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Their night-in really called for a fireplace. But the night was hazy with the last vestiges of summer and oscillating fans just didn’t render the same ambience.

Nick was slumped in his armchair with a book on the nature of interplanetary travel in sci-fi and James was curled on the sofa reading something about bongos and Richard Feynman. Their dinner had been large and heavy, and it had been an extremely long week for the both of them, so as much as Nick’s brain wanted something more romantic his body just couldn’t be arsed to bother. It was nice enough having James here at all, really. Cozy. Quiet. Calm.

Well, sort of quiet.

Nick glanced up from his book at the strange snicking sound that James was making. They’d been periodically reading each other snippets of their books all evening, and he was expecting to see James preparing to read something funny out loud. But instead there was the man, head fallen back against the top of the sofa, mouth gaped open, fast asleep.

Nick took a few moments to watch James breathe. It was still a little new, this thing they were doing, and it had taken so much work to get there at all, so he felt himself melt to see James relaxed enough in Nick’s flat he could nod off without a care.

James snuffled slightly, breaking the spell, and his head listed a little over to the side. Torn, Nick hesitated, then got up and slid onto the sofa next to him.

“James?”

James huffed a sleepy breath and made a soft noise. Nick’s chest tightened.

“James? Love, let’s go to bed.”

James grumbled and leaned slightly over toward Nick, who wedged his arm between James’s back and the sofa and hugged him tightly. “Come on. Bedtime.”

“It’s not yet 10,” James mumbled. Nick had no idea how he knew that, from behind closed eyelids and mostly asleep. Ridiculous bastard.

Nick leaned over and pressed a soft kiss to James’s cheek. “Time for bed.”

“You were…gonna read me the thing…about the…s-stufff…” James mumbled, his eyes still shut.

Nick chuckled. “In the morning,” he said. “We have time the morning. Neither of us has to work, remember?” He pressed another kiss to James’s cheek and breathed him in. Even after a long day of work (up early, solved a case, lots of paperwork) he still smelled warm and a bit like hair gel. It was something Nick had grown…extremely fond of over the past month or so.

“I don’t have to work tomorrow,” James said.

He was adorable. “That’s what I just said. Come on.” He pulled him up of the sofa and James swayed unsteadily. Nick rubbed his back. “Let’s go, Sergeant.”

“I’m not a new recruit.”

“You are to me, probie. Let’s go.”

“Stop watching NCIS,” James slurred on their way to Nick’s bedroom

Nick flicked on the light and blinked at the sudden brightness; the small spots of reading light in the lounge hadn’t prepared their eyes for the starkness of the overhead lights in his bedroom, and James made a small noise of distress. “Sorry, sorry. Here we go. Sooner you’re in bed the sooner the lights go off.”

“Bedside.”

“Hmm?”

“Bedside?”

Oh, the bedside lamp. Right. Nick turned that on and switched off the overhead. “Better?”

James was already fumbling with his tie. “Mmmhmm,” he hummed, and tugged at it.

“It was already loosened, love. I think you’re making it worse.” Nick went over to help him, but James shoved his hands away.

“I can get this,” he said and tried for a while longer before yanking it over his head and tossing it onto the floor.

Nick chuckled. “Well, that’s one way to do it.” He picked it up and untied it, then carefully laid it over the back of his desk chair before turning around to watch his poor, sleep-stupid boyfriend unbuckle his belt and toe off his shoes at the same time. “Do you want help with those?”

“No. I got it,” James said, beginning to list sideways and grabbing on to Nick’s footboard for balance. “Got it.”

“I see, Nick said, smiling fondly at him. He crossed his arms and watched as James managed to divest himself of shoes and belt at nearly the same time. He held the belt in Nick’s general direction.

“Can you…”

“Yep,” Nick said, taking it from him and putting it with his tie. James’s fingers unfastened his trousers and pushed them down around his ankles. “Do you want your pyjamas?” Nick asked.

James shook his head, and Nick felt a pang of warmth flood his veins. Inappropriate timing, he said to himself, but couldn’t deny the feeling was there. James still insisted upon wearing pyjamas in Nick’s bed, no matter that they were sleeping together and had been for nearly a month. No matter that it was still so warm out. No matter that half the time they fell asleep naked, shagged-out and exhausted. When he had the presence of mind to do so, James never seemed to let himself sleep unclothed around Nick.

