Caesar hardly slept at all that night. In his insistence on not ruining their relationship and not making things awkward, he had ruined their relationship beyond repair and made things uncomfortably awkward. I let my dick call the shots and ended my only real friendship.
Caesar had cornered the other man in the bathroom that morning, and Joseph had looked absolutely over the moon. His eyes were bright and excited as the blonde reached a pale hand up to grasp his thick neck. His face fell as he felt the tingle of Hamon, and realized that Caesar was just healing the hickies sucked into his throat from the night before. The blonde turned away from his crestfallen companion and left without a word. Joseph’s strong hands had also left five big fingerprint-shaped bruises on either side of Caesar’s hips. The blonde had spent an embarrassingly long time looking at them in the mirror that morning, dark marks standing out starkly beautiful against his pale flesh, before ultimately deciding to leave them unhealed. He told himself it wasn’t worth the bother, if he wore a long enough shirt nobody would see anyway. He absolutely did not press on the bruises, imagining big hands running up and down his sides.
Joseph put on a very convincing facade of cheerfulness, laughing and joking just like always, as if he were totally unaffected by last night’s events. Caesar almost believed him too, except for the worried, furtive glances sent his way when the brunette thought he wouldn’t notice. Caesar had a far harder time putting on a pleasant face, but thankfully being moody and distant were fully expected of him. In one way it was a relief to have the brunette seem so calm about the whole thing, but on the other hand it was really damn annoying how calm he was. Joseph went out of his way to tease and annoy Caesar even more than usual and looked painfully pleased with himself when he finally got a rise out of him, culminating with a brief scuffle on the floor of the kitchen. The big idiot’s unrelenting bullshit was surprisingly comforting, and Caesar found himself feeling much better by the end of the day.
It was almost a blessing that they had their final exam tonight, it gave him something to focus on that wasn’t how much he missed the way they had felt before.
“Hey,” murmured Joseph that night, mask on and wild hair kept mostly in check with a woolen hat. “I know you don’t really need it, but good luck tonight Caesarino.”
Caesar gave him a small, genuine smile. “In boca di lupo, JoJo.”
Joseph blinked stupidly. “What?”
The blonde rolled his eyes and gave him a shove. “Good luck, idiota.”
They parted ways and Caesar focused solely on the task ahead. Perched on a wire far above the ocean it was a long and grueling battle against Messina, but he ultimately passed. Pleased, Caesar couldn’t wait to talk to Joseph and find out how he had done on his test.
To his surprise, Joseph didn’t come stumbling tiredly back to the villa until nearly five the next morning, clothes torn and covered in blood.
Caesar rushed over immediately. “What the hell happened to you?”
“ACDC attacked! He killed Loggins before I even got there, and then we had this crazy battle.” Joseph shuddered. “That guy is a freak.” He broke into a broad grin. “But I won! I killed that creepy undead bastard!”
“So, you survived a fight with ACDC,” muttered Caesar, coughing and turning away. “That’s good, you’re a lucky guy.”
“Huh?” Joseph looked at him curiously as Caesar glared at the floor, blushing furiously. “Why thank you for the compliment Caesarino,” he replied with a shit-eating grin.
Evidently Joseph’s excitement in his victory had been premature. ACDC had survived, if barely, and had taken over the body of Suzie Q like a parasite. Caesar was somber, but knew that ultimately it was more important to kill the Pillar man than to save the woman. He prepared to flush her body with Hamon. Of course Joseph was as stupid and idealistic as ever, absolutely refusing to kill Suzie. Caesar realized they were going to have to work together. Closely. By using their Hamon in tandem, Joseph and Caesar managed to not only save the girl but also kill ACDC once and for all. Joseph was ecstatic, hollering and shaking the blonde by the shoulders with a huge dopey grin on his dumb handsome face. Caesar laughed in spite of himself, partially from the relief of finally killing a Pillar Man and partially from the return to normalcy with Joseph.
