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Paris, 1922


They turn in early.

Well, early is relative these days, but they return to their rented rooms after dinner instead of accompanying Andy and Booker for a night of drinking and dancing. Perhaps tomorrow.

They stroll back to their rooms at a leisurely pace. It’s a balmy evening, the height of spring, and music is pouring out of every nightclub and cabaret they pass. Only a year or so removed from the non-stop fighting and nursing that consumed them for most of the last decade and the start of the new one, it’s a relief to be reminded that there are still beautiful things.

They don’t talk much as they make their way home. They climb the stairs in silence.

Nicky sits on the bed to take off his shoes as Joe goes to open the window, in part because the fresh air will be pleasant and in part because it’s still a habit, after being in so many sickrooms.

Joe sits down next to Nicky and begins to remove his own shoes and outer layers. Once they’re both in bare feet and shirtsleeves, Joe feels Nicky’s finger under his chin and finds his head being turned until his lips meet Nicky’s, and mmm, yes, that’s all the night was missing.

It’s a soft, quiet kind of kiss, one that doesn’t hurry or demand, just says, here I am.

At least, it’s that kind of kiss until Nicky runs his hands up Joe’s chest, slowly, and hooks his thumbs under Joe’s suspenders. Then it’s deeper, needier, but only for a moment, because Nicky’s pulling away and Joe’s chasing his mouth.

“Tell me what you want,” Nicky says, voice soft.

Joe bumps their foreheads together. “That kind of night?”

“If you’re in the mood.”

“I’ll have to consider carefully,” he teases, undoing the top button of Nicky’s shirt. “My love asking if I’m in the mood for him to give me everything I want. Lots of arguments for and against.”


Joe’s gaze flicks up to meet Nicky’s. Ah. It really is that kind of night.

Nicky cares. They all do, in their little family, it’s why they live the life they live, but care for Nicky is an active verb, and sometimes, when his mind’s gone to a particular place, he needs to be able to take care of someone and know that affection will be accepted, that it will matter. It is a very small thing and a very great thing, all at once.

Joe nods his understanding, leans in for another quick kiss, and says, “Take my clothes off, and then take your clothes off.”

Nicky sighs in relief and slips Joe’s suspenders off his shoulders.

Once they’re naked, Joe pushes Nicky onto the bed—he laughs a little as he bounces, and Joe swears to God he falls a little more in love with the man every day—and climbs on top of him.

“Hands in my hair. Kiss me like you mean it.”

And Nicky hauls him down and goes to work.

Their love bites fade too fast, their scratches disappear, so they’ve found other ways of marking each other up. In Joe’s case, it’s usually his hair, which keeps no secrets; after Nicky’s had his way with it, it all but screams My husband and I fuck and it’s great. Joe loses himself in Nicky’s hands and mouth, feels Nicky wrap a leg around his thigh, and it feels so good to be wanted, to know that after century upon century they keep choosing each other.

By the time he sits up, he’s so hard that not grinding himself against Nicky for relief has started to require serious effort. Nicky’s lips are red and shining from being bitten and sucked at, and Joe imagines his own look much the same.

“Your mouth is a gift,” he says. “No one kisses like you do, my love, everyone else can only dream.” He notices how Nicky’s breath catches and his hips begin to roll. “A tempting idea,” Joe smiles, sinking his weight down a bit more to pin Nicky to the bed, “but not what I have in mind.”

“What do you have in mind?” Nicky asks, and his voice is Joe’s favorite sound.

“Suck me.”

Nicky groans. “With pleasure. On the bed?”

“On your knees,” Joe answers, trying to sound light, casual, because that drives Nicky crazy, knowing he can take Joe from coherent nonchalance to gasping half sentences with nothing but his body and his considerable talents. The shameless keening noise Joe’s rewarded with is even more satisfying than the groan that preceded it.

He rolls off of Nicky and they arrange themselves at the edge of the bed, Nicky kneeling between Joe’s legs, sliding his hands up Joe’s thighs as Joe rakes a hand through Nicky’s hair.


Nicky nods. “Use me,” he whispers.

It’s Joe’s turn to groan as his abdomen tightens, heat spreading low in his body at Nicky’s words. “You’re so good to me, Nicolò.” He slides his hand out of Nicky’s hair and braces himself against the bed. “Go ahead, put your mouth on me. Start with your lips.”


Nicky always loves this moment, the one right before he actually touches Joe’s cock, when his nose is full of the smell of Joe’s arousal and his mind is drunk on anticipation. Of course, he equally loves the moment his lips brush the base of Joe’s shaft, a barely-there kiss that causes Joe’s hips to rock. Already desperate for it, Nicky thinks. Well, he’ll get everything he wants, all in good time. The thought sends a pulse of desire straight to Nicky’s own cock. Few things drive him as mad as focusing all his attention on Joe, on knowing Joe is alight with pleasure and it’s all Nicky’s doing, all Nicky’s fault.

He covers Joe’s cock in teasing, close-mouthed kisses, and squeezes Joe’s thigh to remind him that he doesn’t like to work in silence.

“That’s perfect,” Joe says, “like that. I would say yes, my heart, get me ready, but you don’t have to, you know sometimes all it takes to get me ready is looking at you from across the dinner table.”

Nicky chuckles and finally presses a kiss to the tip of Joe’s cock. He licks his lips when he pulls away, tasting Joe secondhand.

“You make me want to thrust into your mouth,” Joe tells him, keeping still with noticeable effort.

“You could.”

“Not yet—you’re not getting off that easy.”

“Thank goodness.”

“Add your tongue, now—fuck.” He draws the vowel out, long and slow, as Nicky begins to lick him using only the tip of his tongue. “That’s it, yes, God, the way you light me up. And you like hearing about it, don’t you? Me telling you how good this is, that’s almost better than a hand on your own cock, isn’t it, beloved?”

