Leo has been waiting for this parcel for three weeks – an excessive amount of time for such a thing, now that he thinks about it – and now that he has it in his hands, he can't stop smiling smugly like an idiot.
“What is that?” Blaine asks, from his favorite spot on the couch. Leo has at least managed to convince him to wear underwear, which is a great victory. Not that he doesn't like to see him naked – Blaine is a glorious and mouthwatering sight when he's undressed and Leo is not ashamed of saying so – but when he starts wandering naked around the house, then the others follow in the madness, and sooner rather than later, the cuddling starts and then the body-sniffing, and then kissing and random turning into wolves, and before Leo knows it, Cody is being impaled by two or three people at the same time, with Blaine in half form waiting to show the others how it's done.
Leo just wants a nice Sunday in, so the underwear stays.
“I ordered something on the internet,” Leo answers Blaine's question. He grabs a knife from the kitchen and he opens the thin flat box. Blaine does his best not to look curious, but the wolf inside him is just a big dog, so he can't help but taking a peek. “Look, isn't it the coolest thing ever?”
Leo shows him the customized sign he bought. It's white with the image of several silly wolfhounds with their tongues lolling out of their mouths in black. The sign says: BEWARE OF THE BIG SCARY DOGS
Blaine frowns at him. “They don't look like us at all,” he says, irritated. “That is undignified and quite offensive.”
“It's just a joke,” Leo retorts dismissively, going to place the sign at the entrance gate.
The next day Leo finds them in wolf form peeing on the sign.
It's their version of a joke and it's not funny at all.
Title: Laborare est orare
The terrorist attack has left Silverlock on her knees.
The two bombs have destroyed key buildings inside the belt and cut the whole city from the rest of the known world by tearing down the servers. They are forced to deliver messages and urgent requests for help to the other city-sates through messengers on horses, and they lack both horses and people able to sustain days of continuous horseriding.
The iron wall – the automated silver barrier that runs around the city and protect it during the night – is stuck underground, leaving them exposed to any potential attack. The army is stretched thin between defending the border and helping the population with their basic needs. They are already missing power and water, and they will soon run out of food.
They had to move dozens of bodies in the vault underneath the Church of the Unicum, which at the moment is the only refrigerated place, and there are hundreds of wounded that they don't know how to treat since all the systems are down.
Many more are still trapped under the rubble and, with all the other emergencies needing attention, the rescue teams are severely understaffed. For this very reason, Blaine decides to celebrate a short version of the Mass and then he shows up on the bombing site, the sleeves of his tunic rolled up. He's ready to move the debris if that's what he needs to do to help.
Sebastian, his assistant – who's a nice man, but he's also incredibly too shelter, in Blaine's opinion – doesn't agree with his decision and follows him around like an insistent dog, trying to hinder him. “Your Holiness, this is not what you should be doing,” he repeats for the third time in ten minutes.
“I'll do whatever is needed,” Blaine says. “There are people trapped under the wreckage, some of them could still be alive.”
“Absolutely, and there's trained personnel for that,” Sebastian insists, stepping carefully over the debris, still wearing his thin ceremonial shoes. Blaine swapped those for a pair of heavy duty boots the moment it was clear this was a state of emergency. “You, on the other hand, are a man of faith, Your Holiness. The Unicum would never want—“
“Neither you nor I can tell what the Unicum wants, Sebastian. What I believe is that he would want me to help his people,” Blaine cuts him off. “I might be wrong, but I'm willing to risk it. And if you want my opinion, as your friend and superior, you should do the same. Here, takes this.”
Blaine gives him a shovel and then he gets to work again.
Title: Lapsus linguae
Leo's brain is a wonderful magic machine, well divided in several watertight compartments. Those, more than anything else, make him able to be totally and obsessively in love with Blaine – to the point that he would probably die if the man was to break up with him one day – and still sleep with other people and be totally devoted to them during the time his boyfriend allows him between one of his visits and the other.
Whenever Leo is with one of his temporary partners – that is how Adam calls them with great disapproval – the love he feels for Blaine is contained and protected within one of the watertight compartments. It's not touched or stained in any way by what is happening with someone else. It is something else entirely, which in Leo's mind means that it is something superior, that doesn't even enter whatever competition there might be going on for his attention. Blaine's love has already won that competition years ago.
That is why Leo's tongue never slips.
Except tonight it does. Unbeknownst to him, there must have been a breach in one of the compartments, and everything regarding the love of his life has poured out and is flooding his mind. As he arches his back, his eyes closed in blissful ecstasy, the name just slips past his lips in a whisper.
