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a fool for lesser things
Joe/Nick, NC-17
(Also known as the 20k fic that ate my July! A special thank you to [personal profile] rsadelle for following me through this.)


In Milwaukee, Joe starts dreaming things before they happen, but it doesn't make sense until they hit Pennsylvania.

*


In Chicago, in a store down the street from their hotel, he finds the bracelet. He buys it without thinking, pays in cash for the silver and brown leather cuff that doesn't look all that good on him, too loose and large for his frame.

After, they do a radio interview. He doesn’t realize that he’s checked out mentally until about halfway through when Nick bumps his knee underneath the edge of the desk. He looks up at the DJ and makes an effort to pay more attention. They’re talking about how Kevin had designed the stage; a discussion Joe is not required to contribute to. "Sorry, guys," he says in the car once they’re done, being driven back to the arena, "I slept like shit last night and it didn’t hit me until like an hour ago. I’ll get a Red Bull or something and I’ll be good."

Kevin thumps his shoulder. "It’s cool. Me and Nick had it covered. I’m just glad he only asked stuff about tour." The ‘and not all those other annoying questions’ was unspoken, especially now that Kev and Dani are getting married. From the beginning, the one question no one was supposed to be able to ask was what would you do if this was over. But the more famous they get, the more it's asked. Joe had given their publicist some vague, half-formed ideas and let her shape them into an answer he can use. That's the best he wants to do right now.

Kevin seems to grow up without complaint, and Nick seems to be growing up before he should. He’s taller than Joe now, broader, stronger. Between them, Joe feels stagnant, like treading water. And that, too, is fine with him.

*


In Philadelphia, on the tarmac, Camilla calls him. "I feel like something is off, Joe," she says. Joe doesn't answer, because he doesn't have an answer. "Sometimes I think I'm so much older than you than I actually am," she continues. "I don't know if I want us to keep seeing each other."

"All right," Joe says softly, because there's nothing else. The part of him that has talked her out of this before is too exhausted and just wants to rest. They haven’t seen each other in weeks and Joe is starting to think that a long-distance relationship is more effort than he wants to expend in the middle of touring the world.

"You're not going to try to talk me out of it?" she asks.

"Do you want me to?" Joe rolls to his side in the bunk, picks at the blanket.

"Sort of."

"That's games, Cam," he says tiredly, "goodbye," and hangs up.

That, that is what he had dreamed in Wisconsin, except in the dream they'd been standing in the darkened hall of an aquarium, and the shadow of a jellyfish had played across Camilla's face. There had been this same cold feeling in the pit of his stomach, this same hazy voice from inside telling him he just wasn’t good enough.

Later, he's curled towards the wall in the bunk he likes best on the studio bus, alternating between feeling hot and cold and thirteen years old (Joe remembers thirteen vividly) when Nick pushes the curtain aside and lays a hand on the middle of Joe's back. Joe's in a cold flash, and Nick's hand is warm. So warm. "Hey," Nick says. "We're going to play some ball before soundcheck, want to come?"

"No, I'm okay here."

Nick tenses; Joe can feel it like an electrical current in the air. "What's wrong with you?"

Joe knows that he should probably roll over, should probably look at his brother. He doesn't. "Camilla broke up with me. Or maybe I broke up with her by not talking her out of it again this time. I don't know." He presses his face, now warm, against the cool side of the pillow.

"Oh, Joey," Nick is saying, "I'm sorry."

"Yeah. Me too." Except he's not sure he's really sorry. But it's what he should be saying.

Nick’s touch slides up to Joe’s shoulder and he squeezes hard, the heel of his hand digging into muscle. For a brief second, Joe feels like everything is okay. Then Nick tugs lightly at his hair. "Come on outside, it'll get your mind off it."

He knows Nick is right about that, at least. But he still says no, not yet, and stays in his bunk a while longer feeling sorry for himself.

*


He's on that night, letting go of absolutely everything but the music. As he wipes the sweat off his face under the stage, waiting to go back up for the encore, Kevin says, "I don't know what's up with you tonight, but I like it."

"Me, too."

Nick gives them a weird look that Kevin misses, turning to high-five Garbo. Joe shrugs and grins at Nick, and the red light changes to green; their time is up.

*


Joe dreams the aquarium again, except he's alone this time. There’s a shadow passing back and forth behind him that he can never quite make out, no matter how quickly he turns to try and catch it.

*


In Atlanta, he tries the bracelet on once more, but it doesn't look any better on his wrist. He's sitting on the back steps outside the venue, staring down at it, when Nick bounces a basketball against the loading dock wall next to him. "Hey man, cool cuff," he says.

"It looks stupid on me," Joe replies, undoing the buckle and holding it out to Nick. "Here."

"Really?"

"Yeah. Try it on." He hands it over. Nick holds the basketball awkwardly between his hip and elbow to put the bracelet on, and Joe laughs. "Dude, either put the ball down or let me do it."

Nick smiles his closed-mouth smile and Joe fastens the cuff around his wrist. It fits perfectly, of course it does, and Joe rubs his thumb over the leather before letting go of his brother. "You can have it," he says, squinting up at Nick. The afternoon sun is behind him, a brilliant bright outline around his body in basketball shorts and a Nike t-shirt that’s like a second skin. Joe feels small, suddenly, even more than normal. It’s then that he knows who the shadow is in his dream.

Nick smiles for real this time and drops the basketball on his feet to lean over and press his forehead to Joe’s. "Thanks."

*


Ottawa ends with a bang, literally. The huge confetti cannon they’d saved for this sprays glitter, tiny pieces of tissue paper and a multitude of other sparkly bits all over the entire arena, reaching far up into the seats and raining down heavily all over the stage. Joe watches as Kevin makes a face, trying to shake the confetti from his hair, while they gather up their things from the green room. "It’s not gonna come off for a while," he says, barely bothering to even brush off the worst of the sparkles. It’ll be on the shower floor for days, he knows. He dreamed it last night. The glitter on Nick’s neck will still be stuck there come Friday. The makeup girl at Disney will crack jokes about it as she covers it with foundation.

He’s sure by now that it’s not just déjà vu. It's not always a hundred percent but details are too specific, conversations too much like how they would be in waking hours, not the kind of conversations Joe normally has in dreams, the kind where he talks about monkey tails making good baseball bats while a frog sits on his shoulder and sings nonsense words into his ear to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb". Instead of being hazy and bordering on incomprehensible, now his dreams are clear and true, drenched in color. The line of Nick’s jaw is sharply defined as the makeup artist dabs the sponge over it.

*


Kevin is the one who catches on to his weirdness first, and the first person he tells. They’re on lunch, standing next to the craft services table. Joe is watching Nick add carrot sticks to his plate, but he’s not really paying attention; Nick could be grabbing all of the single-serving cups of chocolate pudding for all Joe is noticing. He’s trying to remember what he dreamed this morning in the car on the way to the studio, a sliver of something that looked like a party. "Earth to Joe," Kevin drones in his ear, and Joe jumps, his heart pounding suddenly. "Jeez, what’s with you lately? You’re always zoning out."

"I am?"

Kevin punches him hard in the arm. "Effer. Seriously. What’s the deal?"

And then Joe remembers what he’d seen. Kevin’s wedding, the reception. A million lights and flowers, Dani radiant in her huge white dress and Kevin’s smile so, so wide, looking at her like he never wanted to look away again, ever. There’s a sudden lump in Joe’s throat. He reaches out to squeeze Kevin’s forearm with one hand. "Summer," he says without thinking, "June. You and Dani are going to get married in June."

Kevin drops his pop bottle. It rolls under the table. "How do you know that?" he whispers, furiously, and for a minute Joe is confused at why Kevin’s face is so angry. "We haven’t even decided for sure. Were you eavesdropping on our conversations? Why would you do that to me?"

"No, I…"

"No?"

Joe swallows. "I dreamed it," he murmurs quietly, leaning in so he’s sure only Kevin can hear him. "I didn’t listen in on your calls, Kev, I’d never… I dreamed it this morning. Flowers. So many it had to be summer, you know? And Dad was calling Dani a beautiful June bride in his toast."

Kevin’s face is white and he looks disgusted, like something is wrong with his chicken salad sandwich. But he’s looking at Joe, and Joe realizes with a start that Kevin is angry with him. "I didn’t eavesdrop," he protests. "I didn’t."

"Right," Kevin says coldly. He stalks away, dumping what’s left of his lunch in the trash.

Joe stares after him, feeling clammy in his purple and grey plaid suit, Mantis Academy colors. Then Nick’s hand slides over the back of his neck. "You okay? You look kinda how you look when you’re about to barf. You sick?"

Joe shakes his head, brushing off both Nick’s hand and his concern, only to find that he desperately wants both two minutes later, when he’s on his knees in front of the toilet, retching painfully and praying he doesn’t ruin his wardrobe.

*


After that, it seems to stop for a while.

He tries to explain it to Kevin once more, that he dreams things that sort of end up happening. Kevin accepts his apology and his explanation with a hug, but he doesn't look entirely convinced.

"I think it's called precognition," Nick says, and Kevin stops hugging Joe so they can both look at him in surprise. Nick shrugs, slouched against the doorframe. "I did some research," he says.

"You mean you watched Minority Report," Kevin replies, and he and Joe both laugh when Nick shrugs again and looks vaguely sheepish.

Kevin's phone rings then. He excuses himself as Nick walks over and slings an arm around Joe's shoulders. "I believe you," he murmurs in Joe's ear. "As in believe you, believe you."

"I love you," Joe whispers back, fierce with it, "love you, love you."

Nick's smile is blinding.

*


Danielle and Kevin do indeed set the date for June, deciding for sure right before the tour launches through Europe. Season two of their television show is in the bag - the higher-ups are waiting to see how the new batch of episodes play before making a choice on whether they'll be making more. Joe could go either way. It's been fun and he likes Chelsea and the gang a lot, even at four-thirty in the morning. (He and Chelsea had hung out a few times during filming and it had gotten a lot of press, but Joe hasn't thought about girls or anyone since the Camilla thing, even girls as pretty and funny and sweet and taken as Chels.) On the other hand, Joe is sort of sure that he isn't good enough at acting to get a steady gig somewhere besides the Disney Channel, where you're either someone's kid or someone's dad. How come his weird seeing-the-future dreams had never showed him his own before they'd stopped?

They come back, though, as the jet is hovering over Denmark. It's Kevin's wedding again; Nick at a grand piano, one that's smooth-shiny-brilliantly black as night, playing a song he wrote especially for the occasion. Joe wakes up humming it with a start, his heart lurching in his chest. He climbs out of his bunk and into Nick's.

"Joe?" It's a tight fit and Nick blinks sleepily at him, moving so that Joe can stretch out a little.

"Are you -" he pauses to yawn. "Are you writing Kev and Dani a song?"

There's a sharp intake of breath. "It's - it's still in my head, how did -"

"Dreamed it."

"Oh."

Joe hums the opening bars, close to Nick's ear, his nose brushing Nick's hair. Nick makes a pleased sort of noise and wiggles closer, humming along with him. "Amazing," Nick breathes, cupping the back of Joe's head as their faces touch. "It's good to know I finish it."

"You make Kevin cry," Joe whispers, and Nick giggles for a second before stifling the sound. It makes him seem young again.

Joe hums what else he can remember of the song and watches Nick smile through it, both of them fighting to stay awake. He’s suddenly very aware of how closely tangled together they’re lying, but when he says he should go back to his own bunk, Nick holds on to his shoulders. "No, stay," he murmurs, "it's okay."

Joe forces his eyes open and meets Nick’s gaze. "You know Mom likes to get us up." He leaves the rest unspoken: how the thing he wants least in the world is for their mother to find them asleep together like this, close enough that his breath is making the t-shirt over Nick’s collarbone damp, and Nick’s thigh between his thighs.

"But I always wake up when the plane starts to descend," Nick says through a yawn. "Trust me."

Joe has never done anything but that before, and things have been okay so far, so he lets the anxiety slip from his mind, breathes against Nick’s chest and falls asleep.

*


The next show, as Jordin sings my world’s nothing when you’re gone, I’m not here without a shield, can't go back now, Joe stands behind Nick at the kit and brushes his thumb over the back of Nick’s neck. Then he runs back to Jordin in her white dress, falling into place on the rotation, the beat of the song pulsing through him like a double-strong heartbeat.

*


"I can't believe it's almost over," Kevin says in Manchester. "It's gonna feel weird to get a whole night's sleep."

"You won't," Joe laughs, stuffing the bag of toothpaste and deodorant into his duffel. "You and Dani are going to be so busy making plans that you'll never, ever sleep again. And then you'll have kids."

Kevin half-groans, half-laughs, but Joe can see the look on his face and knows he's looking forward to it. He's not going to tell Kevin about the dream he had during a nap in Turin, all of them in Texas for Christmas a year from now, Danielle visibly pregnant and she and Kevin ridiculously excited. It settles something in Joe to know that his brother will be that happy. That future, he's sure, is secure.

*


The flight home is long but Joe can’t sleep, every inch of him still expecting to have to do another show, and then another. He lies on the tiny couch in the tiny lounge and stares up at the top of the cabin in the dim light, the hum of the plane’s engine lulling him into a daze but not to sleep. It’s cold, so he pulls the hood of his sweatshirt up over his head and closes his eyes again. He can hear both his dad and Kevin snoring from the bunk section.

"Joe," Nick whispers from somewhere in the near-blackness. "You out here?"

"Yeah."

Nick creeps into view, and Joe flings an arm out towards him. "Not tired?" Nick asks.

