Leonardo cursed as he cut his hand on yet another piece of jagged metal. He withdrew it and examined the slice that ran along his palm.
“Careful,” Harmony admonished, distractedly. “The dermal regenerator is on the table.”
Leonardo slid out from under the ship and rolled to his feet, staggering slightly. He put a hand up to his head. It felt slightly fuzzy and Leonardo shook to clear it.
He picked the regenerator and examined it. It was simply a metal wand, with a flat panel. Leonardo placed the panel over the cut, which was still bleeding sluggishly. He pressed the button on the top and the small machine lit up blue and hummed. Leonardo hissed as he could feel his skin knit back together. After a moment, he took it away. All that was a left was a thin pink line.
Leonardo adored the future.
He yawned as he turned back to the ship. Aspen Strong was on top of the flyer, using a laser tool to mold two pieces of metal to the top. It was blackened and already punctured with holes.
“I can’t believe I have to do this to my ship. This is butchery,” she muttered.
“It’s the Federation’s ship, Aspen,” Harmony said. He stood and stretched. “I need to go check in with Kami and Mags. Do you want anything?”
“Coffee,” Leonardo said.
Aspen looked at him sharply. “Have you had any water today, Leo?”
Leonardo cocked his head. “No. Why would I?”
Aspen rubbed her human hand over her face. “Oh, my god. Okay you know what? Take a break. Four hours. Do not come back into this room until you’ve had a liter of water and a nap. Nope! Go, get, get out of here.” She slid off the ship, landing with a thud and quickly intercepting Leonardo.
He hadn’t noticed but Aspen was close to him in height and very strong. Did she have more than just the hand as a body modification? Either way, she was able to wrestle him out of the room.
“Surely you don’t really mean that,” Leonardo tried to squirm out of her grip. “I’m the one who came up with this plan!”
“You sure did. Thanks. But you need to sleep and eat and drink the rest of us. I’m serious, go drink some water and go to bed. Four hours, Leo. No sooner.” With that she was able to shove him out of the door and close it firmly behind him.
Leonardo huffed and rubbed at his eyes with a hand.
Did I not just once go two days without sleep to prepare a festival for Il Moro? Was I not the man who could paint without looking away from a canvas for hours? And now I’m sent away by women.
Leonardo knew Aspen was undoubtedly serious about not allowing him back in his impromptu workshop until she deemed him fit to continue. But the idea of sleep was repugnant to him.
He wandered until he found Jerome.
The young man was alone, his face serious as he studied his tablet. He did not even notice Leonardo until he stepped up next to him.
“Jeeze!” Jerome nearly dropped his device and dramatically placed a hand to his heart. “Whoa, Leonardo. We should put a bell on you. What are you doing here?”
Leonardo shrugged. “I’ve been exiled from the workshop. Aspen told me not to come back for four hours. I need a distraction.”
“And I bet you’re just counting the minutes, huh? Have you eaten?”
Leonardo rolled his eyes. Then he reached forward and cupped Jerome’s head, bringing him close to a brief, hard kiss.
“Not that kind of distraction. Come on,” Leonardo said hungrily. “My rooms.”
Jerome gently pulled away. “Magpie is going to be looking for me in a moment. I just got off the comms with Julia. I need to speak to them about the security-“
Leonardo leaned in close again, kissing along his cheekbone. His skin was very smooth, nearly without any stubble at all. It was curious, but Salai had rarely ever shaved, either.
You like how young I look, Maestro.
Jerome placed a hand on his chest and separated them. “Leo, no. I’m not doing this right now. I’m being serious.”
Leonardo backed away, stung. “Why not? You enjoyed what we did, si? We can be quick.”
Jerome rubbed a hand over his face. “I just had to calm down Julia from a panic attack. I need to report to my boss. I need to focus right now and you can find a way to distract yourself, alright?” Jerome quickly turned on his heel to head away from him.
Leonardo was still standing there, feeling bizarrely cold when Napoleon happened upon him.
“Monsieur? What are you doing?”
Leonardo cocked his head. “I thought I understood.” He spoke slowly. His jaw ached and Leonardo realized he’d been clenching his teeth.
Napoleon glanced over him. He wore the expression that Leonardo had often seen on Niccolo Machiavelli wear. A canny, calculating expression, when he believed he was reading you.
