{.12} {Belief :: Nightmare Gottschalk}

Being the leader of your own territory certainly had its perks. Technically, he did not have to do a single thing. He could easily shrug it off and make his vast array of subordinates do his work for him. All he truly had to do was sign off on important paperwork, and he was done.

Having subordinates to do his duties certainly did have its cons to balance out its pros. Two of his subordinates proved that fact painfully true.

Gray Ringmarc never ceased bothering him to take his responsibilities more seriously and to - shudder - take his medication.

Then there was even one that brought even more pain to his skull, one that caused him more suffering than Gray ever could.

"SLUG!" Nightmare Gottschalk halted in his place, debating mentally if he should continue walking or face the hellish source of the voice.

Unfortunately he was not given the chance to choose. A figure suddenly appeared in his path, her features tight and pursed in irritation.

His brow twitched slightly as he attempted to keep his features composed. Speaking of the devil, there she was, standing before him in all her irritating glory. His other subordinate.

"Ah, what a pleasant surprise to see you. What brings you here? Is there something you'd like to ask me?" the Clover Leader said, his voice even and calm.

The woman did not reciprocate such placidity. His composure only caused her to bristle in irritation. She spat out, "Oh, I think you know why I'm here, slug! You're a mind reader after all!"

"But with all due respect, you have been getting better at concealing your thoughts. It is getting to the point that cannot read your mind anymore than I can read Gray's. Why not simply tell me?"

Nightmare inwardly laughed. His words were mere formalities. It did not take a mind reader to know why she sought him out. It was the exact same thing every time.

His female subordinate shouted out vehemently, "Stop giving so much work! It's driving me crazy!"

The Gottschalk released a sigh at her predictability and crossed his arms over his chest.

That was all she ever talked about when they were near each other - about the supposedly ridiculous workload he piles onto her. Good subordinates were not supposed to complain as much as she does. Good subordinates were supposed to accept their duties and just, well... do it.

Nightmare informed the young woman of such facts frequently, but it had only made her even more upset. The Clover Leader learned it was best to allow her to rant and rave as much as she pleased until she finally got tired and left him alone. Her behavior was always very predictable.

"We cater to your every freaking whim and that is how you repay us? More work? Do you have any sense of gratitude?"

Nightmare shrugged his shoulders, more to assure her that he was paying some attention than giving an actual response.

"It's plain ungrateful! You have no regard for how much or how hard a person works, doing it all without a single complaint. It sickens me."

Nightmare closed his eye and absently nodded her head. She's as predictable as ever. Right now she should be just about done, readying herself for her last, angry cry.

"So why don't you just give Gray a break once in awhile and stop giving him so much work?"

"Yes, why don't I just give Gra...?" Nightmare faltered. His eye flew open, surprised by such an abrupt statement. Did he hear her correctly?

He released a surprised exhalation, gawked at her, and released a confused, "What?"

His subordinate flushed at his reaction and struggled to regain her poise. She said firmly, "Y... Yeah! You heard me! Why don't you giver Gray a break once in awhile? He always works so hard, and he doesn't complain about having a lazy slug of a boss as much as I do... If anyone deserves a break, it's him."

Nightmare wasn't sure how to respond to such a statement. All he could do was stare.

"S... So? What do you have to say about that?"

He was rendered completely speechless. Why in the world would she ask Nightmare such a thing? She never asked before, and such abruptness caught him completely off guard. Studying the pink flush on here cheeks, he was struck by a sudden realization. Now, this was unpredictable.

"Do you by any chance... have feelings for Gray?"

The woman tensed, her face flaring into a bright scarlet.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean? All I feel for Gray is mutual respect!" she shouted. "Gray is a genuinely good guy, and I owe him a favor. That's the reason why I'm asking you. Nothing more and nothing less."

He only nodded his head, unsure if he completely accepted her answer. He once believed she was such a simple, predictable creature. Now, he wasn't so sure what to believe.

Then there was a moment. It was fleeting and transient, and he would have completely disregarded it if he wasn't paying attention.

She was so flustered by his words that the mental defenses she worked so hard to build up were momentarily broken down, allowing him the opportunity to peer into her thoughts.

His eyes widened. 'Yes... Unpredictable indeed.'

Suddenly, he was besieged by a violent cough, ripping through his chest and exploding out of his mouth.

Alarmed, she raced towards his side. She growled, "Stupid slug! If you only take your medicine like you're supposed to, you wouldn't be coughing your lungs out!"

The Clover Leader wiped stray droplets of blood from his mouth, annoying his female subordinate even further.

"Well if you are finished scolding me about my work ethic and health, perhaps you can help me get to my room to change? It seems that I sullied my clothing yet again. It's quite unbecoming of a man of my status to appear like this."

"Man of your status my ass... It would be more 'becoming' if you just took your freakin' medicine so we don't have to worry about you dropping dead..." she grumbled, placing his arm around her shoulders and helping him walk through the halls.

Nightmare glanced over to her and her pouty expression and resisted the urge to smile.

Despite this turbulent, unpredictable day, Nightmare was able to come up with a single belief, a truth that never changed. She was always such a softy at heart. Even though his subordinate acts tough and is very loud, she always dropped whatever she was doing or raving about to take care of him.

As long as she cared for him, he would be fine.

"You know... perhaps you're right. I will take your advice and give Gray a proper day off." Her face suddenly lit up, pleasantly surprised to hear that her words had made an impact.

Her face brightened. "Really?"

Nightmare nodded his head. "Of course. Since you apparently have time to antagonize your sickly leader, perhaps I should relegate his tasks to you."

She abruptly skidded to a halt. Her face exploded into an angry crimson.

"What?"

A/N Notes: Can be seen a sequel to both Home from this series and Caring from Wonders of the Heart.

I wrote this piece a long time ago and never had a chance to update it. Shame on me.

Now, that I have more free time, I hope to attack all sorts of different plot bunnies (as well as actually work on my stories *cough*)