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Michelangelo is a cunt.

For one thing, he insists on calling him Giuseppe, even though Yusuf decided against a change of name while in Roma.

For another, he is spectacularly nonplussed by the concept of personal space, regardless of how many times Yusuf has cleared his throat and stared daggers at the man from across the room.

Their stay in Roma has been profitable, no one is denying that, but Yusuf was ready and willing to leave a fortnight ago. Instead, Nicolò talked his ear off about this man Michelangelo's genius—the words "noble" and "illustrious" have been thrown around, to which Yusuf had to heartily repress rolling his eyes—and now here they are, another afternoon lost in a studio with too little ventilation and far too much wine.

A chance meeting has translated to lengthier and lengthier sessions in Michelangelo's home, delaying their departure from the city. Although the man claims to abhor visitors to his workshop, he has invited Nicolò several times to pose for sketches. But if Nicolò is to pose then Yusuf will skulk in corners, denying offers of sharing in the wine from Nicolò, who is draped upon a rather gaudy settee, down to a pair of crimson silken hose and not much else.

An animated conversation about a fresco commissioned by Nicolò's Pope is buzzing in the background. Fascinated though Yusuf would otherwise be, Nicolò's likeness featuring in it seems... inadvisable. But his Nicolò has agreed already, and Yusuf is left silently admiring the grace of his profile from his place by the farthest window, to which he now turns.

The perpetual summer sunshine dissipates in the glass, blinding him momentarily. Through it, their neighbour, la Colonna Traiana, is vaguely visible in the distance. Yusuf focuses on the smooth marble—compact, firm, implacable—and allows it to calm his mood.

Other than leaving the city altogether, Yusuf would love nothing more right now than to open a window, even for a few minutes of fresh air, but the streets outside resemble sewage far too closely for his taste. However much the studio may feel needlessly damp and stifling, it is much preferable to the streets of Roma. And thus Yusuf is left to complain in his own head, seeing as neither the Master nor his sitter seem inclined to share in his physical discomfort, probably because the former is surely accustomed to it, while the latter has been divested of most of his clothing, as Yusuf is rudely reminded when he glances in a corner and notices the rest of Nicolò's clothes neatly folded over the back of a chair.

The standing collar on Yusuf's doublet is perhaps the worst part, other than the part where Nicolò is currently giggling about something doubtlessly profound and genius-like behind him. Which means he is both distracted and distracting their host, and, if Yusuf is to spend another minute in this room then he too can very improperly rearrange his clothing to suit him better.

He is instantly noticed, even with his back to the room at large. But no admonition comes, not that he would have expected any given the wine-fuelled high spirits and general merriment both have exhibited.

"Giuseppe, mettiti comodo," that dung farmer with a paintbrush calls out. Yusuf is fully aware he is being absurdly uncharitable, but he may melt before long, this fact surely a factor in his lack of leniency for the man's most casual of words, a slight in every action.

He decides to take the man at his word, and divests himself of his doublet and undershirt altogether, highly improper, though Nicolò has him beat there. He shoves his shoulders back, only just now noticing the stiffness, doubtlessly from his sullen lurking, the way they refuse to untense until he wills them to. For several minutes he stretches his back, allowing the muscles to shift and roll as they please, sweat beading at the nape of his neck rolling down to gather at the small of his back and farther still to disappear where fabric starts up again.

Michelangelo is telling his Nicolò to turn his head back around. It's possible the wine may be at fault there. Unimaginable that Nicolò should, after centuries of patient stillness when called for, renounce it in front of a man he so greatly admires.

"Enough, I think," Nicolò speaks for his benefit, then repeats the words for Michelangelo's. His words do not slur, but Yusuf notices a certain tension beneath the airy tone.

Turning around, he catches sight of him already on his way to retrieving his clothing from the chair. His eyes follow the lines of his back leading to the waist on his hose. He's always understood him to be beautiful, so it comes as no surprise his unchanging body should still garner such admiration, but he forgets sometimes he is not the sole possessor of eyes with which to behold him.

Now Michelangelo turns to him, expression welcoming, and, as such, utterly unnerving to Yusuf, whose patience is nearly worn completely thin.

"Hai considerato—" he starts, but Nicolò is already turning him away from Yusuf with a palm at his elbow, thanking him for the hours together.

Hmm. As if Nicolò weren't the one whose time Michelangelo has almost desperately been seeking out each afternoon since Nicolò first visited him. But such politeness must be observed, he guesses.

