“Do you understand what your assignment is?”
Arms crossed over his chest, head cocked to the side, the shorter of the two men nodded slowly as his commanding officer asked him the usual questions one must ask when giving a soldier a new assignment. It would be something he would do on his own – something he wouldn’t have the rest of his corps to help him with.
A bit daunting, though he could do it, he was sure.
“Zebediah.” The soldier looked up into the eyes of the other man, hazel-green eyes narrowing somewhat on the strange eyes of his commander: blue eyes that he swore to the gods above glowed gold in the heat of battle – he must have been a blessing from their powerful deity, Mars. Biting the inside of his cheek, he waited for Tegan to speak.
“Do not fail me on this. I chose you because you’re capable – but you’re foolish, too. And hot headed. Take this as a test, to prove yourself and improve yourself, alright?”
“Yes, sir,” Zebediah nodded, lowering his eyes quietly. “I swear to you, I will not fail you. May I be punished by the gods if I do.”
“Do not tempt the gods, Zebediah, they do not take lightly to being mentioned so frivolously,” Tegan warned softly, before reaching out and patting his shoulder, squeezing it carefully. “I have the utmost faith in your capabilities. Now go, you have work to do.”
“Yes, sir.” Giving a salute quickly, he turned once Tegan nodded to him, marching towards the marble hallways of the house the man he had just been assigned protection lived in.
This would be interesting.
Looking up from balancing a platter of food, the young man stared at the politician’s son with wide blue eyes, grip tightening on his burden.
“S-sit by me, p-please?”
Eyebrows raising comically, Chance put down the tray on the table beside him quickly, hurrying over to the paler man and sinking down to sit on his knees on the floor in front of him, looking up at him with a patient, curious expression. Allen, all dark hair, soft eyes, and light complexion, smiled down at the other male fondly, reaching out with a shaking hand as if asking for something. After a moment, Chance reached up and squeezed his hand, Allen closing his eyes as he almost seemed to relish the action.
He let go shortly after.
“I-I have been t-t-told there w-will be a n-new guard a-assigned to m-me. F-for my a-a-apparent protection,” he murmured quietly, shifting in his seat so that his legs were pulled up to his chest, arms wrapped loosely around his knees and robes pooling around him as they adjusted to his change in position.
“…w-why tell me this?”
“Y-you are as m-m-much a part of my d-daily life as a-anything else, Chance,” Allen said softly, smiling at him kindly. “I-I thought it only…p-polite to w-w-warn you of our n-new guest.” He bit his bottom lip then, pushing his nose to his knees and staring down at Chance like a toddler looking over the lip of a basket to see what apples his mother picked from the orchards.
Chance blinked widely at him, before he smiled shyly and ducked his head, scratching behind one considerable ear as if flustered. “That was v-very kind of you, sir! …thank you.”
Allen’s eyes softened to a gentle expression. A knock on the door interrupted whatever he would have said next however, the politician’s son unfolding in his seat and standing up, Chance clambering to his feet shortly after him. The door opened slowly, then, and in slipped who Chance supposed was the new guard.
He was an attractive man, from what he could see. Stern expression, hazel-green eyes, short cropped hair like all soldiers. He wore the uniform of a foot soldier, and strapped to his waist was a short sword. He was built like a defensive wall – compact and sturdy, yet he wasn’t bulging. He still had a leanness to him that could give way to speed.
He looked capable enough, at least to Chance.
“Are you Allen, then?” A gruff voice spoke up, then, echoing in the room, and Zebediah was staring at Allen with an examining sort of air. Shrinking somewhat in on himself, the young man nodded quickly and Zebediah nodded once, to show understanding, eyes sliding over to Chance. “And this is?”
“C-Chance,” Allen spoke up softly, but quickly, glancing over at the other male with a pursing of lips. “H-he is my f-f-friend…”
“…and a serving boy. Alright, so long as I know who’s who.” Nodding, Zebediah rubbed the back of his neck, glancing back at Allen. “I’ll be sure to stay out of your way as much as possible.” With a roll of his shoulders, he slipped away from the room just as quietly and abruptly as he appeared.
