ミランダ (大丈夫) (faded_lace) wrote,
ミランダ (大丈夫)
faded_lace

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Another long one. X3

Chapter: 12
Claimer: Ours.
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Language, yaoi, yuri, all the stuff. You know. XD;;
Beta: yomimashou

Lifting her skirts, Viorica hurried through the halls and out of the hospital, setting a direct course for the location where she would meet with Corinne. Today was a special day. Finally Dragomir was coming back after so long away taking care of Niles, and, even more importantly, Corinne was at last coming over for dinner. Viorica had already worked everything out; she’d managed to catch Dragomir while he was on a lunch break and arranged for him to make enough dinner for Corinne as well. It would be a relief to have Dragomir back and cooking again, as Pierre wouldn’t let Tatiana in the kitchen anymore and everything he made was terrible, but really, all that mattered to Viorica right now was the chance to spend a little extra time with Corinne and to have her meet her family.

Dragomir had seemed a little concerned about the whole plan, but Viorica was certain it would go perfectly. After all, who wouldn’t like Corrine? Maybe Pierre, she reasoned, as Pierre didn’t like anyone, but with Dragomir back, Pierre could be kept in line. The evening was going to be amazing, and Viorica could hardly contain her anticipation as she arrived at the spot, feeling far too excited to even sit while she waited.

Corinne pulled up to the curb outside the medical building and stopped, climbing out of the automobile and smiling hesitantly at Viorica. Today was the day she was to meet the infamous Hirlea family, and she was more than a little nervous. She had changed at the office into her best formal suit, a deep magenta jacket with gold detailing with light tan knickers and her nicest leather boots, in hopes of impressing, and had gone over and over the best things to say and how to act. She desperately hoped she could make a good impression, but, really, she had no idea what she was doing, and she was terrified.

Still, she had to put on a front of confidence; it was an automatic reaction, and she never thought of doing otherwise. Smiling at Viorica, she pressed a kiss to her hand. "Ready to go?"

Viorica blushed slightly at the kiss, and smiled brightly at Corinne. “Yes, of course.” Her voice was singsong with excitement as she looked over Corrine’s suit awedly. “That’s beautiful, Corinne,” she said admiringly as she followed her back to the automobile. Viorica thought Corinne always looked amazing in suits, and they really seemed to complement her well. This one in particular was incredible, and everything about it, about Corinne, was perfect. Viorica only hoped Corinne wouldn’t mind the lack of formalities and the casual dinner. They couldn’t afford anything fancy, but as long as Corinne liked it, Viorica was confident it would all go well.

Viorica climbed inside the automobile and arranged her skirts carefully, smiling over at Corinne once again. “I’m really glad you’re going to come to dinner tonight. It’ll be so nice to finally introduce you to everyone.”

Corinne smiled back, doing her best to seem absolutely confident. "I'm glad it makes you happy. I'm looking forward to meeting your family." She pulled away from the curb, hoping desperately for bad traffic. She felt she had never been so frightened in her life; this was worse than any operation or fight she had ever been involved in before. Viorica seemed to be sure that her family would accept her, but Corinne wasn't. She hadn't ever done something like this before, which made it hard enough without the unacceptable factor.

Traffic was not bad, much to Corinne's annoyance, and soon she was pulling up to the Hirleas' house. She parked the automobile, hesitating before getting out. "Shall we, then?"

Viorica smiled with a nod before leaning forward to place a kiss on Corrine’s cheek, hoping to instill at least a little confidence in the other. Viorica could tell Corinne was nervous about the upcoming evening, and the more Viorica thought about it, the more anxious she became as well. Still, she knew it would all go all right, so she forced out any insecurities she had and got out, walking around the automobile to meet Corinne as she emerged as well. Viorica grasped her hand tightly and flashed a grin up at her before leading the way to the door. “Don’t be worried,” Viorica said confidently, opening the door and holding it for Corinne.

As they both stepped inside, Tatiana got slowly to her feet, bracing some of her weight against Pierre as she got up from the couch, and started to walk towards them, holding her belly and smiling warmly. Pierre, of course, hurried after her, but she seemed to be refusing further aid, and he looked slightly dejected. “Welcome home, Viorica,” Tatiana said softly. “Dragos mentioned you would have a guest.” Tatiana turned and smiled at Corinne congenially.

“This is Corinne.” Viorica beamed, losing no time in introductions.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Tatiana, and this is Pierre.” Tatiana introduced him with a slight wave of her hand, as he was scowling at Corrine and appeared to be making no effort to introduce himself. “It’s very nice to meet you.” Tatiana bowed slightly and with some difficulty, and Pierre was instantly by her side for support. Once she was stabilized, he grunted vaguely and nodded his head by means of introduction.

Corinne smiled congenially. Tatiana, Viorica's sister, appeared nice enough, though Corinne had not realized that she was pregnant, and was a little taken aback at first. Tatiana's husband didn't seem as bad as Viorica had made him out to be, either, so Corinne eased up a little, nodding. "The pleasure is mine. I'm glad to meet Viorica and Captain Hirlea's family, since I know how important you are to them." She hoped that she was making a good impression, and glanced to Viorica quickly to make sure.

