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An Evening in Roma

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“I’m sorry, boss, but it’s not looking good,” Nicky cooed apologetically into his burner phone, poking the crackling logs in the hollow hearth before him with an antique, rusted iron as he peered out the nearby window.

The blizzard was absolutely roaring, leaving nothing visible beyond the glass but a flat, staticky sheet of white. Somewhere out there, Joe was attempting to dig the old truck out, attempting to get the rusty hunk of junk to even start, but none of that could be heard—just the rage of the storm against rickety boards, the whistle of wind through ancient and poorly-sealed windows. In the corner of the room, their crank radio was weakly attempting to hold onto a station coming in from Vienna, the fuzzy voices of old classics practically blending into the maelstrom outside.

“The snow is up to the doorknobs, and I don’t think the truck will start. It’s strange, this came out of nowhere, Joe checked the... the...”

Nicky paused, a hand flailing through the air in the hopes that it would land on the English word he was searching for.

“Forecast,” Andy supplied gently, and Nicky smiled, perfectly able to picture her lopsided grin simply from that motherly tone of hers.

“Sì, previsione, forecast. Grazie,” he said, attempting once more to locate Joe out in the tempest and failing. “He checked yesterday and the day before, this wasn’t predicted. Please tell Nile how sorry we are, I know this job was her choice, and I know how excited she was...”

“Nicky, Ni...y,” Andy interrupted, her voice cutting out for a moment with another fierce gust of wind. “It’s fine, we can wait. As much as I hate to admit, these traffickers will still be a...nd in a week. You two hunker down, stay safe, and we’ll rendezvous when the weather clears.”

A moment of silence fell between them, and Nicky knew painfully well why—the French had made them both think of Booker, had made a spike of both rage and longing spill through them, wiping out their words.

“Alright, then,” Nicky finally said, knowing Andy could hear the way his voice broke with emotion, and thankful that she didn’t mention it. “I’ll call when it’s safe to travel again.”

“Please do,” Andy replied, and Nicky could distantly hear Nile say something unintelligible in the background. Andy’s snorted laugh in return brought back vivid memories of the way Quynh used to tease Andromache in hushed tones, playfully bumping their shoulders together as Andy chuckled in that private way she had. Nicky smiled, incredibly thankful to have Nile in such a tempestuous time for the group, glad that Andy had someone so loving, and trustworthy, and strong to protect her. Much as she would never admit to needing protection.

“St...y warm. And don’t get too fri....y....”

“Andy, you’re breaking up, I can’t... Andy? Boss?”

The line went silent, and Nicky shrugged, slapping the old clamshell closed with a fond sigh and tossing it down next to the hearth. She was probably saying something naughty anyway.

Just then the door flung open, a flood of wind, cold, and Arabic curses spilling in with the relentless snow. It was only open for the seconds it took Joe to stumble inside and slam it again, but even that minimal bit filled the tiny cabin with cold, and sent the fire dimming as it was accosted by the force of the gust.

Joe grumbled as he stepped further inside, slapping the layer of fluffy but dense snow from his arms and beanie, and kicking his boots against the far wall to clear them.

“It’s hopeless, Nicky,” he said, pulling his beanie off and shaking out his curls, Nicky’s heart fluttering at the poof of glittering flakes when he did. “I clear one path, another fills in. And the damn truck won’t even turn over...”

“I know, I already called Andy,” Nicky said, gesturing to the phone as Joe unzipped his heavy winter parka and hung it on one of the two nails hammered into the wall as a makeshift coatrack. Upon Joe’s raised eyebrows, Nicky continued, “well, who am I to quell that determined optimism of yours?”

Joe grinned wide and earnest, the corners of his eyes doing that little crinkle that made Nicky feel like his heart was going to burst.

“Oh, but you’ll tell Andy that I’m being stubborn?” Joe said playfully, pulling off his gloves by the fingertips and tossing them onto the floor beneath his coat, following them with his heavy boots.

“I didn’t use the word stubborn,” Nicky replied just as playfully, throwing both hands up in mock surrender before slowly approaching. “I believe I said tenacious.” He paused as he came close, feeling the wave of cold radiating from Joe, and noting the considerable shiver. “Come, I can feel the cold on you.”

Grabbing him by his shirtsleeve, Nicky pulled Joe over to the once again roaring fire, positioning him so his chilled love’s back was facing the flames.

Joe groaned with contentment, but rubbed his hands frantically together, which drew Nicky’s gaze. Joe’s hands were splotched deep red, their lovely dexterous shapes practically blurred with how badly they were shaking.

Nicky tutted with pity, maneuvering Joe’s hands, noting that it was like grabbing a block of ice, and went to shove them up his own shirt.

Joe hissed, moving to pull back as he snapped, “love, don’t! I’ll give you a chill!”

Nicky ignored him, gripping Joe’s hands and pressing them against his own very warm chest. He was unable to stop the full-body shudder that wracked him at the shock of it, to stop the way his nipples peaked in reaction, but he powered through, holding Joe’s hands fast against him until they began to warm and still.

“You always give me chills,” Nicky said, fully aware of how lame the line was but completely unwilling to care.

Joe’s cheeks colored slightly, and he smiled even wider.

“Romantic,” Joe accused, leaning in to press his cold lips to Nicky’s. Nicky giggled happily into it, noting with glee all of the little tingling spots against his chin where snowflakes were melting in Joe’s beard.

“Sap,” Nicky accused right back, breaking away only for that single word, then returning to warming his love’s lips.

With their impending mission now delayed, the weight of the stress simply melted away like the snow in Joe’s hair, and Nicky could find absolutely no reason why they needed to pull apart, to hurry, hurry, hurry, keep going. Completely by happenstance, everything had ground to a halt, and Nicky was totally fine with it.