Joe shakes his head, turning onto his side so that Nick can squeeze next to him on the couch. He settles his arm over Nick’s waist. "Are you?"

"Can't get to sleep." Nick rolls his shoulders for a second, and Joe is struck by the realization that really, he should be the little spoon here, not Nick, but he’s not planning on moving.

He presses his face to the back of Nick’s neck and inhales. The scents of plain soap, fabric softener and sweat fill his nose. The way Nick always smells when he’s showered after the show and isn’t going out again. Joe curls his fingers in the bottom of Nick’s worn Rangers t-shirt and the backs of his knuckles brush Nick’s stomach. A low noise escapes Nick, vibrates through Joe’s chest. "What are you doing?" Nick murmurs, tangling his fingers around Joe's but not stopping his touch.

Joe stops it himself. "I just want to feel normal again," he says haltingly, "and you're the only person I don't really dream about."

"Really?"

"Only twice." He yawns and rubs his cheek against Nick's upper back, feels Nick flatten his hand against the back of Joe's, pressing Joe's palm against the muscles of his stomach once more. "All of them since have been about Kevin and Danielle."

"What about them?"

Joe has dreamed all this more than half a dozen times by now. "Their wedding is beautiful. You play your song, everyone cries. Kev and Dani dance, Mom cries some more. The reception goes so late that Frankie falls asleep at the table next to Dad, and it's seriously, seriously getting close to sunrise when we all run Kev and Dani out to their limo." He pauses. "In like, a year, we'll be uncles, Nicky."

"Wow," Nick breathes. Then he inhales sharply, and Joe can feel that he's not letting it out again.

"What?"

A huge exhale. "That's it, then."

Joe doesn't even have to ask. "Dunno," he mumbles against Nick's skin. "Really. Don't know."

Nick turns over and in doing so, presses Joe even more into the back of the couch. Joe blinks at him, unable to read Nick's sudden intense gaze. "Fall asleep and dream it," Nick says, poking his finger hard into Joe's shoulder.

Joe catches his hand, squeezes Nick's fingers tightly. "Doesn't work like that."

"But..."

"No."

Nick frowns. "I need to know."

"It doesn't work like that," Joe repeats, and closes his eyes against the look on Nick's face. He's still holding Nick's hand, and Nick isn't letting go.

Behind his closed eyelids, Joe plays out the scene where Kev and Dani climb into the limo: as everyone else waves, Nick slides both arms around his waist and turns his face away for a brief moment, and it takes Joe's touch on his cheek to make him look up again and wave with the crowd.

"Besides," Joe whispers now, "you've been making plans, haven't you, about what you'll do while Kev's gone?"

Theoretically, they are all going to take some time off. The very idea makes Joe laugh - Nick having free time and being, well, free with it. There's a line, somewhere, in a song. Feels so good when I'm home. Joe's looking forward to sleeping in his own bed for as many hours as he wants, and playing X-Box on his gigantic television while sitting on their soft leather couch for as long as he wants. Until Mom makes him take the trash out, or set the table.

But then he thinks, suddenly, about moving out. Or being in the California house while everyone else is in Texas. He's old enough. His money is his own, he has a car and a driver's license. But even just the idea feels strange to him, like an odd chill creeping over his skin. He's never thought about being away from his family like that. He's never really thought about being alone.

"Maybe," Nick says to his question, the word warped by a yawn. "More like I've been trying to make myself not make plans." Joe snorts, and feels more than hears his brother's answering chuckle. "I know, I know."

They're quiet for another few minutes, just lying there close together. Joe is almost to the edge of sleep when Nick takes a breath. Joe knows that breath; it means Nick is about to say something. "You really don't dream about me?" he asks.

"Maybe your future isn't written." It's all he's ever been able to come up with.

"What about yours?"

"I don't dream that, either."

Nick's hand lifts from his and settles on his cheek. Joe turns his head a little and lets his mouth rest against Nick's palm. There's the scent of leather and he says, lips against skin, "Hey, the bracelet."

"I like it." A pause. "So our futures are unwritten, huh."

"Yeah, maybe."

Nick seems to accept that, because his hand slips away from Joe's face and curls around his waist instead. Joe moves forward the few millimeters between them and presses his forehead to Nick's, so close their breath mingles as he finally drifts off to sleep.

When Joe wakes up a few hours later, he's alone.

*


Their first night home in Dallas, Joe really does mean to sleep in his own bed. But he ends up crashing out during family movie time, passing out completely on the living room floor with couch pillows under his head and Elvis trying to lie on his feet. One minute he’s listening to Reese Witherspoon talk about… something, and the next he’s waking up to the sound of a door opening. He sits up with a start. Elvis licks his arm, and a hand lands on top of his head. "Chill," Nick whispers. "It’s just Kev and Dani sneaking out to the pool."

Joe lets out an awkward laugh. "Oh. Did I fall asleep in the middle of the movie?"

"Yeah, and you snored, too."

He slumps against the couch, scratching behind Elvis’ ears. "Why aren’t you in bed?"

"Couch is comfy," Nick says. His fingers keep moving through Joe’s hair. It feels good and Joe closes his eyes again. The house is cool and quiet and it’s easy to let himself drift, especially with Nick stroking his scalp. He picks up on the thread of his dream with ease: they’d waved the newlyweds off, watched the limo disappear. His parents had embraced, murmuring and laughing to each other about how they could sleep for the next two days and probably still be tired. Joe had rubbed his thumb over the back of Nick’s hand, said that they should go up to their room in the hotel before they fell asleep standing upright in the huge circular drive.

Upstairs, they would look through the open connecting door at Frankie asleep in his bed, and then Nick would nudge the door silently shut. "Guess that’s it," he would say, like Joe hasn’t known all along that underneath their happiness and excitement for Kevin, there’s been the worry that things will never be the same.

"There’s nothing wrong with change," Joe would reply, pulling his untied tie from around his neck. It would have been dangling loose for hours, a convenient way for any number of people, including the brother standing in front of him, to tug him out onto the dance floor.

Nick’s fingers hit a sensitive spot and Joe jerks awake again with a low moan. "Dreaming about you," he mumbles, and Nick’s fingertips coast over the same spot again.

"Go back to it," Nick breathes, leaning over him so that his mouth is near Joe’s ear. He sounds satisfied. "Dream it."

"Aren’t you worried that knowing it will change it?" Joe sighs, and lets himself be pulled under again.

He would take out his contacts and shower only long enough to wash the gel out of his hair, then put on boxers and stumble out to one of the beds, not even bothering with glasses he’d be taking right back off again. Another few minutes and Nick would land beside him, similarly damp and smelling like soap. Joe would say something about their hair and wet pillows. Then Nick would be hovering over him, laughing tiredly, and he would pin Joe’s wrists to the bed and kiss him slow and deep.

Joe is awake and halfway across the room, still on the floor, before he even knows what’s happening. Elvis pounces on him, thinking it’s time to play. Joe pushes the dog off and holds him at bay, his breathing shaky and heavy, and he refuses to meet Nick’s concerned gaze.

"Elvis, kitchen," Nick says sharply, and Elvis obeys immediately. "Joe?"

Joe presses his hands to his eyes, itchy with the contacts he hadn’t taken out tonight, and tries to get his breathing under control. His palms throb with the dream-memory of Nick pressing on his wrists, cutting off the blood flow, and he can’t stop his whimper. Then Nick’s hands are actually there, curling gently around, trying to get Joe’s hands away from his face. "You’re scaring me," he says, and his voice sounds desperate. "Joe, come on, please. Are you all right?"

Joe pulls away from him, stumbling to stand up, not caring how much noise he makes. He barely gets the bathroom door locked before he’s throwing up the pizza and lemonade from dinner, acid-sharp and making his nose burn, until his stomach is empty and he’s just choking over the toilet bowl and trying not to cry. He feels gross, snot dripping from his nose. He wipes the vomit from his chin with the back of his hand and stares at it for a minute. Nick is pounding on the door, demanding hoarsely that Joe let him in right now.

He turns on the tap and washes his face and hands. He cleans up the mess even though his stomach is still rebelling, angry spasms making him bend a little at the waist every time one hits. There’s vomit on his shirt so he takes it off. He swallows down the urge to cry, brushes his teeth and uses mouthwash on top of it. He manages to get his contacts out with shaking hands, slips on the ugly spare pair of glasses that he keeps tucked in this medicine cabinet. All the while, Nick keeps banging on the door, until Joe hears another voice, his mom’s, asking what’s wrong, what all the noise is.

"Joe’s sick and he won’t let me in," Nick says, and Joe hasn’t heard him sound so small and afraid like that in years.

His mom knocks. "Joseph, are you all right in there? What’s the matter, honey?"

Joe looks at himself in the mirror. He's pale and his eyes are rimmed with red. He cracks the door open, sees his mom, sees Nick hovering behind her. "I’m okay now, the pizza just didn’t sit too good," he lies. His mom looks concerned, and she wraps him up in a hug. He feels five again. "I’m better now that I threw up," he mumbles. "Wanna go to bed now."

She smoothes his hair back and says, "Drink some water, sweetie. And you should sleep as late as you want tomorrow, okay?"

He nods. She asks Nick to get a glass of water for him, then says goodnight. Joe watches her walk back upstairs, then goes toward the kitchen. His insides are still twisting and he thinks about running back to the bathroom, locking himself in once again. But he doesn't, guilt and a dry mouth pushing him forward. Nick meets him halfway, clutching a glass of cold water that he holds out to Joe.

"Thanks." He feels Nick's eyes on him as he chugs half of it.

"Do you – do you want some crackers or something?" Nick asks hesitantly.

"No." The water sloshes in his aching belly and Joe is suddenly unsure if drinking so much at once was such a good idea. "I’m going to bed," he says, shoving the glass at Nick, and flees to his room.

Inside, with the door firmly shut, Joe hides underneath the covers of his bed. He can feel Nick’s hands on him, feel the kiss in and against his mouth, and his head spins. He feels like he does those mornings where he’s had too much coffee and not enough breakfast: bitter-mouthed and shaky, afraid he might throw up some more. He doesn't want to fall asleep again.

*


His phone buzzes with a text an hour later, and he gropes across the nightstand for it. It’s from Kev. Y is nick sleepin outside yr door?

Joe crawls out of the bed on unsteady hands and knees and legs, somehow gets the door open. Nick is slumped against the wall, dead asleep, breathing through his mouth. Joe shakes his shoulder. "Hey." He clears his throat loudly. "Wake up."

Nick blinks at him and gets up. "I wasn’t asleep."

"You were." Joe has seen Nick look like this thousands of times before, sleepy-blurry-rumpled, but this is different. "You didn’t even put on some pajamas," he mutters.

"I’m sleeping with you," Nick replies, as if that’s an answer, and he pushes past Joe into the bedroom, catching Joe’s hand on the way, tugging him along. Joe manages to kick the door shut. Nick sits down on the bed, looking up at him, eyebrows drawn together in concern. "You said you were dreaming about me. What’d you see that was so awful you were sick?"

"Sometimes I throw up afterwards," Joe says evasively, looking everywhere but at his brother. "It happens."

"Bullshit," Nick snaps. "Tell me."

This is one of those moments where Joe wishes they weren’t always so in tune with each other. He toes at the carpet a second before sitting down on the bed, putting at least a foot between him and Nick, but Nick moves automatically, changing position to lean against the headboard, and then uses gentle hands to coax Joe over to him, while Joe feels alternately skittish and helpless, giving in after only a dozen heartbeats to Nick’s suggestion that he lay his head in Nick’s lap. "I’m afraid you’ll hate me," he whispers, as Nick’s hands slip through his hair.

"I could never. I love you."

"You won’t after this."

The fingers in his hair tighten their hold and it shouldn’t feel good but it does, and he can't remember the last time he'd felt afraid of something like this. He shivers. "Tell me before I’m any more terrified of what’s in our future," Nick demands. "Please, Joe."

Joe looks up at him. Nick is a little blurry without his glasses, but his expression is serious and pained. "You – we – you touch me. You kiss me. And not like a brother should." Nick’s hands drop from his hair and Joe turns his face away, his eyes burning. "Told you you’d hate me."

The quiet moment seems to drag forever and Joe forces himself to keep still, to just keep feeling Nick’s thighs underneath his head, to not leap off the bed and hide in the bathroom again, or maybe the pool house. When Nick speaks again, his voice is so faint Joe can barely hear him. "My touch makes you sick?"

"God, no."

Nick’s hand touches his hair again, drags through it slowly, fingertips pressing against all the sensitive spots, all the way down his neck and back. Joe shivers again, breathing faster against his best efforts not to. When Nick says, "That’s good, that’s really good," his voice is full of wonder.

Joe swallows hard. "You should go to your own room."

"I don’t -"

"Please, I want to be alone for a little while." While this isn’t the first time he’s pushed Nick away and told him to leave him be, Joe can count on one hand the number of times it’s happened in the last few years. Usually he’s the one that wants to be close and Nick is the one telling him to get out of his space. "Just... tonight," he says.

"Fine." Nick climbs out from under Joe and stalks from the room.

Joe doesn’t watch him leave, feeling more like a mess than he’s ever felt before. He goes into the adjoining bathroom and takes the coldest shower he can stand.

*


He doesn’t dream any more that night and when he wakes up again, things feel almost normal. His mom fusses over him when he goes downstairs, insisting he skip the coffee and have fruit and juice with his bagel. Joe squeezes her around the shoulders as he pops a strawberry into his mouth. "I’m fine, Mom, honestly. Where’s everybody at?"

