Season Two. Episode Sixteen: The Emperor. Part Two.
A/N: *Comes back almost 1 year later.* I told I wasn’t done yet! To everyone who has been patiently waiting on me to update again, thank you. Special shout out to whoever is doing a regular check in China. I really appreciate it. Hopefully, I will get back up to doing weekly updates.
Rain stretched her back and looked over at Marie Rivera, still standing at parade rest as she watched Rain.
“Can you go get me a coffee? His heart rate has dipped so it’s not as if we can do much right now,” Rain said, kicking her legs up onto the console, smiling as Rivera scowled.
“You don’t understand how orders work, do you?” Rivera said. Rain smiled ever wider.
“I do, I just don’t care. You’re Chikara’s second, she clearly trusts you not to fuck this up. So just go get me the coffee,” she insisted. Rivera stared at her for a long moment before finally sneering and turning to the door.
“Two sugars, two creams,” she called at her jailer’s back before the door locked.
Rain waited for just a moment before turning back to the console and switched her feed from Robespierre’s pathetic figure to the piggy-backing counter she’d applied to her program. It kept an inventory of how many IP addresses had downloaded it.
Right now it was over 500. Rain smiled: if even half of those managed successful resurrections it wouldn’t take very long until the Federation realized something was amiss in their picture-perfect surveillance society.
Chikara Haruka wanted to bury the past, did she?
Well if there was one thing that Rain could remember from her school days it was that history always had a funny way of coming back for people who didn’t respect it.
Richard grit his teeth and recited Hail Mary under his breath. He yelped again when a sharp pain applied to his shoulder.
“Will you stop that?” He snapped at Russo who merely stared at him, unimpressed.
“No. Since you can’t tell me what Rain inoculated you again you and Leonardo get to have all of them done. Frankly, it’s a minor miracle that neither of you caught anything yet.” She muttered under her breath as she turned away, “Or that we haven’t caught anything from you.”
Richard glared at her turned back.
“Courage, Richard,” Leonardo said lightly, leaning against the wall. “It could be Rain doing all of this to us.”
This didn’t comfort him as Leonardo probably thought it would. Richard also sourly noted that Leonardo hadn’t volunteered to go first either.
“This is the last one. Then we just need to do a quick scan and I can work on getting you a spine,” Russo said and poked him again. Richard gritted his teeth and endured.
Leonardo watched in interest as she slowly waved a long metal pole over him, staring down at a display. He slowly crept over, craning his neck to see it better. She noticed and her lips quirked up into a small smile.
“Here, you hold this and tell me what you see,” she said and thrust it to the Italian. Richard scowled slightly. Why did everyone seem to innately trust the Leonardo? There was nothing to suggest that he was a priest or another especially educated individual. His artwork seemed to be the largest motivator for admiration but there were thousands of artisans.
Leonardo fumbled it for a moment before steading and staring at it intently. He quirked his head to the side.
“It appears that his spine has curved out of shape. The bones have changed, becoming angled. But not all of them. The ones above his hips and neck are still straight,” he glanced at Russo, who nodded. “You said you could replace the damaged ones, si?”
She nodded and looked at Richard. “Not all of the bones need to be replaced. But what this means is we will need to identify and measure the ones that do need to be. Since you’re past maturity we will actually also need to calculate how long to make each one, since we can’t add any more to your height.”
Richard nodded, lost. Hesitantly he decided to ask, “How will you remove the bones?”
Russo frowned slightly. “Well, typically we would do it in an operating lab where we could simply put you out and then swap each vertebra, using microsurgery. Then we would keep you under for a few hours to watch for complications. After that, you’d be looking at about six weeks to two months of PT.”
“PT?” Leonardo asked.
“Physical therapy. Helping the muscles to heal and the spine readjust to its new shape. It wouldn’t be totally painless but it would require the least amount of trauma possible.” She sighed. “Since we’re limited to staying here however it’s slightly more complicated. I’ll have to work on finding a way to bring in medical transporters, laser scalpels, the bone printers and training someone to assist in the operation.”
