The eve of battle was upon them.
There was little that set Yusuf on edge like the anticipation of a fight, and with all they had to lose or gain, Yusuf's body thrummed with the heat and thrill of the morn, so much so that he could scarce sleep, even knowing how essential rest would be come dawn.
Even so, little would put them at a disadvantage against their enemies. The Genovese army had come marching, and it was weary men who would meet them. Not that it mattered; they had always held any man of their kingdom had twice the skill at arms as any Genovese, and Yusuf knew in his heart that victory would be theirs.
Perhaps the greatest of his rush came from knowing that tomorrow morn, he would finally meet his old enemy once more on the battlefield, and defeat him, for good this time. No longer would he and Nicolò di Genova face each other from a distance, with men and walls and the ocean between them. Battle, Yusuf had always thought, ought to be personal, and come the dawn it would be again, as he and Nicolò met on the grounds, the sun shining behind them to illuminate the great, long-awaited fight. Their swords would clash, steel sparking against steel, bodies pressing against the other's, until one emerged a victor—
A large hand muffled his mouth a sudden, and Yusuf gasped into it as a stranger came to grip his shoulders and haul himself through the window. A moment of struggle followed, Yusuf pressing the intruder back against the window. The intruder released him, hasty, but in the moment after a knife was pressed to his throat, preventing him from alarming anybody else.
"Who is it?" he asked, fury mingling with fear as the point of the blade nicked the delicate skin. "What Genovese is so cowardly to do something such as this on the eve of battle?"
His intruder turned them, knife pressed to the bump of Yusuf's throat, until he was standing by the window, and in Yusuf's line of sight. The moon illuminated him, casting him in the stark light of truth, half in shadow, half in light. Yusuf grimaced at the sight of Prince Nicolò di Genova, his old enemy.
"I had always known you were a loathsome man, Genova, but I had never marked you as a coward."
Genova drew his mouth back into a grimace. "Is it cowardice to end a battle that would take hundreds of lives before it begins?"
Yusuf scoffed, embittered. His kingdom had never chosen battle, though they, too, were no fools to sit on their hands when war came to their front. But Yusuf had never expected anything less from the Genovese. "It is when you meet your opponent in dead of night, when he is unarmed and unprepared."
It was true. Though he had been unable to sleep, he was dressed for it, in nothing but his shirt, hanging loose to his thighs. Nicolò, on the other hand, was dressed for scaling heights; a hood fell behind his head, exposing his hair and face, though Yusuf would have known his face even with it. A swordbelt hung from his waist, though he carried only a small dagger. Exertion had moulded the cloth of his tunic and breeches to his skin, but even then, it was more than Yusuf was clad in.
At the mention of his own unarmed state, Nicolò's eyes dropped to Yusuf’s body. His shirt hid little, thin fabric no doubt displaying the tender vulnerabilities of skin underneath with the moon behind him so. His gaze was heavy upon him, considering; on any other, Yusuf might consider it a molten heat, appraising, finding something worth appreciation. On Nicolò, it could not be so. Yusuf fought a shudder that started low in his spine and unspooled upward.
"Well?" he asked. "If it is for the lives of your men that you do this, then unhand me and leave now. In the morn, I will call for a duel. Let single combat decide. I have no fear of facing you as an equal."
Nicolò's knife drifted, slowly, away from his neck. Yusuf began to dare to hope—only for him to rest his fist on his shoulder, the point of the blade only inches from his skin. He flicked out, a warning, and left his mark in a single point of pain, barely felt before it was gone. He could not so much have drawn blood; the precision of it was just as thrilling as the fear, and Yusuf felt his heartbeat jump in his throat. When Nicolò leered at him, his cock, foolish and unable to unearth lover from enemy, twitched. Pressed close as they were, Nicolò, but naturally, noticed. He drew back up, eyeing Yusuf with interest.
"I see how it is,” he said. “I have no fear in facing you as an equal. But my men have suffered long, weary nights on the march. It is only right, then, that your own night is a sleepless one. I am certain I can keep you awake."