Viorica grinned at Corinne, and reached for her hand to reassure her. Tatiana’s eyes flicked down, registering the gesture, but she smiled at the complement nevertheless. “We’ve heard about you from the two of them as well,” Tatiana said airily. “I trust your injuries have all completely healed? Viorica has certainly been putting in a lot of extra hours helping you.” There was a certain tone to her voice that almost sounded sly, and Viorica was so taken aback by it that she unconsciously moved a little closer to Corinne. She hadn’t ever mentioned why she was always leaving early and getting home late, and she’d simply assumed that Tatiana hadn’t noticed, but obviously, she was mistaken, and Tatiana was on to something.

“Umm… You see…” Viorica started to explain haphazardly. She really should have taken care of the explanations earlier… “I um…”

“The funny thing is,” Pierre interrupted, “We heard a lot about you while she was doing the treatments, but after that, she became elusive and didn’t mention anything. Any idea what that could be about?” He questioned Corrine, sneering.

Corinne was confused for a second before she realized: Viorica had not yet told her family about the nature of their relationship. Her stomach clenched a little again in worry, but she tried to look at ease. "I have no idea why that would be. Perhaps I haven't merited anything being said about me." She smiled, turning back to Tatiana. “And thank you for asking, I'm much better. Viorica did an excellent job fixing me up." Hopefully, whenever Viorica did decide to tell them if would go over better than she imagined it going over...

Viorica felt terrible. This was not going well, and she wondered where Dragomir was and why he wasn’t around to keep Pierre under control. Although, it wasn’t really Pierre’s fault… It was her own for not having done the explanations earlier, and now it would be at Corinne’s expense. She took a deep breath and tried to think of a way to explain all that she felt for Corinne and her hopes for their relationship, but found it thoroughly difficult to put into words. She thought back quickly to how Dragos had told them about Niles and bit her lip. He’d done it in a clever way, and the situation could never be duplicated. She’d have to come up with something else… In the meantime, Pierre was speaking again, and she glared at him with disgust.

“How humble. Be careful not to complement Viorica too much; she’s as arrogant as her brother, unfortunately, and it will go to her head," Pierre said snottily, and he received an elbow from Tatiana.

“I think it’s nice that you’ve been spending time with Viorica. I often worry that she doesn’t have enough female influence in her life…” Tatiana said with a sweet and appreciative smile.

“Though really, darling, I hardly think you should be looking to an officer in the army who wears men’s suits as an example of positive female influence,” Pierre pretended to whisper to Tatiana, but it was clear he’d intended for both of them to hear.

“Well…” Tatiana said uneasily, sounding almost as if she agreed. It was the last straw for Viorica; the fact that Tatiana had made no effort to stop or correct or even reprimand him as she usually did demonstrated that she agreed with him, and that to Viorica was the worst possible thought.

“Shut up, Pierre!” Viorica yelled a little louder than she’d intended. “Corinne is the most amazing person I’ve ever met! Everything she does is incredible and above and beyond anything any man could even hope to do, because she’s overcome more than you could imagine. I do aspire to be like her, and I love her!” Viorica declared loudly, surprised by how easily she’d been able to say it all, at last. Though now, for the first time, she felt incredibly nervous and grasped Corrine’s arm tightly, defensively.

Corinne bit her lip as the whole situation went from bad to worse. She hated being under scrutiny as if she were a wild animal in a menagerie, and it was even worse being judged as a negative influence. She had known things were going to turn out this way; this was how most people who didn't know to fear her acted towards her, but somehow, since it was Viorica's family, she couldn't just brush it aside. She doubted Viorica's yelling was going to help any, especially as a way to deliver the news, but there was nothing she could do about it, and so she shifted uneasily but held Viorica closer, putting an arm semi-defensively around her waist. She knew the reaction wouldn't be positive, but she couldn't jump to a response before hearing what was going to happen. Taking a breath, she braced herself mentally for the worst.

Dragomir wiped his hands on his knickers and lifted the plates of food he’d prepared, at last exiting the kitchen to deposit the dishes on the table. He thought he’d heard Viorica yelling, but it was probably directed at Pierre, and so he wasn’t concerned. However, as he registered the awkward and oppressive silence, he bit his lip concernedly and started walking over to the door, where everyone still stood. “Dinner’s ready,” he announced brightly, stopping to stand next to Tatiana, who appeared to be in a stunned silence. “Um, good evening, Lt. Colonel,” Dragomir said with a light smile and incline of his head in a feeble attempt to break up the tension.

Corinne looked over, somewhat startled, when Captain Hirlea arrived in the room, but managed a forced smile. "Good evening, Captain." He appeared to be completely oblivious to what was going on, so she turned back to Viorica, hoping for some sort of instructions for what to do next. She had already made a bad enough impression, and she wanted to try to make up for it as much as possible, not make it worse.

Biting her lip, Viorica looked up apologetically at Corrine. The silence that ensued after her outburst finally made her realize the difficult situation they were in. It was unlikely at best that Pierre and even Tatiana would accept their position, and by blurting it all out and shouting at them, she’d jeopardized an already delicate situation. She looked to her brother for help, but she doubted there was anything he could do, as his acceptance of their relationship was under unique circumstances.

Dragomir didn’t know exactly was Viorica was trying to get out of him by looking at him it the rather pathetic way that she did, but taking a guess, he smiled at the two of them and indicated that they should move to the table. Hopefully with food, things would sort themselves out.

“It’s nice to be home,” Dragomir breathed, taking a seat next to Viorica, on whose right sat the Lt. Colonel. When the table remained silent, Dragomir ran a hand through his hair and smiled uneasily. “What did I miss while I was finishing dinner?”

