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It starts with a gun.

“Why are you doing that at the dinner table?” Adam sounds sleepy, which means it is either too early in the morning or too late at night, and it hardly matters either way because Adam is looking at the table with the most adorable pout, bottom lip pushing up the top one, brows furrowed and arms crossed over his chest now that he has stopped trying to rub the sleep from his eyes with his knuckles.

“What, cleaning my gun?”

“Yes.”

Adam has gotten better with sarcasm but there are still complications with it, and all Nigel can do is sigh out a curse and ash his cigarette into the ashtray before it falls apart on its own and Adam finds another thing to complain about.

“It's too late for dinner,” Nigel says instead. What he means to say is that Adam's already eaten. What he means to say is that Adam eats at eight o'clock every fucking night with such precision that Nigel could set his fucking watch by it, if he had one or knew how to set a watch. What he means to say is that he knows Adam's schedules as obsessively as Adam does, and that he was trying not to be an inconvenience.

Nigel means to say a lot of things that never work their way out, and so he wipes down the barrel instead.

“Dinner and the gun are unrelated,” Adam points out. “Dinner belongs on the table, the gun doesn't.” Adam frowns, but it isn't angry, it isn't even upset, it's more entirely perplexed. “Why are you cleaning it now? It's too late for dinner, and too late for you to be up. I thought you took a pill.”

“I did.” Nigel wraps the cloth around his little finger and twists it into one of the holes. “Didn't fucking work.”

“It was supposed to make you sleep.”

“It was,” grunts the older man, briefly lifting his eyes from his work. Sleep comes erratically at best, anyway – some nights he's out like a light, unconscious before Adam even changes into his pajamas and out until midday. Some nights it doesn't come at all. This is one of those goddamn nights.

“Am I being loud?” Nigel asks, almost idly, before answering. “I know I'm fucking not. You watch your space shows on the table, darling, and I clean my guns on it. I even laid a fucking rag down underneath it so I don't drip oil, Adam, is there a problem?”

The tone immediately catches Adam's attention, a slight tilt of his head as though an animal listening to a far-away sound. It is rare that Nigel gets this way when he isn't throwing things around the house. In those moods, Adam locks the bedroom door and plays music through his headphones, long enough for the anger and energy to eke out of Nigel. He listens for the knock.

Nigel isn't throwing anything here. He isn't throwing anything now.

“I just don't like seeing the guns in the house,” Adam tells him, though his voice is a little smaller, not defeated but cautious, long enough sharing space, now, that both are wary.

“Adam,” Nigel sighs, as if his name itself were a curse, more potent and beloved than any other the man knows. “Darling, I have to clean them. A dirty gun is fucking dangerous, do you know that? Little bit of fucking grit gets in there and the thing misfires. A click, a bad round, next thing you know I've got one fucking hand and some asshole's got the jump. I have to fucking clean them, and I waited until you were asleep to do it. If you'd stayed in fucking bed, you'd never have seen it at all.”

“That seems like a lie by omission,” Adam points out. Nigel just brings the cigarette back to his lips and takes a drag that is almost too long, enough to burn his lungs, to pull the potential for a cough to the back of his throat.

“Fucking what?”

“You do not clean them when I am here, so you hide them when I am, but when I'm not, you clean them at the table.”

“It's not like you don't know I have fucking guns.”

“I know you have guns,” Adam agrees. “I know you have three that you carry with you all the time, another that you have in your bag if we go out somewhere you don't feel safe. But I don't like seeing them, I don't like them being here. It just reminds me that –”

“That fucking what.”

The statement – not a question – lingers in the air, softly spoken and loud as a bang from the tool in question. Adam draws a breath to speak, and Nigel shakes his head in warning.

“That I fucking hurt people,” Nigel says for him instead, brows twitching upward. “Is that it?”

“Yes,” Adam says, flat and factual as ever, and Nigel barks a single note of laughter.

“Darling,” he finally sighs, “you've never been good at playing pretend. Don't fucking start now. You –“

Nigel stops himself for a moment, just a breath, a heartbeat out of place that should give him time enough to ebb his irritation – building quickly to anger – and think about what he's saying before he says it. But for as often as there's things Nigel means to say and can't, there are just as often moments where Nigel shouldn't speak, but does.

“You knew what you were getting into,” Nigel finishes, lips curling around his cigarette for a short drag, and smoke billowing around his words. “You sit safely behind your fucking computer, you push buttons and move things around. Do you think that's the end of it? That this is all fucking – fucking orange soda and bitching about my cigarettes? That that's as bad as things get? You're not fucking stupid, Adam, don't pretend like you are.”

“I'm -” Adam crosses his arms the other way over his chest and turns his head away for a moment to look out the window. His fingers begin to tap a gentle rhythm against his arm as he works to control himself. It may even be that he says nothing at all, that he merely stands, that he freezes and doesn't move, but the tic is there, the beginning of a worry, the beginning of something that would usually pull Nigel to apologizing and trying to make it better, but he says nothing either.

Adam keeps tapping.

Nigel ashes his cigarette.

“I don't like seeing it on the table,” Adam tells him again with a small shrug. “I like to think of you as you are, here, with me, not as you are out there when you hurt people because it makes you happy.”

“Fuck you.”

Adam blinks.

It takes every fiber of strength left in Nigel not to stand up hard enough to knock the chair over, not to turn the entire table after it, and become the fucking whirlwind destruction that Adam pretends he's not. It takes every part of him not to do that, which leaves nothing left to stop the sneer that twists up his lips.

“Fuck you, Adam,” he says again, sharper. “What I do, I do for fucking us. You think it makes me happy to get fucking stabbed? You think it makes me happy to have to figure out where to hide a body? You think I fucking like having to go to fucking Russia –“

“I didn't say that. I said it makes you happy to hurt people.”

It's so entirely factual, just a correction to Nigel's apparent mistakes, straight-forward and earnest and utterly infuriating. It's too much, the hooks pulling hard against his skin, snapping free and tearing his body to standing.

“And what if I fucking do?” Nigel asks, voice lowering. “What if I do like it? Does that make it harder to pretend I'm a fucking housepet?”

“You aren't a housepet, you're my lover,” Adam tries, but the rhythm he's beating out against his hand is no longer at the calm tempo, is no longer in tempo at all.

“Am I?”

Adam blinks again, confusion twisting his features into something entirely innocent, something so truly infuriating that Nigel can barely do more than curse loudly into the otherwise silent room.

“Fucking am I, Adam? A lover is a partner, in a fucking partnership, meaning they do shit together. You, you with your fucking rules and you goddamn routines and your fucking morality complex that the harder you push the louder it screams fucking bullshit -”

“Is it so bad that I want to see you as the man who makes me happy?” Adam asks, tone tight, lips pressed close enough together that they pale.

“Yes,” Nigel snarls. “Yes, Adam, when you're lying to yourself about who that man is? Yes, it's fucking bad, and it makes you a fucking asshole. Don't look at me like that – no one's ever said it to you, but I will. You're a right fucking prick sometimes and that's not because of your fucking condition.”

He straightens, palms flat against the table, and he stretches his neck. Working his lips between his teeth, he looks down at his dismantled gun, a quiet thing to do, a relaxing thing, and even this small pleasure kept far away from Adam because Nigel knows it upsets him. And even still, Adam is unhappy. Even still, from sleep, Adam wakes to express how Nigel is doing something wrong.

“Every fucking day, Adam, I follow your rules. Your rituals. Your fucking order. I eat when you eat. I shop when you need me to shop. I sleep when you sleep, or lay there until you fucking do. I also fucking hurt people when I have to, Adam. For you. For our business.”

Nigel doesn't bother putting the gun back together. He bundles up the rag – not a fucking kitchen towel, his own rag – and takes the pieces as they are, passing by Adam as he leaves the kitchen.

“Where are you going?”

Picking up his bag from beside the door, Nigel drops the whole bundle into it and snorts before heading for the bedroom. “All I fucking do is try to make you happy, Adam, and I get shit for it. The wrong fucking milk. Forgetting the fucking dryer sheets. Cleaning my gun, alone, at two in the morning, in fucking silence. And I'm not going to keep jumping through fucking hoops for someone who doesn't even want to know who the fuck I am.”

Adam watches him go, back and forth between the corridor and the bedroom, carrying things in quantities that quickly begin to tug at Adam's nerves. He doesn't need seven shirts if he's going to a hotel room, he doesn't need his electronics – few as they are – if he's just spending a night away. He doesn't need -

“I don't know how to be anyone else,” Adam says, watching helplessly as Nigel takes more to pack into the duffel bag, unfolded, unorganized, uncaring. “I don't know. I don't know how to change my routines, I don't know how to make it easier for you. I try to see if you can keep to my routines, because that might be easier, but you can't sleep when I do and you don't like eating the same things and you have guns that you like and that scare me and I don't know what to do. I don't -” Adam swallows, shakes his head. “I don't want you to go right now but I know you will anyway. Because of everything you said and because it is me telling you not to and you don't want to do what I say, I know that. I know. But I don't... I don't want you to forever.”

Nigel hesitates, just a moment, processing the words that Adam works so hard to say aloud. He wants to say that he doesn't want to go. He wants to say that Adam's routines aren't that bad, really, that it's nice to have a life with some semblance of fucking normalcy and peace in it. He wants to say that he doesn't want Adam to fucking change, he just wants to be able to live his own life here, too.

Instead, he stuffs a pair of pants into his bag.

“You don't know how to be anyone else, darling? Neither do I,” Nigel snorts. “Not for lack of fucking trying, every fucking day, but it doesn't fucking matter, does it, angel? I'll always be the fucking bad man who hurts people. I'll always have my fucking guns. So maybe the answer is to stop being such a fucking problem for you, since I can't meet your goddamn expectations to be who you know – you know – I'm not.”

