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02 April 2007 @ 10:51 am
Chapter 8 arriveth!  
Chapter: 8, part 1
Claimer: All characters, incidents, and typos are 100% ours
Rating: PG-13 (I think :D;; )
Warnings: Um...well, yaoi, of course, and yuri, probably some language, talk of violence...it's too early in the morning, I can't remember :D;; Nothing that will scar you for life if you haven't been scarred thus far. XD;

Perceval stirred lightly in his sleep and tried to roll over. There was a foreign weight to the left of his legs however, and he couldn’t manage to rotate comfortably. Wondering vaguely what the weight was, but not really wanting to pull himself out of the half-sleep state to investigate, he pressed the object lightly with his foot, expecting it to fall of the edge of his bed as clothing or something of the sort might. However, when the weight did not move in the slightest, Perceval moaned a complaint and opened his eyes just enough so that he could see what the obstruction was.

There seemed to be a figure seated next to him, and he sat up quickly, immediately bringing his hands to his eyes to rub the remaining sleep from them. Blinking as his eyes adjusted to the light, Perceval realized just who was sitting with him in his room. “Si-sir!” He gasped, starting backwards against his headboard and yanking his covers up around himself to hide his disarray. He realized that he was sitting on his long braided hair and struggled to move off of it as he straightened into a more respectable sitting position. “I-um…Good morning, sir.” Perceval smiled embarrassedly as he lowered the covers. As awkward of a position he was now in, he had no intention of dropping the formalities. “I hope you can excuse my lack of…preparedness. I wasn’t expecting guests.” Perceval vowed to berate all of his servants for letting his superior in without waking him up first and giving him time to make himself presentable.

Algernon smirked, looking around Perceval's room before back to the man in bed. He had arrived early that morning in order to speak with Donavan D'Aubigne without arousing suspicions, and decided to check in on Perceval first. He had no problems getting past the servants; after all, they knew him, and he was the General Commandant.

"Your room is very well decorated, Percy. I think, if possible, it has gotten even neater since the last time I saw it. Perfect, of course." He allowed his eyes to wander over Perceval's form for a moment, smirking to himself at his embarrassment. To Algernon, Perceval was perfect even without trying to be, and he wanted to savor the rare moment of getting to see him like this, dressed only in his night clothes with his hair pulled back neatly into a braid. Leaning over to the other man, he ran a hand along the side of his face softly. "No apologies necessary...if anything, you must excuse me. For startling you so. You just looked so beautiful in your sleep that I couldn't bring myself to wake you." He let his nails brush briefly against the skin as he pulled away, standing and straightening his clothing. "I am sorry for disturbing you at such an early hour. I'll allow you to prepare yourself now." Even as he said the words, however, he sat down in a chair in the corner of Perceval's bedroom and did not seem to be planning to move any time soon, his gaze fixed on the other man.

“Thank you, sir.” Perceval said uneasily, as he watched Algernon move across the room from beneath the cover of his blankets expectantly. When he realized that Algernon obviously wasn’t planning on leaving the room however, Perceval felt his cheeks flush hot with embarrassment. He always felt awkward dressing in front of Algernon, and for him to be in his room this early in the morning before work made Perceval feel even more uncomfortable. Not to mention the fact that he was staring at him unreservedly; Algernon’s gaze made Perceval feel a little as though something were wrong, and he quickly gathered up his braid and began gently working his hair out of it’s braid.

Perceval didn’t want to get out of bed until Algernon left the room, but by the time Perceval had finished with his hair, Algernon had made no move to exit. With a weak smile, Perceval did his best to smooth his nightclothes before pushing the covers back and placing his legs gently over the edge of the bed. He then looked up expectantly at Algernon, hoping the other would have started to leave the room, but as he had not, Perceval was forced to get to his feet. He smoothed the wrinkles in his shift unconsciously as he walked over to a hanger where he kept his dressing gown, and put it on quickly as he risked another quick glace at Algernon, who was still watching him.
“Sir, I-I’m…” Perceval started to say something, but found himself to embarrassed to finish and decided that Algernon may loose interest if he was ignored. Thus resolved, Perceval went directly to his closet and selected a clean blouse, knickers, and stockings, depositing all of the items on his bed before he found a pair of shoes and set them neatly at the foot of his bed. He stole a glance at Algernon again, and found that his tactic wasn’t having any effect. Blushing again, Perceval slipped into his knickers without removing his nightclothes and sat on his bed facing away from Algernon to pull up his stockings and shoe his feet. That successfully accomplished, Perceval knew the worst of it was over, and turned back to Algernon with a quick smile before he looked away again and took off the night shift and pulled on his blouse. He made his way over to the other side of the bed near Algernon and rung a bell to summon his servants before he took a seat opposite the Commandant and began buttoning his shirt. “If I may ask, sir, are you here on business this morning?”

Algernon smirked to himself as he watched Perceval dress, amused by his modesty. He knew he made Perceval feel awkward when he watched him dress, and he couldn't help watching the lengths he would go to avoid anything he deemed inappropriate, which amused Algernon, since he had seen Perceval at moments when he was anything but modest or appropriate. And besides, it gave him a rush to see the way he made Perceval act just with his presence.

