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Dagger No More [Leon]

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Dagger No More [Leon] Empty Dagger No More [Leon]

Post by Percy Wed Jun 09, 2021 3:12 pm

"Do you have any idea why you're standing here right now, Perseus?"

Lucarius was seated behind his desk in his office. Percy never enjoyed being at the Estate, even less so when he was getting the distinct foreboding feeling that everything was about to go horribly wrong. He adjusted his black tie and smoothed his gray dress shirt, trying not to seem as alarmed as he was. The intimidating patriarch of Fiore's most influential family wasn't leaning back in his chair, which was usually an indication of a relaxed state of mind. Last time he was here, the whole tone of the room and Estate had been almost happy. The youngest Dagger son had gotten acknowledged by his father, which was all he'd ever wanted. Instead, this time he was leaning forward with his elbows on his desk, his fingers interlaced and pressed to his lips. His deep red eyes were as sharp as their namesake. Between his elbows was a legal envelope, closed with the twine tightly spun around the button to keep its contents contained. His tone was frigid, barely controlled. The power wafting off of him made the peppermint head nervously standing a few feet away nauseated.

"N-No, sir," Percy responded with timidity and respect, his thumbnail picking anxiously at his index finger. He really had no idea what his father could be so upset about. Was it because he hadn't gone back to work yet? That had to be it. The people who commissioned Project D.E.E.P. must be throwing their weight around. While the scarred young man could see why they'd be upset and even felt a little guilty, he knew full well that he wasn't ready to work on something so delicate and important. One wrong wire or circuit solder and someone would die several thousand feet underwater. With his shaky hands, he wasn't willing to cost lives in the name of reputation and money. How could he convey this to his father in a way that would go in his favor?

Abruptly, so much so that Percy flinched at the sudden motion, his father was on his feet and stalking around the desk with the envelope in hand. He all but threw it at his son as he got within five feet of him. Not expecting the outburst, and plenty confused about what could be inside, Percy fumbled to catch it. His mismatched eyes glanced between the packet and his father, the stress in his features growing.

"Open it," Lucarius barked, and Percy did so immediately.

His heart simultaneously stopped and fell into his stomach at the same time. Inside were pictures. Pictures of him and Leon. Percy swallowed hard. The first seemed to be a lower quality one, maybe from an iLac, of a very skinny Percy pinned to the side of his house by an angry Leon. Had Lila taken this? Or Gabriel...or one of Lila's brothers? Then there were shots from the windows of Percy's house as he broke down, images of the house being destroyed and Leon embracing him. The next few were...well, frankly he was internally dying over the idea that his father saw such a thing regardless of the secret it screamed. They were pictures through the window of Leon's cabin in River Village, more specifically the hours that had followed the last time Percy had stood in this spot. When he'd been full of himself and determined to use the blindfold on his boyfriend. There was just...so much visual evidence of what had gone on in that cabin between the two men these last few weeks, and it was now absolutely clear to Percy why he was standing in his father's presence. His throat constricted in a whole new level of fear and dread. His hands had already been shaking, but they had escalated. The trembling had spread through his whole body.

Slowly lifting his eyes to his father's, they shared a very heavy moment of loaded silence. It was decision time. The secret was out and they both knew what that meant. It was just down to who spoke first.

It ended up being Percy. "Please, don't..." he begged, not wanting to believe his father would do such a thing yet knowing full well it was inevitable. This was the exact reason he'd tried to keep things between himself and Leon at an arm's length, and why he was so careful not to be seen together when they could no longer deny how they felt. He'd gotten too cocky, too comfortable, too in love to be too careful when he thought no one was looking. This was possibly the biggest mistake he'd ever made, and the love of his life was going to pay with his life.

"You were the last I expected to be caught up in a sex scandal, let alone a homosexual one. What if these had made it to the media before they crossed my desk?" the older man burst out, his disappointment and shock evident even through his anger. Taking a second to pinch the bridge of his nose, he sobered and became unwaveringly demanding. "It must be done, Perseus. It's all arranged and awaiting my go-ahead. I'm affording you this single courtesy to come to your senses. Cut it off completely or I'll make the call."

He'd already called an assassin. Percy's brain flipped through the few he knew of, but he knew that barely scratched the surface. He wasn't as ingrained in the darker shadows of the family business as the other men of his family, but just the ones he could think of...

Oh, it was foolish. What he did next was so foolish, but Percy had never felt such a surge of rebellion in his life. His father had threatened the thing most precious to him, more than any fatherly acknowledgments or claps on the shoulder could blot out. The clear, wise choice was to do as his father said and certainly save Leon, even if they both would be miserable. But Leon was the one single thing he'd come to want more than his father's pride, more than magic and power, more than oxygen. Even as terrified as he was, his blood suddenly boiled. His temper flared, wild and passionate as he took a step toward the man capable of swatting him like a fly. It was pure hubris, but he really believed he could defy his Dagger legacy and protect his lover.

"No! I won't leave him. He's the best thing that's ever happened to me, and for once I'm living my life for me instead of you! Get with the times, father. I'm not doing drugs or going on benders, I'm just in love with a man. I love him. I can't help it. You're going to have to accept it," Percy blazed, burning free and bright even under his father's steely glare. "Your outdated ideals will be this whole family's downfall if you don't stop trying to assassinate everyone and everything that could possibly blemish this cursed surname!" he warned, taking another step. "So, no, father, let me extend you the single courtesy of finally turning your back on high-class bigotry and bullying so you can love your children and accept them for who they are and not who you have tried to crush and reform them into!"

Lucarius's eyes flared, betraying the same temper that Percy inherited for just a second. The distance between them was already small thanks to his son's passionate steps. Like lightning, his fist lashed out and slammed into Percy's face, so forcefully that the young Dagger staggered back and held his eye. It was immediately swelling and bruising, but he knew how to take a hit. His father's gaze extinguished into deadly ice as he turned to pick up the phone on his desk. Percy lurched forward.

"Father, stop!"

"You heard me, Perseus! One chance and you wasted that as well."

The ensuing scuffle was painfully short and one-sided. No amount of training could make him a threat to his father. Neither even chanced using their magic. It was just fists, but within a few tense moments, Percy was thrown back a few feet onto the ornate rug protecting those annoyingly shiny floors.

"I'm so very disappointed in you," Lucarius glowered, picking up his phone.

"We finally have something in common," Percy spat in a hateful hiss, pulling himself back to his feet.

"You sealed his fate, then. This will be your doing, Perseus, not mine. Live with that!" Lucarius called after his son as he ran out of his office.

***

There was a level of panic that Percy had never felt before, but he was fully thrown into it now.  His blood was barely more than frozen slush in his veins as he drove from the Estate to Dagger Corp, silently praying to whatever entity might exist in the supposed heavens that his father hadn't turned off his access codes. In the end, it didn't matter too much. Someone would let him in, or he'd hack into the locks he designed himself. There probably wasn't a system in Dagger Corp that Percy hadn't had put his mark on, a fact that Lucarius probably knew full well. It'd cause more damage to lock his son out at this point, so it was just saving time when his keycard blipped happily like it always did.

Normally Percy conducted himself with at least a modicum of professionalism in the halls of his family's company, but today all bets were off and every facade he'd ever crafted was cracked. He ran like a wildman through the halls, shouldering and elbowing through anyone who got in his way. Papers were flying as alarmed coworkers were shoved, and still more watched in enraptured curiosity as the quietest member of the Dagger family skidded noisily into the elevator.

Once he was in his lab, he packed up everything he thought could be useful. Finished exo-suits were shrunk into their backpack forms and thrown into the large container he wheeled behind him. Research notes were crammed in. Weapons and gadgets the fake I.D.s he'd made for himself and his "assistant" were dumped on top. Anything that wasn't exclusively for Dagger Corp was packed into containers and he had Violet fetch the crew to haul them out into one of the vans. The poor girl was confused and worried, but she did as she was told. He tossed her the keys to the lab on the way out the door.

Back down on the ground floor, he rushed out the back door and crawled under the loaded van. After removing the tracking device, he got in the driver's seat and peeled out, heading for where the S.S. Endeavor was anchored. Tracker or no, he knew his father knew they were staying on Meliora Vitae's home base. They had to get out of there, for both their sakes and everyone else's.

***

He busted into his dorm on the ship much like he had at Dagger Corp.

Percy was disheveled, his hair and clothes torn and mussed from the scuffle and all the feverish running. His right eye was blackened and swollen as was the cheekbone below it. His oddly neutral lips sported a bloody split. It was clear he'd been in a fight that he hadn't won, but more alarming were his actions. They were the movements of a man about to unravel but managing to hold on by a tiny, determined thread, yet his face was utterly blank and unemotive. It was this lack of expression that betrayed just how overwhelmed he was. He didn't care that he'd lost everything. All he cared about was keeping the man he loved alive, and to have the best shot at that, they had to get moving. He didn't have time to freak out or even process what was happening.

