Unexpected Job Benefits
by Lady Robyn
“Father, I don't see why this is necessary. I'm sixteen years old, and a perfectly competent mage,” Marron pointed out logically.
Onion would hear none of it. “You are my darling youngest son and I refuse to let anything happen to you. I say this is what is being done, and this is what we're doing.”
Despite his feelings of irritation, not to mention embarrassment, Marron was the non-confrontational type, so he decided he'd just swallow his pride and do as his father wanted. “If you wish to do this, I won't oppose it, Father,” he sighed, blushing slightly.
“Good. Now, do any of you know who we can get to do the job?” Onion asked, turning to face the rest of the sorcerer hunting team gathered in his house. Carrot was shifting impatiently, ready to be going to the beach. Chocolat was trying to decide which bathing suit she owned would attract her Darling more, or if she should get a new one. Tira was torn between being amused at Marron's predicament, and pitying him. Gateau, however, had been paying perfect attention.
“I'll do it!” he quickly volunteered.
Before Onion could ask if this was alright with Marron, Carrot squawked, “No way! You can't leave Gateau alone with Marron! He's trying to pervert him!”
“Brother,” Marron groaned quietly.
“Well, he is,” Carrot replied defensively, crossing his arms over his chest.
“If that's the case, then I suppose he won't work and I'll have to find someone else,” Onion said decisively. After a moment more of thought he added, “And I think I know just the person!”
An hour later found Marron and Onion alone in the small, cozy house. Marron was trying to read and not think about his situation. Onion was just watching the way the light shone off of his beautiful youngest son's hair, and recalling how it had shone the same way off of his wife's flowing tresses.
A loud knock at the door interrupted the silence. “That would be him,” Onion announced, standing up to answer. Marron closed his book and followed after his father to see who would be his babysitter for the three weeks that the others would be at the beach and his father would be on a trip.
As the door opened, Marron felt his body freeze in shock. “Mille Feuille?” he squeaked, something very uncommon for Marron to do.
The purple haired Haz Knight smiled cheerfully. “Hello Marron! And you can just call me Milphey, if you like.”
“Glad to see you Mille. I know you'll take excellent care of my boy while I'm gone and can't be here to protect him. Since you're here, I guess I should get going.” Onion hugged Marron one more time, before grabbing his bags and walking out the door.
This left Marron alone with Milphey. Marron wasn't sure how red his face was, but judging by the way it was burning he was fairly certain he looked like a ripe tomato.
Milphey stood at the door waving until Onion was out of sight, then closed the door and turned to face his young charge. “Well, now it's just you and me.”
“I suppose so,” Marron agreed, forcing nonchalance as he turned to go get his book, hoping Milphey couldn't see the color of his face.
“Marron, I know this is embarrassing to you, but could you please try to make the best of it?”
“Of course.” With that he went back to his book.
“Dinner's ready!” Milphey's voice sang out two days later.
Marron set his current book down and settled himself at the table where he was presented with one of his favorite meals. “This is so hard to prepare. You really didn't have to make this Mille Feuille.”
Milphey sat down himself. “Don't mention it. I love to cook.” He dished some out for himself before casting Marron a sly look. “Do you ever plan to just call me Milphey?”
“Would that make you happy?”
“Fine then, Milphey.”
They ate in silence for several minutes until Mille spoke up. “You know, I don't think I should really be here.”
Marron raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”
“You're perfectly capable of staying alone for three weeks.”
“That's what I said,” Marron replied with as much bitterness as he was physically capable of, meaning most people wouldn't have noticed he was bitter at all.
“He's just worried. You're so much like your mother, Marron. Onion is just afraid of losing you too, because he feels like you're the only link he has to her anymore. Maybe he is taking it to an extreme, but he means well.”
“I know he does. It's just kind of….” Marron trailed off, unwilling to voice the more base of his emotions.
“Embarrassing?” Milphey supplied.
“Yes,” Marron nodded.
“To tell you the truth, Marron, I was originally planning to leave after your father was gone, and then come back right before he returned.”