As Perceval sat across from him, Algernon smiled charmingly. "Yes, there is a small amount of business at hand, though I didn't want to disturb you until you were prepared, Percy." The statement was completely ludicrous, as he had just spent the last half hour doing exactly that, but it was good to put on pretenses. "I was hoping to have a word with M. D'Aubinge before you or he has other business to attend to. Could you make such a meeting possible?"

“Oh, yes of course sir.” Perceval had trouble disguising the disappointment in his voice, though he hardly knew what else he could have expected. Visiting his cousin was really the only business that Algernon needed to go to Perceval’s house to attend to, and so Perceval was determined to be gracious. Besides, it was a rare treat to be able to spend extra time with Algernon in the morning, even if he was embarrassed to no end.

The servants Perceval had summoned with the bell arrived shortly, and Perceval turned to Algernon with a small smile. “I’ll have him woken up for you, sir.” Perceval smiled graciously at Algernon before turning sharply to a servant and relaying instructions. The other servants then gathered around him and started work on Perceval’s hair. Every morning, he usually had them do everything that needed to be done with it, and they were initially a little surprised to see that he had already taken it out of the braid. He had them brush his hair thoroughly as they both waited for the dispatched servant to return. When the servant arrived and told them Donavan was waiting in the sitting room, Perceval dismissed all of his servants and pulled on his uniform coat before smiling sweetly at Algernon. “Shall we go now?”

Algernon smiled back, nodding. "Yes, thank you, Percy," He followed Perceval out of the room and down the hall to a sitting room, and entered as Perceval held the door for him. Inside, he found Donavan D'Aubinge waiting. He looked up as Algernon entered the room, and Algernon noticed the bandage wrapped tightly around his head. It was a miracle that Donavan had escaped death, and he was very grateful for it. Seeing the injury also made his hatred for Niles Christian burn slightly, but he knew that the wretched child would soon be suffering, and calmed himself.

He walked smoothly across the room to take the seat across from Donavan, bowing his head slightly and addressing him, "Good morning, M. D'Aubigne. Thank you for being here for me today. I was hoping to discuss some business related to Dragomir Hirlea that I'm sure
you'll find very attractive." He smiled at Donavan, waiting for a reply. Surely, with an opportunity to make the man who had betrayed him suffer, Donavan would not turn him down.

Perceval did not sit down and stood a little bit to the side of Algernon. Donavan glanced up at his cousin briefly, bemused by his efforts to keep everything so formal and business like even between just the three of them. Donavan shrugged his shoulders though, and focused his attention on Algernon. “Oh?” Donavan asked after Algernon had finished, a devious smile spreading over his features. At first, he’d been a little peeved with the servant who’d woken him, but now that he knew there was business with Algernon, and regarding Dragomir Hirlea no less, he was more than willing to participate, and glad for the opportunity to inflict suffering. “Just what did you have in mind, Commandant?” Donavan asked as he leaning forward slightly, already extremely interested.

Algernon crossed his legs and smiled, pleased that he had already hooked Donavan. "You wish to make Captain Hirlea suffer, do you not? And it would be favourable to me if Niles Christian were to suffer. You must know some compromising fact on the Captain? Or perhaps have some other way in which you could threaten him to so great a degree that nothing else could be of equal importance? Then, all you need do is hold Christian captive. If you use such a thing against him and weigh it against the safe return of the Warrant Officer, Captain Hirlea will not have a choice but to keep his secret safe, and Christian's spirit will be crushed." Algernon hesitated, looking on as he watched Donavan think. "Of course, Christian's suffering will also be a source of suffering for Hirlea, and I certainly would not find it unfavourable if you decided to make Christian's stay with you...more enjoyable." His lips curled into a sadistic smile; even the thought of making that disgusting child suffer was enough to lighten his mood. There was no question that Donavan would agree; he was sure of it.

“I think I have just the thing.” Donavan smiled after only a moment’s pause. He didn’t need much time to consider such an offer; it was far to perfect an opportunity to be turned down. Ever since he’d received the injury, Donavan had be dreaming of ways to payback the damage double fold to the runt of a solider who’d shot him, and the fact that he now had free range and support from the Commandant to both kidnap and torture that Niles Christian, which at the same time would break Dragomir Hirlea, Donavan couldn’t be more delighted. “Hirlea is easy to manipulate. There are far too many things which he holds dear. The only question that remains is selecting which one would be most fun to play with.” Donavan couldn’t help but lick his lips at the prospect. He loved to threaten Dragomir, and this his involvement with the Warrant Officer only proved to make things all the more enjoyable.

Algernon smiled. "Excellent. I shall be hearing from you soon, then, M. D'Aubigne?" Things were progressing quite nicely, quite nicely indeed. Soon, things would be back on track, and he couldn't wait.


Corinne blinked dazedly up at her doctor. Her vision was blurry, and the world was spinning slightly. It wasn't any surprise after the dose of alcohol she had been given. Corinne had a generally low tolerance for alcohol as she made a habit of not drinking too much; she didn't want to seem weak, and god forbid she do something stupid while drunk. She had insisted this to Dr. Hirlea, and though the other woman understood, protocol was protocol, and she had to give the proper dose. So now Corinne could barely move, but she supposed that was the idea, wasn't it?

