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Post by Leon Hoffman Sun Jan 09, 2022 7:22 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

Living in Vyldermire had been hell for Leon so far, but not for reasons people would usually think. Assuming they really were in a whole new world—something Leon still hadn't quite grasped yet—it was normal to find difficulties in adjusting to life there. Even back on Earthland, cultural and societal differences made it hard for foreigners to integrate. Hell, even city kids could barely function if their families moved out to the country! There were things both big and small that made moving of any kind difficult, but Leon didn't seem to struggle with any of it.

The fieldwork was draining at worst, but he actually kind of enjoyed the dirty tasks. He was a quick learner and adjusted to rural life as if he had lived there all his life from day one. The kids have always welcomed the company, and the meadows were a great place to reflect on what happened these last few m0nths without having the stress of actually dealing with it all. Overall, he had no complaints... except one.

Leon hated being in someone's debt.

It was no secret that the only reason they were here to begin with was that they were working off Percy's medical bill, and while hardly anyone involved saw it like that anymore, Leon almost turned himself into a workaholic to free himself and Percy from their monetary attachment to this Lapin family. He could barely stand their circumstances in his own unique way.

While Percy struggled with something of a lost identity now that his skills were virtually useless, Leon constantly battled with his own gripes about it all. Even back on Earthland, he always gave Percy a hard time about debt. Gift-giving was hell, and Leon always insisted on treating Percy, if not splitting the bill altogether. It was kind of funny, considering that Percy was in a completely different tax bracket and could afford everything he ever wanted without ever checking his account. Percy was the one giving Leon money anyway... which, interestingly enough, made the whole Sugar Daddy teasing more applicable than either of them could admit.

Either way, the point was clear—Leon hated his dependency on this nice family, and married Lapin couple were beginning to pick up on that. So, they'd sometimes offer Leon tasks to complete in exchange for some coin, or would sometimes just give him money outright as a reward for all of the work he and Percy had done. In reality, it was more of an allowance than anything else. Hari and Ollie would've given them that money regardless, probably.

* * *

It was the crack of dawn when Leon had decided to get up, as that was the time he felt most comfortable getting to work. It was around the time he used to wake up before his life got all twisted up in a knot, and now it was back to normal. Contrarily, Percy was... out cold, essentially. He was never awake before noon unless he had to be, and Leon didn't bother him for the most part. In fact, he quite enjoyed spying on him before he got up to work—cuddle and touch him—that sort of thing. However, today was different in that Leon had every intention of rousing Percy from his slumber before he was ready.

For at least ten minutes, Leon had been obsessively counting all of the Vyldergold they've saved since coming here with a frightening amount of tension and desperation on his face. He was so terribly eager to finally do something for them both with their money for once that he couldn't think of anything else. Once he was sure of the amount, he all but jumped onto the bed next to Percy and began eagerly shaking his shoulder.

"Percy!"



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Post by Percy Sun Jan 09, 2022 8:19 am

Peaceful. Before Leon descended upon him like a sleep-eating demon, Percy had been dead to the world, dreaming of something somewhat pleasant, for once. His lips twitched into flashes of smiles as his fingers flitted like gentle fairies over the circuitry of a giant mecha, freshly painted glossy black and red. It was nearly ready for its maiden voyage and was simply stunning. It was all he'd ever hoped to build! A testament to his technological genius packed with bells and whistles that not even Bosco could crest. It could time travel, it could teleport, it could down Doglizza in a single pure ethernano punch, it could stop wars and expunge pollution! It could also level a mountain range using only three percent of its power, but that was beside the point. As he soldered the last of the tiny wires, he stepped back and lovingly closed the panel, using a towel tucked into his tool belt to buff out the fingerprints. It was perfect. A gundam, a man-shaped machine that could fly and fight and look super cool doing it, something not a soul made fun of him for and everyone was envious of. Just like in his favorite anime... He used the towel now to rid his skin of as much grease and grim as he could before stepping onto the lift to rise into the cock pit. The only thing that could make this better was...

Just as he thought it, his eyes caught a glimpse of Leon perched in the pilot's seat, tight leather bodysuit lit up at the seams in glowing red, the sharp angles of his jaw reflecting the blue hue of the holographic controls and HUD. While he was plenty anxious to break his new toy in with a flight to Bosco, there were other ways to break it in as well. Percy didn't even hesitate to approach his smokeshow of a boyfriend, taking a seat on his lap as if the man was the pilot's chair itself. Strong arms served as seatbelts for the bumpy ride and his head buzzed with the scent of leather and cedar, strange smells for a brand new cockpit but he wasn't complaining... now if he could just find that joystick--

***

Not the most ideal way to be woken up, that was for sure. Percy jolted out of his dream with a gasp and wide eyes, barely able to keep his arm from swinging at that handsome face of Leon's in pure panicked surprise. Once his brain acclimated to waking life, a deep scowl creased his otherwise gentle features and he sleepily reached a rough hand full of busted-up knuckles to grab Leon's face. Percy had been working tirelessly to try and work off his own debt, that comment during The Argument(TM) ever-present in his mind. He might not always make it up before Leon, or even before lunch some days, but when he was awake he was rushing like a demon to try and chop twice as much wood, gather twice as much produce, repair twice as many things, and then go into town for the evening to fight for extra vigs on top of that. This was the one morning where he intended to take a small break, and while he hadn't wanted to punch Leon before, he did now. His dream had been perfect. It had been a perfect world where nothing was wrong and no one cared that he was gay and he had everything he wanted.. and now he was back on this inferior, pokey straw bed in a musty shack on a farm in the middle of nowhere, still a little sore from a healed puncture in his gut, knowing full well that he'd never ever get to build that gundam from his dream or live the fantasy he'd been just about to enjoy in the cockpit...

