Taking the Heat
Chris was in Nick's kitchen, playing with the ice machine. For some reason, Nick hadn't felt it necessary to invest in central air, and Chris was moments from passing out and hitting his head on Nick's very expensive kitchen counter. Not a good idea, considering it would most likely keep him from getting laid. And he desperately wanted to get laid.
The ice machine was making strange, grinding noises that didnít sound too healthy. Chris was good at fixing those kinds of things; he had his own personal touch that seemed to work every time. He slammed his fist into the machine and winced when it made a loud crunching noise before an avalanche of ice cubes exploded onto the shiny tiled floor.
Chris's jaw dropped as he stared stupidly at Nick's busted machine. Oops. The sound of little feet caught his attention and he turned to find Nick's pug staring up at him with the same "nice going, asshole" look Kariya liked to give him.
"Don't tell Nick," Chris whispered to the dog who just stared up at him with big, unblinking eyes. "Good. Glad we understand each other," Chris muttered and crouched down to pick up the ice. When the last cube was melting in the drain, sweat was dripping down Chris's neck and his t-shirt was stuck to his chest. Chris stared dejectedly at the ice machine. Maybe Nick wouldn't notice. Or, Chris could just blame it on the dog.
A drop of sweat dripped disgustingly off the end of his nose. With the relative blitheness of someone who has another four hours to come up with a better excuse, he stopped staring at the ice machine and gazed instead at the ice in the sink. If the sink were any bigger or if he were any smaller, he'd probably be rolling in it right now.
Then again...Nick's house might lack certain basic amenities, but it did have both hot and cold running water. Chris padded out of the kitchen. The dog watched him go disapprovingly.
Midway up the stairs, he had the thought that he could collapse right there and wait for Nick to come home, in the hopes that seeing him so obviously suffering would prompt Nick to do the right thing and buy an air conditioner. He decided against it, though. In the first place, Nick wasn't due back for hours--by that time he could be suffering from actual heat exhaustion if he didn't cool off somehow. In the second, shock tactics like that had no place in a relationship.
Or rather, he amended to himself, they had no place in the interim period between fuck buddies and...something else. Maybe. Nick hadn't officially declared his intentions yet.
In any case, the faking of potentially serious illnesses was better kept among either friends or boyfriends, but not people who were contemplating making the leap from one to the other.
Chris turned on the cold water faucet, added a splash of the hot so that he wouldn't give himself heart failure, and slid into blessedly cool water. The last time he could remember feeling this good was at Justin's house--kept at pleasantly sub-zero temperatures--the day before last. Well, barring the blowjob Nick had given him that morning, which had admittedly been very hot and sweaty, but still felt better than Justin's air-conditioning. As had yesterday's sex, for that matter, Nick's body golden and slippery in the heat.
Chris's dick whimpered pathetically in the cold water and he gave it a little pat. There'd be time enough to get hard when Nick came home. The water was nearly to his shoulders, now--Nick's tubs were all big enough to fit him comfortably, which meant that Chris could practically do laps in them--so he turned off the tap with his toes and lay back with a sigh.
If Nick weren't such a freak, Chris could be out in his pool right now. But Nick apparently used the money he saved economizing on the central air (or lack thereof) to keep the pool at a balmy 92 degrees year-round. Of course, it wasn't as though Nick couldn't afford it, and for that matter heating the pool in the summertime probably took less energy than a 60-watt lightbulb, but Chris felt very strongly that there was a principle involved. Namely, that summer in Florida was obviously the work of Satan, and heating any part of it up further was a crime punishable by death.
Unless you were a really hot, blond popstar, in which case your punishment was a lot of sweaty sex. He hadn't actually told Nick the reason why he was obligated to sex Chris up on demand, but then so far Nick hadn't tried to weasel out of his obligation, so it was all good. Especially the sex, which was very, very good indeed.
Chris jerked awake, splashing tepid water over the side of the bathtub. "Nick, hi. Have you been in the kitchen yet?"
Nick stared at him. "I put my keys on the counter like I always do. Why?"
He shrugged vaguely. "I thought I heard a noise coming from there a while ago. Must have been the dog."
"Yeah, probably. What are you doing sleeping in the tub, anyway? Are you completely stupid?"
Chris relaxed a bit. So that was the reason behind the worried note in Nick's voice. One of the legacies of being the oldest kid was that you never got over the urge to protect people from certain things. Chris was scared of heights for everybody, not just himself, and he found himself pitching a fit anytime one of the others was careless and burned himself cooking. Nick's issues were household cleansers and drowning.
"It's not like I did it on purpose, Nick, I must have just dropped off. I honestly didn't think I was tired when I started my bath."