As the minutes went by, her vision went blurrier and blurrier, and her whole body felt warm and numb. It was unnerving to be so helpless, but she trusted Dr. Hirlea, and she knew it would soon be over. With a final trusting look to the doctor, she let her eyes slide shut and the world drift away...

Viorica heated her needle over a candle as she monitored Lt. Colonel Delancy’s state. The officer really did have a low tolerance, Viorica thought mildly to herself, as she dropped the heated needle into a dish of alcohol to keep it form becoming contaminated. The men Viorica had stitched in the past generally didn’t pass out, but Viorica was relieved that her patient had; she wasn’t sure she’d be able to do the job if the Lt. Colonel Delancy had seemed at all in pain.

Viorica set about cleaning the wound and preparing it for treatment. She had been holding a cloth soaked in alcohol over it for some time now, and as a result, the sink around the injury had become waterlogged and stretchy—ideal for stitching. Additionally, most of the blood had soaked into the cloth or drained off, which meant that this procedure would be a relatively clean one. Viorica retrieved the curved tanning needle from the dish and threaded it deftly before holding it over the flame again. Stitching was a rather disgusting procedure as far as Viorica was concerned, and she’d been dreading having to perform it on Lt. Colonel Delancy every since she’d come to the conclusion that the officer was ready for the treatment. For some reason though, it wasn’t so much the procedure that Viorica disliked, but the fact that the lt. Colonel would soon be well enough to be discharged. It was a terrible thing to dread—the recovery of her patient—but the fact was that Viorica would sorely miss all the time she spent with the other woman, and feared that they wouldn’t get to see each other again.

With a light sight, Viorica dismissed the thought and took up the folds of skin between her fingers as she pushed the needle through. A little bit of translucent blood mixed with alcohol trickled from the resulting hole, and Viorica dabbed lightly at it with a cloth before she pushed the needle all the way through. The curve and radius of the tool left puncture wounds slightly larger than what the sinew filled, and Viorica worried briefly that the skin had become too saturated to hold. However, it didn’t tear and held firm, so Viorica continued carefully. It was difficult to push the needle through two layers of skin, but the whole procedure only took about a half an hour to complete. Viorica tide off the stitch and cut the extra thread before dropping the needle back into the alcohol solution. It would only be a matter of time before the Lt. Colonel woke up, and Viorica seated herself across the room, content to wait patiently for her patient to rouse as she sat contemplating the various and generally ring-related anxieties that still gave her problems.

Corinne's head hurt. She couldn't remember where she was or what was going on, but her head was throbbing horribly, and her shoulder was aching, as well. Slowly, she came to realize that she was lying in the hospital cot, and that she must have just gotten stitches for her shoulder wound. She allowed her eyes to drift open, and the world came slowly into focus. She tried to move her head, but it hurt, so she didn't and instead focused on using her peripheral vision to see if Dr. Hirlea was there. She managed to catch sight of the other woman, and set herself on trying to see if she could get some painkillers. There was no point in enduring the pain for no purpose. However, when she opened her mouth, she found herself unable to manage clear speech, and instead let out a small moan. Hell, she sounded pathetic, and as much as that pissed her off, there was nothing she could do about it.

Viorica heard the moan and immediately got to her feet, rushing to the lt. Colonel’s side. Without thinking, she took up the officer’s hand and squeezed it lightly. “I’m so glad you’re coming around. How do you feel?” Viorica asked, knitting her brows and chewing slightly at her lip. She realized of course that lt. Colonel Delancy probably felt miserable and so reached for the pain medication. It was at that point that Viorica realized she was clasping her patient’s hand, and dropped it quickly, blushing. “Um, here you are. Do you think you can swallow?” Viorica asked, pressing the medication into the lt. Colonel’s hand.

Corinne managed to move her head to the side, looking up at her doctor. She wished the other woman hadn't dropped her hand; it was nice feeling as if someone really cared for her. But she had gotten her painkillers, painkillers were nearly as good. However, when Corinne tried to lift her arm, it felt heavy and numb. Trying again to talk, she mumbled. "I-I don't think I can...move. Can you...?" She looked hopefully at the doctor, and for some reason, her feeling of helplessness didn't seem so bad.

“Oh of course!” Viorica said quickly, embarrassed to have forgotten how difficult things were going to be for the lt. Colonel for a while. Glancing around, Viorica settled on the best way to go about giving lt. Colonel Delancy the medication. She seated herself on the edge of the hospital cot, and slipped an arm under the lt. Colonel, gripping her lightly to giver her enough support to sit up so she could swallow the pills without chocking. Taking the medicine gently from her, Viorica pressed the pills lightly against the lt. Colonel’s lips, blushing furiously all the while. It felt thoroughly odd to be holding another like this, and Viorica couldn’t help but feel self-conscious. After lt. Colonel Delancy had swallowed, Viorica eased her back down on the bed and returned to her own seat. “Those should take effect in just a few minutes. The procedure went very well though, and so you should be ready to be discharged in just about a day.” Viorica struggled to smile; it really wasn’t something she was happy about. She was happy the lt. Colonel was healthy of course, but she was going to miss her so much, and there were still so many things she longed to ask her about.

