Just under a week after the raid on the Berceuse Malheureuse, a ceremony was held in memory of all the men of were killed in the line of duty, and in honor of those who’d survived. Many of the officers who participated received medals or promotions, and Niles was one of the few enlisted men to be noted and promoted—twice, for his invaluable service to the country in removing Donavan D’Aubigne. Dragomir too received a promotion for the part he played in the dispatch of the criminal, and they both received medals as compensation for their injuries. Major Delancy was able to attend the ceremony in a wheelchair with Dr. Hirlea as an escort, and was promoted for her valiant efforts and unyielding bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. Brigadier General Rousseau presented the awards and announced the promotions, and with each, he delivered a rather lengthy, and to Dragomir, stuffy, speech. In addition to the seemingly unending amount of speeches, the ceremony was overall rather somber, as it was in reverence of the departed. However, the reception party that was to be held afterward, with food and drink, promised to lighten the mood.
As soon as General Rousseau finished his closing remarks, all the men stood hurried, relieved to be out of the room in which they’d been confined for the better part of the day. They were all ushered into a larger room which had been decorated more for celebration the then previous room, and which contained a large table filled with scrumptious looking food and fine wine. Dragomir immediately headed towards the long table in the back, and Niles trotted along behind him. No one paid much attention to the newly promoted Captain and Warrant Officer, as most of the men were generally worn out from the long-windedness of the General’s speech, and were eager to get some refreshments themselves.
“Ah, finally.” Dragomir sighed mockingly to Niles. “I thought he’d never finish.” Dragomir poured a glass of wine, handed it to Niles, and fixed himself another. “So, Warrant Officer, you’re moving up in the ranks at long last, huh?” He asked teasingly, testing the new title.
Niles laughed embarrassedly. "Yeah, I never thought I would." It felt strange just having just been promoted twice for one single act when he had spent years without promotion. He sipped his wine, smiling up at Dragomir. "You're not doing badly yourself, Captain," he pointed out, grinning. He was happy that Dragomir had gotten rewarded for his part, too. He knew Dragomir had been pretty badly hurt, and he himself was having trouble with his sprained arm and hurt shoulder, but he'd get by, and it was certainly was nice to be rewarded.
As they chatted, they heard the creak of metal wheels, and turned to see Lt. Colonel Delancy being wheeled in by Viorica. She was grinning at them, and congratulated them as they she approached. "How are you doing? You boy are growing up on me." She laughed. "Congratulations on your promotions, both of you. It's good to see that you're recovering from your injuries."
Niles smiled and bowed to her. "Congratulations to you, too, sir! You look as if you're getting better."
She nodded. "I am, thank you. Dr. Hirlea is doing an absolutely lovely job of making sure my every need is taken care of." She smiled warmly up at her doctor before looking back to Dragomir and Niles.
Viorica smiled back at her charge before smirking at Dragomir by means of greeting. Hers was a face that seemed to show a little bit of defiance toward her brother, in reference to the position of importance she now held as the Lt. Colonel’s medic and escort.
Dragomir chortled in response to the face and grinned at the Lt. Colonel. “I’m glad to hear that, sir. I bet you’ll be back on duty in no time—I’d expect nothing less from the two of you working together.” Laughing, Dragomir offered and poured each of them a glass of wine before settling to lean against the nearest wall.
“Are these kinds of things normally that long?” Viorica asked, throwing a quick glance at the Brigadier General. “The General just seemed to go on and on.” Viorica noted, rolling her eyes.
“Not that long, if memory serves, but it seems to me that General Rousseau has been in a bad mood lately. I wouldn’t be surprised if he dragged it out just to make us all miserable.” Dragomir replied, only half joking, before popping an orderve into his mouth. “Wouldn’t you say, Lt. Colonel?”
Corinne nodded. "I don't know what's gotten into him lately. Maybe one of the soldiers who died was a friend." It didn't seem a very likely hypothesis, but she really couldn't think of anything that would make him act so unhappy. Looking up at Dr. Hirlea, she added, "I'm sorry you had to sit through it, doctor. Thank you for doing it for me." She grinned at the other woman briefly.
Niles watched them with a smile. Viorica seemed like a good friend for the Lt. Colonel; they had similar personalities. He was glad they had a chance to meet, and, feeling generally fuzzy, smiled over at Dragomir and inched a little closer. It was so hard in public, and he simply couldn't help it.
Dragomir saw Niles scoot closer out of the corner of his eye and smirked back at the other. Lately, Dragomir had been having and increasingly difficult time keeping entirely neutral towards Niles in public, and he was glad to see the other was struggling at least a bit with the same feelings. Glancing around, Dragomir decided that, as the two women to whom they were speaking already knew, and probably wouldn’t mind, he might put an arm around Niles’s waist, just for a little bit, to try and ease he longing for contact. However, just as he was raising an arm to pull Niles in a little closer, he spotted the General on his way over to them. Dragomir snapped his hand back to his side and looked in the opposite direction, trying to hide the failed action.