“Who's Blaine?” Oliver gets out of him right away and Leo feels suddenly cold and empty.
Leo looks at the other guy, confused and disoriented, his brain struggling to catch up with his body. “W-what?”
“You said Blaine,” Oliver says. They met two days ago and Leo doesn't know much about him, but the expression of annoyance is unmistakable. “Who the fuck is Blaine?”
He's the man who hasn't come to visit me in three weeks and I miss him.
But he can't say that, can he? It would make things worse.
So he remains silent and jumps a little as the door slams.
Title: Laterem lavare
Leo has been observing his son for half an hour, at this point, and he doesn't really know what to make of what he is seeing.
Logan dug a very big hole in the sand – that's what he likes to do the most whenever they come to the beach – to put all his beach toys in it for some reason – Leo doesn't want to investigate, the kid is four and that probably makes a lot of sense in his kid mind – but he is too close to the sea and, with every wave, the hole obviously keeps filling with water.
Logan got angry for a while, as he does. He stood up on his tiny legs and stomped his tiny foot on the ground, shaking his tiny fist towards the sea, as if this endless body of water he can't see the end of could in any way feel abashed by his cute scowl and scolding words.
Then, after that he had the brilliant idea of grabbing his bucket to try and empty the hole with it. It is painful to watch him as he throws some water away only to see the next wave filling the hole again. Logan has been at it for thirty minutes now – Leo is keeping count – and he doesn't seem to see the fault in his reasoning.
“What are you looking at?” Blaine asks, finally reemerging from his sunbathing sleep on the deckchair next to Leo's.
“Our son,” he answers, disheartened. “I'm a little worried.”
Blaine looks over to where Logan is, still fighting against the Tyrrhenian Sea. “He's a kid, they do stuff like that all the time.”
Leo looks a little more to the right where Harper, Logan's twin, is building sand castles worthy of an engineering degree. “Well, at least he's really really cute,” Leo sighs. “Nature couldn't give him everything.”
Blaine laughs and pulls him into a hug before his head starts spinning from too much overthinking.
Title: Mala tempora currunt sed peiora parantur
Blaine had always thought that, even if things got worse, everything could be mended as long as a certain line wasn't crossed.
The ever increasing tendency to think that the 1940s and 1950s had been the best period for the country could be worked with – maybe taking the best of those years and steering the country towards that instead of the sexism and a male-dominated society – and he was still naive enough to believe that the increase in homophobia and transphobia could still be turned around with education.
Even when the NCP took power Blaine thought they weren't going to go much further than that. He didn't see how the entire nation could possibly let them do more than just rambling their nonsense to every microphone placed in front of their faces.
He sees now how terribly wrong he was.
They have started by subtly separating the population into proper individuals and different ones – how could he not realize that? – and they've divided the city and everything in it accordingly to that notion, starting with the schools.
That is how he ended up teaching numbers, colors and shapes to a group of five year old kids who are either openly non-binary or simply not conforming to what the government consider a boy and a girl.
And their school – if that is what he wants to call it – it's a room cut out from the rest of the proper school by a brick wall they raised overnight.
Now the Non-Conforming Act states that all these children – his children – have to be removed from the school and sent to a Rehabilitation Housing Complex, something that sounds exactly like ghetto to his ears, to be rehabilitated – from what, for fuck's sake?
The line was crossed a long time ago and he didn't even notice.
He has to do something – he doesn't know what now, but he will – because things can only get worse from here.
Title: Maluisses cloacas Augeae purgare
Blaine has always taken care of his house by himself.
Even when he became famous and so very rich that he could very well pay someone else – several someones in fact – to clean, tidy up and even cook for him, he has always insisted on doing everything on his own.
Partly it is because he wants to protect his privacy. People would do anything to get a glimpse of famous people's lives. Everyone seems to think that actors and musicians are an entire different species and, if given the chance to see it for themselves, they tend to look for anything unusual. So, he doesn't like the idea of having a stranger around his house, who handles his things and private affairs, and possibly has access to information he doesn't want anyone to see. Besides, his household follows some weird dynamics that he doesn't want to share with anyone outside the family.
He does everything by himself also because he likes to be in control of what happens in his life and, more importantly, inside his house. This could be a tragic consequence of Leo disrupting his life night after night, when he came back to Lima and found him one step away from madness, or maybe Blaine has always just been a control freak.
Either way, even now that he has three children and a husband who sometimes acts like a fourth child, he still takes care of the house alone, except for the garden, that is too big for him to keep tidy. A gardener is the only exception he conceds himself.