Corinne was a little sad when the doctor pulled away, but was still happy for the pain relief, and decided to be contented with that. "Th-thanks," she mumbled, managing a smile at Dr. Hirlea. She noticed that the other woman's smile seemed forced, and she wondered why. Didn't she want her to get better? Or perhaps...prehaps she was feeling the same apprehension that Corinne was feeling about leaving. After all, leaving meant that she wouldn't be seeing her doctor every day, or perhaps, ever again, and that was a horribly lonely thought. Maybe...just maybe...but Corinne wasn't feeling very good right now, and she would think about it later...she had a lot of time to think about it before tomorrow. Right now, she was too out of it. With a final smile at the doctor, she closed her eyes again and drifted off...


Niles arrived at Dragomir's house that evening with two bags of personal belongings and a hesitant smile on his face. Tonight, he would be staying with the Hirleas. He was happy to be spending time with Dragomir, but he hated to impose like this...still it would only be for one night. He was having electric lights installed in his house, and he could move back in tomorrow. He smiled tentatively at Dragomir as he got out of the car, then moved around to the trunk to get his things. "Thanks for letting me stay over," he said, "I'm sorry to impose, especially after you stayed with me when I was hurt two weeks ago..."

"Don't be sorry." Dragomir grinned as he took the bags from Niles and hefted them over his shoulder. He'd been looking forward to having Niles stay over ever since he'd been informed of the work being done on Niles's manner, and was eager to make sure Niles knew he was always welcome. "After I stayed with you, the least we can do is have you over. And besides, I've been missing all that time I got to spend with you a while ago, Niles. Even if it's just for one night, I'm glad we get to be together a little extra." Dragomir smiled brightly and shifted the weight of the bag so he could open the door for Niles.

Niles smiled, stepping through the door, then holding it for Dragomir as he came in with the bags. "That's true. I'm really glad for any extra time I get to spend with you," he replied cheerfully. Though he felt bad for imposing, it was hard to feel upset about the prospect of getting to spend the rest of the evening with Dragomir, and he was in a generally good mood. He was determined; he wasn't going to let anything dampen his positive outlook, not even Pierre. Turning back to Dragomir and pulling one of the bags out of his grasp, he added, "I can carry some of my own things, I don't want to you to have to carry all of them." Once he had the bag, however, he looked around, then smiled sheepishly back at Dragomir. "So...where should we take them?"

“Let’s put them in my room.“ Dragomir shrugged, leading the way the short distance down the hall. On there way, however, they came across Pierre, who peered around Dragomir so he could see Niles.

“I hope you don’t think you’re moving in; that’s a lot of stuff for just one night.” Pierre scowled.

“Excuse us, Pierre.” Dragomir practically growled. The hall was far too narrow for them to go passed each other, and Dragomir didn’t plan on backing up.

“No.” Pierre said snottily and crossed his arms. “Why should I have to move? You’re closer.”

“Move.” Dragomir repeated.

“Fine.” Pierre spat and spun on his heel. It was evidently a bit of work to keep his voice so steady, and Dragomir smirked at the thought before continuing forward and pushing the door to his room open with his foot. He walked a few paces inside and deposited the bag a little to the side of the bed which took up most of the tiny room.

“Just leave it anywhere.” Dragomir smiled. He was pleased that he’d managed to clean his room—somehow it made it seem a little bigger, even though it was still nowhere near the size of Niles’s. Still, he hoped it would be suitable.

Niles set the bag down slowly, getting a good look around. He had never been to Dragomir's room before, and he wanted to make sure he saw everything. It was small but neat, and most of the space was used up on the medium-sized bed and small bedside table. It wasn't anything fancy to look at, but Niles decided it was homey, and he liked it, especially since it was Dragomir's. Standing up and sighing accomplishedly, he looked over at Dragomir with a smile. "So, am I going to be sleeping in here with you tonight?" He assumed so; he didn't really see anywhere else where he would be sleeping, but he wanted to make sure he wasn't sleeping on the couch or anything of the sort. Besides, he was hoping to get to spend another night in the same bed as Dragomir; he had decided that the experience was the most wonderful thing possible when Dragomir had stayed with him two weeks ago.

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking." Dragomir smiled. "Of course, if you'd rather not, I'd understand." He added quickly with an embarrassed laugh, incase Niles had asked because he felt uncomfortable about it, or anything. "There isn't much room, but I think we'd fit. Otherwise, I can sleep on the couch so that you can have a room." Dragomir offered. He really hoped Niles didn't mind though, he'd been looking forward to the closeness of sharing a bed again. Although, he understood that they really would be a lot closer this time, as his bed wasn't nearly as big as Niles's—though for Dragomir, that was the primary source of the excitement.

"Oh, no, I'd really like to!" Niles replied hurriedly, then blushed and added embarrassedly, "a-as long as that's all right..." He laughed slightly and put a hand behind his head, looking to his things, then back to Dragomir, realizing that Pierre was probably right. "Sorry I brought so much stuff...I guess I didn't really think about it." He realized he was just making the situation worse for himself, and so, thoroughly embarrassed, finished, "Is there anything I can do to...um...be useful?"