General Rousseau came to stand next to the little group, and they all bowed to acknowledge his arrival. Smiling sweetly and nodding back at the two officers, and pointedly not at Niles, he settled easily into a relaxed stance. His eyes flickered momentarily to Viorica standing behind Lt. Colonel Delancy, but he did not acknowledge her presences in the slightest and instead turned his attention to the Colonel. “It’s good to see you up and about, Lt. Colonel.” The General remarked, his brows furrowed with concern. “I’m relieved your injuries healed sufficiently enough for you to come today. I was worried one of my best officers would be left out of the festivities.” He shook his head sadly, but continued to smile, as if he expressed genuine relief, though clearly he was disguising indifference.
Corinne smiled back congenially, pretending not to know he was faking it. "Thank you for your concern, sir. I'm feeling a lot better. My doctor has taken very good care of me, and says I might return to work in a few weeks."
Niles watched the exchange, wondering why the Brigadier General had been so out of sorts lately. He had seemed even more fake than usual quite a few times, and had been acting almost hostile to Niles in his own way. That had faded somewhat as the week went on, but he still was acting somewhat strange. It seemed fairly unusual, and Niles wondered what was causing him to act this way.
His attention was drawn away, however, by an enlisted man who appeared next to him and, bowing, asked, "I was told to give a message to a Warrant Officer Niles Christian? Do you know where I could find him?"
"Oh, that's me," Niles responded, blinking. He wondered what sort of message he was getting, since he didn't seem important enough that someone should be sending for him.
The man nodded to him. "Sir, you are to go see General Commandant Mauvais in his office tomorrow at 3:00." The man bowed again, then left.
Niles blinked after him curiously, wondering why the General Commandant would want to see him. His mind flickered back to that time some months ago, and his stomach knotted with worry. He would have to talk to Dragomir later about it. Right now, he had to pay attention the Brigadier General, lest he want to get in even more trouble.
As the man left, Dragomir glanced anxiously down at Niles. After that last incident, Dragomir remembered how distraught Niles had been, and was not eager to allow Niles to speak to the Commandant. Of course, he knew he had no choice; he would simply have to find away to make sure Niles was alright. That would all have to be worked out later however, because right now, they were speaking to the Brigadier General, and they couldn’t afford to excuse themselves.
Looking up at the General, Dragomir realized a twisted smirk had formed on his face, and that he was glaring maliciously at Niles. Dragomir couldn’t help but feel peeved with General Rousseau’s poor treatment of Niles as of late, and decided to initiate a distraction. He could think of nothing of relevance to say, and so decided to introduce Viorica.
“Brigadier General, I’d like you to meet Doctor Hirlea, my youngest sister.” Dragomir presented Viorica, and she curtsied low and fashionably. The General’s expression went blank, and he nodded accordingly.
“How wonderful to have the opportunity to meet more of your…extensive family, Captain.” General Rousseau’s fake smile returned, and he flashed it momentarily at Dragomir before returning his gaze to Viorica. “I understand you’re just out of school?”
“Yes sir.” Viorica nodded lowly. General Rousseau grimaced, and Dragomir knew it was because he could find nothing to complain about with regard to her manner. She’d been spot on in her comportment, and he was obviously a little displeased.
“Well, I hope you take good care of our Lt. Colonel. She’s a very valuable soldier.” Somehow, his tone managed to sound condescending, and he nodded to the general group of them. “I must take my leave and continue to make the rounds. Let me reiterate how grateful I am to all of you for your continued service.” He turned on his heal and started to walk towards another small group of people, razing his hand slightly in farewell.
As soon as he had gone, Dragomir turned quickly to Niles and told him aside, “What do you think the Commandant wants with you? Will you be alright?” He asked worriedly. “Should I try and find an excuse?”
Niles hesitated a moment, then shook his head. "No...I really think I have to go. If I don't face him now, I'll...I'll have to face him later. And now I know that I'll have you at least in the building to make sure I'm safe. Who knows what would happen if I put it off?" He tried to smile assuringly at Dragomir, despite the worry churning in his own stomach. "I can handle it. I'm not sure what he wants with me, but I want to find out. So I have to do it." He looked down, gathering his thoughts, then looked back at Dragomir. "I promise that I'll be okay, so don't worry about me, okay?"
“Alright, I know you can take care of yourself. I’m just a little worried about that guy since we don’t really know what his intentions are… I suppose you might be able to find out a bit more this time too, right?” Dragomir smiled uneasily as he tried to think positively. For some reason, he just got a bad feeling about the General Commandant, and he was worried about Niles. However, Niles did have a strong point. It wasn’t as if putting off seeing him now would do anything in the long run. In fact, it might just make the situation worse. Dragomir would simply have to find away to make sure he was around in case Niles needed anything. He sighed and put on a smile, turning back to his sister and the Lt. Colonel. They appeared to have been having their own conversation, and Dragomir’s smile became honest; he was glad to see that they were getting along so well, and he knew the Lt. Colonel to be an excellent and positive influence on Viorica.
Viorica straightened up and grinned at the two of them. “Well, it was lovely to see you both, Captain, Warrant Officer.” She nodded to them both intern as she tried out the new titles. “Unfortunately, I need to get Lt. Colonel Delancy back to the medical wing. I’m sure we’ll both be seeing you around, though.”