Adam stands frozen, and for a moment doesn't breathe, doesn't move, doesn't do anything at all but stare at the bag Nigel is filling with the things he cannot leave behind in starting a new life. Without Adam, without this, without everything he is that Adam had not realized he had pushed him so hard to adjust. He doesn't know how not to do that, he doesn't know how not to be that, and he wonders, truly, if they just will not work, if there is no compromise they can reach that would work for the both of them.

He does not want Nigel to go.

He doesn't say anything, though, when Nigel hefts his bag and pushes his feet into his unlaced boots. He doesn't say anything when Nigel just curses and works the door open with its endless number of locks. He doesn't say anything as the door closes, and he sees that Nigel did not leave the keys.

---

It is a week before Adam manages to sleep, weighted blanket doing little more than stifling him and the bed feeling too cold when he is the only one in it. In the mornings, breakfast isn't made, because he isn't hungry, by the end of the third day, there is no milk anyway, and Adam doesn't go to buy more. When he does manage a minute, even a minute, of clear thinking, he opens his computer to seek through Nigel's credit card expenses.

He finds him at a place downtown, not too flash and not too shoddy, enough that he can be comfortable in a life he has gotten used to in Adam's apartment – their apartment. Their shared life.

It takes another day before Adam calls up to his room, checking through to see where the most amount of alcohol gets ordered and making the decision then. He manages, somehow, to talk to the girl at the front desk, though she is too friendly and Adam feels like there is dust in his throat by the time Nigel picks up the phone and barks into it that he didn't ask for a fucking wake-up call god fucking dammit.

“Nigel, it's 3PM,” Adam tells him softly.

The silence between them rings as loud as the curse that – surprisingly – doesn't come. For long moments, there's only the hum of the receiver, empty on both sides.

“I was up late last night cleaning my guns,” Nigel sneers, but his words are lacking the bite they held before. “Don't tell me I disturbed you from fucking here.”

“You didn't.”

Nigel mutters a curse in Romanian, voice thick from sleep and too many cigarettes. “How the fuck did you get this number?”

“Your credit cards showed where you're staying. And the receptionist connected me to your room.”

“What do you want, Adam?”

Adam swallows and considers how he had tried to write out what to say on the phone, so that he could just read it and have Nigel understand. But he had not even managed to do that. He swallows again and tries to do what Nigel had taught him, or tried, once. To just talk until the words come, even if they don't make sense. Because they would eventually. And because Nigel had a knack for understanding him when Adam didn't understand himself.

He shuffles through a few phrases that he knows he should say. I'm sorry, and I miss you and please come home, and although they're all true, Nigel would just scoff again, still angry, still upset in a way that Adam cannot undo because he doesn't know how to because his words are broken.

He wants to tell Nigel he loves him, but that won't work either.

“I thought that maybe we could go upstate and you could teach me how to shoot. You have three guns, and you say you need them and I believe you. You are very good with them, and if you need three, and if you're protecting me then I need to learn how to use them too, and I want to. I want to because this is something you love and something you understand and something you tried to share and I didn't let you, and I want to, now, because I don't know how else to tell you I'm sorry that I can't change, but that I want to try, even a little.”

Nigel's throat clicks, and a hum – doubtful – carries through the phone.

“You hate leaving the fucking city, darling.”

“I do,” agrees Adam. “But I would go for you. It's not as far as Russia and I went there, so I can do this, too.”

The sigh that comes is long, Nigel's voice unfurling with the calm desperation of Adam's plaintive pleas. Tension releases from too many nights apart, too many nights worrying if Adam was okay, too many nights wondering when – if ever – Nigel would see him again. There is a shifting of fabric as Nigel turns to his side, phone tucked close against his mouth, cold plastic in place of the warm body the man seeks.

“You don't like guns, darling,” Nigel reminds him, not unkindly. “Not even broken down ones, taken into fucking pieces.”

“I don't,” Adam agrees, biting his lip and allowing his breathing to even, listening to Nigel's still slow with sleepy laxity. He misses him. He wants to be able to say all the things that people do in books, in movies, that have their significant other come back with open arms. And Nigel is a significant other, he is significant in Adam's life, he is needed and wanted there, and Adam cares if he does something wrong that drives him away. He misses his hands and his cursing at nothing in whispers when he thinks Adam is still sleeping, he misses the dishes always being done by the time Adam finishes his shower, he misses the smell of Nigel on the shirts he left behind that Adam's had to wash already.

“I don't, but I like you, and guns – guns are mechanical, guns are built and taken apart and all the small things inside them are significant, and I like seeing how things work. I like seeing what they mean and why they matter, and they matter to you. They do. And I want to understand, and I want to show that they matter, because you matter. You matter a lot.”

Nigel groans, low and rumbling – more a purr than a growl and warm, so warm that Adam's chest hurts from the sound.

“Goddammit, Adam,” he sighs. “Don't make me feel like shit, okay? I try to keep all that fucking crap away from you – the guns and the knives, hurting people, killing them. I know you don't like it. I don't want you to like it, baby, really I fucking don't. I don't want you to have to fucking see it but you've got to let me fucking live sometimes, okay? I won't clean them on the fucking table but they've got to get cleaned.”

Springs creak as Nigel usurps himself from the bed, muttering passive curses. A door slides open. Hangers clatter against a closet railing.

“I'll show you how to use them. You should know anyway, darling, I might actually sleep when I'm away if you've got a fucking chance of protecting yourself.” A pause, and with as much apology as Nigel can muster, he asks, “Can I fucking come home now? I miss you, sparrow.”

“Yes.” Adam doesn't even let him finish before answering, repeats it again as Nigel sighs, and holds the phone closer to just listen to him breathe. He wonders if he should worry how much he misses the man, how much he needs him beyond getting him milk or helping with the laundry or talking with people because Adam doesn't know how.

“Come home and teach me how to use guns and clean them on the table if you want, I know you need to. I will help you when you teach me. We can do it together.”

Nigel – already well into stuffing clothes into his bag – straightens from above it. With a jerk, he pulls the phone's receiver to the ground to move it closer to him, but despite the clatter, it doesn't end the call.

“Say that again.”

“We can do it together?”

“Yes, darling.”

“We can do it together.”

A Romanian curse sighs from deep as Nigel holds the phone closer to his ear. Relief floods every breath and every word, that between the crack shots they take every time they speak together, often enough, they hit the mark. “I love you, Adam. I fucking love you, okay?”

“Okay,” Adam murmurs in response. “I love you, too.”

Nigel kicks his bag towards the bathroom, stretching the phone cords near to breaking. “I'll be home in less than an hour. Do you need anything? Fucking hell, I miss you,” he sighs.

“Milk,” Adam tells him, turning on the spot in the kitchen, wondering what else he hadn't noticed he had stopped using, with Nigel gone. “Two percent.”

Nigel snorts into the phone and Adam can feel his cheeks warm even when Nigel isn't there to see it. “I know, darling.”

---

Nigel drives. Adam doesn't have a license, and even if he did, Nigel would insist on driving anyway. Makes him nervous not to be in control like that – too much like being taken hostage, or being in a fucking cab. Through well-developed skills of negotiation – and with his tongue wedged firmly up Adam's ass – he managed to convince the kid to spend the night at a cabin in the Catskills – away from the city and its noise and lights and miserable fucking handgun laws. Empty woods and no one around for miles, room to breathe and room to shoot and apparently a big fucking bed where Nigel will reward Adam's patience for all this with relentless fucking. Nigel even did the fucking shopping beforehand, and all Adam's cereals and macaroni and soda and whatever the fuck else he can't fucking manage without for a single night jammed in the back.

It's afternoon when they arrive, and no more than a single step out of the car, Nigel is reminded by a booted foot stuck in the mud that he fucking hates nature.

“I swear to Christ, Adam, the moment I run out of smokes, we're going back.”

“You brought eight packs with you.”

“The moment I run out,” Nigel repeats, almost like a mantra, by that point, mumbled and self-convincing, and he pulls out a cigarette as he speaks as though to start cutting down their number will help the trip that he had suggested go faster.

The cabin is comfortable, entirely their own with a kitchen and small bathroom, a table and two chairs and a bed that puts the one at their apartment to shame. Adam considers it a moment, head tilted and cheeks warming, as he holds his jacket against his stomach and Nigel pulls out his guns to set on the table to decide which to start with.

“A .22 shouldn't fuck you up too much,” Nigel considers. “The kick won't be enough to jar anything important and it's a handy thing to have on you.”

“What will we shoot at?” Adam asks.

It's a good fucking question, and one which Nigel had not considered, his targets usually immediately apparent. Nigel manages a rare moment of self-restraint in withholding a knee-jerk answer of other people and works his lips together as if in thought. He picks up the .22, finger resting against the slide, and checks down the sights, muzzle pointed towards the floor.

“Trees. Plenty of those around,” Nigel suggests. “Maybe you'll fuck up and hit a bird.”

Adam blinks, shaking his head. “I don't want to shoot a bird.”

“So aim at the tree then,” Nigel grins, slipping the gun into the waistband of his pants. In his back pockets go two more magazines, one more in the front of his shirt – ironically, the pattern today is palm trees dancing across a black background.

Adam just watches him, allows the amused silence as Nigel seeks an ashtray, doesn't find one, considers ashing his cigarette to the floor and curses knowing Adam will never let him forget it. Then he goes outside, and only then does Adam follow him.

The sun is high enough not to blind them yet, and it is warm enough still that Adam doesn't immediately return for his jacket. He has been camping before, long ago when he was much, much younger. He doesn't remember the experience as being particularly spectacular, but he hadn't hated it. He had been with his dad, they had gone fishing, on short hikes by their tent, and Adam spent most of his time in the evenings sitting with his head up watching the sky fill with glimmering stars.

He wonders if he can convince Nigel to look at the stars with him.

He walks in stride with Nigel and occasionally lets his feet deliberately slip on a step so he can press closer, shoulder to shoulder, and have Nigel curse nature again and wrap an arm around his shoulder. They walk far enough away that the sound of the shot will be muffled by the foliage of the trees above them, the dense arrangement of trunks around them, and Adam tilts his head to look at Nigel, expectant, when they stop.

