There are piles and piles of fabric to be pushed and pulled over waiting actresses and actors, to be pinned and sewn and appropriated around bodies that aren't quite as bendable as he thinks they are, and these costumes truly will not make themselves – but Leonardo absolutely cannot focus on anything other than the carefully penned phone number in dark ink on the bottom of his palm. The butterflies are mostly gone, with the exception of the few strays in his stomach that bounce around in jubilation every time he glances at the numbers.
When they had parted ways in the middle of a crowded cafe, Ezio had taken his hand – fingers rough against Leonardo's palm, followed by the slow glide of ink moving across his skin – and, "I will be late to class if I do not leave now, but... I would love to know you better, Leo."
Leonardo's face had been embarrassingly aflame and his mind hadn't been working correctly, otherwise he might have thought to obtain further identifying information about the handsome face attached to the number and name on his hand. Because all he has is that face in his mind's eye, a first name, and an encounter that might as well have taken place in his own romance-deprived brain.
Which is okay, really. Plenty of solid relationships have been built on lesser foundations – just look at Romeo and Juliet. Although they did die. Maybe Leonardo hasn't thought this whole thing out as well as he should.
Things only progress further downhill when the eclectic, unpredictable parts of his life that he often times refers to as his 'friends' suddenly become involved. Because the production of Much Ado About Nothing they're working on for their Theater 510 final is almost entirely populated by either friends or acquaintances of his and it's difficult to avoid their intrusions for long.
It starts when Ugo finally notices Leonardo staring wistfully at his palm, like it holds all the answers of the universe, instead of, say, finishing (or starting, really) any of the many costumes that are still laying on the workbench. He peers over enough to see the mess of scribbles and there's this long pause, wherein Ugo's face distorts enough to cause concern and he honestly looks as though he may be about to pull a muscle in his eyebrow.
"Ezio? Ezio Auditore?" Ugo asks, incredulous. There are a mess of wires around him that he's completely forgotten about for the moment, half of them entangled in his feet and the other half laying limp in his right hand. "You must be joking."
"You know him?" Leonardo looks up from the papers he's been pretending to mull over, but doesn't feel comforted by the news. "Are you friends? What is he like?"
Ugo's look of incredulity does not fade in the slightest. "Friends? That rich and spoiled cretin? I would rather be friends with a dead and rotting goat, Leonardo."
"Don't hold back, Ugo, tell him how you really feel," Rosa mumbles, once she's gotten through the back door with the load of boxes she's wrangled up the two flights of stairs. "I don't need help, by the way, you selfish asshole."
There is a brief moment wherein Ugo stares hard at Leonardo, as though he is weighing his options, and then he gestures at Rosa and shakes his head. "They dated – you should ask her."
Rosa's left eye twitches slightly, which should be the first warning sign not to ask her. "I dated who?"
Although, really, asking Rosa should be the first step. Rosa knows everyone, somehow, and is a veritable wealth of gossip-esque information on all of them, and it makes total and complete sense to pry it out of her. She's always been a close friend and she doesn't hold back on her opinions, so why not?
However, the twitch that further develops on her face when Ugo turns and spits, "Ezio Auditore," is more than a little unsettling.
"Ezio? What about him? Why are we bringing him up again? Leonardo what have you done?" she crosses the room and stops in front of them, face contorted somewhat admirably in a mix of emotions that could all be described as 'not pleased.'
Ugo, ever the helpful friend, pulls Leonardo's wrist over the few inches it needs before it is right under her nose, the numbers that are probably familiar glaring up at her from his palm. There is a very interesting moment where the twitch becomes slightly worse, before quitting altogether and begins leading towards what Leonardo can only describe as an explosion; it is, typically, how Rosa's emotions evolve.
"That bastard is undeserving to even look at you, Leonardo!" she seethes, and if Rosa has ever acquired an 'indoor voice' then Leonardo has never heard it – because now everyone is sort of trying discreetly not to look at them. "That Auditore rat barely deserves street whores."
"He seemed very..." Charming, handsome, built- "He seemed very nice when we met."
Rosa's eyes narrow and she waves her hands at him like she can hardly form words "Are you stupid, Da Vinci?"
Caterina, who is some few feet away winding a measuring tape around Cristina's tiny waist, takes a moment to take the sewing pins out of her mouth to retort back, "She's still torn up about the breakup, Leonardo. Don't let her bias taint your image."
