the sensations, before biting his lip and trying to contain himself. His fingers were entwined tightly in Dragomir's hair now, and he had to keep reminding himself to breathe. His skin felt as if it were on fire, stemming from the burning kisses Dragomir was trailing along his chest. "D-Dragomir-" he managed breathily before inhaling a shaky breath and trying to open his eyes to see the other man.
Dragomir completed his line of kisses and, tracing circles over Niles’s skin, kissed him hard on the lips. Pulling away softly, Dragomir pulled Niles’s shirt back down over his chest and placed an apologetic kiss on the corner of his mouth. “I think-” he cut himself off by kissing Niles again, biting his lip lightly. His hand slipped under Niles’s shirt and began caressing the skin as Dragomir deepened the kiss, pressing against the other’s lips almost desperately for a short time before he pulled away again. “I think we…need to…stop.” His sentence was punctuated by a string of butterfly kisses he trailed all along Niles’s neck. It was harder thing to do then to say, but Dragomir knew that if they went on for much longer, he wouldn’t be able to stop.
"A-ah-" was all the Niles could manage, looking at Dragomir through barely open eyes. He knew that Dragomir was right, that they ought to get back to what they were supposed to be doing, but the words weren't coming right now, and besides, he really didn't want to stop. Still, he knew he had to, so he tried to regain control of his body. Leaning against Dragomir for support, he tried to sit up properly, but ended once more in his lap, resting against him as he tried to catch his breath. Feeling strangely euphoric, he murmured, "I love you," tilting his head up to smile softly at Dragomir.
“I love you too.” Dragomir said softly before placing a kiss softly on Niles forehead and wrapping his arms around the other. The remained like that for another minute before Dragomir drew back slowly. “We really should finish up. I don’t want them to send someone looking for us.” He said with a regretful smile. They both managed to pick themselves back up and continued looking through the box until they’d located the blueprint they needed. It was Niles who’d found it at last, and Dragomir grinned happily. “Well, I guess now we ought to make sure we look presentable.” He chuckled.
Niles blushed at the statement, nodding. He got the feeling he looked extremely disheveled; he hadn't bothered to put his jacket back on properly, and his shirt was still rumpled and untucked. Dragomir was also looking a bit disorderly, although not nearly so much as Niles knew he was, and it didn't seem so out of place on the other man. Running his hands over his shirt in an attempt to smooth it out, he tucked it back in carefully and began to button up his jacket, clasping the straps and trying to make the sash look half-decent. Then, pulling his hair out of its ponytail and running his hands through it in an attempt to smooth it, he turned to Dragomir. "Do I look okay?"
“Always.” Dragomir smirked. “You’ve got grate hair; you should leave it down for me sometime.” Dragomir said only half jokingly. He tightened his own ponytail and adjusted his jacket again before gathering up the required blueprints and flashing a grin at Niles as he opened the door. Outside in the hall, it was surprisingly bright in contrast to the tiny little room they’d just left, and the air was infinitely better. “You ready?” Dragomir asked, rubbing his eyes in the hopes of encouraging their expedient adjustment.
Niles nodded with a smile. He was glad to be out of the dusty room, and happy that they had actually found something useful. Glancing up at Dragomir, he pointed out, "I could carry those for you, sir," adding the title in case anyone was listening. Dragomir, however, declined as Niles knew he would, as so the two set off towards the office.
Part of the way there, however, Niles noticed someone familiar, and blinked, sure he was seeing things. But sure enough, as they approached, he recognized Viorica, wearing a white and red uniform. "V-Viorica?" he asked, confused as to her presence.
“Hello!” Viorica greeted them cheerfully. “I was wondering when I might run into you two.”
“W-what are you doing here?” Dragomir asked, as equally confused as Niles.
“It’s my first day, of course.” Viorica smirked. “I joined the military.”
“You what!?” Dragomir nearly dropped the papers he was holding but caught them just in time. However, he crunched the neatly rolled blueprint in his shock and anger. “What do you mean you joined the military!?!” He was almost yelling now, and Viorica’s smirk dropped from her face. However, despite feeling extremely intimidated, she still retained a rather smug look. “You mean to tell me that after everything I told you, after I expressly forbade you from joining, you went and did it anyway?!”