For a moment, Nigel just watches him. Adam doesn't meet his eyes – he rarely does, and Nigel doesn't expect him to – but Adam's cheeks color anyway. Nigel strokes a rough thumb across the kid's ruddy blush, gently grasping his cheek and leaning in to kiss him. After their days apart, nights spent miserable because of the other and their absence equally, Nigel's affection has yet to wane. His lips work Adam's slowly open, enough for their tongues to brush, and with a hum of satisfaction, Nigel reluctantly draws away.

“I love you,” Nigel tells him, and Adam's little smile is enough in return. Stepping back, Nigel withdraws the gun from his trouser waistband, and holds it out towards Adam. “Don't touch the trigger until you're ready to shoot, okay? Or if you think you have to, or might have to – if someone's in the fucking apartment or something, you know? Someone that isn't me. Set it here along the slide.”

He turns the gun over and shows Adam, finger pressed against the gun's length rather than the trigger. Adam watches, nervous but attentive as ever, and Nigel turns to lift the gun and aim towards an unsuspecting tree.

“You just look down the sights, yeah? Fit the little one in the front between the two at the top. Squeeze, Adam, fucking squeeze the trigger, don't pull. When you pull, you lift the gun, you'll hit the fucking ceiling. Don't do that, okay?”

Adam just nods, waits until the gun is handed to him and mirrors the hold on it that Nigel had had. It is heavy, heavier than it looks, and Adam frowns trying to reconcile the image with the physical sensation of it in his hand. It feels dangerous, in so much as anything can feel as anything. It feels, he finds, to his amusement, like Nigel against him – dangerous and strong and heavy and deadly. That in itself is a comfort, and Adam slowly lifts the gun to aim at a tree, as Nigel had told him.

“It keeps moving,” Adam mumbles after a moment, frowning and closing one eye and then the other to see if it helps. “The tree, between the sights, it keeps moving.”

“It's a fucking tree, sparrow, how fucking far can it move?”

Adam looks away from the sights, and draws a breath as if to answer Nigel's question before he realizes he doesn't have an answer for that. Sighing, Nigel steps closer again. He sets his hands to Adam's leg and moves it slightly to the side, scraping aside dirt and leaves beside the kid's foot. A wider stance, for stability, maybe, who fucking knows but it's how they stand in cop shows when they've got a fucking hour to yell bullshit before they shoot.

“Better?”

Looking up from the sight of Nigel's hands against his legs, Adam raises the gun again and squints.

“No.”

Fucking Adam. Still at his back, Nigel steps closer, hip to hip and slides his hands down Adam's arms, closing them over his fingers in turn. He checks the sights and if the feel of Adam's body trembling against his weren't enough, he can see through the sights that the kid is shaking.

“Breathe, darling,” Nigel murmurs against his ear, lips brushing soft skin. “When we squeeze – not fucking pull – the trigger, we're going to breathe out, okay?”

A soft hum is his only answer but it seems enough. The solid and comfortable and familiar weight of Nigel against his back is adequate to have Adam breathing slowly again, not quick nervous breaths that had set his hands to twitching and his fingers numb in worry. Together, they breathe for one breath, another, and then when Adam bites his lip, Nigel folds his fingers gently over his own and slips it from the slide to the trigger, and Adam, against his better judgement, closes his eyes when the gun fires.

There is no impact of the bullet because it hits nothing. Maybe a rock somewhere further away, maybe just dirt when it has nowhere else to go. Adam has his face turned into his shoulder and sighs out a nervous little laugh when Nigel kisses his hair.

“It's very loud,” Adam tells him.

He is soft and lovely, clever and dangerous, he smells like gunpowder and fuck, Nigel has never loved anyone before him. He can't imagine loving anyone else, ever.

“Louder in enclosed places,” Nigel remarks, words mumbled against Adam's wind-tossed curls of hair. “Shooting ranges make you wear fucking ear protection, fuck that. You won't have fucking earmuffs on when you have to use it, so might as well learn not to be fucking scared about the sound.” A pause, and he tilts a rakish grin against Adam's temple, nuzzling fond. “Probably explains why I don't hear half the shit people say to me.”

Adam manages another laugh, just as small as the first, and Nigel kisses his cheek before nodding towards the tree again.

“Just like before. Bring your shoulders down – there you go. Breathe with me, and we'll show this fucking tree who's boss.”

Nigel waits – long enough that Adam's anxiety turns to anticipation – and with his chin set against Adam's shoulder to try and see through the sights, he squeezes the trigger again. Another miss of their victim, but somewhere there's a distant thwip and Nigel barks a laugh.

“Well, you fucking hit one of them. Beautiful, angel, fucking beautiful.”

Adam licks his lips, fingers flexing on the gun, against Nigel's fingers, and he feels himself smile. The sensation of the gun firing is not pleasant or unpleasant, it's just very, very different. The gun is still heavy in his hands, he doesn't know if he will be able to hold it for long, and shivers when Nigel kisses the side of his face again and drops his hands from Adam's.

“Do that again, darling, just like before. Get used to how the gun feels, we can aim later.”

Adam turns to him, turns back, raises his hands as they had been supported by Nigel's, and chews his lip gently as he tries to get his breathing to even out again. Nigel had let go of him but not stepped away, and Adam can still feel him pressing warm and close against his back, heart beating quick, as Adam's is, though he suspects for different reasons.

He can feel Nigel growing hard against him, too.

Without a word, Adam fires, then again, and again, breathing out on every shot, taking slow breaths between. He shivers feeling Nigel's hands against his hips, closes one eye when he realizes which is easier to see with, though the little scope, and on the last shot, he manages to graze the tree he's aiming for, and, with a laugh of delight, lowers the gun barrel to the ground.

Nigel slips a hand to Adam's jaw, over his cheek, sighing against the other. He breathes in, the gunpowder and trees, the sweetness of Adam himself, and despite the fact that Adam is holding a weapon – or perhaps because of it – Nigel rocks his hips forward to rub against him. Cock stiff enough to pull his trousers tight, he finds the crevice of Adam's ass and settles into it, nipping kisses against his face, his throat, his shoulder, bared just a little when Nigel tugs aside the collar of his shirt.

“Christ, you're fucking gorgeous, you know that?”

“You tell me that,” Adam answers, and Nigel grins before settling his lips to the curve where Adam's neck meets his shoulder. He sucks, bringing another hand around to Adam's belly, until the kid makes a little sound that to Nigel, is every bit as loud and distinctive as the fire of the .22.

“I've got two more rounds, baby. You want to try again?”

Adam hums, lip between his teeth, and turns his face to nuzzle against Nigel where he stands so close. A shiver when Nigel noses behind his ear, rocks his hips forward to rub against Adam again.

“I don't know how to reload it,” Adam whispers, gun still pointed resolutely down, as safe as he can keep it with that being the only precaution Nigel had given him.

With big hands over Adam's delicate fingers, Nigel shows him with one of the magazines from his pockets. A click, and the empty one slides free, a scrape of metal against metal and the next is clicked into place. Nigel whispers praise against Adam's hairline, satiny curls tickling his nose, and this time, Adam lifts the gun himself, aiming at the tree once more.

Out of eight shots, Adam dings the tree twice more. Exploding bark and a thump heralds his success, and to Nigel's unreasonable disbelief, Adam does everything he told him. He doesn't jerk the gun, the breaths out steady the kick from snapping his shoulders too tight, he is focused and narrow-eyed and Nigel has few times in his life been so fucking hard for someone as he is for Adam in that round.

Ears ringing, Nigel noses up the back of Adam's neck, kissing from his collar to his hair, where he rubs his cheek. His hand returns to Adam's stomach, this time with fingertips slipping beneath his sweater and curling into the cotton of his button-down shirt.

“I'll show you all the parts if you like. We can practice reloading so you know how if I'm not there and some fucking idiot comes calling. You can learn them and you're already incredible, darling, I'm so fucking proud. You're always fucking incredible.”

Adam preens, arching back into Nigel's hold, keeping the gun steady even when it isn't pointed at anything but the leafy ground. He can feel how hard Nigel is for him, now, how he deliberately, slowly, rocks himself up against Adam's ass and pulls him close with the hand around his stomach. Adam smiles wider, proud of himself, too, that he did this and didn't ruin it, that he is not bad at it, that he can do this with Nigel, they can, together, and it won't be a problem anymore.

Adam sets his legs a little wider apart and brings the gun up to pull the empty magazine free, pass it back to Nigel with an expectant look that he will give him another, though the man groans and curses, rocking more insistently up against Adam's ass. Now it's Adam's game again, a proof of competence and his own playful seduction. Nigel will wait another eight rounds, he will watch, and Adam will do his best to aim for the hapless tree they'd chosen as their victim for practice today.

The first shot hits it, almost dead on, the next four miss. Then, two in a row against the middle of the thin trunk again, the last one grazing past, and just against the leaves. Adam grins, lips pulled wide in his pleasure, and turns to look at Nigel over his shoulder, hips cocked and gun held low, cheeks flushed and hair windswept and fluffy.

Nigel isn't sure he's seen anything sexier in his entire life.

He turns the kid towards him with a hand on one skinny hip. Catching him with arms around his waist, Nigel pulls Adam against his chest. Nigel groans a kiss into Adam's lips when he rests his arms over Nigel's shoulders, the butt of the gun pressed into his spine. It's still not enough. Throbbing-hard cock or not, Nigel crouches just enough to hook his hands under Adam's thighs and lift him, relishing his bird-boned lightness, and the strength that tightens his legs around Nigel's waist.

“Adam fucking Raki,” Nigel murmurs up at him as he steals his sparrow back to the house. He is rapt, reverent, he trips over a root and curses a blue fucking oath but stays standing as Adam's arms squeeze around his neck. The gun rests on Nigel's shoulder now, heavy and familiar and dangerous, always thrillingly dangerous, and Nigel wonders if he could just take Adam right here in the fucking woods.