“Why didn't you?”
Milphey sighed and leaned back in his seat. “I'm not quite sure. I just got here, in an actual home, where I could be taking care of someone and decided that I wanted to do it. I get tired of living on my own, sometimes.” A melancholy look crossed his face before he smiled and stood up, gathering up the dishes to wash them. “If you want me to leave now, just say the word and I'm gone.”
Marron thought about it for a moment, then smiled shyly at Milphey. “I don't mind if you stay. It's not really as embarrassing as I had convinced myself it would be and….I like your company.”
“I like yours too, Marron. What there is of it anyway. You never speak!” Milphey laughed, winked, then walked into the kitchen.
Marron sat still for a moment, then stood up and joined Milphey in the kitchen where he was happily doing the dishes. “Do you need help?”
“No thanks. I've got it all under control.”
“Is there anything else you need done?” Marron persisted, feeling guilty that Mille was doing all the work while all he did was sit and read.
The black haired mage watched as Milphey hummed and rinsed off the dishes. “Why do you do all these unnecessary chores?”
“What chores do you mean? If the dishes are dirty, they need to be washed.”
“You don't have to cook. There are other places around here to eat. Not to mention the fact that you're putting together some very elaborate dishes. You also do all the laundry. I can do mine. I'm used to it.”
Milphey shrugged. “I enjoy it. Doing all these chores makes me feel like I've accomplished something with my life, even if the illusion is false.”
“Milphey, you're a Haz Knight. You've accomplished many amazing things and saved countless people.” Marron was confused. He had had no idea there was any sadness at all lurking in the heart of his ever cheerful friend.
“I know all that, realistically. I have done a lot, for others. Marron, do you have any idea how old I am?”
“No. Not really.”
“Let's just say I'm more than old enough to be your great-great grandfather, and leave it at that. In all that time, I have done nothing for myself. Done nothing to make myself happy or my life better. It may sound selfish, but I think I deserve something. Mostly, Marron, I just want someone to take care of. One person to stay with and pamper, and, occasionally, be pampered by. I just get lonely.”
“I- I had no idea,” Marron confessed.
Milphey finished rinsing the last dish and began putting them all away. “Don't worry about it. I didn't want anyone to know.”
“Then why did you tell me?”
“Hm. Good question. Say, do you want to go for a walk with me tomorrow? The weather is going to be lovely, and all of the leaves are starting to turn.”
Marron smiled. “I'd like that very much.”
“I just love autumn,” Milphey sighed as he stretched out on the soft grass of the meadow.
“I must agree. It is my favorite season as well.”
“I always did say you had good taste,” Milphey teased, tugging gently on the edge of Marron's robes.
“Then you are a very wise man.”
Milphey stared at him in shock. “Marron! Was that just a joke?”
Marron smiled and blushed slightly. “It was meant as one. I'm not sure how funny it was though.”
“Don't worry. Most of mine aren't funny either.”
Marron laughed out loud. Milphey merely smiled and propped himself up on one elbow, watching him. “You know, you really have a beautiful laugh, Marron. It's a pity you don't do it more often.”
Red faintly stained Marron's cheeks as he abruptly stopped laughing. The look on Milphey's face, combined with his compliment had set Marron's blood to pumping and butterflies had suddenly moved into his stomach. He certainly never had that reaction when Gateau looked at him. “Thank you. I think,” he finally replied.
“Mmm,” Milphey responded, still studying him. Marron could feel the golden eyes, so like his own, gliding over his back and lingering on his face and hair. His blush deepened.
“I'm with Gateau,” he confessed in a rush of words, unaware he was going to say anything until the words were already out.
“Yes. Well, sort of,” he amended.
“Do tell,” Milphey prodded, still watching him intently, much to Marron's further discomfort.
“I know you know that he has been interested in me for a long time and I've never responded to him. Finally I decided to give him a chance.”
“I see. And what has this “chance” consisted of?”
“Um, well, not much actually.”
