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Syzygy

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March 1, 1504

“Ezio, I don’t think this is a good idea.”

“Nonsense, Leonardo. You want the best view, do you not?”

“Of course, but getting there seems rather challenging. You know, I’ve been working on an idea for if you were falling from a great height… I think that if I adjust the material to fold in a certain way, it will activate much more easily…”

“You are avoiding the topic at hand, Leo.”

“The topic at hand is 50 meters tall, and only climbable by madmen, Ezio.”

“Then we’ll be just fine.”

Leonardo fights back an eye roll at Ezio’s grin. They’re hidden in the shadows at the base of St Mark’s Campanile, and his amore has decided that they both will be climbing it this evening. As it was Leonardo’s desire for moongazing that prompted this excursion, he doesn’t want to dampen Ezio’s enthusiasm. But climbing an enormous brick tower in the middle of the night seems a bit much.

Ezio suddenly crouches in front of Leo, back to front. “Put your arms around my neck, caro.”

Leonardo scooches forward, and wraps his arms around Ezio’s neck, burying his face in the long dark hair. Ezio wraps something around his wrists, then stands, pulling Leo’s legs around his waist.

“Try not to wriggle too much, now.”

And then they were flying. Up the side of the campanile, quicker than Leo thought possible. He held as still as he could, trying not to disturb Ezio’s clambering and side-shuffling. From the corners of his eyes, he can see the lights of Venice steadily drop below them. As they approach the belfry, Ezio swings Leonardo into the sheltered space.

“Wait just a moment, amore mio.” He pivots on the lip of the belfry window, and leaps up and out of sight. The next moment, his arms drop into view.

“Grab my hands, Leonardo.”

“Excuse me? How are you going to get me up from th-whaaaaaa!”

Leonardo finds himself heaved out from the belfry and over the lip of its roof. He lands partly on Ezio’s torso, facing the sky, gasping.

“See? Easy.”

Leonardo rolls off Ezio with a huff, but is stopped from going too far by the assassin’s strong arms.

“Careful, caro mio. There are edges to this roof, and I happen to know that the fall is over 50 meters.”

“And how do you plan to get us down later?”

“That will be much easier. See those wooden boards?”

“You mean those three spindly pieces sticking out into space?”

“Exactly!”

“That didn’t actually answer the question, Ezio.”

“We jump. From the boards. Into the hay cart down there. It works every time.”

Leonardo sits up, and stares at his companion.

“I am not jumping into a hay cart from 50 meters up. How are you not paralyzed? How -”

“Look, look, amore mio! It’s starting!”

Leonardo twists, and sees the edge of the moon beginning to darken to a deep orange. He sighs, and lays down with his head on Ezio’s shoulder. Ezio is right, the view was worth the climb. This far above Venice, the sky is clear and filled with stars: a rich background to a total lunar eclipse.

He can figure out a different way down from the tower in a few minutes. For now, the sight of the moon transforming into something he’d never seen before captures his mind.