Yusuf groaned, but as Nicolò raised a brow in challenge, he turned it quickly to an expression of frustration with his enemy. "A cheap rogue's trick! It is my own foolishness that may have led me to believe you were a man of any honour."
Nicolò grinned, pressing closer, and Yusuf felt his own eyes flick to his lips. It would be silly to pretend that he had never noticed them before. "I assure you, honour has nothing to do with it."
His kiss was rough, his mouth opening as though he wished to devour Yusuf whole. Yusuf opened his mouth under the kiss, not one to give less than he got, even if it was his enemy that kissed him now, and for such foul purposes. Nicolò's hands slid around his waist and down his back so he was cupping Yusuf's buttocks, pressing him forward until every inch of his lower half was pressed to Nicolò’s, his desire clear and evident, no doubt, through his thin sleeping shirt.
Yusuf slid his fingers into Nicolò's hair and twisted, until he pulled away from his mouth with a hiss of pain. "Is that how you prefer it, Prince Yusuf?" he asked through clenched teeth, before returning to scrape his teeth against Yusuf's jaw. Yusuf groaned into his grip, the tension between the knife held against his neck, the feel of Nicolò’s hands on him, pressing him close, and the mouth at his neck, he felt untethered, dazed and confused. He ought not to feel such heat because of an enemy, much less one whose purposes were so nefarious, but Nicolò seemed to know just how to touch him, just what he liked; his kisses on his neck and jaw were hot and sloppy, but his grip on him was tight and unyielding.
As Yusuf moaned his satisfaction, the knife clattered to the floor, and Yusuf remembered, abruptly, that this was his enemy; that this, too, was a battle of a sort. He tugged Nicolò’s head back again, pulling until the man looked up, a touch distracted, eyes dark and heated, open mouth slick and tempting.
“The battle of our tongues you cannot win,” he said, and when Nicolò would not reply, crushed their mouths together.
They grappled for a moment, until Yusuf found himself pressed against the wall, Nicolò’s arms caging him in in a manner he should not find so pleasurable. Yusuf was loath to struggle against him, and so he only dragged him closer, hands around his neck and back, until it was as though he held him captive, and not the other way. Nicolò was an enthusiastic kisser, if one that used his teeth overmuch; or perhaps it was only Yusuf that inspired it in him. When Yusuf bit his lip in turn, he pulled away, panting, and touched his lip. Blood welled for just a moment, leaving his fingers shining red in the moonlight.
“You are a cheat,” he announced.
Yusuf felt his lip twitch. “I would not consider it cheating when my opponent has never learned the meaning of fair play.” Nicolò made an irritable noise and returned to his mouth, hands slipping over his arms and sides, leaving trails tingling wherever he went. How could he know so easily that the lightest of touches would leave him burning?
Then they had to break for breath. Nicolò pressed his hands to his sides, digging his thumbs into his sides, a pointed reminder of who they were. “Shall we consider this our duel, then? Whoever emerges victorious must submit come the morning.”
Yusuf panted into his mouth, tightened his hold on his backside in an attempt to regain his control on this situation. With the knife gone, he could with ease remove Nicolò; come it to a fight, he was stronger, and there would be some satisfaction in pitching him from the window he had climbed in. But it was a different sort of satisfaction his body craved now. He watched Nicolò’s lips twitch with amusement, and licked his own. To say no would be to lose. “I see you have grown bold and overconfident. Very well; I can defeat you here, too, and no doubt about it. What terms?”
Nicolò snorted. “Whoever brings the other to completion first is the victor.”
It was a challenge to stay silent, just now—but Yusuf had always prided himself in competition, and now he swatted his irritation away like a fly in order to win. “Then you will find endurance is my greatest strength,” he snapped, and slid to his knees. It was a moment’s work to free Nicolò’s cock from his breeches, and found it just as hard as he himself was. When he looked up, Nicolò looked wonderous, his eyes dark, breaths coming slow and harsh.
“I have always wanted to see you put on your knees. Perhaps even put your lovely mouth to good use.”
