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Into the Unknown [Percy]

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Into the Unknown [Percy] Empty Into the Unknown [Percy]

Post by Leon Hoffman Fri Sep 17, 2021 4:20 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

Life after their first night in the ranch went on stoically. The night of their argument, Leon couldn't bring himself to sleep. He ended up staying up until dawn and getting up just before sunrise. At the time, it was just a moment of restlessness, but Ollie put him to work as soon as they crossed paths—and Leon got up at dawn ever since.

The work was exhausting and tedious, and the days could go on forever in the heat, but chopping wood, feeding strange animals, and working the land got his mind off of things. It helped that he was already used to manual labor, although working with ranchers and farmers was a new one for him. In just a week, he got to learn more about the local crops than he expected, as well as getting to know their kids from time to time.

Even though their first day here at the ranch was tempestuous, Leon found it natural to fall back into his usual habits around Percy.  He got up so early and got to bed so late, sometimes it felt like they only got to talk to each other only a few times a day, but even then, their conversations felt lacking. Maybe Leon was making it that way. Intentional or not, the Hoffman found it difficult to be as physical with Percy like he normally was, even though their conversations virtually stayed the same. Every time they talked, he'd be reminded of the day they got here, and he'd suddenly have this determination to get more work done.

It was their fourth day on the ranch, the afternoon sun taunting them from the middle of the sky, but a cool, merciful breeze blowing away its terrible rays. Leon sat on a chopping stump, his metal fingers fondling the handle of his ax, and the other holding up a glass of ice-cold water. His messy black bangs stuck to his forehead, wet with sweat and tickling his skin at the slightest breeze—it was irritating him.

Maybe it was time to cut it?


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Post by Percy Fri Sep 17, 2021 1:31 pm

After the first horrible night with each of them in their own straw bed, he wasn't very interested in repeating it. He was clueless as to whether Leon slept or not, but he certainly hadn't...yet he'd pretended to be asleep when Leon woke up and left.

For the time being, Percy didn't have to worry about being a morning person. The times he'd run into Ollie or Hari had gotten him instructions to take it easy, but with the lack of Leon and the technological amenities he was accustomed to, Percy was going stir crazy within hours.


Day 1

Percy was on the disastrous path of acclimating to his new circumstances. He made himself a little useful in the house, tackling minor repairs to plumbing and light fixtures. Both were crude, but having access to a toolbox and a workshop gave him hope. Their hosts were impressed with his know-how and more than happy to show him where some broken items and other scraps were for him to mess with. While nothing would be as high-tech as in their homeworld, Percy viewed his potential projects as a steampunk challenge and excitedly got to work.

On a break from his creations, Percy wandered into town to scavenge for extra materials he could use and get a general feel for the world. Costs and jobs were cautiously inquired into, though most people seemed to have no idea what he was talking about when he tried to express that his expertise was in inventions and biomechanical medicine. All they could offer was that he look into a job at the clinic or that the tavern down the road always needed wait staff, sometimes even otherworlders. Perhaps it had been unwise to mention that he was from another world when he pried for information because it got him hustled out of some shops instead of anything useful.


Day 2

He'd reached into the pocket of his slightly baggy borrowed pants for his cell phone at least twenty times since he woke up, intending to either check a calculation or remedy every minor inconvenience with a purchase or a request for Violet to send him something from the lab. Each time he felt the pocket empty and remembered he had literally none of the conveniences he was used to, he grew slightly more frustrated. It'd been a while since he'd used pen and paper for longhand. He missed his screens. The man could barely read his own handwriting...

Additionally, a disturbing discovery was unearthed. Most of the things he created to make life easier around the farm simply didn't function how they were supposed to. A windable fan to try and cool down the ranch? Nope, it basically turned into a sawblade and vibrated so violently that it would break free from the stand. It wasn't even air conditioning, which he was very used to and dearly missed the more he sweated in the summertime sun. No matter how many times he did the calculations, rewired, and adjusted cogs, something was off. The carrot picker either missed the carrots or grabbed them and launched them way too far, sticking one through their ranch house wall like an arrow, which he'd had to patch. Making a socket in one of the workshop lights either yielded his primitive versions of power tools mysteriously powerless or earned him a couple of burns as they inexplicably exploded in his face. Things ignited at different temperatures than he'd learned, glass and metal didn't abide by their known melting points, physics seemed to be slightly broken. Stubborn about what he knew to be constant, the scientist persistently adjusted and fixed and tried, only for the mechanical tiller to throw him across the field instead of churn the perfectly pliable dirt. Even trying to make a bicycle out of refurbished carriage wheels and chains was locked up at the pedals.

Percy headed back into town, his timidity with interacting with the general public taking a backseat to his immense frustration. He asked where the school or library was, intent on reading up on where he was going wrong. He was starting to think he was brain damaged from lack of blood or that brush with death, even though there was a more obvious conclusion he was overlooking. Apparently, there was no library in the farming town, and the school was little more than a single room where practical skills and history were taught. There were no books kept on the tiny campus, and he sure as heck wasn't going to find and as a child for their reading materials. In the process of being swatted out of a hardware store by a broom, the older man suggested quite pointedly that he "get out of their safe little town and try the library in Engloria if he thought he was so smart."

That would take money, of which he annoyingly had none.


Day 3

The morning had produced yet another failure and set a few stalks of corn on fire, much to Ollie's dismay. The lapin begged him to stop making 'weird otherworlder things' and also to be more careful since he was still healing, but Percy wasn't known for listening to others when he was determined. He was trying very hard not to be outwardly bothered, taking the failures and changes on the chin, though his cautious excitement with Vyldermire was waning with each passing hour. If he wasn't careful, he would just stare into space and consider that the only good thing was that his father wasn't here and they were in a place the assassin couldn't get them, in a place where he could be Leon's gay lover without fear...but nothing else. This place was hell. Had they actually both been killed by the assassin, and waking up in the forest was their afterlife? The inventor had always been against the concept of higher powers and the afterlife. Supernatural, obviously yes, but their spirit transcending to a different plane of existence depending on their actions while living? No, not until now, when he was staring bleakly at a pile of exploded cogs in the middle of some sort of unidentified fruit field.

And the sunburn! These three days had earned him the worst sunburn the pasty bookworm had ever had! By evening, Percy has slathered a plant that was either aloe or like aloe all over himself and mumbled something about not feeling good, something to do with his injury and overworking or something and went straight to brooding in bed, feeling every stupid straw of the ridiculous bed sticking to and scratching his fried flesh until he thought he might scream. This was a night it would have made sense to sleep separate, but it was pure stubbornness alone that kept him withstanding Leon's body heat until he passed out.



Day 4

With sunburn tolerably faded and some sleep under his belt, Percy awoke with a clearer mind. Perhaps a break from his scientific block until he could do some research. Today, he'd try to do things Vyldermire's way and see if he had more success. No inventions. No experiments. Since he still couldn't do farm work and help Leon, he could at least try to make some vyldergold. Maybe he could pay off his debts sooner, plus there were tons of things the pair needed to buy. Having one pair of clothes each that were borrowed from another person was unacceptable. In fact, all the things they had to borrow just to survive were sinking them further into debt.

Plus, he really wanted him and Leon to take a trip to wherever Engloria was and find that library, and from what he could get people to tell him, that would come cheap.

Percy was steered to the small Adventurer's Guild building in the center of Otenshire, where he signed himself up and gained access to tons of posted jobs. He'd start small until his side was healed up, so he took a lower-paying one that the lady at the desk said was aimed more toward beginner adventurers. Kill a couple of slimes that were trying to eat the cows on the edge of town. Sounded easy enough, he'd fought worse.

By the time he made it home, the poor boy looked frazzled and pissed off. His skin was splotchy red in most places and stung, especially his hands and arms. Turns out, punching slimes was a horrible idea! They tried to digest him on the spot with a mild but still very painful acid, and thought they were senseless, he couldn't seem to power through the contact with their ooze enough to take more than a couple of chunks off, which they seemed to care very little about, and they relentlessly chased him until he basically had to sacrifice the cow he was intended to save to distract them.

Needless to say, he failed the quest and didn't get paid for his troubles. Had even his fighting ability been stripped away from him? How could he even get money for a weapon to take quests to get money??? This world was....UGH!

***

Percy had gotten better at pretending. Relieving as it was to have the next few days feel less tense at least where Leon was concerned, it was a peculiar type of hollow that he was growing to hate along with every other change he was trying to adapt to. He wasn't deluding himself into thinking the wedge wasn't there, but he was pretending not to notice in the hopes that, one way or another, it'd work out, just like he was pretending that everything in this new world wasn't going horribly wrong and getting under his skin. Several times in their short moments together, he'd attempted to bring their rather glaring issue up in hopes that at least that could be fixed, but either they were both too tired or it was an awkward time or he simply didn't want to sleep alone.