Something familiar began to spill from the radio then, and Joe’s eyes lit up with recognition as he pulled back from the kiss, his hands wandering, caressing, exploring down to Nicky’s hips and encouraging him to sway along to Dean Martin’s An Evening in Roma.

“Mmm,” Joe hummed, leaning in to rest their foreheads together while Nicky sighed, closing his eyes and recalling the vivid memory.

“Paris,” Joe said, beating him to it.

“New Year’s Eve,” Nicky completed the thought, grinning at the fantastical display of lights and colors, sounds and smells accosting his memory—neons and car lamps, the heels of fancy women on concrete, cigarette smoke and sourdough. “Nineteen sixty... one?”

“Two,” Joe corrected, letting out a matching sigh, his breath ghosting over Nicky’s kiss-wet lips and making him ache for more.

“Ah, yes. All the radio stations were playing that song,” Nicky reminisced, winding his own hands into a proper dancing position on Joe’s waist and shoulder.

“Yeah, they all had a hard-on for Martin and Sinatra,” Joe said with a giggle, and Nicky matched it.

“Who didn’t?” Nicky cracked back, but his fingertips trailing Joe’s scapula said I would never, his palm caressing Joe’s side said not me, amore. The answering gasp from Joe was nothing if not completely and dramatically fabricated.

“You wound me, Nicolò!” he said, feigned offense barely making it past the fond grin.

Nicky pulled him tighter, swaying a little more forcefully. “I can look at the menu, but I’ll never order anything.”

Joe laughed, full and boisterous this time, and Nicky tilted his chin up to taste it, kiss the mirth from his lips and keep it close.

Joe repositioned then, his head to the left of Nicky’s as he hummed the rest of the first verse, the vibration of his voice against Nicky’s cheek and ear making him shiver.

Low and whispered, Joe couldn’t resist the second verse,

“Come' bella c'e la luna brille' strette,” he sang softly, emphasizing his age-old nickname,

“Strette como e' tutta bella a passeggiare

Sott'er celo de Roma...”

Nicky smiled, turning in to press a kiss to Joe’s now very warm neck, his beard tickling Nicky’s cheek.

“That was a wonderful night, New Year’s, 1962,” he breathed against Joe, continuing to sway as the song went on in English. “That balcony on the Rue De La Roquette...”

Joe hummed in agreement. “That exquisite Pinot Noir...”

Nicky licked his lips, recalling that fine vintage, its oak and raspberry finish, its even more indulgent flavor on Joe’s lips.

“The taste I sucked from your tongue...” Nicky muttered against Joe’s skin, his voice going husky with lust.

Joe grunted in affirmation, his hand on Nicky’s hip squeezing slightly.

“We danced to An Evening in Roma...” he said, following it with a nip to Nicky’s earlobe that had Nicky tensing up like stone in Joe’s embrace. Joe continued, his voice smooth as organic honey as his lips brushed Nicky’s skin, “and then I spent an evening in Roma.”

It was a horrible pun, to be sure, Nicky wasn’t even Roman, but that was Joe—he’d take a bad joke over the absence of laughter any day of the week, and it made Nicky swell with both pride and adoration.

“Oh, that was a bad one,” Nicky chided, laughing even as he kissed Joe’s neck once more.

“Mmm,” Joe giggled in response, but he pulled away suddenly, his face set in determination as he left Nicky pulling his shirt back down.

“What... Yusuf, what on Earth...” Nicky gasped through a smile, watching as Joe approached the bed against the far wall and pulled both pillows, the sheet, the heavy down comforter, and the thick Sherpa blanket off in one huge armful, and waddled humorously back over, dragging most of it between his legs.

“It’s too cold to sleep over in the corner,” Joe said, grunting in appraisal as Nicky back stepped to give him room to work.

Joe laid down the Sherpa first, the softest of the bunch, for lying on top of, then he methodically laid out the single sheet and comforter, followed by the pillows.

“I know the floor isn’t as appealing as a real bed, especially when we’ve got access to one, but...” Joe started, and Nicky could note that little flash across his features, the expression saying “why didn’t I just drag the whole bed over here?”

Nicky felt a swell of pride so white hot that his toes tingled with it—after a thousand years, Joe was still fretting over every little thing he did for Nicky. As if Nicky wouldn’t fawn over it like he’d been handed the Holy Grail.

“It’s perfect, tesoro,” he cooed, kneeling and crawling to where Joe was fussing with the pillows, yanking him upright and into a long, passionate kiss. “We’ve certainly had worse accommodations.”

Joe grunted his agreement into Nicky’s mouth, pulling back to cup behind Nicky’s neck but staying close enough that their eyelashes nearly touched.

“If I never have to sleep on the back of a donkey again, it’ll be too soon,” he joked, and Nicky giggled, easily recalling the way Joe, then Yusuf, had grumbled and cursed when he sleepily toppled from the beast and into the sand.

Nicky waited for a long moment, simply breathing with his love, holding him.

“Is it... is it selfish to say that I’m glad this happened?” he whispered against Joe’s lips, pecking a few smaller, teasing kisses there. “I know I should feel guilty, this was Nile’s first time leading a mission... well... choosing a mission. But... how can I feel guilty...”

He paused to trail his kisses up Joe’s cheek, over the line of his beard and up to his ear, where he nipped playfully and whispered, “...when it gave me this, gave me you....”

A noticeable shudder went through Joe, and his hands weaved around Nicky’s ribs to splay out on his lower back, pulling his body forward until it contacted Joe’s. With an intentional gasp directly into Joe’s ear, Nicky noted the pressure of Joe’s growing arousal against his groin.

