Nicky was always aware that there were many people who would target his Joe simply because his skin was darker. Whether it was used as an indicator that he followed a different God or that he was somewhere in which he was in the minority, it was entirely more common for Joe to bear hatred based on his appearance than Nicky.
And Joe tended to not be as aggressive in his countering such discrimination as he was when someone gave him hatred because of his love for Nicky. So it wasn’t uncommon for Nicky to become more defensive in the case of a threat to Joe because he wasn’t as pale skinned as the rest of their family.
While much of his defensiveness came from his pure love for his Yusuf, he knew part of it was that he had once been guilty of the same misdirected hatred, thinking Joe was worthy of death simply because he wasn’t exactly the same.
How many had he killed for such wrong reasons before crossing swords with Yusuf and being allowed a life that helped him realize how wrong he’d been?
But when people unleashed their hatred through violence, Nicky quickly lost empathy for their misguided beliefs. And when that violence was turned on his love, he tended to lose all measure of restraint in deciding whether or not to kill them.
For the past few hundred years, it had been about an even split between killing and not, often determined by whether any of their other immortal family was around or not to try and calm him. Joe didn’t try to influence his decision though Nicky was aware that Joe preferred when he didn’t jump straight to killing people over this.
Joe was of the mind that Nicky was the prime example that if given the opportunity, most people could find acceptance as Nicky had.
Whenever they talked about it, Nicky would usually counter that most people didn’t have such intense reason to question whether or not what they’d come to believe was wrong. Becoming incapable of death alongside one’s enemy wasn’t exactly a standard situation and it had taken Nicky years travelling with Yusuf to completely see him for who he really was.
But not enough people were willing to see that, to not search for reasons to hate one another and Nicky and Joe were witness to that too often.
He and Joe had just finished up taking on a job on their own in Moscow, Andy and Booker doing the same in Milan. With the other two not due to finish their mission for another week or so, Nicky had offered for them to stay a few extra days for a break. It had been a few decades since they’d been to this part of Russia and they could always find new places to visit.
They’d been heading back to their hotel in a leisure manner, just enjoying each other as they only could when it was the two of them alone for any amount of time longer than a few days.
Nicky had been the first to notice they were being followed, which was pretty common as he was usually the one to still be keeping a lookout even when they weren’t working. He stepped over toward Joe automatically and that was all Joe needed to know that he’d noticed something.
Joe continued the conversation, casually sliding his hands into his jacket pockets, the left one being where he kept one of the three knives he currently carried on him. He wasn’t carrying a gun at the moment but Nicky was, it tucked into the inside of his belt just off to the right of his spine.
They came to an intersection and turned to face each other so they could get a better look at who was following them, seeing a group of about a dozen men, all in their late twenties to middle thirties. Nicky noted that about eight of them either didn’t know how to conceal carry a weapon or didn’t care that anyone could see the line of the guns tucked into their pants.
Joe rolled his eyes as he turned back toward the crosswalk and muttered, “Neo-Nazis.” He gave a quick roll of his neck to clarify where he’d seen something to come to that declaration. Nicky gave one last quick look as he turned back in the direction they were heading, catching sight of the telltale tattoo on one of the guy’s neck. “And we’re about to hit a very dark part of the city.”
There already weren’t many people around and those that were left looked like they would either run at the first sign of trouble or join in any violence just for the hell of it.
They’d been taking a route that had been in much better shape the last time they’d been here and it wouldn’t be the first time that ended up getting them in trouble as they missed out on knowing what parts of cities should just generally be avoided, regardless of their immortality. After all, they didn’t actually go around looking for random trouble. It ultimately caught too much attention.
They’d just crossed the street when they heard the men behind them starting to jeer at them in Russian, both for Joe’s ethnicity as well as for them being together.
“It’s all rather uninspired, don’t you think, love?” Joe asked in a louder tone meant to carry back to them, speaking Arabic just for extra irritation factor.
“Those who buy into this kind of hatred haven’t had anything original to say in a very long time,” Nicky replied in Russian.
They were getting closer, walking at a faster pace to close the distance and Nicky listened closely to their footsteps and the voices of those still calling insults at them to track their progress. Joe would have been doing the same. They both knew how these confrontations could turn whether or not they said anything and they would be ready.
He heard when one of them lunged after him and he stepped to the left away from Joe and was aware that Joe had taken a long step forward to avoid the attempt to grab either of them. Nicky ignored the urge to draw his gun, deciding to try and settle this without killing anyone. Many changed their minds about attacking them once they realized they made for very capable targets and wouldn’t be taken by fear.
Unfortunately, these guys were caught up in the confidence of their numbers and after a brief pause of surprise they came after them again.
Nicky saw two draw their guns but they likely wouldn’t do anything as long as their friends were crowding in like they were. The only truly unfortunate manner in which they attacked was that they ended up charging between Nicky and Joe and while that wasn’t any guarantee that they would have any success in keeping them separated, Nicky didn’t appreciate it.
