When Leonardo woke, his window was open. Rain poured outside, waterfalls from the roof creating a fluid curtain that shifted just past the sill. The wind sent mist into the room that beaded on the fine nap of the curtain fabric and sparkled in the faint light of his dying fire. There were puddles trailing in from the sill, too, down the wall and across the floor, a stream too big to be from just the wind. Leonardo sat up in bed, gazed stupidly at the shutter and the storm. Then his brain put the image together and followed the puddles to a chair in the opposite corner of the room. A man waited there, haggard but awake. He was drenched, his clothes soaking into the damask cushion on which he sat.

"Ciao," said he, raising a weak hand. "I did not want to wake you, Leo, but since you are now-I wondered if you might be willing to put me back together?"

Even from the bed, Leonardo could see a dark, diagonal slash where the wound crossed the man's stomach. He flung the blanket from his legs and dashed to the chair. "What now?" he asked, fumbling in the dark for the basket he kept for just this reason. "How long have you been here?" He tried to shake off the image of the dream that had plagued him just before waking. There had been blood there, too: glossy crimson staining pure white feathers. Leonardo understood plenty about symbols to know whom those feathers siginified.

"Not long. A few minutes, I think?" A laugh as weak as the hand. "I was just scouting the Basilica. I missed a rooftop guard hiding behind a chimney. He didn't miss me." He grimaced, whether in pain or embarrassment, Leonardo did not know. "It was a stupid mistake."

"Oh, Ezio." Leonardo's hands carefully peeled away the torn fabric in order to see how bad the wound was. Ezio would need stitches, certainly, but the cut was shallow. Painful and bloody, but it could have been far worse. It had been in the past. "You were lucky tonight."

Leonardo stoked the fire for light; he dared not add a candle just yet lest the Watch see a sudden flare and wonder why he was up at this hour. The fire would be enough. He set to work, fell into the familiar motions of cleaning wounds, stitching, bandaging. It was a travesty, using his hands this way. As much as he knew the service was appreciated, he wished he could have been useful in some other manner. The scars that already crossed Ezio's skin were too numerous to count. Most were ghostly reminders of past fights, but some would never be smooth again. That ruined, chaotic design was a crime against aesthetics. Leonardo could barely bring himself to look.

And yet he could barely bring himself to look away. Aside from the marred skin, Ezio's body was a work of art in and of itself. Even at rest, slouched in a chair and soaking wet, his muscles were taut and defined in such a way that indicated constant motion, perfect balance, and ferocious strength. Quiet moments like this were rare and Ezio almost never sat still unless he was hurt or asleep.

At that thought, Leonardo checked to see which one it was. Ezio's chin had dropped to his chest, and now the young man breathed shallowly but steadily. Sleep, then, peacefully as if a needle and thread had not just passed through his skin a dozen times. Leonardo sighed, relieved and utterly saddened. How many more nights would pass like this? And which night would be the last?

"Oh, Ezio," he said again, softly so as not to wake his dear friend from his much-needed healing slumber. "What am I supposed to do with you?"

He stood and went to the window, rinsing the blood from his hands in the pouring rain before he closed the window, drew the damp curtain. The fire, he built up properly until it burned bright and hot to banish the cold. Once that was done, he turned to his guest. The clothes would have to stay for the moment, for he did not wish to move Ezio unless necessary, but the boots he could remove, the cloak, the hood. The bracers with their hidden blades, he left, knowing Ezio would feel safer with them than without. He noticed the faint shiver that rippled through the young man's body and swiftly grabbed his own blankets from the bed to cover him.

With Ezio securely cocooned, Leonardo fetched the warming pan from the foot of his bed and added a few coals that had burned down before. This, he placed under a sheet and between Ezio's bare feet to keep any remaining chill at bay.

Sleep was impossible now. Leonardo decided to dress and check the larder for whatever he might have to eat in the morning. Ezio would wake hungry as he always did after being mended. The bread was thankfully not moldy yet, despite the weather, and Leonardo had part of a wheel of dry cheese to go with it. He found olives, too, salty and soaking in their own spiced oil. It would do until he could go to the market after being certain Ezio would not try to leave on his own.

Leonardo wrapped himself in his cloak since his blankets were in use, brought his pillows over to the fire, and sat beside the warm stone to wait. He kept his hands busy with a piece of charcoal and a sheaf of paper, sketching lazy designs of the snapping fire and the rivulets of water, the folds of his blanket over Ezio's legs, the fall of dark hair that covered even darker eyes.

There was little else to do until morning, while Ezio slept.