"Dad’s in his office, Danielle and Kevin took Frankie out for a drive, and I think Nicholas is holed up in the basement."

"Cool, thanks." He grins at her, grabs his juice and a bottle of water from the fridge, and goes to lay out by the pool for a while. The sun is out and it’s warm but not hot, and the deck is pleasant beneath his back. After fifteen minutes or so, he slips into the water and swims laps until he’s tired.

Joe manages to pass a week like that, being lazy and doing his own thing. He's not actively avoiding Nick, who spends most of his time in the basement studio, but he doesn't seek him out. His dreams return to absurdist fantasy and Joe tells himself that he's not sorry about it in the least.

But without the dreams, and without Nick, he gets bored really fast. So one afternoon when everyone else has left, he ventures into the basement studio, fully expecting to find Nick with an entire album planned out.

He's sort of right. There are pieces of notebook paper everywhere, covered in lyrics and chord progressions. Nick's at the piano, his back to Joe. There are cans of Red Bull and Diet Coke scattered around the room, and it's obvious that Joe's not the only one who has left Nick to his creative genius for the last week.

"Hey," he says awkwardly, clearing his throat.

"Hi," Nick replies. "Are you talking to me again?"

"I'm not the one hiding in the basement for the past week."

Nick plays a couple minor chords. Then he turns around. "I was waiting for you to be okay with me again," he says softly, shoving a hand through his curls. "You pushed me away. I don't know how to deal with that, Joe."

Sarcasm as a defense mechanism hasn't really been getting him anywhere, but Joe can't stop himself and suggests, "An album of bittersweet love songs?"

The corner of Nick's mouth quirks, but barely, and he shakes his head. "Maybe an EP."

Joe takes a few steps closer. "I don't know where we go from here," he confesses.

"Me neither."

But Nick slips off the bench, and meets him in the middle of the room. Joe hugs him tightly, one arm around Nick's waist, the other around his shoulders. "I'm sorry I was a jerk."

"I'm sorry, too," Nick breathes in his ear. Joe's skin prickles, standing like this, pressed together from chest to thigh; it's confusing him all over again.

"I think I'm going to tell Mom and Dad that I want to take a vacation by myself," he says. "Rent a cabin somewhere cold, someplace with snow. Just be alone for a little while."

"Is that what you really want?" The question ghosts over Joe's cheekbone, Nick's mouth getting dangerously close to his.

And even though in the dream it hadn't been their first kiss, Joe turns his head away. "It's what I want."

*


He leaves two days later for Colorado. When he gets to the cabin, driven in on a snowplow by the guy who manages the sprawling property, he turns off his phone and doesn't bother to check if there's wi-fi. He doesn't even plug in the computer.

He's got plenty of food, a guitar, a television, and a notebook. He figures it'll last about a week before they send someone to make sure he's alive.

*


Three days, and Nick's pounding on the door. "Joe, let me in! Joe!"

Joe opens the door.

They stare at each other for a couple seconds. "Don't ever leave me like that again," Nick bites out, each word sharp and clear while Joe's heart thuds in his chest. He drops his coat on the floor, then takes heavy steps to the table where Joe's phone is currently a paperweight, and turns it on. It trills loudly with countless messages, a steady stream of chirps and beeps as Nick glares daggers at him. "I had to have Kevin book me the flight," he says tightly.

He pushes a couple of buttons on Joe's phone and lifts it to his ear. "Hi, Dad. Don't yell. I'm fine, Joe is fine. He'll only have a couple bruises when I'm done, I promise. And then I'll come home, I promise. He'll get me on a plane. I love you. Bye."

Then he turns the phone off again and puts it back on the table. Joe sinks down on the overstuffed couch he's spent a lot of hours on so far, practicing the guitar and reading things he's always wanted to read but never told anyone and flipping through premium television channels, still staring at Nick. "You ran away to check on me?" he asks when he finds his voice again.

"Yes."

"Wow."

"You weren't answering your phone!" Nick shouts, and Joe doesn't remember the last time he heard so much anger in his brother's words. "You could have been dead, I don't know, buried under an avalanche somewhere or mauled by a bear or something."

"Mauled by a bear," Joe repeats slowly.

Nick shrugs, the beginnings of a smile pulling at his mouth. A little of the anger seems to seep out of him. "That's what happens in the woods." If the air weren't so tense, Joe would laugh. Instead, he watches as Nick walks towards him, eyes on the shape of Nick's lips as he says, "I'm going to sit on your lap now."

Joe swallows hard and nods.

Nick crosses the rest of the space between them and straddles him, knees on either side of Joe's hips. Joe isn't sure what to do with his hands at first, until Nick takes them and sets them on his waist. His own hands settle on Joe's shoulders, and he leans forward until their foreheads touch.

Joe breathes. He's not sure what to do.

"Didn't you notice," Nick begins. Joe feels cool fingers brush over the back of his neck. "That when you told me your dream, I didn't freak out?"

He hadn't really. "I was kind of busy having my own freak-out." This close, Nick is a little bit blurry. Joe focuses on his mouth without meaning to.

"That, I totally noticed." Nick lifts his chin just a little and his lips brush over Joe's hot cheek. Joe lets his eyes drift shut, his heart beating what feels like quadruple time. Nick skims another kiss across the other cheek. "Open your eyes, Joe."

He does.

"It's been a long time since I was as scared as I've been these past two weeks, and there was absolutely no one I could go to with my fear. I need you to understand that. Do you?"

Joe nods.

"I thought there was something wrong with me," Nick says. "And then I realized - as long as you're in it with me, I don't care."

"You can't say that," Joe says, his voice raspy.

"I can and I will."

"Nicky -"

"There's no one here but us."

And he's right. There's no Kevin, no Frankie, no Mom and Dad. No Big Rob, no John Taylor, no band. No techs, no roadies. No publicists, no assistants, no bus drivers or airplane pilots. No fans and no photographers. There's no one here for at least a mile in every direction, except for them.

"What do you want to do?" he whispers, watches a flush spread across Nick's face.

"First, this." And Nick closes the gap between their mouths. His lips are chapped, but Joe barely notices past the first press of them, because Nick is pushing his tongue into Joe's mouth, flicking over his teeth and tasting everything. Joe lets his head tip back, lets his jaw relax, lets Nick rub their tongues together and lick the roof of his mouth. Without having to even debate it with himself, he knows he'll do whatever Nick asks.

He sucks on Nick's tongue, which makes Nick's hips jerk against his own. He pulls back to breathe and Nick follows, letting Joe get barely a lungful before crushing their mouths together once more. Of course he would apply the same skill and determination to kissing that he applies to everything else in life. Joe allows every touch of Nick's lips and tongue, wanting and feeling like he needs every one of them. It's not until he's dizzy from lack of oxygen that he puts his palms on Nick's chest. "Wait," he gasps.

"No," Nick answers, but he occupies himself with Joe's earlobe as Joe sucks in several deep breaths.

"Don't you need to breathe?"

"Years of vocal training," Nick deadpans, and brushes his lips back and forth over Joe's until Joe opens up and lets him in again.

*


Eventually, Nick does need to stop and just breathe for a while, and he climbs off Joe's lap and curls into his side. Joe gives up on the idea of being able to adjust his dick inside his pants without Nick seeing, and gives up on the idea of adjusting himself entirely. It's sort of pleasurable, a heady throb where he's trapped in jeans that don't really have the room for the erection that's happening.

"I'm surprised you're not just lazing around in sweatpants," Nick murmurs, nuzzling his neck. Joe is estimating he's about forty seconds from complete sensory overload, but he's also pretty sure there's no way he's going to get Nick to stop touching him. He's starting to believe that even if he told Nick to stop touching him, it wouldn't happen. He doesn't want it to happen.

"Joe Jonas doesn't wear sweatpants." He catches Nick's hand where it's tracing loopy patterns over his thigh but never straying too close to his crotch. "'Sides, I forgot to pack some, and it's a little too chilly to wear just my shorts."

Nick laughs and it's muffled against Joe's skin. "Do you have food? I'm hungry."

"Yep." Joe manages to get up off the couch, and he throws together a couple of sandwiches while Nick checks his levels at the kitchen table.

"I don't think you're good for my sugars," Nick says. He takes a huge bite of the sandwich Joe hands him.

Joe digs a couple cans of Diet Coke from the fridge and passes one over. "So... we won't be doing that any more, you're saying."

"We'll be doing that a lot more," Nick replies, matter-of-factly, and licks ranch dressing from his fingers, plucks some fallen lettuce from his napkin.

Joe raises an eyebrow, even though his heart had sped up at that. "Bossy, bossy, bossy."

Nick smirks at him, the last of his sandwich between his fingers, and says, "You have no idea."

Joe would really like an idea on that front, please and thank you, because part of him would like to relax into this, but Nick seems determined to keep him off-balance. When the food is gone, Nick excuses himself to the bathroom, wanting to wash off the day spent traveling. For a brief second, Joe thinks about offering to wash his back, but before he can open his mouth Nick is waving him away, so he lies on the couch and flips channels on the television with his eyes closed instead.

*


When he wakes up, it's to Nick crawling on top of him, a warm-heavy-insistent weight. "You fell asleep," Nick whispers in his ear. "Did you dream?"

A hazy assortment of images, things he couldn't distinguish from one another. "Not sure if it was for real," he says, yawning.

"Is that still happening out here?"

"I haven't had a new one since..." he trails off. "Uhm. Just the same couple, really. Your song at the wedding. I think there was maybe some Chicken Dance in there the last time."

Nick laughs and punches his arm. "And now, what did you see?"

"Mmm, mostly blurry stuff." He stretches beneath Nick.

"Like what?"

Joe pokes him hard in the shoulder and Nick catches his hand, presses it up above his head. "You, uhm, ask a lot of questions," Joe mumbles, most of his attention now on how Nick only has to hold down one part of his body and Joe will not want to move at all.

"Tell me." Nick swoops downward to nip at Joe's lower lip.

"Happy naked people," Joe sighs. He wiggles the fingers of the hand Nick is holding captive, and Nick presses harder. Joe can feel the silver parts of the bracelet push against his skin. He can't help the moan that escapes him.

Nick asks quietly, "Was it us?"

"I honestly don't know. It was all blurry, just sort of impressions. I heard laughing, I think."

"Hmm." Nick catches Joe's other hand and holds them both above his head on the arm of the couch, and Joe gasps as Nick shoves his thighs apart with an insistent knee.

"What are you doing? Trying to drive me insane?"

"I'm seeing how far I can push myself."

Joe blinks. He hadn't been expecting that answer. "You what?"

Nick flexes the fingers of one hand and his ring presses hard into Joe's palm. "How close to the edge can I get?" he asks, but Joe knows it's not a question either of them are meant to answer right now. "How close can I get and still not go over?"

"You are the world's most philosophical virgin," Joe groans.

"That's yours too." Nick whispers it so quietly it's more breath than words, but they're so close together that Joe hears it, and he arches up to kiss Nick with a desperation he didn't know was there before now. Nick drops his hips between Joe's thighs and they both moan. "Not yet, though," Nick pants, and kisses the corner of Joe's mouth. "Breathe, Joe."

Eventually, Joe finds he can breathe again and they fall asleep like that, Nick holding him down.

*


Joe wakes up first the next morning, puts on his heavy coat and snow boots just to be safe, and goes outside with his phone. "I hate you," is how Kevin answers his call. "I hate both of you."

"How long do you think Nick can get away with staying here?" Joe asks without preamble.

He can almost hear Kevin’s shrug. "No one is that mad anymore. Just worried."

"Is Dad there?" Joe knows he needs to be an adult about this, not leave it to Kevin to talk to their parents for him. "Can you put him on?"

There’s some muffled noise and then his dad is saying stiffly, "Joseph, are you boys all right?"

"We’re fine, Dad. We’re hanging out. Working on some new stuff." Lies, all lies. Joe doesn’t care. He’ll be telling worse lies in the future. He knows their dad would want to hear that they're at least playing music.

"And how is the weather in Colorado?"

"It’s fine. Look… I’m sorry, okay? I needed to be alone, completely alone, for a couple of days." He looks up at the grey morning sky. He can see his breath in little frozen puffs. "I didn’t know Nick would freak like he did."

His dad is quiet for a moment. Then he says, "You’re a grown man," which is not at all what Joe had been expecting him to say. "I can understand any of you needing to get away from it all for a while, and you’re an adult. But Nick is not, not yet."

His parents have always taken eighteen/not-eighteen very seriously. Joe starts to protest but his father cuts him off. "Joe, I trust you. You’ve been taking care of Nick since you were both little, and I don’t have any reason to believe you’d let something happen to him now. And you know as well as I do that sometimes he’s more of a grown-up than the rest of us put together."

That, he knows all too well. "Yeah, Dad."

"I cleared the schedule so there’s nothing until after New Year’s, but you know Christmas is next Friday. Be home by then. Aim for Wednesday at the latest."

"I wouldn’t break Mom’s heart like that," Joe chuckles.

"Exactly. I love you, son. Be safe."

"Love you, too. Hug Mom for us, okay? And thank you."

"See you next week," his dad says, and hangs up. Joe slides the phone in his pocket and stands outside a while longer, until his fingertips are numb, before kicking some icy mud off his boots and going back into the cabin.

He brushes his teeth and doesn’t even bother with his contacts. He’s loud while he makes breakfast but Nick sleeps through the noise. It’s not until Joe crawls into the bed next to him (they’d stumbled to it at about three in the morning) and presses his cold hands to Nick’s body that he stirs. "One more minute," he mumbles.

"How about a whole week?" Joe whispers in his ear.

