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Story: The Destruction/Reconstruction of Kirill
Word Count: 571
True to his word, Niko never had gotten around to placing a table in the dining room. What was the point, when he had no intention of entertaining anyway? All the entertaining he had in mind revolved around the figure digging flower beds in the garden, the thin sheen of sweat coating his skin catching the rays of sunlight as they filtered through the ever-shifting leaves.
Kirill had filled out during his time in the army. It wasn’t much—it probably never could be much, with his workhouse upbringing—but Niko could swear that his shoulders were broader and the muscles of his back, flexing so beautifully with every stab of the shovel, were more prominent.
Niko stared, transfixed. One of the three massive glass doors was ajar to allow the sweet honeysuckle scent to fill the room as well as in the forlorn hope that a breeze might stir the air enough to cool it; it would be so easy to lay aside his tongs still clutching a thin strip of metal and his leather- clad mallet and kick off his boots, pad out into the garden and wrap his arms around Kirill’s waist. He could imagine the tang of his sweat on Niko’s tongue, the soft noises he made beneath Niko’s caressing fingers...
He smiled ruefully down at the metal and walloped it once more for good measure, with no aim except to relieve his frustration. This project was near enough to completion that he’d hoped to have done it by today, and Kirill had wanted the same for his garden project. Uninterrupted they could both complete their jobs and spend tomorrow together without work to worm its way into their thoughts—but that required discipline from both of them and while Kirill had that in spades, Niko had never been quite so blessed.
And there was that nagging little thought at the back of his mind, the one that reminded him just how much more assured Kirill had been since his return and how little he probably needed Niko any more. Any slave who could survive being dragged into a conflict, being enlisted, and somehow return through France to England without speaking a single word of French probably had a better grasp on what he could and couldn’t do than someone like Niko, who’d been lucky his entire life.
His heavy sigh did nothing to drain the tension hunching his shoulders; he gave the metal another whack, probably harder than it deserved. Kirill was free now; what use did he have for someone like Niko?
A movement through the glass caught his grudging attention. One hand on his hips, Kirill stared intently through the window, one hand shading his eyes from the summer glare. It almost obscured the stark whiteness of his fringe and the golden scars over his face, but not quite; when his eyes met Niko’s, a wide grin split his face.
It was contagious. Niko found himself smiling before he realised it. The tongs and hammer both hit the table, clipping and slightly bending one corner of the metal. No matter. He could repair it easily. Right then, he had better things to do.
Kicking off his soft boots, he trotted across the warm wooden floors and into the garden, straight into the waiting arms of his lover.
After the year they’d had, an hour or two seemed something they both deserved to enjoy.