Going straight for the closet, he pulled out both of their bags and tossed them on the bed. Percy didn't even have the ability to bark orders, instead opting to cram a mix of all their things haphazardly in both without so much as a word. As Cat hopped up into one of the half-filled bags, he paused to remove him when another small detail occurred to him. Holding Cat up with that same blank expression, he then twisted around to lay eyes on Robin nearby. They couldn't take their pets on the run. Somewhere in his chest that hurt, but it was ignored. Placing Cat down out of the way, he hastily pulled out his phone and tapped a message to Dagda to take care of their pets while they were gone.

If Leon had said anything to him since he entered the room they'd been sharing, his lover hadn't heard it. It was almost like he was deaf or lost in his own world of unexplained horror. All he could hear was his own racing heartbeat and panting breaths...and static. Just a roar of static as his mind spastically ran scenario after scenario, trying to genius its way into a foolproof plan to save Leon from the hit his father had placed on him.

[wc: 2200]
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Dagger No More [Leon] Empty Re: Dagger No More [Leon]

Post by Leon Hoffman Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:42 am



Dagger No More [Leon] 18lTu9A

Plump Nut

Leon was deeply in love with Percy. Anyone could see it. After all, they ate all of their meals together, did their work together, slept together, went out together, and stayed together. They were practically joined at the hip, engrossed in each other and consumed in their own little world.  Leon was pretty content with the way things were right now, but the reality of it was that he was friendless as a result. He got bored and lonely whenever Percy was away, like a puppy with separation anxiety, left to his own thoughts and devices in an unusually empty space. This time, however, Leon was particularly fidgety.

Sitting on the edge of the bed with a cigarette dangling out the corner of his mouth, Leon was pensively toying with the ring box he had bought ages ago. They had spent a lot of time together since Percy's last meltdown, but there was never a good time to bring it up, or that he never had the courage. It was one of those things that he'd forget about as long as he couldn't see it, but he always kept it in places where he'd eventually stumble across it again, and he'd eventually end up back here.

What should he do? They were just promise rings, but he couldn't help but get a little nervous. He didn't know why he got so nervous whenever he considered giving it to him, just that his chest began to feel tight and his head starts to swell with what-ifs.

"Ugh..." Leon grumbled, ruffling his messy black hair and puffing on his cigarette. Thinking about it started to make him feel impatient, and he suddenly didn't want to deal with it anymore. But that's when Cat took a sudden interest in the box and stared at it from across the room. "What're you lookin' at?"

Cat, obviously, didn't respond.

"What do you mean 'man up and give it to him?' It's easier said than done, you know!"

Cat just sneezed.

"Pussy?! Some friend you are, asshole. Besides..." Leon fumbled with the box again, looking away dispassionately, "...these things take time. You wouldn't understand, you're just a cat, Cat—"

Fwoop! Without warning, the dorm room flung open with such intensity that Leon could feel a small gust of wind blow against his face when it did. Of course, it was Percy, but a little part of Leon's soul still left his body after that frightening, abrupt arrival.

"P-Percy! Welcome..." Leon stuttered, anxiously stuffing the ring box into his pocket as his lover approached. He was supposed to meet his family today for reasons Leon was completely unaware of, but he tried not to worry too much about it since the last meeting ended in a somewhat acceptable way. Well, that put it lightly. In reality, Percy left that place happy and both of them ended up having unusually exciting sex. Was he in for a treat? Like last time, his lover looked all worked up and wordlessly entered the room, keeping Leon literally on the edge of his seat in both fear and anticipation. "...back?"

Leon didn't know what to feel at first, but something did feel off about him. He looked notably disheveled, with his hair a mess and his clothes just as disoriented, and he moved around like someone who was in a hurry. The vibe he got from his lover didn't come close to last time, and to bring it all together, everything changed when Leon caught a glimpse of his bruised, swollen face.

"What the hell happened to you?" Leon suddenly shot up from the edge of the bed, plucking the cigarette out of his mouth as his entire face twisted into a nasty scowl, "Who the fuck—hey!"

It was like his words fell onto deaf ears once Percy came in, only interested in hastily filling up their travel bags with their things. Percy didn't say a word as it all unfolded, and with every item, he stuffed into their bags, Leon felt his own anger begin to nudge him closer and closer to the edge. There were so many questions he had that Percy refused to even address, let alone acknowledge, and Leon was close to turning red in the face by the end of it all. So, at the height of his impatience, he snatched both of Percy's wrists away from his rummaging and forcefully held them up above his head.

"Fuckin' hell, dude! Stop! Just calm...!" Leon raised his voice for a moment, but stopped once he saw his face again. Not just those infuriating injuries, but how it was accompanied by an expression that didn't seem to care. He knew that head of his was probably running wild with thoughts, but there was no telling what those thoughts were with such a neutral expression on his face. Leon took a sharp, bracing breath after that, and exhaled deeply before looking at Percy with those angry, swelling eyes. "Just... calm down, alright? What the hell happened? Who put their hands on you?"


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Dagger No More [Leon] Empty Re: Dagger No More [Leon]

Post by Percy Thu Jun 10, 2021 4:42 am

Percy tugged briefly on his wrists that were trapped but stopped once he appeared to finally register who it was that was grabbing them. As his eyes lifted, he wasn't sure what he was supposed to feel while looking at his lover, whom he'd doomed. It was selfish to not regret it. So selfish. Even more so that he was too selfish to do what his father wanted and let him go. He felt guilty. Love. Sadness. Comfort. None of those quite made it to his face, especially since the overwhelming feeling continued to be such deep panic that all he could see was a shadowy assassin inching closer with each tick of the second hand.

There was no calming down. Calming down meant moving slower, and that was a luxury they didn't have. But Leon didn't know that yet. Of course, he didn't. To get this moving faster, he had to bring the man up to speed. Percy wasn't particularly thrilled about speaking at the moment, but it was necessary.

"Lucarius," he answered hoarsely through a tight throat. The man didn't deserve the title of 'father' anymore, no more than Percy would claim the Dagger name. Ties had been severed here. Everything had changed. It'd changed in ways he hadn't even been able to consider yet, but that could come later. "He found out," he said next, his words in terse little bursts. Pulling one wrist free, he reached around for the envelope of pictures rolled in his back pocket and handed it to Leon.

Percy had never explained the full situation. It'd never really come up, and the one time they approached it-- that time at the Valentine's Day amusement park-- he'd been in no mental condition to expound on it. There was a reason he and Leon didn't go out much and when they did, he dressed like a "sexual predator". There was a reason why he had mistakenly felt safe in sleepy River Village, on the S.S. Endeavor, on an undiscovered island, anywhere he thought no one was watching.

The Daggers were old money and old ways, pearl clutches and "what will the neighbors think?!". Reputation was its own sort of power more valuable than any magic, but it was also their prison. It cost them freedom, family, love, everything one way or another. It was a secret of monumental proportions that the Dagger family had their hands in things such as assassins and hits and that that's what awaited those perceived as threats in any way. The Dagger closet was filled with countless skeletons and a gay son.

"He found out about us," Percy repeated, starting to come alive a little. His eyes, what could be seen of them through the swollen flesh, were widening with the terror and urgency he felt. "There's no time. We have to hurry, Leon. We have to go. Now." His voice was coming to life as well. It was growing louder. Tenser. Slightly higher in pitch from panic. He had to choke it down not to have a full-blown attack. He was fighting to remain neutral.

"Lucarius put a hit out on you. I'm sorry. We have to go!"

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Dagger No More [Leon] Empty Re: Dagger No More [Leon]

Post by Leon Hoffman Sun Jun 13, 2021 4:15 am



Dagger No More [Leon] 18lTu9A

Plump Nut

Percy was talking, but only a few of the things he said were landing on Leon's ears in a way that made sense. Everything was fine just a moment ago, and now his boyfriend barged in as he had just seen a ghost. What's more, Lucarius? His dad? A hit? Suddenly the anger that he faced when he saw Percy's injuries were overshadowed by the confusion of it all. Leon was given all this information but never the time or luxury to process it, and even though he trusted that they were in danger, there was one thing missing from all these puzzle pieces given to him that kept him from understanding what was actually going on. Something especially bewildering.

"What do you mean 'found out about us'?" Leon stared at him with a puzzled look on his face, eyes wide with interest and a little anxiety as Percy's panicking was almost contagious. In any case, the dark-haired man seemed reluctant to get moving until the foggy explanation was cleared up.


|| Word Count: 171 || Thread WC: 3,744 || WC Needed xxx || Job Approval ||
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"" @Percy

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Dagger No More [Leon] Empty Re: Dagger No More [Leon]

Post by Percy Sun Jun 13, 2021 5:18 am

Impatience engulfed Percy. "We don't have time!" he exploded, but reeled it back in quickly by sighing heavily and pinching the bridge of his nose. Once a moment or two passed, he had composed himself to try and explain, though he was still speaking a bit quickly. "Look in the envelope, Leon," he insisted, even though he was embarrassed by it. Nudging one of the bags aside, Percy slumped down on the bed and covered his face with his hands.