Dream Leon would have never done this to him.

"Why...?" he asked, betrayed and already starting into a pout. Groggily his eyes closed, attempting to go back to sleep despite his hand still palming that intense but also puppy-like face. Also, it felt early. He had no true confirmation of that other than half-noticing the level of sunlight making it in through one of the foggy windows, but since he hadn't woken on his own and his psychotic morning-person lover looked fresh and lively, he couldn't help but put the pieces together. "Early... Nnngh," he groaned, somehow knowing that Leon wouldn't let him go back to sleep and finish that dream.

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Post by Leon Hoffman Sun Jan 09, 2022 8:00 pm


 

LEON HOFFMAN

Maybe it was a bit cruel to get Percy up and about at this hour, knowing how hard he worked and how late he sometimes stood up, but Leon just wasn't having any of it today. As cute as this groggy man was, Leon continued to shake his shoulder and ignore the hand on his face, dangling the bag of vigs just enough to show off its somewhat impressive sound. It wasn't too unlike the time when Percy showed up at his door before the crack of dawn, and for a picnic no less.

"Do you hear it? We've saved up a bunch of vigs, dude. We can go shopping!" Leon's face lit up and a smile broke his lips. He seemed genuinely excited to finally be able to buy stuff together with the money that they earned instead of leeching off that nice Lapin family, and Percy had no choice but to humor him. "Are you listening? Percy?"

Of course, he wasn't expecting his boyfriend to be up and at it immediately, but that didn't stop Leon from feeling a little bit fussy about it himself. He clicked his tongue and frowned as he got up, defiantly walking over to the door and swinging it wide open, barraging Percy with a sea of morning sunshine and a crisp breeze—refreshing to most but absolutely awful to those still sleeping. After that, he began to raise his voice and clap his hands.

"C'mon now! Up, up!"



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Post by Percy Mon Jan 10, 2022 12:58 am

An eye cracked back open when he heard coins jangling close to his face, shifting from the pouch to the smiling man hovering near it. It was only then that he let go of Leon's face, always interested in seeing his smiles, even if they were because he was being annoying before the sun was directly overhead. "Listening..." he mumbled, proceeding to rub his eyes but ultimately go still with the temptation of going back to dreamland.

The clicking tongue wasn't missed, and though he half wondered what exactly Leon had up his sleeve, he didn't feel the need to check. And then he was blasted in the face with... outside. The sun blinded him even from behind his eyelids, and the scent of farm was enough to ruin any restful Zs waiting for him. He growled and flailed to cover his eyes. Leon wouldn't give up. He never did once he had something in mind...

And apparently, that was shopping at this stupid early hour. Fun.

After a few more seconds of rolling and whining, Percy heaved a heavy sigh and sat up, squinting forlornly at the silhouette near the blazing doorway. "Alright, alright!" he gave in, getting his bearings for only a few seconds before finally doing what Leon wanted and "Up, up!"ing.

His morning routine was quick, as usual. Pull on the blue button-up washed the night before, the brown trousers that were a size or two too big, and the suspenders that held them up. Wash face, brush teeth, comb hair, don't get any toes stuck in the scratchy holey socks when pushing them into the dusty old boots. Now that he was actually awake, he turned to look at his boyfriend with an inquisitive brow. "Shopping? For what?"

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Post by Leon Hoffman Mon Jan 10, 2022 6:34 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

Percy's morning routine was brisk, as usual. He did what needed to be done, and not a second was wasted dilly-dallying around. Leon, on the other hand, leaned against the wall just beside the open door while he waited for his boyfriend. When Percy had finished up, Leon nodded and tossed the bag of vigs over to him, beginning to count items on his fingers.

"For all kinds of things, Percy. Veggies, rice, butter, seasonings—you know, we might even be able to get some fish or meat, too. Oh, and cigarettes. I hate having to ask Ollie for one or two," Leon rambled on as he recounted what was essentially just a shopping list. Between the two of them, Leon was definitely the one who got the most excited about the most practical of things. He was by no means impoverished growing up—even though he was the black sheep of the Hoffman family, they weren't so stingy that they'd refuse Leon their shared wealth—but surviving in Neutral Grounds after being banished taught him a thing or two about frugality, and about himself.

As it turns out, Leon not only had a knack for staying budget-friendly, but he enjoyed the challenge as well. He was an expert at collecting coupons and had an eye for high-quality items from second-hand stores. Even though he didn't particularly enjoy being spoiled by Percy, there came a time where he eventually stopped entertaining his frugal habits. After all, his then-boss, now-boyfriend, and future-fiance were Perseus Dagger... or, well, was. Now it's just... Percy.