Leonardo shook his head and waved it away. He did not know enough of Napoleon, how he would react, if he could be trusted.
“Nothing, my friend. I was banished by Aspen from the workshop and ordered to have some food.”
As he hoped, Napoleon promptly grasped this. “Oh yes? Perhaps I may join you?”
Leonardo nodded and gestured to the stairs that led down to the grand hall. Napoleon smiled at him and promptly led the way.
Eventually even Leonardo accepted he couldn’t stay awake forever and only after both Harmony and Aspen had left for the night, did he retire. Despite his best efforts, there were still pieces of his knowledge base missing. He might have been proud but Leonardo wasn’t foolish. He couldn’t jeopardize the ship for a fit a pique.
He’d been asleep for less than an hour when there was knock on his door. He already knew who is was when Leonardo opened the door and saw Jerome on the threshold.
“Hey, Leo,” he said quietly.
“Seriously?” He sighed. “Let me in and we can at least talk about this.”
Leonardo let him past and closed the door. Jerome sat down on the bed and eyed Leonardo.
“I’m not saying sorry, because I’m not. But I am curious why you’re taking this so…personally.”
Leonardo was stunned at his audacity. “Personally? I’m not taking it personally!”
Jerome raised an eyebrow and smiled at him slightly. “Really? Then you’re acting pretty pissy for a guy who got turned down.”
Leonardo bristled, almost instinctively. He could feel the muscles of his shoulders and calves tense up in bunches. “I was told that this future was different. I thought you’d be more understanding.”
Now Jerome frowned. “Understanding? Of what? You’re orientations? I am. I turned you down because I wasn’t interested in sex this afternoon. I told you, I had a lot going on in that moment. Did you think I turned you down out of…shame?”
Leonardo blinked. Had he? It had happened before, when he was young. More than once he’d return to lover to find they’d have nothing more to do with him. After he was accused, Leonardo never approached anyone first. He’d let them come to him, since at least he was honorable.
“Perhaps,” he finally muttered. “It would not be the first time.”
Jerome now eyed him with pity, much to Leonardo’s horror. “Leo, no. I’m not ashamed and I did have a lot of fun.” He stood up and draped an arm around Leonardo’s shoulders and letting the other curl loosely around his waist. “Enough to do it again, really. But you’re going to have to value the word no, when people tell you. It’s not shame, but not everybody moves at your pace.”
Leonardo slowly reached out to grab Jerome’s hips, pressing his thumbs into the ridge of bone. “I’ve never had to before. My last, Salai, he was never ashamed but neither of us ever considered it more than a consolation.”
“You’re not a consolation either. Just talk to me next time, huh? Was communication not around in the fourteenth century?” Jerome asked, a teasing smile on his mouth.
“Stop talking,” Leonardo purred and kissed him.
“So, his name was Salai, huh?” Jerome traced along the muscle in Leonardo’s forearm. “Did you ever paint him?”
Leonardo laughed lowly. “He was among the most beautiful of my models. Si, I painted him many times.”
“How long did you know him?”
Leonardo sighed. “I took him into my household when I lived in Milan. He must have been about ten.”
Jerome stiffened next to him and looked over, eyes wide. “Ten? You didn’t sleep with him?”
Leonardo yawned. He could still picture the first year, the amount of spontaneously missing items, stolen money, indulging Gian too much. It would set the tone, Leonardo reflected, for the rest of their relationship.
“Non. Not until he was older.”
Jerome still looked uncomfortable and Leonardo ran his fingers over the man’s brow, smoothing the crease. “Why does that concern you?”
“These days we have consent laws.”
“What does that mean?” Leonardo murmured. He was feeling satiated and warm. Perhaps Aspen had a point in regards to his sleep patterns. He’d seen topics in the electronic encyclopedia about the importance of sleep and scoffed.
“It means that when you have sex with someone, they need to be cognizant enough to agree with it, or it’s assault. That includes age restrictions,” Jerome explained.
Leonardo raised an eyebrow. “Am I going to be accused of indecency?”
“No. Different time, different place, different morals but I wasn’t expecting you to say you started a long relationship with someone who was so young…”
Leonardo smiled and closed his eyes. “Tell me more about it tomorrow. Perhaps you can explain it when I’m fully awake.”