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Before Full Bloom

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Later, Leo would honestly be surprised something hadn't happened earlier: he'd had a number of close calls over the past year, and statistically speaking someone was bound to get lucky sooner or later. He kept as much out of the way as he could when there was a fight, but even Libra wasn't infallible. The longer he worked with them, the more likely it became that he was going to get caught in some crossfire or other.

Really, he was mostly grateful it had been ... relatively easy. It could have been a lot worse.

Sure, he wasn't certain he'd ever be able to look Zapp or Steven in the eye again, or K.K., or Chain, or -- Gilbert, or Zed, or --

... or ...

Well, there were still some people who didn't know; they just also didn't know him. That had to be at least ninety nine percent of the city, so even if he abandoned everything and started a new life all over again, he'd be almost guaranteed to find a completely blank slate to start over with. Micheala would understand. Some things even a tortoise would run away from, if they could.

Hello, Michaela, I'm running away from home. Don't worry, I'll be sure to email you my new phone number and everything, it's just extremely important that I avoid every single person who knows me in the city.

As if he could actually send her something like that. She'd want to know why, and if he told her, then he'd have to avoid her, too, and Leo wasn't strong enough to cut his sister out, not even over something like this. Therefore, the best course of action was to not tell her, and hightail it to another part of Hellsalem's Lot before anyone noticed that he was gone--

His phone rang, startling him out of his daze. For a moment he just fumbled with it, unable to get a solid grip on it. When he did, though, the name on the display made his heart lurch.

Klaus V. Reinhertz. Of course.

For a moment his thumb hovered over the touchscreen. Maybe it'd be easier if he didn't have to look him in the eye. Maybe if it was audio only, he could play it cool, like he was completely carefree--

"Breathe, Leonardo. You have to -- you need to relax."

"I'm trying, I'm, it's not like this is easy, okay, I can't--"

"Please, Leonardo."

He jerked and thumbed Ignore at once. His face felt hot enough that he was certain it was glowing.

That done, he stuffed the phone back into his pocket and went back to packing. It wasn't like he had that many belongings: more than the first time he'd had to move, accumulated in bits and pieces over the months, but nothing that couldn't fit into a duffel bag and then a backpack. Whatever he couldn't pack, he could pawn, and that little bit of extra cash would help with wherever he ended up next. He'd miss the stipend from Libra, but Dogimo's was always hiring, and he could always take on extra hours ...

Be strong, Leonardo Watch, he told himself. You can do it. Don't let sentimentality bog you down. You can still research on your own about these eyes. You're smart and resourceful, you know the city better now, and you can probably beg and grovel enough to make someone feel sorry for you if you have to--

A knock at the door interrupted his thoughts. Leo jerked with a yelp before his head whipped around to stare at the door. Even without his eyes activated, he knew, with a bone-deep certainty, who was on the other side. It might have been just a sense of the aura, or the way that knock was solid and strong, or any number of things.

Klaus was here.

Could he run? His unit was seven floors up, and the fire escape was rickety at best, but it wasn't like he weighed that much. If he went fast and just grabbed onto things to break his fall, maybe he could make it.

Or he could jump and trust to faith that somehow he wouldn't splatter on the sidewalk below, and that was absolutely his time in Libra talking.

Maybe there was space for him to hide under his bed? If he couldn't escape, he could hide--

And as he dithered over his options, the knock came again, and this time there was Klaus's voice as well, low and diffident: "Leonardo? Are you there?"

No, I'm not, try again later, he thought wildly, and bit his tongue before he could actually say that aloud. He eyed the window again. Surely the fire escape could hold his weight if he was very careful.

"I just wanted to say that I was sorry," Klaus said, and Leo snapped around to look at the door again, fast enough that his neck twinged. "I took advantage of you. As your superior, my behavior was inexcusable. I apologize sincerely for my actions. If you wish to press charges, I encourage you to do so."

Leo was moving before he realized it, shooting to his feet and throwing himself across the room. From anyone else, it would have sounded like some weak token effort to appease him after what had happened. You couldn't take back something like that.

At the same time, how could he have forgotten? This was Klaus. The man was incapable of being anything other than entirely sincere and devoted. There had been no way he wouldn't have acted, that day; Leo had known that without a doubt.

And wasn't that why he'd gone to Klaus in the first place?

It was, Leonardo Watch, and you're the worst sort of coward if you're going to let him think he was responsible for that.

Leo yanked the door open. For a moment he and Klaus just stared at each other, wordless. Like something out of a movie, all other sound receded to near-nothingness. The sound of Leo's own heartbeat was a roar in his ears, and his lungs felt as if something had grabbed them in an iron vise.

"Tell me if this is too much."

"It's -- not -- it's just--"

"Leonardo ..."

"I'm breathing, damnit, I'm breathing--"

He didn't need any sort of special vision to see how much of a wreck Klaus was. Though he was as impeccably dressed as always, all the lines of his clothes crisp and neat, there was a pronounced slump to his broad shoulders and dark circles under his eyes. The line of his jaw was more pronounced than usual, set in a stubborn line.

Even tired, though, there was an unmistakable poise and strength to his body that couldn't be ignored. He filled the entire doorframe and then some, keeping his head bowed so that they could look at each other. He looked about as surprised as Leo felt, and after that first impossibly long second had passed, he took a step back, raising both hands in a placating sort of gesture.

"Leonardo," he said. "It's all right, you don't have to come near me. I only wanted to assure you that I didn't intend to hide from the consequences; if you would rather go through Steven for the rest--"

Leo leaned forward. He kept one hand braced on his doorframe, but with the other he grabbed Klaus's sleeve and pulled. For a second it was like trying to move a mountain: his own small weight and puny strength against everything that Klaus had. There was no way he could manage, but he couldn't make himself let go or stop. Everything about this was wrong. This wasn't at all how he'd expected -- any of this to go, really -- and there was a sinking feeling in his stomach that came with the rising certainty that he wouldn't be able to budge Klaus at all.

