Day 4

Title: Day 4
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: The Old Guard
Rating: R
Pairing: Nicky/Joe
Disclaimer: Not my characters. I wish they were mine. I definitely don’t get paid for this.
Summary: When you're virtually immortal, anything different is exciting. But some things are even better than exciting.
Notes: Written during my 12 Ficlets in 12 Days in 2020-21 project project for Anonymous

There was no sound in the history of the world that was packed with as much relief as Joe’s sigh as he led the way into their ritzy hotel suite. With three unscheduled layovers, two assassination attempts, and one car chase, this 56-hour leg of the trip hadn’t been without its complications. Nicky was ready to go straight to bed and sleep for a day straight, and Joe sounded even more ready. But Joe collapsed onto the sofa instead of the bed, indicating he wanted to talk and wind down first. So Nicky made a stop at the small bar station in the corner of the main room. 

One of the things Nicky was beginning to like about this decade was the social drinking. It was handy in getting others to lower their defenses and spill secrets. It was also a nice reward after a job well done. Ice cubes clinked in his glass until the smooth whiskey enveloped them. He knew Joe wouldn’t be interested in a drink. Much had changed over the centuries, but that hadn’t. Nicky took the opportunity to remove the weapons he had left—the knife and the handguns—setting them on the counter next to the bottles.

Across the room, Joe closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose between his eyes. “Finally alone. For a while there, I wasn’t sure we’d ever get to hand off that bitch.” 

Surprise registered on Nicky’s face for a fraction of a second before he took a sip from the glass. It wasn’t the best he’d ever tasted, but it was far from the worst. It went down smooth with a smoky, woody aftertaste. Joe didn’t know what he was missing. “Hush! She might hear you!” He laughed as he took a seat beside Joe.

“Not likely. Remember when we did a check of this building? The walls between rooms are so thick she could be screaming bloody murder next door, and we wouldn’t know. And it would be the problem of those two suckers we handed her off to, anyway.” 

Nicky snorted into his whiskey and wiped his sleeve across his mouth. 

Joe stretched his arms, hands reaching toward the vaulted ceiling. Then he bent one arm back and knocked the wall behind him with a fist. “The soundproofing is fortunate, honestly, because I’ve felt like I’ve had to sneeze all day.” 

Down came the glass at once. Nicky’s eyes were wide. “What?” The word was as light as a summer breeze, as tiny as the very center of a flower, as soft as a cat’s fur—all things that could make him sneeze, incidentally. As soon as he felt that tickle in his nose, he was guaranteed to succumb to an irrepressible, irresistible sneezing fit. But almost nothing made Joe sneeze. Except…

“You didn’t notice I’ve been coming down with a cold?” 

Breath and heart rate both quickening, Nicky wanted to admit that he had noticed Joe rub at his nose a few times. He had noticed a few twitches, a few wrinkles, a few sniffs. Sure, he had noticed something but hadn’t wanted to say anything about it in front of the client. And he hadn’t wanted to get his hopes up, even though this was both the worst time and the perfect time for Joe to be sneezy. Panic rose up in him as he remembered they were supposed to be getting on a train to Canada in the morning to be protection detail for another celebrity. But that was still so many hours from now. So many hours of privacy and touching, of kissing and making love, of sniffling and sneezing and oh fuck it had been decades since one of them had picked up a cold. Nicky hadn’t wanted to get excited, but now that was all he seemed capable of doing.

A cocked head and sly smile answered Nicky’s silence. “Thought you might like hearing that.”

“I swear, if this is a joke--”

“If this were a joke, would I be this sniffly?” He sniffed demonstratively, small and wet and so damn beautiful the way his nostrils rounded and his eyelids fluttered slightly. “Or this hard?” 

Nicky’s hand had already discovered that, the strong, familiar heat that spoke of need and desire and want and playfulness all at once. Nicky was never so grateful that he couldn’t easily die as when Joe proposed something that could overload him with pleasure. He abandoned his glass on the arm of the boxy, mustard-colored couch. He reached for Joe’s hands, wanting to take them, kiss them, tug on them. He wanted to get Joe in bed right now before this went any further on the couch. 

