Continued from Yet Another Face Story.
Dag ate his breakfast slowly. For two weeks, he lived with Face. He still knew little about the youth, save that Face insisted that he was full-grown and not to be treated like a child. Today, Face wanted to inspect the city his army conquered in its first advance into the borders. Dag dreaded the visit. He had family that lived there. Despite his unwillingness to go, he kept his silence on the subject.
He had no way to know if mentioning his family’s uncertain fate was wise; Face seemed to detest the mention of families. Any time Dag mentioned his own parents, Face became distant and refused to talk for hours, until Dag distracted him with a change in subject.
The silver smith took another bite of his omelet and paused. “Does this have bacon in it?” He asked the question suddenly.
Face looked up. “Of course. Bacon is like meat candy.” His grin was wide and open.
“I like it, too.” Dag murmured with a chuckle. He looked around the kitchen. “Who makes our meals, anyway? I never see anyone around here when we’re eating.” He tilted his head to one side and frowned in concern. “It’s not just magicked here, is it? I heard eating magicked food for a long time will make a person starve to death, because it only seems real.”
The boy choked on his food as he laughed. “Are you serious? No, no. My cooks are just under orders to be absent when I eat. They’ll have the same reaction you did. Since I can’t show them their place, I just don’t deal with the hassle.” He rolled his eyes. “Running an army is a pain.” He leaned back in his chair until it rested on the worn back legs, settled in, and closed his eyes. “I’m so tired lately.”
“Maybe you should sleep longer?”
He shook his head. “No. I don’t have time for that. There’s so much to do during the day.” Face’s voice seemed to trail off even as he spoke.
“I hardly see you do anything. We go to bed early enough.” He frowned. “Maybe you’re getting sick? Let me check.” Dag scowled as he stood and reached across the table. Face pushed back and fell. His yelp of surprise sounded like an accidentally-kicked pup.
Dag sighed and walked around the table as Face rose to his feet, and the older man brushed some non-existent dust from the boy’s backside as he gripped Face’s slender wrist. For a moment, his hold on the other male was too tight. When he noticed, he relaxed his grasp.
“You’re too skinny.” Dag paused and looked at the boy’s face. “You’re all red.”
Face’s cheeks reddened more, and the blush spread to even the young man’s pointed ears. “I am not.” To his credit, Face neither choked on the words, nor struggled with them. He quickly yanked his arm from Dag and dashed from the kitchen.
With a sigh, Dag returned to his seat. It did not good to chase the boy, he knew. There would just be more running, if he did. Instead, he simply finished his breakfast and washed his plate. Only when he was finished, did he begin to climb those thrice-damned stairs.
He hated every step of them, each time he climbed them. When he walked down, he forgave them, for they were easily descended. Dag looked up, and regretted it. The climb was a horror when he walked alone. He almost decided to go for a walk instead, but forced himself to climb those wretched, uneven stone steps before him.
Each step made his hips ache, and he considered simply ending this farce with the boy’s life, though the urge disappeared quickly, just as any loving parent’s child-killing impulses might. What kind of idiot made towers this tall without landings at all?
The answer seemed to be ‘boys with too much time, money, and spunk for their own good.’
Finally, he arrived at the top. The exhaustion of the climb, and its pain, had dulled considerably since his arrival, but it was still tiring and painful. He opened the door and looked inside.
Face was seated on the edge of his bed. He faced away from the door, and his shoulders were shaking. Now and then, he made a choked sound.
Dag walked to him. “Boy, are you alright?” he asked as he gripped Face’s shoulder and turned the boy. As the cape moved from view, he saw it. Face was stroking himself. “Put that away! It isn’t proper!” He scolded as he looked away. His face was red. “You need to eat dried grapes and find another way to relieve your tension.” His face felt on fire.
“What? Oh, it isn’t that bad.” Face laughed and continued. He looked right at Dag’s face. “You should be flattered. I’m thinking of you.”
Dag paled and turned from him. “Stop that, boy! It isn’t natural!”
“Says who? An old man who’s a money-grubbing virgin?” Face laughed. “It’s healthy. You should join me, right now.”
Face cut him off. “I’m a man.” he insisted. “I’m small in every sense but my nose, but I’m a man.” His eyes seemed suddenly distant, and the eyes of his cape began to glow. “If I must prove that to you, I will.” Finally, he released himself. “I refuse to be called a child.”
His tone frightened the old silversmith. “Fine, I won’t call you a child.” he agreed quickly.
Face ignored him and rose to his feet. Heels clicked on the floor, and he approached Dag. As the boy reached for Dag’s groin, the larger man shoved Face away forcibly.
Face yelped. His eyes reverted. He stumbled backwards. Stumbling feet tripped on his cape. His arms windmilled frantically, and Dag tried to catch Face as the small man with silver hair fell out the open window.
Dag almost followed him out. He looked down in horror as Face fell down. Before the smaller man could land, he turned away and began to run down those long stairs. It seemed to take forever. Several times, he almost fell off the unguarded side, down onto the floor far below. He skipped steps with long strides and panted as he finally dashed from the door.
Face wasn’t there. He could see where the dust was unsettled by his landing, where Face had bled, and he could see several people approach.
He had to flee.
Against logical judgement, he dashed back into the tower and climbed the stairs, two and three at a time. Adrenaline made him forget his pain.
Finally, he came to the door at the top of those long stairs. He threw it open, dashed inside, and quickly shut and barred it. He panted as he collapsed to his knees.