Claimer: All characters are ours!
Warnings: Yaoi, non-consentual stuff (not sex or anything :D; ), yuri, brain-fuckage XD;
Beta: yomimashou, who thinks the inner workings of Julian's mind are pretty hilarious. :D
Dragomir grunted, ignoring the servant who was trying to help him, and lifted his injured leg onto the ottoman painfully before crossing his arms and glaring towards the door. It would only be a few minutes until Captain Julian Kaiser arrived for Niles’s Albionian lesson, and Dragomir could not be more perturbed. At least he’d been able to come downstairs to the study for it, though. It was most definitely worth it to endure the painful journey down the stairs in order to save himself from the anxiety of simply waiting in bed for Niles’s report on how the event had gone. It hurt to move so much, and the wheelchair was uncomfortable, but somehow being dressed and out of bed for the first time in a while restored a lot of Dragomir’s energy, and he was relieved to be with Niles for the lesson. He still had a bad feeling about this Kaiser person, a feeling which had become even more unsettling when Niles had begun to call him “Julian,” and Dragomir couldn’t help but worry that the other captain might be becoming his competition. However, Dragomir had the utmost faith in Niles; it was Captain Kaiser he did not trust in the least, and Dragomir was determined to keep an eye on the proceedings of the lesson. At least then he could be sure that the other man didn’t do anything suspicious and yet subtle enough for Niles to miss.
Julian arrived precisely on time for the lesson he was to teach at Niles’s manor, and was let into the entry room promptly, only to be escorted by a servant into the study within a few minutes of his arrival. The study, he noted, contained a very fine large desk, several shelves of books extending well to the ceiling and covering the length of one wall, as well as a few comfortable looking sofas around a decorative fireplace and mantle. It seemed the perfect atmosphere for a lesson, and Julian was quite looking forward to it. Locating Niles, he smiled brightly at him and bowed. “Good afternoon, Niles. It’s so nice to see you again outside of work.” It was more than nice, in fact. He’d prepared a thorough lesson plan, and could hardly wait to get started; he’d waited all morning for the afternoon and for the chance again to spend time with Niles, and was so overeager that he momentarily missed the solitary figure sitting off a little ways in the corner of the room in a wheelchair. It caught him off guard, but he regained his composure after a minute when he realized that the man must have been Dragomir, Niles’s boyfriend. Julian’s heart fell at the realization, but he caught himself quickly and smiled a little brighter at Niles. “I trust you have not been waiting long?”
Niles smiled back, standing from behind the desk and nodding. "Nope, not at all! Thank you so much for coming!" He was very excited for his first Albionian lesson, and happy that Dragomir was there to be with him, too. Remembering his manners, he moved towards Dragomir and motioned to him. "Julian, this is my boyfriend, Dragomir Hirlea. Dragomir, Captain Julian Kaiser." He smiled for a moment, then added, "Thank you so much for coming to teach me. I'm really glad!" He moved to pull a chair up beside the desk, then took his seat again, looking up at Julian expectantly. Though Dragomir seemed rather disgruntled about the whole meeting, Niles hoped he and Julian could get along.
“It’s so nice to finally meet you, Mr. Hirlea.” Julian bowed lavishly to hide his distaste, but was pleased to realize that the other was not likely to take place in the lesson as only one chair had been pulled up to the desk. Of that small respite, Julian was relieved.
Dragomir nodded curtly in response and unfolded his arms. He’d at least grant the other Captain the courtesy of being civil. “Forgive me for not standing, Captain, but I’m glad for the opportunity to meet you as well. I’ve heard a lot about you, after all.” Dragomir spat he title tersely and wondered vaguely how much the other man had heard about him.
Julian tried to smile but grimaced instead. He didn’t like the looks of Dragomir Hirlea already, and was glad that the rather hulking specimen was bound by injury to his chair. Julian bowed again for good measure and turned his attention back to Niles. He wouldn’t let the other man’s presence deter him. Julian took his seat across from Niles and produced a book with gusto, smiling truly again. “Please don’t thank me; it’s my pleasure. I’m very much looking forward to teaching you all that I can about Albionian.” He opened his book and folded his hands neatly on the page before leaning in and asking somewhat uneasily, “I trust that in his current condition, Mr. Hirlea will be unable to join us for the lessons?” Although he was quite sure, Julian had to confirm. Hopefully, the Captain was only there for introduction purposes and would soon take his leave.
