Episode Twenty-Four: The New Clothes Affair
Guy awoke to the smell of bacon. He turned over and tried to remember where he was, and it only took him a moment to recall Nikolai from the night before. He expected Nikolai to launch into his arms and hold him so close he would regret saying anything at all. He did not expect Nikolai to just leave him in the night.
He got out of bed and looked at his clothes from the night before. He suddenly realized he didn’t have any other clothes. In fact, he barely had any belongings at all. So Guy pulled the comforter off the bed and wrapped it around himself as he walked into the other room.
He spotted Nikolai sitting on the couch, also wrapped in a blanket, shivering while watching TV and eating bacon and eggs. Guy pulled his blanket tighter around him and said, “Are we going to talk now?”
Nikolai just shrugged.
“Jesus Christ Nikolai,” Guy said. “What do you want me to say?”
Nikolai frowned, dropping his fork and knife onto his plate. “I do not understand why you insist on sleeping with other people. Am I not good enough on my own? Am I that intolerable?”
Guy sat down beside Nikolai. “Niko, I thought Cain was going to kill you-”
“So you fuck someone else.”
Guy sighed. “I was just trying to feel numb.” He edged closer to Nikolai. “I realized how much you meant to me, and that scared me, so I went to someone else.” He decided to hold his tongue about sleeping with Red.
Nikolai continued to frown. “This is not flattering.”
“Well, it damn well should be,” Guy said. “You know me well enough to know I don’t care about anyone.”
“Except Cain. Except Steffie.”
Nikolai looked away from Guy. “I thought something was growing between us. I got the impression that you were becoming more interested in me, and I thought maybe you wanted the same thing I do. But you were probably always seeing other people.”
“No,” Guy said. “Only this time. Listen, if this is so complicated, we can just go back to the way we were, okay? Come on, let’s have a good time. How long are you stuck here for again? I bet we could do a lot of screwing.”
Guy heard the wind howl against the house in Nikolai’s silence. Nikolai looked at Guy, and Guy softened as he stared into the cold blue eyes he found there. “You risked a lot to warn me,” Nikolai said.
“I wanted you,” Guy said. “I thought of nothing else.”
Nikolai exhaled, his eyes burrowing into Guy’s. Guy decided Nikolai tried to search for the truth in them, and he tried to look as sincere as he felt. He didn’t smile or leer, but he didn’t frown or widen his eyes with a pitiful look.
Guy said, “You risked a lot for me too.” He smiled weakly and said, “I suppose you blew your cover when you shouted for me.”
Nikolai replied, “I believe I got caught up in the moment.”
“Well, I didn’t,” the assassin replied. “I thought about it and I knew I wanted you safe. I can’t go back there, not now. If Cain finds out, he’ll hunt me down. But I couldn’t lose you, Nikolai. I made that choice even though I knew there’d be a risk for me. And I don’t know if this’ll work out between us, but god damn it it’s worth a shot.”
Guy caught the corners of Nikolai’s lips upturning slightly into the smallest of smiles. Nikolai said, “Sit down beside me.”
Guy obeyed and tried not to leer at the bacon and eggs.
Nikolai began, “I think we should, as they say, ‘lay our cards on the table.’”
“I’m not hiding anything from you.”
Nikolai glanced at Guy. “It is my cards that are still against my chest.” Guy relaxed as Nikolai continued, “I am here for two months because A.B.E.L. wants me to decide whether or not the company is for me.”
“I thought you were here so no one killed you,” Guy said.
“Well, yes, partly,” Nikolai replied. “But the other part is this decision that I have to make. I received hardly a slap on the wrist for seeing you, but since I made an error before this one, they want to confirm that I still want to work for them.”
“Do you think it is possible for me to maintain a relationship with you and work at A.B.E.L.?”
Guy frowned. He certainly didn’t want to go back, not now, but he couldn’t imagine only seeing Nikolai once a week like before. He scratched the back of his head.
“I would need to declare the relationship to A.B.E.L.,” Nikolai continued. “And if you did not live near me, I would not trust you to stay loyal to me. You have given me no reason to trust you in this way.”
