Written for the Summer of (Crossover) Love challenge.

by Lesa Soja

The air looked fresher after the sun went down, but when Joey opened the windows, it was no less hot. He left the house anyway and started walking. He'd been sitting inside too long.

The trees were a strange lucid green in the circles of the streetlights. He was going to learn this part. Sprayers were on over most of the lawns; the mist was warm on his legs as he passed. He hummed a little out loud. Chorus, bridge, chorus, and that key change was going to be hard for Lance, except Lance wasn't going to be singing it.

Joey started again from the top. Chorus. Bridge. Chorus.


He looked up, and he was at the playground. None of Brianna's friends or their parents were here at this time of night, but there was Nick Carter, sitting on a swing, his elbows hooked around the chains and his feet dragging in the sand. His shock of fair hair gleamed pale in the lamplight as he swung idly forwards and back.

"Carter," Joey said. He hesitated briefly and then went over and sat down on the other swing. "I didn't know you guys were in town."

"Just me, actually," Nick said. "Recording, and stuff."

"Oh," Joey said. "Yeah."

"Hot enough for ya?" Nick said after a moment.

"Hot as hell."

Nick nodded. "Gotta love Orlando."

Joey snorted.

"You don't get spring here. Winter, or, well, rainy season, and then, bam!" Nick smacked his knuckles into his other palm. "-Summer, full on."

"Yeah," Joey said. He shook his head. "Man."

"How's Brianna?" Nick said.

Brianna, Brianna, Brianna. Joey laughed harshly.

"Hey, um - "

"No, uh. She's good, she's fine. She's at her mom's." Joey wiped sweat from the side of his neck with his hand. "It's just. Seems like that's all anybody asks me anymore."

"Sure," Nick said.

Joey resettled his grip on the chains. He looked across the park at the slides.

"You ever regret having her?" Nick said.

"No," Joey said quickly. "No. Never."

Nick nodded and went on swinging. Joey bit his lip.

"Look. We started so early - fuck, I don't have to tell you that - and we had to work so hard. Lou used to tell us, 'If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen' - "

Nick rolled his eyes. "Us, too."

"And I guess we always kinda thought, if we put in our time then, we'd get a chance later, after we'd made it, to catch up. To, I don't know. Kick back. Fool around."

"Have fun."

"Yeah, something like that." Joey was talking too much, talking and talking. He couldn't believe Nick was still listening to him. "So we did make it. And we kept working. And we had fun, too, but still, always work. And then, this baby - I love her, but, I'm all of a sudden responsible for her, she always has to come firstů"

"Yeah," Nick said softly. "Howie said you don't get to be young anymore, once you start."

"Uh," Joey said. He glanced at Nick and then back down at his own feet. "Right."

"Aren't you guys on break now, though?"

"'Hiatus,'" Joey said, "yeah." He frowned at the flame on his ankle, scratching out a ditch in the sand with that heel. "But, y'know, still got Brianna, still got work... and if it's a permanent break and I'm just left holding the bag..."

"Yeah," Nick said, low and gentle. "I know what you mean."

"It's not the same alone."

"Yeah," Nick said again, and his voice was even sweeter. Joey looked over. Nick was staring at him with impossibly dark eyes. The muscles of Nick's thigh shifted lazily as he rocked the swing back and forth.

Now Joey knew what Nick had been listening to. At least he was back on familiar ground now, anyway. No more of this swamp of words. "It is too damn hot," he said slowly.

Nick nodded. "Orlando," he said. "It's been summer since March."

Joey reached over and wrapped his fingers around the chain of the other swing, just above Nick's arm. "Since we're so grown up and all," he said, "you wanna come back to the house and fuck?"

Nick smiled. "Sure," he said.

Joey stood up and turned back towards his house, and Nick fell into step next to him. They walked side by side with the muggy air between them. The crickets were very loud, or maybe they were cicadas or something. Joey'd grown up in the city, he didn't know.

The spray from a sprinkler hit his calf. His skin prickled.

When he stepped through his doorway, he had to blink in the darkness. Nick had paused just inside, turning towards him. Joey put a hand on Nick's chest and pushed him back against the door.

Nick's mouth was hot, his chest rising and falling under Joey's fingers. Joey licked at Nick's tongue, felt Nick's hand in his hair. He was straining hard against Nick, and all his veins were humming.

Nick spread his fingers out against Joey's cheek, holding him back. He was smiling. "Since we're so grown up and all," he said, "you wanna go upstairs and fuck on a bed?"

Joey led him up the staircase. Brianna's room was dark and quiet as they went by.

In his own room, Joey bent to turn on the bedside lamp. Nick had kicked off his shoes and was pulling off his T-shirt. In this light, his hair looked golden. Joey went and ran his hand up Nick's arm, the sun on his shoulder.

They rolled over on the bed, and Nick rolled on top of him. Joey kicked some covers out of the way and brought his leg back up to wrap over Nick's thighs. "Nick," he said, "Nick," and Nick lifted his teeth from Joey's neck to say,


He pushed up onto his knees then, resting his weight on one hand, and pressed the other to Joey's shoulder, nudging. "I really wanna fuck you," he said, and Joey turned over beneath him, brushing against Nick's legs and chest. Nick's cock slid heavily against Joey's ass as he bent low over his back. Joey shifted restlessly.

"You know," Nick said in his ear, "it's gonna be summer for a long time. Till October, at least."

Joey groaned and closed his eyes. Nick's hands on his skin were exactly the same temperature as the air.