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You Can't Start a Fire Without a Spark

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The bar was hazy, a low fog of smoke clinging to the air, and Joe was pretty sure that Booker had a smoke machine hidden in a corner because there was no way that the number of people in that bar, even if all of them were smoking, could have produced this kind of haze. But there was a smokey haze, and that is the only reason Joe was caught off guard by the arm that suddenly wrapped around his waist, by the body that was suddenly pressed against him, by the kiss that was suddenly pressed against his mouth.

He had nothing to blame for why he deepened that kiss or slipped his arm around the stranger's waist, pulling him (and it was definitely a him) closer. Maybe it was the expensive gin he could taste on the man's lips, but before he could really think too long and hard about it, the kiss broke, and Joe was left breathless. The man smiled up at him, the smile both sheepish and breathless.

"I need you to pretend to be my boyfriend." The man glanced over his shoulder at the bar, and Joe followed his line of sight but saw nothing out of the ordinary. Booker was swamped, but that was normal. Joe looked back at the man in confusion and that only got him a huff of air in response. "I'm being hit on, he won't take no for an answer, and the bartender said you would be willing to lie for me." He exhaled through his teeth. "I swear if she was lying...."

Joe had to laugh at that, mostly because it was the only thing he could do. There was something mesmerizing about the man, the accent, the big blue eyes, the smile that was still kind of breathless, the fact that he was still pressed against Joe. Which was clearly because of their lie. Clearly. Joe shook his head, but he still pulled him even closer.

He leaned down, his mouth close to the man's ear. "Name, beautiful?" his whispered, feeling the man shiver in his arms as his eyes continued to scan the bar. "It's going to be awkward otherwise."

The man's other hand came up to press against the small of Joe's back which only served to press them closer together. Joe could get used to this. He was getting used to this. He shook his head again, but that only served to nuzzle his nose against the man's temple. He felt the man's hand clench at the back of his shirt, fingers twisting in the fabric.

"Nicolo Di Genova." The man made a sound in his throat. "Nicky. That's probably easier." He smiled slightly up at him, and the expression was almost a smirk. "Americans, you know? Sometimes you have trouble with the pronunciation."

"Not American, Nicolo," Joe replied in almost perfect Italian. His accent was only a little off, he had technically learned Italian after he had learned English and even then his native Arabic still shown through. Nicky made a sound in his throat at that, lifting his hand and pushing his shoulder slightly. Joe laughed, reaching up and catching his wrist. "Yusuf al-Kaysani. Joe."

He used the hold on Nicky's wrist to pull him close again, and he nuzzled his cheek against Nicky's temple before turning to whisper against his ear, "So which one is the one I need to glower at until they get the hint?" Joe wasn't really the possessive type, but he'd play it up if he needed to. He needed to sell this after all. Just cuddling in the entrance way with other patrons glaring at them as they shouldered past wasn't really enough. Fun, but not really convincing when trying to scare someone off.

Nicky nodded and gestured at the bar.

Pointing directly at Booker.

Joe narrowed his eyes, looking from Nicky to the bar and back again. "I thought you said the bartender was the one who told you I would lie for you?" Now Joe was just confused because Booker was the only man at the bar, and Nicky had gestured very definitely in that direction.

"Yes. She did," Nicky replied, this time pointing at Quynh where she was counting money out of the till. Like she knew they were talking about her, she looked up at Joe and Nicky and grinned. And winked. Joe huffed a laugh at that which only made Nicky look at him. It was his turn to be confused, but Joe just shook his head.

He leaned in, pressing a kiss to Nicky's temple, knowing it was probably about to be his last chance to do that. Honestly Joe wouldn't have blamed Nicky if he just punched him and walked out. He was really going to give Booker hell for doing this.

"Yusuf." There was a small note of command in Nicky's voice, and it made Joe shiver in a way that definitely was not unpleasant.

Joe laughed, the sound gentle, and he hoped that would soften what he needed to say next. "My, uh. My friends think I'm going to die alone so they decided that the first moderately attractive single man was fair game." He turned to glare at Booker who just lifted one of the glasses he was cleaning and tipped it towards Joe and Nicky as a salute.

Joe flipped him off, but Booker just laughed. He bit the inside of his cheek before turning back to Nicky, who still looked confused, but in a way that was so heart-rendingly adorable that Joe was pretty sure he was going to die from it. "Nicolo?" he asked, his voice soft.

"'Moderately' attractive?" He actually sounded hurt, but he couldn't hold back the grin. Nicky reached out and took Joe's wrist, pulling him close. He leaned up to whisper against his ear, "Take me out to dinner, tell your friends that we did ridiculously wicked things to each other after, maybe they'll give you a break," he was still grinning as he stepped back and took Joe's hand, leading him to the door.

Joe was sure that whatever it looked like to Quynh and Booker, the way he practically melted probably sold it completely.