Cesare/Micheletto, "Do you trust me?" or "Either you know or you don't" 👍👍
It is a stupid risk, but Micheletto takes it anyway, follows a boy out from under his lord’s nose to an abandoned palace. What is he alive for, except for stupid risks like these. If he had wanted a safe life, he could have stayed in Forlí, and married Violetta the miller’s daughter.
It is a very pleasant interlude. The boy is a sweet, fine thing–finer than anything made for gutter trash like him, and almost unsettlingly tender.
He returns seamlessly to his lord’s side when the pleasure is done, and that evening reports some of the curiosities of da Vinci’s workshop, only himself left in Cesare Borgia’s war tent. Cesare listens to him for a while, sipping at Ludovico Sforza’s wine, and then abruptly he turns to Micheletto and says: “You fucked that boy.” It isn’t a question.
Micheletto freezes, utter dread and a strange, savage relief flooding him in dual measure. He has feared exactly this for so many years, and now it has happened. His lord knows the truth of him. There is nothing left to fear. He unbuckles his dagger and drops to his knees before his lord, pressing the point to his heart. “Kill me quickly,” he manages, offering Cesare the hilt. “Please.”
A hand joins his on the dagger’s hilt, Cesare’s fingers brushing his, and then Cesare is drawing it away from him, setting the blade aside. “There will be no killing,” his lord says quietly. “God’s wounds, Micheletto. Did you think I did not know?”
Micheletto raises his head sharply, and finds Cesare looking at him with the concentration he usually reserves for matters of state. His voice, when he can bring himself to speak, is hoarse. “You knew. How long have you known?”
Cesare shrugs, but doesn’t break their eye contact. “How long have you been in my service?”
Micheletto has trained himself too well to move, but he feels that like a blow. All these years. All the care, all the terror, and for nothing. “My lord wanted to know about the boy,” he says stupidly.
“Mm,” Cesare agrees. “I marked him. Machiavelli did, too. You must take greater care, my sweet assassin.”
The only answer Micheletto can make to that is a nod, stiff and humiliated.
Cesare tilts his head to the side, curiosity filling his face. “You will not see him again.” It isn’t a command, but it also is not a question. Micheletto shakes his head anyway. “And you have no lover in Rome.”
“Love is not–for men like me,” Micheletto says haltingly.
“Oh?” Cesare raises his eyebrows. “So you do not love me?”
He can make no answer to that, his tongue gone dry in his mouth. He is suddenly very conscious that he is still on his knees.
Cesare smiles at him. He sounds amused, but his eyes are sharp. “Either you know or you don’t.”
Micheletto finds his voice at last, swallowing hard. “I would need a heart for that, my lord.”
“Ah,” his lord says, drawing the word out. “Of course. I had forgotten.”