Niles smiled again before blinking. "Oh, yes—I mean no, Dragomir's just here to watch. He can't read, anyway," he explained, hoping Julian would understand. Suddenly, he realized that Dragomir probably didn't want him spreading that around, and clapped his hands over his mouth. "I mean—that is to say—he probably wouldn't be very interested anyway," he added lamely, feeling extremely guilty. He looked at Dragomir over his shoulder apologetically before turning back to Julian with a hurried smile. "I'm ready to start, if you are."
Dragomir jolted painfully into an upright sitting position at the mention of his illiteracy and he felt his jaw clench tightly as a reflex. He could hardly believe Niles had let that slip so easily, to Julian Kaiser, no less. Of course, that really was the reason why he would not be participating in the lesson, but still, Niles really shouldn’t have let that out… At Niles’s apologetic look, Dragomir smiled back at him slightly and shrugged. There was nothing to be done about that now.
It took quite a bit of restraint on Julian’s part not to scoff at the bit of information about the other Captain he was quite certain Niles had not meant to divulge, and he was quite proud of the neutral and disinterested face he was able to maintain. He should have figured the brute to be illiterate, though; he was Dacian, after all, and Julian wasn’t surprised. Despite his fine clothing, which had no doubt been furnished by Niles, he looked to be low class. Julian was glad his association with Captain Hirlea, at least for today, would be limited. “Yes, I’m ready,” Julian said, responding to Niles and restraining himself from glancing back at the Captain as Niles had done. “Let’s begin, shall we?”
Niles nodded, looking up at Julian again and smiling. "Yes!" he agreed, leaning forward on the desk and placing his face in his palms, waiting for Julian to start. He was slightly worried about the lesson; when he was younger, his tutors had tried to teach him languages and he had never been able to catch on. He hoped Julian wouldn't be disappointed in him if he was slow, or if he couldn't pick things up.
“We shall start with the alphabet, then.” Julian smiled, producing a sheet of paper with all of the letters written clearly in a large font and passing it to Niles. “We’ll name the letters, and then I’ll tell you the sounds they make.” He pointed to the first letter and said it for Niles before going over the different sounds it could make. This was bound to be a long process, but Julian was thoroughly looking forward spending so much time with Niles coming up. His only hope was that Captain Hirlea would not feel the need to sit in on each of the lessons in the future.
Niles tried his best to learn the alphabet that Julian was showing him, but he just couldn't remember all of the different sounds the letters made. It was so difficult, especially since they were so different than the Gallian pronunciations, and it seemed to him as if he'd never get it. Julian seemed to always have confidence in him, however, which gave him a little confidence in himself, and finally, after what felt like years, he, at least for the most part, had memorized the set.
As it turned out "years" was actually an hour and a half, but it was long enough that Niles was beginning to feel uncomfortable from leaning over the desk, and so after a moment he stood. "How about a break and some refreshments? I'll go see what's going on in the kitchen," he offered with a smile, going to the door. He was still the host, even if he was also the student, after all.
“That sounds wonderful, thank you.” Julian smiled after Niles before leaning back in his chair. Things were going a little slower than he had anticipated, but really, he was glad Niles was being so thorough about learning the alphabet, and any time spent with Niles always flew by for Julian.
Dragomir had been nodding off, but when Niles mentioned refreshments, he perked up and rubbed his eyes. After a few days spent exclusively in bed, he was feeling quite lethargic, and the fact that he found it almost impossible to follow what the other two were talking about had made it difficult to pay any attention to their conversation. Still, Dragomir was glad he’d come down. Anything to make sure Kaiser stayed in line. He’d been watching the man, after all, and he could tell that he was enraptured with Niles just by the way he looked at him so fondly. Dragomir could hardly believe Niles hadn’t noticed it yet, and hoped that the Captain would take a hint and leave him alone.
Julian felt eyes on the back of his head and turned in his chair to see that Dragomir Hirlea was glaring at him pointedly. Julian smiled at him tersely and turned his chair to face him. “I noted earlier that your name is Dacian. 'Dorogo' for precious and 'mir' for peace, unless I’m mistaken?”
“That’s right,” Dragomir said plainly, narrowing his eyes. “Do you speak Dacian?”
“Do you? I don’t, but I have a knack for languages, and there are many elements that one can pick up with ease.” Julian smiled knowingly and watched as Dragomir’s jaw set.
“No, I used to, but I forgot it.” Dragomir said curtly. He really had no interest in any sort of small talk with the Captain.
“What a shame,” Julian patronized, “If that’s the case, it’s really too bad you weren’t able to master the intricacies of Gallian, even. But I suppose it can’t be helped; economic hardship is to be expected of immigrants, and the military has a sad tendency to overemphasize the importance of physical prowess anyway, am I not correct?”