A moment later, though, Klaus took a stumbling step forward, and then another, and Leo was able to pull him into his tiny apartment and close the door firmly. Once that was done, and they were safe in relative privacy, though, Leo couldn't quite make himself let go. He curled his fingers even harder for a moment, staring resolutely at his feet as he took deep breaths, trying to screw his courage up. Klaus said nothing either, though at the edge of his vision, Leo could see how he stood with his own head bowed, utterly penitent.

"... You know," Leo said, at last. "It wasn't your fault."

"It was," Klaus said promptly. He sounded so certain about it, too; even a stranger would be able to tell he believed that entirely. "It was my responsibility--"

"I went to you," Leo said, pronouncing each word as deliberately as possible, raising his voice over Klaus's beginning spiel of guilt. What was at stake here, really? His pride? That was such a small thing, really. "Once I knew something was happening, I went straight to you."

"Because I'm your superior," Klaus said, still so sincere; he shifted his weight, but didn't try to pull his hand from Leo's grasp. "As the leader of Libra, you should be able to come to me, whatever the reason. I should have taken you to someone else -- Dr. Estavus, at least to the hospital--"

"No," Leo said, as firmly as he could. He curled his fingers in Klaus's sleeve and made himself look up, scowling. "I went to you, because--"

Because I wanted to. Because I wanted--

"--I knew you'd be able to do something about it," he said. He meant for it to sound cocky and confident, the way Zapp always did when talking about his women. It came out fumbling instead, almost petty, and he tightened his grip. "I mean, I wanted to -- I trust you the most, so I thought--"

"Leonardo." Klaus finally pulled away, only to carefully take Leo's hand in both of his. It was a bit humbling, actually, to see how easily his own hand was dwarfed. "I thank you for your consideration. But it does not change the fact that I took advantage of you. I crossed a boundary in the worst way. I understand, therefore, if you wish to distance yourself entirely from me, and from Libra in general. I will leave the matter in your hands."

Leo stared. Any other man in the world could have said those same things, and Leo would have laughed in his face; even his sister, as much as he loved her, wasn't good enough to pull that off.

And yet, here was this man, this Klaus von Reinhertz, built like a brick wall and with a face that scared most small children and animals, with a heart that shamed Leo to even look at.

"So, what you're saying is, I get to choose your punishment?" he asked at last. His heart was starting to pound, almost rattling in his ribcage. There was pressure in his throat; he knew what he was going to do, and he could barely make himself dwell on it, scandalized at his own decision.

"Mm." It was a softer agreement, but still a heartfelt one. Klaus bowed his head, yielding. It didn't really make him much smaller -- even hunched up on himself, his presence dominated the entirety of Leo's cramped little studio -- but it still stung something inside of Leo to see. Of all people in the world, there was no way this man should be bowing to him.

Leo took a breath and squared his shoulders.

"All right," he said. "Mr. Klaus--"

And Leo reached up and grabbed Klaus's tie and yanked as hard as he could, dragging him down to kiss him soundly.


Ultimately, it started because of a mistake.

Well, no, go back a bit -- it started because of a rumor that a small-time gang had gone abruptly from selling pot on street corners and straight into significantly harder drugs. The best guess of their informants was that some Beyondian plant had cross-pollinated with the gang's marijuana patch and spawned something significantly more potent and addictive. It had sparked Libra's interest when no less than three reports had come up of people outside of Hellsalem's Lot coming down from the ugly high, including one person who'd ended up dead as a result. Tracking them down had led to a greenhouse stuffed to the brim with plants that nearly put Klaus's conservatory to shame.

The ensuing fight had been a relatively brief and small scale one, especially by Libra's standards; the only real incident had been when a thug had thrown a knife straight at Leo's head, which had been blocked by Zapp kicking over some large flowering tree at the exact right moment. Instead of burying itself in his head, the blade had sliced through a few of the large drooping bell-like flowers and ended up embedded in the trunk; the worst Leo got out of it was a faceful of pollen. It had smelled a bit like old socks, and even with his eyes closed it made them water; he'd spent the rest of that fight huddled in the back sneezing. It had made his head hurt a little, but overall, it wasn't so different from his bouts with hayfever as a kid.

Afterwards, though ...

It hadn't really started until about an hour after the incident, when the cops had been called and everyone was beginning to scatter for the night, going on their separate ways. Zapp wandered up to Leo, throwing a heavy arm over his shoulder before simply draping against his back, deliberately leaning so that Leo had to lock his knees to keep from falling.

"Hey, Pubehead, let's get food," he said. "I"m fuckin' starved. I was thinkin' hey, maybe that puke restaurant or somethin', whadaya say?"

"Absolutely not," Leo grumbled. He shoved back against Zapp's weight with a grunt. Zapp's body temperature ran hot even on a good day, and with the humid warmth of the greenhouse, it was downright unpleasant. He was sweating. "You go, if you're interested in that, but if you are, keep it to yourself."

"Whaaaat was that? You wanna fight, punk?" Zapp wrapped an arm around Leo's throat and ground his knuckles against the top of Leo's head. "What's that? 'Oh, I'm so sorry, oh wonderful and amazing Mister Zapp! I'm only a lowly pile of shaved pubes tryin' to make my way up to bein' human, and I'm lookin' for a good and kind mentor to guide me along the way--"

"Get off," Leo groaned and shoved as hard as he could. Zapp only laughed, going deadweight against him, and this time Leo did stumble, awkwardly, before finding his balance again, just before they both ran into one of the few trees still upright. "Zapp!"

"What are you two fighting about this time?" Zed asked. "If you're hungry, then let's go."

"Hear that? C'mon, Leo." Zapp straightened and began to walk, dragging Leo along with him. He did it with such little effort that it was humiliating; for all that he was a lazy asshole who ate like shit and had a loud dislike of anything involving actual work, his physical strength was undeniable. Leo could feel the muscles of his body working, easy and smooth, where their bodies were pressed together, and he licked his lips at the thought--




Leo shoved at Zapp again, this time hard and squirming enough to actually wrench himself free. He stumbled back a few steps, his fists clenched and his face red. Zapp made a startled noise at that, turning to look at him with wide eyes.

