The rain caught Carrot by surprise while he was in the middle of his walk and, by the time he was back to his flat, he was already soaked to the bone. His ambitious plan to spend at least one more hour out went down the drain, so to speak, so he was forced to come back earlier than he wanted.
And he really hoped to be back later. At this point though, he was too wet, too cold and too uncomfortable to care.
Lately, the things with his flatmate and himself got somewhat... weird. He wasn’t sure what exactly happened when he got back one night, drunk and (probably) clingy after the fight he had with his brother, but it had to be something embarrassing, judging by how Edge’s behavior changed overnight.
It wasn’t a big change, mind you. Carrot would even call it subtle. But he had noticed that. He'd noticed how the other skeleton was giving him that odd look after some things Carrot said. He noticed how often he caught him staring when Carrot was busy with one chore or another. Keeping a casual conversation with Edge was a challenge, too, which was a pity because he had enjoyed those odd-hour talks with his ‘roomie’. Now as soon as he felt the conversation between them was getting tense and his own racing thoughts made it hard for him to continue, he usually retreated to his room. Or outside, depending on the weather and time of the day.
Unfortunately, this tactic was a bust today.
As he entered the flat, leaving wet footprints on the floor, he almost tripped over his flatmate’s long legs. Edge was sitting on the shoe rack, his long fingers tangled in the laces of his heavy boots. He had his leather spiked jacket already on, which meant that if Carrot just waited a few more minutes...
“Out again?” Carrot winced at his own terrible way of trying to act casual as he walked around his flatmate. He noticed the duffel bag on the floor, the same one he always saw Edge carry a few days a week. He never asked what was in there or where was he going...
Not his business, Carrot quickly thought as he took care of his own (horribly wet) shoes. The air in the flat was warm but he already felt his bones rattling slightly because of the cold clothes clinging to his body. Stars, he needed a shower right away or he was bound to be sick tomorrow.
“Yes. I have...,” Edge stood up and hesitated. Carrot could feel the red eye lights staring at him and winced but didn’t raise his head. “... a thing.”
Ah, yes. A thing. Edge had a thing and Carrot had a shower waiting for him.
“Mmm... and here I thought we get to shower together...,” Carrot blurted out a half-assed joke before even thinking about it. The delivery of that one seemed too flat even for him. He was so going to have a fever, he just felt it.
The silence that fell after that was slightly sobering and made him wince again. Good job on making things even more awkward. That was exactly what they needed, another layer of his... whatever he did back then. He didn’t entertain this train of thoughts and focused on freeing himself from his soaking wet hoodie that for some reason insisted on being glued to his cold bones.
“Alright,” rang in the narrow hallway, followed by a soft thud of the duffel bag being dropped back onto the floor. “I still have some time.”
Carrot was a little too distracted to register the meaning of those words immediately. He already took a few steps deeper into the flat, the wet hoodie in his hands. He stopped, suddenly frozen by the realization that hit him and turned around to look at his flatmate...
Who was leaning on the doorframe (too leisurely) with that wolfish look on his face.
What is happening?
“Okay...?” Carrot responded, dumbly.
He blinked a few times at the other skeleton and just... decided to move on with his life. Because what else was he supposed to do?
As he entered the bathroom and threw the wet hoodie into the hamper, he noticed that Edge wasn’t following him... so it seemed it was just a joke then. Ok, good. Perhaps that walk in the rain was less healthy than he thought and he was parkouring into conclusions now.
The first thing he did was to turn on the faucet to let the water flow and get warmer before he was ready for a good hot soak. The sound of falling water filled the bathroom and thoughts of warmth on his bones filled his mind.
Carrot grabbed the edge of his wet shirt, ready to take it off and turned around to close the door behind him. And then he almost had a soul attack, seeing the other skeleton standing there, with no jacket and no boots on.
“Stars...” Carrot gasped, startled. “... you should wear a bell or somethin’.”
The only answer he got was a smirk that looked both extremely attractive and terrifying - Edge somehow managed to pull that off. The effect was amplified when he closed the door behind him... and then he just brushed past Carrot towards the shower while taking his shirt off and throwing it carelessly on the floor next to the hamper.
Carrot’s eye sockets got wider and he quickly turned away from the other skeleton, almost afraid to look at him.
Holy shit, was this really happening? Or was it the fever? It had to be fever, he was just delirious... and was clearly hearing how clothes slide off of his flatmate’s body and land on a messy heap in the corner of the bathroom.
“... and you like it scalding hot,” Edge commented as he entered the shower and boldly checked the water by putting his body straight under the spray. Naked body.
Of course, he would be naked. What heathen takes their shower clothed?
(Sans. Probably. He wouldn’t put that past him.)
