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call to yourself

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Joe arrives back in Montreal by himself in early December. The others aren’t far behind, booked on different international flights over a few days after a highly publicized job aiding pipeline protesters in the US. Copley had been up all night clearing photos and videos across a myriad of social medias, but temporarily splitting up had still been the best call.

Joe doesn’t mind the break.

Clouds slowly move in overhead as his cab from the airport pulls up to the apartment building. On the curb as the taxi motors away, he breathes deeply and tilts his head back, cool air biting at his nose, the sky above inky blue with the early hour. A dusting of snow gathering on his shoulders. He smiles and palms the key in his coat pocket.

Inside, the apartment is a tad dusty, musty smelling, so he drops his bag in his and Nicky’s room and proceeds to spend a couple of hours tidying. Turning up the thermostats and refreshing bed sheets, making a quick trip to the corner shop for toilet paper and dish soap and the like.

He’s sipping on coffee and surveying the kitchen when his phone rings.


“Ciao.” Nicky sounds sleep-warm, muffled. Probably still in his (their) hotel bed. It’s still earlier for him with the time difference.

“Hi, love,” Joe answers fondly. “How are you?”

“Tired and looking forward to a vacation.”

Joe nods in agreement to himself – it’s been a long month.

“Soon,” he says. “When’s your flight?”

“I arrive at eight in the morning.”

“Perfect. I’m grabbing the rental car later today, I’ll come and get you.”

“Joe,” Nicky sighs. “You won’t be awake.”

“I managed today’s flight just fine. Anyway, for you, I would wake up at any hour,” Joe counters, smiling into his coffee. “I’ll be waiting.”


“Guilty as charged.” He sets his mug in the sink. “Rest up today, okay? I’ll see you soon.”

“Soon,” Nicky murmurs. “Alright. I love you.”

“As I love you.”

They hang up simultaneously.

As the day passes by and more chores get checked off Joe’s mental list, snow continues to accumulate outside. The forecast had shown it clearing the next morning before starting up again the next evening, so he’s not concerned for Nicky’s arrival, instead enjoys the comforting sense of being warm and safe indoors as the outside world is gradually blanketed.

He shrugs on his coat at around lunchtime and heads out. Walks for the main street and treats himself to a bagel, munching quickly as he meanders closer to the rental lot he’d looked up on his phone the day before. Luckily, he has no problems with his reservation and soon has the keys to a 2013 blue Subaru. It’s sturdy. He likes it. He’s driving cautiously back to the apartment as slush starts to build up on the roads when something familiar catches his eye.

The same sex shop he and Nicky have visited before. It’s open, and he doesn’t have anything else to do for the afternoon, so he pulls over and parks out front.

Inside, the space is just as lovely and tidy as he remembers. Jazzy music playing, a few dildos wearing little Santa hats, and he’s the only customer at the moment.

“Bonjour,” an older woman calls. She’s unboxing something by a shelf. “Can I help you find anything?”

Joe matches her French, putting a Quebecois spin on his accent.

“Just looking, thanks,” he says. “I’ll let you know if I have any questions.”

She gives a friendly smile and turns back to her task, and Joe himself wanders further into the shop, drawn over to a wall display of vibrators. Hums to himself, considering, and reaches for one of the sample models.


About half an hour later, he parks in the assigned space behind their building and turns off the engine. Heads quickly to the back door, since the snow is really coming down now, and kicks his boots clean before stepping inside and toeing them off. He leaves them by the radiator to dry and jogs upstairs. A cup of tea wouldn’t be unwelcome, and, while waiting for the kettle to boil, he scrolls through a couple of outstanding texts.

From Nicky, Miss you

And he calls Joe the incurable one.

From Nile, Andy broke the ice machine outside our room. Like, how

From Andy, still alive?

He answers in order:

I love you

Sounds about right. Pics?

Yes, boss <3

The kettle whistles, and he leaves the teabag in his cup to steep as he retreats to the bedroom, intent on digging out a book, one of the many he knows Nicky has stashed in the nightstand on his side of the bed. He lounges right into the center of the mattress with a loosely-knit blanket tucked around his feet and holds his mug to his chest and starts in on a collection of Coleridge poems he’s definitely read a hundred times before.

Sighs, and wiggles further into the pillows.

Sleep finds him easily.

