Axl gets a new reptile house for Slash, while Mark's jealousy begins to show itself.
“Christ, Axl…” I wrapped my arms around his waist and his mouth moved from my lips to my neck. Despite the fact that we hadn’t even been together a week, already I was in even deeper love with him than I had been. I’d pretty much moved in with Axl, much to my mom and grandmother’s relief; I think they were more happy to get me out than they were worried about who I was moving in with. Plus that, it made it a hell of a lot easier to get transportation to and from work, especially since my car wasn’t working too well anymore.
“Y’like that, Slash?” Axl mumbled against my neck, slowly rubbing my hardening cock through the denim of my jeans. His hot kisses trailed back up to my jaw, to the corner of my lips, and he paused, gently tracing his thumb over my mouth, before claiming it with his again, sliding his tongue across its roof.
“I… Ax… Axl…” It was all I could get out; as usual, Axl was robbing me of the power to think, to speak, to do anything but feel. When I was with him, I was drowning; it felt like we couldn’t get close enough, like no amount of his rough kisses or soft touches could satiate the lust I had for him.
“Yeah…?” he murmured, stroking my cheek with the back of his free hand. “It’s good, huh?”
“Mm…” I consented, sliding my fingers through his hair. It was soft, like silk; it smelled like coconuts. I started to say something else, but just then there was a knock at the door. Reluctantly, Axl pulled away from me, adjusting his shirt and clearing his throat.
“C’mon in,” I called, sliding off the desk and noticing too late that the papers were noticeably messed up from our interactions. The door opened, and Mark entered. Immediately Axl’s eyes narrowed; his shoulders tensed.
“Th’ fuck d’you want, McDunn?”
Mark sighed. “Just wanted Slash to know that the new shipments are in…”
“You mean the quetzal and the rhea?”
“No… the new reptile house.”
“Hey,” Axl snarled, stepping forward and curling his upper lip in a sneer. “I was gonna surprise him with that.”
“Well, that’s too damn bad,” Mark said coolly, rocking back on his heels. Axl’s long, pale fingers clenched on themselves, but before he could do anything aside from stepping forward again, I said hastily:
“What reptile house, Ax?”
He paused, sighed. Turning to me, he smiled faintly and stuck his hands in his pockets.
“It’s something I ordered in South America for you… it’s an expansion on the one we already have. You want me to show you?”
My heart rate sped up. I remembered Axl saying how afraid he was of snakes; I thought about the sacrifices he must’ve had to make to do this for me, and I smiled back, feeling my cheeks growing warm.
“Of course,” I said, and we headed for the door. As we were leaving, Mark called:
“Slash… you realize that this is going to cost us more money, right?”
I hesitated, my hand on the doorknob. “Yeah, so?”
“Well, this is still such a low-budget zoo… all I’m saying is, we might have to lay some people off.”
Axl glared at him. “You wish,” he snapped, and then he grabbed my wrist. “C’mon,” he muttered, and it wasn’t until we were halfway to the reptile house that I realized Mark had meant Axl.
“Why the hell does Mark even give a shit about you anymore?” I asked as we walked along.
Axl slid his fingers down from my wrist to my hand. “Because I fucking crushed him,” he said shortly. “And he can’t get over my rejection.”
“Does he know about you and Izzy?”
“No. He doesn’t know.” His tone was strange, but I didn’t question it. A moment later, we arrived at the reptile house, which looked the same from the outside.
“Y’ready to be awed and amazed?” he asked me, that charming grin on his face.
“Oh yes,” I said. Axl squeezed my hand, then pushed open the door. I stepped in… and then I just stared. He’d transformed the place completely, extending it into the ceiling, across the room. There were at least fifteen new species of snakes domineering their glass cages, gliding smoothly over the twining branches of their trees. Lizards lay curled on rough stones, staring at us with beady eyes. A king cobra, secluded in its sentry post by the door, lifted its hood as I walked past, and I shivered instinctively.
Axl came up behind me; wrapped one arm languidly around my waist, hooked his fingers in my belt loops. “What do you think?” he asked softly.
I paused, staring into the eyes of a frilled lizard. Then, slowly, I turned in Axl’s arms, kissing him, wrapping my arms around him. He lifted his free hand and stroked my cheek, kissing me back lazily, a smile curving the corners of his lips against mine.
When I pulled away from him, I pressed my forehead against his, feeling tears pricking at the corners of my eyes.
“I think,” I said, “that I’m in love with you.”
He chuckled quietly but did not reply. After a few seconds, I reached up and ran my fingers through his fine, copper hair, and I tried to convince myself that it was too soon, that I was being naïve, that it didn’t mean anything just because Axl hadn’t said he loved me back.