Nicky groaned, testing the ropes that pinned his wrists together to the headboard.
Joe grinned, sitting back on his hips to watch. He’d always been good at knots.
Nicky gave a couple more tugs before looking up at the love of his life and grinning, bucking his hips under Joe’s. He wasn’t sure how this particular kink had started but it had been very, very long in the making. For a few decades, between being enemies and lovers, when they weren’t as furious about trying to kill each other but more playful about it, they had taken to leaving the other in questionable situations. Nicky had once stolen Joe’s clothes in a bathhouse in Antalya. And then Joe had trapped him in a steam room in Mersin. Things had escalated from there and they had spent two years in a flirtatious, almost deadly, prank war. Somehow, it had culminated in the time Nicky got Joe arrested in Cyprus and then when he came to break him out, decided to apologize by way of sex while he was still in chains.
Now, nearly seven hundred years later, here they were.
They had finished their job in Kiev and had a night to kill before starting to journey back to Andy and Nile in Vienna.
Joe leaned over him, kissing him slowly while his hands made their way down his chest, exploring freely. His rings were cold and the feel of them mixed with the warmth of his fingers sent shivers through Nicky. He squirmed, raising one leg enough to rub his thigh between Joe’s. Just because he couldn’t use his hands, didn’t mean he couldn’t touch. He felt the other man smile into their kiss, his hands expertly opening the front of Nicky’s jeans.
They both froze, the flicker of that sense of something wrong going off in their brains just before the door was kicked in.
Nicky swore and tried to move only to be reminded his arms were pinned over his head. Around Joe’s side he saw the figures file into the room, their boots like drums on the floor. Joe could have gone for a gun and tried to shoot them. It wouldn’t have been fast enough anyway. But he hadn’t. Nicky saw that—he had reached for the knife on the bedside table, snatched it up and swung for the ropes around Nicky’s wrists even when a hailstorm of bullets filled his back.
Nicky howled, bucking and twisting, trying in vain to switch their positions. He popped one shoulder of its socket but the pain was forgotten under the waves of panic and anger. Joe’s body slumped against his chest and he shuddered, feeling the dead weight of him. The knife never ever touched the ropes, so close but nowhere near close enough.
He bared his teeth and kicked when one of the men in black grabbed at Joe’s body, pulling it away from him. Two of the three dragged him away, out of the room, the other lingering with a growing grin at Nicky’s situation. He was tied to the headboard, wearing nothing but already unbuttoned jeans, and covered in his own lover’s blood. He also had a bullet in his side but he didn’t suspect this guy realized that. Which was probably for the best. Things always got worse when people realized they were immortal—at the very least, they were usually smart enough not to take their eyes off their corpses.
Nicky strained against the ropes and kicked at the guy when he came close, the bed dipping under his weight. It was a messy struggle and he swore in Italian, pain shooting through his dislocated shoulder. It was just starting to heal when the guy caught hold of his legs and flipped him over harshly, coming to sit on the backs of his thighs, pulling Nicky’s body so straight that he knew his shoulder wouldn’t be able to heal, stretched out of its socket.
The man laughed and drove a few sharp punches into his sides, cracking a rib and groaning when Nicky wheezed rather than swore. The fingers of his left hand twitched, trying to feel for some way out of his bindings. He managed to lift his head to look up at his arms, those fingers already turning purple. Fuck.
Hopefully they didn’t know they were immortal. Hopefully they hadn’t taken Joe’s body far. Were they planning to bag him and dump him someplace? He would be awake by now unless they killed him again.
Nicky’s breath caught in his throat when the man on his legs moved, hooking fingers into the waist of his jeans and dragging them down to his thighs. His heart hammered in his throat and he squeezed his eyes shut, forehead to the mattress. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!
He bit into his own cheek and held his breath tight in his chest just to keep from making any sounds when the other man tore into his body. He grunted over him, fisting a hand in Nicky’s hair to drag his head back, arching his neck but Nicky still wouldn’t open his eyes, wouldn’t make a sound. He might just suffocate himself at this rate. His mind raced, trying to find someplace to settle in himself. It was going to be okay. He had survived every nightmare torture on this planet and he had survived this before. Joe would wake up. He would be fine. This would end. There would be bloodshed and he would find his peace again. He would find his peace. He would find Joe.
Joe woke with a mouthful of bullets just as he was being rolled down a flight a stairs. He spit them up when he landed, grunting when his knee cracked on the landing. The two men following down the stairs into the night did not notice. They were talking in low voices, high on the rush of a hit gone smoothly—or smoothly for them.
He might have taken the time to think up a plan or even let these idiots drag him to their car or a ditch before making his move. Might have—if he hadn’t left Nicky alone tied to a fucking bed. Where was his body?
He was on his feet by the time the two came down the stairs. Shock lit up their faces just before he pulled the knife from one of their belts. He cut one’s throat open and stabbed the other in the eye, twice, following his body to the ground before launching himself off of him and back up the stairs. He ignored the way his recently broken knee threatened to give out. It would hold. He had walked on worse. The back and front of shirt clung to his skin, drenched in his own blood, blue turned purple.
