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 How's my son?, Leo | June 14
Murad Hassan
 Posted: Jun 13 2018, 01:41 AM
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When Minu had offered her help to Leo, she hadn’t been joking. That was made extremely clear within a couple of weeks of their introduction. First, she had found the number of the clinic and had called him to make sure it was right. Then she’d called the clinic to set up some tours for a couple of wealthy donors. Then she’d even offered to help with the paperwork. She seemed to try to keep the visits to once or twice a week at most.

She knew it was a little excessive—even apologized for it a couple of times—but she kept showing up with a warm smile and a “traditional” treat of some nature, homemade she would claim, and then offer to help out where she could. She was quite good with paperwork and numbers, and didn’t seem to be easily phased by any of the scary patients or rougher sites. After all, she had raised her son in Jacks. She was a woman made of stern stuff.

However, for all her visits and friendly smiles, she very carefully never brought up her son. Murad had, in fact, told her that he and Leo were having problems, although he had not specified what. After his panic attack, Murad was pretty sure that Leo had been avoiding him. The detective had tried messaging the man, but he could take a hint. Minu had wanted answers, but Murad had none to offer. He’d fucked up, it wasn’t meant to be—none seemed to be understood by his mother.

And in return she, of course, had not told her son that she was seeing Leo—or Leo that she knew he and Murad were on the outs. In fact, throughout the whole time, she hadn’t said anything about Murad at all, although she was worried about him. He had been quiet as of late, and had missed a couple of family events. But for now, she focused on the time with Leo, and actually trying to do work.

Minu was settled at the table in the clinic, head bent over the paperwork on this particular evening. She stretched idly, then offered Leo a warm smile. “I should order us some pizza or something,” she said cheerfully. “You’re still young enough for that, right? Thank you for letting an old woman crash your party and do a bit of charity work to make herself feel better.

@Leo Dobrowolski
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Leo Dobrowolski
 Posted: Jun 14 2018, 01:37 AM
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32 YEARS
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184 Posts
If Leo touches a person's bare skin (alive or dead), he can tell you everything about their physical history. Medical conditions, healed breaks, pregnancies, surgeries, anything that has affected their body in any way. He can also feel anything they are currently feeling - pain, nausea, breathlessness etc, as if it’s his own body.
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@Murad Hassan

In the days since Murad’s panic attack, Leo had been careful to keep his distance.

He didn't want to. He wanted to go over to his place and make him laugh, and check that he was OK. But Leo knew when to quit, and he knew it was easier to help someone get over things if you kept them at arm's length. So he had replied politely to Murad’s messages, but never asked to meet up. He had made sure their paths didn't cross. Murad didn't want casual, and he didn't want to date. It was easier if they just ended it now.

The only spanner in that works seemed to be Minu. Mrs Hassan had been incredibly generous to him since they had met, and Leo had to admit that her rich clients weren't the only reason he didn't want to lose her - he liked her, too. She seemed to have taken him on as something of a cause, bringing him food and helping with the paperwork. Leo, unused to socialising with older women (they didn't tend to walk in the same circles as him), accepted the arrangement with a kind of pleased bemusement. He even made her cake, in return.

Tonight, it was the end of a long week. Leo glanced up when Minu spoke, wincing as his neck protested. He checked the clock, and raised an eyebrow. “I think it's home time, rather than pizza time,” he commented with a grin. “And seriously - I should be the one thanking you. You’re doing so much for me.” Two of her prospects had already given money, and a third was sounding warmer with every communication. It seemed that Minu was worth her weight in gold.

Leo sat back, stretched out his shoulders. Today had felt especially long - more patients than usual, and the nurse had called in sick. Leo had been rushed off his feet and then had to find the energy to smile for another of Minu’s clients. Though it would definitely be worth it if the woman ended up giving them a donation. “Uh…” he looked over at Minu, a little hesitantly. “I’ve been meaning to ask. How’s Murad doing? I - I haven’t seen him this week.” Dangerous ground, since he wasn’t sure if Murad was still telling her that they were together - but Leo cared less about sustaining a lie, and more about finding out if Murad was alright. “It’s - uh - it’s tricky, you know. We both work such long hours. Is he...OK?”

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Murad Hassan
 Posted: Jun 14 2018, 01:17 PM
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While Murad’s force of personality had been shaped by quite a few things, it was appearing that some aspects had been inherited from his mother. Or at least, that would explain the serious measuring gaze that she was giving Leo as the man stretched. It wasn’t worried, exactly. But it was very…observant, with more than a hint of sympathy. “Today was rough, wasn’t it?” she asked. “I’m so sorry for piling more on your plate, but I thought this particular client might be helpful to you. She kept talking about how she wanted to be helpful to the community, and she grew up around here…” She waved a hand and laughed. “I’m sorry, I’m babbling again, aren’t I?”

