It was a simple enough dream. He was in his bedroom, sitting on his bed.
His stereo was in front of him, and he was listening to music. He always listened to music when his father was on the prowl.
So he should be scared and upset. Instead he felt... happy.
He was humming a tune he couldn't make out when his head turned. Anakin
stood there smiling at him. The guilt was there, as it always was now. But Anakin's smile was that of the first day, that
warm, kind smile. Like nothing had happened.
With the unknown music in his ears, Caius couldn't find a reason not to
kiss him. It should have been surprising. He never would have done it in real life. But he didn't hesitate, gently grabbing
Anakin's hand and pulling him in. Anakin stepped forward and leaned down, waiting, that smile still there. Caius was smiling,
too, as they kissed.
Caius' hand was wet.
He didn't break off the kiss so much as they just weren't kissing anymore.
Anakin's hand was covered in blood.
He looked up to see Anakin much further away now, covered by that red liquid.
It coated his skin, his clothes, the floor. Anakin's gaze turned to him, that smile still plastered stupidly on his face,
those eyes dead.
“Caius, I am all right...”
“Caius, Caius, wake yourself! Caius!”
“No – no...”
“Caius! ...Caius, your father will hear.”
At that, he snapped awake. The images flashed past his eyes, scaring him
even more deeply as he awoke. It wasn't a dream. It wasn't a dream – he'd actually caused that. And he was still receiving
that damn smile.
He looked at Anakin, who immediately backed away. “I apologize –
your father is not home yet. I just felt that saying such would help you awaken.”
“Ah...” He rubbed
his eyes. The smile wasn't there, at least for now. “No, it's fine.”
Anakin's eyes were frowning, too, along with his lips. “Please, Caius.
Talk to me about this.”
“Can't.” He was too tired. He could say something he'd regret.
He didn't want... he covered his eyes. “I... I should do dinner.”
“Caius...” Anakin's voice was pained. “Please. I cannot
help you if you do not allow me.”
Caius shook his head. “No... I...” Man, he was tired. “I
can't,” he repeated. He sat up and pulled himself off of the bed.
“Caius, at least allow me to make supper for you.” Anakin's
hands reached out to hold Caius steady when he would have fallen.
Caius grimaced. Great, just what he needed. To make Anakin a servant. “No...
I'm fine.” He shook his head to clear it. Come on, he'd been tired before. Granted, he'd never gone this long without
a full rest, but he could handle it. It was just a little lack of sleep. “I can do it.”
“Please,” Anakin whispered.
Caius turned to him, shocked. The tone had become almost... desperate. “I...
Anakin's hand gently pushed back Caius' bangs. “I would like to cook
Caius' mouth gaped. “You... do you really...?” He bit his lip.
“Or are you just saying that?”
“I want to do it,” Anakin said firmly.
Caius hesitated. He hated cooking, though he'd become pretty good at it
over time. If Anakin wanted to do it...
“I shouldn't let you do my jobs...” he murmured quietly.
“It is just this one, and just because I want to.” Anakin gripped
his shoulders. “Caius, let me do this.”
Caius was too tired to argue. “All right.”
Anakin sighed in relief, then carefully led Caius downstairs and into the
kitchen. “There. Now just sit down and I'll cook.” He looked at the stove. “This is much easier than where
I come from.”
Caius hummed, negligently placing his arms on the table. “That's nice,”
he murmured, his eyes closing. He found his head on his arms and sighed.
He thought he heard Anakin chuckle. “Rest well. I will take the nightmares
away. You need not worry...”
Caius slipped into sleep, this time comforted with the sound of Anakin's
“I am very sorry, little Caius, but you must wake up. I hear your
father's car in the drive.”
Caius mumbled incoherently and shifted in his chair.
“Caius.” He was shaken lightly. “Caius, you must wake
Caius opened bleary eyes and looked wearily up at Anakin. “Wha...?”
“Caius, your father is back!”
Caius snapped up from his seat. Anakin had to take a quick step back to
avoid colliding with him. “What?! Crap! Wait-” He swiveled to the stove. He didn't recognize the food sitting
there in a pot, nor did he recognize the smell, but it was mouth-watering. “Oh.”
“Is it good enough?”
“What's it called?” He heard the key in the lock.
