Living in the world has never been stranger, D has to admit. When he feels maudlin, he thinks it must have to do with the Orcots, and that blissful two years he'd spent falling away from his purpose.
He wants to walk among humans, now. And not merely to shore up disdain or hatred, either. Just to be among them, as if the petty nature of their little lives was...comforting, somehow. A reassurance that man was still, in essence, animal in nature, with pretensions of being more.
So that brings him here, to a political fundraiser in Italy — a Berlusconi opponent, a leftist, if he recalls correctly.
Environmentalist sympathies, which D supposes is a good thing.
He floats through the party, exchanging meaningless pleasantries in Italian and English and, notably, Urdu at one point. It's like a million other parties like it, dripping in opulence as the world slowly burns.
Soon, he's leaning gently on a balcony, breathing in the night air. There are birds courting nearby.
He hears someone approach behind him. He assumes he'll be addressed, maybe flirted with. It happens often enough. He waits for the inevitable, not letting on to his distaste.
He is not expecting Leon Orcot to step up beside him, looking up at the night sky for a moment.
Leon is dressed in black tie, like the rest of the men here, but his tie is loosened and his hands are stuffed in his pockets. A little disheveled, and ever so human.
"Mister Detective?" The question slips out, shocked, before he can stop himself.
The man has the gall to laugh. "Not anymore," he says. "I quit five years ago."
D blinks. "Mister...Mister Orcot, then," he says, and wishes he didn't sound so bowled-over, so shocked.
A frown twists Leon's mouth. "If that's what you wanna call me, sure."
"What are you doing here?"
He fears the answer, particularly the answer that part of him most wants.
"Private sector," Leon says, a little more guarded now. "International environmentalist organizations pay pretty well for my skillset, it turns out."
D’s chest tightens, and he’s not entirely sure how he feels about this.
“I see,” he says, realizing that his hand is clenched around the balcony. “That’s...different.”
Leon nods. “Yeah. Get to travel a lot.”
Does he know? Does he know the effect he has on D in this moment? How deeply D feels? The extent of his pain?
“The world is wide,” D says, nodding slightly, looking out across the back garden of the villa. “It may do you some good to see more of it.”
Leon makes a noise just shy of a laugh. “Yeah. Probably.” D isn’t looking at him, but he hears the quiet inhale before Leon continues: “Y’know. I still have dreams about falling.”
D can’t help but swallow. “You do?”
“Yeah. Couple times a month, at least. How’s Pon?”
“She is well. Entering the teenage portion of her developmental cycle. I imagine Chris would be surprised.” D can’t fathom how calm Leon is being, and is ashamed of how emotional he feels himself.
Leon laughs, again. “So, were they...?”
“No. Pon-chan was quite fond of him, but they were only ever friends.” D finally forces himself to look at Leon again.
“She was a good kid. Unlike somebody I could mention.” He smirks a little.
D can’t help the little curve of his own mouth. And what a feeling it is, to be so bound to instinct and feeling, but only around this man! “T-chan constantly tells me how glad he is that you are not taking up space on the couch.”
It’s true. Better yet, Leon may actually believe it.
“Little fucker,” Leon says, shaking his head, but his voice is almost fond. “Five years is a long time to hate somebody.”
D raises an eyebrow, uncertain. “Humans can carry hate for much longer, can they not?”
“Yeah, I guess. But we don’t have to, right?”
It seems impossible, how easily, how casually Leon can just...overturn everything. This man, who, in so many ways, is humanity at its most banal and petty, can change D’s life just by wandering into it again.
We don’t have to. A decision to be made outside one’s ancestors.
“You know what I am.” He tries to turn away.
Leon catches his arm, and when D meets his eyes, he finds an intensity there he had not anticipated.
“Yeah, I do.” Leon’s voice is low, a warning. “I know who you are, too, though.” His hand loosens from D’s arm. “So. Now we’re both here. Am I right?”
D can’t quite parse what he means. “Perhaps, when this night ends, we should speak frankly.”
Leon shakes his head. “No, I’m not letting you get away again.” He doesn’t sound angry, though, or upset. Just certain. Somehow, that feels worse than either. “Not without you explaining some shit.”
D leans on the balcony. “What do you want to know?”
“Did you mean to leave your suitcase?” Leon’s tone is questioning, but not accusatory, and his willingness to understand cuts far deeper than any of their fights ever have.
They both know what was in that case. “...Yes. I...I couldn’t leave, and keep that.”
Leon exhales. “Well. Still got it with me, so. If you want it back...”
“How long will you be in Italy?” The question isn’t one he meant to ask. But it falls out of his mouth anyway, as if there’s nothing else he could have said.
“I...I mean...” Leon flushes, looking away. “This assignment’s over as soon as the target gets on his plane tomorrow morning, so.”
D can't miss that implication. "I confess I have nothing much to do here," he says, unable to put it plain that he doesn't plan to run away from Leon. Not now, anyway.
Leon looks at him, eyes narrowing a little, searching his face for the catch.
Tonight, there is none.
Leon offers his hand, after a moment. "Then let's get outta here."
D hesitates, just for a moment, and then places his hand in Leon’s. It’s not the sort of thing they did. For all the time they spent together, they so rarely touched.
But, of course, he still recalls the taste of Leon’s blood.
Leon is oddly careful, almost graceful, as he leads him through the party. D wonders what he has missed, in these last five years.
Who has Leon Orcot become?
Halfway through the ballroom, the song changes to something softer, slower. Jazz-lounge-singer music; unusual for a place like this. D is struck with an idea, and stops, tugging Leon's hand.
He needs to know how far this may go.
Leon looks at him, considering, and steps toward him, shifting his hold on D's hand and placing his other hand on D's waist. He knows, D can see it in his eyes, that it's a test, and one he seems determined to pass.
D places his free hand on Leon's shoulder.
Every point of contact burns.
Leon watches his face, and slowly, they begin to dance. D tries to lead from behind, but Leon doesn't let him; he's not bad himself. D didn't know that, and wonders if it's new or old.
Neither of them says a word, and D is caught in Leon's gaze. He is not predatory, exactly, but he has the self-assurance of an animal on the hunt. This is familiar; it is the thing that first drew D's attention to Leon. Even more than the gifts, or the chance to toy with an unsuspecting human who stepped too close to the truth.
Leon can be more animal than man, and that is why D fell for him. Loving the man as much as the beast came later, came on the heels of Chris entering their lives.
The song is drawing to a climax, and something shifts in Leon's expression.
D is being kissed before he can react to that shift, and the kiss nearly stops him dead, frozen in Leon's grasp.
There are eyes on them; people always watch D, and D knows that together, they are a sight. The fact that Leon is kissing him here, with people watching, is a sign of how much has changed.
Leon pulls away before D thinks to kiss back. He's flushed, his face a mask of regret.
"It's okay, I get it," Leon says, before D can protest. The song is ending, and Leon releases him, maintaining only the one hand in D's own -- and that in part because D will not let go himself.
Leon seems surprised that D won’t let go, and the silence as they leave the building is a shaky, unstable one.
When they’re alone again, on the street, D pulls Leon to a stop.
“What?” Leon asks, looking frustrated.
D squeezes his hand. “I — I think you may have misinterpreted —“ He steps forward, and presses a quick, sudden kiss of his own to Leon’s lips before stepping back.
Leon stares at him. “Did you...do you mean it?”
“Yes.” Damn it all, he sounds flustered. Only Leon has ever driven him to this kind of distraction, if he’s honest.
“Well, shit,” Leon says, quietly, and sweeps D right back into his arms.
Third time’s the charm.