Chapter Six: The Aftermath
It was only the third day with Anakin, but Caius was usually more comfortable around him than anyone else, even with yesterday's
disaster. He went on the bus again, once more watching for Anakin and making sure he touched no one. Anthony must have seen
the new bruises, or maybe he caught the slight limp, because he greeted Caius with a severe frown.
Nancy and Mark, of course, were oblivious. So was the rest of the school body. It was just as Caius liked it, but still difficult
The day passed smoothly, with Anakin entertaining himself by reading everything he could find. It had almost made Caius smile.
The bus was jam-packed for the ride home earlier than usual. It was Friday, and the blessed weekend shone prominently in everyone's
minds. Caius wasn't looking forward to it at all.
He leaned his head back and sighed. He was exhausted. He'd stayed up all night cleaning up Anakin's blood under his father's
orders. Anakin had worriedly hovered, but Caius had needed to do it. It was his fault. All that blood...
He clenched his eyes shut and shivered.
“Are you well?”
He turned his head to Anakin. The man was still kind to him. It baffled him. He'd put Anakin through so much pain, and yet
here he was, asking if he was all right. It was painful to see. “I'm fine,” he whispered. The destructive din
the other students were making made it impossible for anyone else to hear.
Anakin's lips turned into a frown. Caius didn't like looking at them; they reminded him of the kiss, which inevitably reminded
him of... of what he'd done.
“I am fine, Caius.”
Caius couldn't help the wave of guilt that swept him up. He could still see the blood on Anakin's body, dripping to the ground.
He could still see those fascinating eyes turned dead. It made him sick, physically sick, to know he'd been the cause. During
classes, he'd found himself fighting back nausea more than once.
“Truly, I am no longer harmed.”
But you had been harmed, and by me. More than ever, Caius feared what could happen. Seeing what he could do by accident, angry
and hurt and upset... and he'd never had full control over his emotions. He'd been beaten for it plenty of times before, but...
but that had always been him. He didn't mind. At least not compared to this – now he was his father, beating and hurting
and tormenting because he had more power.
He had never wanted to be like his father.
He shook his head. No, he couldn't listen to any more of Anakin's words. They were always words of comfort, not condemnation.
And condemnation was what he deserved. Nothing else.
“You okay, kiddo?”
Caius looked up to see the bus driver staring at him in concern. He smiled tiredly. “Yeah, sorry. Just thinking about
a test I just took.”
“You don't look too good.”
Sitting behind the bus driver had its benefits. This wasn't one of them. “Yeah, I don't feel so hot.”
“You should rest when you get home.”
“Yeah,” he murmured. He looked away then, not wanting to continue the conversation. But he turned to the window,
where Anakin was waiting to pounce.
“He's right, Caius. Are you still in pain?”
He sighed. There was no escape from Anakin's concern. He didn't deserve it. “Please... just let it go.”
Anakin seemed about to protest, but just then the bus stopped. Caius hadn't managed to stand up quickly enough, so he had
to wait until the rest of the students disembarked before he and Anakin could get off, as well. It saved him only precious
Caius started walking toward the house immediately. Anakin was right there by his side, following his every footstep. But
Caius didn't dare open his mouth to say anything. “Caius, I understand why you lost your temper. I should not have moved
so suddenly. I did not give you time to react.”
Caius shook his head, still staying silent. He was careful now, so very careful, to say please or to triple-check his words
before speaking. Right now he was focusing on not showing his pain as he walked carefully back to the house. He was in agony
from the wounds he'd received from his father. “My fault.”
“Caius, you must stop this. You hardly speak to me anymore. You seem to fall into your mind at times, and when you are
released you look pained. You are remembering last night, are you not?”
Caius said nothing still. He tried unsuccessfully to think of his homework, double the usual amount since he hadn't managed
to finish anything last night. He had sworn to hand it in on Monday and apologized for not getting it done. His teachers had
reminded him of the late penalty and walked off.
He made it to the house, pulled out the key and opened the door. It was with exquisite care that he closed it after Anakin.
Anakin rounded on him and picked him up before he could stop it. Caius opened his mouth to yell, but snapped it shut. What
if he said something?
“Caius, you must stop! It happened only once, and when I tested you beyond your endurance. You must not be afraid!”
Anakin carted him up the stairs.
“I...” He thought. “I'm not afraid of you.” No orders. He hardly wanted to open his mouth for fear
of saying something-
“Of course you are not afraid of me. You care about me, which means you trust me. Why else would you be so deep in your
guilt? You must release yourself. I am fine.”
Caius shook his head and opened the bedroom door for Anakin. “But... what if I...?”
“I will survive it. I know it is not your fault. You had no intention of hurting me.”
“But I did.” His voice was a horrified whisper. He looked down at the floor. He'd used bleach to try to get the
stain out, but no matter how much he'd rubbed, the stain had remained, vile and thick as the sin on his soul.
“Stop this!” Anakin placed Caius down on his bed. “You must stop. I am unharmed. There are no residual effects.
I was in pain, but I am not anymore. I am well.” Anakin spread his arms. “Look at me! Do I looked abused to you?”
Caius looked. He saw those strong arms, that lean chest now clothed in one of his new shirts. It was long-sleeved, but tight.
The manacles gleamed brilliantly against it, glistening with the stain of blood.
Caius winced and looked away.
“Caius,” Anakin sighed. He knelt in front of Caius and stared into his eyes. “I am fine now, I swear it
to you. Please, I do not want this to come between us.”