He knows Adam wouldn't like the dirt, the exposure of it.

He knows Adam deserves better than to be fucked like an animal, no matter how much Nigel wants to do so.

So instead, Nigel talks to him, every steady step of the way back to the cabin.

“Little sparrow,” he praises. “My little bird. I fucking worship you, you know that? Even when you're a fucking asshole you're an angel. Perfect and beautiful and fucking savage. Christ, Adam, I'm so hard it fucking hurts,” he laughs.

“I can feel it,” Adam laughs back, delighted by this, elated by his success at this, surprised entirely that he had managed to do this and not hurt himself or Nigel or anyone else in the process. It had been, if he's honest with himself, though never aloud, rather fun. He's sure that convincing Nigel to help him practice aiming won't be a chore for the man beyond the patience needed to wait to take Adam hard when they get back.

And he's okay with that.

“It's really heavy,” Adam murmurs, feeling Nigel's muscles shift and move beneath his hands, from the tension needed to carry them both unhindered to the cabin, and from the feelings the words draw from him. “Really hard. I can't stop rubbing my fingers over the ridges, the barrel is really warm. I like it.”

“You liked firing the gun?”

“I liked knowing you liked watching me fire the gun,” Adam counters, but his smile says enough when Nigel curses and kisses him again. He stops by the short flight of stairs that leads up to their temporary home so he doesn't upend them both into the dirt or onto the porch.

“Very fucking much, darling.”

Nigel grins as he sets Adam back to his feet upon the steps, only reluctantly releasing him but glad he did when Adam lets the gun point towards the ground and turns to ascend up the stairs. Nigel curses, a sharp whisper, at the way Adam's ass shifts in strides so enticing that if Nigel didn't know the kid better, he'd think it was deliberate.

He follows.

He can't help but follow.

He'll always fucking follow Adam fucking Raki.

Nigel's shirt is half-off before the door is closed, quick fingers working down the buttons to peel it off wide shoulders. The wound from Russia has healed into a jagged, raised line, just one more scar to add to the many, hand brushing against it as Nigel starts to unbutton his pants in turn. Adam turns to him, finally, brows uplifted in a lazy curiosity, and it's all Nigel can do not to go to his knees.

Why shouldn't he go to his knees?

He said he fucking worshipped the kid.

Near the bed – not yet on it – Nigel slips to one knee, and then the other, dressed only in his briefs. His cock stretches the fabric, the tip poking out past the waistband. He resists the urge to touch himself, instead beckoning Adam back to him before he can set the weapon down. And when Adam slinks closer, Nigel sets his hands to Adam's trousers instead.

“Tell me about your gun, Adam,” Nigel murmurs, grinning.

Adam ducks his head to watch him, delight pinkening his cheeks and across his nose, eyes brighter for it, almost bluer, if that were even possible. He doesn't look real, he looks ethereal, fucking magic. Nigel nearly blows his fucking load when Adam gently sets the barrel of the gun against his collarbone, finger down the slide, not near the trigger, and draws it down to the center of his chest.

“Very dangerous and very deadly,” he murmurs. “It reminds me a lot of you.”

“Oh?”

Adam grins, steps just a little closer and sets his feet on either side of Nigel's knees. He brings his free hand up to rest in Nigel's hair and strokes it back from his face, lips parting when Nigel leans in to press his forehead to Adam's stomach, nuzzles down to his hip and kisses there through the fabric.

“You are as complicated a mechanism, as reliable when handled properly. As dangerous and as deadly.” Simile and metaphor is still as much a confusion for Adam as textbooks are for Nigel, but sometimes, once in a while, he can personify an object and understand why people do it. He cannot think of a better thing to compare Nigel to than a gun. Both beautiful and powerful and frightening and unpredictable, entirely possible to explain scientifically but much, much more than just science itself.

“You also like it when I squeeze, and don't pull,” he adds, grin brightening as Nigel snorts a laugh against him.

Kisses drift unhurried but fiercely warm over Adam's belly, as Nigel works open his pants and slips them slowly from his hips. Already Adam is hardening, cock twitching stiffer and pulling tight the fabric of his underwear, and Nigel worships that firm line with his lips, sucking kisses against white cotton. The muzzle of the gun is still against his chest, unyielding, and Nigel knows it's unloaded, he knows Adam's already exercising good trigger control, but fuck if the sensation of it doesn't feel wonderfully dangerous anyway. His heart's tempo quickens, his breath shortens, held entirely in the sway of the younger man who watches down at him with dark eyes and a soft smile, his own avenging angel.

Fingers curl through Nigel's hair, threading through the greying strands, tightening reflexively when Nigel sets his fingertips to the waistband of Adam's briefs. He slips them lower, baring pointed hips and the thin trail of dark hair that grows as it travels lower, lower, and Nigel follows it in turn. He mouths around the base of Adam's cock, held trapped beneath thin cotton, lips curling against velvety skin to suck sideways against the shaft. The wet noises of his mouth are obscene, making himself and Adam harder each time there's a slurp or a click.

Nigel never imagined in his life that he'd have a cock in his mouth, nor has he ever wanted one. With Adam, though, it's always more than that – what Nigel goes out of his way to do with Adam, he would never do with another. It is, always, less about the particular make and model of their bodies, and entirely about the other.

“I love you, darling,” Nigel murmurs, sweeping his tongue around Adam's shaft and nuzzling roughly into coarse curls of hair. “You know just how to fucking handle me, you know that? Your own personal weapon.”

Adam makes a sound, that little kitten noise of pleasure that immediately draws a growl from Nigel, possessive and hungry and horny, and the gun moves away to set to a bedside table. Adam doesn't stop Nigel kissing him, doesn't stop the way he teases his way over his cock until slowly he takes it into his mouth to suck. He couldn't stop Nigel if he tried, he thinks, and it has never occurred to him to try. He wonders if Nigel would like that, too, or if that is a game he wouldn't be a fan of. For Adam, Nigel is the best kind of experience, and the safest place to experiment.

He moans softly and drops his head back with a sigh, curling one hand around Nigel's jaw to feel it shift and tense, the other still in his hair, gently stroking, nails just barely scratching his scalp, enough to pull a sound from Nigel that vibrates through Adam's very being.

He wants to stumble back, wants to crawl into bed and have Nigel follow. His body already sparks with the anticipation for what can happen, whether he will be held splayed, feet in the air and hands grasping his own hair as Nigel shoves his tongue so deep into him Adam can barely breathe, or if he will be sucked until he comes, shaking and sweaty and smiling in a lazy, cat-like way. Or if Nigel will fumble for the lube, fingers certain and careful in stretching Adam though they have done it countless times before, before he pushes in, deep and slow, and Adam urges him with little mewls and whimpers to go faster.

He wishes he could voice half the things in his head, even half would be okay. It wouldn't sound awkward or strange, it would sound sexy and needy and just what Nigel wants to hear. He wishes. Adam manages only to open his mouth and moan his name, though, and from the response, he knows that that is enough, for now, as well.

Nigel lifts his eyes, almost subservient on his knees like this, and to his great and constant amusement, he finds he doesn't mind at all. Not when he's giving himself to someone so lovely, someone who – despite his difficulty in voicing it – wants Nigel as much as Nigel does Adam. It feels as reasonable and as right as buying milk and doing the laundry – ensuring that Adam's needs are satisfied in every way.

He hollows his cheeks, lips curved around rigid cock, and Adam's blush darkens as his lips part. His thighs tremble, knees nearly giving out when Nigel pulls back to just the head of it, licking across the slit, savoring every salty viscous bead that pools on his tongue. He sets his hands to Adam's skinny legs to hold him steady. Adam's voice cracks when he moans and rocks deeper again, into Nigel's eager mouth.

He sucks until he feels Adam's pulse hammering against his tongue, he sucks until Adam begs his name again in the sweetest voice Nigel has ever heard. Only then does he relent, letting Adam's cock slip free from his mouth, spit joining them, a grin splitting Nigel's lips. He wants to do everything to him. He wants to do everything for him. If the rest of his life was spent in devotion to trying to keep Adam happy – no matter how many times Nigel fucks it up – he figures that wouldn't be a bad way to go about living at all.

When he stands, Adam leans against him, seeking a kiss that Nigel gladly yields, parting Adam's lips with his tongue and pushing him back towards the bed. He hooks his hands against Adam's ass and squeezes, pursuing him when he scrambles onto the bed, the older man's body like that of a great cat, all raw muscle coiled tight.

“Tell me what you want, darling,” Nigel purrs, turning aside Adam's head to suck at his throat. “Fucking anything.”

Adam just shivers, another little sound escaping him that goes straight to Nigel's cock. He rocks down harder against the little thing beneath him, delighting in tugging up Adam's shirt and slipping his briefs down just under the curve of his ass. Still partially dressed, but just enough undressed that Adam squirms and blushes in the most incredible way.

“Fingers,” Adam tells him quietly, voice hitching a little when Nigel starts to undo the buttons on his shirt and peels it open to begin sucking marks into his skin. “Your fingers always make me come.”

It's breathless and needy and so innocently hungry that Adam immediately brings a hand to his face that Nigel pulls away to kiss. Everything he says he worries is too strange, too boring, too dull. And every time Nigel seems to grow harder for it, shiver, arch, twist against him as though Adam's words were as filthy or as beautiful and melodic as Nigel's are to him.

Adam wishes he could tell Nigel everything he wants and have it sound right. But for now, this is more than enough.

“Will you keep my underwear there?” He asks, biting his lip when Nigel hums affirmation. Because of course he would. Of course he would keep him half-dressed to play with him that way. Adam wonders why his entire body alights at the thought, why it feels like such a naughty thing to do and why he loves the idea so.