Nicky stepped out of range of a wild punch, sliding back in to deliver a strike of his own to the attacker’s stomach and immediately followed it up by twisting down and swinging his elbow up over himself to elbow him right in the nose, knocking him back. He was already moving on to the next one before the one he’d already hit had time to realize his nose was broken.
He knocked out three more before a gun fired and he felt the sharp pain of a bullet piercing through his kneecap and his leg buckled, Nicky stumbling to the ground. He looked up just in time to see one of the guns leveled at his face.
“Nicolo!” Joe cried out as he lunged toward Nicky but his distraction allowed some of their attackers to grab onto his arms and forced him down to the ground roughly, one punching at him multiple times until Joe went limp. Nicky’s leg was about halfway healed and he prepared to stand and make sure no more harm was done to his love.
He didn’t get that far as three men pushed him down just as they had Joe and one hit Nicky in the temple with the barrel of his gun and Nicky lost his ability to focus. He felt himself be rolled over and then pulled back up to his knees, one man on each of his arms, another grabbing a handful of his hair o pull his head up, shoving the gun into his face threateningly.
Nicky ignored it and looked past the guy in his face and toward Joe, seeing if he was conscious again yet.
“You deserve to die, you fucking faggot.”
“You won’t hurt him anymore,” Joe’s determined voice sounded and the man holding the gun turned toward him, obviously surprised that he was awake already. He then looked infuriated and stalked over to Joe and loomed over him.
“What, you thought I wouldn’t be taking care of you? You’re just some fucking terrorist acting like he belongs here. Nobody wants you here. You don’t deserve to be alive. All you do is destroy what we care about, you subhuman piece of shit.”
Joe just smirked up at him before he leaned toward him, uncaring of the barrel of the gun pressing into his neck. “You deem me ‘terrorist’ and us ‘faggot’ with a glance and claim superiority?” He spoke in very purposeful Russian, clear and concise and it seemed to throw many of the men again. “There is nothing you are choosing to uphold in these actions that are worth surviving the night. And I would have dismissed you just as easily but you threatened Nicky, believed you could harm him without consequences.”
The man scoffed and stood upright, turning back toward Nicky. “Except that’s exactly what I’m going to do. But you just earned yourself not being conscious enough to see it.”
Everyone who wasn’t still holding Nicky charged and mobbed Joe, knocking him over and then Nicky lost sight of him in the flurry of kicks being thrown, not even able to hear sounds of pain from Joe. But if Joe was still conscious, he knew just like Nicky and Andy did how to control damage. He knew how he could protect certain parts of his body and be able to go on just that little bit longer. It was just one of those subtle things that came from hundreds of years of battle.
Nicky, on the other hand, was going to kill these men and he honestly didn’t care about leaving them in the middle of the road to be found with their hateful ideals on display as the reason for their deaths.
His knee was completely healed and he twisted his body to off balance the men still holding him, the one on his right arm not able to keep his grip. Nicky dropped to his side even as he reached for his own gun, aiming and firing at the one still holding on to his left arm. He then turned enough to take out the other two who had been restraining him. He came to his knees and shot the one who had threatened him and Joe just after he’d turned his way.
It was methodical how he killed the rest, most of them so caught up in causing harm to his Joe that they didn’t even get the chance to realize they were about to die. He was two bullets short of being able to kill them all with one clip.
It didn’t matter though as he was already moving even as he was still shooting, closing the distance and just as his last bullet was fired, he struck one across the temple with the butt of the gun, which he usually tried to avoid even though he knew he took enough care of his weapons for it not to misfire. It was just poor gun etiquette. He then dropped his gun and reached around to where he saw the last remaining man had a gun of his own tucked into his pants. He pulled it free and felt that the safety was already off, the fool, and then fired it once into its owner’s temple.
He knew already that if four got medical attention quickly enough, they would likely survive. He wasn’t going to be calling in any emergency though. That was for the possible good Samaritan to pass by and take care of.
He retrieved his gun and tucked it back into his belt and then went to where Joe was still crumpled up on the ground. He was breathing though and he was letting out short gasps that were indicative of healing, likely of broken bones repairing. Nicky kneeled down at his side and took Joe’s hand while his other hand pressed to Joe’s cheek.
Joe took in a quick breath and looked up at him immediately, his gaze becoming warm in an instant. He was moving to sit up and Nicky helped him.
Joe looked around them and let out a sigh and shook his head. “Well, I warned him,” he declared simply.
Nicky let out a short laugh and shook his head as he pulled Joe to his feet. “You always gift people more than they deserve.” He leaned in to press a kiss to Joe’s temple as the man was straightening up his clothes, a small smile automatically coming across Joe’s face.
Nicky didn’t care how much Joe claimed that he was the gift to the world. It was his Yusuf that was more than the world deserved with his boundless creativity and lighthearted nature. Nicky may be capable of kindness but he was best suited to taking things from the world.
He would happily dedicate that skill to the endurance of his love.