With the death of Loggins and the defeat of ACDC, they were on the road after the Red Stone immediately. It was certainly entertaining to be on a road trip with Joseph. The brunette insisted that he knew how to read the map (he couldn’t), and that he spoke perfect Swiss-German (he didn’t), and that he knew all the words to all the songs on the radio (only the English ones). He spent the entire drive chattering, and it was clearly starting to grate on Lisa Lisa’s nerves by the time they approached the Italian-Swiss border. Despite the big idiot being his usual annoying self, Caesar found himself enjoying both the beautiful landscape of the alps and the dubious company.
Caesar was not expecting to see Nazis at the border, and absolutely not expecting Joseph to recognize one of them. After being “invited” to stay at an inn by the soldiers, they waited in the sitting room. “I’m hungry,” complained the brunette, glaring at the soldiers around them. “I’m going to faint if I don’t get some food and tea.”
“Cazzo, you’re always hungry,” hissed Caesar, kicking at his shin under the table. “Keep quiet before your ‘friends’ here shut you up permanently.”
Joseph had opened his mouth to retort when there was a sudden terrific crash from the other room. In the blink of an eye the brunette had leaped to his feet and taken off sprinting for the door. The Nazis watched, dumbfounded, before shouting at each other in German and taking off after him in hot pursuit. There was an awful lot of screaming and machine gun fire, and Caesar went running in to see what Joseph had gotten himself into. He was met with the sight of the German commander, chopped in half and somehow still alive, screeching from where he lay in the snow. Joseph was apparently engaged in battle with Kars, the terrifying leader of the Pillar Men.
The blonde froze, watching Joseph sprint towards the edge of a cliff. Merda, is he going to jump? Caesar’s heart soared when he saw that Joseph had planned instead to kick snow into the vampire’s eyes, triumphantly grabbing the Stone. Caesar’s heart sank when he watched a blade sprout from the Pillar Man’s leg and hook Joseph over the edge into a death plunge. The blonde raced to look over the side at the furious mid-air battle between Joseph and Kars as they plummeted towards the ground.
Caesar didn’t think, he just acted. He knew on an unconscious level that nobody was stupid enough to hatch a plan this absurd, and nobody was foolhardy enough to expect his companion to guess it. So naturally he assumed that Joseph would be counting on him to let down an icicle-rope held together by Hamon. Naturally. I know exactly how his idiotic brain works. It was a terrifying thought.
Caesar pulled Joseph, panting and bleeding, back onto solid ground. He almost shoved him back over the edge at the sight of other man’s smug smirk.
“I must be rubbing off on you, Caesarino,” he declared, wiggling his thick eyebrows. Caesar smacked the brunette upside the head before hoisting him up and carrying him back inside.
In the chateau, Joseph was shirtless on a bed while Caesar tended to his wounds. The room was cozy, furnished with a king sized bed and a roaring fire. Two pairs of wet boots lay dripping on the mat, and the remains of a meal lay forgotten on the sideboard. The brunette chattered excitedly about the battle with Kars, about how terrifying it was to fall down the gorge, about how Caesar had somehow managed to perfectly guess his ridiculous plan.
“I’m glad you know me so well,” sang Joseph with a big dopey grin.
“You’re just lucky. Stupidly lucky,” replied the blonde with a sniff. He finished cleaning blood out of the gaping wound Kars had stabbed into Joseph’s bulky shoulder and laid his right hand over to heal it.
The big idiot smiled wider, eyes sparkling. “I sure am! Lucky you’re here to watch my back! We make the ultimate pair you and I, it was meant to be!”
“Bastardo, shut up before I choke you out,” growled Caesar, face getting warm.
“Ooh Caesar,” purred Joseph, batting his long eyelashes and fanning himself dramatically with a big hand, “don’t threaten me with a good time.”
Caesar smacked him on the shoulder with his free hand, not terribly hard, and looked pointedly away. He was definitely turning pink. Dio mio now I want to choke him more.
Joseph laughed and relaxed, tucking his arms behind his head. “Thanks for saving my sorry ass Caesarino,” he murmured.
