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year and a day

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The team is tired. It’s obvious in the scents that have been crowding the locker-room, the bus, and now the plane. Roman is slumped against Shea’s shoulder, headphones askew, putting out his own muted scent—like tea gone cold. Shea would be more worried about it if they didn’t have the following day off. It’s hard, on circus trips, to really look after Roman the way he wants to. Sleeping, showering, and eating separately when the time pressure’s too much. He can tell by the way Roman’s clutching at his sweater, fingers knotted in the hem, that it’s been hard on him, too.

They just need time to reset, get back into routine. Shea wraps his arm around Roman a little tighter and covers his hand with his own.

-

Shea wakes up with Roman tucked against his chest and their legs entwined. He’s breathing softly, scent of ginger and neroli clinging to his hair and skin. It feels good to lie there and watch Roman sleep, but the dogs are going to start whining soon and Shea’s going to have to take them out. Roman will be here when he gets back, but it’s only a small comfort in the face of getting up.

He touches just above Roman’s collar, the thin strip of leather. Roman shifts against him, murmuring something soft and formless, before stilling again. Shea drags the pad of his thumb across his adam’s apple and the rough-textured skin there, Roman’s breath stuttering. His scent changes and the sweet smell of honey blooms, bubbling tea. Roman tips his head back against the pillows and lets out a quiet groan.

“Roman,” Shea whispers, lips to his ear. “Roman, you awake?”

He slips his thumb around to the front of his collar and tugs at the clasp. Roman sucks in a sharp breath, but he doesn’t say anything.

Shea tugs again and he can feel Roman shiver against him. “Roman,” he says, voice a clear command, “you awake or not?”

Roman swallows. “Ich… I’m awake.”

He keeps two fingers hooked underneath Roman’s collar and trails his other hand down his stomach. He stops when he reaches Roman’s pyjama pants, the flannel well-worn underneath his palm. He toys with the waistband, but dips lower in favour of cupping Roman’s half-hard cock. Roman rocks his hips up to meet Shea and he lets out a low keen. Scent spiking sticky-sweet. He does it again when he’s met with no reprimand.

“Mmm,” Shea says, “Just like that, yeah. Lemme see how much you want it.”

Roman nods tightly, head still held in place. “Ja, ich.” He reaches down for Shea’s other hand and positions it at his waistband. “Can I? Can you, please?” he asks, voice breathy.

Shea kisses just behind his ear. “‘Course,” he says. “Been so good this week.”

Roman lets out a contented sigh when Shea pushes his way into his boxers, cock hard and warm. Roman’s leaking pre-come and, when he slips his hand down a little further, he can feel the slick gathering at Roman’s hole. Shea wets his fingers with it, the flat of his palm, before moving to wrap his hand around Roman’s cock. Roman fucks up into it immediately, one foot planted on the bed. Revels in the litany of sounds Roman’s making, little gasps and breath-catches.

It doesn’t take long for Roman’s scent to change into something thick and desperate, filling the room with melting sugar. Shea tightens his fist and bites gently at Roman’s collar. Roman lets out a broken moan, hips jackrabbiting as he comes. Shea works him through it and keeps going until Roman starts trying to pull away from him, cock oversensitive.

Red marks are starting to form around Roman’s neck, tension of his collar and Shea’s hold. He slips them out to turn over and wipe his other hand clean on the corner of the sheet. Roman’s turned to face him now and he looks sleepy and content, eyes half-lidded. He kisses Shea when he rolls closer, hand coming up to rest on his shoulder.

“What was that for?”

Shea stretches out on his back, holding his arm out for Roman. “I woke up a little bit early and didn’t feel like taking the dogs out yet. Figured I could make the most of our time in bed.”

Roman snorts. “Yeah, okay. We’ve got the whole day for that.”

“Yeah, we do,” Shea says, running his hand through the hair at the nape of Roman’s neck. “But it doesn’t hurt to get a headstart.”

“I’m not gonna complain about freebies. Or spending all day in bed with you.”

Shea sighs. “I was serious about taking the dogs out. Unless you want to do it?”

Roman picks his head up off of Shea’s chest, eyes narrowed.

Shea groans. “Fine.” He shifts, moving Roman over to the other set of pillows. He misses his warmth almost immediately, especially when he sits up. “I’m gonna go. Before they come scratching.”

Roman sprawls out across the mattress, arms just short of spanning the width of the bed. “If you have to.”

Shea bites his lip. “I have to.”