“Did you know?” Tatiana inquired in response to his question, her voice low, sounding shaken.

“What?” Dragomir asked, helping himself to the food everyone else had yet to touch. Tatiana seemed hesitant to answer, so Pierre broke in and did it for her.

“About your sister and what it’s come to? The people and the disgraceful practices she’s involved with? You set a terrible example.”

“What?” Dragomir repeated angrily, dropping his fork. Viorica hated being talked about as though she weren’t present, but she was determined to hold her tongue and suppress her anger. She didn’t want a repeat of all the trouble that had gotten them into this situation in the first place.

“Oh, so you don’t know. I thought the little dyke would have gone to you first. I’m surprised,” Pierre sneered.

“Please!” Tatiana broke in at last. “I don’t want to think about this now. Let’s just eat…”

Pierre looked concerned and patted her gently on the back, whispering reassurances that no one else could hear before turning back to Viorica. “Look what you’ve done. All this stress isn’t good for her or the baby. You should be ashamed.”

Viorica shook with suppressed rage and kept her eyes on her plate. As excited as she had been about eating her brother’s food again, she’d lost her appetite. She looked once from her brother, who seemed to at last to have realized what was going on and also to have decided not to say anything more, and then to Corrine, hoping desperately that she wasn’t as hurt and offended as Viorica feared the she might have been.

Corinne cut a small bit of her meat, politely, and ate quietly, not saying a word. She was horrified by what was going on, she hated to hear Viorica being berated this way, but she couldn't do anything about it, and she knew that yelling wasn't going to do anything. She had never stooped down to her enemy's level, and she wasn't going to do it now, she was going to be dignified and polite and if they still chose to hate her, it wouldn't be her fault. Looking up, she offered Dragomir a smile. "Your cooking is wonderful, Captain," she said before turning back to Tatiana, the same smile firmly in place on her face. "Thank you so much for your hospitality."

“Thank you.” Dragomir smiled back rather weakly. “I’m glad it’s all right.” It was remarkable that the Lt. Colonel could retain comportment in such a situation, but Dragomir supposed she’d dealt with worse. Still, he felt terrible that she and his sister were receiving this sort of treatment from Pierre, and especially Tatiana. He’d have to talk to them about it. Probably, in time, Tatiana at least would come to accept it and feel happy for Viorica; meanwhile, he’d do what he could to sort things out and alleviate some of the tension.

Tatiana nodded rather curtly to Corinne and ate her food without speaking. Viorica noticed that Pierre kept whispering things to Tatiana and glancing at her and Corinne, and it made her positively furious. However, she didn’t know what she could do besides ignore it, and so with a sigh, she gave up her small protest and started on her food, only to find it bland and flavorless; her palette was dry with unvented anger. At least Corinne thought it tasted all right, she consoled herself. Viorica hoped she did, anyway, and wasn’t just being polite. No one had the decency to be polite to her, after all, so she certainly had no obligation to them.

Viorica found it almost disturbing how slowly and how silently the meal was eaten. She didn’t think it took any longer than usual, but because she was so desperate to get away from the tension, the whole thing seemed to drag on for hours. When they had all at last finished, Tatiana was the first to stand with the announcement that she would be retiring for the evening early. Somehow, she found it in herself to graciously thank Corinne for her visit, but she made her way out of the room with undo haste. Pierre followed after, shooting the two remaining women a scowl before disappearing down the hall, leaving Viorica and Corinne with only Dragomir. He suggested they move into the sitting room, and Viorica followed him there dejectedly, holding Corinne’s hand for emotional support.

When they were all seated, Dragomir leaned forward in his seat across from the two of them and ran a hand through his hair. “I’m so sorry about all of this, Lt. Colonel… But it was really nice of you to come by. I know Viorica appreciated it, and it was good to see you out of work.” He managed to smile, but knew it probably wouldn’t do much to improve the mood.

Corinne nodded. "It's all right...I honestly...well, I didn't expect much better." She sighed, turning to Viorica, who was slouching beside her dejectedly, and pulled the girl into her arms comfortingly. "Come on, Viorica...it'll be all right. It was probably just such a shock that they weren't really prepared...and you can't really blame them. Hardly anyone is as open-minded as this, and you'll have to give it time." Viorica didn't look at her, so she softly put a hand to her cheek and turned her head slightly. "Honestly, I'm not offended. I'm only upset because they're your relatives, and because you're upset. Things'll work out." She gave Viorica a sincere, if small, smile and placed a comforting kiss on her forehead. She could forget everything that happened and not worry about it if she could make Viorica feel better about it.

"I hope so..." Viorica sighed. "I'm sorry things didn't go so well. I should have told them beforehand..." She looked up at Corinne sadly for a moment, before leaning forward, and resting her head against her shoulder, wanting to be held. "I probably made things a lot worse...It's all my fault. Even Tatiana..." Viorica felt miserable for dragging Corinne into her mess; Corinne had been nervous before, but Viorica was too overconfident to give her feelings any thought. Even Dragomir had seemed hesitant about the idea, but she hadn't really considered the possible outcomes at all, and now, because of that, things were going to be even more difficult to sort out. But she knew that Corinne knew what she was talking about, so if she said things would work out, then Viorica could believe her. Sitting up again, Viorica smiled slightly at Corinne. If nothing else, she could be glad that they got to spend extra time together.