Guy shifted uncomfortably. That was true, and he wasn’t sure it was something he could prove. He already considered trying to see Red on the side.
“But we have two months to learn about each other and, as you say, ‘Give it a shot.’ When we need to make a decision, we can decide then. There is no purpose in stressing about it now, unless you already know you want to leave.”
“No,” Guy said, quickly. “No, I don’t want to leave.”
Nikolai softly said, “Then I am still yours, if you still want me.”
“I still want you.”
Nikolai tilted Guy’s chin upwards with his fingers, leaning closer to him. “And only me?” he asked, his warm breath sending a shiver through Guy.
Guy nodded. He pressed memories of Red to the back of his mind. “Only you.”
Nikolai gripped the edges of his blanket, wrapping the blanket and his arms around Guy when he hugged him. He kissed Guy gently, watching the assassin through his eyelashes. Guy tried to decide whether this meant they were in a relationship or just waiting, but as Nikolai tried to kiss him deeper, Guy rubbed Nikolai’s chest and decided he would simply treat it as if they were.
Pulling Guy into his lap, Nikolai kissed Guy’s neck. Guy nuzzled into Nikolai’s hair, running his fingers down his chest. Guy listened to the hum of the space heater as Nikolai kissed his shoulder. Guy teased Nikolai’s stiff nipple between two fingers and said, “I didn’t bring any clothes with me. Do you want to go out later and help me get some?”
“You will not require clothes,” Nikolai said.
Guy laughed. “Well, it’s a little cold.”
Nikolai nuzzled Guy and murmured, “We can keep each other warm.”
“I don’t doubt that,” Guy said. “But I’ll need clothes sometime.”
Nikolai pressed Guy’s body closer to his own, gripping Guy’s ass. Guy felt Nikolai’s erection pressing against his own as Nikolai kissed him again. Guy kissed back, parting Nikolai’s lips with his tongue. He arched his body against Nikolai’s. He murmured, “I suppose I’ll just go out on my own then.”
Grinding his body against Guy’s, Nikolai responded, “I will not let you.”
Guy laughed uneasily. His first thought was that he made a mistake. But he caught a smile in the corner of Nikolai’s mouth, and he kissed it. He let his finger tease Nikolai’s nipple again, feeling the blond’s warm hand envelope their erections. He felt himself throbbing against Nikolai, and he kissed him, hoping to urge Nikolai forward. Nikolai started a slow rhythm, focussing more on the kiss and keeping their bodies pressed together.
Feeling the cool air slip between them, Guy tried to keep the blankets around them while gripping Nikolai’s back. Nikolai kissed Guy’s scruff before kissing his neck, bucking his hips upwards as he increased the rhythm, letting his fingers tease the head of Guy’s erection. Guy smiled to himself and breathed in Nikolai’s hair again.
Nikolai started jerking them off a bit rougher as he grinded against Guy, and Guy shivered while Nikolai kissed between Guy’s neck and shoulder. The secret agent’s lips crept downwards, and Guy gripped Nikolai’s back as Nikolai teased his nipple with his tongue. Guy let out a gasp, and Nikolai slowed down the rhythm, continuing to tease Guy’s nipple.
Piling the corners of the blankets into one hand, Guy reached down to feel Nikolai’s hand on their cocks, and he put his hand over Nikolai’s, urging him to go faster. He pressed his thumb against the head of Nikolai’s cock to rub it gently. Nikolai let his teeth brush up against Guy’s nipple before raising his head to kiss Guy again.
They moved their hands faster as Guy slipped his tongue into Nikolai’s mouth. Their tongues twined together – Guy letting out a slight groan – as their bodies moved in time with their jerks. Guy grasped the back of Nikolai’s head, feeling the sweat building on his body as he kissed Nikolai deeper. He rubbed his body up against the blond’s, feeling their hands against each other’s pelvises.
Nikolai grabbed Guy’s ass again as he tried to slow down the pace. Guy broke the kiss to pant, and Nikolai kissed where his jaw and neck met, sending warm shivers through him. “Jesus God,” Guy moaned, “just fuck me.”