"Yeah, whatever. Just be more careful, okay? Besides, it's not as if you didn't get plenty of sleep last night. What did you do all day?"
"Um, woke up, had breakfast, took a bath." He thought it wise not to mention the attempt at repairing Nick's ice machine.
Nick smirked at him. "Sounds like an action-packed day to me."
"Oh, fuck you. It's too damn hot to do anything. I tried to watch TV but I couldn't see the screen through the heat waves." Actually, he'd kept sticking unpleasantly to the leather couch. But that was just too profoundly unsexy to admit to, especially to Nick.
"You could've gone somewhere else," Nick pointed out.
Chris shrugged. He could have.
"You want to go somewhere now?"
Chris thought a moment. He was hungry, and no power on earth could persuade him to use the stove in that heat. Also, restaurants tended to be air conditioned. On the other hand, Nick was refreshingly sane about letting people eat pizza over his clean sheets. Or maybe sushi; it was too hot for pizza. "I thought we might stay in tonight," he said, fluttering his eyelashes at Nick.
"I don't know why I even bother to ask anymore," Nick grinned. "Want me to order Chinese?"
He shook his head. "Sushi."
"Good call." Nick grabbed a towel from the rack and dropped it onto the floor, within easy reach of Chris's hand.
"Is that a hint, Carter?"
"Actually, it was me being helpful, since you apparently didn't remember that you might want to get out of the tub at some point, and I know your arms aren't long enough for you to reach the towel rack on your own."
Chris decided to become righteously indignant. "Yeah, you might want to say something about that to whoever designed your house. Building a bathroom to the scale of the six foot two owner isn't really the best way to make your guests feel at home. I think Martha Stewart would have some strong words to say on the subject."
"No, she wouldn't. She's way taller than you--she'd be able to reach the towels no problem."
Chris swept his hand up quickly and Nick jerked away from the spray of cold water, laughing like a loon.
He paused in the middle of his retreat out the doorway, sobering suddenly, and ducked his head a little. "Actually, the bathroom design was kind of on purpose. I mean, it's my bathroom, right? I figured, if people want to be comfortable or whatever, they should go use one of the guest bathrooms."
Chris frowned slightly. "Does that include me? You never said anything...but if I'm invading your privacy or whatever, you should stop me."
"No," Nick said quickly. "You're fine. What I was saying before was just a--" His hand described a series of circles in the air. "--a general thing. Don't worry about it."
There was something like the sound of a declaration about that, Chris thought after Nick had left the room and he'd begun levering his own waterlogged body out of the tub. He knew Nick well enough to respect the very firm boundaries that Nick used to protect himself. The fact that Chris had been allowed this unexpected liberty without question might be significant. Of course, maybe it just meant that Nick was more comfortable with him than with the average houseguest. Aaron probably had free rein of the master bath, too.
After wiping himself more or less dry, Chris wrapped the towel around his waist, went into the bedroom, and flopped onto his stomach next to Nick on Nick's huge bed.
"No, three California rolls, two spicy tuna, one salmon, and one eel," Nick was saying into the phone. There was a pause. "Miso soup?" He raised his eyebrows at Chris, who shook his head frantically. "Yeah, just one miso soup." Another pause. "Okay, thanks very much." He thumbed the phone off and leaned over to place it on the bedside table. "They'll be here in twenty minutes."
"You know, most people stop eating soup around the time that the air temperature gets hotter than the soup is," Chris said conversationally.
Nick shrugged. "It still tastes good. And it's not like it's that hot, really."
"It's 102 degrees outside!" Chris said.
"Yeah, but it's dry heat. I barely even notice it except for when I have to be in the sun."
"This," Chris said, glaring at him significantly, "is because you are a freak of nature. I promise you, every single other person in this entire fucking state is dying in this weather."
"I'm pretty sure there are at least a couple of people who moved here because they like the heat," Nick said.
"Nothing you can say will ever make me believe that. And anybody who supports your little 'theory'--" he did fingerquotes in the air "--is either a real estate agent or delirious from heat exhaustion."
"There might be more freaks of nature besides me," Nick suggested.
"Nobody that weird," Chris said.
Nick sighed in response and shifted so that he could lean against the headboard. Chris took a moment to enjoy the sight of Nick's long, pale neck, his blond head tipped back and a half-smile on his face. Then he said casually, "Hey, which bathroom does Aaron shower in when he's visiting?"
Nick straightened up and his eyes narrowed at Chris. "And why are you asking me this?"
