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11 December 2010 @ 04:55 pm
"The Lure Would Prove Too Much" 8/10  
Title: "The Lure Would Prove Too Much"
Fandom: Assassin's Creed 2
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Ezio/Leonardo
Spoilers: None
A/N: AC kink meme fill, originally posted here. This is an AU so some things will be different but I kept the timeline mostly the same. In this story, no one knows of the Codex so there was no scroll in Giovanni's office and no Codex wall at Monteriggioni.

Prompt: Another request for Ezio/Leonardo (in that order) action. We've seen Evil!Templar Leonardo (and it was absolutely awesome), but I just can't picture the pacifist behaving that way, even if historically, he may have been a Templar. How about Oblivious! Templar Leonardo instead?

Maybe an AU where Ezio is sent to assassinate Leonardo because he's inventing for the Templar, only to realize that the "dangerous" artist is really just throwing sketches their way absent-mindedly?

Bonus points if Ezio has to "kidnap" Leo to keep him safe from both sides.



8

Dinner was a strange affair. Maria didn’t speak much but her presence alone made everyone brighter, as if they were all sharing the giddiness Ezio felt. Leonardo was especially talkative, entertaining them with stories of incidents from Court that had everyone laughing through most of the meal. Ezio was so content he didn’t even mind his sister’s attempts to flirt with Leonardo, despite their argument about it just a few days ago; in fact, it was actually amusing. Now that da Vinci knew of his sister’s intentions, he seemed skittish, darting glances at Ezio as if looking for help whenever she would smile coyly. Ezio tried to hide his grin when this happened but his uncle laughed outright when the artist jumped after Claudia laid a hand on his arm. By then it was growing dark and Maria announced she was turning in. As she rose from her chair, Ezio stood quickly to escort her to her room but she waved him back into his seat.

“I can walk just fine, Ezio. However, I would like to speak to your sister before I rest. Claudia?” The young woman stood hastily and followed Maria into the house, her flirtations forgotten. Leonardo slumped in his chair with a sigh of relief that had Mario cracking up again. This time Ezio didn’t bother to hide his grin.

“I thought you, er, talked to her about that?” Leonardo asked.

“I did, but she must be feeling bold after this fortunate turn of events,” Ezio replied, chuckling when Leonardo downed more wine. The man’s cheeks were already rosy from what he’d drunk to bolster his courage when dealing with Claudia and the flushed effect was quite attractive. Ezio quickly looked into his own glass and reminded himself that his uncle was still at the table. A soft rustle of wings made him glance up to see a small gray shape alighting on the balcony above them. The bird only rested a moment, taking to the air again to soar up and around the loft that jutted up from the house. Ezio was out of his chair in an instant but while Leonardo looked confused, Mario nodded; he’d seen the bird too.

Taking the route that was quickest and came naturally to him, Ezio climbed up the side of the building and hurried across the roof. He wasn't surprised when he came around the corner to find the pigeon waiting on his windowsill. When he climbed inside, it flew up with a startled coo but quickly returned to strut along the sill, bobbing its head. He held it still long enough to pull the scroll free, then released it. With the sky almost black now, he didn’t need to worry about it flying off any time soon and he was too impatient to read the message to worry about finding a cage just now. He unraveled the parchment with his pulse beating in his ears.

There wasn’t much there, simply "Return to Firenze", but Ezio read it twice more before frowning and looking at the bird. There was no doubt that it was his pigeon, one of only a handful that had been bred to fly to Monteriggioni. Lorenzo kept them caged separately from his usual messenger birds, once joking that they were more of a decoration in his home than anything else since he rarely needed them. The message had to have come from Lorenzo but it was not in his writing. The ruler of Firenze used assistants for many menial tasks but when it came to correspondence with his assassin, he handled each letter personally.

Mario was waiting in the main foyer when Ezio came down the stairs, still frowning. Wordlessly, he held out the message for his uncle to read.

“That was all the bird carried?” Mario asked after a moment.

, but it is not il Magnifico’s handwriting, which troubles me.” There was silence as they both contemplated this.