Nikolai began jerking them off faster, Guy feeling his hand slipping off of Nikolai’s. “Everything is in the other room,” Nikolai softly replied. He pecked Guy’s neck as he added, “And you seem to be enjoying this just fine.”
Guy shook his head, and Nikolai’s free hand wrapped around Guy’s back, pulling him closer. Nikolai kissed Guy again, and Guy tried to regain his grip on their erections, feeling Nikolai increase the pace further and tease Guy’s shaft with his long fingers. Guy could feel it all again. The fear of being swallowed. He sweltered under the blankets, and he felt Nikolai’s sweat crawl across his body.
Guy released the blankets, letting the cool air wash over them as Nikolai kissed his neck again. Guy gripped Nikolai’s hand to tighten Nikolai’s grip. He placed his thumb back on the head of Nikolai’s cock, and he found the Russian already spilling. Guy kissed Nikolai’s hair and dug his nails into Nikolai’s back. He closed his eyes as he felt Nikolai’s lips against his nipple again.
Nikolai began murmuring in Russian as Guy groaned, “Oh fuck.”
He clung to the cool air, but he felt nothing but the sweltering heat around his pelvis. He grinded up against Nikolai, and when Nikolai tried to slow the rhythm down, Guy tightened his grip, keeping the Russian’s hand moving quick. He could feel Nikolai peaking, and his heat began to spread through to him. With his eyes closed, he focused on the memory of Nikolai pounding into him. Nikolai’s tongue teased his nipple.
With a moan, Nikolai came across Guy’s chest. Guy breathed into Nikolai’s hair again, groaning into it as Nikolai continued to jerk them off. “Just a bit more,” Guy gasped. He dug his nails deeper into Nikolai’s back and repeated the request.
Nikolai complied, kissing Guy’s neck as he kept up the pace and continued to move his body against Guy’s. Guy groaned into Nikolai’s hair, squeezing his eyes shut. His thoughts drifted to Carson fucking him, but he thought of Nikolai’s nails breaking the skin on his back. He gasped as he came, spilling onto both of their stomachs. Nikolai kissed Guy again, and Guy tried to pull away from him.
Nikolai released Guy and wrapped the blanket back around him as Guy stretched. Nikolai said, “Do you want to go out for clothes now?”
“Yeah, that’d be great,” Guy said. “I’m just going to wash up.”
“I need to shower,” Nikolai said, standing up and stretching with his blanket around him. “Is that where you’re going?”
“Nope,” Guy said. “I just need a sink.”
Nikolai stood in front of Guy, stooping to nuzzle him. “So you do not want to share a shower with me?”
Guy shoved Nikolai off of him, but grinned. “No thanks,” he replied.
“Then you can’t leer at me,” Nikolai said, walking past Guy towards the bathroom.
Guy continued and said, “You can’t control my eyes,” and laughed softly.
Nikolai dropped the blankets and moved into the shower while Guy washed up at the sink. He put on his old clothes (cringing slightly) and began to wander through the house. He picked at Nikolai’s leftover breakfast, and then dropped the plate and cutlery into the sink and grabbed a bag of chips from the pantry for safe measure. Guy looked at the sparsely decorated walls as he munched, finding a little box hanging on the wall.
He opened it to find the thermostat. He raised a brow as he realized the heat was off, and he flicked it on and set it to a more realistic temperature. He listened to the hum of the heat kicking on. Nikolai stepped into the main room wearing a turtleneck. “It feels nicer in here,” he said.
“I found the thermostat,” Guy said, pointing to it.
Nikolai smiled. “I did not know what that was.” Nikolai leaned over to kiss Guy on the cheek as he said, “Thank you.”
Guy frowned as he felt Nikolai’s lips brush against him. He began to instantly regret his decision – not his decision to spare Nikolai, but he decision to try this out. He didn’t like sweet little kisses and light touches.
He pushed Nikolai away. “What kind of person doesn’t know how to work a thermostat?”
Nikolai frowned and folded his arms across his chest. “Technology and I are not companions. It dislikes me just as much as I dislike it.”