“No, my love,” Joe whispered back, his voice calm yet sensual. “Not selfish at all. There will be time, there will be other missions. There will always be troubles for us to take upon our backs, burdens for us to bear. We learned long ago that we can’t take them all, that guilt will pull you under if you think that way. We do what we can, and Nile will learn this too. Besides...”

Joe paused, trailing a single finger all the way up Nicky’s spine, eliciting a shudder and a whimper, to eventually dig into Nicky’s hair at his nape. He didn’t grip or tug, but what he did was so much more devastating—spreading out his fingers against Nicky’s scalp and scratching lazily just the way he liked.

“I can think of a few better things to lay upon your back...” Joe intoned huskily, the hand at Nicky’s back pulling him in even more and crushing them together.

Of course they’d always known how to turn each other on—they’d known that since almost before they’d known each other’s names (that sultry look from beneath dark brows, that shift of blades, of powerful shoulders)—but this, this was something entirely different. It was an intonation, a quiet declaration that I can unravel your body like the finest strands of silk, with only a soft brush of my fingertip just here. I knows its strengths, its weaknesses, its every little secret hidden place that makes you tremble. I know your body as if it were mine, it is mine, and mine yours, in every possible way.

Nicky let out a sigh that devolved quickly into a moan as he closed his eyes, tilted his head back, and enjoyed Joe’s touch; the easy, slow arousal that was stirring in his gut. He wasn’t passive though, as Joe licked and sucked and kissed at Nicky’s exposed throat—Nicky snuck a hand under Joe’s arm to press at that spot between his shoulder blades that he often asked Nicky to massage.

They’d had many a discussion on the nature of soreness, and if they could even get sore. If Nicky was scientific about it, which he often was, muscle soreness was caused by microscopic damage to the tissue when it was strained, and by their very nature as immortals, damage shouldn’t last. But Joe had often posited that they became hungry, they could even starve if left without for long enough, and they became tired and fatigued too. These things, he often argued, were a variation of the same thing, and that perhaps their healing only went so far. Andy had once chimed in that it was all psychosomatic, and they were all just insane.

Regardless of the science or sanity behind any of it, most of which they had never and would never understand, Joe and Nicky relished the opportunity to touch each other—to relieve the little aches, to soothe the pains, no matter if they were real or not.

“Mmmf,” Joe grunted against Nicky’s neck. “Lower, little lower, yes, right there...”

The tension in Joe’s body melted away in an instant as Nicky pressed hard against the requested spot with his fingertips—Joe going practically boneless against him and insinuating that he lie back.

“Aspetta, aspetta...” wait, wait Nicky whined, turning his head to look for his duffel bag and reaching for it as best he could with a heap of cozy Joe against him. From within the side pocket, right where he always kept it, Nicky pulled the tube of lube.

Joe laughed, low and gruff against Nicky’s neck as Nicky finally allowed himself to be lightly shoved onto his back atop the bed palette, the fluffy comforter. Joe followed, propping himself up on one hand and exploring Nicky’s ribs with the other.

“Bit presumptuous, if you ask me,” Joe teased, following it with a torturously light nibble to the base of Nicky’s neck, prompting another whimper.

“Oh, well I can always get rid of it, then...” Nicky teased right back, making a mocking display of preparing to toss the tube away.

Joe struck, serpent-quick; his hand flying out to grip Nicky’s, where it quickly nudged the tube from Nicky’s grasp to plop onto the bedding, and replaced it with his palm, his fingers. Nicky grinned, kissing Joe’s temple and lacing their fingers together tightly.

“Always calling my bluff,” Joe growled, migrating from Nicky’s thoroughly kiss-bitten neck to the collar of his shirt, which he pushed down with his chin to expose Nicky’s collarbones.

Nicky shuddered as Joe thoroughly went to work on those too.

“Of course, my love, if not me then who?” Nicky asked, pressing the fingers of his free hand once more into that spot between Joe’s shoulder blades.

Joe hissed his pleasure, his arm faltering and sending his full weight down on top of Nicky. Nicky grinned at the now very hard bulge against his thigh, daring to insinuate his leg back and forth so Joe knew.

“It never ceases to amaze me how you take me apart, and put me back together again like a puzzle, my heart,” Joe mumbled, rolling his right shoulder as Nicky continued to massage his favorite spot.

Nicky smiled into Joe’s hair, inhaling the scent of the tea tree oil and mint shampoo he’d used the day before yesterday, in Berlin. He would have liked to shower tonight, but this place didn’t even have electricity, much less running water.

All thoughts of said shower were doused, however, when Joe pushed himself upright, removing his lips, tongue, and fingers from Nicky and making him squirm at the sudden loss.

He couldn’t be petulant for long, as the sight of Joe gripping the hem of his shirt and ripping it up and off sent a lighting-spark of excitement straight to Nicky’s half-interested cock, and it twitched in his pants.

“Allow me to return the favor,” Joe said, all sultry and warm as he shifted a knee to place himself firmly between Nicky’s legs, where he began slowly caressing up and down his thighs. “How do you want it, tonight?”

The words went straight to Nicky’s cock, and he felt himself twitch again, now achingly hard. He swallowed against the onslaught of want, of need, licking his dry lips and attempting to pull himself back together.

“Like this,” he croaked, hips jumping as Joe’s hands caressed all the way down to the dips of his pelvis. “Take me, Yusuf... come quella notte a Parigi.. per favore?” like that night in Paris

Joe smiled, pressing his thumbs down against Nicky’s hips in a tease of what was to come, and Nicky had to stifle a groan. The goosebumps that rose on his arms, though, he was less able to control.

“Sì, cuore mio. Come preferisci,” Yes, my heart. As you wish Joe whispered, and just hearing the words was like accepting a kiss—the way they rolled off Joe’s talented tongue and made Nicky’s mouth water.