"Isn't this great? It's the first time since we came here that we're actually doing something for ourselves. Our hard work is finally paying off!" Leon smiled with a fire in his eyes, overjoyed with the very idea of independence. Eager to get going, he briskly walked over to Percy and took his hand into his own, leading him out the door. "You're ready, right? Okay, c'mon."

* * *

Even though it was early in the morning, Otenshire waited for none of the sleepyheads around town. The marketplace was already bustling with life and idle chatter, as both men and women perused the vendors and their produce, farmers and artisans traded their goods, and kids looked on with interest. Leon and Percy would arrive too, a small wooden pull-cart behind the Hoffman.

The pull-cart was rickety, old, and beaten up, but it'd get the job done. By the end of this, Leon was hoping to fill it up with a bunch of stuff. He couldn't wait to feel its weight against his arms!

Looking around, this seemed as good of a place as ever. Everything looked fresh and recently put out, and Leon was already relatively familiar with all of the goods being sold here. It looked like those deliveries Ollie had sent him on weren't for nothing after all, because all of the posted prices for everything of interest fit into their budget nicely! Excited, he put the cart handles down and opened the small bag of vigs, taking a handful out before handing the rest to Percy. His metal fingers fumbled through his pockets and pulled out a crumpled piece of paper, handing it to his lover as well. It was a shopping list, blessed by Leon's aesthetic and calligraphic handwriting.

"Here, I wrote everything we want down before you even got up. I'll even leave the cart with you since you'll probably have more to carry than me," Leon bobbed his head the other direction, "I'm gonna try to snag some fish or meat. I've noticed that fresh catches go fast around here, so it's probably better if we split up just so I can get some. I'll make it really quick though, okay? I'll come to find you once I'm done and we can finish up together."


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Post by Percy Mon Jan 10, 2022 7:22 am

Hustled outside before he could make any comments, Percy was led to the marketplace without so much as a word. He was still properly waking up and was normally very quiet and limited to sentences four words or less for at least a half-hour or until some sort of caffeine passed his lips, but his mind rapidly came online as he saw the magnitude of the crowd. His steps hesitated and Leon with the cart (that he had previously been focused on noting various repairs) passed on by, leaving him to process what he was being introduced to. A veritable army of incomprehensible morning folks like Leon, already noisy and energetic. Percy was never one for crowds anyway, so this all seemed like something he'd typically avoid like the plague...and speaking of the plague, that was just another reason to add to his unease aside from the normal anti-social ones. So many people. So many germs. Percy had no idea what, if any, plagues existed and if they'd invented vaccines, but judging by the weird numbing tuber he'd been given at Hari's clinic, his assumption was that most modern medicine had to be limited to much more populated and...open-minded areas.

Hopefully, the fish and cigarettes were worth an outbreak of something ridiculous like slime pox or some other such new infection they had no antibodies for.

Steeling himself and rushing to catch up before Leon noticed he'd fallen behind, within seconds a piece of paper graced with his boyfriend's perfect handwriting was shoved into one hand and a bag of coins in the other. Looking absolutely lost, he stared at his lover as the inky-haired man excitedly issued instructions. There were many questions that rose and fell from the tip of his tongue. 'Why can't someone go get them for us?', 'We can just order for drop off or pick up, right?', 'You're leaving me in this alone?', and 'How do I do this?' However, all that actually left his lips was a very meek. "Okay..."

And just like that, he was alone. The market loomed before him, growing in size like some monstrous beast puffing up its chest to blast him with hellfire, making him feel so very small and ill-prepared.

Percy, as a scientist, knew what each of the items were... but nowhere in science does it teach the worth of items on the open market. That would be a task for the majority of the world that learned by doing and common sense, neither of which he really possessed as a privileged young man. The Daggers had many, many issues, but money was not one of them. There was a hoard of well-paid people who did this stuff for the lot of them, something Percy had taken entirely for granted until this very moment.

Unbeknownst to the identity-stripped boy, his time grocery shopping ended in disaster for several reasons. Most of the town knew he was an Otherworlder due to his own admission in their first days, so they were either hostile, saw an opportunity for jokes and/or taking advantage, or both. Some wouldn't sell to him at all, and the ones that did either haggled too hard and scared him off with the conflict, or gouged the price and giggled when he didn't notice. Percy never questioned the price of anything, honestly. He was easily swayed by the biggest and shiniest and not by what was the best value, either that or he bought the very first piece of produce he came to on the list, no matter how battered and bruised. He didn't cook, so he really didn't know what made foods 'good' or 'bad' at a glance, as long as they were identifiable it was good enough. And thus, despite having a large cart, there was exactly one paper bag full of things in it.

Did he get everything on the list? Nope! He'd run out of money long before that! How Leon had thought they could get all of those things with that minuscule amount of vigs baffled him. The cigarettes had taken a chunk of it, so he only ended up with a small bag of rice, butter, and a random assortment of varying qualities of veggies... none of which really made a meal with rice, but he wouldn't know that, now would he? No, the peppermint head somehow managed to walk to an uncrowded spot to wait, proud of himself that he got through the whole thing by himself and seeing nothing wrong with what he'd done. "That wasn't as bad as I thought..." he said to himself, blissfully ignorant to what was to come. Did he ever want to do it again? No. Did it stress him out a little that being poor meant that a whole sack of coins disappeared into such a small amount of necessities? It was certainly a new sensation, one he was struggling to truly grasp. He teetered between blind optimism and cavernous despair but could never settle on one.

