He was her most fantastic obsession. That's saying something, considering her tendency to obsess. That is, after all, what gained her the world.
She'd seen him among the many that had shown up to her banquet. This city had pleased her in that regard; in many other places she had been forced to pull people from their homes to fill the tables in the banquet halls. But there he was, making the best of the situation and networking like a professional. He knew someone who knew someone who knew her chief accountant, so she learned his name without having to get technical about it. It sounded sweet to her ears, and she rolled it on her tongue like candy all night. She had him sent for the next day. Apparently he put up a fight, because he came in with a broken rib and a black eye; she had the men who had touched him beheaded on the spot, and hushed him as the blood stained the cracks between the marble panels.
He'd run away that first night, after refusing her. She was hurt and somewhat confused when she'd had him hauled back, unharmed this time, to her presence. She'd memorized everything that could be found on him in the few hours it had taken to find his hiding place, which was not insignificant. The man had a talent for journaling. She had him dressed well and took him with her in handcuffs when she went to the next city, and the next, and the next. He told her that he had family and a life and he needed to go home, and she said she'd fix it, and his family could visit when the time was right. She shot down every excuse with a wave of one gloved hand, but she did allow him his own room when they settled at her estate after about fifty cities. She showed him the electronics of the place, how he could see her whenever he wanted with the press of a few keys. She had a chip lodged in his arm to track him wherever he went, because she wanted to keep him safe.
It took a few months for him to stop fighting. She treated him well. Like a prize, actually, like her greatest treasure. He had everything he wanted, and then some, and was only required to have breakfast with her. She always seemed so tired at breakfast.
He took to watching her when he couldn't sleep. Sometimes she'd pace, practicing speeches. Sometimes she'd be bent over maps and papers and computers all night. Rarely did he catch her sleeping, though when he did she curled against a pillow and sighed. He began to wonder if the ruler of the world was getting enough sleep. So he asked.
It gets lonely in this seat, she said. It gets lonelier at night. She finished her eggs and left, quietly wishing him a good day.
He watched her again that night as she stared at papers she didn't seem to be reading. She rubbed her eyes, took another swig of coffee, and tried again. And again, and again, until she finally dozed off at her desk. He snuck into her room and moved her to her bed. The ruler of the world was remarkably light to carry.
He took to putting her to bed every night when she fell asleep, and then to petting her hair while she dreamed. She looked so sweet when she slept, not at all like the cold, slightly crazed expression she wore from behind her massive desk. One night she rolled over and nuzzled his thigh in her sleep, and his heart melted a bit. He went to his own room wondering if this was Stockholm syndrome.
He took to letting her cuddle him in her sleep, removing himself just as he started to doze. She started coming to breakfast more alert and happier, and the world's economy started to right itself. She had a dazzling smile.
He fell asleep in her bed one night, and woke just before she did. He woke her in his attempts to untangle himself, but she smiled and went back to sleep. He exhaled and left. The next night was much the same, and the next. He'd wake up spooned behind her and leave before she got up. She gave him a kiss on the cheek after breakfast.
And so it went. She never made a move, and her only affectionate gesture was a kiss on the cheek after breakfast. At first it made him uneasy, and then confused, and then irritable until he realized he was waiting for her to take advantage of his bed cohabitation. That's what an evil world ruler would do, after all. Twirl her mustache and do awful things to him in his sleep. She never did, though.
He kissed her first, on Christmas eve. It was one of the only holidays she allowed to continue. It made her smile through the ball she was hosting, and he heard her cooing about it to one of her female advisers. It made him unusually happy to see how her face lit up.
When the calendar rolled over, he came into her room while she was awake and told her to go to bed, then pet her until she fell asleep. She mumbled "I love you" while she dozed, and his head felt light and his heart stopped. He kissed her forehead and thought to himself, running three little words around his head like whippets.
He hadn't thought of escape in months, he realized, and wondered why. He wondered if he'd leave even if he could. As prisons went, this had to be the best. But he did wonder if he'd be allowed to leave at all, so he asked the next morning over breakfast. Could he go see his family now? The tyrant looked crestfallen, but gave him a car and a passport with her seal on it.
When he came back a few weeks later, she looked haggard and had that crazed look about her again. She threw her arms around him and squeezed tighter than a woman of her size should have been able to, and he felt a dampness from where her face was buried in his shirt. She hadn't thought he'd come back. He pet her hair while her advisers cleared out of the boardroom, each face looking relieved and a few with approving smiles sent in his direction. He slept in her room that night, and she clung to him until morning.
An adviser came to him the next day. The ex-leader of one of the many countries that had joined her in her conquest. She needs you to stay, the leader said. The world will go to pot without a ruler now, and the ruler needs you.
He didn't know much about the mechanics of world leadership, but it seemed that this must be truth.
He found his rooms got less and less use, and he moved what belongings he had-- clothes she'd given him, presents, trinkets, and what he'd brought from home-- to her room. It wasn't a huge gesture, but it was enough, and she asked him to have dinner with her once or twice a week, when she wasn't busy.
He decided, after much internal debate and many yays and nays, that he would make the next move. The big move. Then he waited for the right time and went through the roller coaster of "Is this the right thing" and decided one night that it was, and the time was just fine right now, and started by kissing her cheek.
The night was bliss, and the unusual exuberance that thrilled the board room the next week or so righted a few of the world's economy a touch more. A few standards were passed for the world's countries, and a few policies tweaked. The tyrant's domain seemed happier.
So it went that while the tyrant held steady the reigns of the world, the man behind her began to lose his heart to that dazzling smile, obsessive mind, and gentle dominance. He went with her everywhere on her tours, kept her bed and missed her when the world kept her away. He even surveyed the damage that the rebels caused when they finally slipped past her iron grip, feeling ill at the sight of so much destruction and gore. He rode through her fury in the months that followed. He held her hand after the next attack, and the next, and watched her sit up and pace the room after the next. The madness crept back into her eyes, the haggard look clung to her face, and he held her when she finally slept. He held her as she died after the bomb went off and her precious blood stained the sidewalk, tears rushing from his eyes. What would he do without her? How could he go on without her?
"I love you," she said, only a gasp, but everyone heard. The final sleep gripped her and pulled her into its darkness, and he held her. I love you, I love you, I love you, he mourned. Don't go. You can't go, I love you. "I love you," one last gasp, and then the world's tyrant slept while he rocked and held her and the world fell apart.