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A Work of Art

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“Ezio!”

Leonardo’s lips are moist and fever-warm when he kisses Ezio hello. It’s a sign he’s been working—he presses his lips together when he concentrates—as if the paint staining his forearms and ink splatter across his jaw aren’t enough.

“I have something to show you!” He grasps Ezio by the hand, pulling him back through the cluttered studio to a space covered by draperies, most often utilized to conceal corpses. He isn’t breaking any laws—the Medici have granted him leave to pursue his interests in anatomy, but as Leonardo has said, it doesn’t make for the most charming décor.

Che cosa, Leonardo?” Ezio groans fondly. “You are pulling my arm off.”

“You scale the sides of buildings and jump dozens of feet. I think you’ll be alright.” He pulls back the sheet, revealing a contraption to which Ezio has never seen the like. It’s an elaborate conglomeration of wood and leather, attached to the ceiling with two hooks and long leather straps.

“Is it for torture?” Ezio asks after a moment or two. “It doesn’t look like any weapon I’ve ever seen.”

Leonardo shakes his head, hair gleaming in the dying afternoon light. “No, caro, it’s nothing like that. It’s used for holding a man suspended above the ground, more or less comfortably.”

Ezio raises an eyebrow dubiously. “Why would you want to do something like that?”

"To keep him stationary, of course," Leonardo says, slowly, as if he is speaking to a particularly slow child. It's alright, though, since half the time Ezio has no idea what he's talking about. It's usually best just to smile and nod.

"For captivity, you mean?" he asks, scratching his head, still attempting to orient the device in his mind.

"Dio, Ezio, everything is business with you."

Ezio shrugs. "I am an assassino, I cannot help myself." He grins, hooking a hand into Leonardo's belt, pulling him close. "But let us leave things like that aside for awhile." He leans in for another kiss, but Leonardo is so entranced in explaining his latest masterpiece that he waves him away.

"It can be used for captivity, I suppose, as well as keeping a man motionless when he has been injured. It also has...other uses." The way Leonardo trails off makes Ezio curious.

"Other...uses?"

Leonardo turns round, and there's something dancing in his eyes, something that, in any other man, Ezio might have mistaken for mischief. "Would you care to help me with a little experiment, caro mio?"

Ezio narrows his eyes. “What kind of experiment?”

“I need to know if it can hold the appropriate amount of weight,” Leonardo tells him excitedly.

Ezio gives the gleaming leather a dubious look. “You have assistants, don’t you? Why don’t you use one of them?”

Leonardo steps just close enough for Ezio to smell oil paint and ink, the slightly sweet scent of his hair. “They are boys, Ezio. I need to know if it can support the weight of a man. If I were to use my assistants, I may as well use myself.”

Ezio sighs. “Alright, alright. But then…” He brushes his knuckles along Leonardo’s jaw, feeling the slightest shiver in response. “I will get what I want.”

Leonardo leans into his touch. “Grazie, amore mio. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.” He pulls away, turning back to the leather and wood contraption. “Now, remove your clothes, would you?”

Ezio chuckles. “Do you say that to all your captives and injured men?”

Leonardo smiles fondly before shaking his head. “I only wish to see if the straps are delicate enough not to do harm to bare flesh. I imagine you can withstand it, if they are not.”

“I have withstood worse, I am sure,” Ezio agrees, releasing the catches on his belts, pulling off his gloves. The dress of the assassino is complicated and involved, much like their work, but he has put on and removed the vestments so many times he hardly need think about it.

Leonardo continues to make adjustments to his contraption for a little while, but then he turns around and watches, giving Ezio’s act of removing his clothes the same degree of concentration he gives a painting, or one of his latest sketches. Still, Ezio likes to imagine that the pale flush across his nose is unique to this particular situation.

He pulls his undershirt up over his head, letting it drop slowly to the floor. Leonardo nods appreciatively. Ezio reaches for him, almost unconsciously, but Leonardo steps backward, out of reach, a smile tugging at his lips.

“None of that now, caro. Here, let me get you into it.”