Later, he wakes with the sky outside turning dark and orangey, city lights reflecting off fresh snow to create an eerily comforting glow. He has a few more texts, too. A little heart emoji from Nicky that Nile no doubt helped him find. A picture of a leaking ice machine that might have been kicked but Joe can’t confirm. Nothing from Andy, of course, allergic to non-emergency communication as she is.

Phone set aside, Joe closes his eyes; lazy doesn’t begin to cover how he feels right then. Eyelids heavy, breath slow and soft, feet toasty. Interestingly, a small stirring between his legs, and he rolls his head over to glance at the paper bag standing upright on the dresser.


Ten minutes later, the smaller of his purchases unpackaged and cleaned and wiped dry, Joe flops back in his nest and tucks his hand under the waistband of his underwear. Drags the smooth curve of the toy along his inner thighs, under his balls, and up his half-hardened shaft, just enjoying the cool touch of it at first. He finds the nub on the end of the bullet and clicks it once, and it buzzes to life in his hand.

He grins to himself and settles in for the ride.

For a while, just teasing. He ghosts the tip of it over his hips and lower belly, up and under his sweater to experimentally touch a nipple, before returning down to find the base of his growing erection. It tingles, there, a kind of distant feeling awakening his entire pelvic region and pulling a light moan from his lips. It’s then easy to move his hand up and to lie the toy lengthwise against himself, the end just kissing the nerves under the head of his cock, and that. Oh. That’ll do it.

Keeps it there a while, chest rising and falling. Folds his knees up and lets them tip outward as he clicks onto the next setting, the vibrations growing stronger. More quickly than usual, release builds, and he digs his feet into the duvet, rolls his hips, bedclothes brushing sensitive skin, and the vibrator is constant, insistent, unrelenting, driving him higher and higher still, and it’s gonna feel so fucking good when he-

His phone rings.

“Shit,” Joe gasps, yanked back to reality. Orgasm had definitely been within his reach. But he can’t ignore a call. He scrambles for the device on the nightstand, clicks the vibrator off at the same time and tries to slow his exhales enough to give a short, “Yes?”


It’s Nicky. Thank fuck, it’s Nicky.

“Nico,” he breathes. “Hey.”

“Are you out for a run?”

“No, no. I’m at home. I’m in our bed.” He huffs a laugh. “You’ve caught me in a, uh… compromising position.”


His toes curl with the intonation of that one word. Promising. Of course Nicky is immediately with the program.

“I see,” he continues. “Would you like to be left to it?”

And Joe’s face crumples into a smile because he’ll never not love Nicky’s willingness to accommodate his desires. And sometimes, like earlier, those desires are to have a moment of self-indulgent sensuality. A moment with his own body, a moment to make love to himself.

But now. Now he has Nicky’s voice within reach.

“You can stay.”

And at that, Nicky makes a pleased sound. “What are you doing? Describe it all to me.”

Joe’s belly clenches. “I’m naked,” he replies, resting his head back and stretching out his spine and limbs. “The lights are on low and I made the bed with that duvet, the big fluffy one. I’m lying in the middle of it. Heat’s on high. I’m so warm.”

“Are you touching yourself?”

“Kind of.”


“I went back to the store.”

“Ah.” Nicky’s voice lilts with understanding. “And what did you buy yourself, my love?”

“Two vibrators,” Joe confesses. He holds up the smaller one he’d been playing with, rolling it between his fingers. “A bullet. It’s light blue, smooth. Fits perfectly along my cock.”

“And the other?”

“A wand,” Joe says, sheepish. “Just like our old one.”

And Nicky chuckles. “Excellent choices, tesoro.”

“I’m saving the wand for when you get here.”

“Good,” and Joe flushes. Nicky then asks, “Where is the first one, now?”

“I’m holding it in my hand.”

“Is it on?”

“Not right now.”

“Then turn it on,” Nicky instructs gently, “and hold it under the head of your cock. I want you to keep it there and tell me what it feels like.”

Swallowing, Joe clicks the button at the end, listens as soft buzzing once again fills the room, and hesitates only once before tucking the length of the toy against himself. He groans quietly.

“Sensitive?” Nicky asks, having caught Joe’s involuntary noise.

“Yeah. Ah. I was playing with it before you called.” He screws his eyes shut, feet flexing. “It’s a lot.”

“I know it is,” Nicky soothes him. “I want you to keep it there. Let the toy do its job. Keep it pressed onto your cock where you can’t escape it.”

