Joel stares at the ceiling, wide awake, his thoughts turning inward as he remembers the day he met Chester. It had been love at first sight that night when, upon hearing footsteps approaching from his right, Joel had whipped his head up from the screen of his smart phone and peered through the shadows, feet frozen in creeping fear. Chester had stopped when Joel did, feet planted in a clearing between trees, his face glowing faintly in the moonlight like a fallen angel tugging at the last reserves of divine power before the severance of everything.
“Hey,” Chester had said so very unromantically.
“Hey,” Joel had replied, and then stuffed his phone in the front pocket of his jeans to have an excuse to discreetly adjust his swelling crotch.
Chester, dressed in dark clothes, pierced from here to there, with black smudged circles around his eyes should’ve scared quiet, bookwormish Joel, but instead, Joel had noticed the soft brown curls wild beyond redemption framing a face with sharp cheekbones and a smooth strong jaw. He’d recognized the nervous fidgeting of Chester’s booted feet on the cracked concrete sidewalk. He’d caught the flicker of lustful curiosity chased by coy anxiety Chester had telegraphed in minutiae from gaze to expression to body language.
And Joel had fallen in love on the spot.
The first night they made love, Chester had tried to sneak out, but Joel had insisted that he stay, that they sleep curled together in warm afterglow.
“I snore.” Chester had warned him.
“It’s okay,” Joel had said. He’d tugged Chester back into bed, insistent and seducing.
“I’m really loud and–”
“Really.” Joel had kissed soft, trembling lips to reassure. “I’m a heavy sleeper,” he’d said.
That had not been 4 A.M., but it had been close.
Now, three months later, and still hopelessly in love, Joel takes a deep breath and rolls to his side. A truck could drive into the side of their apartment and Joel wouldn’t know over the noise that emanates from his Chester as the man sleeps. Being careful of the two rings through one nostril, Joel pinches Chester’s cute little nose. Chester snorts, flails one hand, and then rolls over without waking up. As soon as Joel sighs in relief, reveling in the sudden silence, and lowering his head to his pillow, Chester, with a deep sucking breath, roars out another ragged snore. Joel flinches and throws an arm over his face, folding a pillow over one ear.
It’s 4 A.M., and Joel is in love, even if he’ll never sleep a wink again.
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