There's nothing left but for Yusuf to dress himself and give his salutations until the next time, which will undoubtedly be sooner rather than later knowing his Nicolò.

On the way to the apartments they have rented for their extended stay Nicolò engages him in idle conversation Yusuf valiantly endeavours to return.

"You are distracted, my love," Nicolò comments when Yusuf's hummed his response to a question he cannot even recall anymore for the second or third time.

That he is. Distracted, that is. Men they haven't set their sights on before seem equally so, their gaze unabashedly on Nicolò's person as they pass them in the street.

"The day's heat grows weary," he replies, sneaking a glance at Nicolò's face, who seems convinced by his answer, though there's a slight frown still lingering on his brow when they reach their house.

That night, Yusuf fucks him hard on all fours on wrinkled sheets, hard enough to jostle the bed forward with every thrust until the headboard bumps the wall, over and over again, plaster raining down. Nicolò's initial whines turn to half-garbled words of praise and desperation, then feeble gasps around utter gibberish.

By the end of it, Yusuf, for his part, is rutting inside him, frustratedly unable to get deeper but giving it his all regardless, hip bones slapping against the meat of Nicolò's arse with the sort of roughness he hasn't felt like employing since he first bedded him all those centuries ago.

He thinks he hears, "Yusuf," although Nicolò's mouth hasn't managed proper syllables for the past ten minutes. It would be like him to hallucinate his beloved moaning his name at the height of Yusuf's pleasure, and the very thought of it does turn out to be what pushes him over the edge.

His hips stutter and he shifts incrementally deeper, feels his cock finally sink just that little bit farther in. His hands almost slip on Nicolò's flanks, but he digs his knees into the bedding after the first shiver wracks down his spine. He grunts out his pleasure, but doesn't allow himself to collapse forward to blanket Nicolò's back as he so dearly wishes, instead pulling out slowly even while he is still spilling inside him, hands still firmly planted on Nicolò's sides. His body gives its last, finally, and he collapses the backs of his thighs onto his calves, hamstrings protesting, though it's a good ache, oddly satisfying.

His Nico's body clings to him to the last, rim twitching around his cockhead lovingly. A last, feeble spit of come shoots out, painting Nicolò's abused and reddened rim obscenely, but it soon joins the globs leaking from his hole down the insides of his thighs, lost in the mess.

Yusuf wants to ask if he could suck the rest out of him. Lave him all over when he's done. But it would be an outlandish request, far too much right now when Yusuf's skin feels stretched too thin over his body. Can't utter the words anyway, and they stick in his teeth, greedy and sour.

"Yusuf," his heart does whine, not a lust-fuelled imagining this time, his toes curling and uncurling in the sheets, a tremor running through his limbs. Yusuf should react in some way, but instead stares at the picture before him, unmoving, as if he might not receive another chance to do so.

Probably bored with waiting, Nicolò turns his head to glance at him over the crest of his shoulder. He's flushed all over. Absolutely gorgeous. And seemingly confused.

Catching his bottom lip between his front teeth, Nicolò throws him an inquiring look Yusuf ignores in favour of finally springing into action. He presses close, cock half-hard and still seeking the hidden places between Nicolò's thighs, and presses an oily hand beneath him to fondle at his prick and balls, stroking Nicolò how he likes it best.

He shouldn't have to wait for Yusuf to take his pleasure first, but it seems Yusuf has graduated from pathetically morose to an inadequate lover in the span of half a day. Truly astounding that he should even be allowed entrance to Nicolò's bedchambers when this is what he brings to the table. Frankly, the compulsion to drown himself at least a couple of times in a bucket of water from sheer annoyance at himself is proving difficult to ignore, but then he might have to explain himself, and there's only so much humiliation he can suffer at his own hands.

Nicolò's back snaps straight from where it was curled up into himself and he pushes his hips back into Yusuf's, his crease seeking the column of Yusuf's cock even at the end. Then his breath stutters and he messes into Yusuf's palm with a final, long moan.

Once it's over, Yusuf disentangles his arm from under him. Nicolò's legs give out beneath him, and he stretches them out, ending up starfished on the bed, Yusuf still kneeling between his splayed legs.

Fetching a clean cloth for the both of them, Yusuf wonders at himself. He will do better by Nicolò come morning. Over three centuries can cause one to lose clarity. Satisfying though this was, it was not lovemaking, never mind Yusuf being a greedy bastard.