“Nicky, fuck,” Joe chokes, because that’s not an easy task to ask of him. The focused vibrations travel through his entire groin, unforgiving right against his cock head and sending him on a steady climb towards something big and overwhelming. He wants to shy away from it even as he greedily wants more; mostly, he wants to follow Nicky’s instructions.


“What do you feel?”

“It’s so intense,” Joe mutters. “It’s so much, I’m so hard, baby, please-”

“You’re so good,” Nicky tells him lovingly. “Relax and let it build between your legs. Spread them wider for me, hm? Put yourself on display for me.”

And Joe does as he’s asked, letting his thighs fall further open, so open, as he twitches and stutters and clenches his way towards release. He was so close beforehand, this was never going to last long.

“It’s gonna- I’m gonna-”

“You’re going to come?”


“You’re going to come just from that vibrator touching your cock?”

“Yes, Nicky, I am, I- I’m- Oh God.” His breath catches, back arching. “Fuck, oh, fuckfuckfuck-”

“Come on, Joe, let go for me.

And he does.

And it lasts for a fucking age. Doesn’t peak and fall, instead crests and stays there, his body dragged along a high precipice of pleasure, one elongated pulse, and his mouth is open, entire body tight, and the vibrator can’t tire, won’t stop unless told to, and he cries out and presses down with his palm to push the toy harder against himself and his body is turning inside out and it goes on and on and on.

Eventually, he gasps and tosses the bullet onto the bedspread, switching it off at the last second. And then his panting is the only sound in the room as he twitches with delicious and surprisingly strong aftershocks. Presses his knees together and gives his softening dick a loving squeeze.

His phone knocks his cheek, reminding him of its presence.

“I wish I could have seen that,” Nicky whispers.

Joe exhales, long, calming his heart. “You will. If I remember anything about the wand, you’ll make me cry with it.”

“It’s a promise,” Nicky says, low and intent.

Tomorrow can’t come soon enough.


The next morning, in the midst of a bustling airport, Joe swears his jaw actually cracks, he yawns that widely. Someone nearby gives him a furtive look. He just shakes himself and downs more coffee, hot and black, the best Tim Hortons has to offer.

He’d promised Nicky he’d be there and he truly can’t wait to hold the love of his life, but his brain definitely isn’t up to speed. He blinks drowsily as he gazes up at the arrivals board. Nicky’s flight had touched down about eight minutes ago. Anytime, now.

A few minutes later, he’s still standing idly, attention wandering, arms crossed over his chest with his caffeine held close to his face, when his focus is instantly drawn to a familiar silhouette. He’d never not know Nicky just from a fleeting glimpse across a milling crowd.

Still far away, Nicky smiles, small and private despite the setting, and pulls his duffel higher on his shoulder as he strides closer. Joe walks a few steps, pulled by his personal gravity, and soon Nicky tugs him close with his free arm, the coffee held safe between them as they slow and linger in a greeting kiss.

“You came,” Nicky says, teasing and delighted.

“You doubted me?”

And Nicky’s smile pulls wider at one corner. He plucks Joe’s coffee from his fingers and drinks, eyes dancing over the top of the cup. After, he kisses Joe’s cheek and says, “Not for a moment, of course.” Grumbling half-heartedly, Joe steals back the cup, tosses it in a nearby bin, and steers Nicky towards the exit with a hand on his back.

They’ve been apart hardly a day and a half, so there isn’t much to catch up on during the trip back from the airport. Joe drives and Nicky watches the city pass by, clearly tired, head bobbing as he catches himself, and Joe has to continuously remind himself to watch the road instead of the adorable fluttering of eyelashes as his husband fights to stay awake.

Inside the apartment, Joe takes the bag from him.

“Shower,” he says. “And then nap.”

“What about-” A break for a yawn. After, Nicky blinks, dazed. “What about lunch?”

“I’ll take care of it,” Joe replies. Fits an affectionate hand to Nicky's cheek briefly. “Go on.”

He doesn’t require much nudging in the end, soon disappearing down the hall without protest. As the shower starts, Joe goes to the bedroom and unpacks Nicky’s things, refolding clothes in drawers, setting toiletries on top. Two ragged paperbacks go on the nightstand, as does a small bottle of moisturizer and a lip balm because his heart is famously sensitive about cold climates and interior heating and had clearly planned ahead. As he always does.

