There was no moonlight shining through the window this night; clouds had begun to cover the sky during the evening and now the soft sound of rain could be heard from the darkness outside. It was not a thunderstorm yet, just a shower that made the leaves rustle.
It was not the rain that kept Treize awake, and neither was it a lack of tiredness. Quite the opposite; when he had gone to bed, he had been sure that he would only have to close his eyes to fall asleep immediately. The previous day had been long and exhausting, and so full of surprising turns and revelations that it made his head spin.
It were those thoughts that kept him from resting tonight.
Zechs had returned. Treize was still finding it somewhat difficult to know that the younger man was sleeping in his old room just a few doors down the hall. It seemed so unreal to have him back; for the last half year Treize had tried to convince himself that Zechs was better off on his own and that he had no right to intrude in the younger man's life once again. But it was one thing to think like this, and quite another to suddenly find himself in a position where he had to intrude if he wanted Zechs to be well. Treize never had expected anyone to discover that old base, much less get themselves trapped in the security systems. But it had happened, and the choice between not interfering and saving Zechs and Noin by using the old codes had been an easy one.
And Zechs had chosen to come back with him, to see whether the relationship they had shared could still be repaired after all the damage it had taken during the war.
It was a strange feeling to suddenly be given this second chance, and it was the main reason for Treize to find it so hard to sleep. There was so much that could go wrong now; they had not seen each other at all for almost two years. Part of that time they both had believed that the other was dead. They both had changed over that time, and there was no way to tell whether they could still be together despite all this.
No way, except giving it a try. Treize was determined to do so and to give his best. He loved Zechs, had never stopped to do so, and the thought of losing the younger man again when he was within arms' reach was a terrifying one. Zechs was part of his soul; Treize had known that ever since his lover had been brought to live with them after the destruction of the Sank Kingdom. They had been friends, and later they had become lovers too. But the war had come between them, had forced them both to walk down different paths that had led them to become enemies. Maybe what they had been given now was a second chance to set things right.
Treize shifted beneath the blanket, rolling onto his side and attempting to find a more comfortable position even though he knew that he would hardly be able to sleep soon. There was no way he could stop the thoughts from coming. He was not really doubting that Zechs also wanted to give this a try; if the younger man had thought it a lost cause, he would not have come here. No, Zechs too had to see a chance here. It remained to hope that their ideas and expectations were similar. They had not found an opportunity yet to speak about this. The flight to Kiev had been spent with attempts to get to know each other again as well as before, and after arriving there had been so many small things to arrange and take care of that time had flown and it had suddenly been late at night. Zechs had looked as tired as Treize had felt, and so they had agreed to go to sleep and speak in the morning.
And now Treize was lying awake, pondering all the possible issues that could arise in the morning. He was also starting to wonder whether it had been right to suggest to Zechs to sleep in his old room and not here, in the one they had shared after becoming lovers. They had slept together on a cot the night before without any problems, so perhaps it would have been better to continue in this vein. But the decision had been made, and he would not gain anything by turning this over and over again in his head.
With a small sigh Treize rolled onto his back to stare up at the ceiling. Hopefully Zechs was finding it easier to sleep. His lover definitely looked like he could use the rest.
To Treize it had been startling to see the weariness in Zechs when they had met again yesterday. Zechs had become thin, and his height only served to increase that impression. He had always been slender, and the additional loss of weight really was noticeable. He had also looked like he had not slept at all lately; his face had shown the signs of a tiredness which ran deeper than just temporary exhaustion. It seemed that Zechs had lacked all energy to take care of himself.
Perhaps that at least could be helped. Treize had seen Zechs in such a state once before, fifteen years ago, and they had managed to get him over it. Attention and friendliness had helped then; this time Treize could also give all the love he felt for the younger man and hope that it would be enough. He loathed to see Zechs like this, and was willing to do anything necessary to make it better. The old feeling of protectiveness was coming to the surface again, and he did not fight it. Zechs deserved to be loved, cherished and sheltered, though he probably wouldn't agree with that.
There was no use in trying to sleep, Treize decided with some frustration. His mind was just too awake for it.
Tomorrow he would hopefully be able to find answers to at least some of his questions; there was a short phone conference he had to take care of, but he had scheduled it early enough to be able to have breakfast with Zechs afterwards. The younger man wasn't a particularly early riser, so it should work out.
He was just about to roll over once more when he suddenly heard a quiet knock at the door. Startled he sat up; it couldn't be Mariemeia or Dorothy, since they both had gone on a brief trip to Moscow and would be back only in the morning. And the servants would hardly come at this time of the night. If there were any urgent issue, then Dimitry would use the intercom.