While Leon was basically thriving in his new role, Percy was floundering to find the slightest foothold. As the slime-burned man trudged back onto Ollie and Hari's property from his fruitless outing, he caught sight of Leon. Irritated as he may be, seeing Leon essentially embodying a sexy lumberjack calendar image did lift his spirits a little. Yeah, Leon hadn't exactly been affectionate lately, but that didn't mean Percy couldn't look and wish. Making his way over, he stood at a slight distance and offered the best smile a battered and defeated man could muster. "It's a little unfair how good you look right now. Can you tone it down?" he commented wryly, wondering how someone simply sitting on a stump with a glass of water and an ax could be attractive... Wait. Glass of ice-cold water. He was suddenly so very thirsty. "Um... can I have a sip?" he asked, eyeballing the drink with even more interest than he had his boyfriend. He hadn't exactly had a canteen to take with him on his little misadventure today.

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Into the Unknown [Percy] Empty Re: Into the Unknown [Percy]

Post by Leon Hoffman Tue Sep 21, 2021 5:31 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

There he was, trudging over to him as if his legs were made of lead and his life was nothing short of woeful—Percy. Even Leon could see the huge difference in adjustment between the two of them. Unlike his boyfriend, Leon found it easy to settle into their life of debt and labor. It wasn't comfortable, but it also wasn't anything he wasn't used to either. He actually kind of liked it.

Percy, on the other hand, couldn't seem to get a foothold anywhere. Like Leon, he might've been content with manual labor if he wasn't injured, but that clearly wasn't enough for him. The last few days had been adventurous and rough on Percy, not to mention the quiet strain on their relationship. But as usual, neither of them brought it up.

"And you look like crap," Leon retorted playfully, though his steely expression remained unchanging. He handed him the entire glass after that, quick to relinquish his drink to the parched peppermint head. "Don't overdo it."



WC: 168 | Total WC: 2,359 | WC Needed: ??? @Percy ""  —
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Post by Percy Tue Sep 21, 2021 6:03 am

He gratefully took the drink and gulped down a few mouthfuls before he pulled back and exhaled, the sound heavy and frustrated despite the refreshing water. "Yeah...because there are slimes in this world. Slimes. And they hate me. And...they sting," he said, his face contorting into a broody scowl. "I signed up at the Adventurer's Guild so I could take some quests. I tried to make a little money so I could head to a library in Engloria, but..." he trailed off, growing even more dejected the more he spoke. His shoulders sagged in Percy's special brand of 'I'm not used to failure but all I'm doing is failing and everything sucks'. The scientist wasn't used to knowing absolutely nothing. And having no money to do anything. And getting nothing but failures without a breakthrough somewhere. It was wearing him down.

"I failed the quest," he admitted after a moment, contemplating trying to restrain his shortcomings in the interest of ego (and not feeling like being vulnerable with Leon given their strained relationship), but ultimately giving in. "I was supposed to kill the slimes who were putting a cow in danger, but did you know that punching them isn't a great idea? They actively try to digest you and I ended up having to sacrifice the cow to save myself because apparently I'm tastier than the cow!" he blurted out, cramming his stinging, raw hands moodily into his ill-fitted pants pockets and ignoring how the scratchy fabric irritated them.

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Post by Leon Hoffman Wed Sep 22, 2021 7:39 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

"Maybe ask around and do some handiwork for people? At least then you'd get paid for it," Leon gave Percy a once over, noticing how impatient and exhausted he looked. All of this whining would normally incite Leon to reel him into a warm embrace—a way to sort of 'recharge' after an obviously long day of hard work and nothing to show for it—but the Hoffman could only remain on his stump, an uncomfortably comfortable distance away from his lover.

Antsy, he stood up from his stump and quickly placed a nearby log on top of where he was sitting. His metal fingers danced the line between a loose and firm grip as he held the ax, already familiar with its form.

"I know you're frustrated—!"

Wham! Leon reeled back and before they knew it, the blade had sliced the log in two. Automatically, he replaced the chopped log with another.

"But don't let it get to you—!"

He continued to chop.

"And just take it easy!"

Like most of these days as of late, Leon felt the sweet release of whatever was swelling up inside of his chest once he got his body moving. It felt like getting rough with a punching bag when he was angry, but it would rise up in him without warning. When he saw Percy, talked to him, thought about him and this new world  they had to adjust to all of a sudden, he couldn't help but withdraw into his own head and let all of the stress pour out through his muscles.

Their conversations remained virtually unchanged, but Leon suddenly felt less interested to humor his lover than before, and he kept stewing over a conversation they weren't having. Somewhere inside that head of his, he knew that Percy wasn't bringing it up in order to keep the peace—it's why nothing had been said after all of that. Yet, something about that made Leon even angrier. Distracted, dismissive, and carefree, Leon continued on with his work without so much as looking at his boyfriend.

"Okay?"


WC: 343 | Total WC: 2,951 | WC Needed: ??? @Percy ""  —
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Post by Percy Wed Sep 22, 2021 10:21 am

Percy stood there for a long moment, simply watching his boyfriend with dissatisfaction masked as neutrality. The view of watching him chop like this would probably be appreciated otherwise, but instead, he was left with a hollow chill and gnawing dread. Like most of the times since they got here, Leon's words wore the shell of support but were empty inside. Percy couldn't even keep Leon's attention. The invisible hand that had reached out for comfort in a moment of weakness retracted, clamming the young man up completely. It was just a small moment, but one stick will still increase an inferno. Percy had been complaining, but his overall concerns were monumental and he was tired and the small vent had done very little to alleviate all the pressure he was corking up.

Leon himself had said they could do this, they could make it here, they'd be okay as long as they were together. If this was the 'together' he meant, then Percy knew that it wasn't true. They'd fail if they kept on this way. It was clear what needed to be done, but he couldn't do it. Telling Leon that if he had to do it again he'd do it the same way would make it worse. Just like with his family, with his father, his mouth was sewn shut. Nothing he could say would change anything. And just like with his unpleasable family, resentment was taking hold.

What had all of his breakthroughs, growth, and hard-fought steps forward in his life because of Leon got him? A dismissive boyfriend and a world where everything he knew was worthless.

"Okay."

With that, he set the glass of water down on an unused stump nearby and returned to their ranch, where he laid down in the straw bed he'd slept in the first night, hoping a nap would brighten his outlook on things.

***

The next morning, regardless of the status of his injury, Percy started the day bright and early without so much as a whine, though he was clearly hating that he was awake. His side was sore but healed enough. He joined Leon in the fields for farm chores, though he generally kept to areas where the dark-haired man wasn't. He hauled heavy bags of grain to feed the chickens, dug up potatoes and other rooted plants, learned that he sucked at milking both cows and goats, and repaired the rotten wood planks on the barn with a finishing touch of blue paint.

In the late afternoon, Percy went back into town to begrudgingly take Leon's advice. He looked for handiwork, stuff that didn't require his useless science brain. Fixing light switches, repairing fences and walls, that sort of thing. He got some hits, but not the kind he'd been anticipating.

Hours later, once the sun had dipped below the rolling hills and splattered the dark sky with unfamiliar constellations, Percy turned back up at the ranch. While he'd managed to protect his healing wound, his knuckles and face were showing the signs of a scuffle or two... or more.

Today, he'd learned a few things. He'd also earned some vigs, which he seemed rather pleased about as he spun the string of oblong coins around his finger. It was nearly enough for that library trip, which he had anchored as his beacon of hope. Unsure whether Leon was asleep or not, he carefully opened the door of the ranch, slipping inside quietly, just in case.

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Post by Leon Hoffman Thu Sep 23, 2021 2:58 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

Another day of labor passed by in no time, waking up just before sunrise and lying down long after sunset. His body ached with the strain of the rural tasks assigned to him, and he'd sink into that straw bedding like the weight of his entire body was weighing against him. But like a lot of these last few nights, Leon couldn't bring himself to rest so easily.

Strange how so many of their scuffles could be resolved the same day, or just left alone and they could move on without a problem, and yet this one ate away at him each night. It kept him awake when he wanted to sleep, and distant when he wanted to be close. He'd think about the words they exchanged, ceaselessly echoing in his head like a slideshow on repeat. Normally, he battled that lingering anger with all of the work he had been given, but all of that work was done for the day, and there was nothing and no one but himself with his thoughts.

He thought about taking a walk around the ranch, his body begging for a cigarette or a puff of smoke to blow his stress away. Even though Leon had always actively advocated for a healthy lifestyle, both he and Percy picked it up when going through their depression. But even though things were looking up, he still ended up becoming a regular smoker. Now that they were here, he needed a puff more than ever, but he didn't exactly have a box of cigs with him.

Irritated and antsy, he flopped out of bed and eagerly paced to the door just when it creaked open. He stopped just before colliding with Percy, who was about to come in quiet as a mouse.