Blinking at the door, Chance turned over to Allen to see what he thought of his new guard, biting back a grin at the slightly dazed look the other had.
Awh. That was just cute.
“Commander, one of the recruits is acting out again.”
“Is it him again?”
When he received a nod in the affirmative, Tegan sighed softly, running his fingers through short, dark hair, blue eyes focused on the ground. He left the messenger after a moment, making his way to the barracks, heading towards a specific area of the barracks where he knew he’d find the troublemaker.
He was looking for Tegan’s attention, anyhow.
Slipping into the room quietly, noting that there wasn’t anyone else around, the commander walked over to a specific bed, kneeling down behind the figure hunched over on it. Placing a hand on tense shoulders, he blinked mildly when Aiden flinched and jerked back, hand balled into a fist.
Catching the flyaway punch, Tegan leaned forward until his and Aiden’s noses were touching, looking at him with a patient gaze. “Aiden, it’s me.”
“Yes.” The fist in his grip loosened, and Tegan sighed, quietly lacing their fingers together and brushing his lips over the other’s knuckles. “Why are you causing trouble?”
“…Y’don’ come by unless I do,” Aiden mumbled, looking away. “And ‘m no’ tryin’ t’be needy or somethin’. Jus’…miss ya, I guess.”
Tegan sighed, resting his forehead against Aiden’s and closing his eyes tiredly. “You know I cannot spend as much time with you as I would like to. I have duties, Aiden…and so do you. Those duties come before our emotions.”
“Don’ mean I ‘ave t’like it, do it?”
“Speak properly, Aiden,” Tegan chastised softly, before pulling back gently and looking at him seriously. “You need to stop causing problems within the corps. If you want to get anywhere in the military, you have to obey orders. Not cause fights and get confined to seclusion. You’re lucky they don’t decide to be harsher on you.”
“I don’ think m’delicate skin could take i’.” Aiden murmured playfully, thumb running over the other’s knuckles quietly. “…will I see y’again any time soon?”
“…don’t count on it,” Tegan whispered regretfully, before pulling away from the other and standing up. “…behave, Aiden.”
“No promises,” Aiden said cheekily, smiling weakly. “…love ya.”
“And I, you,” Tegan murmured, expression softening, before he turned and walked away quickly, face hardening into a mask of indifference.
He could not afford softness around his troops.
He could not afford for anyone to know his weakness.
Aiden could not afford it, either.
Allen had dismissed Chance after a short conversation with the other man, leaving him alone – mostly.
Glancing over to his door, he could see Zebediah’s shadow as he leaned against the wall, watching the hallways and dark corners for any malignant visitors. Pushing back dark hair quietly, the politician’s son padded over to the door, peeking out quietly to look at the other man.
After a quiet moment, Zebediah’s gaze slid over to his charge, and a brow quirked curiously. “Can I help you, sir?”
“A-ah,” Allen stammered, stepping out fully and standing next to the guard. “N-no, I was j-j-just…u-uhm…”
Flushing, Allen dropped his gaze and nodded quietly. “Y-yes,” he admitted softly, rubbing the back of his neck with slightly shaking hands. “I-I apologize…”
“It’s fine,” Zebediah assured quickly, looking at him curiously. “Why do your hands shake?”
“H-hm?” Looking down at his hands, Allen shrugged mildly. “I-I….am n-n-not entirely s-sure, to be p-perfectly honest.” Clenching his hands into fists, Allen pressed his hands to his stomach as if hoping his robes would stop the shaking.
A large, scarred hand suddenly reached out and held onto his hands with surprising gentleness, causing Allen to look up at him with wide eyes. “If you don’t know why, then it’s nothing to be ashamed of. The gods have decided it would be so – and we cannot argue against the gods.”
