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Clean Sweep

Copyright © Emmi Lawrence

All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission from the author.

Short Story (Approx. 5400)

Something fluttered in the chimney, a thumping noise that vibrated for a few seconds then fell silent. Trey hesitated, his hand upraised with the mistletoe he’d decided to hang despite its drooping leaves and squished berries. The sound came again, this time lasting longer and accompanied by a distinct scratch.

Then silence.

When the sound didn’t occur a third time, Trey finished hanging the mistletoe above the door frame separating the living room from the kitchen. Then he ripped off the plastic tag from the red garland he’d bought and, using colorful pushpins he’d brought home from his last incredibly boring data entry job, he tacked it up around the door frame. The garland ended up being lopsided by a few inches, but Trey just left it since Kevin had a tendency to be quite unobservant so it would be a surprise if he saw the garland in the first place, let alone noticed it wasn’t even.

It wasn’t until he’d finished putting the tiny four-foot tree together—a sparse thing with more space to see the wall through it than branches—and wrangled a single strand of cheap, colored lights around it to make the room feel festive that the sound came again.

Trey froze, standing next to the short tree, one hand still holding onto the branch he’d been attempting to readjust. The fluttering took on a louder, pounding quality and then something dropped out of the shaft and shot across the room. Trey shouted and flinched away as the black creature swooped above his head, smacked into the wall and then wheeled around to crash into the trash strewn about the floor from the Christmas decorations. The animal left a sooty wake behind it, ash drifting into the mottled maroon and beige carpet as the bat-like creature flapped its way through the plastic and paper packaging.

“Holy shit!”

Trey leapt out of the way as the bird-bat-thing launched into the air and careened straight into the barren Christmas tree, showering the fake green needles with ash and sending the whole unbalanced thing toppling into the wall. The cord for the lights yanked out of the socket with a snap as the metal branches clawed their way down the wall, leaving shallow gouges in the paint.

Grabbing the least expensive thing at hand—the remote—Trey threw it at the creature as it fumbled within the downed Christmas tree. The remote missed, smacking the wall with a crack and flinging batteries across the room. The creature gave a strange cry, something bordering between a mewl and a cough, and flapped out a stream of soot.

And that, of course, was when Kevin arrived home.

He stepped through the door, his eyes going straight to where Trey was holding a ripped cardboard box like a weapon. Eyebrows went up and lips tightened as he took in the mess.

“There’s a bat. In the tree.” Trey pointed, wishing he didn’t sound so defensive.

Then the animal tried to leap off a couple of the skinny metal branches, the noise it made reminding Trey of a smoker’s laugh. He jerked away, but not before the creature dive bombed his shirt and tumbled to the floor. It crawled under the couch, trailing ash and whimpers.

Kevin heaved a giant sigh, one filled with such exhaustion that Trey felt about as big as the dumb animal now taking up residence beneath the couch.

“I shut the flue last night. I swear I did, Kev. I don’t know how it got in.”

Kevin didn’t respond. He set down his laptop bag, unwrapped his scarf and shrugged out of his pea coat, all while evading Trey’s gaze. Then he slipped his hands into the pockets of his khakis and stopped a foot away from the couch, surveying the damage. His expression, while attempting to remain bland, screamed his irritation, which in turn, reflected just what he was thinking about Trey.

Not that Trey needed another nail on this proverbial coffin. After losing his job three weeks after moving in, managing to flood the kitchen and break the dishwasher—Kevin’s dishwasher—in one fell swoop, and then, during an argument, get mad enough to toss Kevin’s newest spell pitches across the room, where they naturally landed close enough to the fire to become nothing but charred pieces of paper by the time he had saved them, he was pretty sure Kevin was just waiting until after the holidays for the dreaded talk. Trey probably could have anticipated that this attempt to make Christmas somewhat happy would blow up in his face given the way things had been going. He should have just saved his money for when Kevin kicked him out.

“This is a wreck.”

“Yep,” said Trey. “I’ll hold the box open if you want to try and scare it my way.”

As they crouched low to either side of the couch corner, Trey busied himself with folding the cardboard sides so he wouldn’t have to see the resignation in Kevin’s face. Kevin rolled up his sleeves and lifted the flap of fabric to see under, eliciting a mewling sound from the creature and another round of thrumming as its wings battered against the ground.

“Oh my God,” said Kevin. “That’s not a bat.”

“Bird? Shouldn’t they all have flown south by now? What the Hell was it doing in the chimney?”