"No reason. I was just wondering." Chris nudged Nick's thigh with his shoulder. Which reminded him that Nick's thigh was right there, so he might as well lay his head in Nick's lap. He wiggled meaningfully until Nick started scratching his scalp with long, gentle fingers, and he sighed in contentment. If Nick thought that bliss would prevent him from noticing that Nick still hadn't answered his question, though, he was sadly mistaken. "So, which bathroom does he use?"
Nick shrugged above him, apparently deciding that his question was harmless. "I don't know. Whichever one he wants? He usually stays in the downstairs guestroom, so I guess he uses that bathroom."
"He doesn't use this bathroom ever?"
"I don't think so. He says he doesn't like the idea of taking a bath anywhere I've had sex. Personally, I think he's got issues."
"Weird kid," Chris said fondly.
"Hey, wait a second." Chris twisted suddenly to look at Nick. "Didn't we--in the guest bathroom...?"
"Did you tell him about that?"
"Nope. And you'd better not either, Kirkpatrick. In fact, don't talk to him about any of the places we've had sex. 'Cause, really, I like my little brother being able to take a bath and swim in the pool and sit on the couch--"
"--and eat at the table--"
"--whenever he comes to visit me. So just keep your big mouth shut around him, you got it?"
"Aye, aye, sir," Chris said, giving Nick a mock salute. "Of course, you know I have a burning and uncontrollable desire to tell your family all about our sex life. I'll just have to spill everything to your mother instead, okay?"
"Jerk," Nick muttered. He tousled Chris's hair affectionately as he said it, though.
"Hey, you're the one who's accusing me of being an exhibitionist who wants to discuss sex with your fifteen year-old brother," Chris pointed out.
"Only if you thought it was funny. Which you might," Nick said. "I was just making sure."
"Discussing sex with fifteen year-olds is about as funny as drop-kicking an atom bomb. As I know all too well from having to give Justin the Talk when we were over in Germany and neither of his dads was around to do it," Chris said grimly.
Nick's eyes lit up with interest. "Oh, yeah? What happened?"
"Nothing I ever want to think about for the rest of my life. I think the highlight was drawing little pictures to show him how to find a clitoris and prostate. Or maybe explaining rimming--which I totally hadn't been planning on mentioning to him, ever, but he asked. Reassuring him for fifteen minutes that he wasn't going to go to hell for masturbating was a real blast, too."
"Dude." Nick sounded impressed. "Kevin just gave me a booklet and told me to ask AJ if I had any questions."
Chris snorted. "He didn't think he could answer whatever questions you might come up with on his own?"
"Probably more like he didn't think I'd actually be comfortable talking to him about sex. I...uh...kind of had a crush on him back then. Things were a little bit weird for a while."
Chris tried a few responses to that revelation in his mind before settling on, "I'll bet."
The doorbell rang then, and Nick looked at the clock in surprise. "They're early."
"Which is a good thing, considering that I'm starving." Glorious food and something cold to drink sounded like Chris's personal version of heaven...except that the cold drink would require ice. He hopped quickly out of bed. "You go get the food. I'll get plates and drinks and stuff."
"Sure," Nick said, already digging in his pocket for his wallet.
Chris kissed him once for luck, since he was venturing into the kitchen of sarcastic dogs and suicidal ice machines, and ran for it. He very much did not want Nick coming in to lend a hand if Chris took too long.
He'd been half-hoping that the ice machine would spontaneously have decided to work again during the hours that he'd been not smacking it, but no such luck. Its perpetual hum had apparently been forever silenced. Also, it was dripping water onto the floor.
Chris grabbed a couple of dishtowels and laid them down to sop up the puddle. Unfortunately, this made it all the more likely that Nick would notice the state of the ice machine before Chris could put Plan B into effect. (He'd regretfully rejected the idea of blaming the dog, on the grounds that even Nick wouldn't buy an excuse that stupid.) No, the only thing to do would be for Chris to buy a new ice machine. Which meant that he'd have to keep Nick out of the kitchen until sometime tomorrow.
He got plates, glasses, and a bowl from the cabinet--Nick was ultra-casual about where he ate dinner, but he liked doing it on real dishes--and the Brita pitcher from the fridge. Luckily, JC had been by earlier that week to hang out and had stocked their freezer with his latest interest, ice cubes with violets and nasturtiums frozen into the center. Chris had mocked him mercilessly at the time. Now he pried the ice cubes out of their tray and kissed JC's feet in his mind.
By the time he got up to Nick's bedroom, the bags of sushi were opened across the bed and Nick was sniffing his miso soup ecstatically.
"Hey," Chris said, handing a water glass to Nick and setting the other on his bedside table before putting down the tray.
Nick glanced inside at the drink and smiled. "I thought you said the flower ice cubes were stupid and girly."