Whatever the reason, Nigel feels the same effects. His eyes hood, his voice deepens into a low groan as he purrs his pleasure against Adam's chest. Seeking lips find a pink nipple and tease it to hardness with lips and teeth and tongue. He sucks until Adam arches from the bed, whimpering, and only then releases that darkened nub, pebbled hard and glistening with spit.

“You want me to keep you fucking tangled up in them?” Nigel asks, and knowing that Adam fucking answers rhetorical fucking questions, he grins in answer to himself. “Wrapped up around your legs. Dirty boy.”

He snares the waistband of Adam's underpants, pulling the elastic tight around his thin thighs. They darken from pale to red, and Nigel uses them to turn Adam's legs aside to the mattress, exposing his ass as he watches from beneath a tangle of curls. He is beautiful, fucking always and without fucking exception. He is even more beautiful like this, chest heaving with the weight of little noises that each tell Nigel more than words ever could and body bared but for the cotton holding him gently bound.

Nigel wets his fingers himself, pushing the fore and middle between his lips as Adam watches, wide-eyed and rapt. Slick with spit, Nigel works them into the tight crevasse of Adam's ass, taking his time to savor every hitched breath and desperate squirm.

It feels good. It always feels so good, and Adam has long ago stopped trying to explain the sensations away and has long ago begun to enjoy them to their full potential. He presses his face to the pillow with a hum of breathless laughter and curls one hand in the sheets by his cheek. He rocks back as Nigel fingers him, turns to get him to find that one place that has Adam making those sweet little noises over and over, entirely helpless in how loud they are or how frequent.

He knows that when they're done, they will sleep, they will cuddle and wake tangled together, and that Nigel will call him sweet things in the morning. He knows that he will get up and make them both breakfast while Nigel relieves himself and smokes. He knows that when they go out again, the next day, he will fire better, he will aim surer, and Nigel will make that sound again that Adam loves to hear, that he knows is the sound that indicates Nigel is entirely lost to his own sensations, as much a slave to Adam as Adam is to him.

“That feels good,” Adam moans softly, arching back against him. “You feel so good, always, oh.”

Sitting at Adam's feet, his toes curling and splaying wide again and again, Nigel can only touch. He can only watch. It's enough, to feel Adam's body squeeze tight around his fingers. It's enough, to see how he presses his hand across his face and moans into his fingers. He kneels, given over entirely to the kid who's turned his whole fucking life upside down, and cares for nothing more than giving him pleasure.

“You're fucking stunning,” Nigel whispers, reverent. “My sparrow, my angel.”

Adam's weakening whimper interrupts Nigel's adoring purr, his body curls tighter, spreads apart again, he tries to stretch his legs but finds them ensnared in his underpants. Nigel catches only a glimpse of Adam's cock above his folded legs, pink length curled up stiff against his belly. He is decadent, a naughty boy who truly doesn't know how naughty he is, and with a rumbling want from deep in his throat, Nigel sinks his hand between his legs to stroke himself.

Adam's breathing hitches, becomes shallower and quicker, his lips spread into a smile he can't control and his cheeks darken with a beautiful pink blush. He allows himself to let go to fall into this pleasure that Nigel gives him; gives him because Adam asked for it, because he wants it and needs it and knows how much Nigel loves to watch him this way. He mumbles something into the pillow Nigel can't hear and jerks, just a little.

He doesn't come, not yet, but he is close, he is so close with his body tense and his legs trying to stretch while he's held still, and his little smiles and warm mewling and needy, needy pleas.

He has proven himself as hungry for Nigel's desires as Nigel is to taking him whenever he possibly can. They fit as well here, with this, as they do in silence – relative silence, when Nigel isn't swearing – when they read or when they go to bed for nothing more than pressing close and dozing after a long day of work.

Adam remembers the fear he had gotten when Nigel had left, when he had said cruel things, true things, and had gone away. He does not want to feel that again. He never wants to feel that again.

Another jerk, another twitch, and Adam unfurls, coming – untouched – hot and thick against the bedspread, arching his back harder and pushing his ass up against Nigel's hand.

The sound he makes is nearly enough in itself to make Nigel come. Such an earnest and effortless moan, voice cracking higher, then dropping low, his breath held so long that he's left bereft of air and still his voice drops to a whimper. Adam does not stop rocking his hips back against Nigel's thick, calloused fingers inside him. Nigel does not stop fucking him with them, spreading his quivering ass wide, rubbing his prostate, watching as his fingers disappear inside Adam again and again.

“Nigel,” Adam sighs, toes curling, and with a string of foul curses, Nigel releases against his own hand, ribbons of pearlescent fluid draping across his fingers, dripping hot down his shaft, thickening in his pubic hair. Just that – his name, spoken by someone who for Nigel defies words, and so has earned the great gamut of his share of them. His angel. His sparrow. His darling, always.

He hopes, as his heart skitters against his ribs. He hopes for always.

Reluctantly, Nigel slips his fingers free from the tightness of Adam's ass. He tugs down the kid's underpants, finally freeing him from his self-chosen confines, and tosses them aside. Without any mind for the protests of messiness, Nigel curls up around him, chest to Adam's back, hair tickling soft where it rubs against pale skin. He slips his arms around him and just as he did before, shooting at trees, Nigel sighs against Adam's neck.

Nigel never intended to leave. Not really. Step away for a few days, sure – give Adam time to let his accusations sink in, and maybe come to understand what a spoiled prick he was being. Time enough to understand how much Nigel does for him that goes unnoticed – things that Nigel doesn't do for notice.

Things that Nigel does because he wants their life to be relatively fucking peaceful.

Things that Nigel does because he wants Adam, his fucking Adam, to be happy.

Things that Nigel does for love, and nothing less.

And though he never intended at all to be gone for good, Christ, Nigel is glad to be back.

---

Adam does not usually wake up at night. He tends to sleep very well if he is sleeping beside Nigel. He curls up against his side and lays his head on the man's shoulder, and even when – in his sleep – Nigel turns to lay on his side, Adam nuzzles up between his shoulders and sleeps that way.

He does not usually wake up at night unless he is woken. And the soft, gentle hand against his shoulder, knuckles stroking over his cheek, is only enough to have Adam moan softly and turns sleepily into the touch.

Nigel watches, only half-awake himself. He wonders at the softness of Adam's cheek, the color that lights it from within as if by some sort of inner glow. Dark curls drape across his face, falling over long lashes. Adam's lips remain parted just enough to make visible the edges of his teeth and Nigel can't resist their plushness, their rosiness, full and flushed and wonderfully soft when he finally leans in to kiss him.

Adam makes another fussy sound, small and sleepy, stretching down to his fingers and toes in a long, trembling line as he awakens enough to press his lips back against Nigel's own. The older man tucks a curl of hair behind Adam's ear, an excuse to touch him more, to follow the line of his jaw as it moves and they kiss again. It's only been a few hours since they fell into bed together, still sticky, and curled up in an inseparable knot of limbs to hold the other close. Nigel slept – despite the unnerving silence of not being in the city – the most easily he has in weeks.

“It isn't time to get up,” Adam murmurs, and Nigel smiles a little more.

“No,” he agrees. He holds his breath in a moment of uncertainty, and then asks, just softly, “Did you want to see the stars, darling?”

Adam blinks at him, sleepy and uncomprehending, and bites his lip in childish pleasure at the thought of being able to. It is hard to see them in the city, if he can ever manage it. It is smoggy and dirty and the air is too heavy and full all the time with light and dust and mess that it is rare that Adam sees the stars at all.

But here... here the starry sky will open up like an origami fan, sprinkled with pale dots and bright color of galaxies and planets. Here, the stars will be seen.

And of all people, Nigel is asking him if he wants to go and see them. Of course he does.

Adam's smile narrows his eyes and warms his cheeks and he turns to lie on his back and bring a hand up to rub his eyes gently, a little groan escaping him when he stretches again.

“I want to see the stars with you,” Adam says.

Nigel follows Adam in inches across the bed, closing the small distance spaced between them and resting his head on Adam's pillow. He smoothes a hand down his bare chest, hairless and soft, and nuzzles his temple, lips drifting across Adam's cheek. He doesn't want to get out of bed, honestly, he wants to lay here for days – never mind that they've only got the cabin for a night. He wants to lay on top of Adam like a big blanket – nevermind that Adam always groans and laughs beneath him.

But more than anything, he wants what Adam wants, and Adam wants to see the stars.

“C'mon then, baby,” he agrees, bristle rubbing against soft skin as Nigel kisses Adam's cheek again. “Put on something warm, it's fucking freezing out there.”

Both move slowly, lazily, bumping against each other as they sort through clothing. Nigel pulls on a coat, Adam a sweater and a coat, at Nigel's insistence – again – that he stay warm. Adam was clever enough to bring gloves, so Nigel contents himself with sticking his hands in his pockets.

The woods are dark – beyond dark, really. Lightless. Depthless. An intense blackness the likes of which Nigel hasn't seen since he was a child. There are always lights around him now – the sickly yellow burn of European street lamps, or the constant glow of New York. It reminds him of Romania, and this thought – rather than the cold – tugs a shiver through the man as he follows after Adam.

They walk only far enough that they can still see the light of their cabin to be able to get back to it. The forest around them is not dense so much as full, trunks are close together but the trees are young and supple things, not decade-old oaks or pines. Adam leads because Nigel walks slower, and because he looks down, not up, like Adam does, to make sure he doesn't fall. They walk until Adam finds a clearing, just big enough for them to stand in comfortably and look up without hindrance of branches or leaves.

The little gasp has Nigel's attention immediately, but Adam is not in pain, he is not scared or injured. He is looking up at the sky, lips parted and eyes wide, cheeks pink from the cold around them. He looks younger, he looks like a little boy Nigel can all too easily imagine looking at the sky with his father, or perhaps both his parents. He can imagine that Adam had spent hours bundled up warm clothes and watching until his neck ached and his shoulders tensed. Looking up and up and up at the endless sky.

And it is endless. It is infinite. It is so fucking bright.