“Has he kissed you?”
Marron took an intense interest in the grass beneath his feet and began studying it furiously. “Not yet. He's, well, he's tried but I- I just feel strange about it.”
“Do you have feelings for him beyond friendship, or are you doing this out of guilt?” Mille Feuille didn't know why he cared so much. He just had to know.
“Yes. No. I don't know. I've been repressing my emotions since I was young. I don't even know how to identify them sometimes. I think I like him as more than a friend, but that could just be that he flatters me, or that I notice him more because he notices me.” Thoughtfully, he twirled a blade of grass around his long, elegant fingers. “When I think about it, it does seem more likely that I am only giving him my favors out of pity. I feel guilty that he has pursued me for so long and gotten nothing in return.”
“You're a smart boy, Marron. I'm sure you know that pity is no reason to start a romantic relationship.”
Marron sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “I know.”
Milphey scooted around until he was on his hands and knees before the still sitting Marron, their faces inches apart. “A relationship should be based on mutual attraction and interest,” he breathed, longing to close those last few inches between his lips and Marron's.
Gold eyes met for a long, meaningful moment, then one set turned away, looking back at the ground. Milphey realized Marron was feeling awkward, and set about changing that. He stood up and began making a large pile of the fallen leaves. Marron watched with mild interest, obviously paying more attention to what was going on in his head than the events of the outside world.
When he deemed the pile big enough, Milphey shouted, “Hey Marron! Watch this!” And took a running leap into the pile. He landed in the middle, sending leaves everywhere.
Apparently his childish behavior did something to dissipate the tension that had been building and Marron laughed. From his spot deep in the pile, Milphey called, “Come on! Join me Marron!”
“I think I'll just stay here and watch you.”
“Fine. Don't have any fun.” Milphey continued tossing the leaves about and laughing, keeping one eye on Marron.
Finally Marron couldn't stand it anymore. “Alright, you win. Now watch out.” Marron murmured a simple spell under his breath and was carried upward by a light breeze, which then dropped him into the pile of leaves, right on top of Mille.
“I told you to watch out,” Marron replied primly, the effect somewhat marred by the copious amount of leaves in his hair.
“Baka,” Milphey chuckled, then grabbed a handful of leaves and shoved them down the front of Marron's robes.
Marron's eyes got very big, then he huffed indignantly. “Two can play at that game.” Soon the two were tossing handfuls of leaves at each other, laughing like carefree children, despite normally being on the mature side. It is forgivable, however, because if you have no fun at all, life is not worth living.
Two disheveled figures pushed open the door to a small cabin and wandered in, laughing and teasing each other. They collapsed on a sofa, leaning up against each other. “That, was fun,” Marron confessed. “I never did anything like that, even as a child.”
“Then you missed out on a lot.”
“Mmm,” Marron agreed, closing his eyes contentedly.
“Hold still. You have a leaf in your hair,” Milphey said suddenly, spotting the patch of reddish-yellow amid the mass of black.
“Why am I not surprised? I'll probably be finding them for the next ten years.”
“Wouldn't surprise me,” Milphey agreed, leaning over to pluck it out of Marron's hair. “There. All gone.”
“Thank you,” Marron smiled slightly as his brilliant golden eyes opened. Once again, gold met gold, but this time neither pair turned away.
Slowly, cautiously, giving Marron plenty of time to pull away if he wanted to, Milphey closed the distance between them and pressed his lips to Marron's. At first Marron just sat there, not moving, but as the kiss continued he began to respond.
When Mille Feuille pulled away, Marron kept his eyes closed, savoring the lingering sensations of his first kiss. Slowly his eyes slid open as Milphey began stroking his hair gently. “Why did you do that?” he asked, quietly.
“You are so beautiful, Marron.”
“I think I've heard that one before.”
“I'm sure you have, but that doesn't mean they were lying.”
Marron watched Mille for a long while, just taking in the details of his face. Finally he spoke, “Gateau is not going to like this.”