It’s looks a great deal more complicated than it turns out to be—slender leather straps attach to Ezio’s wrists and his shoulders, holding his arms more or less comfortably level. There are more straps to go between his legs, and he is a bit surprised how they are shaped to wrap around his cock and balls, as if they were originally meant for someone to be naked.

“Leonardo…”

Leonardo shushes him, adjusting something behind him, and Ezio feels leather pull snugly up against his backside. “Now, let your weight off your feet, slowly.”

“The things I do for you…” Ezio murmurs, as he slowly lets himself sink back into the leather contraption. The wooden structure groans a bit under his weight, but it holds him well enough. His legs sway slightly in the air, a few inches above the floorboards. It feels a bit like flying.

“Comfortable?” Leonardo asks, suddenly close to his ear, breath puffing out warm and moist on the back of his neck. Fingers move to the small of Ezio’s back, adjusting the straps.

“As comfortable as I could be, considering,” Ezio says. On the other side of the curtains, he can hear the sounds of Venezia—merchants shouting their wares, criers calling out the latest papal news that hardly anyone heeds this far north of Roma, the tramping of hundreds of feet going by.

Ezio realizes he has made a tactical error. The door to the studio is closed but not bolted. Anyone could come through and see him like this. He is utterly helpless.

Ezio can feel the beginning of fear-sweat on his neck. If one of his enemies found him here…he couldn’t fight back. The thought hadn’t even crossed his mind before, as it had been Leonardo asking for his help, Leonardo asking him to do this thing, however absurd it may be.

“Leonardo…” He struggles, trying to pull his arms out of the straps, shifting until the whole contraption sways alarmingly. How did this happen? “Leonardo, I think…Leonardo, release me at once!”

“Shh…it’s alright, caro.” Cool hands sooth across his back, stroking over his flank and up to his chest, which has begun to heave with his panicked breaths. “I would never allow anything to happen to you. You are safe here, you have my word.”

“I am not safe anywhere,” Ezio answers. The sound of Leonardo’s voice calms him slightly, and yet—“I wish you would not stand behind me.”

Lips descend on his neck. “I would never hurt you.” Leonardo kisses his way across the blade of his shoulder, down his arm, tongue tracing the veins and the neat criss-cross of scars. Ezio shudders lightly. “And I am glad to know you trust me.”

Ezio squeezes his eyes shut and lets out a slow breath. “Leonardo…”

Leonardo comes into view, hair slightly disheveled and cheeks tinged pink. “If you ask again, I will let you down. Va bene?”

Ezio swallows. “Va bene.” His cock twitches as Leonardo runs his hands along the curve of his knee, up along his inner thighs. They are painter’s hands—sensitive and expressive, moving like Ezio’s body is a canvas and his fingers are brushes.

“Mmm…I like you like this,” Leonardo hums. His fingers come temptingly close to Ezio’s cock, but skate past. Ezio lets out a long, shuddering breath as they move to caress his stomach instead. “Unable to run.”

“Leonardo…” Ezio groans. Just hearing those words said aloud is enough to make his throat tight with fear.

Leonardo looks up, and his eyes are glassy and just the slightest bit dazed, the way they’ve looked when Ezio has interrupted his sketching in the past—as if he is looking at something the rest of the world can’t see.

He smiles rather apologetically. “Mi dispiace. Is it too much? Shall I release you?”

It doesn’t sound like a challenge, but to Ezio’s ears, it is one. He has never known Leonardo to behave this way before.

“No, it’s alright. I’m fine.”

The heat that flares into Leonardo’s eyes makes it worth it.

“This…this wasn’t designed to hold captives, was it?” Ezio asks, as Leonardo’s tongue circles his nipple, flicking the nub and biting down, making Ezio curse.

A vero. I admit I my not have been entirely truthful. No, holding captives was not what I had initially intended it for. I suppose I could always alter it, if you truly…”

Leonardo’s exploration finally leads him to his mouth. His tongue traces along the seam of Ezio’s lips, coaxing them open.

Ezio groans in surrender. “I believe I like it the way it is,” he says.