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I fly on crippled wings (but I will take your bitterness away)

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The order came from Father through Iago when Corrin had decidedly chosen neither side, instead intending to somehow end the war some other way.

In Leo’s opinion, it was a ridiculous notion, foolish and naïve. It would never work, and if he had to do whatever he could to end the war, to bring Corrin home, he would.

Even if it meant possessing the younger Hoshidan Prince to an extent.

Father was proud of him, proud of his abilities with magic, and had tasked him with the job of infiltrating Prince Takumi’s mind, getting to his core to gather whatever Hoshidan intelligence needed to end the war. He could tell that the Hoshidan Prince was mentally weak, damaged by the loss of his mother, loss of their sister, and death of Hoshidan people. He would be easy to crack, especially with Leo’s skills.

He figured the best way to do it would be to infiltrate his mind while he slept. That was easy enough. It was harder to control someone when they were conscious even with his sacred tome.

What made it even easier was that the Hoshidan Prince was weak enough to be captured by a lowlife mage like Zola disguised as the ever-vapid leader of Izumo. While he despised Zola, he couldn’t help but praise him for his good job of capturing the little Hoshidan Prince for him, immobilizing him and taking his sacred bow from him, leaving him completely defenseless.

Of course, Leo didn’t expose himself to the prince. It was easy enough to cast a spell through the screen of the room Prince Takumi was locked up in. Leo felt the spell entire the other prince’s body, settling itself deep into his mind for later use.

Perfect.

All he had to do was wait for the prince to fall asleep, then he could go into his head, into his dreams, force him to give him information on everything in Hoshido: Fort Jinya, their great wall, the castle defenses, everything, even his own siblings’ weaknesses.

And Prince Takumi wouldn’t even know.

He wouldn’t even know that he was being used.

Perhaps that rubbed Leo the wrong way a bit. He always hated Iago’s backwards use of magic to torment and corrupt people, but this was necessary. Their family was fracturing at the seams. He could see how Elise wanted to leave, to chase after Corrin. Even Camilla had that faraway look in her eyes. Xander seemed to be the only one committed to Nohr, and Leo knew he would have to follow his brother and follow Father despite his own worries or else their family would fall apart for good.

They needed Corrin back. They needed to end the war. Corrin would have no choice but to come back if Hoshido was beaten.

If using Prince Takumi was the only way to do that, he would push aside his fears, his protests, and he would do it.

Even if it left the other prince in a more broken state than before.

He still killed Zola.

It didn’t matter if the weasel-like mage had helped him in capturing Prince Takumi; the man was still barely more than swine, a blemish on Nohr’s greatness.

So he killed him, exchanged harsh words with Corrin and the unknowingly infiltrated Hoshidan Prince, and headed back to Nohr.

Prince Takumi didn’t sleep for three days.

Maybe it was a result of what was happening with his situation, suddenly recruited by Corrin and Princess Sakura, taken on an adventure to whatever unseen place Corrin was talking about where her outside enemy was located, but Leo didn’t care. He knew Prince Takumi would have to sleep eventually, and when he did, Leo would be there, fishing around in his mind for any information that would benefit Nohr’s conquest of Hoshido.

Brynhildr glowed briefly when Prince Takumi finally fell asleep, and Leo had been awake in the Nohrian library waiting for it. He dragged his hand over the cover of the tome, stroking the metallic finishes and feeling the magic of the spell he had left in Prince Takumi’s mind entering his own body. He closed his eyes slowly, breathing out softly before he allowed himself to be transported.

Where he was only black, only darkness, and there was no one to be seen.

It was strange. Whenever he had tested the spell before, dreams were always light, bright and filled with imagined images of people and things from the deep consciousness.

Prince Takumi’s mind was so dark, and Leo suddenly felt cold, chilled to the bone and scared.

He knew he should leave.