Caius winced, closing his eyes. Anakin's dark amethyst gaze was penetrating. Pleading. But for how long? How long before he
made another mistake, hurting Anakin again? How long before Anakin's pain turned him away from Caius forever? Better to sever
things now, before something else happened. He didn't want to hurt Anakin again!
Caius... whimpered. “Please don't,” he murmured, just as he had on the bus. He wasn't able to keep his eyes closed.
Anakin's eyes showed the desperation he felt. “Please, Caius. I instigated your actions-”
“Please stop!” he shouted, then flinched and closed his mouth. He watched Anakin closely.
Anakin's small smile was sad. “Worry not. You did not order me.”
“I'm sorry,” he whispered.
“No more apologies,” Anakin said. “You have apologized more than enough, little one. I am healed. I bear
Caius shook his head, knowing the truth. There were scars, all right, and they would never heal. “I...” He closed
his mouth, thinking carefully. “I'll never be able to apologize enough, no matter what you say.”
Anakin's hands came up, then hesitated. Those violet eyes faltered.
Caius winced again. “I'm sorry,” he murmured, catching Anakin's retreating hands. “I'm sorry.”
“I'm sorry. I messed it all up. We were...” He had to close his eyes and concentrate. “We were...”
Any way he said it, it sounded wrong. “And then I ordered you, and now you're afraid to...”
“Shh.” Anakin raised himself up, encircling Caius within his arms. “Shh. It is true I am afraid, but only
because I do not know what will hurt you. You are so very fragile right now, and I do not want to harm you any more.”
“No, I...” But Anakin pulled him closer, until it was far too warm and comfortable for him to argue. He let himself
relax a bit in Anakin's arms, in the shelter they gave him. But relaxing was wrong, and he tensed up again immediately. He
couldn't let himself relax.
“Shh, Caius. Rest.”
He shook his head. Anakin, he noted wearily, smelled good. The sweater he was wearing had been cleaned at three in the morning
at Caius' behest. It smelled like Anakin now, though, and not the detergent. A deep scent...
No, he shouldn't think like this! He'd hurt Anakin because of his... his anger at...
Anakin was rocking him.
“Anakin.” He felt too safe, too cared for. Cherished. It wasn't right. “I...”
“Shh. Just rest now.”
“I can't afford to...”
“Shh, little one. The way you are hurting... do not worry. You will not harm me.”
“That's what you said... before.” He couldn't name his atrocity. “I...” I'm just like my father.
“Please, Caius. Rest.”
His fists clenched. “No. No, I can't.”
“You hardly slept last night. You must get some rest.”
“No.” He thought quickly. “I have homework. I should...”
“You have two days, correct? That is what I heard. Just rest for today.”
“No. What if...” What if he did something again? “I didn't even think. I didn't think! And because of that,
“Shh. You are just a child. This is too much of a burden for you.”
“I don't want to hurt you, Anakin. I don't want... but I've already messed up. What if I hurt you again? What if I mess
up again? Only two days, and I've already...” He winced. He was breathing too hard; his ribs hurt. “I don't want
“Oh, Caius.” Anakin buried his head in Caius' hair. Caius was too busy trying to keep his tears in check to notice
that it was improper. “I am sorry. For placing this burden on you, I will never be able to cleanse myself.”
“No, not you,” he gasped. His ribs were singing now, and the tempo was held by his throbbing head. “I...
it's me. It's all me.”
“No, of course not. Haven't you realized? I should have no freedom by now, dear Caius. You should have taken everything
from me. Yet you didn't. Even when you returned, I know you wanted to leave the orders. You do not want me to kiss you. Yet
you took the order back.”
“I had to. I don't...” He buried himself even deeper into Anakin's new shirt. “I don't want to force you
into anything.” Anakin was right – he didn't want to be kissed. But that was no excuse for what he did.
His anger had resulted in someone else's pain, just like his father's anger hurt him. He could never excuse his actions. He'd
told himself he would never... but actions were always louder than words. And his actions...
He deserved the exact opposite of what Anakin was giving him.
“Let...” He closed his mouth and quickly shoved away from Anakin. In surprise, the older man's arms dropped. Caius
stood in a flourish, horrified. He'd almost ordered Anakin to let go! He'd almost... no, he couldn't relax. How many orders
had he given in two days alone? He couldn't let himself relax. He couldn't let himself make any more mistakes!
“No, I can't!” He sliced the air with his hand. “I can't let myself...” He didn't want to shout. What
if he said something reckless? “I can't,” he murmured quietly. “Please don't ask me to.”
“Please do not...” Anakin parroted, shocked. “Caius, you are tired. You must rest. If you do not, you will
surely make a mistake.”
Caius flinched. Thinking about it rationally, he knew Anakin was right. If he got too tired, he would not be able to think
properly. If he messed up... he shuddered. “All right. I'll rest.” He shook his head. “But... I can't...”
He couldn't speak from now on. He firmed his lips.
“I understand. Just get some rest, Caius.”
“I...” Again, he thought about his words. “I need to be awake by five to start father's dinner.”
At the mention of his father, Anakin frowned. “Yes, all right. I will wake you.”
“I... I didn't order you, did I?”
“No, little Caius. You did not order me.”
Anakin's gaze was kind and reassuring. Caius didn't know whether to trust it or not. But then again, Anakin was a lot more
trustworthy than he. Caius forced himself to turn to his bed. No more talking. Just sleep. He could do that.
With a deep breath, he laid down on his bed and closed his eyes. But despite his exhaustion, it was a long while before he
And just as he feared, he had a nightmare.
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