"And what is this supposed to be?"

Cesare lazily smirked, trailing a gloved hand down the contours of Ezio's cheek as he settled further back into the plush of the cushions, his eyes hooding in obvious amusement while the other cocked an expectant eyebrow. "The art of seduction."

A tick. "With my body trussed up in bonds, like a swine."

"Si, of course," the grinning Spaniard deviously continued. "Of course." Slowly, he snaked a curious digit around the planes of a taut abdomen before he murmured in deep appreciation, not long for his rake of a voice rung about the vast bedroom. "Now, how about we follow the new textbook I recently bought? I'm very sure you'll like it—so thorough it is in explaining each and every position to assume."

Damn the Silk Road.

"We're never trading with the Indians again."


"So, what? You're telling me that you're not a Templar?"

Cesare nonchalantly shrugged, playing with the ends of Ezio's hair as he scratched at his beard. "I care not for such trivialities—my father was the loon who ran amuck, proclaiming some heathen mass was crippling his sacred covenant; I truly do not even know the background of my supposed affiliation, or the like."

"Then?" the other incessantly pressed, the covers thrown about his chest haphazardly. "All of your meticulous manhunts for my hide?"

A grin. "Ah, is it not that obvious?"

"To eliminate the Grand Master of the Assassin Order?"

Amusedly, the younger man grinned in a sly manner, his hand reaching up to sweep a suggestive touch over the form of said person's shoulders. "Do you remember the first time I saw you, Auditore?"


"Well? The answer is not that complex."

Thoughts, thoughts, a crease, two laughs.

And so comes the revelation.

"Oh … " Scoff. "Your cynical attempts at romanticism are skewered."

Reply: "Yet, you seek it so."

Indubitably, he could only hide his grin through the veil of a kiss.



"Your wife," he rigidly continued, attempting his best to plaster on a cool mask of indifference in front of the confused man. "Your wife would not be pleased."

"Merda, that woman is never pleased—whether she opens her legs or not." Cesare poured a full goblet full of strong wine before he strode over to the other, offering the cup in anticipating silence, perhaps relying more on a bemused frown when presented with a curt refusal. "'Strange' is an understatement at this moment, Auditore: Explain yourself."

There was something odd in the way his lips quirked in awkward denial. "I … I cannot … " Clench. "Aye, this is foolish."

"What is foolish if one does not even know the truth?" Surely, the adamant male pressed the golden chalice to thinned lips without an alleviation of the perplexity in his brow, his mundane trait of smugness wavering as tentative eyes cast their gaze onto the floor. "Hitherto—"

"Because I cannot … I cannot compete."

"With who?"

A stretch. "With the Duchess of Valentinois."

For a solid while, there was a fragile sort of stillness, the few seconds in which a back was seen to the face of puzzlement, with everything as murky as the rich drink in his hands—vigil here, and there, noting the fashion of the narrowed gaze and the bunched fists at the sides, as if maintaining that sense of composure would ensure false brevity over reality; the presence of his deeper rationality was solely the guiding light in receiving a distanced revelation—and maybe it was the delicate line, the plea of comprehension, his unknown streak of something rising to the surface to make him see, but the entirety of what he perceived was transferred by his hand upon the line of the other's jaw.

"Once again, your accuracy is impeccable."

"I knew you'd say—"

"Because you exist on a completely different level."

Ezio halted. "What?"

"Look at you, a dagger pointed at my throat in hesitancy; are you so blinded that you do not see the significance? Of how she does not even compare to the shadows of your footsteps? Title, she may have, but heed my words." Cesare carefully mapped the outline of his nape, memorizing the anticipation of promise through the bob of his Adam's apple. "My eyes, I gave; my sanity, I gave; my judgment, I gave; my ambitions, I gave.

"And this particular fool, who seeks and looks when everything he wanted was right in front of him, returned every single purpose sans thought—thus, her name I shall not speak, neither of her status, nor of what she demands out of me, for," he proceeded in raw context, "that fool owns too much of me for a woman to even steal a sliver.

"To God, I pray he understandeth it so."

So mote it be.