“What does that mean?” Richard asked.
Russo looked him over. “It means I’m going to have to resurrect some old techniques. It’ll take some time,” she said, sounding apologetic.
“I’ve been this way for over a thousand years. What’s a few more days?” Richard asked dryly. He saw Russo quirk a smile in his direction.
“That’s the spirit,” she told him.
Leonardo rubbed his shoulder, slightly sore from the multitude of injections. The needles were narrower than a grain of sand but the force that they were plunged into his skin left a bruise none the less.
“I guess the dead just have thinner skin,” Aspen said with a grin.
The night was now falling over the castle and Aspen had left for the night after taking Russo back to Italy, with promises to return after she had sorted out her affairs and found some way to transport supplies.
Magpie was staying but both Kami and Harmony had both left as well.
“No offense but this place isn’t exactly the picture of modern comfort,” Harm confided in Leonardo. “Magpie is great but Kami and I have a life outside of this,” he waved a hand around at the castle. “We’ll be back tomorrow.”
Now Middleham was dark and quiet. Leonardo was sitting up, teaching himself about basic medical operations. He was surprised at the amount of disinfecting that seemed to take place. He never thought that so much of what caused complications in injuries had to do with infections.
Leonardo blinked and looked up as a breath of cold air stole over his face.
“Hi. I knocked but there was no reply.” Jerome was standing in the doorway, hand on the door. “I’m checking in on everybody.”
“Everybody?” Leonardo asked, leaning back in his chair, stretching slightly.
“You, Richard and Mags. They’re not looking to leave anytime soon,” Jerome said with a twist to his lips. He gestured. “Can I come in?”
Leonardo smiled. “Please. I was just finishing some texts that Doctor Russo gave me. She thinks I have the makings to become her medical assistant for Richard’s surgery.”
Jerome sat back on the bed, resting against the wall. “Yeah? That doesn’t surprise me. From everything I’ve ever heard you’re a pretty smart guy.”
Leonardo laughed aloud. “I’m flattered that people think so highly of me. I hope I don’t disappoint.”
Jerome tilted his head and slowly drew his eyes over Leonardo, before meeting his gaze boldly. “You’re looking pretty good from where I’m sitting.”
In all his life Leonardo had never been so blatantly propositioned. He couldn’t imagine having anyone stare at him the way Jerome was currently as if Leonardo was an especially well-prepared meal. He flushed and Jerome’s expression grew even more smug and satisfied. He patted the place next to him.
“Come here. You don’t have to sit so far away.”
When Leonardo was fifteen he had modeled for Verrocchio’s David. He’d borrowed armor from a soldier and wielded a sword left-handed. While Andrea had worked the other students had used Leonardo for practice. It was here, long after the workshop had closed and the other apprentices had gone to bed that Leonardo first laid with another man.
“Come, Leonardo,” Angelo said drawing him close, breath smelling of watered wine and his already calloused hands eclipsing Leonardo’s. He was still taller than Leonardo then. “Show me what talents you already you possess with that sword.” They went down on the floor of the studio, hands on skin and hair tangling as Angelo hovered over Leonardo.
The excitement, tinged with the despair of shame and danger if pursued rushed back over Leonardo as he stared at Jerome, slowly rising from his desk. It wasn’t more than two steps to the bed but Jerome pulled him in, hand on his wrist so Leonardo instead landed on his lap.
“There’s room here too,” he whispered and kissed him.
Jerome, in Leonardo’s estimation, was a lovely kisser. He knew the rhythm and steps of the old dance. He wasn’t interested in simply staying confined to Leonardo’s mouth, often trailing off to nip playfully at his neck or gently kiss his cheeks.
“You’ve some talent for this,” Leonardo murmured.
Jerome pulled back. “I practice,” he returned with a grin.
That were the last words spoken between them for some time.