She glanced at the clock on the wall, then her phone, and blinked. “My, I hadn’t realized how late it had gotten. You’re probably right. You live around here, don’t you?” She smiled at him. “After Murad graduated I finally let my family talk me into moving out of Jacks. Murad always liked it here, though. But it was nice to move somewhere closer to work.” Which, based on her nice clothing and the tasteful gold jewelry, was somewhere more expensive than the usual, and in the nicer part of town.

If she’d wanted Leo to bring up Murad first, the woman gave no indication of it whatsoever—it appeared the poker face was another thing Murad might’ve gotten from his mother. Instead, she just studied the doctor with a warm but puzzled smile on her lips. “You know,” she said. “I haven’t seen him much this week either. I think he’s been busy—wrapping up some case he’s been working on, or something. I try not to ask. Sometimes his answers worry me.” For a moment, the smile twisted into something a bit sadder, but Minu didn’t seem to be one to linger on negative emotions, so she brightened almost immediately. “Why did you ask? Did something happen, maybe? You know Murad, he has such a hard time telling people what’s on his mind.”

That wasn’t exactly true, but Minu wasn’t going to split hairs in this case. After all, she might have been trying to get more information out of Leo.

@Leo Dobrowolski
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Leo Dobrowolski
 Posted: Jun 15 2018, 01:50 AM
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Evolute
32 YEARS
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184 Posts
If Leo touches a person's bare skin (alive or dead), he can tell you everything about their physical history. Medical conditions, healed breaks, pregnancies, surgeries, anything that has affected their body in any way. He can also feel anything they are currently feeling - pain, nausea, breathlessness etc, as if it’s his own body.
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@Murad Hassan

Minu had a way of looking at Leo that made it seem as if she could see into his head. It was the same level, measuring gaze he was used to receiving from Murad. As with her son, it made him want to be honest with her. Fucking Hassans and their stupid eyes. At her concern, Leo gave her a rueful smile and shook his head. “Not rough, exactly, just….long.” He started closing all the windows on his laptop. “And don’t apologise! She was really nice - and I can stand to be a little tired if it means someone else gets to see what we do here.” Leo hugely doubted that he’d ever have children, and it didn’t bother him one bit: the clinic surely took as much of his time, and gave him as much pride, as a child ever would.

“Never left the Jacks,” Leo said with a grin, by way of agreement. “I don’t live far. How about you?” He’d guessed high-end, from the way she looked. Presumably, now that she didn’t have to financially support her son, she could afford to live somewhere much nicer than the Jacks. “I thought about Eavesdown, but…” he shrugged. “Never appealed to me, for some reason. I don’t think I wanna live somewhere defined by the whole evo thing, you know?”

So Minu hadn’t seen Murad, either. Interesting. ‘Busy’ made sense, and Leo nodded. Her smile twisted a little, and Leo remembered what Murad had told him - that she’d cried when he’d joined the police force. She must still worry about him. Which made sense, given the panic attacks.

Speaking of which…Leo sighed. “I saw him last week, and…” He was tired, it had been a long day. And while he was always very strict on doctor-patient confidentiality, Murad wasn’t his patient - and this was the guy’s mother, for heaven’s sake. “He wasn’t in a good way. He had a - a panic attack, you know? He said he hadn’t had one in a few years, but this one came out of nowhere.” It wasn’t until he put it into words that he realised just how much he had been worrying about the other man over the past few days. “He was OK, he came out of it. I just - wanted to check up on him, I guess.” Leo gave Minu a small smile.

Suddenly self-conscious, Leo closed his laptop and reached for his bag. “You ready to head off?”

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Murad Hassan
 Posted: Jun 15 2018, 11:21 AM
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“And gives money,” Minu added with a hint of a smile. “I understand completely. I’m glad you’re proud of your work. You should be! It is truly impressive.” Murad had also failed to mention the cartel ties to his mother, although he would’ve rethought that strategy had he found out she was spending late night there. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust his mother to handle herself—he did—but he knew the area well and was inclined to worry anyways.

“Evendale,” she said with a nod that acknowledged his guess without saying so. “But not so far. I drive, and at this time, there won’t be a problem. And yes, I understand. I thought about moving Murad there when he was younger, but I worried it might—” She sighed and waved a hand. “I don’t know. He didn’t really fit into either group. At least outside of Evesdown he didn’t have to worry about being bullied for not having any powers.”