-

Shea keeps a tight hold of Dug and Rod’s leashes when he opens the front door. They’re tugging, insistent, already looking to be fed. Shea manages to keep them in the mud-room with a sharp whistle. He finds their towel at the bottom of the closet, tucked between a pair of Roman’s boots and his sandals. He snaps his fingers at Dug, squatting down and patting his thigh, and rewards him with scritches behind both ears when he holds out his paw. He carefully wipes the rain off of his paws and does the same for Rod, quick and easy, before letting them off-leash.

Roman’s sitting at the table, coffee in hand, when Shea catches up with them. His hair is mussed and the neck of his shirt is askew. He has his iPad out and open to some Swiss site, German magnified on-screen. He gestures at the coffee machine, the drip-style one Shea insists on keeping, saying, “Es hätt gnueg.”

The pot’s half-full and Shea says, “Dankä,” in return. He can feel the flush that’s threatening to break out across his cheeks, the bridge of his nose, but he’s trying.

Roman tips his head back, grin bright, and gestures at Shea with his free hand. The clasp of his collar glints as Shea walks closer and he leans down to kiss Roman, lips warm against his own. Still a little sleepy when he says, “Bitte.”

He drops another kiss to Roman’s temple before turning toward the pantry to find food for the dogs. They’re waiting patiently at their bowls when Shea comes back and he mets out food despite two wandering noses. When he’s done, he walks over to Roman, reaching for the cup he’s still got in his hand. He takes a slow pull, a little too sweet for his taste, and sets it back down. Roman’s eyes are wide, mouth parted, as Shea pulls him into standing.

The kitchen smells of honey and liquid sugar, stronger at the pulse-point settled tightly under Roman’s jaw. Shea inhales deeply, tipping Roman’s head to the side for better access. It’s become one of Shea’s favourite scents, trust and warmth wrapped around each other, and it makes it difficult for Shea to let go. “Shower. I’ll be up as soon as I’m finished here. Don’t take your clothes off.”

Roman nods and says, “Okay,” quietly into Shea’s collarbone. Breath hot where it fans out across his skin.

Shea closes the cover on Roman’s iPad and drops his cup in the sink. He refills the dogs’ water dishes and checks to see that they’re still in the living room. He doesn’t like being interrupted when they’re going through their morning routine. It took him long enough to understand what Roman wanted and what he needed.

The light’s on in the en-suite when Shea gets upstairs and Roman’s standing in the centre of the bathroom, chin tilted down toward his chest. His back’s to Shea and his scent changes, acknowledging.

He looks perfect.

He puts his hands on Roman’s shoulders and smooths the palms of his hands over the shape of them, moving down to his waist. “Up,” he says, and Roman raises his arms without question, lets Shea pull off his t-shirt. It gets caught on his collar, but he thumbs it back into place, pulled up a little too high to be comfortable.

He gets Roman to kick off his sweats before nodding to the shower. “I’ll be in, just give me a sec.”

Roman hums his agreement and steps in, surrounded by smooth glass and tile. Shea traces the lean lines of his body, the curve of his ass, as he pulls off his own clothes. Roman watches, little smirk pulling at the corners of his mouth. He leans back into Shea readily when he curls around him to reach for the taps, hot water rushing out. Droplets running down the length of Roman’s torso.

He nudges Roman further underneath the water, reaching for the shampoo and lathers up his hands. Roman ducks a little so that Shea can work the soap through his hair. Lets out a little sigh as Shea carefully massages behind his ears, over the crown of his head. He lets Shea push his head forward, water flushing out the last of the soap. Loose against Shea as he grabs the body wash, slicking up his hands in shifts, and works over all of Roman’s skin. He gets to his knees to wash Roman’s feet, breath going tight at the blissed-out look on his face.

He gets into standing position with Roman’s help and Shea sits him down on the bench before he starts on his own routine. Shea inhales deeply, holding the taste of honeysuckle between his tongue and the roof of his mouth. When he opens his eyes, Roman’s legs are spread wide and he’s got a hand on his hip, tracing idle patterns over the muscle there. Mouth curved up and wicked.

Shea ducks in close to Roman, feigning a kiss, and slaps hard at the inside of his thigh. His foot brushes against Shea’s ankle and the smile drops off his face, lips parted in a groan. Shea threads his fingers into Roman’s hair, says, “On your knees. Get me hard.”

Roman slides to his knees gracefully and pushes his face into the join of Shea’s hip and pubic bone. He bites lightly at the skin there and sucks hard, laving his tongue over the fresh-blooming mark. He dips his head a bit lower and continues down the inside of Shea’s thigh, little bites and hard pressure. Shea tips his head back at the feeling, encouraging. Roman keeps his hands tight on Shea’s hips, moving down toward his knee, these beautiful little sucking sounds. Shea’s definitely interested, cock twitching, but he’s nowhere near fully hard yet, and he pulls sharply at Roman’s hair to let him know.