There is no visible lightning in the air, but something does seem to crack and fizzle when Rosa spins on her heel to glare daggers at the other girl. "Excuse me? Do I need to rearrange your face, you whore?"
Caterina rolls her eyes, like she can't be bothered, and pins another layer of fabric in place. "How sad. Little Rosa falls in love only to find that the man she is 'dating' had no idea they were in a relationship."
Ugo manages to grab at least most of Rosa's left arm, before she's taken more than a step forward. "Rosa, you can't kill our only seamstress."
Leonardo watches the exchange and sighs, mostly to himself, looking back up only when he notices Caterina giving him a comforting smile.
"Leonardo, Ezio is... Whatever bad you hear of him, know that he is worth it," she says, and her smile turns knowing. "He is very worth it."
There is a long period of time where things sort of dissipate and go back to normal. Rosa is still steaming at the ears, but she's managed to channel it into yelling at the actors instead – so, as long as she's productive there's not a whole lot they can say about it. The piles of fabric in front of Leonardo don't make much sense in his confused mind, but he works through them, separating and tossing, for a good hour and a half before the subject of his Knight in Shining Armor rears its head again.
Caterina has packed up her sewing kit and called it a day, leaving Leonardo to finish up the costumes she's made adjustments for, and he's just started on one when Cristina finds her way back over and sits down at the table with him.
"About Ezio... Don't listen to Caterina," Cristina tells him, and Leonardo doesn't have to ask what she's referring to. "That Auditore boy will love you and leave you, Leonardo. He is bad news – trust me."
Leonardo's head hits the wood with a resounding thud, somehow missing all of the costumes, and he lets out a long and tortured sigh that only someone with three years of theatre behind them could muster up on command.
"I don't know if I will even call him," he replies, sullen. "It seems like his list is all female."
Cristina frowns. "Well..."
She trails off when the back door opens, squeaking heavily to announce every entrance and exit.
The empty space at the end of the table is filled when Ugo suddenly appears, hands full of drink holders with paper coffee cups filling every spot, and sits them sort-of carefully next to the pile of costumes Leonardo will never, ever be done fixing.
"I would not say Ezio is straight," Cristina begins again, but is interrupted by Ugo.
"Straight?" he guffaws, wiping coffee from his chin. "Hardly. He'll fuck anything with a pulse."
There's a moment's pause, just long enough for Ugo's ears to tinge pink, then he's pulling his cap down further and looking back at the coffee as though it is the most interesting thing in the room.
"Not that I would know anyway. Just... I hear things," he clears his throat and looks only momentarily at Leonardo, like eye contact is too incriminating.
"Who would want to fuck Auditore?" Vieri says from behind them, sneers from behind them, as he comes through the heavy curtain leading onstage as though he is talent on some Hollywood production instead of their last minute lead. "Imagine what you would catch."
Ugo doesn't look at him, but he does clear his throat again. "Didn't he turn you down?"
Vieri reddens, sputters, and looks as though he is seconds away from smoke pouring out of his ears. "As though I would ever!"
Leonardo never gets a chance to call. He doesn't get home until very late that night and it seems rude to call when he knows for a fact the other man does attend classes, so he puts it off. He puts it off for two more days, gets wound up in not knowing what to think (and his curses his friends for this, but maybe they know better than he) and he gets caught up in his work on the play. He goes back and forth trying to decide whether or not to just take a chance, to just call the man and see what happens, but it ends up that, three days after meeting him, Ezio is suddenly pushed back into his life without his consent.
"Our Don Jon has mono," Teadora says, when she leads Ezio into the auditorium and is met with Rosa balking openly, her mouth opening and closing like a particularly incredulous fish. "Meet your new, very short notice, stand-in bastard."
Vieri's left eye twitches disturbingly and he is mumbling over and over to himself, "I'm still the star. I'm still the star. I'm still the star."
"This is not happening," Rosa mutters, as though Teadora has suggested one of the folding chairs be their new actor, and she pushes past Leonardo to go back behind the curtain. "Fuck my life."
"This is Leonardo," Teadora says, as though she is immune to Rosa's discomfort, and she leads Ezio across the stage to where Leonardo's feet are still, for all intents and purposes, cemented to the floor. "He is our lead designer – he can get you all costumed up. Leonardo, meet Ezio."
It is mostly embarrassing that, when Ezio takes his hand and shakes it, eyes amused, that he definitely notices the phone number still on Leonardo's hand that he's been carefully washing around all week.
C'est la vie.