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Post by Leon Hoffman Mon Jan 10, 2022 7:57 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

While Percy was teetering on the edge of conflict with a lot of vendors, Leon's shopping was going incredibly well. A middle-aged woman who hauled small crates stacked as high as her head ran into him, the daunting tower inevitably toppling over. But despite this, Leon helped her clean up and even carried the rest for her—an unconditional deed not unlike him to commit. Well, as it turns out, the destination they were headed to was none other than the butcher shop itself, and it was crowded with people just as he expected. What's more, the woman was the butcher's wife! After a bunch of bickering between the older couple, Leon was suddenly rewarded for his kindness with discounts and freebies... and a couple of interesting comments about his strange and foreign arm.

* * *

About fifteen minutes after leaving Percy, Leon returned to the central marketplace with a heavy slab of pork belly, a small rack of fresh fish, a couple of small pouches of jerky tossed in for free, and some vigs leftover even after all of that! Sure, it wasn't much that was leftover, but the meat was the most expensive thing on their list, so the fact that he had anything left at all was enough to bring a cheeky smirk to his face. Not only that, but he was eager to see the fruits of Percy's labor as well. Although he wasn't where he left him, Percy wasn't far from where they separated and was easy to spot amongst the crowd.

"Percy! Over here!" Leon waved with pouches of jerky in his hand, proudly showing off the meat he purchased as if he were expecting a similarly pleasing reaction. He waded through small pockets of people, his eyes meandering to the cart, expecting it to be full of stuff. But alas, there... was nothing in it at all?

Leon paused in front of Percy and stared, perplexed and puzzled by what he was seeing. Well, maybe it was harsh to say that there was nothing in the cart. But all that was inside of it was a single, relatively full paper bag. There wasn't even a sack of rice sitting there, or bags full of fruit. The cart was so unbelievably empty that Leon just immediately assumed that he just caught Percy in the middle of shopping, not the end of it. Percy was taking a break or something of the nature, he was sure of it.

"Ah... aha. You were waiting to shop with me all this time?" Leon managed to laugh, walking over to the cart and dropping his racks and wraps of fish and meat into it, right next to the pitiful bag of... honestly, Leon couldn't even tell what was supposed to be filling that bag. He turned to look at Percy and showed him the leftover vigs he managed to save, "Turns out helping out here and there goes a long way... got all of that and still have some vigs leftover. Isn't that great? Here, put it with the rest of the vigs and we'll finish up the list together."

Leon handed the vigs over to Percy, waiting for his boyfriend to toss them into the bag full of vigs from earlier... he... he must have it, right? Surely, he must!


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Post by Percy Mon Jan 10, 2022 8:49 am

Poor ignorant Percy grinned at the sight of the meat, oblivious to the less than excited reaction to the lack of fruits of his labor. "Wow!" he marveled simply at the haul of meat, eyes flickering between Leon's face and everything he carried, still not putting it together that he'd messed up. He didn't exactly expect to be praised, but he thought he'd done alright, given it was his first time doing something like this, and in a whole different world, too!

"Actually, I'm finished." A throwaway, distracted comment as watched fish and some sort of beast's ribs flop into the cart. It was a bit hard for him to believe that things that looked like that could be turned into appetizing food. Of course, he knew this is what it looked like before it was cooked, but since he didn't cook... it was just a bit amazing. The one time he'd tried to make soup for Leon was possibly the only time he'd touched raw meat not intended for some sort of scientific experiment. While his brain made a valiant effort of trying to frame the ingredients in the cart into actual meals, he held out his hand for the coins that he returned to the bag once full of vigs, now empty given the lack of clanking metal.

"You really must have helped out a lot. I didn't get half as much as you for the vigs you left me. I got maybe half of what was on the list," commented the oblivious man, his tone a little perplexed, though not in the capacity it should have been. "I don't know if it was the same back home, but I think cigarettes are expensive here..." Percy said, reaching into the bag and holding up the small box. Clearly, he didn't understand at all how this was supposed to work, and that meat was more expensive than literally anything he'd purchased, and that the cart should have been heaping if he'd done it correctly, and that cigarettes should've been purchased last if there was enough left over. "But don't worry, if I do a fight tonight, I can probably make up the difference and buy the rest tomorrow... Does the market close early or something? Is that why we're here so early?"

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Post by Leon Hoffman Wed Jan 12, 2022 5:29 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

The more Percy talked about his own shopping experience, the more Leon could feel his soul taking a brave exit from his body. Percy looked somewhat satisfied with his "haul"—delighted, even—but their sack of vigs was devoid of any clicking and clanking sounds of coins tapping against each other, and the bag he managed to fill up was mediocre at best. Maybe mediocre was putting it lightly, because of the things he did manage to get, it was all so few and unorganized! Not only that, but somewhere between all of this, Percy somehow thought that a pack of cigarettes took priority over literally anything else on the list. With a haul as pathetic as this, why would he even bother with cigarettes?