Lovely? He glared at Nicolò, sliding his hand into his rounded buttock and squeezing. Nicolò groaned and pitched forward, until his cock was right beside Yusuf’s mouth. He pressed a rough kiss to his thighs, and scraped his teeth against them. “If I am on my knees for you,” he said, innocently, “then you may see me as your prisoner for the moment—a circumstance that shall never repeat, I promise you—and do as you will with my mouth.”
Then he swallowed him down.
Though he had been on the march, Nicolò was clean and warm for him. He muffled a groan into his own fist when Yusuf swallowed him down, putting his skill to use, and taking him in, slower at first, and then further, until he felt choked with him. He was no quivering lily to be afraid of such a thing, and he knew his own skills, though never had he imagined he would use them in such a way. The thought was thrilling, nevertheless. He looked up while he still could, watched Nicolò clench his fists at the sides.
Then he closed his eyes, took a deep breath through his nose, and swallowed around him.
He could feel Nicolò’s shudder, the satisfaction of having his enemy so well under his grip drawing from a well of satisfaction so deep he wondered how he would find pleasure in fucking anybody else. An idea struck. Yusuf dragged Nicolò’s hand to the top of his head, and placed it there with emphasis, looking up for a moment before he started on him in earnest.
Nicolò grabbed the back of his head and pressed him close, his hips stuttering. Yusuf felt his desire, his slowly unravelling control, in the way his hips began to thrust into his mouth, in how the grip on his hair tightening to the perfect point between pleasure and pain—
“Enough!” Nicolò gasped, and pulled him away, to his dismay.
Yusuf abandoned his cock with a noise of separation, strings of saliva keeping them connected, and wiped his mouth. Nicolò’s cock, spit-slick, twitched, and Nicolò with it. He looked as though he had tangled one hand in his own hair, and the thought was unexpectedly thrilling. Of a sudden, he wanted nothing more than to swallow him down until he spilled into Yusuf’s throat; not for the victory of the challenge, but for the victory of unravelling him, his taste, his pleasure.
He dragged Yusuf to his feet with a tug on his arms, and tasted himself in his mouth. Yusuf pushed them stumbling towards his bed, until they fell back on it, kissing yet again. It was far more pleasurable to kiss him than it ought to be—but then, Yusuf had always enjoyed kissing, and when silenced in this manner Nicolò’s mouth was as satisfactory as any other… or even moreso. Nicolò slipped a hand under Yusuf’s shirt and squeezed his cock at the base; Yusuf bit at his tongue, grinned when he pulled away to glare at him.
“I would abandon your hopes now,” Yusuf said, “for I suspect a single touch will have you spilling over. Shall I demonstrate?”
“You are very confident for a man so content to be on his knees,” Nicolò replied, scraping his blunt fingernails over Yusuf’s nipples. Yusuf groaned, and Nicolò pinched him. The sensation went straight to his cock.
“Perhaps I enjoy ruining others with pleasure,” Yusuf returned, grabbing Nicolò by the waist and flipping them around, so he could tower over him and watch him, splayed on the bed below him. “I rather like the sight of you like this. Perhaps when I emerge victorious—and I will—I will claim not only your lands and kingdom, but you as well, to keep in my bed.”
Nicolò gasped, and Yusuf waited, but he only turned to pull at the laces of his hood, and then neck of his own tunic. Yusuf struggled to help him pull it off, his hands scrabbling ineffectually at Nicolò’s sides. When it was gone, and Nicolò lay in only his own thin shirt, Yusuf leaned back down to kiss him.
Nicolò turned them over as they kissed, now sloppy and distracted, their hips rutting into each other. Just as he pressed him once more into the bedding, Nicolò reached for his jaw and pulled him away. Gasping, he managed, “Or perhaps I will keep you prisoner with my cock.”
Yusuf stared at Nicolò, pressing his lips together, but it was too much; the laughter bubbled from him, rising from his chest, until he was bent over, shaking, head pressed into Nicolò’s shoulder. “Prisoner with your cock—you’re a cheat! You’re a stinking cheat.”
“I knew it!” Nicky crowed, petting at Joe’s hair. “I told you you would break.”