Minu’s reaction to Leo’s words was to—not react. She maintained a pleasant, if puzzled smile to his words, and listened with the same slow, understanding nod that she’d maintained for most of their conversation. “I understand, and that is very kind of you,” she informed him, and there might have been a slight tremor in her voice, but it quickly faded. “He doesn’t really talk to me, you know. Doesn’t want me to worry. I’ll check in on him and report back, if you’d like.” She moved as if to touch him, then laughed and moved her hand back. “I’m sorry, I still forget. Yes, let’s go.” She picked up her bag and moved to the door.

--

Minu had not wasted much time. After Leo had left, she’d driven straight to Murad’s apartment, where the man had been pouring over more case documents. The words they’d exchanged had not been…particularly kind. She’d accused him of hiding things from her, demanded explanations—how long had he been having these panic attacks, why was he still in the force, what was he doing about it—and hadn’t liked the answers.

In truth, it hadn’t occurred to Murad to tell his mother that he had panic attacks. For one, by the time he started having them he was past the point where he told his mother things. For another, he hadn’t wanted her to worry. And lastly—

Well, he’d been handling it, hadn’t he?

And then his mother had started to cry, and “handling it” became the last thing Murad was doing.

It took about an hour to talk her down. He’d left out the gory details, not wanting to upset her further. He told her about the therapy, showed her the medications he could take during them—recently acquired, as Murad really didn’t want to have another episode. He made her tea, reassured her that he wasn’t going to die and he’d never had one at a bad time, and all the things she wanted to hear. During that time, he’d pried out of her how she’d learned, and what she’d been doing. Eventually, she’d nodded off on the couch. Murad had given it some time, making sure she was truly asleep, before he padded out and to Leo’s apartment.

Which was how he found himself, about 3 hours later, at Leo’s door. Even though it was quite late, he knocked on Leo’s door. Murad figured it wasn’t likely the doctor was asleep.

The man looked significantly better – his hair had been trimmed and was swept back from his face, and his clothes had regained their stiff, pressed quality. But there was still just a hint of stubble along his jawline, and the circles under his eyes had failed to fully disappear. There were also stains on his shirt from his mother’s tears, which he hadn’t noticed yet.

“Hi,” he greeted when the door opened, in a somewhat distracted way. “Can we discuss what exactly you’ve been telling my mother in these little sessions you’ve been having?”

Not off to a great start, no, but damn it, he hadn’t been expecting to deal with his mother having a meltdown in his kitchen tonight.

@Leo Dobrowolski | Skipped ahead, holler if you need any changes.
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Leo Dobrowolski
 Posted: Jun 15 2018, 04:32 PM
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32 YEARS
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184 Posts
If Leo touches a person's bare skin (alive or dead), he can tell you everything about their physical history. Medical conditions, healed breaks, pregnancies, surgeries, anything that has affected their body in any way. He can also feel anything they are currently feeling - pain, nausea, breathlessness etc, as if it’s his own body.
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@Murad Hassan

When someone knocked on Leo's door at nearly midnight, it was usually on Cartel business.

He had been winding down his brain, reading a book in an effort to drown out the constant drumming of thoughts about what he needed to do, things he might forget, things he couldn't solve. It was his monthly Saturday afternoon surgery tomorrow, and he couldn't quite seem to make himself sleepy. So when he heard the knock Leo was on his feet in a moment, sure that standing behind it would be someone to tell him that he was needed, now.

Instead, it was...Murad. Leo blinked in surprise. “Uh...hi,” he said, with a slightly puzzled smile. The adrenaline he’d felt when he’d assumed it was a Cartel emergency faded somewhat, and he relaxed a little - until Murad spoke again. His words were clipped, precise. He wasn’t here for a social call. Oh, shit.

The detective looked a lot better, physically, than when Leo had seen him last - but his expression was very far from promising. “Uh.” Leo narrowed his eyes a little, tried to assess Murad’s tone of voice. “I guess you should come in,” he muttered, and stepped back to let the other man walk through the door. Awkward for a moment, Leo couldn’t work out what to do - so he sat at the table, gestured for Murad to sit opposite him. The couch felt too relaxed, and Murad’s expression was all business. ‘Little sessions’, Murad hadsaid, which was interesting as it implied that he hadn’t heard about them until now - and also that he wasn’t too happy about them.

Maybe he thought that Leo was somehow conning Minu, mixing her up with Cartel business. Leo bit his lip. “What did she say to you?” he asked, a little warily. “Look - she offered, man. She’s been hooking me up with her rich freelance clients, you know? They’re giving money to the clinic. I haven’t been taking advantage of her or anything, I swear - she was the one who offered to help. OK?” He held up his hands, expression contrite. If this was going to make Murad unhappy, it clearly wasn’t worth continuing. “I’ll stop if it’s not OK with you. I promise. Sorry I - I should have thought.”