Dragomir sat back in his chair and folded his arms. Watching the two of them together made him miss Niles terribly. This would be their first night apart in a very long time, and Dragomir was not looking forward to it in the slightest. Even so, he knew Viorica had waited for him to come home to invite the Lt. Colonel over, and he was glad to be there for them, even if he hadn't done much good. At least the Lt. Colonel seemed to be getting through to Viorica, and her mood seemed to slowly be improving.

Corinne smiled back and kissed Viorica lightly on the lips before pulling her close again. "Don't fret... Somehow, things will be all right. And, if nothing else, I still love you," she murmured softly, stroking Viorica's hair comfortingly. Though she wanted to make Viorica feel better, and that would assuage her own worry, she was not completely without fear. Even if things cooled down, she would feel absolutely horrible for Viorica to be severed in any way from her family, and she hated to think it was her fault. She should have made sure Viorica had gone about things properly; the poor girl didn't know any better; she should have stopped her, she should have planned ahead better. Viorica may have said the things which brought the disaster, but it was really Corinne who was responsible in the end, Corinne who should take the blame.

Corinne was so deep in her own thoughts now that she had not realized that she had begun to speak again, as she murmured softly, "It'll be all right, it'll be fine..." over and over, and she suddenly realized that it was no longer Viorica she was trying to convince, but herself.

“I think as long as you really think that, it will be.” Viorica interrupted, speaking slowly and gazing up into Corinne’s eyes. “I wish all of this hadn’t ended up reflecting so poorly on you… It really is all my fault... But I think we can pull through together, and Dragos will talk to Tatiana about it, right?” She glanced briefly at Dragomir, and he nodded assuringly before Viorica turned back to Corinne. ”I love you,” Viorica breathed, “and trust me that it isn’t through any fault of yours that they got upset. I think you’re amazing, and that’s really what I wanted to convey to them, Corinne.” Viorica pecked Corinne lightly on the cheek and once again snuggled closer. ”As long as we’re together, it’ll be fine, right?” Viorica asked rhetorically with a confident smile.

Slowly, a small smile slid across Corinne's face, and she nodded. "...You're right," she agreed slowly, pulling Viorica closer and pressing a kiss to her cheek. "As long as we're together, we can do anything." It didn't matter what other people said, or did, as long as she had Viorica. They were strong together, and they could take anything anyone had to throw at them. Her smile softening, she looked back down to Viorica. "I love you."

Dragomir smiled softly; glad to see that they were both feeling better. As unconventional as their relationship was, he was truly happy for his sister, and knew from working with the Lt. Colonel that she would always treat her well. Regardless of what sort of prejudice they encountered, if they could pull through together like this, then he knew that theirs was truly an ideal relationship, and that was what he'd always wanted for his little sister. Even if he'd had difficulty understanding at first, Dragomir had come to see how meaningful it was for both of them, and he knew eventually others would see it too, and they'd be accepted. Running a hand through his hair, Dragomir sighed and looked down. As happy as he was for them, he missed Niles.



Niles yawned as he drove down the street towards the Hirleas' house, trying to keep his eyes open enough to stay on the road. He had barely slept at all the last night, and he was finding it more and more difficult to stay awake. His servants had continually asked him what was wrong, but there was nothing they could do about it. Niles was completely unable to sleep because his bed just felt so empty. He had always had Dragomir by his side for the past month, and now that he was gone for the first time in so long, Niles just felt terribly alone in his large, empty room all by himself. Every time he started to drift off, he was suddenly clutched by a sense of loneliness, or a sense of fear, and was bolt awake again. He finally managed to get some sleep around 4 a.m., but even then, he only managed to sleep about an hour at a time before being awoken again by another strong wave of emotion.

He had been forced to drink three cups of coffee that morning (and he didn't know how the Lt. Colonel could stand the stuff, it was positively disgusting, even with the amount of cream and sugar that he put it) for fear that otherwise, he would fall asleep at work, and even took a cold shower to try to wake him up. But nothing had worked, and so now, here he was, barely awake enough to drive, sitting sleepily at the curb in front of the Hirleas' house. Dragomir was not yet outside, and so he allowed his head to rest on the steering wheel, just so that he could rest his eyes for a moment...

Dragomir burst from his front door, inhaling a piece of bread, his breakfast, as he hurried to where he could already see Niles waiting. He was completely disheveled; he hadn’t had the time to button or tuck in his blouse, and he’d only managed to sling his vest over his shoulders and grab his jacket hurriedly when he heard Niles’s automobile approaching. His cravat was untied at his throat, and only his ribbon was in order. It was the ribbon Niles had given him, and for that reason, it always received special attention. It had been his sole companion last night as he sat awake and alone in his tiny, dank room, and he’d held the ribbon most of the night as he lay awake thinking of Niles as he tried to sleep. Previously, this wouldn’t have been a concern, as he was generally up most of the night anyway, but since the month or so he’d spent with Niles, things had changed. With Niles, he could sleep almost the full night, and wake up feeling better than ever, but just the little bit of time they were apart seemed to change that feeling of security and contentment, and he’d been unable to fall asleep. Of course, his body had had trouble handling the change, and that was the cause of his lateness; he’d fallen asleep in the early hours of the morning and missed his usual wakeup time.

As he neared Niles’s automobile, he realized that Niles must have encountered the same problem last night, and Dragomir couldn’t help but smile. It felt good to be missed, and besides that, Niles looked incredibly cute slumped over and fast asleep. Dragomir opened his door quietly and crawled over the passenger’s seat, gently pushing back a lock of hair as he leaned in to press a kiss to Niles’s neck, just beside his ear. “I missed you last night,” he murmured into his ear as he pulled away a fraction of an inch.

