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Channel after channel, all Leo found was the same disappointing nonsense. Children programs with too bright colors and exaggerated voices; morning talk shows whose hosts' faces seemed frozen in forced perkiness; reruns of series Leo hadn't particularly liked when they had first aired twenty years earlier. He eventually stopped on the news channel to wait for the weather forecast. He felt like going out for a while around town. If the weatherman announced clouds or rain, he would chance a walk outside. It drove Lisa and Brett crazy with worry when he did that, but sometimes a bit of fresh air was just the thing, even for a vampire.
"Bright sun today over the entire viewing area, with temperatures rising to the mid-eighties. It's the perfect day to be out, folks!"
Leo sank lower into the lush sofa cushions and glared at the beaming blonde on the screen. With a raging thumb, he hit the mute button. She continued to gesture at the animated map behind her. Another press of his thumb made her disappear, and he was back to flipping through channels. He kept the sound on mute, listening to the noises of life behind him.
Without looking, he knew who had come out of the bedroom, closed the door quietly and crossed over to the kitchen. It was much too early for Lisa to be up, so it had to be Brett now opening a cupboard for a mug. He closed his eyes and pictured him pouring his obligatory morning coffee. In his mind, Brett was naked as he sipped on his mug while scrambling eggs on the stove. Frowning lightly, Leo added an apron to cover his lover's dangly bits; it wouldn't do to have grease splatter over sensitive skin. The apron disappeared again with the sounds of a fork on aporcelain plate. Brett usually ate his breakfast standing, leaning against the countertop. Leo played with the mental image, finding the best angle, imagining himself turning Brett around and having him lean down against the counter, with his thighs spread just so and--
"Care to join me for a run?"
Leo opened his eyes to find the object of his daydream standing just three feet from him. Sadly, he was dressed in a pair of sweatpants, running shoes and a t-shirt. Leo's cock, which had been hardening with his mental meandering, lost interest.
"Another time, maybe." He gestured vaguely toward the television. "I was watching that."
Brett glanced at the television, and Leo winced when he followed suit and discovered he had just claimed to be interested in a shopping network's sale on maternity outfits. He looked back at Brett just in time to catch a flash of disappointment. He kept his eyes on him as Brett walked to what Leo had privately nicknamed the 'torture chamber'. He'd grown up and been turned long before exercise had become fashionable, and while he had run his fair share of races, he couldn't understand what satisfaction Brett found in running without getting anywhere.
Before long, the familiar buzzing and rhythmic steps started filtering through the closed door, distracting Leo as he tried to focus on some show that made as little sense with the sound on as it did muted. Switching the television off, he put on the tennis shoes he kept by the front door and joined Brett in the exercise room. The smile he received as he entered gave meaning to the pointless running, and it felt like less of a chore to step onto the second treadmill next to Brett and turn it on.
They ran side by side for a while, their machines at the same speed and their strides oftentimes matching. On the wall in front of them, a smaller television was set to the news channel, and the blonde woman returned to herald sunny weather.
Leo turned his head to glance at his partner, catching him with his head thrown back as he drank from a water bottle. Leo found himself thirsty for more than water, suddenly. Seeking to distract himself, he asked: "Why don't you run outside?"
Having returned the bottle to its holder, Brett thumbed the controls of the treadmill. A shrill beep announced the speed increase.
"I don't know. It's just more convenient to stay here."
Without thinking, Leo increased the speed of his machine as well, keeping up with Brett.
"You've always run?" he asked
"Since high school, yeah." Brett's voice was beginning to sound uneven. "I was in track and field. It feels like an eternity ago."
Leo laughed, a trace of bitterness tinting his amusement. "I know what you mean."
Another press of his finger raised the speed again. He increased his rhythm to keep up with the machine, aware of Brett's eyes on him until the matching beep came.
"Did you use ... to run too?" Brett asked. Talking seemed to be more difficult for him now.
"Not like this, but yeah, I did. Way back."
For almost a minute, the only sounds were those of their feet hitting the treadmill and Brett's breathing. Then he thumbed the speed control, going up rather than down as Leo had anticipated, and asked: "How long ago was 'way back'?"
Leo snorted to himself. He should have seen that line of questioning coming.
"Not long enough that you can take me."
This time, he didn't simply raise his speed to match Brett's, but pushed it two levels more. Immediately, Brett did the same, wordlessly accepting the challenge. When Leo looked at him, he found Brett grinning despite his heavy breathing. They held on to that speed for a few minutes--longer than Leo would have expected Brett to last--but finally a series of quick beeping noises announced that Brett was giving up. His treadmill came to a slow pace for a couple of minutes then stopped. Turning off his own machine, Leo watched him guzzle down water even as he held on to his side. All he could hear, now, was Brett's breathing and heartbeat. Both followed a fast rhythm that drew Leo to his lover.
"No fair," Brett said, his smile belying the words.
Leo didn't reply in words, and simply laid a hand on Brett's damp t-shirt, right over his heart, feeling it pound so hard he could almost have believed it was beating in his own chest.
"Share a shower with me?"
Brett's offer sounded casual, but they both knew what lay behind it. They had shared quite a few showers in the past months, and most ended the same way. Leo wouldn't have minded one bit, but in the mood he was in, he knew he'd ask more time from Brett--more attention--than usual, and he didn't want to show such a needy side of himself to Brett.
"If we take a shower now," he said, "I'm not letting you get out of the apartment before night."
He watched Brett swallow hard, and delighted in the burst of desire that overlaid the sweat in his scent.
"As tempting as it is, I do have appointments to keep and a business to run."
The answer was anything but unexpected, yet Leo rolled his eyes. "You workaholic."
Brett's eyes sparkled when he laughed. "Isn't that Lisa's line?"
Leo kissed him hard, stealing again the breath that Brett hadn't quite caught yet. Brett's tongue caressed along his teeth, right where his fangs hid, in a gesture that had become familiar in the past months. Replying as always, Leo dropped his fangs. Brett deliberately nicked his tongue on one and the flavor of blood burst on Leo's tongue. He hummed, low in his throat, and felt Brett shiver against him before he pulled away.
"Later," he said with a hitch in his voice, and Leo smiled at the promise this simple word held.