"You're back late..." he commented, noticing the shiny gold "coins" twirling around his fingers. Even though Leon wasn't excited for Percy's company at that moment, it was nice to see that he was out there making progress. It wasn't until he saw his small features illuminated in the pale, dim moonlight did Leon's testy attitude turn sour yet again. That scarred face of Percy's, while unblemished just hours before, seemed lightly bruised. Or, at the very least, a little roughed up. Not only that, his knuckles too. Naturally, Leon burst with concern once he noticed the little blemishes.

"What the hell..." he grabbed Percy's hand, briskly raising it close to his face where he could better see them. After the quick but thorough inspection, he reached out to grab his lover's jaw as well, his metal fingers eagerly turning his face towards the light. He looked upset. "What happened?! Who did this?!"




WC: 448 | Total WC: 3,980 | WC Needed: ??? @Percy ""  —
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Post by Percy Thu Sep 23, 2021 3:58 am

After a second of inspection to satisfy him, Percy gingerly removed his face from Leon's grasp. The man seemed upset, but he wasn't for sure why. Was he already upset before he came in or because he was roughed up a little? He felt those old familiar eggshells rising up beneath his feet, the withdrawl of his thoughts and feelings into cool stone. Though he was happy he'd earned some coin, it hadn't made the festering resentment of Leon's distance any better. If his boyfriend couldn't pay him any mind unless he was obviously hurt, he sorta didn't want it no matter how touch starved he was. However, he wasn't feeling hostile either. Not at the moment, even though his blood was still pumping from the rush.

"Don't worry, it's nothing big. I found out that people in this world really don't like 'otherworlders'. A couple of them jumped me while I was looking for handiwork jobs from their mother. Nothing I couldn't handle, because if there's one thing I do still have here, it's martial arts," he explained, his mouth pulling into a bittersweet smile. It was one small thing, so he had no choice but to cling to it. "While I fought them off, I caught the eye of a guy who's involved in a fight club behind the tavern. He said I was one of the best fighters that he'd seen, so he paid me to fight for him and cut the winnings with me," Percy finished, raising up the coins again to show off. It felt so silly to feel victorious over a handful of coins that could barely get one person a ride to another town, but the ex-rich kid wasn't used to being poor. "There are a couple more fights scheduled this week, so I should be able to earn enough for us both to take a trip to Engloria soon."

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Post by Leon Hoffman Thu Sep 23, 2021 6:46 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

Oh, this brought him back—way back. Back to their very first encounter in those Neutral Grounds fighting rings, where they didn't even know each others' names. Leon knew that Percy's fighting prowess was impeccable and despite his awkward behavior, he knew how to take hits and give them back twice as hard. Normally, seeing him put a couple of opinionated thugs in their place and getting the praise he deserved in the ring wouldn't faze Leon—he probably would've joined him since both of them could be so fond of fighting—but seeing it in front of him only just made him feel more upset. The vigs dangling around his finger, the moonlight bouncing off his pink knuckles, that calm and collected look on his face like he hadn't just gotten into brawls for a couple of vigs to his name—it infuriated Leon, but he knew he couldn't come up with a good enough reason to convince Percy to stop.

"Alright, fine," Leon grumbled under his breath, beginning to slip past Percy and out the door. "...'Night."

Alright, he said. Fine. Although there was nothing particularly malicious and ill-intended by what Percy had said, Leon spoke with such indignance that it would make anyone second-guess their approach. He had already left his bed in a gritty mood, and now he just felt even worse. He thought he'd never see the day that he craved his own company over Percy's, but just speaking with him managed to get Leon worked up.

These last few days had a terribly uncomfortable learning experience for him—he found out that he didn't handle anger very well. Normally, he and his boyfriend would argue and bicker it out until they ran out of steam, and then they'd make amends. All of their problems were usually resolved the day they reached the tipping point, and there was nothing but affection and a sincere concern left behind. But this time, it seemed impossible. That afternoon where they got into it, the day of the attack, their anger didn't 'evaporate' like usual—at least not his. Instead, he just crammed it back down into his chest, throat, and heart in order to preserve their peace, but Leon was weaker than he thought.

While he wanted to scold him for not taking his mild injuries and those prejudiced thugs seriously, he knew that the second he opened his mouth, the venom he had been holding back for so long would finally unleash.


WC: 409 | Total WC: 4,706 | WC Needed: ??? @Percy ""  —
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Post by Percy Thu Sep 23, 2021 7:31 am

Maybe it was the adrenaline, maybe it was just time that the pressure brought him to boiling, but something inside erupted. The sliver of relief and joy from finding himself not completely useless evaporated along with his determination to push through the funk they were in peacefully.

"Alright, fine?" he repeated quietly, his throat tight. "Not even a 'Good job, buddy?' or anything?"

The words were out of his mouth before he could cram them back down, his feet spinning on their heels to follow the man out the door. The peppermint head actually did have quite a fiery temper, but he'd never really aimed much of it at Leon. In fact, he'd never really aimed it at anyone. It was reserved for the solitude of his lab, where he could curse and scream and break things without judgment. No one to hear, no one to tell his father. Wallard had always done his best to teach Percy other outlets to keep it in check, like martial arts and boxing, and therapy had taught him to breathe through it, count through it. But his lab was gone, Wallard was gone, boxing was gone, the therapist was gone, everything was gone including his patience.

"Is this not good enough either?" His face was trying hard to stay impassive, but his eyes were burning with betrayal and anger, the same glare he'd given Leon when he'd snapped his arm and in those last moments back in their room on the S.S. Endeavor. One way or another, this unspoken thing would end tonight.

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Post by Leon Hoffman Fri Sep 24, 2021 2:24 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

For days, the anger that was swelling inside of him had only been kept at bay through Leon's willpower and distractions alone. He had managed to avoid this unspoken thing in exchange for the intimacy and affection he once enjoyed with his boyfriend, but it seemed that this confrontation was inevitable. He didn't know what had happened—one second, he was eager to puff away his troubles in a cloud of smoke, and in the next, all he could see was red.

"What? No. You did an amazing job today," Leon stopped in his tracks and peered over his shoulder, greeting Percy's angry eyes with a pair of his own, "I'm just amazed that you decided to tell me this time. Shoot, if I hadn't seen those marks, who knows when you would've told me? A week from now? Two? Maybe when we're old and crippled? I'm really proud of you, y'know!"

Perhaps his last bit of restraint came in the form of sarcasm since his lips were teething with some much more explosive, but he still held back just for his response. The flurry of emotions Leon had held down for nearly a week came crashing out of his eyes, his curled fists, and what would soon be his mouth. There was no longer a chance to return back to that strained, uncomfortable "normal" they had been keeping up for days now.

"Happy?"


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Into the Unknown [Percy] Empty Re: Into the Unknown [Percy]

Post by Percy Fri Sep 24, 2021 3:44 am

"Oh yeah, positively chuffed," Percy spat back, clearly quite the opposite. Now that he looked back on it, it seemed so stupid to walk on all the eggshells and let this go on for a week if it was just going to end up here anyway. It was just as pointless as basically everything in his life had been up to this moment, like avoiding arguments with his father in hopes of gaining approval or holding himself in check when he was treated poorly by anyone really. The only thing that hadn't been pointless was Leon and fighting, though even one of those felt shaky right now. Perhaps that was a lesson he'd take away from this, but for right now he was just angry and bitter and wanted to vent his resentments just as much as Leon needed to get the anger off his chest.

"We both know this isn't about the fights or the money. Go on then, what is it you're trying to say to me, Leon?" he asked, his tone still quiet but tense as it passed through his downturned lips. He knew what was coming and that it needed to come out. Emotions were too high to worry about the outcome. Things couldn't continue the way they'd been, so they'd just have to deal with the fallout. "If not telling someone something difficult or unpleasant or painful is such a sin, then what have you been doing this whole week?"

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Post by Leon Hoffman Fri Sep 24, 2021 4:22 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

"You're a dick, you know that, Percy?!" he exclaimed with a nasty glare.

Leon couldn't even humor his lover's question at that moment, letting all of the anger and frustration spill out of him all at once.

"Ever since I fell for you, I never gave a shit about what other people thought about it! It didn't even cross my mind! Not once! Never! I cut off everyone and everything just to be with you and we both know that you can't say the same!" Leon's face became increasingly more passionate, his cheeks pink and hot with vexation as he stepped closer, grew louder, "But then you have the fucking nerve to act like you've made this grandstand against your father—your oh-so-bigoted father—when you wouldn't have ever brought me up to them if we weren't getting spied on! NEVER!"

Leon was yelling at him now, eyes wide with fury as he unpacked the weight that had been burdening him all week. What he said didn't have to make sense, it didn't have to be a well-crafted argument, but it was the raw, unrefined disgust and betrayal he had been feeling at that moment.

His voice tense and strained, Leon stepped closer.

