The burning heat of summer wouldn’t relent, no matter how much it rained (or didn’t rain). It was a decades old problem that only worsened as climate change advanced and Earth’s temperature rose, particularly if you lived in areas of the city where trees had been recently cut in order to avoid major interference with the energy cables; there were no shadows to dull the sun’s potent rays and no leaves to breathe in the carbon dioxide and exhale refreshing oxygen into the streets.
That’s why Alexandre was so fond of his garden; he tended to the plants with extra careful hands, making sure to give a bit of shadow for the ones prone to dehydrate under the hellish abrasion of Brazilian summer, sinking his fingers into the cool, damp, fertile earth. The enclave may have authority over what needs to be done to the city in a general manner, but on the privacy of his house, the home he built together with his beloved husband; it was the place where he could have some semblance of control over.
The trees were growing steadily and soon would bear fruit, even though their branches were still on the thin side, but most of the garden already provided fresh ingredients for most of his home-cooked meals.
The sense of pride he felt looking at those beautiful, gorgeous miracles of Mother Nature was so overwhelming he found it hard to breathe. A cold nose muzzled on his forearm and he gasped softly, with a single tear escaping his wet eyes and he quickly got rid of it with the back of his wrist, hands still dirty from gardening.
“Hey, Cas, where’s Pollux? Still asleep? You ladies sure love a little sesta, don’t you?”, he forced a small laugh, chest a bit lighter now that Castor was by his side, licking his arm as if he’d injured himself. “I’m okay, girl… It’s just… I don’t know, I guess it doesn’t matter. I’ll get better, alright?”.
With a light bump of his elbow, he gave Castor another smile and got up, clapping his hands to get rid of the excess dirt.
“Guess I better start prepping dinner… You hungry, girl?”
Alexandre went inside, with Castor right behind him, and he closed the door softly.
Pollux raised her head from the couch and yawned, extending her paws to stretch right before jumping to the ground and joining both Alex and Cas on their way to the kitchen.
Alex was almost done rinsing off the soap when there was a key turning the lock and in came Roger, looking like he just got run over by the Comlurb truck.
It only served to attract a worried couple of twins, with Castor and Pollux pawing at his thighs and licking his hand when he stretched it to scratch them behind the ear, one at a time, still holding his work bag.
“Hey, chuchu, what’s wrong?”, he shook his hands and grabbed a towel, drying his hands on the way to the front door.
“Just a long day, darling”, they kissed and Alex let his fingers run through Roger’s hair. Roger sighed. “How about yours? Everything alright at work?”
While Roger went through the usual ritual of leaving his keys on the hanger by the entrance hall, taking off his shoes and leaving his work bag lying on the general vicinity of the couch, Alex went right behind, studying his lover, hands already dry, but still fiddling with the towel.
“Same as always. Feel like cooking tonight? I was hoping you’d give me a hand, I just took the longest time tending to the garden.”
Roger slumped on the couch and sighed.
“How do you manage to do so much when it’s this hot?”
“Born and raised in Hell de Janeiro, dear. But don’t think the heat doesn’t get to me either; that’s why I spend so much of my time making sure none of the crops are withering during my working hours.”
“You sure are more well prepared for this weather than I am”, Roger practically tossed his shirt off his body and turned on the ceiling fan.
Alex waited another beat before asking again:
“So that’s a no?”
“A ‘no’ for what?”, Roger turned, looking confused and sweating all over.
“Help. Cooking. Dinner”, Alex raised an eyebrow, a bit put out. Was Roger not listening at all?
“Oh”, realization dawned on his husband’s face. “I don’t know, love, can’t we order something tonight? I promise we’ll cook tomorrow. Or next time the weather doesn’t feel like it’s trying to actively murder me”, he chuckled and extended his arms. “Come here.”
Alex hung the towel on his shoulder and walked towards Roger, ready to sit right beside him.
Roger had other ideas, so he grabbed Alex by the arms and pulled him into his lap, locking him in a sweaty, sticky hug and a burning hot kiss to his lips.
“Chuchu, cê tá grudento”, Alex laughed and scrunched up his face in fake disgust.
“I know, but I want to cuddle… Just for a bit. Then we can order from one of your favorite restaurants, okay?”
“Deal”, Alex kissed him and wrapped his arms loosely around Roger’s neck. It was drenched in sweat like he expected, but he didn’t mind all that much.
“And dear?”, Roger interrupted the kiss, a bit breathless because of the heat and the significantly reduced oxygen inhalation.
“Yes?”, Alex caressed one of his cheeks with his thumb, taking his sweet time in feeling the light scratch of a stubble that wasn’t there at the beginning of the week.
“We’re sleeping with air conditioning on tonight. That’s final.”
Alex gaped, with fake exhasperation.
“But darling, the bills! You know how expensive light is during summer!”, then his façade cracked and he giggled.
“You cheeky—”, Roger grinned widely and started tickling Alex, both falling into a fit of laughter that sure left them both even more sweaty.
Well, at least this gave them a perfect excuse to spend quite some time under the cold shower, cleaning up and cooling down.