I do not in any way own the falling characters, nor the Count Cain: Godchild series. They are property and copyright of Kaori Yuki.

Cain closed the door to the head butler's room and sighed, leaning against it and hanging his head. He closed his eyes and bit his lip. Riff was not a material possession that could be locked away, polished and told to obey. Despite what he had once said, all those years ago, that Riff was "in his cage," he wished he could find one strong enough to prevent him putting himself in so much danger. The unshakeable bond that had wound itself so powerfully around them would lead to casualties Cain was unwilling to allow. Like today, for instance. It hadn't even been something his father or the doctor was involved in; it had been another simple mystery he'd been intrigued by. But the thrill had caused injury to Riff.

Lousy, incorrigible servantā€¦ he thought. Coming after me! And then throwing himself between the cane and me. What if you had died?!

He clenched his fists, a wave of panic and denial making him stagger. If Riff had died, if he was so selfish as to die, he would break his promiseā€¦

"Then what would be the point of your sacrifice, Riff?" he murmured. The door clicked and opened a jar.

"The point of what, my lord?" said the calm tone of his butler. Starting, Cain whirled around, his eyes raking over Riff's half clothed form, scrambling for words.

"Riff, you should know eaves dropping is unbecoming and unacceptable for a servant at your rank," he sniffed, looking away.

Riff smiled quietly and inclined his head. "My deepest apologies, my lord," he humbled. "I merely wished to know if you had need of me."

"I always have need of you," Cain replied, waving a hand irritably. "There are hundreds of maids that need directing, a muscle-brained idiot to keep at bay and my schedule to arrange!" Of course, chores were only the slightest sliver of Cain's need for Riff, but it was an unsaid given between them. Everything they had ever done or said had and would continue to form him. It was a part, if not, his entire existence.

"Then I shall do my utmost to recover quickly," Riff said, his gentle smile warm. Cain, silent, pouted as he observed his servant's face. That smile had saved him from the moment they'd met all those years ago.

"Then put a proper shirt on, you lousy butler," he mumbled and Riff chuckled.

"As you wish."

The door closed again, leaving Cain to stare at it for a moment. Again, he had almost let the feelings emerge. He had never thought the he was in love, of course not; the connection was much deeper than that. Love was too shallow for the thing that tied them together. Such a deep feeling could not be satisfied or even touched upon with physical love, nor could fleeting words of affection.

No, it could not be something so simple as love.