"Leo? What the fuck?"

"Uh," Leo said. He found his gaze drifting lower for a moment, to the cocky (augh) jut of Zapp's hips, and then between them, and holy shit he'd never been more grateful for how the Eyes of God let him see through his own eyelids before. "Sorry! I'm! I'm not hungry! Uh, you two go on without me!"

"Not hungry?" Zapp echoed. He sounded confused, like the idea was completely foreign to him. Maybe it was. Zapp was always hungry in some way -- for a fight, for food, for sex--

"Leo? You look a bit flushed. Are you all right?" Now Zed was coming forward, his own movements smooth and easy. He was as graceful out of the water as he was in it, and that seemed somehow unfair, when Leo himself was just a gangly tangle of limbs and heat. Zed would probably be cool to the touch, soft and slick, but he'd likely warm quickly to the touch and what are you thinking, Leonardo Watch, stop that!

He jerked back before Zed could actually touch him, flailing wildly with both hands. "Ah! Uhm! You know, maybe I am a little tired, hahaha, why don't you two go ahead! I'll, I'll just, I'm gonna go home and sleep it off. It's probably just a little bug. Don't worry about me!"

Zed paused, his hand still stretched out, then sighed and dropped it. "If you're sure about that ... please take care of yourself, then."

"Don't go dyin' or anything like that!" Zapp added, though he let himself be chivvied away by Zed. He turned to look over his shoulder at that, his brows drawn together with the beginnings of concern. "You hear me, Pubehead? I'll fuckin' kick your ass otherwise!"

Leo waved as they left, then let himself slump, taking a deep breath. Even without Zapp pressed up all against him, he still felt hot nearly to the point of feverish, and his legs were trembling. He was hard enough that even in boxers and loose pants, it felt like he might explode at any moment, and that was beyond merely humiliating. He forced himself upright and took one wobbly step, and then another, fixing his gaze resolutely on his feet, like he could use that to focus himself.

What's happening to me? Why do I feel like this? Just because it's been a while doesn't mean I should be this badly off ... He rubbed at his face with a hand, like that'd be enough to wipe away distraction and fatigue both. Anyway, the important thing right now is that I have to find somewhere private. I can just handle things, and then go home and sleep ...

"Oh, there you are, young man."

He jerked to a stop at that, almost guilty; he made a surprised sound he couldn't bite back. What if I pretended I didn't hear? What if I just pretended I hadn't heard him and made a break for it?

... That'd probably go badly, Leo answered himself with a sigh and turned. Steven raised an eyebrow at him, his phone raised to his ear. "Yessir, Mr. Steven?"

"Klaus is looking for you," he said. He waved his other hand, in a quick, almost dismissive gesture. "He said you took a hit during the mess back there, and he'd like to take a look at you."

Are you sure it's not that I wanna take a look at him-- Leo bit the inside of his cheek hard to keep from just blurting that out. He could feel his face heating in spite of his best efforts. He made a few weak gestures with both hands, and the look on Steven's face went from his usual vaguely detached amusement to actual concern in a heartbeat.

"Maybe that's not a bad idea," he said. "You're not looking good, young man. You're not catching a cold, are you? There's supposed to be a bug going around." He reached out as he spoke, and this time Leo couldn't make himself pull away, watching that large long-fingered hand come closer, until it settled against his forehead. In spite of his expectations, Steven's hand was surprisingly warm. He paused for a second, then frowned, leaning in a bit closer. "You've got a bit of a fever--"

"I'm fine!" Leo yelped and jerked away. His heart was thumping wildly. "Just, just tell Mr. Klaus I'm fine, I'm just a little -- probably I ate something that disagreed with me, haha, nothing to worry about! I'm going home now! Thanks for your help today!"

And this time he turned and skittered for it. His gait was a bit more awkward than he would have liked, and the temptation to just duck around a corner and jerk off was almost overwhelming. But if he did that, then Steven would surely find him, and Leo was fairly certain he would rather eat glass than let Steven A. Starphase catching him that way. As much as his body was burning, and as nice as the idea of having someone, anyone else, touch him was, he wasn't too keen on that idea.

On the other hand ...

"Klaus is looking for you," Steven had said. Knowing him, he was probably genuinely worried, though he was also too polite to actually do anything that might seem like intruding where he hadn't been explicitly invited. Probably Steven had volunteered to come looking for Leo in his place.

What if he hadn't, though? What if Klaus had been the one to come looking? More to the point, what if he'd been the one to find Leo like this?

Leo almost tripped over his own feet at the thought. He could feel his face going even hotter at that; part of him was vaguely surprised he hadn't simply burst into flames on the spot. Between his legs, his erection throbbed harder, picking up in time with the pounding of his heart. Some distant part of him was convinced at this point that even touching himself wouldn't be enough; he wanted a partner; he wanted to have someone else touch him, or he might very well die.

And of all his options, Klaus would be the best bet, wouldn't he? Unlike Zed, who was still confused by huma society, or Zapp, who was loud and crude and careless -- or Steven, who always seemed to be laughing at everything and everyone -- Klaus was a gentleman. He wouldn't say anything. He'd be gentle about it, and he'd be kind, and even if he didn't want to -- to help -- directly, he'd at least be willing to take care of him ...

Leo pulled his phone out of his pocket. Everything felt distant and hazy, even as he watched his thumb hit his contacts list and scroll through to Klaus's name. He lifted it to his ear, breathing soft and shallow, and waited for the click on the other line.

"Mr. Klaus?" he said. "I think I need help."

He'd barely finished saying it before Klaus rounded sharply around the corner. There was a GPS in his phone, he knew, but even with that, it shouldn't have taken that fast to find him.

