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Climb Every Mountain

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In college for his sophomore year, Leo's roommate was a guy named Craig Goldberg. He was an okay guy: a computer science major who looked older than he really was and used that to his advantage to buy them alcohol when they were both only twenty. Craig wasn't precisely good-looking, but he was interesting to look at, with wideset blue eyes, a sharp nose, and a wide thin mouth. He was sloppier than Leo, which meant his stuff sometimes ended up encroaching over the invisible dividing line of their room, but he was a generally affable guy and never demanded a lot of attention or interaction. He could chatter nonstop for hours, but he never forced Leo to pay attention -- if anything, he always seemed to find it funny when Leo came back to a conversation about three subject changes too late, confused by how they'd gone from talking about the latest bad B movie Craig had watched with his other friends to the possibility of building a moonshine distillery in one of their cubby-sized closets.

All in all, he was a pretty decent roommate. He didn't eat Leo's leftovers, he didn't bug Leo to be more social than he wanted, and he taught Leo the finer points between ale and lager, the proper way to kick a washing machine that refused to start, and also the best way to hold his breath while giving a blowjob.

They'd only fooled around a few times before the year ended and Leo had gone home to find out his parents meant to take Michella to Liberty Island over the summer, but it had been a very educational few times.

"You just gotta remember not to rush 'em," Craig had said, when he'd come home from a date with his face flushed and hickies all over his neck and a boner that had stayed obvious no matter how much he rearranged his legs. "Like, okay, if they're into it on the first date, that's great, that's perfect, but if they're not? You gotta be polite. They say no, you go. They'll tell their friends if you don't. We're living in that sorta age, Leo, buddy."

Leo hadn't thought of him in years, to be honest, but he found himself thinking about Craig Goldberg one late October night, as he walked to his small Hellsalem's Lot apartment.

Maybe, he conceded, it had to do with the man walking next to him: Klaus had the same sort of thing going with his looks that Craig did -- not exactly handsome, but absolutely striking, and ... well. Interesting to look at, which was true even if that made it sound kind of bad.

And also that whole "first date" thing.

That had actually gone a lot better than Leo had been afraid of -- when he'd first extended the invitation, two weeks ago, hey, so, there's this photographer who's gonna have their work on display, I've got two tickets, do you wanna ... ? he'd expected a polite rejection, or -- worse than that -- a polite acceptance and an evening that dragged on with awkward and weirdly-placed tension. He knew Klaus had an appreciation of art, but he seemed like a guy who'd have old-fashioned tastes. Would he even accept photography as art, exactly?

So he'd dithered over asking and finally just blurted it out, in front of God and Zapp and everybody. He'd had approximately five seconds to consider what a mistake that was (especially the part with Zapp) and another five seconds to really, really wish he could disappear the same way Chain had when--

"I would love to," Klaus had said, and his eyes and voice had been so warm that Leo couldn't even begin to misconstrue his interest. He held out his hand, and Leo put one of the tickets into it mutely, feeling his face go bright red. There'd been a full thirty seconds where he and Klaus just looked at each other stupidly ("you were so red I thought you were gonna die, Shorthairs") before Zapp tackled Leo straight to the floor and dragged him out yelling something about lunch.

That had been a meal that Leo couldn't wait to purge from his memory entirely. Hell was Zapp Renfro trying to give you advice in between loudly talking about how that's fuckin' weird, you and the Boss, he's gonna break you in half, you know? also no homo but daaaaaamn. He'd never been happier to have a meal cut short by a rampaging herd of eight-legged sheep.

(Where did these things even COME from?!)

So. That had been two weeks ago. And in spite of all of Leo's anxiety and second-guessing, at precisely six on the dot, Klaus had shown up at his doorstep, dressed ... well, like he always did, but that meant he was both sharp and classy -- and had smiled at Leo when he'd answered the door. He'd even offered his arm like a goddamn gentleman, and even though Leo had been the one to invite him, he couldn't help but be charmed by that.

His other worries had melted away quickly too, once they arrived at the gallery. Klaus had been both attentive and interested, and even if he (admittedly) knew very little about photography, he had a good eye for composition and light and color. Half an hour in, they were chatting more than any other group in the gallery. For someone who was always polite nearly to the point of stiffness, he was ... not necessarily more talkative than usual, but he was more animated now, warm and brilliant and surprisingly funny and-- and ...

And good god, Leonardo Watch, he thought, you've got it fucking bad.

After they'd left the gallery, Klaus had offered to walk him home. Leo almost refused -- even this late at night, he was used to taking all manner of squirrely shortcuts to avoid muggers, and a good seventy-five percent of the time he was successful.

On the other hand, the conversation had been nice, the company had been nicer, and Leo had all-seeing eyes which meant that even when it was relatively dark outside he could still see very clearly just how intensely green Klaus's eyes were.

So he said yes, and while the walk home was quieter than when they'd been in the gallery, Leo found himself feeling bubbly and warm with all sorts of good feelings.

And thinking about Craig Goldberg, whom he'd fallen out of touch with entirely after that fateful summer. Craig had also been a large guy compared to Leo, though Klaus would likely dwarf him. He'd played sports, so he'd been pretty fit, and his hands had been broad and warm.

Leo glanced aside. Klaus had his hands in his pockets. Of course. He resisted the urge to sigh. It wasn't like he didn't know what Klaus's hands looked like, but at least for the moment, he was saved from the embarrassment of reaching out when his efforts might be rebuffed ...

Distracted as he was, Leo ran smack into his own door.

He bounced off with a yelp, and immediately Klaus was there. And that was one way to get to feel what Klaus's hands were like -- huge, for one, and definitely warm enough that Leo could feel it through his COAT, not just his shirt -- helping to steady him. Klaus was a bit wide-eyed, not quite fussing, though he was clearly concerned.

"Leonardo, you're all right? I'm sorry, I thought you had realized--"

"No," he said. His voice came out nasal and pinched, and after a beat he moved his hands. Good, no blood. "No, I was just sort of ... distracted ... sorry."

"Distracted?" Klaus cocked his head. He looked almost nervous, Leo thought, and for perhaps the first time, he wondered: how long had it been since Klaus had been on a date? From the bits and pieces he'd heard from both Klaus and Steven, they'd been busy even before the Great Collapse and the formation of Libra. A Fang Hunter's life probably wasn't the best for any kind of relationship, unless you took the sort of wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am route Zapp did.

Leo couldn't even begin to imagine.

He managed a small laugh, embarrassed, and rubbed the back of his neck. "I was, uh -- I was just thinking about how ... I had a lot of fun. I didn't really want to think about it ending."

Which was not the smoothest thing he could have said, but it seemed to be the right one: Klaus's eyes went wide, then soft. The lighting was bad, but there was definitely a blush on his face, all the way to his ears. When he coughed and cleared his throat, it was more of a low rumble than anything, and that got Leo's heart pounding. For a moment, it wasn't that the lighting was shitty and in dire need of replacement -- there were all sorts of interesting shadows, and they made Klaus look even more interesting.

"Leonardo," Klaus said. "I understand that this is a bit ... sudden, but -- if you don't mind --"

"I don't," Leo said, quickly and maybe a little too loud. If he kept it up, one of his neighbors was going to complain to the landlord. At that precise moment, he found he didn't really care. "I don't mind, whatever you want, Mr. Klaus." Is this where I rip my shirt open and throw myself over as an offering? Well, I'm not wearing anything with buttons, so that'd be a pain, but ...

"If I may, then, a kiss?"

"Yes," Leo said again, as fast as he could, almost tripping over the words. "Absolutely. Please do."

And while I'm at it, let me turn in every single last scrap of dignity I have. God, what is even wrong with me.

Klaus leaned in. He outright radiated warmth, and the sheer nearness of him was enough to make Leo's mouth go dry and his throat tighten up. Some distant part of him gibbered in near-panic, oh shit, oh shit, I really DO like this guy, when and how did that happen, shit, don't you dare pussy out of inviting him inside, Leonardo Watch, you can do it, you can--

"Excuse me," Klaus said, and ... took Leo's hand.

And lifted it.

And kissed the knuckles. His mouth was surprisingly soft, despite its stern edge, and Leo could feel the faintest hard pressure from the fangs. It was actually surprisingly nice. He could feel a sharp, almost electric jolt that went from his hand to straight between his legs. He'd always liked hand stuff.

Then Klaus straightened and let go.

"What," Leo said.

Klaus ducked his head slightly at that. His ears were bright red now, and he was actually fidgeting slightly. That in and of itself was enough to make Leo stare, and he couldn't tell whether he was more annoyed or charmed in that moment.

"I apologize for being too forward," Klaus said. "If that was too much--"

"... No," Leo said. He resisted the urge to sigh, or rub his face with one hand; instead he smiled as widely and comfortingly as he could. It seemed to work, from the way Klaus brightened. "I didn't mind at all. Good night, Mr. Klaus."

"Good night, Leonardo," Klaus said, and his voice was doing that unfairly warm thing again, so deep that Leo could feel it in his toes. He'd never believed that could even be a thing until this second. "Sleep well. I, ah, I hope that you and I might--"

"Let's do dinner," Leo said. "Soon. Tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow is not good," Klaus said, and he sounded deeply regretful. "... But, the day after?"

"Yes," Leo said. "Okay. Cool. Day after tomorrow. You, me, dinner. We'll go to Artie's or something. Good night, Mr. Klaus."

You already said that, god, you're too old to be doing this stupid teenager thing, didn't you get over that when, you know, you stopped being a teenager--

"Good night again, Leonardo," Klaus said, and his eyes and voice were even warmer at that, and probably that was the way he looked at someone HE really liked, maybe when they were in bed and rolling around after sex and-- and god. Godddd. Leo sort of hated everything a little in that second. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Yeah," Leo said, dumbly, then fumbled for his keys. "Yeah, uh. See you tomorrow, Mr. Klaus."

He got the door unlocked through some minor miracle and stumbled inside. He waited until he heard the sound of Klaus's footsteps retreating, then dropped his keys and slapped both hands hard over his face.

"Ow," he said.

That did not actually help the boner, but at least it was a distraction.

"If I gave myself a black eye, I fucking swear ..."

Leo sighed and headed straight for bed. A shower might've been nice, but for the moment he just wanted to sleep.