"I mean Lucarius only cares about the Daggers' image and reputation. His children are expected to walk this outdated straight and narrow and never have any 'problematic' behavior that he or his bigoted friends could raise a brow at. One of those things, in my specific case, is being in love with you," he explained miserably. "That's why I was working so hard to keep him from finding out about you," he continued as if it was common knowledge that Leon had been a secret. Honestly, Percy thought he'd been pretty obvious about all of it. He hadn't. "But...I think Lila took those pictures and outed us, and... well, I guess secrets don't matter now. My family runs a secret crime syndicate, and Lucarius loves to hire assassins to get rid of problems."

He fell quiet for just a second, his hands lowering from his face. The neutral expression had returned with the onslaught of trying to process it all. Overwhelmed seemed too tame of a word to describe the chaos he was bottling. "He called one of his assassins to kill you before anyone finds out about his gay son," he said blankly, fingers idly fussing around the swollen and darkened skin around his eye. He'd never been brave enough to raise a hand against his father before, regardless of spending his whole life trying to earn his praise. Everything in his life was flipped upside down. "I refused to break it off with you. I doomed you by loving you. I'm sorry."

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Dagger No More [Leon] Empty Re: Dagger No More [Leon]

Post by Leon Hoffman Sun Jun 13, 2021 7:03 pm



Dagger No More [Leon] 18lTu9A

Plump Nut

As Percy kept talking, all of it was quickly coming together. All of the puzzle pieces that he couldn't make sense of before suddenly started fitting into one another, and all the dots were quickly connecting. When Leon opened the envelope, his heart sank into his stomach. Their time at the cabin, their time at the party... it was like he was given a slideshow of their lives over the past few months. All of them so clear, so unforgivingly blatant about what was transpiring between the two of them, and they were none the wiser of the invasion.

Leon's hands trembled a little, fingers clenching and crinkling them between his fingertips. There was no doubt that he was angry—perhaps it was even an understatement—but the rage he felt swelling within him wasn't from the photos. No, it wasn't from this hit placed on him either. Honestly, he didn't put this sort of thing past the Daggers. They were the type of people to scar and bruise their son, after all. In fact, as he raised his gaze from the photos, it seemed that the icon of his anger was none other than Percy himself.

"So, what you're saying is... what you mean to tell is that..." Leon slowly approached Percy, crouching down by the bedside so that he was looking up at his lover. But unlike so many other times, there wasn't any affection in his eyes. He didn't immediately gingerly poke and prod the bruises on his face, or reel him into one of his loving and clingy embraces. The look on his face was nothing short of rage waiting to boil over like he was waiting to see his lover's response before he really lost his temper. "...all this time, I was a secret? We were a secret?"


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Post by Percy Sun Jun 13, 2021 8:05 pm

"Ah." He hadn't considered this. Not once. It had always been something Percy viewed as entirely personal, something that wouldn't affect Leon unless the secret got out. Now, in hindsight, he could see how this would be hurtful and quite a surprise. It was selfish. Was there anything in this relationship he hadn't messed up?

Yet in the face of Leon's rage, Percy looked nothing but accepting and tired and miserably in love. The lovesick and terrified young man couldn't muster an ounce of anger to confront what he saw in his lover's chilling expression. How many times had he faced down this expression from people in his life for thoughtless things he'd done? Mephistopheles. Lucarius. Artemis. For just a second his chin wobbled like he might give in to the terrified sobs building in his chest, but even that quickly subsided. "Yeah," he said quietly, resigned.

His brain was running off on another tangent now. Wouldn't it be funny if this revelation sent Leon running? Broke them up right at the pinnacle of danger, accomplishing more or less what Lucarius wanted? His stomach churned and his face grew pale and clammy. It was pure agony to think about, yet there was this strange hopeful relief edging his brain. Leon would be safe at that point, and after getting over the hurt and loss of the relationship, he'd move on and find happiness elsewhere. The same couldn't be said for Percy-- he was sure he'd never get over it and he'd torpedoed his life entirely-- but the problem would be solved. He could deliver the death blow to his dignity and call his dad to let him know that the assassination could be called off.

"I was afraid of c-coming out. I was terrified of what the D-Daggers would do to me and to you... I didn't want what's happening right now to ever happen."

Percy squared himself once he stopped speaking, tensing his muscles for the hit he expected to follow. He wouldn't defend or deflect, he'd simply take it any however many more. Unlike the blows from his father, which had been purely physical, this violence would hurt much more emotionally, much like when Artemis had punched him after he'd attempted to contract a demon in spite of what his brother had warned. And like then, he deserved this now.

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Dagger No More [Leon] Empty Re: Dagger No More [Leon]

Post by Leon Hoffman Sun Jun 13, 2021 9:13 pm



Dagger No More [Leon] 18lTu9A

Plump Nut

"You're fucking kidding me, right? I mean, this is a joke?" Leon cracked a smile, but there wasn't an ounce of happiness or amusement on his features. It remained a cold, icy expression growing hotter and melting away into much more visible disbelief and disgust as Percy poured his out to him. "I mean... wow. Just, wow!"

What was this feeling? This feeling of his heart being squeezed and his chest shrinking? Like a dagger twisting in his stomach? These feelings of, almost, betrayal? Just looking at Percy after he said what he did made him hurt, and while Leon knew why it hurt, it was like he still couldn't explain it. The anger and the shock almost overwhelmed his own understanding of why they were there in the first place, and he soon lost the patience to keep his mouth as shut as his fists were right now.

"Refused to break it off with me? Doomed me by loving me? Terrified what they'd do? I mean...! I...! Just fucking wow!" Leon suddenly stood up in a tiny burst of laughter, the disbelief on his face permeating through the anger. He paced back and forth across the room as if moving his legs would somehow make the gears and cogs in his mind move too, but all he ended up doing was unleash the rage that was swelling within. "Do you even hear yourself right now, Perseus?! You don't get to say that shit to me! Not to me!" he fumed at him, his face almost turning pink with the sudden rise in his voice as he pointed and glared at his lover, "I didn't cut ties with everything and everyone in my life up until now just to be your little secret! The fuck you think this is? A game?! Like, even though I had to choose between my piece-of-shit family and you, you could somehow have it both ways? Oh, oh! And that's not all, Mr. Dagger! You never even stopped to think, 'Hey! Maybe I should bring this up to Leon! You know, the guy I'm dating and this has everything to do with?' Oh, but yeah, thank you for taking your grandstand against your father today! But let's not forget to thank you father as well! Because without him, I would've never known just how much it took for you to even acknowledge I existed. Really! Greaaat job, you fucking asshole."

Leon's face was red after his outburst, still holding the photos in his hand and feeling his chest fill with air as he took labored panting breaths. The room went quiet. There were a few times he had lost his temper with Percy, but never quite like this. He was angry—unbelievably angry—but his chest still clenched with regret as he leaned against and wall and hid his face in his hand. What happened just now was just an ugly release of raw emotion, unrefined and with little thought to smooth out the rough edges of it all, but he didn't immediately follow it up with an apology. Instead, he continued to brood and stew over the anger that was still lingering within him.

It hurt.


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Dagger No More [Leon] Empty Re: Dagger No More [Leon]

Post by Percy Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:24 pm

He wished Leon had just hit him.

Percy flinched at the truth as it was swung at him with the same force as physical blows, each syllable chipping away at the stoic mask he wore. For just a moment he forgot about the urgency of needing to escape the assassin. Mismatched eyes watched Leon pace and rant, his usually strong frame shrinking in on itself and making him look small as he remained perched on the edge of the bed. He deserved this, too. No matter how big and ugly Leon's anger was, he deserved it.

"I didn't mean it like that--" he tried to defend, but ultimately fell into miserable, irritated silence. It wasn't as simple as that! Is this what Leon really thought of him? He hadn't asked Leon to cut those ties. It had been what was best for him whether they were dating or not, and he'd made that decision. It hadn't been like Percy demanded such a thing just so he could be a douchebag and keep his boyfriend isolated and a secret! Percy had gone to war to make sure Leon lived through it, just so he could earn his place with that terrible family! He'd left Leon behind, thinking he'd never see him again! Because even though he hated how they treated him-- he'd launched one of his brothers over a bar in his own home-- Percy related to what Leon was going through and never questioned it. The Daggers sucked and he'd been trying to accomplish basically the exact same thing Leon was. The biggest difference was, as far as he knew, the Hoffman's didn't run an organization like Hidden Blades, chocked full of assassins that no amount of physical training or contracted magic could defend against. There were a lot of Dagger secrets he was forbidden to share.