“No, not a bird either. It’s…” Some of the tension eased from Kevin’s face. A tiny smile appeared and his eyes lit up in a way Trey hadn’t seen…for far too long now.

“What is it then? A flying squirrel?”

Kevin laughed, but didn’t respond to Trey’s bizarre guess. “Come here, sweetie. Yeah, that’s it. He won’t hurt you. He can’t even kill spiders.”

Trey flinched. There hadn’t been anything truly cruel in Kevin’s tone, but it seemed lately that everything stung. Barbs, whether malicious or not, piled up until Trey wanted to punch something to prove he wasn’t as useless and irresponsible as Kevin thought.

He rubbed at his arm at the sliver of skin where the barbed wire tattoo hadn’t healed properly. Kevin had recently made fun of him for that too despite the fact that it’d been there since they’d met. Hell, he’d gotten all but one of his tattoos before they’d met. At the time, Kevin said he’d found it refreshingly different. Now, though?

Now it was blatantly obvious that Kevin thought of Trey as an interlude, a piece of spice that had long since lost its flavor and was rapidly needing to be replaced with something more mature. Someone who had gotten their life together the way Kevin had without ruining their chances at a “decent” job with tattoos and piercings and past experiences that included success at stripping off his clothes and a complete lack of success in achieving passing grades in his one and only attempt at college.

The creature, whatever it was, crawled out and nipped at Kevin’s extended fingers. A fine sheen of ash drifted off its body and permeated the carpet. A streak of soot appeared on Kevin’s hand as the thing gathered itself into his palm and curled up, its wings lifted protectively around itself.

It was smaller than Trey had first thought, its spread wings giving it a larger appearance. Its face was flat except for a triangular nose and rounded eyes. No visible ears, but it had slits in its sooty face that probably served the same purpose. The biggest surprise was that it had two arms and two legs, all four of which had tiny, curled appendages that must not have been as sharp as they looked because Kevin didn’t seem to mind it grasping at his skin.

“What is that?” asked Trey as he set the box down.

Kevin lifted the creature close to his chest, though he avoided actually pressing it against his button-down. “A soot monster.”

“A what?”

Kevin laughed a little, but didn’t look up from the creature in his hand. “That’s what we called them growing up. I think their real name is something more like ashen remnant. I don’t remember what my mom called them because she adopted our name for them.”

“And what are they exactly?” Trey stared at Kevin’s face, loving the way the furrow on his brow had smoothed out and the tightness around his eyes had disappeared. That had been how Kevin had looked when they’d first met. When Trey had been able to put more smiles on that face than frowns.

“They’re made from the lingering effects of unfinished spells. There are a number of creatures like that. The magic hovers, then settles and eventually bonds together.” He glanced at Trey. “I’m sure you shut the flue.”

“Yeah,” said Trey. He glanced back at the toppled Christmas tree and wished he’d left the damn thing open because maybe then this creature would have found its way up the chimney instead of down.

“My mom had a spell that kept them from getting ash everywhere, but I’ll have to go look it up.”

“You kept them in the house?”

Kevin stood carefully, blatantly ignoring Trey’s incredulous question. He walked right under the mistletoe without glancing at the red garland Trey had strung. Trey waited until he heard Kevin opening a cupboard and then started picking up the ash-streaked trash scattered all across the room.

He made two trips into the kitchen to throw things away. The first time he glanced over to see Kevin feeding the soot monster using a straw to drop liquid straight into its mouth.

The second time, when Trey was smashing the packaging down to consolidate the mess, Kevin glanced up and said, “Just take it out. I don’t want it overflowing again.”

Trey froze, clenched his jaw, and then nodded. He pulled out the trash, tied it and was about to carry it out the back door when Kevin spoke again.

“And make sure you put the lid back on the trashcan. The last time you left it off a squirrel or something got into it.”

“Sure,” said Trey.

He took the trash out, put the damn lid back on and then stood right inside the kitchen and watched Kevin pet the monster with gentle fingers. It’d been days since they’d had sex, not surprising given how busy Kevin was, but the last few times had felt perfunctory. A release and nothing more. It’d been a long time since Kevin had used that gentle of a touch on Trey.

Kevin glanced up. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” said Trey instantly. At Kevin’s skeptical expression, Trey shook his head. “No.”

“They’re really nothing to be worried about. We can lay out some sheets in the guest room and lock her in for the night and then tomorrow I’ll make sure I get that spell to lay over her so she can have the run of the house without making a mess.”