Which left one person who could be standing there in the middle of the night.
"Come in," Treize called, reaching to switch on the small lamp on the nightstand.
The door opened; no light had been turned on in the hallway, but it was not difficult to recognize the tall figure of Zechs in the dim light of the bedside lamp. He looked tired, even though his ruffled hair was probably a result of having at least lain down a little.
"Is something wrong?" Treize asked, searching the younger man's face for clues as for what had made him leave his bed. There was a slightly troubled look on his face, but that was all.
Zechs shook his head, not stepping closer. "No... I am sorry that I woke you," he said quietly, though he made no move yet to leave. That alone was signal enough that something had to be on his mind.
"Do not worry about it. I was not asleep yet anyway." And the knock had been so quiet that he doubted he would have heard it if he had been sleeping. Pushing the blanket aside, Treize got up, almost unconsciously reached up to straighten his pajama top and took some steps towards Zechs. "You cannot sleep?" he asked, hoping to get Zechs to talk.
The younger man shook his head. "That's not it... I have been sleeping."
"But?" Treize prompted.
Zechs sighed. "I had a nightmare."
"We both were in that base, but you were dead... and I just did not know. I had to come and see that you are alive. I am sorry that I woke you..."
"I told you, I have not been sleeping yet," Treize brushed that apology away. "And it would not have mattered either if I had been asleep."
Drawing a deep breath, Zechs nodded. "Thank you... I really shouldn't behave so childishly. But it was just so real..."
"But just a dream." Coming closer still, Treize carefully drew Zechs into a loose embrace, ready to let go should the younger man want to withdraw. But Zechs leaned against him almost immediately, allowing himself to be held.
"I never want to have that dream again," he said quietly. "I've seen you dead so often in these nightmares."
So was this what had been keeping Zechs from resting properly? Nightmares had been a problem before... that they had returned to torment Zechs made Treize feel more than a little guilty. He felt responsible this time; if he had not hesitated for so long before letting Zechs know about his survival, the dreams might not have gained such strength.
"Whenever you are not sure, Milliard, you can always come. No matter at what time." Tightening his hold on the younger man a little, Treize raised a hand to stroke Zechs' hair. He had always used that gesture to calm his friend, and he hoped that the familiarity of it would help further.
Zechs rested his head against Treize's shoulder, leaning into the touch a little. "Thank you," he said.
"You are welcome," Treize returned, smiling a little at having his friend so close again. "Do you think you can sleep now? You really look like you need the rest."
For a moment there was no answer, then Zechs shook his head lightly. "The dreams will be back," he said quietly. "They always are. But I'll go back to my room so at least you can get some rest." He made to draw away, but Treize did not let him go so easily.
"Maybe it will help if you do not sleep alone?" he suggested, not quite sure if that was the right step to take. "I could at least wake you if you start having nightmares again."
"But you wouldn't get any sleep then," Zechs protested, though Treize could hear it in his voice that he was not adverse to the suggestion.
"That does not matter. You know I do not need so much rest. If you want to stay, you are welcome to do so."
Azure eyes met his own, and there was a hint of hope in them. "Really?"
"I would not say so otherwise."
A small smile crossed Zechs' lips. "Thank you... I didn't think I could sleep alone. Not with knowing that you are here too."
So it would really have been better to leave propriety and tact aside and do what would have seemed natural.
"I agree on that," Treize said softly. "Maybe we can both get some sleep now."
They settled into bed, almost immediately moving into a position that had been so familiar before. They had often rested like this, comfortably close together, Zechs' head resting on Treize's shoulder. It felt good to be able to do this again without a lot of the awkwardness that had dominated last night.
"Are you comfortable?" Treize asked, drawing the blanket up a little higher.
Zechs nodded lightly. "Yes... it is good not to sleep alone."
"Yes, it is... I think I missed you most during moments like this. Falling asleep without you has never been easy."
"Then why did you not let me know?" Zechs asked, looking into his eyes.
Treize sighed softly. He should have known that this question would come up again at the first opportunity, and rightfully so. "The moment was never right. First I thought that you were dead. And then you left for Mars with Noin, and I did not know whether I even had the right to intrude then... I thought that maybe you and she had grown closer and that I would do harm." It had not been easy to remain quiet then, but he had done it for Zechs' sake. If the younger man had been happy with Noin, he would not have wanted to interfere.
"Noin... she will always be a good friend. She is a wonderful person, but she is not you. I could not have replaced her with you." Raising his head a little more, Zechs held Treize's gaze. "I was not on Mars forever. Why did you not say anything when I came back?"
"Because by then so much time had passed already that I did not know any longer what to say." Treize broke the eye contact, allowing Zechs to claim victory on this discussion. "It was a foolish thought. But you seemed to be alright on your own..."