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Murad Hassan
 Posted: Jun 15 2018, 11:51 PM
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Murad wasn’t…angry exactly. Frustrated, yes, although that came from having to console his mother through his (as she phrased it) “bad choices.” Exasperated, yes, because he’d just found out his mother was meeting regularly with his not-ex. He didn’t blame Leo for that particular one because that had his mother’s stamp all over it. But he wasn’t thrilled by the fact that Leo had been telling his mother he had panic attacks.

Bad enough that his mother had been hanging in Cartel territory. Bad enough that he’d had a panic attack in front of Leo. But now his mother had found out about it and she would never. Forget.

The mere thought made him shudder. The phone calls, already anxious, would now double in frequency. She’d be demanding to meet his shrink, she’d be making even more impromptu visits—

It was a nightmare to any sane thirty-plus year-old-man with any hope of a sex life.

Not that he really had one at the moment but that was beside the point.

Which Leo seemed to be missing. Murad settled in the chair across from him, noting the increase in formality from the last few times, but said nothing, settling in the table and folding his hands on the table—the same thing he did during interrogations, although he didn’t do it consciously. He listened silently as the man spoke, then shook his head. There Leo went, thinking the worst again. But right now, he wasn’t really in the mood for talking him around the slow way.

Not that he was particularly good at it anyways.

“Leo, I know what she’s been doing,” he said. “And trust me, that sounds like my mother--
I don’t think you’ve been conning her or whatever you believe I’m accusing you of. And what she does is also really not my call although I cannot tell you how many times I wish it was. I’m not happy about what she’s doing, but neither you and I can stop her, trust me.” Unfortunately, Murad suspected he’d inherited more of his risk-taking side from Minu than she’d ever let on. He exhaled, and moved on, not noticing that the fingers of his right hand were drumming a beat on his left.

“You told her about the anxiety attack I had last week,” he said. “Which wouldn’t be a problem, except I had very specifically not told her about them so she wouldn’t freak out more than she already has for the entire fucking time I’ve been on the force! For God’s sake, Leo, it’s bad enough that you had to see it, but why did you have to tell her?”

@Leo Dobrowolski
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Leo Dobrowolski
 Posted: Jun 16 2018, 08:41 AM
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32 YEARS
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184 Posts
If Leo touches a person's bare skin (alive or dead), he can tell you everything about their physical history. Medical conditions, healed breaks, pregnancies, surgeries, anything that has affected their body in any way. He can also feel anything they are currently feeling - pain, nausea, breathlessness etc, as if it’s his own body.
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@Murad Hassan

So Murad didn’t think Leo was mixing his mother up in any shady business. Leo let out a breath, and nodded - though he didn’t miss the part where Murad said he wasn’t happy about the situation. The other man was still but for the slight tell, the fingers of one hand tapping against the other. Leo kept his eyes on Murad’s face, tried to work out what the problem was.

Then Murad told him.

Leo knew his mouth was slightly open. Murad was pissed, it was easy to see - he could feel himself tensing up nervously, couldn’t seem to help it, and he hoped it wasn’t obvious. He managed not to let his eyes flick towards the door.

But after the words sunk in, and not just the tone of Murad’s voice, Leo’s nerves were joined by a wave of guilt. He’d inadvertently told Minu something she didn’t already know, something that Murad had actively been keeping from her this whole time. For years. His eyes widened, and then he shook his head. “I didn’t know,” he murmured, mouth dry. “Fuck, Murad - I didn’t know you hadn’t told her. I just assumed - you said you’d had them for years, I thought she would know about them. And she said you’d been a bit quiet, and asked me if something had happened, and I - I didn’t know not to tell her.” He was babbling, and he knew it. The idea of Murad thinking he’d done it deliberately was suddenly too dire to countenance.

Stop talking, he told himself sternly, and closed his mouth. Babbling like that wouldn’t get him anywhere - and it also wasn’t helping the crawling sense of irritation he had with himself, the stupid nagging sense of feeling trapped in situations like this. He remembered the day at the clinic when a guy had started kicking the walls and furniture while Leo had been in the room with him. He’d felt shaky for the rest of the day. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Maybe Murad was right. Maybe he should talk to someone. But it had never really come up, before - Leo didn’t usually spend so much time one-on-one with another person. He hadn’t realised how much it all still...affected him.