Dragomir ground his teeth but kept his tongue. He had a feeling Kaiser expected him to be too slow to catch all of what he was saying, and was disgusted by his condescending tone. However, Dragomir didn’t quite know what to say. Really, he wanted to hit the Captain, but in his current condition, that wasn’t an option. Exhaling through his teeth, Dragomir nodded. “I figure you must have been in an intelligence unit before, right? It doesn’t look like you’re good for much else.”
Julian’s jaw quivered and he smiled a little broader with indignation as he straightened in his seat. “Have you been to Hispania, Mr. Hirlea? You look like the type.”
“Yeah, I served there for a while, why?” Dragomir could tell the Captain was feeling a bit uncomfortable, and was beginning to enjoy their exchange.
“It’s very noble of you to risk your life for the country that took you in. On that note, I’m must admit I’m curious. I find it interesting that someone of your nationality and…upbringing ended up living in such a beautiful estate. How did it come to be you and Niles, if I might ask?” Julian feigned innocence in his tone, but was certain his implications were clear.
“We met through the military.” Dragomir replied plainly, narrowing his eyes. Now it seemed Captain Kaiser was revealing his interest, and Dragomir didn’t feel like explaining in much detail; it wasn’t any of Kaiser’s business, after all. “Why were you transferred, anyway? Our unit works against the Berceuse Malheureuse, and I doubt we need anyone with your sort of expertise.” Dragomir spat to change the subject.
“I understand you lost a lot of men not too recently, and I was under the impression that your brigade had more than enough brawn to interfere with negotiations.” Julian smirked, letting it show this time as he watched the other Captain tense. “Though I suppose there’s always a need for cannon fodder, wouldn’t you say?”
Dragomir had no time to respond, because at that moment, Niles returned and both of them quickly looked away. Julian replaced his smirk easily with a slight soft smile, and Dragomir looked angrily at the spine of a book on a nearby shelf. Neither of them wanted to bicker in front of Niles, and both of them were looking forward to refreshments.
Niles heard talking as he walked carefully back to the study balancing a tray of fresh pastries, and hoped that Dragomir and Julian were getting along. He was sure that they could be friends too, and he wanted for them all to be able to spend time together. As he reentered the room, he smiled brightly. "I've brought pastries!" However, upon closer inspection, he noticed that Dragomir seemed to be grimacing intently at the bookshelves, and was immediately worried. Setting the tray down on the desk and distractedly telling Julian to help himself, he wheeled Dragomir over right next to his chair. "Are you in pain? I'm so sorry..." He tried to think of some way he could help ease Dragomir's pain; after all, Dragomir was here because he was, and he felt fairly guilty. "Here, I don't want you to have to move, so let me help you eat." He picked a pastry he knew Dragomir liked, and, leaning over his wheelchair carefully, held it to his lips with a smile.
At first, Dragomir was very surprised, but it took him only a moment to recover and he took a bite of the pastry, looking lovingly up at Niles. He then stole a glance at Julian and managed an expression of smug satisfaction as he continued to eat the pastry Niles held for him with relish. Julian looked extremely perturbed, and Dragomir couldn’t be more pleased. Niles had exceptional timing and always knew exactly what to do to cheer him up.
Julian exhaled sharply in order to keep his composure and picked a pastry decidedly to distract himself from the obvious display of affection unfolding in front of him. He hated to see it, he hated to see Dragomir Hirlea with Niles like that, and he wished he could do something right then and there to change the way things were. Frankly, Julian was extremely jealous, and was beginning to loath Dragomir even more. “These are excellent pastries…” Julian commented dejectedly, pointedly looking away as he spoke.
Niles looked away from Dragomir for a second to smile at Julian. "I'm so glad you like them!" he replied cheerfully before turning back to Dragomir and feeding him the last of the pastry. With a loving smile, he placed a soft kiss on his forehead before pulling away. "There, I hope you'll feel a little better now. It'll be just a little longer." With a lingering glance at Dragomir, he sat back in his chair and faced Julian again. "Sorry for the break, but I think I can concentrate better now. Ready to start again?"
Julian was finding it very difficult to regain his composure and felt thoroughly distracted, so when Niles asked to start again, he was taken a little off guard. “Oh, yes, of course.” He tried to sound confident and at ease, but the way Captain Hirlea was smirking at him now made it difficult for him to feel anything but uneasy. “I think now we’ll move on to some simple words.” Julian smiled hesitantly and wrote out a basic word for Niles. “Try and read this using the Albionian pronunciation.” By focusing intently on Niles, looking only at him and taking in every slight movement he made, Julian could block out Hirlea enough to continue the lesson. He loved to look at Niles and revel in all that he admired about the other, and Julian’s devotion made ignoring the Captain easy.