Dragomir laughed as well and shook his head amusedly. He couldn’t understand why they got like this so often, but whenever he stopped to think about it, all he could think of was the fact that it was really very silly. “Don’t worry about it. Pierre was just being obnoxious. And don’t worry about doing anything special, either. Tatiana convinced Pierre to let her cook tonight, so there won’t be any emergency food problems, and everything will be ready pretty soon.” Dragomir smiled. “We won’t be eating until Viorica gets back, but we may as well go out and wait.” With that, Dragomir waited for Niles to leave first and then followed close behind the other after shutting the door to his room.

As they made it into the main part of the house, the front door swung open and a rather disgruntled Viorica slumped in. She noticed Niles however, and smiled slightly. “You two should just move in with each other already—at least then we’d be able to keep tract of you.”

“I did tell you Niles was staying the night, though. This morning.” Dragomir defended light heartedly.

“Oh really? I’ve been distracted, I guess.” Viorica shrugged. Then turning to Niles she said, “It’ll be nice having you over,” politely before she lowered her voice and took a step closer to Niles, nudging him lightly. “You’re sharing with Dragos tonight, right?” She asked her, tone suggestive.

Niles blinked, flushing bright red. "I-um-I mean, yes, I--but-I mean-" he managed to stutter out, but not much more. What exactly was she suggesting?! And-and- well, he was embarrassed that she would even say something like that! And in front of Dragomir, too. Goodness. He sputtered and flailed embarrassedly, unsure of what to do, and unable to stop blushing madly.

Dragomir laughed, though he knew he was probably blushing just as much as Niles, and found something interesting to look at in the corner of the room. Pierre, it seemed, had been listening in on the exchange form just inside the dining room, and decided to drop in to make a snide comment.

“Don’t give them any ideas. In case you forgot, there’s just a wall between our rooms, so you two better not be messing around.” Pierre was trying to sound threatening, but it was something he always had trouble with. “I plan on getting some sleep tonight.” After a short pause, he remembered something and added it quickly. “And Tatiana’s rest cannot be disturbed.” He concluded. He sounded convinced that that one piece of evidence was enough to win his case entirely.

Dragomir wasn’t exactly sure what to say; the fact that Pierre and even Viorica were meddling upset him mildly, but he really didn’t want to get angry right now. Luckily, the emergence of Tatiana from the kitchen saved the moment as she announced that dinner was almost ready. They all made there way to the table and took their seats. Dragomir waited for Pierre to sit, and then sat as far away from him as possible, and Niles and Viorica both took seats to either side of him.

Tatiana poked her head out of the kitchen and looked around for a moment before she spotted Niles. “Niles, can I talk to you for a moment?” She asked. Dragomir furrowed his brow wondering what she wanted and looked from her back down to Niles quickly.

Niles blinked at Dragomir, then back to Tatiana. "Sure," he replied, rising and trotting into the kitchen blandly. He was curious as to what Tatiana could want to talk to him about, and as he made his way into the kitchen looked curiously at her. "What do you want to talk about?"

“Actually, I wanted to talk about Pierre…” Tatiana stated slowly. She knew Niles would think it was an odd topic of discussion, but she had something she needed to ask of him. “He…he hasn’t been able to get a new job. And I’ve been worrying about things lately…about money and the baby.” She paused and looked down. Her pride and dedication to plight comportment made it difficult to pose her next question. “Is there any way that you could…Um…Do you have any openings in you staff at you manner?” Her expression when she looked up was pleading, and it was difficult for her to try and remain composed.

At the look on her face, Niles practically melted. As much as he disliked Pierre, he cared for Tatiana and certainly for her unborn child, and there was no way he could say no. He could figure out some way for it to work out, he had to. Smiling at her, he nodded. "I think there's an opening. Could he start next week?" Having Pierre work for him wouldn't be so bad...he would just have to find a way to keep him busy. Dragomir could help with that. At the thought, he grinned to himself. Dragomir would probably love to think of ways to put Pierre to work. Well, at least some good things would come of it.

“Oh yes!” Tatiana said gratefully. “Thank you so much, it really means a lot to us. I’ll make sure he’s ready, and that you’re not disappointed.” Tatiana smiled brightly and her eyes welled a bit with emotion. “You mean so much to our family, Niles. We’re just so grateful for you and what you do for Dragomir. I’m so happy he has someone like you.”
Niles smiled back, touched that he could make such a difference. Even if Pierre caused him trouble, if it made that much of a difference to Tatiana, then it would definitely be worth it. "I'm glad that I can help, even a little," he replied, nodding. "Do you need any help bringing dinner out?"

“Thank you, if you don’t mind, that would be wonderful.” Tatiana smiled and handed him the pewter dish of soup. She was at last making a large enough meal to use all of the dishes she received from Dragomir for Christmas, and so she made a special effort to hand it to Niles so that the best side of the dish would show. Gathering up a plate of steaming vegetables in one hand and mutton in the other, they made their way to the dinning room to deposit the plates on the table. Tatiana made a second trip back into the kitchen to get two more plates, one of fruits and one of sweets, before taking her seat next to Pierre.

As they all started to eat, Dragomir turned to Niles and lowered his voice slightly. "What did she want to talk to you about?" He was a little worried that she might have appealed to Niles for money. Funds were looking a little short, but Dragomir would never stand for charity.