After all, the sooner he did that, the sooner it'd be tomorrow, and the sooner it was tomorrow, the sooner it'd be the day after tomorrow, and--

Oh, you have got it fucking bad, Watch. Good job there.

Leo tipped face-first onto his bed and lay there as still as he could until he fell asleep.

Chapter Text

It took six weeks, five full dates, and six half-dates (which he was only counting as half because they only lasted for an hour -- a meal here, a coffee there -- other than a whole evening, like the others) before they made any sort of progress.

Not that Leo was counting or anything.

The problem, ultimately, was one of the things that was so good about Klaus: the fact that he was a gentleman, utterly.

Entirely.

Completely and thoroughly.

And it seemed like gentlemen had a certain code of honor that meant you asked for kisses (even if they were on the hand) and you made no moves to do more and you paid for all of the outings -- well, okay, Leo liked that one because he still waffled between broke and not quite as broke most days -- and you maintained a polite distance between your body and that of your date at all times.

Not only that, but if you found yourself somehow invited inside for coffee -- coffee, wink-wink, nudge-nudge -- you somehow ended up getting that coffee and there'd be more conversation, and while that was all actually genuinely interesting and fun, it meant that you left sometimes as late as two in the morning and nothing had happened.

More to the point, you left the apartment. Left. Instead of being passed out because of enough enthusiastic sex to annoy the neighbors. Maybe you shook hands first, or you touched briefly -- maybe, if you were being especially daring, you'd hug! -- but that was it. That was it.

Leo was about ready to tear his hair out.

The thing was, he didn't really have that much of a sex drive. Or at laest, he'd always thought so. It was fun, and he wouldn't necessarily turn it down ... but he didn't really seek it out, either. He wouldn't even say yes all the time. There'd been more than once when his roommate had come to flop on his bed and whine piteously, and Leo had shoved him off with a foot. Don't you have a girlfriend, he'd say, and yes, Craig would whine, but she's not HERE, now, is she?

That sort of mindset hadn't ever made much sense to Leo. With his own loose string of girlfriends, maintained off and on over the years, he'd never physically craved their presence so much that he'd harass innocent roommates attempting to get their homework done for once.

With all those girls, though, and the boys as well, it had at least been easy.

Do you want to, he'd say -- or maybe he'd just ask it through body language, leaning in close, maybe smiling a little, sliding his hand across a leg or a back.

And then they'd either say yes, either aloud or by responding to his touch, or else they'd say no or lean away and either it would happen or it wouldn't. Easy as that.

Klaus, though -- either the man was just too pure for this world and didn't notice the signals Leo was trying to put off -- hello! He was just short of hiring an entire goddamn brass band, here! -- or else he DID notice and was ignoring them.

... That wasn't really great for his ego either, honestly.

The truth was, honestly, Leo didn't really mind that they hadn't gotten that far. Not really. It was a kick to see how outgoing Klaus could get, when he was removed from the protocols of the office. Klaus as a boss was unfailingly straightforward and honest, polite to a fault, and someone that Leo felt surprisingly comfortable trusting entirely with his safety.

Klaus as a person, though, was still polite and honest -- but he was also warm and surprisingly funny, and he was so easily pleased by the smallest things: sparrows (regular and Beyondian strains) squabbling over breadcrumbs, a tiny yellow flower that had grown its way up through sidewalk cracks, a little girl with fat twin braids running through a park with her dog bounding after her. He noticed things that were normally so small and fleeting that most people ignored them, and they always made him so happy.

And as Leo got to know person-Klaus more and more, the more he had the vaguely sinking feeling that he wanted to keep getting to know him, and the more he wanted to see that small self-conscious smile all the time.

After that ... well, wasn't it logical? You fell in l-- you became really fond of someone, you got to know them better, you realized you wanted to be with them forev-- a really, really long time, and then ... when one person liked another person a lot -- like, a LOT lot -- they sometimes wanted to be more than friends, which meant more than just long walks and meals together and going to movies and shows and talking until two a.m. if not later, and--

For crying out loud, they hadn't even kissed yet. Not once! Not unless you counted that once on the hand, and while Leo was willing to let that half count, but six weeks!

SIX. WEEKS.

Six weeks, five whole dates, six half-dates, and a bunch more aborted attempts, and Leo had had enough. No more. He was going to make them take the next step, whether or not Klaus liked it.

... well, no, if he didn't like it, Leo knew he would probably apologize approximately five hundred times before slinking off to sulk, but the point! The point was that he was going! To make! This happen!

With that in mind, Leo spent the day leading up to their seventh date doing his best to work up the proper nerve. It was up to him to advance them, because if he didn't, they'd probably be stuck in this odd dance for longer. Six months? A year? Who even knew. Not that Klaus wasn't worth it, and if he wanted to wait, Leo would wait, but ... but ...

But damnit, he had to at least try.

At the end of the date, though, in front of Leo's door, he very nearly chickened out. Klaus looked so utterly sincere -- innocent, somehow! -- that Leo felt outright dirty for even considering it. For all that he was such a big buff guy, in this thing, Leo could barely read him at all. Did he want more? Did he even think these were dates? Oh god, what if this had all been in Leo's head all along, what if he was only pretending to be interested, what if he was just doing this because he was a good person and wanted to be a good friend and--

--and Leo thought a bit guiltily about all the other people he'd dated over the years, and thought, I should really call up who I can and apologize for me. God. This was what he deserved for being the most disinterested boyfriend ever for years. Karma was real, and it had just taken a huge bite out of his ass.

"Leonardo?" Klaus cocked his head. His brows drew together. He looked more worried than anything, and Leo realized he must have just been staring for the past few seconds, almost vibrating with intent, but all without saying a word. "Is something the matter?"

"Er," he said, and, "No, no, just -- come here a moment, okay--"

And before he could lose his nerve he stretched up onto his toes -- god even then, there was a huge gap between them, how the hell was this even going to work -- and grabbed Klaus's tie. It was the first thing he could reach and think of, and it had the benefit of being actually around his neck, which at least helped illustrate what he wanted. Leo tugged, and after a second Klaus leaned down as directed. His eyes were wide behind his glasses. There was a definite blush on his face, growing darker by the second, and again Leo contemplated how much he felt like a dirty old man.

"Leonardo," Klaus said, and Leo answered by kissing him.

It was actually kind of awkward at first. He wobbled a little on his toes, and Klaus reached out automatically to steady him. His hands were huge and ridiculously warm. There was also the issue of those fangs -- Klaus's entire lower jaw seemed to be set in a permanent state of jutting forward, and his lips were thin and soft. In all honesty, Leo couldn't even really call what they were doing kissing; it was just an awkward mash of mouth against mouth.

When he pulled back to take a breath, though, Klaus's expression was wondering -- almost awed -- and he stared at Leo like nothing else in the world was ever so amazing. He was still blushing, but he was smiling a little now, too, incredulous in the good way.

Leo could relate. A beat later he found himself smiling back, wide and stupid and just outright happier than he could ever remember being in his whole ... life, actually.

God, he really did have it bad.

Hey, can I do that again? he almost asked, but leaned in to kiss Klaus again instead. From the low rumble he could feel as much as hear, it seemed like the right thing. Leo rocked on his toes to settle in a slightly more comfortable position, and Klaus's hands settled more comfortably on his hips, and this time Leo let himself be daring enough to try with tongue. He felt a shudder go through Klaus at the first touch, but a moment later he yielded, parting his lips. The movement dragged his fangs against Leo's mouth in interesting ways, and he could feel himself breaking into goosebumps -- actual goosebumps! -- at that. Apparently he was into that sort of thing. Who knew?

He filed that away for later, letting go of Klaus's tie to take hold of his face instead, cupping it to both hold it still and to brace himself. He was careful and slow about it -- it had been a long time for both of them, he was certain -- but also it was just nice. He wanted to revel in it, which had happened approximately never before. All of Klaus's teeth were just a little sharp, he discovered, and he was as shy with his tongue as he was with the rest of him -- but also like the rest of him, it was definitely strong, and Leo could tell the instant Klaus went from hesitant passivity to being an active participant.

He was still gentle about it. That was good. Klaus was both big and strong enough that he probably could snap Leo in half without trying. And while there was some appeal in that, as a mental exercise, Leo didn't actually want to be broken. Maybe roughed up a little, that'd be nice, but that was definitely something that could wait.

Even gentle, there was a definite intensity to it. To be honest, Leo wasn't sure if Klaus could do anything without some degree of over the top intensity. And he definitely liked the sounds of that.

Klaus made a noise that started low, rumbling in his chest. One hand slid from Leo's hip to the small of his back, instead, drawing him closer with almost no effort at all. Leo's own hands crept up into Klaus's hair, which was surprisingly soft -- like some strange animal pelt, the top was glossy and slick with product, but just under that first layer it was thicker and softer, and Leo just wanted to dig his fingers in deeper and deeper.

On a moment's impulse, Leo bit Klaus's lower lip -- gently, carefully, and all of his teeth were blunt, but he felt the jerk go through Klaus's body before he made another sound that was an outright growl. There was another distinct shift as Klaus surged forward, now crowding Leo up against his own door and kissing him hard and relentless. He was still careful with his teeth, but Leo barely noticed. His head spun -- possibly as much from lack of air as a weirdly giddy sense of joy. Yeah, okay. Okay. He could do this. He was all for this--

One of Klaus's fangs snagged on Leo's lip and he tasted blood.

Almost immediately, Klaus jerked back, and in a heartbeat Leo went from being completely surrounded by Klaus to staring at him on the other side of the narrow hallway, the both of them breathing hard and rough.

Klaus's eyes were slightly wild and his glasses had slipped so low down his nose they were in danger of possibly sliding off. His face was nearly as red as his hair. Leo was reasonably sure he wasn't much better off -- he'd dressed nicer for this date than he normally did, but those clothes were badly rumpled, and his chest was heaving with the effort of breathing. The side of his mouth itched, and when he touched his own tongue to it, there was a faint sting.

"Leonardo," Klaus said. He barely sounded like himself, his voice ragged and almost impossibly low. There was a long pause as he swallowed, hard, the movement visible in his throat, and Leo found his eyes drawn almost helplessly to that. "I'm. I'm very sorry. I shouldn't have let that--"

"No," Leo said, almost too fast, definitely too breathless. "Uh, no, I actually kind of -- that was really -- I liked it?"