How dare he call him Perseus, as his father had. And how dare he call him Mr. Dagger! It disgusted him. He'd divorced himself from that last name and all it implied the moment he opposed the patriarch, yet... he was acting every bit like a Dagger when he made all of these ill-conceived decisions, wasn't he? If only he could scrub it from his blood as easily as he could reject his surname.

But he was right. Percy had thought he could have it both ways. He thought he was smart enough to keep both of his worlds separate. He could solve his obsession with earning his family's approval, stand equal with them, and love this clingy dark-haired man. It wasn't like he was going to take Leon home for a family dinner even if they weren't rich old bigots, so the overlap was nonexistent. Now that he'd gotten what he always wanted and subsequently fell from grace, he could see now that he'd always hated his father. He hated what his family had done to him and made him feel. It was like the Dagger spell had been broken and he felt dirty for ever feeling like he had to belong to start with. He was angry with himself for buying into the delusion that he could keep such a big secret forever, or that it was fair to Leon in any way.

Even so, Leon didn't know what it took to stand against his father... or maybe he did, but that didn't make it feel any better that such a big moment for him was tossed aside like it meant nothing. This would have been an impossibility six months ago. The hurt would go both ways on this one, and even though it wasn't enough to hold a candle to the wrong he'd done to his lover, it still brought a flash of anger into his eyes. Percy had been a little late, but in the end, he'd reciprocated the sacrifices Leon had made when it counted. It had counted, right? Trivializing it like Leon just had... He'd sacrificed everything, too, with this grandstand. The idea of thanking his father for forcing this on them made him sick and angry, but he'd hold it in.

The silence that followed the outburst was thick and heavy. The peppermint head's features twisted into a pained scowl from the wavering between anger and sadness, tears from both emotions beginning to squeeze out of the darkened, swollen folds of his 'good' eye. His fists clenched, but he lowered his head and stared at the floor passively instead of shouting back. Then he broke the silence. "It was never a game to me, but you're right. I fooled myself and I was thoughtless. I was selfish and stupid and couldn't let go of my obsession for you. I'm every bit of the f^&#ing a$%hole you say I am. It's a Dagger thing," he said, voice deceptively even.

He wasn't sure if he'd ever felt so overwhelmed in his life. What was he supposed to do with all of this? Who even was he now? What was his purpose? No Dagger Corp, no laboratories, no family (other than Artemis), no home. Did he even still have Leon, assuming the assassin didn't kill him? His entire world was tilted and unfamiliar and crumbling under his feet. The fabric that kept him together was ripping as quickly as he could try and stitch it back together.

"All I c-can say is I'm s-sorry-- Sorry-! I-- I d-don't know--" Percy stumbled over half-thoughts and panicked bursts of emotion, trying to get something meaningful out but starting to succumb to the anxiety attack. The tighter his chest squeezed, the less air he seemed to get from each quick breath. "I-I'll fix it-- I'll try-- I hurt you and-- I didn't want-- I messed up-- Is it t-too late-- Mmgh, I'm s-sorry, I thought--"

Speech was obviously failing him.


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Dagger No More [Leon] Empty Re: Dagger No More [Leon]

Post by Leon Hoffman Mon Jun 14, 2021 1:16 am



Dagger No More [Leon] 18lTu9A

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It appeared that both of them had become very distracted because after Percy started emotionally fumbling over his words and Leon began to look for an out of this conversation, he suddenly remembered the hit placed on him and the imminent danger they were in. With a disgruntled sigh, Leon stepped over to the bags and continued to pack the essentials, although there wasn't much left to pack.

He zipped up the bag and tossed it over his shoulder as he looked down at Percy, watching him stutter over the edge of the bed. It was different from other times, where after an outburst, all of the anger and sadness he'd feel would suddenly evaporate like steam over a kettle. Every time he looked at Percy, that feeling of betrayal and hurt would pinch him again, and nothing good was about to come out of his mouth. Even so, Leon always softened with regret whenever either of them got to this point, and instead of barking and venting at him like he wanted to right now, he quietly averted his glare.

"Just... stop. It doesn't even matter anymore. It doesn't fucking matter anymore," Leon continued, still clenching onto the photos with a wave of trembling anger. Even though his words had urged the both of them to move on, it was clear that he was still upset. "...So just stop, and let's go."



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Post by Percy Mon Jun 14, 2021 2:22 am

It mattered. It mattered a lot. Percy peeked at Leon for just a second as his word salad was put to a stop. That was the last time he'd look at Leon directly for a while. Whether he wanted to or not, the young man was shutting down to protect himself. He solemnly nodded, cleared the emotion out of his throat, and wiped all traces of tears from his face. With his overwhelmed blank mask partially returning, he turned to zip up the other bag and stood with it clasped tightly in his fist.

As he paused only long enough to give their pets a final goodbye pat, he tried to shake the intense feeling of dread. Though he was silent, that didn't mean his anxiety attack had stopped. It just buried deep into his chest. Biting his split lip until he tasted the iron helped ground him, and with that, he left Meliora Vitae behind as well.

He wasn't running this time, but his steps were quick as he led Leon off the flying ship and to the black van on the ground packed with stuff. He kept glancing around into the surrounding treeline, looking for any trace of Leon's mystery killer. It was really very unfortunate that his eye was as swollen as it was, since it made it even harder to get a good look, and he'd never needed to be as hawkeyed as he needed to be in this moment.

Once in the vehicle's driver's seat, he reached behind him to place his bag down, then reached into another bag for a burner phone and a couple of what looked like the watch Percy had had in Bellum that altered his appearance. He wordlessly offered Leon one of each without looking at him, then proceeded fuss with the watch for a second or two, then took the chip out of his iLac and snapped it. Punching in directions to the Neutral Grounds, the only place he could think of right now that would at least offer them protection from the magic aspect of the assassination, he put the van in gear and lurched through the grass and back onto the main road.

Percy was a great driver, but he was a fast driver on a normal day. This was a whole new level. He was driving like he did on his brother's racetrack when he'd bet Arty he could win and something super embarrassing was on the line. He kept his eyes in the mirrors and was deadly silent except for his quick breathing for a long time until he felt somewhat safe to speak again. "We're going to the Neutral Grounds. There are weapons and exosuits in the cases back there, along with forged IDs and paperwork to get us where ever we need to go without getting caught. Use the watch to change your appearance if you need to and if it comes to it, I need you to run. I'm sure they aren't supposed to hurt me, so I'll be fine."

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Dagger No More [Leon] Empty Re: Dagger No More [Leon]

Post by Leon Hoffman Mon Jun 14, 2021 4:51 am



Dagger No More [Leon] 18lTu9A

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Neither of them spoke to one another for a while after that. They said their goodbyes to their pets, Robin and Cat, and left for the black van grounded away from the S.S Endeavor for their pending departure. Leon hadn't woken up today expecting to say his final goodbyes to Robin, a puppy he'd had for months now, but he seemed to take it well. She and Cat would be okay as long as that Dagda guy and his guild took care of them, or rehomed them, and he had a lot of other things on his mind anyway.

Once in the van, Leon accepted the things given to him without question and belted himself in for the ride, but for just a moment, he had completely forgotten just how fast of a driver his boyfriend actually was. He dreaded driving with him even when their lives were nothing but sunshine and rainbows, but now they were going so fast that Leon was willing to bet they'd die in some high-speed crash before the assassin even came close to them—and it showed. While Percy was deeply engrossed in watching for the assassin, Leon was pressed against his seat, hand clenching the handle up top, his face tight as his eyes glued to the road ahead of them. They were seriously about to become another statistic...

It wasn't until Percy finally spoke again that Leon could divert his attention away from the road, finally elucidating where exactly these wheels were taking them. Even though he was the one being hunted right now, it seemed like Percy was the one who had any idea what to do. Sure, if Leon were alone in this pursuit, he too would've found his way to Neutral Grounds with a hastily packed travel bag, but fake IDs and documents? No way did have the thought or resources to be so well-prepared, and part of him felt like dead weight because of it, especially after their outbursts from earlier.

"You don't know that..." Leon mumbled with a frown on his face when Percy insisted that he'd be fine. This entire situation was crazy, but nothing Leon could put past his family. If they could be so content with killing off any problem of theirs and beating up their son, who was to say that killing Percy was off the table? The thought filled him with horrible anxiety and frustration, and even now he wanted to beat Lucarius to a pulp, but they no longer had the luxury. "I hear you, but can you pull over? I'm thinkin' I should drive instead..."



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Post by Percy Mon Jun 14, 2021 9:08 am

Leon was right. Percy didn't know for sure that the assassin would leave him alive. It was just an educated guess. Had his grandfather still been in charge, it was more likely that his transgression against the family would land him on the hit list, too, but Lucarius, despite his general awfulness, wasn't as awful as Mephistopheles. Knocking him across the room and ordering a hit on his gay lover was one thing, but telling the assassin to kill his own son was quite another. He was comfortable banking on it for the moment, since it was so ingrained in the strategies his genius brain was quickly serving up on the fly.