“Again,” teased Caesar with a smile. He was sitting on the bed, facing and leaning over the brunette who reclined on pillows propped against the headboard. They were dangerously close. Don’t think about how close he is. Joseph’s long legs were stretched out over the mattress, thick thighs spread wide enough to press against the blonde’s. Caesar could feel the other man’s body heat against his right thigh even through the fabric of their jeans, and the healing hand resting on the brunette’s flesh was also warming up rapidly. The blonde always had cold hands, but never when Joseph was around. He always runs hot, he’s so cozy. Caesar tried to push the thought out of his head. Don’t think about how nice and warm he is.
“Again,” repeated Joseph. “How many does that make?” The teasing bastard had his arms up, hands clasped behind his head. The pose showed off his well-built chest and shoulders, beautifully highlighting his brawny biceps. Caesar could’ve happily spent all evening following every dip and bulge of that tight, sinewy body. Merda, don’t think about his big muscles.
“More than you’ll ever be able to repay,” chuckled the blonde airily.
“You don’t know that,” pouted the brunette. “I have an awful lot of money.”
“These things can’t be bought segone, not with cash,” chided Caesar.
“You’re right, dammit. Pleased with yourself?” Joseph gazed affectionately at the blonde with earnest green eyes and an easy grin. “Guess I’ll have to find another way to make it up to you.”
In a heartbeat, the smile fell from the other man’s handsome face. “Caesar,” he murmured, “almost dying back there made me realize that I don’t want to snuff it with any regrets.” He looked up at the blonde man seriously, who was caught off guard by the sudden shift in tone. “I have one regret, a big one, and it’s not staying in your room the other night. Can we talk about that?”
Caesar turned away. “There’s nothing to talk about,” he muttered.
“Come on, don’t be like that!” cried Joseph, pushing up against the palm on his chest and laying his own right hand on the blonde’s shoulder. He shook Caesar bodily. “You know we bloody well have a lot to talk about.” The blonde turned back to see him biting that plump bottom lip. The hand on his shoulder was a warm comforting weight. “I don’t want to upset you, I just want to clear the air.”
This is an awful idea. “Okay,” spat Caesar. “Fine. Speak your piece.”
The brunette looked up at him delightedly, before taking a deep breath. “Okay, let me start at the very beginning. When we first met, I thought that I hated you, I thought you were a real stuck-up prick. I’m not going to lie, you really annoyed the hell out of me.”
“What a coincidence. I hate you, I think you’re a boorish moron, and you annoy the hell out of me,” simpered Caesar.
“Caesar come on!” He removed the hand from the blonde’s shoulder to gesture dramatically, and Caesar longed for the touch to come back. “Let me just explain myself. You can be snide all you want after I’m done.”
“Whatever His Lordship desires,” muttered Caesar, rolling his eyes.
Joseph chose pointedly to ignore that. “Whenever I watched you with a girl it made me unnecessarily, ridiculously angry. I thought I was envious of you, and wanted to get with that girl.” He looked up sheepishly, stupid handsome face flushed pink. “It took me a while to realize it never had anything to do with the girls. I was having all sorts of weird feelings and I couldn’t get you out of my head! I wanted to be better than you, I wanted to impress you, I thought for a little while I wanted to be you.” He gestured at the blonde. “I mean, who wouldn’t? You’re impossibly cool, hot as hell, charismatic, an absolute ladykiller. But then I figured it out! I didn’t want to be you. I wanted to be with you.”
Caesar tried and failed to push down the warm little thrill rising in his chest.
“I fancy you, Caesar,” murmured Joseph, gazing earnestly into his eyes. “The way a man is supposed to feel about a woman, I feel that way about you. But you’re also a man, obviously,” he continued, “and I didn’t know if it was okay to want you like… that. Maybe you would be uncomfortable. But then something happened that made me realize that I had to find out how you felt. So back when-” Joseph broke off and grinned sheepishly. “You probably don’t remember this, but ages ago Teacher had us do some wrestling.”
I’ve jerked off to that particular memory many times. “Maybe. Go on.”