“It-it’s not like that.” Even though she stuttered slightly, Viorica’s face was set with determination. “I joined as a medic.” She said resolutely. “I won’t be involved in any of the fighting; I just want to help people. I want to be able to help you.” Viorica bit her lip, but held her expression firm.
“A medic?” Dragomir repeated, his temper cooling visibly as he made the connection to the uniform.
“Yes. A-are you still upset?” Viorica asked carefully.
“Not so much.” Dragomir sighed. “I wish you would have told me, though.” He ran his free hand through his hair uneasily and looked away.
“I didn’t think you’d let me if I told you.” Viorica explained.
“I probably wouldn’t have.” Dragomir laughed a little uneasily. “But if it’s what you want to do, and you can promise me you won’t let yourself get involved in anything too dangerous, then I’m proud of you for doing things your own way.” Dragomir smiled slightly, trying to imagine what it would be like to be working with her. “It will definitely take some getting used to, though.”
“Thank you, Dragos.” Viorica returned his smile and nodded in response to his comment. “I have to get back to orientation. And by the looks of you two, you’ve been gone awhile also.” She giggled. “I bet you both need to hurry back as well.”
Niles blushed and stuttered after her as she walked away smirking. Looking up at Dragomir for a moment, he tried to evaluate his expression and came up fairly blank. Slightly concerned, he put a hand on his arm softly and asked, "Dragomir...? Is it going to be all right?"
“Yeah… I think so.” He said slowly as he looked down at Niles. “I guess there isn’t much I could do about it anyway.” He sighed and half-smiled. “I know she’ll make a good doctor, though.” He nodded, trying to regain his good humor by changing the subject. “What do you think gave us away?”
Niles blushed, looking down and unconsciously smoothing his clothes. "Um...I think it may be...that I look rather...disorderly..." His voice got softer and softer with embarrassment as he went along, and his flattening more quick. However, all he seemed to achieve was to make his clothes more wrinkled and to make himself more embarrassed. "But...I-I don't think it's too noticeable." He smiled sheepishly at Dragomir, cocking his head slightly and shrugging.
“Alright.” Dragomir nodded, smirking a little at his efforts. “I think you look fine.” He said earnestly. “But I do think that we should get back. Taking too long will make it seem more suspicious.” He laughed and they started on their way back to the office. Once they arrived, Niles opened the door for Dragomir, and they made their formal bows. Dragomir then handed the Major the blueprints with vague apology and explanation as to why they were late, blaming it on the lack of organization in the records room.
Major Delancy smirked as she accepted the blueprints, raising an eyebrow at them. "Oh, it was that disorganized?" she asked dramatically. "I could have sworn last time I was there, I found what I was looking for in less than..." she checked her pocket watch, "an hour. But I'm sure it's gotten much messier in the past week or so." She gave them a knowing look before looking down at the blueprints. "Very well. I'll be looking over these and planning stations now, so you two may take an early lunch, if you like." She rolled her eyes playfully as she spread the prints out, adding under her breath, "Not that you need any more recreation time."
Niles blushed slightly and bowed. "Thank you, sir."
Dragomir bowed as well, hoping to conceal his blush. He’d had no idea she’d call them on it so easily, but at least she seemed not to be too upset; her seeming amusement was rather embarrassing, though. They left for lunch quickly hoping to avoid any more teasing and took a seat that was a little set away from everyone else. Recently, Dragomir had been very selective on what he ate from the cafeteria, and had been relying on Niles for much of his meal. He hated being a mooch, but it was much better then enduring the stuff that was served. “I’m glad she’s lenient.” Dragomir sighed taking a bite of a piece of fruit. “We’re really lucky.”
Niles nodded in agreement. "We are," he agreed. "I'm glad Major Delancy doesn't mind." he laughed embarrassedly. "Even if she does tease us." With a general feeling of thankfulness that they weren't being court-martialed, they ate lunch quickly and returned to the office. Niles was rather eager to hear the plans that the Major had been preparing, though he was nervous about the whole operation. He smiled at Dragomir before opening the door for him and following him inside.