"You did?" Klaus's expression shifted into one of such poleaxed surprise Leo almost laughed. "But I hurt you."

"It doesn't even sting anymore," Leo lied. It did, but in comparison to some of the knocks he'd gotten since joining Libra -- hell, he had actual battle scars from just tussling for lunch with Zapp. "It's really fine, I promise."

Klaus took a deep breath. He unpeeled himself from the far wall finally, coming back towards Leo, but his expression was still intensely serious. There was more than just that scrape going on here, Leo knew, and as much as he wanted to babble apologies or ask questions, he kept carefully quiet as Klaus approached. His heart was pounding so loudly in his ears that he wondered if he'd even be able to hear if Klaus said anything to him, no matter how close he was.

Instead, though, Klaus lifted a hand and very carefully cupped Leo's cheek. It was on the same side as the scrape on his lip. For a moment Klaus's gaze flicked down to stare at that, and then he looked up to meet Leo's eyes again.

"I'm sorry," he said again, and leaned down.

It should have been more intimidating, probably; even as fond (hah, fond) of him as Leo had become, there were still some things about Klaus that could be very easily overwhelming. It had been one thing while he'd been distracted by the kiss; it was another entirely to actually watch Klaus move slowly, gently, and unmistakably into his personal space.

Leo's breath hitched, but all Klaus did was very gently kiss the side of his mouth, over the scrape, and then pull back. His expression was regretful.

"Good night, Leonardo," he said. "I had a lovely time. I would like to do it again, sometime."

"Uh," Leo said faintly. His heart was still pounding hard -- maybe harder than when they'd actually been making out, and how weird was that? It took more effort than he expected to keep his knees from simply buckling. "Yes. Yes, absolutely."

Some of the concern finally faded from Klaus's face. His touch softened but didn't drop away entirely. Actually, he looked outright relieved, and Leo made a mental note to ask about that later. If he was going to freak out every time he got Leo with those fangs -- maybe he'd had an ex who couldn't take it? Their loss.

"Thank you," Klaus said. "Good night, Leonardo."

"... G'night," Leo said, and watched Klaus go.

It wasn't until he heard the door downstairs close -- the walls here were thin -- before the romantic buzz faded from his awareness. Very slowly, he tilted his head to look down at himself.

The other thing about these clothes -- they were pretty good at leaving nothing to detail when you had a hardon.

As courtesy to his neighbors, Leo went inside before he started banging his head against the door.

Chapter Text

"Maybe try tying him up," Chain said.

Because she said it before she finished rematerializing, Leo lifted his head to look around before he found her. She appeared on the head of the couch, her legs tucked up to her chest and her arms folded on her knees. She didn't look directly at Leo, but there was no one else in the office -- Klaus and Steven had been called away to some fancy lunch thing, and Leo had begged off going with Zapp and Zed for once. Gilbert might be around somewhere, but Leo hadn't seen him so far today.

(Which really didn't mean anything when it came to Gilbert.)

"What," he said.

"Tie him up," Chain said again. She slid off the head of the couch and onto the seat, reaching to steal his bag of chips. Leo made a noise of protest. Chain met his eyes with a completely mild expression and crunched through two chips before she deigned to elaborate: "He's a big guy. You probably want something strong."

"Chain, no."

"Leo, yes," she said, and ate another chip. "Just try it. You both might like it."

"What about you, huh?" he grumbled. "You and Mr. Steven--"

"Are a completely different thing," Chain said. "This isn't about me. This is about you."

"I don't want to hear advice from someone who can't tell her boss that she wants to jump his bonnnn--oof."

Chain removed her elbow from Leo's solar plexus and sat back, casually popping another chip into her mouth. "I think he'd like it, honestly. He's always so in control most of the time. Maybe he just wants you to take it yourself."

Leo rubbed his gut and gave her a mournful look. She ignored it. "I really don't think I want to just do that, though ... I'd rather he at least be in on it, you know? For one thing, if he doesn't want it, he could break me in half."

"Probably," Chain allowed. "All right. Then keep that in mind for the future."

"The future doesn't help me NOW."

"I gave you my advice," Chain said. She stood up.

"Hey! Wait a moment, those are my--"

She vanished.

"--chips," Leo finished with a sigh. He stared at where she'd been for a moment, then sighed and tilted sideways onto the couch. Scratch that one.

+++

"Zapp," Leo said, "do you think -- never mind."

+++

Two hours after repeatedly putting Zapp off, Leo finally managed to get Zed alone.

"Look," he said, "I'm really really sorry about this, I know this is probably too much information, but also you're the only person in this whole organization who isn't sort of crazy."

Zed blinked very slowly. "I'm flattered, I think."

"I don't know what to DO," Leo said. He didn't whine. He was too mature and calm for that. He might have grumbled it, and it might have been a higher pitch than usual, but it was absolutely not a whine. "I just, I keep trying to tell Mr. Klaus that I'm interested? Like, INTERESTED interested? You, me, let's do it? And it just keeps not happening."

"Er," said Zed.

"Do you think it's me? Maybe he really doesn't want it? I wish he'd just tell me, then. I mean, I'd be sad, but if he doesn't want it, I don't mind! I just want to know!"

"Leo ..."

"I just keep," Leo said, and made vague shaking gestures with both hands. "And he keeps," and then he made a more shooing motion. "But he keeps being like--" a thumbs up, "so what am I supposed to think?"

"... Have you considered just asking him with your words, Leo?"

"Hah?" Leo stared at him.

"Just ask him, with your words," Zed said. His tone was patient, but one finger tapped against the tabletop, fast and deliberate. "If signs and gestures aren't working out for you, maybe you should try that."

Leo was quiet for a long moment.

"... anyway," he said, at last, "do you think I should try tying him up?"

Zed sighed and put his face in his hands.

+++

"Heyyyyy, Shorthairs, c'mon, tell me what the fuck you wanted--"

"No time, gotta run, see you later, Zapp!"

+++

"Mr. Steven," Leo said.

Steven looked up. There was a small twitch in one of his eyebrows and his fingers were white-knuckled on his phone. Leo had heard a little about it before, from Klaus -- something about grumblings from organizations outside of Hellsalem's Lot, and something about some higher-up Beyondian dignitary that wanted to visit the city, all something something something that translated to a lot of paperwork for Steven.

"Yes, young man?" Steven said. His voice was cold and hollow. Leo wondered when was the last time he'd actually slept. There were three separate coffee mugs by his arm in various degrees of full. A small wasteland of Subway sandwich wrappers occupied the areas around stacks of paperwork. He tried to smile, but it was more of a baring of teeth. His hands were shaking a little. "May I help you?"

Leo considered his options. He knew that Steven and Klaus had been friends for a long time -- longer than Hellsalem's Lot as a city had even existed. No matter what the situation, they worked with a sort of flawless synchronization that Leo envied in his more petty moments; they were the sort of close where Leo had actually wondered if THEY were dating for a few months.

("No," Klaus had said to that. "Steven and I want very different things out of our lives; I am grateful for his friendship, but we have never sought anything more.")

"Never mind," Leo said.

+++

"Leooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo."

"For the last fucking time, Zapp, it was nothing! Nothing! No! Thing! Get OFF me already!"

+++

Hello, Michella. Do you think it's possible for a guy to die of sheer frustration? Or, if I went crazy, would you at least visit me in the hospital?

+++

Hello, Leo,

Your sister instructed me to link you this video. I think it's her way of saying "don't give up."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoCPuhhE6dw

Good luck.

--Toby.

Chapter Text

"I'm off," Steven said. "Young man, make sure he doesn't stay too late."

"Sir, yessir," Leo said smartly, and got a very gentle whack on the back of the head for it. The gesture didn't do more than mess up his hair, which was ALREADY a mess, so hah! Joke was on him.

"Klaus, don't work too hard," Steven added. He was smiling as he said it, and he even sounded friendly. Most of the paperwork had vanished from his desk, either migrated to Klaus's or vanished into the ether, and that seemed to be directly related to his mood. "It's Friday. Enjoy yourself a little."

"Mm," Klaus said, without looking up from whatever report he was reading. "Good night, Steven. Have a good weekend."

"I'll have one if they let me have one," Steven said. "This city sleeps even less than New York did." He turned away and met Leo's eyes for a moment. And when he did, he very deliberately smiled, winked, and glanced at Klaus before he headed out the door. Leo stared after him for a few seconds.

Okay. Okay. If that wasn't him giving me his blessing somehow then I'm worse at people than I thought. And I don't think I'm that bad.

He still waited a few minutes -- at least long enough to get to a save point -- before he finally set his game aside and considered his options.

One, it was a Friday night, and though he'd technically been done hours ago, he'd spent the afternoon kicking around the Libra office. He'd spent some of it helping Gilbert out with the tidying, but for the most part he'd kept himself tucked up on one end of the couch, playing video games and watching Klaus.

For all that the man was a beast when he was actually "out in the field," so to speak, he was -- to Leo's surprise -- equally compelling to watch when he was at his desk quietly working. Was that weird? That was probably weird. Oh well.

Maybe it was because Klaus was graceful, no matter what he did. He always held his head high and proud and he worked with steadfast dignity. It was that focus, again -- even when it wasn't turned on Leo, it was compelling to watch.

... On the other hand, Steven was the last holdout in the office. Even Gilbert had explicitly said he'd be going upstairs to make dinner for the night, which Klaus had acknowledged with a distracted nod and grunt. The only two people in the office were Klaus and Leo himself.

Leo got to his feet. Klaus glanced up briefly then back to his paper. He barely seemed to register that -- just the automatic notation and dismissal of Leo as a threat. The thought should have rankled, but Leo actually felt a little proud about that. He was trusted, for all that he couldn't actually fight to save his own life. Literally.

He padded over and around Klaus's desk to stand next to him. Klaus finally put the papers down and leaned back in his chair, looking up. "Leonardo? Are you leaving?"

He sounded mostly just curious, but there was -- just barely, only there if you were paying attention super closely -- the smallest echo of disappointment in his voice as well. It was the sort of thing that came from, I understand why you wouldn't want to stick around in an office with nothing to do when I'm so busy, I do not blame you for wanting to go, and while I enjoy your company I won't ask you to stay.