"You act like you kept it a secret for my sake because your piece-of-shit family just can't cope with our love, but you know that's a fucking lie! You're gonna stand here and tell me that your father or who-the-fuck-ever else in your family is just so anal about their reputation, and you're just the only one who couldn't give a damn? Bullshit! If you really didn't care, you wouldn't have ever kept me a secret and just cut those assholes off! But you didn't! But you didn't! You just love the perks of being a Dagger, and you hate having to lose that if you even acknowledged my existence to them! I couldn't have it both ways, but I don't know—maybe you could've, right?—Is that what you were thinking, prick? Huh?!"


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Post by Percy Fri Sep 24, 2021 7:03 am

As hard as it was, Percy heard him out, though every word and name he was called felt like a slap to his face. The anger spread from his eyes to the rest of his face and body, flushing his features and balling his fists. Leon stepped forward, but Percy remained planted, his glare fixed on his lover's. Angry Percy never backed down or looked away.

"I didn't ask or expect you to cut anyone off! If anything, I am the only person who also knows what it's like to want something so badly from family so toxic that you'd have to nearly kill yourself to get it! Even when you wanted to become a f***ing servant to a family like mine, I supported you! Your family was just as sh**ty as mine, but I supported you because we were the same! I knew how it felt! The only difference, and don't fool yourself into thinking it wasn't a big one, was that yours weren't bigoted and didn't have assassins at their disposal, so I wasn't in danger. You stayed there to get what you wanted, and I thought I'd never see you again, but you decided to cut ties with your family to come home to me! You changed your mind for yourself, not for me! Get off your high horse! And guess what? I wasn't still mad that you chose them over me, no, I was waiting with open arms!" Percy flew his arms wide then, for emphasis, as if his shouting wasn't enough.

Hot tears were streaming down his face now, which he wiped away with the back of his sleeve like they'd offended him. Percy always hated how he cried when he was angry, how he wanted to punch things to let it out instead but knew he couldn't. As much as he wanted to hit Leon right now, he wouldn't cross that line. And like in every other situation where his feelings were raw and ugly, it had no other release than in frustrated tears.

"How dare you think I cared what others thought about me? It was for your sake, don't tell me what I know! Do you think I care that anyone knows I'm gay, that I'm with you? I don't care about who loves who and I really wanted to show you off! The only person's thoughts I cared about was Lucarius Dagger. His attention, his approval, his acceptance! His love, not his or the family's money or power! I wanted to belong instead of feeling like a mistake all the time! I thought I needed his validation to exist in my own family, maybe his approval would make the estate not feel like a courtroom and mom put down the bottle and notice me! Maybe I could ease my brother's burden then! It took me time to break free from what I'd been trying to get my whole life! Maybe too long, fine, I see that now, and I'm sorry!! And once I did get what I wanted, like you did, I realized it was worthless, like you did, but I couldn't just go to grandpa, take my licks, and go on with my life how I wanted free and clear! Do you think falling in love with you, something forbidden, would just shut that off for me and solve all the problems? No! I had to grow and relearn priorities, then try to field the new problems that had no clean solutions! I had to care what he thought about it, because, since you seemed to have forgotten, Lucarius would kill you to save his family's facade! For money, for power! What other choices did I have, Leon?! Telling my family at any given point earlier would have amounted to the same exact place we are now! I couldn't cut them off and run like my sister! Either I left you alone from the start, we broke up, or I killed myself! Those were my only options to keep you safe!!! Excuse me for thinking they all were sh**!"

The peppermint head had gotten louder and louder, feeling his voice strain and his veins pulsing. Sucking in a breath, he realized he'd nearly run out of air and took just a second to get in a few gasps before he continued, trying to calm back down. Maybe he'd concede a little.

"So you're right, I guess. I'm a selfish prick. But not about the 'perks of being a Dagger'. F*** the Daggers, I don't ever want to hear that name again. If it makes you feel better, I did initially think maybe I could have both, keep you safe and secret because I love you and that's the only way I could have you and still accomplish my obsession since he could never find out about you anyway, but it changed. I changed and I realized it too late once I had my head on straight. I apologized for that and for what I doomed you to, because I know that's all on me and I feel so guilty I can't stand it, but I don't know what else you want me to say. We were both in such bad places after Bellum that I didn't know which way was up, and by the time I was trying to find a way we could get out, I had fake papers ready but the other preparations weren't done yet when he called me in...." Percy paused his quieter words, feeling the venom of his festering resentment rising up to his lips and being powerless to let it gush out. The hurt from last week was still raw. "But for you to act like it didn't take the last few months of growth with you to give me the strength and sense of worth to finally break free, let alone stand up against a man I was petrified of, knowing what was going to happen, is a real 'f** you', you know that?! A grandstand?! That's all it was to you, knowing what you know?! He told me to break up with you and I refused! I refused and told him I loved you and told him off and tried to fight him and you screamed at me like what I did meant nothing, but it took and cost everything I had! EVEN MY LIFE AND I WAS GLAD TO GIVE IT FOR YOU!"

By the end he was shouting again, face red and eyes blurry with streams of tears. His body trembled with rage and anguish, Leon's words back then and now cutting him to his core. He knew he hadn't been perfect, and much of this was his fault. He'd shoulder that forever, but Leon's view on it all was so cruel. Couldn't he see this from Percy's point of view?

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Into the Unknown [Percy] Empty Re: Into the Unknown [Percy]

Post by Leon Hoffman Sat Sep 25, 2021 1:23 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

It hurt.

He thought that releasing all of his rage and dumping it on Percy would make him feel better, but beneath all the anger and betrayal he was feeling right now, Leon didn't feel any relief. His body trembled, hardly able to contain the emotion pouring out of him right now, face scrunching up into this nasty, "choked up" frown.

When the tears came pouring down Percy's face, it was by this point that he would've normally relented. That's what he considered to be a cue for him to stop, but he couldn't. He couldn't see an easy solution to this argument, and he couldn't convince himself that he was wrong enough to stop there and apologize. All he could do was stand there furiously, brooding over Percy's hurtful words as they both took their turns screaming at each other. In a way, Leon felt more connected to his lover than he had this entire week. After all, some part of him wanted to stand there and angrily weep too.

Leon was quiet for a long time after that. He wanted to bicker with Percy, but everything he wanted to get off his chest came off in one explosive swoop just moments before. His outburst stopped him from choking on his words as he had been for this past week, but he didn't feel any better. He just felt angrier than before. More hurt. Confused and betrayed.

Although he listened and heard everything Percy had told him through his angry tears and trembling voice, Leon couldn't hear or understand anything beyond his own anger. He honestly didn't understand his own anger himself, but he knew that he couldn't cope with keeping it to himself.

Eyes glowing with contempt, he looked back up at his boyfriend. But out the corner of his eye, he saw the lights flicker on in the main house. No doubt that their screaming match had startled the Lapin family, and Leon began to become painfully aware of his tightening chest and throbbing head.

"It's bad enough that I have to deal with this shit, but now we're stranded and in debt too?" Leon spoke mostly to himself, unwilling to address any of the points Percy made just now, "I need a fucking cigarette..."


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Into the Unknown [Percy] Empty Re: Into the Unknown [Percy]

Post by Percy Sat Sep 25, 2021 3:11 am

"That's all you're gonna-" Percy started in a wobbly voice, his face possibly even more upset than when he was screaming. "You said-" A weird, strangled sob cut off what he was going to say, but maybe his eyes said it instead. He'd believed Leon when he'd said he was scared but excited to be in this new place with him, where all the old problems didn't matter anymore. He'd watched Leon thrive here, while his own excitement waned into alienated frustration.

The emotional pain from those blasé last words was astronomical. Nothing he'd said had been considered or even deemed worthy of a response. It was like arguing with Lucarius. The realization crushed him. These were all familiar feelings, but the fact that it was his shelter, his escape from them causing them was a special kind of dark torture. As much as he didn't want to admit it, he was starting to resent his lover. All these sacrifices were for a man that made him feel... like he wasn't good enough. Like he had to make up for something beyond his control. Expecting so much that his small steps forward went unnoticed. He didn't want to think of Leon that way, but it bubbled up out of hurt in one last flash of wounded rage. His lover might as well have punched him in the face, except that would have been more merciful. That he could have dealt with easier.

"I'm so sorry that you have to deal with this. You could have left the arrow in my gut and avoided the debt. Better yet, just go do whatever you want and I'll handle it on my own," Percy hissed, beside himself. His voice was hoarse and quiet now, but somehow more venomous. If anyone should be standing here griping about being stranded and in debt, it should be him. With a sniffle and another furious wipe of his face on his too-long sleeves, he shot a final glare at the dark-haired man he felt like he didn't even know. "F*** you, a**hole."

