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you don't inhale smoke. you inhale time.

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“You’re gonna smoke?”

“Yeah,” Avilio says simply as he reaches across the bedside table and gropes for the half-empty carton of cigarettes. The muscles in his back strain against his pale skin, and Nero can’t help leaning down and pressing a kiss between the other’s shoulder blades. He feels a shiver tremble down Avilio’s spine, ending in a slight shift of Avilio’s knee that forces them apart. Nero laughs quietly at the other’s grumble and leans back.

The sheets pool around his waist, around where he’s straddling his younger lover who’s a tad more listless than he normally is—distracted. Nero can’t help being annoyed at it even though he’s learned from experience that the best solution for one of Avilio’s moods is leaving him alone. 

Avilio’s fingers finally tease a stick out of the crumpled pack, and then he’s leaning farther over the bed to catch on the sleeve of Nero’s jacket left forgotten on the floor. After some rummaging, and a few more kisses along Avilio’s backside that he pointedly ignores, Avilio returns to his supine position. He flops back in defeat and lets Nero box him in again with one hand on either side of his head.

Those golden eyes Nero loves so much refuse to meet him. They’re more focused on the cig, but the apathy only spurns Nero on more. Nero shifts to knee Avilio’s legs apart underneath the sheets. He waits until the other has the cigarette lit and between his lips before taking the lighter and flinging it aside. It lands in a corner of the room with a thunk.

“You’re impatient tonight,” Avilio remarks and smirks, but the words are hollow, and Nero thinks he can guess why. 

“Corteo has to die, you know,” Nero says bluntly and knows he’s ruining the mood. Hell, who’s he kidding, there never was a mood. His fingers thread through Avilio’s dark hair that part like silk at his touch, and he can’t help admiring the younger’s beauty, especially when he looks at him like that.

Avilio is giving him his signature glare again, cold, unmoving, and utterly unreadable. Then he turns his head aside, and the look is gone, replaced with the same sort of resigned, tired expression that Nero only sees when they’re in private like this. 

Avilio doesn’t say anything; he only reaches up, parts his lips, and breathes out smoke that curls in whorls toward the ceiling. “Hurry up.”

The thought that Avilio is thinking about someone else while they’re together drives him crazy, but at the words, he only smiles and leans down to mouth open kisses against the boy’s neck. “With pleasure,” he mutters and decides to leave tomorrow’s business to tomorrow.

For some reason, he always feels like they’re living on borrowed time, like his father isn’t the only one dying. Whenever he sees Avilio light a cigarette, the old man’s words resurface. You don’t inhale smoke. You inhale time. He hadn’t ever felt this way before Avilio’s appearance; maybe this was what they called love?

“Open your mouth,” Nero mutters and pushes forward to encourage a kiss, but Avilio only blows smoke in his face and promptly—defiantly—purses his lips.

“I thought we agreed no kissing.”

“One night wouldn’t kill you.” Nero’s lips finds Avilio’s cheek, his jaw, the underside of his chin. Avilio only grunts though Nero can feel his body relax into the mattress. Nero smirks and tries again. This time Avilio’s mouth parts ever so slightly.

“Your goatee itches,” he states flatly with the cigarette in his right hand positioned near his face. Even like this, he manages to look vaguely intimidating as if he’s saying, ‘If you come any closer, I’ll burn you.’

Nero chuckles and takes the risk. “Shut up. You know you love it.”