“Oh, alright.” Dragomir was surprised that they were both leaving so soon, but he supposed it was do mostly to the Lt. Colonel’s injury; shoulder wounds were always nasty, and so it was understandable that she couldn’t be up and about for too long. “It was good to see you, sir. I hope your back soon, we’ve been missing you.” Dragomir smiled, bowing.
Corinne smiled and nodded. She was beginning to feel a bit tired and was glad to be going back, but it was nice seeing all of her subordinates again. "It was good to see you, too, and I'm very anxious to get back, as well." She gave a last nod as her doctor wheeled her out of the room.
Niles watched her go, then turned to Dragomir. "Do you think we ought to get going as well?"
“Yeah, I suppose we should.” Dragomir nodded. Everything seemed to be wrapping up anyway, and Dragomir figured it was due impart to the general fatigue everyone felt after the lengthy proceedings which a great deal of the soldiers present had to endure despite their injuries. Following suit, Dragomir and Niles headed out. Niles offered Dragomir a ride home, which he gladly accepted, and they were able to say their goodbyes away from public view, a commodity Dragomir liked to take full advantage of.
He watched Niles drive off before turning to go inside. Dragomir wasn’t very hungry, instead opting to turn in early for the night. He was worrying about Niles’s appointment with the Commandant, and had to work out an excuse that would get him into the hall where the Commandant’s office was located. After mulling about in his room for a long time, Dragomir still hadn’t come up with anything, and fell asleep worrying about it. He would have to come up with something on the spot tomorrow.
Unfortunately, no brilliant ideas had come to Dragomir the night or morning before the event, and so he sat dejectedly examining his feather quill. Niles had left just a minute or so earlier for his appointment, leaving Dragomir alone to his scheming. Withdrawing his pocket watch, which always made him think fondly of Niles, he checked the time. It was three o’clock now, and Niles was probably just entering the room for his meeting. Dragomir had to come up with an excuse fast, or else he’d be stuck anxiously waiting for who knows how long.
Niles stood hesitantly outside the General Commandant's office door, his heart pounding nervously. The last time he had met with General Mauvais, bad things had happened, and he wasn't really looking forward to this meeting. Still, he knew he had to do it, and so, swallowing and taking a deep breath, he knocked.
Algernon had been waiting when he heard the knock on the door, and smiled to himself. He had been looking forward to this for some time; the day he would get to make Niles suffer. On top of it, it was payback for making Percy cry, even if Niles really hadn't done anything. He had everything planned out, and he was ready. "Do come in," he called, putting on a charming voice.
Niles breathed in again, then pushed the door open and stepped in, shutting it behind him. "Sir," he said politely, bowing low and waiting a few moments before rising again. "You wanted to see me, sir?"
At ten after three, Dragomir got to his feet determinedly. He didn’t have a plan; he was just going to wing it. He strode confidently forward to the temporary commanding officer’s desk and stated his case plainly. “I need to go to the records room to retrieve some information, sir. I’ll be back shortly.” Dragomir smirked inwardly. With that kind of assertion, there would be no denying his leave. And then…then he’d need to figure out how to get into the part of the building where the Commandant’s office was located.
Algernon smiled at his younger cousin, planning his words carefully through his delight at the thought of causing Niles pain. "Ah, yes, of course, Warrant Officer Christian. Didn't I tell you not to be so formal with me? Now, do come in." Algernon smiled and led Niles over to the sitting are of his office, offering him the sofa before sitting in the chair. He had prepared the tea earlier, setting it out perfectly and preparing the sedatives and disguising them in the sugar bowl. "Would you like some tea, Warrant Officer?"
"Oh, yes, thank you, General," Niles accepted with a smile. Dragomir had told him to be careful, but he couldn't see how having tea would hurt.
"Cream? Sugar?" Algernon offered, knowing that Niles wouldn't refuse.
"Yes, thank you," Niles replied politely, accepting the cup and taking a sip.
Algernon's lips curled into a smile as he poured himself a cup and didn't add either cream or sugar. "So, how has your life been treating you, dearest Warrant Officer? I hear you've achieved quite a feat, killing Donavan D'Aubigne?"
Niles blushed. "Oh, yes. I...In honesty, I was afraid he was going to kill Captain Hirlea, sir. That's what helped me do it." It felt strange having an everyday conversation with the General Commandant of the whole military, but he had to stay on his toes, like Dragomir had said. Something funny had happened last time, and he had to make sure it didn't happen again.
"Ah...I see..." Algernon pretended to look thoughtful, the slightly worried. "So, how are things working between your Captain and yourself...?"
Niles was confused, but replied, "Fine...Why do you ask, sir?"
Algernon shook his head and gave Niles a sympathetic look. "I'm just worried, that's all. You're such an innocent child, it would be easy for others to take advantage of you. I don't want you to get hurt."
Niles' head was feeling a little swimmy again, and things were seeming a bit cloudy, but he was sure that what the General was saying wasn't right. "I'm sure things are fine, sir. With all due respect, sir, I'm very grateful for your concern, but I think that Captain Hirlea is really sincere to me." He wasn't going to let himself be swayed this time. He was going to do just what Dragomir wanted, and make sure everything worked out.
