As rare as it was to separate the brothers, Theo found himself without his elder sibling as he meandered throughout the mansion halls. His hands were buried deep in his pockets with disinterest marring his ever stoic features, making him appear evermore as the older of the two Van Gogh's'. Not that he had ever been disturbed by the opinions concerning their sibling roles and looks. They were trivial, an unnecessary effort being spared when voiced.
Shaking his mind of his wasted thoughts, the dealer rounded another familiar corner, spying the doors to the dining room up ahead. Striding through the second entrance to the room, he slowed, eyeing the large and extravagant space, the interior unchanged and unaltered; left as palace-like as it had been with ever visitation the dealer had paid.
Letting his gaze wander the room, he noted that not a soul had taken up the seats at the table, each tall-backed chair sitting neatly and facing each other with an almost obsessive directional accuracy. Sebastian's work, he'd hazard a guess.
Scoffing silently while continuing his stride across the quiet room, Theo rounded the table, reaching out for his claimed chair and letting his fingers brush the fine, polished wood of its frame. He'd paused, eyes having drifted across the table and along the other neatly placed seats until something had caught his attention, his sky blue eyes pointedly focused on the figure. As attractive as any painting his brother could create, Napoleon sat unawares on one of the cushioned benches that sat beneath every window in the dining hall.
As silently as he'd been upon entering the room, Theodorus stood behind his chair, hand still resting along its back while his gaze never wavered from the man, said man having appeared only a few months prior. He was awake, not that the soldier's expression would make that known. By first glance, one would assume he'd fallen asleep where he'd sat what with the empty yet soft expression and with his back resting almost slouched against the wall and the sole of his boot against the other on either side of the bench. The length of his lean legs, from heel to hip, fit perfectly within the gap along the bench itself, and the curve of his spine leading up to where his shoulder blades pressed against the surface... It seemed as though his guard were down, his usually stoic and self-shielding tension within his strong and sturdy form, gone with his resting appearance.
As attractive as any painting, was rightly compared. The light from the other side of the glass cast an angelic glow along the mans' sharp and distinctive features. Not that he would admit aloud that every man within the mansion had some form of attractiveness to them, but Theo stood by his silent observation that Napoleon held it far more expertly, even if he were unaware of it.
"Master Theodorus. Good morning," his name being spoken with such a formality, Theo let his gaze flickered towards the butler, a deep grunt of acknowledgement leaving his chest as he pulled his chair out to sit, "Your breakfast will arrive promptly," the human smiled politely, though abruptly turned away the moment they'd heard a clutter in the kitchen. The second human that had appeared, no doubt. He'd heard that Sebastian would be training her.
Another wasted thought being pushed aside, he situated himself comfortably within his seat, arms loosely crossing over his chest as he returned his gaze to the man-, now glancing towards the kitchen, following the butler upon his departure. Theo could see his eyes clearly, the vibrant jade green irises as sharp and as keen as the norm, as attractive as the rest of him.
His softer stare was focused as the soldier fluidly climbed to his feet, a soft sigh leaving him while directing himself towards the table for breakfast. He appeared tired, his movements slightly slower than he recalled, not that he made the effort to watch him daily, nor did he exert the unnecessary means to track every smooth stride or wave of his arm.
"Where's Vincent?" another voice spoke up, the girl that had been futzing around in the kitchen, another red mark growing on her forehead. It being no concern of his, the dealer redirected his stare to the table cloth, taking no interest in her presence.
"Painting," Theo replied curtly, his voice as disinterested as it usually appeared during unwanted conversation, "Don't disturb him," he'd added only a moment later with a partial harshness, having noticed as of late that the girl had been getting closer to his brother along with one or two of the others.
He wasn't all that fond of anyone attempting to steal Vincent's attention, especially from his work, and there had been mention of his older sibling having a slight delay in motivation recently.
"I won't. Here's your syrup," the girl replied sheepishly before delicately placing down a container of translucent liquid and promptly skipping away in a fashion that reminded him of a wary rabbit scuttling away from a potential predator.