Niles furrowed his brow and stared intently at the word. He had no idea even how to begin; the word contained a few of the letter that had two pronunciations in Albionian, and without even accents to give any clue on how to pronounce them, Niles was lost. He bit his lip and looked pathetically at Julian, hoping for some help.
Julian smiled reassuringly and pointed to the first letter, naming it for Niles. “This is ‘L’,” he explained sweetly before saying the sound it made. “The vowel after that, the ‘O’, is short. Do you think you can read the rest of it now?” Julian asked hopefully. “I’ll tell you what it means after you’ve read it.”
Niles nodded obediently before looking back at the word and scrunching up his nose in thought. "Lovee?" he tried, looking back at Julian hopefully. He had a feeling it wasn't right, but he hoped at least Julian wouldn't be too disappointed in him.
“That’s pretty close,” Julian smiled amusedly. “The last vowel is short—it’s ‘love’.” As he spoke the Albionian word, Julian looked down rather awkwardly with a sad smile. It had been a poor example, he knew that now. Love was what Niles shared with Dragomir, and what he could only long for wistfully in his dreamed about Niles. Looking back up at Niles, he put on a happy face. “It’s a feeling,” Julian explained, “A really strong feeling that is at the core of many sonnets and poems. It means…love.” He choked out the Gallian equivalent and looked away again briefly to compose himself before smiling back up at Niles again. “It’s an important word to know when reading literature.”
"Oh, I see! Thank you so much for explaining it!" Niles exclaimed happily, clapping his hands together. However, he quickly noticed Julian's change of demeanor, and blinked. "I'm sorry, did I do something wrong, sir...? I didn't mean to upset you...please don't be angry." He hoped his inability hadn't upset Julian; he really had been trying his best.
Dragomir scoffed inwardly at Kaiser’s rather pathetic and over dramatic reaction. It was just a word, and a word he’d chosen, no less. Aside from that, Dragomir hated that he’d made Niles worry; it was his own fault, after all. Still, it was an interesting word to know, and Dragomir mentally took note.
“Oh no, not at all!” Julian said hurriedly, waving his hands in front of him. “You’re doing very well; I’m just sorry I picked such a difficult word to start with. Here’s one with less vowels.” He smiled slightly and wrote the word out on another piece of paper, which he then passed to Niles. “Give this one a try.” Julian folded his fingers and leaned forward to watch as Niles sounded out the word. For the first day, Niles had made substantial progress, and Julian was already thinking ahead to the time when he could compose secret pomes for Niles in Albionian that only the two of them could understand.
Niles worked as hard as he could to pronounce and remember all the words Julian gave him, and, by the end of the lesson, he was finally getting things right about fifty percent of the time. By the time the lesson had finished, the sun was setting, and so he invited Julian to stay for dinner. For some reason, Dragomir didn't seem thrilled, but everything went smoothly enough, and soon Julian was leaving, promising to schedule another lesson with him soon.
As soon as Julian was gone, Niles turned back to Dragomir, smiling as he knelt down beside the wheelchair. "I'm sorry, Dragomir, I know that was probably so tedious for you...but it really means a lot for me that you would stay with me; I would feel so bad to leave you alone." He hesitated a moment, trying to think of a way he could repay Dragomir for it, before an idea suddenly hit him and he blushed slightly. "But, please...allow me to make it up to you." He winked mischievously, hoping Dragomir would accept the offer.
Dragomir smirked down at Niles amused at his not so subtle hinting, and pulled him on top of him, ignoring the shooting pain in his leg. If Niles planed to make up for the day spent mulling over foreign words, then Dragomir certainly had no qualms about the lessons at all. He could endure Julian Kaiser for the kind of night Niles seemed to be hinting at, and he pressed their lips together fervidly to show his enthusiasm in accepting the proposed restitution.
Niles smiled against Dragomir's lips, kissing him back for a moment before pulling away and carefully sliding off his lap. "Well, then, if that's the case...for such a tiring activity... we better get you to bed."
Niles headed off to work the next morning feeling groggy and more than a little bit sore. Besides the obvious places, he had somehow managed to hit his face on the bed frame and now was left with a dark purple bruise on his right cheekbone. It hurt when he touched it, and so he hoped desperately that no one would notice it, along with his constant yawning and rather revealing limp.
He arrived to work in good time and stifled a yawn as he knocked on the door before entering and bowing to the Lt. Colonel. "Good morning, sir," he greeted her before moving over to his desk beside Julian. Smiling at his superior, he addressed again, "Good morning, sir! How are you?"