So he returns with newfound resolve, and, after cleaning them up, he drapes himself over Nicolò's back. He dreams a dreamless sleep, but morning comes too soon, his mind barely catching up to the day before sunshine streams through the window opposite the bed. Nicolò is still sleeping soundly, his scent deep and warm and comfortable, and Yusuf wants for nothing but to hold him for as long as he can get away with it until the day's errands intrude.

A thought lights him up, how he could further stretch Nicolò's sore rim deliciously, fuck in until their thighs are flush and grind inside for hours, keeping them both on edge the entire morning.

But. Well. He might be an inconsiderate lover, but he's not a cruel one. And definitely not one to impose his own depraved yearnings on Nicolò, who has certainly far more enjoyable activities lined up to fill his day.

Today is market day, and you'd never think they've hardly spent any time in Roma this century. Nicolò is greeted warmly at every stall while Yusuf trails behind him to carry fruit, vegetables and any other parcel Nicolò hands over to him.

Their stay has been prolonged indefinitely, therefore it falls on Nicolò to buy what they need for their house. Regardless of his grasp of the local street Italian, Yusuf shall always be a stranger, and thus unlikely to obtain a fair price at the market. Besides, Nicolò is far more agreeable and a hundred times more welcomed than Yusuf.

The fishmonger's eldest son is currently doing a piss-poor job of sweet-talking Nicolò into purchasing his wares. Nicolò always buys fresh, and Yusuf knows for a fact he is making them Yusuf's favourite lamb stew. However, when he tries to say his goodbyes, the fishmonger's son darts out his hand to clasp Nicolò's wrist.

Now, Yusuf is usually good about assessing a situation, and this one seems like the sort which could turn nasty. Nicolò has been known to break a wrist as easily as breathing. He's about to step in precisely to prevent such an occurrence when he notices Nicolò is far from viciously on the verge of casual violence. In fact, he is leaning close to whisper something Yusuf cannot hope to hear but which causes the fishmonger's son to both release his arm and smile shyly from beneath his lashes. They leave without any fish, but the fishmonger's son stares at their retreating backs for far longer than is natural with a stupidly smitten expression the entire time.

The rest of Yusuf's day doesn't exactly improve. Michelangelo tries, for some reason Yusuf cannot even begin to guess at, to make small talk at him while Nicolò pours them all wine. Suggests Yusuf should make himself comfortable and agrees the stifling warmth of the workshop is unbearable and chimes in during his rant about fresh air with encouragement for Yusuf to disrobe similarly to last time, but Nicolò drops Michelangelo's wine glass while passing it to him directly over the silk robe he was supposed to wear for their session. Needless to say, the robe cannot be worn, and they return home early.

In a way, it's good timing if they want to eat supper in a timely manner. Nicolò doesn't have to hurry the lamb.

"Fish tomorrow?" he asks him idly, perhaps not even a serious question, the answer easily forgotten and tomorrow's market visit the real decider.

Yusuf is about to agree when he recalls the fishmonger's son, and he is weak.

He's standing by the carved French armoire. Nicolò has seated himself on the bed in just his hose and undershirt. They should have opened a window for Yusuf is suddenly hot under the collar, even though he is similarly dressed.

"Undoubtedly the fishmonger's son will have the best piece waiting for you come morn," he grumbles. He sounds upset to his own ears.

"He flatters me unnecessarily," Nicolò dismisses. Yusuf's back is to him. He turns, even though he has no reason to, this is merely small talk before they head for the kitchens.

"I did wonder that you felt more than flattery," he admits, his voice rougher than he wants it to be, than he needs it to be in order to speak the words towards their end.

"I was avoiding a scene in a crowded marketplace we visit often," Nicolò calmly states.

And that... makes sense.

But Yusuf is a stupid man, and his mouth gets away from him as per usual.

"Michelangelo, he—" he starts, but Nicolò sharply cuts him off with, "Michelangelo has set his sights on you. And unsubtly so, might I add." Now he's the one who sounds upset.

That is entirely unexpected, and Yusuf is about to refute it, when Nicolò straightens his back, a glint in his eye, head ever so slightly cocked.

He says, "You think me a mouse?"

"Nicolò—" he tries, but he gets cut off with a decisive wave of Nico's hand.

A shadow passes over his face. "I would crawl for you over hot coals."