"Would it kill you to be a tad nicer to her, Theo?" sighing heavily, the younger Van Gogh turned to the head of the table, Arthur having taken a seat on one of the corners. Of course, he'd been the one to nonchalantly chide him for his attitude when he was no better with his terrible flirting and dining habits with his human meals.
"Yes, it would," replying just as curtly as he'd done with the girl, Theo cut short whatever the other had to say by tuning the Englishman out, ignoring him as Sebastian placed his breakfast in front of him, going about setting a plate ahead of the other few that had appeared as well. Though he could still hear the author speaking, the dealer had become an expert in not listening to anything he had to say.
Very briefly, as he'd began taking bites of his pancakes, Theo had taken the chance to glance at the soldier, being subtle with each fleeting look thereafter while the morning minutes stretched. Even while eating, the man still held the expertly handled beauty that he'd been given-... Beauty?
The dealer forced the adjective aside, his food being motionless only inches from his mouth while he internally berated himself for using such a word to describe Napoleon. He'd never described another man with a word that had only ever been used on women by the flirtatious and unabashed author sitting only a few feet to his side.
Evidently irked, Theo slid the fork into his mouth, teeth grinding down on the metal for a moment before he drew it back, rearing for another mouthful in an attempt to hurry the morning breakfast along.
If anything, it appeared longer than the norm what with the dealer gravitating between his thoughts, food and the man a few seats away. Said man calmly nibbling on his meal while reading the papers spread out on the table beside him, seemingly unaware of Theo's continuously glancing, which would have been a surprise if Theo hadn't known that he was aware. Upon realizing that the other could feel the occasional glances, he'd refrained from letting his gaze linger. Not that that made it any better as the soldier had pointedly lifted his own gaze to lock expectantly with his own, neither faltering in their external stoic solidity.
Though Theo had wanted to leave the room only a moment later, he refused to waste his breakfast, nor would he take the plate with him. His quarters 'were not' a dining room, as Vincent had expressed many a time prior to the dealer eventually conceding.
Finally finishing his breakfast between the chatter that gradually began to take over the silence, Theo stood from his seat, taking another glance towards the soldier who had departed without the residents realizing. He stared for a long moment, lingering on the empty dishes and perfectly folded newspaper. As stealthy as he was attractive, not that that was new knowledge.
What appeared to be new was the odd fixation that he'd seemingly acquired for the quiet yet ever-present soldier.
Taking his leave of the room, Theo ignored the author as a comment was made, closing the door to the second entrance he'd appeared through only a short time before. Though it was a roundabout way of returning to his room, the view along the way made it far more worth the slightly longer walk, more so when he rarely ever saw another soul walk the same hall.
And what a view it was...
A soft and questioning grunt left his lips as he peered through the windows, hooded sky blue eyes widening just slightly upon seeing the focus of his thoughts during breakfast. The garden that naturally held its beauty with a firm grasp, drowned in flowers, grass, a narrow and smooth stone path with a balcony-esque view overlooking that side of the town... Napoleon had taken up the position at the far end, the farthest part of the garden from where Theo stood within the threshold glass doors that he rarely ever opened to step out into the beauty.
As appealing as it was, he'd felt as though he'd disturb that magnificence if he were to take a step into the garden. And there the soldier stood, appearing at home, the breeze brushing his clothes and hair... His view wasn't unlike a painting he himself would purchase, given the chance...
Why... why had he decided that he deserved his focus? He hadn't taken up residence in the forefront of his mind at all until then, so why?
"He's none of my concern," he muttered pointedly, as if attempting to explain it to himself, not unlike a parent would, like a mantra even.
Grumbling to no one and nothing, the dealer gave the soldier one last glance before turning away and continuing down the hall with a far more irritated step, mildly frustrated with himself for allowing another person to plague his usually calm mind. He'd only had eyes and the focus for his sibling, refusing to acknowledge anyone else as someone worth letting his concentration waver for.
His guard had been down; there must have been a moment where he hadn't been aware of his lowered walls while the soldier had been nearby or had maybe chatted with him and he'd slipped in without either realizing it. Or at the least, with Theo realizing the stealthy unseen intrusion.