“No!” Joe insisted, rising to look Nicky in the eyes. He looked thrilled, grin breaking his features, one hand perched lightly on Joe’s side. Nicky gave him his best you asked for this frown, to which... there really was nothing to say. He only wished his attempts at menace in their scenes weren't so hopelessly cliché. Nicky had learned how to use his words in bed over time; at these moments it seemed he put all that knowledge away, and it was both endearing and extremely irritating—and absolutely impossible to hold out against. “That does not count. That totally doesn’t count.”
“You did not specify any rules about what we cannot say. The battle of our tongues? If anything was unfair, it was that.”
Joe grinned. “I hoped that would be the one.” He grinned and leaned in to kiss Nicky again, though with a little less of the aggression now that their game was won. Next time, he would win. Nicky’s hands were light on his side, and he squeezed Joe’s ass quickly before pulling away to go further up the bed. “Fine, fine, you win. How do you want me?” he mumbled, pulling away, and Nicky smirked.
“I want to ride you.”
He had few complaints about that. “You know,” Joe said, as Nicky pulled the lube from the side-table. There was oil beside it, and Joe was—actually rather glad that they had not made it so far before one of them broke. Lube was preferable in nearly every way. “This was not how the evening was supposed to go.”
Nicky snorted and reached for him. Joe went, lying on his back and stretching beside him, rubbing at his side. “You derailed all of my plans when you brought up the duel.” Yusuf sighed. He really never should have said it; he had sensed, even then, Nicolò’s wish to put this off until the morning; he was always fine with waiting, and making Joe wait, anticipation adding to the effect. But duels were a completely different fantasy, and not the one Joe had wanted.
“What were you going to do?” he asked, reaching to squeeze the slick onto his own fingers, gasping at the temperature. He rubbed his hands together as Nicky turned to hover over him, pressing warm kisses into his neck.
Nicky nipped at his collarbone, teeth only grazing skin. “I was going to suck your cock, and then fuck you through getting hard again—so you would be too tired to fight in the morning, of course.” Joe swallowed, stopping. Nicky looked up at him. “Joe?”
“Yeah,” he said, then swallowed again to clear the thickness in his throat. Nicky’s concern turned back to smugness. “Shit, yeah. That sounds great.”
“Next time,” Nicky said, just before Joe dragged him back to his mouth. He could feel, still, the ghost of Nicky’s grin against him for a moment before he was wrapped up again in him, moaning as Joe pressed a slick finger against his rim.
When he pulled away, Yusuf glared at Nicolò. “Next time?” he asked, (deepening his voice for effect. Nicolò’s eyes darkened, a scowl taking over the set of his jaw, because he was the perfect man.) “You assume too much, Prince Nicolò.”
Nicolò gasped and arched his back as Yusuf worked a finger into him. “Whatever tonight portends, Prince Yusuf, I am quite certain that you will never find satisfaction again with any other man.”
“No,” Yusuf said, mood darkening at the thought that it was perhaps true—but if so, he would make it quite the same for Nicolò, too. Such chances would not come twice, and Yusuf intended to make the best use of this one. “Then I must be sure to ruin you for any other as well.”
Nicolò was tight and warm around his finger, fidgeting around him, twitching and clenching. Their cocks pushed together, and Nicolò grabbed both, rubbing them together. There was little slick on them, and yet the friction felt delicious, along the warmth of his grip, the certainty with which Nicolò used them both.
Yusuf pressed another finger into him. “Good?” he asked, and Nicky nodded, clenching around him. His back arched, and Yusuf leaned up to pinch his nipple. “You are very wanton, Prince. Are you quite certain you do not wish to forfeit to your pleasure now?”
“Never!” he gasped, though the effect was quite ruined by the grin on his features. “This lasts until you can no longer take it.” Joe laughed, then stopped as abruptly as he had begun, when Nicky let out a breathy flutter of a moan.
“More, Joe—I mean. Stop wasting my time and fuck me, lest I lose patience and do it myself,” Prince Nicolò snapped. Just for that, Yusuf twisted his fingers around, reaching further to the point that would destroy his ability to speech. Nicolò groaned again, clenching around his fingers the way Yusuf suspected he would around his cock. He eased his fingers slowly from him, and squeezed the slick onto his cock, groaning when Nicolò rubbed it into him. He was so hard it nearly hurt, and his body thrummed with it, every part ripe with sensation. For all his bravado, Yusuf was perhaps as far gone as Nicolò, and without even the excuse of his mouth to aid hiM.