Leo was getting pretty good at reading those sorts of things. Klaus was a very subtle man in many ways; he was never passive-aggressive about it, but he had certain unspoken cues that he was always happy about Leo noticing. So in answer to all of that, Leo just shrugged casually and leaned into Klaus's space, trying to play it as cool as possible. It wasn't his smoothest move, but it worked: he could see the mental gears turn and adjust as Klaus registered that move. Once he did, the tips of his ears went just a little red. Nice.

"Nah," Leo said, with as much bravado as he could muster. "I was just curious about what you were doing. It's kinda late."

"Oh," Klaus said. There was a definite fluster in his eyes and voice. The blush that started at his ears began to spread. "It's all, it's only paperwork, Leonardo. Libra cannot be sustained on physical action alone. I'm sorry. It will be a few hours yet. You are welcome to go upstairs, if you'd like; I think that Gilbert would be pleased that someone would be there to eat his food before it becomes too cold."

"Yeah, uh," Leo said, and before his nerve could utterly fail him, appalled at his own audacity, he leaned in even closer, until his forehead clonked (gently!) against Klaus's. "Maybe you could take a break for a bit?"

"A ... break?" Klaus blinked slowly at that. Maybe he was only familiar with "break" in terms of physically smashing things. With a work ethic like his, Leo would believe it. On the other hand, he wasn't trying to push Leo off, and it only took a few seconds before his hands lifted, fluttered, then settled on Leo's sides, light and careful. Yessssss. "What do you mean?"

"I-I mean, you know," Leo said, and god, now was not the time to start choking. Now was the WORST time, get it together, Leonardo Watch. "Maybe just ... you know. Spend a little time with me?"

It had sounded cooler in his own head, but he couldn't even be that annoyed at himself, because Klaus's eyes softened and warmed, and he was still blushing, but he looked happy instead of concerned, now.

"I would love to," he said. "I'm sorry I have been so busy as of late. By next week, it should all be taken care of. We could do something bigger, then."

Bigger, Leo thought, and he felt almost guilty for how quickly his mind went there. Bigger how. Bigger okay. Sure, I like bigger.

Aloud, he said, "I'd like that. Actually, I'd like that a lot. But about right now--"

Klaus chuckled, low and deep in his chest. His fingers flexed briefly against Leo's sides, warm and solid strong bands of pressure. It was unfair how that little could make him goosebumpy and weak-kneed. "Is that your way of saying I should eat, Leonardo?"

"I'm just saying," Leo huffed, and he let his knees bend enough to hit the edge of Klaus's chair, using that for support, "you've been doing this literally all day. Did you even have lunch?"

"Steven brought me a sandwich," Klaus said. "It was from that one place he likes so much."

"That's barely food, Mr. Klaus," Leo said. He squirmed a little, practically inchworming his way further onto the chair. He wasn't quite in Klaus's lap at this point, but it would only take a little more. "Don't believe the advertisements. They're crap."

Klaus laughed again, quietly, and this time when his fingers tightened on Leo's waist, he absolutely, without a doubt, pulled Leo in closer, to be seated more fully on him. "Do you not like them, then?"

"Eh, they're okay," Leo said. He was distracted by adjusting himself, bracing his hands on Klaus's shoulders and then sliding more comfortably in place. It felt a little silly; he hadn't been in someone's lap since he was a kid, and that had a very different context from now. "But if I had a choice between them and Gilbert's cooking, I know what I'd pick."

"He will be flattered to hear that," Klaus said. He leaned back carefully in his chair now, now urging Leo to move with him, and even if it was still silly, it was oddly comfortable. There was just enough sunlight left that it came through the slats with soft warmth and made the office almost glow. Klaus was smiling, relaxed and easy, and Leo had a moment of surprised comfort. God's in his heaven, all's right in the world.

"I've told him before," Leo said, and very daringly he reached to pull Klaus's glasses off, folding them before he set them aside. "I'll probably tell him again. You know. Later."

"Later, of course," Klaus said, and tipped his face up for Leo to lean in and kiss him.

This part was familiar now, almost easy. They'd practiced enough times after that first night. Klaus had almost balked at first, but Leo had been persistent, and maybe a bit overly vocal about it, and even if it wasn't all of what he wanted, he admitted that he could forget that pretty easily like this. Klaus was still absolutely careful with his fangs -- almost outright delicate -- but he was still definitely into it. That was the important part.

There was a whole line of people who'd wreck him if he hurt Klaus, but Leo would be the first. All of his other relationships had been almost entirely physical, and that was what he knew what to work with, but the longer he was involved with Klaus, the less he wanted only that.

... which wasn't to say he didn't still want more, but hell, making out was nice. Klaus brought out a sort of romantic streak in him that Leo had never suspected in himself, and he found that he actually liked that. It made him more thoughtful, at least, which was a thing that Michella had always rolled her eyes at him about.

Leo stretched himself out as best he could, on top of Klaus without simply sliding off. He curled one hand behind Klaus's neck, and the other he hooked into Klaus's tie, tugging enough to loosen it juuuust a little. There was a surprisingly soft little triangle of skin on Klaus's throat, right behind where the knot usually was, and Leo found if he stroked a fingertip along that line of skin, Klaus would shiver and move into the touch, like a cat. For just that moment, all seven feet and three hundred pounds of muscle was pliant under Leo's hands.

He was, he was learning, really very glad of Klaus's penchant for ties.

And Klaus, he noticed, had an odd fondness for the baggy clothes that he wore as well. There had never been a point of him ever tucking his shirts in, so it was an easy thing for someone to slip a hand up there to touch the warm skin of his back. It was almost ticklish at first, with how gentle Klaus was about it, and the very first time he'd apologized profusely before Leo had simply grabbed his hand and shoved it back up his shirt.

Now, though, Klaus didn't need any encouragement at all. Once Leo was settled comfortably, his hand slid up and into place, warm and steady, and stroking in slow rhythmic passes down the length of Leo's back. It was soothing and exciting both, just firm enough not to be ticklish, and slow enough that he could feel how exploratory it was. Klaus liked to linger over his ribs -- less prominent than they had been -- and the wings of his hips, tracing along the line of the waistband of Leo's pants, but always choosing to go up again instead of lower.

Today, on a half-conscious whim, Leo arched his back further into that touch, and as he did, the tie around Klaus's neck loosened entirely. He must have been tugging at it himself earlier in the day. The thought made Leo's face grow hot. It also gave him some freedom to grope, blind as it was, for the top few buttons of Klaus's shirt, fingering one, then the next, until he got them undone. That exposed just enough of a gap for Leo to squirm his hand in, spreading his fingers wide as he could across previously-secret skin.

Was it stupid to think like that? It felt like it, a little. It was only Klaus's chest, and just the upper part of it -- but that was along with the surprisingly delicate lines of his collarbone and the beginning swell of his pecs. There was less hair than Leo had expected, but what was there was wiry and softer than he'd anticipated. He pushed up onto his knees, finally pulling back from the kiss. Klaus made a low noise of protest, actually mouthing at the air before he seemed to register Leo had moved. His pupils were blown so wide they were almost black, with just a thin ring of smokey dark green around it. Leo could see himself reflected clearly, flushed and panting with effort.

"Sorry," he stammered, though he wasn't really sure why -- he wasn't sorry, really: he'd had a brief taste, and it reminded him entirely of how much more he did still want. "Sorry, just let me--"

He ducked his head a little, because he didn't think he could look Klaus in the eye and not kiss him again. His hands shook a little as he got a few more buttons open, and holy shit if Klaus wasn't cut like a Greek god, which was a phrase Leo had HEARD before, but never really believed until now. For a moment Leo just stared, his head swimming vaguely, and then he leaned down, pressing his lips to the dip of Klaus's collarbone.

He remained frozen like that for a few seconds. His back ached a little and he couldn't really bring himself to care. Like this, he could feel the rapid beating of Klaus's heart, and the roughness of his breathing, and it was a thrill, knowing he was responsible for that. Klaus von Reinherz could probably tear a building down with his bare hands, and here he was, shaking and yielding to Leo without protest. It was the sort of thing that could make you dizzy with power.

"Leonardo," Klaus murmured. It barely sounded like a word, with how close Leo was; it rumbled and purred and he had a moment of confused wonder -- is that really my name? -- before Klaus's hand smoothed down his back and this time slid lower, to fully cup his ass and drag him even closer. There was a pure moment of breathless adrenaline at that, because god Klaus was strong and there was knowing that and experiencing it, and it took Leo a rather embarrassingly long time to register what he felt.

... well, to be entirely fair to himself, Klaus was hard all over, unlike Leo, who still had a bit of scrawny paunch going on. Once he realized, though, he did just about the only thing he could have expected himself to do in a situation like that: he wrapped his arms around Klaus's neck and he ground down against that hot, hard pressure. It made him whimper, but Klaus growled, low and guttural. He didn't even sound human anymore.

It should have been frightening. Leo couldn't actually say, in all honesty, that it wasn't -- it was just also deeply compelling, too. He wanted to hear it again. He wanted to hear more. Part of him was still very aware that they were in the office, and it was probably going to be embarrassing and uncomfortable to get upstairs to clean up, but that was only a small part -- a small, infinitesimally tiny part -- because the rest of him didn't care. Klaus was rocking under him, a steady motion that was picking up both speed and intensity, and Leo thought, we're gonna do this, we're just going to actually do this in a CHAIR in the OFFICE and I don't even care, I should care, I'm pretty sure Klaus is going to care, and that only made him rock his hips faster. There was something almost freeing about it.

Leo ducked his head a little, avoiding the kiss that Klaus aimed for and pressing his face to Klaus's neck instead. The smell of his cologne was stronger here, mingled with sweat and musk. He could feel the rapidfire beating of Klaus's pulse here, and after a second the temptation was too great: he opened his mouth and bit down gently. There was a pleasant give at that; the muscles of Klaus's neck were as strong as anything else, but the skin was soft, and it was kind of stupidly easy to stick with that, sucking a bruise there.

The noise Klaus made was much softer, lost and wanting. A tremor went through him, small and helpless. Leo let out a shuddering little breath and squirmed himself closer, letting Klaus's hands on his ass guide the rhythm of their rocking hips. It would be so easy to just--

Someone coughed.

They broke apart so fast that Leo fell off the chair. It was less bad than it could have been, since Klaus caught his arm, but Leo still kicked automatically, which meant Klaus had to move for that, which meant that Leo sort of slid to the ground instead of hitting it that hard and fast.