For a long while, he'd stewing in his silence, dwelling within his dwellings, the curtains drawn apart to have a view of another garden, though not as lavish or as plentiful as the painting-esque sight he'd had while striding back and forth through the hallway, and certainly not with a soldier. Though it still had its beauty-... and still, that man continued to plague his thoughts, even his comparisons between the two gardens...
Theo growled under his breath, his crossed arms growing firmer with tension. Had a spell been cast? Had he been the victim of a witch? Had Sebas' spiked his pancakes? Had the girl poisoned his syrup? If she had, he'd leave no survivors... none poisoned his syrup and lived to tell of it.
The irritation had grown, his mind still fixated on more than just his brother at that point. He refused to believe that he'd had a momentary lapse in his guardedness and allowed the man in, if he'd simply been looking at him while thinking of something attractive or if he were thinking at all at the time. Napoleon had to have slipped in while he'd been unaware... with his stealthy soldier skills.
Having been so deep in his unhelpful thoughts, the firm wrapping on his door had shaken him from his mind, Theo turning to gawk for a few drawn-out seconds. Until another knock followed along with what he assumed had been a sigh.
He responded with a huff of his own before reluctantly pushing himself to stand from his window-facing plush settee. Meandering his way to his door, he reached for the handle, his fingers brushing the curved metal turning tilting it, the latch clicking and allowing the thick and sturdy wood to swing open.
"I'm busy," he greeted the resident at his entrance, glad that he'd gotten the two word sentence out before noting who had been knocking as his words may have fallen short otherwise. The soldier that had been striding through his thoughts for most of that morning stood at his door, his expression as unreadable as every other day upon his arrival.
"Clearly," the slightly shorter man replied curtly while glancing over Theo's shoulder into the room, obviously seeing nothing that would have deemed him busy, save for the open window, though to his knowledge, none of the other residents were aware that he could spend an entire day staring at nothing but his garden.
"You have business with me?" the taller of the two cut to the point, mostly to speed the conversation along to avoid unnecessary chatter. The other had already taken up most of his concentration as it was.
"Questions, yes," Napoleon replied with a sturdy composure, a sigh threatening to leave Theo as he stepped aside to allow him into his quarters, not that he entirely wanted to as it would lengthen the time they would be spending in one another's presence.
"If I'm unable to satisfy your curiosity?" the dealer countered calmly, arms tensely re-crossing over his chest after shoving the door closed, the click telling of it locking in place. That left the two in his moderately sized bedroom, Napoleon standing in the centre behind his settee and Theo standing between him and the door.
And after a long silence, "This morning, and for the last few days, you've been watching me. Why?" as straightforward as ever. And he'd assumed that it'd only been for a handful of days? He must have only recently noticed...
Theo gnawed the inside of his lip, wanting to avoid this conversation all together now that he was aware of the topic, and as he'd opened his mouth to redirect and or deflect-,
"I'd like to remind you that interrogation is one of my many skills," the slightly smaller of the two mentioned, his own arms lacing fluidly over his leaner form, the motion and sight being a tad intimidating only due to being aware of who this man had actually been prior to his arrival in the mansion.
Growling under his breath, his arms tightened further, his expression growing taut with reluctance as his gaze began to avoid, flicking towards the curtains and then the sunlit garden through his large window... the gardens, akin to a painting...
"... to a painting," he muttered softly, the tension fractionally ebbing as he'd reminded himself of how he'd compared the man to that of a painting he'd have personally purchased.
"Pardon?" it'd almost sounded as though the man had huffed exasperatedly with his question, the word 'sighing' from his lips. As discomforting as this had become in his mind, avoiding would be wasted effort with the soldier. But being as to-the-point would be far more embarrassing, and so...
"You're akin to my preferred genre of painting," Theo muttered aloud, gaze still avoiding the soldiers' stare as he continued, "I prefer art that references blooming nature. Flowers, leaves, grass. Spring, in which the plants grow beautiful," an attractive sight that appealed to the dealer so greatly that it would have been hard to find a comparison...
"I'm uncertain of the relevance," Napoleon's words reaching his ears, Theo breathed softly through his nose, composure being solidified and steeled within him. Theo finally forced his eyes to meet the teal glow of the soldiers' irises.