Julian was well, especially now that Niles had arrived. It seemed like he’d been waiting all morning to see him after all of Sunday they’d spent apart, and in the time they’d been separated, Julian had been completely unable to keep thoughts of Niles from drifting into his mind. At last however, they were both back at work and Julian would be able to see Niles on a regular basis for the rest of the week. He looked up from his papers happily, but his initial high sprits fell as he saw the bruise that had bloomed dark on Niles’s soft cheek. Julian knit his brows as he stood and did not answer Niles’s question; instead, he asked concernedly, “What happened? Are you injured?”
Niles blinked for a second before he realized what Julian was talking about. Putting a hand to his cheek subconsciously then wincing in pain, he flushed and looked away. "Oh, that sir..." How was he going to explain this? It was so embarrassing! "Dragomir--that is to say--I mean...it's nothing, sir." He finished by blushing madly, not even managing to spit out an explanation. Smiling sheepishly at Julian, he added, "Please don't worry about me, sir."
Julian’s mind reeled. Dragomir did that to him? He felt as though he’d descend into hysterics at any moment. How could he not worry about Niles? He was being abused, but he seemed embarrassed to admit what had happened to him. It was nothing to be ashamed of, but something had to be done. This revelation confirmed all of Julian’s worst suspicions about that brute of a man. He had to protect Niles, he had to find away to rescue him from Dragomir! “Niles,” Julian said carefully, trying not to sound as panicked as he felt, “You should see a doctor…You really need to talk to someone about this; it’s very serious.” Julian hoped Niles would trust him enough to talk to him. “Do you need any help?”
Niles was now thoroughly confused. "Sir...it's just a bruise, it's not very serious at all. I'm sure it will heal in a few days." He smiled assuringly, wondering why Julian was being so overdramatic about a small injury. "Thank you, though." With another lingering smile, he sat down at his desk and set about doing to paper work he had to turn in that day.
He hadn't been at work long, however, before there was a nock at the door. The Lt. Colonel beckoned the knocker inside, and the door opened to reveal an enlisted man. He bowed to Lt. Colonel Delancy, then said something to her. The Lt. Colonel nodded slowly, then pointed to Niles. He began to get a bad feeling even before the man made his way over, bowed, and told Niles that the General Commandant would like to see him immediately. He bit back his fears, however, and nodded, rising to follow the man. As he turned to go, he looked back to Julian, realizing he still had paperwork to get done. "I'm sorry, sir, can you maybe finish up and sign my paperwork? I...I don't know if I'll be able to get it done when I get back," he explained uneasily with a smile before leaving.
Julian stood and watched as Niles left the room. Everything seemed to be happening so fast, Julian hardly knew what to do about it all. Judging by Niles’s reaction, this wasn’t the first time he’d been called to speak with the Commandant, but Julian was quite thoroughly confused as to what sort of business the head of the military would have with a Warrant Officer. That aside, Julian was still worried about Niles and his relationship with Dragomir. He had to do something about it, but if Niles wasn’t willing to let him in, to talk to him and seek his aid, Julian didn’t know what he could do to help. Resignedly, Julian made his way to Niles’s desk and collected Niles’s paperwork that needed to be done for the day. He hoped someday there would be something he could do for Niles.
Algernon looked up from his paperwork when he heard the knock at his door, and a smirk slid across his face as he stood. He walked smoothly to the door and opened it himself, adjusting his expression to a suave smile as the Warrant Officer entered. "Why hello, Warrant Officer Christian. It's a pleasure to see you again. Please come take a seat...I trust that you are well?"
Niles smiled hesitantly, bowing and following the General Commandant over to the sitting area. "I am well, thank you, sir." He tried his best to act calm, but he was on his guard and wanted to know what the Commandant wanted with him. He sat down stiffly opposite his superior and smiled again uneasily. "You wanted to see me, sir?"
"Ah, yes." Algernon smiled charmingly, his voice melodious. "Tea?"
"No thank you, sir." Niles's voice was polite and a little nervous sounding.
"Very well." Algernon poured himself a cup of tea, then set the pot and other tea things aside. He took a sip, then set his cup on his saucer with a light clink. "Now, to business. I have a little assignment for you, my dear Warrant Officer."
Niles was confused. "You...have an assignment for me, sir...?"
"Yes, dear child. I trust you implicitly, unlike so many others, and I know that you can carry out this assignment perfectly. Are you prepared for the information?"
Niles was still in a state of the shock that the General Commandant was asking him to do something for him. "Ah--yes, sir."
Algernon's lips curled into an almost-smirk. "Wonderful." He took another sip of his tea before setting the cup and saucer aside and crossing his legs. "My darling child, the assignment is very straight forward. I simply need you..." he trailed dramatically, "...to be me."