“Well then I’ll be in control of the thermostat,” Guy said.
Nikolai kept his arms folded, but a smile lingered in the corner of his lips. “Well then what am I in charge of?”
“My penis,” Guy said.
“Yes, I hear it tends to wander,” Nikolai said, though his smile grew. “I will keep it in check.”
Guy replied with a grin and the two prepared for the walk to the city. Guy donned his new bomber jacket and a pair of leather gloves that Cain bought for him to kill Nikolai without any traces. Nikolai wrapped a baby blue scarf around his neck and then pulled on a puffy, baby pink, downy winter jacket.
Guy blinked. “What is that?”
Nikolai frowned. “I do not like being cold.” He pulled on a pair of black leather gloves – similar in design to Guy’s though purchased for a different purpose.
“And I don’t like to look like a giant peach,” Guy said. “That jacket is horrifying.”
Nikolai upturned his nose. “Well, I am not going outside without it.” He zipped up his jacket quickly, relishing in the melodramatic noise.
Guy rolled his eyes. “I’ll just walk a few steps ahead.”
Nikolai grabbed a hat from the closet, and a snow cap with ear flaps quickly covered his blond hair. Guy sighed and walked out the door. He wondered why someone so meticulous, and someone so good at hiding in crowds and being other people, would wear something so horrifyingly ugly.
He hugged himself as snow bit his cheeks. He heard the dry snow crunch as Nikolai jogged to catch up with him after locking the door. Nikolai put his hands in his jacket pockets, and Guy quickly did the same. Guy said, “How do you even feel comfortable walking around in that jacket? Don’t you feel a bit ridiculous?”
“At first,” Nikolai said. “Several years ago, before my exile, I bought a different jacket as well as this jacket with Hoffman. Hoffman gave my old jacket to a homeless man after I said I was just going to throw it out, so I put on the new jacket, the plain one. I planned to wear this jacket,” Nikolai pointed to his current, pink jacket, “on a job to appear unassuming – what sort of agent would wear this jacket? – and keep the other one for myself.”
“What did the other one look like?”
Nikolai shrugged. “It was just a plain, black, winter trench coat. I like the brown of yours though, I should have gone for brown.” Nikolai’s gloved fingers appeared to fondle Guy’s jacket before darting back into the pocket.
“Nonetheless, Hoffman and I stumbled onto the scene a bit late, and bullets were already flying. So we just pulled out our guns and started firing. I got shot, and my jacket was ruined. Not only did I get blood on it, but the damage could not be repaired without it being noticeable.”
“What did you get shot with?”
“Buckshot,” Nikolai said. “My jacket was full of holes.”
“So that explains the scars on your shoulder.”
Nikolai nodded. “So we won, of course, and Hoffman patched me up so we could return to headquarters without me bleeding conspicuously. I had to put on the other jacket, and I realized how warm it is. So I kept it as my regular winter jacket. Besides, it lets me look like a normal, unsuspicious person. It is perfect tourist wear.”
“I just have one question,” Guy said.
Nikolai blushed. “That information is irrelevant.”
Guy laughed. He nudged Nikolai with his shoulder, feeling the wind nip at his chin. “I know most of the agents at A.B.E.L. anyway. I guess he’s your old partner, the one before Grier?”
Nikolai simply nodded, burying his nose in his scarf.
Guy found himself smiling despite himself. Nikolai was too endearing. He walked closer to Nikolai to feel their arms touch. He felt the wind blow through his jeans. “So what’s this about your exile?” Guy asked. “I have to admit, Cain didn’t tell me much about you. I keep hearing people say that you’re back, but I don’t know from where or what.”
“I would prefer not to discuss it,” Nikolai said, his voice muffled by his scarf and the wind.
“All right, fine,” Guy said. “But you shouldn’t worry about being embarrassed about things around me. I’ve been to hell and back.”
“I have read your file,” Nikolai said.
“Did it mention how great my butt is?”
“It did not,” Nikolai replied. “I have to admit, I re-read it after the cruise simply to get to know you better.”