“Good. Sounds good.”

“Do you want to feed her?” Kevin smiled down at the creature before lifting his gaze to Trey.

Did he want to feed her? No. Is that what Kevin thought his staring was about? If Kevin was that oblivious to what Trey wanted then… Trey didn’t know where to go with that. All he knew was that Christmas was going to be awkward and lonely. January likely even more so what with the talk that was bound to happen, finding a place to live and going through the fun process of moving again in less than a year.

Trey felt tired just thinking about it all.

“What do you want for dinner?” he asked. “There are leftovers, but I could make something with the chicken in the freezer if you want.”

Kevin’s attention seemed locked on the soot monster. “Whatever you want.”

“Right. I’ll go put some sheets down.”

“Don’t use the dirty ones.”

“Because that’s exactly what I was going to do,” snapped Trey. “I figured spreading our spunk across your guest bed would be the best idea. Let me just go do that.” He stalked out of the kitchen before Kevin could do more than drop his jaw, but Kevin followed him into the hallway.

“What the fuck, Trey?”

Trey opened the linen closet in his face with a small sense of vindication when Kevin had to put out a hand to stop it from smacking him. Kevin pulled it the rest of the way so he could pass, but Trey didn’t look at him as he collected a couple of flat sheets from the bottom of the pile.

“What was that about? I didn’t do anything but voice a simple request.”

“Yeah, I know, I know. Kevin doesn’t do anything wrong.”


“Just go back to your chimney fiend. I’ll take care of the room.” Still not looking at Kevin he went to shut the linen closet, but Kevin put a hand out again so that the door couldn’t close.

“Did something happen today?” asked Kevin. “You get turned down for that job?”

“What job?” asked Trey, flush with all the frustration he’d tried to keep bottled. He’d meant for today to be a positive change, damn it, and instead he got a soot monster, a failed attempt to cheer up the house and he’d managed to lose his filter along the way. “You mean one of the ten I applied to last week or the thirty I applied to this week? No, I haven’t gotten a response from any of them.”

“It’ll be fine. It’ll happen.” But Kevin’s eyes were on that damn barbed wire tattoo encircling Trey’s bicep before they flicked to the ring in his lip and the gauge in his ear.

“Don’t start that one.”

“Don’t start what?” Kevin had the audacity to look confused.

“My piercings didn’t lose me the jobs, they can’t lose me the jobs if I don’t even get the interview.”

“I didn’t say they—”

Trey gave up on the door and headed for the guest room.

“Hey! Don’t walk away.”

The creature made a high-pitched mewling noise in the kitchen that was quickly followed by a crash.

“Oh, for—” Kevin didn’t finish, but he gave up on chasing Trey in order to go save the kitchen from being plagued with black stripes.

Trey shut the door to the guest room behind himself and tossed the sheets on the bed. Then he pressed his back to the door and closed his eyes. Tears welled, but he swallowed them down. Angrily, he shook his head. That had been stupid. The last thing he wanted was to spend Christmas on someone’s couch rather than here, even if here was going to end up being awkward. He’d take awkward with Kevin over comfortable without.

He was just starting to shake out one of the sheets when the door creaked open behind him. Kevin didn’t say anything, but he came around the bed and took one of the sheets and started to help cover up the room. They worked in an uncomfortable silence for a few minutes, the sheets snapping and fluttering probably a little louder than need be. When they’d finished, Trey turned to leave, but stopped when Kevin spoke.

“Can we talk?”

Trey’s heart plummeted. His throat closed up, making it difficult to speak, so he nodded without turning around, his gaze glued to the hallway wall outside the door where a picture of the two of them hung. They’d been together for less than a month and Trey had taken the photo on his phone just after Kevin had kissed his cheek and was starting to pull away. He’d caught a soft expression in those eyes. Soft and loving.

He heard a shuffling and then the bed creaked.

“Do you want to sit down?”

No, he did not want to sit down. He wanted to avoid this conversation, wanted to have a happy Christmas and a drunken New Year’s with the man he’d fallen in love with back when Kevin had been able to love, or at least ignore, his tattoos and piercings and past. But Trey turned and stiffly sat at the foot of the bed, leaving two feet of space between them.

Kevin hesitated and then scooted closer and placed a hand on Trey’s knee, obviously thinking the contact would make this any easier.

“We should talk,” said Kevin. “I know I’m working a lot and it’s making it difficult to concentrate on our problems.”

“Our problems…” echoed Trey.

