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Hot to the Touch

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“I just want you to know that you suck,” Stiles stated definitively.

“I suck?” Scott replied, raising an eyebrow at the out-of-nowhere comment. Up until Stiles’s pronouncement, the boys had been talking about how great their trip to the beach had been. There’d been waves, Frisbees, bikinis, and absolutely no one trying to kill either of them. They couldn’t have asked for a better, more normal, afternoon.

Stiles nodded, then winced. “You definitely suck. I mean, can you even get sunburned?” He waved a hand toward Scott who was still dressed in his swim trunks and sandals. While Scott’s skin was darker than it had been that morning, there was no sign of the raging red that covered Stiles’s face and body and that made the touch of air too much for his tender skin. Not for the first time, he cursed his Polish complexion that practically burned at the first mention of the word sun. He was now sitting gingerly on the edge of Scott’s bed, unable to lay back or stand up since he was sure his skin would crack and peel right off his body if he did. Meanwhile, his best friend was sprawled across that bed without any thought being given to how unfair it was that he was flaunting how much he didn’t hurt.

“I’ve been sunburned,” Scott reminded him, thinking back to the previous summer and how his first day windsailing had ended with him throwing up from heat exhaustion. It had taken two days to recover enough to mentally tolerate going back outside.

Stiles scoffed. “I meant now, with your super-wolf-healing powers. You can’t get sunburned, can you? You’ll just tan and tan and tan—“

“You should’ve put sunblock on,” Scott interrupted. He propped his head up on his arms and took in Stiles’s cooked-lobster visage. Stiles also hadn’t changed out of his swim trunks, mostly because any other clothing would inevitably touch the burned parts of his body. Stark demarcation lines on his thighs and waist marked where the fabric had protected him. If possible, those lines were redder than the rest of his friend’s skin. They also made him look like he’d been assembled from mismatched parts.

“I did!” Stiles wailed.

Scott fished the plastic bottle out of the pile of damp towels and discarded street clothes on the floor and inspected the label. Stiles had indeed gotten the heavy duty sunblock, the kind that vampires would choose in those movies where the sun made vampires combust. Since he was thinking about it, though … “You’re not a vampire, are you?” The corner of his mouth curled up on the question as he fought to keep a straight face.

“No, I’m not a vampire, you idiot,” Stiles snapped. “There’s no such thing as vampires.”

“Had to check,” Scott replied. He dropped the bottle back into the pile. “Since, you know, I can hear my mom making garlic bread and….”

“You know what I think?” Stiles bulled on. “I think the sunscreen was defective. Yeah. I bet it’s not even sunscreen in that bottle. I bet it’s just hand lotion, or something.”

Scott sat up at that. The mattress bounced under his shifted weight and Stiles let out a pained groan. “Lie down,” he ordered, as he ducked out of his room and headed for his mom’s.

“Not gonna happen,” Stiles called after him. “No way, never again. And did I say no? I am never moving from this spot!”

Scott returned a moment later, his arms laden with bottles of creams and lotions that his mom liked. “Never?” He let the pile fall onto the bed next to Stiles and started rifling through them. There hadn’t been anything in her bathroom that specifically addressed sunburn, but he knew that any lotion that didn’t contain alcohol should help.

Stiles eyed the search, frowning when Scott’s hand rested too long on a bottle of Vanilla-Rose scented cream and biting his lip when Scott’s hand brushed past a Black Currant one. To tease him, Scott let his hand drift back toward the Vanilla-Rose, grinning as Stiles’s heart rate rose. He finally selected the Black Currant, and heard a hitch in Stiles’s breathing that had nothing to do with worry. Scott crawled on the bed behind his friend without comment, the bottle gripped tight.

Stiles tensed up in anticipation. At the first sting of the cold cream spilling onto his back, he flinched. The lotion started to work its magic and the coolness dissipated. More cream was slathered on as if Scott planned to use the entire bottle in one go, and then the weight of Scott’s warm hands came to rest on his shoulders. They should have hurt, yet they didn’t—which didn’t mean they wouldn’t. “There had better not be any claws on those fingers,” Stiles warned.

Scott huffed out a laugh. “Don’t worry,” he replied. “I wouldn’t do that to you.” Leaning closer to Stiles’s ear, he added in a low voice, “Just remember that you said ‘never’.” Then his hands started to move, smearing the strongly scented lotion all down Stiles’s arms, over his shoulder blades, down the curve of his back.

Stiles shivered under the touch, and under the relief of the sunburn’s pain easing. He sighed, a long exhalation that seemed to drain his muscles of their strength to keep him upright. Was this why he never remembered how badly he sunburned? Out loud, he commented, “I only speak the truth.”

“Liar,” Scott whispered. His hands lifted away and Stiles leaned back, reflexively searching for their touch.

Stiles heard the depression of plastic as the lotion bottle was squeezed, and then Scott’s hands were back, curling around his ribcage and onto his stomach, his breath adding extra coolness to where the lotion moistened his shoulders. Stiles shivered again. “Fine,” he replied. “You still suck.”

Scott’s eyebrow quirked and the smile pulled again at his mouth. “As long as you don’t hold that against me,” he said. Gathering the excess lotion that hadn't yet been absorbed into Stiles's skin, he let his hands drift toward that fierce red line at Stiles’s waist where it would definitely be appreciated.