The majority of the taskforce had already been assembled and the Major was just getting ready to start. She nodded cordially to them both as the came in, and they made their way over to sit in the chairs provided. The blueprints had been hung on an easel, and Major Delancy stood in front the gathered soldiers. “Alright.” She began. The room fell silent expectantly and Dragomir was impressed by the attention she commanded. “This is the location the raid is going to take place. We have been informed that the Berceuse Malheureuse will be gathering here at approximately one am. We will be positioning armed men around the perimeter as early as four hours ahead to monitor any activity in the surrounding area. The majority of you will be stationed undercover inside the building and will blend with the crowd. Five capable marksmen will be positioned in the upper balconies here,” she pointed out the location on the blueprint, “and here. Are we clear so far?”
There was a general reply of “yes sir” from everyone present before she continued her explanation. “We have no idea what sort of meeting the Berceuse Malheureuse are having, but rest assured that each and every one of them will be armed. All of you will carry a pistol and a rapier in the event that fighting occurs. However, we don’t want to cause too much commotion if we can help it. Prominent Berceuse Malheureuse member, Donavan D’Aubigne, is likely to be in attendance. He is wanted dead or alive, and so if any of you has the opportunity to take him do not hesitate to do so. Otherwise, wait for my signal to attack. A slippery rat like D’Aubigne is likely to bolt at the first sign of trouble, and that is the last thing we want. I will be positioned here, in this balcony.” She pointed again to the blueprint and paused a moment to look at everyone present before continuing.
“If anyone tries to leave before the meeting is concluded, the perimeter is to apprehend them and detain them for questioning silently. All of you are to keep a low profile and will dress accordingly.” Everyone nodded in response and she turned to look at the print briefly. “Stations within the building are now to be discussed. Newbury, Trotter, Ashford, Bristow, and Hurst will be my snipers in the balconies. With me in the other balcony will be three other adequate marksmen.” She continued detailing everyone’s positions running through the list of the ten or so officers and the thirty or more enlisted men very quickly without stopping. Dragomir didn’t pay attention to any of the announced names until she mentioned his own name and station, and then later, Niles’s. He was relived to hear that they were both close together; they were to be in the third pew from the front on the left side near the pipe organ. Dragomir was to be seated in the pew, and Niles was to stand a few feet away. Both of them had a clear line of vision to the Major’s station, and were instructed to convey her signals to other members of the force stationed on the left side of the church.
It was a delicate operation, and Dragomir already felt the adrenaline pumping through his veins. This would be the first time in seven years that he would attended a major Berceuse Malheureuse transaction, and the first in six that he would see Donavan D’Aubigne. However, all that was of little concern to him. To Dragomir, all that mattered was protecting Niles, by any means necessary.
Niles left the meeting with Dragomir, feeling rather nervous. He had never been involved in something so serious or so dangerous in his life, and he was fairly frightened. Neither man said anything, however, as they walked out towards Niles's automobile. Niles was going home with Dragomir for the short time before they came back to set out for the mission; he needed to borrow clothes in order to blend in. After getting the door for Dragomir, he got into the driver's seat and started the engine. "Thank you for letting me come over to borrow your things," he finally said awkwardly, pulling out of the parking lot and onto the main road. He was still feeling nervous about what they were going to have to do tonight, and didn't know quite what to say about it.
“Yeah, of course. With authentic poor-clothes, you’ll blend in perfectly.” Dragomir joked, hoping to lighten the mood a bit. He could tell Niles was nervous and didn’t blame him, but Dragomir felt confident the mission would go well. Major Delancy was good at what she did, and He knew the bust would go according to plan. “I was thinking that you could borrow some of Pierre’s things. They’d fit you better then anything I have.” Dragomir thought out loud. Then with a laugh he asked facetiously, “I wonder if he’d mind?”
They arrived at Dragomir’s house and headed inside. Surprisingly, Tatiana was seated on the sofa and there was a loud commotion coming from the kitchen. When she saw them, Tatiana rose to greet them cordially.
“What’s happening in the kitchen?” Dragomir asked.
“It’s Pierre.” Tatiana sighed, exasperatedly. “He doesn’t want me to strain myself, so he’s making dinner. I don’t think he has any idea what he’s doing, though.” She rolled her eyes. Pierre had recently lost his job as a janitor because he’d been staying at to make sure Tatiana was alright. First, he’d insisted on doing all of the laundry. That had failed miserably, and so Dragomir had encouraged Viorica to take over. Next, Pierre had been convinced that Tatiana would hurt herself cleaning and had begun doing all of the cleaning and other house hold chores. He was decent at cleaning at least, after being a janitor, and so no one objected. Dragomir had figured that it would only be a matter of time before he wanted to cook, too.