“Go on, then,” Yusuf bit out. “Fuck yourself on my cock.”
Nicolò squeezed his brows together, one hand falling to Yusuf’s neck as he lowered himself onto Yusuf’s cock. This angle would make Yusuf feel immense, he knew; in turn, Nicolò was as a vice round him, a trap, holding onto him with a perfect heat that he would never escape now that he knew the feel of. It was through all the control he had learned in his life that he did not spill the moment he was buried within him.
Nicolò rose, his thighs clenching beautifully with it, a display of strength and muscle, beautiful even for one so hated—and lowered himself quicker, crying out as he did. Ruined, he thought, he was ruined. “You were made for this, Prince Nicolò,” Yusuf tried. “I assure you, I have seen you perform better at no other task. You ought to sit on my cock forever.”
Nicky laughed, and Joe glared at him, thrust up, mostly for the sweet vindication of seeing him yelp.
In turn, Nicolò clenched around him, and leaned forward to pinch his nipples—but the shift brought a groan from his own lips. Yusuf felt consumed, lost to sensation, his head burying as far into his pillow as he could manage, his back arching for the right moment, the right spot, the perfect—
“Come, Prince Yusuf, give yourself over. I am a very patient man, and I can keep you this way all night if I must, but victory will be mine.”
Joe huffed at him, and wrapped his own fist around Nicolò’s leaking cock, felt the heat in his stare, felt the moment that he began to tighten. Yusuf was very, very good at this, after all—and Joe could be competitive, too. He grabbed Nicolò’s hips with one hand, and planted his feet on the bedding, thrusting up to meet him just as he came down. Nicolò’s answering groan was a heady thing, his head leaning forward, the panting breaths of exertion making it clear how very close he was. Yusuf thrust up again, running his slicked fingers up Nicolò’s cock, tightening his grip in that way that he—thought Nicolò would like.
Nicolò clenched around him as he came, grip on Yusuf’s shoulder turning tight to the point of pain. Yusuf fucked him through it, let his own control slip—but Nicolò, the devil, was sharper than he had expected, and with a sharp frustrated noise, clenched around Yusuf’s cock, tensed his muscles just so, until—
He came with a curse, all the tension that Nicolò had drawn forth with the point of his knife releasing at once, shudders taking over—that Nicolò guided him through, the heat and pressure of him now sharp to the point of overstimulation, Yusuf’s senses taken entirely over. Nicolò pulled himself off him in a movement far too sudden, and leaned down to capture Yusuf’s mouth, a mesh of teeth and tongues and hands and warmth.
When he blinked his eyes open, Nicolò had pulled himself free, and was leaning on top of him. “Good?” he asked.
Joe blinked drowsily at him. “Great. Come here.” Nicky grinned and came back in for a peck more than a kiss, before lying down on his side. He wiped at some of the come staining his thighs with Yusuf’s shirt, but seemed otherwise rather comfortable. Yusuf, who still felt like he was seeing stars, only smiled sleepily at him as he settled, one hand on his chest, the other under his head. “Victory is mine,” he growled in his Prince-Yusuf tone, and Nicky laughed, eyes sparkling.
“Why do I still feel as if I won?”
Joe cooed. “Aw, babe, all my victories are yours anyway.”
Nicky smirked. “I will remind you of that next time.” Joe huffed—he was going to make it through whatever Nicky had planned next time, with no mention of duels. “We should duel in the morning anyway,” Nicky said, as if he had read Joe’s mind. “I believe Princes Nicolò and Yusuf would enjoy very much to, what was it? Bodies pressing against the other until one emerges—” he broke off with a yelp when Joe pinched his side.
“Are you making fun of my narration?”
Nicky pulled a face. “Never, my love. And absolutely.”
Joe laughed, a swell of fondness taking over his chest, and leaned in to kiss him.