Niles's eyes fluttered open when he felt lips against his neck, and he slowly sat up to see Dragomir. He broke into a smile, meeting Dragomir's eye for a moment before leaning in to place a soft kiss to his lips. He lingered only a second, then pulled away, moving back behind the wheel to start up the automobile again. "I...I missed you too," he admitted sheepishly. "Um - good morning." He yawned again slightly before beginning to drive away. "How was your night?"

“Terrible.” Dragomir said with a little laugh as he started to hurriedly button his blouse. “I couldn’t fall asleep until I was supposed to be getting up.” Dragomir shook his head amusedly and started tucking in his shirt. With that completed, he looked up at Niles seriously and started tying his cravat without looking. (It usually came out well enough that way.) “But really, I missed you.” Dragomir bit his lip and ran a hand through his hair once the cravat was tied. “I-I don’t think I’ll even be able to sleep again without you. Being with you makes all the difference…” He laughed again to cushion what to him sounded so ridiculous and looked down to button his vest.

Niles looked back at Dragomir in surprise, blushing, and almost forgot that he needed to be watching the road. "I-I'm sorry," he managed to reply. He was touched that Dragomir felt that way, that Dragomir was having the same problem as he, and he was suddenly driven again to make the proposition he had brushed away earlier that morning. He wasn't sure if Dragomir would accept, but it seemed more likely, at least, that he would look like less of a fool if he did, and so he sped up a little, in order to get to work faster before he could change his mind.

"I-I was having the same problem, to be honest," he replied softly as they pulled up to the headquarters and parked the automobile. He quickly slid out of his seat and hurried over to the other side of the car, feeling anxious and trying to build up his confidence. "I couldn't fall asleep at all last night...without you..." He was blushing fully now, and looked down at his feet. "It just felt so dark, and empty, and..." His voice had gotten softer and softer as he spoke, and was now barely audible. Slowly, he looked back up at Dragomir to gauge his reaction, blushing deeply and hoping he didn't sound stupid.

Dragomir smiled and ran a hand gently over Niles's cheek. "I know exactly what you mean... For some reason, when I'm with you, I feel at peace enough to fall asleep... and sleep the whole night through, even." Now that he knew Niles had experienced some of the same issues, Dragomir felt less embarrassed and decided to speak seriously about it. "It's been a long time since I've been able to do that... But I guess I'll just have to figure out some way cope, huh?" Dragomir laughed again. Being without Niles was hard, but he didn't want Niles to feel bad for him, or anything like that.

Niles bit his lip and blushed deeper, hesitating for a second before finally getting up the courage to ask. "A-actually, about that...I mean, you don't have to, or anything, and I won't mind if you say no, or anything...and, of course you could have your own space or anything you liked, but...I mean, maybe, if you wouldn't mind...kind-of...you could maybe...that is to say..." He was rambling on now, feeling incredibly embarrassed, and become a similar shade of red to that of a tomato. He just had to get it out, and so he clenched his fists in determination and looked up at Dragomir. "I--you maybe wanted to--to move in with me?" There, he finally got it out. If nothing else, he could say that it was accomplished, and be proud of himself for it. Still, he hoped desperately that Dragomir would say yes, because he didn't know how he'd ever be able to get by without him.

Dragomir bit his lip and furrowed his brow as he tried to follow what Niles was trying to say. It must have been something important, and possibly embarrassing, for Niles to be stuttering over it so much, but Dragomir didn’t have the faintest idea what he could be talking about, until at last Niles managed to get it out. Stay with him? Dragomir was ecstatic; that would be absolutely perfect! But, as his initial feeling of happiness and excitement subsided, Dragomir ran a hand through his hair.

It wouldn’t really be right for him to just move in and take advantage of Niles’s estate… Even though Dragomir had being living there for the past month, it had been under entirely different circumstances. During that time, Dragomir had been taking care of Niles, and thus felt justified in his consumption of Niles’s space, food, and facilities. But now that Niles was well, there was nothing Dragomir could do to earn his stay; he couldn’t afford to pay rent, or anything like that, and still be able to support his family. No, he simply couldn’t accept the offer, as much as he longed to, based on principle. He couldn’t take something in exchange for nothing. He ran a hand through his hair again and looked down. “I…I’d love to, more then anything… But I… I can’t…” Dragomir looked up at Niles to show his sincere devastation. “It wouldn’t be right…”

Niles stared back at Dragomir, confused and worried. He had told himself he wouldn't be upset if Dragomir said no, but now that it happened, it was hard. "Why- What wouldn't be right?" he asked carefully. "Is there something you don't like? Whatever it is, if you tell me, I'll have it changed. I- I mean, if you really don't want to, it's fine, but- but, if it's just something small, I can fix it, because I don't think I can get by..." He trailed suddenly, his eyes widening in a realization that made him pale visibly. "O-or...it's me, isn't it?" he asked abysmally. "I'm really sorry for whatever I've been doing that upsets you...I didn't realize--I- I'll try harder. I promise I'll stop doing whatever it is, if you'll tell me, I'll even stop talking if you want me to, or whatever it is that's displeasing to you..." He was breaking down now; the tears rushed to his eyes and began to spill down his cheeks, no matter how hard he tried to hold them at bay. "It's just- It's just I don't know that I'll be able to...be able to get by without you..."