Dragomir successfully persuaded his case, and got leave to go to the records room. Of course, he had not intention what so ever of going there, and was already en route to the Commandant’s hallway. We he arrived, he was relieved to see that it was empty, and that no one appeared to be monitoring it in the slightest. With a smirk, he walked confidently forward, intent on finding the correct office and stationing himself directly outside it to make sure he was there if Niles required his aid.
Algernon was slightly taken back by Niles' assertion. Being in this relationship was obviously helping his confidence, and that made Algernon angry. Niles wasn't doing what he wanted, Niles wasn't being controlled, and it was simply unbearable. Something needed to be done, so, wearing a false smile, he extended a hand. "Here, let me refill your cup," he offered, taking Niles' cup and filling it with tea again, then lumping quite a few spoonfuls of 'sugar' into it. He made sure to spoon white powder from the area he was sure was heavy with the sedatives, and stirred it into the tea before handing it back. Smiling with saccharine sweetness, he said, "There you go. I'm so glad to hear your life is going better."
It took a few frantic minutes of searching, but Dragomir located the door into the Commandant’s office and stationed himself outside a few paces away. He figured that he’d be close enough the help Niles, and far enough so that he didn’t seem as though he were snooping.
Fifteen minuets came and went, and Dragomir came to the conclusion that the walls and doors were soundproof. Of course, that followed, as the Commandant was likely to have private meetings on a regular basis, and the information that was exchanged was no doubt classified. Still, it made Dragomir feel a little silly standing around hoping for an excuse to bust in and rescue Niles. Nevertheless, Dragomir was determined to stay until Niles was released.
As he was waiting however, he heard a familiar gate approaching and stiffened. General Rousseau turned the corner and paused, mid-step, when he saw Dragomir. Dragomir bowed hurriedly, hoping he didn’t seem too out of place. “Captain, what are you doing here?” The General asked sharply, his eyes narrowing with suspicion. Apparently, Dragomir was very out of place. Biting his lip, Dragomir debated making up and excuse, but settled on the truth. He didn’t think he could come up with any reasonable lie to cover his presence outside the Commandant’s office.
“I am, um, waiting, sir. I’m waiting for Warrant Officer Christian to get out of his meeting with the General Commandant.” He explained timidly.
“I see.” The General commented skeptically. “Well, Captain, I recommend returning to your office now. I highly doubt a Warrant Office requires and escort.”
“Ah, yes sir, I was just about to.” Dragomir smiled and bowed before hurrying down the hall. He’d noticed earlier a small inset into the wall, presumably for decorative purposes, where he intended to hide until after the General had left.
He waited for several minutes, but the even General Rousseau seemed to be loitering outside the Commandant’s door. Dragomir wondered vaguely what sort of business General Rousseau had with the Commandant, but pushed the thought from his head. He ought to return to the office before he was caught. If someone found him hiding, he knew only negative things could be assumed. Sighing dolefully, Dragomir trudged back to his office and bowed to the acting superior before slumping into his seat. He would just have to wait until Niles got back.
An hour went by, or maybe it was two hours. Or maybe it was half an hour, actually, Niles wasn't really sure. The world had been getting cloudier and cloudier, and his brain was fuzzy. He couldn't remember why he was here anymore, or why he was talking to the General Commandant, and he couldn't really comprehend anything the older man was saying, anyway.
Finally, after some time, the General rose. "All right, Warrant Officer, I think it's time you leave. You seem tired." He offered Niles a hand and helped him to his feet. Niles teetered, but managed a bow and a nod. "Come now, cousin, you must make it back."
Cousin? Niles wasn't sure why he was saying that. He didn't have any cousins. But he nodded anyway, and made his way out of the office with possibly a thanks. He stumbled through the hallways, trying to find his way back to the office, and finally made it. Knocking, he opened the door and let himself in. He only managed a few steps, however, before he teetered and fell to the floor. The world swam around him before fading out completely...
Dragomir heard the door open and looked up expectantly. Sure enough, it was Niles who stumbled in. Dragomir grinned broadly and got to his feet, but the expression faded quickly when he saw what sort of condition he was in. Rushing forward, Dragomir made it to his side, dropping to his knees, just after Niles had collapsed. “Niles!” Dragomir exclaimed, panicking, as he scooped Niles into his arms. A few other people in the office craned their necks to see what had happened, but no one moved to do anything. “Oh Niles…” Dragomir murmured as he shook the other lightly in an attempt to rouse him. “What did he do to you..?”
Niles' eyes blinked half-way open, and Dragomir's face swam into view. He managed to lift his head slightly, but his body felt limp and numb, and he could barely comprehend what Dragomir was saying to him. It took him a minute to figure out who Dragomir was talking about, and then another minute to try and remember what exactly had happened. Finally opening his mouth to say something, but found it difficult to speak. Finally, managed to say, "W-we talked. He g-gave me tea..." He wasn't sure if that was helpful at all, but it was all he could think of right now. He let his head fall back against Dragomir and his eyes slide shut again. He didn't want to, but he just felt so tired...and now Dragomir was here. At least he was safe with Dragomir.