“Yes,” snapped Kevin. “Which there are obviously a lot of.” His fingers squeezed Trey’s knee.


“Look, if you’re too angry to do this now, we can do it later. After dinner. I finished the final drafts of the spells I need to present, so I don’t have anything due tonight or tomorrow night and then I’m off until after Christmas.”

“Now is fine,” Trey heard himself say, though his voice sounded far away and strange.

“You’re calm enough?”

Trey let out a snort of laughter. “I’m not going to rage.” And if they got this done sooner rather than later in the evening he would have a higher chance of getting Lev to let him crash on his barely-used couch to get through this Christmas.

“Okay.” Kevin’s hand slid off Trey’s knee and he rubbed his palms against his thighs as if wiping away sweat. “Things have been rough. With you not having a job it makes me feel more responsible and I’ve taken on more contracts trying to keep us where we were financially. It’s stressful, really stressful. I’ve never had to take care of anyone before and I didn’t exactly realize just how hard it can be and…” He trailed off as if there’s been something he’d been going to add, but had thought better of it at the last second.

After a strained moment, Kevin continued, “And I’m sure you’ve been under a lot of stress too, trying to find a job. It’s just…”

This was taking too long. Every excuse Kevin gave grated on Trey, making him want to shout.

“And we’ve been arguing a lot. About stupid things. It’s been making me reevaluate what I really want. Which is, of course, difficult to do when you can’t see things objectively. So, the thing is, I’ve been thinking…” Kevin swallowed and took a steadying breath.

“We should break up,” said Trey, finishing what Kevin obviously couldn’t finish.

The words hung in the room like tangible things, ready and willing to come alive if someone were to reach up and pluck them from the air. Trey’s heart pounded in his ears, loud, but not so loud that he couldn’t hear when Kevin sighed. He glanced sideways, regretting it almost instantly because Kevin had that same pinched look on his face. Then Kevin stood and left the guest room, heading toward the soot monster’s frail cries.

As soon as Kevin’s footsteps faded, Trey slumped, settling his head into his hands. The urge to cry overtook him, but he breathed through it, not wanting to feel even more weak in Kevin’s eyes. Not wanting to see that gaze turn pitying when before it had always been empathy that had caused Kevin to wrap his arms around Trey.

When his heart had settled and the tears weren’t pooling in his eyes, Trey straightened the sheets and walked down the hall. He froze at the sight of the living room. The streaks of soot. The little fallen tree. The speckles of red strands that had shed from the garland. The strewn papers and the toppled stack of Kevin’s old spell books.

No wonder Kevin had worn that resigned expression. The place was a mess despite all Trey’s attempts to bring the Christmas spirit. He jerked when Kevin appeared in the doorway, the soot monster cradled in the crook of his arm.

Taking a fortifying breath, Trey licked his lips and then said, “I can call Lev, see if he’ll put me up.”

“Lev’s out of town to see his folks.” Kevin’s tone was harsh enough it made Trey flinch.


He racked his brain for others he could call this close to Christmas, but he’d never gotten along with his parents, his brother lived on the opposite coast and his sister had bought a bus ticket to New York City the day after she graduated high school and never looked back. As for friends, they all had their own families and Trey didn’t really want to be that person who invaded at the worst time of year.

“I could sleep on the couch,” he finally said. “Until after Christmas. If that’s all right?”

“I would rather you slept with me,” said Kevin quietly.

Trey turned toward him sharply. “What for? One last time before we call it quits?”

Kevin’s gaze darkened and his eyes narrowed. The furrow that seemed to be ever-present settled between his brows. “Is that what you want?”

“Another fuck? They haven’t exactly been earth-shattering experiences lately, so would it even be worth the energy expended?”

“I meant, do you really want to give up on us?”

Trey clenched his jaw, but didn’t answer.

Kevin sighed explosively. “This, this right here is why we’ve got problems. You don’t tell me anything. You just let it all fester and I have no idea what’s wrong and no clue how to fix it. Hell, it’s a wonder how we’ve stayed together as long as we have given the only time you’re excited about opening your mouth is when you can get my dick in it.”

“Yes,” said Trey softly because he didn’t trust his voice not to crack if he raised it. “That’s the only problem we have.”

“I didn’t say it was the only problem.”

“You might as well have!”

“Trey, stop. Please.” Kevin raised his free hand in a placating gesture, as if it hadn’t been him practically yelling a few moments ago. “Just give me a straight answer. Are you done with me? Am I wasting my time trying to fix this?”