Just like you'd expect from Mr. Klaus, he thought dizzily, watching as Klaus came barreling towards him. It was a bit like watching an oncoming train, but Leo's head felt simultaneously foggy and more clear than it ever had before. He watched those easy powerful movements with a deeper sense of appreciation than he'd ever had in his entire life. Klaus always wore impeccably tailored clothes, loose enough to allow him perfect freedom of movement, but still tight enough to highlight the width and strength of his shoulders. The light flared around him, like the spread wings of an angel, or the dramatic sweep of a hero's cape. Leo smiled and let the phone slip from his hand. It hit the ground with a distinct cracking sound, and some part of him cringed at that. That was going to cost a pretty penny to replace.

The larger part of him didn't care.

"Leonardo!" Klaus said, and once he was close enough, he shoved his own phone into his pocket before he caught Leo's shoulders in both of his huge hands. They were large enough to feel nearly like a cradle. It would be so easy to simply lean back in them and know he would be held safely, and it felt so good he he wanted to simply melt into it and let go ... but the concern in Klaus's face was obvious, and perhaps it should have been scary -- even Steven was still intimidated by Klaus's expressions sometimes, Leo knew -- but it just warmed something inside of him. "Are you all right? Steven said you were ill. Is it your eyes?"

"My eyes?" Leo asked. He blinked, and a moment later it caught up to him: his eyes were open as he stared at Klaus. When had that happened?

He considered the question for a moment, then shrugged it off. That was hardly important. He didn't bother to close his eyes again, only stretched up as far as he could on his toes. It wouldn't be enough, normally, but Klaus was already leaning down and forward, so it didn't take that much effort at all for Leo to lean up, put his arms around Klaus's neck, and pull him down for a kiss.

The first contact was awkward. Klaus wasn't the first person that Leo had kissed, and not even the second one, but with the just of his jaw and those lower fangs, it took a bit of maneuvering to find an angle that could maybe work. He could still feel the points of those fangs against his lip, and he had a brief flash of wondering how they'd feel anywhere else--

It was a chaste kiss for about five seconds, just the soft pressure of lip to lip -- and then Klaus made a strangled noise and pulled away, shoving Leo back by the shoulders. His eyes were wide and his glasses had slid partially down his nose. He was blushing, full and outright, and Leo had never seen him look so outright flustered. The sight of it sent a definite thrill through him, enough to punch the breath from his lungs.

"Leonardo," Klaus said, his voice strained. "I, while I am flattered by your feelings, this is all rather fast, I hope you realize this is all very ... indecent."

"Mr. Klaus," Leo said. He could hardly recognize his own voice; it was breathy and rough both, barely more than a whisper. "I want to. Please? I really want it, it's so hot--" He leaned against the pressure of Klaus's hands on his shoulders, reaching up with both arms now. By doing that, he was just barely able to grab the end of Klaus's tie, pulling at it with all the strength he could muster. It wasn't much, he knew; even after over a year in Libra, he wasn't precisely in fighting shape. They needed him for other things. He'd toughened up, but he was still nowhere near on the level of the frontliners.

But Klaus -- big, strong, powerful Klaus, Klaus who could punch aside debris and feel no pain, who never flinched when charging into battle -- yielded to that pull, leaning down and forward as Leo tugged at his tie. His eyes were wide and he was blushing darker than his hair, his mouth slightly open. Leo grinned.

"You're pretty handsome, you know?" he said. "I mean, you're also kind of scary. But that's got some appeal too."


"I like you, Mr. Klaus," he said. "I like you a lot."

Before Klaus could say anything to that, still redfaced and gaping, Leo leaned up to kiss him again. This time, he let himself be bolder about it, biting at Klaus's lower lip with his own ordinary dull teeth -- but that was enough to get a deep shudder out of Klaus, a helpless kind of reaction, and those hands on his shoulders flexed; even without exerting any current pressure, the sheer awareness of Klaus's strength was almost overwhelming..

For a moment Leo wondered if he'd be pushed away again. If he was, he told himself, he would accept it. He was capable of taking a hint; he could get himself home and into the shower, maybe, and he'd handle it all himself--

And then Klaus's hands slid away from his shoulders and across his back, the fingers splaying open widely. It was his turn to tug, and though he exerted barely any pressure, Leo found himself stumbling in closer in helpless reaction, right up against the brick wall of Klaus's chest. When he sucked in a breath he smelled sweat and blood and cologne, and it made his head spin worse than before.

Part of him was annoyed at that -- he could at least try for a bit more dignity, right? No matter what happened, they'd still have to work together after this! He curled his fingers hard around Klaus's tie, and tipped his head up.

Klaus's face was awfully close. His glasses were gone, though Leo honestly couldn't say when they'd been removed. His expression was soft and solemn, with the sort of tender earnestness that Leo had seen him use for plants before, but never another person. Something in his belly flipflopped at that, and that had nothing at all to do with his arousal.

He drew in the breath to say something, if only to stammer Klaus's name again, but he was beaten by a low rumbling noise coming up from the depths of Klaus's chest before Klaus leaned forward and kissed him.

It was also clumsy like this: for all that Klaus was always so poised in battle, he was awkward and fumbling now. The points of his sharp teeth scraped hard against Leo's lower lip, hard enough to sting, and his fingers flexed in an uneasy rhythm against Leo's back. He was shaking, Leo realized after a moment, his whole large body curled down into their kiss and trembling like a leaf. All of his immense physical strength was contained in that tremor, malleable under Leo's hands.

The thought made a deep curl of satisfaction unfurl inside of him. He rocked up onto his toes and let go of the tie to slide his hands up into Klaus's hair, kneading great handfuls of it in an attempt to leave it as mussed as possible before he parted his lips, coaxing. He felt the start go through Klaus's body like a shock, but he followed that lead obediently enough. He was stiff at first, almost formal about it, but he allowed Leo to coax him into kissing harder and deeper, until it was slick and wet and breathless. Leo plastered himself as fully up against Klaus's body as he could, letting his knees buckle at last, and Klaus obligingly caught and cradled him.