"I missed you every day," Treize said honestly. "At first I mourned you. And then, after Dekim's rebellion, I tried to watch you from afar so I could at least know that you were doing well."
"You should not have done that." There was little force in the reprimand, but it still stung.
"I should not, no."
They were silent for a while after that, just lying still and thinking about what had been said. During the journey to Kiev they had addressed this too, but somehow it seemed more real now that they both had had the chance to think and to talk quietly. There would be more of these talks, Treize was sure of that. Too many things lay between them still that had to be discussed before they could be put aside.
Zechs moved a little closer, one of his arms coming to rest around Treize's waist. It was comforting to feel the other body so close and know that Zechs wanted to be there. Quite a few of Treize's worries were starting to dissolve at the gesture. Zechs was back in this house, this room, this bed, and they were not arguing but speaking calmly. For now Treize doubted that the situation could have been much better.
"What about Mariemeia?" Zechs asked into the silence. "Have you told her anything yet?"
Treize shook his head. "No, but I will speak to her about us. She has to know." Especially if Zechs would be staying.
"How do you think she will take it?"
"I believe that she might not have too many problems with it," Treize returned after thinking about it for a moment. "As far as I can tell, Dekim never bothered to fill her mind with prejudices of this kind."
"At least one thing he did not do wrong with her."
"Yes... and besides, one of her best friends at school is the daughter of Lady Rostov."
"Was she the one who left her husband to live with another woman?"
"So if her best friend is in a similar situation, it might be easier to deal with it for her..."
"That is what I am hoping for. Because if she cannot come to terms with it, then I do not know what to do." It would be an impossible choice to make. Mariemeia was his daughter and he was not going to do anything that hade her unhappy. The first few years of her life had been difficult enough already, and it was at least partly his fault. She deserved more than that. But on the other hand, Treize had loved Zechs for so many years, and he had made a promise to the younger man that he would always be there for him. The two persons he loved most in this world... Treize could only hope that he would never have to choose between them.
Soft lips brushed against his forehead. "I have faith in you."
Treize smiled a little. "Thank you."
"Do you think it will matter that I fought Dekim?" Zechs asked, his voice serious as he moved back a little to look into Treize's eyes again.
Treize shook his head. "That is not going to be a problem. We have talked about him, and her role in his plans. I needed to know how she saw it... and interesting enough she wishes now that she had been on the other side. You and the others have left quite a lasting impression on her."
"I am glad..." Relaxing a little, Zechs rested his head on Treize's chest. "I was worried about it. She is your daughter after all."
"She is..." It was comfortable to lie in bed like this and speak about these matters calmly. There was a familiarity about the situation that made it all so easy at a sudden. In the past they had often lain like this, resting together and talking of issues that needed to be discussed. They hardly ever would argue in this relaxed position, and so it was the perfect place to talk. But for now it would be better if they moved the rest of their discussion to next morning; Zechs looked tired, and Treize had Sally's order in mind about his friend resting enough.
"Shall we try sleeping?" he asked quietly. "We can talk more in the morning."
"That might be a good idea," Zechs answered, nestling closer once he had switched off the bedside lamp. "It is strange," he said softly. "Just two days ago I did not think I would ever see you again. And now I am here with you..." The younger man tightened his hold on Treize's waist, drawing them closer together. "Somehow I wonder whether you will still be there when I wake up."
"I will. You have my word on that, Milliard. I am not going to disappear." Though he would have to find a solution for that conference in the morning. Treize had no wish to wake Zechs at such an early hour, but he saw no real way around it. Sneaking out would not be a good solution; he could easily imagine Zechs' reaction if the younger man found himself alone in bed without any idea where Treize had gone. It would probably be the best if he woke Zechs in the morning and then hoped that he would go back to sleep.
"Thank you..." Snuggling closer, Zechs raised his head to claim Treize's lips in a gentle kiss. "You still taste the same," he murmured, resting his forehead lightly against Treize's. "I love you," he spoke earnestly. "I never stopped loving you. Not even when I was so angry..."
It was Treize who initiated the next kiss, preventing Zechs from saying more. He didn't want the younger man to think about what had happened; that would only lead to brooding and self-discrimination. And hearing those words from Zechs just made him feel that he needed to be as close to his lover as possible. He had wondered so often whether Zechs had truly hated him in the end, whether there had been no trace left anymore of the love and the friendship they had shared. Now Treize had his answer, and it was better than he could ever have hoped for.
"I love you too, Milliard," he said when they withdrew a little from each other again. "My beloved... I never want to let go of you again." He was not going to make that mistake once more, no matter what happened.