“God, I love when you talk like that,” Nicky whined, reaching up to caress a single finger down Joe’s abs and marveling at the way they jumped in response, the way Joe’s hips rocked and accentuated the bulge in his pants.

“What, when I tell you what you want to hear, or when I tell you what you want to hear in Italian?” Joe asked playfully, delivering a teasing pinch to Nicky’s right thigh.

“Sì,” Nicky snapped back with a grin, and Joe laughed, the kind that made Nicky’s ears tingle.

“I know you do,” Joe continued softly, leaning in and gripping the hem of Nicky’s shirt, pushing it up and off as Nicky angled up to allow it.

A mixture of the cabin’s seeping chill and the crackling heat of the fire waltzed over Nicky’s skin, making him shiver for Joe’s touch. It seemed Joe was in no hurry though, because the moment Nicky’s chest was bared to him, he paused in his quest to divest them of their clothing, and he propped himself on his elbows on either side of Nicky’s ribs, and got to work lavishing his stomach, his abdomen, his ribs in licks and kisses. And when he reached a nipple, he gently took it into his mouth, worrying at it with his lips before very lightly sucking it between his teeth.

Nicky arched up off the bedroll, hands flying to Joe’s head and burying in his curls for stability.

Joe took his time in migrating to the other nipple, so much that Nicky’s hands were trembling wildly and tingling with pleasure by the time Joe pulled back to admire his handiwork.

“Look at you,” he said, admiration and hunger spilling with the words in equal measure.

“I’d rather look at you,” Nicky replied, his voice coming out much more desperate than he’d anticipated, the sight of a brilliant blush coloring Joe’s cheeks and chest stealing away his words. He compensated by reaching for Joe’s fly, popping the button with little preamble and going for the zipper.

Joe grinned, wide and genuine, before leaning back down to prop himself just close enough to press a kiss to Nicky’s lips, distracting him as he grasped Nicky’s hand on his pants, stilling it.

“Slow, love, slow. We’ve got all night,” he pleaded against Nicky’s lips, and Nicky was helpless, if a little impatient, to obey.

He nodded in agreement, lying back as Joe reached for Nicky’s own fly, but instead of unbuttoning, he simply began rubbing—palming Nicky’s hardness in torturously slow and barely relieving motions until Nicky was a blubbering mess.

“PerfavoreperfavoreYusuf,” he slurred, eyes slammed shut as he fought the urge to rock his hips up hard into Joe’s hand, knowing Joe would stop or pull away if he did. “Ti voglio, non posso aspettare, per favore!” I want you, I can't wait, please

“Shhhh, shh, I know,” Joe cooed, clearly deciding he’d been cruel enough as he pushed back to, way too slowly, unbutton and unzip Nicky’s jeans. He pulled them down just as slowly, following the waistband with his teeth and placing tiny little nips on Nicky’s thighs, his knees, his calves.

Nicky was nearly wrecked by the time Joe crawled back up his body and curled a hand into his underwear, his lungs burning as he panted through pulsating need. Joe was steadfast as ever, rolling the stretchy waistband down just enough to reveal the head of Nicky’s cock, which was already leaking, and Nicky watched in rapt horror as Joe leaned in to suckle at it gently.

The spike of pleasure that jolted through him felt like the brick wall of cold he’d felt earlier, and it was just as shocking. Nicky practically growled with frustration, both hands balling into fists in the blanket beneath him as he tried to contend with Joe’s tongue, dancing over the sensitive underside.

Keeping it brief, Joe leaned away and down, pulling Nicky’s underwear very slowly down his legs, tracing the same path as earlier, but this time with torturously light kisses where the bites had been.

“Yusuf, you torment me,” Nicky barked brusquely, kicking out of his underwear as Joe finally removed them. He took a moment to ground himself, to calm down, as they’d barely begun and his body was about ready to shoot off like an overexcited teen again.

He closed his eyes, taking in a long breath and simply listening to the calming sounds around him—the crackling and popping of the fire to his right, the howling storm outside, Joe’s rhythmic, entrancing breaths as he removed the rest of his own clothing. He smiled despite himself, reveling in the feel of the fire’s heat and the soft comforter at his back, and most perfect of all, Joe’s hands as they returned to Nicky’s legs, caressed up the insides of his thighs.

“Sometimes I wonder if this is a gift or a curse,” Joe said, his voice not breaking into the soothing calm but instead weaving into it, becoming part of it. Nicky did not open his eyes, instead just luxuriated in the sounds of the fire, of Joe’s voice, of Joe’s lips returning to his flesh as he kissed a line up from Nicky’s knee to his groin.

“The fact that we’re eternally stuck, young and virile. My hunger for you will never be sated, the fire in my veins will never dim. For a millennium, I’ve watched and waited, wondering when my body will stop reacting like a weathervane in the wind, honed directly on you, my love. And for a millennium, I’ve been delighted and terrified to find that it hasn’t...”

“T—terrified?” Nicky stuttered, hips jumping when Joe licked a simple stripe up the underside of Nicky’s incredibly hard and sensitive length, but immediately moved on to kissing and biting at his abs.

“Yes,” Joe whispered against that trail of hair below Nicky’s belly button. “It scares me, how much I love you, how much I yearn for you. My every breath is for you, my every step toward you.”

Nicky heard a rustling in the blankets to his left, then felt a thrill travel all the way down his spine at the sound of the cap on the lube popping open. He warred within himself on the virtues of watching versus being surprised, and, after listening to the little satisfied hum Joe let out, decided on surprise, keeping his eyes closed in comfort.

“You are honey on my tongue, satin on my skin...” Joe whispered, and Nicky shivered at the sound of him rubbing the lube in his fingers to warm it.