“Well, I suppose as long as he doesn’t break anything we can let him try.” Dragomir laughed.
“Really Dragos, how long do you think this will last? I feel terrible sitting idly all day while he does all of my work. Do you think I can do anything?” Tatiana asked biting her lip.
“I doubt it.” Dragomir laughed. “He’s too stubborn. But you know, he doesn’t stick with anything, so I’m sure he’ll give up shortly.”
“That’s not true!” Tatiana defended. “Although, you’re probably right…”
“Well, speaking of my dear brother-in-law, do you think he’d lend Niles some of his clothes? We’re going undercover.”
“Not willingly, no.” Tatiana rolled her eyes again. “I’ll go and pull some things out for you to try on though, Niles. I don’t think he’ll notice.” Tatiana smiled briefly before heading down the hall.
Dragomir grinned at Niles and gestured that they should both take a seat on the sofa while they waited. Tatiana returned shortly with a few ragged garments draped over one arm, and they both stood again.
“I picked out some of the smaller things he has.” Tatiana explained as she handed the clothing to Niles. “What exactly are you two doing anyway? I hope it’s not too dangerous.”
“Nah, it’s just your run-of-the-mill Berceuse Malheureuse bust.” Dragomir shrugged, He didn’t want her to worry. “Niles, why don’t you go try them on before Pierre comes out?” Dragomir turned to Niles with a smirk.
Niles accepted the clothes from Tatiana with a smile and scurried off towards the bathroom to change. He tried to dress quickly, but was accustomed to making himself look good, and so it took him a bit of time. When he was finally fully dressed, he sighed and looked over himself. The clothes were a little too large, though they were generally a good fit; however, they were far from comfortable. Niles had never experienced wearing coarse cloth such as the material these clothes were made of, and everything seemed to sit and rub all the wrong way. Still, he knew he would have to get used to it, and he couldn't possibly say anything to Dragomir about it, so he stepped out of the bathroom and headed back to where Tatiana and Dragomir were sitting.
"I think they fit all right," he announced with a smile, holding his arms out and looking down at himself. Really, it didn't look too bad, as poor quality clothes went, though it was beginning to give Niles a new level of sympathy for the Hirleas. "Thanks so much again."
"It's no problem," Tatiana replied congenially with a smile. "They do fit you well, for borrowed clothes."
"What fits him well, if you don't mind me asking?" Everyone turned to look at the doorway to the kitchen to see Pierre, having emerged and looking positively acerbic.
Niles laughed nervously, taking a step back towards Dragomir. "Um...Hi, Pierre."
"'Hi' indeed, Niles." Pierre drawled, stepping forward to join them. Much to Dragomir's amusement and slight relief, Pierre was too preoccupied with Tatiana to notice the borrowed clothes. He took her by the arm and gently led her back over to one of the sofas, easing her delicately into a sitting position. Tatiana complained lightly, but he pecked her on the cheek and she sighed with reluctant compliance. Pierre gave her hand a light squeeze before releasing it and turning back to face Dragomir and Niles. He seemed to register just what Niles was wearing, and in an instant, the smug expression fell from his face and he seemed to swell with indigence and mild disgust.
"How's the cooking going, Pierre?" Dragomir asked quickly before he could say anything about Niles's attire. Dragomir moved forward and placed a hand protectively on Niles's shoulder when it became apparent that Pierre would not let the issue of clothing slide.
"What, so you wanted to see what it was like, huh, to live like we do?" He Niles asked scathingly. "To wear poor filthy rags rather then luxurious silks and finery? How disgusting. You need all the fancy frills to hide behind, don't you?" He glared. "Why, you look terribly uncomfortable, master Niles, perhaps you should change?" He mocked the obsequious tone a servant might use, but his voice was dripping with venom. Dragomir bristled with rage at Pierre’s behavior, but did his best to restrain himself. "Actually, don't bother. It's good to see you knocked down a few pegs. And it’s not like I want those clothes back after his highness has worn them." Pierre scowled, crossing his arms. Dragomir glared at him darkly and tightened his grip on Niles's shoulder but refrained from saying anything. Tatiana had gotten to her feet again, and seemed horrified by Pierre's behavior.
“Are you ready to leave, Niles?’ Dragomir struggled to keep his voice even. Niles had seen him loose his temper far too often lately and he intended to remain civil, at least until they had left.