Something told him to leave, but if Prince Takumi was having a pathetic nightmare he couldn’t let it bother him. He was on orders from Father and he couldn’t let the King of Nohr and the entire kingdom down.

He took a step forward and suddenly he was falling, grasping at nothing but blackness before his body hit some sort of ground. It hadn’t hurt really, just sent a strange shock through his body, and he felt the vibration of it trembling in his limbs as he stood up again.

There was a scene before him, a training yard with two people dueling with some sort of blunt, Hoshidan swords. As he stepped closer, he realized the two people were the high princes of Hoshido, Prince Ryoma and Prince Takumi. Prince Ryoma was clearly superior in his fighting, lashing out at his younger brother with all the ferocity he put behind real fighting with his Raijinto blade. Prince Takumi was clearly struggling, sweat running down his face and arms as his muscles trembled against the might of his brother’s ability.

Finally, the younger prince was knocked back and down to the ground. Leo expected for the brothers to laugh, to joke and tease, for Prince Ryoma to help Prince Takumi up, dust him off, give him some words of advise for next time like Xander had always done for him, but none of that transpired. The scene in front of him grew dark, Prince Ryoma was suddenly clad in his armor, the lighting from his sacred blade sparking as he raised the weapon over his younger brother.

“You’ll never be good enough.”

“R-Ryoma! Wait I- I-I can do better! I just”-

“No, Takumi, you can’t,” Prince Ryoma sighed, shaking his head in disgrace before he plunged the blade into Prince Takumi’s chest, “Father always said you would never be good enough. He always told me that, that I would always have to look out for you, my weak, pathetic, little brother,” the high prince snarled out, twisting the blade as Prince Takumi gasped in pain on the ground, blood already pooling around him.

Leo watched with horror steadily growing in his heart as Prince Ryoma’s venomous words continued along with the slashes of his sword, degrading the younger prince until there was no ground left that wasn’t smeared with his blood.

Was this what Prince Takumi dreamed about?

Was this truly what haunted him?

No, this couldn’t be consistent. It had to be a rare occasion. No person could put up with this every time they closed their eyes to sleep. Leo had simply stumbled in on the wrong dream, a dream he couldn’t use for Nohr’s strength.

The entire scene before him was pathetic. Prince Takumi was obviously far more insecure than Leo had originally thought. Sure, Leo was insecure about some things, but not as easily shaken as pitiful Prince Takumi of Hoshido.

“Pathetic,” he whispered under his breath, but as he spoke, the apparition of Prince Ryoma turned towards him. He could see then how the high prince’s normally gentle grey eyes were a bloody red, wide and unseeing.

And suddenly Prince Ryoma was in front of him.

Raijinto was buried in his own chest.

And then he was on the floor of the Nohrian library, his side aching and his chair laying besides him on the ground. His breath was coming in quick, terrified pants as he grasped at his chest, shakily sitting up off the ground to make sure there was no wetness of blood seeping from any sort of stab wound through his body.

He was fine.

Was Prince Takumi fine?

He could only imagine what it would be like to wake up from something like that, completely terrified of his own brother. Prince Ryoma was a man who obviously loved all his siblings including Corrin dearly, but it wasn’t like Prince Takumi could help what he saw in his dreams after all.

“Whatever,” Leo grumbled under his breath, scooping Brynhildr up off the table. He needed sleep. He didn’t care about Prince Takumi’s sleep enough to waste his own time thinking about it.

But as he set Brynhildr down on the table besides his bed, he could tell.

Prince Takumi was awake.

Awake and probably terrified, shaking and sweating in his bed, probably even crying. Leo couldn’t remember the last time he had cried himself, but if he was tormented by dreams like that of what he saw in Prince Takumi’s head, he would probably cry too.

Nevertheless, he waited for the next time the Hoshidan Prince would sleep, which didn’t come for another two days. It was annoying to wait up through the night and then never have Brynhildr tell him if Prince Takumi was asleep since the Hoshidan seemed inclined to stay up all night long. Leo couldn’t truly berate him for that. After all, it was in his own nature to get caught up with things in the library and before he could realize it would be morning.