“Tea?” Dragomir questioned urgently. “Was there anything in the tea?” It was no use however; Niles had already dropped off. Judging by Niles’s condition, he looked to be heavily dosed up under some sort of sedative. At any rate, it wasn’t deadly, and that assessment was all Dragomir needed right now. Slipping his arm under Niles’s knees, Dragomir got to his feet while holding Niles and again made his way over to ask to leave to take care of Niles. Explaining the situation, he was granted leave, and without even considering the strain it would have on, Dragomir decided that he had to get Niles away. He’d walk all the way to his house if he needed to.
However, once he got out of the building, and better idea came to him. He managed to flag down a taxi, and carefully laid Niles out in the backseat. The driver seemed curious, to say the least, but made no comment. Dragomir knew Niles would need some time to recover, as he’d clearly been over dosed with what Dragomir guessed to be an opiate, and decided that taking Niles back to his own house would be best. He conveyed the address to the driver, and spent the entire drive there looking back anxiously at Niles.
Dragomir tipped the driver generously (by Dragomir’s stingy standards) for his silence, and picked Niles up out of the seat once they’d arrived at his estate. By the time Dragomir had reached the door, Niles’s servants had caught sight of him and were already rushing forward to help him. Dragomir’s wound in his side ached tremendously from the strain, but he pushed the thought from his head as he followed the servants as they carried Niles up to his room.
They placed their master gently in his bed and slipped off his boots setting them aside. Dragomir explained what had happened, and told them that he wanted to stay until Niles woke up. They seemed sympathetic, and offered him a meal, which he declined. He intended to stay with Niles explicitly and not leave until he was sure Niles would be alright. The servants left shortly after, and Dragomir settled himself on Niles’s bed, taking Niles’s hand in his own as he studied his face intently for any signs of wakening.
Niles slowly came to consciousness, feeling tired and confused. His head ached, but it felt as if he was in his own bed...his hand also felt warm, as if someone was holding it, and there was something heavy sitting beside him. Was someone in his room? What was going on, anyway? He couldn't remember coming home or going to bed...what could he remember...?
Instead of trying to think about it, Niles focused on opening his eyes. It felt like a great effort, but he managed finally to open them part way and see Dragomir sitting on his bed looking worried. "D-Dragomir...?" he asked, confused, his voice coming out strained as he found difficulty speaking. "W-what's going on?" Maybe Dragomir knew what had happened that he felt so strange.
Dragomir smiled with relief when he noticed Niles coming around. The fact that he was regaining consciousness now was definitely a good sign. “Niles, you collapsed after seeing the Commandant.” Dragomir explained carefully. “But I got you back to your house. The drugs should wear off soon, and you’ll start to feel better.” He said reassuringly. “I’m going to stay with you until you get better, alright?”
Niles melted into a weak smile. "Thank you so much, Dragomir...I love you." Niles was touched by the fact that Dragomir had taken him home and taken care of him, and was going to stay with him...he was so glad to have him there. However, some of Dragomir's words confused him. "Drugs...? What drugs?" he asked vaguely. He didn't remember any drugs...what was Dragomir talking about? He tried to remember his meeting with the General Commandant, but couldn't remember much besides talking...and his head hurt to think about it, so he stopped.
Dragomir smiled back warmly at Niles and squeezed his hand in response to the thanks. “You mentioned that he gave you tea, right?” Dragomir asked, creasing his brows. He was hating the Commandant more and more; it seemed as though he’d gotten Niles so high that he didn’t really remember what had happened—which meant that anything could have happened. “I think the Commandant put something in the tea. Drugs, I bet.” Dragomir explained, biting his lip. “Do you need me to get you anything?”
"No, thank you, I'm fine," Niles replied, trying to think. "But...but he drank the same tea, as well..." Now that Dragomir said it, he did remember drinking tea...but as hard as he tried, he simply couldn't remember anything else. It made his head hurt, and as frustrating as it was there was nothing he could do. Feeling helpless, he felt tears threaten, and looked up at Dragomir. "I don't understand! I can't remember anything, and I don't know why he would want to hurt me...Dragomir..." The tears came, and he clutched at Dragomir's hand, feeling, more than anything, the need for comfort.
“Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out.” Dragomir tried to smiled as he brushed back Niles’s tears, but seeing the other so affected made it difficult for him not to break down as well. Feeling generally overcome by the severity of the situation, Dragomir decided comfort Niles the best way he thought he could. He knew it wasn’t really much, but hoped it would due. Without letting go of Niles’s hand, he placed his arm on the opposite side of Niles and leaned in for a kiss, pressing gently against Niles’s lips. “I love you Niles.” Dragomir murmured as he pulled away a fraction of an inch before leaning back in to kiss the other again.
Niles was glad for the kisses, and smiles through his tears. "I love you, too, Dragomir," he murmured, nuzzling softly against Dragomir's face before the other man pulled away. "Thank you for being here for me...I just don't know what's going on and...I'm scared..." he trailed, feeling somewhat stupid but realizing it was the truth. It was frightening to think someone that powerful would want to hurt him without him even knowing why. He squeezed Dragomir's hand and looked up at him helplessly. "I'm sorry..."
