Otabek leaned back on his hands, then sat up again too late to slap away one of the black flies that were the main topic of conversation around here. He rubbed his calf where a welt was rising. He and JJ were sitting together on the front steps, feet in the sunshine and the rest of them in the shade.
"At least we're at the cottage and not baking in the city." JJ leaned over and dropped a hand on Otabek's leg. "The fall weather will be nice, though."
Otabek looked at the back of JJ's hand, his long fingers curving lightly around Otabek's thigh. "It will be cooler by ten," he said, "down by the dock."
"Good idea," JJ said and squeezed.
"Rain's going to let up soon." JJ looked up at the sky and tipped water from his umbrella down Otabek's neck.
Otabek shivered. "That's what you said last week."
"It's a total anomaly!" JJ splashed through a puddle. "Winter's going to be mild, though."
"I need a new umbrella," Otabek said. His had broken in yesterday's windstorm, turning inside out and nearly blowing away before he could throw it out.
"No, you don't." JJ grabbed Otabek around the shoulders and pulled him in close. "There's room for two under here."
"Isn't it cool?" JJ opened the curtains. "Most snow we've ever had in twenty-four hours!"
Otabek looked out at the heavy layer of snow covering everything, roads, cars, Otabek's bike at the curb. It looked like the sickly white icing on those pastries JJ kept buying for him. "We're stuck."
"Spring will be nicer, it's so pretty here." JJ stretched. "We can still work out, though." He pulled his off shirt over his head. "Race you for push-ups."
"Sure," Otabek said but JJ was already five ahead before Otabek joined him.
"Watch out!" JJ called.
Otabek jumped back from the curb but not in time to avoid the mud that splattered across his jeans. His new jeans.
"There should be a tax on cars!" JJ said. "A mud tax."
"To pay for cleaning?" Otabek said.
"Exactly! Anyway, the summer will be nice." JJ stopped one the sidewalk and turned to Otabek. He was silent for a moment. "You're coming out to the cottage, right?"
Otabek reached out and took JJ's hand, letting their fingers slide together and answering JJ's smile. "Right."
beltenebra is up!