It was the little things.

Gilbert stood on the other side of the desk. His expression was aggressively warm and pleasant through the layers of his bandages. Leo tried to hold as still as possible as Klaus pulled the open ends of his shirt closed with one hand. He said something to Gilbert in German, and it sounded so utterly abashed, like a little kid who'd been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Or with it down his boyfriend's pants, Leo thought, as he slid a little more onto the floor.

"If you're ready," Gilbert said, in English. Leo had the feeling that was mostly for his benefit. "Dinner is prepared."

He bowed to the both of them, then turned and quietly walked out of the room. The door didn't even make a sound as he opened and closed it, which Leo found oddly impressive. No matter how careful he tried to be, it always creaked when he used it.

For a moment they just sat there quietly.

"... So," Leo said.

"I'm so sorry, Leonardo," Klaus said. When Leo lifted his head enough to look, he was still blushing furiously, his fingers clearly fumbling as he tried to redo the buttons of his shirt. "I shouldn't have been -- I got a bit carried away."

"Carried away," Leo said.

"I apologize," Klaus said again. He gave up on his buttons finally and just leaned down, reaching out. Leo took his hand and let himself be pulled up. It was more awkward than anything else -- first his legs were still in the way, and then the rest of his body was, and it took a lot of scrambling and adjusting before Leo was on his feet. He managed to stand still for a few seconds, but the moment he tried to take a step, he simply wobbled and toppled right over, back into Klaus's arms.

"Shit, I'm sorry --" Leo said, at the same time Klaus said,

"Leo! Are you all right?"

"I'm fine, just, are you--"

"I'm very sorry, I didn't--"

They both stopped again and just looked at each other. There was still a hard blush across Klaus's face, his hair was a terrible mess, and he looked so woeful that a moment later, Leo began to laugh.

It started out quietly, and stuttering, but it grew and grew until it was nearly hysterical. He leaned against Klaus and laughed, and after a few seconds he felt an answering rumble in Klaus's chest. He was quieter about it, almost abashed, but he put his arms around Leo and leaned against him, a warm and solid presence. It felt just as good as the fooling around had.

When the laughter finally died down, Leo pulled back enough to look up at Klaus's face, still smiling. He felt oddly light, and in spite of his want, he felt better than he had all day.

"You know," he said. "I really like you. A lot. Like. A lot-lot."

As declarations went, it wasn't the smoothest. For once, Leo didn't particularly care -- and it seemed Klaus didn't, either, because his expression crumbled into a helpless sort of pleasure, and he lifted a hand to brush his thumb over the rise of Leo's cheekbone.

"And I, you," he said. "Let's go upstairs. We should not keep Gilbert waiting."

Chapter Text

"Soooooo, hey, Mr. Klaus, do you think you'd want to maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow night--"

"Klaus!" It was Steven. He was brandishing a stack of papers in one hand and holding his phone to his ear with the other. "We've got an infestation down by the waterfront."

Klaus looked up at that, and Leo sighed and began to inch away. "An infestation?"

"Sirens." Steven's expression was wry, a sort of, I don't quite believe it but that's what it is. "They've already drowned a few people, and there's at least a couple of men who're trying to petition for them to be considered refugees."

Klaus's lips pursed. "If they wish to petition for that status themselves, that is their right."

"I don't think they particularly care," Steven said dryly. "They're too busy trying to drown their would-be champions."

"Very well." Klaus got to his feet. Gilbert materialized from out of nowhere with a coat for him. Even during the summer, it was cold down by the water; something to do with the fog and the barrier. "We can see if they will listen to us. Leonardo--"

Leo paused. He'd almost made it back to the couch. "Mr. Klaus?"

Klaus came forward, still adjusting the lines of his coat. It looked fine to Leo, but maybe it was a rich-person thing. To his vague surprise, Klaus raised a hand and touched his cheek gently, in front of Steven and Gilbert and technically Zapp, who had made a beeline for the door the moment "negotiating with sirens" had become Klaus's choice of action.

"It shouldn't take long," he said. "We can discuss our plans when I return."

"Right," Leo said, and he was proud that he didn't outright squawk it. Klaus smiled faintly at him, then swept past, Steven falling into pace beside him and Gilbert behind him: the king and his loyal retainers. Leo watched them go, then wandered the rest of the way and dropped onto it with a sigh.

"You really should consider tying him up," Chain's disembodied voice said.

Leo balled up the paper wrapper remains of his lunch and tossed them halfheartedly in the direction of her voice. She didn't materialize, but a folder dropped onto Steven's desk out of thin air, and then any sense of her presence was gone again.

+++

Klaus V. Reinherz, said the caller ID, so Leo picked it up, even though he was in traffic, weaving his way around larger vehicles. Klaus would probably make a face at him for it and his sister would shake him, but what they didn't know probably wouldn't hurt him. "Hello? Mr. Klaus?"

"Leonardo, I'm sorry." His voice was slightly tinny and breaking in beats; reception tended to fizz in and out below and above certain vehicle speeds. "There has been an incident with a man in a metal suit."

"Like armor?"

"More like a robot." There was a loud crashing noise, and it took Leo a moment to realize he was hearing it both over the phone and in person -- thankfully the latter sounded like it was coming from behind him, rather than the direction he was heading. "Steven is attempting to negotiate. I think he is losing his patience."

Leo winced. It wasn't impossible to make Steven annoyed -- Zapp did it constantly -- but there was a difference between that and actually losing his patience. "Do you need me?"

"Not for this," Klaus said. For just a moment his voice warmed. "I did want to apologize. I will be later than I anticipated. Are you at your other job?"

"Yeah." Leo steered to the right to avoid a pack of Beyondian motorcyclists driving the wrong way. They were whooping loudly and wobbling badly; Leo wasn't sure if they'd ever ridden before. "I've got five deliveries and I'm good. They hired another guy that looks like he might survive."

There was a pause long enough that Leo wasn't certain if the connection had just dropped. He was about to look at his phone when Klaus said, "Leonardo, you shouldn't answer the phone when you are driving."

He winced a little guiltily at that. "I'm being careful ..."

"It is not safe." Klaus sounded mildly disapproving. Leo could hear shouting behind him. Some of it sounded like Steven. "Please call me back when you are not on the road."

"Mr. Klaus, you're the one calling me in the middle of a fight ..."

"Steven is handling it." And is if on cue, Leo could hear the telltale crystalline noises of the Esmeralda style. "But, Leonardo--"

"I'll head back to the office when I'm done," Leo said. "I'll talk to you then, okay?"

"Of course," Klaus said. "Ah, Steven is calling. I will see you then, Leonardo."

"See you," Leo said, and hung up. It took him a moment to realize he was grinning, stupidly, and what the hell was up with that? It was just a phone conversation, brief and mundane, but he was smiling like he couldn't stop.

God, it was embarrassing every time he reminded himself about how badly he had it.

He swerved to avoid a truck that came barreling up from behind him, then put on a little extra speed himself.

The sooner he got these done, the sooner he could go and meet Klaus, after all.

+++

Zapp and Zed were in the office by the time Leo returned, squabbling over the contents of a takeout menu. Leo, still in his Dogimo's uniform, paused in the door which, true to every time he used it, creaked faintly when he pushed it. Zapp looked up at once and smirked.

"Hey, c'mon," he said. "You're like hours late. Where's my pizza?"

"You have to order one before you get one," Leo said. He trotted across the room to sit on the couch as well -- well, to perch on the arm of it, really. Zapp was sitting in the middle of the couch, and this way Leo kept Zed between them. "Also, Dogimo's can't even deliver here. The address doesn't even technically exist."

"You're here," Zapp said, like that would explain everything. Leo chose to ignore that, leaning over Zed's shoulder to peer at the menu.

"Pirate Chang's Beyondian-To-Go?" he said. "Seriously?"

"I got a coupon," Zapp said by way of explanation, at the same time Zed said,

"He's being picky again."

Being picky was code for it's been long enough that he's forgotten the last time he decided to be deliberately fussy about food and it's better to indulge him because the indigestion will stick with him longer than anything else. We've already been through at least four of these and he's finally actually hungry enough to look at what's on the menu instead of dismissing it immediately.

Zed, like Klaus, was very good at saying a lot with very little, when he needed to.

"What was that? You wanna fight, fishsticks? I got some right here, you just fuckin' step right up--"

"Do you want anything, Leo?" Zed asked, holding the menu out. "There's probably something on here that you could eat."

"Hey, are you ignoring me? You're fuckin' ignoring me, aren't you! What the fuck, you two!"

Leo took the menu. He tried not to make too much of a face looking things over -- after the incident with the not-actually-clam-chowder place, he'd been a lot more leery of Beyondian cuisine he couldn't see, first. "Mnnnnn, I dunno, none of this really looks that great--"

"Heyyyyyyy, I'm talking here, come onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn--"

"There's chicken."

"I've seen a Beyondian chicken before," Leo said faintly. There'd actually been an entire farm's worth of animals stuffed into a single apartment. That had been a very smelly day. "I did not look at it and think, wow, looks great."

"Heyyyyyyyyyyyy," Zapp whined, louder, before he just draped himself against Zed's back, trying to lean as heavily as he could. "Pay attention to meeeeeee."

Zed did not precisely have teeth to grit, but he sounded very long-suffering as he set his hands against the arm of the couch, by Leo's leg, and pushed to keep himself upright. "We will pay attention to you when you have something that is worth listening to."

"I always have something worth listening to," Zapp said. He was definitely sulking. "Listen, so, let's not get this stuff, it's all greasy crap, there's this other spot--"

As he spoke, a bright light flashed outside the windows. It was strong enough that Leo flinched back hard, throwing both arms up over his face. That didn't really help much, but it didn't hurt, at least. His immediate resulting headache was, perhaps, a couple of degrees less than what it could have been.

Both Zapp and Zed were on their feet in seconds, crossing to look outside, and after a moment to recover, Leo trotted after them. On the other side of the city was a thick dark plume of smoke, though none of the buildings looked particularly damaged.

Leo's phone rang.

He answered it. "Hello?"

"Leonardo?" Klaus sounded just a bit harried, which for him, was really quite bad. There was a low droning chanting going on in the background, and it made Leo's headache worse just to hear it. "I'm afraid I might have to cancel for tonight, at least. Did you see the flash?"