The shopping attempt was so unbelievably fruitless and unapologetically bad, Leon's first reaction was to laugh. His fierce countenance softened into a small smile as peels of laughter spilled from his mouth, chuckling as if this was all some dumb joke. He held his metal hand over his mouth for a moment to regain composure, and then there was silence... and then baffling realization. This wasn't a dumb joke—Percy was just so brain-breakingly incompetent that Leon instantly conditioned himself to believe it all to be some elaborate ruse. It wasn't.

"HUH?!"

Leon rose his voice so much that several people turned to stare at the commotion for a moment in awkward surprise before returning to their errands, but he was unapologetic. Snatching the sack of vigs (or lack thereof) from Percy, Leon didn't even need to peek inside to know it was empty. He squeezed the bag between his hand and gave Percy the most awful glare. He was going through a lot of emotions right now—confusion, panic, anger, sadness—but he didn't want to just berate Percy without a second thought. Instead, he ended up giving him the most gnarly, twisted, but still suppressed glare and frown he could conjure. Even so, his intense emotions couldn't be tied down for long.

"'Do a fight tonight and make up the difference', my ass! Those were all of our savings, Percy! We can't make that back up overnight! But this... oh my God, this!" Leon, in his horrifying rage, lifted up the pathetic paper bag full of miscellaneous food items and glared at Percy as if he were the Devil himself, "What even is this?! A participation award?! How is this the only thing you could buy with... WITH THIS?!" he defiantly and violently wiggled the near-empty sack of vigs, practically hissing, "What, are these carrots laced with gold?! Did someone sacrifice their newborn for this single potato—THIS SINGLE potato you managed to buy?! It—oh my God, it's bruised to all hell! Have you never gone grocery shopping before?! (Fucking Hell, Percy! All of our money, and you just)—"

At some point, Leon became so frustrated that he ended up abandoning any real means of communication and just resolved to his native tongue, ranting. A couple of minutes passed and he didn't let Percy get a single word in before he eventually began to tire himself out. He knelt on the ground—defeated, enraged—steam blowing out his ears and a shadow cast over his eyes. In the brief silence that followed his ranting, Leon resumed his rational thinking. Percy was dumb, but he wasn't stupid.

He placed the bag down and walked over to Percy... eerily silent. Not unusual of him, Leon gently pulled his lover into an embrace. But unlike many of his other intimate hugs, this one was... tight—crushingly so. In fact, the embrace was so tight that it felt more like a threat than anything else. Leon saw nothing but red, and that thuggish face of his was beginning to live up to the hype as he glared at no one in particular. His voice was lower than usual, laced with malice and vengeance, but also apologetically... gentle. He was ready to commit a crime, and there was only one thing could say as he maliciously embraced his boyfriend.

"S̸͈̾ḫ̷͠o̴̲̚w̴̿ͅ ̶̭̃ṃ̸̊e̴̝̒ ̴̻̓w̴̜̎ȟ̵̠e̶̮̋r̸͕͒e̷̪̅ ̵̭̓y̵̞͗o̷̮̒ǔ̴̱ ̶̻̒b̴̪͒ỏ̸͕ṷ̶̈́g̷̭̓ȟ̷̗t̵̠͆ ̸̪̋t̷̨͝h̶͎͛e̵͇͆m̷͙̆.̷̨͛"



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Post by Percy Wed Jan 12, 2022 10:10 pm

The ear-piercing "HUH?!" made Percy flinch so hard that he almost dropped the nearly empty coin pouch. Actually, the only reason he didn't drop it was because Leon snatched it as it fumbled, to which Percy flinched again and almost fell backward. Scuttling back to put some distance between the two, just like that, his bubble of satisfaction was popped by a razor-sharp glare.

Now he stood in frozen, wide-eyed silence as he took her verbal lashing as a good Dagger child should, eyes shifting nervously between his irate lover, the 'participation award', the people glancing at them, and the dirt floor of the marketplace. His cheeks flushed an embarrassed crimson and really wishing this could be done in private instead of in front of all of these people... but there was no interrupting. He didn't dare, no matter how shocked, ashamed, or angry he was.

Percy was really tired of messing up, and it showed in the sag of his shoulders as the weight of defeat only grew heavier the longer Leon raged. While the poor, dumb peppermint-head's mind raced with this new knowledge, he tried to formulate fixes for his mistake, like always. If he was supposed to be able to get a cart-full of food with what he was given, what could he have done differently? He didn't know the value of things here... though he also hadn't known values at home. It hadn't been important, but now it was. He thought it couldn't be too hard, but it was.

How could he have botched it this badly? Where would one find this information, by walking around and observing? Or maybe some sort of manual or book? Did they note fair prices in almanacs? Did they even have almanacs here? He'd only paid what they'd told him... but he didn't dare try to defend himself.

Even as his boyfriend fell into a fit of Bellian he barely understood and then to his knees in even scarier silence, Percy took about a half step backward before he realized he'd been about to run. No, he wouldn't run away from this one. He wanted to get away from the angry man--too soon to their recent argument, perhaps-- and away from the glances of the townsfolk, but there was no way to fix it if he was gone. It wouldn't be right to leave it all on Leon, just like he didn't want Leon to shoulder his medical debt.