"Stop," Yusuf grinds out.

"Crawl and debase myself for a look, a touch, however small." His tone is grave.

"You should not have to ever," Yusuf croaks, his heart jackrabbiting in his chest, flushed from forehead to navel. Sweat beads at his temples and his knees threaten to give out beneath him.

He hurries onto the bed, seating himself facing Nicolò. Would love to bring himself as close as possible, settle fully between his legs rather than just as the edges, in order to embrace him and never let him go, but accepts he must keep them separate for now and endure his words.

"Then why?"

"I was foolish. A wretch. Nothing less than a halfwit," he pleads.

"Why?" Nicolò prods, genuinely asking, and Yusuf would rather cut his own head off than answer, but he must.

He says, "It's been three centuries." He could add more. He probably should. But Nicolò understands him. The crease between his brows clears, though his overall expression doesn't.

The outside of his thigh touches at the inside of Nicolò's. It's a casual touch, but there's comfort in knowing Nicolò is allowing it when Yusuf has been utterly stupid.

"You spill your seed inside me every night. If I could, I'd have you from dawn till dusk, until we're too sore to move, and I'd still crave your kisses even then."

Then, sharp-eyed, before Yusuf can even muster a reply, his Nico tightens his legs around him and with one swift motion flips them over to have Yusuf beneath him. He disentangles them to reposition himself in his lap comfortably, turning wide-eyed and open-mouthed when Yusuf lies back, a man impaled on his love, arms above his head in surrender. His cock can't be anything but hard as a rock in the face of Nicolò's words, and it slots perfectly between Nicolò's cheeks through their clothes.

Nicolò's hands reach for his arms to press his forearms firmly into the bedding. He doesn't need to ask Yusuf to stay put.

Silently, barely dislodging himself from his seat, he leans over to their nightstand for their best oil. He takes the opportunity to divest himself of his hose with sparse movements Yusuf traces with his eyes. He lowers only the front waistband of Yusuf's to release his cock before pouring the oil directly onto him and letting the stoppered bottle roll onto the floor afterwards.

It's only a small portion, but it drips into their sheets anyway. Yusuf could care less when Nicolò knees forward until he's hovering above his hard, oiled cock before lowering herself onto it, his palm reaching behind him to grip at him and stroke him mercilessly tightly from root to tip.

"My love," he tries, but Nicolò shushes him evenly.

Then he brings the tip of his cock to his hole, which gives in on the first push. It's likely still a little loose from last night, which drives Yusuf more than a little wild, vision blurry and cock spurting pre-come to slick the way even more. Eyes closed, Nico rubs his cockhead back and forth over his rim, circling it and teasing at the puckered little hole, but thankfully pops it inside just about when Yusuf is about to start begging pathetically.

The slide down has Nicolò biting his bottom lip the entire time. When he blinks his eyes open towards Yusuf, there's little left of the blue-green of his eyes. His stare is implacable.

"My heart," Yusuf tries again, breathless and yearning, and Nicolò keens, reaching for him.

They end up with Yusuf leaning against the headboard with Nicolò bouncing impressively in his lap, hips rocking ceaselessly, squelching sounds accompanying his every movement, Yusuf's hands at his hips more for his own delight than Nicolò's need to be guided. Their foreheads are pressing together, breaths mingling. Every other time Nicolò grinds himself down to take him roughly to the root, they smear their mouths together in a half-kiss Yusuf feels in his toes. He wants to fuck Nicolò's mouth with his tongue, taste him over and over again, but he suspects that presently staying put would benefit him more.

When Nicolò's hands scramble at his shoulders, hole twitching around him, Yusuf takes that as his sign to reach for Nicolò's prick finally. It doesn't take more than half a dozen strokes, Nicolò's cock oiled from having grazed Yusuf's stomach repeatedly, the grip smooth. He comes in streaks between them, clenching down deliciously, and Yusuf has no choice but to thrust up and spill inside mere moments afterwards.

Later, after they have cleaned up, Yusuf's chest to Nicolò's back, he whispers, "Even if we have three centuries more, or thirty, or eternity, I could never look at anyone but you." Nicolò's voice is teeny, but the sound travels from his chest into Yusuf's, warming him up besides. "I think of nothing but you even when we are together. If anyone took you from me, I would burn entire seas to get you back."

Eventually, they rise to clean up and fill their bellies.

They leave Roma the next day.