You Don’t Get Something For Nothing
Author email: Email; az.ombie(at)gmail.com
Disclaimer; all these characters belong to Storm Constantine. This is solely a fragment of my twisted mind, all in the name of fun. No copyright infringement intended.
Summary: Rue feels his defences are crumbling, all because of one har, who manages to crawl behind the facade of the Tigrina.
Spoilers; book 1 & 2.
This story was originally posted to the “Pinkboard” works-in-progress in Mar. 2006. These were the only chapter posted but I thought it was worth rescuing and posting here. If you’re the author and have the rest of this, or other stories, do get in touch with me!
You Don’t Get Something For Nothing
Refuse to surrender,
Strung out until ripped apart,
Who dares, who dares to condemn
All for nothing
This window, this view, I thought it grand upon my arrival, yet now it makes me feel as a prisoner, tied with silk behind golden bars, as a songbird who is refused its voice. I remember how I was thrilled seeing this large city under my feet, I felt as a god. That was then, this is now. I no longer feel divine, I feel trapped. It would be the understatement of the millennia to say that Pellaz was thrilled to see me, never have I seen anybody radiate that much surprise, discomfort and rage mingled in one. I should have been an idiot had I not understood what was beneath his civil words. I still remember the humiliation standing there with Wolf, who had a death grip on my clammy hand. Listening to the har I had once shared such intimacy with that we had had the power to create new life, all the arguments I had rehearsed over and over again on our journey here, died on my lips. Clearly he did not think that he had done wrong leaving me behind to birth and care for our pearl. But I had overstepped my boundaries when I had come to Immanion to seek him out. No matter how many times I tried to explain to him that I had done this for Wolf, nor for me, and if he wanted me to, I should leave right this instant. That was not completely the truth, I would never be able to leave Wolf behind, leaving him in this place, this haunted wretched palace. Thiede persuaded me to stay, promising that I would have a secure home for my harling, and that Pellaz surely would come around.
Chapter 1: Of loneliness and broken dreams
Caeru sighed as he took off the pearl necklace and tossed it on the stone floor. Standing up, he gracefully stepped over the treacherous pieces of the jewellery on the floor. “Cheap crap,” he muttered under his breath. Slumping down on a large mount of fluffy pillows he sighed, “The poor, poor Tigrina, stuck in his golden prison of lies and contempt.” Melodramatically he raised a hand to his forehead, and sighed even deeper, to then giggle at himself. If he had known what he would have gotten into back then, he would never have come, given he had all that he wanted, everything his heart desired. Almost everything.
Leaning out of the window his vision blurred as he looked down, how easy it would be to just slip and fall. Rue smiled bitterly and turned his gaze to the east wing of the palace, he could not even see his Tigron’s chambers from here, and Pellaz had on more than one occasion made him aware that it was not far enough; he would prefer to be farther away, but the palace would not allow it, its walls did not stretch that far. Every time he heard those words it felt like a slap, but after years of this treatment he had gotten used to it. He pulled himself inside the room again, how he had wept bitter tears at night, by himself, but at day he would always be designated to his fate. He was the Tigrina; no one on this god-forsaken planet could take that away from him. And he would live his role, do what was expected of him. He had brought this upon himself, and to complain would be a little too self indulgent, even for Caeru.
A knock on the door shook the Tigrina from his musings. “Enter,” he called as he stifled a yawn. He was tired and had not slept well that night, plagued by nightmares, as always. And no one to soothe him when he woke soaked in sweat. Hearing soft footsteps across the stone floor, he turned with a smile until he saw it was but a messenger, and his smile faded.
“The Tigron wishes to inform that he shall dine alone tonight,” the messenger said, looking skittish and absolutely uncomfortable.
“I see,” Rue said, “dining alone you say?”
“Yes” the messenger said, looking from Caeru to the space between his feet, studying the cracks in the tiles.
“Does he really find me that naive?” Rue hissed, but when the other har still did not move or answer he just sighed deeply and said with a voice that dripped with venom, “Fine! Tell the Tigron that I made other arrangements.” The messenger didn’t look up, afraid the Tigrina would throw one of his notorious fits; he just nodded and hurried out.