Despite all this, though, there's one thing that he really hates to do, and that is cleaning Leo's study. In fact, he doesn't even take a step inside the room unless it is strictly necessary.
Unfortunately for him, sometimes it is – maybe once a month, or less, if he manages – because nobody cleans it if he doesn't and it becomes an healthy hazard, after a while. Otherwise it remains well outside of the daily cleaning routine.
Leo has this habit of living in very poor environmental conditions and not even noticing it. His room in college was a war zone nobody wanted to enter. Adam used to say that an oil spillage site was healthier than that room.
Leo's study doesn't come to that level of mess but it gets very close to it, especially whenever he's working on a book. He can spend even two or three days in a row without coming out, since he's got a couch big enough to be a bed in there – and the amount of dirt he can leave behind is unacceptable for just one person.
Looking at it now, Blaine really wonders if he should take a step inside without even a surgical mask. The room stinks and there are piles of dirty dishes and cardboard boxes from leftovers that almost reach the ceiling, challenging physic and also nature's willingness of keeping him alive. Plus, there is a week worth of dirty clothes on the floor.
Suddenly the twins' changing room, that has recently been the scene of several diapers' malfunctions during an horrible double case of the runs, seems a much better place to clean.
And as a matter of fact, that is what Blaine will do.
Title: Margaritas ante porcos
When Adam comes back from the art exhibition – one of the several he went to only in the past two weeks, Leo can't really be expected to remember all the names – he is so euphoric that Leo puts his video game on pause just to investigate all that enthusiasm.
Adam is an happy guy but his happiness is restrained like the rest of him. He never jumps up and down out of sheer joy. He is not the type of human being who gets overexcited for anything. So, seeing him so thrilled is reason enough to give him all his attention. There might be something exciting going on.
“You have to see this,” Adam says, and those are words he usually never speaks, words that belong to Leo's everyday vocabulary. “Stop looking at the screen for ten minutes and come over here.”
“You sound like my mother.”
Adam places a huge package on the coffee table, pushing away all the clutter that's already there. It is squared, flat and almost as tall as he is. “You don't have a mother.”
“First, ouch,” Leo says. “Secondly, it's a set phrase, Adam.”
“Whatever, just come over here and give me a hand.” Adam grabs a little pocket knife from his back pocket and cuts the cords that keep the whole thing together. Then, he carefully starts tearing off the brown paper.
“What is this thing?” Leo asks, trying to make sense of it.
“I went to this art market near the park,” Adam starts to explain as he throws the first layer of brown paper away. There is another one just underneath, so it must be something really fragile. “It is a place where unknown young artists can go and promote their art for free. Sometimes they also sell it, and there was this girl, Gillian, who made beautiful pieces. I stopped by her booth to chat with her a little bit. We have so much in common. I simply had to buy her something.”
Oh, art. That's why Adam is so excited. Leo should have known, art is the only thing that makes Adam act in a weird way.
“Here, look at this,” Adam frees the canvas of the last pieces of brown paper and turns it around so that Leo can see it better. “It's awesome, isn't it?”
Leo would describe the painting he's looking at right now with several different words, none of that is awesome, though. The canvas has been left almost completely white, except for a few brushstrokes of color on the upper right and lower left corner, and a gold and black nebula-like stain right in the middle.
The best word he can come up with is incomplete. “Are you supposed to finish it?” He asks confused.
“It's missing something, right?” Leo goes on. “I mean, what is supposed to be right now?”
Adam rolls his eyes. “I know you don't like anything if it's not inside a comic book, but I know you like a cover more than another depending on how well is colored. So, can't you see her use of colors?”
“She... can definitely open the tube and squirt some of it on the canvas,” Leo offers.
“You really know nothing about art!” Adam explodes, exasperated.
Leo raises an eyebrow at him. “Never said I did. But this looks like your palette right before you're start painting, Adam.”
“Fine! Silly me thinking I could have a normal conversation with you.” He grabs the painting and marches towards his bed room. “I'm going to hang it in my room!”
“I won't be the one stopping you,” Leo reassures him. “Anyway, Adam?”
“Next time you like a girl, you are allowed to buy stuff from her to impress her without having to pretend with me that you love it.”
“Shut up!” Adam shouts, before slamming the door close, which he never does unless he's very very angry.
And he never is, except when Leo is unmistakably right.
Title: Omne trinum est perfectum
Cody has spent six months of his life playing the peacemaker, a role that he hasn't asked and that he never wanted.