Percy's lips initially parted to either respond to Leon's doubt or the suggestion that he drive, but whatever he was going to say never came. Instead, his eyes locked on the driver's side mirror and his face tightened suddenly. Not that he'd been very vocal today anyway, but it was especially hard for him to speak for a few passing minutes. The gas pedal was jammed to the floor and the van went even faster while Percy white-knuckled the steering wheel and swerved around other cars.

Behind them was another black vehicle, but it was a sleek sedan with heavily tinted windows. Percy had noticed it once before in the initial stretch of silent driving, but as a professional killer with many skills, the car had seemingly turned off on a side road to divert attention. But it was back and hanging just far enough back that Percy was sure they were being hunted. Even as he flew down the road, the car stayed in the mirror, meaning he was matching speed. No one would do that unless they were following them on purpose. "Brace yourself. I don't think we're gonna make it to the Neutral Grounds," the peppermint head muttered through a clenched jaw, supremely stressed.

The person in the car knew they'd been spotted and dropped the pretenses. The van was fast, but no match for the motor in the murder sedan. It pulled up beside them. Looking out his window, he locked eyes with the green-glowing tip of an arrow just as it lurched from its bow. Glass shattered all over the side of his face and made him close his eyes as the bolt landed in the windshield, and for a second Percy lost control of the van. He could feel some shards in his skin, but thankfully none were in his eyes. "Hold on, Leon!" he yelled, jerking the vehicle back onto the road. He expected to bash into the sedan, but it was gone, already zooming up on the passenger's side. Through the mirror, Percy could see another arrow, this time aimed at the person sitting in the seat instead of just aiming to break the window. Percy jammed on the breaks just in time to ruin the shot, which broke the window but landed in the roof of the cab. Swerving to ram the sedan, the two black cars swapped paint and dents. It was only Percy's skilled driving that kept them on the road for as long as they were, but there was only so much he could do without wrecking the vehicle. They needed it to still be functional to escape in later. Without any side roads to dart off onto to try and break line of sight, it was time to switch tactics.

"I was serious when I said to run," he said stiffly as he pulled off the road and into a field, heading for some trees for cover. The sedan remained on the road, merely pulling over to optimize a smooth getaway. However, with Percy's plan, their van would be closer to get to and they'd be back on the road before the assassin could run back to the car, giving them, or at least Leon, a headstart. It also gave them a minute or two before the assassin could reach them at the van right now. Slamming it into park, Percy hopped in the back and opened a container to get their exosuits and some weapons.

Then he did something odd. Pushing a button on his watch, his appearance suddenly changed to one nearly identical to Leon's. With the suit on his back, he hopped out of the back of the van without so much as looking at his boyfriend. "Hide. Once I lead him off into the woods, drive away," Percy demanded in barely above a whisper, turning to lock his hijacked golden eyes with the tall, thin man in the black trench coat and wide-brimmed hat at the edge of the road. Once he was sure the assassin had seen his presumed target, Percy activated the pod on his back and his body disappeared from view under the metal suit. For a little extra help, he also pulled the trigger of his injection device, flooding his veins with vitamins and steroids to push his speed beyond normal human limits.

Even as the two took off into the woods, the Leon-Decoy wasn't so dumb that he was certain Leon would actually leave. If the roles were reversed, there was no way he'd leave his lover behind, but he could still hope. They had just had a pretty devastating fight, and the young inventor wasn't very secure in where they stood. The best thing Leon could do would be to take this chance and trust that Percy would be alright and that they were better off separated.

The mechanical leg joints of his exo-suit screamed as his legs pumped faster than they should, much like they had back on those frozen trails of Bellian mountainside. Even so, an arrow whizzed by his head, only a few inches off. He looked back at the assassin, only to notice he wasn't within sight. Panicked, Percy's eyes darted around. Not even the suit's HUD could locate him, meaning he was a good ways out of range. So, that arrow had come from quite a distance as well as been patiently timed to account for trees and expertly aimed to compensate for his super speed.

This was actually very bad. He'd never guessed his father would choose a sniper, given their usual limitations. Surely it wasn't that one, the one who liked to poison his prey just to watch them die agonizingly slow deaths... that seemed especially cruel, and a little bit of overkill.

As another arrow whizzed out of the silence and broke his train of thought, it slammed into the back of his arm with a loud 'PING' and bounced off, but the liquid it deposited quickly corroded the metal and circuits. He ejected the arm material just as it started to burn his flesh, leaving this left his arm vulnerable, but it was just enough time for his HUD to pop up with an explanation of the liquid. It was an extremely concentrated venom. Percy gasped. His father was the worst. This assassin was the aforementioned long-range poison mage and a personal favorite of the Dagger patriarchs for his flawless success rate.

Percy would continue to run around for a few more minutes as fast as he could while dodging a flurry of arrows from the shadows. Parts of his suit were damaged or missing, and his body was already screaming with pain at the joints. It didn't seem to matter how fast he went, there was an arrow waiting for him. His mind whirling with strategies, but it was hard to concentrate. There was really only one he could think of, but it was really dangerous, especially alone. Darting low behind a tree to catch his ragged breath, he paused to work up his nerve. He'd have to go on the offensive, locate the man, lure him into the open field, and take this close range. Close-range would put the sniper out of his comfort zone and Percy into his. As much as Percy would love to turn the long-rage game back on his enemy, the damage to his left eye made sure he was no good at that. There was a reason Percy fought with his body or with swords.

This venom stung. His flesh had yet to be pierced, but just the residue left burn marks and a dizzying effect. It wasn't helping matters at all.

He'd been so busy running in random patterns that he hadn't been keeping track of where he was on the map (directionally challenged as always). He'd actually come back a bit closer to the van, but hopefully, the van and Leon were gone.

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Dagger No More [Leon] Empty Re: Dagger No More [Leon]

Post by Leon Hoffman Sat Jun 19, 2021 6:00 am



Dagger No More [Leon] 18lTu9A

Plump Nut

It had all happened so fast. One minute they were driving down the road in a suffocating, suspenseful silence, and then they were in some high-speed chase the next. Glass shattered, the smell of burnt rubber filled the car, and arrows whizzed past them with haunting precision. Before he knew it, Percy had parked the van in the shelter of the woods, but it was not long before he was suiting up to confront the assassin. Of course, so was Leon, and as he eagerly began to fumble around for his share of the equipment, Percy said something that shocked him.

"What?" Leon whispered back with a frown on his face, wide-eyed as he watched Percy transform into him. Percy was clearly the smarter of the two, but seeing his lover take up his appearance made it clear what the plan was. He didn't need any explanation for its absurdity. "And leave you with this crazy fucker? No! Absolutely no—Percy!"

Before Leon could physically keep Percy there with him, the peppermint-headed inventor was already suited up and leading the assassin away at speeds Leon could only dream to match.

"Damn it, Percy! Goddammit!"

* * *

It had only been a couple of minutes, but running through the green groves with nothing but his heavy footsteps and heartbeat filling his ears made it feel like he had been doing this for hours. Abandoning the van with his exosuit equipped, Leon followed the trail Percy took just minutes before, although his speed made it so that they were nowhere near each other for a moment.

Maybe splitting up and rendezvousing somewhere else was a better idea. Maybe taking the van and resuming the trip to Neutral Grounds was the best thing he could've done to preserve himself. Maybe he shouldn't have said those things to Percy back on the ship. The little voice of reason in his head was ushering all of these maybes onto Leon, but he ignored them all entirely. All he could think about was Percy, and he was so close to worrying himself sick as he searched for him. His eyes were fixed on his HUD, eagerly awaiting any sign of his lover, but wary about the person sent for him as well. It was only a couple of minutes, but every passing second that Leon couldn't lay his eyes on Percy almost drove him crazy and made his heart beat faster.

Finally, his HUD picked up on him on his surprising journey back towards the abandoned van. Whether it was his terrible sense of direction at play or perhaps a change of heart, it didn't matter to Leon. He still made his way back all the same, sprinting with all of the might his legs could bear. The more he ran, the more he could see Percy's increasingly battered state. They had only been separated for a few minutes, and yet pieces of his armor were already missing.

"Percy!" Leon shouted out, momentarily forgetting about the microphones in their suits, "What were you thinking, stupid?! Let's just beat the livin' hell outta him! Hey!"


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Post by Percy Sat Jun 19, 2021 7:14 am

Leon's loud voice rattled his cranium inside what was left of his helmet, causing him to flinch. With the reflexive press of a button, it slunk back into the neck portion, revealing that Percy looked like himself again. The watch on his wrist was gone, ejected with the arm armor. "I would love to. Don't know if I can," he called back tensely, his face tight with doubt and frantic thoughts. He certainly didn't seem surprised to see Leon, though it did make him frown. "Try to stay back and avoid arrows. They're corrosive poison."