Surprise made Trey’s limbs loosen. He wanted to sit down, but he couldn’t look away from that wrecked expression on Kevin’s face. Slowly, he shook his head.

Kevin relaxed, leaning his shoulder against the door frame. “Okay. What I…” The soot monster clawed at his shirt so Kevin paused to hush it before looking back up and continuing with a little more confidence. “I had some ideas to get things smoother between us. I know the job issue is a sore topic, so I thought that if you were less worried about it, that could solve a lot of problems right there.

“We don’t actually have to live here. There are a lot of apartments that are much cheaper. We could move, sell the house. I’ve already found a few places. They’re small, but easily affordable on just my yearly take home. That way I wouldn’t have to take on the extra freelancing work and you wouldn’t have to worry so much about finding something that pays well and could get whatever would make you happiest.”

Trey didn’t move, feeling sick with shame. “It’s your house, Kev.”

Kevin shrugged. “And I’ve been killing myself paying for it ever since I signed that loan. I would rather have the time to spend with you and live somewhere else than stay here and watch us destroy what we had.”


“And don’t think I don’t know how miserable you were at your last job. You need to stop applying for jobs that you know you won’t like and you know you’re not qualified for because it’s just adding to your frustration when the lack of responses add up.”

Now the shame became even more acute. He hadn’t realized Kevin had tracked where he’d applied. “Well, I’m not exactly qualified for much more than ripping my clothes off,” he said bitterly.

That had been what he’d been doing when he’d met Kevin. The other job, the one in the land of cubicles and copy machines, had been because he’d wanted so desperately to impress Kevin and for the first time in almost seven years of dancing he had worried the job would scare someone away.

“So go back to dancing,” said Kevin, waving his arm dramatically.

The soot monster gave a cry and lurched out of his arms. It flapped and then fell when Kevin reached for it. With a scared whimper, it streaked down the hall, crashed against the wall and crawled into the guest room.

“I guess that’s a good place for him,” said Kevin. Then he gave a resigned laugh and looked back to Trey.

“That wouldn’t upset you?” The question was out of his mouth before he realized just how important the answer would be.

Kevin waved a hand. “We’re going to sell it anyway, what’s a little more soot to clean up?”

“The stripping.”

“Oh.” That furrow appeared again. “No. You were dancing when I met you, why would I care if you go back to it? Hell, I was surprised you quit that money for a worse position.”

“There were a lot of guys who had problems with their wives or boyfriends because of it. Some of them would get into these huge public fights in the parking lot despite never mingling with the patrons.”

“Did I really come off so shallow that you thought I would do the same?” asked Kevin.

Trey shook his head. He still felt on edge, his body practically vibrating with tension. “No, not at all. I just…didn’t want to fuck this up, I guess, and I’d known a couple of guys who ruined their relationships over shit like that.”

Kevin lifted a hand, a smile turning the irritation in his face into simple exhaustion. “Trey. Babe.”

Trey took his hand and let himself be pulled into Kevin’s arms. The embrace felt stiff at first, then turned warm as Trey molded himself against Kevin’s body, breathing in the familiar masculine scent.

“So,” started Trey. “You don’t think I’m worthless?”

With a kiss against Trey’s temple, Kevin shook his head. “Never. God, I’ve just been tired. I want to provide for you, to show you that no matter what you do I will support you, so I’ve taken every job that’s come my way, but every job has taken more and more time away from you and that’s been slowly pissing me off.”

Trey buried his nose in the crook of Kevin’s neck. “And you’ll tell me if the stripping ever becomes a problem?”

“You’re the one who lets things fester,” said Kevin, but he added a warm chuckle and a, “Of course,” to show he wasn’t angry about it.

“When you think your boyfriend’s about to break up with you, it’s not exactly easy to bring up everything on your mind.”

Kevin’s hug tightened. “Now you know better and you’ll open your damn mouth.”

Trey snickered into Kevin’s shoulder, then pulled away slightly. “You like my mouth.”

“Yes, yes, I do.” The furrow was gone, replaced with crinkles around his eyes.

Trey flicked his gaze upward with a suggestive lift of his eyebrows and then watched in anticipation as Kevin looked up. Kevin’s mouth slowly curved before he slid his hand around Trey’s neck and brought him closer.

“Where’d that come from?”

“The sale rack. Someone had broken it.”

“Looks like it works to me.” Then Kevin slanted his mouth over Trey’s.

