There was no movement in the workshop save the swirl of bristles in paint, the barest touch of a brush to canvas. A soft curve appeared, then filled in, layer on layer of pale grey, green, blue. With utmost delicacy, infinite care, the shape of an eye took form through a series of short, precise strokes. Leonardo's concentration was such that he did not appear to hear the door open, nor the bootsteps that crossed his studio floor.

At first, Ezio stood proudly, grinning, hands on hips. He waited in this way for some time, expecting that at any moment, Leonardo would turn and welcome him. Then he frowned. Leonardo still painted, oblivious to his guest. Could he really not have noticed?

Ezio shifted, scuffing the floor with his feet. He tried clearing his throat, too, but to no avail. Enthusiasm flagging, he cleared his throat again.

"I heard you the first time," Leonardo said at that, making Ezio jump.

"Well then, why didn't you-"

"Ezio." Blue eyes narrowed, fixed him in place. "I am working."

That was new. Ezio wasn't sure why, but Leonardo sounded positively annoyed just then. He had a hard time wrapping his head around the idea. Leonardo was always cheerful and happy to see him. "Amico mio," he said gently, "What is bothering you? I thought you liked Venezia."

"I like it just fine," came the reply, though Leonardo did not look away from the canvas a second time. He was focused on his painting, and suddenly Ezio had the distinct feeling that Leonardo was annoyed at him. But why?

Ezio felt less and less excited about his reason for coming today. Obviously, he'd done something to irritate his friend, but he couldn't imagine what. Leonardo had seemed fine when they parted the other day, offering his usual friendly embrace and smiling as he entered his new studio for the first time. Nothing in their conversation indicated that Ezio had said something wrong, either. In fact, the only disagreement they'd had was over Ezio's interest in that fiery noblewoman he'd rescued. That couldn't be it, could it?

"Is this about Cater-"

"Ezio," Leonardo said again, and this time it was quite obvious that he was irked, "What. Do you. Want."

"I, uh...I..." The weight of the package he carried in the pouch at his belt suddenly felt a dozen times heavier. Perhaps this wasn't the right time to offer a gift...

Leonardo waited, arms crossed, brush still in hand. Ezio noticed small details about him now: Leonardo was missing his doublet, cape, and hat; he now sported a few new freckles of varying colors that suspiciously matched those on his palette; he was tapping one foot on the floor, resting all his weight on one hip. He looked distinctly unamused.

Oh, the hell with it. "I got you this." Ezio shoved his hand into his belt pouch, drew out the paper-wrapped package, and thrust it toward Leonardo. When the other man took it, Ezio yanked his hand away as if he was afraid of being bitten.

Leonardo, still wary, tore the paper open without taking his eyes off of Ezio. But then he glanced down at the figure in his hands, and a strange transformation came over him. From where Ezio stood, he could clearly see his friend's reaction. First, there was surprise, then pleasure, then suspicion; at this last, Leonardo's eyes flickered back to Ezio's.

"Where did you get this?" He asked.

"You asked for it the other day, don't you remember?" Had that been just a whim? Or maybe he'd gotten the wrong one? "From the shop we passed on our way here."

"I remember." Leonardo tilted his head, studying Ezio. "More to the point, how did you get this?"

"I bought it."

A brow, raised. "You didn't...steal it, did you?"

Ezio tried to feel affronted at that, but he supposed that Leonardo had a point. It still hurt a little. "No," he said with as much dignity as he could muster, "I bought it."

"With your own money...?"

Oh, for heaven's... "Listen, do you want it or not? Because you have no idea how much trouble it was to get that thing. I had to deliver letters and run all over Hell and Creation for the Medici and then..." He paused when he realized that Leonardo's study of him had changed somehow. "...uh, Leonardo?"

"Yes?" The word was a purr. Ezio had a hard time swallowing all of a sudden, as Leonardo set the manichino down and began to stalk toward him.

"I...ah..." Backing up seemed like a good idea, until Ezio came up against the corner formed by Leonardo's two worktables. He wasn't quite sure where to go; Leonardo was closing in and he wore the most interesting expression. "Er, Leonar-mmph!"

Things went a bit fuzzy for a bit until Leonardo released him. Well, not so much released as let him up for air, but really, Ezio wasn't going to argue semantics in his head. Dazed, he struggled to focus on the utterly predatory way in which Leonardo was pressed up along his body, trapping him against the table. Or the very satisfied, promising way his friend's lips curled upward. Or the sensation of skilled-skilled!-fingers trailing down over the side of his torso.

"You were saying?" Yes, that was definitely a purr. Lion, indeed.

"Nothing of consequence," said Ezio. "Don't let me interrupt yo-mmph!" Was he going to finish a single sentence today? Apparently not if Leonardo had anything to say about it. Or, rather, do about it.

He learned his lesson; the next time he was able to breathe, he just grinned and let Leonardo pull him down to the floor.