Disclaimer: The series Count Cain is the creation of Kaori Yuki.

Not Looking

Riff is a good servant. A proper servant. So he does what he is told, bites his lips on the names he wants to call the Count, and refrains from trying to punch the man out, although he would probably lose if it came to that. And he tries not to see what is before him until it becomes appropriate to do so.

It would be easier, he sometimes thinks, to let slip his control and defy the Count. Then he would be dismissed, and free. But he would have to leave Cain alone, and he can't bear the thought.

Cain is a beautiful child. Often frighteningly precocious, to be sure, and Riff thinks he will never be used to the knowing gaze of Cain's startling fey eyes, but Cain is beautiful. Riff is not blind. However, he is fairly certain it is not appropriate to think of Cain in such terms, and frankly horrified at himself. He is careful to refrain from looking at Cain with an improper regard. The poor child has enough monsters to fear without having to add Riff to his list. Though, knowing Cain, Riff would be the one to regret making any false move.

The red weals where the tender skin has split in the middle, and the shock of mottled bruises standing out against Cain's pale back are within the scope of Riff's duties. These are his responsibilities to observe and doctor, and he is glad. Not of the injuries, but that he is allowed to help Cain in this matter.

Cain is grateful as well, and smiles at him with dazzling warmth, making his breath catch. Riff forces himself to focus on treating the wounds, and doesn't smile back. After wavering uncertainly for a moment, Cain's smile fades. Riff is guiltily relieved.

Cain is growing into a beautiful youth, and he is now the Count. Riff is unspeakably relieved, but Cain still manages to get into more scrapes than Riff ever imagined possible. And for someone so private and self-reliant in every other respect, Cain shows an utter lack of inclination to bathe and dress himself. Not that it is unusual for someone of his social class, but Cain has never concerned himself with the expectations of others either. It is difficult, but Riff refrains from looking. He does not know by heart the delicate tracery of blue veins beneath Cain's skin.

He's noticed Cain watching him, fine brows knitted with thought. Riff is concerned. Has he let slip his feelings by some unconsidered word or action? He reflects on his recent interactions with Cain, and can't decide what he might have done differently.

Riff steals surreptitious glances at Cain when he's certain Cain cannot see, and otherwise tries his best to look as though he's noticed nothing amiss. He is careful to treat Cain exactly as he does normally. He is Cain's loyal servant, no more, he tells himself. Cain must have no grounds for suspicion.

Cain sighs, and looks away.

end Not Looking