"Yeah," Leo said. "We're in the office. Uh, I'm with Zapp and Zed."

"Good. Tell them they'll be on standby. We don't know yet. The man with the suit was -- rather involved in some things."

Leo's fingers tightened on his phone. "Will you need me?"

"No." The response was immediate, and Klaus's voice was firm and flat. "I do not want you anywhere near this thing, Leonardo. I do not think your Eyes could handle what they would see."

"Mr. Klaus--"

"Please, Leonardo." His voice softened at that. He almost sounded like he was pleading, which sat uncomfortably in Leo's gut. "You know that I trust you and what you are able to handle. You are very strong, but I do not think -- I suspect that it would want your Eyes, and I do not want that."

Something cold went through Leo at that. He was holding his phone so hard that his knuckles ached, though he only really distantly registered that pressure. On Klaus's side of the phone, the chanting grew louder and more monotonous. The rhythm was like a heartbeat, so overpowering that he could feel his own stuttering in an attempt to match. Leo felt something tickling under his nose, and when he touched it, his fingers came away bloody.

"Leonardo, please, stay safe--"

The call disconnected. Leo stared down at the phone. He gritted his teeth and looked up. Zapp and Zed were both looking at him silently.

Leo licked his upper lip. He could taste blood and sweat.

"I'm going," he said.

Neither of them argued.

+++

One could tell the moment one passed into the danger zone: the air immediately went from the normal everyday smells and sounds of the city -- a little hazy, a little noisy, a little everything -- to heavy with the stink of old, wet, rotting vegetation, and the constant droning of what sounded like a thousand voices and a single one. Leo's nose began to bleed again before they found Klaus and Steven, standing next to what looked awfully like the top half of a palette-swapped Flying Spaghetti Monster. There were tentacles waving wildly, some buried in the ground, some in buildings, and others seeking blindly in the air. Its two huge swiveling eyeballs -- taller than Leo himself each -- couldn't seem to focus properly, which was possibly why its tentacles were so ultimately aimless.

Leo was very careful to only look at it sidelong. There were colors in that aura he didn't even have names for.

"I thought Klaus told you to stay away," Steven said. He didn't sound particularly surprised, and he moved as he turned so he could stand between Leo and the ... whatever it was. Zapp and Zed were already moving around him to flank Klaus, and Leo forced himself to keep staring hard at the ground.

"Technically, all he said was for me to stay safe," Leo said. He just barely managed to avoid mumbling it. "He said he didn't want me here, and he said to stay safe. But where am I gonna be safer than with him?"

There was a pause. Steven laughed a beat later, a low wry chuckle that actually sounded relatively genuine. He put a hand on Leo's shoulder and squeezed, and his touch was steadying.

"Young man, you are a rarity among men," he said.

"Thank you," said Leo. "I think."

Steven's hand tightened its grip.

"It isn't like a Blood Breed," he said. "We won't be able to seal it, even with Klaus's best. Our best bet is to drive it back and seal the mouth before it gets all the way out."

"But," Leo said, because he could hear it, even unspoken.

"But," Steven said, like an agreement, "it still has a true name, and we need to find it."

Leo took a deep breath and let it out carefully. His head was still pounding, and it was getting worse the longer he had to listen to this chanting. He was a little surprised that both Steven and Klaus hadn't gone crazy yet. The pit of his stomach was churning as he glanced up, as much as he dared for the moment. He could see Klaus under his lashes, standing tall and firm. The sleeves of his shirt were ripped up to the elbow, revealing the full mechanism of the knuckle duster and its partnered gauntlet. The thing was large enough to physically dwarf him, but Klaus's aura was still bright and brilliant -- a beacon for Leo to look to against the crawling monstrosity just behind him.

"Yeah, okay," he said. "Let me see what I can do."

+++

Afterwards, they took Leo to the hospital for overnight observation. He was out of it for most of the conversation, though he heard snatches of things like there could be actual brain damage, Steven, and it was his choice, Klaus, you know that we can't force him to use those Eyes, between the sheer splitting intensity of his headache. For perhaps the first time ever, he was glad that they'd missed dinner: he wasn't sure how much of it he would've been able to keep in his stomach.

At one point, Leo woke up -- or maybe he only dreamed it, he couldn't say for certain -- to Klaus sitting by his bed with one of Leo's hands between both of his, stroking a thumb over his knuckles. He was murmuring something, low and under his breath. It sounded like German. It sounded like a prayer.

Some part of Leo thought that maybe he should be more worried about this; it wasn't at all like Klaus to be like this, but the touch was nice, and Klaus's voice was much, much nicer than the awful chanting from before, so whether Leo had woken up for real, he let that soothe him back into proper unconsciousness again.

+++

"Leonardo," Klaus said, one day two weeks after that incident and two hours after another involving an amateur mad scientist and a couple of prematurely-hatched pterodactyl eggs, "I was wondering if you would be willing to spend the night with me tonight."

Leo looked up. One of the pterodactyls had tried to grab and make off with him, though he'd gotten out of it with only a few scrapes and bruises. The paramedics had already moved on. Zapp and Zed were arguing about lunch choices just a few feet away. Steven was on the phone with someone and smiling that tight, unpleasant smile that meant someone was going to be unhappy later. K.K. had only paused long enough to take a selfie with one of the caged pterodactyls before taking off.

Klaus stood ramrod straight, his hands folded before himself. His jaw was set and he was blushing as furiously as Leo had ever seen him do. He still looked straight at Leo, but only just barely, his head tilted like he might glance away at any moment.

A second later, the implication of just what he was asking sank in. Leo sputtered a moment, feeling his own face flame red-hot, and he flailed a bit with both hands, awkward, his mouth opening and closing without sound a few times before he found his voice. "What! Yes! I mean! No, I mean yes, absolutely! Uh. ... Yeah. I'd like that."

At his agreement, Klaus's expression softened into one of relief. "Oh, good. I'm glad. Thank you, Leonardo."

Thank me? Thank YOU, Leo thought, but he managed to hold it together and nod, a stupid smile on his face.

"Yeah," he said. "Of course."

Chapter Text

In college for his sophomore year, Leo's roommate Craig had been a very casual sort of guy. He'd had a girlfriend, but their relationship was open, and he'd had the most relaxed approach that Leo had ever known.

"Look, the important part is that if you don't like it, stop doing it. If you do? Sure, keep going. Don't be stupid about it, but don't let anyone but you decide how you feel about it."

Three years -- almost four -- since they'd last seen each other, Leo knelt across from Klaus on his bed and tried to consider how much he wasn't panicking. Certain supplies were already laid out on the bed when they'd arrived. Leo tried to imagine Gilbert setting those up, thought about the incident in the office, and then tried to banish the image from his mind. There was a certain air of almost grave severity to the situation, with the two of them settled like this. This was a Moment, the same way Leo's first stammered request had been, and their first kiss, and all the steps and stumbles along the way.

"Leonardo," Klaus said, and he reached and took Leo's hands in his. His grip was gentle and loose enough that Leo knew he could pull free with no effort. He swallowed hard, studying that, then looked up at Klaus without even trying. "I must tell you -- I am deeply fond of you."

Leo huffed at that, a small startled noise. It was almost a laugh. "Yeah," he said. "I, uh, I figured. Me too, you know? A lot."

Klaus smiled faintly at that, the expression just a bit strained at the edges. "I do not do this sort of thing lightly, Leonardo. I very much do not wish to frighten you off, but I think it is best if you are aware of it now, before we go any further. Do you understand?"

In his life, Leo had dated four people -- four and a half, if you counted Craig -- and those had always followed the same sort of pattern: dancing awkwardly around a seed of attraction, being pursued, being drawn along, and finally being left behind. Three of them had said variations of the same thing: It's like no matter what I do, I can't seem to get through to you. It's like you live in a completely different world and even when I want to be there with you, I can't get through. You're just not paying attention to anything. I'm tired of that. Let's just stop it here.

If he thought about it, Klaus was the first person he'd actively pursued himself, and the first person where it had mattered quite so much to make time with and for. That was a revelation he'd had before, but having it again here like this, on Klaus's bed, was a revelation anew all over again.

And if that wasn't more serious about a relationship than Leo had ever been in his life, he wasn't sure what was.

Leo took a deep breath and turned his wrist so he could grasp Klaus's hand firmly. He felt a bit more ridiculous than he would have liked, but he forced himself to keep going, bringing Klaus's hand up to his lips and kissing the knuckles. They were scarred and rough, and Leo wondered for just how long Klaus had been fighting. Maybe his entire life. He was only a few years older than Leo, but the gap was a humbling one to be reminded of.

"You know, Mr. Klaus," he said, half-mumbled against that hand, "I don't think I've actually ever wanted to be with someone this much before. Me, I usually just ... let things happen to me. But I really, really don't want it to be like that for us."

Klaus blinked slowly and then ducked his head. His ears were bright red and he looked outright bashful. After a moment, he pulled his hand very gently from Leo's grip, reaching instead to cup his cheek instead, holding him still so that when Klaus leaned towards him, he could knock their foreheads gently together.

"Then it won't," he said, as if it was simple as that.

... and the funny thing was, because it was Klaus, Leo entirely believed him.

He tipped his head the short amount he needed to in order to kiss Klaus. He kept it closed-lipped at first, almost polite about it. Klaus liked polite.

And as it turned out, Klaus also really liked kissing. He held it chastely for nearly thirty seconds, and then he cupped Leo's face in both hands to hold him steady and kiss him harder. They had learned, mostly through trial and error, the best way to set themselves to be careful -- but not too careful -- of Klaus's fangs. Leo put his hands over Klaus's and then slid them up, along the broad muscled expanse of his arms and up to his shoulders. He gave a very gentle push, the sort that even Leo himself wouldn't have rocked for.

But Klaus, obedient and attuned as always, folded back at once, pulling Leo along with him. It was easy enough to make him a little giddy. He'd never really considered himself much of a bossy guy in ... anything, really, but it was hard not to get a kick out of this. Leo kissed back harder for a moment, catching Klaus's lower lip in his teeth and tugging a little as he pulled back to sit up.

"Okay," he said. He was already breathless. "Okay, let me just--" And he reached for the buttons of Klaus's shirt. This time he was determined not to just stop with the first two. They were small and fine enough that for a moment, he could understand why the stereotype was to just rip shirts open, but he persisted: while he didn't think Klaus was hurting for clothes, it just seemed rude. He focused entirely on that until suddenly the last button was undone, and he could tug the two halves of Klaus's shirt open and -- made a face at the undershirt. He tugged at it.