“And did you find anything particularly interesting?”
Nikolai shrugged. “Not much. It said you fled America after a failed assassination attempt on a politician. Cain took you in back home. I suppose it cannot be so bad since you are back in America now.”
Guy said, “We’re in a different area of the states. I don’t think the people here have even heard about it. They clearly haven’t heard about snow plows.”
Nikolai smiled. He said, “May I ask how you know Cain?”
Guy listened to the snow crunch beneath their feet while he waited for Nikolai to ask. He didn’t want to admit he enjoyed the conversation. He assumed he would have to share his own experiences before Nikolai would talk, and that was just fine with Guy. He liked to talk about himself anyway.
Nikolai rolled his eyes and said, “How do you know Cain?”
“I did a job for Quint Ryland, do you know him?” Guy asked.
Nikolai nodded. “Do you know Mags?”
Guy bit his bottom lip as he tried to remember an agent named Mags. “Is she still on the field?”
“No,” Nikolai replied.
“Then probably not,” Guy said. “The name doesn’t ring a bell anyway. Maybe if I saw her face.”
Nikolai said, “A.B.E.L. agents tend not to carry photos of their colleagues.”
Guy caught the smile in Nikolai’s eyes. He nudged Nikolai’s arm with his shoulder. “I can’t imagine why,” he said.
Nikolai said, “Ryland’s wife defeated Mags once when A.B.E.L. raided his chop shop. The woman pinned Mags down, but she did not kill her. Mags mentions it quite a bit now. I have to admit, I think Mags admires the woman, especially now.”
“Especially now?” Guy asked. “What happened?”
“She lost her arm on the job,” Nikolai said. “An explosion injured it beyond repair, and they had to remove it. They thought they may lose the leg as well, but she managed to recover and eventually she could walk again. Even though Mags met Ryland’s wife beforehand, I believe she looks back on her now as a source of strength.”
Guy nodded. He didn’t ask any more questions. He feared if an explosion was behind her injury, he might have been behind the explosion. His relationship with Nikolai was already off to a rocky start, he didn’t want to hinder it anymore. He cursed himself as he realized he definitely still wanted a relationship, even if it included clingy love-making sessions and soft kisses.
Nikolai said, “I am sorry, I fear I unintentionally changed the course of conversation. Yes, I do know of Quint Ryland.”
“He hired me when I was first starting out to help remove a couple of competitors,” Guy said. “He wanted to make sure all of his competitors knew he had the most control. He hired me a few more times, and then he introduced me to Cain. This was when Cain and Ryland were simply friends, before Cain formed a strong Syndicate.”
“How long ago was this?” Nikolai asked.
Guy shrugged. “Twenty, thirty years? Who remembers these things anymore? Anyway, Cain found me a bit vulgar at first, as most people do, but I suppose he liked my particular talents. He hired me a few times after that too.
“Anyway, some other guy hires me to blow up this one apartment. I was still a bit wet behind the ears and trigger happy, so I blow up the apartment when the guy’s in it, like I said I would, but the apartment collapses in the process and kills a bunch of civilians and kids and stuff. I mean, I didn’t think much of it then, but no one would really hire me after that. They didn’t want that much collateral damage, and they didn’t want everyone to know a hit just went down.”
Guy walked for a minute, trying to get his thoughts together. Nikolai walked next to him, waiting in silence. Guy’s cheeks felt numb. He continued, “Now I think about Steffie. What if her and her mother had been in that building? But I try not to think about it. I mean, it doesn’t make the job any easier, right? It’s just another pain to think about.”
“I suppose,” Nikolai replied.
“Anyway, Cain hired me again. He saw the benefit of having everyone know when a hit has been done, and he’s not one to care about others. So he brought me back from being broke, and he gave me a job when no one else would.”
Nikolai nodded. Guy held his tongue, waiting to see how much Nikolai knew. Nikolai asked, “Is there anything else?”
“Is there?” Guy asked.
Nikolai shrugged. “The file said you were loyal to Cain because he saved your life. It was not exactly specific.”