“This is going to sound silly but when we were in that very first pin, and I was on top holding you down, Caesar I almost got a boner right then and there.” He gazed up at the blonde with hungry, half-lidded eyes. “The feeling of your body moving against mine, grinding against you, seeing you laid out on your back under me, it was incredible. I wanted to run my hands all over you, to tear off your clothes and kiss you everywhere, and-” Joseph broke off suddenly, realizing he was getting too worked up. The skin under Caesar’s hand was hot, and a dark flush was spreading up the brunette’s tanned chest. The blonde felt his own face growing warmer.
Joseph cleared his throat. “So anyway,” he went on with a lopsided grin, “I stole a bottle of grappa from the kitchens and tried to figure you out.”
“That’s why you started coming to my room,” murmured Caesar, unconsciously shifting in closer.
“Yeah, exactly!” replied the other man breathlessly. “I really wanted to know more about you, and how you felt about me. It seemed to be going well. You let me come over every night, we talked for hours, you let me touch you all the time. You’re wonderful to hold, Caesar.” The brunette contemplated him with dreamy eyes, and shifted slightly to run a warm hand up the blonde’s arm and over his shoulder. Caesar allowed it. “You’re so big, and strong, and sturdy. You feel amazing when you’re in my arms or pressed against me. I can hold you as tight as I want, throw you around, be as rough as I damn well please, and you’ll turn around and give it right back to me. Not to mention,” he grinned, brushing the back of his hand against his cheek, “your skin is super soft.”
“Yours would be too, if you ever moisturized,” teased Caesar.
“Would you like that?” asked Joseph curiously. He shook his head and pouted. “Never mind damnit, let me finish! Where was I?” The brunette looked contemplative for a moment before snapping his fingers. “Right! The gorgeous man haunting my dreams. You definitely know this and probably get it all the time, but shit, Caesar you are stunningly beautiful.” He trailed that big hand up to cup the blonde’s chin. “You look like one of those marble statues in Rome, like you were carved by an artist and not just born. And I thought to myself, ‘What on Earth would Caesar, sexy, suave, face-kissed-by-the-angels Caesar, want with an average jerkoff like me?’”
He has no idea how attractive he is. He must never find out. Caesar suddenly found himself nearly nose-to-nose with Joseph. Without thinking, while the brunette had been talking, he’d slowly moved in closer. By now he was sitting between the other man’s thick thighs with his own legs spread wide, practically in his lap. Flattery will get you everywhere. I’m such a sucker. The wound had been healed for some time now. Fuck it. The blonde slid his hands up the other man’s burly chest and laced his fingers behind his thick neck.
Joseph looked ecstatic at the contact, green eyes gleaming. He ran his big hands down Caesar’s sides and grabbed onto his hips, pulling him closer until they were flush against each other, chest to chest. It was comforting, an intimacy that the blonde didn’t realize how badly he’d missed. The heat of the other man’s broad torso seeped through Caesar’s shirt, warming him far more than the fire crackling in the grate.
“It’s not just your pretty face and smoking hot body, although don’t get me wrong that’s part of it,” murmured the brunette. “I love spending time with you. I love your company, I love your banter, I even love the constant shit you give me. It’s so easy, it feels so right to be with you. It’s kind of like-" at that he paused for a moment and ducked his head. “Kind of like how I’ve always figured it would be to have a girlfriend. You know,” he continued, looking back up into Caesar’s eyes, “like a person you care a lot about, and you get along really well, but also you fuck them.”
The blonde snorted at that. “I wouldn’t know,” he admitted. “I’ve never had a girlfriend.”
“Really? Huh.” Joseph sounded surprised. “So anyway, I tried to figure out what you were feeling. But God Caesar, you’re so hard to read.” His thumbs dipped under the blonde’s waistband and began to rub gently over his hip bones. “I had no idea if you were into me or not. I mean I was pretty sure there was something there, on account of all the cuddling. Well, that and the fact that you were constantly checking me out.” At that Caesar’s eyes widened and Joseph chuckled, bulky chest shaking against his own. “Don’t worry, I could only tell you were always looking at me because I was always looking at you.” The brunette furrowed his brow. “You have to understand, I’ve never really had any relationships like this. I legitimately couldn’t tell if it’s normal for men to be this close, or if you hated me, or if you actually felt the same.” He cracked a grin. “I was really hoping it was that last one, but even if you didn’t have feelings for me I was happy to just enjoy our time together.”