On one side there's Leo, who's constantly asking for Cody's attentions, who gets insistent in his demands and then frustrated if said demands are not met completely, who gets insanely jealous if Cody pays Adam too much attention and then furious when Cody tries to discuss it with him.
On the other side Adam, who's not always horny, but who can be overbearing anyway, who can kiss both Cody and Leo stupid, and only needs a few well chosen words to reduce anyone to their knees and beat Leo at his own game.
In the middle Cody, who tries to make them understand that there is no race to win here, that he wants them both with the same intensity. But it is clearly not enough as he's being pushed and pulled in every direction, asked to sleep in both their beds, to do one thing with one and absolutely not do the same thing with the other.
Leo wants him pure and virginal, so he can taint him.
Adam wants him dirty, so they can be lewd together.
Cody only wants to have fun with them, but he is one step away from breaking up with both of them and finding two new boyfriends.
To avoid taking such dramatic measures, he decides to try one last thing. If trying to reason with them and reassure them that there's enough of him to satisfy them both didn't work, maybe some good old shock therapy will.
He locks them both in his room and, as they look at each other in confusion, he throws himself on the bed, the curve of his ass showing under the hem of his skirt. “You either collaborate and fuck me together or neither of you will see my ass ever again.”
And surprisingly enough they learn to work together, because they know what's best for them.
Title: Dā ubi cōnsistam
Annie lets him in and then she turns on all the lights as she moves forward down the entrance hall.
Her apartment is really huge. Not as big as her parents' house was – but that was a proper manor, so it doesn't count – but still big enough that you could park a couple of cars in her living room with ease. Everything in here is perfectly designed and furnished to compliment the room and suit her tastes, he can see her hand on everything and it's lovely.
“Make yourself at home,” she calls from the kitchen.
Leo looks around and it is all so very sparkly and clean that he doesn't want to drop his backpack anywhere. He hasn't changed his clothes in three days, it doesn't seem polite to sit on her white couch either, so he stands in the middle of the room, trying not to stain anything.
She comes back with a glass of water and looks at him. “Do you need a shower?” She makes it a question, but they both know what she actually means is that he has to clean himself up. They've been through this too many time not to. He nods and walks quickly towards the bathroom without looking her in the eyes.
He takes his time, but not too much. There is always something in the back of his mind that makes him feel uncomfortable whenever he is experiencing something good. It is the absolute certainty that if he lets himself go even for a little while, he will break into a million pieces and he wll never be able to put himself back together again.
He comes back with his hair still a little damp and wearing the last clean clothes he had with him. In the living room, Annie has laid out for him a mug of hot cocoa and an entire pack of Twinkies. “I thought you may wanted to have a snack,” she smiles at him. “You still like them, don't you?”
She always asks, even if she knows very well that he loves them. He sits down, giving her the smallest smile before biting into the first cake. She takes a sip from her mug and waits for him to grab a second cake before speaking again. “So, what happened?”
Leo automatically shrugs. “Nothing.”
“Don't be like that, I beg you.” Leo looks up to find her looking at him with desperate eyes. “I can't do much, at least let me listen to you. Tell me what's going on.”
Leo takes a deep breath, sometimes words just get stuck in his throat when he tries to say them, so he's speaking less and less every day. “I run out of money, so I went home,” he says, softly. “But Kurt has changed the locks.”
“I'm sorry, Leo.” It's always the first thing she says and she's the only one to say it. It's nice to hear it. “Where did you sleep?”
“People's houses, the first few nights, then on the swing in the backyard,” Leo confesses. “They knew, but they let me stay. They just didn't want me in the house with the kid and all.”
Annie doesn't comment on that and Leo is grateful to her. People either try to come up with good reason for his fathers' actions or they try to convince him he should go back and ask for whatever forgiveness they're after, and he hates both things. He'd rather not talk about Kurt or Dave at all.
Annie fishes her wallet from her bag and takes a few banknotes from it. “Here, take this,” she says, offering him the money.
“No, don't,” Leo shakes his head and places both hands on the mug. “I will never pay you back.”
“I don't care,” Annie pushes the money towards him on the table. “You need to rest somewhere safe. I can't think of leaving for Mars in two days knowing you're sleeping outside.”
Annie knows very well that Leo still has the credit card Blaine gave him, that it still works but he refuses to use it, and yet she's offering him money because it's the only way she can help him right now.
“Take it and go to Matt in New York. But Maybe call him first, this time, spend a few days with him,” she goes on. “Leo, you need to give yourself a break. Can you do that for me?”
Leo nods as he starts crying, and then he throws himself in his arms because more than anything he needs a hug right now, and he thanks God she's here to give it to him.