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Two weeks have passed since they took Cody in, and in the aftermath of what they did, Leo hasn't really had the time to think about what happened yet.

First, they are looking for a powerful healer to pry Blaine away from Death's hands but find him instead: a boy the same age as they are, who looks like a doll and seems to know nothing of the world outside. Or the world inside his house either, since he is not aware that his keeper was whoring him around and stealing all his money.

Second, Blaine has sex with him – which is pretty disturbing at first, Leo can't deny that – but that's how the boy cures him for real. Something happens in that moment that Leo and the other kids are not really sure about, and Blaine decides to break Cody free from his slaver.

Third, Blaine kills this guy William, the slaver, more ferociously than they have ever seen him kill someone. The sound of his neck breaking seems to reverberate. A moment later Cody is screaming his heart out and the whole village is coming to see what's going on. They run. It takes them a whole week and a bunch of secondary roads to get back home without being followed.

Cody remains silent for the most part of the journey. Everybody thinks he's just traumatized and nobody blames him for that. He saw the only person he has ever had in his life being murdered in front of his eyes. Besides, he must feel lost and confused. He's alone with a bunch of strangers and, as far as he knows, they could sell him again.

Once they get home, they're too tired and confused to really think about the fact that things are going to change from now on. The only thing they really want is to sleep forever. Leo, Adam and Annie have a common room in the house. It's already crowded as it is and there's no room for another bed, so Leo and Adam have to share Adam's bed – which is not as easy as it was when they were younger since Adam's shoulders don't facilitate the use of a single mattress by two people anymore and Leo usually sleeps in starfish formation – so that Cody can sleep in Leo's.

The next few days pass in a blur. They mostly sleep, eat and try to go back to their lives but, somehow, it's not that easy. They don't train because Blaine's head is somewhere else and they feel like they shouldn't bother him for now. Cody doesn't speak much and he's very shy, but he smiles a lot and his smile can light up the room. After that, he warms up to them very quickly, and they to him. Annie loves him like a little brother and Adam is very protective of him.

Leo has no words for what he feels for him yet, and that's very confusing. Now, after two weeks, he's aware that something went differently than it was supposed to. Leo is very jealous of what he thinks belongs to him – and that includes people – and he knows for sure that in other circumstances he would have been jealous of the way Cody is finding his place in their little family. He constantly fights with Adam for Blaine's attention, but he's okay if it's Cody stealing him. If anything, he—

Sometimes his thoughts get muddy now and he needs to get out of the house as soon as he can. That is why he's walking – no, marching – through the forest and towards the only place that can still give him peace: their secret spot, which is not so secret since Blaine knows everything about it. But Blaine doesn't count because they've been competing since they were young kids to bring him there and hang out with him alone. Nobody else knows about the place tho, and that's the way it is supposed to be.

Their secret spot is in the very heart of the forest – of what seemed like it when they had tiny feet – and it's protected by a bush of oaks so high that sometimes they cover the sun, bathing everything in a sort of twilight. There's a tiny river skirting around it and marking the boundaries of their reign, that goes as far as where the river turns into a little fall and forms a lake. They usually hang there the most. They like to have long baths and play around and dare each other to dive from the tallest rock. It's where the mud diorama of their hometown is. They started to build it when they were little without knowing what it was and Blaine never told them that the group of houses they meticulously reconstructed, the central square with the church and the big clock tower with the cross on it are not a figment of their imagination but memories of the village that was destroyed by plunderers when they were little. Over the years they grew fonder and fonder of that piece of mud art and they didn't want to destroy it, but it was so big at that point that they couldn't move it either. So, they built a roof made of wood planks over it, so that the rains wouldn't destroy it. And it's still there. Now and then, one of them reshapes parts of it that were poorly made or adds some details that were missing. Adam built a whole flock of sheep with wool he repurposed from one of his old sweaters and Annie built for each of Leo's wooden soldiers a tiny spear with toothpicks and a past of wax and ash.

It's a calming place and Leo wants to spend some time there, maybe drawing a new main road that leads to the square since the old one got a little blurry with time. Having something to focus on will distract his mind from whatever it is this thought that is giving him no peace. But he instantly knows his plan is ruined the moment he ears faint singing.