He clenched his fists, pulled himself back under control. “Sorry,” he said, taking a breath. Leo wasn’t sure which bit he was apologising for - or even if Murad had noticed that he was so keyed up. “I had no idea. I - is there anything I can do?” He swallowed. “Is she...is she OK? Are you OK?”

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Murad Hassan
 Posted: Jun 16 2018, 11:16 AM
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Murad had never been able to tell if it was some quirk of his personality or just some internal weakness that made it difficult for him to hold a grudge. Other people were able to manage it fine, he knew. Some of his ex-boyfriends were practically experts at it, and his mother had never had an issue. It wasn’t stubbornness that he lacked, but something else.

Willpower, maybe. Lack of empathy? Hard to say. All he did know is that he’d come in angry and now, as Leo babbled and stammered his way through an apology, he could feel himself deflating. Fuck, he’d did it again. He’d forgotten that getting angry at Leo was like getting angry at an abused puppy. Sometimes the other man would lash out, sure, but most of the time he’d just curl in on himself, leaving Murad feeling like a tool.

It was aggravating. Was it too much to ask to get mad at someone and have them yell back? He remembered the man’s reaction when the bear of his colleague (otherwise known as Johnny) had found them, and his immediate apologies for outing Murad. Fuck. He’d probably tripped over yet another sore point here. Murad’s jaw clenched, and then he forced it to release and exhaled, slow. Because by then Leo was already asking about them, and Murad could feel what was left of his temper leaving completely.

“Fuck, Leo, why do you make this so hard?” Murad propped his elbows on the table and leaned his head against a hand, staring at the man—still exasperated, but the anger seemed to have vanished. “Yeah, she’s fine. She’s asleep in my apartment after she spent the last two and a half hours shredding into my self esteem.” Which could take it, he’d admit, although it had taken a beating over the last couple of months. Was it so much to ask that things go right for a change? “And I’ll live, although I’m not sure either of us are gonna like the fallout from this, especially as it seems like she’s decided to adopt you. But let’s—leave off you doing anything for now, all right? My mother now freaking about my mental health is enough for one night.”

Which was not, he knew, Leo’s fault. Murad should’ve told her years ago, but he wasn’t yet ready to concede that point.

He let out another breath, then studied the man. There was a bit of sympathy there, and something that might’ve been worry in the right light. “You always get keyed up like this in a fight, don’t you? I already told you—I’m not gonna hurt you, no matter how angry I get.

@Leo Dobrowolski
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Leo Dobrowolski
 Posted: Jun 17 2018, 05:16 AM
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Evolute
32 YEARS
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184 Posts
If Leo touches a person's bare skin (alive or dead), he can tell you everything about their physical history. Medical conditions, healed breaks, pregnancies, surgeries, anything that has affected their body in any way. He can also feel anything they are currently feeling - pain, nausea, breathlessness etc, as if it’s his own body.
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@Murad Hassan

Leo narrowed his eyes a little at Murad's question. Why do I make this so hard? What the fuck is he talking about? There was something in the other man’s voice which implied that he wasn't completely serious, but it was still difficult to work out what he really meant by it. “What do you mean?” Leo asked, raising an eyebrow. “What am I doing?” He frowned. There was something about the exasperation in Murad’s voice that helped him pick up on a clue: the way the other man had lost all of his anger. “You want me to yell at you? Is that it?” Leo sat back in his chair, and crossed his arms over his chest. Annoyance had trickled in, outweighing the nervousness for a moment. “I’m the one in the wrong here, remember? You want me to pick a fight with you when I’m the one who did something wrong?” He was scowling, now. “I’m not a fuckin’ toddler. I can recognise when I’ve fucked up.”

His mouth twisted when Murad told him what Minu had done that evening. To hear that she had harangued her son about the panic attacks made more guilt prickle in the pit of his stomach - though part of him did think it was very optimistic for Murad to hope that his mother would never find out. If Leo had learned one thing about her in the last few weeks, it was that she was very good at getting things out of people - money, for instance...or secrets. Surely it had always been just a matter of time before she got the secret out of someone.

A rueful smile came to his lips. “Yeah, ‘adopt’ is the right word,” Leo commented with a chuckle. “I don't think I have any choice in the matter.” His tone was fond. “She's...she's pretty great, huh?” It felt odd to be saying that to her actual son, but Leo suddenly realised that he didn't want Murad to think he was taking this odd new connection with Minu for granted.

