"Dio!"

The shaded alleyway echoed the gasp Abele emitted, soon cloaking the taller figure that stepped in front of him, the open market square a few feet away shrouded. He barely caught his breath before an adamant hand planted itself near his head and fully pushed him back so that he was flush against the cold, unrelenting wall. Perhaps, it should not have been a surprise that his voice lost all baroque elements, as well as his comprehension—the entirety of the his perception was skewed with each passing second that marked their breaths in the secluded area. And as he fought to regain sanity amidst the rush, he clutched his beloved lute closer to his chest and felt the thin strings reverberate along with his own panic, causing him to yelp once more, as he was eclipsed.

No sooner had he recovered the slightest tinge of sanity did he fumble for cover. "D-Dear God, m-m-m-messere, I do n-not know what it is that you want, but I-I-I-I—"

"Surely, you have not forgotten me."

"Ch-Ch-Che—"

"Surely, you have not."

The younger male, for a while, did not grasp the statement, simply attempting to fight the flood of terror that threatened to overwhelm him: from being abducted in the middle of the day to having an enigmatic fellow regard him all too well in the darkness. However, the beginning pricks of nostalgia came upon him as he cocked his head as high as he could so that any noticeable features besides the voice could be recognized. It alarmed him that the stranger expected him to respond to his absurd declaration in a way that could only be affirmation.

But then: "Buongiorno, Abele. It is good to see that you are safe."

The removal of that hood.

That scent.

Warmth.

And that glimmer of amusement.

"No, it cannot be," the minstrel whispered, gaping incredulously. "This is all a jest …"

That had been proved wrong.

For as soon as the revelation flooded him; for as soon as he felt familiar calloused fingers upon his cheek, his eyes, his lips, the curve of his nose; for as soon as he understood everything in the utmost absence of illumination, he abandoned his hasty defenses and yielded, fluttering his eyes closed. His breaths became much more shallow when his forearm was gripped surely, but he found no need to sort reason from a skewed sense of relief: Flushing, he loosened his hold on the lute and allowed his felt cap to be taken off of his head, only to let a heated finger trail down his temple before the other's hands buried themselves in his hair. And he was pulled closer, so close that his form was molded to the latter's own body, causing his instrument to let out a few stray notes at the sudden contact, though he did not take notice.

"Abele." How could he? "Abele."

"Messe-Messere …"

"Say my name," the voice demanded, no matter how hushed it was. "Say my name: Abele."

"I-I-I—"

"Say it."

It was without a doubt that he did.

"E-Ezio."

His knees trembled. "Ezio."

And the captivation was automatic: those lips quirked upwards, his eyes a dark brown, nearly black in the way it captured him, the hands in his hair sliding downwards to cup the back of his head. Abele could solely rest one hand on the older male's chest, feeling the steady thrum of his heart, before he grit his teeth and swung his arms around him, pressing his face into the assassin's front. All previous chokeholds of horror and anxiety departed him as he tightly grasped a familiar back—to know that he could slacken, to see the man he thought would never appear, shutting his eyes while comforting fingers stroked his hair and face. There did not have to be an excuse to lament the fall of his lute and cap, nor was there a necessity to maintain social graces or outrage.

Thus, the way he withdrew, just to stand on his toes and set his hands on Ezio's shoulders, should have been the most perfect of explanations of how he had felt at that moment: the certain push of his mouth on the other's. The entirety of his apprehension, the loss of not seeing the older male for the longest of whiles, his vehemence, was poured out through the contact that robbed both of their breaths as the assassin was now pressed against the alley wall. He could perceive Ezio burying his hands into the blond hair that he adored so much, if the fashion in which he coaxed his lips to part did not epitomize the deep hunger enough, and he shuddered when great heat settled on his lower back. Only when his buttocks were given enticing pressure did he break the heated exchange, knowing progressing so far was not what he wanted at the first meeting in several months.

This time, he spoke first: "Y-You are an insufferable, you vile man!" he whispered, too overwhelmed to take on a punishable tone. "You are insufferable."

"I know."

Yet he permitted another stolen kiss, only to hear once more, "I know."

And Ezio smiled.

Art could have not had a better muse.