"I changed my mind. They're...um...pretty."
Nick's smile broadened. "You should get JC to show you how to make 'em."
"Yeah, I'll do that, Carter. Right after I learn how to knit and do flower arrangements. Now shut up and eat your soup."
There was silence while they ate--breakfast had been a long way away for Chris, and he wouldn't have been surprised if Nick had forgotten to eat lunch as well--broken only by Nick's quiet eww when Chris started in on the eel maki. Chris ignored him with the ease of long practice.
After they'd finished, Nick began stacking his plates onto the nightstand, but Chris grabbed them. "I'll do the dishes."
Nick looked at him in surprise. "You never do the dishes," he said. "You even made up that pathetic lie about being allergic to the dishwashing liquid. Which is cool, you do all the laundry and I'm grateful for that 'cause I hate it, but it kind of makes me wonder what you're up to."
Chris thought quickly. "I've been watching a lot of Leave It to Beaver lately, and I've absorbed the mindset of a 1950's housewife. So I'm being domestic in an attempt to win approval and sexual favors."
"I don't think June Cleaver was trying to win sexual favors," Nick said. "Actually, I'd be surprised if she ever had sex. Her kids were probably adopted."
"Don't be misled by the twin beds, Nick. That was just to keep up appearances, so the other moms wouldn't know that she was a nymphomaniac."
Nick blinked several times. "Okay, I think you've just perverted my entire childhood. Go do the dishes, and never mention June Cleaver to me again."
"I still get the sexual favors, though, right?"
"So long as you don't wear a wig and pearls. And, ew, I just traumatized myself."
"Then you can just sit here quietly and recover while I run do the dishes."
Back in the kitchen, the ice machine's dripping hadn't gotten any worse, but it hadn't stopped, either. Chris tried not to cringe as he walked past its corpse. It wasn't his fault that the thing had spontaneously combusted, after all, even if his hitting it hadn't exactly helped. Too bad Nick wasn't likely to see it that way.
The dishes didn't take long. It was mostly pots and pans that Chris hated doing, with their greasy, cooked-on foods that you had to scrub off. Cleaning plates on which they'd eaten sushi was more like...dusting with water.
As he worked, he distracted himself with thoughts of what Nick might be doing upstairs, and it was a serious disappointment to walk through the bedroom door to find Nick flopped onto his stomach reading.
"You're not naked," Chris complained.
Nick turned onto his side to look at him. "Neither are you."
"Excuse me, which of us is the pretty, blond boytoy here?"
"Justin," Nick said.
"Natural blond. And in this room," he added when Nick started to open his mouth again.
"I don't think being blond has anything to do with my needing to be naked, anyway," Nick said.
Chris smirked. "I think it does."
"Oh, well then," Nick said sarcastically, and kneeled on the bed to strip his shirt off.
It was stupid to still feel a weird twist in his stomach every time Nick was topless, Chris thought. They'd been effectually living together for over a month, now. Maybe that was a short enough time to still let him drool over Nick's pretty, and admittedly fairly impressive, cock--but shouldn't his heart have stopped stuttering whenever Nick took off his shirt to reveal gloriously golden skin shifting over solid muscles and a sexy layer of flesh?
He was sure this over-obsession with Nick's body would stop any day. Maybe after a rigorous round of electroshock therapy, if and when his Pavlovian response got to be too much for him. In the meantime, he snapped his mouth shut and raced casually to the bed.
He skated his palms up Nick's torso, enjoying smooth, slick skin--even Nick had started sweating while eating his soup, face flushing in the steam, and now his entire body was damp and warm. Then he dropped one of his hands to pop the button on Nick's pants, tracing the revealed triangle of flesh with greedy fingers.
"Naked...you, too," Nick said, somewhat incoherently, and tugged at Chris's shirt. As soon as it was off, he rolled them over so that he was draped on top of Chris like a wildly expensive fur rug. "Nice," he murmured, licking Chris's neck.
Chris personally thought that his own sweat-soaked chest hair was kind of gross, but Nick obviously didn't seem to mind, if the way he was rubbing against him was any indication.
Nick's tongue traced a line along Chris's collarbone, into his armpit, and across his ribcage to his nipple, which Nick bit delicately. Chris groaned, and only Nick's heavy weight kept him flat on the bed.
In retaliation, he slipped both hands down the back of Nick's baggy pants--always an especially fun activity, since Nick tended to eschew underwear--and rubbed the firm, gorgeous curve of Nick's ass. Smooth, damp skin shivered under his fingertips. He brushed softly along the crack, and Nick arched into his hands with a helpless moan.
