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[personal profile] aldersprig
First: M/m Keeper/Kept
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Shel drove a small sports car which, he said, The Boss had bought for him. “It’s not mine or anything, it’s just, you know, image.”

“I know about image,” Ctirad agreed. He rode in the passenger seat, wondering what owning him - or, for the mundane people, what having him as, uh, an employed bodyguard one slept with Was that a thing, outside of Ermenrich? He was beginning to question everything he knew about life.


That was its own question, and he really didn’t know the answer.

Shel might, though. “So, uh.” Ctirad cleared his throat and tried not to be horribly uncomfortable. Mostly, he failed. “What does the boss have me for? A boyfriend, he said, and a bodyguard?”

“Well, it says he sleeps with dangerous men. It invites anyone to make a comment about his sexuality, dares anyone to question his love life, and then, well, it faces them with you, who, I’m sure, can probably kick just about anyone’s ass.”

“I,” Ctirad cleared his throat. “I can, but -”

“But how did I know? When you’re relaxed, you hold yourself like you’re absolutely sure of your space. You’ve got muscle, that’s not Mask. And I know the boss. No matter how much he wanted to yank Ermenrich‘s chain, the Boss wouldn’t have bought someone just… just to sit there. he likes people to be comfortable in their skill zone and be doing what it is that makes them happy. You, uh, I mean this with the utmost respect, when you’re relaxed, you look like you’d be comfortable breaking people’s legs.”

“Arms,” Ctriad answered absently. Shel had earned some honesty. “Or necks. I thought he might want a trained killed, but then - well, he doesn’t treat me like a trained killer.”

“Different thing. Trained killer isn’t what you’re comfortable doing, is it? Fighting, that’s different than killing. At least, everywhere I’ve ever been.”

Ctirad studied Shel. “What did you say your job was, again?”

“Not sure I did. I’m the boss’s assistant. Which means I spend a lot of time getting to know people, so that I can be sure the boss knows him. Except,” He held up both his hands for a moment, then grabbed the steering wheel before that could be a problem, “not what I do with other staff. What we talk about, that’s between you and me.”

“Why’s that?” Ctirad didn’t believe him for a second, but his reasons might be telling.

“It’s one of my qualifications for employment. In the house, that’s private belowstairs stuff. The boss doesn’t like it, he can hire someone who’s willing to backstab his coworkers. Me, I know I have to work with you guys, and I’d rather be friends than get a raise.”

“…Why?” Ctirad was perplexed. “Why do we-”

“Matter? Because I’d rather not work in a toxic work environment. I mean, do you really like not knowing if your co-workers are talking about you or going to stab you in the back, or-”

“I knew they were going to, at the old place. I didn’t do the same, because…” He trailed off. Why hadn’t he done the same? “Well, I don’t fight like that.” Somewhere deep inside him, some portion of his memory was asserting itself.

Shel looked at him but said nothing, eyebrow lifted. Ctirad swallowed and thought about it.

“I wasn’t supposed to worry about other people. They weren’t important. The only thing that was important was Ermenrich. And.” He worked his jaw and decided he might as well admit it. “I didn’t care so much, because, well, I was fucked. I’d gotten myself in a position where I didn’t want anyone to know who I was, and I didn’t want them to know anything about me. Maybe they’d forget me. Maybe someday, maybe, I don’t know, after Ermenrich died, maybe I could make a name for myself again. The less I was friends with his people, the easier it would be.”

“Scorched earth.” Shel considered that for a minute.

Ctirad hadn’t said that, but he hadn’t exactly not said it either
“Leave no witnesses?” Shel continued.

“Maybe just the assholes,” Ctirad allowed. “They weren’t all bad.”

“Remind me,” Shel offered, with a grin that seemed to make everything all right, “not to be an asshole to you.”


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