“What the hell is that?!” Caius hissed.
“Roughly translated, it means Three-Bean Chili.”
That sounded... questionable. “Umm...”
The door opened. “Boy! Is my dinner ready?”
Boy? He was in a fairly good mood. “Yes, sir.”
“And you haven't left another goddamn mess in that room?” His
father dumped his tool set by the door and glared at Caius.
“You better not be lying to me, boy.”
His father stomped into the room and took a deep whiff. “What the
hell is that?”
“It's Three-Bean Chili,” Caius said nervously. He quickly added,
“we had to learn it in school.”
“Pussy,” his father muttered, but he sat down and glared at
Caius was eternally thankful that he wasn't going to be yelled at or punished
for making something new. He rushed to the cupboards and pulled out a bowl and spoon and quickly dished up some soup. He went
and gave the bowl to his father before grabbing a beer from the fridge. His father drank so much he hardly ever got drunk
anymore. “Here you go, sir.”
“Humph.” His father dug in. “You gay, boy?”
Caius gritted his teeth, unable to keep himself from remembering his dream.
“Then why are you cooking something new?”
“I'm supposed to, father. It's homework.”
“Pansy-ass homework for pansy-assed kids. That's why there's so many
gays out there now, because this nation's makin' 'em gay. When I was a kid, no boys went around cookin' for their classes.
Caius took a careful breath and said carefully, “I think they do it
for the girls.”
“Then have the girls do that girly shit and give the men real work!”
his father bellowed. Caius was just glad the anger was, for once, not directed toward him. “The hell sort of pansy-ass
teacher did this? I'll call the school and tell them what I think about this pansy mumbo-jumbo! What class, boy?”
“It – it's a part of the curriculum, father. Sh... he
couldn't help it. It... it looked like he was-”
“Queer? Goddamn right! What sort of pussy makes his students cook?
“No, father; he looked angry.”
“Angry? Then why the fuck did he do it?”
“It's a part of the curriculum, father. The school board put it in.”
At this point, if he were caught in the lie, he was screwed, and big time. Caius didn't dare look at Anakin to see how he
was taking this.
His father, despite his complaining, was devouring Anakin's chili. “The
school board?” he spat. “It's gotten to the point where you can't trust your kid's upbringin' to no one! No wonder
you're so damn gay! It's just like your mother. She was so weak, a pathetic little pansy-ass. That's why she died.”
He took a deep swig of his beer. “That's right. She was too fuckin' weak.”
Caius couldn't stop his hands from clenching.
“Caius,” Anakin said softly. Caius didn't turn to him.
“What, boy?” His father had caught Caius' movement. “You
wanna start a fight with me? Still little Mama's boy?” He chuckled. “See? There's no way you ain't gay. You wanna
fight me, boy? You wanna fight a real man?”
Caius took a deep breath and unclenched his fists. “No, sir.”
“That's right.” His father pointed his spoon at Caius. “You
better start takin' your place as bottom in this household. Just like you do in bed. Got it?”
His hands started to shake. “Yes, sir.”
“Damn right,” his father nodded, taking another deep swig. Then
he thrust out his bowl. “Get me another one.”
“Yes, sir.” He took the bowl and went back over to the counter,
his hands trembling.
“Here. This is a TV.” Caius pointed it out to Anakin. His father
had passed out drunk at the table in the kitchen. Whenever Caius' mother turned up in a conversation, his father always drank
Caius and Anakin were now settling down with their own bowls. Anakin studied
the television quizzically. “What is the point of it?”
“Uhmm, it's easier just to show you.” Caius scooted back a bit
further into the couch. His aches and pains from the multiple beatings were soothed by the cushion. Anakin, of course, sat
beside him. Those amethyst eyes were locked on Caius. “Uh, watch the screen.”
Anakin turned to the television. “What is the screen?” he asked
“The shiny part of...” Caius choked on a breath. An order.
“Oh God.” He shook his head violently, dropping the remote. “No. No! You don't have to...”
His hands shook violently, even worse than when he'd been feeding his father. “I take it back, I take it-”
“Shh, little one.” Anakin gently took Caius' head and placed
in into his chest. “Shh, it is nothing. Please. I am fine. Let us continue?”