Niles blinked, wondering why Dragomir sounded so worried. "She asked me if I would hire Pierre, so I said I would, that's all," he replied matter-of-factly. "I don't think it will be a big deal, as long as I keep him busy...and besides, I can fire him if I absolutely have to. I want to be able to help Tatiana out with the baby and all." He smiled, sure that Dragomir would approve.

Dragomir couldn't suppress the broad smirk on his lips. "Really? You're actually going to hire him?" It was equally difficult to keep his voice low, and out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Pierre looking suspiciously at the two of them. Dragomir wondered if Pierre had any intention at all of getting any new work; he seemed too wrapped up with "taking care of" Tatiana to actively be job hunting, but the idea of him working for Niles was a brilliant thought. Perhaps finally, Pierre would be forced to learn to give Niles the respect he deserved. Dragomir laughed, no longer able to suppress his amusement. "I think that's perfect." He said rather deviously.

"What's perfect?" Viorica asked. She seemed to be pouting slightly as though she were being left out of a joke.

"I don't want to hear about whatever disgusting things you two are planning. I’m eating, thank you very much." Pierre snorted. Dragomir glared at him, but couldn’t keep his face serious enough to get the effect across and turned back to Niles quickly, his expression once again one of mirth.

"I'll help you think of things for him, if you like." Dragomir said under his breath with another smirk.

Niles clapped his hands together with a smile. "Yes, that would be perfect!" he replied enthusiastically, trying to keep his voice low, also. "I was hoping you would. I think I need to make sure he's always working, so he isn't harassing me or the other servants..." Even if Pierre, by some miracle, left him alone, he would hate to sentence his servants to the torture of Pierre all day long. "But we can think of things later. He isn't starting for a week, and we wouldn't want to ruin the surprise now, right?" He smiled back almost deviously at Dragomir before turning back to his food. This wasn't looking bad at all.

Dragomir forced back his smirk and looked to his food as well. However, for the remainder of the meal, he couldn’t help but glance up and Pierre and snigger lightly to himself. Bossing Pierre around with a solid justification and away from Tatiana had always been a dream of his, and this employment plan would be perfect. Apart from the entertainment aspects of the situation, Pierre working for Niles would be ideal in the both the monetary and practical sense as well. Pierre’s official profession, before he’d married Tatiana and moved in with them, had been a live in servant. Perhaps, Dragomir hoped, that it would therefore be a job Pierre could perform proficiently. He’d hate for Niles to feel obligated to employ Pierre solely out of pity.

Over the course of the meal, Viorica tried several times to find out what Niles and Dragomir had been talking about, and each time, Pierre made of show of being uninterested in an attempt to conceal the fact that he was listening to every word they said. As such, Niles and Dragomir revealed nothing to Viorica, and she expressed her feelings of exclusion with a rather sulky pout.

Dragomir hoped to engage her and at the same time distract her, and so brought up a topic she’d been eager to discuss lately. “So, did I hear correctly that lt. Colonel Delancy is being discharged tomorrow?” He asked with a smiled. Viorica sighed heavily, and the smile fell from Dragomir’s face. “What’s wrong, did anything happen?” He asked worriedly.

“No.” Viorica sighed again. “Everything went really well, actually. When I go in tomorrow, I’ll evaluate her readiness to be discharged.” Secretly, Viorica was hoping that something went a little wrong so that she’d have another day with the lt. Colonel.

“Oh, well that’s great news. It’ll be nice to have her back.” Dragomir smiled again tentatively.

“Yeah, I suppose it will be for you two…” Viorica sat back and dropped her napkin on to the table dramatically. “I’m done.” She said rather curtly, and got to her feet to leave the room quickly. Dragomir bit his lip and looked worriedly over to Niles.

“Was she really that upset that we didn’t tell her…?” He asked, keeping his voice low.

Niles furrowed his brow, confused. "No...It seemed like she was more upset that...Lt. Colonel Delancy was going to be discharged..." he said slowly. It seemed stupid, after all, why would she be upset that her patient was getting better? But yet, that was really what it had seemed like to Niles. "I really don't understand..." He blinked at Dragomir; perhaps there was something he didn't know about.

“How strange…I wonder if something else happened?” Dragomir mused concernedly.

“Well that was rude and uncalled for.” Pierre sneered in reference to Viorica’s abrupt departure. “And it ruined the dinner.” He stated, not seeming to care that Niles and Dragomir were talking to each other and not really paying attention. “However, her misbehavior occurred at an opportune time.” He paused and looked to Tatiana deciding t to focus his efforts on the only person who was listening.

“I wonder what’s happened with her, she hasn’t been herself lately.” Tatiana said softly to herself. Apparently, she wasn’t listening to Pierre either. In response, Pierre crossed his arms and raised his voice.

“Since it’s getting so late,” He began loud enough so that everyone present couldn’t help but pay attention to him, “I think it’s about time Tatiana got some rest.”

“What?” Tatiana protested and Pierre got to his feet and helped her up. “But Pierre, we have guests and-”

“He isn’t a guest.” Pierre said dismissively as he waved his hand at Niles and started to steer Tatiana out of the room. Dragomir glared at Pierre as he exited, wondering what he’d been implying.