“I missed this place,” a voice drifts in from the doorway. Joe glances over his shoulder and smiles.

“Yeah. Me too.”

“We had fun last time.”

“We definitely did.” He turns fully and welcomes Nicky when he steps right close. He smells clean and refreshed, drops of water sitting delicately in the dips of his collarbones, and Joe finds his eyes tender when he looks up. Finds his lips pinked and parted.

Words dissolve in his throat, so he dips into Nicky’s space, noses brushing, and kisses his mouth. Goes slowly, working his lips open, shivering at the first touch of their tongues, listening as Nicky sighs into it and runs broad hands down Joe’s sides.

“Later, hm?” he mumbles into Joe’s cheek. “I’ll nap, we’ll eat. And then…”

“And then,” Joe agrees, distracted. “Yeah.” He pulls back and clears his throat. “I’ll be in the kitchen.”

And Nicky lets him go, trailing a palm down his arm as he steps past, simmering heat in his expression as Joe slips from sight.


He gives Nicky a couple of hours to rest but is entirely too preoccupied to do any cooking. Instead, he goes for a walk and picks up a bottle of wine. He finds an Italian grocer and buys some parmesan. Ducks into a pharmacy and gets a bottle of lube – not their favourite type, but it’ll do in a pinch. Better to stay topped up in the long run.

Back at the apartment, Nicky is up and standing at the kitchen counter, the scent of freshly ground coffee beans reaching Joe’s nose, the gurgling of the percolator reaching his ears. With his wares placed on the island, he drapes his coat over a chair and plasters himself to Nicky’s back.

“I see you took care of lunch,” Nicky comments, amusement colouring his tone.

“Shush.” Joe rubs his nose behind Nicky’s ear. His scent is perfectly familiar, right there. “I bought wine and cheese.”

“Mm. All we need.”

Easy as anything, Nicky turns and puts dry palms to Joe’s cheeks.

“I took a look at your new toys,” he murmurs. “The things I want to do you to are positively indecent.”

Joe’s lips part. “Intriguing.”

“Yes, very.” Nicky’s eyes turn dark, hot. “I imagined you at my mercy. Strung out as I made you come, you were delirious with pleasure. Squirming and crying out for me.”

Joe digs fingers into Nicky’s chest, shivers skittering across his skin.

“It’s been so long,” Nicky continues, tilting Joe’s head to one side, “since we’ve played.” He places a single deliberate kiss to the thin skin of Joe’s neck. “What do you think?”

And Joe exhales shakily, entire body alight.

“I think we have twenty-four hours to make the most of having the place to ourselves,” he says, tugging Nicky away from the counter. “And that you should take me to bed.”

Nicky reaches behind himself to turn off the stove burner, raises an eyebrow, and lets himself be tugged away from the counter towards the bedroom. Once there, they waste little time shedding clothing and kneeling on the bed, pressed thigh to hip to chest, kissing at a leisurely pace undercut with anticipation.

Nicky’s forearm slips around Joe’s lower back, strong, and he drops the words into the shell of his ear: “It would be fun to see how many times you can come.”

Eyes fluttering, Joe tilts his chin as Nicky mouths under his jaw. “Uh huh.”

“But I think it would be more fun to make you wait.”

“Mmph.” Joe grips Nicky’s shoulders: his favourite place to grip. “Rope?”

“One moment.”

With a folded length of the red rope, Nicky completes a tie they haven’t used often. Creates a belt around Joe’s waist and cuffs his wrists there, arms pinned against his sides. He has a little leeway, enough to straighten his elbows, but not enough to reach anywhere useful, and since he can’t catch his own weight, Nicky helps him to lie down.

Rearing back and sitting on his heels, he gives Joe the slowest appraising once-over. “Perfect,” he concludes, and Joe lets the praise wash through him.

The wand isn’t far, tucked into the infamous sock drawer. The cord is plugged into an outlet nearby, and Nicky returns between Joe’s thighs with the toy in hand. Tests the weight of it across his fingers thoughtfully.

“Did you try it?” he asks.

“Just in the store, against my hand,” Joe replies, eyes fixed to the silicon head he knows will make him lose his mind. “Four settings.”

“We’ll start with the first, then.” But before he presses any buttons, Nicky takes his dry palm and ghosts it up and down Joe’s cock. “I need you hard for me.”

