"Oh: You are awake?"

Ezio widened his eyes as Federico strode into their home with blood all over his attire, dropping the sketches onto the table before he rose to fathom the scene. In deep concern, he looked at every expanse of open flesh he could perceive and slid his fingers down the shaven face, his anxiety tangible, even as the other laughed like a boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar and gingerly latched onto his wrists. He furrowed his brow when no wound seemed to be visible, other than sighing in relief: If the other man did not give him that childish pout that made him weak in the knees, he would have surely beat him himself for subjecting him to such apprehension.

"Che cosa è successo?" said being worriedly started, unable to be appeased by a mere kiss on his forehead. "W-Why is there blood on your clothes? Are you not hurt? Quando?"

Federico raked his hand through his hair. "It is nothing—just a foolish brawl."

"That has you looking as if a graveyard laid claim to you?"

"Seriamente: Nothing serious has happened." A pause. "Well, the guards did join in the latter portion of the event."

Frowning, Ezio stepped back and narrowed his eyes, avoiding the hug that the taller sibling wished for; it would have been comical, the disapproving mother hen expression that buzzed about him, if Federico did not have copious amounts of other people's blood on his clothes as he stood without an ounce of panic. "I am not laughing, idiota. Do you know what time it is?"

"Aye, it is …" The old grandfather clock chimed three, right when he cursed under his breath as he received the revelation. "Three."

" … I am going to bed." The younger male turned on his heel and quickly walked to the stairs, stopping when he was pulled back into his counterpart's chest. "Smettila—I am tired."

"Mi dispiace, mi amore."

Ezio whirled around. "You damn well should be, Federico Auditore da Firenze!"

No matter how furious he appeared to be, he did not wrestle out of the arms that enveloped him, along with the hot kisses that were placed on the angle of his jaw; he did not mind the blood that was now imprinted onto his own garments, and as his brother delivered the last embrace on his ear, he curled his fingers into the silk of his shirt and stood in silence, the tension relieved to a slight degree. Agitatedly, he protested against having his head tucked under Federico's chin, but lost, especially when those puppy eyes that he swore he was immune to tugged at him, in a way he dared not voice aloud.

The ring on his middle finger was hot as Federico rubbed it.

"You do my sanity no justice."

"As do you."

"So, you had better tell me, at least, who you were fighting with." The brunet slanted his gaze when the latter uneasily rubbed at his neck. "And I know it was not simply one person." Skepticism. "Merda: You might as well have been fighting an entire horde of mercenari!"

"Ehi—you make me look bad."


"Che?" his companion laughed, holding his hands up in mock surrender. "Come, now: That look drives me mad."

"Then, hurry your tongue and spill the truth; our bed is cold because of this ridiculousness."

"I guess I have it no other way."

Federico hummed lightly to himself as he tugged Ezio up the stairs, his demeanor playfully hurting while the door creaked open to display the expanse of their canopied bed. He winced as the sharp glare manifested the environment, faintly grinning, nodding his head to show that his stalling was nearly over, with the fingers that loosened the ties of his stained shirt. With a sigh, he shucked his boots and rid himself of his clothing, leaving only his breeches to hang low on his hips, and padded over to the washbasin full of rosewater, the time to rinse his hands short. Three stubby candles to his side were all the testimony needed to prove that the other man did indeed wait long into the night before he took his place in the waiting room—not to mention, the sheets radiated nothing but coldness in the freezing winter air that calmed the heat of his skin. It was without a doubt that Ezio had the overwhelming amount of jurisdiction to flay his ass for a midnight scuffle.

However, it was a scuffle that Federico interpreted into something much more—there was no guilt in his eyes as he felt his stubble scrape the pads of his fingers. "One little Pazzi ucello wished to be a clawed kitten—decided to get feisty with his army of bastardi to be there at his beck and call."

Ezio grit his teeth. "Federico, you cannot mean to tell me that you fought Vieri."

"It is more like running, on his part, after he threw a shoe at me and missed." A chuckle. "Then, we had the party with all the available brutes—"

"Aye: Basta." Though a reprimand flashed in the former's gaze, he could not be victorious over a miniscule quirk of his lips that widened at the mere thought of the coward running with his tail between his legs; Federico caught onto the action, his senses quick, and chortled as he pressed the other's forehead against his bare chest, loosening the tie that set his hair free, to feel the strands slip through his fingers. He shook his head in exasperation, not after he pinched the curve of a lean hip as punishment. "You need to stop causing trouble."

"Si: Non avere dubbi, maestro."

Slight silence. "In utmost sincerity, Federico." Ezio raised his chin, just as the older being's arms slipped around his waist in pleasure. "That pezza de merda does not even have the balls to lift a sword, but he is a Pazzi." Leveling his stare, he gripped warm shoulders and pressed his thumbs into the curves, the steady flow of cognizance allowing sagacity to bleed through his eyes. "And you of all should know what a man of power can do … what he would want to do—"

"Mi dispiace—I should have kept my distance," Federico murmured. "But, now, all is well; he asked for a beating all this while, and I am sure that the entire court snickers at the rawness of his backside."

"Aye! You vile man!" The solemnity dissipated at the higher level of incredulity. "Wipe that mischief off of your face!"

Deviance. "Make me."

"Do you dare test an Auditore?"

Federico grinned.

"I think I do that everyday."