Nando and Will Ch. 02byPelaam©
Nando and Will: 2 Arrogance and Acceptance
Nearly four weeks had passed since Will Green had joyfully gifted his virginity to Fernando, Nando Rodreguez at the small cottage in Costa Roja. He was now home at Rancho des Torres. On his return he had immediately been set to work by his older uncle, and one of his two guardians, Jackson, Jack Brooks. Nando had been detained from joining him. The older of his two sisters was married to Jack, but the other had a husband in Costa Roja and Nando had arranged to visit her for two weeks. Since Nando's arrival at des Torres they had been almost inseparable. They shared the bunkhouse with the other workers as usual, but after a couple of days had gone to bed to find their bunks mysteriously pushed together at a discreet distance from others. Will had blushed scarlet, but Nando had accepted it with his normal laid-back style. Each night the bunks were together; each day as the couple washed and dressed, they were once again separated. Will had shyly admitted that it was worth the initial embarrassment to wake up in Nando's arms. As yet the lovers hadn't spoken of their relationship to the older Brooks. Bart Brooks, Jack's younger brother, knew and accepted the situation and was to speak on their behalf. Same sex relationships were an accepted and respected part of life and culture in Costa Roja, Nando's country, and the Rojan sought to take Will as his Spouse.
Bart had asked that the lovers wait to allow him to be the first to speak to his brother, but for over a week after Will's return the older man had been away. On his return there had been a flurry of activity at the ranch and so Bart had not found any time for his much needed discussion. He had also wanted Nando to be at the Ranch when Bart had his talk. , Bart had now become concerned, just a day or so earlier, that something regarding the two young men had caught Jack's attention and that the older man was unhappy. Before Bart could manoeuvre his brother into talks, he found himself and Nando sent to Nando's home, Rancho des Caballos. They both felt the request to be a trivial one that any worker from Rancho des Torres could have carried out. Not only had Bart's pleadings, that Nando's father Don Carlos would be happier to see Will rather than he, fallen on stony ground but Jack had suddenly spent a few days in town so no other discussions could take place. Both Bart and Nando had ridden away from des Torres with heavy hearts, reluctant to leave Will to face his uncle alone and yet equally reluctant to incur the older Brooks' wrath by disobeying his instructions. Jack was the main owner of the ranch and ran it with a rod of iron. Jack owned fifty percent of the ranch, the other fifty percent equally divided between Bart and Will. However, as Will was under twenty five, he was still subject to his uncles' guardianship and his inheritance was held in Trust. If Bart were to gain his approval for his nephew and brother-in-law's relationship, disregarding Jack's order was not the way to succeed.
Will sipped tiredly at his canteen again as he worked with two of Jack's longest-serving ranch hands; Joel and Samuel. He hadn't felt too good yesterday as his lover and uncle had ridden away and had put the feeling down to their loss and the strain of the secrecy of his relationship. However on awakening that day had found his throat raw, a rough cough developing and chills randomly assailing his lithe form. Joel and Samuel good heartedly took on the bulk of the repair work, letting the clearly unwell younger man rest as often as possible. As much as Will would have preferred to stay in bed, he had ridden with older men as per his older uncle's instructions.
"You alright, Will?" Samuel asked giving the slender frame a brief hug.
"Not so good," Will croaked with a tired smile. "Think when we finish I'll just retire to the bunkhouse. Maybe I can sleep off this illness."
"Rest a little longer, son" Joel said joining them. "We can manage. Sit in the shade for a few minutes."
Knowing resistance was futile and feeling to unwell to want to try and argue, Will allowed the smaller of the two older men to lead him to a small clump of trees and sat as directed. Without being aware of his eyelids closing, Will quickly slipped into a slightly fevered doze.
Jackson Brooks was not a happy man. He'd seen the way his nephew looked at Nando with big eyes. It was even more evident since returning from des Caballos. He knew of the 'relationships' that country permitted and he was not about to allow his nephew to make the biggest mistake of his young life. There was no possibility in Jack's mind that Will could or should have a relationship with another man. Apart from his own feelings on the matter, Jack was quite certain that Nando was not of that sort and he could and would not contemplate that Will might be. He made up his mind that Will simply had a surfeit of hero-worship for the dashing South American given his complete inexperience in that regard. He would ensure things went no further, his mind firmly closed against any such relationship. Will was to marry a carefully selected woman who would make a good partnership, strengthen des Torres and provide children for the future of the ranch. The older man gave no thought in regards to Will's hopes or aspirations, firmly believing he knew what was best for the boy in his shared care. It was the shared care that made him send Bart away with Nando. Bart was too soft with the boy and he didn't want any possible embarrassment for Nando. With both men gone, he could put his plan into operation and by the time they returned all would be sorted.
