In the following weeks Fon had made it a habit to join Skull for a cup of tea in the afternoon. First Skull switched between being utterly loudmouthed and talking nothing at all. Though each time Skull seemed to loose some of his anxiety and began opening up a little. They were finally after all these years getting to know each other. Their real selves, not the masks. Fon enjoyed his time with the little one. He was a very good conversationalist, if he let himself. He was insightful, undoubtedly intelligent and was a great person to debate different topics. Skull as well learned to trust Fon a little bit more, learned to trust his flames, who urged him to get closer to Fon. His flames had never led him wrong. Never betrayed him.
Reborn as well had changed his daily schedule. After he had found out, that Skull spent each day at least one hour with the animals in the garden, he made a point to appear during these times and keep Skull company. It was soothing his flames. The animals started to like him, but they never kept their eyes of him while Skull was taking a nap. They were still protecting the stuntman fiercely. Reborn began feeling protective of Skull as well. Each time he witnessed the gentle real smile Skull was gifting the animals, the desire in him grew to receive on of these smiles as well. After the first few times Reborn had seen Skull without his boasting mask, he began learning to distinguish a real and a false smile. Began noticing when Skull was really enjoying something and when he just told them so. His thoughts were thrown in a riot concerning Skull.
He had a nightmare. Well, he should have expected it. Today was a full moon. He never slept good on a full moon. His inner werewolf was always running amok on these nights. Fenrir Greyback had bitten him back in the war. Due to the basilisk venom in his blood the bite did not turn him into a werewolf. But it gave him some of the abilities a werewolf portrayed. His senses were heightened, and his reflexes were better.
Skull decided to go out and train a bit. Practicing martial arts always helped him calm down and center himself, especially after a nightmare.
He was out for about twenty minutes, when Colonnello stumbled into the garden. He was utterly drunk.
“Colonnello?” “Skull, what are you doing...hic...out here, kora?” He swayed on the spot and blinked sheepish. “I was doing a few katas. What are you doing? You should get in your bed”, Skull hovered near the man concerned. It was miracle that Colonnello was even awake now, normally he would immediately fall asleep after drinking so much.
Suddenly Colonnello fell forward, Skull tried to catch him. It ended with them both in the grass. Colonnello on top of Skull. “Colonnello?” Damn, why always him? First Fon, then Verde and now Colonnello?!
While Skull berated his life, Colonnello grinned and shifted off Skull. Skull tried to make some space between them, Colonnello had none of it. The Acrobaleno grabbed Skull by the waist and dragged him on his lap. “What...” “You are so tiny”, he held Skull tighter and swayed left to right, all the while nuzzling Skulls neck and hair. “You smell good! Why do you smell so good?” He cuddled the smaller man happily. “My flames like you”, he continued in a matter of fact voice. Skull had meanwhile resigned himself to staying in the lap of the other man for the unforeseeable future. Well, weirder thing had happened to him. Skull just waited for the other Acrobaleno to explain himself, no need to force him. Everyone deals with his problems different. Even though using the man you bully as a teddy bear was unique.
“Why, Skull why us?”, his voice was just above a whisper. “I don´t know.” Skull was quiet for a moment, sorting his thoughts. “A friend of mine always said, everything happens for a reason. We just have to wait and find out.”
“That´s shit. It helps nothing.” Skull chuckled. “Yeah, that´s what I said as well. But in the end we can´t change things. We have to live with it. As hard as it sounds, either become stronger with the challenge or give up.” Colonnello pressed the smaller man harder to himself, burying his face in his hair. “How do you not give up?” There was so much blunt emotions in the statement, it made Skull swallow hard. “Sometimes, I don´t know. But then again...as long as you have friends, family, you will never be alone. You don´t have to go through all of it alone.” With the last sentence Skull turned around as much as possible in his position, staring in Colonnello´s eyes with passion. “The other Acrobaleno are there for you.” He stocked. “I...I am there for you.” Skull´s face came bright red, but he didn´t avert his eyes. Trying to get the message across.
After that they fell silent. Colonnello was asleep in a span for ten minutes, leaning on a tree stump.
Skull allowed his face to show the wounds the words about family and friends had teared open. He missed them. Everyday. A single tear escaped him.
Then he got himself together, disentangled himself from Colonnello´s arms.
He got the man a blanket and a small pillow, adjusted his sleeping position and went back to his katas.
He woke up with the sweet sound of someone singing. For a long moment, he just kept his eyes closed concentrating entirely on the calming wonderful sound. Sooner or later he came aware of the unusual atmosphere around him. Where the heck did he fall asleep last night? Wait...he was drinking and then stumbled over Skull in the garden. His cheeks grew warmer. He had blurted out his inner thoughts without any care...Skull must think him a total pussy. But he did not react negative last night. He took his worries serious. Colonnello felt better now, after the talk.