Nick opens his eyes. "What are you talking about?"

"I called home." He ignores the way Nick tenses in his arms. "I know you thought you were gonna have to go home today or tomorrow, but we don’t have to be back until Wednesday. Dad was surprisingly chill about it, so long as we don’t miss Christmas."

"Really?"

"Really. Think we might have to do our shopping at the airport, but."

Nick leans up to press their lips together. "I already got my present," he says, hooking his leg around Joe’s and flipping him onto his back. Joe protests that he's made breakfast and it’s getting cold, and Nick just laughs against his chest. Joe relaxes into the warm sheets that smell like Nick, trading kisses back when Nick gives them, until Nick pulls back and gets out of the bed, finding one of Joe’s hoodies to tug on over his t-shirt.

"So you’re ready for breakfast now?" Joe asks, not moving.

"Yes, now," Nick says. Joe gets up and follows him into the kitchen where the toast is cold and dripping condensation has formed tiny puddles around their glasses of orange juice. He warms up the eggs again and they eat.

*


Thirty-six miles from Colorado Springs and Joe is pretty sure he's stopped dreaming the future entirely. With one guitar between them, he and Nick finish the six songs that Nick had started less than a month ago. "It doesn’t feel quite right without Kevin helping," Nick says thoughtfully, tapping his fingers against the body of the guitar.

"We could get him on speakerphone," Joe suggests.

They do. Joe’s sure that the sound is terrible back in Texas, and he doesn’t push his voice as much as he could, but he and Nick play all the songs one by one as if they’re really performing them. When they finish, there’s clapping, and Joe is embarrassed to realize his entire family has been listening to the love songs he and Nick had written about each other.

"Guys, you don’t need me," Kevin says. "Those are perfect just the way they are."

Joe catches Nick’s shaking hand in his own trembling one. "I told you there’s nothing wrong with change," he says. Then he remembers that he’d only dreamed that, never said it out loud, but the look on Nick’s face tells Joe that he understands.

*


Joe books their next-day flights home, because he’s still the adult and Nick is still just seventeen, but the moment he hangs up, the phone is being taken from his hand, turned off and tossed into the open suitcase on the bed, and he lets Nick catch him around the waist. Because Joe is still telling himself he’s letting Nick do these things to him, as opposed to Nick just doing them. Like last night, when Nick had pinned him down on the couch and kissed him for an hour, and then they’d argued about who got to jerk off first in the bathroom.

Nick had won that argument thanks to lung capacity: he’d kissed Joe until Joe was dizzy, and left him cursing on the couch while Nick ran into the bathroom as fast as his erection would allow. "I hope your balls fall off," Joe had shouted after him, but it was weak, and he’d basically laid there rubbing himself until it was his turn.

Now, he drops his mouth to Nick’s neck and tastes the salt there. "You okay, Prez?" he asks.

"About what?"

"Going home tomorrow."

Nick nudges his chin up, and their eyes meet. "I knew we couldn’t stay here forever," Nick says.
"Are you okay?"

"I’m not sure." And he’s not. Sure, he misses everyone and the snow lost its charm after the first few days, and there’s no way he'll ever skip out on Christmas, no matter how old he gets. But going home means pretending nothing has changed between them, and he says as much.

"No it doesn’t," Nick says harshly, and kisses Joe hard. "I’d bet you a thousand dollars no one notices a thing," he murmurs, softer now.

Joe takes that bet.

*


That night, he dreams the aquarium, but it's just an aquarium. He wanders fuzzily through it, pressing his hand to the jellyfish tank and drawing the shapes of starfish in the air. The monkey on his foot sings a song about grape jelly and living life upside-down. Then it all dissolves.

*


Home, they’re greeted with huge hugs, like they’ve been gone for years. Joe stays up late helping his mom put the finishing touches on the tree. They always wait until a few days before Christmas to decorate it, and it’s a testament to how huge the tree is this year that the entire house smells like pine. Joe is handing up ornaments as she balances on the stepstool when Nick wanders in, a tray in his hands. "Anybody want some hot chocolate? It’s sugar free."

Joe helps his mom down and watches as she beams and takes a cup from Nick. "Thank you."

"Joe?"

"Sure."

Their fingers brush as Nick passes him a mug, and Joe would swear that Nick smirks at him. He takes a careful sip, then sets it on the coffee table and picks up an ornament that Kevin made when he was little. Joe thinks it was maybe supposed to be a turtle. "Where should it go?" he asks his mother, looking at the already crammed tree.

Nick leans around him, wrapping an arm around Joe’s waist. Joe frowns. This isn’t being subtle at all. "There," Nick says, pointing, and he shuffles Joe towards the tree.

Their mom doesn’t seem to realize that anything has changed even a bit.

*


On Christmas Day Joe sneaks into Nick's room before anyone else is awake, even Frankie. Nick is dead asleep; they'd stayed up late after coming home from church the night before, watching The Muppet Christmas Carol and Home Alone. Joe sits down on the edge of the bed. For a minute, he just watches his brother sleep, cataloging his emotions. At the very least, Joe knows that whatever this is that's going between them, it's not fragile. He doesn't need to worry about it breaking. He knows he's got at least another six months.

Then he leans over and rubs his stubbly face over Nick's bare arm until Nick wakes up.

"Ugh, is it morning already?" Nick grumbles.

"Merry Christmas," Joe murmurs before kissing him, not caring about their gross breath. "Love you."

"Love you, too." Nick bites gently at his lower lip. "So much. Are we the only people up?"

"For at least another ten minutes," Joe says. He climbs on top of Nick, pressing him back against the pillows, slightly shocked when Nick lets him do it. He rolls his hips experimentally, finding Nick already hard. "Oh, hello, morning."

"Like clockwork," Nick replies, only a little sheepish.

Joe takes a deep breath and curls his fingers in the waistband of Nick's boxers. "Let me touch you."

Nick looks up at him, contemplative. His hands brush Joe's but he doesn't push him away. "I thought you said we only have like, ten minutes."

"Yeah, so?"

"I want it to last longer than that, you jerk." He slides a hand up under Joe's t-shirt and rubs his thumb across Joe's nipple.

Joe gasps and arches into the touch, fire shooting down his spine. "Um."

"See?" Nick says, and his voice is husky. "It'll be better when we can take our time. 'Sides, I don't want Frankie busting in."

There aren't any locks on the doors. "Point," Joe grumbles reluctantly. A major flaw in his plan, and he'd totally missed it. He sighs and sits up again, moving back so he's not completely on Nick's lap.

"But I should, um, take care of this before we go downstairs."

Joe curls his hand around the back of Nick's knee. "Can I... watch?" he asks, hesistant. He's not sure how to express that he needs to know that hardness is for him, needs to know that he's the focus of Nick's desire.

Nick grins. His face is flushed. He nips at Joe's earlobe and says, "Go sit with your back against the door so no one can get in."

Joe does. Then he rubs himself through the fabric of his shorts as he watches Nick wrap a hand around his cock, a part of Nick that Joe has seen countless times before but never like this. He watches Nick's eyes slip shut as Nick strokes himself firmly, as he runs his thumb over the head of his cock. Listens to the tiny moans and whines that Nick is obviously trying to control. That he never stops controlling, even as he tightens his fist and comes with a helpless jerk of his hips, spilling over his fingers and hissing Joe's name.

It's more than enough to push Joe over the edge as well, wet and sticky, trapped in his shorts, hitting the back of his head against the door.

Nick slides bonelessly off the bed and crawls over to him. With his damp hand, he palms Joe's spent, sensitive dick as they kiss, the other hand fisted in Joe's hair. Joe can't hold back his low moan, clutching fistfuls of Nick's sleep shirt until Nick pulls his mouth away, breathing heavily.

In a week, Joe has learned that he will never be the one to end a kiss.

Nick stands up, then pulls Joe up as well. "You can borrow some of my pajamas," he says hoarsely. "Hey, maybe Mom will make French toast."

"Maybe," Joe says, still dazed. "I could probably make some. It'd be like a surprise!"

"Surprise! The crunch is extra eggshell!" Nick laughs. Joe punches him in the arm. "C'mon."

They get cleaned up fast, trading quick kisses, then zoom down the stairs. Surprisingly to Joe, they're still the only ones awake, but he sees the clock on the microwave only reads six forty-five, and then he's not so stumped. He opens the fridge while Nick fiddles with the espresso machine.

"I made you a cappuccino," Nick says, as Joe's measuring a careful teaspoon of vanilla.

"Thanks, baby," he mumbles, all his focus on the tiny bottle. Then he realizes what he's said. "Um."

"No."

"Fine." Vanilla measured, he picks up the fancy coffee cup and takes a slow sip. He can see Nick watching out of the corner of his eye. "More foam next time."

"Screw you," Nick grumbles. Joe's hand shakes and the cup clatters a little on the saucer, and Nick blinks really fast. "Oh."

Joe swallows. "Could you, um, get that bread from the other day from the cupboard?" Nick does. "I'm going to turn the stove on soon," Joe warns. Nick takes a couple steps back.

He has to resort to one of the family cookbooks to make sure he's doing it right, but by the time Frankie wanders yawning into the kitchen, he's got a stack of French toast that's tall enough it's starting to wobble.

"I didn't know you could cook," Frankie says. He climbs up onto one of the high-backed chairs around the center island.

Joe waves his spatula-flipper-thing. "Hey, no guarantee they'll taste as good as they look. Or smell."

"Unlike other things," Nick sing-songs, bumping Joe's hip as he returns the milk to the fridge.

Joe glares at him, but the whole exchange goes right over their little brother's head.

*


"Rules, we need rules," Joe gasps on New Year’s Eve, as Nick attempts to press him up against the bathroom door. "What happened to all that stuff about pushing yourself only to the edge?"

"You want rules, really?" Nick replies, and bites gently at Joe’s lip. "I need to kiss you right now. Let me."

Joe does. Nick licks slowly into his mouth, taking his time, and Joe whimpers impatiently. The bathroom door is locked, but if anyone were to come into Nick's bedroom, it would look strange for both of them to be in here. He's been feeling off-balance lately and he's not sure what rules are governing what's been happening; he wants Nick to set some boundaries about what it is they're doing. He bites Nick's lower lip and Nick draws back, his eyes dark.

"Rules," Joe prompts.

"Don't interrupt me again," Nick says, and Joe can feel the heat of Nick's breath against his face. "How's that for a rule? What are you asking me?"

Joe rubs their cheeks together. "Like how far we're going to go, that kinda thing."

Nick takes a small step back and leans against the counter, crossing his arms over his chest. "How about a rule where we're not doing this with anyone else?" he suggests.

"Like we're... in a relationship."

"You mean we're not?" Nick says, but he smiles.

Joe maybe curls his toes in something that might be pleasure against the tile floor. Often he feels like their house lacks carpeting. "I wasn't really planning on making out with any of my other brothers," he says, grinning. Then he adds, quieter, "I wasn't going to do this with anyone else while I'm with you."

Nick leans in for a quick closed-mouth kiss. "Good."

Joe twists the ring on his finger, his hand lax against his side. "What about that thing where you just... state things, instead of asking me if I want to do whatever it is or whatever."

"What about it?" Nick asks, clearly unconcerned. "You, uh, always seem to let me do it."

Joe is concerned. At least, he thinks he's concerned. "Yeah," he admits, "that's sort of true."

Nick looks pointedly at his watch, snug on the wrist not sporting the bracelet Joe buckled onto him months ago. "Twenty minutes before the ball drops, and we have to be down there for that. Just say what it is you want to say, Joe."

Joe chews on his lip, turning the words over in his head.

"Tell me," Nick insists softly, sliding a hand over Joe's shoulder.

"I... I wouldn't complain." It's the best he can come up with out loud to express that he totally doesn't mind Nick telling him what to do, that he likes it even, that he would probably do anything and everything Nick asked and definitely need to jerk off afterwards, no matter what it was, even if it was just Nick telling him he's going to let himself be kissed, like before.

Nick seems to get it, though, and he crowds Joe against the door again and Joe lets his mouth be claimed in something that totally, completely, tastes like approval and he thinks, Happy New Year to me.

*


It's February and they're in Nashville, and they're actually recording the EP. Except they've reworked a couple of the songs and somehow the songs turned out longer, and John Taylor is in the middle of telling Nick that even though there's only six, what they've laid down would definitely make an entire album.

Joe looks at Nick and Nick looks at Joe and Joe can see him running through their contract with Hollywood in his head. "I don't know if I want to sell it," Nick says finally.

"MySpace?" Joe suggests.

Nick smiles, clear and bright. "For free, if we can."

John is looking at them both like they're crazy, but Joe just grins at him and slaps him on the arm. He wants to walk over to Nick and pull him close but there are too many people around. "For free," he repeats.

*


They end up posting the songs online one at a time, rotating them in and out. Sometimes Joe sits at his laptop and hits refresh every few minutes, watching the play counts rise. Each spike in numbers makes his heart jump into his throat; thousands of people listening to him and Nick sing about love under the surface, about stealing time and touches, about letting everything melt away but that one person you truly need.

"Do you think anyone gets it?" he asks, his head on Nick’s lap on a hotel bed in Ohio. They’re doing a string of smaller venue fan-club-only dates. Kevin calls it their final bash, his wedding only three months away now. Nick calls it their last gasp, but only under his breath when Kevin’s out of earshot. Joe knows that the three of them are going to have to have a conversation soon about what will happen with the band, but they all keep putting it off. Even Nick, normally so strict about plans.