“Uh... yeah, I got soaked in the rain, so I kinda... hoped it will help,” he mumbled and hurried to take off his own clothes. Because that seemed more reasonable than standing dumbfounded in the middle of the bathroom and staring at his naked flatmate. “You... you can make it colder, it’s fine...”
Carrot should be explaining himself right now. Protesting the whole horrendous idea that for some unfathomable reason Edge was so eager to fulfill. But his mind was blank and his body moved on its own accord, eager to get out of the cold clothes and into the warmth. That was the plan since he got home anyway.
He entered the shower, quickly checking the water with his hand before he dared to step inside. Some part of him that wasn’t too shocked to function noticed that it was still hot, just as he liked.
And then he just stood there, facing Edge. Staring at the red eye lights, the sharp handsome angles of his face, the wolfish smirk. He couldn’t move.
Whatever was on Carrot’s face at that moment, it must have been very clear to see because Edge’s expression softened.
“You alright there?”
“I... uh... hah...” Carrot looked away. God, this was so embarrassing. They were already there, naked, with water pouring over them. Could he turn back now? Would it be better to just get out, dry off and hide in his room again? For forever this time.
“It’s... I didn’t expect...” Carrot continued his mumbling and made a very vague gesture that explained absolutely nothing. “Just...”
A scarred hand softly touched his shoulder. “Turn around,” Edge said and Carrot quickly obeyed as if it was an order, not a gentle request.
With his shoulders hunched and the neck hidden between them, he tensely waited for something to happen and listened to the sounds behind him. Some shuffling, a sound of shower gel spilling out of the bottle, a shallow sigh.
He eyed the distance from where he was to the bathroom door but the rational part of his mind told him that bolting on those tiles while wet would end up horribly. And then he felt the touch on his shoulders.
Edge clearly decided to use both of his hands - one armed with a soft washcloth that Carrot made sure to be replaced regularly, and the other bare and already soapy up to the wrist. With slow circles, Edge worked his way down the right shoulder and then the shoulder blade using the washcloth. The other hand kept Carrot steady, just holding him by the upper part of his humerus.
“Oh... this is nice...,” Carrot muttered in a slightly surprised tone. The soft scrubbing on his back that moved slowly from right to left indeed felt nice. His shoulders relaxed.
“I figured that was the point,” Edge responded in a calm voice.
The slim hand moved to Carrot’s neck. Long fingers curled lightly around the front of his vertebrae with the thumb pressing on the back. It didn’t feel bad. If Carrot was to be honest, it was quite pleasant. Secure. The situation was still awkward as all hells but it was also turning out to be comfortable. In that very weird and very uncharted way.
Carrot just hummed in agreement and allowed his eye sockets to close, just for a moment. The washcloth moved slowly down, fitting between the ribs near his spine, reaching those hard to reach spots that he always strained to wash himself. He liked being clean but it was rare for him to have enough energy to give himself such a deep scrub, especially there.
The sound of falling water was soothing and the steam in the shower already warmed the air enough for him to not feel cold. Even the soap foam sliding down his spine and dripping from his ribs was pleasant. Maybe this was a dream? A feverish one but surprisingly nice.
The bliss didn’t last long enough though and he felt himself jerk awake when his body started to lose balance. He quickly placed a hand on the wall on his left to stop himself from collapsing into the tub and in all that commotion his pelvis bumped into something behind him.
“Sorry... sorry!” Carrot blurted out and only then it hit him which body part of his touched Edge’s. He felt his magic immediately creep up to his face. It was probably a record in how many times he could turn the situation extremely awkward in 5 minutes. He should get an award for that. And a smack on the head. “... I... I dozed off.”
The hand that held him around the vertebrae squeezed softly and let him go. “That’s ok,” Edge spoke with a delay that made Carrot anxious again. He messed up, didn’t he?
Edge just touched his shoulders with both hands, only to coax him to turn around again and... continued.
At this point, Carrot could just do the rest himself and didn’t really need any help with that. So the fact that the other skeleton didn’t mind doing that for him was honestly baffling to the point that Carrot just stared at the scarred sternum in front of him. He still knew his face was flushed in that ugly, embarrassing way and kept hoping that Edge didn’t notice that. Or at least that he would keep that particular observation to himself.
It took Carrot a while to relax back. He wasn't closing his eye sockets this time, thank you, but at least that nice feeling on his bones was back... and he noticed that not only his bones appreciated that oddly placed care. With a small pang in his soul, he understood how touch-starved he has been.
Every brush of the washcloth left a warm, pleasant sensation on his bones, leaving him yearning for just a second more. It was like finally reaching that one particular itch on the back of his spine he had long enough to ignore and somewhat function. He barely noticed when he let out a soft, content sigh over such a simple thing as a soapy hand reaching between his radius and ulna.
An amused huff dragged him back from his own musings to the real world and he caught the gaze of red eye lights looking at him from above. Edge was smirking, though Carrot could have sworn it wasn’t the same wolfish expression he wore when he closed the bathroom door.