But this was a mission from Father, and Prince Takumi’s habits were annoyingly getting in the way of him completing it. The first dream he had spied on had held nothing but useless information about the Hoshidan’s weak mental state. Not one of the royals in Nohr could ever be that weak. They were all strong. Leo knew he was strong, stronger than some unfulfilled desire to live up to a father and an older brother. He had accepted that he would never be crown prince, that he would never be as good as Xander with a sword, but he had moved on from it.

Prince Takumi was just an immature brat, arrogant and defensive, truly awful to be around. How Corrin could put up with him in her army, he would never know.

It wasn’t his business to know. He only had to know the secrets of Hoshido, and when Brynhildr told him Takumi was asleep again, he easily entered his dreams once more.

“I-I’m so glad you’ve come back to us, big sister!” That was Princess Sakura’s voice. The Hoshidan royal family were all standing together around Corrin, tears in their eyes as they hugged her, welcoming her back.

“Those Nohrians will never take you away again, Corrin!” Princess Hinoka huffed, “I won’t let them.”

Like you and your winged horse could ever be strong enough to stop Nohrian wyverns, Leo thought to himself, rolling his eyes at the high princess’s of Hoshido’s insinuation.

“I’m so happy to be back with you,” Corrin sighed softly, “You all, Ryoma, Hinoka, Sakura, you’re my true family. I love you so much.”

“We love you as well, sister,” Prince Takumi said then, a gentle smile on his lips, his eyes catching the soft sunlight filtering all around them.

“Who… Who said anything about you, Takumi?” Prince Hinoka said before she laughed, a cruel, distorted sound.

“What?” Prince Takumi looked confused, his eyes narrowing as he took a step back, “What do you mean?”

“You! You didn’t accept Corrin when she came back,” Princess Sakura huffed, a frown on her lips, “How could you, Takumi! You’re horrible! You always hated Azura, a-and you always hated Corrin!”

“That’s not true!” Prince Takumi yelled back, “I-I had a hard time accepting her back after- after mother, but I- I love Corrin!”

“Don’t lie so openly, Takumi,” Prince Ryoma said sternly, “Especially not in front of my sister. You don’t belong here, you never have. You don’t deserve to be part of our family, not anymore.”

“Wh-what?” Prince Takumi whispered out, his voice small as the entire scene darkened, “That’s- R-Ryoma that’s crazy! How could you say that?”

“How could you be idiotic enough to believe that we would love you after Corrin came back?” Princess Hinoka scoffed, “You’re not as strong as Corrin. We all love Corrin more than you. She’s the chosen one! The one who wields the divine Yato. You’re just some second-rate archer who was barely chosen to wield your own weapon.”

“It’s true, Takumi,” his own sister sighed, shrugging as she started forward, grasping Prince Takumi’s bow and pulling it easily from his grasp, “Anyone could wield the Fujin Yumi,” Corrin rolled her eyes, “Look.” The bowstring formed at her command and she pulled an arrow back, firing it to hit Prince Takumi in the chest, forcing him to stumbled back and fall to the ground, gasping as he grasped at his chest, blood already starting to well up against his fingers.

“Don’t you see, Takumi?” Princess Sakura sighed, her voice uncharacteristically cold and hard, “You’re not important to any of us, not even to the divine dragons who made the Fujin Yumi.”

“But it… I-it chose- me,” Prince Takumi gasped out, coughing suddenly and blood stained his lips as he stared up at his family. Leo could see tears in his eyes, welling up and ready to fall down his cheeks, “The Fujin Yumi… It chose me.”