It was hard to admit that this guy was superior, but it'd be idiotic hubris to think he had a chance.

Forest or opening, it didn't matter. The fight that followed was grueling and full of panic and desperate hail marys. At the end of the day, with Leon staying, Percy was locked into fighting a losing battle. It was a fight neither of them could hope to win, which was tearing Percy apart. He didn't want Leon to die. It just wasn't an option, so he kept pressing on and on with more than he had to give even though he knew it was futile.

At the end of it, Percy's armor was gone. He was badly poisoned and about to blackout like back on the island. Blood cascaded from his nose and dribbled off of his chin, yet he somehow remained on his feet, like a battered old wolf that refused to stop protecting its pack. He stood between the assassin and Leon, unsteady but stubborn. In a sense, it was a standoff, and about the time that the arrow meant to finish off Leon was shot, Percy made a punching motion with his hand and used the last bit of his magic to send the assassin flying back from an earthy pillar to the face. With a dull, fleshy thud, the last arrow burrowed deeply into his left side.

With a moment of reprieve, the peppermint head turned around to face his lover. He shuffled a step or two before his legs buckled, sending him to his knees in front of the man he loved so much that he'd die for him. He didn't say anything, just stared at him with pained, unfocused eyes. A small cough brought a splatter of blood on the mussed grass, yet he still crawled forward to get to Leon. If this was their last moment, then he wanted them to be close.

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Post by Leon Hoffman Wed Jun 23, 2021 3:16 am



Dagger No More [Leon] 18lTu9A

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It was useless. No matter what they threw at him or where they were, neither of them were a match for this assassin. It was beginning to feel like they were fighting for more time, not a victory, but even that possibility quickly grew bleak. The longer time pressed on, the more battered Percy became, since he was the only one standing between Leon and the assassin. The pepperminthead had lost a significantly greater amount of armor than Leon, and there was no doubt that he'd been poisoned. It was a losing battle, but just when things couldn't look bleaker, it happened.

It was such a small, but terrible sound. The sound of an arrowhead against skin, embedding itself into flesh—into Percy. Just as Percy had turned around to face Leon, Leon had froze and looked at him with horror painted across his face. Everything started to move in slow motion, yet the sound his heart racing beat so loud in his ears that it felt like it was going to burst at any time. He could hear nothing but his own quickening breaths and the sound of dirt crunching beneath Percy's heels. He could smell nothing but the sweat and metal of their bodies filling the air. He could see nothing but Percy and the arrow jutting out of his body, and suddenly his world dwindled into chaos and terror once he realized what this meant.

Thud!
"PERCY!"

Percy collapsed to his knees and hadn't even begun crawling before heaving up a handful of blood. Leon's body moved before any other words could come out of his mouth, practically sprinting over to his downed lover so he wouldn't have to crawl the distance. He lifted him up and swallowed him in a suffocatingly tight embrace, looking at his face with a look of disbelief, yet, terrible realization in his eyes.

"Hey, hey, hey—you're fine! You're fine, okay? Okay?!" Leon impatiently kissed Percy's forehead, and while his words seemed reassuring, the look of intense dread and panic on his face said otherwise. Leon was always the type who was hard to read unless you knew him well, and even then it could be hard to know what was on his mind. Sometimes his excited faces and his angry faces looked the same, and his smiles could be so brief that photos would make them last longer. But now? Now there wasn't a shadow of doubt that Leon's world was falling apart the longer he held his lover—his treasure—in his arms. "We'll get you to a hospital, and it'll all work itself out, 'kay? You're fine... you're fine! Just... just hold on! Here, I'll—the van... the van...!"

Leon held Percy close as he whipped his head around, looking back to where their van would be. There should be a hospital nearby, right? Even a dinky ol' clinic would do. It wasn't like he could see him before, but the assassin seemed gone for the time being. This was their chance! This was it, and yet Leon didn't want to move from this spot. He couldn't. He couldn't see anything but Percy in his arms right now. How strange was that? In a world so full of details large and small, he could only see this one precious thing? It felt so fragile at this moment, like even daring to move him to a van he hadn't confirmed the fate of would break him, but he knew he had to.

Hot, painful tears began to swell in the corner of his marigold eyes, brimming his lids like a dam threatening to pour down his cheeks at any moment. But he knew better than to cry because Percy would be fine! He had to be! He couldn't live if it were any other way, so he had to be fine! If Percy had died today, it would be no different than saying the two of them died together! The more he slurred his words together and mumbled them to Percy, the more it felt like he was talking to himself. So he knelt there on the ground, embracing Percy with such a fearful tightness as if he were trying to keep Percy's very soul from going somewhere else, rocking back and forth as a way to comfort them both.

"He's fine... he's perfectly fine! You're perfectly fine! So, just hold on... okay? Give me a second..."


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Post by Percy Wed Jun 23, 2021 8:16 am

Percy spoke a novel to Leon in his head, telling him all manners of things, like how happy Leon had made him and that this was worth it. About how he hoped he found someone else to give all of his love to because Leon's love deserved to be felt and returned. He told him it was okay to grieve, but not for too long because Percy really was at peace with it. Did he want to leave the best thing that had ever happened to him? No, but without Percy in the equation, there was no reason for anyone to come after him. He could return to his life, go get Robin, and hopefully Cat, and return to his home in River Village. Life would resume without him just as it had been before. There was something bittersweet in that, yet it seemed right. He told Leon to leave quickly, before he drew his last breath, both so he wouldn't have to see it and to make sure he had time to get to the van before the assassin came back. If the assassin saw Percy lying dead, he'd know there was no point in going on.

Most importantly, he told him he loved him. So, so much. Even if Leon had tossed some very important things to the side, the anger that had been festering in him since their fight back at his guild didn't matter now. The hurt was pointless in the face of death, so he could just feel unadulterated love and mourn leaving his lover behind.

In reality, the poisoned and bleeding young man wasn't able to articulate any of his thoughts. The pain from using his magic, the magic used on him, and the general effects of the poison and physical damage overwhelmed him much like his emotions had all day. It shut down his body right down to his mouth. Attempting to speak had him weakly sputtering blood and panting instead of forming words. The instant Leon had gathered him up in his strong arms, all the strength had left Percy and he fell limp. When he was able, he stared at his lover quietly, mentally telling him not to cry and to stop panicking. He wished he could comfort him and hold him instead like he had all those nights through the nightmares. It was morbid to think he'd miss such a terrible thing, but it was the difference between missing life and all its up and downs and the cold nothingness of death. Even the worst things they lived through seemed preferable right now.

As Leon devolved into messy mumbles and rocking, the rhythmic movement started to lull him into the darkness. It was hard to keep his eyes open. He could rest now.

Though Percy's eyes were closed and his face was peaceful, his body tensed and convulsed in Leon's arms as a faint mist started pulsed of his pores. With this strange, gray mist, the green aura from the assassin's magic poison and the gold glow from his own former magic drifted out as well, dissipating into the air. The cloud grew and engulfed the both of them in a thick fog, so thick it blotted out the forest around the two with its shimmering silvery particles.

Without warning, the ground dissolved beneath them and they tumbled into a free fall. Whether the darkness that took them then was the strange hole they dropped into or death, Percy could see and feel nothing after that.

***

The strange, broken circle of stone looming alone in the forest suddenly engulfed itself in a thick gray fog that pulsed out in all directions before two bodies were thrown from the monument onto the lush spring grasses below. It receded as quickly as it had appeared, revealing a lush landscape thick with healthy trees and bushes. Bright afternoon sunshine dotted through the glowing green canopy above, painting the two strangers to its world in pale emerald.

Percy laid where he was dropped, on his side and miraculously unconscious instead of dead. Aside from some dried blood on his face and the arrow burrowed in his side, he looked rather healthy, unlike the death-shadowed version of himself being cradled before. His breathing was steady. It was almost as if he was just taking a nap in the warm spring breeze.

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Dagger No More [Leon] Empty Re: Dagger No More [Leon]

Post by Leon Hoffman Fri Jun 25, 2021 3:51 am



Dagger No More [Leon] 18lTu9A

Plump Nut

In a world so full of magic, it almost felt like a dream when Leon finally noticed the world around them dissolving apart, dropping them into an abrupt plummet into the unknown. Whatever it was, Leon didn't see it, since he blacked out before he could process any of it. He could almost feel Percy's life slip through his hands, like water inevitably seeping through his fingers, unable to be held no matter how much he wished to hold it. His world didn't start falling apart when the ground dissolved—it had already started beginning to fray the moment Percy collapsed.

Leon's life was free of danger for the moment, thanks to Percy, but the images he saw after blacking out was like seeing his life flash before his eyes. He saw the family he swore to abandon—listening to their malicious words, daring to stare back at their cold, unforgiving eyes. He saw the gyms and the punching bags he came to know so well, and the beatdowns he suffered through to make up for the beatdowns he wished he could have given the people who wronged him. He saw the betrayals and the short-lived friendships, the bad and the ugly, but soon nothing but Percy flooded his thoughts.