“…no,” Allen agreed, hands relaxing from their fists. Feeling somewhat bold, he wrapped his fingers around Zebediah’s hand, fingers tracing bumps and lines as if they were the roads to Rome. “…y-your hands are beautiful, Z-Zebediah…”
“I-I’ve never s-s-seen such strong h-hands,” he murmured, seemingly ignoring Zebediah. After a moment, he blinked, eyes widening, and he dropped the other’s hand hurriedly. “O-oh, p-pardon me that was r-rude,” he said quickly, stepping back. “I-I’ll leave you a-alone now.” Nodding once, looking back at the guard with wide grey eyes, he turned and fled back to his room, leaving Zebediah in the hallway alone.
Blinking after him, Zebediah looked down at his hands and wondered what the other had seen that he could not.
He was not lost.
Wandering around the hallways, not completely sure as to where he was going, he held the empty platter that had once held food close to his chest as he attempted his way to the kitchens. After all, he needed to return the platter and grab a new one so that he could bring it to Allen and make sure he was eating properly – the man always forgot to eat unless he was reminded, and as his personal server, it was his duty to make sure he was well-fed!
Shaking his head from his rambling thoughts, Chance blindly turned a corner and promptly bumped into someone, falling back harshly and squeaking when his platter rolled across the floor. He watched with wide, blue eyes as a pale hand reached out and grabbed the travelling dish, picking it up easily. Eyes drifted up the hand, to a long, muscled arm, to a pair of robes that announced he was looking at someone very important and much above his rank and oh goodness he had run into someone above his rank he was going to die—
“I believe you dropped this.”
…well he knew that voice.
Looking up at the advisor with an owlish blink, Chance jumped to his feet and straightened out his clothes, fighting back the blush that wanted to scrawl over his cheeks. “A-ah, well, s-s-so I did, I am truly sorry for that, sir, it won’t happen again.” Pausing, he hesitatingly reached forward, taking hold of the edge of the platter and tugging on it. The other did not let go, however. Tugging a little more insistently, Chance could feel his ears begin to burn when the other refused to release the platter.
“I haven’t spoken to you in quite some time, Chance,” David said softly, blue-grey eyes soft and quiet. Chance’s blues stared back at him worriedly, teeth gnawing away at his bottom lip. “Have you been avoiding me?”
“Of course not!” Chance said quickly, eyes widening as if he were appalled by the mere suggestion – which he was, in all honesty. “It’s just—I’ve been—I didn’t—”
“…I didn’t want you to feel obligated to me,” Chance murmured softly, lowering his eyes so he wouldn’t have to look into quiet eyes and stare at the softest blond hair possible – only possible if Apollo himself had blessed him at birth, surely.
A hand touched his cheek, then, and he flinched, looking up to see the advisor suddenly that much more closer to him. “I wish to see you, Chance,” David said softly. “Not because of obligation…but because of selfishness. Can I ask for this?”
Biting his bottom lip, shifting on his feet unsurely, the serving boy slowly nodded, holding the platter closer to his chest as though it would shield his heart from any hit the moment might make against it. The hand on his cheek smoothed over his cheekbone, down along his jaw, and he closed his eyes at the quiet, private affection that he only ever got when no one else could see.
And feeling the silent man’s hands drift over his skin as if he were some idol to be praised, Chance couldn’t find it in him to resent that fact.
Leaning back against the wall, arms crossed over a broad chest and eyes watching for any sign of disturbance, Zebediah nodded to a flushed-looking Chance as he swept by him, entering the room. Glancing into Allen’s room quietly, he watched as the serving boy placed the platter of food by Allen, handing him food as though he were reminding him that he had to eat. Eyeing his thin, shaking frame, it appeared that might very well be the case.
That would need to change.
Rolling his shoulders, the soldier-turned-guard looked away from the scene before he could be caught staring, rubbing his hands together and looking down at them – still bewildered by Allen’s words earlier. What strength did he see in such broken hands? What beauty in such scarring?
And why did it warm his heart to think on it?
The drifting song of Allen’s laugh filtered to his ears, then, and Zebediah looked back into the room to see Allen clutching onto an apple with a smile as Chance seemed to be making some kind of joke or another – as though playing personal entertainment as well as helper. The sight brought a smile to usually stern lips.
…Maybe he’d find out what it all meant.