Percy started to take a step back toward the ranch to pack his bag, but then he came to an infuriating revelation. He had nothing to pack. Not a single thing. The clothes on his back and the string of coins in his pocket were all he had. What a kick in the teeth. Turning on his heel, he stalked over to Ollie's carriage parked in front of the lit-up home, oblivious to their long-eared audience. Pulling the door open, he climbed inside to cry out the crazy hurt until he fell asleep.

At least this way, when Ollie came out to take the carriage into Engloria, Percy might be able to hitch a free ride to save vigs. At the worst, he wouldn't have to see Leon tonight and could go straight to work tomorrow for more money to pay his way there as soon as possible.

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Post by Leon Hoffman Mon Sep 27, 2021 5:07 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

And that was the end of it.

It wasn't dragged on, the bickering was so short-lived that it was generous to say they bickered at all, and after they both said their piece, they left each other alone. The only difference between how they usually fought and now was this fight felt a lot worse than the others. Like they just stabbed knives into each other, but instead of patching up the wound the moment it bled, they just left it there, and all that was left was this horrific blend of anger and dejection.

Leon didn't look at Percy as he marched away, his face wet with tears and strained with a streak of rage and astonishment with nothing but the quiet ambiance of the meadows and the jingle of vigs in his pocket filling the painful silence between them. For a while, he stood there until he heard Percy climb into Ollie's carriage, where he'd likely spend tonight. He didn't say anything at all, just staring at the ground with his face twisted into a glare and frown. He actually seemed relatively collected compared to Percy.

His already-balled fists tightened as he heel-and-toed his way to the shed they were staying in, and without a word, he suddenly reeled his prosthetic arm back and punched right through those freshly polished boards that made their door. He was practically red in the face as he unleashed his anger on their lodging, creating a terrible hole to match his terrible frustration.

After pausing a moment to gather his bearings and calm himself, Leon wearily turned around and leaned against the damaged door, ponderously sliding down against it until he was seated on the ground. His head drooped into his chest, feeling nothing but that humid summer wind against his neck and the stinging in his eyes.

Part of him wanted to cry, but all he could do was let the throbbing in his head torment him from all the yelling and heartache.

The Next Morning

This place was so beautiful. Although it did feel like an old ranch out in the countryside (perhaps even the boonies), there was nothing quite as refreshing as seeing the morning sun peek out from over the horizon, the sound of animals cooing and whining at dawn and that special moment during summer mornings where it felt like a cool autumn day. It was so beautiful that you could paint a picture, but Leon only greeted the morning with dread.

Before anyone else, Leon was already up and at his work. He was plucking vegetables from the field and replanting new ones, towing away wagons full of hay and sacks of grain, and brushing the strange, unfamiliar coats of these equally strange and unfamiliar beasts. By the door was a stack of wooden planks, clearly meant to repair his midnight mistake. But judging by the quantity, it seemed like Leon had every intention to just rebuild the door entirely. Not only that, but instead of that deceptively long black mane that he fashioned for several months, Leon had cut his hair back to its original length—short and unkempt.

There were small, almost noticeable dark circles underneath Leon's eyes. His skin was caked in sweat and his steely expression seemed more unfriendly than usual. It was clear that instead of waking up earlier, the troubled Hoffman just found other things to do than sleep.

He worked all night and had every intention to work all day, but he couldn't make that terrible blend of anger and hurt go away. He couldn't stop himself from replaying scenes from last night, and it felt like stabbing himself over and over with the words he said and received.

They had shared a lot of firsts together since their relationship began, but this had been the first time Percy had ever called him an asshole—and he couldn't stop thinking about it.



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Post by Percy Mon Sep 27, 2021 6:29 am

Percy wished he could have cared less what Leon was up to all night, but that'd be lying to himself. Still, even the heated, devastated sobs did nothing to soothe him. No, he had a feeling only distance would do that, so he was pleased when Ollie apologetically poked his head into his own carriage to check on the puffy-eyed teen who had barely slept at all.

"Heya, buddy," he said with a timid duck of his head, eyes full of knowing and understanding.

"M-Morning," the peppermint head blustered, wincing at his own hoarse stutter. Sitting up and trying to make himself presentable, he prepared himself to ask what he'd been waiting for all night.

"Wanna ride along to Engloria with me? I brought enough sandwiches for two," The Lapin beat him to the punch, apparently feeling enough pity that he would spare Percy the awkwardness of begging. The stowaway nodded solemnly, climbing out of the carriage and into the driver's bench.

On the way out of town, they picked up a couple on a short trip to Otenshire for fresh veggies at a discounted price. Percy helped load up the crates on the top of the carriage. Maybe pulling his weight would make him feel less bad about once more taking help from the kind-hearted Anthros, but he was starting to think nothing would make him feel better about anything. Everything was garbage and his head was scrambled. He didn't know what was going to happen, not in his new life and not with Leon. Never had Percy been so angry and hurt with his boyfriend, and having never been in a relationship or seen one function properly, he wondered if this meant they were broken up. Leon certainly hadn't seemed to care much.

It was a long day's ride to Engloria, and along the way Ollie and Percy chatted. It vaguely reminded him of the chats he'd have with Wallard about life things, except Ollie was full of warmth and smiles and shoulder pats. The young man attempted to remain bottled up, but there was something about Ollie. Maybe it was because he was the first good father he'd ever spoken to, but something broke inside Percy. Ollie listened patiently as his tagalong eventually opened up like an exploding dam, telling the man all about him and his lover's situation. The Daggers, his life, Leon's life, the war, the trauma, the spy, the assassin, his death, their arrival in this new world. It gave context to the fight that Ollie then asked about, which Percy explained as well, tears squeezing from this eyes anew.

"I would say never go to sleep angry with each other, but I'd say it's a bit too late for that, huh?" the rabbit man smiled ruefully. "It's been good advice for Hari and me, but a close second is distance and time to think. This trip to the library might just iron some things out, so I wouldn't worry too much. People say all sorts of things when tempers are steamin', so once you both cool off and have a think or two, I reckon the big issue won't seem quite so big. Or it'll at least become a size you can deal with when you get back," Ollie encouraged the pitiful boy at his side, holding out hope that things would be patched up. "You both are young, it'll all be alright one way or another."

"I hope so," Percy said quietly, a strange warmth in his chest. Even if he didn't know Ollie that well, his words had weight and it was comforting.

The two chatted some more and by the time night fell, they were pulling into Engloria, and Percy was feeling a little better about things. Ollie showed him where the library was and also pointed out a cheap inn across the street, then left the thankful boy alone in Mirinah's biggest city.

***

Engloria was nothing particularly impressive compared to the cities Percy had been raised in, but it was a different kind of amazing. Given the progression of this world, it was quite large and beautiful, stylized with architecture autonomous to the conventions of Earthland. It was mind-blowing to think that history was different here, so oddly enough, when he headed across the street to the library, he went straight for the history section instead of science.

The following two days were a blur of pure nerdism. Percy seated himself in the back of the library and read anything he could get his hands on the entire time, only moving to get more books or use the bathroom. Someone was providing him with water and a piece of bread every now and then, but he hardly noticed. It was unexplainable how it felt to be dropped in a world where everything you knew and thought you knew was irrelevant. Percy adored learning new things and it had been quite a while since he'd had this exhilarating feeling. So strong was the wonder and awe that he really did forget his troubles, barely existing as a human let alone fretting about his boyfriend and their crazy fight before he left. The Laws of Nature were different here, explaining all of his failures. The changes in variables were enough to tank every calculation. Some things were similar, but it was different enough that he'd have to relearn every single thing he knew, essentially robbing him of...well, everything. While that should have been depressing, Percy found comfort in knowing what he had to do now. He had to relearn. Maybe he could enroll in school? Or maybe he could change his life altogether, take a different path he could forge on his own.

While many many other things had changed, and he was now more informed than he had been, some things never actually changed. Percy was good at fighting and bad with people, money, and directions.

His two-day trip turned into an extended nightmare. Inns and food in Engloria were expensive, and on the third night, the money for the ride home was gone. He'd have to walk home.

Despite asking anyone he saw for directions out of the city and back to Otenshire, he ended up going out the northern gate instead of the southern one, putting him on the path to Newdale...in the Outer Realm.

The walk was perilous and long. His ill-fitting shoes rubbed blisters on his feet, and no matter how many times he worked up the nerve to ask for a ride, he was harshly declined as if he was a vagabond. Actually, he was kinda a vagabond, wasn't he? That was a new experience...one he couldn't say he cared for. He also didn't care for all the strange new monsters chasing him up trees and scaring him half to death. Most were punchable and he was still plenty fast, but the whole ordeal was wearing him thin.

With so much time alone with his own thoughts, he had no choice but to think about Leon, which was a mixed bag. On one hand, now that he was wandering a strange, dangerous new world by himself and fully aware he was probably lost, he missed Leon. Percy imagined the man coming out of nowhere to scold him for getting lost and take him home, but it didn't happen. It seemed like it was always twilight at the brightest, and the eeriness never produced his boyfriend...if they were even still boyfriends.