It wasn’t until Julian had finished the paperwork that the worry started setting in. Niles had been gone for a long time already, it seemed, and Julian was concerned about him. He had no idea what all this time with the General Commandant could possibly mean. So much was happening and he hardly knew what to do about it all, or what he could do for Niles. He wondered if he should talk to someone about what he’d learned of Niles’s and Dragomir’s relationship… The Lt. Colonel seemed to know the two of them pretty well… But then again, the last thing Julian wanted was to violate the esteemed trust Niles had placed him in. Right now, they were friends, and if Julian ever wanted any more than that, he would have to trust Niles and believe that he would come to him if he ever needed help.
Niles blinked, trying to understand what the General Commandant was telling him. "...sir?"
Algernon smiled. "Do allow me to elucidate. I have an important appointment which I must keep, but this appointment is very secretive and no one can know that I am even there. While I am gone, I need someone to stand in for me so that, should anyone need to see me, they'll see someone and think that I'm here. Understand?"
Niles nodded slowly, trying to absorb the information. The General Commandant wanted him to be his double? It made sense...they did look somewhat similar, now that Niles thought about it, and he supposed it wouldn't be too hard for him to carry out... But what if he needed to talk to someone? He didn't sound like the Commandant, and he had no idea about any of his business...
"Don't fret," Algernon started again abruptly, reading the confusion in his cousin's eyes. "You won't have to speak to anyone. I will announce that I cannot be consulted during the time period. All you need to do is be seen. I will leave my office and meet you in an empty office. You will emerge from the office and make sure you are seen entering by the guards outside my door, then you will open the curtains so that any outside passers-by may see you. My meeting will only be an hour or so, and then you may return to your duties. All right, Warrant Officer?"
Niles nodded again, stunned more than anything. Even if they did look similar, the Commandant could have chosen someone else...surely there were other men out there with blonde hair and blue eyes? Niles was only a Warrant Officer, he was incompetent and weak, why would anyone want to use him?
"You're wondering why I'm asking this of you, aren't you, dear Warrant Officer?"
Niles was startled out of his thoughts by the question. "Why—no, sir—I mean, I don't have as much confidence in myself, sir, as you have in me, sir...that is to say..."
"My dear child," Algernon said smoothly. "I do believe you need to have more self confidence. Even if others put you down, or laugh at you, you and I know you are capable of great things." He rose and made his way over to the sofa where his cousin sat, sitting down close beside him. "I know that you're an intelligent, bright child, and you have so many possibilities..." He leaned in slowly, enjoying the way the Warrant Officer's breath was speeding up with anxiety. He smiled charmingly before closing the distance between the two in a soft kiss.
Niles's heart was pounding in his chest; this was the second time the General Commandant had kissed him and he didn't know what to do. He wanted to pull away, he wanted to run, but this was the General Commandant, the head of the entire military! He simply couldn't disobey, not to this man, and so he didn't know what to do but submit and part his lips as his superior requested entrance.
Algernon couldn't help but smirk slightly as he invaded his cousin's mouth, delighting in the way the child quivered beneath him in forced submission. He loved the feeling of power, the feeling of control, and he couldn't help himself but to indulge in a little bit of that delicious pale skin, straying from the child's lips, trailing his tongue down his neck before kissing and sucking at the pale skin. Pleased with the mark forming, he moved back up to the jawbone, nipping only softly before sucking again. He allowed himself only a moment before moving back to the Warrant Officer's lips and kissing them again briefly.
Niles was physically shaking by the time the Commandant drew back, frightened stiff. Luckily, it seemed like the General was stopping; Niles has been terrified that he would move further, and that he would have to do something about it. But now the General was smiling at him and telling him to return to his office and that he would contact him again soon, and then Niles was bowing and leaving.
He made his way back to the office in a daze, bowing briefly to the Lt. Colonel before stumbling back to his desk. What was he going to do? The way things were going, the Commandant was going to keep giving him unwanted attention...and Dragomir wasn't even here! Oh, what was he going to do, what was he going to do? He certainly couldn't function now...he bit his lip and stared pointedly at the desk, not knowing what to do but fight back tears.
Perceval ducked behind a pillar in the hall as he heard the door to Algernon’s office open and close again quickly, and poked his head around the architecture to see who exactly was making their way out of Algernon’s private company. Perceval had arrived at the door ten minutes before, planning on dropping in for a little surprise visit, only to find that the door was locked. He knew Algernon conducted a lot of private business behind sealed doors, and that it really wasn’t anything for him to be concerned about, but for some reason, Perceval felt uneasy about the situation and decided to wait and see just who Algernon had entertained privately for so long.