Dragomir's eyes widened with panic; that wasn't what he'd meant at all! He felt terrible for how he must have sounded, and to have hurt Niles... it was simply awful. Inexcusable. "No! No, not at all!" Dragomir gasped, pulling Niles into an embrace. "I didn't mean- I could never- It's not you, not at all! I love you, Niles, everything about you." Dragomir squeezed Niles lightly and then looked down into his eyes. "It's me, Niles... It's because I...I have nothing." Dragomir looked down. "I'd love to stay with you, forever, and always be with you, but it wouldn't be right of me to just impose... I-I can't be justified in moving in and taking advantage of what you have. I haven't earned it, and I couldn't pay you for it... And I don't deserve it." As far as Dragomir was concerned, the wealthy had money because someone in their lineage had earned it, and they therefore had the sole right to their money; a poor immigrant who'd always struggled to make ends meet couldn't be morally justified in sharing in their wealth.

Niles stared at Dragomir in pure disbelief. "What do you mean, you don't deserve it? I've done nothing, my whole entire life, and you've always worked so hard. And besides, I- I would be dead if it weren't for you!" The tears started back full-force, and he stumbled and choked on his words, trying to find some way to make Dragomir understand. "Your staying with me wouldn't be imposing - I need you. I'm all alone in a huge, lonely house, and since you've been gone, it's just felt empty. I don't deserve anything any more than you do, and you could never, ever be imposing, because I want you, I need you, and I don't know- I don't think I'll be able to function properly without you." He paused a little to sniff back his tears for a second, but his stream of emotion couldn't be held back for long. "If I got rid of all of it- if I gave it all away and moved into a one-room shack in the middle of nowhere, then would you stay with me? Because none of it matters to me if I can't have you." He didn't even know what he was saying anymore, so he just repeated over again, "I need you."

Dragomir hardly knew what to say. He knew he had to say something; he couldn’t stand to see Niles so upset, but he didn’t know how to explain himself, and the gravity of what Niles was saying, the emotion behind it, was all still sinking in. “I…” Dragomir began weakly, for want of something better to express how he felt. He hardly knew, though, so it was unlikely he’d find the words in a straightforward manner. “I want so badly to say yes… And it’s not because of what you have that prevents me.” He had to clear that up right away. “It’s because I-I want to be independent, and use only what I’ve earned myself… And you deserve everything you have, no matter what, because it’s your inheritance. I just worry that I don’t have enough to contribute…to be worthy…” That was it; he felt deficient himself, like he could never do enough for Niles in exchange for all the wonderful things Niles did for him already. If Dragomir moved in, he’d always feel indebted.

But then again, it wasn’t really all about debts and paying them back, was it? It was about love too, and Dragomir was certainly desperately in love with Niles… Niles had even said he wouldn’t be a burden, and that in fact, he needed him. Dragomir knew he needed Niles too, but didn’t know if that would be enough to justify it… Perhaps, perhaps if he accepted the offer, he could find some way to earn his right to stay with Niles. There had to be something he could do, and Dragomir was willing to do anything. It was a drastic change of stance, but he had to make it work. “If you really think… if you really, truly don’t mind, than I do. I’d love to stay with you.” Hesitantly, Dragomir stepped forward, catching Niles’s lips in a kiss. He hoped somehow that could express what he’d felt all along; elation at the idea, and all the possibilities it presented.

Niles leaned up into the kiss, filling with relief that maybe Dragomir had understood what he was saying. As they broke apart, he threw himself at Dragomir, wrapping his arms around his waist tightly and pressing his face into Dragomir's chest. "Oh, I'm so glad," he sighed happily, "I don't think I would make it without you... I certainly couldn't get by on this little sleep every day." He pulled back slightly to look Dragomir in the eye, wiping his tears away. "I love you, Dragomir. I-I'm so happy," he bubbled. "I just can't wait!"

Having experienced a total 180 degree mood-swing, Niles babbled for a moment in delight before mentioning a more practical topic. "When can you move in, then? Is there a specific room you'd like? I'll have my servants prepare it for you. You just have to let me know. Oh, I can't wait!"

Grinning broadly, Dragomir took Niles by the hand, encouraging him to walk to the office as they discussed plans. Dragomir was so relieved Niles’s mood had completely turned around, and he was incredibly, almost childishly excited about making the move. Still, he had no intention of allowing their excitement to be ruined by a reprimand from the Lt. Colonel about their lack of punctuality, so walking seemed important. “I can’t wait either!” Dragomir said gleefully, imagining how fantastic it would soon be. “I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t move in right way, either!” he added exuberantly. “As for rooms…” Dragomir made his voice a little more serious, as this was a very important matter. “There is one that struck my fancy in particular…” With Niles’s encouragement, Dragomir continued. “It’s a rather big one, so I hope it wouldn’t be a problem…but you know the east wing? And that first one to your right? I really like it a lot. There’s just something special about it, I think. Is there any way I could have that one?”

Niles trotted along beside Dragomir, thinking. He didn't see any reason why Dragomir couldn't have any room he liked, but he wanted to try to visualize the room. He was horrible with directions of any sort, and so he had to mentally go through his house to figure out which room Dragomir meant. When he realized, however, he blushed brightly again. The room of which Dragomir had been speaking was his room.