“Takumi,” Corrin sighed then, kneeling in front of him, “You’ll never be first in anyone’s eyes. You’ll always be second best. Your family doesn’t want you anymore. Fate doesn’t want you to wield this weapon anymore. Your useless, Takumi.” She stood then, holding the Fujin Yumi high before she wrenched her arms together, snapping the bow in half.

“No!” Prince Takumi’s scream echoed all around the dream, and suddenly everything was dark again, black and endless. The only thing Leo could see and hear was Prince Takumi, sitting in the darkness, sobbing and bleeding, begging for his family to come back, begging for his weapon to be fixed, begging for someone to love him.

Suddenly, the thought hit him.

What if Xander left him?

What if Camilla left him?

What if Elise didn’t want to be his little sister anymore?

Leo knew he was always second to Corrin in their eyes, always the least cared about among all his siblings. Xander loved his sisters first and Camilla did so as well with her younger sisters, the girls she could mother and care for as was in her nature.

He was last, just like in Prince Takumi’s fears.

Given the choice, he knew he would always come last. No one loved him as he did them.

He was thrown out of the dreamscape then, left sitting in his chair in the library, numbly holding Brynhildr in his hands as he felt the last of Prince Takumi’s dream fade away.

He couldn’t do this.

He knew he couldn’t. Like Prince Takumi, he wasn’t strong enough. He knew he wasn’t strong enough. As twisted and vile as Iago was, he would have done Father’s bidding easily. He would have used magic to torture and corrupt Prince Takumi until he was forced to tell him everything there was to know about Hoshido and how to defeat it.

Leo wasn’t powerful enough. His own fears held him back, and those fears were similar to Prince Takumi’s. He was weak, too weak for Father’s request. He would have to fail him.

The next day, Camilla left, failing her own mission and deciding to going with Corrin again. Elise cried and Xander held her with a stony look in his eyes.

Camilla was gone.

They truly were falling apart.

He tried once more a week or two later to get into Prince Takumi’s head, but all he saw when he was there was a tall, terrifying man with looks like those of Prince Ryoma berating Prince Takumi over and over again, finally leaving him sobbing on the ground with the force of his words alone.

That man must have been King Sumeragi. Leo had always heard that he was quite fearsome, powerful and as strong as Father.

He walked over to Prince Takumi slowly because he had to. Because he was the same.

His siblings were leaving him for Corrin.

Xander would always be better than him.

Father would never love him.

And it hurt. He couldn’t help his own aching heart, but he could soothe Prince Takumi then, try and give him some relief from the nightmares that plagued him.

“Prince Takumi,” he whispered as he approached him, but the Hoshidan’s sobbing didn’t cease. He stooped down besides him on one knee, reaching out to place a hand on his shoulder. He knew the other prince wouldn’t be able to know him unless he revealed himself, and he had no intention of that at the moment, “Prince Takumi… Just breathe.”

“Wh-who’s there?” Prince Takumi whimpered, looking up and around with wide, terrified eyes still glassy with falling tears.

“No one important,” Leo hummed, reaching forward to wipe some of the tears on Prince Takumi’s cheek away, “Just someone who wants you to sleep for once, just sleep. Close you eyes and breathe deeply, and have good dreams free of pain.”

“I-I can’t,” the other prince’s voice broke on the sob, “I’m not good enough…”

“You are,” Leo murmured, “You are good enough. You just need someone to tell you, to show you. I’m telling you, you are good enough.” Prince Takumi stared at him, stared straight through him but at him nevertheless.

“Okay,” he whispered, letting his eyes slip shut, “Okay…” And suddenly everything was warm and Leo knew he wasn’t needed anymore.

He opened his eyes back in the Nohrian library and he knew for certain then.

He couldn’t do this anymore. Not because he wouldn’t disappoint Father. Not because he wasn’t strong enough.

But because Prince Takumi didn’t deserve anymore pain.

Elise left the next morning, leaving only a note for him and Xander to read and wonder if their little sister was even safe, if she had even reached Corrin’s growing army.