“Bastard,” Rue sneered to himself, alone indeed! The Tigrina felt tears welling up in his eyes, not because he was sad, but angry and hurt. Why had Thiede sweet-talked him into this? This humiliation, every day. Every single day he would be dismissed, pushed aside and ignored. Years ago he would have give anything for Pellaz to believe his words, but now it just didn’t seem to matter anymore. He had stopped praying for understanding and redemption; he knew it would never come. He might have power, he might be the Tigrina, but he was not Cal. He hated this har with a vengeance, never having met this mythical creature, which Rue was not even sure existed anywhere else than in Pellaz’ mind. And still it never stopped haunting him; how could he best something he couldn’t touch? No, Pellaz and his marriage was made of blood and loathing.
Not even bothering to change before he left for the dining room, he made his way there quickly, walking down the empty and sometimes hostile corridors, Rue had walked this way so many times he could not count; he could have made the trip blindfolded. A servant opened the great two winged doors to the dining room; the only one present there was Vaysh, who turned as he heard the doors swing open, and smiled. “Good evening, Caeru.”
“Good evening, Vaysh,” Rue muttered and managed a smile at the red haired har as he sat down at the end of the table. Vaysh was already seated at the far end of the table, the seat next to Pellaz’. Wonderful! Caeru thought to himelf, even my dining table is mocking me. Turning to the doors he called for the servant, “Would you make Abrimel’s nanny aware that he is expected here for dinner?” The servant nodded and bowed before hurrying off to the east wing where the harling’s bedroom was located.
Abrimel. That name sounded strange, it tasted wrong. Wolf was Wolf, he would always be, but it had been decided that it was not a kingly name, so Thiede had decided on Abrimel. Not even his own son’s name was he allowed to decide! He was a trinket in a doll house designed by Thiede. It was a charade, nothing more. But this charade was his life, the only one he had. So he had learned how to be still and be strong.
Wolf came running into the half-empty dining room and Rue smiled. “My pearl” he said softly as the harling came straight over for an embrace, before he too sat down next to his hostling.
Dinner was served, and light conversation was held in a hushed tone during the meal, until Wolf suddenly said with a high clear voice “Rue, where is father?”
Caeru smiled. He tried for a natural smile, but instead it came out as a bitter grimace, “He is busy, little one. You can see him in the morning.” For a moment he looked up and had eye contact with Vaysh; the other har’s eyes told him everything he needed to know. Wolf on the other hand accepted the explanation and pushed his plate away, signalling he was full. “Abrimel my sweet,” Rue said, breaking eye contact with the red haired har and looking at his son, “would you like to sleep in my chambers tonight?”
Wolf shook his head, “Nanny promised me I could stay up late and watch the thunderstorm.”
“Ah,” Rue said softly, “the thunderstorm.” He reached out, nuzzled the harling’s hair, and the Tigrina chuckled, “you can see that from my windows as well.”
The harling nodded, “All right, but can I still stay up late?” smiling brightly at his hostling and looking hopeful.
“Of course” Rue said, playfully sticking out his tongue at his son who gleefully returned the gesture.
Chapter 2: Of thunderstorms and confessions
Caeru had one thing to comfort him in all this misery, and that was Wolf. Watching his son sit in the windowsill counting the seconds from the lightning until the thunder roared filled his heart with joy. It made him feel as if everything would be fine after all. He might suffer, but his son was happy; he did not really remember the life they had had before the two of them and Kate had travelled here in search of Wolf’s father.
Knocking at the door shook Rue from his thoughts again, “What now?” he groaned as he walked to open the big black door to the corridor. What he saw shocked him. “Vaysh?!”
“Caeru,” Vaysh said with a little nod, “I just came by with these papers for you. I need them back in the morning for the Tigron.”
“Ah yes,” Rue answered, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. “I shall make sure these are read and signed by the morning so the Tigron won’t have to get his feet dirty walking so far to my door to ask for them himself.” It came out with more acid than intended, but it was nevertheless what he felt.
“Vaysh!!” Wolf cried, running across the floor and flingin himself at the har in the corridor. Vaysh wrapped his arms around the harling and spun around before gently putting Wolf down again. “Come, come Vaysh, we’ve got sweets and everything,” Wolf grabbed Vaysh’s hand and pulled him inside.
“Abrimel. Wait, I don’t think…” Vaysh gently began trying to pry off Wolf’s little hand.
“No, it’s all right, Vaysh, the more the merrier,” Rue said in a chipper voice, hoping that Wolf wouldn’t detect his lie. Closing the door behind Vaysh, he walked to his desk with the papers and sat down to read them over, all the while listening to Vaysh and Wolf talk.
