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A nightmare is not a vision (but it's scary all the same)

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It's just the tiniest of clicks – barely a proper sound, really – but Leo hears it nonetheless.

He has been training since he was three to be aware of the most subtle change in his surroundings. He was just a toddler stumbling about with an oversize wooden sword and his teacher – who was the Guardian of the previous Seer as the tradition required – would expect him to notice even the smallest rustle in the tall grass or a particular low whistle in the distance that to his child ears sounded exactly like the noise of a bird but wasn't.

There was a game they always did when he was a little older, not that much tho, four or five years old at most. His teacher would lead him into a room he had prepared for the occasion and ask him to take notice of any detail and memorize it. He would give Leo only ten minutes to register everything his eyes could see. After that, Leo would have to leave the room and, while he was outside, his teacher would change something inside the room. Then, Leo would enter the room again and he would have to find out what was different in the room.

At the beginning they were easy things. An armchair would be upside down. The table would miss one of the chairs. The curtains would not be there anymore. But then, slowly, the difficulty would increase until he was supposed to notice that a pillow on the couch had changed color from blue to green, or that there was now only one character in a painting where there had been two before.

It was an exercise in attentiveness.

His teacher used to say that nobody would attack a Seer directly. Any aggressor knows that a Seer's Guardian is prepared to deflect any assault and is even ready to die in order to do that. So, any attempt to take the Seer's life would certainly be well planned in advance and subtle. The only way to prevent it is to learn how to read the tiny details that forewarn one. One among the hundreds nameless servants, or one of the guards, could be replaced with an assassin ready to strike at the right moment. Water could be served to the Seer in a different pitcher that contains poison. Even an unusual robe could contain a vile substance aimed to burn the Seer's skin or even kill him.

Leo had to learn how to spot the smallest changes in any situation and to react to that in the shortest time possible. In addition, he can never get distracted or make himself vulnerable in any way, because his distraction and his vulnerability could lead to the death of the Seer. That is why he sleeps very little and, when he does, he's always vigilant anyway. These past fourteen years of training have been hard, but they have prepared him exactly for moments like this.

His room is built around the Seer's, so that any intruder has to pass through him before he can even start searching for the entrance to Cody's room (which is hidden so well that can't be found unless you know where to look, anyway), and nobody – nobody! - passes his guard. Ever.

So he hears that tiny click quite clearly and even the soft steps that follow, but he doesn't open his eyes right away. He knows someone is in the room already, but he wants to see what they are going to do before deciding on his own course of action.

Meanwhile, he wonders how the intruder entered the building at this hour of the night. And, more importantly, how they managed to elude the Sanctuary guards. Five of them stand in front of the doors at any hour. During the day, they carefully search believers and beggars who came there to pray and receive help, and relieve them of anything that might be used as a weapon or doesn't follow the rules of the Sanctuary. During the night, after the doors have been closed at sunset, they don't allow anyone in for any reason. They are supposed to be the first line of protection and they certainly can't be sloppy. He will have to discuss this with them. And heads will roll.

The intruder seems to wander around aimlessly for a while. Leo hears him stumbling against something on the other side of the room and even knock something off his desk. It almost looks like he can't see anything, which would be pretty lame if it was true. What kind of person hires an assassin who can't see in the dark and is so clumsy that he topples things?

At some point, the intruder starts to make so much noise – hitting against Leo's wardrobe, hissing in pain, almost falling on his discarded clothes on the floor – that Leo just sits up, one hand around the hilt of his sword already, but not really worried. The guy couldn't get to him when he was sleeping, he won't certainly be a problem when he's awake.

“Who is there?” He barks, sternly.

The surprised, almost scared, yelp that comes out of the other person's mouth puts everything in perspective immediately because Leo knows that voice very well. He pushes the shutters of the window open with his free hand and lets the pale light of the moon slip into the room, revealing Cody's face.

Cody is wearing his pajamas – the long white robe Leo himself put on him a few hours ago – and he is barefooted. He is holding with both his hands what's left of Leo's water pitcher, the rest of which is scattered in pieces around the floor. Luckily, it was empty. “I'm sorry,” Cody whispers, even tho there's no more need for speaking quietly now. “I couldn't see anything.”

“I was under that impression,” Leo says with a tiny smile as he puts the sword back under the pillow.

Cody puts what's left of the unfortunate pitcher on Leo's desk with great care and the most apologetic eyes a person has ever had for a broken piece of cheap pottery. “I'm so sorry,” he repeats. “I will have it replaced with a new one first thing in the morning, I swear.”

“Don't worry about that,” Leo says. “Is everything okay? You couldn't sleep?”