Then Murad’s expression changed, and Leo felt himself tending back up again as the other man looked at him with...was that pity? ‘I'm not gonna hurt you,’ Murad told him, and Leo was frowning again - because he hated the reminder that he was such a coward. You weren't supposed to notice, he wanted to say, but he knew there was no point. Leo looked down at the table, and gave what he knew was a rather sullen shrug. “I know,” he said, defensively - and, if he was honest with himself, completely unconvincingly. There was no way Murad was going to buy it.

Leo swallowed, kept his eyes down. “I just…” how was he supposed to put it into words? “It’s not - it’s not you.” He bit his lip, and finally looked back up at Murad. “It’s not that I think you’re gonna hit me. Like - I’m never thinking that. You know? Not - not consciously. It’s just a thing that happens.” He shrugged. “If I’m alone with a guy, and he raises his voice, or kicks the furniture, or - or throws something, or whatever.” It felt weak and stupid to admit it. “It doesn’t happen very often, ‘cause if I hang out with people it’s usually in groups, or - if I go home with a guy there’s not really shouting involved.” A small attempt at a smile. “I know it doesn’t make any sense. And I’m sorry. I know it’s - annoying.”

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Murad Hassan
 Posted: Jun 17 2018, 11:30 AM
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“Yeah, that’d be good. Sometimes! “ He knew he was coming off as overly defensive, and he waved a hand. “It’s hard to justify getting angry or raising my voice when you just—curl in like that. And even though I don’t want to admit this, it’s not your fault.” It only caused a slight pang to say it, but while he wasn’t the most mature person, Murad could (eventually) admit when he was wrong. “It’s my mother, and I should have been the one to tell her—or make it clear to everyone that this wasn’t something I shared with family.”

Because he didn’t. Aside from Leo, only Jane and a couple of his cousins knew, and that was what he preferred.

“I was the one who fucked up here. And see? Five minutes in and you’ve already got me admitting I was the one in the wrong.” Once again, aggravating. Sometimes a guy just wanted to be able to hold his temper and have a good argument. Murad had never admitted he was wrong so quickly before.

And it just figured that the one guy he’d met who actually liked his mother and didn’t mind her butting in was the one guy he probably shouldn’t be seeing. Or, frankly, want his mother anywhere near. But despite the somewhat depressing turn in his thoughts, he couldn’t help but smile at Leo’s words. “Yeah,” he said. “When she’s not ripping into me for my failings as a son, she’s pretty great.”

Leo didn’t like being called on his sensitivities. Murad got it, but at the same time knew he couldn’t keep toeing around it as he had been. Of course he’d noticed. He was a cop—it was his job to notice, and he’d spent enough time with abused people to recognize some of the signs. But he bit his lip, because the worst thing to do right now was intrude on when Leo was trying—albeit a bit painfully—to admit tthings. Just a thing that happens seemed like one hell of an underestimation, but he let it pass for now.

“Irritating, yeah,” he said with a bit of a grimace. Mm, that was too much on the nose, wasn’t it? “Because every time I lose my temper with you I end up feeling a jackass. Look, you don’t need to apologize for it—I get it, it’s not stupid or weak or anything else that you’re thinking. I just—” This was getting close to feelings again, and Murad was increasingly aware of how in over his head he was on this.

“I care about you, all right?” This wasn’t exactly a ringing confession of feelings, but it was as close as Murad could get at this stage. “If possible, I want to avoid making you shrink into a corner or remembering things you…probably shouldn’t. So if we keep doing this—” whatever it was “—maybe we can find some kind of signal that I need to step away, or something.”

@Leo Dobrowolski
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Leo Dobrowolski
 Posted: Jun 17 2018, 12:22 PM
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Tier 4
184 Posts
If Leo touches a person's bare skin (alive or dead), he can tell you everything about their physical history. Medical conditions, healed breaks, pregnancies, surgeries, anything that has affected their body in any way. He can also feel anything they are currently feeling - pain, nausea, breathlessness etc, as if it’s his own body.
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@Murad Hassan

Leo raised an eyebrow. “I’m the one who told your mom something you didn’t want her to know, and suddenly you’re in the wrong?” he asked, incredulity in his tone. “Murad. Dude. You’re entitled not to tell her stuff. Nobody has the right to know anything about you that you don’t want them to know. It was my fault for blabbing about it - I should know better.” He looked at Murad, blue eyes appraising his expression. “So you really want me to yell at you?” Leo asked, a small, ironic smile coming to his lips. “Was it more fun, that time I got mad and accused you of all sorts of shit? ‘Cause it wasn’t for me.”

He got it. He did. It couldn’t be fun to have the wind taken out of your sails when you really wanted a good shouting match. But that didn’t stop Leo from tensing up again, just a little, when Murad agreed with his statement with one word: ‘Irritating.’ Then what am I supposed to do? a small part of him asked in the back of his mind. Cowering like a fucking dog was the only thing that worked with -

But it didn’t always work, did it? That was the problem. That was why sixteen years seemed to have fucked him up so thoroughly.