In horror he watched as Leon suddenly placed the bag down and approached. Why he was expecting to be punched, he wasn't sure, but the young man braced all the same and tried to mentally prepare to fight back. All of this over grocery shopping? But, instead of whatever Percy had been expecting, he was hugged instead. If you could call it a hug. Leon's boyfriend remained braced and tense, suffering the sinister nature of it. He felt the air squeeze from his lungs, and he silently wondered if this was some passive aggressive means of punishment.

Percy was strong, though, so when he was ordered to backtrack to the merchants he visited, he was more than happy to pry himself out of... whatever that was and catch a breath. Though he turned and strode with every ounce of fake confidence he had back toward the vendors who had duped and gouged him, his silence and balled, pocketed fists were enough to convey his overwhelming anxiety. One by one he led the dark-haired man from stall to stall, projecting that he was a calm man but feeling very much like a scolded child. A scolded child who was frowny and now mute, apparently.

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Post by Leon Hoffman Wed Jan 12, 2022 10:38 pm


 

LEON HOFFMAN

Percy hadn't dared to speak another word after Leon's tirade, and not only that, but the Hoffman wasn't so easily pacified about the situation either. His lover had guided them to each stall he visited while he was away, and Leon—in something of parental ire—gave them all looks and choice words that were just shy of beating a fair price out of them. What began out of frustration for his boyfriend's incompetence quickly evolved into a more reasonable outrage for these vendors' predatory antics.

* * *

By the time Leon and Percy had revisited each and every stall, their once empty cart was now heavy with bags of apples, sacks of rice, bundles of carrots, and more. It felt good to have to put in a bit of muscle to get that cart moving, better to know they had successfully bought their own groceries, and amazing knowing that they still had a few vigs left after all of their expenditures—courtesy of the vendors he practically threatened, of course. Overall, the dire situation turned around and became a total success, but there was tension between the two of them after all of it.

As they walked through town, Leon stole a few glances at Percy as they awkwardly meandered next to one another. When Leon got upset, it was usually explosive, like their arguments. He was either calm waters or a tsunami during any given conflict, and never in between. Sure, the feeling of doom that came over him when he realized that all of their savings summed up to one measly bag of groceries was justified, but none of it felt worth it when Percy was so clearly upset, despite his feigned okayness. He couldn't really stand it anymore, too.

Abruptly, Leon led them to the side and place the cart down before fiddling around in his pockets for the now closely guarded bag of vigs, which still had a small number of coins left. Just enough for a treat for two, perhaps. As luck would have it, they had stumbled into the more foodie-targeted side of the town square, where vendors sold more consumables than anything. He didn't really see anything familiar, so he just wordlessly and eagerly walked over to the nearest stall that looked like it sold something sweet.

[Moments later...]

After briefly deliberating between options, Leon eventually returned to Percy with two crepe-looking sweets in hand—one decorated and stuffed with bananas, and the other with strawberries. Although in the last year, Leon had improved in talking about his feelings, sometimes he reverted to his most natural, soft-spoken tendencies and simply acted how he felt. As a result, he eagerly pushed the strawberry crepe up against his lover's lips, staring at him fiercely.



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Post by Percy Wed Jan 12, 2022 11:16 pm

In a moment of frustrated pettiness, Percy just let the strawberry crepe thing smoosh into his lips without opening them. This time it was his turn to glare into Leon's fierce stare, having clearly been simmering this whole time in icy silence, only growing more heated with each vendor they revisited, partially from the sheer shame of falling victim to their simple schemes, but mostly from just Leon having to rant and rave and threaten to fix it. And from Leon just being so much better at even this than he was. Leon was better at basically everything in this world, and Percy was the competitive type, so it was starting to hurt. The only reason he hadn't left Leon with the cart once his mistake was remedied was purely for educational purposes, though he really never planned to do this again. His first grocery shopping experience had been a disastrous one, but who knew when these unprecedented times would call for an emergency run to the market.

But, as Percy's tongue hadn't been graced with anything decadent and non-nutrient necessary since they arrived, a more primal need for the sugary sweetness just beneath his nose tanked his resolve, so he snatched the snack out of Leon's hand and partially turned away, taking a proper bite but making sure not to look like he enjoyed it as much as he was.

With the parting of his lips to munch on the crepe, the seal on his silence was broken. "Thanks," he muttered, polite manners still intact even if his pride and every other part of his being was as bruised as the stupid potato he'd bought. There was a pause, but then he spoke again, knowing Leon was trying to make apologies. He might be feeling some type of way, but he couldn't ignore Leon and his antics. "For your information," he started off, his voice prickly with icicles, "that was my first time grocery shopping," he said in a low, quiet voice, idly smearing his thumb over his lips to try and get all of the whipped cream off of his face without being able to see.

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Post by Leon Hoffman Thu Jan 13, 2022 1:10 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

When Percy briefly explained to him the reality of his inexperience, Leon said and did nothing, letting his brain unravel into a million pieces as it combusted out of his skull. Never had he ever had such an eye-opening moment that displayed the differences in their lives like this.

Never gone grocery shopping? Never? Not even a membership to one of those wholesale places, either? Leon would ask about it, but Percy surely meant what he said and said what he meant. His experience with shopping was probably hiring other people to do it for him, and so his refrigerator was always nicely stocked... with snacks because God forbid he arranged a proper meal for himself.