For a moment Leo wondered if that would be enough. Maybe all he needed was a bit of frantic making out, and the haze of want would recede. He already felt more clearheaded than before, like perhaps he could make it home now without an incident--

Then Klaus shifted and Leo's leg bumped up against an unmistakable hard pressure, throbbing in rapid time, and that fleeting hope vanished in a heartbeat.

He whined, a sharp pleading noise, then forced himself to pull one hand free from Klaus's hair. It was softer than it looked, dense as rabbit fur, and it felt good against his palms -- but this was more important. Leo groped blindly until he could find one of Klaus's arms, and he grabbed at the sleeve and tugged, another insistent noise rising out of his throat. Eventually, maybe, he would have to actually use his words, but once again Klaus seemed to understand what he wanted, letting Leo find his hand and then guide it, down, right between Leo's legs.

And once he was there, he didn't seem to need any further guidance. Instead, he twisted his wrist to pull at Leo's fly, and for a moment Leo was able to spare a heartfelt thanks that he favored baggy oversized clothes. He clenched his hands into fists, panting into Klaus's mouth, forcing himself into his own tense stillness as he felt his pants slip down his hips and sag to his knees. His boxers followed a moment later, and then when he rocked forward, it was against a slide of warm skin and the far finer material of Klaus's trousers.

He had a moment to marvel at that, and then Klaus's long fingers wrapped around his cock, and if Klaus had been hesitant about kissing, he didn't hesitate here. He gripped firmly, but not too tightly, and the calluses across his knuckles and the upper ridge of his palm were almost -- almost -- rough enough to hurt. His other arm tightened around Leo's waist, and he broke their kiss to press his face into Leo's hair instead, muttering things in what sounded like German, and what also sounded terribly encouraging.

So Leo let himself go, curling his own fingers against the back of Klaus's neck and thrusting hard with his hips, letting himself work with abandon. His own precome slicked the way after the first couple, and his head was full of a buzzy roar, his whole being focused entirely on instinctive movement.

It didn't take long for him to come like that: even in his dazed state, it only felt like a few seconds before sparks exploded across his vision and he jerked with a strangled noise, going absolutely still. The orgasm almost hurt, like something was outright bleeding out of him, and even as it faded, he could tell it wasn't enough. He still felt hot and shaky, and he was still hard. Could that even happen? Other than the obvious answer of yes, even as a teenager he'd never managed anything like this!

Klaus made a low shaky noise, his face still pressed against Leo's hair. A moment later, though, he shifted his grip, pulling Leo more firmly against his body as he sank to his knees. Leo's feet scraped against the ground with a grinding noise, and he remembered with a start where they were: in public, in the ruins of some two-bit gang's greenhouse, and weren't there going to be cops soon? Even in a known gang's territory, the police still had to make a token appearance ...

"Leonardo," Klaus said, and that dragged Leo's attention right back up to him again. His eyes were dark, almost black, and he was panting for breath, deep and shaky enough to make his chest heave. His voice sounded rough -- Leo had never understood the adjective of gravelly before this moment -- and thick, barely more coherent than a growl. "I'm sorry."

"Sorry?" Leo echoed blankly. "Why?"

In response, Klaus lifted his other hand, sticky and wet with Leo's come. He didn't break eye contact as he licked his own palm, slow and deliberate, and at first all Leo could do was stare.

Klaus -- Klaus von Reinhertz -- his Klaus -- who was always so calm and dignified with his actions, doing something like that--!

Leo covered his eyes with one hand and whimpered. He could still hear it, though, the soft wet motions of Klaus's tongue on skin, and it wasn't such a stretch to imagine how it would feel, too, strong and steady against his skin--

"Leonardo," Klaus said again, a low murmur, and he took Leo's other hand in his. Leo peeked through his fingers long enough to watch Klaus kiss the back of his knuckles. He was gentle about it, but his gaze was focused; Leo had seen him stare down Blood Breeds with less intent.

"Uh," Leo squeaked, as he whipped his hand away from his face. His voice sounded even more wrecked than before, even when he paused and swallowed a few times to clear his throat. Breathing felt like significant effort, and he could hear the rattling wheeze of it in his lungs as he tried to gather himself. To his embarrassment, he was already squirming again, restless with his wanting. He had to look like a complete wreck.

In contrast, though Klaus's hair was a tousled mess, and his tie was askew, he seemed as composed as before, comfortable in his skin in a way that Leo couldn't help but envy.

"M-Mr. Klaus, I think-- I think that maybe--" I think maybe I made a mistake, I think that looking at you is doing weird things to my heart, and that's not at all what I wanted here--

Klaus studied him for a moment, and then lifted a hand to cup Leo's cheek. His touch was gentle, and some of the dark intent faded from his face.

Leo couldn't honestly say if he was glad for that or not.

"Breathe, Leonardo," Klaus said. "You have to -- you need to relax."

He sounded so earnest again. That was always how it was, wasn't it? Even sitting on the ground in the middle of god knew where, with Leo on his lap and a visibly-obvious hardon, he sounded so collected and steady that Leo's chest twinged in envy.

Leo swallowed hard and forced himself not to break eye contact. It just didn't seem fair. He squirmed harder, which mostly had the effect of very pointedly reminding him of his own erection, throbbing freely in the air. How can he just sit there like that?

"I'm trying," he blurted, and shit, that sounded a great deal less suave than he wanted, "I'm, it's not like this is easy, okay, I can't--"

"Please, Leonardo," Klaus said. His voice was softer now, and something in his expression was ... almost sad, in fact. "I know this isn't an ideal situation. We can get you to Dr. Estavus immediately. I'm sure she'd be able to--"

"Mr. Klaus," Leo said, loud and fast. There was an odd thrill to it; had he ever interrupted Klaus like that before? He was fairly certain not. "Right now, the last thing I want is to go anywhere, so if you'll excuse me--"

He wasn't sure where, exactly, the daring came from. If he'd stopped to think about it, he knew he would have stopped. As it was, though, he braced one hand on Klaus's broad arm and reached the other down, spreading his fingers wide over the prominent bulge in Klaus's pants.