When next Joe spoke, his voice was shockingly close to Nicky’s ear, and Nicky blinked his eyes open to find Joe propped above him, his other hand disappearing down between his legs.

“Paradise on my fingers,” Joe whispered, holding Nicky’s gaze as he finally began massaging over his rim. Nicky sucked in a breath and grimaced in anticipation, holding Joe’s intense eyes as he bit his lip and wrapped both hands around Joe’s nape as an anchor.

“Oh, how I love you, Yusuf,” Nicky whispered, scratching through Joe’s lovely soft hair. Joe’s eyes glittered, whether with threatening tears or sparkling firelight, Nicky wasn’t sure, and he allowed himself to lean in very slowly for a deep, searching kiss.

Just as their lips met, tongues dancing in the crease, Joe’s fingers breached him, and Nicky whimpered into Joe’s mouth, his own lips stilling and falling open in a shocked little ‘o’ of pleasure. Joe compensated easily, taking Nicky’s bottom lip first into his lips, then teeth as he teasingly slowly began pumping his two fingers inside Nicky.

Everything quickly became an assault of sensation—the heat of the fire, the chill of the poorly-insulated cabin, the press of Joe’s soft lips and beard, the stretch and glide of Joe’s fingers inside him, curling just right until Nicky’s toes curled and his ears ran hot. Joe knew just how to unravel Nicky too, the rhythm, the exact spot inside him, the speed.

“Yusuf, Yusuf, per favore, too close,” Nicky whined, gripping Joe’s hair hard and yanking his head back and away so he could bite his own lip, the pain just barely keeping a premature orgasm at bay. “I...” he had to pause to catch his breath, a jolt of dulling pleasure spreading from Joe’s buried fingers to Nicky’s aching cock. “I want you inside me when I come...”

Joe’s answering smile was so genuine and caring it was painful; Nicky gentling his hand through Yusuf’s hair as Joe slowly, carefully extricated his fingers.

“Turn over for me?” Joe asked, a thumb rubbing small patterns on Nicky’s thigh.

Nicky nodded, his vision blurring slightly in his dizzy haze of pleasure, and Joe leaned up and shifted away to allow Nicky to throw a leg up and over.

Nicky’s limbs were shaky and weak, so he didn’t stay up on all fours; instead falling gracelessly to lie on his stomach, hands fisting in the sheets in anticipation of what he knew was coming.

Joe started slow and easy, his lips and tongue tracing patternless shapes down Nicky’s spine, then he placed small, innocent kisses at the dimples of Nicky’s ass. He giggled, but couldn’t maintain it for long as Joe’s deft hands gripped his cheeks and spread him open.

Nicky nearly wailed as Joe’s tongue wasted no time teasing, and simply plunged inside, and he only barely stifled it by biting down on the pillow beneath him.

Joe hummed in appreciation of the sound, and the vibration of it had Nicky helplessly rocking back against the rhythm of Joe’s tongue.

He wanted to speak up, to argue—“Yusuf, sole mio, I told you to back off, that I was too close, this isn’t much better. The talent of your tongue is too much for me, please, you ignite me...”—but it appeared Joe was two steps ahead.

In one swift movement, Joe was pressed to Nicky’s back, a semblance of how they slept, one hand covering Nicky’s and intertwining them, the other guiding his cock and passing the head up and down, up and down Nicky’s ass, barely teasing his hole.

Nicky keened into the pillow. “Yusuf, per favore...”

Joe’s beard scratched between Nicky’s shoulder blades, then his chin was hooked over Nicky’s left shoulder, allowing him to whisper directly into Nicky’s ear.

“Once more for me, love,” he cooed, the words dripping down Nicky’s spine like sweat. “Tell me once more, cuore mio...”

Nicky didn’t even let him finish before he was begging, frantically angling his hips back against Joe’s cock.

“Per favore, Yusuf, mi fai impazzire!” You're driving me crazy he cried, voice muffled against the pillow.

“Shhhh,” Joe steadied him with a firm squeeze of his hand, and then he was slowly pushing inside.

Nicky held his breath as the head popped past his rim, relief flooding him and making him groan. He was well slicked by the lube and Joe’s spit, so the glide was easy—Joe’s length stretching him open with little resistance.

Joe whispered a litany of Italian and Arabic praises, but Nicky could focus on nothing but the familiar shape of him, the texture of his hard cock sliding in deeper and deeper until his hips contacted Nicky’s ass.

“So good, so good, love,” Joe grunted, the effort of holding still to allow Nicky to adjust to the fullness very clear in the thin, stretched quality of his voice.

“Go on, tesoro, you know I can handle it,” Nicky barked, moving his hips experimentally and yelping at the spike of pleasure of both Joe shifting inside him, and the soft comforter stimulating his extremely sensitive cock.

“Come preferisci,” Joe repeated his words from earlier, beginning to curl his hips extremely slowly—pumping in and out in a torturous rhythm.

Nicky hummed as he finally got what he wanted, his hand spasming on Joe’s and his hips beginning to follow the motion.

Ever the artist, Joe didn’t let anything become stale, become comfortable, so as soon as Nicky had worked into the rhythm, Joe was snaking his free hand beneath Nicky’s stomach and taking him in a sure, tight grip.

Nicky hissed, so sensitive now that the first touch almost had him coming prematurely.

“Yu-Yusuf!” he nearly yelled, clenching his eyes shut and trying to think of anything that might quell the building heat—the smell of bleach, the sound of air raid sirens, the unnatural red of freshly-spilled blood. All things he hated, all things that should have sufficed to tip him back from that precipice.

But Joe’s chocolate-rich voice against his skin, the heat of his shifting flesh against his back, the velvet stretch of his cock... nothing compared.