Roman grins up at him and sits up higher on his knees to get his mouth around the head of Shea’s cock. Shea groans at the sensation, little sparks flickering through his body, and pushes his hips forward. Roman takes his cock easily, mouth sliding further down the shaft. Shea keeps hold of his hair, but he doesn’t direct him any more than that, letting Roman work at his own pace. He’s caught on so quick—fingers scratching through Shea’s pubic hair, suction tight and controlled. Shea loosens a hand and drops it down to the corner of Roman’s mouth, pulling at it, before moving lower. Down to his collar.

Roman moans around his cock and the vibrations are enough to make Shea’s hips stutter. He hooks two fingers into Roman’s collar, slick with warm water, and tugs. It makes Roman choke and Shea’s cock twitches to full hardness. Shea eases Roman off of his cock, then, pulling him back with a soft hand. His eyes are slit and his mouth is swollen. Dark and red, Roman licks over his bottom lip.

“What else do you want? What can I do?” he asks.

Shea takes his cock in hand, palm twisting flat over the head. It feels good, but it’s not enough to make him come. Roman watches raptly, looking between Shea’s cock and his face. Shea widens his stance a little, feet shifting on the tile. “Just stay like that for me, okay?”

He spits in his hand, adding to the wetness of Roman’s mouth, the shower, and works his cock hard and fast. Foreskin pushing up over the head of his cock with every upstroke. Roman stays wonderfully still, face upturned, hand on the outside curve of Shea’s knee. His scent, though—it’s completely out-of-control and Shea knows, he knows Roman’s doing it on purpose. Letting it fill up every corner of the room, sweet and sticky. His grip is just the right side of painful and too much and he comes looking down at Roman, watching the way his mouth opens. Come striping across his cheek, his jaw.

Shea watches dazedly as Roman swallows, gathers the remaining come with his fingers and sucks them clean. Shea has to get a hand on the tile wall to keep himself upright, heart pounding. When Roman’s face is mostly clean, he sits back on his heels and wipes at his mouth with his wrist. He gives Shea a smile, happy. Cock hard and curving up against his stomach.

Shea feels unsteady when he says, voice rough, “Get up.”

Roman gets to his feet quickly and curls himself in against Shea. He fists his hand in Roman’s hair and kisses him hard. He can taste himself when he licks into Roman’s mouth, the last traces of coffee. He slides his hand over Roman’s ass, fingers seeking out the slick there. Roman’s wet around the rim and when Shea dips his hand down a little further, he can feel the way Roman’s starting to get slick between his thighs, too. He bites at Roman’s mouth again before pulling back.

“All nice and wet for me, huh?” Shea asks, crooking his fingers against Roman’s hole. He brings his other hand down, too, and slaps the meat of his ass to feel Roman jolt against him. “What do you want?”

Roman tilts his head back. Long, pale stretch of his neck exposed. “Your fingers, please.”

“Just my fingers, eh? Think you can come on them?”

“Yes, yes, please,” Roman says.

“‘m gonna hold you to that. Just my fingers.” He slips his index finger inside Roman as he says it, listens to the way his breath hitches hard. Hips moving against Shea, his cock slotting in along the cut of his hip. Tight and hot where he clenches around Shea’s finger.

He gets two fingers into Roman soon enough, listens to the way he hiccoughs wetly into Shea’s shoulder. Shea holds him tightly as he moves to sit down on the shower bench, Roman slotting in between his legs. He adds a third finger and works his fingers over Roman’s prostate in slow drags. Roman keeps making these broken noises, whining into Shea’s shoulder, letting his teeth graze his skin when Shea presses in particularly hard. Can feel the way Roman’s shaking when he gets a hand on the back of his thigh.

“Roman, hey. Sweetheart. You think you can take another? Four fingers?”

Roman nods his head, mouth brushing against Shea’s collarbone. “Please,” he says after a moment, a moment where Shea doesn’t give in. He keeps his hand where it is and Roman tries to rock back on it, pushing up on his toes. “Please, Shea.”

“Not the answer I’m looking for.” He runs a hand through Roman’s hair, pushing it away from his forehead. His face is flushed red and his bottom lip looks swollen, teeth-marks visible. He looks at Shea with unfocused eyes, blown wide and black. “Gotta say it.”

Roman swallows, adam’s apple moving beneath his collar, and nods. “I want four. Fuck me. Bitte, mit vier Finger.”

