It always came back to blood between them, Niles thought wryly. There was blood at every important moment they had shared so it made an odd, poetic sort of sense that there should be some here now, at this, arguably the biggest moment of their lives since they had met. He should have expected it, really.
The night that they met, he had been bruised and bloodied by the guards by the time Leo had intervened. He already had a commanding presence at 15, a look of knowing that was impossible to explain. That steady look made him seem even older; his age had come as a surprise to Niles when he found out. Leo always made him feel younger, clumsier.
Leo – despite everything, Niles only ever thought of him as Leo although he never referred to him as just Leo in public – had examined him like a curiosity found in some museum, an oddity to be understood and classified before being put into its proper place. That Leo had thought that that place was as his subordinate had been both bi