“Xander,” he sighed softly, “Perhaps we should- go.”

“What are you suggesting, Leo?” Xander asked, but there was hardly any bite to his words, drowned out by exhaustion and sorrow.

“What do you think I’m suggesting?” Leo huffed, “Everyone is gone, Xander! Camilla, Corrin, Elise, they’re gone, and they won’t come back until they get to that hidden place Corrin was talking about. You know as well as I do that this war has grown pointless.”

“You are suggesting we betray our Father, and all of Nohr,” Xander started, his voice raising.

“We would be saving Nohr. If Corrin is correct, Nohr would be saved,” Leo said firmly, “I have made up my mind. I am going to follow her. I wish you would come with me, but if you cannot see that what Father is doing is too twisted to be good, then perhaps you are too far gone as well, brother, too much like him to make a difference.” He turned then, starting to walk away from Xander, but his brother called back to him.

“We will set off at dusk, Leo. Ready the horses.”


 

When they met up with Corrin at the Bottomless Canyon, Leo didn’t expect that they would have to go straight into battle, and battle against Iago at that.

Still, it felt satisfying to see the cruel sorcerer finally getting struck down for good. He was a stain upon Nohr’s history, a dirty smear that could only be erased by a decent rule, free from conniving tactics like those of the ones he used.

At the end of the battle, he finally laid eyes on Prince Takumi for the first time since Izumo.

Prince Takumi looked exhausted.

He was breathing hard from the heat of the battle, but Leo could see the dark circles under his eyes, the way his skin was far more pale than it should have been.

He wanted to go to him, to tell him he was sorry for spying on his dreams, but that he understood, that he understood Takumi’s pain and struggles, his fears and his worries, and that they could soothe those things away forever.

He didn’t go to him. He stayed atop his horse at Xander’s side where he belonged and leapt into the canyon with everyone else.

Once they reached the hidden kingdom, things were different. He could actually approach Prince Takumi, speak to him casually, team up with him in battles against the nearly invisible enemies of Valla, and he found himself enjoying it. Slowly, Prince Takumi became just Takumi, and he became just Leo in the eyes of the other prince, and he found that he and the Hoshidan prince had a lot more in common other than their similar fears and insecurities.

They both enjoyed similar types of tactical war games, similar foods, and similar books. Plans had already been made for Takumi to learn chess and for Leo to learn shogi, for Takumi to try stew and for Leo to try miso soup. Leo had told Takumi all about Nohr’s library, and Takumi had told Leo about Hoshido’s own in return.

It was a reciprocal relationship, one of equals the likes of which Leo had never experienced before. He was always below his siblings and above his retainers with no middle ground, no one he could truly be himself with.

But now he had Takumi, and Takumi had him as well.

He didn’t dare intrude on Takumi’s dreams again though. If Prince Ryoma ever found out what he had being doing for a while, it would likely be treated as an act of war against Hoshido even though they were working together now.

Still, his curiosity about what was going on in Takumi’s head heightened as they grew closer and as he noticed Takumi’s exhaustion more and more. The other boy looked so tired, and his tent was always too much farther across camp than Leo’s own to sneak over and listen in while he slept, but he could tell Takumi wasn’t sleeping well at all.

Eventually, the worry in his heart became too much and he decided he would have to look in anyway. He felt too much kinship with Takumi to allow him to suffer without even trying to help him. Besides, he knew he was already harboring more than just friendship for Takumi in his heart. He ached to see the other prince well and rested. He loved to see him smile and adored his laugh, and he found he was quite captivated by the sound of his voice too.

There was no way he could sit back and allow him to suffer. He would do whatever he could to see Takumi’s smile every day and hear his laugh free from worry or stress.

With that in mind, one night a few days later, he found himself hidden away outside Takumi’s tent, around the back so he wouldn’t be seen by anyone on watch, with Brynhildr in his hand. He knew he should’ve removed the spell from Takumi’s mind a while ago, but it was a safety net, something he could use to make sure the other prince was okay, well-rested and with the knowledge that someone out there cared for him.