“No, I’m sorry. I was right outside in the hall, but I couldn’t hear or do anything… I should have tried to figure out what was going on before I let you go…” Dragomir sighed looking around the room. He always seemed to let Niles down and leave him unguarded, and he hated it. This involvement with the Commandant was reminding Dragomir of all the trouble that had happened around the last time Niles had spoken with the Commandant… At least things were better for them now; at least he was here with Niles to take care of him, even if it was after the fact. “I just wish there was some way to know exactly what he wants with you and why he’s doing this…” Dragomir worried at his lip and turned back to Niles. “You said you both had the tea, right? Did he put anything in yours that he didn’t add to his own? He could have mixed the drug with anything… Do you remember?” He didn’t want to pressure Niles, but it did seem important that they get to the bottom of it.
Niles shook his head. "It's not your fault at all. Thank you for even trying," He offered Dragomir a bleary smile and wiped away his remaining tears with the back of his hand. As Dragomir posed his question, Niles tried hard to think back to what had happened. The General Commandant had offered him tea...and then...what? Niles tried as hard as he could to remember, and it suddenly hit him. "Sugar!" he exclaimed, a little too loud, then winced and rubbed his head. "He put cream and sugar in mine. ...I think he put in a lot more sugar the second time, too. Could that be it?"
“I bet that’s it. “ Dragomir nodded; he was glad to have gotten to the bottom of at least one mystery. “I’m pretty sure that it was an opiate he used, so it would be easy to mix it in with sugar. But what worries me…” Dragomir lowered his voice slightly and furrowed his brow. “Niles, he gave you way too much. I know you’ll be alright but… If he put more in the second time…I just wonder what he was doing. Surely he didn’t mean to put you into this kind of a condition.” Dragomir paused. “I guess it seems a bit sloppy to me. Did you say something, or anything like that?”
Niles furrowed his brow, trying hard to think. "I...before that...he was...trying to tell me that you didn't love me. Again." He was relieved to find that most of the memories were coming back now, and thought harder. "After I told him that it wasn’t true...he gave me the second cup of tea. Do you think that could have made him angry?" Niles tried to think more, but after the second cup of tea, things got blurrier and blurrier...however, he did remember a few things vaguely...and then something that had struck him as odd came to him. "Oh, and, as I was leaving, he called me cousin. That's strange, since I'm not his cousin. I don't have any cousins that I know about.” Niles blinked at Dragomir, hoping the other man could figure some of the answers.
"That is unusual...I have no idea what he could have meant by that. Do you think he was just trying to mess with you?" Dragomir sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Oh Niles, I'm so sorry you had to go through all of this... Are you feeling any better?" Dragomir asked concernedly, gently squeezing Niles's hand.
"It's not your fault," Niles replied softly, smiling gently at Dragomir. "I'm just so glad I have you here with me. That alone makes me feel better. But, I think I am feeling a little better..." he shifted slightly, trying sit up, but even as he got slightly righted, his head spun, and he was on his back again. "Not completely better," he clarified, smiling sheepishly. He was beginning to feel a little tired again, and yawned. "Thank you for staying here with me..."
“Of course,” Dragomir cooed as he shifted positions just enough so that he could kick of his shoes. “I’ll stay as long as you want me here.” Dragomir smiled, leaning into kiss Niles softly. He could tell the other was falling asleep, and as it had gotten to be rather late while Dragomir had been waiting for him to wake up, he decided that sleep didn’t seem like such a bad idea. Flopping onto his side, Dragomir slipped an arm under Niles’s pillow and used his other to pull Niles up against himself, snuggling in and making himself comfortable. Then, smirking slightly, he murmured into Niles’s hair, “Don’t mind me, love.”
Niles blushed as Dragomir lay beside him and allowed himself to be held. "N-no, not at all," he replied sleepily, realizing that Dragomir must have been tired, sitting up and waiting for him. "You're better than any blanket." Smiling softly, he let his eyes slide shut, feeling contented in Dragomir's arms. The soft sound of his breathing and his heartbeat against his chest lulled Niles into a dreamy sleep.
Perceval watched, standing slightly to the side as a delirious Warrant Officer Christian stumbled out of Algernon's office. He looked terrible, and Perceval couldn't help but wonder what Christian had done to upset Algernon. However, Perceval was sure the disgusting runt had deserved it. Even if he hadn't actually killed Donavan, that Niles Christian was responsible for causing Donavan, like a little parasite, to come to him seeking refuge. Perceval really wanted nothing to do with his cousin outside of business, and the fact that he had to take care of him and make excuses as he blackmailed a doctor to look after him was ample cause for the burning grudge Perceval now held against the Warrant Officer.
Smirking deviously as he watched Christian tripping over his own feet down the hall, Perceval smoothed his jacket and knickers for the hundredth time since he'd been waiting for Algernon, and knocked lightly on the door, opening is slowly and stepping inside before taking a gracious bow. "Sir," He said melodically, announcing his presence. "I just saw the Warrant Officer leave, sir, and I hope to request your company." Perceval smiled sweetly. He hoped that the atrocious vermin Algernon had just suffered to entertain hadn't put him into a bad mood.