***

Day five of his intended two-day trip finally brought him to a town. It looked nice enough, but it brought him no comfort. Simply knowing he was lost in a whole new world where he knew no one and assumed there was no way he could be saved terrified him. Never had he been so lost. No GPS, no tech to get him home. No maps and even if he had a map, he knew he couldn't read it. All the hope he'd gained in Engloria had been flushed down the toilet, and he was somehow certain he'd die now without ever resolving his issues with his lover and getting to say goodbye. A sorry, sad end for a ridiculous existence.

Percy had no choice but to fight to survive. As a boy with no money, he looked for work, hoping to earn just enough coin to catch a ride back to Otenshire from where he was. There was no way he could walk there and not get lost. People in this town were nice on the surface, but devious behind the masks. Demons looked at him like a meal, and who he assumed were humans kept side-eyeing him.

While there were a few disturbing offers he'd have to be way more desperate to take, the only place willing to give him a chance was a blood donor establishment. Having learned that broadcasting his 'otherworlderness' would do him no favors, he went in as a simple human, and they were eager to set him up. The issue was, Percy had assumed it would be something like back home. Needles draw your blood into a bag and sell it to hospitals, or in this case, vampires. This, however, was a "fresh from the tap" kind of place, where he was put in a room and vampires would come in and feed directly from him. As alarming as that was, and slightly painful, the place was clean and monitored his health so he wouldn't be too low on blood, and it paid surprisingly well. And he was desperate. Growing more desperate by the day.

The one carriage in town had decided to extort him, so even with the good pay, he still didn't have enough to get home. He lost one day's work when he was dragged into an alley and mugged by people too strong to be normal humans. He made up for it the next day, but days of work still weren't enough. The inns looked nice on the outside, but they took advantage of him and charged too much, and even then, he didn't feel safe.

One of the vampires from the donation center had apparently taken a liking to him and his special flavor, and he was essentially being stalked. Armed with a steak knife from dinner, the poor boy was chased from his room and into the alleys, where he spent the evening hiding and fighting for his life. In the end, he was standing in the shadows of an alley behind a school, eyes wide and alert, white-knuckling his knife he knew would do no good. It was absurd the situations he ended up in during the past year.

Having been bit by a vampire within the last 24 hours, if he died now, he'd become one, and that just didn't sit well with him. Neither did being kept as this crazed vampire's bloodslave...

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Post by Leon Hoffman Wed Sep 29, 2021 5:13 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

Although Leon would like to say that he was terribly disinterested in his boyfriend's departure that morning, he constantly caught himself pensively staring at the carriage Percy slid into all night, watching it roll away across the meadow until it disappeared into town.

He kept staring until he saw Hari and Ollie's swarm of children watching him from their cozy cottage home, making him flinch and instantly go back to work. The Hoffman sighed irritably as he pulled a wagon away, dealing with the lingering anger from last night.

* * *

Leon felt much better the rest of the first day of Percy's departure. He already tended to be in his own little world of silence when he was working, but with Percy out of the picture, it was even quieter—and he liked that. He could focus on his work without hearing his whining and griping all the time! He'd plant vegetables, chop wood, and feed animals like clockwork for hours.

Of course, with Percy gone, there was some slack to pick up, and it was only a matter of time before Hari sent three of her many children out to help with the workload. Not only that, but they naturally had many questions about what happened last night, and none of them could stop eyeing the unfriendly-looking man.

Eventually, Leon took his break. He sat on the same stump he chopped wood on, eagerly sipping from his glass of cool water with a rag hanging around his neck. Of course, when the three kids saw the brazen otherworlder sit down and take a break, they did the same. Yet, instead of being eager to rest, they seemed eager for something else.

"I'm Fran," he introduced himself briskly.

"I'm Josef."

"And I'm Julie."

Leon paused with their sudden introductions, staring at their small, round faces, his eyes occasionally drifting up to look at their splendid ears. Interested, he nodded and gave them all a small, warm smile.

"Nice to meet you, Fran, Josef, Julie. I'm Leon," he set his glass aside for a moment and leaned down, elbows perched onto his thighs, "Can't believe we've been here for a few days now and we haven't talked. Crazy, right?"

"Mhm. Soo, did you and Percy break up?" Fran spoke swiftly, like everything he said was on a time limit. They all spoke that way, actually. Not only that, all three of them seemed more interested in this question than any other kind of conversation, except none of them seemed to have a problem with how blunt and sudden it was.

"Ahhm..." Leon stared at Fran wide-eyed for a moment, at first trying to comprehend what he just said, and then trying to figure out how to reply. The answer was simple, but he paused and wondered if he should humor the kids with something so personal. Eventually, he raised a brow and smiled quizzically, "No, we just had a fight. That's all."

"Then why did he leave?" Julie tilted her head.

"And where did he go?" Josef's tilted the other way.

"He went to Engloria, probably to do some research..."

"Is he gone forever?" Julie continued.

"You guys ask a lot of questions, you know that?"

Even though Leon was amused with their shameless curiosity, he couldn't deny how uneasy they made him feel. Not by their company, but by the pointed questions they asked. He and Percy were still a couple, were they not? And he was coming back, right? The answers came so easily to Leon, as if 'yes' was such an obvious conclusion to it all, but that's only how he felt. If he paused to think about it in the few seconds the three gave him in between, it wasn't so easy to assume that Percy felt the same way. Not after last night.

"Are you sad?" Fran eventually broke the few moments of silence after Leon's lighthearted responses, and all three of the Lapin kids leaned in inquisitively.

Taken aback, Leon stared at them with wide eyes again. He couldn't tell if these kids were just especially perceptive of what was going through his head, or if he was just foolishly ignorant to his own feelings showing. Still, it hadn't taken him long to bounce back from his surprise and smile at them.

"No way! After all..." Leon suddenly stood up, and with three powerful movements, he lifted the kids up onto his body—with Fran hanging from one arm, Josef on the other, and Julie sitting on his shoulders with a look of awe on her face, "Could a sad man do this? Or this?!"

For a minute or two, Leon just stood there and swung the kids around on his arms, letting them try to climb over him and even bring him down. Eventually, the four of them returned back to work, all of them donning entertained, happy smiles.

***

The wave of relief and freedom he felt the day Percy left for Engloria quickly faded the next. All of those "I'm glad he's gone!" and "I feel so much better now!" thoughts he had now seemed empty and like filler. And though the thoughts felt weightless, they made his heart heavy with remorse and melancholy.

At night, he felt the weight the worst. He felt restless with all the replayed scenes in his head of their argument, and he couldn't stop brooding over what Percy said, except this time it wasn't just him calling him an asshole—but the entire confession. The courage it took to defy his father no matter when he did it, the decisions he made and the people he had to consider when making them, and the pointed comments at his boyfriend's own selfish displays during their venture to Bellum and the war. Leon thought about it constantly; when he ate by himself and with the family, when he worked, when he chatted and played with the kids, when he tried to sleep—it was all he could think about. Although he spent the first day of their separation in something of a faux tranquility, by the second, he was making himself depressed and ill with remorse.

The more he thought about what Percy said, the less angry he felt. Honestly, how could he be angry? He got angry and now he was here, by himself, with Percy nowhere to be seen. He made him cry, blamed him for everything, and didn't even attempt to understand him. It felt so easy to answer whether or not they were still dating before this funk of depression he was going through, like it was stupid to even consider the possibility at all, but now he laid there wondering if the easy answer all along was "of course, we're breaking up!". The thought made his heart twist.

"Idiot, idiot, idiot..." Leon laid there on his straw bed, sprawled on his backside as he repeatedly knocked his metal fist against his forehead, "I'm such an asshole... I can't believe I said that..."

* * *

After his ruthless reflection last night, Leon woke up early on the third day and got to work early so he could be the first one to see Percy as he returned. Through all of his labor, he was constantly peeking up at the slightest sound, hoping that the turning wheels in the distance was the carriage that his lover was boarding, or the bright color on the horizon was the peppermint head of his—but he never showed up.

The day was stretching into the mid-afternoon now, and Leon was restless with unease. He couldn't even work without stopping to look at the meadow road every ten seconds, and when he wasn't looking, he was playing with the ring box in his pocket, and the three Lapin kids were quick to notice.

"Where is he? He should've been back by now..." Leon apprehensively and quietly grumbled.

"Who? Percy?" asked Josef.

Leon, who hadn't realized he was speaking aloud, perked up bashfully before finally saying something.

"...Yeah."

"Maybe he wanted to study some more!" Fran speculated.

"Or maybe he died," Julie lost the color in her face.

"What? No way. He's tougher than me, you know!" Leon shook his head and chuckled as he continued shoveling away at the soil, "It's nothing like that."

