Title: Forbroiden Fantasy
Fandom: Count Cain
Genre: Angst, shipfic
Warnings: Spoilers for the later parts of the manga
Summary: On the thousand-and-first morning, he woke and realized the truth would never live up to what he needed.
Disclaimer: Kaori Yuki owns, I do not, etc. etc.
A/N: For ellen_grieves.
Cain remembered one thousand blue winter dawns. He amassed the memories in a great hoard, guarded them and took them out to run the fingers of his recollection across. They could not have actually numbered a thousand, not really, but perception and bare fact always were two different things, and in this respect he preferred the former. Even iconoclasts need their own private fairy tales.
In summer, the mornings were golden, the light bright and strong as brass, dancing among broad green leaves. Later in the year, there was nothing like this at all. All that lay behind the lace of frost on the windowpanes were black, denuded trees where no birds sang: blankness, as though this castle stood at the edge of nothingness. There was something fragile about that, something alluring that could not be captured by a world overfull of life. Sometimes, Cain thought that real beauty required a minor key.
Sleep was for him like wandering blind through the gnarled roots of some monstrous old tree, littered with things that would trip or snare unwary feet. Many of those mornings began with Riff pulling him from the thorny grasp of nightmares. Riff was the one who understood things like that; Riff always understood.
(Riff, who was simply there, always there; Riff who was sphinx-like and wise, who knew the answers to questions before they were asked, to the ones that were never asked. Riff who was perfect in every way.)
That was why Cain liked the winter mornings the best. He would not apologize, because people who apologized seemed to think that what everybody craved was simple human warmth, but that was something that could be found anywhere, especially for a gentleman with money. He himself did not usually like to be touched at all; he got uncomfortable when people stood too close, as though they were inadvertently smothering him.
What he thought everyone needed was that one person to whom the normal rules did not apply. It would have been unimaginably humiliating to let anyone else see his scars, much less touch them; he drank in the feeling of those hands across his back (because you are the one who sees me, who knows me, who would throw away all the rest of the world for me). He loved the brush of Riff’s lips, which were smooth and dry, not like the pouting, painted mouths of women, against his own.
And he never worried about it; there was nothing wrong with being a sinner when it was sin which sustained you, and anyway, who was it that first thought they had a right to say what was good or bad for another?
Riff, the truth of you and I may be a greater truth than Truth at any rate.
(truth of you)
Perhaps the better question was, Who was it that first thought they had the ability to know another?
On the thousand-and-first morning (or the not-thousand-and-first morning, if there never were a thousand to begin with), he woke and remembered, realized. This was not the first morning since Riff had left. It probably should have been (how had he not realized before?); then again, truth never was obligated to live up to the expectations of men.
He was only half-awake when he became aware of the obsessive feeling of hands running back and forth, back and forth across his skin– his own, of course. He was alone now, forever. This scar crossed that one just below the shoulder blade: know your own geography; don’t be such a coward as to allow someone else to bear your pain for you. And there was the new scar, the fresh, hard little one on his ear. Riff never touched this one, he murmured to himself proudly. Maybe he had just won for once. (But even before he woke all the way, he knew that was a lie. He wasn’t that stupid.)
All of last night’s bravado was done with the dawn. Oscar and Crehador had been over, planning, drinking, pretending like everything was perfectly normal. Or perhaps it was all normal for them. Crehador lived as though Sheila’s death had not just torn a hole in his heart; while he had first looked on the man with disgust, Cain admired him now. He was stronger than stone, it seemed. He arrived late, with two of his women, who weren’t even trying to look respectable. (So you are just as you were when I first met you? Then I will do the same; I will remain strong, only I will try to stand on my own two feet this time,
pretend like he hasn’t already broken them.)
When he was fully awake, feeling the ghosts of warmth snaking all around him in the frozen air, he picked out a shirt for the day only to find a white-blond hair still stuck to the sleeve. He shivered, and told himself it was only the cold, pulled off the hair and trampled it into the rug.
He had to make his own tea now, of course. He had to try to absorb everything that was Riff into himself; maybe he would succeed. If there really was no one who could be trusted, then he would have to become self-contained. The tea leaves were ceylon; the pot and cup and saucer were from a set they had bought one day when Merry wanted to go out shopping. He remembered her picking up all the strangest items she could find and poking at them, Riff anxiously (Riff back when Riff was still Riff) having to snatch her hands away from anything sharp. It had been stifling hot and wet that day, he remembered.
Now, even the delicate curve of china was cold against his lips. Blank, and perhaps this was the first time he ever really understood what that feeling was.
(But all across the windows, designs of fairytale villages and forests were still etched into the frost.)