The door wasn’t shut—it was hanging on its hinges, swinging in when he shouldered through.
He didn’t stop to take in the nightmare image. He didn’t pause. He buried his knife in the man’s back, grabbed a fistful of his hair and hauled him up and off of Nicky, twisting to drag the stranger to the ground. He was still grunting but it wasn’t from enjoyment anymore. Joe twisted the knife, pulled it out and then stabbed him in the throat, slicing across and almost taking his head off. He didn’t let go until he was dead, until he was sure, and then he moved just as fast to climb up onto the bed.
“Nicolo?” his voice was low, a wild whisper.
Nicky didn’t say anything, body still stretched out and twitching, muscles wound tight.
Joe cut his arms free, pulling them down and turning him over as gently as he could. “Never again,” he swore in Italian, in his heart’s language. He drew him into his lap and held him while his shoulder popped back into place. “Never again, my love, I swear,” he promised, and he meant it, he would never tie Nicky up again, not for any reason or game, no matter how safe they thought they were. He had left him unable to defend himself.
Nicky inhaled as though he had died and revived. He had not, but his body woke as though he had retreated into death. He touched Joe’s arm, blinking and sitting up. “Are you okay?” he asked in Italian, voice hoarse.
Joe cringed under the unflinching care of his lover but nodded.
“We have to go,” Nicky said, gaze flicking around the room and nose wrinkling when his attention moved across the body on the floor. He slid to the edge of the bed and pulled his boots on. “Change your shirt.” His voice was so steady but so low.
Joe hurriedly stripped off his ruined shirt and fished a clean one out of their bag, tossing one to Nicky before zipping it up and throwing it over his shoulder. They could not linger here. The police could show up at any minute, or more hitmen. He stepped into his own boots.
Nicky stood, pulling on the clean shirt and grabbing his jacket. Joe stopped him at the door and Nicky stared back at him, confused. Joe reached down between them and buttoned up Nicky’s jeans, having to pull them up his hips a little more. Nicky flushed and looked away.
They would have to talk about this. He could not have his Nicolo looking like that—looking away from him. There was no secret between them. Nothing that could not be said. But this was not the place.
They left the apartment complex into the night and stole a car. Joe drove and Nicky pretended to sleep. By dawn they were boarding a euro rail with a day between them and Vienna. They booked a private sleeping cabin, far from luxury but quiet and all to themselves. Nicky used the onboard shower and Joe waited, sitting by the window with his eyes closed and the hum of the train, thinking about the night frame by frame. He should never have tied Nicky up. That’s what it all came back to. It had been stupid and fun and hot, right up until it wasn’t.
Nicky returned, closed the door quietly—mindful of other people still sleeping on the train—and locked it. His hair was still wet. He sat down next to Joe without looking at him, but right next to him, so that their shoulders and thighs touched. Joe hung his head, turned to look at the other man. “Forgive me,” he whispered, pain choking him.
Nicky looked back at him surprised, eyes widening and head shaking. “It wasn’t your fault.”
Joe winced. “You can blame me, my love. You can be angry. I should never have left you like that. You didn’t even have a chance to fight back—”
Nicky twisted sideways on his seat to face him, face pinching in pain. He shook his head. “It could have happened either way. How many times have I tied you up?” He swallowed hard, haunted and Joe felt like it was a lance in his heart. That was what his Nicolo was dwelling on? The what if it had been reversed? God, he wished it had been. Nicolo’s eyes lost focus and he shook his head again. “We can’t do that again, Yusuf…Please…” It came out in a whisper that startled Joe.
He took Nicky’s face in his hands and leaned their foreheads together. “Never again,” he said, wondering if Nicky had not heard him in the room right after. He could say it again. Could swear to it as many times as his beloved needed.
Nicky took a deep breath, eyes closed, and let it out slowly, his fingers pressed against Joe’s thigh like an anchor. “He’s dead right?” he asked, voice cold and low again. It was a strange tone, but not an unfamiliar one. It was confused and detached, like he was running through the memories like distant, hazy images, and needed to make sure that man had paid.
Joe nodded a little, their foreheads still touching. “Very, very, dead, my love.”
Nicky absorbed that for a minutes and then sighed and nodded. When he opened his eyes he looked much like his usual self again. He turned and leaned back into Joe’s chest and he was more than happy to have him there, to wrap his arms around him and just feel him breathing. “Are we going home?” Nicky asked sleepily.
Joe looked down to see his eyes closing again and smiled softly. Home just meant wherever the others were. “Yes.” He rested his cheek against Nicky’s head. In a few hours Joe would get up and see about finding them food on the dining car of the train. His Nicolo would start a conversation about their favorite and least favorite train rides over the last millennia over coffee. And when they got home, they would deliver a different version of the story to Andy and Nile. A parting attack by the mafia they’d been messing up business for in Kiev. They would say three men showed up while they were sleeping and killed them and then Nicky and Joe had done what they always do—got back up and won. They wouldn’t change the story out of shame and they would never pretend with each other that it had gone any differently than it had—but some stories were just between them.
For now though, Joe just held Nicky.