“Maybe the person was a little upset that I screwed up so badly, and maybe that person threatened my life, and maybe that person had a gun to my head, and maybe Cain shot the other man,” Guy said.
“Ah,” Nikolai replied. “And what details are you leaving out?”
“The other man was Cain’s, then, superior. I suppose Cain would have killed him eventually, but I was touched that he started his plan early just to spare my life. I suppose he saw me as a valuable addition for when he rose to power.”
“And were you?”
“I suppose,” Guy replied. “I often wonder if it was worth it. I mean, I’m glad my life was saved, but I don’t know if being tied to him was the best career move.”
“Why not?” Nikolai asked. “You seem to want for nothing.”
Guy glanced up at Nikolai, who only left his eyes visible. Nikolai’s eyes watched him when he saw Guy looking, and Guy’s eyes darted away. Guy said, “I don’t know. I’m getting less jobs now, and I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting old and no one wants me, or if Cain’s scaring them off. He’s getting possessive, and I’m not sure why.”
“Perhaps it is because he thinks he can keep you under his thumb,” Nikolai said. “He could consider you less of a wild card than some of the other people he works with.”
Guy took his hand out of his pocket to rub his scruff. He noticed some snow drift out of it. “You could be right there,” Guy said. “Anyway, I’m done with him now. I’m not going back there.”
“You mean, you are never returning to Cain?”
“Nope,” Guy said. “It’s time for me to stay off his radar for a while – a long while.”
“Where are you going to go?” Nikolai asked.
Guy nudged Nikolai and grinned. “Here’s nice, for now.”
He could see the city in the distance, and he rubbed his hands together before putting them back into his pockets. He was looking forward to browsing a heated store. Nikolai said, “But I will not stay here for long.”
Guy thought that was an acceptable amount of time for a dry run. He hoped Red would hook him up with a few jobs too, so he could disappear from time to time to stretch his legs. “Well, it’ll be a fun two months, with me,” Guy said.
Guy couldn’t tell if Nikolai smiled or not in return, and it made him uneasy. He wondered what Nikolai was thinking, but as they entered the city, he decided not to pry. He would just buy new clothes, go back to the house, ravish Nikolai, and forget all about it.
With the trees thinning, they entered the city and walked past a hefty line of small stores before reaching a sprawling parking lot with a mall sitting in the horizon. As they walked through the parking lot, Guy said, “We should go into that sex shop on the way back.”
“No,” Nikolai said.
Guy heard his teeth chatter. “Why not? We’ll find something fun,” Guy said.
“We can have substantial fun on our own, thank you,” Nikolai replied.
“While I believe that, I still think it would be fun to look around. You can never have too much fun, right? We’re not going to be arrested by some fun police.”
Nikolai didn’t reply, and Guy decided he wouldn’t allow himself to lose his argument. He would simply walk into the sex shop as they headed home. There was no point arguing if he was going to do whatever he wanted anyway. He just hoped he could afford something after buying new clothes. He mentally counted his cash. “You have a washing machine, right Niko?”
“And do I have permission to use it?”
Guy caught a bit of a smirk on Nikolai. “Of course,” Nikolai replied. “Though I will not do them for you.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t ask,” Guy said. “Don’t worry.”
Nikolai simply nudged Guy back. Guy fantasized about nuzzling the bundled Nikolai. He imagined it would make his nose less cold. “Can I ask a favour?” Guy asked.
“You may ask,” Nikolai replied.
“Can we say no PDA in the mall?” Guy asked. “I just don’t want the locals to brandish the pitchforks.”
“Oh,” Nikolai replied. He paused. “All right.”
“You can PDA me all up once we get out of the city.”
“You mean, once we are no longer in a public space,” Nikolai said, visibly stiffening.
Guy sighed. “Come on. You weren’t out in A.B.E.L., were you?”
“I outed myself to protect you,” Nikolai replied. “But yes, I understand. I think I just desired us to be open here where no one knows us.”
“How about if we see another gay couple being affectionate with each other, then we will be too. Is that a fair deal?”