When the door opened and Warrant Officer Niles Christian stepped out looking dazed and a little more than ruffled, Perceval’s concerns were heightened. As far as he knew, Algernon really had no business that required such a lengthy, private discussion with a Warrant Officer, and Perceval immediately thought back to all the times Algernon had mentioned Christian. Algernon always seemed to talk about him in a rather predatory fashion; a tone that made Perceval uncomfortable unless it was himself who Algernon was addressing.
Perceval tore his eyes away from Christian’s retreating form and slumped back against the wall in the space between the corner and the pillar. He wanted to trust Algernon, but at times he felt insufficient and thoroughly unworthy. Perceval held Algernon in the highest regard and if…if Algernon needed more than he could offer…Perceval would oblige and stand by obediently.
“Niles?” Julian asked hesitantly as Niles practically fell into his seat. Before Niles’s return, Julian hadn’t been doing much of anything other than waiting anxiously for Niles, but when he had arrived looking dazed and distracted, Julian’s fears were doubled. Niles didn’t even acknowledge him as he made his way back to his seat, even though Julian stood to greet him and return his completed paperwork. Niles was acting strange, of that Julian was certain, and he knew he had to do something to help him. “Niles,” Julian repeated softly, placing his hand on Niles’s shoulder reassuringly, “Are you all right?”
Niles looked over at Julian blankly, not knowing what to do. Dragomir wasn't here to help him, and he certainly couldn't bother Julian with his troubles... What was he to do? He would have to wait until he could go home... Smiling weakly over at Julian, he nodded slowly. "Thank you, sir...I'm fine."
Julian furrowed his brows and looked down at Niles with concern. He didn’t look fine… In fact, Julian noticed a small red mark clearly visible against the pale skin of Niles’s neck. This time, Julian wasn’t naïve enough to think it was some sort of skin condition; he knew exactly what it was from. The trouble however, was that Julian was quite certain that this mark was new. Unlike the dark bruise still clear on his cheek, this discoloration hadn’t been caused by Dragomir, which could only mean that something was going on between Niles and the General Commandant. Blinking confusedly, Julian nodded blankly down at Niles and withdrew his hand as he retreated back to his own desk and slumped into his chair.
While Julian found Niles’s mystique very attractive, the more Julian learned about him, the more perplexed he became. For some reason, Niles adored Captain Hirlea, an abusive, unrefined, and brazen leech that was living off of Niles’s estate and good graces. Somehow, Hirlea had Niles tucked neatly under his thumb and completely under his control. Julian understood that sometimes relationships went astray, but now learning that Niles was involved with the General Commandant, possibly in an affair, Julian didn’t know what to make of the situation. Had Niles gone to the Commandant seeking comfort and assurance after the cruel beating he’d endured? Possibly. Then perhaps even the Commandant had turned a deaf ear to gentle Niles’s hardships and proceeded to force him into an unwanted passionate situation—thereby marring his beautiful skin. Julian could see it all, and it made his heart ache and his very soul weep to know the affliction Niles suffered. He knew he’d have to do something, he’d have to liberate Niles from the oppression of the mongrel Dragomir, and the harsh unyielding control of the Commandant at all costs.
Corinne eyed Christian carefully from her desk. She knew from experience that any appointment with the Commandant was bad news for him, and she wanted to make sure he was all right. He seemed, however, rather dazed and ruffled, and was unresponsive when his superior addressed him. That worried Corinne significantly, and she realized what she would have to do. Sighing, she beckoned him to her desk.
Niles rose when the Lt. Colonel called him, vaguely wondering what she wanted from him. He bowed to her, blinking. "Sir?"
"Warrant Officer, I'd like you to take the rest of the day off. Your meeting with the Commandant seems to have stressed you, and so I'm dismissing you for the rest of the day. I'd like to see you here and aware on time tomorrow morning. Understood?”
Niles nodded slowly. "...yes, sir."
The Lt. Colonel nodded. "All right, Warrant Officer. Dismissed."
Niles bowed again, collected his things, and left the office in a daze, somehow making it back out to his automobile and driving home. He was still lost for an solution; the General Commandant was forcing him into things he didn't want, but there was no way for him to do anything about it. By the time he made it home, he wandered into the house, suddenly feeling absolutely worthless. Regardless of whether he was forced, he had still done something horrible, and Dragomir shouldn't forgive him. He was horrible, guilty, dirty, and before he ever realized, tears were welling behind his eyes. He stumbled into the bedroom just as they broke free, but quickly rubbed them away as best he could as he took a few tentative steps towards the bed. "I- I'm home early."