Half an hour later Caeru signed the documents and stood up. He had been concentrating so hard that he had not noticed that the chatting ceased in the bedroom. Peeking in, he saw Vaysh sitting in the windowsill watching the storm with Wolf sleeping against him. He walked over to the duo, gathered Wolf in his arms, and carried him over to the bed. Pulling the cover up to the harling’s chin, he turned and watched Vaysh, who appeared lost and sad as he sat there. Funny how Rue had been so consumed by his own darkness that he never noticed the ones around him. Vaysh looked so young, much younger than Rue thought he was, almost childlike.
He walked over to the cabinet and filled two glasses for himself and Vaysh, handing over the drink to the redhead, then asked with a hushed voice, “Who is warming the Tigron’s bed tonight?” Vaysh turned his head and looked at Caeru who leaned against the other end of the windowsill.
“I don’t know.”
“Ah,” Rue sighed, “you could just as well say it was none of my fucking business.”
“I didn’t mean that,” Vaysh said in a annoyed tone, “with all respect, Caeru, don’t put words in my mouth. I don’t know who the har is.” As he watched Caeru’s attitude grow less hostile he added, “Just some har that struck the Tigron’s fancy.”
“How bourgeois,” Rue said in a haughty tone lifting his glass to propose a toast, “To..” he started but Vaysh cut him of with a sneer.
Caeru lifted his glass and took a sip of the potent beverage instead, pulling a face from the strong aftertaste. “I’m sorry, I forgot who I was talking to, the Tigron’s lapdog. So, Vaysh, will you run and tell him I was wondering about his whereabouts?”
“Not unless you wanted me to,” Vaysh looked as if he were mesmerized by the liquor he swirled in his glass.
“Some friend you are,” Rue said, a sarcastic tone seeping into his voice, “I thought you were Pellaz’ confidante, and then some.”
Vaysh looked up at the har in front of him with a hostile glare, “It’s late, I should leave,” clearly annoyed by the conversation.
Rue didn’t answer but took a sip of his drink, “You take aruna with him, don’t you?” he whispered, the undertone in his voice sounded dangerous, like a viper ready to bite.
Startled, Vaysh slid down from the windowsill, “Goodnight to you too, Caeru,” he mumbled as he sat the glass down on the sill with a hard clank.
“Good night,” Rue said before downing his drink in one large gulp.
Walking resolutely out of the Tigrina’s chambers, he heard Rue mumble behind him. “Don’t let the door slam you on the ass on your way out.”
Furious, Vaysh couldn’t resist slamming the door as he left.
Chapter 3 – Of pride and marble statues
It was late in the afternoon but Rue had fought a war with himself since rising from bed. He knew what he had said to Vaysh had been wrong, but he knew deep within himself that he had only lashed out in frustration. Had he really become so solitary that he had frightened everyone off? After all, Vaysh had been the only har in ages to enter his chambers and stay for more than 10 minutes. He didn’t want to tell Kate, she would chide him and tell him to apologize, and she was properly right, he owed Vaysh an apology. In his own way it felt as if Vaysh had tried to befriend him, only to be met with hostility. Rue wished he could be angry with Vaysh, but he couldn’t. And as he walked barefoot down the corridor to Vaysh’s office he told himself over and over that he did this for Wolf.
Not knocking on the door, he slowly opened it and peeked inside, “Vaysh?”
“I am here,” Vaysh said and Rue could hear rustling of papers and a chair screech as it was pushed along the floor.
Rue entered and closed the door behind him, walking through the little library until he halted at the doorway to the office. Pellaz sat there on a lush chaise reading something. “Pellaz, Vaysh,” he said softly.
“Rue,” Pellaz said as he looked up from the papers, “what brings you here?”
“If you must know, I came to speak with Vaysh,” Rue said, looking away from Pellaz’ stare and focused on something outside the window.
Vaysh was about to burst out with ‘What do you want with me? I am just the Tigron’s lapdog, right?’ but he when he saw the Tigrina standing there in the doorway, Caeru looked beaten and proud in all in one. He knew those feelings all too well himself. Caeru was a vision in black silk as he stood there, avoiding the Tigron’s eyes at all costs. Pride my dear Tigrina, he thought to himself, the downfall of us all. “Yes?” he said with a smile.