Without a word, Edge crouched in front of him and before Carrot was half the mind to object, the washcloth was already scrubbing soapy circles on his left femur. It would probably be stupid to tell him to stop now, right? He wasn’t sure this line of thinking was sound but nothing else came to him at this point. So he just stared at Edge from the very new vantage point and watched the water wash over the scarred bones.
He seemed... focused. In the way Carrot didn’t get to see yet. Edge was usually scowling when he attempted to cook or work through the harder crossword puzzles, so this wasn’t the same. The expression he had was calm and so different. It was uncharacteristic to see him like this, but Carrot noticed he didn’t mind. It was better than being frustrated, after all.
Only after watching Edge for a while he registered some of the undeniable facts. The other skeleton was kneeling in front of him, all naked. And Carrot was also naked.
He managed to stifle the groan of frustration for his mind wandering that way and turned his head to the side to avoid looking at him again. He couldn’t ignore the sensations though, as Edge’s hands were clearly occupied with his lower half - one hand holding the top of his femur, very close to the hip bone while the other scrubbed the washcloth along his tibia and fibula.
Even though Edge almost always had both hands on Carrot’s body, the whole thing still seemed... pure. He didn’t linger with his touch, the hold on him was always secure but gentle, he even very pointedly avoided getting close to the front of Carrot’s pelvis. Not once did his hand wander in a way that would make him uncomfortable. Nothing Edge did warranted those kinds of thoughts (and yet there they were).
He almost breathed in relief when the other skeleton stood up, towering over him once again and Carrot desperately reached for the washcloth. “My turn.”
Edge handed it to him without a word and turned around, baring his back to him.
A very wide and strong back, Carrot might add.
After applying a new portion of shower gel, Carrot started returning the favor and rubbed gentle circles into the scarred bones. He was honestly worried about how many scars there were and tried avoiding the deeper ones, afraid that the washcloth’s fibers might catch on one of those and hurt the other skeleton. Especially that jagged one on the bottom of Edge’s right shoulder blade looked... painful.
“You can press harder,” Edge suggested as he turned his head just enough to be able to glance at Carrot with the corner of his eye socket.
“Right...,” Carrot nodded and applied more pressure. He had to brace his hand against the other skeleton’s back to do so but he was rewarded with a pleased sigh. With that, he felt more confident in his clumsy washing ministrations and continued.
He followed the same path that Edge took with his bones, figuring that this might be the way he liked it to be done. There were no complaints about that, and Carrot decided to take it as a good sign. It was somewhat mesmerizing to see his own hands slather soap foam on the other skeleton’s bones, trying to reach every nook and cranny between the joints.
Just when he reached the space between Edge’s lower ribs and moved the washcloth gently towards the spine, the taller skeleton jerked to the side as if stung and breathed loudly.
Carrot stilled. “Stars, I’m sorry... I didn’t know it’s...”, he started apologizing, horrified he might have somehow hurt him.
“I’m ticklish there,” Edge interrupted him and rubbed the space between the sensitive ribs. He turned around, facing Carrot with a somewhat self-conscious scowl.
“... ticklish,” Carrot echoed his words, relaxing the grip he had on the washcloth.
Edge nodded, staring at him.
“I thought you were too cool to be ticklish...,” Carrot blurted out, letting his personal and very weird thoughts flow freely and without the filter.
The taller skeleton pressed the back of his hand to his sharp teeth and chuckled. And then he started laughing. His voice boomed in the confines of the shower curtain and the bathroom acoustics made that rare sound seem otherworldly. And beautiful.
As if that short moment between them was enough to erase all the weirdness and awkwardness Carrot felt from the very second he tripped over Edge’s legs, the rest of the shower went... pleasantly. He discovered a few other places where his flatmate was ticklish, which was endearing and something he remembered fondly rather than all the awkward thoughts he had to deal with before.
As Carrot entered the living room half an hour later, all squeaky clean, warmed up and bundled in his favorite thick pajamas, Edge was already tying his heavy boots in the hallway.
“I think you’re gonna be late... for your... uh... thing. Sorry,” he said softly. He was selfish enough to admit to himself that he wasn’t that heartbroken over this.
Edge rose from the shoe rack and straightened the leather jacket that fit his broad shoulders very well.
“I’m not,” he admitted with his signature wolfish smirk as he closed the distance between them.
“Oh... okay,” Carrot mumbled and didn’t move away when the other skeleton loomed over him.
Edge leaned closer and tilted his head before planting a very soft and chaste kiss on Carrot’s cheekbone. “Goodnight,” he murmured and turned around to leave.
Carrot remained at his spot, with a goofy expression on his face and soul fluttering madly in his ribcage as his flatmate looked one last time at him before closing the door behind him.