But now he was stripping his shirt off over his head without undoing more than three buttons and crawling into Nick’s bed, all long limbs and smooth back and plaid boxer shorts, and Nick felt as giddy as anything at having him there. It was going to be so lovely curling up next to all that skin tonight. Hmm. He stepped across the room to turn on the bedroom fan.

Once again James made that ridiculous snuffling noise which reminded Nick not a little of his laugh, and before he knew it Nick was pulling his t-shirt over his head. He mindlessly dropped his jeans and kicked them into the corner while he watched James hug his pillow and curl up, rustling down deeper into the bed. Nick ripped off his socks and slid into bed next to him.

“Sleep?” James murmured.

“Yes. Sleep time for me, too.” Then Nick paused. Bugger. The lights were on in the rest of the house, and he hadn’t cleaned his teeth. Frankly, it wasn’t even time for him to go to bed yet, but there was no way in hell he was going to be able to focus on anything else when there was a James in his bed, snuggled in and comfortable and safe in his house with him. Nick sighed. James felt safe. That was undeniable, and the trust in it lit a fire in Nick’s belly. He huddled down on his side and stared at James’s creaseless forehead and slack jaw, longing desperately for a kiss.

As if reading his mind, James scooted closer, eyes closed, and pressed his face closer to Nick’s. He puckered up slightly.

“Kiss?” Nick whispered.

James nodded slightly and moved his face closer, so Nick gave in. He pressed a light, wet kiss to James’s mouth, and made to move away, but as he did James leaned up and followed him.

“Mmph,” Nick said into the kiss, but James’s mouth continued to work clumsily at his, lips catching and his tongue sliding against Nick’s lower lip. It sent a lightning-sharp thrill down Nick’s spine and he sighed. “Sleep now, baby.”

“Mmm-mm,” James said. “Kissing.”

Nick gave a soft laugh. “In the morning. We have all the time in the world in the morning, remember?” He was trying to convince his cock as much as his boyfriend. “You’re very sleepy.”

“Can do while sleeping.”

Nick snorted. “No. Not while sleeping. Awake boyfriend for kissing.”

James made a disgruntled noise and pouted outrageously. Nick suddenly felt bad for James’s parents; as a toddler he must have been ridiculously difficult to say no to, with his wavy blond hair and green eyes and pout that wouldn’t quit.

“Awake boyfriend for kissing,” Nick repeated, and risked leaning up to press a quick kiss to James’s forehead and lay back down before he could be caught up in another snogging session.

“In the morning,” James murmured.

“In the morning.”

“I shag you in the morning,” James said, snuffling and plumping up his pillow. Nick wasn’t sure he’d opened his eyes since they entered the bedroom.

“You can shag me as much as you like in the morning,” Nick smiled fondly, and reached over to brush James’s non-existent fringe off his forehead. “In fact, I encourage that.”

“Into the m—“ James’s face was split by a massive yawn. “Mmmattress.”

Nick stifled a laugh. “Into the mattress. Mmm. Okay.” He doubted they were ready to do anything they hadn’t already done before—Nick didn't expect he was about to get his arse pounded any time soon—but that didn’t really matter because James’s mouth was lush and his hands were pure sex and he knew exactly how to drive Nick mad with pleasure and and and this really wasn't a good mental track to be on when he had sleep-enforced abstinence on his plate for the night. He shifted and cleared his throat.

“Sorry,” James rumbled and lifted his hand as if to touch Nick, but let it fall a bit short. It plopped to the pillow.

“For?”

“Sleepy-ing. Turning you on. Kissing.”

Nick reassembled that into a reasonable apology and quirked a smile. “That’s okay, baby.” He smoothed James’s hair again and dragged his knuckles down the side of James’s face. “You’re worth it. Sleep now. I’ll still be here in the morning.” He rubbed his palm soothingly over James’s shoulder and down his arm, trailing circles with his fingertips.

The corners of James’s mouth lifted in a soft smile and he sighed, falling once again over the precipice into slumber.