“No, he's not. But I have the feeling that he wouldn't have liked being with you either, if you didn't return the feelings. He would have figured it out eventually.”
“I suppose you're right.”
There was a long pause as they lost themselves in each others eyes. Suddenly Milphey blurted out, “Are you thirsty?”
Nearly three weeks had passed since the kiss. The first kiss, but not the only they exchanged in this short time. Marron had long since decided that when his father returned he would cook him his favorite dinners every night for a month as a thank you for asking Milphey to stay with him.
As for the purple haired Knight, he was a bit more nervous. Marron had temporarily forgotten how his brother was homophobic, but he had not. And considering the sway Carrot had over his brother, things could get very messy indeed.
On the day that Milphey knew would be their last full day alone, Marron was lounging in his bed, reading. Milphey stopped in the door to admire him for a long time before he finally went into the room and climbed onto the bed. They had not yet shared a bed, Marron was still too shy for that, but Milphey had his hopes. The young mage had been opening up a lot to him lately.
“Yes?” Marron asked, glancing at him.
“Nothing,” Milphey smiled, resting his head on Marron's thin stomach.
Marron pulled his bookmark out of the back of his book and placed it in the pages he was reading before closing it. “What is bothering you?”
“Do you like the book?” Milphey asked, evading the question.
“Yes. Very much. You were right, it is good. Now what is bothering you, koi?”
A warm smile made its way onto Mille's face. “I love when you call me that.”
“And I love when you smile. It's cause and effect.”
“So, seriously, please tell me. What is bothering you?”
Marron's eyes narrowed as he remembered how Mille always flirted with his older brother. “What about him?”
“Oh, you have no need to get jealous. I just tease him because his reactions are so funny. I'm just worried about what you're going to do when he comes back and makes his displeasure over the corruption of his brother known.”
“Ah. So that's the problem, is it?” The pale white brow furrowed in thought. “I think… I think I can ignore it and that he'll eventually come, if not to accept, then to understand the situation and leave me be. He really is more open-minded than he makes himself appear.”
“I'm glad. But if he threatens to disown you?”
“I do not like this line of questioning.”
“I know, dear, but I need to know for my peace of mind. It may be selfish but, that's me.”
“You're not selfish, so don't even say that you are. And as for your question, I think I would just be silent and hope he comes to accept it because I won't, I can't, end things with you now.”
“Oh, Marron,” Milphey breathed, leaning up to kiss him. “I assure you, the feeling is mutual.”
Marron was the first to break the series of kisses that ensued. “It's getting late,” he murmured, gently kissing Milphey's neck.
“Mmm, yes, it is. I suppose I should be going to my room now.”
“Or you could stay here with me,” Marron offered, suddenly shy.
Milphey kissed the tip of his nose. “As you wish.”
The next morning, four young people were approaching the door.
“My muscles look even more beautiful now that I'm tan,” the tall blonde one said, flexing one arm.
“Oh Darling,” another lamented, “All those romantic nights on the beach watching the sun set and you never once kissed me or held me or…”
“Chocolat! It was a public beach! Don't be indecent!” the shorter, pink haired one interrupted, pushing her glasses back up her nose.
“I can't believe that I couldn't score with any of those hot beach babes,” the fourth whined.
“You could have scored with me, Darling!”
They opened the door and walked in. “Guess Dad's not home yet,” Carrot observed. “Hey, I wonder who he had come to stay with Marron. He never did tell us.”
“That's true, he didn't,” Chocolat agreed.
“Well, whoever he had staying here, they're gone now. The spare bedroom is empty,” Gateau observed.
“Then we'll just have to go ask Marron,” Carrot shrugged and headed to his younger brothers room.
Marron and Milphey lay deep in sleep, holding tight to each other. Marron's head rested on Mille's chest, one hand lightly gripping the silky purple fabric of his love's nightshirt. Milphey's cheek rested gently on the top of Marron's head, and his arms were encircling the younger mage.
The peaceful scene was interrupted seconds later by Carrot's screams of horror.