IT'S SUNNY, THEN IT'S NIGHT
Blaine's house is a three stories mansion perched on a hill just outside the city.
You can see the whole of it from up there, from the columns of the Government Palace to the spires of the Temple, and the long, light blue line of the river dividing the circular city into two perfect halves.
The first time Leo got to see the house, it was the day he was brought here to be given as a wedding present to Blaine. Now, the memory of that horrible day and those that followed are slowly fading from his mind, drowned by the love and blatant favoritism Cody and Blaine shower him in every day, but you can't really forget the day you've been sold as a sex slave. He remembers how dark and scary the house looked to him, entering from the servants entrance. The hall where Blaine approached him with his deepest, hoarsest voice was cold and bare. It was designed to be used by errand boys and waitresses to come and go from the house without being seen. It was a thing of practicality, not of beauty.
For a few days Leo had only see that entrance and the dungeon where Blaine had kept him to break him – not that he managed, but anyway – and that was his whole new horrible world. A dark room where he was chained and starved, and an hall where he was forced to give blow jobs. Not exactly the best place to start for a love story. But, surprisingly enough, that's exactly how it went down.
Even when he was finally admitted to the private rooms, in the best part of the house, where Cody lived, the house didn't look better. All he could see was another place where he was going to be forced to do things he didn't want to do, chained as an animal and given orders to. On that premises, his own little room – which was actually bigger and more comfortable than his bedroom in his parents' caravan at home – looked like a prison no more than the dungeon's cell did.
Everything was horrible, back then. It took time, Blaine's threats to him, Leo's threats to Cody's safety, and a lot of convincing on both parts before things changed. If he looks back now, he can't believe he grew so fond of them that he refused his freedom when it was legitimately offered to him. Not that he doesn't want to be a free man on paper too, but the Law says that a freed slave must leave the house, and he would never do that. Not even in exchange for his freedom. So he stays, and makes everybody crazy by getting angry at Blaine's inability to both set him free and keep him.
He's officially still a slave, especially outside the four walls of their home, but Blaine and Cody treat him as one of them, a third party to their marriage, if such a thing even exists, and as a consequence of that the house is not a prison anymore. It's home.
The house is not huge as those of some of the other lords of the city, but it's big enough that it takes Leo at least ten minutes to go from one end of it to the other, and he enjoys it immensely when he can use that amount of time to annoy as many servants as it's humanly possible.
The house servants, they all hate Leo with a passion. He stands for everything they find unacceptable and, as if this wasn't enough already, he gloats about it. First of all, it's customary for a lord, especially of Blaine's standing, to get rid of his sex slaves the moment he marries. Since a sex slave basically lives in the lord's private quarters, it's considered unbecoming to keep one inasmuch as the lord's spouse would be forced to share space with him. According to the Law, sex slaves are freed after they have carried out their purpose, which would be prepare the lord to his married life. Actually, their lord's wedding is something they look forward to because it marks the beginning of a new life. But Leo was indeed a gift for
Blaine's wedding, which was ridiculous to begin with.
Not only Blaine didn't get rid of Leo the moment he was given to him, but he somehow fell in love with him, which is preposterous. Now, none of servants would even dream of judging their master for whatever reason, but they can very well judge Leo, and blame him for everything that has befallen the house in the past year or so.
The servants social ladder can be even stricter than the common one.
A servant is born a servant, and can't aspire to be anything else. That is why, when your servant status is high, you stick to it, because it's the only form of pride that you can have. Looking down to those who are below you becomes almost mandatory in order to turn your own not exactly ideal position into a bearable one.
The house servants are the very top of the ladder – one step below craftsmen, who are out of the servants social ladder all together – and sex slaves are the very bottom of it. They are barely considered proper human beings, they are just props lords play with, as much as they would with a racket or a ball. The fact that one of them raised so high in rank to pass the status of the house servants and be allowed to act as a lord is unthinkable.
They think Leo doesn't know his place, and that he acts not only against the law but against what's proper for him and the likes of him. Basically, they reserve the right not to pass judgment upon their master's choice of treating Leo better than he would deserve, but they openly disapprove of Leo accepting the freedom that has been unfairly given to him, instead of politely declining it and acting accordingly to his lower status.
