Part 3, in which Kai-stern is manipulative, Tetheus is helpful, and Alfeegi is Not A Happy Camper.
Warning: Un-beta'ed. Mentions of alcohol. Language. Semi-graphic descriptions of past nasty stuff.
Shonen-ai or otoko-ai or yaoi. . . argh, let's just call it slash.
A/N: Well. Here we go. Sequel to Nagusame. About a week later, give or take. Ruwalk/Alfeegi of course.
"What are we going to do about those two?" Kai-stern asked Tetheus one warm spring evening.
"We could let them work out their own problems by themselves."
"How can they do that if they won't even stay in the same room?"
"You mean if Alfeegi won't even stay in the same room as Ruwalk."
Kai-stern dismissed that with a wave of his hand. "Technicality. And it's not like he's making an effort to rectify the situation either. I say we get them drunk and lock them in a room together.
Tetheus thought about this for a minute. "No. That is a very bad idea."
"Kai-stern, have you ever seen Alfeegi drunk?"
Tetheus turned the knob to make sure the door was locked.
"Are you sure we shouldn't have gotten them drunk first?"
Tetheus came very close to shuddering. "Quite sure."
Ruwalk tested the doorknob one more time. "They locked us in."
Alfeegi didn't respond. Instead, he walked over to the window and stared out it, as far away from the other man as he could get.
Ruwalk sighed inwardly and took three steps forward. So we're playing that game now, he thought. Wish I knew the rules. "I'm sorry." Alfeegi shifted a little, turning away from him. "I didn't want to make you cry."
"It wasn't you." The words were flat, tightly controlled.
He took three more steps, around the table in the middle of the room. "Then who was it?"
"Demons," Alfeegi said, tighter. "Nadil's army. Outside Faerie Forest."
That was why the chief secretary had never accounted for the nine weeks and change missing from his report. He had spent sixty-three days in the hands of the enemy. Ruwalk took three steps closer to Alfeegi, close enough to touch him. "What did they do to you?"
He shrugged the hand off. "Why do you care?"
The flat tone was back, uncaring and cold. "Because, damnit Alfeegi, I'm your friend!"
"You never cared before."
The accusation hung in the air, heavy with truth. He hadn't cared before, hadn't noticed anything wrong when Alfeegi came back, hadn't acted like the still-red scars weren't from some accident. Even when he could no longer try to ignore it, Ruwalk just put on the old jester's mask and smiled and told bad jokes until Alfeegi laughed just to shut him up and stayed away from any subjects more serious than dinner. And it had all been with the very best of intentions, to try to make Alfeegi happy, to make him like life again, but it was such a good mask! It was too good, it took away the acknowledgement of Alfeegi's pain, it trivialized it, and that hurt him more than any physical pain.
But all Ruwalk knew was that he had tried to show that he cared and screwed it up so very badly. The jester's mask cracked, the only words he could find were angry. "Don't tell me I don't care; you didn't even care enough to live!"
"Why didn't you let me die?" Alfeegi whispered painfully, leaning his forehead against the cool glass of the window. That was the reason he was avoiding Ruwalk, not knowing -not wanting to know- why he had been pulled from the darkness, whether it was friendship or simple humanitarism or. . . He didn't even dare to think it, even after Ruwalk kissed him. His hands tensed into tight fists at his sides. "Why didn't you let me go?"
"Because," Ruwalk hesitated, the mask falling off completely as his eyes closed and he once again saw Alfeegi's arms folded on the desk, his head resting on them, something Ruwalk had seen a thousand nights before except for the red lifeblood that was slowly turning his blue hair purple. Just the memory was enough to chill his heart and the knowledge of how close it had been nearly froze it completely. . .He opened his eyes. "Because I love you."
Alfeegi turned around, shocked. He didn't know what he expected to see, a smug grin, maybe, or an "oh shit" look, but what he saw was a man who was just as lost as he was, and even more clueless. The difference between the two men was Ruwalk was trying to find some familiar or similar ground, trying at all.
Alfeegi stepped closer, almost touching. Gold burned into garnet for an eternity, searching for falsehood and finding nothing but sincerity. Alfeegi smiled, threw his arms around Ruwalk and kissed him sweetly.
Tetheus, now sure that the situation wold not become violent, turned around and walked out, leaving the door unlocked.