"C'mon, sit up," he said, and Klaus rumbled something that was not quite a laugh. He pushed himself up carefully, and Leo basically went from straddling his hips to sitting in his lap, which wasn't such a bad position. Leo folded his hands in his lap to watch as Klaus caught the edges of his undershirt, hesitated for a moment -- god, was he actually shy? with a body like that? the thought was weirdly charming -- then pulled it up over his head, revealing the whole of his chest finally.

It wasn't like the undershirt left a lot to imagination -- Klaus was muscled the way Leo had always assumed bodybuilders would be, though more smoothly proportioned: his was the muscle of a lifetime of field work, not just the targeted work of a gym. There was a scattering of red hair across his chest, relatively sparse at the top and growing heavier as it descended the line of his body. It was never actually thick, but there was was enough to look soft. Like the rest of him, his chest and belly were surprisingly unmarred except for in two places.

One was on his side, in the gap between ribs and hip. Leo stared at it for a moment and felt something twist in his stomach. It was a set of jagged scars with faintly puckered edges, as if some great clawed hand had ripped into him.

If he had to give a reason, a voice whispered from his memory, it would probably just be, "because you were there."

Leo reached out to touch it with his fingers lightly, and a beat later Klaus caught his hand and drew it gently away.

"It's fine," he said. "It has healed, and that is what matters."

Leo just swallowed hard and nodded, not trusting his voice just yet. He looked at the other mark instead: this one was higher up, actually right over Klaus's heart. It didn't even look precisely like a scar, as the other one did: there was just a vaguely cross-shaped patch of shiny bare skin over his breastbone, completely hairless, as if some invisible marker had been set there. There was probably a story about that. Leo decided he didn't care at the moment.

He leaned forward and touched his lips to that bare patch. It wasn't quite a kiss, but Klaus's entire body jerked hard, and the hand holding Leo's tightened for a moment, just short of painful. When that passed, he let go of Leo to reach for his shirt instead, and Leo rocked back with a small snort of laughter, dutifully raising his arms so that his baggy sweatshirt could be peeled off.

Right about when he remembered to be self-conscious, though, Klaus reached out and put a steady hand on Leo's chest. It was large enough that the heel of his palm brushed just above Leo's bellybutton. His palm was almost warm enough to burn, and the expression on his face was soft and almost helplessly fond.

"You have such a heart, Leonardo Watch," he said. "I am honored."

"... Jeeze," Leo said, for lack of anything better, and looped his arms around Klaus's neck, tugging to pull him in. Kissing was easy, at least; and it was a way to try and convey his feelings without having to actually put them into words. Klaus seemed pleased by that, though, settling his broad hands against Leo's back and stroking almost absently as they kissed. That was familiar enough -- but after a few passes, Klaus's hands actually went lower, slipping under the waistband of Leo's sweats, if not his boxers, feeling out the whole of him. The touch was firm enough not to be ticklish, but Leo had to break the kiss and whine, shivering as his skin tightened into goosebumps.

"This is all right?" Klaus murmured against his ear. His breath was hot and soft. Leo turned his face to press it against Klaus's neck and nodded, clumsily, and the next time Klaus's hands cupped his ass and kneaded, he bit down, there at the spot where neck flowed into shoulder. Klaus made a gratifyingly rough noise, then hooked his thumbs in Leo's sweats and boxers both and tugged to pull both down.

I'm gonna die. I am going to die. It's been months and every time we end up getting interrupted. Steven's going to call. Zapp's going to bust in. A demon's going to smash through the wall. My heart's going to give out and I'm just going to expire on the spot, sorry about that, Mr. Klaus--

Leo bit back the urge to giggle, almost hysterical, and he kept his head bowed as he pushed up to his knees, squirming out of his pants and underwear both, leaving him fully naked before Klaus for the first time. Before he could sink down again, Klaus caught his hips with both hands, holding him in place. There were probably more embarrassing things than having your scrawny self looked over by your extremely buff boyfriend, but at the moment, Leo couldn't think of any. He squirmed as best he could in that hold, curling so he could shove his face into Klaus's hair instead, and not have to look at him looking. He didn't say anything, at least, which was a small mercy.

Thankfully, a few seconds later, Klaus loosened his grip and slid his hands up Leo's sides, tugging to pull him down for a kiss. He threw himself into that with some relief and as a cue, squirming so he could feel around for Klaus's belt himself. It wasn't quite so easy to undo as Leo's own clothes had been -- like the buttons, it required some concentration, and while he was already distracted -- but when he got it loose, he actually pulled away from the kiss with a noise of triumph.

"Excuse me," he said, which was kind of lame but also kind of fitting, and he busied himself with getting Klaus's trousers open. It was easier to ignore his own cock that way, bobbing slightly with his movements. You'll get yours eventually, he told it, not that that did much good.

Then he had the fly for Klaus's pants undone and he could see the outline of him, prominent and huge in his briefs (of course briefs, why had he ever wondered at all, ever, about that). Leo just gaped for a moment. Holy shit. I didn't think the whole "hung like a horse" thing really happened in real life.

It probably should have frightened him -- it DID, admittedly, on some level -- but really, awe was the better word. He was dimly aware of Klaus shifting under him. It wasn't an outright fidgeting, though it was certainly more than Klaus usually ever did, and Leo wanted to apologize for staring, he really did ... but what he did instead was simply reach out and grope Klaus instead, just trying to feel out the whole length of him.

"L--Leonardo," Klaus managed. His hands were curled in the sheets now, and he was bright red -- redder than his hair, even, somehow -- and he wasn't quite looking Leo in the face. He continued to not-quite fidget every few seconds, his breathing fast and choppy. He looked vulnerable, and the thought struck Leo, he's shy.

"You look good, Mr. Klaus," he said quietly. He didn't let go, but he gentled his grip. "You're really -- jeeze, I'm feeling pretty inadequate, here."

"Inadequate?" Klaus's head snapped around at that. His eyes were wide and his brows drew together in a confused frown. "Leonardo, no."

"I mean, uh. Look at me." Leo gestured vaguely at himself. He'd toughened up some, over the course of his time with Libra; there was more muscle definition to his legs and less paunch to his gut than he'd ever had in his entire life ... but compared to Klaus, he was still pretty much a soft twig. "Meanwhile, look at you."

"I have no special attachment to my looks," Klaus said. Because of course the man was modest, too. "To me, you are far more appealing."

God knows why, Leo almost said, and bit that back at the last moment. If he did, Klaus might actually explain, and he wasn't sure if he was ready to hear any of it, complimentary as it'd be. He just ducked his head a little, tugging at Klaus's pants, and after a moment, Klaus lifted his hips to let them be pulled off -- and then his underwear a moment later, to which Leo was only a little ashamed to admit he held his breath as the rest of Klaus's body was revealed.

Big was certainly the first word he thought of: big like the rest of Klaus was big, solid and thick enough that Leo quailed for a moment. And of course Klaus noticed that, because then he reached for Leo, his expression concerned. "Leonardo, we don't need to--"

"Mr. Klaus," Leo said. His voice was distant and kind of vague to his own ears. "Please shut up for a moment."

Klaus did, though he looked slightly put out by that. Leo patted his leg absently in apology and scooted closer to examine him closer still. Pornography "likes to create unrealistic expectations in partners about the relative size and girth of the average man," Michella liked to say, and Leo had always very carefully forbidden himself from thinking about why Michella would know anything about porn, but there was none of that here. Fully erect, Klaus's dick had a slight leftward tilt and was flushed deep red. When Leo wrapped his fingers around it, it was burning hot. The breath left him in a soft hiss as he began to stroke, watching in amazement at the way it moved in his fingers. Klaus made a choked noise, one hand lifting up off the bed for a second before dropping away again, and he squeezed his eyes shut, biting his own lip as his hips began to move.

He looked obscene like this: flustered and flushed, the complete opposite of how he was at every other time.

It was kind of beautiful, actually.

Leo swallowed hard and cast around for a moment, looking for the supplies. They'd been laid out so nicely, and while he still didn't want to think of how they'd gotten there (was he ever going to be able to look Gilbert in the face again? sources said no), he still wanted to take advantage of them. Condoms, check; lube, check; gumption ... yeah. Check.

Klaus's eyes cracked open as Leo got the condom open. He made a vague abortive move like he meant to help, though he ended up only watching, as if struck dumb, as Leo began to smooth it on. He considered trying to make it sexier, but this was always the most perfunctory part, to him. Part of him wondered if it would even fit -- who knew they even made them in XXXXL? -- but it did, if just enough, and then Leo uncapped the lube and took one of Klaus's hands, putting the little tube into it.

Klaus swallowed hard and audibly. "Leonardo," he said, his voice a rumble, "are you certain? I don't -- I don't want to hurt you."

"That's why we'll go slow," Leo said. "It's okay. Trust me."

That was apparently the right thing to say. Some of the tension bled from Klaus's body, under Leo's, and he managed a small abashed smile. "Of course I do," he said, then fumbled to lube up his fingers. They were probably going to need the whole thing, Leo thought critically, as he rose up onto his knees and walked up on them to straddle Klaus's hips again. After a pause, he curled his body over Klaus's, which had the double benefits of presenting himself up, and also to press their cocks together. In fact, that second one was good enough that Leo blanked out for a moment, rocking his hips for more of that hot slick friction.

It'd be really fucking easy -- pun even intended, for once -- to get off like this, but there was something else, wasn't there? He was forgetting something--

Then Klaus's hand settled against his ass, one large finger rubbing over him. God, even his fingers were huge. Maybe this would work out a little better than he expected. Leo sucked in a deep breath and held it as he nodded, waiting as Klaus began to work that finger in. It burned at first -- it had been a while since Leo had done anything like this, and frankly even thought that, Klaus was still huge. There were a few seconds where it just outright hurt, and Leo forced himself to breathe, as steadily and consistently as he could, through that burn.

"It's all right?" Klaus asked. His voice was hushed, though he did not quite stop. "Leonardo, you must tell me--"

"It's fine," he said, through gritted teeth. "It's just ... been a while, but we can go slow, we gotta go slow, if you stop now I'm going to do something drastic, got it?"