“Um, well…” Dragomir said blankly. Everything had sort of fallen apart, and he really didn’t have many suggestions to try and remedy the situation. “Should we move to the foyer?” He offered, feeling rather stupid.

"Um-yeah, okay," Niles agreed, smiling and rising. Following Dragomir to the foyer, he sat down on the couch next to him and laid his head on his shoulder. "Thank you for having me over again," he murmured contentedly, "I don't care what Pierre or anybody says, okay? So don't feel bad about it." He always felt bad that Dragomir felt bad for things that his family did, especially when Niles, for the most part, didn't mind at all. "...so, do you want to help me think of things to have Pierre do...?" he added vaguely, not really caring at the moment but knowing he ought to think about it.

“Well,” Dragomir smirked maliciously as he slipped his arm around Niles’s waist, “I was thinking that you could, for starters, have him clean that part of your house that you never use.” Dragomir chuckled at the thought than added, “Just one floor at a time, though, so that it’s dirty again by the time he finishes the other one.”

Niles smiled into Dragomir's shoulder. "That's a really good idea," he agreed. "The west wing is really dirty...and it will take ages for him to clean the ballroom." He thought a moment, then added, "But I need some way to keep him from harassing my other servants...I'd hate to cause them trouble...do you know if there's any way I can make him stay quiet? I can't really dock his pay, because I'd hate to make Tatiana suffer for his being mean..."

“Threaten him.” Dragomir shrugged. “Say you won’t pay him if he says anything. He can’t stand up to anyone, ever.” He laughed. “I think he’ll follow instructions. He knows enough to know that his wages will make a bid difference.” Dragomir paused for a minute. “Thank you for doing this, Niles. But don’t feel like you’re obligated to do it for us. If you don’t want to hire him, I can figure something out.” Dragomir assured as he gave Niles a light squeeze.

"I want to help. I'm sure there's some way I can make Pierre behave," he replied. "Besides, maybe Pierre will be nicer to me, then." He snuggled into Dragomir's shoulder, feeling comfortable and possibly a little sleepy. "Thanks so much, Dragomir...I love you." He wrapped his arms contentedly around Dragomir's waist and closed his eyes.

Dragomir smiled warmly down and Niles and shifted back into the sofa slightly so he could lean back a little better. Dragomir knew that the feeling of contentedness was likely to cause him to fall asleep, and that he probably ought to rouse Niles so that they could both move into his room while they were awake, but he felt so comfortable right now that he didn’t want to move. He kissed Niles’s forehead softly and let his head rest lightly against the other.

Dragomir felt his eyelids grow heavy, and he was just starting to doze when a commotion from the room adjacent to the foyer caught his attention and he lifted his head quickly, instinctually drawing Niles a little closer.

“Dragos!” a voice wheezed commandingly as the door was thrown open. Dragomir stiffened. His mother seemed to be having one of her fits of hysteria again. They’d been coming more frequently lately, and it seemed that whenever she had one, she forgot the way things were and lost herself to delusions. “Dragos,” the old woman coughed, shuffling into the room. “I told you. I told you.” She rasped incoherently. Her eyes were clouded and she wasn’t looking at anything in particular as her head lulled from side to side. A bit of spit clung to the corner of his lip, and she coughed violently. Viorica came running out of the room and grasped the old woman by the arm forcibly.

“Calm down, mother.” Viorica said reassuringly. “Let’s go to bed, alright?”

“No! There’s so much work to do, Dragos. Too much. Take care of your sister.” Dragomir stared speechless, as she convulsed and fell against Viorica, who managed to brace her and support the weight of the old woman. Then, suddenly as though her delusion had been lifted, Dragomir watched as his mother pushed herself up off of Viorica and stood straight. Her breathing eased slightly, and her eyes became clear. “I knew it.” A toothless smile appeared on her lips and she cackled briefly before the laugh became a wretched cough. As the coughing subsided, she hobbled a little closer and squinted at them, particularly at Niles. “I’m glad. You two look lovely together.” She started gagging and Viorica rushed forward quickly to help her mother. Dragomir got up too, and together they led the woman back to her bed. Dragomir returned, rather shaken, and offered a hand up to Niles.

“I’m sorry.” He said rubbing his eyes. “She’s been getting worse lately. Sometimes we think if we entertain her and go along with her delusions, it will help her, but so far it hasn’t done anything…” His voice trailed and he paused for a moment. “At least, though,” he started in the hopes of brightening the mood, “She still approves of you.” He smiled weakly.

Niles blinked, too stunned for words. He accepted the hand and allowed Dragomir to pull him to his feet, but he still felt a little dazed from the encounter. The first time he had met Dragomir's mother, she had seemed pretty strange, but this time, she seemed downright crazy. He opened his mouth, then closed it, then opened it again, finally managing to find his voice. "Wow. Um...yeah. I'm glad...I think I might have been...kind of frightened...if she didn't like me..." he finished with an uneasy laugh. "...So...um...are we going to bed now...?"