Before they’d left on the buses, just them and John and Garbo and Rob, their dad had pulled Joe aside and asked if there’d been any decisions yet. Joe and Nick had ended up using their new album to fulfill their contract with Hollywood even though they were giving most of it away for free online before the discs even went to the pressing plant. ("It’s our wedding present to you," Nick had told Kevin, "in case things… are over. I don’t want you to feel forced into making the last record with us if your heart is elsewhere," and Kevin’s eyes had looked a little damp as he’d hugged them both, not making any promises either way.) There was no more television show, they weren’t signed up for anything with Disney at all, and everything was so up in the air that Joe felt like he was floating.

"No, sir," he’d told his father, "but I’m sure we’ll come back with some choices made."

Before now, Joe had never been one to count down the days until Nick turned eighteen, but now he's got a separate calendar on his phone just for that. He still isn’t completely sure why he's keeping such exact track, except for how he knows it's because the very knowledge that Nick is, in the eyes of the law, completely free is something that part of Joe needs desperately.

"I don’t think anybody’s got a clue," Nick answers him. He slides his fingers through Joe’s waves, messy and damp from the post-show shower.

Joe yawns. "Good." He catches Nick’s other hand and starts rubbing the tension out of it, fingers, palm, wrist, forearm. Nick’s been drumming every song, every show, except for the numbers where Joe’s on tambourine or shaker duty. Joe had always loved the bigger crowds packing the arenas, had always fed off the energy, but he’s having fun doing this tour. There’s a little less pressure. He feels like there’s some more room to breathe.

There’s more time for just him and Nick, too. Their room always has two beds, but they only ever use one. The first night they’d been in a hotel, Nick had fallen asleep first, and Joe had curled next to him and thought, I don’t just love him, I’m in love with him, and what we’re doing is what people who are in love do.

"You’re quiet tonight," Nick says now.

"Just thinking."

They trade hands. "About?"

"How we need to sit down and talk about what’s coming next," Joe sighs. He considers it a personal victory when Nick only tenses slightly, instead of his entire body freezing up. Joe likes to think he’s been good for keeping Nick a little more relaxed than he’s been in the past.

Nick resumes playing with his hair. "I know."

"Soon," Joe presses.

"Tomorrow. We’ll do it tomorrow."

Kevin is probably asleep by now anyway, or talking to Danielle. Joe’s not exactly on top of all the wedding planning, but he’s at least sort of up to date, and there’s still enough things to do that Kevin and Danielle talk about it at least forty-five minutes a day. "I hope Kevin picks out decent tuxes for us," Joe says, and Nick laughs, not even bothering to ask why the sudden switch in topic.

They’re quiet another few minutes and then Nick says, "I think I’m done with the song for them."

"Really?"

"I had sort of set it aside for a while, but yeah."

Joe tips his head back, looking up at Nick, and Nick bends down for a kiss. It’s awkward but it still feels good. Joe reaches up and fists a hand in Nick’s shirt, trying to pull him closer, and Nick starts to laugh against his mouth. "Here, wait," he mumbles in between kisses, "let’s just -"

Joe turns around, straddling Nick's lap. "Better," Nick breathes, bringing their mouths together again. Joe smiles into the kiss, parting his lips to allow Nick's tongue access. How something can be so familiar and yet so thrilling to him still, he doesn't know. He sucks on Nick's bottom lip until Nick drops his head down, breathing hot and wet against Joe's neck. Joe works his fingers through Nick's hair, just barely holding as Nick first licks the heavy beat of his pulse, then sucks hard.

"Ungh," Joe gasps, his eyes closing and his hips rocking forward on their own.

"Keep still," Nick says.

But Joe's in a good mood and the press of his body against Nick's like this is making everything else drop away.

"I said, keep still." Nick's hands tighten almost painfully on his hips, squeezing hard.

"Can't I just rub against you like this until I come?" Joe whispers. "I want to." He opens his eyes again, takes in Nick's flushed face, the quick rise and fall of his chest. "That's not okay?"

"Can't you..." Nick pauses briefly, rubbing his thumb over what Joe is sure is a suck mark on his neck. "It feels good when I touch you, right?"

"Of course."

"Am I asking too much to be the one in control?"

"No," Joe replies with a frown. "You know I like it when you just - take from me. I like it a lot. It makes me, um. Feel like you want me."

Nick arches a single brow. "I do want you."

It takes Joe another few seconds to feel like he's caught on, which is dumb, because they've been doing this for months. "Oh. You - you want to be in control all the time."

Nick nods and sweeps his thumb back and forth over Joe's hip, dipping under the waistband of the pajama pants he's wearing. "And if you want something from me," he says, "ask for it."

Joe exhales and pretends it's not shaky in the slightest. "Should have just said that from the beginning."

Nick chuckles, low in his throat. "I'm glad we had this conversation," he says dryly. Then he slides his hands from Joe's hips to his ass and urges him forward. "Now you can do it," he murmurs. "Slowly."

Joe's mind is stuck on the feel of Nick cupping his ass, and how he wants that touch without fabric between them. "Can I take my pants off?" he asks, rocking just a tiny bit.

"No."

"Will you - will you -" this is going to be embarrassing, to pun himself out. "Put your hands down my pants?"

Nick grins and Joe feels his face get redder. "Smooth, Joseph," Nick says, then, "yes, I will."

And his hands slide exactly where Joe wants them, squeezing. Joe groans, and it's an extra effort to not buck his hips. Instead, he moves slowly, as Nick had requested, and the moan that escapes his brother is a most excellent reward. He sticks to that pace as Nick shifts just enough to line up his cock with Joe's through their pajamas.

"We're gonna make a mess," Joe murmurs, "if we stay - ungh - going like this."

"True," Nick says, and how does he manage to sound thoughtful at a time like this? Joe would really like to grind against him, and Nick seems to be expecting finesse. Joe's not sure he's capable of finesse right now. "So?"

"Mmm, 'kay." Nick pushes him back.

Joe shoves the worn pajamas down his thighs, gasping a little as the cool hotel air hits his dick. He waits for Nick to do the same, but Nick only tugs his down enough to free his cock, and Joe can see the elastic must be tight against the flushed base of it. Joe reaches down and swipes his thumb over the head, smearing the wetness there, and Nick hisses.

But he doesn't tell Joe to stop.

*


The trilling of Joe's phone wakes them before the alarm, and Joe has to untangle himself from Nick's embrace before he can even grope for it on the bedside table. It's their dad, and he says that the label is asking if they'll do a video for one of the tracks from Just Like People In Love.

"Let me talk to Nick, and we'll call you back," Joe promises.

The album officially drops in two weeks, but Nick had stated outright that he didn't want to do publicity for it during what might be the last tour for all three of them. Joe could remember the shock in Justin's face when Nick had said it. It had almost matched the shock on their father's.

They haven't been putting any of the new songs on the setlist for each night, at least not outright. Kevin has offered, but Nick always says no, this tour is for the three of them. But Joe checks their Twitter right before showtime, and if there's a recent request for "Stone Floors," Nick will play it solo at the very end, waiting almost until the crowd has started to wander out of the venue to take the stage again with just an acoustic guitar.

Joe looks at the clock. There's still ten minutes before they actually have to be up and moving, so he curls around Nick once more, pressing soft kisses to the back of his neck. "Who was on the phone?" Nick mumbles, reaching back with one hand to tangle his fingers through Joe's.

"Dad. Guess the label is asking if we'll do a video."

"Which song?"

"Any of them, I guess."

"Mmm."

Nick’s quiet then and Joe snuggles close, not thinking about it, until the alarm goes off for real and they stumble out of the bed to start getting ready for the day.

*


They’re in a nearly empty Waffle House, the three of them in a booth, the rest of the crew scattered throughout the dining room. Joe would really like to eat his chocolate chip waffles, he knows they’re very delicious, but Kevin’s got a sad, serious look on his face, and Joe’s stomach is tied in knots.

Nick doesn’t seem to be doing much better with his cheesesteak melt; Joe can tell he’s forcing himself to take every single one of the tiny bites that he is managing. And Kevin has eaten only one triangle of raisin toast.

"Well, let’s have this discussion, then," Nick says at last, pushing his plate away from him a little. "Kev?"

Kevin crumbles some crust between his fingers. "I’d like at least six months," he says, and he sounds so pained about it that Joe wants to hug him tight.

"Okay," Nick replies, and looks at Joe. "Joe?"

Joe shrugs and cuts a perfectly square bite of waffle that he just holds on his fork. He presses his leg against Nick’s under the table. "Six months."

Kevin looks like he doesn’t believe them. "Yeah?"

"Yeah," Joe says, and shoves the waffle into his mouth. He closes his eyes as he chews, because it is delicious, even if the plate is starting to get cold.

"But what are you guys going to do?" Kevin asks, because their parents will ask, because the label will ask, because everyone will ask.

Nick toys with the ketchup bottle for a minute, but seems to decide against putting any on his hash brown patty. "The only thing I know how to do."

Kevin turns his gaze to Joe, who shrugs again. "Whatever Nicky does, I’m in." There’s a sharp clatter of silverware and Joe realizes that Nick has dropped his fork on his plate. "What’s wrong?" he asks, wanting to reach out but stopping himself.

"You should do what you want to do, Joe." It’s Nick’s serious voice, all quiet and steely, and Joe can’t hide his flinch. "You should."

"But you know all I want -" He stops talking. He jerks his fork just barely in Kevin’s direction. This is not a conversation for them to be having here, in front of Kev, in front of anyone at all. Joe’s sort of gasping inside that Nick would bring it up at all, and he’s sure it shows in his face.

Kevin is looking between the two of them with a bewildered expression. "Guys?"

"Nothing," Nick snaps. There’s an angry, stormy set to his mouth that Joe would like nothing more than to smooth away with kisses. He doesn’t move. Nick stands up. "I’m going back to the bus."

"You should eat," Kevin says faintly, but Nick is already walking away.

Joe realizes he’s still holding his fork and sets it down. The waffles are a heavy lump in his stomach. Kevin turns to him, eyes questioning. "Before you ask," Joe says, "I don’t know, either."

"Bullshit."

"Fuck you," Joe mutters. It’s not something he says often and once it’s out there, he waits for Kevin to draw back, to look stung.

But he doesn’t. Instead, he looks Joe straight in the eye. "Look," he says firmly. "I don't even pretend to understand the relationship that you and Nick have anymore and I don't want to, so you don’t need to explain. Maybe you grew up a little or something." Joe makes a face at this and Kevin holds up his hand. "But, but, whatever’s changed, Joe, it seems better for you guys. The both of you have been, I don't know, more mellow, more cool, more awesome as people since Christmas than I've ever seen you, and I don't want you guys to lose that."

Joe feels small enough that he might slide off the bench and underneath the table. There’s no way that Kevin actually knows, he and Nick have been so careful when Kevin’s around. Maybe they finish each other’s sentences more than they used to, maybe Nick doesn’t complain as much at Joe’s ambush hugs, but Joe has thought about this. There’s no way Kevin would look for anything beyond brothers between them unless it was brought to his attention.

"Fix it," Kevin says. "I don’t want some dumb shit between the two of you messing up what’s left of this tour, and I definitely don’t want anything messing up the wedding."

"Yeah, because it’s all about you," Joe snaps.

Kevin lays some money on the table. "I’ll forgive you that, because you’re my brother and I love you," he says calmly. "But I mean it. Fix this." He leans forward a little, his gaze clear, and adds quietly, "You’ll miss him if you don’t."

That, Joe knows he’s right about.

He goes out to the bus and sees the curtain on Nick’s bunk is pulled tight. He hesitates a moment, almost reaching out to slide it back, but then he climbs into his own bunk. He slips his earbuds in and turns the volume on his iPod up as high as he can stand.

*


In the dressing room in Pittsburgh, Joe’s sitting cross-legged. His hands are loose on his knees, he’s breathing slowly in and out, he’s getting himself into the zone. He can hear the crowd out in the venue; they sound excited. It lifts his heart just enough. Behind him, Nick is picking out a quiet melody on his Gibson, and Kevin is re-lacing his shoes.

He hasn’t talked to Nick yet. They just keep passing each other, silent ships in the dark of night, and Joe feels like his skin is itching with the wait. He doesn’t know what’s holding him back. Why shouldn’t he want to do what Nick does? It’s how they’ve been operating since January, and Joe thought he’d really gotten the message across that he’s cool with it.

The melody stops, he hears Nick set the guitar aside, hears Kevin straighten up. It’s almost time.

Joe stands up and they all join hands. "Heavenly Father," Nick murmurs, "thank you for all you have given us. Thank you for our music, our family, friends and fans. Guide us to our best this night and each night that we have this chance you’ve blessed us with. Amen."

"Amen," Joe echoes.

"Living the dream," Kevin says, and they all high-five. "Pumped?"

Joe grins. "I’m pumped. Nicky?"

"Let’s do it."

On stage, they’re still in tune. Joe slings an arm around Nick’s shoulders as they sing hopeless, head over heels in the moment, and Nick smiles, still loose, not tensing up under Joe’s touch. As the song fades out and Nick lifts the guitar over his head, Joe leans into him. "Let’s talk later, okay?" he asks, lips on Nick’s ear to be close enough that he’s heard, and Nick nods, flashes him a tentative smile.

After the last song, Joe stands just off-stage and checks their Twitter on his phone, letting the screams and applause crash into him. Next to him, Nick is bouncing on his toes, buzzing with energy. "Are there requests?" he shouts in Joe’s ear, hooking his chin over Joe’s shoulder to look at the screen.

"There’s apparently a ‘Flowergirllover’ in the audience tonight, and she would die if we played 'Love Under the Surface,'" Joe shouts back. "No requests for 'Stone Floors,' though."