The shout of his name quickly roused the young man from his reverie and he struggled to his feet trying to ignore the pounding in his head and the shivers and the aches throughout his body. He turned to face his approaching uncle as Joel and Samuel looked on with concern. All could see the older man's determined look and Will felt a frisson of foreboding run down his spine.
"Uncle Jack," he said as the older man rode up.
"Saddle up," Jack ordered. "I want you back at the ranch. You men can obviously finish this job alone," he added.
"Yes, sir," Samuel answered.
Jack wheeled his horse around and began to head back, not even watching his nephew. If he had, he would have noticed the younger man's struggles and the wave of dizziness that Will fought to maintain upright. Determinedly, Will mounted his horse and dutifully followed his uncle.
At des Torres, Jack ordered one of the Mexican workers, Pedro, to take their horses and directed Will to follow him into the house. Will was ushered into one of the spare bedrooms and Jack stood imposingly by the door.
"Tomorrow evening you're leaving here and going east to stay with your father's sister," Jack said bluntly.
"No, please, Uncle Jack," Will stuttered panicked.
"This is not for discussion, Boy," Jack growled. "I can see the infatuation in your eyes for Nando and I'm doing this for your good and the good of the ranch. Once you've been away a few days you'll see things more clearly, realize your foolishness."
"We love each other, Uncle Jack," Will said desolately. "Nando wants to marry me."
Jack covered his shock with aplomb. Of all the arguments he expected from his nephew a marriage proposal was not one of them.
"If he wants to marry you, Will, why hasn't he spoken to me?" Jack asked. "You've been back long enough."
"Uncle Bart was to speak to..." Will began, but Jack cut in coldly.
"If Nando truly loved you, Will, he'd have done his own talking by now. What about his future? If you love him, do you want to jeopardise his inheritance?"
Will's hands went to his pounding head. His mind was in a whirl and he was unable to see that his Uncle's words were purposely aimed to undermine his confidence.
"Jeopardise?" Will murmured. "No. I love him. He loves me."
"Don Carlos told me he looked forward to having grandchildren," Jack lied shamelessly, determined to have his nephew bow to his will and his decisions. "He won't be getting them from me and Marguerita, so they must be from Nando and the wife Don Carlos expects him to take. Trust me, Will," Jack's voice became persuasive. "You've become infatuated with Nando. You've spent a long time with him and seen something there that doesn't exist. You don't want a relationship with another man. You want a wife and children of your own. You love Nando? Then don't stand in the way of his future happiness. Leave him be to find the right woman."
"I want him happy," Will said brokenly.
"Then leave here. Stay away a while and you'll see it's for the best. You aren't a selfish boy, think of what's best for Nando and you'll see I'm right. Now strip." He met the young man's tear-filled confused eyes. "A clean break is for the best, Will and I don't want you trying to sneak out. You get your clothes back tomorrow for going into town for the Stagecoach."
Will had automatically obeyed his Uncle's instruction although his heart felt like it was breaking. Nando did love him - didn't he? He hadn't spoken to Uncle Jack because Uncle Bart was going to - wasn't he? Nando had said Don Carlos would approve their match - hadn't he. They were going to marry - weren't they? Suddenly shaking with a mix of fever and shock, Will handed his clothes over wordlessly. His legs shaking, he sat heavily on the bed, his tears falling silently.
"I'll have food brought here. I know what's best, Boy," Jack assured striding from the room and locking it behind him.
At the sound of the lock, Will's silent tears became wracking sobs. Crawling beneath the bedding, Will cried into the pillow until he slipped into a fevered exhausted sleep.
Marguerita Brooks looked up as Jack appeared with the bundle of clothing.
"Aren't they Will's?" she asked. "Do they need cleaning?"
"No these will do for travelling. I've put some other more suitable stuff for when he reaches the City in his case."
"City? Case? I don't understand," Marguerita said confused.