Algernon sighed and smoothed his clothes before rising to take care of the tea things. "Yes, do come in Percy. Mind to shut the door behind you." He was trying hard to calm down after he let his hatred get the better of him at that wretched child, and Percy was sure to have a soothing effect. Seating himself, he looked over to Percy, feeling somewhat frazzled. "I apologize for my appearance...things did not go exactly...as planned." He wasn't going to admit that he lost control, even if it was only for a little while, but he did feel something needed to be done. "I think a change of plans is in order, however. Niles Christian needs to be broken."
Perceval shut the door behind himself and walked gracefully over to where Algernon stood. “I saw him leave, sir, and he seemed thoroughly intoxicated.” Perceval said delicately. “Did that wretch do something unexpected?” He inquired as he fixed his hair unconsciously. “What exactly do you have in mind for him now that might be more effective?” Perceval was extremely curious as he knew Algernon had a brilliant mind for mental torture, and smirked almost hungrily.
Algernon sighed again and nodded, offering Perceval a seat. "He's too goddamn attached to that Captain of his. His trust has increased more than expected for this period of time. I needed to keep him from being suspicious so I erased his memory completely." He felt stressed, and straightened his jacket for lack of anything better to do with his hands. "I think he needs to be traumatized some more, to make him more...agreeable," he continued carefully, thinking over the idea. "That cousin of yours actively blackmails Dragomir Hirlea, does he not? There must be a way for him to find something else on the man...something a little more serious. Something a little more important than our little Warrant Officer. Then, all that Donavan need do is hold Christian as collateral to prove to him of how little importance he is when the Captain he trusts so much does nothing to come to his rescue." He smiled at the thought of his own idea, then looked up to Percy. "It's brilliantly detached from the military on the surface. Surely you can talk to your cousin and arrange something?" Just thinking that Christian would soon be suffering made Algernon feel better already.
"I'd be happy to, sir." Perceval replied curtly and bowed rather more stiffly than he'd intended. He didn't really like the idea of more cooperation with his cousin, especially on the part of Algernon. Perceval couldn't help but feel a little jealous whenever Algernon talked about Donavan; he knew it was irrational, but he couldn't help himself. Straitening up, he offered a rather weak smile. He would have to put aside his initial jealous reaction in order to please Algernon and get back at the Warrant Officer. His pain would make up for Perceval's patience with Algernon's plans to work with Donavan. "That sounds like a delightful plan--one that will surely crush that insect."
"I'm glad you agree," Algernon said with a smile, rising and walking around to behind where Perceval sat. He had not failed to pick up on the jealousy in his voice, and smirked to himself. Placing his hands on Perceval's shoulders and leaning over so that his lips nearly touched the back of Perceval's neck, he added, "I do wish you would have more trust in me, though, Percy. Do I really inspire so little confidence?" He took Perceval's chin in his hand and turned his head so that he was looking up over his shoulder at him. "Your little cousin may be useful to me, but he is hardly deserving of any further attention. And, besides," he leaned over, bringing his face close to Perceval's, "He's not nearly so pretty as you are." Algernon pressed a steady kiss to his lips before straightening and turning to walk back around to his previous position. He was feeling fully better now, and smirked, pleased. "Did you lock the door on your way in, Percy?"
Purring lightly at the touch, Perceval allowed himself to be reassured, and pushed lightly into the kiss. As Algernon pulled away, turned, and posed the question, he replied politely, “Yes, of course sir,” and smiled rather coyly. Algernon did have a point, of course; Perceval trusted him explicitly with everything, and so with matters regarding his cousin, he should have the same faith. Still…Perceval felt a little doubt in his own self, and worried what would happen if Algernon ever grew board with his perfection… He knew he mustn’t think so negatively though, especially since Algernon’s words and actions gave him so much confidence and excited him tremendously.
"Perfect, as always," Algernon murmured, moving to straddle Perceval's waist, putting a hand against the back of the chair for support. It never ceased to amazing him how absolutely perfect the other man was, and he would never tired of ruining it. Running his nails against the side of Perceval's face, he pressed his mouth to his neck, biting and sucking softly before pulling back to reveal a deep red mark on the pale skin. Moving back slightly to look Perceval in the eye, he said assuringly, "You are mine, Percy, mine forever. Understood?" Then, with a smirk, he returned to his previous task of marring the perfect skin before him. No matter when, he would always leave marks to remind Perceval just to whom he belonged.
Viorica arrived early at work, as was becoming her custom, and went directly to the Lt. Colonel’s room. She knew that her patient was likely to still be asleep, but Viorica wanted to get her bandages, breakfast, and medication together before Lt. Colonel Delancy woke up.
As Viorica began silently preparing everything for the day, she reflected on her patient’s condition. Lately though, she’d been having trouble remaining objective about it, and tended more towards thinking about the Lt. Colonel in general. Over the past few days, they’d spent every moment of Viorica’s hours together, and Viorica was of the opinion that they were becoming good friends. She knew that wasn’t good, as she needed to remain detached in order to do her job properly, but Viorica couldn’t help but feel extremely attached to the Lt. Colonel, and couldn’t imagine things proceeding any other way.
By the time Viorica had finished her preparations, other doctors and medical staff were arriving and setting about similar tasks. She was pleased to be so far a head of everyone else, and settled herself into a seat, across form Lt. Colonel Delancy’s bed, with a grin as she waited for her to wake up.