“I didn't mean to,” Caius mumbled.
“I know. The order was not painful to me, Caius.”
“But,” he argued, pulling his head back, “but it could
have been. I can't...”
“Oh, Caius.” Anakin pulled his head back under his chin. “Caius...”
Caius didn't think; he gripped Anakin's shirt. “I didn't mean to...
Anakin seemed to understand that he wasn't talking about the television.
“I'll never...” Caius swallowed loudly, pulling back his tears.
“I'll never be able to forget...”
“Caius.” Anakin's voice was tight.
Caius' eyes closed. How did Anakin smell so good? It was a comforting smell
– like summertime, right at twilight. It was a nice smell. And Anakin was so warm...
He shivered. He didn't have the right to rest in this embrace.
Besides, he wasn't...
He tried to pull away. Anakin's arms resisted for a moment before he released
Caius from his hold. “I...” Caius looked up, then quickly away. Anakin's violet eyes were clenched in pain. And
had that been a grimace? Caius turned to the television, then looked around for the remote.
What would he say to Anakin? What could he say? There was no way
they could talk about... about what had happened. Anakin would try to console him. He didn't want to be consoled. He didn't
deserve to be consoled.
“Where's...” Caius found it then. He snatched the remote from
the floor and quickly pressed the power button.
“Caius-” But Anakin's words died in his throat. He leaned forward,
enraptured. “Caius, what is this?”
“Umm...” Caius watched for a moment. “Oh – The Colbert
Report. It's news, I suppose, but he's extremely sarcastic.” Caius sat back again to watch. Stephen Colbert was funny
“News?” Anakin turned back to Caius. “This is how you
receive your news?”
Caius shrugged, smiling. “It's one way. We also get newspapers. They're
large pages with information on them. But anything you listen to will be tainted by bias. That's why it's best to read and
listen to everything you can.” Caius laughed. “We have an election coming up.”
“Election?” Anakin sounded extremely interested in that. “What
is that? You mentioned it earlier...”
Caius gave up on Colbert and turned to Anakin. “Every four years,
we choose who's going to be our president.”
Anakin's eyes got wide. “You can do that?”
“Well, not me,” Caius admitted. “I'm sixteen. You have
to be eighteen to be able to vote.”
Anakin frowned. “Why?”
“That's the law.”
Anakin brushed that aside for now. “But you said something about being
able to choose your king?”
Caius got an uneasy feeling again, just as he had when he'd spoken about
McKinley's murder. What was it that Anakin was really asking? But he would never demand an answer. No way. “Yeah. Every
four years. And a president can't stay in office for more than eight years... I think because they would begin to have delusions
of grandeur or something. We didn't want anyone to have as much power as a king because we'd been terrorized by our king.
We started a revolution and won, creating our country.”
Anakin soaked up Caius' words. “Then... were you alive... during this...?”
Anakin moved his hand.
With a laugh, Caius answered. “No. No way. It happened a long, long
time ago. All I know are pieces of history.”
“How did you win?” Anakin asked.
This was more than a concern for his ability to maintain his job when he
returned. This was more than just simple interest. This was... this was dangerous. Whatever was going on right now, it was
dangerous to get involved.
“Uh... something about guerrilla warfare.” Caius bit his lip.
On the end-table sat their bowls, most likely cold by now. Caius couldn't see any steam, in any case.
Anakin's eyes were too bright. “It's... usually back then people fought
in lines... guerrilla warfare meant hiding in the bushes and striking quickly before fading back into the trees.”
Anakin's eyes were too thoughtful. He was too interested. What was going
on? “Guerrilla warfare,” he murmured. “It is true that many prefer to attack in formation...” His
eyes turned inward. “I wonder if...”
Caius turned his eyes away, uneasy. Anakin was scaring him. “Tomorrow,”
he said with false cheeriness, “we can... we can go to the park or something. I... I need to do some paintings... I
Anakin's eyes slowly turned outward to stare at Caius. Fear seized Caius'
lungs. Those eyes were cold. Murderously cold.
Then Anakin smiled and the cruel intent vanished. “I would like that.
I remember one of your friends saying something about you painting. You go to the park?”