It doesn't help that Leo feels entitled to the freedom he has, and so he makes a show of it whenever he can. He never really considered himself a slave or a servant of any kind – he was an actor, son of actors, accused, charged and imprisoned for a crime he was forced to commit – and so now he's only acting as he thinks he deserves. He walks freely around the house, wearing whatever he wants, sometimes even clothes that belong to Blaine, his arms, neck and ankles always naked to show he's not wearing shackles nor his collar anymore. He leaves the masters' quarters whenever he likes, to go to the gardens or even the library, where he helps himself with Lord Blaine's books and reads them, not to Lord Cody – which would be unusual but not so shocking – but to himself, for his own pleasure.
After all, that would be the smallest outrage compared to the fact that he demands to take all his meals at the table with the masters, that he calls them by their first name and that he sleeps in their bed with them, instead of going back to his room after doing his job. And everybody knows that he's allowed to have intercourse with Cody alone whenever he wants, but nobody talks about that
because Blaine would be hard to justify even for them.
Leo knows everything the servants say about him, and he cares exactly nothing.
He enjoys showing off and throwing the whole situation in their faces as much as he can, and when his relationship with Blaine and Cody began to take shape, turning into the closest thing to a marriage they could possibly have right now, he squeezed into it with great pleasure, taking the role that would have been Cody's, if Cody wasn't the tiny precious thing that he is. In this excuse for a marriage – as Blaine's father has put it too many times – Blaine is obviously the head of the family, the man who works and brings home the money, who should be guiding his much younger husbands
and ends up being at the mercy of their puppy eyes most of the time instead. Leo takes care of the house, gives orders to the servants and reminds them what their masters like and dislike, and that despite the fact that most of the maids refuse to obey him the first time he says something, and they need to be pushed and screamed at. Leo has no problem doing that, while Cody would, that's why he's the pretty husband who, being legitimate, entertains the guests, attends to official events and is diplomatic for the three of them.
It works, despite all the frowning upon. Maybe that's why everybody is so pissed off about it.
Anyway, this morning Leo is not wandering about casually just to give orders and annoy the maids, he's out on a mission. Cody has been moody for the past three days, and that's weird because Cody is never anything but sweet, happy and calm. It took Leo a lot of coaxing and convincing to make him confess what was going on. It appears like the confinement they have been forced into is starting to weigh on him. Blaine's being busy trying to keep his career together, and he's only going out to attend mundane events he's required to go to if he wants to keep his job and status. Those are the only times he leaves the house, and he's not always taking Cody with him because he wants to shelter him from everybody's judgment as much as he can. It goes without saying that Leo has never left the house since he got here, because he can't go out alone and now he can't even do it with Cody because it could be dangerous. Sometimes that's hard to accept, but he's used to lash out whenever his anger is too strong, so his rage disappears as quickly as it came. But Cody is not like him. He bottles up. He's rarely angry, but when he is, he pushes his anger deep down inside himself to avoid hurting anybody. And now it reached the brim, and Cody is one step away to break down.
Leo saw it clearly in his eyes this morning while they were having breakfast together without Blaine.
The man has been holed up all night in his office and the idea that he's not gonna come out of it today either doesn't sit well with Cody's desperate need for a change of air outside this house. So, Leo took it upon himself to convince Blaine to go somewhere for a few days, even if he'll have to use violence to achieve that.
As he comes out of the bedroom and takes the corridor of the second floor, he comes across Harper, one of the maids. It's always a pleasure to meet her because she hates him as no one else in this house and Leo could set her on fire with the sole strength of his hatred. Their feelings of loathing clash against each other at such a speed that they almost generate visible lightnings able to warm Leo's self-entitlement filled heart.
She's a short, tiny thing with big blue eyes and dark blonde hair. Around his age, maybe a little older. She would be attractive, if she wasn't so unnerving. But she is, and Leo can only see her tensed lips set in a disgusted grimace as he approaches. “Clean that glass better,” he says as a way of greeting as she rubs the windowpane with a piece of cloth. “It must look like there's no glass at all there.”
“They are clean,” she protests, no trace of respect in her voice. “More than you'll ever be, anyway.”
Leo never gets offended when she – or anybody – just implies that he's a dirty thing just because he was a sex slave. As a matter of fact, he inevitably takes more baths in a week than she does in a month. “Clever for an house servant. Are they training you to repeat smart things like a parrot? Do you want a cracker?”