Corinne slowly awoke, her eyes sliding open to see Dr. Hirlea looking kindly at her, and she couldn't help but blush slightly as she smiled at the other woman. "Good morning, Doctor." It was new to her to have someone there, taking such care of her, someone always looking so warmly at her, and she liked it. Yawning slightly, she sat up and pushed her hair over her shoulder. "Did you have a good night, Doctor? Is your brother keeping out of trouble?" She smiled as Dr. Hirlea reached for the brush she kept in a drawer in the bedside table and moved behind her to begin brushing out her long hair. Corinne didn't want to admit it, even to herself, but she liked the way the Doctor's hands were always so gentle, the way they were so soft when they accidentally brushed against her skin.
Lately, she had been liking way too many things about the Doctor, and she was worried about the way her own feelings were growing. Just spending time with the other woman made her feel content and happy, and it made her question things she had always considered set in stone. Fiddling the ring she had always worn on her left ring finger, ever since, in a fit of determination, she bought it when she was sixteen years old, she wondered how much longer she would be wearing it. That day, when she was sixteen, she vowed never to marry, never to submit herself to another man who would want to take over her life and dominate every aspect of her being. She had put the prospect of falling in love out of her mind, setting it aside for other women who weren't high ranking officers in the military, but now she was beginning to doubt it. She had a feeling she was falling in love, and there wasn't a single thing she could do about it.
Viorica laughed as she gathered up lt. Colonel Delancy’s hair and tied it back neatly with a ribbon. “Actually, he didn’t come home last night.” Viorica smirked, rolling her eyes jokingly. “We all know where he is though, of course.” Viorica moved to sit back in her chair across from the lt. Colonel so that she could face the other woman as she spoke.
As she looked on with a smile at her patient, Viorica noticed Lt. Colonel Delancy fingering the ring she wore, and lost her train of thought. Biting her lip and pausing for a minute, Viorica tried to remember what she’d been meaning to say before finally continuing, “I’m sure he’s with Warrant Officer Christian.” She finished rather distractedly. “Don’t you think?” she added abruptly.
Viorica had only recently noticed the ring the Lt. Colonel always wore, and ever since it had been a source of distraction. Viorica had was burning to ask the lt. Colonel if she was engaged, or something, and of course, to whom. She knew it was an awfully nosy curiosity, but for some reason, it seemed to feel rather urgent to Viorica that she lean exactly what the ring was, and what it meant to lt. Colonel Delancy. Though, as Viorica had not yet been introduced to anyone presented as the lt. Colonel’s fiancée, she retained her hope (she didn’t know why it was a hope,) that the officer wore the ring as an accessory.
Corinne laughed light-heartedly at the thought of her subordinates. "I'm sure you're right," she agreed, not able to keep a serious face at the thought of the couple. "They seem so happy together, don't you think?" She wondered why the doctor's voice had become so distracted-seeming, but assumed it had something to do with her medical duties, and smiled, shaking her head slightly to test the tightness of her ponytail. "Thank you so much, it feels really good." She shifted, then added, "Do you need to change my bandages now?" She bit her lip, realizing that sounded a bit too eager. She was just anxious to feel the doctor's caring hands against her skin again; it made her feel so cared for, and it was a nice feeling, especially in comparison to the brisk treatment she had always given herself.
“Oh, yes if you’re ready.” Viorica smiled brightly. She really shouldn’t let herself get so distracted, she instructed herself, but it was difficult to keep her mind on her duty when she had so much to think about. Like weather or not the Lt. Colonel had a boyfriend and why she hadn’t been introduced yet… and what the Lt. Colonel Delancy thought of him… and, of course, if there actually was some man that went along with the ring… Of course, Viorica’s logic was circular, as it always was when she thought about this subject, and it was extremely unprofessional. Forcing the thought from her head, Viorica retrieved the clean bandages she’d already prepared and stepped over to her charge.
She ran her hand gently over the wound, smiling slightly at the progress the Lt. Colonel had already made in healing. She wasn’t bleeding nearly so much now, and it wouldn’t be long before Viorica could do the stitches. She removed the old bandages carefully and disposed of them before applying the alcohol to the wound and cleaning it thoroughly. After she’d finished, she smiled lightly at the Lt. Colonel and apologized for the stinging, before she wrapped the wound deftly with a new bandage. “There you go lt. Colonel. I think you’ll be ready for stitches soon.” Viorica said happily.
Corinne let her eyes flutter shut as the doctor cleaned her wound gently, but made sure to get a hold of herself as soon as possible to look back at the other woman. "Stiches..?" she asked slowly, hoping she had heard wrong. "Does that mean...I'll be able to go back to work soon?" She knew she should be excited by the prospect of going back to work, but the thought of not being with the doctor every day tore through her more forcefully than she could have imagined. She hadn't fully realized exactly how much the other woman had come to mean to her until the thought of not ever seeing her again hit her. She sighed and bit her lip. She was going to have to do a lot of sorting of her feelings and she knew it, and it looked like she was only going to have a few more days to do it. Fingering her ring again, she smiled weakly at the doctor. "That's great."