Leo hasn't the slightest clue what draws him to Elliot's room in the first place.

The only thing such a visit will accomplish is bringing more morosity to an already weighted down psyche. Academically, he realizes this, and so logically, he should stay away. Logically, he should devote his attention to more important things, like deciphering whether or not Vincent is using him entirely, or if there is some sort of sincerity behind his poison-laced smile and sad, sad but toxic gaze.

Instead, he is meandering around his dead master's room like an idiot, the heavy weight of a Baskerville cloak clasped tight around his shoulders against the sensation of cold that he can't shake. His fingers trace the lines of familiar furniture, fine wood just as cold as he underneath his fingertips, not warmed by Elliot's mere presence as he remembers. The linens are unturned, unmussed, untouched, and so Leo can't dare a glance at the bed for fear that the prick of salt and water in his eyes will properly escape down a tersely held cheekbone.

What, exactly, is he trying to accomplish?

If he wants it to hurt, he has done just that. This room in and of itself hurts. It is full of Elliot and empty of Elliot all at once – the sight of him so clear within Leo's vision and yet simply not there, all courtesy of his own stupid, stupid mistakes. Elliot's things are all there, untouched; even his scent is there, cloying now and enough to make Leo's head pound when normally, the light freshness of soapy bergamot only makes him warm, makes his heart surge up pleasantly, makes his breath quicken from want.

No, instead, this room only hurts.

"Why don't you take something to remember him by?"

Vincent's silky-smooth voice brings him to jump, and Leo turns his head to fix a sour glare over his shoulder. Vincent, forever unfazed by his moods, merely smiles. "My lord?"

Leo hates that moniker and has no trouble ignoring his servant-apparent, no matter how he can only smell Vincent now; bergamot tainted by tonka and sweetness, the oils of a serpent slipping from the man's pores – and something else, sweeter still, richer like the damned cakes Gilbert would bake in the Nightray kitchens when he wasn't moping about like the house was going to kill him at any moment: red velvet, maybe? God knows where Vincent got his hands on something like that, or why he was eating it while Leo was wandering around a now-despised room of memories he can't quite shake.

"… What's the point?"

The blonde hardly seems to react to the response with little more than a tip of his head to one side as his acknowledgment, the glittering ruby dangling from each ear swishing delicately with the motion. "That's why you are here, isn't it, my lord? To remember him."

"I don't know why I'm here."

Leo sits, then, as his legs begin to feel weak, upon a chair that he is sure Elliot didn't use too much. He shivers and draws a knee to his chest, and Vincent is watching him – watching him with a gaze that might have been curious, might have been a predator seeking out a weakness in his prey. Leo isn't sure. Leo doesn't care.

"Well," Vincent says, as if it is the most normal thing in the world, "seeing as you are always cold as of late, you could take one of his jackets with you."

"It won't fit." That is his excuse? Leo almost wants to laugh at the ridiculousness of it. It sounds like something Elliot would say, and he clenches his teeth, frowning as he fights back the surge of moisture that pools at the corners of his eyes.

"A piece of jewelry, then?" Vincent isn't even having to grasp at straws for the words to flow from his mouth, and Leo wonders if the man is mocking him. His face is forever placid and just-barely smiling, and so Leo can't tell either way. He isn't sure he would want to know if that were the case.

Leo shifts, then, uncomfortably. Mocking or not, he is still compelled to answer – to provide an explanation for his dismissal of such suggestions. "Elliot never wore much jewelry… except for earrings, and my ears aren't pierced, so…"

Vincent hums thoughtfully, a gloved finger tapping against his lips as he slides ever-closer, a hand upon the arm of Leo's selected chair and the other drifting from his lips to trace long, svelte fingers against the curve of Leo's ear, tucking hair back in the same motion. Leo jumps and grits his teeth, but doesn't move – he's found the more of a reaction he has, the more Vincent is inclined to continue, so he simply stares, all dark eyes and dark lashes and dark moods.

"I could pierce them for you, if you like."

Leo isn't sure why such an idea twists in his stomach and makes him curl into an even tinier ball. Ultimately, he supposes it comes down to the sheer fact that he would have no excuse to avoid something of Elliot's, no matter how small – and he would have no choice but to accept that Vincent is attempting to help him, attempting to be at his side when no one else is, and he isn't sure if he wantsanyone at his side, not even someone as broken and twisted and screwed up as he is –

"… All right."

It is a mystery to Leo how he ends up coaxed from the tiny ball he has wound himself into, how he is told to simply relax while Vincent rifles through a jewelry cabinet. How can he relax when someone else's hands are on Elliot's things? Still, he is limp within Vincent's grasp when the blonde finally drifts close to him again, murmuring something about how gold is really the only thing Elliot has suitable for new piercings, and a shame at that, because Leo would look much nicer in cooler tones. There is truth to those words, no matter how they irritate him; even the cloak of the Baskervilles is the color of dried, old blood, cold and dank, rather than the brilliant, freshly spilled crimson that is Vincent's eye or the sunlit smattering of blood-tinged honey that weaves through his hair.

How is Vincent brighter than he, warmer than he? How is Vincent not so cold, when his motivations in all of this are darker and more desolate than Leo wants to comprehend, because it reminds him of what remains of his own life: so very little?

"I will be back, Leo-sama; let me just go and get the ice – "


The thought of something else, so cold and so stark, hitting his flesh, makes Leo tremble. His hand, so small and so frail and shivering so hard with the sudden, abrupt chill that settles even deeper into his bones, reaches out – clawing at the sleeve of Vincent's coat.

"I don't want it."

Vincent is staring at him, studying him, ever the analytical chessmaster. Leo realizes, painfully, that he is the king on this man's chess board, scarcely able to move and hardly better than any pawn, while Vincent is his queen – his protector and greatest ally. What has happened to his knight? Where are his pawns?

And slowly, slowly, as Vincent's lips curve into the tiniest of smirks, as if he likes what he sees but won't vocalize it out of respect for his king, Leo realizes that he truly doesn't care any more.

"… As my lord wishes."

Leo is crying before the first stud is even pressed into the lobe of his ear – silently, with little hiccups that occasionally require Vincent to shush him, to tell him to hold still, to just wait patiently, because he will be gentle. He doesn't want Vincent to be gentle. He wants the initial, sharp pressure of metal to last forever, to savor the sting as Vincent firmly shoves the damned thing into place with a slickness, a slyness like he's done it his whole life. It hurts. Throbs. Makes him inclined to jerk his head away and leave the job unfinished, but Leo doesn't cry out, doesn't move, even when the back of the earring is twisted into place and Vincent moves onto the other ear, nonchalant as anything.

"Ah – don't play with it," Vincent chides as Leo's hand drifts up to feel the first earring now achingly settled into place. "They won't heal properly, Leo-sama."

Good, Leo wants to say, but doesn't – instead he merely flinches as the next ear is done, chokes a whimper in the back of his throat as Vincent seems to take his time threading the thing through his ear, the slide of metal through flesh making his fingers clench into the arms of the chair, his toes curl in the confines of his shoes.

The worst part is he is pretty sure he likes it.

"There," his snake of a so-called servant purrs, and Leo lets out the sob that has been long in coming. He gives into the urges to press his face, wide-eyed and tear-streaked, into a lissome shoulder, to clutch at Vincent's arms as if they are his last lifeline.

Vincent might as well be that very thing, because Leo feels no less shattered by Elliot's loss than he did before he had his master's old jewelry shoved into his ears. No less cold, no more or less a single thing – only cold, still, with an extra throbbing pain that spreads to his temples, and wracks with him with each sob and wail that tears from his throat.

He can't even care.