“Leave in the morning,” Mario finally said and held up a hand to halt Ezio’s protest. “If you ride out now, you’ll break your neck when your horse trips on a rock you can’t see.”

Bene,” Ezio conceded. “You will look after Leonardo for me?”

“Of course. I told him he'd had enough wine and sent him to his rooms just now. What will you tell il Magnifico?”

“I don’t know. It will depend on what I find when I get to Firenze.” Mario nodded and clapped a hand on his shoulder.

“Whatever you decide, I wish you luck, nipote.”

“Thank you, Uncle.”

~~~

Ezio slept fitfully, waking before the sun rose to dress and arm himself quickly. Something about the note tucked into his belt pouch made him uneasy and he wanted to be in Firenze already, to find the cause of his worries and deal with it. By the time he had woken the stable master and saddled up a familiar stallion, the sun was a faint glow on the horizon, casting pink streaks across the sky. He set off at a pace that was fast enough to suit his impatience but one that wouldn't wear exhaust the horse. They had made this trip together back and forth several times and he knew they could reach Firenze by midday, provided they didn't run into any problems.

The trip was uneventful and once inside the city, he sprinted across the rooftops until he neared the palazzo, circling it once to look for anything unusual. It seemed normal from the outside but he still couldn’t shake the unease that clung to him. Dropping to the ground, he warily approached the entrance. When he got close enough to see the door was not completely closed, leaving a small gap, he knew something was wrong. Easing it open enough to slip through, Ezio paused just inside the door to look around.

At first everything looked normal, despite the unusual quiet for mid-day, but then he saw the overturned plants and the first of the bodies. A familiar coppery scent reached his nose, setting Ezio's nerves on edge and making him reflexively release the hidden blade as he crept forward to kneel beside the body. It was one of the house servants, dead no more than a day or two by the looks of it; there were others fallen near the two side entrances. He heard a door open and close behind him and rose, fists clenched in anger as he turned. Three men were walking towards him from the far hallway and Ezio could see immediately they weren’t Lorenzo’s guards.

“Where is Signor Lorenzo?” he growled, stepping away from the body.

“He’s currently indisposed,” the one in front said and the other two exchanged a knowing look and a sneer. “But we would be more than happy to entertain you, assassino.”

They charged him as one but Ezio moved like a snake, dodging their swings and ducking in to slit throats with cruel precision. It was almost laughable how easily dispatched they were. He checked the bodies but other than some florins, they carried nothing that would identify them or explain their presence here. He strode down the hallway they’d come from but the door at the end was barred from the other side.

I need to get upstairs, he thought, scanning the room for the best way up. Lorenzo had explained that the house held several secret passages the family could use to escape through or hide in. He’d even pointed out a few of them; Ezio just needed to find the right rooms.

In a matter of minutes, he had ascended to the second floor through a passage above the east hallway. The damage here was much more obvious. Bookcases were tipped over, the books themselves spilled across the floor, some even ripped apart. Furniture had been knocked over or broken. He dealt quickly with the soldiers patrolling this room then went up a floor via another passage. There he found more guards and more destruction. As Ezio continued his search of the palazzo, eliminating enemies as he went, the damage and the mounting number of murdered servants made his pulse race in fear. Was this why the pigeon had been sent? Was he too late? He found the cage on the balcony outside Lorenzo’s office but it was empty except for some scattered feathers.

He had a flash of hope when he finally reached Lorenzo’s personal suite of rooms. The guards there were squabbling about how to reach the bedroom which had been sealed off. After he took care of them, he climbed a bookcase to reach the bedroom but found it empty. A bit of searching revealed yet another secret passage and finally, as he climbed down the ladder into a room glittering wall to wall with treasure, he saw a familiar figure, bloodstained and brandishing a sword.

“Stop right there!” Lorenzo cried.

“Lower your weapon, it’s me.” Ezio pushed back his hood as he approached with hands raised. He saw recognition dawn in Lorenzo’s eyes and then the man sagged against the wall with exhaustion and relief.