"Ah- Yes, um..." he replied embarrassedly, but decided to play along. "I think that would be a lovely room for you to stay in. In fact, I couldn't be happier with your choice myself." He grinned up at Dragomir, happy that he was happy. "I'll arrange for the furniture to be rearranged and another wardrobe be brought in for you...Do you think you can come today or tomorrow?" Niles hoped so, he was simply too excited.

Dragomir grinned. If he was moving in, he had to do it properly—they had to share. “Yes, I think that should work out. I don’t have too much to move, after all. I’ll need to talk to everyone, but I doubt there will be any issues.” Dragomir laughed lightly, bubbling. “Actually, I think everyone will be glad for the extra space. Viorica especially.” Really, now that he was thinking it through, he had no idea why he’d made such a fuss… Even if he did feel a little bad about his situation, it would, in the long run, be infinitely better for everyone. In the practical sense, with him out of the house, it would mean that much more money for his family, and in the emotional sense, being with Niles every night was really what he needed. If his poor sleep last night was any indication, Dragomir knew he’d gotten to the point where any time spent away from Niles seemed utterly lacking. “Niles, I’m so excited! Thank you. I’m sorry for before… Do you think I could at least cook for you occasionally? It’d make me feel a bit better…” Dragomir knew it sounded silly, but it really would, so as long as the servants didn’t mind, Dragomir hoped something could be arranged to that effect.

Niles grinned. "I'd love it if you'd cook for me," he replied enthusiastically. "And I'm sure the servants would like a night off once in a while...If it would make you feel better, I'd be delighted." He gave a quick glance both ways before pecking Dragomir quickly on the cheek just as they arrived at the office. "Oh, goodness, I can't wait. I'll drive you home after work, if you want, so we can get things sorted out. If you'd like?" He looked up at Dragomir hopefully, hesitating to knock on the door.

“That would be perfect.” Dragomir nodded eagerly. “And then we could use your automobile to move everything.” He could hardly wait, and he didn’t know how he would manage to get through the day. Still, they really needed to get started with it, or else the Lt. Colonel might order them to stay after, and that would be horrendous—Dragomir definitely couldn’t make it though something like that. With a final grin at Niles, Dragomir knocked on the door loudly before pushing it open and stepping inside, hearing Niles do the same and shut the door. Dragomir spotted the Lt. Colonel and made his way over to her, bowing politely. “Good morning, Lt. Colonel.” He said straightening with a flourish, still grinning. He had no idea how late they were, though, so he braced himself for her reprimand, just incase.

Corinne looked over at Hirlea and Christian tiredly, not really in the mood to deal with anything. No matter what she did to tell herself that everything was all right, she had lost sleep over the whole ordeal with Viorica's family, and was feeling tired and strained. She found Hirlea and Christian's bubbly happiness somewhat irritating, and decided it would be easiest to get rid of them. "Good morning, Captain, Warrant Officer. I need the files of the original divulgence of information on Donavan D'Aubigne. You should be familiar with the information. Go to the records room and find it for me." She was not in the mood to ask nicely. "And no, you don't have to show up here again until after lunch. I won't say anything."

Niles blinked. "Y-yes, sir," he replied, somewhat stunned. He followed Dragomir out of the room before looking at him in surprise. "D-did she just tell us to do what I think she did?"

Dragomir burst into laughter as soon as they were out of earshot, and taking Niles’s hand into his own, he kissed it ardently to show his anticipation. “She did indeed,” he said, releasing it and smirking down impishly at Niles. “I hope she really meant what she was implying, though. I vote we get there as soon as we can, before she changes her mind.” With another devious smirk at Niles, he picked up his pace, already beginning to feel worked up and excited. Today was shaping up to be one of the best days he’d had in a long time.

When they reached the records room, Dragomir opened the door for Niles and shut it behind himself securely. The room was completely dark, and as Dragomir heard Niles shuffling around groping for the light, Dragomir managed to catch him blindly by the torso, and somehow found his lips, locking them in a fervid kiss. Breaking apart, Dragomir breathed, with his smirk intact, “I did mention how much I missed you last night, didn’t I?”

Niles gasped slightly, blushing brightly in the dark. "I-I don't mind being told again," he replied breathily, wrapping his arms around Dragomir's neck and pulling him back into another kiss. It was dark, and so he hoped they didn't hit anything, but that didn't stop him from pressing up against Dragomir as he broke the kiss slowly. "I missed you, too."

Dragomir couldn’t help but quiver with excitement as Niles pressed against him, and he took a step back, bracing himself to the best of his ability against a shelf. The boxes didn’t provide much support, but Dragomir couldn’t be bothered; he was far too wrapped up in Niles to notice. Lowering his head and tilting it, Dragomir found Niles’s neck and kissed it lightly, before pressing harder, biting and sucking at the sensitive skin. His hands, meanwhile, made their way down Niles’s sides until they were at his belt. Dragomir slipped his fingers between the two of their bodies and worked the buckle undone. He allowed the belt to drop to the floor as he slipped his hands under Niles’s jacket and returned to kiss his lips again, caressing Niles’s chest.

Niles inhaled sharply at Dragomir's hands and lips against his skin, and he squirmed slightly before moaning softly into the kiss. It felt simply wonderful to be with Dragomir after being all alone all night, and he worried he was almost too enthusiastic. Still, he wasn't going to concern himself with that; he was already so engrossed in the kiss that he was having trouble thinking of anything else. He tangled his fingers in Dragomir's hair and tried to press closer still, craving contact desperately.

