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“Keep the draperies still.”

I know I shouldn’t snap, but Schuldig has whined for hours that he doesn’t like being dressed in a toga - more to the point, artistically undressed. I suppose it is tiring to keep a pose that allows the cloth to elegantly expose him, but it is his job.

“I need a cigarette.” He drops his arms and lets the cloth fall, stepping off the box. Almost immediately he winces, hobbling to the couch. “Shit, shit, fuck, my fucking foot.”

Some of the pins used to keep the toga’s folds in place vanished on the floor; I wince in sympathy, and hope he can still pose.

“Let me see,” I say and go to one knee before him, lifting his bare foot gently to inspect the sole.

“Androcles took a thorn out of the lion’s paw and tamed it,” Schuldig says. “The lion would do anything for him. Anything.” His hand cups my cheek. The sole of his foot is unmarked, perfect. I look up, meeting his gaze. His smile is not sly, nor insinuating, but hopeful. I hear my words a moment, it seems, before I actually say them.

“That’s a Greek story. The buyer wants a Roman scene. Have your cigarette and let’s get back to work.”

The smile drops from his lips, leaving his face blank and still. He does not wrench his foot from my grasp, merely deliberately stands, picks up the makeshift toga and steps back up on the box.

“Schuldig -” I say, my face still warm from his caress, but he wraps the cloth perfectly about him and goes back into his pose.

He says nothing thereafter, a reverse Galatea, perfect flesh made stone. I stare unseeing at the canvas, wishing for Greek stories. I always forget he can be hurt.