"Maybe a witch turned him into an ugly mossbun!"

"A glubuana?"

"A slime?!"

"Or maybe..."

All three of the overexcited Lapin children went quiet for a moment and looked at each other before slowly turning to stare fretfully at Leon, in unison.

"...he found another man!" they all whispered.

"Okay, now this is getting ridiculous!" Leon raised his hand as if he were about to throw the shovel at them. Giggling, the three children ran away behind a stack of logs, amused to have gotten under Leon's skin and irritate him. After that, they continued to blurt out random and ridiculous suggestions of where Percy could be or what he got mixed up in, a lot of which Leon just ignored or didn't understand as he worked, until Josef peeked up from behind the logs and said something peculiar.

"What if he's lost?"

"No, Josef. For the tenth time, that's completely..." he stopped once he realized what the little Lapin boy said, and while Josef's suggestion was far tamer and down-to-earth than all of the other wild speculations they came up with so far, it got under Leon's skin the most. He came to a slow pause after Josef said that, and apprehensively stared off into space. "...ridiculous?"

Percy's always had a terrible sense of navigation and was the type to get lost if you told him the destination was just down the street. Sometimes it felt like GPS devices were designed just for him, but in a place where there had yet to be a single modern device, Leon began to think of the worst.

At first, he just played with the idea. Carriages were obviously much slower than trains, automobiles, and magic, so it was ignorant to expect him to arrive so close to dawn. But what if he really was lost? He hadn't thought of it before, but on second thought, letting him go off to Engloria all on his own was like letting your child loose at a supermarket. A teary-eyed, directionally challenged child.

For the rest of the day, Leon constantly bounced between "he couldn't be lost, right?" and "oh my god, he's lost!", and by the time night came, the Hoffman was knocking on the family's front door with a cold sweat caking his face and a look of death in his solemn, panicked eyes. He had been pacing all day and ended up breaking more of a sweat thinking about the possibility than the actual work itself.

After a few moments, it was Hari who opened the door, donning a floral nightgown as she prepared for bed.

"Leon? What's the matter, hun?" she smiled at him, her voice laced with that maternal concern.

"I'm really sorry to bother you right now, but can one of you guys give me a ride to Engloria? Like, now?" Leon stared at her intensely, anxiously waiting her reply, "It's an emergency."

* * *

Thanks to Ollie's help, Leon managed to arrive at Engloria just before dawn, and it was there that he'd spend the next few days of his life.

The first place he looked was the esteemed library he knew Percy would've gone to, but the sheepish librarian explained that he only spent a couple of days inside. After that, he left. It was a pitiful 'you just missed him' look, and Leon could only thank him and leave.

He went the route that he suggested, and he came across all sorts of other "ordinary" people who could distinctly remember the unique-looking Percy and the modicum of conversation they made when he was still there. It was all very overwhelming—Engloria—and it was much more crowded and busy compared to Otenshire, but he didn't have time to admire the city. As expected, his lover was probably lost, and he didn't know how much time he had left to find him before something grim happened to him.

* * *

After what felt like an eternity of tracking, Leon managed to get closer to finding where his missing boyfriend was. During his brisk investigation in Engloria, the Hoffman managed to brush up on some basic geographical knowledge. On one hand, perhaps it was a good thing that he had a general idea of the world around him. The only problem was that his tracking had led him out of Engloria and into Newdale, the complete opposite direction of where Percy should've headed, which was Otenshire.

Newdale was... mysterious, in a bad way. He got the same vibe from when they first arrived at Otenshire, where he trusted no one and nothing, but unlike that little town, Newdale actually seemed off.  His feet felt raw with all the walking, his belly roaring for a bite, but all of the places he eyed during his travels didn't make him feel safe. At this point, he couldn't tell whether he was just overly cautious or maybe this place really was just shady. All the more reason to scoop Percy up and skip town as soon as possible.

In any case, several bold queries around the streets eventually led him to a blood donor establishment. It was there that he had come to learn two things; one, vampires existed, and two, Percy had frequented the place before heading out towards an inn again. There was just... a lot to unpack here and he wasn't sure how to feel about the fact that Percy had come there, but it was just another thing to add onto the bundle of crazy discoveries he's made since leaving Otenshire. He'd have to reflect on it later.

He went to the inns nearby, but only one could account for seeing a young man with striking white and red features make haste into the streets of Newdale. They described him as looked worn and weary, but anxious all the same. Perhaps they were describing both of the men, because Leon wasn't looking too hot either. He was tired and nervous from all the chaos he's been going through just to find Percy, and hearing about him in that state didn't help.

Leon was quick to take to the streets of Newdale again, sweeping blocks and neighborhoods where Percy might be, but finding nothing. His entire body ached with each step, and he was so parched that the spit in his mouth was the only thing keeping him hydrated, but it made him nauseous when he thought about it. The last several days of restless nights and labored days caught up with him, and there were little dark circles underneath his eyes to show for it.

His fatigue and weariness strung him along the roadside until he wandered off by a school, looking around corners and into crevices to complete his due diligence in searching for his lover, but already coming to terms with the fact that he probably wasn't there. He trudged against the wall, finally needing to take a break. But when he turned the corner, he saw something. He saw someone.

Red and white hair, perfectly split down the middle of his head. Beautiful white skin and not a single blemish aside from the scar he knew was on his face. A smaller, but cut physique, tense and ready to pounce anyone and anything. Leon recognized who it was almost immediately, and all of the fatigue that plagued him before suddenly changed into physical astonishment.

"Percy?!"



WC: 2614 (god bless your soul) | Total WC: 12,861 | WC Needed: ??? @Percy ""  —
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Into the Unknown [Percy] Empty Re: Into the Unknown [Percy]

Post by Percy Wed Sep 29, 2021 6:37 am

Footsteps. Footsteps around the corner, coming closer. He could hear them bouncing between the stone walls, echoing into his alley with ominous rhythm. His hand tightened so much on the knife that it shook in his grasp. It was then that his mind tried to play tricks on his hopeless psyche, trying to tell him that he recognized the step pattern, that it was familiar. But how could it be? He knew not a soul in this world. Even the one he'd come here with had felt like a stranger when he left.

Turning to face his attacker, assuming it was the vampire stalking him, Percy was readying to attack. Though he looked calm and so very tired, he was ready to pounce. His heart was racing. A cold sweat coated his body. Muscles were tensed so tightly that they already ached. All of his strength would go into this desperate gambit, despite the dark circles beneath his eyes and the exhaustion in his body. He didn't know how to do anything other than give all he had left, though he also had the sense to know this was it. If that pale, fanged man wished to drink him dry, he'd be powerless against it. That grip on his arms at the donation center was unreal. Percy had even lightly tried to test his strength against a simple grasp and... no dice. The difference in the species was something he was unable to overcome at the moment, not when it mattered most. Maybe he could luck out and get this knife in his eye...

To die twice within two weeks was almost laughable. If he hadn't been so worn down, maybe he would have gave it a giggle or two.

The figure came around the corner and Percy took about a step forward with the knife raised before he registered who it might be. Who it was. They met eyes. He heard his name barked into the silence. The rest of the attack faltered. As he stood there, wavering with uncertainty, he wondered if that was really Leon. It sounded like him. He blinked his tense eyes as if the exhaustion might be playing tricks on him. The hair wasn't right. It was short. It looked like it did when they met, making Percy's heart squeeze painfully. Slowly he lowered the knife, his body quickly losing the will to fight. It was Leon, every handsome and infuriating inch.

"Leon," he exhaled wearily, intense relief flooding his face and causing him to drop his knife as if all his strength was gone. Before he could even think, his body moved, rushing forward to throw himself against the person he loved most. Just his scent would make this all seem like a bad dream. For a moment he'd forgotten the bad and only felt the happiness reuniting with a lover that made him feel so complete could cause. This was the man who...

Before he could throw himself into Leon's embrace and sob out the fear, he suddenly hesitated, lingering out of Leon's reach. Something else rushed in and replaced the relief and the lost boy suddenly packed all of his affection up to tightly taped boxes, wary of his lover. Percy was still very hurt and he hadn't forgotten the note they'd left on. It didn't feel right to hug Leon like nothing had happened, not after all he said and didn't acknowledge. The torturous replay was constant in between his bouts of danger and terror. He doubted their relationship. Did Leon even want to be touched? Did Percy? Walls long since demolished resurrected to try to protect himself. He was happy to be saved, and in a way happy that Leon was here, but... He was so confused and afraid that talking to the man again would bring more fighting or put the final period at the end of their sentence. Were they broken up? He didn't know! Had the dark-haired man come here just out of obligation, knowing that the peppermint head was lost and hopeless and just doing the right thing before it was all over?

Did he want to be saved by someone who had devalued him so completely? Did it matter if he was devalued? He was used to that, wasn't he? Though Leon had started a change in him on that, he could easily go back.