The first touch was a shock to them both; Klaus's entire body jerked so strongly that Leo almost snatched his hand back to stammer an apology. Was that too much? Maybe it was fine for him to touch another man, but to let another man touch him--

Then Klaus bowed his head. He was still breathing rough and fast, but it was an unmistakable gesture of yielding, and he settled his large hands on Leo's hips, well out of the way of interfering. Leo swallowed hard a few times, trying to get his breathing back under control, then forced himself to keep moving. Freezing up now would be the worst.

He fumbled for a few seconds with Klaus's belt, picking at the metal tooth until he could get it loosened. The material of Klaus's trousers were softer to the touch than he expected: the texture of luxury, the sort of thing a gentleman would wear. Under that were tight white briefs, and just looking at them left nothing to the imagination.

But most important of all, under that --

Klaus made a rough guttural noise when Leo pulled him free. Another hard ripple went through his body, but he didn't move his hands, and he didn't tighten his grip except for a brief tight flex of his fingers. Leo barely noticed that, though, swallowing hard as he stared at what was in his hands. Like the rest of him, Klaus's cock was huge, thick and pulsing with an unmistakable living heat against Leo's fingers. The head was wet, and Leo licked his lips in a quick unconscious sort of gesture as he stared at it.

"Mr. Klaus," he breathed, soft and awed, "'scuse me--"

He leaned down and wrapped his lips around the head. The gesture was smoother and easier than he expected, though he had to shudder when the movement pressed his belly to his own cock. That was all just a minor distraction, though: a moment later his focus narrowed entirely to the weight and heat on his tongue. He drew the flat of it along the curve of the head of Klaus's cock, molding his tongue against it before he swallowed. It tasted salty and musky, slightly bitter, but altogether not unpleasant.

"Leo," Klaus breathed, sounding completely breathlessly stunned. Leo allowed himself to bask for a moment of pride in that before he tried bobbing his head. No good: even with his enthusiasm and the ease of his strange fever, he just wasn't practiced enough to take Klaus's sheer size down that easily.

But Leonardo Watch was not a man who liked to give up, and be damned if he was going to start now. He pulled off with a wet pop, sucking in a sharp breath, then just nuzzled in, as intently as possible. First he nosed at the base of Klaus's cock, where the smell was the strongest: clean skin and sweat and musk. Is that what they call animal appeal? Then he shifted finally, bracing his own hands against Klaus's thighs, before he pressed the wide flat of his tongue to the shaft and began to drag it up, slow and steady. The texture of the skin was velvety soft, but Klaus was hard as steel under that, and he trembled helplessly under Leo's tongue.

At the top, Leo paused long enough to suck the head back into his mouth, bobbing shallowly, before he let go and trailed his way down. It was messy and awkward and his back was twinging a little from the position, but he couldn't make himself stop. The taste was growing on him, and coupled with the obvious reactions Klaus was having, Leo didn't want to stop. In fact, he felt greedy instead, hungry for more, curious about what how to break through more of Klaus's ironclad control. How would he react? Would he try to force Leo to take the whole of him? Would he throw Leo down and just rut up against him, never mind where they were?

A small part of him was appalled just thinking those things -- this is Mr. Klaus, Leo, he deserves more of your respect than that! -- but a larger part of him was thrilled at the potential. The fire in his skin was still too hot and hungry; he wanted more. He could hear himself whimpering faintly as he worked the length of Klaus's cock, and it seemed to be getting easier with each pass. He still couldn't go down far, but he could go farther, so surely, with more practice, he could actually manage ...

"Leo," Klaus breathed, and this time, when Leo lapped his way up, Klaus caught his shoulders and pulled him up. Leo had to scramble a little, awkward from moving out of position, but at the end, he was straddling Klaus's lap, their cocks rubbing against each other. Klaus leaned down to press their foreheads together, his eyes wide and dark. For a moment, Leo wondered if he'd say anything more, but he just kissed Leo instead -- gently, this time, with an amazing delicacy for such a huge man, tracing against Leo's mouth with the tip of his tongue and then dipping in lightly when Leo parted his lips for him.

It was hypnotizing, in a way, and the easiest thing to simply wrap his arms around Klaus's shoulders and squeeze, kissing him back with the same tenderness. There was no less eagerness for that, and that more than anything compelled Leo deeper and deeper.

He wasn't certain how long they'd been kissing, in fact, when he felt a large hand wrap around his cock and Klaus's both, pressing them even more firmly together. The touch sent a frisson of fire down his spine, and he pulled back with a sharp gasp, his fingers skittering uselessly across the fine material of Klaus's shirt. Even as he pulled back, though, Klaus followed him, though he didn't press for another kiss.

"Leonardo." Klaus's voice was low and oddly sweet. He met Leo's eyes straight on, without blinking, and began to stroke with his hand, jerking them both off together at an almost agonizingly slow pace. "Tell me if this is too much."

Leo sucked in a shaky breath. His first attempt at an answer just came out as a whine, pleading and sharp. It was getting difficult to even think like this; he wanted more and faster -- if he begged, could he convince Klaus to fuck him? The thought struck him hard, and he whimpered again at that before he managed to find his voice. "It's -- not -- it's just--"

It's just not enough, he didn't say, and he pressed a few hard open-mouthed kisses to Klaus's chin. Klaus continued to move his hand slowly, though his breathing went even raspier at that, and he curled another arm around Leo's back, drawing him in closer.

"Leonardo," he breathed, but there was a note of concern to it. Leo made a frustrated noise, balling one hand up into a fist and knocking it against Klaus's shoulder.

"I'm breathing, damnit, I'm breathing -- Mr. Klaus! Just do it!"

