A/N: Hey all, this is Spices! I love finding a new pairing to write about! It's like Christmas! Well, anyway, Misao and I have recently fallen in love with the manga Cantarella. And finding there to be only 38 fics for it, naturally, we decided we must FIX THIS. These boys need LOVE. Hence, this is the first of what will be a long string of Cantarella fics from the both of us. All Cesare x Chiaro, of course. x3

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

They live in a world of masks; Chiaro knows this. There are the literal ones that shield the face from recognition, for good or ill. These masks, though tangible, are easily removed. Then there are the figurative masks, which are much more difficult to drop. They shield the heart and soul from harm or prying eyes. Chiaro is all too familiar with both. He knows their advantages. And yet…and yet, no one is as pleased as he is to see them fall. He longs for the rare moments when he can discard Michelotto and be just Chiaro, and Cardinal Borgia, ever proud, can be simply Cesare. He loves when they are alone together, because then Chiaro gets to see the Cesare behind the grins and lies. But by far, Chiaro's favorites are nights, when he gets to hold Cesare in his arms, touch his hair, kiss his high, sharp cheekbones. He makes Cesare moan and squirm in ways that are so utterly human, Chiaro wants to weep with relief. Mornings make him want to weep for a different reason. The masks they wear slide perfectly back into place, with no evidence of them so much as slipping. Cesare is once more the Cardinal, and Chiaro his pet assassin. No trace of their true selves remains on their faces. No hints of night's tenderness. They cannot allow it. They live in a world of masks.

A/N: The inspiration for this (short) story is a poem of the same name by Paul Laurence Dunbar. You saw the first stanza. Now go read the rest.