There’s no hesitation. "Let’s do it. You and me."

Joe blinks, sure he’s heard wrong. "What?"

"Let’s sing it!" Nick presses Joe’s guitar into his hands. Joe stares at him another second, then lifts it up, shielding their faces, and kisses him quick and hard.

The screaming and the clapping rise again as they walk back into the lights, one of the venue techs pulling two stools over for them to sit on. Joe sets a microphone in front of each and settles down, guitar across his lap, adjusting the mic to where he needs it. He glances at Nick, who flashes a smile so brilliant and rare that Joe can’t help his own.

"Tonight," Nick says to the crowd, "we’re going to play something new. Some of you might have heard it on our MySpace, it’s called 'Love Under the Surface,' and it’s on mine and Joe’s album that comes out next week." The applause is nearly deafening, and Joe’s heart slams against his ribs as Nick waits to talk again. "We’ve never done it live before, and we haven’t practiced. So if you know the words, I want you to sing along real loud, okay?"

The audience seems to agree with that, and they have to wait again. Joe leans in to the mic. "You haven’t seen the last of the brothers Jonas," he says. "Sing along, okay?"

Nick counts them in, and Joe finds he’s almost overwhelmed when he starts to sing I can count on one hand all the times I’ve said I need you but there’s love under the surface and the room full of beaming, excited faces knows every word and sings with them louder than Joe’s ever heard before.

*


"I’m sorry," Nick says, hours later, tangled together in Joe’s bunk as the bus rolls on towards Baltimore. "I was a dick, storming out like that."

Joe presses a kiss to his shoulder. "What were you even mad about? I couldn’t figure that out."

"I don’t want you to do things just because I want them. I want you to do the things you want to do, without… like, I don’t want you to change yourself so that we keep fitting together, if that makes sense."

"But that’s what I’ve always done."

"I know." Nick nuzzles close. "When I got sick, you stepped up. When I was stronger, you stepped back. But we’re – what we have, here, now, this – it’s not the band, it’s us, okay? And I – I don’t want it to be six months, a year from now, and you’re unhappy because you’re with me on my path instead of being on the path you truly want, in your soul. Even if you don’t know what it is right now."

His words are choppy and more than a little hesitant, but Joe’s finally getting it now. "Maybe I’m not on your path," he says. "Maybe I’m on my own, and it just… runs parallel to yours. You think that our paths can’t be parallel, or something?"

"That’s sorta deep, Joe."

"I can be philosophical."

"But can you spell it?"

"Shut up, jerkface." He mouths wetly along Nick’s cheek, just to be annoying, and Nick pushes on his face to make him stop. "Kevin says we’ve made each other better."

"What?"

"No, shut up, he doesn’t know. But after you got all mad and left the restaurant, he told me to fix whatever the problem was, because he likes that I’ve managed to make you relax a little." Nick snorts at this, and Joe can’t help but giggle. "And also because he didn’t want us to have some drama that would ruin his wedding."

Nick laughs then, his mouth open, his whole body shaking. Joe grins widely at him in the tiny space. "And, and, in hindsight, I find it hilarious that you stormed out of a Waffle House."

"I suppose it was sort of undignified," Nick says with a hiccup. Then he sighs. "You have, you know. Made me better."

Joe brushes their lips together lightly. "Same," he whispers. "So are we okay again? You still love me? Will you touch me now?"

"Yes, yes and yes," Nick says crisply, and Joe gives himself over.

*


"Strange poetry that you wouldn’t expect from two-thirds of the Jonas Brothers," Joe reads, the magazine curled in his hand. "You can’t help but think this is some sort of indie folk rock experiment for songwriter Nick Jonas, but as experiments go, we think it succeeds. And then they gave us, holy crap, three and a half stars out of five!"

"Sweet," Kevin sing-songs, and holds up his hands for high-fives.

Nick still looks sort of stunned, so Joe doubles up, smacking Kevin’s hands with both of his, then wrapping his arms around Nick. "Definitely nothing wrong with change," he whispers in Nick’s ear, and Nick hugs back, holding on tight.

*


Joe is pretty sure that they’ve rented out half of Bergen County for the wedding, if not all of it. The ceremony is tomorrow, and he, Nick and Frankie have just finished checking into the hotel and getting their bags up to their rooms. Their parents and Kevin have been in town for three days already, and Joe has gotten hugs and cheek pinches from about a dozen relatives while going from the lobby to the sixth floor.

"I will inspect our suits," he tells Nick after they’ve keyed into the room.

"And Frankie and I will go find Mom," Nick says. "C’mon, dude."

They leave and Joe hangs the garment bags in the closet, then flops down. He figures he’s got about two minutes before someone comes pounding on the door and then he won’t stop moving for at least the next thirty-six hours.

Nick comes back alone, and he’s leaning over Joe to kiss him when there’s a knock. They kiss anyway, fast and sweet, and then Nick opens the door. Joe doesn’t move from the bed.

It’s Kevin, announcing that he’s so nervous he’s going to throw up. "No, you’re not," Nick tells him, and sits down in front of Joe.

Joe loops his arms around Nick’s waist. He watches Kevin pace back and forth. "You’ll be fine, dude."

Kevin doesn’t pause. Nick twists around to grin at Joe and roll his eyes. "Really, Kev, sit down."

"I might barf on you," Kevin warns, but he sits down on the other bed. "So how was your flight?"

"Great, we slept the whole way," Joe says.

"And the video shoot?"

The video was just them and guitars, a stage and an actress in a white dress shadowy in the background. Nothing fancy. No pyrotechnics, no stunt doubles. Joe couldn't even remember the actress' name. "It was good," Nick answers. "Should be out in a few weeks."

Kevin smiles at them. "I'm really proud of you guys."

There's another knock then, and when Kevin goes to answer it, Joe presses a quick kiss to the curve of Nick's spine and sits up. "Showtime," he whispers. Nick nods, and they stand up.

*


Joe has a lot of experience with things that pass in a blur and moving so fast that there's little time for details, but somehow Nick has found enough of it to straighten both their ties at least fifteen times each. Joe slaps his hand away as they assemble in the lobby of the church. "Quit it," he whispers. Then he smiles at Danielle's cousin, who is his partner in walking up the aisle. She rolls her eyes at them. Joe is glad that no one in Dani's family is at all fazed by them.

All Joe manages to process of the first half of the ceremony is how hard Kevin is smiling. He and Nick are standing next to each other, so close that Nick only has to reach a tiny bit behind their backs to slide their hands together, hidden by their bodies and jackets. Joe can feel every change in Nick's grip as the minister talks of partnership and dedication, hard work and compromise, obedience and love. Most of all, love.

He remembers the right time to move forward and lay the rings in Kevin's outstretched palm, then returns to his place. Nick's hold is almost painful as they watch Dani move Kevin's purity ring to his other hand, and slip the wedding band on to his finger. Joe glances over and sees that Nick is biting hard on his bottom lip.

He makes a mental note to tell Nick, later, that he understands. That he feels the same way.

*


"Think we can sneak out?" Nick murmurs in his ear, reaching around Joe's body to grab his glass of Diet Coke from the table.

"Nope," Joe replies, debating the last chocolate-covered strawberry that's on his plate. "Not at all, Prez. Not a chance."

Nick drops into his chair, all easy and loose-limbed, his tie a mess. "Figures."

"Yup." He picks up the strawberry and takes a bite, slurping so the juice doesn't run down his chin. Nick makes a face, and Joe chews and grins.

"There's some strawberry in your - right here -" Nick bares his teeth and scratches at one.

Joe swipes it away with his tongue and glances out at the dance floor. It's a slow song winding down. Dani and Kev are wrapped in each other, and Joe can see his parents swaying together. He finishes the dessert as the song ends and another slow one starts up. He looks at Nick, the open collar of his shirt, the sleeves rolled to his elbows. The jacket's been off since before dinner.

"Hey, guys," Demi says, gliding to a stop in front of Joe, her black and gold dress shimmering. She holds her hands out to them. "Let's dance."

"To this?" Nick asks, frowning.

Demi nods and wraps her hand around Joe's tie, grabs Nick's hand. Joe laughs and lets himself be pulled out to the dance floor. Nick's a little more reluctant, but he comes too. It's a little awkward, figuring out how to arrange themselves, but they work it out. Joe wraps an arm around Demi's shoulders, and she slings her arms around their waists, and Nick ends up with his hand on the small of her back. The tip of his pinky finger brushes Joe's forearm. Joe curls his free hand around the back of Nick's neck.

She asks, "This works, right?", smiling hopefully. Joe nods and kisses her cheek, feather-light.

They stay out there for a handful of songs, then Nick catches Joe's eye and tips his head in the direction of the piano. Joe nods. He retrieves his guitar from behind the DJ's table, and sets a chair next to the piano. Nick settles on the bench. A couple of guests are staring, but not everyone has noticed yet what they're doing.

"You ready for this?" Joe asks.

Nick smiles and plays a few chords. That gets the attention of most of the room, and people turn to watch. Joe strums randomly for a moment, making sure he's in tune. "So, um," he says loudly, and guests stop talking. "In an effort to prove he is the bestest brother ever, Nicholas here wrote Kevin and Dani a song, just for this, and I sort of helped. We'd like to play it for them now." He smiles at Kev and Dani, still embracing on the dance floor. "We love you guys. Congratulations!"

He looks at Nick, who flashes him a smile. Then he takes a deep breath and starts the song, heart in his throat, threatening to obscure his voice, until Nick's piano comes in and lifts them both up.

*


Just as he'd dreamed back in November, the reception goes until the early hours of the morning. Joe can't help but yawn as they wave Danielle and Kevin off, the back of the limo proclaiming "Just Married" and trailing streamers.

In their room, he and Nick brush their teeth in companionable silence, then Joe hops in the shower for a few minutes. When he exits the bathroom, Nick is looking through the connecting door at Frankie asleep in the opposite room. "Guess that's it," he says wistfully, and closes the door with a gentle hand.

Joe flops ungracefully down onto the bed, holding back an appreciative moan for how comfortable and soft it is underneath his tired limbs. "There's nothing wrong with change," he tells Nick, just like he knew he would.

Nick looms over him. "I know," he whispers. "I'm gonna take a shower."

"'Kay."

Joe is still marveling at how nice it feels to be laying down when Nick comes back and climbs onto the bed next to him, laying his damp curls on the pillow next to Joe. His hand slides down Joe's arm to tangle their fingers together. "Are you that tired?" he breathes against Joe's neck. "I had plans for tonight."

"It's three in the morning," Joe replies, but he turns his head and lets Nick kiss him. "What kind of plans?" Nick hooks his leg over Joe's. "Oh, that kind."

"I won't push, if you're really that sleepy." It's said in a quiet voice, and Joe knows that Nick means it. But his skin is starting to buzz where Nick's knee is pressed against the inside of his thigh.

He turns a little, kisses the corner of Nick's mouth. "Mmm, what did you have in mind?"

Fingers tuck a small bottle into his palm, and Joe squints at it. "Oh," he breathes. Lube, it's lube. He knows what Nick wants, and he can't control the full-body shiver that sweeps through him, imagining Nick's fingers there, Nick inside of him. "Um."

"Only if you want to."

"I want."

Nick climbs all the way on top of him, his weight pressing Joe into the mattress. "I never want to hurt you."

"I know," Joe says. Nick kisses him, taking his time with it, sliding his hand up the inside of Joe's arm to hold Joe's wrist above his head. "I dreamed this," Joe whispers into Nick's mouth.

"Was it okay?"

"More than okay."

Nick's smile is all satisfaction. "Good." Then he slides down Joe's body, taking Joe's boxers with him as he goes, and before Joe can even tell him that he doesn't have to, takes the head of Joe's cock into his mouth.

Joe can't stop his body's arch off the bed and then Nick's arm is across his hips, holding him down. "Sorry, sorry," he breathes. "Feels so good, Nicky, can't believe you -" He knows he's babbling but he can't stop, the heat and wet making him ready to promise eternal love and undying affection if only so Nick won't stop. "Where did you learn how to do this?" he gasps as Nick takes him even further into his mouth and sucks.

Nick pulls back and all of Joe aches with disappointment. He watches Nick wipe his mouth with the back of his hand, and that shouldn't be hot, but it is. "Internet," Nick says. That also shouldn't be hot, but the idea of Nick watching blowjob videos to learn the technique is simultaneously hilarious and so, so ridiculously a turn-on for Joe that he can't speak, just groans. Through half-closed eyes he sees Nick grin. "Glad you approve."

Silently he pulls his knees up and hears the pop of the lube cap. It's wrong, how much he wants this, but he doesn't care. There's a pulsing, aching need inside of him right now that nothing but Nick can calm.

The first touch is tentative, just a drag of fingertips, but the second is a little more bold, and Joe can't stop his whine as Nick circles the entrance to his body, smearing the lube around, his touch growing more confident by the second. Joe digs his heels into the bed and says, "Do it, c'mon."

"You'll tell me if it hurts?"

"Yeah, come on." Joe reaches down to stroke his cock, building the feeling up again. Nick is kneeling between his legs, his own cock flushed and hard against his thigh, and Joe wonders for a second just when he got naked. Then Nick is pressing a finger into him and he takes a slow breath and tells his body to relax, to open up, it's just Nick, who you love and trust and who will make this amazing. And Joe's gonna chalk it up to hormones and pheremones or whatever as his body listens to what he says, gasping a little as Nick works his finger in and out, slowly, running his other hand up and down Joe's thigh.