Niles bit his lip and nodded, not able to manage his voice. Even though he knew Pierre was bound to respond badly, he was unprepared for the verbal assault he had just received. He clung tightly to Dragomir, feeling too unsteady to let go, but managed to make it outside before breaking down.
He tried to wipe the tears away before Dragomir noticed, hide the sniffing, but he couldn't seem to keep them away. In a minute, he was full-out crying, letting the tears fall silently, ashamed that he couldn't have kept them back. Dragomir had other things to be worrying about, and he was stupid to be crying just because of something Pierre had said. Still, it stung, no matter what the circumstances and he couldn't seem to hide that it had affected him. "I'm...sorry..." he sniffed, wiping at his tears with his already-wet hands, unable to stop weeping. "I-I'm sorry."
Seeing Niles cry elicited two conflicting emotions in Dragomir. His rage at Pierre’s scathing words was flaring almost uncontrollably; and yet, Niles’s tears shattered his bittier hatred and all he could feel was tenderness and the need to comfort Niles. Dragomir pulled Niles gently into an embrace and held him tightly. “You’re the last person that needs to be sorry.” He murmured, feeling sympathetic tears of his own well up and threaten to fall. “I should have said something…” he felt horrible now for not sticking up for Niles, especially after Pierre had been so cruel. “He should never be allowed to get away with saying things like that to you.” Dragomir said slowly as he came to a realization. “But I’d rather…I would rather comfort you then punish him...” He pulled back a little to look Niles in the eyes. “I don’t want you to see me lose my temper so often, so I hope you can forgive me...” Dragomir bit his lip for a minute before closing his eyes slowly and pressing a tender kiss to Niles’s lips.
Niles managed to fight back the tears and smile weakly, but didn't leave the comfort of Dragomir's arms. "T-thank you," he sniffed, wiping at his eyes with the back side of his hand. "I-I understand. And I certainly don't think it's your fault..." he sniffed again and hiccupped, then looked up at Dragomir. "Thank you, for being here for me. T-That's all I could ever want."
“I’ll always be here for you, whenever you need me.” Dragomir smiled, rubbing his eyes with his sleeve to clear them. He brushed his hand lightly over a stubborn tear that still clung to Niles’s cheek and then kissed Niles again briefly. Giving the other a light squeeze before pulling away, Dragomir regarded Niles fondly. “Don’t worry about anything Pierre says to you. It’s all just garbage anyway. And besides, I think you look good no matter what you’re wearing.” Dragomir smirked, giving Niles a final reassuring rub on the back before withdrawing his arms. “We probably need to get started, though. Will you be alright?” he asked, still a little concerned.
"I'm fine," Niles said decidedly with a nod, "Thank you." He smiled warmly at Dragomir, feeling happy for someone who cared enough to comfort him the way he did as he followed the other man back to the automobile. As he started up the engine and pulled away, however, he felt the knot of worry begin to return to his stomach. What they were about to do was going to be extremely dangerous, and he was afraid that he would spoil everything. He wouldn't be able to stand it if it was his fault if someone got hurt... He fretted all the way back to headquarters, hoping that everything would go all right.
Once at headquarters, Major Delancy gave them a final debriefing on procedure and they were all given a map to the location that was to serve as their base of operations. It was a large warehouse located in the same dingy, destitute part of town that the church had once served but had since fallen from use and into decay. The warehouse was just about a kilometer away from the site where the action was going to take place; a convenient distance as it was far enough away that it would be difficult for the Berceuse Malheureuse to detect, and close enough so that reinforcements could be sent expediently.
The forty or so men were delegated into small units and instructed to depart one at a time and make their way to the warehouse early. Major Delancy went in the first party, and it wasn’t long after when Niles and Dragomir were sent to the location as well. The majority of the men, most of whom were enlisted soldiers, were set as a perimeter to hold the base. Left in charge was one other lieutenant who Dragomir knew only vaguely.
The Major then set about going over all the planes once again before she and the other men who were to act as snipers left the base to set up for the operation early. It was a two hour wait before Niles and Dragomir were sent in; Niles went in first and Dragomir followed closely behind, anxious to make sure that everything went alright. Sure enough, they both infiltrated the church and the Berceuse Malheureuse’s meeting area with ease and took their positions.