Leo watches her close her fists for a moment, struggling to keep herself from replying any further, or even from slapping him probably. Leo lives for the moment one of them will try and hit him. “I knew you would quickly run out of good sentences. Parrots usually do,” he comments. “Now clean them again. I'm gonna be back and I want to see them shine.”
He doesn't wait for a yes, sir
. They never say it and he doesn't need it. Besides, he's taking enough revenge by having they actually do what he orders, instead of just forcing them to use words they don't mean at all. His good mood lasts until he reaches the private dining room they use when they are alone in the house – not that he has ever been present at official dinners anyway. There are maids here too, and they are setting the table for lunch. And as they do every day, at every meal, three times a day, they just set the table for two. Leo can't deal with it, and that's probably why they do it.
“You know the drill,” he says annoyed. “I don't want to repeat myself.”
“Then don't,” one of the girl says. “Have lunch where you're supposed to have it and be done with it.”
“Here is where I'm gonna have my lunch,” he says coldly, staring back at her. “Now, I know the concept is hard to grasp for you because your brain doesn't process complex thoughts, but things have changed. I came here as a sex slave, I'm not one anymore. Like you won't be servants anymore if you don't set the table correctly. It's your job, and I could get tired of the shit you pull off every day and tell Blaine you're not doing it right. I know you don't like it, but you know he would listen. So, it's up to you.”
They look at each other, uncomfortably. He could be bluffing, but it's true that Lord Blaine doesn't dismiss what comes out of his mouth as quickly as they would like. At the end of this staring contest among them, one of the youngest girls runs to fetch another plate and set of cutlery. Leo nods. “Now, before anyone even thinks about it, don't mess with my food,” he says in a stern voice, “because I'll make sure not to be the only one who eats it. And I know you don't want your masters to be poisoned or eat rotten food, am I right?”
Nobody answers and he speaks louder. “Am I right?” He asks again.
“Yes, Leo,” the governess says. She's way older than the rest of them, older than Blaine, and she's been in the house forever. She's disapproving of the situation, but she's not exactly hating him as the rest of them. Leo still has to understand what's going on with her, but he learned to deal with the old woman when things get particularly ugly between him and the other servants. She only gets annoying when he passes a certain line, but he only does that when they do. So, basically, she and Leo always manage to reach an agreement of some sort.
“Good,” Leo nods again towards her. He can hear the murmuring raising again as soon as he steps out of the room, but he doesn't care. For some reason, he know she won't let his food be ruined – maybe the importance she gives to the decency of the house prevents her from serving crappy food, even if it would mean to prank him – and he's got bigger problems to resolve.
Blaine's office is two doors down from the dining room. It's one of the biggest rooms in the house, excluding the bedroom which is an entire quarter on its own, and it's got heavy double doors that are mostly kept closed. Nobody is allowed in there alone, not even the servants, because Blaine keeps there very important documents concerning his work. Leo lost count of the times Blaine told him the importance of the books and ledgers contained in the bookshelves of his office. He doesn't care. Actually, he doesn't even care to enter the room, so his precious documents are safe. Why would he want to spend time reading war reports anyway?
The only thing that prevents Leo from getting offended by the implications is that Blaine says the same things to Cody, as if they were two children playing ball around very expensive exotic vases. They broke one last week doing just that but they were as far from Blaine's office as they possibly could, so it doesn't count.
Leo has spent so many time coming here to call on Blaine and try to take him out of this room that he would never come here alone for the sake of it. There are way more interesting places inside the house, like the pantry – which is his absolutely favorite place to take Cody and make out with him.
Anyway, before his brain gets lost in images that would distract him too much from his endeavor, he knocks twice and then enters before waiting for an answer. “We need to talk,” he declares, marching inside.
Blaine looks up slowly with a sigh. “I wonder what closed doors have ever done to you,” he says, rubbing his tired eyes.
“Nothing?” Leo says, puzzled.
“Then why are you unable to keep them closed?” The man asks.
Leo frowns. “If I wait for you to answer my knocking, I'm gonna grow old and die,” he protests, taking a seat on one of the two armchairs in front of the big wooden desk.
“Always so dramatic,” Blaine snorts.
“So, do you have a moment?” Leo insists, one dark eyebrow bent in a perfect arch.
“I suppose I do now,” Blaine sighs. “So, what happened?”