"I'm sending Will to spend some time East with his Aunt from his father's side of the family. You must have seen the way he looks at Nando. I don't want to cause any problems with your father and I expect that once he's been away for a while, the boy will outgrow his infatuation. I'm also thinking of selecting some suitable young women for prospective wife material. Will can't possibly expect to be able to have a relationship with anything other than the appropriate woman."
"Have you spoken to my Papa or my brother about this?" Marguerita snapped coldly. "What of what Will has said. Does he want to go?"
"Will is under my guardianship and I've made the decision he goes," Jack growled unhappy he was facing criticism from his wife. "I'm not embarrassing myself having any such talks with Don Carlos or Nando."
"You share Will's guardianship," Marguerita reminded him and then gave a gasp. "That's why Bart isn't here. Even he doesn't know about this. How could you?" she demanded angrily. "Will isn't some object to be sent from his home at your whim. He's a young man with a mind and a heart of his own. As for Nando, do not make decisions for him. He has been making his own decisions for many years and he chooses to live his life his way. Do not do this, Jack. Please wait for Bart and Nando to return and discuss this with all of them."
"I won't see Will ruin his life. I won't let him shame himself or the family. He goes Marguerita. Things will settle after a while and he can come back. You'll see I'm right."
"I see you are a blind, stubborn fool," Marguerita snapped icily. "I cannot prohibit you making what I consider to be the greatest mistake of your life, Jackson Brooks, but I can ensure I play no part in it. You sleep alone tonight and all the nights until Will is back where he belongs." The Rojan woman turned sharply on her heel disappearing to the kitchen, her long dark hair flowing behind her.
For a moment Jack was stunned, then angry. He was the boy's guardian and he did know what was best; best for Will, the ranch, everyone. They would see he was right.
In the kitchen Marguerita spoke hurriedly to the servant that her Papa had insisted accompany her when she married Jack Brooks.
"Vacho, seek out Pedro and ride to my Papa's. Tell Nando that Jack is sending Will away. They must get back here as quickly as possible."
"Your murido does not accept them?"
"He doesn't understand, Vacho. It is not my place to speak for Nando. I'm sure my brother had some reason for not saying anything openly as yet."
"Bart was to speak first, Senora Marguerita, but there has been no chance. He and Nando feared Senor Jack's reactions."
"With all right," she murmured. "Hurry, Vacho. Bring them back."
As the grey haired older Rojan slipped out of the kitchen door, Marguerita turned her eyes heavenward. //Por favor// she thought. //Let Vacho bring them back in time//
The afternoon became evening and Marguerita noted with concern that the tray of food and drink that Jack took to her nephew was taken back to the kitchen untouched.
"He'll eat when he's hungry," Jack growled catching sight of Marguerita's look. "He's behaving like a spoilt child. It's clear he's not mature enough to make any significant decisions about his future."
"Or perhaps his heart is so broken he does not feel hunger?" Marguerita countered.
"Impossible," Jack scoffed. "It's mere infatuation by a boy who has no experience in matters of this kind. He'll soon come round when he gets to the City."
"I am retiring early," Marguerita announced rising. "And I intend to sleep in the large guest room. Goodnight."
Jack stared at her retreating form. He hadn't taken his wife's threat to sleep apart from him seriously. He frowned. It made no matter. He knew what was best for Will. No man of his family was of the fey sort found amongst the Costa Rojans.
The next day was almost intolerable for Jack Brooks. He'd tried to speak to Will that morning when the boy hadn't touched breakfast. The older man had become angry when Will remained buried beneath the covers refusing to answer and had stormed out more convinced than ever that Will was incapable of making adult decisions. His wife had treated him with the cold civility of a near stranger. His two oldest ranch hands had glowered at him, but rapidly disappeared when he turned to face him. He even heard a whisper that they were thinking of quitting des Torres. He felt as though there was an undercurrent of resentment hitherto unknown at des Torres and was at a loss to account for it. Fleetingly the idea that he was making a mistake sent a chill down his back, but he resolutely shoved it aside. He hadn't become a successful rancher by backing down from difficult decisions.
As afternoon approached, a shout came from the rooftop sentry. Six horsemen were approaching at reckless speed. The word quickly spread that it was Vacho and Pedro with Bart and Nando. A murmur rippled around that the other two riders were Don Carlos the father of Nando and Marguerita, whose ranch was even bigger than des Torres, and his personal man Roberto. It was unknown for the comfort loving older Rojan to travel to des Torres in such a manner.