“Are you looking?” Adam asks him softly, gloved hand seeking out to take Nigel's bare one, pulling it from his pocket to squeeze their fingers together.

“Beautiful,” Nigel says, watching Adam for a moment more before turning to follow his gaze upward.

Overhead, stars in countless number, sparkling infinite. Black space is swathed with ribbons, galaxies and systems that Nigel can't reconcile in concept with the colors in violets and blues and reds before him. The moon is only a sliver of silver, too bright in its corner, and the sky seems to concave overhead around them. Without knowing the name of anything he's seeing, Nigel understands for a moment, at least, how Adam can lose himself for hours to this. It is beautiful and terrifying in its vastness.

And so Nigel returns himself to the center of his universe, releasing Adam's hand to slip his arms around his middle instead. He stands behind him, breathing heat into his hair, sighing over the chilled skin at the back of his neck.

“Tell me about the stars, angel.”

He loves to hear Adam talk, at great length and about anything or nothing in particular. Though Nigel often understands only a fraction of what's being said, the passion and knowledge that pours out of Adam with seemingly endless energy intoxicates and fascinates the man. Someone once, maybe more than one someone, must have told Adam it was bad form to talk so much – now and then he'll stop himself, eyes darting away, reluctant, after half an hour, an hour has passed. Nigel always encourages him to continue, Nigel listens, Nigel tries hard to pay attention no matter how lost he is in the specifics of telescopes or microchips or whatever-the-fuck Adam is excited about. Adam is beautiful always, but especially then – eyes wide and voice bright, brilliant in a way that's as much beyond Nigel's comprehension as the sky overhead. And always, Nigel wants to hurt, very badly, whoever's tried to stop his sparrow from singing.

Adam shivers, curls his hands around Nigel's where they rest on his stomach, and bites his lip. There are so many stars. He doesn't know where to even begin. He wonders if he should tell stories, since Nigel still doesn't understand or seem to enjoy scientific explanations. He wonders if he should just point them out, he wonders how he got so lucky, that Nigel is here with him watching the stars, where in New York they have clouds and airplanes and memories of galaxies.

“You see there?” Adam points, careful to keep his hand in line with where they are both looking. “That's Venus.”

“Like, the planet?”

“Yes.”

“Shit.” Nigel's breath tickles Adam's hair again as he looks, genuinely looks for a moment, at the speck amidst the other specks that just falters from white enough to be noticeable. Just enough for him to be able to blink and still find it a moment later. How Adam knows them all is beyond him – there are too many.

“Right now, it is within the Gemini constellation,” Adam continues. “Just in the summer. You can see Castor and Pollux beside it, the brightest stars there.”

Nigel hums, not from boredom or dismissal, but a genuine interest – because Adam is explaining to him, because Adam cares enough to know them so they must matter. He entertains the thought that Adam has taken so much time to learn important things – stars and computers and engineering – and just as much, he's taken time to learn Nigel. So maybe, in some way, Nigel is as important to Adam as the stars themselves.

The thought draws a small sound from the man, something he's never felt or heard well up from him before, and he nuzzles into the crook of Adam's shoulder again. He wraps his arms again around his waist and hugs Adam back firmly against him.

“Who are they?”

“Castor and Pollux?”

Nigel nods, mouthing softly against Adam's neck.

“They're the twins – Gemini. Pollux was Zeus' son. He was immortal,” Adam says, tilting his head to rest his cheek against Nigel's. “When Castor died –“

“But weren't they twins?”

“Not in that way,” Adam says. “It's – it's magic. Mythology. They were born from an egg, anyway.”

Nigel snorts a little laugh at this. “When Castor died –“

“Pollux asked to share his immortality with his brother, so they were made into stars,” Adam finishes. Nigel blinks, and lifts his eyes upward again. It takes him a moment to find the twins, among the dizzying array of stars and sweeps of color and light. The sense of awe is strange to him, entirely foreign to one who has lived his life not only on the ground, but mostly in the gutter.

“Of course,” Adam adds, “that's not how stars are made at all.”

“Of course,” Nigel agrees, grinning.

Adam allows himself to be nuzzled, lifts his eyes to the sky again and begins to explain how stars are made, instead. He speaks slowly enough to be understood, stops to ask, once in a while, if Nigel is listening, though he knows he is, and explains things better if he sounds confused. Slowly, the science unravels alongside the myths, alongside the stories told from generation to generation, adjusted and tweaked by different cultures. Adam accepts them for their presumed validity, but holds true to science as his grounding.

Nigel listens.

Nigel tries to understand.

From Gemini they move to Orion, Adam snorting softly when Nigel is surprised that a star in that constellation sounds like his name. They debate long enough about whether or not it is significant before Adam allows himself to be kissed to silence, arguments melting away on soft lips and sighed warm over Nigel's face.

They talk of Canis Major and the famous dog star, and Adam tells him how a small island in Greece used to worship it every summer solstice, hoping it would rise bright and clear and give them good harvest and an easy season.

They talk until Adam shivers from the cold and Nigel holds him closer. They talk until the stars begin to blur in their magnitude and endlessness. They talk until Adam turns and kisses Nigel and holds him close and stops his own words before they can spill into a flood around them.

For as much as Nigel is happy to listen, to anything and everything Adam shares with him, he is just as happy for this. Maybe more so, just a little bit, but it's the combination of the two that truly spins the man to abandon. Brilliant Adam, fierce and clever and in his own way dangerous, Adam who knows the stars and – Nigel's sure of it – soon enough will know the mechanisms of guns even better than he does. This Adam, his Adam – Nigel gets to kiss and squeeze against him.

Even the awe Nigel felt towards the universe in all its enormity pales in compare towards the wonder he feels towards Adam.

Their mouths rock into a slow kiss, pressing deeply together, their tongues entangled and lips sweeping smooth against the other. He frames Adam's hips with his hands, unbalancing him to bring him close, and catches him with a grin, wrapping strong arms over slender shoulders. The trees shudder in the wind around them, encircling the clearing that they've found, and but for those trees – one of which still holds several of Adam's bullets lodged in it – they are for all intents and purposes alone in the world.

“God, I fucking love you,” Nigel murmurs, when they part enough to breathe. He rubs his nose alongside Adam's own, against his cheek, made warm from blushing and cold from the night air all at the same time.

“I love you,” Adam tells him, still awed, every time, that he now knows how that word feels, and how the feeling of it is entirely different to the meaning, and how the meaning of this love is entirely different to the meaning of love he had for his father and his mother. This love, Adam knows warms him and speeds his heart, this love is dangerous and addictive, and he would not have it with anyone else, would not trust anyone else to talk him through it, other than Nigel.

Gloved fingers curl in the soft strands of straight hair and Adam levers himself a little closer to kiss Nigel again. It is comfortable, it is warm and gentle and intimate. He doesn't think of how they are not in New York now, how his routines have been pushed a little off kilter, how the bed is bigger and warmer and softer but still not theirs. He thinks only that he has Nigel, here, now, and if he's lucky he will have him forever.

“I like talking to you about the stars,” Adam tells him, framing cold cheeks with his hands to try warm them. “I like talking to you about anything, even when you pretend you're not listening.”

“I love when you talk, sparrow,” Nigel assures him, rubbing a scruffy cheek into Adam's long fingers. “I'm always listening.”

“I know, that's why I said you pretend you're not.”

Nigel huffs a laugh against Adam's palm and kisses there before muttering, “Adam fucking Raki, the smartass.”

He teases his lips lower, past Adam's gloved hand, finding a thin expanse of soft skin and touching a kiss to his wrist. Lifting his hands to Adam's jacket, he snaps the buttons free one by one, until Adam laughs and squirms, his coat only halfway open. Nigel crooks a brow, his own smile widening.

“You know we could fuck out here. Lay your coat down and let me warm you up,” he offers, lips brushing against Adam's ear. “You can lie on your back and watch the stars.”

Adam shivers and adamantly shakes his head, though his smile doesn't falter, eyes barely open. “It would be entirely uncomfortable,” he reasons. Nigel just kisses him again, working his hands against Adam's coat more as the younger man presses his hands to his chest, not so much to stop him as to make his argument heard. “The ground is uneven and there might be insects we cannot see on the earth around us. It would get desperately cold. And you would -”

“Hmm?” Nigel doesn't even try to contain his laugh at Adam's attempted soft rejection.

“You would distract me from the stars,” Adam tells him, pawing gently at the man before him to pull him closer, to wrap his fingers in the soft worn leather of Nigel's coat. “I don't want the stars to distract me from you, either. I want to be in bed where I can just see and feel and touch you.”

Nigel pushes his hands through Adam's curls, standing a little taller when the kid pulls him near, reveling the feel of small, skilled hands against his chest, against his clothes.

“We can stay and watch the stars, baby –“

Adam shakes his head again, a crooked smile flickering wider. “I want you now. In bed, please.”

“More than the stars?”

“Right now, yes,” Adam answers, and Nigel kisses him hard enough that Adam has to take a step back to compensate. For all his overwrought confidence, Nigel feels strongest when Adam is against him like this. He feels powerful, brave – he would destroy anyone or anything that dared move a hair out of place on Adam's head. He wants to protect him, and knowing he is even now – and in whatever small way, that he is making Adam happy – is the only thing that matters.

Without another word – for now, anyway – Nigel seeks out Adam's hand and curls his own over it, folding their fingers together to lead Adam back to the cabin where the porchlight glows to lead the way. He takes it as slowly as Adam does, seeking out roots with careful steps, seeking through the trees with wariness towards stray, low-hanging branches. He takes it slowly until they're inside the cabin, and Adam has scarcely finished unbuttoning his coat before Nigel snatches him by the hips and routes him towards the bed with fevered kisses and rough hands.

A little laugh and Adam goes, shivering and needy and just as desperate to get Nigel out of his clothes as he is to feel his own gone. For all his shyness, his awkwardness and his logic, Adam is an inherently sexual creature; he enjoys the act, he enjoys sharing it with Nigel, and some weeks they anger the residents in the surrounding apartments enough to earn a knock on the door.

