Jesus, itís hot. Itís Africa hot out there. California is supposed to be sunny and beautiful, not this scorched-Earth, Save-The-Children commercial, surface of the sun kind of hot. Leave that for places like Phoenix and Georgia and Mercury. Itís so hot that Xanderís hair is soaked. Not just the fringe that flops over his forehead, or the tips of the too-long waves, but all of it Ė dripping with sweat that prickles up from each individual hair follicle to run in momentarily icy rivulets across the heated landscape of his scalp before they join with the rest of the hot sweat to just be gross and make him feel dirty. Dirtier.

Gypsum wallboard. Itís heavy and when cut it makes this fine, white dust that gets everywhere. The dust hits the sweat on skin and forms a shell, resting suspended until the sweat soaks the dust and makes a thin, slick mud. Then it dries and cracks and, what do you know, back to the scorched-Earth image. So, thereís gypsum/sweat mud flakes all over the upholstery and the seatís gonna smell like an armpit, but Xanderís finally home, and thatís enough for right now.

Inside the apartment, there are cool things. Beer, but at the moment, a tall glass of ice water sounds better. Thereís air conditioning, too, and that sounds like heaven. Clean, crisp sheets, and the water in the shower when you nudge the handle just two degrees off center toward the big blue ďCĒ and the warmth gives way to the barest edge of the cold. Thereís also ice cream. Itís vanilla, the kind with the tiny black flecks of vanilla beans in it, and thereís nothing better than sliding it off of the cheap stainless steel spoon that frosts over because the ice cream is so cold.

Xander stops in front of the door, savoring the moment. When he opens that door, the cool air will hit him. It will strike fast, the sudden rush like an exhalation. The tendrils of cold will wrap around him and draw him inside. Itís dark in there Ė the curtains are drawn, and itís like a little cave. With cable. And a vampire.

The vampire is actually the coolest thing in the place, in more ways than one. Xander wonders if he can get inside, get cleaned up and get into the bed without waking Spike. Sleepy Spike is a wonder to behold. Or to be held. His body is rock-hard but strangely slack in sleep Ė heís almost like a poseable doll. His skin is smooth and taut over muscle and sinew, and he feels like Xander imagines dolphins feel. The cheekbones are not an anomaly Ė there are other places where the bones show through in that alarming and alluring way Ė the hipbones, collarbones, shoulder blades and knees. At the base of his spine, the curve of bone behind the ear, the hollow at the back of his skull where the top of the spine nestles under the protective flare of the cranium.

Xander opens the door and absorbs the cool air through whatever pores are still unblocked by gypsum mud. The sudden rush of cool makes him dizzy, but that might be the fact that much of his blood has pooled low in his body in anticipation. He strips off his clothes in the kitchen, because the work clothes are just too disgusting to go anywhere not protected by tile. Padding naked to the bathroom, he resolutely does not look at the bed, does not look at Spike, does not see one perfect, pale leg crooked outside the dark blue sheets, does not see the unruly mop of curls half-obscured by the pillow.

Because seeing those things leads to badness. The viewing of those things leads to hot, sweaty sex and probably having to throw the sheets out, because thereís no telling what happens when gypsum/sweat mud meets up with other bodily fluids, though heís thinking it could possibly be a new hybrid form of cement. Those thoughts lead to having to, at some point, listen to his beautiful, sensitive, narcissistic vampire whine about smelly humans and dust in the bed and assorted other things heíd rather not deal with. Xander is hot and heís tired and he wants his way. His way will be had.

The shower is everything heíd hoped, cool and refreshing but short, because his hard on wonít flag, his pulse   wonít slow and the brutal, sharp edge of need is pressing him forward; pushing him through the curtain and out to the mat to dry off inadequately, to hurry to the side of the bed.

Xander grabs the bottom of the sheets and starts to slide them away from Spikeís body. The vampire is lying mostly on his stomach and he has one leg cocked so that Xander canít miss the shine at their juncture. Before he knows that heís made a move, tanned hands and knees bracket the cool alabaster body and the head of his cock is pressing against the smear of shine and inside.

They both exhale loudly and freeze until Spikeís body clenches once around Xanderís cock, and the small muscles in the humanís arms start to shake from the strain, almost at the exact same moment. In one smooth motion, Spike turns fully onto his belly and Xander drops his weight onto his elbows and plows into the body before him. Heís all the way in, and so reluctant to pull out that his strokes are hard and shallow, animal in their ferocity.

It canít last; it wonít. It doesnít. Xander comes silently seconds after Spike, and falls heavily, spent, on top of that cool dolphin-slick body, panting. He catches his breath and lifts his weight up, pulling out as slowly as possible, knowing that the vampire will make that tiny, soft whimpering noise he makes only at this particular moment of loss. The sound comes, and Xander holds there, body suspended between his hands and lets the sound roll around his head for a moment, then heaves himself to the side to stare at the ceiling and let the cool waft of air conditioned air chill him and make tiny hairs stand up all over his body.





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