Leo's got the habit of playing with whatever happens to be around him, including rocks, precious items and Cody. And he's got a special fascination with Blaine's paper knife. It would be worrying, given Leo's records, but the truth is that the paper knife in question is golden and he likes to watch it spin because it shines. “Cody is sad, he needs a change of air,” he says, giving the knife another spin and sending a few paper clips to fly across the room. “We have to go on holiday.”
Leo was expecting several kinds of refusals, to which he had several kinds of responses ready, so Blaine agreeing with the proposal confuses him. He looks up, blinking. “Excuse me, what?”
“You're right,” Blaine says, chuckling. “I know he's sad. And I know that makes you
sad. And I can't deal with both of you moping around.”
Despite it being a wonderful news, Leo is suspicious by nature. “And where's the catch?” He asks, squinting at him.
Blaine laughs again. “No catch. The situation really is pretty bad around here, I'm not gonna lie. We need to relax, and if we can't do that by going out for a walk in the city, we're gonna change state entirely. I was thinking of taking you both to see the ocean.”
“You're really taking us out of here,” Leo says, in disbelief.
“You seem surprised,” Blaine says, maybe just a tiny bit offended. Every time he feels like that, his expression gets all stern.
“Yes! I mean no,” Leo clears his throat as Blaine glares at him. “It's just, it doesn't sound real that you want to come out of this office, pack and go somewhere with us. We were kinda losing hope, you know?”
“That's because you have no faith, both of you,” Blaine grumbles. “But one thing is true, I'm not gonna pack. You're gonna take care of it. Also, I leave you the honor of breaking the news to Cody. I'm sure that will keep you both occupied for the rest of the morning. Now, get out of here.”
Leo chuckles and pushes the armchair back, making noise.
Blaine looks up to scold him, but he's already out.
They leave the house at dawn, two days after Blaine and Leo's talk in Blaine's office.
Blaine refuses to take any servants with him, so they're a small caravan of three people, two horses and a little wagon containing provisions for a week and the big tent they're gonna pitch once they get there. There's enough room inside for Cody to sit when he gets tired of riding with Leo, but he never does. He's so excited by the whole adventure that he seems to run exclusively on enthusiasm.
They're crossing an almost completely desert land to get to the ocean, and there's not much to see except the golden sand and some very sporadic palm tree, but everything looks already interesting and magical to Cody's eyes, even the endless line of dunes that made Leo sick with nausea after two hours.
He rides in front of Leo, one of his big geographic books perched on the horse's neck and he points left and right at this or that particular landmark. Sometimes it's a rocky peak, sometimes the entrance of a cave that is apparently sacred for one nomad tribe or the other. Leo is not really listening to him.
He talks for hours. He asks questions. Every now and then he screams out of pure joy, just because he's so happy about this that he needs to let it out or he's gonna explode. He's enjoying himself so much that Blaine and Leo can't help but look at him with fondness. But at some point all this enthusiasm wears him out and he falls asleep. Leo puts his book away and gently wraps his arms around him, so he won't fall from the horse.
They ride in silence then, the sun burning so bright that Leo wonders what is it about with this people and this land. How could you possibly see such wasteland and think that it's gonna be the perfect place to build a country on. He was born in the northern regions. He's used to freezing winters and gentle springs. He loves running water and snow. Dry sand doesn't sit well with him at all, that's why he can't wait to see the ocean.
It's almost sunset when they hear the sound of the waves breaking on the beach. Leo leans in and kisses Cody on the cheek, waking him up. “I bet you wanna see this,” he whispers sweetly.
Cody blinks around confusedly. “Where are we?” He asks, but then his eyes grow bigger and bigger in awe and disbelief when he catches sight of the last of the desert, slowly declining into the bluest water he has ever seen in his life. “It's the ocean!” He screams, sitting straight up and then wiggling out of Leo's arms and off the horse. “We're here! It's the ocean! Blaine, it's the ocean!”
Blaine chuckles. “Yes, pet, it is.”
Cody screams excitedly and he runs to the shore. On the line where the desert meets the beach, he takes off his shoes and feels the softer, finer texture of the sand under his toes before breaking again into a run that brings him straight to the water. He splashes around, laughing, turning his face towards the setting sun, his eyes closed. The light of the sunset sets the horizon ablaze and turns the water a warm orange color.