Adam doesn't care.

Nigel doesn't fucking care.

And here, now, certainly neither care. No one to hear them even if – when, it is always when – Nigel drives Adam's voice from him on high sweet little moans, aching and begging and sobbing for more.

“I want to kiss your skin,” Adam murmurs, manages, between kisses. “Want to leave marks with my nails like I did before. You touch them later. You like them.”

“Fuck,” Nigel sighs.

Adam is right, of course. Nigel does everything in his power to hurt others before they can hurt him, but there's something particularly delicious about Adam giving himself over to such animalistic delight that he digs his nails into Nigel's back, his arms, his ass trailing scarlet behind them. Nigel spends far too much time in the mirror getting himself hard by looking at them, far too much time jerking himself off when the shower sprays down the scratches and reminds him of how he was touched.

He engages in a frantic struggle with Adam's clothing. Nigel works fast, he works clumsy – his hands numbed by cold – to peel Adam bare, kissing him relentlessly, teeth and tongues, sucking the kid's lower lip into his mouth, releasing it with a moan. Adam stills Nigel's hands, slender fingers against his wrists, and when Nigel finally stops pawing at him, Adam reaches for the hem of his sweater and with a long, languid twist of his body, peels it off above his head. Revealing bare skin inch by inch, pale and taut, soft stomach and pointed nipples, Nigel watches rapt all the way up to Adam's hair, falling tousled into his eyes.

“I want you to do whatever you want to me,” Nigel murmurs, rubbing his cold palms up Adam's ribs. He shivers, but doesn't fight it, nor when Nigel slips his fingers lower again to hook in the waistband of Adam's pants to bring them just beneath his ass.

Adam laughs, body overcome with shivers and goosebumps, and touches Nigel's face again. He wants to touch and be touched, wants Nigel to be gentle, as he always is, before fucking him into the bed so hard the springs creak and the frame shudders. He wants, he wants, he wants...

“Okay,” he tells him, squirming as his pants and underwear are pulled from his legs and tossed to the floor. He works to get Nigel just as bare, running gentle – for the moment – nails down his back to slip beneath the waistband of his pants and cup his ass, cold, still, from the temperature outside. Adam pulls him closer, fingers kneading, and swallows the next curse that Nigel purrs against him. Lips parted wide and tongues slipping against each other, quick breaths managed between frantic kissing breathed out again against Nigel's face.

Adam takes his time moving his hands to the front of Nigel's pants to work them open, he takes his time to feel every curve and bend of bone and skin, takes his time to rub against Nigel with the fabric of his underwear between Adam's hand and Nigel's cock. He teases, because he knows how to, now. At least here. He knows what Nigel likes and what upsets him, what brings curses of pleasure to his lips and what brings curses of confusion.

“I like when you're hard,” Adam tells him, pushing against his pants until Nigel sits up to yank them off himself. “Against me, in me.”

Nigel rumbles a feline purr against the kid's mouth, balanced between kissing Adam and tugging his underpants off his ankles. It's a tricky thing, but well worth it in the moment that Nigel rocks down against Adam, both entirely bare, and grinds his cock against the join of Adam's thigh. Adam's cock lifts as if in response, dripping, pushing back against Nigel's stomach, and his nails press just a little harder as they rock together.

“You fucking do this to me,” Nigel murmurs. “You make me so fucking hard, darling. Just look at you – fucking gorgeous. My sparrow.”

Adam curls from the bed, bridging to his shoulders with a needy whimper when Nigel kisses him back down again. The older man snares Adam by his thigh, hikes it higher over his hip, ruts firmer, faster, against tender belly and pointed hip and alongside Adam's own cock, over thick curls of coarse hair. There, Nigel settles, rubbing them both together, and watching with dark, hooded eyes how Adam's lips fall open on a sound so small it can hardly be heard under Nigel's panting.

He reaches, taking up one of Adam's hands before he can spread it across his face, and shoves it between them, against his cock.

“You do this to me, baby. No one else could make me half as fucking stiff.”

“Good,” Adam laughs, clear and warm, and curls his hand around Nigel to stroke him, slow deliberate pulls as he lets his head be turned aside by rough kisses and gentle biting.

It is some ungodly hour of the morning, in the middle of nowhere, where Adam has no grounding beyond the man panting above him, the stars above them, past the wooden slatted ceiling. It makes his heart beat too quickly and his mind work too fast, and he allows himself to moan and squirm and shiver under Nigel, allows his wrist to turn just beneath the head, his fingers to work the sensitive foreskin back and touch Nigel that way, too.

“Fuck.” The word is a growl, more felt than heard, vibrating between their chests as Adam arches up and digs his heels into the mattress.

“Lube first,” he begs. “And then – then –”

Nigel moans against Adam's jaw, dragging his teeth along that hard bone, pressing them in without causing pain – just to claim, to hold and taste and feel the movement when Adam's lips fall slack and he whimpers.

“Tell me what you want, darling – fucking say it for me, angel.”

Adam's blush bursts in riotous red across his cheeks, his self-consciousness painted apparent and hot against Nigel's tongue when he licks up the side of his jaw and sucks his earlobe. His fingers stutter over the head of Nigel's cock, his breath catches short and gasping.

“I want you to have sex with me,” Adam whispers, and Nigel's groan makes up in volume what Adam's sweet, soft voice lacks.

He fumbles beside the bed, lunging back in for kisses as he nearly topples the lamp – unwilling to be apart from Adam for even that long, unwilling to stop touching him for a moment. Adam remembered the lube, thank fuck, because Nigel sure as shit didn't. He never packs his own things even for traveling by himself, and he doesn't have to with Adam's mind constantly working overtime at it. Nigel flicks the cap open and with remarkable skill, squeezes it into the same palm before tossing it aside. He strokes himself first, hissing at the chill of it, and smears broad messy strokes between Adam's cheeks, seeking out the heat of his hole, working fingertips within.

Adam makes a purring sound of pleasure and squirms from the tickling, welcome feeling, lips stretched in a wide and pleased grin as he arches up onto his shoulders again, spreads his legs as wide as he can before Nigel catches just against his calf with one hand to inevitably spread him wider.

He is prepared enough to be slick, enough that once they start, it won't hurt. There will be a pressure, a stretch – something that Adam doesn't know how to admit he likes, but thinks Nigel knows already – but no pain. There is no teasing because there is no time for teasing. Neither want to push and play when they are so hard, leaking, already, for each other. Adam moans, Nigel bites his bottom lip and pulls back to stretch it before letting it go.

It is almost violent, this claiming, almost animalistic in its need and utterly perfect.

“Tell me what you're gonna do,” Adam asks, breath hitching when Nigel's fingers slip free of him and he lines up with his cock instead. “You say it better, you turn your words properly –”

Nigel snarls, wordless for a moment more, voice curling into a rumbling growl from deep in his throat. He pushes just the tip of his cock to Adam's opening, just enough to stir his sparrow's heart fluttering faster. Dark eyes dart across Adam's blissful eagerness, his spit-damp lips and hooded eyes, and Nigel leans slowly down over him to whisper against his ear.

“I'm going to put my fucking cock in your ass, Adam. I'm going to stuff the whole fucking thing inside you, down to my balls, and you're going to stretch for me, aren't you, baby? Your hole will get so wide and tight with my cock inside it, and I'm going to hold you spread open by your ankles so I can watch myself fuck you.” A pause, and a grin. “Hard.”

Nigel dampens his lips with the tip of his tongue and sighs, breath warm enough to shiver Adam and send the kid pushing up against him again.

“Please, Nigel – I – I want that –“

“I know you do,” purrs Nigel, rocking his hips forward just enough to breach, to feel Adam start to shake in anticipation for all the things Nigel promises him. “You want my cock in your ass.”

“Yes,” Adam sighs.

“You want me to fuck you hard and fast, don't you, darling?”

“Please,” breathes Adam again, squirming until Nigel sets a hand to his thigh. He runs it slowly upward, tickling the back of Adam's knee and grasping his ankle. Bucking forward, Nigel pushes the head of his cock past the tight ring of muscle, and as Adam moans, Nigel closes their mouths together to taste the vibrations of it.

It had not taken Adam long to stop wondering and over thinking about how he looked when Nigel held him this way. Initially, he had tried to squirm to cover himself to lay more modestly, but slowly, deliberately, over time he had come to care less and less about how he perceived himself to look because Nigel seemed to gain unimaginable pleasure from seeing him so vulnerable. The helpless sounds brought Nigel's own from deep in his chest in answer. The sweet murmurs for more and please and Nigel pulled growls from the man, and sharper thrusts and hotter hands.

Never has Nigel been rough with Adam in a way he did not want. And it has been a very, very enjoyable discovery for Adam to realize that he wanted rough, that he enjoyed rough, and that coaxing Nigel to it was a game he very much could play and play well.

The initial penetration is shallow, quick thrusts to slick and soothe the way before Nigel pushes deeper and Adam's eyes roll closed as his body tenses in readiness for this. His hands find Nigel's hair and tug it, enough to turn his head and bare his teeth before Nigel presses his lips to Adam's chest and kisses against the fluttering heartbeat.

He thinks of the stars, outside now, and how despite them being so clear, so bright, there for him, he would not want to move for the world from under Nigel now. Both hands gather straight strands between his fingers and hold Nigel down to keep him kissing his skin as Adam pushes down against him, spreads his legs and curves his back and lets his eyes close. His cock, trapped between their stomachs, leaks slick against their skin, twitches with every gentle tug and pull and rub against it.

“You feel so fucking good, Adam, so fucking tight and hot.”

Sometimes Nigel actually says what he means. Sometimes it's easy, with Adam so alive and wild beneath him and their pulses quick beneath their skin. He shudders, moaning against Adam's chest as he buries himself to the base and holds there, kissing smooth skin every time Adam gasps, holding one leg high and wide. The ring of muscle quivers and clenches around his cock. Nigel curses, and turns his head to rub his cheek against Adam's chest.