Nikolai nodded, but Guy couldn’t tell whether or not he was smiling. Guy took his hand out of his pocket to give Nikolai’s puffy arm a friendly squeeze. Then they entered the mall. “I hate it when they put Christmas decorations up before December even begins,” Nikolai murmured, taking off his hat.
Guy simply shrugged, and he glanced at the map to check for stores. He knew he’d be on more of a budget now, but he still wanted to look his best. He kept his fingers crossed for sale, and Nikolai followed him as he began to walk.
Guy felt self-conscious as he went through the stores with Nikolai curiously browsing next to him. He couldn’t pinpoint why Nikolai’s presence made him uneasy, and part of him feared he wanted to impress Nikolai with his taste in clothes. Guy pulled a grey clearance zip-up hoodie out of the clearance section. He said, “This would look fantastic on you.”
“No,” Nikolai said. “No thank you.”
Guy frowned and looked at it. “Well, I can’t wear it. The horizontal stripes would not be flattering on me. What don’t you like about it?”
“It looks like it was made for a teenager,” Nikolai said with a slight scowl. “Do you find this store a little young for you?”
“No,” Guy said.
“I could be the employees’ father,” Nikolai said.
“That’s irrelevant,” Guy huffed. He hung the sweater back on the rack. “But fine, let’s go somewhere else.” Nikolai followed as Guy left the store. Sliding his hands back into his pockets, Guy asked, “So what’s wrong with wearing the latest fashions?”
“Because they are fashions for toddlers,” Nikolai replied.
“I’m sorry I don’t only own black turtlenecks or white shirts with black ties,” Guy replied.
“I have some blue in my wardrobe,” Nikolai said.
“Steel blue doesn’t count,” Guy said. “Let’s go in here.”
Guy relaxed as he watched Nikolai browse with more interest. Nikolai’s long, elegant fingers tested the fabric, and Guy caught the serene smile on Nikolai’s face. Guy raided the clearance section, and he filled his arms with clothes to try on. He turned to see Nikolai put a chord knit dark blue sweater up against his puffy pink coat.
“You should try it on,” Guy said.
“It will fit.”
“I’m not walking back here with you when you get home and find out it doesn’t fit.” And Guy cursed himself for sounding like an old married couple with Nikolai.
Nikolai just smiled softly at Guy and unzipped his jacket. Guy felt more relaxed as he tried on his clothes, purchased some of them, and watched Nikolai purchase his untested sweater. They went through several other stores, with Guy getting enough casual clothes for a week of wear, underwear and socks for two weeks, and one set of nicer clothes in case they went anywhere fancy. Not that he wanted to go anywhere fancy with Nikolai.
And he still had money left for the sex shop. Guy Solo considered this shopping trip a success. They stopped in the food court for a coffee and a donut, and Guy found himself struggling for conversation. He watched Nikolai through the steam of his coffee, and he noted that Nikolai looked serene enough. The secret agent showed no discomfort with the lack of conversation.
They left together, each with their hands full of bags, and Guy brushed up against Nikolai as they trudged through the parking lot. “Thanks for carrying my shit,” Guy said.
“I supposed I should do some of the work, considering I am the one who gets to enjoy your clothes,” Nikolai said.
“You’d probably be happier with me naked,” Guy said.
“I will be happy with you regardless of your clothes,” Nikolai said. “But that jacket does help.”
“I thought it would,” Guy replied, grinning. “So are we going to debate about this sex shop? I’m going in, but you can wait outside if you want to.”
“What are you going to purchase?” Nikolai asked.
“A dildo,” Guy said. “Maybe some porn.”
“I do plan to satisfy your needs,” Nikolai said.
“What?” Guy asked. “They’re for us.”
Nikolai shook his head. “I will not use it.”
Guy frowned. No oral and now no toys or porn. How could he make the best out of this situation? “I don’t think you’ll have a say in it.”
“I will wait outside, but I may wait a few stores down.” He glanced at the flower shop next door.
“Fine,” Guy said. He already had a fantasy of him and Nikolai browsing the sex shop, laughing comfortably and planning out their purchases. “I can’t believe you’re such a stiff about this.”