He couldn't even bring himself to be embarrassed about that just yet. For the moment, he was hot and trembling and he wanted. That little base part in the back of his mind was still hoping that if he begged loudly and hopefully enough, they could go further -- never mind that neither of them were prepared for this, never mind that Klaus was huge--

"Understood," Klaus murmured. His other arm tightened around Leo's waist and he began to stroke them both in earnest. It was dizzying how fast he did it, launching from slow and almost gentle to brutally fast. His mouth hung open with the force of his panting. Leo could feel his breath, hot and damp, against his face, and he echoed it with encouraging little murmurs. He could feel the want cresting in him now, only encouraged by Klaus's movements; it was hard not to feel a little drunk on the power of being on top of Klaus like this, moving with him, grinding with his hips to fuck into the slick hot space between Klaus's fingers and his cock.

When he came, it was hard enough that his vision whited out. Is this what they mean by seeing stars? he wondered, even as he swayed further into Klaus's embrace. He wanted more, still; his body still felt hot and open, his hips loose and still jerking through the aftershocks of his orgasm, but his mind felt even hazier than before. It was difficult to focus on Klaus's face, even as close as it was; it took an intense amount of effort to reach up, dragging Klaus's head down to press their lips together again, a soft affectionate gesture.

"Klaus, y'know," he muttered, the words slurring together, "I really ... really like you. Let's go again. An' again. And--"

"I'm sorry, Leo," Klaus said, and he sounded so sad about it that it almost cleared the fog Leo's head was in -- but then there was a sharp jab of pressure at the base of his neck, and everything went black.


"It's a fairly close derivative of flunitrazepam," Dr. Estavus said, brandishing her clipboard at Leo's face. "One that looks like it was enhanced a bit with some magic doctoring, but I have to say, I've never seen such a pure form in nature. Ah, though I can't say it's exactly the same; we definitely found more than just trace levels from the samples we took. It's pretty impressive! We'll probably want to keep you for observation for one more night, just to make sure it's all out of your system--"

"Uh," Leo said. "Excuse me, Doctor -- fluni-what?"

"Flunitrazepam," she said. She adjusted her glasses just so, so that the light made them opaque. He could still see her eyes, though, and they were straightforward and unblinking. "Also known as rohypnol. In other words--"

"A roofie?" Leo asked incredulously. "For real? When would that even -- I didn't even have lunch before we went out on that call, where would I have gotten anything like that?"

"About that," a familiar voice said, and Leo quailed inwardly as he turned to look at Steven. For a rare once, he wasn't smiling even a little, more serious than Leo could ever remember seeing him. "We've run some tests on the plant matter confisticated from that greenhouse. It looks like they were trying to crossbreed Beyond strains into everyday plants to streamline their drug production. You got dosed with some of their more ... specialized efforts, let's say."

"Specialized," Leo repeated. His voice sounded hollow to his own ears. "So I was just ..."

"It wasn't your fault, young man," Steven said, immediately, his voice firm. "Whatever you did under the influence will not be held against you. Everyone has been briefed on the circumstances, and--" Here he hesitated, pressing his lips together. "And if you need to speak with someone, Dr. Estavus has a list of resources."

Everyone has been briefed, Leo echoed in his head. Which means they all know that I -- oh, shit. He could feel his face going red, and neither Steven nor Dr. Estavus would look at him. He swallowed hard a few times, his hands opening and closing on the sheets.

That was obvious, wasn't it? Usually, Zapp and Zed would be the ones to retrieve him from the hospital, or at least drop by to give him some shit. The fact that they were absent and that Steven was here, trying to be so gentle about it ...

Not only that, but Klaus usually swung by at some point whenever anyone in Libra was hospitalized, and he'd been almost conspicuously absent ever since Leo had woken up.

So that's how it is, then. He swallowed hard against a tight lump in his throat. It felt like something had reached into his chest to squeeze at his heart, but no matter how long he waited, his heart kept beating. Good going there, Leo. He trusts in Zapp still, even with all the shit he's pulled over the years, but now you've gone and wrecked it. Congratulations.

Of course it would turn out like this. Why had he ever thought that things might go differently? In all those stupid movies that Michaela liked so much, even when something really awful happened between a couple, they always managed to make up by the end ...

Well. It's not like we were a couple, really. And you're not any sort of hero, so I don't know why you were expecting anything better than that.

"Young man?" Steven said quietly.

Leo took a deep breath. He didn't try to smile with it; he just met Steven's eyes as calmly as he could. His chest was aching so badly that breathing was an effort, but he swallowed that down, trying to be as serious as he could.

"I think I'll be all right," he said. "I, uh ... I think I'd like to sleep, actually. If that's okay."

At that, Dr. Estavus moved into action again, clucking her tongue as she began to shoo Steven out of the area. "That's fine, that's probably for the best! We've got you monitored, so don't worry. You won't die in your sleep or anything!"

"Dr. Estavus," Steven said, as she kept chivvying him along, "that's not really the sort of comforting thing you say to someone--"

Their voices continued arguing as they disappeared through the door, which swung gently shut behind them.

For now, at least, Leo was alone, and he couldn't decide if he was more relieved or not for that. He took a deep breath and put his face in his hands.

Good job breaking it, Leonardo Watch.


And so, in the end, it all came back to this: Klaus standing in the tiny mess that was Leo's apartment, frozen solid and wide-eyed as Leo yanked him down. It was barely even a kiss, really, despite the contact: an awkward smush of lips and noses, and Leo opened his eyes fully for it, staring straight at Klaus, like he could convey everything he was thinking with his gaze alone.

Klaus, for his part, stared right back, his whole body gone rigidly still. Despite the general ferocity of his features, the broad and unmistakably powerful lines of his entire body, and the prominent sharp jut of his lower fangs, he looked like a startled rabbit, poised on the verge of fleeing.

For a few long seconds, that was all either of them could seem to do. Leo refused to let go, seized by the half-certain fear that Klaus would run if he did, and Klaus seemed to be utterly frozen in place.

Then, though his lips didn't soften, Klaus exhaled in a sudden deep rush. He didn't move, but his body did relax slightly, until he was no longer so brittle in his stillness. The acquiescence helped settle some of Leo's nerves in turn, and he finally stepped back, though he didn't let go of Klaus's tie. He was deeply aware of how much this echoed their first kiss back in that wrecked greenhouse, but that was almost comforting, in a way. His mind was clear now. There was no haze of instinctive want clouding his thoughts. And he was still holding on.