As Jack joined Marguerita to stand outside their house in bemusement, the riders pulled up hard. To his shock and no little fear it was Nando who almost lifted him bodily from the floor, holding at his shirt front.
"Where is my Intended? Nando demanded furiously.
Jack blinked, stunned into silence. He had never seen the young Rojan so angry.
"Answer him," Don Carlos added coming to stand glowering at the hapless rancher. "Where is my son's Intended?"
"My murido has locked him in one of our spare bedrooms, Papa," Marguerita answered seeing her husband was incapable of speech. "I have not seen him eat since yesterday morning. He must be much heartbroken."
"You I will talk to later, Jackson Brooks. For now give me the key that I may tend to the man I love."
The key was handed over almost without conscious thought as Jack took in the words of the younger man. 'Love.' The word echoed in Jack's mind. 'He loves Will'.
"How could you, Jack?" Bart growled angrily. "You 'n' me got to have us a long talk once Nando's seen Will.
Jack stood numbly as his wife led the way and even Vacho and Pedro trouped past into the house to release Will. He had just set foot in the house when combined cries of distress reached his ears. He lurched forward to stand shocked at the now opened door.
Nando was carefully easing Will into his arms. The younger man had vomited over the edge of the bed and the stench from the room indicated he had lost control of other body functions.
"Joel and Samuel told Pedro that the boy was sick yesterday when they last saw him. He's so hot." Bart's words reached Jack and it suddenly struck him that instead of ignoring him that morning, his nephew had been too sick to respond. That it hadn't been through childishness that his nephew hadn't eaten but through sickness.
"He is too ill to return to des Caballos, my son," Don Carlos opined.
"He needs a doctor, Papa," Nando said.
Jack looked and saw with suddenly opened eyes. Nando was crying tears that ran silently down the young man's face. His brown orbs were filled with a mix of love and fear and Jack had no doubt just how loved his nephew was by the Rojan.
"I'll send a rider," he offered. "Put him into our room, Marguerita."
"Vacho, do you still keep your store of herbs?" Roberto asked as Will was carried limply to the other bedroom, preceded by Marguerita and flanked by Don Carlos.
"I do," the grey haired man replied as he looked up at the broad-chested, black haired man. "Let us combine our knowledge. Pedro you stay with the others," Vacho added. "They will need things for Will."
"Si, Vacho," the darker haired man nodded, trotting quickly to take any orders from the concerned family group.
Soon Will was in a bathtub supported by Nando's naked body behind him and cleansed by Roberto as Bart and Don Carlos hovered anxiously. Marguerita had ushered Jack from the group as it was clear that his presence was simply incensing her brother and Papa.
"How is he, Roberto?" Don Carlos asked his man.
"Very weak, Don Carlos," came the worried reply. "He needs to drink, he is very dry. We must get fluids into him, keep him warm yet lower his fever. Vacho is going into town tomorrow with Pedro. He knows of a shop that sells healing herbs. Whatever the doctor brings, it will not hurt to have medicines of our own to tend the boy."
"S...sorry," the weak voice had all moving closer to the barely conscious Will who seemed oblivious to his surroundings except for the man in whose arms he lay. "Don't want... don't want your Papa to hate you. Not lose ranch. Love you so much. So sorry," the soft voice died away and Will went limp.
"Will I will lose nothing and gain everything by loving you. Don't leave me, mi amore. I love you, my heart. Stay with me, Will. Promise me. Promise," Nando begged as tears streamed down his cheeks.
"Try. So tired,"
"I'm here, my love and I won't leave you. Keep fighting, Will."
"'K," this time Will lost the battle to remain conscious. He was quickly and tenderly dried and returned to bed. Nando only vacated his place at his lover's side for the doctor to perform his examination and make his pronouncements.
The doctor looked around at the unusual grouping. Where the doctor would have expected Will's family, instead there was Nando's. He had heard of Don Carlos, the successful horse-breeder from Costa Roja. The Rojan was still handsome, even with his collar length hair the same snow white as his moustache. He was a little taller than his son but both had the same broad physique. The...bodyguard...as the Doctor could only presume him to be stood like a silent sentinel by the door. Taller than anyone else in the room and clearly powerful, his dark hair hung straight to his shoulders and there was a hint of beard. His dark eyes only flitting away from the sick young man for brief seconds.