Shea kisses Roman’s temple and slips him his pinkie. He clenches tightly around Shea before relaxing, letting Shea work with the wet slide of his hole, thumb nestled between his cheeks. Shea wishes he could see, see the way Roman is taking him. Cock rubbing up against the hard muscle of Shea’s stomach.

“Yeah, just like that. Know how much you like it,” he says, voice a whisper underneath the water. “Show me. Show me how good it feels.”

It doesn’t take much more for Roman to come. He can feel the way Roman shivers every time he brushes over his prostate, the way his rhythm stutters and his breath goes short. His scent like thickening caramel. He presses in a little harder and starts working his prostate with a determined fervour, other arm locked tightly around Roman’s waist. He’s a mess of noises when he comes, spurting hot across Shea’s stomach, clenching impossibly tight around his fingers. Mewls at the loss, when Shea finally slips them out.

He quiets him with a kiss, licking slowly into his mouth. Roman lets himself be held, lets Shea do what he likes. His scent is starting mellow out and the sound of the shower is clearer, warm water cascading over Roman’s shoulder. Shea stands up slowly and walks them until they’re both under the spray. He reaches out to fidget with the taps and Roman lets out a low groan when the hot water hits his skin. Shea squeezes the back of his neck, rubbing out a little bit of the tension he always keeps there. The ache he gets when he keeps his head down for too long. He shuts the water off.

“Okay,” he says. “Time to get out.”

He keeps a hand on Roman while he reaches for towels, drying himself off quickly while Roman leans against the wall of the shower. Skin flushed pink down his neck and chest. He dries Roman’s hair, careful not to pull, and moves down his body—working over his back, stomach, all down his legs in quick pulls. He saves his collar for last, though, making sure it’s clean of water, dipping the towel between skin and leather. Roman leans his head against Shea’s chest as he does it, sighs warm and soft. Keeps his fingertips pressed firmly into the expanse of his shoulderblade.

He gets Roman settled down on the bench in front of the sinks before he doubles back to the shower and picks up their clothes. Roman watches him leave the bathroom with lidded eyes, whole body communicating this wonderful, obvious satisfaction. Shea drops their clothes into the laundry basket and pulls on sweats and a t-shirt. He digs out fresh clothes for Roman, too—simple white and navy.

Roman’s leaning over the sink, medicine cabinet pulled open. He catches a glint of something silver, sharp, in Roman’s hand. He gives Shea a loose smile. “You promised,” he says.

Shea drags a hand over his chin, the hair there. “I did.” He puts a hand on the doorframe. “Get dressed first.”

Roman’s scent tips gleeful. “Of course.”

-

Shea always feels a little uncomfortable sitting still. Roman spreads out their shaving tools across the counter, careful with each piece. Shea’s never been able to make a double-edge razor work, let alone a straight one.

Roman doesn’t have that problem.

He tests the blade over the inside curve of his palm. The handle of the razor is polished cherrywood, carved through with their initials in looping script. It looks small caught between Roman’s fingers—it looked small when Roman pulled it from its velvet-lined box, Yannick’s face neutral until Roman wrapped him up in a hug. He lays the razor down again, taking the brush in hand. The brush and the bowl are the same red-slicked wood, just to the left of the little shaving mug. The water steams as he fills the mug and he leaves the brush soaking.

“You gonna let me clean-shave you?” Roman asks, looking over his shoulder. His shirt pulls tight between his shoulderblades, thin. Fresh-crushed cardamom, hope. He holds the jar of pre-shave balm, lid twisting with his fingers.

Shea tips his head to the side. “If that’s what you want? Then, yeah.”

Roman smirks, stepping closer. “I do. Beard-burn on the inside of your thighs sucks, even if it’s kind of fun at the time.” He spreads the balm with the very tips of his fingers, combing through all of his scruff.

He turns back to the counter and picks up the mug again, sweating with heat. He squeezes the bristles between his fingers, water draining off, and dips it into the soap-bowl. The lather foams, stiff and white, and Shea licks his lips in anticipation. “Towel up, c’mon.”

“Isn’t that your job?” Shea asks, but he gets up to dig through the linen cabinet. Drapes one loosely around his neck.

Roman hums, says, “Too busy.” He touches his fingers to Shea’s jawline, light over the scruff there. “Head back, bitte.”

Shea lets Roman move him where he wants to, fix the towel until it’s snug against his throat. He lets out a deep breath and shivers at the warm touch of the soap, badger bristles smoothing across cheek. Roman’s face is close to his, focused, and Shea closes his eyes against it. Gives into the feel of his ministrations, the lather light on his skin. “Heb still. Füüf minute.”