Leon, on the other hand... well, actually, their lifestyles weren't so different at the beginning, even though the circumstances in which they both lived were. They both hailed from affluent families, so no member of the household was specifically tasked with grocery shopping. Leon, like Percy, also reaped the benefits of fully-stocked fridges and freshly-prepared meals each day from various chefs and whatnot. But unlike his lover, when he was virtually disowned by his family and left alone in Fiore, he had to grow up a lot faster than he was initially prepared for. He was a hard worker and a fast learner, so things like cooking, cleaning, managing finances, and other life skills came easily to him.

Maybe it was wrong to assume a similar experience from Percy, who he has always admired and respected as both a man and something of an aspiring icon in the engineering and medical field. But... this was...

"...Eh?" was all Leon could muster out as he just barely took a bite of his own crepe, staring blankly at Percy, who still seemed displeased with him. There was another pause between the two as Leon watched him eat begrudgingly, and his head might've lit up with how many light bulbs clicked in his head, "You're... totally spoiled, aren't you...?"


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Post by Percy Thu Jan 13, 2022 2:35 am

Percy bristled at the word 'spoiled' and opened his mouth to disagree, but realized he had nothing to say and frowned instead. It was annoying that now that he was forced to evaluate his life based on new circumstances and criteria there was no way to refute it. Percy was a spoiled boy who knew no other way to live than the life he'd had before, one where between his family's money and what he made in his own right, it basically meant nothing. They showered it on people for even the most minor conveniences so their illustrious efforts could be focused on more important things. At least, things that were more important to a Dagger.

So even if he shed the name, it haunted him still. Of course, it wouldn't be that easy.

"Yeah, I guess," the peppermint-head admitted begrudgingly, but there was a hint of sadness. It made him feel vulnerable, knowing something this simple was out of his depth. The same guy who could program robots to do complex actions couldn't buy his own food or clothes. The only things he bought for himself were parts he needed for projects, magical paraphernalia, and the odd collectible or impulse buy. "You know I can't cook, so there was no reason to go buy them myself. The chef or personal shopper picked up whatever was needed," he sighed, proceeding to angrily chomp into the fruity treat, taking out his irritation on the supple flesh of the freshest strawberries he'd ever tasted. A general sulkiness washed over him. "I spent all my time in the lab."

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Post by Leon Hoffman Thu Jan 13, 2022 3:05 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

Unlike many other things today, Leon managed to take this truth bomb in stride. This actually wasn't all that shocking, not that he thought about it. When they were becoming closer in Fiore, even Leon was eventually getting a taste of Percy's lifestyle. Most of the grocery shopping his routine consisted of eventually just resulted in a bunch of snacks for Percy, because the fridge was always stocked with items he could cook with. Cleaning was reduced to tidying up every now and then because his home was mysteriously always pristine in the dirtiest of places. Clothing wasn't much of a chore, because his wardrobe was extensive enough to never need a new pair of jeans or whatever. Even Leon began to feel comforted by not having to think about those things anymore, even if it meant relying on his lover's wealth.

Strangely enough, Leon no longer felt frustrated by it all. In his own weird way, he was delighted by it all and found his utter incompetence endearing in some fashion or another. Suddenly, he cracked a smile and hid his mouth underneath his crepe.

"And that was time well spent. You're a genius, even now, you know?" he took a bite of his crepe, though it was sweeter than he would've preferred, "I know you're having a rough time because of all of this, but don't beat yourself up over it too much—and I know you are. You need to learn a few things in order to get by, but I'm here to help too, alright? I'll cook for you, clean for you, and shop for you until you can do it on your own. And when you can, I'll continue to do it anyway, because that's the least I could do for my fiancé."

Casually, albeit a little more romantic this time, Leon laid it out plainly his marriage plans for Percy. It was evident that he wasn't letting up as he munched away at his banana crepe. Even though his complete lack of life skills was cute at best, it truly was astonishingly atrocious.

"If you think you're getting scammed again, beat them up. Then let me know, and I'll beat them up again. Then we'll beat them up together and take all of their shit, 'kay?" Leon instructed matter-of-factly.



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Post by Percy Thu Jan 13, 2022 4:10 am

Was it really time well spend if this was where he was going to end up? Percy's face scrunched in doubt, but nevertheless, Leon's shift from enraged screaming to understanding was nice. After being called out about beating himself up and being surprisingly comforted by the same man who had embarrassed him in front of most of the town, he felt a little of the tension lift from his shoulders and face. His body angled a more toward his lover, apparently done with closing him out.

"I'm not your fiancé yet," Percy protested, but there was a bashful smile playing on his lips to compliment the subtle rosy tint. "But when you put it that way, I don't really understand what I bring to the table. What do you get out of it if I can't do even basic life skills without messing it up?" he asked, reaching up to steal a chunk of banana. It sounded sulky, but if anything, he seemed mischievous about it. In return, he held out a halved strawberry. "All I can really do is apparently beat up scammers and fight club competition," he mused, slowly pressing the berry up to the lips of the man desperately trying to propose to him. "So... does that mean you're the housewife? I'm not really your sugar daddy anymore, though..." Percy smirked, using his free hand to raise up what was left of his crepe so he could lick some of the remaining sweet cream.

