"Ah, the infamous Lazarus Thorn," Gabriel's father intoned across the table that seemed to stretch for an age across the vast room. He was sat at the head of the table, and Lazarus sat opposite Gabriel further down. The table was narrow enough that if Lazarus were to stretch out his legs, they would brush up against Gabriel's. If Gabriel were of lower class, he might not have minded. However, when he discovered the proximity of their limbs by accident, he blushed a little and looked down at his plate, embarrassed. Having had his lust for other men awoken, unbidden thoughts raced through his mind at their inadvertent touch.

"Yes, sir," he nodded, looking up at the lord, his dirty hair falling into his face as he moved. He pushed it back behind his ear hastily, wishing he'd thought to ask Emily for a ribbon to tie it back with before being shown into the dining hall.

The lord smiled languidly, stabbing his fork down into a slice of meat. "Would you care to play for me?" he asked, scrutinizing Lazarus' every move as he ate. Lazarus chewed slowly, nodding his ascent, but before he could swallow and agree, Gabriel interjected.

"He is our guest, father. He is here for leisure, not for work." In truth, Gabriel was battling an unexplained pang of jealousy at the thought of Lazarus playing privately for anyone besides himself. No matter how hard he tried, however, he could neither push it aside, nor could he justify why it was that he felt it. He was sure that of course Lazarus would play for his lover, or perhaps his family, but something simply would not allow him to let Lazarus play for his father. Both his father and Lazarus seemed confused by Gabriel's sudden insistence that he should not play, but his argument was entirely valid, and neither of the men were willing to fight it out against Gabriel.

The rest of the lunch was filled with idle chatter, much of which Lazarus kept his silence for. Once the lord was finished, he rose and smiled, nodding his head at Lazarus.

"It was good to meet you, young man. I will have to see you perform some time soon."

"It was good meeting you too, sir." Lazarus smiled back, watching as the lord exited the hall. Gabriel slouched a little, relaxing the moment the door was shut. Lazarus watched him, amused.

"What?" Gabriel asked, eyeing the pianist.

"Nothing, Master Emerson," Lazarus replied innocently.

"Of course, of course. I apologise for my outburst, Lazarus. I denied you a chance to play without considering your feelings on the matter."

"S'fine," he shrugged, dropping the upper class accent and mirroring Gabriel's slouch. Absently, he stretched out his legs again. He had forgotten momentarily about their previous touch from his outstretched legs, until once more they made contact. "Sorry," he muttered, withdrawing hurriedly trying to hide the returning pinkness over his cheeks.

Gabriel's laughter burned his ears. "Why are you blushing?" he asked. Lazarus lifted his shoulders in another shrug, certain his voice would betray him. Instead of imagining James leaning in to kiss his lips, he could see perfectly in his mind's eye Gabriel bending down to display his forbidden affection. In that moment, he knew he wanted Gabriel more than any other. Typical, he thought, trust me to want someone I can never ever have.  "Silence may be golden, Lazarus, but you are certainly permitted to speak," he laughed again, making Lazarus' face grow hotter still, "or has the cat stolen your tongue?"

He cleared his throat and looked up into Gabriel's eyes, "no cat shall ever steal my tongue, dear friend. I merely thought that my accidental touch was inappropriate, and I apologise for it." Amusement lingered on his face as he watched Lazarus inwardly chastise himself.

"Forgiven," he said, waving a dismissive hand. "Come, let me teach you how to play billiards," a smile pulled his lips up as he stood, gesturing for Lazarus to follow him out of the room.



The End

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