Cody's nights have always been troubled since his visions started to be really strong when he was about twelve. Night is the time when he is more vulnerable to the visions, so to speak, because his mind is free to wander wherever minds like his go to read the future, and he can't control it no more than Leo can control his dreams. Sometimes, when he closes his eyes, he sees so many things at the same time that it becomes a torture and he's afraid of sleep. So, Leo brings him on the roof of the Sanctuary and they spend the night there, watching the moon and drinking hot cocoa to keep themselves warm.

“No,” Cody shakes his head twice. “It's just that I had a nightmare about you and I wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Leo pats the mattress with his hand, inviting him to sit next to him. Cody immediately joins him on the bed, wrapping himself in his blanket. “Was it a nightmare or....?” Leo doesn't finish the sentence. There is a law that forbids the Seer to tell his Guardian of any vision of any kind regarding him, that is to avoid that a vision of death could make the Guardian hesitate to defend the Seer. They broke a lot of other rules – they kiss all the time, just to say one, and for that Leo could be executed – but he's not sure he wants to break this one.

Cody shakes his head again with such determination that his hair falls over his eyes and he needs to push it back. “No, it was just a nightmare, but it felt so real that I needed to see you,” Cody explains, and then he seems to realize that he just barged into Leo's room without permission. “I'm sorry, I shouldn't have come. And you also get up so early, I better go.”

“I don't need much sleep,” Leo says, holding him by his wrist. “Come on, tell me this nightmare of yours.”

Cody seems to think about it. He shouldn't be here at night to begin with, let alone in Leo's bed with Leo just a few inches away. Still, this is not the first time they spend the night together talking – it's not even the first time the spend the night together sleeping or cuddling or even kissing – so he can very well go on and do it again. The punishment, if it must arrive, won't change depending on how many times he broke the rules.

“It was winter. A very rigid one,” Cody says, speaking as if he was telling a story. It must truly be a nightmare because his visions are way more confused than that. “It had been snowing for days and nobody could leave the Sanctuary because the temperatures were really forbidding, such as I've never experienced in real life. But you had to.”


“I only know I wasn't home and you had to find me,” Cody answers, his tone apologetic as if he really had caused some trouble to Leo by going missing. “You stayed out there in the cold for days. Meanwhile, the snow kept falling and falling every day and every night. At some point it had snowed so much that the entrance doors of the Sanctuary were blocked and the monks were trapped inside. Nobody could come helping you even if they wanted to, but they didn't seem to know or care that you were out there.”

“Where were you?” Leo asks. He's curious to see where the story is going, but he's also aware that making Cody talk is helping him shaking off the nightmare.

“I don't know, but you couldn't find me. You searched for me everywhere until you couldn't walk anymore and you sat down with your back against a tree. Just for a moment, you told yourself. Just for a moment. But then you never got up again.” Leo feels the strain in his voice, the tears that are threatening to come out, and wraps an arm around his shoulders, pulling him closer. “I could see your face, Leo. You were so pale, your lips were blue and you were shaking so hard. I could almost...”

“Cody, it's okay,” Leo murmurs, stroking his arm up and down to comfort him.

“I could almost feel your breathing becoming slower and slower every second!” Cody insists, urgently as if it was of capital importance that he knows this. “It was horrible, Leo! I could see and feel everything, and yet I could do nothing to stop you from freezing to death.”

Cody is shaking so much that Leo pulls him into his arms and hugs him tight, leaving small kisses on top of his head. He has rarely seen Cody so shaken, even after revealing a particularly bad vision to someone. The nightmare must have really got to him. “It's okay. It was just a dream.”

“I have never felt so useless in my entire life,” Cody keeps going, swallowing down tears. “And that says something since I don't know how to do anything!”

Leo sighs. So, that's the whole point of the nightmare, Cody's insecurity. This shouldn't surprise him. The pressure on him is so high that it's a miracle he hasn't had a breakdown yet. “You are not useless, Cody. You can do a lot of things. In fact, you can do the most important thing of all, you can see the future.”

“It doesn't help all the time.”

“But sometimes it does,” Leo insists, kissing his head one more time. It's hard to stop when he starts doing that. “And those are the only times that count.”

Cody looks up at him. “I couldn't save you.”

“It was just a dream, tho.” Leo smiles. “Besides, it's a good thing you didn't save me because saving you it's my job and I don't want to get fired.”

Cody blinks a couple of times before he actually gets it. “Leo! I'm serious!” He pouts, adorably. “It was horrifying!”

“Believe me, I know,” Leo nods, pretending to be very serious too. “Do you know how horrifying it is to wash dishes in a inn? There are thousands of dishes every night and they are all extremely dirty. I don't know if I'm cut out for that life.”

Cody can't help but chuckle. “You would never work in a inn.”

“You're right, I would probably end up scooping horse poop in a stable,” Leo corrects himself and Cody's laugh at the mention of the word poop is illegally cute. “So, please, from now on, leave the saving to me.”

And since his arms are so strong and so warm and they feel like the safest place in the world, Cody can very well leave the job to him.