“Why hold back, Nicolò?” he asked, picking up the pace of his hips and his hand, the adoring use of Nicky’s full name shattering whatever was left of his resolve. “We’re stuck here for the foreseeable future. I could have you coming over...”

He twisted his hand around the head of Nicky’s cock...

“And over...”

He picked up his pace, pulling out farther on every thrust and pushing in harder...

“And over...”

He angled his hips up, pushing Nicky’s legs farther apart with his own, and hit Nicky’s prostate.

“Fuck,” Nicky practically screamed into the pillow, pleasure exploding through every muscle, every nerve. He seized up, feeling himself spilling hard over Joe’s hand and onto the comforter as wave after wave of ecstasy made his toes curl and his vision go white.

Joe slowed but didn’t stop, gently curling his hips in an almost therapeutic rhythm as Nicky came down, panting and gasping against the spit-wet pillowcase.

“How many more do you have in you, I wonder?” Joe whispered into Nicky’s ear, and Nicky wasn’t even surprised to find that he was staying hard.

“All that you can give me, amore mio,” Nicky panted, whining at the loss when Joe chuckled and gingerly pulled out.

“That sounds suspiciously like a challenge, my heart,” Joe replied, extricating his hand from Nicky’s cock and wiping his come on the bedding.

Nicky grinned mischievously, his wits returning, and he spun over onto his back, thighs still trembling a bit, and sat up. His abdominal muscles protested the sudden movement, but he compensated by pushing against Joe’s chest until he let out a half-yelp, half-laugh and fell back with a dull thud. Joe’s cock still stood impressively erect, shining with lube against his beautiful body and twitching to be touched.

“That’s because it was meant to be, my heart,” Nicky mocked adoringly, clambering over Joe and straddling him.

“Oh, shit...” Joe breathed, his intense eyes trained on Nicky, the flames burning in their cavelike depths and mimicking the fire in his heart.

Nicky held him down with one hand to his sternum, and reached between his legs with the other to guide Joe’s very hard cock back to his entrance.

Sinking down on him was offensively easy, as Nicky was still wide open and slick from the first round, and he groaned with satisfaction as he found himself full once more.

The vision below him as he began to tilt and lift his hips threatened to send him over the edge again—Joe, eyes rolling back in pleasure, his copper skin glistening with sweat and shining in the dancing orange light from the fire. He shivered slightly under Nicky’s hold, but he knew it wasn’t from cold.

“Così bello,” So beautiful Nicky whimpered, biting his lip as he managed a thrust that had Joe’s cock teasing over his prostate again. “E magnifico.” and magnificent

Joe grinned, his eyes roving down the expanse of Nicky’s chest to his still-hard cock, bouncing lightly as he moved. Joe’s hands came up to grip both of Nicky’s hips, not controlling, but supporting, anchoring.

Nicky wasn’t sure his obsession with Joe’s hands would ever dim; their strength, their precision, their artistry. They made masterpieces of everything they touched, their callouses a mark of time-worn love, their deep lines an etching of care. They were the first thing Nicky ever marveled at, his eyes drawn to the long, skilled fingers and muscled palms even before they’d laid down their arms against one another.

To have them on his body was an indulgence he’d gladly face God and the Devil both for the right to defend. It felt like fire and ice, sword tips and silk, those points of contact where Joe held him. It was pleasure and pain; pain only in that it would never be enough.

As if sensing Nicky’s thoughts, Joe slid his hands from Nicky’s hips, caressing them down his thighs, back up, and onto his chest, where he started toying with Nicky’s nipples.

Nicky giggled lightly as a spike of tickling sensation shot through him, and beads of excited precome leaked from him onto Joe’s abdomen.

“Not yet,” he cooed, taking Joe’s wrists and pushing them to pin them above his head. Joe grinned at how close it brought their faces, and leaned in for the kiss.

With sensation building in his gut, Nicky pulled his head back, just out of Joe’s reach, giving him another devious smirk as he rolled his hips.

“You and your hands,” he whispered, breath hitching as he managed a particularly pleasurable thrust. “Going to make me come twice before you’ve even had one.”

“You did challenge me, my love. I’m nothing if not... what was the word you used? Tenacious,” Joe growled, eyes blinking languidly and mouth hanging open in arousal as he punctuated the statement with a hard thrust of his hips.

Nicky smiled even wider, picking up the pace. With a swell of pride, he noted that little whimper on Joe’s exhales, that tensing of his legs that signified his impending release, and Nicky let go of his hands to lean back upright, knowing Joe would obediently keep them there.

“God, the way you fill me up, love,” Nicky moaned, intimately familiar with how Joe adored when he talked like this, how unbearably turned-on it made him. With a little showman’s flair, he began touching himself, one hand teasing a nipple, the other lazily stroking his cock as he allowed his head to roll back in luxuriating pleasure. “The way you stretch me open, lay me bare. The head of your cock is just... just right, there...” he paused to curl his hips farther forward, and it made his entire body twitch as he angled Joe’s cock directly into his prostate again. “I can feel you swell inside me, feel you spill...”

Joe’s hands curled into the blanket above his head in a desperate attempt to keep them there, and his back arched up off the bedding.

“Nico... Nico, I’m so close, fuck...” he panted, his hips stuttering and following Nicky’s thrusts in tight little jerks.

“Y-your hands, Yusuf... put your hands on me,” Nicky cried, his skin alight with want, ready to allow Joe’s touch, so long as Joe achieved his release first.

Joe’s hand grabbed Nicky’s wrist, pulling his tugging fist from his cock and weaving their fingers together, weaving the unspoken words—you will come on my cock alone.