Blaine and Leo bring the horses and the wagon towards a group of cluster pines a little far ahead. Once they get the tent set and the fire going, they will provide a good shelter from the wind. “He seems happy,” Leo says, watching Cody as he scurries left and right along the shore, bathing in what sunlight is left for the day, constantly keeping his naked feet where the water can come lapping at them.
“He surely does,” Blaine agrees as he ties his horse to a trunk. “But what about you? Are you
Leo smirks. “This is the first time I leave your fucking house in almost a year. What do you
say?” He replies.
Blaine chuckles. “I'll take that as a yes.”
Meanwhile, Cody picks up shells and chases after crabs, screaming when they decide to chase him back. Blaine and Leo decide to let him play a little longer. He wouldn't be of any use pitching the tent anyway.
In fact, the tent is not a little structure made of fabric and a few poles, but a proper surrogate of their palace at home, something that is not supposed to be pitched by two people alone. Inside, there's room enough for the big bedding they need and the fire pit.
“Aren't you afraid I'm gonna run comes the night?” Leo jokes as he ties to the ground the rope Blaine just passed to him.
“Honestly?” Blaine looks at him from the other side of the tent. He took off his jacket to work, remaining in his short-sleeved shirt. His hair is messy and he's got stains of dirt on his face where he passed a hand on it to wipe away sweat. It's unusual for Leo to see him like this in a place that is not their bedroom. It's an image of intimacy he's used to associate with their little private world. It fills him with pride and a brand new kind of hunger to see him so disheveled and relaxed outside the house. “No. No, I'm not afraid of you running away.”
“And why is that? I know where we are. I know how to get to the nearest city, and I wouldn't need all this stuff to make it there,” Leo insists. He moves on to the next peg and hammers it in the ground.
“I don't doubt that. But unless you take Cody with you, and you wouldn't dare, I calculated that you can't stay without being all over him or me more than two hours. You'd be starving for cuddles halfway through the desert.”
Leo chuckles, knowing that what he's saying is true. “You got me.”
“You're good at this,” Blaine comments, watching him as he secures another rope.
Leo shrugs. “I used to do this with my father,” he explains. Leo never talks about his family because it's too painful, but at least now he manages not to get angry every time that the argument comes up. Possibly because, even if the current situation doesn't let him free to go and find his people, at least he has something he loves to cling too.
Blaine nods, and then leans in to give him a kiss. They both linger in it for a moment, acknowledging without words that there are things Blaine can't fix right now but that he promised to fix one day, and then Blaine sighs, leaving another kiss on his forehead. “Now go get Cody, before he grows fins.”
Leo chuckles and grabs a towel, it's gonna take some convincing to drag him away from the water, but he's got promises of chocolate to make and that always does the trick.
“Aren't you cold?”
Cody turns around and smiles at Leo as he approaches him.
They had a pleasant dinner around the fire pit, laughing and joking with each other as they only do in their bedroom. It was nice and Cody cherished the moment, but at some point he couldn't stay inside the tent any longer. With freedom so close at hand – just a step away – he couldn't think of staying inside four walls, even if they are made of fabric. He would sleep outside, if Blaine let him. So, he went out, leaving the other two alone for a while.
“It's not that cold,” he answers, and then the wind betrays him. Apparently, nights on the ocean are not as warm as he had thought. “Okay, maybe just a little.”
Leo produces a blanket and wraps himself and Cody in it. “Blaine didn't get you here to catch a cold, you know?”
“Did you know it was gonna be so cold on the ocean?” Cody asks, snuggling closer to him and resting his head on Leo's shoulder.
“Yes,” Leo chuckles.
“Of course you knew,” Cody pouts. “This is not the first time you see the ocean, is it right?”
“Well, it is the first time I see this
ocean,” he answers, leaving a kiss on top of his head. “I went all the other way across the country once. I saw the ocean there.”
“Was it different?”
“No, not that much,” Leo says honestly. “Water is water. The sound of the waves is the same everywhere there's enough water for them to be born and die on the shore. It's a little bit like the Moon. No matter where you are, it's always big, shiny and magical.”
“But the Moon is only one,” Cody chuckles. “It always looks the same because it is
the same. It does look brighter here, tho.”
They both look up at the full moon, a huge sphere just above their head. It looks closer tonight too. “It's because there are no other lights,” Leo says. “The city hides her from us.”