"The mansions' gardens are beautiful and nothing else has caught my eye since arriving here... save for you," the last three words of that sentence had been spoken slowly, deeply, emphasized with an uncharacteristic warmth that he allowed to lace every syllable.
A long moment lingered, Theo watching the thoughts, questions and responses dance behind those keen eyes, consideration and acknowledgement crossing his ever impassive features. It appeared as though he'd taken every word into account, the relevance to Theo's way of explaining having made itself clear for him.
"Your glances are due to your infatuation with me?" Napoleon's question drew warmth from Theo's chest, his ever serious intensity in his eyes only boiling it akin to a burner beneath a pan, or a candle lighting the corner of a wasted piece of paper.
"As evident as a mans' interest in a beautiful woman he would like to court," not that Theo had been hinting, but if he were an expert in pursing women as Arthur was, then he'd have had the confidence to court Napoleon. Though considering the times and gender, he'd have probably been stoned.
"I'm no woman," the soldier replied bluntly, a brow quirked in confusion as the example appeared lost on him, the main meaning having gone directly over his head and out through the closed window.
"Also, quite evident," the very faint hint of a slightly amused smile tugged at the corner of his lips. He'd never known the man to be as literal as he seemed at that moment, but then he hardly knew the man at all, if he were being honest.
"You prefer men?" with the tone used, it sounded far more like a statement rather than a question, though Theo found it easier to talk as he'd seemed to already assume answers to questions that he hadn't replied to.
"I have no preference. I never did," the taller informed calmly, the tension in his posture not so much leaving as it was easing, ready to return given its chance.
"Then either gender will do," another statement instead of a question, making it easier again. He genuinely appeared curious, Theo now able to compare to that of a questioning puppy being talked to by a human, unable to understand unless explained in a way he could understand.
"Correction. Neither will do," the younger Van Gogh adjusted the soldiers' assumption, and feeling a tad more comfortable, Theo decided to finally return to his seat on the settee, easing himself from the wall beside the door, "I've never had that much of an interest between either gender to begin with," he'd added with a soft sigh, letting the cushions flatten somewhat beneath his weight.
"Until now?" a curious puppy indeed. Tilting his head to glance behind himself, he saw the other man rounding the back of the plush seat, sauntering around the arm to sit beside him with an inquisitive glint in his brightly hued eyes.
"Until you," Theo corrected once more while letting his stare return to the window, having felt bold and brazen enough to say it, internally concerned whether he'd made a mistake in confessing to the soldier and feeling that tension slowly rear its head as the silence gradually took over.
Refraining from showing his awkward discomfort and tension, the dealer let his eye drift to the other without moving his head, his lips parting just slight upon seeing the warm and soft expression on Napoleon's face, in thought as well, it seemed. No wonder he'd stayed silent then. And did he spy a faint smile on his lips? That was a smiling curve, yes?
Feeling his own warmth ever so slowly spreading in his broad chest, Theo returned his gaze to the garden, retaining his composed stoicism in order to avoid embarrassing himself. He'd gotten this far without making a fool of himself and he refused to do so if this furthered along the way it appeared to be.
Nothing had been said after that. They'd spent a while sitting in the comforting quiet that had replaced the awkward silence, both gazing out through his window to the garden, Theo having wondered whether the man would find his time-passing boring as it was only 'staring at flowers' as Arthur had obliviously and obnoxiously summarized.
"Do I really compare to a woman?" humming in question, Theo let his gaze drift to the soldier, Napoleon still fixated ahead, even as he'd asked his question. His tone told him that he was amused by it, though the dealer wouldn't compare him to a female, given the drastic differences between either gender.
"You compare to a blossoming garden amid spring," he smoothly replied, the soldier finally glancing up towards the slightly taller man. He hadn't been aware that he could drop such a line. He'd been spending too much time in the authors' presence. Theo had never been such a wooer with his words; he'd been as anti-social as they came if not for his art dealings.
"I appreciate that answer," Napoleon scoffed with a gentle smile on his lips, not appearing uncomfortable with the intimate words or strange want that Theo had for the other man. Not that he believed that hope had any weight in reality, but he felt as though he wanted to stay like this for a while longer if the soldier wanted nothing more from him. The dealer felt at peace with their current setting.