Episode Fifteen: No One So Little Loved: Part Two.
Leonardo had been eleven years old, the first time he realized what he was.
He’d been walking back from his mother and step-father’s house, idly swinging a stick he’d found. His gaze was on the sky, watching the birds.
The laborers were coming in from the vineyards and the sun was setting over the hills. One of them had stripped to his waist, his shirt draped around his shoulders. The sun reflected off the sweat that dripped down his neck and chest. Leonardo could still remember the way the muscles moved under his arms and stomach. His first lesson in anatomy, burned into his eyes. Something uncomfortably warm settled over his skin and in his belly.
Leonardo stood off to the side of the road, watching them walk by. Some of them raised their hands and waved to “Accattabriga’s son.” He waved back, eyes till firmly fixed on the shirtless man.
As he grew older he realized what had happened that evening, the first touches of attraction, of arousal.
And as Leonardo grew, he also came realized how dangerous it was.
At seventeen he was arrested. While Florence was lenient in its policy on sodomy, Leonardo knew how close he could have been to imprisonment, or execution. This served as an important lesson in his life: no matter how much he showed, the truth of his nature should always be obscured.
Leonardo’s hands landed on Jerome’s shoulders as they stepped close together. Jerome’s white teeth flashed against his dark skin right before their lips met.
Leonardo shut his eyes, taking a deep breath through his nose as a warm tide rushed through him, tingling starting through his fingers and toes. Then Jerome tilted his head slightly and there was a wet questioning pressure on his lips. Leonardo made a noise in the back of his throat as the kiss deepened. Jerome grabbed at his waist and pulled them flush together.
The sun had reached its zenith by the time they pulled apart, and Leonardo ran a trembling hand through his hair. It had been a very long time since he’d been kissed like that.
Jerome sighed quietly, and grinned at him. “I have to go home before my shift starts tonight.”
Before he could think it through Leonardo blurted out, “I have a bed, you know.” Then he flushed.
Jerome’s eyebrows had risen up to his hairline. “You know, in other circumstances…”
Leonardo waved his hand. “I misspoke. If you needed to sleep, then I’m assuming that my chambers could serve.”
After leaning over and pressing a kiss to his cheek, Jerome backed away. “That’s nice of you to offer, but I have other stuff I need to do, and my sister is expecting me to call her today.”
Leonardo blinked. “You have a sister?”
“Yeah she works in security too, doing something for the capital.” Jerome slung on his jacket, and smoothed down the front. “She likes me to call every week or so. But,” he winked, “I might take you up on that offer some other time.”
Leonardo smiled. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Clio had been wandering around the prison where Robespierre was being kept when she suddenly blinked and was in another place entirely.
Startled, she looked around and groaned aloud.
“For the love of Zeus, what are you people doing now?” She groused, leaning back against a brick wall.
The room was brightly lit by large windows going across the top of ceiling and the floor was simple hard worn wooden planks. At one end of the room two people were clustered around a computer screen. The woman was intently studying the text, muttering to herself. The man leaned over her, hand braced on her hard back chair.
“I don’t know Lotte, are you entirely sure of this?”
“You got what we needed, didn’t you Hamm? We’ve come this far. And I have it on good authority that Miller herself had something to do with this. Besides, can you imagine what the local government of Corsica would do for this?” She smiled.
The man looked frowned uncertainly, but finally sighed and shrugged.
“You’re funeral, Lotte. Let’s do this!”
Clio turned her head and caught sight of a steel operating table, where piles of different minerals were neatly organized. Next to it was an old fashioned defibrillator.
The empty brightly lit room was quickly becoming Maximilien’s least favorite place in the world. His eyes ached, his stomach was twisted into knots, and there wasn’t a position he could lay in that didn’t make him bruise. Curled towards a corner was the closest thing he could find to comfort. He was mumbling the Declaration of the Rights of Man to himself when he heard the most unlikely thing: a dog barking.
Max raised his head, eyes squinted. It was impossible but it sounded like Brount. He was hearing things, there was no way Brount could be here. His beloved dog was dead, like everything else. In an eternal sleep and lost to time.
Max shut his eyes and laid down on his back, trying to pull himself back, back to Arras after he’d originally gotten the hound. He’d enjoyed talking walks in the evening, just into the fields, past the multitudes of cathedrals and churches. The puppy bounding around his ankles, and snapping at birds and rabbits.
“Do you remember at le Grand, being told not to trample the wheat? Did you get a massive dog simply to spurn them?”
Maximilien eyes snapped open and he looked over at the wall. Incredibly, impossibly, there was someone standing there.
Camille Desmoulins flicked his hair back from his eyes and smiled at him. His head wobbled precariously and red blood seeped into his cravat.
Max’s mouth dropped open. Then he screamed, a rending, tearing sound that hurt his throat and ears. Tears involuntary came to his eyes with the force of it. He clapped hands to his eyes and buried his face in his knees.
“Non, non, non, non!” He moaned. “You cannot be real, you cannot exist.”
“You’d like that, w-wouldn’t you?” Camille muttered. “I’m sure it would be very con-convenient for you, Maxime, if you could click your fingers and make me vanish.”
Horrified to his core, Max slowly raised his head, eyes still screwed shut. “I would never-”
“And yet, you did,” the figure returned viciously. Then he stepped closer. Maximilien cringed against the wall.
“You’re not real. You do not exist. This isn’t happening,” he told himself firmly, even as very real fear soaked into his heart. Camille ignored him (as he always did) and soon stood over Max.
The younger man stared down at him before dramatically whipping off his head and throwing into Maximilien’s lap.
The ghoulish face, will blood staining its lips and teeth smiled gently up at him.
He screamed again, clawing at his own face as he scrambled to his feet, pressing himself to the wall and scuttling away from the figure and the head that tumbled to the floor.
For a long moment the only sound was Max’s harsh breathing. He kept his eyes closed and pressed his face to the wall.
“He’s not real. He wasn’t here. Camille is dead,” he muttered.
Because I killed him.
Max took a deep breath and turned his head to look. The room was empty.