Cody frowns. “Then we should live here, so we can watch her all the time. It's beautiful, isn't it?”
Leo watches him, not the Moon. “Yes, it is.”
The morning after, Leo wakes up in a tangle of arms and legs, which is what he opens his eyes to every day, the only thing missing is Blaine.
They usually fall asleep hugging in an orderly fashion, gracefully draped around each other, but Leo is a messy sleeper and Cody is hardly less so, and they end up rolling around and kicking each other or Blaine until what is left is a muddle of limbs and faces press against the most improbable parts of a body. It's something everybody got used to pretty quickly – also because there was no other way – so when the number of legs and arms changes, they can feel it.
It's this, certainly not the right amount of sleep he got, to wake Leo up when the sun is not even out yet. He opens his eyes and blinks, seeing nothing but black strands of hair for a moment. Cody is sleeping on him, covering half his body with his own, one leg across Leo's crotch and his left arm wrapped around his shoulder. His face is buried in Leo's neck, and Leo's got black hair stuck in his mouth.
There's not enough light coming from outside the tent, and that can only mean one thing: it is too early to be awake, no matter the reason. He looks around, as much as Cody lets him, he's as heavy as stone when he's asleep, and he notices Blaine's gone. Now, it's not unusual for Blaine to be up and about hours before them to take care of some business or another. But they are on a beach away from everything and everyone, so Leo doesn't see what could have possibly dragged him out of bed at this ungodly hour.
He gently pushes Cody away towards his side of the bedding. Cody grumbles something that sounds like a complaint but he doesn't wake up. Instead, he grabs his own pillow and hugs him, showing Leo how replaceable he could be. “Thank you very much,” Leo hisses, crawling away. “I love you too.”
He finds his pants under the bed, where Cody threw them last night, and a shirt that could be his or Blaine's, he's not sure. He comes out of the tent squinting at the whitish light of dawn and looks around. Blaine's perched on the very same rock he and Cody were sitting last night, watching the moon. He's fully dressed and he's looking at the ocean, holding something in his hand.
“You are being too much of a morning person to be on vacation,” Leo says, climbing the rocks to sit next to him. “You're just not used to relax, aren't you?”
Blaine smiles at him and there's something in his smile that makes Leo cringe. “Did I wake you up?” He asks, pulling him closer.
“Yes, by not being there,” Leo answers. “I got used to have you somewhere on the bed. It feels weird when you're not.”
“I'm sorry about that,” Blaine says.
“So why do you sound like you're sorry for something else?” Leo asks, suspiciously. He's not very good with feelings, especially others', but he's always the first to sense that something is wrong, probably because he never expects things to go right. He nods towards Blaine's hand, there's a piece of paper folded in half in it. “What is that?”
Blaine sighs. “Something I need to talk to you about,” he says, giving it to him. “It's a drafting. A messenger brought it in this morning.”
Leo doesn't know what a drafting
is, but it's immediately clear when he sees the seal of the Department of War on top of the page and the first lines of the missive. Blaine is called to the front, and by the look of it, his presence doesn't seem optional. “I don't understand,” he says, looking up. “I thought you were retired. Doesn't it mean that you don't have to work anymore?”
“It does,” Blaine confirms. “But in some special circumstances soldiers are required back on the field. When the army suffered too many casualties, for example. Training new soldiers takes time, the retired soldiers know what to do already. The situation at the front hasn't been good for the past three months. I was expecting something like that.”
“That's why you brought us here,” Leo realizes, suddenly. Blaine expected to see betrayal in his eyes, but there is none. All he can read in them is confusion and panic. Leo has never looked like the kid he is as he does now. “So there was a catch, after all.”
“Don't look at it as a catch,” Blaine says, calmly. “I just wanted to give you two a good memory, in case–“
“When are you supposed to leave?” Leo asks, interrupting him. The expression on his face clearly expects him not to say another world on that matter. But Blaine will, he has to.
“In about a week,” he answers. “There is no need for us to rush back home.”
Leo can't stop reading the few lines composing the letter. Some of the words are unknown to him, but the meaning is still pretty clear. They are taking him away. “Here it doesn't say for how long,” Leo notices. His voice doesn't show emotion, but the way he keeps swallowing is proof enough of how nervous he is.