From the look on Klaus's face, that gesture wasn't lost on him, either.

He blinked at Leo a couple of times, then cleared his throat. Carefully and slowly, watching Leo's face the entire time, he lifted a hand and settled it on his shoulder. The weight of his touch seemed both impossibly heavy and unexpectedly light.

"Leonardo," he said. "What I said before--"

"No," Leo said. His ears burned a little from the daring of it: this was the second time he'd interrupted Klaus while speaking, and now, at least, he was more in control to appreciate that thrill. "I'm not going to. Look, Mr. Klaus, I know you do a lot for all of us--"

"I'm only doing what I should, as your leader."

"--but," Leo went on, raising his voice to speak over that protest, "but, you know, you're not responsible for everything. I'm not a kid, you know."

Klaus's brows drew together. He frowned, like he couldn't understand what Leo was saying. "I'm aware of that, Leonardo."

"Well, then, if you are, you should listen to me," Leo said. "Look, it was a shitty situation, and I didn't want to do it like that."

Something darkened in Klaus's eyes. He looked tired again, almost as much as he had when Leo had first opened the door for him. "I understand, Leonardo."

Leo glared. He gave a firm jerk of Klaus's tie, since he couldn't very well shake the man. "No, I don't think you do. Look, okay, it's not like I haven't -- I mean, okay, look, it couldn't have been that great for you too, right? Having a guy confess to you while he's drugged out of his mind?"


"What I'm saying is," Leo plowed on, feeling his face starting to go hot, "you know, just ... I'm ... the shitty part wasn't actually. Doing it. Okay." He gestured weakly with his free hand, like that would be enough to encompass everything that he was trying to say. If he could convey nothing else, he wanted to be certain he managed this, but he wasn't at all certain how he was going to manage.

Klaus stared in response to that. His expression was torn, somewhere between confusion and something so close to hope that it helped to bolster Leo's own flagging confidence. He squared his shoulders at that, trying to look as fiercely determined as he could. Did having his eyes open help with that? He hoped so, at any rate.

"Look, Mr. Klaus," he said, and now he was somewhat able to channel Zapp's cockiness, all that effortless confidence that the world would move in accordance to his desires, "I like you. A lot. And I wish to god I'd had the guts to say so before any of ... that. Back there."

"Leonardo?" Klaus sounded outright confused now, and he let go of Leo's shoulder to clasp his own hands together. "I don't understand."

"I don't understand how you don't understand!" he yelped, then rocked back on his feet a little with the force of his own words, still holding onto Klaus's tie. "I mean, no, okay. Like. It's not like I'm -- I mean, I hope you knew before that I liked you. You're really an amazing person, you know? I always knew that part, I definitely liked you, but the whole thing about liking liking you is sort of ... kinda ... it's kinda new to me, too."

He offered a weak grin at that. Even to his own ears, the explanation sounded like some kind of bizarre cop-out, but it was the truth, as plainly as he could offer it. Klaus deserved to hear it, even if it ended up making Leo sound like some kind of moron, incapable of handling the weight of his own feelings.

Long seconds ticked past. Klaus just continued to stare.

Finally, he opened his mouth like he was going to say something, paused, then cleared his throat to try again. "Leonardo, I hope that you understand that this is very ... odd, to hear, at a time like this."

"It's odd, it's definitely odd," Leo said, half a groan. His shoulders slumped and he hung his head. "It's weird even to me. I mean, I'm not trying to say that we should hook up, except I'm definitely saying that we should hook up." He let himself sway forward until his forehead thunked against the broad wall of Klaus's chest. "What I'm trying to say is that I've always looked up to you, and now, I guess, I think I really ... I guess I like you more ... than ... just that."

Silence met his words. Leo curled his hand more securely around Klaus's tie. He couldn't make himself look up just yet. This was about as humiliating as when he'd thrown himself at Klaus in the greenhouse, and now he didn't even have the dubious benefit of being drugged to explain his behavior.

Crap. Crap, crap, crap. Good going, Leo, if you had any hope of fixing things before, now you've just gone and completely wrecked the whole lot of it. You really will need to move and change your name and everything now. Maybe you should go back home anyway. Michaela would be happy to see you. You could clear your head a bit, try and figure out what the hell you're trying to do with your life, maybe get your damn head on right ...

As he was thinking that, Klaus's hand settled against the back of his neck, large and warm and solid. Not for the first time, Leo felt something deep inside of him settle.

When had that become the case? No matter how anxious he was, Klaus's steadfast presence helped calm him. Even if he was still nervous or unsure, he at least felt like he could breathe this way.

"Then, Leonardo," Klaus said, his voice a low rumble that Leo could feel as well as hear, "I will tell you that I am not opposed to courting, though if we are to do that, we should do it more ... carefully than we have already."

Leo snorted at that, helplessly. Courting. Only Klaus would phrase it like that. As always, he was an utter gentleman to the end.

"Courting," he said. "Well. Yeah, I wouldn't want to just jump back into like how we did--" and that was only half a lie, because however guilty he'd felt, he'd still remembered very thoroughly the way it had felt, with Klaus jerking them both off at the same time, and stop that, Leo, before you give him the wrong idea all over again! "But I think. Yeah. I'd like to try."

Klaus murmured an agreement again, and this time he pulled away from Leo, only enough to bow down, catching Leo's hand so he could bring it up to kiss his knuckles, again like he had in that greenhouse. His other hand was tucked behind his back in proper form; this was definitely like those god awful sappy period romances that Michaela loved and made him watch over and over as kids--

--And, in all honesty, in this moment, Leo couldn't say that he minded.

"Thank you, Leonardo Watch," Klaus said. "I look forward to seeing where we go from here."

"Yeah," he said breathlessly, and he found himself grinning at that, wide and stupid and utterly helpless. "Me too."