Trying to hide his discomfort, Rue fumbled with a bracelet, opened his mouth to speak, but no sound came.
Pellaz put the papers aside and sat up straight, looking at Rue, “What is this? The Tigrina left without a snappy comeback?” Looking Caeru up and down, he smiled coldly, “Did someone pull your fangs my dear?”
Rue didn’t even blink, instead grinding his teeth and making his jaw muscles tick, before he turned and left with a dignified pirouette in a swirl of black silk, slamming the door so hard that the picture hanging on the wall nearly fell off its hook.
Back in his own chambers Rue slammed the door again, tears welling in his eyes, not because he was hurt, but angry, anger flared with a white flame inside threatening to consume him raw. Stomping the floor with the lack of other ways to release his rage, he lashed out and tore down a lamp from a side table, shattering it into a million pieces as it hit the floor.
He had misjudged it all, made a complete fool of himself, and to believe that he owed Vaysh an apology, he owed that twice-damned har nothing! Slumping down amidst the shards on the floor, he felt the tiny pieces cut into the flesh of his knees but he didn’t care.
The Tigrina locked in his prison of gold, hid his face in his hands, and wept bitter tears, imagining another world where someone would hold him, love him, listen to him.
The door behind him opened, and a red hair peeked in. “Oh, Caeru!” Vaysh exclaimed and hurried inside, grabbing Rue’s arm and hauling him to stand, “are you hurt?” seeing the blood on the floor.
“No,” Caeru stated and with a forceful pull got free of Vaysh’s hold, “get out!”
“Let me call for someone to come and clean your wound first,” Vaysh said as he pulled the embroidered rope by the door to call a servant.
“Did you not hear me?” Caeru fumed, “get the fuck out of my bedroom!” When Vaysh didn’t move he raised his voice, “Get out! Get out! Get out!”
Vaysh looked at Caeru with crushing calmness, “When your wounds have been attended, I shall do whatever the Tigrina wishes, even go to Hell.”
Rue snorted, offended, but let Vaysh lead him to a chair, and as if on cue the servants arrived, hurrying off again for hot water and bandages. Rue sat on the chair waiting, and let his head fall backwards so he could stare at the ceiling, “Patching me up?”
“Seems so,” Vaysh said. Standing beside the chair, he looked at the Tigrina’s knees and shins, “One of them needs stitching.”
Caeru said nothing, just ran a hand through his hair and closed his eyes. He remained like that even as the servants showed up and began to tend to the cuts. And the Tigrina sat like a marble statue just waiting for them to finish.
For some reason Vaysh thought that he looked even more the trinket like this, for that was what Caeru was. Where these thoughts came from he didn’t know; he had never given the Tigrina much consideration. Caeru had always just been a necessary evil, a pawn in a play to rule the world. A pretty face and a nice smile like a queen in the old days; he was a trinket, nothing more nothing less. Never had Vaysh given Caeru’s own feelings much thought. He had thought that what Pellaz said had been the truth, and perhaps it was the Tigron’s truth, but not the whole truth. Vaysh knew that emptiness he saw in Caeru’s eyes was resignation and defeat.
The servants left and Caeru’s eyes opened again, looking up at the ceiling.
“Do you still wish for me to leave?”
Rue shook his head slightly and sat up straight and wet his lips before murmuring, “What did you come here for in the first place?”
“Because you left my office so upset,” Vaysh answered as he looked down at the blond har, smiling disarmingly.
“Upset? Since when did anyone care if I was upset?” the Tigrina sighed.
Vaysh felt guilty, and even if he was protective of private matters, he laid a hand on the Tigrina’s shoulder and squeezed it lightly, “I should have seen it before” he whispered.
Turning his head to look at Vaysh, Rue raised a delicate eyebrow, underlining the question that stood written all over his face, “Seen what?”
“How miserable you are,” Vaysh answered truthfully.
“How dare you?” Caeru spat, “don’t make assumptions on my behalf, tiahar!”
Now Vaysh was the one to withdraw to his shell. He removed his hand from the Tigrina’s shoulder, his lips a thin line.
“I have everything that I ever could wish for,” Caeru raged, standing up from the chair, “now excuse me as I need to get ready for dinner.” He slid over and opened the door for Vaysh, pointing to the corridor.
Vaysh didn’t say a word, but he flinched as the door was slammed behind him.
Story Ends [Unfinished]