“It's usually for how long it's needed,” Blaine says. Leo doesn't say anything. His lips close in a hard line, as if he was afraid that speaking he would let out too much together with words. Blaine feels a surge of tenderness and love for him because he is so scared that he can barely keep himself together, but he's trying so hard. Last time he saw him like that it was when they met. He was terrified of him, now he's terrified of losing him, and in both cases, Blaine doesn't know how to comfort him. “Leo,” he sighs, taking his hand and play with it in what he hopes is a soothing way. “Now you have to listen to me, because this is very important.”
Leo looks like whatever words he is about to say will be enough to make him calm down, which, considering what Blaine is about to say, is already a problem. Blaine holds his hand tighter, rubbing the back of it with his thumb. “In the last few days, I took care of things,” Blaine says, looking in his eyes. “If anything happens to...”
“If anything happens to me,” Blaine insists, “The title deed to you is in Cody's name, now. You will decide together what to do, of course, but it is important that he can now sign any document regarding you.”
Leo looks away, biting his lips. “Blaine, I don't wanna listen.”
“You have to,” Blaine grabs his chin and forces him to look at him. “I need you to hear this. I need you to be aware of what me not coming back would mean. If you two are left alone, I made sure you will have the means to go on for a while.”
“It won't be necessary,” Leo hisses. “You will be back.”
“But what worries me,” Blaine goes on, ignoring Leo's protests, “is that someone could take advantage of the situation. My father, for once, would try and take back what is mine, based on the fact that it's his name and not Cody's. I need you to protect him.”
Leo snorts a laugh, nervously. “Me? How? From the chains your father would put me in, if he doesn't sell me?” He asks. “No, Blaine. You need to come back. You will come back!”
Blaine hears his voice breaking, and his own heart breaks too. “Cody can do anything he wants, if you help him,” he continues, trying to stay calm for the both of them. “I know you could work this out together.”
They both turn around and find Cody standing there, barefoot and disheveled as if he just got out of bed. They don't know how long he has been standing there, but it's enough to look at Blaine in horror as he shakes his head. “No, that's not possible,” he says again, shaking his head slowly and shrugging. “You are retired, they can't ask you to go back.”
He says each word as if it costs him all he has, and as if he didn't believe it either. He knows that the army can in fact call his husband back. He knows – as every husband or wife of a soldier – the rules of the military life. The fact that he hadn't had to live such a dreadful moment until now only means that he has been lucky.
“Come here, pet,” Blaine says, reaching out to him. Cody bursts out into tears the moment he touches him, and Blaine holds him close to his chest. He could tell him everything's gonna be fine, but he doesn't know that. He will have to fight in the field – a thing he stopped doing ten years ago – and he could be rusty, everything could go wrong. He doesn't want to lie to them.
Leo keeps his distance for a while, wanting to give Cody a moment with Blaine, and also trying not to breakdown too. But he does. Suddenly. He lets out a desperate sob that shakes him to the core, as if he had been trying to keep it down until now and it exploded just right out of him. Blaine reaches out for him too, and they all just hug for a while.
When this all weird relationship started, Blaine knew it was going to be hard, but it's nothing – really, nothing – compared to the pain he's feeling right now, knowing that he put them both in this situation and now, going away, he could be putting them in an even worse one. Cody is unprepared. The kid is smart, but he's too young and he wasn't supposed to be alone, taking care of the family name and business. Blaine had married him after he retired to avoid
leaving him alone. Leo can help him, of course, but not outside the house, not in official matters. And he can't foresee how much Cody will be pressured for having him in the house without Blaine to act as a disincentive. People can be mean. Politicians can be even worse.
But he can't dwell on it. Not now. He did all he could to help them out, even in the event he doesn't come back. He believes they can do just fine on their own. He has to believe it. “Enough tears,” he says sweetly, when he feels them calming down a little bit. “Come on, look up. Look at me.”
Both kids look up, their eyes red and still shiny with tears.
“I know it's a terrible news but nothing's lost yet, and we won't act like it is,” He says, and the tone of his voice, though sweet, doesn't expect a negative response. They know, and in fact they both nods. “We will forget all about it for the time being, and enjoy our vacation. We will create good memories to cling on to during our darkest hour, and you will get through this as you got through everything else.”
He looks at them until the first kid breaks into a tiny smile, and he smiles back. He can't tell them what they want to hear but he can say the only thing that count.
Whatever happens, you'll be okay.