"Okay?" Nick whispers. "Can I do another?"

Joe nods, and this time he really feels the stretch but it's good, it's good. Then Nick crooks his fingers a tiny bit and rubs something inside of Joe that makes him keen high and breathless, distracts him somewhat from the third finger that Nick adds with almost agonizing slowness and lots and lots of lube. Joe's rocking his hips without realizing, hands fisted in the sheets. It doesn't hurt anymore, he feels full and stretched and fantastic, so he tries to make his mouth say, "Now, Nicky, please," and hopes what comes out makes actual sense.

It must, because Nick's fingers slip out of him. But it's only a few seconds of feeling empty before he feels the heat of Nick's cock, the push, the slide. "Oh, God," Nick pants in his ear, on top of him now, inside all the way, "it's - Joe, you're - I'm not gonna last."

"Doesn't matter," Joe manages to say. He tries to lift one leg and wrap it around the back of Nick's leg, and it sort of works but he gets completely distracted by the way it changes the angle of Nick's thrust, makes him hit that spot he'd found with his fingers, and Joe can't reach down to wrap a hand around his own dick fast enough. Two quick strokes and he's coming, a hot white flash that lights up every nerve from the bottoms of his feet to the top of his head, and Nick keeps fucking him through it. There's a few seconds where Joe feels boneless and melted, loving how each thrust pins him to the bed, and it's almost as good a feeling as his orgasm. Then Nick is coming, driving into him hard, Joe's name on his lips.

Neither of them move for such a long time that Joe is about to fall asleep still spread out and sticky underneath his brother, but then Nick crawls off of him and collapses on the sheets. Joe moves his hand a tiny bit, touches his fingertips to Nick's hip, and half-sighs, half-yawns.

"Are you okay?" Nick says, muffled by the pillows.

"I'm awesome."

"Really?"

"Honestly."

Nick turns over and gropes until he finds Joe's left hand. Without a word, he pulls off Joe's ring and replaces it with his own, then slides Joe's where his had been. "I never want to stop loving you," he says finally.

Joe wiggles close, kisses Nick's neck. "I'm pretty sure we can find some girls to be our decoy girlfriends," he whispers. "I think Demi would be up to it if we asked nicely."

Nick chuckles, but he doesn't laugh. "I'm serious."

Joe looks into his eyes. "Me too, Nick. Me too."

*


"That's a stupid idea," Nick says, eight hours later, as they're boarding the plane.

"Your face is stupid."

"Your mom is stupid."

Joe punches his shoulder. "You can't make your mom jokes when our mom is the same mom," he laughs.

Nick rubs his face tiredly but gives him a small smile. "'Spose you're right."

They find their seats. Nick asks the attendant for an orange juice. "You don't think it's a good idea?" Joe continues.

"You want to move out of the house, for real," Nick says.

"Yes."

"It's stupid because Mom and Dad are going to hate it."

Joe shrugs. "And?"

"Thanks," Nick says to the attendant as she passes him the bottle of juice. He cracks it open and takes a sip.

Joe slips his feet in and out of his flip-flops for a few seconds. He's tired and his entire body aches, but it's a good ache. He doesn't want to go home. He's pretty sure that moving out would be a good thing for him. Most twenty-year-olds don't live with their parents, and he says as much.

"Most twenty-year-olds aren't Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, and they don't have our parents," Nick points out.

"Just because Kevin didn't move out until... now," Joe grumbles. There are movers at the Dallas house this very minute, packing up Kevin's stuff to haul it to the house he'd purchased a few miles away. "Besides, if I move out, that means you can basically move out, too."

"And break Mom's heart."

"You'll be eighteen in, like, sixty-three days."

Nick raises an eyebrow. "Keeping track, huh, Danger?"

"Our lives aren't ever going to be what they want for us, not now," Joe says quietly. He twists Nick's ring on his finger.

"Then the best we can do is pretend for them, just a little bit longer."

He wants to hold Nick's hand, but they're on an airplane that hasn't finished boarding, and people are still coming in and out of the first-class cabin. "Why are you always so right all the time?" he asks, and Nick smirks. "I suppose another few months isn't going to make much of a difference."

"Let them get used to Kevin being gone before we go too," Nick says. "Because when you go, I am too. I don't to be where you're not."

Plane be damned, Joe slides an arm around Nick's shoulders and hugs him, fingers curling in Nick's hair. Then the seatbelt light goes on and the captain's announcements start, and they buckle up for takeoff.

*


In San Diego, backstage at the House of Blues, the petite brunette interviewer asks, "So what's next for the Jonas Brothers?" and gives them both what Joe is sure is her most polite smile.

"Well," Nick says, "as you might know, our older brother Kevin got married a few months ago. So we agreed that he could take as much time as he wanted. We're not sure what direction the band is headed in right now, and it's cool, as long as Kev is happy. We'd been going non-stop for a long time, and as much as Joe wants you to think otherwise, he's not actually the Energizer Bunny."

Joe gives the woman his best smile.

"And you and Joe have released an album, right? SPIN magazine called it, and I quote, 'one of the best releases of the year so far,' and your video for 'Things Upside Down' has been in constant rotation on MTV." She smiles winningly again.

"That's right," Joe says. "It was just a small personal project, and we've been really overwhelmed by how much people like it."

"Any plans for a follow-up?"

Joe looks over at Nick and they both shrug. "We're taking it one day at a time," Nick tells her.

"One day at a time," Joe echoes with a grin.

She thanks them and leaves. Joe unscrews the cap from his water bottle and takes a long drink, then calls out to Jesse, "How many more?"

"That's the last one!" Jesse calls back, laughing. "There were only three of them, Joe, and you've done this before with like, twenty. This tour has ruined you."

"Spoiled," Nick says, shaking his head. "It's spoiled him."

"Got all your stuff?" Rob asks, looking around the dressing room as they shoulder their backpacks and nod. "Good, let's move."

The dark SUV is waiting just outside the stage door, and they climb in. As they drive away from the venue, he can see the crowd still standing on the sidewalk. People scream as they fly past and he grins at Nick. "Still can't believe we're selling out these shows, huh, Prez?"

Nick leans back against the seat. "It's pretty wild," he admits. "Tonight was good. It's always awesome when the whole audience sings 'Happy Birthday' to you. And the venue gets you a cake you can't eat." He smiles lazily at Joe and Joe knows he doesn't care about the cake.

"At least none of the interviewers asked what your birthday plans were. Although I could have told them we were going to IHOP for pancakes."

"Mm, I could eat some waffles right now, but really, my plans are things that couldn't be printed anyway," Nick murmurs. Joe shivers and Nick flashes him a smile, then lays his arm across the back of the seat, fingertips just barely brushing Joe's neck.

*


The last night of tour, Joe falls asleep on the couch in the dressing room, and dreams: a light, airy place, high enough that there's a view of... something out the windows. Might be mountains, he's not sure. It's a little blurry, but what's not is Nick, walking through the rooms, in a fluffy bathrobe with wet hair. "Joe," he would say, "it's real."

Joe wakes up to John Taylor shaking his shoulder and holding out a can of Coke, saying he's got half an hour, doesn't he want to get ready? "Thanks, man," Joe says, taking the soda. "Where's Nick?"

"Hovering sidestage, watching Demi." Having her open for them the last few shows had been Nick's idea; it's just her and a piano, and Joe makes a lot of Tori Amos jokes, but the audience response has been great.

He thanks John again and goes to find his brother. Demi's covering "It's Oh So Quiet," and a hush has fallen over the crowd. It's dark where they're standing but Nick's white t-shirt stands out. Joe links their hands together and squeezes. Nick gives him a small smile.

"I had a dream," Joe says, leaning in so his mouth is close to Nick's ear.

Nick looks at him in surprise, just as the song ends and the audience erupts into screams and applause. He's still staring at Joe when Demi comes running offstage, aiming towards them and hugs. Joe catches her around her waist and holds her tight for a second. "You are awesome," he shouts in her ear.

She grins hugely and takes the can from his hand, drinks the rest of his Coke, then goes back into the lights.

Nick's hand falls on his shoulder. "About what?" he yells.

"Movin' out!" Joe shouts back, and gives Nick a thumbs up.

Nick smiles, a little hopeful. "Come on, we should get ready."

*


It doesn't go well, but it doesn't go terribly, either. Their dad looks enraged at first, relaxing gradually into irritated, and finally grudging acceptance. Their mom just looks sad the whole time they're explaining that they want to move out, sitting around the kitchen table. More than once, she reaches over to squeeze their hands. "Just because you're old enough, doesn't mean you have to move out," she says. "We're not the kind of parents to kick their kids out once they're adults. You know that, boys."

"I know, Mom," Nick says, patting her hand. "But me and Joe won't be alone. We'll be together, and that's better, right?"

"We could move to a smaller place, Denise," their dad says.

Joe is pretty sure their dad is refusing to meet his eyes, like he's disappointed in the decision of his twenty-one-year-old son to go out on his own. "Dad," he says, suddenly uncomfortable, "you understand, don't you?"

"What I understand, Joseph, is that you're an adult, and when I told you last Christmas that I trust you to take care of Nicholas, I meant it." Joe nods. His father hesitates for a second, then holds out his hand. Joe accepts the handshake, squeezing tight. "So," and his dad's all business now, "have you found a place? Are you going to rent a place, or buy a house? It's a good investment."

Joe pulls out the printouts he and Nick have gathered, properties that look interesting all over the country. "We like Dallas," he says, wanting to avoid hurting them any more than he already has, "but we like California, too, and this place -" he shuffles through the stack, reminding himself not to say we so much, "this place I can see myself living in, you know?"

He hands the sheet to his mom first. "It's in Beverly Glen," Nick tells her, "and it's only like, twenty minutes on the 101 from our other house."

"It looks promising," their mom says softly. "Those high, wide windows are beautiful. They'll let in a lot of sunlight."

It's probably as close to acceptance as they're going to get. Joe presses his thigh against Nick's underneath the table. Then the doorbell rings, and he hears Frankie opening it, hears Kevin and Danielle's voices. He looks at Nick, smiles, nods. He knows why they're here.

As their parents get up from the table, Joe leans in close. "You sure you want to move cross-country now that we're going to be uncles?" he whispers.

"I'm sure," Nick replies, and Joe sees him glance around to make sure the kitchen is empty of everyone but them before pressing a lightning-fast kiss to Joe's mouth.

It's easy to pretend he's surprised when Kev and Dani tell them the news. He hugs Kevin so tightly that Kevin's feet come off the ground, hugs Dani a little bit looser. "You sure didn't waste any time, you dog," he says to Kevin.

"Joe!" his mom admonishes, but everyone is happy and smiling, and the fact that Joe and Nick are the disappointing sons is forgotten in the excitement. Joe offers to drum up drinks and some snacks, and enlists Frankie's help in going back and forth to and from the kitchen.

Kevin and Danielle stay well into the night, and Frankie falls asleep on the couch with his head in Nick's lap before anyone even mentions that it's late.

"So you gave Mom and Dad the big news, huh?" Kevin says quietly, perching on the arm of the chair that Joe's occupying.

Joe told Kevin almost as soon as he and Nick had made up their minds. "Yup."

"And?"

"They took it pretty well," Joe replies with a shrug. "I think we're going to buy the place in California."

"You mean, you're going to buy it, and Nick's gonna live with you."

"Um. Yeah."

Kevin clinks their soda glasses together. "You should make him pay rent," he says with a chuckle.

Joe looks at Nick talking to Dani, his hand absently petting Frankie's face, and decides he's calling the real estate agent first thing tomorrow and putting in a bid. He loves it here but he can't wait to leave.

*


In Los Angeles, they drop their parents and Frankie off at the airport early on a Tuesday morning, so early the sun has just made its presence known, a brilliant hot orange glow along the horizon. "Gonna be a scorcher today, I think," Joe says, navigating Nick's car away from the curb and back out into traffic. "At least we can make it home without getting caught in a jam, I think."

And sure enough, traffic picks up on their way back to the house, but not so bad that the sun is fully up by the time Joe throws it back into park in the driveway.

The house is set back from the road a ways, a single-story structure. Joe likes to call it sprawling, but it's not even close to what the Dallas house is. It's all pale brick and slate, except for the door painted as green as Nick's guitar. "I could carry you over the threshold," he offers as they go up the main walk.

"No," Nick says with a grin.

Joe unlocks the door and they go into the cool air, kicking their shoes off. Nick turns to him with a finally-we're-alone expression, and crowds Joe up against the wall. It's a messy, desperate kiss and Joe holds on to Nick's shoulders, parting his lips to let Nick's tongue sweep inside.

"Our house," he murmurs when he can speak again. "C'mon, I'm hungry."

Nick presses a kiss to the underside of Joe's chin. "There's nothing to eat but leftover takeout; we need to get groceries."

"Where is there a grocery store around here?"

"We'll have to figure it out," Nick says. "Also, the cooking that comes after the shopping."

"Maybe we should just move back in with Mom and Dad," Joe teases, and that gets him pushed up against the wall again, Nick leaning against him with his entire body. He grins. "I'll take that as a no."

"That's definitely a no." Nick nudges Joe's feet apart with his own, sliding his thigh between Joe's thighs. "We couldn't do this at home."

Joe gasps as the firm pressure, not quite enough to be painful, but Nick is definitely leaning into it. "That's true," he manages to say, and Nick's smile is barely a flash before their mouths collide, hot and desperate, Nick's tongue inside before Joe can think, lightning-quick over his teeth. He clutches at Nick's shoulders, hard, and Nick's hands dig into his waist. They were always so careful about bruises before, but Joe knows they can get away with it, at least for a little while. Until they have to leave the house.