Aspen yawned as she entered Middleham. The main hall was already occupied with Magpie, who looked annoyingly cheerful for seven in the morning and Russo who looked as tired and grumpy as Aspen felt.
“Good morning! We’re waiting on Kami, Harm, and Jerome to start debriefing,” Magpie said, brushing a sliver bang back from their face. “Can you check if he’s on his way down?”
Aspen nodded, already headed to the back staircase, more interested in the coffee upstairs than where Jerome was. However, she found Jerome before she was even anywhere close to the staff facilities.
He was stepping out of Leonardo’s room.
Aspen gaped openly as he gently shut the door and then started tiptoeing to the staff area. She followed behind and apparently Jerome was distracted enough that he didn’t notice until he was at the replicator.
Jerome turned and jumped narrowly avoiding slashing hot coffee all over them both.
“Dear god Aspen, what the hell are you trying to do, give me a heart attack?” he demanded. She ignored him instead scrutinizing him carefully, looking for the evidence of getting up close and personal with a formally dead Italian.
“Did you sleep with Leonardo last night?” She asked finally.
Jerome smirked. “A gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell,” he said.
Aspen slugged him in the arm. “You’re not a gentleman, you’re a slut. I can’t believe you!”
Jerome opened his eyes wide and adopted a look of contrition. “What do you mean?”
Aspen shook her head and pushed past him to help herself to the replicator. “If Mags catches you, they’ll lose it. You can’t go sleeping around with all these dead people, Jerome.”
“Um he came on to me. Also, why not? We’re trying to introduce them to the year three-thousand. I just gave him a warm welcome.” Jerome winked.
Aspen rolled her eyes.
Magpie had retreated to their office when Aspen returned to the main floor. She came across Harmony and Kami coming in.
“Harm had an idea for tracking potential ressurections last night. He’s going to experiment this morning,” Kami explained when her husband promptly bolted for his office, taking the stairs two at a time.
Aspen nodded. “I’ll let Magpie know. Have you seen Russo yet?” Kami shook her head. “That’s fine, she said it didn’t know how long it would take for her to sneak away.” She continued onto Magpie’s office.
“How’s it going boss?” She asked, sitting down across from Magpie.
They looked up and said gravely, “I think you should go today.”
Aspen blanked for a moment before realizing what Magpie was referring to. “You want me to go get Napoleon today? What’s the rush?”
Magpie turned on the desk display. “I was up all last night, trying to dig up what I could on why he might have been resurrected. I came across an anonymous source that leaked this document that was sent to the Corsican government.”
He once declared that France must choose. Now so do you. We have him and he can be yours for one billion credits. What is your history worth to you? You have 48 hours. After that, he will be destroyed.
Aspen glanced up at Magpie. “You think this refers to him?”
Magpie nodded. “According to the leak, a lock of hair was included, presumably to authenticate him.”
“Forty-eight hours. The exchange would be today,” Aspen said. A cold ball of dread had gathered in her stomach.
“You want me to go steal him out from under the Corsican government, knowing that if Haruka catches me I’m dead?”
Aspen sighed. Here she was, thinking that working security on an old castle tourist-trap would be easy. She was indeed a fool. “I’m finishing my coffee first. Also, Harm apparently figured out a faster way to find the resurrections. He’s working on it now.”
Magpie brightened. “Really? How?” Aspen shrugged.
“Kami didn’t say, but he’s working on it now. I’m sure you could send Leonardo to spy on him, they seem to get on well enough.”
Not as well as he and Jerome get on, her mind snickered. Aspen fought to keep from smirking.
Magpie nodded, looking thoughtful. “He seems to be adjusting the best.” They snorted. “Well of course. He’s the one who was always ahead of his time.”
“What about Richard?” Aspen asked. She remembered the gloomy look on his face from yesterday.
Magpie shot her a helpless look. “I don’t know what to do for him yet. I think Russo will help but,” they shrugged. “Who knows?”
Aspen nodded and sighed. What have we gotten ourselves into?