Sophie Bonaste (Part 1, 7 and 9)
Charlie Cochet (Part 8)
Grace Duncan (Part 3 and 11)
Kim Fielding (Part 6)
Elizabeth Noble (5 and 13)
Brynn Stein (2 and 10)
Suki Fleet (Part 4 and 12)
Xander wasn’t a big guy, but he managed to take up a lot of room in Peter’s arms. Pete focused on just a bit of him, a colorfully inked shoulder glistening with water droplets.
“What are you doing, Xander?” Peter asked. His voice wasn’t as calm as he’d hoped.
Peter glanced down to where their torsos joined, where his growing erection pressed against Xander’s. “This seems kinda more… dualistic than showering.”
Xander huffed loudly and stepped back as much as the shower stall would allow—which wasn’t much. He let his hands fall to his sides. “See, that’s what I mean.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Dualistic. That’s not…. Fuck. I chop meat for a living.”
Maybe, Peter decided, the head injury was muddling the poor guy’s head. The bleeding had long since stopped, but the area around the wound was red and puffy. Xander was going to have a hell of a bruise by morning.
He set a hand on Xander’s shoulder. “Let’s rinse off, and then I can make us something to eat.”
When Xander blinked quickly and ducked his head, he looked astonishingly young and vulnerable. “I should just go,” he said, and made as if to step out of the shower.
But Peter caught his arm. “You don’t have a car, remember?”
“Just… just drive me home. Please.”
“If that’s what you want.”
“I don’t know what I fucking want!”
Usually when people yelled at Peter, he walked away. He wasn’t into confrontations. But he was pretty sure Xander was angry at himself, not at Peter. So he took a chance and pulled him close. “Let’s stop worrying so much, okay? You don’t do relationships. I get that.”
“So you just want another quick fuck?”
“I’m not sure what I want either.” Peter shrugged. “But, um, you’re here. And I’m here. And we’re naked, so….” He gave in to temptation and bent to delicately tongue the water from Xander’s collarbone.
Xander groaned deeply and tried to clutch at him. But Peter followed a small trickle of water down Xander’s pec to a puckered nipple. He nipped lightly—making Xander groan again—and would have been happy playing there for a while if the water hadn’t distracted him. He traced the trickle with his tongue and lips down the hard ridges of Xander’s abs, then fell to his knees to he could lick at the shallow indentation of Xander’s navel. He tasted really good, all warm salt. But then, God, Xander’s cock was right there, hard and glistening, and Peter couldn’t really say no to that. He slipped the head into his mouth.
“F-fuck!” Xander stuttered. He clutched hard at Peter’s shoulders, which was just fine.
Peter grabbed Xander’s slick hips, closed his eyes, and concentrated on his work. He liked giving head, although it had been some time since he’d had the opportunity. And Christ, he loved the ragged noises he was forcing from Xander’s throat.
“G-g-gonna…,” said Xander, his grip tightening. Peter considered jerking himself off too, but decided against it. He wasn’t in the mood to multitask. He redoubled his efforts instead, hearing Xander’s breathing hitch and clatter.
And then the hot water ran out.
Peter yelped as a jet of cold water hit his back and ran down his ass. In his spastic attempt to get away from the torture, he knocked against Xander, who lost his footing completely. Tangled, they flopped together like a pair of drunken octopi, neither of them able to escape the slippery floor.
Xander’s head thudded hard against the tiled wall. “Ow! Dammit!” He pushed hard at Peter and managed to tumble out of the shower, but the bath mat skidded when he tried to stand and he fell again. “Ah!”
Peter made it to relatively dry land and rose safely to standing. He gave Xander a hand to rise before reaching in to turn off the water. “Are you okay? Are you bleeding again?”
Xander touched his forehead and looked at the small smear of blood on his fingers. “You’re fucking trying to kill me,” he said weakly—right before his eyes rolled up and he collapsed in a dead faint.
Toweled off and dressed, Peter and Xander were silent over sandwiches. Peter had talked Xander into drinking a big glass of orange juice on account of the earlier blood loss, but was sticking to water himself. Xander winced slightly every time he moved his head.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to take you to the hospital?” Peter asked for the hundredth time.
Xander shook his head, winced again, and sighed. “I’m fine.”
“You lost consciousness. You might have a concussion or something.”
“But how do you know?”
“It’s the blood,” Xander mumbled, not meeting his eyes.
“I’m… not very good with blood.”
“But you work in a meat market.”
Xander poked at a piece of bread. His cheeks had gone slightly pink. “’S different. That’s animal blood. It’s my own I’m not very fond of seeing.”
Ah. That made sense, sort of. “I’m really sorry,” Peter said, also for the hundredth time. But he was. Really, really sorry.
“Forget it. Look. You’re a great guy. And you’re really hot and you’re… you’re good at sex.” Xander squirmed slightly. “But I don’t think you and me are meant to be.”
“Because you don’t do relationships.” Peter didn’t want to sound petulant, but he was growing tired of treading this ground.
“Yeah, partly. I mean, some guys are good for partners and True Love and all that shit, and some of us are good for quick ’n’ dirty hookups. And really, what do we have in common apart from hammering nails on Saturdays? You’re… you’ve got all this,” he waved his hands vaguely, “and I live in a crappy apartment with walls so thin I can hear my neighbor brush her teeth. Even fate is against us.”
“I don’t believe in fate,” said Peter.
Xander didn’t answer.
They finished eating. Xander stood first, collected the dishes, and set them in the sink, which surprised Peter. Then he turned around. “Could you take me home? This guy I work with, Ralph, he’s good with cars. I’ll see if he can help me out.”
Ignoring the ridiculous stab of jealousy, Peter nodded. He stood and grabbed his car keys from the kitchen island.
But when they got outside, Xander didn’t seem in such a hurry to get in the truck. He stood on the front porch, gazing across the road and over the fields as if watching something amazing, although there was nothing but greenery that rustled in the early evening breeze. The air was sticky and thick, and Peter hoped the wind would blow away some of the humidity.
“It’s quiet out here,” Xander said.
“Mostly.” Peter liked quiet. He’d lived in the city when he went to college, but he hadn’t liked the way everything moved so fast, the way all the textures felt hard and unforgiving. He’d probably have a more active love life now if he didn’t live out in the sticks, but he wasn’t willing to give up the old family homestead.
Xander sighed deeply before turning and heading to the truck. As Peter followed, he took in the defeated set of Xander’s shoulders and was struck by a realization: Xander wanted a lot more than he let on. Probably a real home, a permanent lover. He just didn’t think he could have those things.
Grinning to himself, Peter picked up his pace. Maybe all he had to do was find a way to make Xander see the truth. This called for a plan.