"Riccardo, I'm back! You would not believe what I saw at the store today! This woman was wearing the -" Leon paused, looking around the apartment he shared with his boyfriend.
It was daylight outside, but the curtains were drawn over the floor to ceiling window in the living room, something not entirely unusual for their home, but blood was spilled across the hardwood floor and the remains of the broken glass that once held it was littered about as well.
Riccardo's wheelchair was vacant, angled towards the bedroom door that was only partially opened and as dark as their living room. A chill ran up Leon's spine as the hair on the back of his neck raised.
"Babe," he called out, frozen in place. He couldn't hear anything and could barely see anything. "I'm turning on the light," he said, carefully moving to flip on the lights in the living room and kitchen. He set the grocery bags down under it. He tried to think as his heart raced... The door was locked when he got there, windows all obviously closed as well. It seemed unlikely that a stranger had gotten in. If it was a stranger that could take on Riccardo, though, Leon was honestly terrified.
Though Riccardo was dependent on his chair for getting around, the man was undoubtedly strong and fast. Even a paralyzed vampire was a force to be reckoned with. Leon's fear for Riccardo was enough to overcome the fear of whatever could be lurking.
"Babe," he called again, slowly stepping towards the bedroom. He pulled his cell phone out from his pocket and readied his hand to hit the emergency call button if needed. Closer to the bedroom, he thought he could hear something, but could not really make out what it was. He gently pushed the door open all the way. No sign of Riccardo still.
"I'm turning the light on," he warned again. Despite his terror, he could still find it inside himself to worry for his boyfriend's sensitive eyes.
The noise was louder and Leon finally recognized it as heavy, uncontrolled breathing. The bedroom looked totally normal, he noted. The bed was made, their clean clothes folded and ready to be put away. It looked like Riccardo hadn't gotten around to that before...
Leon walked slowly to the closet where the sound was coming from. "Baby," he asked. "Babe?" He opened the door, flooding the little space with light from the bedroom.
Riccardo was backed against the far wall of the closet, hand to his chest, eyes closed, and trembling as he panted for air. Leon dropped to his knees to be on Riccardo's level. Goosebumps rose on his skin and he looked quickly behind him. No one was there.
"Riccardo?" When he didn't move, Leon slowly crawled into the closet, assessing him with his eyes. He couldn't see that Riccardo had any injuries, just the usual scar that stretched across his left cheek. "Babe, what's wrong," Leon asked in a hushed voice.
Riccardo only just seemed to notice Leon had entered the closet. His eyes opened slightly and he looked at Leon, but Leon got the feeling he was not actually being seen. He froze again, a foot away from Riccardo and feeling again like there was someone else there. He turned quickly around. No one still.
"Ahhh," Leon jumped out of his skin when he felt hands on him, but seconds later and he was merely being held to Riccardo. He did not know what was happening, but there was no one in the apartment besides the two of them. He tried to make himself relax in Riccardo's arms, but he was terrified.
"Babe," he said, softly after a few moments. "Please, you have to tell me what's going on. I'm scared shitless right now."
"H-h-him," Riccardo said, and Leon wriggled in his boyfriend's tight grip to see his face. Riccardo's eyes were closed again. "He... him... it... was him."
"I don't understand." He whipped his head around to survey for an intruder. Empty. He looked back at Riccardo. "What happened while I was at the store? Did someone get in here?" Leon saw Riccardo's brow furrow slightly. Good. He was still responding to him. "Who were you talking about?"
"I thought he was dead. I-I-I th-thought..." Riccardo's eyes finally opened again and this time, when he looked at him, Leon felt seen. "The TV. He was... on the TV... And... He smiled... at me."
"Who, babe?" He felt some relief at the TV being mentioned. There was no intruder. Whoever it was was far far away from them.
"I... He..." Riccardo looked out into the bedroom, blinking and squinting in the light. "What time is it?"
"It's three," Leon answered, confused by the question.
"Three? You... left... You left at twelve. It's... I've been here for two hours?" Leon's brow wrinkled. "Where's my chair?"
"In the... living room." He had to think for a moment. "Babe..."
"Can you bring me my chair?" Riccardo's arms finally relaxed and let him go. "Please?"
Leon stared at him silently for a few seconds, but Riccardo wasn't looking at him. Maybe if he calmed down a little more, maybe then he would tell him what had happened. Leon left and returned to the closet, pushing the wheelchair in front of him and towards Riccardo. "Do you need help?" Riccardo shook his head and pulled himself up into the chair. He was still trembling all over.
"I dropped my drink." Riccardo put his hands on his wheels and slowly pushed himself backwards out of the closet, Leon moving to get out of his way and then following him out into the living room. "I'm sorry. I dropped my drink," he repeated. Leon's brow was furrowed tightly in concern by this point.
Riccardo paused between the bedroom and the living room, staring at the broken glass and spilled blood. "I dropped... I'm sorry." He started to propel himself towards the kitchen, but Leon grabbed his shoulder, holding him back.
Riccardo turned around, blinking as he looked at him. "What happened, Riccardo," Leon asked. "You scared the shit out of me. Who were you talking about? Who was on TV?"
"I'm sorry," Riccardo said, voice starting to tremble a little again. "I was watching the news." He looked at the TV. It was turned off, the remote sitting on the coffee table, pointed towards it. "I finished folding the laundry. I... Blood. I needed blood." Riccardo's body was beginning to shake again and his breathing was hitching.
Leon moved and knelt in front of Riccardo, grabbing his hands in his own. Riccardo looked at him, lip quivering.
"I dropped my drink. I'm sorry." Suddenly, a sob escaped him and Leon was taken aback. He'd never met a man with more composure than Riccardo. Displays of anything like this were a rarity with him. It was shocking to see him suddenly crying, as much as it was to find what he did when he came home.
Leon reached up and pulled Riccardo in for a hug. He felt him flinch under his touch at first, but then melt into it. They stayed like that for a long couple of minutes until Riccardo's body stopped trembling again and he rested his head on Leon's shoulder. A few minutes passed in silence, Riccardo just trying to calm down and Leon trying to make some deductions.
Riccardo was heavily scarred. Leon had seen the deep, knotted scars on Riccardo's back more than a few times and the one across his face was nearly as bad. He never wanted to talk about it. Someone had hurt him. Whoever this 'he on the TV' was, Leon was willing to bet was the one to give him all his scars.
"Why don't we watch a movie," Leon suggested finally, gently pulling away. "Get comfortable on the couch. I'm going to put the groceries away, clean up, and get you another drink."
"I... I can clean up," Riccardo tried to protest.
"It's okay, baby. I want you to finish that poem you've been working on while I'm busy. I won't be long." Leon stood up and smiled. "Your notebook's still in here," he said, gesturing to the black book on the sidetable. "Maybe have a cigarette on the balcony, too."
Riccardo stared at him dumbly as he made his way into the kitchen to grab the cleaning supplies. By the time Leon had everything he needed, Riccardo was on the couch with his notebook and pencil in hand. He still was not quite relaxed, Leon noticed. He would have to ask about this 'him' another day.