No. There were people there. “Sometimes.” Caius shrugged. “It's
mostly for the light. I draw what I see in my mind, not what I see through my eyes. My...” He hesitated. “My agent
says it's the eye of the Muse.”
“May I watch?”
“U-Uhmm, sure. If you want. I'm... I'm usually not good company when
I'm painting. Just to warn you. I tend to snap at people if they interrupt me.”
Anakin smiled. “It is a crime in Regaliae to disturb a writer or artist
Now Caius' interest was piqued. “Really? Why?”
“Simple.” It was so easy now to believe he'd made up the killing
tint of those violet eyes. Now, when he was smiling and relaxed and even amused, it was so simple to forget that those eyes
could change from kind to cruel to... dead. “The hardest thing to do is create.”
Caius smiled at that. “I... guess.” It pleased him to hear Anakin
say it. “Then we'll go to the park tomorrow. My agent's been bothering me to bring out something for her to show...”
Caius thought of something. “Hey, Anakin. How close do you have to be to me to be... safe?”
“I just need to be able to see you,” Anakin told him.
Caius nodded, satisfied. “All right then. The park has some rides.
And a walking path. If you want to do something...” Caius shrugged. “Though I can't think of what...” The
more he thought about it, the worse he felt. “I... I don't usually go out... and I...” He looked over Anakin's
body. It was definitely built. He exercised pretty often, Caius would guess. But of course he hadn't been able to these past
few days. “I'm sorry. What do you usually do?”
Anakin shook his head. “I am fine with what you wish to do.”
“We can't always just do the things I want to,” Caius argued.
“Technically, you're a guest.”
Anakin's eyes warmed even more than they had been. He was happy. Why? Because
they were going to the park? “Thank you, Caius.”
“But you haven't...” Caius gasped. “O-Oh.” He'd
been talking without thinking, without checking himself. What if he'd...?
“No, please.” Anakin's hand caught his when he tried to pull
back. “Don't. I have missed this.”
“I...” But he hadn't given an order. Had he? “I didn't...”
Anakin sighed. His eyes grew sad again. “No, of course you did not
give me any orders. Caius, you must put this behind you. What do you want me to say?”
“Say you hate me,” Caius blurted out.
Anakin's face twisted into shock. “What?”
Caius blushed and looked down, but he turned his body more fully toward
Anakin, pulling his legs beneath him. “Say you hate me for hurting you.”
“Caius,” Anakin breathed, his voice in agony, “I hate
you for hurting me.”
Despite himself, he felt tears drip down his face. His heart wrenched. And
worse, so much worse... “I ordered you again.”
“I'm sorry,” Anakin said immediately, trying to touch Caius.
With a whimper, Caius flinched away. “I'm so sorry. I didn't mean it, Caius, I swear-”
“You should mean it,” Caius cried. He froze then. His
father's drunken snores broke and paused for a moment. He didn't breathe again until they returned to a normal rhythm. “You
should,” he said again, his voice infinitely quieter.
“No, no, Caius. I shouldn't; of course I shouldn't. I hurt you, scared
you, and all you did was try to be alone to deal with what I had done. You are only sixteen, Caius. Do not be so hard on yourself.”
“Sixteen is old enough to know better!” Caius argued vehemently.
At least they were fighting. Thanks to that, he was no longer crying. “I should have known – I should have seen
what I was doing. I... and I can't stop!” Dammit, his eyes were burning. “I can't stop telling you what to do...
it's only been three days, and...”
“I trust you.”
“You shouldn't,” Caius whispered. “I'm only going to break
your trust. In the end, I'll just hurt you again. Just like my father...”
Anakin's hands captured Caius' face in their grip. Just a little pressure
had their eyes meeting. There was something angry, almost desperate in that amethyst gaze. “No, Caius. Not like your
father. Never! You do not hurt on purpose for pleasure from your pain. You do not poison yourself; you do not hate so fiercely.
You are nothing like him, Caius. Nothing.”
“I...” With his head facing up in Anakin's hands, there was
no way to blink back the tears. “I don't want to hurt you,” he whispered.
“I know.” Anakin's voice was merely a breath, a scent that caught
itself in Caius' nose. Those eyes searched for something, then closed. When they opened again, there was pain... and need.
“I am sorry, Caius.”
And Anakin kissed him.