“Remarkably mature for you,” muttered Caesar.
The brunette smiled wider. “Don’t get used to it. But anyway, there I was, carrying a torch for a man who may or may not hate my guts. And then,” Joseph looked at him with sparkling eyes, “and then you told me to kiss you.” Caesar could feel himself blushing. “I thought I was hearing things! I was too much of a coward to ever have made the first move, but you didn’t have to tell me twice.” The brunette flushed bright red. “That was my first kiss.”
“One hell of a first kiss,” murmured Caesar, thinking back to the bruises he’d left running down the other man’s neck. He shifted his hips in a little closer.
“I know, right?” chuckled Joseph good-naturedly. “It was better than I ever could have imagined. I was having the time of my life, and you obviously were too.” He wiggled his dark eyebrows suggestively, Caesar could have smacked him. “You were voracious. I get why you’re so popular with the ladies. I actually had you under me, and my God, you look so good laid out on your back. It felt amazing and I was ready to go as far as you were, and then-” at that the brunette’s face fell and he went quiet for a moment. “Then you changed your mind. Which is fine, you have every right to do that,” he said quickly. “But I’ll admit it was pretty disappointing. You went from taking my pants off to kicking me out in about ten seconds. You wouldn’t give me a reason why, and it really hurt.” Caesar looked away.
“I went back to my room,” continued Joseph, “feeling like shit and with a raging boner that just would not quit.” The blonde looked back up at his dumb handsome face, with sad eyes and a wry smile. “So I thought about how it felt to have your lips on mine, to be pressed against you, to have your hands all over me, and I imagined what we would have done if you hadn’t stopped it. Prime spank bank material.” Caesar snorted. “That was the most conflicted wank I’ve ever had,” he admitted. “I was kind of mad at you, but also missed you desperately. And we’ve done nothing but run around and travel and have wild fights since then.” Joseph dipped his head forward, pressing their foreheads together. “So I want you to tell me if you’re actually into me Caesar, if that wasn’t just a drunken makeout,” the brunette ran his warm hands up the blonde’s sides and wrapped them around his waist, smirking. “I suspect that’s the case, going by the fact that you’re sitting in my lap. So tell me why you rejected me. Tell me why we aren’t sloppily making out right now.”
Caesar sighed. “It’s not-” he broke off with a gasp as Joseph canted his hips forward, grinding against him. “Horny bastardo. Keep it in your pants for a damn minute or you’re not getting an answer,” he growled. He ran his hands from Joseph’s thick neck to rest on his broad shoulders, pulling back to look him squarely in the eye. “It’s not that I don’t want you, I do. Desperately.” The blonde licked his lips as the other man watched, captivated. “I want you every way. I want you under me, I want you on top of me, I want you inside me.” Joseph made an excited, strangled noise, as Caesar looked at him sadly. “But I have serious problems with commitment, and with emotional intimacy. I can’t bear to get attached to someone, just to have them leave me.”
“I’m not going anywhere Caesar,” murmured Joseph, running his hands up and down the other man’s sides.
“You don’t know that, JoJo!” snapped the blonde. He doesn’t understand. “What if you meet someone else? What if,” he stopped and slumped forward, burying his face in the other man’s thick neck. Muffled, he admitted what had been weighing on his mind. “What if you don’t come out of the battle alive tomorrow?”
Caesar felt gentle fingers pushing up on his chin, and looked up into earnest green eyes. “That’s the best argument I’ve ever heard for hooking up. So what if I don’t come out alive tomorrow?” He slid a warm hand around the back of the blonde’s neck and pulled him close. “I’m alive right now,” he purred, “so kiss me.”
“What, don’t want to die a virgin?” teased Caesar.
“I mean, I don’t, but that’s the least of it.” The brunette looked at him with big, genuine eyes. “What I want is you.” He licked his plump lips. “It might be our last night together. Hell, it might be our last night alive." Joseph grinned broadly and raised a dark eyebrow. “Wanna fool around?”