Nicky nods, rocking his hips against air. He opens his mouth and rasps his tongue along Joe’s shaft from root to tip, relishing both the feel of Joe rigid under his mouth and the “Yes, that’s so good, you’re so good at that,” he elicits.

“Your hands, too,” Joe adds, and Nicky skims his fingers along Joe’s balls, still licking him with long drags. “Unh, fuck, you’ll make me lose my words, and that’s the last thing I want. I want to feel you sucking me down and I want to tell you how it makes me feel, how you turn me inside out and fill me with stars—doesn’t make much sense, but that’s what you do to me.”

Nicky moans, starting to slip into that space where he becomes more aware of Joe’s body than his own.

“That’s it, baby,” Joe says, “you’re so good, so good to me, I can’t say it enough, and I don’t ever think you’d get tired of hearing it. Now suck me properly, Nicolò, swallow me—ah, fuck!”

Nicky inhales through his nose as he takes Joe in his mouth all at once, sliding his lips over the head of Joe’s cock and continuing down until he can feel Joe against the back of his mouth, then pulling almost all the way off and plunging down again. Feeling Joe hard and heavy under his tongue, tasting him, clouds his head faster than any wine. His lips are already swollen and sore from kissing, this is only making them worse, and it’s such a turn on he can hardly stand it. He’s like this because Joe wants him this way, because he wants to give Joe what he wants, and before the night is over he’ll feel Joe twitch in his mouth, spill against his tongue—

“Stop,” Joe tells him, and he pulls off with a noise of protest. Fuck, he’s hard; it’s much more difficult to ignore when he doesn’t have something else to concentrate on.

Joe ducks his head and presses his forehead to Nicky’s. “Enjoying yourself?”


“So I see. Look at you, Nicolò, so flushed. All that from sucking me?” Nicky can only nod. “What a blessing, to be loved by someone so pleasured by my pleasure.” He presses a kiss to Nicky’s forehead, then brings one of Nicky’s hands to his mouth and kisses his palm. “Touch yourself for me? I want to watch you.” Nicky nods again, and Joe licks his palm before releasing his hand.

Nicky braces himself against the best and brings his hand to his cock, a choked noise of relief escaping from him as he begins to stroke himself.

“Slowly, love, slowly,” Joe tells him. “What a vision you are. Don’t go too far, you still have to finish me off. I know what it does to you, making me come, makes everything after twice as good, doesn’t it, brings you that much closer to—”

Nicky lets go of himself and grips Joe’s thigh hard enough that his short fingernails dig into Joe’s skin. “Joe, please.”

“What do you need?”

“I need you to let me make you come.”

Joe spreads his legs a little wider, leans back on his elbows. “Do your worst, my heart.”


It’s incredible, Joe thinks, how desperate they still get. There’s Nicky planted between his legs, one of which is now slung over Nicky’s shoulder, sucking and swallowing Joe down like his life depends on it. And there’s Joe, keeping his head up just so he can appreciate the sight of Nicky loving on him, feeling his orgasm building stronger and stronger with every moment that passes.

“Fuck, Nicky, I need to move.” Nicky makes a desperate noise that Joe knows means Oh thank God, took you long enough, and Joe lets his hips roll up, pushing even farther into Nicky’s mouth, thinks about how hard Nicky is from doing this, how needy it makes him to know he’s all Joe needs. “That’s incredible, you’re all I want, you give me everything I—Nicolò—” He feels Nicky swallow around him and he’s gone, arching against the bed and spending into Nicky’s mouth until there’s nothing left to give.

Nicky, for his part, makes a noise that’s practically orgasmic as he swallows again before gently licking Joe clean. Joe lies back and lets him, knowing it’s one more thing Nicky wants to do for him, then rolls onto his side as Nicky’s crawls back onto the bed.

“My moon and my stars,” he sighs, kissing Nicky slow and deep. “So good to me.”

“Please,” Nicky whispers against his mouth, “don’t make me wait.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Not tonight, anyway. “How do you want to come?”

“Like this,” Nicky answers. “Give me your hand, fast and hard.”

Joe does as he’s asked, watching with deep enjoyment as Nicky’s eyes roll back before they close, as he slaps a hand against the bed and makes a fist in the sheets, as he comes with a cry, spend spattering his chest.

“Fuck,” he declares, once he’s caught his breath.

“Yes,” Joe agrees.

“I love you beyond the words I have to say how.”

“As do I.”

“And I love it when we fuck.”

Joe laughs, loud and uninhibited, and sits up, reaching for a half-full glass of water on the nightstand. He passes it to Nicky and stands up to look for a towel. “Let me do this,” he insists before Nicky can say anything. “You’ve already cleaned me up, and seen to all my other needs besides.”

“It was good?”

It isn’t that Nicky doesn’t know, of course, it’s that he needs to hear. “Beyond good,” Joe assures him, wiping the towel along his chest.

“I’d never think you doubt my love, you know, that’s not why I ask for this.”

Joe drops the towel and stretches out next to him. “I know why.”

Nicky pulls Joe across his chest, wrapping his arms around as much of Joe as he can reach. “Everything we’ve seen…”

There’s no need to finish the sentence. They both know.

Joe pulls a blanket over them and they snuggle together, listening to the music wafting up from the street. The world turns; they turn with it. Sometimes there is beauty and sometimes there are bullets; sometimes there is sickness and sometimes there are warm spring nights. People call to each other in the street until the early hours of the morning. The opening and closing of doors in the night signals the return of Andy and Booker, safe for another day.

Joe and Nicky fall asleep in each other’s arms.