Chris pressed one finger past the tight ring of muscle, just barely, and Nick stretched his long body to fumble in the bedside table drawer for condoms and lube.
Weeks of regular sex had more than just the obvious benefit; Chris's lubed fingers slipped easily into Nick's ass, and he fluttered them against the muscle walls more for the half-blissful, half-pained expression that settled on Nick's face than because Nick actually needed loosening up.
Nick's cock was trailing pre-come wherever it touched Chris's skin, and he was gasping throatily, but he didn't make a single move to hurry things along. Finally Chris couldn't take it any longer. He took the condom from Nick's loosely clenched hand and slipped it on himself. Then he pulled Nick down into a kiss.
Instantly Nick opened his mouth, their tongues meeting slickly and lewdly mid-air. Never breaking the rhythm of the kiss, Nick straddled Chris's body and sank smoothly down onto his cock.
"I want to see you," Chris whispered after a minute, pushing Nick gently away. Nick smiled and ground down harder, the new angle allowing for a deeper penetration than Chris's first rocking thrusts.
The sheen of sweat on Nick's body was dampening his pubic hair, already slicked with pre-come. Chris wanted to lick the salt from every inch of skin, but the tight heat around his cock, and the sight of Nick sliding up and down it, his painfully hard erection slapping against his stomach with each thrust, were too sweet to give up even for the taste of Nick.
After, after, Chris's mind chanted to him, and then Nick sped up incrementally, and all he could think was Nick and God and now.
Nick was whining softly, desperately as he worked himself on Chris's cock, and then his own cock twitched and sputtered come all over Chris's chest. Chris sucked in a deep breath--the salty-bitter scent of Nick filling his throat--and came.
The tableau held for an endless moment, Nick balanced trembling and beautiful over him. And then Nick slowly collapsed forward to curl around Chris, who raised his own unsteady arms to wrap around him.
One of the best things about sleeping with Nick was that he appreciated the need for the post-sex snack, so after Chris's heartrate had slowed and his breathing had evened, the first thing he asked was, "What do we have for dessert?"
Nick thought a moment. "There's leftover strawberry shortcake--which one of us should eat before it gets too soggy--molasses cookies, and I think some chocolate ice cream. What do you want?"
"The ice cream, obviously. You cool with the shortcake?" Nick nodded and started to get up. "No, no, I'll get it."
Before he could even climb out of bed, though, Nick had grabbed his wrist, restraining him from leaving. "Or...maybe I won't," Chris said. "What's up, Nick?"
Nick looked at him for a long moment. "You've already gotten your 'sexual favors,'" he said quietly, "so you don't even have that crappy excuse. Why don't you just tell me what's going on? Because I'm really getting worried here."
Shit. Chris sighed. "Try not to get mad."
Nick closed his eyes briefly, his lips pinched tight. "Okay," he said finally.
"I broke your ice machine."
"Well, not really," Chris said hastily. "It mostly broke on its own. But then I thought maybe if I...um...hit it, then it might start working again, but that made it completely break. I can buy you another one tomorrow," he added hopefully.
Nick just laughed. "Dude, I can buy a new ice machine. You were acting so weird, I was thinking--I don't know, that you'd found out you were really sick, or you were going to break up with me, or you'd killed my dog, or something."
"Break up with you?" Chris asked. Oh, there was definitely a declaration there, and he tried not to grin too hard. Only then the idea of his killing Nick's dog popped into his mind, and he couldn't help himself.
"Well, yeah." Nick flushed. "You were being all...too nice to me, getting the dishes and washing up and trying to get dessert. I thought maybe you were, like, overcompensating."
Half of Chris felt guilty that Nick thought that someone's doing a few household chores for him was such a big deal, while the other half of him agreed that it kind of was. If Justin offered to do the dishes for no reason, Chris'd probably take him to the doctor's to check for brain damage. He settled on saying, "Sometimes I just like to do nice things for you."
"Okay, yes, and sometimes I'm trying to keep you from realizing I've broken one of your appliances. The point is, if we ever break up, it'll be because both of us are miserable together and want to end it, not just because of me."
Nick tilted his head a little to contemplate Chris, a speculative look in his eyes. Then he said, "Ditto."
"Well, good. And now that you finally know what's lying in wait in the kitchen, I think it's your turn to go get dessert."
"Whatever, Kirpatrick," Nick said, but he rolled out of bed. "I want to make clear that the only reason I'm doing this is that I love you."
"As long as I get chocolate ice cream out of it, I don't care," Chris declared, a suspiciously bright smile crossing his face as he waited impatiently for Nick to return. He wondered how chocolate ice cream might taste with a little...salt.