Maybe it was because he loved him, or maybe it was because that his world had been nothing but Percy for the last several months. It made him feel warm and fuzzy, but quickly descended into despair the moment his body flashed in his head again. Was Percy going to leave him alone? Was he going somewhere further than Fiore? To a place where he couldn't follow? And if they were to part, it had to be like this?

Maybe just by appearances, Leon looked like the type who had everything figured out. Even among the people who stuck around long enough to be acquainted with him, he always tried to be the responsible, reliable one. Yet, in his many moments of weakness, it was always Percy who could console him while bearing the burden of his own troubles too. Even though he trained alongside him every day, winning against Percy was never guaranteed. Not to mention that Leon didn't have an ounce of talent and creativity that Percy had. He was awkward, a horrible cook, and dense beyond belief... and yet, he was Leon's biggest crutch—if not the only thing keeping him afloat, and losing that light in his life tore Leon's aching heart apart.

Eyes pink with stray tears, Leon laid somewhere nearby, still unconscious but mumbling something. Even when blacked out, he sounded distraught.

"...er...cy..."



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Post by Percy Fri Jun 25, 2021 5:23 am

Percy came to after a few minutes, though initially he was disoriented. He blinked and looked up into the sea of emerald above, alarmed at how surprisingly not awful he felt compared to what seemed like only moments ago. The pain had been so intense that he couldn't control a muscle and death seemed like an improvement, then it just ebbed away and there was nothing. He was certain he'd died or at least been near death, but now everything was bright and green and he could move. Was he actually dead? Was this an afterlife? If so, it was far leafier than he imagined. The poison wasn't making his veins and nerves burn. His head wasn't splitting open. Lifting his arms, he could see some cuts and bruises, but the necrotic flesh from the acid was healthy and peach once more. He tried out his legs and they moved just fine.

Was he still alive?

This was like that time in the haunted forest when he was sure that those three psychos had killed him but he woke up without a scratch. Confusing, but he wouldn't complain.

It was only when he twisted to get onto his knees that he noticed the one problem. The arrow was still buried deep into his side. That probably meant he really was still alive. With a hiss, Percy's fingers reached for the shaft in a daze, nearly yanking it out before his senses came back. No, he had to leave it in or he'd bleed to death. They were probably a good ways from the van and even further from medical help. He'd bleed out by then. Pressing into the wounded skin around it, he frowned. It was deep, but it didn't seem like it hit anything vital. Leaving it there would be fine if he could keep it clean.

Glancing around yielded two points of interest. The assassin was nowhere to be found and Leon was now curiously unconscious nearby, which was highly alarming with the implications. Had the assassin returned while Percy was blacked out and killed Leon, then administered some sort of antidote to the son of his client to snatch him from death's clutches? In a panic, the peppermint-head crawled to his lover, expecting the worst and already cursing the assassin for saving him. As awful as it sounded, he felt the same as Leon. If his lover was dead, he wanted to go too. Leon going somewhere he couldn't follow was worse than death, and in a moment of darkness, Percy ran through plans that would take him to his lover.

Luckily, just as he got to the dark-haired man's side, he heard what sounded like a part of his name. Any noise at all meant the man was still alive. The relief had his head swimming, though perhaps it was a little too soon to celebrate. What if he was mortally wounded or poisoned and he just hadn't succumbed yet? No, he had to be okay.

"Hey...Hey, Leon! Ugh..!" As Percy's hands shook his boyfriend by the shoulders, the motion sent a stab of pain from his wound, but he refused to stop. He kept gently shaking him, then leaned over him more fully and touched a hand to his cheek. "Leon, c'mon, please wake up," he begged, anxiously staring down into Leon's face as his heart rapidly wooshed in his ears. If Leon was okay, and oh how he prayed to whatever might exist that he was, then they needed to escape before the assassin returned to keep it that way!

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Dagger No More [Leon] Empty Re: Dagger No More [Leon]

Post by Leon Hoffman Sat Jun 26, 2021 3:53 am



Dagger No More [Leon] 18lTu9A

Plump Nut

Like a rope reeling him up from the depths of his mind, Leon felt himself beginning to come to and away from the pits of his despair. He heard someone talk to him, but it was all so muffled that it sounded like they were underwater. Or was he underwater? He didn't know anymore. All he could focus on was how anguished he felt and how loud the sound of his heart aching rang in his ears. It was all so loud, so terrible, but eventually, the disembodied, muffled voice grew louder and louder, until it was louder than everything else barraging Leon.

Swissshh...

The sound of wind weaving in between green groves of trees was the first thing he heard when he finally cracked his wet eyes open, yet the feeling of twigs nailing into his backside made it clear that he was both awake and alive. What's more, the voice that was calling out to him earlier came from the one he wanted to see most—Percy.

"Per...?" Leon looked at his lover with wide eyes and pale skin, like he had just seen a ghost. And maybe he did, considering what had happened, and he couldn't find the words to say when he saw that full face of Percy's. After a moment of silence and shock, Leon's pale face filled with emotion as the color returned to it. His marigolds became glossy as if he were about to burst into tears at any second, but he lifted himself forward and swallowed his lover into a breathtaking embrace before Percy could see anything. "What the fuck, man! What the fuck... sniff!"

Leon held him so tightly as if to make sure he wouldn't leave him again. As if to make sure that it was all real, and this wasn't some sick trick his head was playing on him. Though it felt like he could sit there with his body wrapped around Percy forever, the peppermint-head's grunts of pained reminded Leon of their stressful reality.

"The arrow! Right!" he pulled away, revealing the crying face he seemed subconsciously keen on hiding. Though, this time, with passionate flare in his teary eyes... and prosthetic hand eagerly reaching over to the arrow jutting out of Percy's body. "Let's get that out of you and then drive over to a hospital!"


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Post by Percy Sat Jun 26, 2021 4:25 am

Even though the pained grunts from embracing each other so tightly, Percy's breaths came out in short, bewildered little laughs. So relieved. There was just so much relief, enough to blot out the confusion and questions. The chuckles stopped when Leon pulled away, though.

"Ah! Ah, no! Don't!" Percy yelped, swatting the metal hand away reflexively before grabbing the hand to hold instead. It felt harsh to swat him like that, especially with that teary face. "Sorry, honey, it's just if you take it out, I'll probably bleed to death. Nearly dying once today is enough, right?" he joked, trying to make light of the situation, or perhaps attempting to process yet another trauma. His other hand reached out and smeared his boyfriend's tears away in a surprisingly tender moment of affection. He was so grateful for this moment, for them to still exist together, no matter how tense the situation still felt. To see his lover alive and energetic banished most of the dread from his gut, though it didn't address how he came to be unconscious and a few feet away, nor how exactly Percy had come back from the brink, but it wasn't important to figure it out right now.

In the interest of proactively avoiding death again, Percy managed to pull himself to his feet, though it was hard to straighten all the way with the pain from the arrow. He tried to breathe through the pain like he always did, trying to seem like it didn't hurt as much as it did. It could be worse, though. He'd certainly felt worse just a few moments ago, so somehow this was a massive improvement. The arrow was doing the job of slowing down the bleeding by quite a bit, so that gave him more time to find a solution.

Looking around, he couldn't say it looked familiar, though it also didn't look any different. Forest was forest, and his sense of direction was basically non-existent. In a way, given his positioning when he was shot, it seemed there were less trees before, but he chalked it up to just not paying attention in the heat of the moment. "We should hurry before the assassin comes back. Which way is the van?" he asked, reaching out for Leon for support for himself, and comfort for his emotional lover.

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Dagger No More [Leon] Empty Re: Dagger No More [Leon]

Post by Leon Hoffman Sun Jun 27, 2021 5:43 am



Dagger No More [Leon] 18lTu9A

Plump Nut

After the initial moment of shock passed after the blatant rejection of his eagerness to help, Leon joined Percy in a moment of lightheartedness. Deep down, he knew that Percy had died or was at least at the brink of death, and it was through some miracle that he was still alive right now. But in his moment of anguish and disbelief, he adopted Percy's fantastic talent of denial and refused to believe the worst-case scenario had come to be.

"What are you talkin' about, man? Sniff..." Leon offered a rough, relieved smile as he leaned into Percy's caress, "Everything was fine. You're just exaggerating."

Leon wanted nothing more than for them to continue as they were, together on that grassy floor, making light of their often dark situations. Sometimes it felt like the world was against them as if the universe was trying to see to it that neither of them could have a future on Earthland without an unusually frequent amount of bumps in the road. Cutting off his family, and then an assassination? Leon knew that he was in for a ride when he decided to date a man from such an esteemed family, but this was on a whole new level. Yes, he wanted nothing more than this... but the van that Percy brought up was sounding pretty nice too.