‘It’s not stupid or weak,’ Murad said, and Leo made a noise which was somewhere between a snort and a cough - plainly derisive. ‘I care about you, alright?’ Murad said, and Leo’s eyes were narrowed again as if he couldn’t quite bring himself to believe it. He watched the other man carefully as he kept talking, then blinked in surprise when Murad suggested… “What, a safeword?” Leo gave him a disbelieving smile. “Like that ‘red, yellow, green’ shit you’re supposed to use when someone ties you up?” He opened his mouth to say what a strange idea it was, but then closed it again. It was a strange idea, that was for sure. But maybe it had some merit. Leo bit his lip. “Would that even work? Surely me saying ‘yellow’ or some shit is gonna be just as annoying as…” he gestured to himself. “All this.”

Or was it? Leo turned the idea over in his mind. Maybe it would be a way to remind Murad to keep his volume and body language on a certain track, without derailing the conversation if it was one that needed to be had. He looked thoughtfully down at the smooth woodgrain of the table under his hands. Anything was worth one try, right?

But there was something else Murad had said. Leo rubbed his thumb over a knot in the wood. “Do you want to keep doing this?” he asked, voice a little quieter now. “You said - you said you didn’t know how to be with me. You said I should go out and meet someone.”

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Murad Hassan
 Posted: Jun 17 2018, 11:26 PM
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Evolute
36 YEARS
APD
Carrier
204 Posts
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Lugia is Offline



And now Leo was even trying to talk it back into being his fault. Murad growled very softly, and let his head drop in his hands. “Why are we arguing over whose problem it is that my mom now knows about my panic attacks?” he asked, his voice almost a groan. “Can we just---drop it now? Bad enough that she knows, let’s just—let it go.” After all, Leo hadn’t been helping him that evening in the capacity of a doctor. In the end, no one was really at fault for this—it was just a shitty situation.

The yelling thing—was a little more complicated. Especially given the last time that Leo had yelled, which made him wince to remember. “No,” he said. “But it’s not—about the fun. If you’re invested, I always thought you fought—and then made up. Some part of that is usually yelling, yeah. Guess it can be my thing.” His mother hadn’t really had any examples, and he hadn’t been invited into his family’s life enough to see what went on behind the surface.

He hadn’t meant a safeword, but when Leo mentioned it, he did think about it. It wasn’t…the worst idea, actually. At least it would signal to Murad that he needed to take a step back, but wouldn’t let him end the conversation. “Well,” he said, then chuckled. “It’d certainly diffuse the tension, wouldn’t it? Except no tying up. That—doesn’t work for me.” He waved a hand absently. “But yeah, if saying ‘yellow’ helps, I don’t see why not give it a go. At least once. Might prevent the adrenaline.”

But that still left the elephant in the room—the keep doing this elephant. And consciously, he still didn’t know. Nothing about this would be easy. Nothing about it would be sane, and there was a laundry list a mile long of all the reasons this would be a very-bad-no-good-idea.

And then there was also the fact that he liked Leo. And his mother liked him. He was kind, he was sympathetic, he was sarcastic as hell (and good in bed) and even though all of Murad’s common sense told him not to do it, he was tired of pretending like the attraction wasn’t there. It wasn’t like he could get fired for dating him now.


“I said that because I didn’t want to string you along,” he said with a shrug. Ah, so that was why Leo had been avoiding him. Made sense. He shook his head and leaned back, resisting the urge to take the man’s hand. “Leo, I—I’m not sure how to be with you. Doesn’t mean I don’t want to be with you though. There’s a lot of…potential problems there.” He sighed. “To start with the fact that you probably break the law more often than I want to know about, and I’m supposed to catch people like you. And that one or both of us could end up dead if the wrong person realizes what we’re doing. Or that you could be used against me as blackmail.” He grimaced. “Not that I’ve been thinking about it.” Borderline obsessively, after the case work was done for the night.

