60 - Young Blood II

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February 14, 1486

Venezia, Italy

For a minute there, Catherine lost her nerve. It was probably just reality setting in; how going out the door meant she was no longer solely in the company of her friends, but the whole world. Her "lustful" look was now for all to see, and how, despite not being all that revealing, she felt naked. She knew it was her nerves. She was so used to being modest—or, at least, modest in public. Modesty was all but forgetten when it came to the bedroom, but out among others? She held a sense of decorum, so to speak, and now she was doing quite the opposite. New things always got a little her a little on edge, too, so she supposed it was no surprise that she paused at the entry way, eyes glancing around from behind her mask; noting how she got some interesting looks—some intrigued, some disgusted, some indifferent. It made her stomach clench a little uneasily.

A hand wrapping around hers pulled her from her anxiety. She looked to Ezio, found his eyes hidden behind his mask, and found his smile a moment later, too.

"You are ravishing, my love... embrace it. The men will grovel on their knees for you," he told her, bringing her hand to his lips to place a chaste kiss. Warmth filled her, and her confidence grew. He did that to her—made her feel so free and at ease no matter what. Then again, she already knew she could do anything so long as she had him by her side, so it only made sense.

She chuckled as he moved his hand to her waist, not at all possessive-like, "Thanks. Needed that."

"You shouldn't, you know. Although, I admit... I was surprised you were up to it. Not complaining, of course. Just... surprised."

"Well," she began, eyes falling briefly as she twirled a loose lock in her fingers, "it's just... I was talking to Leo about things... about... how it's been getting me down and everything... all the worrying and being afraid of what's going to happen... and he told me—he told me how we shouldn't. Pretty much he said that, if whatever happens is inevitable, then why worry? If we can't stop it any more than we can stop, y'know, dying then... it's better we enjoy every possible second that we can together. Live every moment like our last and really live. So... so I thought... well... he was right, and I decided that I'd try—try to not worry and be held back and enjoy things. Do something crazy, too, I guess—like dress like a courtesan. Do this. Have fun. It's not much, but... he's still right. I need to stop worrying so much about what might happen and enjoy the time we still have if it really is ending. And if it's not ending... then I've had all the more fun, right?"

She could tell her words had an odd effect upon him, and she knew it was how she had felt: conflicted in some ways. Trying to be happy, yet fighting the fear of what was coming—and knowing that it, ultimately, would come. But the truth was there: even if the Clock did not part them, death would, and death was always there, waiting for them. It could come at any moment, yet they had never worried about it before. So why fret over what the artifact might do? Of course they couldn't be perfect; they would always worry in some way, but they could choose to not let it hold them back and find happiness somehow, someway.

Ezio chuckled, squeezing her side, "Leonardo is quite the genius."

"That he is... so try to enjoy things tonight, too—if only for me and my sanity because I don't know how long I'll last," Catherine laughed, gesturing to her attire.

"Oh, you'll do fine. You're quite the seductive minx. Just pretend you're trying to seduce me. God knows I wish you would have done it when I was younger. And remind me to have Leo talk to you more. If he can convince you to dress like this..."

"Yeah, no. I'm back to my usual gear after tonight. This stuff doesn't really deflect weapons too well, y'know, and Leo would never betray me like that. He likes me more, remember?" she huffed, flashing her lover a look. He pouted in response, much to her amusement.

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