“Ezio! Grazie a dio!”

“Are you hurt? How long have you been here?” Ezio looked him over briefly but didn’t see any obvious wounds.

“I am fine, just a little weary. I’ve been here a day, maybe two; it is hard to tell in here. How did you know to return?”

“I received a message by pigeon. It said simply ‘return to Firenze’ but it was not in your hand.” Hearing this, Lorenzo closed his eyes, a weary smile on his face.

“Armando, bless him. When these bastardi attacked, he and the other guards tried to stall them so I could escape to this room. I told him to release the pigeons but he must have found time enough to write that message. I hope he didn’t pay for it with his life.” Ezio had seen countless men and women slain inside the palazzo but said nothing. He wasn’t familiar with Armando so it was possible the man could still be alive.

“You’ve saved my life once again,” Lorenzo said with a wry smile then gestured to the room. “This vault holds some of the greatest treasures my family has collected over the years. Please take anything you’d like, as a token of my gratitude.” Ezio glanced around, impressed not only by the sheer amount of coins collected here, but by the artwork and statues as well. Then his eyes widened as an idea struck him.

Il Magnifico, might I beg a different boon from you as my reward?” he asked.

“If it is in my power to give, I see no reason why not,” Lorenzo replied, sounding mildly amused that Ezio would turn down a share of the obvious wealth around them. “Go ahead, figliolo.”

“I would ask for your word that when Leonardo da Vinci returns to Firenze, he will be under the protection of the Medici,” Ezio said, choosing his words carefully. For a moment, Lorenzo just stared at him, his unreadable expression making the assassin a little nervous.

“I wondered if you had some hand in the mess my guards found at his shop as well as his sudden disappearance,” Lorenzo finally sighed then arched an eyebrow. “I suppose you’ve found some way to assure his loyalty will stay with us?” Ezio debated how much to reveal and decided a simple story would be best.

. He will not work for the Templars again, provided we can protect him from their threats. Already he has proven himself an ally and a worthy asset to our cause.” He released both hidden blades for Lorenzo to inspect, pointing out the modification for delivering poison.

Va bene. I give you my word that da Vinci will be safe,” Lorenzo said. “Now, I have something else for you as well.” He pulled out a crumpled piece of paper and handed it to Ezio. It was a list of names but the assassin didn’t recognize them. “Fellow conspirators of my brother’s death and most likely that of your family’s. I wonder if this is not the real reason they risked attacking me here, in my home. Perhaps they knew I was getting close.”

Grazie, Signore,” Ezio said gravely, his fingers closing tightly over the note. His pulse raced as he thought eagerly of the hunt to come. Lorenzo smiled grimly, seeming to sense his mood.

“We have tracked down the first man. I have notes on his whereabouts hidden at the bank. The others will take time to find but this will give you somewhere to begin.” He turned towards a section of wall that appeared normal but when Ezio inspected it with his second sight, he saw that it gleamed. “I trust my house is clear now of rifiuti?”

, though I fear it will be a while before the damage has been repaired.”

“If Armando was able to get my family to safety, that is all I need,” Lorenzo said, his expression pinched with worry. “Come, let us leave.”

Ezio made Lorenzo wait while he went through first to ensure no one lurked at the exit, but it seemed the men he had killed in trying to find the ruler of Firenze were all that composed the invading force. As it turned out, Armando had survived and was hiding in a nearby inn with Lorenzo’s family. Once they had been reunited, some of the weariness lifted from Lorenzo’s shoulders. He took Ezio to the bank and retrieved the information he would need for the first name on his list.

“My men are still working on the others but once I have something, I will send word,” Lorenzo promised as he handed over the reports from his spies. “I think the Templars may be less concerned about da Vinci’s whereabouts once they start dropping in numbers.” Now it was Ezio’s turn to smile grimly.

“Then let us see if your theory is correct.”

He left for San Gimignano immediately, only staying long enough to make sure the rest of Lorenzo’s men had been rounded up and would watch over their lord. With luck, he would be in the city by nightfall.



Grazie a dio = Thank God!, figliolo = my boy
rifiuti = trash, maledetto = damned