There was a lot on Percy's mind suddenly, scrambling it and his emotions into a mess. As usual, when he was overwhelmed he shut down, his expression blanking and his voice becoming impassive. "Ah.. Thanks for c-coming..." he awkwardly thanked Leon, maintaining the distance between them. Even though he was angry, there was still too much love there. It was stupid wanting to run into his arms but run away at the same time. The comfort those arms could bring versus the possibility of rejection paralyzed him. He didn't know which impulse to listen to. "Uhm, th-there's a..." Percy was going to warn him about the vampire that might be roaming nearby, but his throat was closing up. No, no, don't cry! Not right now, stay strong, put on a strong face, square those shoulders! Leon had seen enough tears and none of them mattered, yet he could feel them threatening to crash over the lower lid of his good eye. In an effort to stop it, he lowered his head to stare at the dirt at Leon's feet.

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Into the Unknown [Percy] Empty Re: Into the Unknown [Percy]

Post by Leon Hoffman Thu Sep 30, 2021 12:13 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

"I was wrong."

Standing there across from Percy, that was the first thing that came out of his mouth. His voice was low and remorseful, but loud enough for the two of them to hear. His hands curled up into tense fists, and his gaze lowered, almost too guilty to look at Percy in the eye—but it didn't matter, since Percy wasn't looking at him in the eye either. Truthfully, he wanted to run up to Percy and swallow him in a loving and desperate embrace. He almost ignored the fatigue plaguing his body and the tenderness of his aching feet to shower his lover in an affection that came so naturally to him. He wanted to, but he couldn't. Or rather, he didn't know if he should.

"I was being a selfish asshole, got in my own head, fucked up, and... I was wrong. For everything I said and did..."

There was more he wanted to say, more he wanted to apologize for, but part of him stopped him from continuing just then. As if allowing Percy the opportunity to spew curses at him, to punch him across the face, or to put the nail in the coffin right there and then. He dreaded the thought, and he hesitated to look up for the fear that maybe he'd have a look of contempt or disgust. Leon was no stranger to looks like that. After all, his family and countrymen were the pioneers of all of his self-esteem problems and insecurities, but every time he saw the way Percy would look at him like that... he'd replay the scenes in his head and could feel his heart breaking apart. He could never tell whether that awful anxiety and regret he'd feel when his lover gave him such unfriendly looks was because he hurt Percy or if he was being hurt himself.

Apprehensive and tense, Leon continued to stare at the ground in a quiet shame. He didn't want this to be the end of things, but he didn't know what was going through that head of his at that moment.


WC: 350 | Total WC: 14,121 | WC Needed: ??? @Percy ""  —
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Post by Percy Thu Sep 30, 2021 2:06 am

There was silence between them after that as Percy processed the words and tried to decide how he felt about them. He shifted his weight from one blistered foot to the other. The turmoil was evident as the ball was in his court. What he did next would likely shape their future.

There was still more he needed to hear, more to be said, but this was a good enough start. There was hope now that the hurts would heal, that maybe they could work it out. It was enough. Slow steps closed the distance between him as he spurred his drained body to move. Much like he has when Leon returned from Bellum, Percy pressed his forehead into his lover’s chest, hissing out a shaky smile while the tears finally broke loose.

“I know I hurt you. I d-didn’t mean to but I did,” he said quietly, words muffled into the fabric of Leon’s borrowed shirt. Percy would try to shoulder some of the blame in the interest of peace, letting Leon know his feelings weren’t invalid, even if what he’d said and done were a bit out of line and needlessly cruel. It came from a place of hurt and Percy could see that. He didn’t put his arms around his boyfriend yet, feeling that slowly warming back up might be best until some of his own hurt was gone, but he did tangle his fingers into the bottom of Leon’s tunic. At least the anger seemed to have lifted. He could forgive, but forgetting wouldn’t be that easy. This had been a big blowup, so fallout was unavoidable.

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Into the Unknown [Percy] Empty Re: Into the Unknown [Percy]

Post by Leon Hoffman Thu Sep 30, 2021 3:00 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

Leon felt like he could've melted right then and there once Percy leaned into his chest. For a physically affectionate man like Leon, the little grasp at the seams of his tunic wasn't enough to satisfy for comfort him, and at that moment, he continued to be selfish. Two strong arms trapped Percy into a tight embrace, so strong and unwavering that Leon nearly curled into his body. All of the thoughts that made him sick with worry and anguish poured out into that embrace, his heart beating so hard that he was certain Percy could feel it between their tunics. His head felt heavy with relief and guilt.

"No—it doesn't matter what you did to me. It's my fault for acting like a child..." Leon started off, his voice rising as he nuzzled his head into Percy's neck, speaking onto his shoulder, "I should've said something about what you accomplished and what it took for you to get us here. About your father. Your pressure. I should've said something. But instead, I..."

Leon paused as he mouthed the words into Percy's shoulder, hands clutching into his tunic as he let lingering feelings of frustration and regret come over him. Except, this time, he was angry at himself. He was angry that he had it in him to act so selfishly and that this all came to this point because of it. That he made Percy cry and drove him away.

The dark circles underneath his eyes were accompanied by a streak of pink, those honey hues stinging with the threat of tears that wouldn't come. He tried to bury his face deeper into his lover's tunic.

"I love you, okay? I love you, and everything you do for me. I fucked up real bad this time, and I'm sorry," he went quiet for a second, "I'm sorry."


WC: 308 | Total WC: 14,700 | WC Needed: ??? @Percy ""  —
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Post by Percy Thu Sep 30, 2021 4:27 am

It was hard to resist him when he was like this. Percy's icy shield was already starting to crack as he was squeezed against Leon tightly and acknowledged and apologized to. This was what he wanted, this is what he needed instead of the animosity and indifference. His fingers dropped the hem so he could wrap his arms around his boyfriend, now gripping the back of the tunic as tightly as he had the knife. Physical affection might still be awkwardly initiated and returned, but Percy craved his touch. There hadn't been much of it lately, and now that he was so used to getting it, being deprived of it was like making an addict of someone and then yanking away the drugs.

"You should've," Percy mumbled an agreement with Leon, feeling a weird thrill of standing up for himself and sticking to it knot in his gut. The venom was gone from his tone now that Leon had finally recognized how big of a step it had been.

One hand loosed from the fabric and slipped up his back to filter through his short black hair at the back of his neck. "I forgive you," he whispered close to Leon's ear, another wavering sigh following close after as he tried to keep himself together. "I love you, too, Leon. So much," his tone wavered. For days he'd entertained the devastating thought of being broken up. All this relief at once had him shaking. "I.. was afraid you didn't l-love me anymore..."

After a moment, he reluctantly leaned back and chanced a look into Leon's face both to check his condition and his expression. He looked so tired, which made Percy frown. Given how hard it had been for him to get here, even if this wasn't where he'd intended to go, he couldn't imagine how Leon not only tracked him but got here with presumably no vigs. "How did you find me?"

[wc: 323 || total: 15023]
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Post by Leon Hoffman Thu Sep 30, 2021 5:08 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

"It's gonna take a lot more than that for me to stop loving you, Percy," Leon smiled, lips curling up as if laughing, but remained silent. It felt good to feel Percy's arms around him, and even better to hear him say that he forgave him. No doubt, there was a lot Leon would have to do to make up for the damage he's caused, but starting like this was fine. He'd make himself sick with all the stress their fight was causing him, in addition to Percy getting... lost?

Right, Percy was lost.

He got so caught up in the moment that he nearly forgot that they were in Newdale, a town in the complete opposite direction of Otenshire without a vig to his name. Even Percy brought up the elephant in the room after their heartfelt apologies, and Leon could do or say nothing but give him a dumbfounded stare.

"Er... Ollie took me to Engloria, and I sort of just ended up asking around... you're a pretty distinct-lookin' guy, so it was kind of easy to find people who saw you, and..." Leon matter-of-factly explained his process, when it finally dawned on him that Percy was, in fact, lost. The color drained from his face and his sharp, intense eyes widened with anxiety. His hands whipped away from the embrace and nervously grabbed Percy's cheeks, tilting his face this way and that, checking for any roughing up. "Oh my god, are you okay?! Does anything hurt? I was worried sick, you know?! I knew something like this must've happened! God! Here, let me look at your..."

Just as Leon was beginning to grope around his boyfriend's body for any noticeable injuries, his fingers grazed over the little punctures in his neck. When he lifted his fingers for a closer look, they looked like bite marks—some fresher than others—and there were several of them. Suddenly, thoughts about the whole "blood donor" establishment came to the forefront of his mind, and needless to say, Leon was in a mix between being utterly taken aback and furious.

"...What're these...?" Leon eyed the marks before looking at Percy, baffled, "Who... what..."


WC: 360 | Total WC: 15,383 | WC Needed: ??? @Percy ""  —
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