Dragomir quickly stashed the picture book he'd been looking through that morning when he heard footsteps in the hall and sat up as Niles entered the room. Dragomir was glad to see him and smiled brightly up at him without thinking about what might have caused his early dismissal. When he noticed the tears Niles was pushing back however, his expression fell. "What happened?" Dragomir asked, beckoning Niles over to him. He looked a little ruffled for some reason, and Dragomir was quickly growing concerned.
Niles dropped onto the bed, more tears streaming readily from his eyes to replace the dried ones. "D-Dragomir... Oh, Dragomir, I'm so sorry...I didn't know what to do," he choked, looking at Dragomir piteously. "He...he called me to his office, and there was nothing I could do... He kissed me, and he...he did this..." He pulled his collar aside to reveal the two red marks against his pale skin. "Oh, Dragomir, I'm so sorry, it's all my fault, but there was nothing I could do...I'm sorry..." He descended full force back into tears, sobbing pathetically into his hands.
“What?” Dragomir blinked, trying to process it all. “Who? You mean the General Commandant…?” When he saw the red marks, it all became perfectly clear to him, and he realized there could be no one else Niles could be referring to. Dragomir clenched his teeth angrily, indignation welling inside of him. “That bastard!” Dragomir barked almost reflexively as he tensed and sat up a little more. He had hated the Commandant before for what he’d done to Niles, but this had gone too far. Dragomir flushed a bit with suppressed rage as he tried to calm down. He wanted to do something for Niles, he wanted to hit the General so hard he could never bother them again, but he knew that he couldn’t. He couldn’t hit a man like that even if he wasn’t practically immobile and confined to his bed. What he could do for Niles however, didn’t require the use of his leg. Dragomir took a deep breath and bit back his anger, leaning forward to pull back Niles’s hands gently and wipe away his tears before taking Niles into his arms. He needed to help Niles, and that would best be achieved by caring for him directly and forgiving him. Dragomir could never be angry at Niles after all, he just had to make sure Niles knew that. “It’s all right,” Dragomir breathed lamely, holding Niles close and hoping the physical sentiment would make up for his words. “It’s not your fault…” Dragomir moved back a little and place a soft kiss on Niles’s lips.
Niles melted into Dragomir's arms, but his tears did not slow. "But...but even if it's not my fault, I'm...I'm all...dirty now... even if I didn't want to, I allowed another man to kiss me...I...I...I'm just a horrible person...I...oh, Dragomir, I don't know what to do...I'm so sorry...I love you, but I..." He completely broke down into tears, crying hard into Dragomir chest. He felt utterly worthless, and he didn't know what to do.
“That’s not true,” Dragomir said beseechingly. “Niles, you’ve never been anything but perfect to me.” Dragomir kissed Niles again, giving him another light squeeze. “I love you,” Dragomir said softly, lifting Niles’s face gently and looking into his eyes. “I know you’re not dirty.” Dragomir smiled truthfully and closed his eyes, leaning forward and kissing Niles on the lips, moving gently to deepen the kiss, hoping Niles would allow him to prove it.
Niles stared back tearfully into Dragomir's eyes, and realized that there was nothing but honesty and love shining in them. Breaking down again, the tears streamed back down his cheeks as he kissed him back, tightening his grip around Dragomir. When they pulled apart, Niles looked back up at Dragomir, his tears finally subsiding. "I love you Dragomir... Oh, but, I don't know what to do. He wants me to be his double for an occasion...and probably again after than, and I'll have to keep seeing him... What am I to do?"
Dragomir sighed and bit his lip, looking down slightly and finding himself unable to keep his eyes off of the marks. His lip twitched slightly, and he mulled over his dislike for the Commandant internally. Dragomir had never met him, but still he hated him bitterly, and couldn’t understand why he seemed to go to so much trouble to hurt Niles. Now that Niles had an assignment from him, he would be unavoidable, and Dragomir really had no idea what he could do about it, or that anything could be done to prevent it. “I-I don’t know…” Dragomir looked up at Niles and furrowed his brow. “I don’t think it can be avoided…but next time you have to see him, I’ll be there for you, waiting like last time.” He wouldn’t allow himself to be out of commission much longer, especially not with the threat of the Commandant’s assignment looming ahead of them.
Niles nodded slowly, relaxing back into Dragomir's arms. "Yes...yes, as long as you're waiting for me..." He smiled softly into Dragomir's chest. "...if you're waiting for me, I'm sure I'll be fine...I love you." Even after everything that had happened, just being with Dragomir made everything all right. No matter what the Commandant did, he'd always have Dragomir.