“Uh, yes. I suppose so.” Dragomir nodded. “…Sorry again.” He added as they started walking down the hall. No matter what, things never went according to plan whenever Dragomir had Niles over, and Dragomir always worried a little that Niles felt uncomfortable because of it. He opened the door to his room for Niles and followed him inside before shutting it behind them and wandering over to the bed. Upon reaching the edge of it, Dragomir wriggled out of his jacket and tossed it onto a chair he kept in his room for just that purpose. He then took a seat on the bed and kicked off his shoes and stockings before looking up at Niles. Dragomir hadn’t really thought beyond this point, but he hoped Niles wouldn’t mind changing in the same room.

Niles had followed Dragomir into his room half-mindlessly, thinking about other things and generally feeling a little tired. When Dragomir stopped and began undressing, however, he was immediately brought out of his thoughts. Blushing bright red, he stood, frozen for a moment, his eyes locked on Dragomir, trying to move but somehow not able to. But then, Dragomir looked up at him and the trance was broken, he blushed brighter and hurried over to the corner where he had put his bags down. Opening one, he took out his night shift and dressing gown, and, feeling extremely self conscious, began to change.

He undressed hurriedly and rather clumsily, fumbling with buttons and ties, then squirmed into his night shift, tugging it down quickly over his head. He knew he shouldn't be feeling this embarrassed, and that he was really being silly about the whole thing, but he couldn't fight down his blush as he folded his dirty clothes and put them into his bag. He began to turn around, then realized that Dragomir might not be fully dressed yet. This was a predicament, as there was no real good way of finding out if he was or not, so he hesitated a moment, then turned, biting his lip and trying not to be the shade of bright red that he still was.

Dragomir finished changing quickly and looked around to Niles just as he pulled the shift over his head. Dragomir smirked; rather pleased with the quick look he’d managed to steal. When Niles stood up again after putting his clothes back into his bag, Dragomir took a quick step forward, catching Niles’s chin in his hand just as the other was turning. Lightly, Dragomir pressed a kiss against Niles’s lips and slipped his hand onto his waist. “Don’t be so embarrassed,” Dragomir cooed with a smile as he pulled away.

Niles blushed again, but tried to fight it down. He hadn't caught Dragomir while he was changing, at least, and he managed to get changed somewhat modestly. He still felt fairly self conscious, however, and subconsciously began smoothing his night shift. "Um...so..." He wasn't sure why he was so embarrassed, but he needed to get over it. "Ah..."

Dragomir chuckled and ran a hand lightly over Niles’s flushed cheek. “Really, Niles, don’t be so self conscious.” Dragomir grinned as he looked over Nile’s fine silk nightshift. Lowering his head a little more, he brought his mouth to Niles’s exposed collarbone and kissed it before he began to worry lightly at the skin. “Besides,” Dragomir continued between kisses and bites, “You have a cute ass.” he murmured, smirking against Niles’s shoulder.

Niles's breath caught in his throat as he felt Dragomir's mouth on his neck, and he let out a breathy sigh, his embarrassment finally subsiding. However, at Dragomir's last comment, he flushed bright red all over again. Dragomir had...looked at him while he was changing...? That was so embarrassing! But...yet...well, as embarrassing as it was, no one had ever said anything like that to him before...and he supposed he should be complimented... Blush subsiding again, although not disappearing, he began to relax again into Dragomir's touch.

After he felt satisfied with the mark he’d made, Dragomir lifted his head and looked at Niles, smirking again. “Well then, now that we’re ready for bed…” Dragomir trailed, taking a step back towards the bed as he took hold of Niles’s arm and used the hand on his waist as leverage to pull Niles forward as well. Then, with a quick jerk, Dragomir fell back onto the bed and pulled Niles over and on top of himself. “We ought to get in.” Dragomir finished with a grunt. Releasing Niles’s arm, he slipped his hand into Niles’s hair and pressed lightly against the back of his head so that their lips met in another kiss. They may have been ready for bed, but Dragomir wasn’t so sure he wanted to sleep just yet.

Niles murmured contentedly into the kiss, happy finally to be able to relax with Dragomir without worrying about anyone interrupting, or anything happening. When they pulled apart, he sighed happily and smiled softly. "I wish we could stay like this forever," he whispered wistfully. "I want to be with you like this all the time..."

Dragomir sighed and wriggled back a little so that more of him was on the bed. “Yeah, me too...” Dragomir breathed, running his hand over Niles’s back. It seemed like it was so difficult for them to get a moment together away from everyone, and as they didn’t normally have nights together like this, it made it doubly hard to bear. Maybe someday, they could live together. Dragomir smiled at the thought and pecked Niles on the lips. “I love you.” He whispered, letting his eyelids slide shut.

"I love you, too," Niles replied softly, letting his head fall to rest on Dragomir's chest. It was just so wonderful to fall asleep surrounded by Dragomir's comforting warmth, to lay in his embrace this way. If only they could live together, he thought vaguely as he let his eyes slide shut and began to drift off. That would be lovely, if only they could always be this way...

Dragomir listened as Niles’s breathing pattern changed, easing into the steady pattern of sleep, and felt himself begin to drift off as well. It was so nice to be together like this, and everything seemed so perfect. Smiling contentedly, Dragomir too slipped into the void of sleep.
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Syomimashou on April 3rd, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC)
Squee~~ This chapter was awesome. I have to go right now so I can't say much else but, eee~ it was really good.

And Pierre. XDDD