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Five Things Nico and Philip Have Done At Midnight

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I.

This late, with respectable tradeswomen tucked in their beds, Wicked's caters to actors and lovers. The actors laugh and preen in flocks; the lovers whisper in pairs. New lovers, dizzy before the wine's been served, lock eyes and pick at their food.

Philip's fish has gone cold, and he's lost for a word to say to Nico that's not about kissing. They kissed all through the play, having a box to themselves.

He's afraid one of the actors, Nico's friends, will ask what they thought. But actors know what tale those stares and blushes tell; they laugh a little louder.

 

II.

The clock two streets away chimes midnight, and Nico wishes its gears would jam, its springs snap. Wishes his head on Philip's shoulder could weight him down, keep him here while time gusts onward.

"Got to go," Philip mumbles, sitting up. His hair has tumbled over his eyes; Nico brushes it back. "Caiazzo'll kill me."

Dressing, Philip's already gone, a ship out of port but still in sight. Left behind, Nico watches.

If the clock ever stayed silent, if Philip ever slept, Nico would wake him. Then he could be the one to choose. The first one to say goodbye.

 

III.

Nico's hand's over his mouth, for quiet, for something, beautiful strong fingers that Philip licks and nibbles. Turn of the head and he's caught two between his teeth, tasting of leather and ink as he sucks. Thinking of Nico's prick, satin-iron-salt-hot, and Philip wants to take it but Nico won't let him move. He's pinned under kisses, squeezed between Nico's thighs, trapped and urgent, dying. But then Nico shifts and slides, mouth scorching down and down until it's on him, over him, tongue echoing Philip's. Wet, twisting, too fierce to be so soft, and Philip whimpers in the silent dark.

 

IV.

Cold night, quiet station. Even the pickpockets have stayed by their hearths. Nico writes reports, thaws his fingers, writes some more. Drinks tea, pisses in the icy latrine, drinks more tea, wishes for his bed.

Jumps at the tap on his door. It's Philip, shivering, carrying a covered pot. "Soup," he says. "I thought you'd be needing it."

"I brought my dinner."

Philip shrugs. "I couldn't sleep. The bed was cold."

Surely. Nico sleeps days, while Philip works, and the bed's cold then too.

To warm him, Nico stokes the fire. They sit shoulder-to-shoulder, eating soup, warding off the winter.

 

V.

They'll never know it, but they sleep like a complicated dance. Turn and counter-turn, roll and lean, advance and retreat across the narrowish bed. They have brief separations, longer intervals pressed together, their bodies tracing parallel arcs. Sometimes they tangle awkwardly, making stiff necks and sore shoulders the next day.

Nico snores a little. Philip mutters, dreaming. Philip's hair gets in Nico's mouth, and Nico's feet are always cold. They both steal the blankets sometimes.

Waking at night, drowsy, Philip kisses Nico's neck. Nico listens to Philip's heartbeat.

They might sleep better in a roomier bed.

They never buy one.