Of course, he had no intentions of remaining incompetent. He was a fast learner as well, and there was no way he'd let their relationship tip so heavily off balance. However, he seemed intent on some light teasing, perhaps a little prying as to what their roles really would be and if he could ever fit into them.

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Post by Leon Hoffman Thu Jan 13, 2022 5:57 am


 

LEON HOFFMAN

Maybe for more traditional types of men, the suggestion of being a homemaker of any kind could be mildly upsetting, but Leon never saw it that way. He had never really given it much thought until right this second, where he was probed with the question and a strawberry all at once. Not only was Percy getting better at flirting, but he also asked questions that Leon wouldn't have thought of before.

"Housewife? Well, that's one way of putting it... as for what you bring to the table? Hmm..." Leon helped himself to the strawberry and stared at Percy wantingly, but then he just gave him a funny look on his face and snickered when he couldn't come up with anything, "Well, the sex is always nice, isn't it?"

Of course, he was teasing, as all Leon could ever want out of Percy was just his company. But given as they are now, the roles seemed pretty well-defined. Neither of them would admit it or make a problem out of it, but Leon had adapted more easily to this world and Otenshire's way of life than Percy. Maybe a life made by living off the land, knowing your neighbors, and enjoying the rustic ambiance was what Leon was truly cut out for. Maybe grow a full beard and toss on some flannel and he'd be picture perfect. He loved kids and there were plenty to go around, and he had street smarts in a very practical, homemaker way. Sure, it was fulfilling, but it was hard to tell if that was because he was working towards something without the pressure of his family, or if it was because he genuinely enjoyed it for what it was.

"Anyway, let's head back and put all this stuff away. I'll make you something real nice tonight, and we can eat and maybe talk about the wedding. Or, well, if you don't want a wedding, that's fine too. I'm totally cool with just getting stamped, or whatever. Though, if you do want one, it's probably best if we talk about it early on so we can budget it all out. By the way, I know we've both been disowned and all, but would you be Percy Hoffman ooor...?"

Leon didn't talk a lot in general, but he became social when he was comfortable (and he really only ever seemed comfortable with Percy), and was obnoxiously chatty when it came to trying to wife-up his now-boyfriend. Perhaps part of it all was just teasing—getting Percy worked up, in a way—but it all seemed so sincere, as well. He took one large chomp out of his banana crepe before handing it over to Percy to finish as he lifted up the cart and continued to ramble on about wedding arrangements and their engagement-in-the-making. Playful as it was, he had never looked at someone and talked of someone with such unadulterated affection.



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Post by Percy Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:58 am

Percy knew, or at least hoped, Leon was joking about the sex being the only thing, but that didn’t keep him from smiling sadly. Maybe that was all he had going for him now, which sounded like some sort of paradoxical joke itself, considering his tragically virginal existence prior to their fit of emotional panic that served as their first time. How had sex become the only thing he had to offer here?

Making no comment aloud, but swearing to himself that he’d find something to bring to the table eventually, he listened to the conversation  steer right into wedding territory. This actually did draw a light chuckle from the young man. Leon was nothing if not persistent and it was so cute. Did he think if he just talked about it like he’d already accepted that Percy would eventually just roll with it? He might be life skill dumb and horrible with money, but he wasn’t stupid. “I’ll definitely enjoy one of your delicious meals, but we’re not talking about that!” he replied playfully, a cheeky grin crinkling the corners of his eyes.

The short walk home with their cart was spent with Percy trying to avoid the questions, sometimes with ridiculous subject changes that never worked or deliberately running ahead to escape. Despite it all concerning marriage, it made him feel good that Leon was so keen, and he couldn’t say it didn’t make him think. And even if he didn’t want to answer, that didn’t mean the conversation was uncomfortable. When they weren’t arguing, the two had actually eased into easy existence with each other, talking like they’d known each other for years. Percy adored hearing Leon’s chatter and excitement about literally anything, and he noticed even he was talking more these days without an invention to gush about in sight. Perhaps he could grow and change in even more surprising ways and become someone who deserved Leon.

Even though the conversation had moved on a bit from weddings by the time food had been stored away and Leon was prepping dinner in the kitchen, Percy’s mind wandered back to a specific question that caught his attention and intensely pondered it, as he was known to do. Ceremony or no, that didn’t matter too much at the moment (though given the Valentine’s event where he fake married a girl, maybe he’d pass), but what did was the surname issue. The Dagger name was dead to him whether he was disowned or not. Forming it in his mind alone made his stomach twist violently enough that he placed a hand on it as if to quiet it as he leaned against the counter watching Leon work. Did Leon still consider himself a Hoffman?

Eyes distant, the words were out of his mouth before he realized. “I don’t have a last name, so I’ll have to take yours...” he said seemingly out of nowhere. Cringing at his own admission, there was little he could do about it other than go with it. Hopefully Leon didn’t get too carried away, because he certainly wasn’t accepting the proposal yet. This was all hypothetical. Mhm. “Er... yeah, so if you don’t want to b-be a Hoffman anymore... now would be the t-time, I guess, to, uh, pick something else.”

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