It doesn’t take long, of course, with Nicky gorgeously naked and Joe tied, at his mercy. Dim light curls around the gentle planes of Nicky’s chest, and snow falls once again outside the window behind him, and Joe might melt into a content puddle with the warm sense of security dripping down his limbs as Nicky delicately and knowingly coaxes him to arousal.

He drifts enough that the buzz of the wand is a distant surprise. A moment after, the head is placed at the base of his erection, nudging his balls.

Joe’s mouth drops open. It’s a different sensation than with the bullet. Deeper, more rumbly, less focused. Almost like a massage.

“There,” Nicky murmurs. He idly moves the toy from side to side around the base of Joe’s cock, and Joe breathes out hard through his nose, and then-

Nicky takes the toy away.

“Shit,” Joe whispers, shifting his hips. “This is how it’s going to be?”

“This is how it’s going to be,” Nicky confirms, smiling a little. “Yes?”

“Oh, yes.”

And he puts the toy back in the same spot.

Over the course of long minutes (hours? Joe isn’t sure), he moves the wand around experimentally, finding the places that make Joe’s body tense, the sensitive spots that make him shiver, that make his dick twitch involuntarily. Finds his inner thighs near his knees, an interesting place low on Joe’s belly just where his hair begins to grow coarse, and, with a gleam in his eyes, the hidden space just under his balls.

There, he ups the setting, and pushes firmly.

“Fuck,” Joe spits, a leg kicking out uselessly. “Oh, that’s-”

“Looks like it feels good,” Nicky comments lightly. He grinds the toy further in, and Joe can feel the vibrations up to the top of his spine.

“It’s so good, Nicky, damnit.” Unable to do anything but surrender, Joe flops his head back on the pillow and plants his feet on the bed. Keens when the toy is lifted away, again, and shudders as Nicky pets soothingly at his flank.

Sheer anticipation of the next round almost makes it worse, which is why he really has to bite down on something loud when the wand nudges into the same place once again. It’s so fucking unyielding and steady, he really feels like he could come at any moment if only Nicky would move his hand just a bit, palm his dick, give him a relieving stroke-

“No,” he moans when Nicky leaves him bereft once more. Begs, “Please, Nico.”

“Please what?”

“Please, please, put it back. Touch me, do anything.”

“Hm.” Turning off the wand for a moment, Nicky sets it aside and then places his hands gently on Joe’s hips, framing his leaking cock. “I believe I promised something, though. Do you remember what that was?”

“Uh.” Joe blinks hard at the ceiling and tries to sort through fuzzy thoughts. “You- Oh. I said…” He trails off, lowering his chin to meet Nicky’s gaze.

Nicky nods. “You said I’d make you cry with it. And I said it was a promise.”

Joe presses his lips together, hard. A fine tremor runs through his legs.

“Do it,” he rasps.

And the wand clicks on. And Nicky pushes Joe’s thigh further out of the way and holds the head of the wand just above his hole and presses it right there and leans over him, pinning him, ignoring his squirming-

Stares him down with loving, steely eyes.

And Joe sobs.


Evening finds them in the living room, lights off, curtains wide open. Silent and soft, snow still falls past the window and Joe is totally cushioned by the comfort of his lover at his back and the satisfaction of sex and the cadence of Nicky’s breath as they lounge on the sofa. On the coffee table, half-finished wine from the nearest dépanneur (they'd finished Joe's nicer bottle quickly, sharing it in the afterglow) and a platter of pita and falafel delivered by a local college student braving the weather on a mountain bike.

They’d tipped handsomely.

“You know,” Joe says, as quietly as he can. “We could live here.”

Nicky snuffles, nose in Joe’s hair. “Next summer?”

“More like… after.”

After always meaning when immortality finally shakes their hands in farewell and moves on, leaving them to exist peacefully and easily until the end. The only way Joe will have it.

“Ah.” Nicky holds him more tightly. “We could, yes.”

“We could summer here, winter in Malta. Vice versa once in a while, just to shake things up.”

“I would like that.”

“Mm.” He traces Nicky’s ankle bone with a socked toe. “For now, though…”

“For now,” Nicky murmurs in agreement.

For now, it’s snowing, and Joe is seconds from falling asleep, safe in this sacred little piece of the universe, and so he turns his head into the curve of Nicky’s arm and does exactly that.