But then came a little catch of breath. Like a hesitant gasp. Like a warning. Like a promise. Another lovely thing about the nineteen-fifties was how pocket squares were a staple in every breast suit pocket. He pulled Joe’s out now, admiring his own dramatic flourish for only a second before cupping it over the man’s nose and mouth. 

At the very same moment, Joe pitched forward slightly, eyes closed, body tense. “H’tttshhhh!” 

It was just the one. Unlike Nicky, Joe rarely sneezed more than once at a time. But once was enough. The moment Nicky pulled the handkerchief away, his mouth found Joe’s. It gave comfort and reassurance, appreciation and caring. It signaled a long night of lovemaking and a long lie-in tomorrow morning. There would be no train to Canada. There would only be the two of them and this something unexpected and exciting. This something different. This something glorious. 

Breaking the kiss off, Joe pulled Nicky against him. Strong arms clung. Chest applied pressure with each breath. And Joe’s nose nuzzled at Nicky’s cheek, neck, ear. When Joe sniffled, ever so softly, Nicky felt like he was on fire. Even without the burn of whiskey, he was aflame. He was this man’s sun, ever-burning. “Come,” he whispered. “I want to take you to bed.” 

“No,” Joe replied, and Nicky froze. 

That one word had more power over him than anything else in the world, stopping him cold in confusion and concern. Did Joe not feel well enough? True, this cold had been building all day, and it had been one hell of a day protecting a client he’d just as soon punch in the mouth as take a bullet for. But it had only been one sneeze. Just one sneeze. Surely Joe couldn’t be too ill to play already? Of course, if he was, Nicky would say no more. Nicky would be disappointed, but the night would end with him caring for and looking after Joe no matter if they had sex or not. “No?” 

“No.” The word echoed between them, and Nicky felt his heart sink at that confirmation. Then he felt Joe loosen his tie, felt fingers slip the top shirt button free of its hole, felt lips ghost his collarbone. “No, I want to take you to bed.” 

Even while battling a head cold, Joe was a romantic. And Nicky was far from complaining. “Why are we not there already?”

Joe’s chuckles were light if not a little raspy, as he gathered Nicky into his arms. They kissed their way across the massive sitting room and almost made it to the bedroom before Joe’s breath caught again. They both knew Joe would never drop Nicky, not even if the strongest sneeze he’d ever felt seized him. But Nicky threw his arms around Joe’s neck to make it easier on him. And Joe buried his face into Nicky’s chest, the dress shirt and suit jacket muffling the sound of the sneeze. “huh-huh-t’chhheffffff!” 

Nicky murmured an ancient blessing, stroked the back of Joe’s head, and cuddled impossibly closer. Joe’s reply was a sniffle, a pleased “mmmmmm” sound, and another sniffle. He took another two steps then his face fell again. This was about as close to a double-sneeze as the man ever got, and it seemed to overwhelm him. Nicky tapped his chest, and Joe set him down. With one hand on the small of Joe’s back and the other holding the maroon, satin handkerchief to Joe’s face again, he felt the man lean into him. 


“That’s it.” Nicky’s mouth was dry. The quick beat of his heart was surely louder than Joe’s rapid, desperate gasps.

h’IHHshhoo!” It came out harsh and beautiful at the same time, and the moment he finished wiping Joe’s nose, he tilted his head to kiss its sharp angles and gentle curves. All notions of romance were quickly forgotten in favor of urgency as Joe reached to undo Nicky’s belt and Nicky kissed his way down Joe’s face. Tender skin. Wet lips. Scratchy beard. And far, far too many clothes between them still. Shedding one garment after another and unable to break apart, they shuffled the rest of the way to the bedroom. 

It had been years since they’d been in a bed this soft. They sunk into it, luxurious high thread count sheets meeting their bare skin like an embrace. This felt wild and exciting and different. Usually, anything different was good just because of the novelty of it. But in this case, it was good because there was just something about this rare treat of sneezing that made Nicky go weak with desire faster than nearly anything else, and that was saying a lot. Everything about Joe made him go weak. Or, rather, hard. 

 His hardness pressed into Joe’s thigh, desperate for friction, for action, for attention. Desperate for Joe like this. Just like this. 