Nikolai merely shrugged.
“I suppose it comes to no surprise that I’m interested in this sort of thing,” Guy said.
Nikolai said, “Is there any fetish you do not have?”
“There’s quite a few actually,” Guy said, “but at least I’m open to other people’s kinks.”
“What if my kink is merely a desire for affection?” Nikolai asked.
Guy wanted to say there were some kinks he just wouldn’t do – like scat, but he found himself softening despite himself. He nudged Nikolai again as he glanced up at the tall secret agent and murmured, “I’m working on it.”
Nikolai’s eyes flashed towards Guy, but he said, “Here’s your store.”
“I’ll be quick,” Guy said. “I promise.”
Guy darted into the store. He assumed that Nikolai just hadn’t had any positive experiences – or any experiences at all – with pornography or toys. He clearly didn’t see them as a group experience, which is how Guy liked to see them. He walked through the store with confidence, picking up a couple of DVDs he was already familiar with and one he wasn’t, a dildo that was more impressive than his own equipment, and lube and condoms, in case he and Nikolai didn’t have enough.
He walked out of the store with a friendly black bag and found Nikolai looking in store windows, seemingly window-shopping. Nikolai grabbed Guy’s arm, and Guy found heat rushing to his cool cheeks. Nikolai said, “Look at this bakery. It reminds me of a 50s diner.”
“Is this you excited, Nikolai?” Guy asked.
“May we go in?”
“Nikolai, it’s cold. We already ate. I’d rather walk home before dark.”
“We could get dessert,” Nikolai said.
“You should have gone in when I was in the store,” Guy said.
“I did not want to go in alone.”
“Now you know how I feel,” Guy said, frowning. He pulled Nikolai’s arm off of him. “We’ll go in the next time we come into town.”
Nikolai simply stiffened and started walking. Guy followed at his heels, and he held his tongue. He had no desire to spend the rest of his days just calming down an angry Nikolai. If Nikolai wanted him, he’d have to learn to be fair, at least.
Nonetheless, once they left the city, Guy huddled closer to Nikolai, taking advantage of his larger body to block the wind. Nikolai shivered, and he didn’t press back against Guy. Guy listened to the wind howl at his freezing ears, and he felt jealous of Nikolai’s ridiculous hat. Surely he could find one less moronic looking for himself.
Once they arrived back in the house, Guy watched Nikolai strip out of more than just his winter wear. As Nikolai pulled his turtleneck over his head, he said, “I am going to take a hot bath and defrost. Do you need anything?”
“No,” Guy replied, feeling the warmth from the house start to defrost his fingers. “I’m just going to do a load of laundry to wash these clothes. Do you care if I put them away in your room once they’re clean?”
Guy watched a small smile twitch in the corner of Nikolai’s mouth. “That would be fine,” Nikolai replied, softly. “I’ll clean out a few drawers for you and leave them open.”
Nikolai pulled off his belt in front of Guy, and Guy wondered if it was an invitation. He wasn’t sure the tub would hold both of them. Nikolai started undoing his pants as he left the front hall, and Guy decided to simply try to find the laundry room. The hallway leading to the laundry room also contained a spare bedroom, and Guy hoped he wouldn’t need to sleep there. Once he found the laundry room, he started cutting off tags and throwing the light colours into the machine and leaving the darks on the floor for later.
Guy’s gut told him to leave Nikolai here. After he washed his things, he should just head North until he was out of America and never look back. He’d fallen for pretty faces before he became an assassin, and it never ended well. He was long past the phase of trying to make a relationship work. Maybe he and Nikolai really did have nothing in common, maybe there was nothing beneath the surface of their relationship.
And he just threw away his relationship with Cain over a good screw.
Guy rubbed his face. He thought of Red telling him to give Nikolai a chance – Red with her thick lips and her determination for romance despite the fact that she killed without batting an eye. He always told himself he could kill because he was unfeeling – disconnected from relationships and people and the stories people had. He couldn’t care less, so long as he was fine.
But he wanted Nikolai to be fine as well. And that was new. He smiled at his started his whites.