And why the heck had he wanted Skull close anyway? Why had he blurted out, the way his flames reacted around the stuntman nowadays?
Skull was no sky! Was he falling for the man? It started with Fon, then Reborn and now Verde acted strange around the smaller man as well... Skull seemed much more natural lately, he didn´t shout as much. He was...adorable...fuck fuck fuck!!!
He needed to sort this out! Wait...who was singing anyway? He had a pretty good guess.
He stretched and sat up. Wow... Skull was sitting in a circle of birds and obviously singing with them. Well more like, Skull was the main voice and the birds where doing the background choir. It was a picture right out of a fantasy novel. Had Skull always been so good with animals? Had he always had this lovely voice?
In this moment Skull noticed him, and stopped singing. “You are awake. How have you slept? I hope it wasn´t to uncomfortable, but I am not strong enough to carry you all the way inside to your bed...” Colonnello smiled, his heard making somersaults in his chest. Oh my god, one bird had landed on Skulls hair and was now puffing his chest up, as if it was the best place possible. Combined with Skull, who was absentminded stroking the birds near, his eyes bright and happy combined with that smile... Fuck, he was so done.
He had to clear his voice: “I slept good.” His body warmed noticing the blanket and cushion. “Thank you for these, kora.” “No problem. But I should probably get inside and start with breakfast, I promised Reborn yesterday I would make him espresso flavored pancakes.”
Colonnello sweat-dropped at that...espresso flavored...really...
He wanted Skull to stay, he wanted to listen a bit more to him sing, wanted to watch him smile and... Yeah, he was so done. Falling hard...his flame was doing a victory dance, totally approving his hearts choice.
“You have a wonderful voice, kora”, he couldn´t stop himself praising. Skull flushed, ducked his head. A shy smile appeared. He felt damn accomplished having triggered these delicious reaction. He would make it a goal to compliment Skull as often as possible. “Thank you”, then Skull turned around and jogged away. Colonnello grinned slyly.
A few days later they were discussing a mission. It was seldom, that they went on missions together, but this one was more like a favor and as Colonnello put it, it would be fun.
They had to attend a dance gala and stop a deal taking place. In the best case kidnap the dealer, while not disrupting the party. Easy.
Well, the only problem was...they were all man. And to survey the ball, while not looking suspicions dancing was the best.
“Skull should cross-dress.” Verde had been quietly scribbling in his notebook so far, but now all eyes were on him and of course Skull.
“What? No!” Skull was shaking his head, trying to back out of the room, away from the contemplating gazes. Fon was his rock in the storming sea, as the man pulled him closer, shielding him somewhat. Skull had learned to rely on some of the Acrobaleno in the span of the last few month.
“It could work”, came Reborn's assessment.
“He has the right height and features.”
“I could make a body suite, to give him breasts. I wouldn´t even have to form much of a waist, it is already quite womanly.” Skull looked a bit affronted...
“With a bit of make-up nobody would suspect anything.”
Skull had a internal crisis...why why always him??!!! He buried into Fon´s chest.
“But, can he dance?”
“You know I am still in the same room? I can hear you just fine!”, Skull tried to intervene, but was ignored without so much as a side glance. At least Fon caressed his arm a gently.
Finally they turned to him. Scrutinizing, judging. But before he could fall back to his Skull-persona, Fon put a hand on his lower back.
Immediately he relaxed a bit. “Honey, can you dance?” Fon had taken to giving him pet names...they always made him blush, but Fon just wouldn´t stop and he wouldn´t explain why he did it in the first place!
Tentatively and already regretting it, he said: “Yes.”
“Well, that´s great. We will test this right away!”, Viper proclaimed. Everyone was surprised at that. Normally Viper would only do anything with payment. So for him to volunteer. Skull eyed him skeptically. Viper stood up and bowed, holding out his hand.
“Will you give me the honor of a dance?”
Skull of course normally did the part of the man, but he knew enough to handle to woman part as well. For a moment Skull was flummoxed. What should he do? Mess it up like Skull? But Harry loved dancing. It as one of his passions, he was not often able to live it out. In the end he decided to screw it. He would do what he wanted, for once!
So he led go of his Skull-persona completely. With grace Skull could have never portrayed he stood up and curtsied. His voice was smooth and light: “Of course, I would be delighted.”
The Acrobaleno were stunned, Skull had turned into a pure blooded noble in a matter of seconds.
Viper only grinned slightly, posture showing a perfect gentleman. It reminded Skull very much of his past...
“Verde, if you please.” Verde pulled a tablet from his white robe and pressed a few buttons, music began to play.
Ballroom music for a waltz was filling the room.