Joe lay on his back on the bed, one arm bent beneath his head, his legs slightly spread. His other arm was bent as well as he rubbed the back of his hand under his prominent albeit sniffly nose. 

“You’re so gorgeous,” Nicky whispered, caught between wanting to preserve this perfect moment forever and wanting to hungrily ravage the man he straddled. 

Joe smiled up at him. “You’re just saying that because I’m sn-sneezy.” He rubbed harder at his nose to no avail. “Huhhh… huhh!” Nicky took him by surprise, moving in, kissing him even as Joe’s nose twitched violently. “Hehhhtttshhhhh!” Nicky felt the spray on his cheek and neck. He felt Joe’s warm body rock beneath him. It was another minute or two of touching and caressing and stroking before there was another quick, silent, hitching breath leading up to another sneeze. “Heyttchhhhhhh!” 


Joe hadn’t stopped smiling for more than the seconds it took to sneeze. And he kept smiling as he wrapped his arms around Nicky and rolled with him on the soft bed, flipping them over, reversing their positions. He sniffled as he nuzzled his face down into Nicky’s neck, wet nose sliding over stubble, Adam’s apple, base of neck. It was Nicky’s turn to gasp.

“Is there…” Nicky lost his breath and ability to speak for a moment as Joe nibbled and licked his way down Nicky’s chest, teasing one nipple then the other. “Is there anything you… feel too ill to do?” Just because neither of them usually had limits didn’t mean Joe felt comfortable doing anything just now. Perhaps his throat was too sore to give head or perhaps his body ached and he didn’t want to be on top for long. 

Joe looked up, his smile growing impossibly wider and more playful. “Not a thing, Nicolò. Except maybe leave to go on another job. I want to stay here and enjoy this cold with you for as long as it lasts.”

Nicky had zero objections to that plan. This cold wouldn’t last nearly long enough, and he planned to enjoy every moment of it.


In the morning, Nicky woke to warm rays of the sun on his face and no one beside him. Unconcerned, he basked in the warmth a little longer before opening his eyes. He cast them around for a few seconds only before his gaze fell on Joe standing before the large floor-to-ceiling windows in the corner of the room. No over-sized hotel bathrobe could hide that body. “Morning.” Nicky’s voice was slightly scratchy, whether from the little sleep he’d had the night before as they’d had countless rounds of love-making or from the cold he’d possibly caught, he wasn’t sure. Time would tell. And that was the one thing they had in abundance. 

Joe turned, a gentle smile on his face now instead of that playful grin he’d had the night before. “Beautiful view,” he said, and his voice was not only scratchy but also edged with congestion around the hard consonants. 

“Of the lake?” 

“Oh…” Joe glanced back over his shoulder at the window. “Of that, too.” 

Centuries together, and Joe still made him go warm with compliments like that. Naked and alone on cool sheets in an otherwise empty bed, his body craved more warmth just now. He headed over and fit himself in front of Joe, letting Joe wrap arms around him from behind, holding him close while standing the way they were almost always positioned when sleeping. Nicky was sure he would live a million years more and never tire of this man’s embrace. It was utter perfection

It was also a lovely, unobstructed view of the great lake from up here on the top floor. But Joe could make anywhere seem delightful just by holding him. “When I go down to get breakfast, I’ll call ahead and cancel the next job.” 

“Add extedd our stay here?” 

Arousal pulsed through Nicky at the sound of those words. “If you like.”

“Oh, I like.” Joe nuzzled the back of Nicky’s head and neck. And it was probably his cold that made him sneeze, but Nicky liked to imagine his hair played a small part in tickling Joe’s amazing nose. “HECTShhhhhh!” Snuffling, Joe snuggled even closer to Nicky, hugging so tightly as if he suspected Nicky might break away and leave. 

But Nicky couldn’t go anywhere. Not down to the lobby for food and not a single inch closer to the window. He was pleased and perfectly content just the way he was. 

Hah… huhhh-H’ttttchuhhhhh!” 

Nicky felt Joe harden, pressing into him from behind. If it was one thing he’d learned during their years together it was that when it came to Yusuf, it was entirely possible to improve on perfection.