@Leo Dobrowolski
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Leo Dobrowolski
 Posted: Jun 18 2018, 03:02 AM
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Evolute
32 YEARS
Cartel
Tier 4
184 Posts
If Leo touches a person's bare skin (alive or dead), he can tell you everything about their physical history. Medical conditions, healed breaks, pregnancies, surgeries, anything that has affected their body in any way. He can also feel anything they are currently feeling - pain, nausea, breathlessness etc, as if it’s his own body.
Sandrine is Offline


@Murad Hassan

“If I’m invested, I talk,” Leo replied with a shrug. Not that he was speaking from romantic experience. “I guess - I guess I’m just too used to yelling turning into something physical.” Among his Cartel friends, that was certainly the case. Raised voices were always the first sign that a fist fight was about to break out. Leo was starting to understand that maybe going straight from one violent home into another might the reason he was so edgy about things like this. He gave a rueful smile. “Can we fight quietly?” Leo asked, some of the mirth returning to his eyes. “Talking is good. I get that. Maybe...no yelling?”

Murad seemed to feel the same way about a safeword as Leo did - that it was worth trying, at least once. ‘Except no tying up,’ the other man said, and Leo looked over at him curiously. “Not a fan?” he asked, unable to help himself - it was always useful to know things like that, after all. Especially when the person you might have considered doing it to had a history of panic attacks. “Me neither, if I'm honest,” Leo added - because it felt rude, somehow, to ask a question and not offer something in return. He grinned. “Kinda boring. You get cramp ‘cause you can't change position. Or your nose itches and you can’t scratch it.” The grin became a sly smirk. “And you know me. I like to be an - uh - active partner.”

When Murad started speaking again Leo went very still, not quite able to look up just yet. Something jolted in his gut at the other man’s words.

Murad did want to be with him.

‘Not that I've been thinking about it,’ Murad added finally, and Leo glanced up at him. “Clearly,” he replied dryly - but then his wry smile faded. “I've been thinking a lot,” he murmured. It felt treasonous to even say it, even when nobody else could hear him. For a moment, Leo felt dizzy. “About what you said. About the Cartel.” He swallowed, looked away again. “I can't leave.” It was a statement of fact. “I owe them too much. But - with your mom's help, I might have enough funding that I don't need any Cartel money for the clinic.” Maybe it didn't sound like much to Murad, but to Leo that was huge. Getting them out of the clinic would be a massive - and scary - step. He'd continue to be their doctor on call, but this would be something.

“If.” He took a breath. “If I keep my head down, which I do anyway - and if you aren't in organised crime any more…” And If you get Vels out and if he says it's OK and agrees to tell the others, but Leo wasn't going to say that until it was done. “It might be OK. We could - try.” Leo bit his lip, and looked up to meet Murad’s gaze - wondering not for the first time how a pair of hazel eyes could be so intense. “If you want?”
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Murad Hassan
 Posted: Jun 19 2018, 01:06 AM
Quote
Evolute
36 YEARS
APD
Carrier
204 Posts
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Lugia is Offline



Yeah, Murad couldn’t imagine why Leo was used to yelling turn to physical violence. In Murad’s family, shouting turned into food, a lecture from an older and wiser relative, and eventually, some awkward shuffling and forgiveness on both sides because it was either that, or you were going to get dragged out on your ear. Leo’s “family,” as it were, probably had none of those habits. But as this—whatever it was—between them was still quite delicate, he skipped the sarcastic remarks for once. So instead he just smiled back.

“Can’t guarantee it,” he said. “But I can try.”

He chuckled at Leo’s question. “No, not really.” He shrugged. “I tried it once. Freaked out. And as I put people in handcuffs for a living I never found it fun to do in my free time.” His lips curved up at the man’s statement. “Just a bit,” he agreed. “Glad we’re compatible on that.”

Because he hadn’t…already known that. And now he was thinking about Leo in bed and he might’ve been blushing again. Fuck. At least they had another topic they could be on now.

Leo wasn’t looking up, and Murad realized that his confessions of emotions wasn’t exactly Austenian. He even winced a bit at Leo’s statement, but then he looked up at Leo’s statement. He’d listened? About the Cartel? Murad had expected his words to fall on deaf ears. He leaned back in his seat, watching Leo intently as the man spoke, and then he smiled, just faintly. “That’s a big step, Leo,” he said, voice soft. “Didn’t realize that I’d—anyways. I think it’s a good idea. Just…be careful, will ya?” He didn’t want to get Leo into trouble because he’d gotten some idea into his head.

But that—that was a lot more promising. His smile was real this time, but he didn’t look away from the man. This time, before speaking, he did reach out and rested his hand on Leo’s.

“I do,” he said. “Although—I mean, it’s not gonna be easy and I probably---should tell my mother some of the details. I don’t want her getting caught in the cross fires of this. But I’d like to try.” Dear God this was such an incredibly bad idea, and yet he was smiling. Probably stupidly. Later, he’d kick himself for how hormones could make a person dumb. But for now, he felt oddly cheerful—and definitely reckless.

@Leo Dobrowolski
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