"So we're not going to get groceries?" he pants, when he's capable of speech again.

"Fuck, no," Nick growls and Joe shudders, that word coming out of Nick's mouth.

Kisses descend down his neck, then Nick is pulling at the collar of his shirt to suck on his collarbone, and Joe would be writhing at this but he's sort of pinned to the wall. "You're gonna fuck me right now, Nicky, please, right?"

Nick pulls back. His face is red, his hair a mess, his mouth swollen. Joe loves every single cell of him so much he thinks he might drown in it, and he holds his breath until Nick says, "We've got to christen our house, right? What room would be unconventional?"

All of this is unconventional, Joe thinks, reaching for Nick's fly. Right where they're at is fine with him. "Lube?" he asks, around his tongue thick with want.

Nick pulls a tiny tube of it from his pocket. Joe wonders where he buys it without anyone seeing. "Don't ever say I'm unprepared," Nick says, and Joe would laugh but he's too turned on; he wants Nick's hands all over him and is willing to let Nick fuck him right here on the stone floor of the foyer. He frees Nick's cock, wrapping his hand around it, stroking firmly until Nick bites his already-red lips and pushes Joe even more against the wall for a second longer before letting go completely, unbuttoning and unzipping Joe's jeans and shoving them down along with his boxer-briefs. Joe kicks free and sends the clothes sliding across the floor.

Nick palms his cock briefly, then pushes on his shoulder. "Hands and knees," he says harshly, and Joe drops immediately, setting his knees wide apart. Nick's hand is hot on his back. There's a noise that has to be him ripping the top off the little lubricant thing with his teeth, and then his slick fingers are pressing in just where Joe needs. But only briefly, only enough to make sure Joe is wet, and then Joe feels the steady push of Nick's cock inside.

His hands are flat on the floor, but there's nothing to grab on to and his palms are sweaty. Nick moans something that he can't make out and he just whimpers in reply, little stars already exploding fiercely behind his eyelids.

"Love you," he chokes out. "More - more than - anything."

He feels Nick's hands skid a little on his hips, then fingertips dig in hard. "Joe," Nick is chanting, "Joe, Joe, yes -"

"Harder," Joe begs, as the stone surface digs into his knees, and Nick thrusts harder; he's hitting Joe's prostate now with every thrust.

Joe's got enough thought left in him to hope it's like this always, and then Nick is shouting his name, and, oh God, this half-strangled moan he can hear can't be coming from his own throat, can it, no, yes, yes. It's stopping him from breathing, fuck, he never lasts long like this, and it all explodes into red and white and love.

When it fades and Joe can open his eyes, it's to the sight of Nick laying next to him on the floor on his back, breathing heavily. Joe reaches out to touch his face. "Hey."

"We haven't even lived here a full forty-eight hours and we already need to scrub the floor," Nick groans. Joe starts to laugh, laughs until he can't hardly breathe again. Nick is poking him in the side. "Stop laughing at me, you jerk."

Joe peels himself off the gross floor only to collapse back down, on his side this time. Nick reaches out, traces the marks on Joe's chest while they lay there quietly for a while. Then he stops suddenly and stares at Joe. "I can't believe we got away with it," he says, like it's only just occurred to him.

Joe's been thinking that since the Mustang pulled away from the airport curb. That, and how he got lucky enough to have Nick love him like this. Joe's seen those movies. It never ends like this, not when the person you're in love with is your own flesh and blood. "I think I owe you a thousand bucks," he says. Nick laughs, shakes his head. Joe lifts a hand to tangle in Nick's hair and murmurs, "I never did dream how this ends."

"And you won't," Nick says passionately. As if his sheer force of will could completely stop Joe from dreaming the future ever again. Nick has done just about everything else with such a wicked determination that Joe, as he gets up off the floor of this house that is theirs, doesn't doubt for a second that he could.
There are 47 comments on this entry. (Reply.)
mediaville: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] mediaville at 03:28am on 06/08/2009
WHAT. WHO ARE YOU? HOW ARE YOU SO AWESOME?

This is amaaaaaaaazing! I am, I don't even know what to say! Such a beautiful story, and so HOT, with this subtle D/S dynamic between the boys.

I LOVE YOU.
 
posted by [personal profile] lake_fic at 05:13pm on 06/08/2009
Thaaaaaank you! :-)
 
posted by (anonymous) at 05:08am on 06/08/2009
WHERE DID YOU EVEN COME FROM?!?!?!

This. Is amazing. You've captured the essence of Nick and Joe perfectly. GOD. SO HOT.
 
posted by [personal profile] lake_fic at 05:13pm on 06/08/2009
Hee! Thank you!
 
posted by (anonymous) at 06:48am on 06/08/2009
sorry to be anon, i dont have an account. im ginevracullen on lj. this has to be the best nick and joe story i have ever read. it was epic and beautiful. thank you so much.
 
posted by [personal profile] lake_fic at 05:13pm on 06/08/2009
Thanks!
 
posted by (anonymous) at 09:18am on 06/08/2009
(sorry to be anon, I'm ashavahishta on LJ) This is just so, so good. You write these boys beautifully together, I adore the slight dom/sub feel to the relationship, I love how you used the Joe-sees-the-future thing sparingly and not as the focus of the story. Can't wait to see more from you in the future, you rock.
 
posted by [personal profile] lake_fic at 05:14pm on 06/08/2009
Thank you!
liketheroad: (climb every mountain)
posted by [personal profile] liketheroad at 04:41pm on 06/08/2009
God, I don't even know how to talk about this right. It was so powerful, so beautifully written and perfectly balanced. I feel like it's the Joe/Nick story my heart has dreamed of for months and I'm just so awed and grateful to have been able to read it. I love your Nick so much, his calm, his control, all funneled into his need for Joe. I love Kevin, and the way Joe dreams of his happy future and is so comforted by it. I love that you gave them a HOUSE and a HOME and space to be together. I love everything, I will read this over and over. Thank you for sharing.
 
posted by [personal profile] lake_fic at 05:14pm on 06/08/2009
Thank you!! I enjoy your fic as well so this comment means a lot to me. :-)
liketheroad: (also into cats)
posted by [personal profile] liketheroad at 05:23pm on 06/08/2009
:D that's nice to hear! Are you new to JB or have I just missed you cause you're on DW? (I guess I'm pretty new too, still...)
 
posted by [personal profile] lake_fic at 05:32pm on 06/08/2009
No, I'm new! I have a LJ and everything but I didn't want to use it for posting fic, but I've got an unlocked DW at [personal profile] lakeeffectgirl (same on LJ) where there's some Jonas blabber.
jazzish: (JoBros: pretty brothers)
posted by [personal profile] jazzish at 04:50pm on 06/08/2009
Like everyone else, I'm just wondering WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE (or at least my JB fandom experience)? This is such a beautiful, quiet story. I absolutely loved reading it.

I'd like it if their career went like it did in this fic. No longer for Disney, in smaller venues, not overproduced, etc.

Anyway, this was amazing.
 
posted by [personal profile] lake_fic at 05:15pm on 06/08/2009
Thank you! My own JB fandom experience has really only been happening for a month or so.
thisissirius: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] thisissirius at 09:23pm on 06/08/2009
I feel like you are going to get tired of the WHO ARE YOU comments but WOAH. You have come out of NOWHERE and stolen the show! This is amazing! Your Nick and Joe are perfect and the way they are with each other and with other people just hits you in all the right places.

AMAZING ♥
lakeeffectgirl: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] lakeeffectgirl at 02:30am on 07/08/2009
Best comment ever! Thank you!
 
posted by (anonymous) at 08:21am on 07/08/2009
this was absolutely AMAZING. my god! you wrote both characters beautiful and even elaborated on their history's and futures. i absolutely adored this. you did an amazing job and you're an amazing writer. <3
lakeeffectgirl: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] lakeeffectgirl at 12:03pm on 07/08/2009
Thank you!
quizzical: swirly tree with primary colours (Default)
posted by [personal profile] quizzical at 10:27am on 07/08/2009
i only dabble in jonas land thanks to the efforts of liketheroad. she recommended this one very highly, and i'm glad i listened.

what a great piece. it hit all the right spots emotionally. the timing and dialogue were really smooth. the precognition stuff was believable. the sex was hot and touching at the same time.

thanks so much for posting.
lakeeffectgirl: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] lakeeffectgirl at 12:03pm on 07/08/2009
Thanks for the comment! :-)
 
posted by (anonymous) at 02:19pm on 07/08/2009
Loved it!
lakeeffectgirl: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] lakeeffectgirl at 02:26pm on 07/08/2009
Thank you!
th_esaurus: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] th_esaurus at 07:21pm on 07/08/2009
This was rec'd by just about everyone whose opinion I value, and I'm SO GLAD I READ IT. Amazing. Really, really amazing. Your Joe is stunning and this has such a real feel to it. And, god, the suble D/s thing? I did not expect that working so well as it did. You absolutely deserve all the praise you're getting for this.
lakeeffectgirl: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] lakeeffectgirl at 07:23pm on 07/08/2009
Thank you!!
 
posted by (anonymous) at 05:03am on 08/08/2009
This was phenomenal! I absolutely loved your portrayal of Nick and Joe, and I hope to read more from you in the future. Truly a treat. <3!
lakeeffectgirl: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] lakeeffectgirl at 03:48am on 09/08/2009
Thanks!!
smithereen: (big rob has his eye on you)
posted by [personal profile] smithereen at 03:33am on 16/08/2009
I've been hearing all these good things about this fic, and I finally had a chance to read it, and everyone was RIGHT. It's fab. I just love how subtle the dream part of it is, and how organically you wove that in. I love Joe's reaction to the dream kiss. And I love how you evolve their relationship over the line. And I love that all this upheaval and uncertainy in their lives that's tied up in Kevin and what happens with the band makes them cling tighter to each other. I love the way you evolve their career along with their relationship. It's just really great emotionally resonant writing, and such a good job with the boys and their relationship. And so overflowing with need. And love. And neeeeeed. Awesome job!
lakeeffectgirl: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] lakeeffectgirl at 03:36am on 16/08/2009
\o/ Thank you!!
 
posted by (anonymous) at 10:41pm on 09/09/2009
This is quite possibly the best story, EVAR. It has everything. I love it. I want to marry it and have babies with it.

You are a goddess. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.
lakeeffectgirl: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] lakeeffectgirl at 01:57am on 10/09/2009
Hahaha, thank you!!!!!
 
posted by (anonymous) at 04:53pm on 20/09/2009
PERFECT
WOW
I LOVE YOU



...
WOW
lakeeffectgirl: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] lakeeffectgirl at 03:31am on 22/09/2009
<3 Thanks!
itsthedetails: teen!S&D_Walking to School (teen!S&D_Walking to School)
posted by [personal profile] itsthedetails at 04:13am on 25/09/2009
Wow, this is fantastic. Lovely writing, you captured Nick and Joe so perfectly.
 
posted by [personal profile] lake_fic at 01:52pm on 25/09/2009
Thank you!!
 
posted by [personal profile] apicturewithbooks at 05:08am on 02/10/2009
Simlpy stunning. I am very new to this fandom and I am so glad I stumbled upon this glorious fic. You've just earned yourself a devoted reader!
lakeeffectgirl: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] lakeeffectgirl at 02:19pm on 02/10/2009
Thank you!!
 
posted by (anonymous) at 05:25am on 30/03/2010
This is such a wonderful story! You are quite a talented writer. :)
 
posted by (anonymous) at 02:11pm on 09/04/2010
I loved each and every word. A lot.
Thanks for sharing such a great epiclove!fic! *-*
auroraprimavera: Michelle Monaghan (Default)
posted by [personal profile] auroraprimavera at 03:11am on 12/08/2010
I'm not in this fandom at all - but a friend recced this and I'm so glad I read it. Beautiful story and the relationship between them is awesome. Great work :D
 
posted by (anonymous) at 03:16am on 10/09/2010
God, such a clever plot. The pit of my stomach kept tightening from excitement while reading. Absolutely amazing =]
 
posted by (anonymous) at 01:38am on 03/11/2010
This was so good! Quiet and dreamy and lovely, with a slow, simmering build -- I didn't know how much I wanted this until I found it. Thank you.
 
posted by (anonymous) at 10:00am on 03/02/2011
So, um, I have no idea how to work this site, and I don't know if you ever check the comments, or if it sends you notifications or anything like that. But, I really felt the need to comment. I normally write and read Joick (Joe/Nick) stories on YouTube, and my friend gave me the link to this story, and told me to go check it out, because it was her favorite story ever. So I did. I spent hours today, just reading this on and off. (Because we didn't have school today. :D) And honestly, that was absolutely amazing. I have no idea how to make sure you read this comment except for sheer hope that you do.
Anyway.
I freaking love this so much! Everything about it is perfect! I love your style of writing, and since I'm kind of speechless right now, I don't really know what else to say besides I thoroughly enjoyed this. And keep being amazing. :)
 
posted by (anonymous) at 04:26pm on 16/05/2011
This is honestly the best thing I've ever read in my entire life, okay?
 
posted by (anonymous) at 07:22am on 18/03/2012
gets better every time.
 
posted by (anonymous) at 12:08pm on 31/05/2012
This is such an awesome. Real life should be like this, I love it.

~Natali
 
posted by (anonymous) at 12:01am on 14/04/2013
Write more!!!
 
posted by (anonymous) at 05:45pm on 24/07/2013
I wish people would start writing Joick again. Forget Janda. I wanna see the Joick sex tape.

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