A flash of heat went down Nicky’s chest at just the thought—riding Yusuf to completion and spilling all over his chest, completely untouched. Joe’s other hand snaked over Nicky’s hip and grabbed a handful of his ass, using his grip to move Nicky up and down even faster. Nicky was only aware of the deliciously obscene sound of their bodies colliding for seconds, before his ears were filled with the rapturous sound of Joe’s unbridled groan as he came.

Time seemed to stand still as Nicky watched his love come apart—his muscles contracting and his skin glistening with sweat as he shuddered beneath him. His hand on Nicky’s spasmed and tightened, and his eyes flew open to hold Nicky’s gaze as he stilled.

Nicky reveled in the sudden sensation of Joe’s warm come filling him up, holding Joe’s intense gaze. Tears glimmered in Joe’s otherworldly eyes as he smiled, serene and sated, and muttered, “perfetto.” Perfect

And just like that Nicky was coming again, his cock twitching as his balls drew up tight and he spilled all over Joe’s abdomen, filling his bellybutton. He could feel himself clenching around Joe, and Joe hissed and moaned as he barely rocked his hips to take advantage of the pressure.

Legs trembling from the exertion and chest heaving, Nicky fell forward, barely managing to catch himself with a hand to the left of Joe’s head as he sloppily brought their lips together. Joe’s hand gentled over Nicky’s ass, a slight sting followed by a smooth caress as he brushed the place he’d been gripping so hard.

Nicky opened his eyes just in time to watch his love’s shocked and dazed expression as he tipped his hips up and let Joe’s softening length fall out of him. The sound Nicky made as he felt Joe’s come begin to trickle out brought a rueful grin to Joe’s lips.

“I’m sorry, my love. We shouldn’t have, without access to a shower...”

Nicky kissed the words away, stealing any regret that might possibly leave those lips.

“Don’t be, habibi,” he whispered against Joe’s lips, bringing their joined hands up to rest against his chest, his still wildly-beating heart.

“I wanted you to,” he finished, pulling back only far enough to bring Joe’s knuckles up to his lips and kiss them, one by one, slow and tender.

A spark of something mischievous flashed in Joe’s caramel eyes, the familiarity of it providing Nicky with a miasma of images of Joe rushing him into an alley for a quick suck, pulling him aside during a mission to mouth at his neck, sneaking him into the bathroom to shove his warm hand into his briefs.

“Here,” Joe said, poking Nicky’s ribs to insinuate him up and off. Nicky complied, rocking back to a kneeling position and groaning when more of Joe’s spend began to trickle down his thigh.

“Let me...” Joe continued, his voice gone low and husky as he cradled Nicky’s neck and lowered him once more onto his back atop the bedding. Heat flared up Nicky’s chest as he realized what Joe intended to do, but he barely had time to whimper before Joe was firmly but adoringly manhandling Nicky’s legs to either side of his shoulders.

Laid out on his stomach between Nicky’s legs, Joe looked up at him, his eyes burning with intensity and firelight for only a moment before he bowed down and went to work.

He started slow and sensual, intimately aware of how sensitive Nicky was—licking and nibbling at Nicky’s thigh up and up and up, until he was kissing and sucking lightly at Nicky’s balls. Biting his lip and clutching at the sheets, Nicky relaxed into it, allowing his legs to fall open a bit more as he weaved his fingers into Joe’s hair. He jumped as Joe’s tongue began teasing at his rim, and Joe paused, a hand coming up to take Nicky’s from his hair and join them.

“Easy, love,” Joe whispered, his voice soft as a lullaby as it ghosted over his well-used hole.

“I’m fine,” Nicky said, closing his fingers tight around Joe’s. “Just sensitive. Lento, per favore...” Slow, please

“Of course,” Joe continued, giving Nicky’s hand a reassuring squeeze as he returned to sensually licking him clean.

For nearly ten full minutes, Nicky was lulled into a near-catatonic state of relaxation, Joe meticulously cleaning him with his mouth and fingers, until it was clear this wasn’t about getting clean any longer. Nicky was just about to speak up, to tell him he was going to find his lover asleep if he kept on like this, but just then, Joe’s two fingers twisted inside him, lightly brushing over his prostate in a torturously good rhythm that had Nicky’s heartbeat kicking into high gear and arousal flooding his veins again.

“Yusuf...” he whined, gripping his hand harder as Joe did it again, and Nicky found himself growing hard. “Yusuf, we were meant to be finished,” he groaned, helpless but to follow the movements of Joe’s fingers with his hips.

“We were? When did we agree to that?” Joe hummed playfully, his breath hot against Nicky’s taint as he moved up to lick at the underside of Nicky’s now-full erection.

“We seem to have had a misunderstanding,” Joe growled, taking the head of Nicky’s cock into his mouth and suckling as he continued to stimulate his prostate. “I was challenged, dearest, and you know how competitive I am,” he continued after pulling off, “but I can always stop, if that’s what you want...”

With that, he took Nicky’s cock fully into his mouth and began oh so slowly bobbing his head.

Pleasure surged through Nicky’s entire body, and he nearly howled—his muscles felt like jelly, his skin like worn paper—but it was good, so good.

“No...” Nicky panted, beginning to tremble from the overstimulation, the pleasure, the lovely exhaustion. “Never... never stop touching me...”

Joe hummed his approval, and the vibration of it around Nicky’s cock had him tensing up, his muscles burning from being strung so tightly for the third time this evening. It was a pleasant ache, one he’d been acquainted with for a thousand years—his entire body surrendering to Yusuf.

Without warning, Joe was delivering a move that, over the last millennium of sexual experiences, Nicky had never once managed to withstand with his wits intact—sucking Nicky down to the root while simultaneously pressing in gently with his thumb against that little spot behind Nicky’s balls, and curling his fingers inside him, accosting his prostate from all sides.

