Marshall never should have lain down.
He has so many chores to do and so little time between missions, but after he'd wrestled the fitted sheet over the mattress, the bed had looked so inviting.
He'd told himself a few minutes couldn't hurt.
Now the dryer is buzzing, alerting him to yet another finished load of laundry, and Marshall finds he lacks the will to stand up.
He pulls the one bed sheet he has tighter around himself. The cotton barrier is an inadequate defense against the December chill in the apartment and he reminds himself that he could fix this by getting up, walking the few feet to the laundry room, and retrieving the newly dry bedclothes. The effort would be minuscule and the warmth more than adequate reward.
He doesn't move.
The chill is making him sleepier.
He tells himself all he really has to do is stand, move just enough to cover the much shorter distance to the closet, and put on a shirt. Once he's done that much, putting forth the rest of the effort should be easy.
It's a reasonable plan. He resolves to execute it on the count of five.
He gets to twenty-seven and half before closing his eyes in defeat.
He doesn't know if it's one minute or several before Dash barges into the room.
"Slick, have you seen my—?" Dash stops and falls silent with a noise that sounds like "oh" which surprises Marshall a little, Dash X and common courtesy being things that don't usually mix.
He's even more surprised when a few seconds later, he feels the brush of Dash's fingers across his cheek.
"That thing with the disappearing Santa grotto really took it out of you, huh?" Dash murmurs.
Well, yeah. That and everything else about the hell that's the winter solstice busy season in the weirdness investigation business. Still, there's something about missing kid cases that always hits Marshall hardest. Especially when he isn't able to bring them back.
He can't resist betraying he's awake by leaning into the touch and making a noise of pleasure that's embarrassingly close to a moan. It's not only the unexpected gentleness of the gesture that does it.
It's that Dash's fingers are warm.
Marshall opens his eyes just enough to watch his associate's face, then reaches up and slowly takes hold of his arm.
Dash's eyebrows disappear into his hairline.
The look of surprise intensifies when Marshall's grip tightens, but Dash offers no resistance as he's pulled down toward the bed until he's off his feet and sprawled atop Marshall's body.
Oh god, he's so warm.
Dash's body heat is intense at the best of times—so much so it's caused more than one fight over the territory of their sleeping arrangements in the summer months—but right now, up against Marshall's cool skin, separated only by the t-shirt and jeans Dash is unfortunately still wearing, it feels like an inferno. Marshall holds him close, drinking it in.
Dash's heart is beating fast and hard against his own, probably in a mixture of surprise, confusion, and indecision about whether or not to struggle.
"Perfect," Marshall murmurs, burying his face in Dash's hair. It smells strongly of the sage and lavender ritual incense Simon's been burning in the office, which means Dash has been downstairs for an extended period on what's meant to be his afternoon off, probably by himself, and that's probably something Marshall should worry about, but he can't bring himself to care right now.
Dash makes a noise that's part protest and part amused snort. "What exactly are you doing?"
"Cold," is all Marshall can offer by way of explanation. Dash's warmth is seeping into his tired muscles and he can feel his will and higher brain functions slowly coming back online, but there's nothing in him that has the slightest inclination to move.
"Uh-huh." He can hear the smirk in Dash's voice. "And what do you expect me to do about it?"
Do? As far as Marshall's concerned, Dash can do anything he wants as long as he doesn't leave, but all that he really needs is, "Just…stay here, okay?"
Dash pulls away and Marshall nearly cries out in protest until he realizes its just enough so they can look each other in the eye. As expected, Dash's face is all smirking incredulity. "You want me to stay here with you, ignoring all the very important stuff I've got going on, so you can, what? Use me for my body heat?"
Marshall smiles. "Yeah."
"I could just get you a blanket."
"You won't, though," Marshall points out. Just because Dash has been flirting with common courtesy doesn't mean he's ready for that sort of serious commitment to the idea.
Dash shrugs as much as he can in this position, conceding the point. Then he shakes his head. "This is the stupidest thing you've ever asked of me, you know."
"I know." Marshall reaches up and runs his hands through Dash's hair, relishing the additional warmth the contact brings.
He tries to convey with his eyes alone just how much he wants this. Needs this.
"Fine," Dash says, at last. He settles back down, wrapping himself around Marshall's body and the cotton sheet around both of them. "You've got ten minutes."
Marshall shifts, snuggling closer to maximize how much they touch. "Okay."
"And you owe me. Big time."
"I mean it."
Marshall sighs in contentment, breathing in the sage-and-lavender-tinted scent of him, and snuggles closer still. "I know."
Two and a half hours later, when Simon gets home, he closes their door gently, leaving them undisturbed, asleep in each other's arms.