Preferably with the knowledge that Leo cared for him as more than a companion, more than a friend. He had grown to love the other prince too fast, but he didn’t care. He needed Takumi and Takumi needed him in return, if not more than what was needed to fulfill his own desires.

When Brynhildr’s spell let him know that Takumi’s mind was asleep, he gave Takumi a little while to truly slip into his dreams before he closed his eyes and let himself entire the other prince’s mind.

It was dark initially before a scene opened in front of his eyes. There was a large statue of a dragon in the center of the place, people in Hoshidan attire milling about as a woman with glossy black hair and white priestess robes addressed them.

That had to be Lady Mikoto, Takumi’s mother.

And suddenly he felt cold because he knew what was about to happen.

Takumi’s mother was going to die in front of his eyes again by his own Father’s doing.

He saw Takumi then, striding towards his mother with a smile on his lips. He wanted to call out to him, to shout at him to stop, but he couldn’t move, couldn’t speak.

An explosion rang out and Leo watched as Hoshidans were blown back all around him, injured and dying as the square was destroyed, the statue in the center sending chunks of stone flying in every direction. Leo could discern Takumi’s sobs even before the dust cleared and he ran forward, stopping short at the sight of Takumi there, cradling his mother’s bloodied body in his arms.

“Mother! Mother, please! Please don’t- don’t die! Please no!” Takumi’s broken voice pierced his own heart even if he had never felt that way for his own mother. He felt that kind of love for Takumi, and hearing him so hurt and desperate was agonizing.

“Oh, Takumi,” Mikoto whispered, her voice quiet but roaring in the dream around them, “You’re going to have to let me go…”

“I can’t!” Takumi screamed, tears slipping down his cheeks, “I can’t! I love you too much to let you die!”

“But Takumi,” Mikoto said, his voice and her eyes so gentle even as the scene darkened around them, suddenly growing as ominous as Takumi’s previous nightmares, “I never loved you.”

Leo ran for him then because he couldn’t take anymore.

And if he couldn’t take anymore of it, he didn’t know how Takumi could even still be asleep then.

“Takumi!” He screamed the name, but the boy didn’t even look up, too paralyzed in shock and horror at his mother’s words. He fell to his knees behind him, clapping his hands over Takumi’s eyes then, feeling the wetness of tears against his fingers. The scene flickered around them, not completely fading from Takumi’s mind as it should have.

“Takumi,” he whispered, pressing his face into Takumi’s hair, “Listen to me. It’s Leo, and you need to listen to me.”

“L-Leo?” Takumi whimpered and Leo could feel the wetness of his eyelashes against his hands, blinking in shock.

“It’s me,” Leo said, “And I’m not going to leave you, not ever. Your siblings love you. They’re not gong to leave you either. Your mother loved you, and I- I know you’re strong enough to believe that. Please believe me.” He realized he was begging, but he couldn’t do anything else. He was desperate for Takumi to see clearly that he was loved, so deeply loved by so many around him.

“I-” Takumi gasped, the image of his mother’s bloody body in his arms fading as he reached up to grasp at his chest, “That’s not- you’re not Leo,” he sobbed suddenly, his tears coming hot and fast again, “Leo wouldn’t lie to me… Leo doesn’t love me… He’ll leave me in the end too. Everyone will-”

“Stop!” Leo shouted, and his yell seemed to penetrate the roar of noise around them, forcing it to die down to nothing, “You’re wrong, Takumi. I do- I do love you. And I’ll prove it to you.”

“How,” Takumi whispered, his voice shaky and so broken, “How…”

“When you open your eyes,” Leo breathed, “I’ll be there. And if you need to cry, you can cry and I’ll wipe your tears away.”