"Shit, you're right. It's this way," Leon gestured behind him, confident in his reply. Since coming to, he hadn't taken a good look around the forest, and he hadn't had a moment to consider the world dissolving around him just a moment ago. The assassin wouldn't call it quits until they finished the job, and the urgency from before flooded his chest once more.

* * *

When Percy reached out to him, Leon couldn't wait to help him move around. There was little time to spare, but after a few minutes of walking around, it became clearer and clearer that the van wasn't where he left it—and Leon wasn't one to get lost. At first, he didn't admit his confusion to Percy in order to avoid that contagious feeling of panic. But as they traversed what he thought was somewhat familiar terrain, it became harder and harder to mask his bewilderment.

He was so sure that he had left it in this spot! And yet, it had vanished! It came to a point where he was peeking beyond bushes as if the van was conveniently hidden behind them. It wasn't until he came to a small clearing that he could no longer hide his confusion.

"I... I must've hit my head real hard..." Leon mumbled, feeling hardly any pain coming from his head at all, "I know I left it around here, but...!"


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Post by Percy Sun Jun 27, 2021 8:26 am

Percy knew what it looked like when someone was lost. Usually, it was him, so of course, he'd know. In fact, he was lost right now, but he trusted Leon's sense of direction...until it was obvious that even that had failed. He said nothing, though, holding out faith that they'd come out of the forest one way or another. Leon's strange change in position probably threw him off, but he'd right himself.

Or not.

When they broke into the small clearing and saw nothing familiar, a frown pulled onto the peppermint-head's mouth. He'd run all through the woods earlier, and there had been no small clearing like this. To get to somewhere like this, not only did that mean that they were walking in the opposite direction from the van, but also that they were much, much further from it than he thought as a starting point. No wonder Leon was confused.

"Let me rest a second," he said softly, separating himself from his boyfriend-crutch and moving to lean against a tree to take a breather and think. Now that the adrenaline was wearing off, he was starting to feel a bit rough but didn't want to admit it. Not enough to be incapacitated, but enough that pointless walking was something he really didn't look forward to. If they turned around and went back the way they came, it could take them twice as long to get to the van and take them right back into known assassin territory. Continuing on in the same direction was a gamble, but also likely to dump them out on the other side. Losing the van and all the stuff he packed was a tough blow, but one that might be smart in the end. If the assassin was smart, now that he'd lost his prey, the best move would be to camp on the van and wait.

Nodding to himself, he spoke up again. "Even if it's the wrong way, let's keep going. We're bound to come out on the other side and then we can find a road and flag someone down," he said, though his face was tense from pain. He wasn't sure which was worse. The arrow digging around in his side with each movement or the bruising starting to darken his joints. A milder form of the body fatigue he'd experienced after the war was setting in from pushing his body past its limits for speed and strength. Honestly, he just felt pretty sore all around. First, a beating from his dad, then the after-effects of his injections, then add in the fight with the assassin... Percy had had a very bad day. Anyone weaker than him would likely not be on their feet, let alone taking a nice jaunt through some random forest.

"I guess we should get going aga-- What's that?" Percy was staring ahead at something at the other end of the clearing. What distracted him was a small blue blob, no bigger than a standard-sized dog. It sluggishly rolled over the grass and flowers. Was it... a creature? No, it was nothing native to Earthland that he'd ever seen. So it must be a spell or a summon, which was a little worrisome. Was someone else in the area? Percy didn't really want to find out if whoever it was would help them or not, considering he didn't have all the information about the assassin. "Nevermind, nngh, let's go," he said, altering their course to steer clear of whatever the blob was.

However, though slowly, the slime seemed to become aware of them and started rolling in their general direction as if it could sense they were... different.

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Post by Leon Hoffman Fri Jul 02, 2021 7:14 am



Dagger No More [Leon] 18lTu9A

Plump Nut

With a poisonous arrow sticking out of Percy's body and a deadly assassin on the loose, there seemed to be little time for breaks and breathers. Yet, Leon listened to Percy when he insisted on resting for a moment, watching him settle himself down against a tree.

Seeing him like this was never easy. There was never a time where Percy wouldn't act recklessly if it meant Leon was involved, but it shouldn't have been this way. The arrow, the bruises, the quick backup plans made on the fly... just how many times was Percy meant to protect him? And at whose expense? Right now, all Leon could think about was where the van was and how they could escape these woods, but the frustration began to swell somewhere deep within him.

"Yeah, okay. But you just tell me if you wanna take another break, okay? Better yet, shouldn't I carry you?"  said Leon, sincere in his eagerness to assist his lover. It was great that they had both survived up until this point, but none of it meant anything if they couldn't make it out of the forest in one piece. Both of them were on high alert, and when Percy cut himself off short once noticing something across the clearing, Leon also felt alarmed. "What's what?"

Leon followed Percy's eyes and could barely spot a blue blob on the horizon, trudging through the clearing. It was such a simple entity, but the dark-haired Hoffman couldn't say he had ever seen something like it before. It threw him off at first, part of him wanting to appease his curiosity and check it out, but when Percy decided to brush it off and complete their escape, Leon was quick to join him.

"Alright, alright... just tell me when you need another break, okay? Careful..."
* * *

The entire time he walked, Leon just couldn't figure out how the van just disappeared like that. If he was being honest, it felt like they were in an entirely different forest, but it'd be hard to believe that. After all, he had only blacked out for a few seconds, maybe a minute at most. The armor he had worn for the fight earlier had suddenly stopped functioning at a performative level despite being mostly intact, and it felt like the woods were bigger than before.

The idea was troubling, but it was nothing he wanted to share with Percy. After all, he had a lot on his own plate right now anyway, and none of it mattered as long as they made it out of the forest alive.

"I think we're almost out," Leon looked ahead, beginning to see the greenery thin a bit, "you see that, man? Don't black out on me now when we're this close. Alright?"


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Post by Percy Fri Jul 02, 2021 1:15 pm

It felt like they'd been walking forever. With each step, it seemed to hurt a little more, but he was putting on a brave face. Other than the occasional grunt of pain and the sweaty sheen his skin had taken on, he was doing a good job of acting like it didn't hurt like crazy. But his feet shuffled every now and then, and he'd be lying if he said his eyelids weren't getting heavy. He hadn't realized that his movements were getting so sloppy until Leon spoke again. "Hmm? Oh...I...I'm not," he said sluggishly, blinking aggressively until he felt more alert.

Sure enough, the frequency of bushes and trees had drastically decreased, and the deep emerald was paling to more of a peridot. In fact, he could see the bright white of daylight up ahead, peeking between tree trunks like glowing pillars. They'd made it!

Breaking free from the forest at last, the sight that met their eyes was unexpected. It was a sprawling meadow, seemingly untouched by men other than a dirt path snaking through it, only visible to them because of the small hill it crested in the distance. Percy squinted in the brighter light, trying to make sense of what he was seeing...or wasn't seeing. No van. No trains or train tracks. No vehicles of any kind. No paved roads, no buildings. Other than the wind rustling the leaves on the trees and the soft grass dotted with wildflowers and birds chirping, it was the most silent slice of nature Percy had ever encountered. He'd thought River Village was quiet up until now.

As beautiful as it was, and it really was like they'd stepped into some idyllic landscape painting in a museum somewhere, Percy could only really see more, possibly endless walking. "S-Sorry, I need another b-break," he warned, barely waiting for Leon to accommodate his request before he plopped down onto the cushiony green below. The peppermint head rose a shaky hand to obscure whatever expression was trying to manifest on his face, which was anywhere from miserable pain to impatient frustration and disappointment.

The injured man was still out of any real danger to his life. He was handling the arrow in his gut quite gracefully. But walking who knows how long until they reached civilization seemed like a cruel and unreasonable punishment. "I just need a minute," he sighed wearily, knowing full well that repeated rests would do little for his weakened, fatigued body. The only thing that would solve that would be some medical care and some true rest, but he wasn't sure either of those were possibilities. However, even though he hadn't noticed anything off about the world around them other than not recognizing it (which was nothing new to him), he did have a small bit of good news, which he was gripping tightly for the strength to keep going. "I don't think the assassin is ch-chasing us anymore..." He managed to sound relieved, though he knew better than to think that meant he wouldn't try again. Percy was reasonably sure he been able to kill the man, so they couldn't get too comfortable.

All of this was worth it if he could keep the man he loved alive.

Mind dulled from his condition, Percy wasn't paying attention to the dark unicorn drawing an old-looking carriage that popped into view at the peak of the hill, on its way toward the forest. The path it took once level again wasn't too far away from where they were, and just as it reached the edge of the thicker greenery, it stopped and a couple of people loaded down with backpacks and bladed weapons hopped out and waved their thanks before disappearing from sight. The driver of the carriage, an older gentleman with long rabbit ears framing his creased, kind face, paused there at the edge to tighten the bolts on the front wheels and stretch his legs for a spell before heading back to town.

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