The kiss started tenderly, a reminder of what they were to each other, then turned scorching hot as Trey groaned and fisted Kevin’s shirt as his body remembered as well. He let Kevin lead, sighing as a hand ran through his hair, moaning as another gripped his ass. Kevin’s shirt whispered and their belt buckles clicked. His cock became a glorious thick line grinding upon Trey’s groin.

Kevin nipped at the ring in Trey’s lip as the kiss gentled once more. “I’ve heard you like giving head,” he whispered.

With a smile, Trey slid down Kevin’s body, buttons cool against his cheek. There he undid Kevin’s belt, pulled down the zipper of his khakis and tugged free Kevin’s beautiful cock. He closed his eyes as Kevin’s fingers sifted through his hair again, the touch massaging and caring and eager all at once. There was nothing perfunctory about that touch. Nothing at all. This wasn’t about a quick endgame or a needed release.

He leaned into Kevin’s fingers when they ghosted across his cheek. Looked up into Kevin’s gaze, finding him in no rush for Trey to get on with it. And for all that it shouldn’t have, the pure love shining there made that awful tickle start behind Trey’s eyes. He quickly blinked and licked around the tip of Kevin’s cock, working his cockhead to hear the ragged breaths tear from Kevin’s throat.

“Babe. God, babe.”

Trey smiled around the tip of Kevin’s cock, then eased all the way down, working his tongue, hollowing his cheeks in order to get some suction going. Kevin loved that. Tongue was good, deep throat wonderful, but Kevin really, truly loved rough suction with that occasional bite of teeth as if his cock belonged to a tough bad boy rather than the unassuming spell designer to whom it was connected.

Trey pushed until hair tickled his lips, then sucked fiercely upward, admittedly concentrating more on how good Kevin’s touch on his scalp felt than the blowjob he was performing. Wouldn’t matter. He could probably drop the ball entirely and Kevin wouldn’t care, still want Trey and still kiss him as if he’d never tasted anything better. And that just made Trey focus harder, eliciting such short, needy pants from Kevin that Trey felt them all the way through his core.

“Trey. Babe, I’m… You know I’m not usually this fast.” Kevin choked on the words, his fingers clenching in Trey’s hair and his hips canting. Trey felt Kevin’s balls lift up and his body jerk, then creamy spurts filled his mouth. A long, drawn-out groan filled the small house, ending with a noise that sounded vaguely like Trey’s name.

Almost immediately, Kevin tugged on Trey’s hair and slipped free, his cock red and bouncing as it fell from Trey’s lips. Then Kevin was on the floor in front of Trey, ripping open his jeans and yanking his briefs aside. He spat once into his hand and grabbed Trey’s cock in a firm grip, loosening the next second when Trey grunted in surprise. His other hand carded through Trey’s hair again before dragging him close for a sloppy, wet kiss that couldn’t mask the sound of Kevin’s fist pumping Trey’s cock.

Trey grabbed Kevin for support, gasping and kissing and fucking Kevin’s fist until he screamed in Kevin’s mouth and shot, spreading spend all over his jeans, his shirt and Kevin’s accommodating hand. Aftershocks made his dick twitch as Kevin continued smoothly stroking, things wetter by far with semen now smeared across his groin. He groaned and fell against Kevin, trusting him to hold them both up, those massaging strokes and deft fingers caressing around his cockhead and through his slit feeling loving and sweet.

The fact that they’d just had sex as awesome as when they’d first moved in together was even sweeter. Despite the fact that they were collapsed on the floor in an undignified mess. Or maybe because of it.

Trey swallowed against the dryness in his mouth and said, “That…so good.”

Kevin chuckled and kissed his nose. “Want to see some of the places I was looking at?”

“Give me a second. Actually, give me a minute. A few minutes. Or maybe I’ll be ready to move after Christmas.”

“That was the plan.”

Trey half-heartedly smacked Kevin’s arm. “What else are in your plans to fix us? I’ve liked everything so far.”

“Technically the mistletoe was you. As was the Christmas tree and the lights and the decorations.”

Trey smiled.

“You remember when you gave me that private dance a week after we met?”

“My seductive skills aren’t exactly subtle.”

“No, but it certainly worked. Thought I could get another one of those as my present as sort of a take-us-back-to-when-it-all-began sort of thing.”

Trey snorted. “That’s your amazing plan?”

Kevin sobered a little. “I didn’t really have a plan to fix things, Trey. I just wanted to see you smile again.”

“Funny,” whispered Trey, feeling those damn tears finally get the better of him. “I was wanting the same thing.”

The End