Roman moves away, heat and scent moving out of the room. He flexes his hands on the edge of the bench. He does this to Roman when it fits their mood. He can’t say that this is any different, but he relaxes when Roman comes back after a few long seconds later. He taps Shea on the forehead, his temple. “I bi no hie.” There’s the sound of things moving across the counter and Roman sighing. “Ready?”

“Yeah,” Shea says, no more than a whisper.

Roman touches his fingers to Shea’s cheek, pulling the skin taut underneath them. He holds the blade near-parallel with Shea’s skin and gently passes over the lather and hair, touch hot. Shea swallows and Roman finishes the first stroke down to the curve of his chin. He can smell Roman’s sent, narrowed down to a single note of bergamot, over the heavy sandalwood of the soap. He keeps going, laborious, until he’s taken off the top layer of lather. Blade of the razor shining wet and clean.

“Survived the first pass?” Roman asks. He gives Shea a small smile and the light shines dull off the leather of his collar when he reaches back for the soap-bowl. His chest feels tight, heart racing. “You smell tense, like burnt coffee.”

Shea shakes his head, careful not to move too much. “It’s fine. You’re doing good.”

Roman nods and starts re-lathering. It goes on smoother this time, Roman flicking his wrist as he curves over Shea’s top lip. Tongue caught between his teeth, the little gap there.

The next pass feels closer to the skin, the blade pulling carefully over the grain of hair. Roman takes a little longer this time, paying attention to every curve and slope. He flexes and unflexes his fist around the razor’s handle. He keeps his mouth pursed tight when Roman passes just under his bottom lip. He’s nicked there before, the thinnest of cuts, and Roman held it closed with the pad of his thumb until he could get the styptic on it. There had been something like trepidation in his eyes when he looked up at Shea, scent curling in around himself. Put his hand on Roman’s wrist and massaged his pulse point until it slowed again.

The blade pulls away clean.

“Can almost see all of your beautiful face.”

Shea rolls his eyes, mouth still foamed over with soap. Cut short when Roman pulls at the towel around his neck, knuckles pressing against his throat. He loosens it and the fabric comes down a little on Shea’s shoulders. Roman cups the top of his neck with a warm hand, spreading water over the scruff there. He does it again, the trickle of it making Shea twitch. The ring of the towel feels cold as Roman swirls up the last round of lather, dots it over his skin like a tattoo.

It doesn’t take long for Roman to finish the third pass and then he’s tipping Shea’s head even further back, exposing the long column of his throat. The skin’s damp, but Roman wets it again, anyways. He holds his palm there for a long second, long enough for Shea’s breath to hitch. “I need you to hold really still for me, Liäbling. No deep breaths.”

Shea hums his agreement. There’s sweat filming the tops of Roman’s cheeks and his fingertips are white where they’re gripping the razor. His hand is steady, though, and every stroke is short. The blade drags over every wrinkle and Roman navigates them carefully, one at a time. The pressure feels like too much, but it’s fleeting, and almost ten minutes go by before Roman finally steps back. He chucks Shea under the chin.

“Rinse off. Chalts Wasser,” he says, gesturing towards the sink.

Shea follows Roman’s directions easily. He washes away the remaining lather and hair, face silk-smooth beneath his fingers. He checks for nicks, the styptic pencil on the counter alongside Roman’s other tools, but there aren’t any. He can see Roman watching him from the corner of his eye and he nods, affirming, before splashing more water over his face. The tang of aftershave lingers in the air, lime strong, and Roman steps into his space. Palms up and open.

He smooths his hands down Shea’s face, the aftershave spreading cool. Shea twitches, but Roman holds him still, and he rises up on his toes to give Shea a kiss. Shea cups the back of his neck, thumb dragging across his collar. They part, Roman’s forehead against his own. “Thank you,” he says, rough-edged. “You did good.”

Roman threads his fingers through Shea’s hair. “I know.”

-

Shea’s the one to clean up the counter and sink. He wipes down the razor, carefully stropping and oiling the blade. Takes his time washing and pressing out the brush and putting away the lather and other containers. He looks at himself in the mirror again, tracing over Roman’s handiwork with the back of his hand. He feels warm all over—something comforting about looking the way Roman wants him to. He closes the last drawer and turns off the light.

Roman’s back in bed, propped up against the headboard. Cinnamon and sugar. He climbs in beside him, head to Roman’s chest. His hand finds its way back into Shea’s hair almost immediately, heavy and pleasant. “You tired, Liäbling? Sitting wore you out?”

Shea flicks him in the thigh. “I see you’re not.”

“Mmm,” Roman hums, “still just gonna lay here with you.”

Shea fits himself along the length of Roman’s body, blanketing Roman in his own scent. “Yeah, you are.”