Nicky wailed at the low wooden ceiling, arching fully off the bedding and shooting hard down Joe’s throat, his entire lower half wracked with spasms. Joe swallowed around him multiple times, drawing out the pleasure even more until Nicky was practically boneless, collapsing back onto the sweat and come-covered comforter and panting as if he’d run a marathon.

Unable to move, barely even able to think, Nicky was conscious of only the crunch and crackle of another log being dropped into the fire, and the ensuing heat up his whole right side as the dry timber quickly caught.

“Up,” Joe’s hypnotic voice broke into Nicky’s trance, and he languidly blinked his eyes open to find Joe attempting to pull the comforter out from beneath Nicky’s weight. His body was mostly unresponsive, still wallowing in dulling pleasure and exhaustion, so he rolled this way and that until Joe freed the heavy blanket and pulled it up over the two of them, scooting in close to press their bodies together.

“We’ll have a proper shower when we get back to Berlin,” he said, voice hushed and private. “But for now, this is the best I can offer.”

He said it apologetically, as if an orgasm-inducing cleaning out was something to be disappointed in.

Nicky smiled. “Have I told you how much I love you today?” he murmured weakly, curling against Joe’s side and resting a still-shaking hand over his heart, where he idly traced through his minimal chest hair.

“A couple of times,” Joe said, his arm going beneath Nicky’s head and curling back around to scratch against his scalp again. Nicky hummed, letting his eyes slide closed in contentment.

“Ti amo, Yusuf. Sono per sempre tuo,” I am forever yours Nicky said, cozying in even closer by throwing a leg over Joe’s and feeling the wetness of a kiss pressed to his forehead.

“E io sono tuo. Sei il mio paradiso, Nicolò,” And I am yours. You are my paradise Joe whispered.

A comfortable quiet fell, filled only by the soft crackle of the fire and the howl of the blizzard outside. Just the thought of that cold wind, that icy bite of air had Nicky burying his head against the crook of Joe’s neck, his whole body aiming to take in Joe’s warmth, his age-old familiarity and comfort.

“Do you know...” he began, allowing his hand to migrate up from Joe’s chest to the hollow of his throat, which he traced lightly. “This safe house reminds me of our little place in Alexandria.”

Joe chuckled, and Nicky tingled with joy as he felt it rumble beneath his fingertips.

“You mean our shack?” Joe said wistfully, his other hand coming up lay atop Nicky’s, his fingertips following the delicate tendons.

“Cabin,” Nicky tried with a smile.

“Nicolò, that place was a box in all but name,” Joe said with another laugh.

Nicky shrugged as best he could, “Whatever it was. It was a home because you were there. With me.”

Joe smiled, craning his head down to place another kiss to Nicky’s forehead.

“That’s sweet,” he said, dragging his hand back from Nicky’s hair to the nape of his neck, which he began to firmly massage. “But that place was hardly... what is it Nile says? Goals?”

Nicky snorted. “Sì.”

“It had a hole in the roof, tesoro...” Joe said, his voice tinted with fond disbelief.

“Well I can replicate that,” Nicky said, rolling suddenly away and grabbing his pistol from the duffel bag, which he aimed heartily at the ceiling.

“You are a menace,” Joe chided, reaching up to grip Nicky’s hand, once again tracing the tendons. They both knew the safety was on, so Joe used the opportunity to follow the lines of muscle down Nicky’s thumb, wrist, forearm, and elbow, until goosebumps rose in his wake, and when Nicky looked Joe in the eyes, he kissed him, long and passionate.

Already tired of the charade, Nicky tossed the gun over his shoulder, back in the general direction of the bag, and took up his previous place cuddled tight and warm against Joe.

“We’ll have to burn the comforter,” Joe said lightheartedly, and Nicky laughed again, harder this time. “I don’t think Andy will believe for a second that those are food stains.”

Nicky shook his head, loving the way Joe’s beard scratched against his forehead. “No, certainly not,” Nicky mused, envisioning the chorus of “oh come on, guys!” from both Andy and Nile, and the answering “I did, that’s why it looks like that,” from Joe that would have them all groaning and erupting in laughter. “Speaking of, are you hungry, amore? I can make us something...”

By ‘make us something,’ he really just meant heat up canned soup in a pot over the fire, because it was all this little... home was good for. But Joe squeezed him tighter at the offer anyway.

“I am, but... not right now,” Joe said, pressing their foreheads together as he splayed out a hand on Nicky’s back and pulled him as close as he could get. “I just want this, right now.”

Nicky would be lying if he said he’d actually wanted to get up, leave Joe’s side, his sun-like warmth, so he sighed, watching Joe’s chest rise and fall beneath the heavy down comforter and simply listening to the sounds of his breathing, the fire, the creaking house, the chaos outside.

“How long do you think it’ll last?” Nicky whispered, his voice breaking through the silence like a rock tossed through the stillness of a lake.

Joe looked down at him, his movement sudden and jerky, and just for a moment, Nicky noted that little flash of worry, as if Joe had heard “how long do you think we will last?”

It amazed him that self-consciousness still plagued both of them from time to time, but that was the thing about paradise—you always worried it would be ripped from your hands. Especially when you’d already watched it ripped from someone else’s.

Nicky propped himself up on an elbow and loomed over Joe, pecking a short, chaste kiss to his lips and then following it with a much deeper, breath-stealing one. He could taste hints of himself on Joe’s tongue, and he was helpless against yet another spike of arousal.

“The storm, love,” he clarified as he pulled back by millimeters, giving his beloved a confident, close-lipped grin.

Joe settled, his hand on Nicky’s neck picking back up its soothing motions.

“Don’t know,” he said, earth-rich eyes barely twitching as he analyzed Nicky’s face—going from his brow, to his eyes, to his lips. “At least another day, I hope. I’m not finished with you yet.”