Klaus took a deep breath himself. His other hand settled on the small of Leo's back, warm and steady, and he nodded.

"Understood," he murmured, and Leo almost laughed at that, because of course Klaus would do that -- but then Klaus pressed harder with his finger and the breath squeezed from Leo's lungs in an instant. It still hurt, but there was beginning to be something beyond that, a burn that made him shudder and start to finally, slowly, relax for real. It was getting easier, and that gave him a boost of confidence, and he rocked back harder against Klaus's finger, hissing as he did.

"Leonardo--"

"Keep going," he said. His own voice was almost a growl, and he couldn't remember if he'd ever sounded like that before. He wasn't sure he ever had. "Please."

He could see Klaus's concerned expression out of the corner of one eye. He chose to ignore it, rocking his hips back harder, and that seemed to be enough encouragement for Klaus. Even if he was still careful about it, he found and maintained a rhythm of movement, and Leo's breathing came easier. Once it started feeling good, Leo curled himself forward, leaning his forehead against Klaus's.

"Do a second one," he said.

Again, Klaus swallowed so hard his throat clicked. His blush had deepened from before, and his gaze flicked to the side before meeting Leo's again. When he spoke, his voice had dropped even lower, though that had seemed impossible before. "Leonardo, are you certain?"

"I'm sure, I'm really sure," Leo said. "Please."

There was another long beat of reluctant pause, and then Klaus nodded. He withdrew enough to oil up his fingers again, and Leo took the opportunity to catch his breath more, watching Klaus under his lashes. He could feel a tremor under his thighs that had nothing to do with his own excitement. That was a definite rush in and of itself.

Then came the second finger. As ready as he'd been mentally, it still stung physically, and Leo's whole body jerked at that, a high-pitched whine tearing from him before he could stop it. Klaus froze immediately, and Leo shook his head fiercely before Klaus could say a word. He grabbed almost blindly for Klaus's face, tipping it up to him and holding it still to kiss him again, and again, hard and openmouthed and messy.

"Keep going," he managed, between them. It was hard to breathe and hard to focus and he refused to falter, rocking himself even harder against Klaus's fingers to take them both in. His own cock jerked at that, and he knew Klaus could feel it, with how closely they were pressed together. "I got this, okay, don't -- you dare -- stop --"

"I don't," Klaus said, but whatever it was he didn't want to do, he didn't bother finishing the sentence; instead, he drove his fingers up harder into Leo, his other arm sliding around Leo's waist to hold him firmly in place. Leo yelped and for a moment he scrabbled at Klaus's shoulders and arms. For a moment, he was deeply aware of just how strong Klaus was, holding him effortlessly in place.

He really, really should have been scared by that.

Instead, as his body adjusted and he refound his rhythm, he kissed Klaus again, panting in an effort to catch his breath. As the burn faded again, it felt even better than before; Leo's entire body felt almost overly sensitive, tingling with each brush of skin against skin. He couldn't find the voice to ask for a third finger, not yet, but -- in that same uncanny way of his, as he somehow always managed -- Klaus seemed to guess what he wanted, and this time, he didn't pause to doubt.

He kissed Leo as he worked the third finger in, and that felt like almost too much -- he was going to break, he was going to die, he was going to just spontaneously come and then burst into flames -- and then Klaus's warm broad hand swept up and down his back again, in the same soothing patterns as he had so often before.

"Breathe, Leonardo," he murmured. "Mausebär, you must relax, you will only hurt yourself otherwise."

"I'm breathing," Leo whined, but even as he did, he sucked in a deeper harder breath than before, trembling as he let it out. His own nails flexed against the broad expanse of Klaus's back, clutching for support as he finally found the rhythm again, his brow furrowed in concentration as he moved his hips. "I'm ... god, I'm okay, just don't stop--"

"I will not," Klaus breathed. He kissed under both of Leo's eyes, the touch surprisingly light and delicate. "Be patient a little longer, we are almost ready."

Leo gulped for breath and nodded. Klaus's fingers were steady and firm, stretching and spreading inside of him, and it felt like a string was being pulled straight at his cock, sending almost violent ripples of pleasure through him. For a rare once, he could barely see -- all the colors and shapes around him seemed to be blurring together -- but he found himself actually reveling in it, the confusion and the intensity, because through it all, no matter how strange things were, there was still Klaus's arm around his waist, holding him in place, anchoring him when everything else would have blown away.

He was safe.

"Leonardo," Klaus murmured. He said nothing else. He didn't need to. Leo forced himself to focus, and all he could see were Klaus's bright green eyes, staring straight at him. The question hovered between them like something tangible, and Leo did not look away as he nodded, determined.

"Yeah," he said.

The corners of Klaus's eyes crinkled. It was a smile, Leo could tell, even without seeing his mouth. His hands moved, his fingers pulling out of Leo, and both of them settled heavily on Leo's hips to steady him. Leo swallowed hard, pressing his own hands to Klaus's shoulders, and between those things, he maneuvered himself into place, and then sank down.

As big as Klaus's cock had looked, it felt bigger. There was a second where Leo wondered, even with all the prep they'd done, if this would even work. He could feel Klaus's fingers twitch on his hips in the beginning of an echoed uncertainty, and with that he squeezed his eyes as tightly shut as he could and forced himself down, past that initial uncertainty. It stung enough to bring tears to his eyes, but he refused to stop, even when Klaus made a small, vaguely alarmed noise--

And then it was done. Leo was seated fully in Klaus's lap, his fingers clutching so hard at Klaus's shoulders they ached -- but it was done, they were actually locked together, and the rush of sheer ordinary triumph at that made him slightly dizzy. He swayed a little, then gave Klaus a shaky pleased smile.

Klaus smiled back.

"Remember to breathe, Leonardo," he said.

That was all he said before he began to move, and any smartass comment Leo might have made to that dissolved.

Or maybe exploded was the better word -- he could see stars, his body moving with a will of its own to meet and match Klaus's thrusts. He could hear loud obscene moaning, and it took him a second to recognize it as himself. Part of him was embarrassed; the rest of him was too focused to care. Klaus's body was burning hot against his, his hands steady and unyielding as he drove himself up into Leo, hard enough for a wet smack of skin on skin each time. His own cock was pressed tightly between their bodies, so each time they moved together, he could feel it dragging against the hard plane of Klaus's belly.

Leo turned his head and mouthed at Klaus's cheek, against his ear, shaking with the attempt to catch his breath. He could feel Klaus's breath against his throat, and then the pressure of sharp teeth against his own neck. There was a flash of pain, but even that faded an instant later, just another note of sensation in the way they moved together.

"Oh, fuck," he said, or maybe he only thought it, and curled himself closer to Klaus's body, clutching at him so hard his arms hurt.

The orgasm hit like a punch to the gut, a body blow, a goddamn freight train. Leo might have shouted, but he couldn't hear it over the roaring of blood in his ears. He felt Klaus's hands tighten on his hips, through the haze, and maybe he heard Klaus calling his name in turn, but that was the last thing he could catch before the world went white.

+++

The swoon didn't last for more than a few seconds. Less than a minute, for sure. Leo came to still curled up on top of Klaus, riding the movement of his heaving chest. His entire body felt weak and wobbly, like all of his bones had been replaced with jell-o.

"Oh my god," he tried to say, only it came out more like "Ommmmmmghhhh."

Klaus huffed at that. It was a single short laugh; it seemed to be the most he could manage, breathless still. "Indeed."

"Misssser Klaussssss," Leo said. He didn't care about the slurring, turning to smush his face more against Klaus's neck. He could feel the pulse there, pounding hard, and he kissed it almost absently. Klaus's body twitched, but there was no other response. "M'dead. Dddddead. G'bye."

"No," Klaus said. It was surprisingly firm. He finally peeled a hand off Leo's hips and settled it on his back, between his shoulderblades. His hand was warm and comforting. "Do not joke about that."

"Sorry." He was only vaguely apologetic, but he'd only been vaguely serious to begin with. "Mmmhh. We can do that again, right?"

Klaus relaxed a bit at that, then chuckled. "I want," he said. "... I enjoyed myself with that, very much. You have set a good example to learn by, Leonardo."

"Course I did," Leo said drowsily. Then he paused. Something about that phrasing seemed a bit ...

He pushed himself up onto his elbows and looked down at Klaus. He was still such a mess, and Leo couldn't help a brief moment of pride with that: his hair was badly mussed, he was still flushed, and there was a pretty decent hickey on his shoulder. It would be hidden by the higher collars of Klaus's button-downs, but Leo would know it was there. "What do you mean, a 'good example'?"

Klaus blinked back. "I did a great deal of reading, beforehand," he said. "But it was nothing like the actual experience. I was not surprised, but I was glad. I'm glad for this with you, Leonardo."

"Wait a moment," Leo said. "Wait. Wait? Are you seriously telling me that you -- you've never -- for real?"

Again Klaus blinked. "I thought you knew," he said. "But yes, Leonardo, I have never had intimate relations with anyone before you. I thought--"

Leo held up a finger. Klaus's jaw clicked shut. He looked anxious now, though he wasn't quite yet fidgeting.

It was all beginning to make sense: the awkwardness at their first date, thinking a kiss would just be for hands, the way Leo had to coax and ask and push. Even now, with all of the stuff that had been set out -- I did a great deal of reading, because of course he had--

Leo curled into a ball, pressing his face against Klaus's chest, and made a long, loud noise. It went something like ARRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrgghhhhhhh.

"Leonardo?!" Klaus pushed himself up at that, his hands fluttering. "Are, are you all right? You're not hurt, are you? Did I overdo it? I did warn you--"

Before he could finish fussing, or move more, Leo uncurled and threw his arms around Klaus's neck, slamming heavily against him. They toppled backwards, Klaus's back hitting the bed with a thud.

"Mr. Klaus," Leo said, almost a mumble, "I like you a whole, whole lot."

"... I would hope so," Klaus said, after a beat. He put his arms carefully around Leo again. "Is that really all right?"

"Yeah," Leo said, and then again, with more emphasis, "Yeah. I'm okay with that. You're okay with me?"

"I am, as you say, 'very okay,' with you, Leonardo."

Leo grinned and closed his eyes. "Okay. Okay, good. That's all I need."

+++

Hello, Michella,

Please have Toby play this for you when he can.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3suGfhnT2Sg