Takumi didn’t wake up then, but he was thrown from the dream as he felt the spell shatter around him, and the light from Brynhildr faded to nothing. He was outside again, breathing in the night air, but he could still feel as if Takumi’s tears were against his fingers.

Takumi.

He had to go. He had to get inside Takumi’s tent before he woke up.

He staggered to his feet, grasping Brynhildr in his hand as he rushed around the side of the tent to it’s opening, throwing open the canvas.

Takumi was sitting up in bed, tears wet on his cheeks, his hair down and long and tangled from his nightmare. The other prince was staring forward at him in shock before something in his face changed and he pressed his face into his hands, crying quietly.

“Takumi,” Leo was at his side in a second. He didn’t think his heart could take anymore of Takumi’s tears, especially when they were so unnecessary, a product of his tortured dreams, “I’m here, Takumi. Like I told you I would be.”

“Y-you,” Takumi choked out, raising his face from his hands, “That was… That was really you?”

“Yes, it was me.”

“And you- you love me?” Takumi gasped, not waiting for an answer as he reached forward, grabbing Leo close by the front of his tunic. Leo leaned into him before he could even think about it, wrapping his arms around Takumi’s trembling frame.

Yes,” he breathed out, pressing fervent, desperate kisses to his hair and his face, tasting the salt of his tears on his lips, “I love you, Takumi.” He just wanted Takumi to stop crying, to stop his tears and bring out the smiles he loved, the laughter he loved.

He connected their lips before he could stop himself, leaning forward and pressing Takumi’s body back into the softness of the bed, cradling his cheek as he allowed Takumi time to decide if he wanted to kiss him or not.

Evidentially, Takumi did, and at that point he couldn’t stop himself. He kissed Takumi hard and fast and frantically, feeling the wetness of tear-streaked cheeks against his hands as he wiped the tears away even as Takumi sobbed into their kisses.

He kissed him because if he didn’t, Takumi would crumble, fall apart in his arms without the outpouring of affection. He needed Takumi to know he was loved, so loved by at least one person.

Leo licked Takumi’s mouth open with slow, careful movements, grazing his lower lip gently with his teeth before licking over the spot and easing his tongue into Takumi’s mouth. He could feel Takumi’s hurried breaths against his own chest, and he could taste them in his mouth. Takumi was so sweet, addicting even. He just wanted more, more.

But he didn’t want to rush it. He wanted to treat Takumi with all the love and respect he deserved.

So he kissed him slowly, sucking lightly at his tongue, tracing the inside of his mouth with his own, learning every bit of him that he could in that moment. He gripped Takumi’s hip with one hand, stroking fingers through his messy hair with the other, cradling and worshipping every part of him that he could reach.

Eventually, he moved to Takumi’s jaw, licking along the line of it to sink lower to his neck, kissing and tasting the skin there, salty from the sweat of his nightmare.

“Leo-”

“No,” Leo murmured against his jugular, “Just let me… Let me love you, please. Let me take everything away so you can finally sleep. Let me… Let me…” He breathed the words into Takumi’s skin and he felt the other boy shudder under him before his body relaxed even more into the bed. Fingers curled into his own hair and met his hand. He clasped Takumi’s hand tightly, looking up from where he was kissing along his clavicle to smile up at him.

Takumi’s eyes weren’t teary any longer. Rather, they held a soft, sleepy look to them, his eyelashes casting low shadows across his cheeks in the dim light of the tent. He knew then that he would rather fall asleep holding Takumi in his arms than kissing at his neck as enjoyable as that was.

“You love me,” Takumi’s voice reached his ears as he moved to lay besides him, quiet but not disbelieving.

“That’s right,” Leo smiled, pulling the blankets up over their bodies, “I love you.”

He whispered the words into Takumi’s skin until he felt the other boy’s breathing even out, his eyes closed into sleep as he lay curled in Leo’s arms.

And Leo couldn’t help but think that that was where he was always meant to be.