Dragomir withdrew his hands from under Niles’s jacket and set about unbuttoning it from the top down. He could tell Niles was eager, and he himself was no less so; he knew he had to get the buttons undone now, while he could still stand to do it properly. As Dragomir reached the fifth button, he deepened the kiss, spreading his legs slightly as Niles moved closer, and rolling his hips up to grind against Niles’s. Dragomir hoped Niles craved friction as much as he did; he wasn’t about to let him go now.

Niles broke the kiss to moan a little less reservedly, rocking his hips back against Dragomir's. He let his hands slide down to Dragomir's shoulders to push his jacket off before pressing back against his lips. After a few moments, he dropped his hands to help Dragomir with his own jacket, beginning to unbutton from the bottom. His fingers were clumsy and slow, but he figured anything would help, and he was impatient.

Dragomir was grateful to be relieved of his jacket—with his rising body temperature, it had felt stifling in the stuffy little room, and Dragomir was eager to relieve Niles of the same repressive garment. With his help, they finished undoing the buttons, and Niles wriggled out of his jacket quickly as Dragomir worked a hand under the waistband of Niles’s knickers to untuck his blouse. He purposefully let his hand move a little lower that was necessary and allowed his fingers to run against the skin tantalizingly close to Niles’s hardening erection, only to withdraw his hand and returned to undoing buttons; Dragomir had to keep from getting distracted if he was to keep their clothing intact this time.

Niles squirmed at Dragomir's touch, whimpering softly as he withdrew his hand. He was desperate for contact, but he knew he had to get out of his shirt first, and so he decided to try to help. Finding Dragomir's collar, he began to try to unbutton his vest, but wasn't doing very well, and ended up just tugging at the fabric until the button came undone. He wished that Dragomir would kiss him again, would do something to make this waiting a little easier, and whined again, hoping that Dragomir would understand and take pity on him.

Dragomir smirked, realizing he’d left all the luscious skin of Niles’s neck and chest unindulged for too long, and that Niles required some contact. Eagerly, Dragomir acquiesced, pressing his lips against Niles’s collarbone and sucking at the skin fervidly. He’d almost completely unbuttoned Niles’s blouse, and he could feel Niles tugging at his own clothing. It wouldn’t be long now, he assured himself, biting Niles’s neck before relocating a little lower down in his tongue’s continued exploration of Niles’s torso. Looking to the future, Dragomir could hardly wait until he made his move; just to think that they’d have all the time they wanted, every night, made his heart jolt with excitement, and with an eager little grunt, he moved back to Niles’s lips, pushing the now unbuttoned blouse off of his shoulders.

Niles wiggled out of the garment, moaning against Dragomir's lips. He tried harder to get Dragomir's vest undone, but his fingers were still clumsy, and he wished he could be faster. He desperately wanted to feel Dragomir's skin against his own, and the only thing keeping him from it was his own inability. Whining in frustration into the kiss, he tugged at the clothing, hoping it would do as he wanted it to.

Deepening the kiss, Dragomir ran a hand down Niles’s arm and clasped his hand briefly before releasing it and moving to help Niles with the buttons. It was clumsy going about it one handed, but since Niles was tugging at the cloth, and Dragomir was pulling at whatever buttons he could find, they managed somehow, and Dragomir broke the kiss to wriggle out of his vest, elated at being one step closer to being able to feel Niles’s skin against his own. He started undoing the buttons of his blouse, but found himself immediately distracted by Niles’s lips, and returned to kissing him fervidly, leaving his shirt, for the time being, ignored.

Niles pressed his body back against Dragomir's, mewling softly into the kiss. He spread his legs slightly, squirming before rocking his hips again, pressing them forward against Dragomir's and crying out in response. "D-Dragomir..." he gasped desperately, tugging at Dragomir's blouse before pressing his lips back to Dragomir's, kissing him hungrily.

Dragomir kissed back enthusiastically and slid his hands down Niles’s sides, resting them on his wait and pulling him against his body slightly to grind their hips together. Dragomir moaned into the kiss, before breaking away for a minute to catch his breath. He was getting desperate now; the shallow, husky breaths he was taking served as a testament to his impatience. He moved quickly to return to unbuttoning his blouse, and yanked at the cloth sharply. A few buttons cooperated and came undone, while one, he distinctly heard, broke and fell to the floor. He didn’t care, of course. What were a few buttons? They’d all be covered up by his vest anyway. Encouraged by his progress, Dragomir undid the remainder in the same manner and tore the garment from his chest, casting it aside hurriedly. At last, he moved forward again and pressing his skin to Niles’s, engaged his lips in another kiss as the skin-to-skin contact sent a wave of shivers of elation down his spine.

Niles moaned loudly against Dragomir's lips, wrapping his arms around Dragomir's neck once again and pressing back against him eagerly. He kissed back fervently, making small noises of pleasure which were swallowed into the kiss as neither seemed to want to break apart. They finally pulled apart, however, if only slightly, both gasping for breath. "Dragomir..." Niles panted, his lips already ghosting Dragomir's again, "I love you."

“I love you too,” Dragomir gasped, kissing Niles once more hard on the lips before trailing fleeting kisses down his neck and to his chest. Pausing to tease his nipple, Dragomir dragged his fingers down Niles’s side, pausing only a second at his waistband before he began undoing the buttons. This was the perfect way to celebrate the occasion of their decision to live together, and Dragomir could hardly contain his excitement.
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