He lays heavy against the younger man, chest hair curling with sweat, rubbing soft over Adam's chest. Nigel reaches beneath Adam's leg with his free hand, skimming his hole, reveling in the sensation of his own cock spreading it wide.

“You take my cock so fucking good, baby,” Nigel praises him, starting a slow pistoning, into and out of Adam's body, against his own fingers pressed flush to where they're joined. “You fucking love it,” Nigel grins. “Everyone thinks you're sweet and harmless and you fucking love being naughty, don't you?”

The words pull a dark blush to Adam's face and he bites his lip. On instinct he shakes his head and smiles wider when Nigel purrs against him that he's lying. It's a fun game, being dishonest here, sometimes. Having Nigel tell him, remind him, correct him when he pretends to be ignorant. Adam wraps sweaty hands around Nigel's neck and clings to him as the pace of the thrusts speed up, as the stretch of his muscles grows deliciously painful, tense and tight.

“I love you like this,” Adam moans.

“Just like this?”

The laugh is cut short to breathless sobs of pleasure when Nigel shifts and thrusts in against Adam's prostate, and Adam's fingers drag harshly down Nigel's back, leaving marks.

“I just love you,” Adam amends. “But like this... this is so good...” He moans, lips pressed tight together, and turns his head aside so Nigel can kiss his cheek and down to his jaw and just beneath it. “Fuck,” he sighs.

“Demanding fucking thing,” Nigel scolds him fondly. “So fucking needy, so fucking cock-hungry – I fucking love you.”

Despite his chastisement, Nigel follows Adam's wordless instructions with abandon. He kisses his soft cheek, hard jaw, down to the pulsing vessels in his throat where he leaves another pale red mark to join the rest, sucking firm until Adam whimpers. Further still, ducking his head to graze his teeth over Adam's collarbone, before tracing the ridge with his tongue.

He fucks him hard enough to shudder the bed beneath them, groaning wood and creaking springs. The headboard bangs against the wall as Nigel takes him properly, deep and quick, reveling in how loose Adam becomes around him, only to squeeze tight again. A curse snaps from Nigel's throat, Romanian and rough, and he grabs Adam's other ankle to hoist them high above, legs straight and shuddering. Nigel shifts to his knees, baring Adam entirely before him, and his eyes hood with a moan at the sight of his cock disappearing inside his darling.

The change of position opens Adam up more, to the sensation, to the pleasure, to that harrowing feeling of vulnerability that pulses through his cock and curves it harder against his stomach, dark pink and slicked at the tip, smearing precome over his stomach. Unable to reach Nigel, now, Adam tugs his own hair, spreads his hands down over his chest, catching on a nipple and moaning high and loud at the feeling. He touches himself often enough, but rarely when Nigel is watching. It's something he knows Nigel loves to see, and he does it to watch him respond, but it still takes courage, still takes a lot of personal coercion, to be able to do it with confidence.

Right now, though, Adam is beyond caring about appearances.

His toes flex and curl and Nigel turns his head to kiss against Adam's ankle, down over the smooth curve of his calf muscle that tenses and trembles beneath his lips.

Adam's hands move lower, circling his navel and spreading splayed fingers down his sides to his hips. He does not touch himself, he can't. If he does he will come and he will be a mess and he doesn't want this over yet, this feels too good. He draws light pink marks over his skin with his nails as he trails his hands back up his body to his chest and pinches a nipple instead.

Nigel is unrelenting, ceaseless, even as his hips slow he doesn't hold back from pressing as deeply into Adam as possible to watch his spine curve from the bed, chest raised toward the ceiling, head bent back and neck bared. Soft angles and sharp planes define him, muscle shimmering taut beneath pale skin, strong and gentle all at once. Though Nigel's tongue has yet to leave Adam's leg, his lips pressed and sucking, his eyes follow the motion of Adam's hands over his exposed torso, trembling nearer to his cock, resisting, fiercely withholding his own release as Nigel does, to make this last just a little longer.

To say it feels good is a fucking understatement. It feels fucking incredible, the pressure and heat, the knowledge that Adam gives himself so willingly to this – of all fucking things – and to Nigel – of all fucking people. Nigel's hips stutter at the thought, he holds himself back with just the head of his cock sunk into Adam's ass, he waits for the coil of tension in his belly to ease, and pushes in as slowly as he can stand.

The sound Adam makes is extraordinary, a high, keening whimper, pinching his nipple harder, leaving it stiff to instead reach for Nigel's chest and drag his fingernails down. Through thick hair and over soft belly, Adam leaves his marks, deep enough that Nigel hisses a curse, enough that he will be able to look in the mirror in the morning with pride and know that – whether he means to or not – Adam has claimed Nigel as his own. His throat clenches, his mouth is dry, Nigel's whole body is fucking on fire and when their eyes meet, his voice cracks.

“Let me – darling, please – I want to fucking come on you.”

Another shudder through Adam that he can't control nor wants to. Another feeling of depraved and wrong and naughty that pushes another thick drop from the end of his cock and has the younger man trembling beneath Nigel. It would be dirty. It would be messy. He would smell like Nigel even after having a shower and the thought of that alone is so entirely overwhelming that Adam's hand slips quick to his cock to hold himself at bay; not stroking or pleasuring, but genuinely holding himself together.

He would smell like Nigel.

He would be his, in the most animalistic way.

Without a word, he nods, quick and stuttered, and bites his lip.

Every breath is a curse and praise as Nigel ducks his head and fights to stop himself from finishing on the fucking spot. I love you, fucking hell, angel, goddammit – a litany of oaths that Nigel can no more control than his pulse or the beat of his heart. He sets his eyes on Adam, exhaling hard as he pulls himself free, and shuffling forward, Nigel sets his knees beneath Adam's spread legs, kneeling at the altar of the only one he could ever love so fucking much. Adam's legs stay spread around him, his fingers remain looped firm around his cock, and Nigel takes his own in hand, muttering in words that might be any number of languages or none at all.

He strokes, palm curling up over the tip, still slick with lube, warm from Adam's body. Another pull, harder, another, faster, another until his hips rock forward and his whole body follows. Catching himself on his free hand, Nigel jerks his orgasm off across Adam's belly, roping thick across his chest, reaching nearly to the hollow of his neck and then pooling thick with the last drips that Nigel milks moaning from himself.

It is entirely primal, entirely dirty, and Adam draws his hand up enough only to cup the head of his cock and gently stroke, a cruel tease until it's too much. He lets himself go with a cry, lilted and trembling, and presses his hand against Nigel's chest to feel his heart hammering as his body unfurls, unlaces apart, and his stomach is a mess of them both mixed together.

Adam's voice doesn't return to him quickly, it does in little sobs of pleasure and trembling hitched breaths, it does in little groans and hummed whimpers. His lips are parted and red, stretched wide in a grin, and he closes his eyes so that the brightness of them, the dampness around the lashes, isn't as obvious as Nigel leans in to kiss him and Adam kisses back.

“You're going to get dirty,” he whispers, when Nigel makes to lie against him.

“You already are,” Nigel points out, as if somehow this negates Adam's warning. Doesn't it, though? If Adam is already dirty, then Nigel wants to be dirty, too. If Adam is sticky, Nigel wants to be sticky. Whatever Adam is or has or does is what Nigel wants, to the exclusion of all else, and so he lays heavy against him, smearing their bellies together, warm and wet.

Adam squirms, first, as Nigel's chest hair drags through the streaks of come across his torso, but settles beneath Nigel's mouth. Gentle kisses work their lips together, tangle and release them, as their hearts settle, and Nigel's grin turns sleepy.

“You're a very naughty boy, Adam,” he murmurs. “Fucking filthy.” He tilts his head downward, as if to see their semen smeared between them, and then tucks his mouth against Adam's throat to mutter against his skin. “Look at you. Look at us.”

“We're going to be sticky,” Adam points out, to a pleased hum from the man above him. “And tacky.” Another one, and Adam's smile grows a little before it disappears to a gentle sort of acceptance, a happiness that has become baseline to most of their interactions together.

He knows they should shower, he knows they should clean up and curl up in bed and sleep properly before they have to leave the next morning and give the cabin up again. He knows they should, and yet the only thing he can think so say is:

“I don't know why I like when you talk like that, but I like it.”

There is no logical reason for Adam to be the naughty one when Nigel had been the one to make a mess, no logical reason why something like being called a boy should bring shivers to Adam's muscles and goosebumps to his skin. He doesn't understand it, but he doesn't understand most of what his body does when it's around Nigel, there is only so much biology and science can explain before they reach territory neither has explored and Adam is left to fend for himself.

Nigel hums his pleasure at the little confession anyway. He doesn't require explanation, he doesn't require personal insight and understanding. Honesty and trust and fierce fucking and affection is all he needs. It's done well for them so far – why demand more? Why ask questions that don't need to be asked, or demand answers that may not exist? Why worry about any of that, when they're so warm pressed close like this, and their mouths move together like they were made to be that way.

“You are,” Nigel grins when they split apart. He slips down further to rest his head on Adam's chest, nuzzling against smooth skin, mindless of the mess stiffening against his cheek. “Fucking dirty, darling. And fucking beautiful. I've never seen anyone look so lovely getting fucked so hard,” he murmurs, bringing up his fingers to follow a ribbon of pale semen, watching as it stretches between his finger and Adam's skin. “I've never seen anyone look so lovely at all.”

Another shiver from Adam before he lays still again. Slowly, his hands come up to rest in Nigel's hair, parting it and stroking it, gentle and loving. His body aches in the most wonderful way, he knows that the next morning will be hard to sit in the car and he knows that Nigel knows it. But it is good, it is so good. And why does anything else matter?

“I like that you think I'm lovely,” he tells him, drawing a knee up with a wince and a gentle bite to his lip to press against Nigel's side where he lies. “And I like that you let me think you are, too.”