Leo stops before the river turns and listens. The voice is so soft he can barely hear it and it sings words in a language he can't recognize. He knows it's Cody without even see him because none of the others has so much sweetness in their voice. Leo should turn around and leave him alone – because being alone is what he clearly wanted coming here – but something pulls him towards Cody and he can't resist. He takes a few steps forward and the glade opens in front of him. The river bends a little towards the center of it and in that fold Cody stands, naked as the first time they saw him, plunged in the light of the sun coming from above like the Gods themselves wanted to present Cody to him.

Leo has never seen somebody who looks like Cody before. His skin is like porcelain and his eyes are very big and even lighter than Adam's. And he's so tiny that he doesn't even seem real. He's like a living doll, but not one that he would treat carefully. Leo swallows, another of those weird thoughts stirring something inside his stomach. He sits down and keeps looking at him without even realizing it.

At first, Leo thinks Cody is bathing, but he quickly realizes that he's not. His gestures are too precises for him to be cleaning himself. It's almost like he's dancing, except that he only moves his arms and hands in the same repetitive motion. Finally, with his eyes closed, he rests his left hand on his forehead, his fingers barely touching it and he starts moving his right hand down his neck and chest. Leo knows he should look away now; nakedness has never been shameful to him, but this is different. Cody doesn't know he can see him and that makes it both embarrassing and thrilling at the same time. Yet, he can't tear his eyes away from the gentle curve of his ass.

When Cody's hand dives between his creamy thighs, Leo holds his breath. Half of him is vaguely aware that there is some power at work here, the other half is just mesmerized by the sight, by Cody's slightly parted legs, by the tips for his fingers probing at the rosy, puckered opening. When a little moan escapes Cody's lips, it tears another one from Leo's, who finds himself hard and uncharacteristically restless even for him.

“What are you doing?” Adam's voice comes so harshly into his daydream – which might be happening during the day but hardly qualifies as a dream anymore – that he almost feels real pain. He refrains from screaming only because the sight of Cody's body literally took his breath away, but he does jump on his feet, comically. “Are you stalking him now?”

“What? No!” Leo hisses, outraged. “I was just coming here and he happened to be there.”

“Right. What a coincidence!” Adam's smirk makes very clear that he doesn't believe a single word he said. Then Cody's moans grow louder and their nature becomes unmistakable as he leans forward, two of his fingers disappearing into his body. “Is he...?”

Adam grew up with them, but that didn't prevent him from developing the self-consciousness – or, as he calls it, decency – Leo and Annie lack completely, so there are words he doesn't say and rather let his friends fill them in for him.

“Fingering himself? Yes,” Leo delivers as expected. “And he's, like, very into it.”

“He told me he was going to commune with his Goddess,” Annie explains amused. She watches shamelessly as Cody gets down on his knees, pleasure bending his back in a graceful ark.

“Oh, is that what is called now?” Leo asks, fascinated. He would help Cody pray any time. The thought escapes his control and he hastily closes his mouth shut, lest it escapes his tongue too. What the hell is going on with him?

Annie chuckles. “That Goddess of his lets him cure people through sex, he prays by jerking off. Makes sense to me,” she shrugs.

“We shouldn't watch him,” Adam comments.

“Why not? His devotion can make us a little holier,” Annie chuckles again. Then he nods towards Leo, who seems mesmerized. “Leo is already converting.”

“Shut up, Annie!” Leo growls, embarrassed. And he would like to add more, really, argue and fight with her just to clear his mind and forget this weird feeling that is mounting inside of him – a mix of anger and lust that is twisting his insides – but he can't concentrate on anything but Cody's body and the way his fingers thrust in and out of his now wet opening. He's turning his back to them, unconsciously offering him the spectacle of his body shivering from pleasure. He comes with a long liquid moan and Leo wonders what it'd feel like to make him produce that exact same sound with his own fingers and tongue and cock.

He whines, utterly desperate and only partially satisfied by what he saw. He needs release soon and he feels ashamed and guilty and angry that he doesn't want it from himself nor Blaine. He's suddenly aware that he wants it from Cody – no, that he is actually demanding it from Cody – and the feeling is so strong that it scares him. He steps back messily and a branch cracks under his shoe.

Cody turns around and Leo sees that he saw and just runs.