Luke didn’t know where to put his feet. It was an odd conundrum, admittedly, but he liked to curl up in bed in as tiny of a ball as his long limbs would let him and sleep the night away. The problem was that he was used to sleeping all alone in his big bed back home. This wasn’t his big bed. He wasn’t alone, and he wasn’t sure if he called this place home yet—if he was allowed to call this place home yet.
Next to him, Michael slept peacefully, completely oblivious to the turmoil inside of Luke’s mind. Michael looked handsome in his sleep. He always looked handsome, Luke thought, so Luke was loathe to wake him and ask where should I put my feet? It was a ridiculous notion anyway. Luke should just stretch out like a normal human being and go to sleep.
But Luke couldn't sleep without at least one of his arms hugging around something. Usually, that something was his knees. There wasn't enough room in Michael’s tiny bed for that, not without Luke putting his knees right into Michael’s back, and that wouldn’t be pleasant—for Michael or for Luke. Then Michael would definitely know how weird Luke was and, even though this was their first time sharing a bed, Michael wouldn’t want to sleep with Luke anymore.
He might not even want to date Luke anymore, and Luke couldn’t have that. He was head-over-heels in love with Michael. He had been since the moment they met, practically, when Michael was late for class on the very first day of the new semester and snuck in through the back door and sat down next to Luke, all dyed-hair and tattooed skin, and asked, ever so nicely, Can I borrow a pen? And, uh, maybe some paper, too? And, um, could I share your book?
It must have been the way Michael’s eyes twinkled when he met Luke’s gaze. Or maybe it was the way a smile stretched across Michael’s plump lips. Or it could have even been the way Michael leaned into Luke’s space, kind and strangely unobtrusive, like he was as immediately smitten with Luke as Luke was with him.
Michael liked to say that Luke was his knight in shining armor that day when Michael was nothing more than a bumbling idiot, having overslept and run all of the way from his dorm room in a pair of Calum’s old slippers and an ancient, holey black t-shirt that was probably Calum’s as well. Michael had stumbled into that lecture hall, and his eyes had immediately gone to Luke, drawn there like a moth to a flame.
However that fateful day had really played out—whether Michael was a smooth talker sneaking into class and, almost immediately thereafter, into Luke’s heart, or whether it had been Luke who had stolen Michael’s heart and ran away with it—Luke was glad that Michael was late to class that day. If Michael hadn’t been… well, there was no telling where Michael might have sat, and there was no guarantee that Luke would even be right here now, falling asleep in Michael’s bed for the first time.
Except, truth be told, Luke had not yet made it to the falling-asleep-stage.
He couldn’t get comfortable. He couldn’t curl up into a tiny ball. He couldn’t bunch up the covers and hug them and pretend that they were good enough to hug all night, because Michael looked warm underneath the sheets, and Luke couldn’t steal them away from him. He couldn’t even snag an extra pillow, because Michael was one of those strange subspecies of humans who believed in only sleeping with a single pillow. Luke had a mountain of pillows on his bed back home. They lined the two sides and the head of his mattress, and he was always enveloped in their softness.
Here, there was no such fort of pillows. Michael’s bed was, in spite of it all, soft, so Luke couldn’t complain about the mattress. All Luke had to complain about was that he couldn’t get comfortable in his own skin to fall asleep.
Maybe it was bigger than not being able to curl up into a tiny ball. Luke stared up at the ceiling, laying on his back with his knees bent and his feet tucked near his bottom, and thought that maybe it had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Michael’s bed was too small for Luke’s long limbs but rather that, maybe, Luke was living on borrowed time, pretending that he belonged in Michael’s bed.
Maybe Michael would realize that Luke didn’t fit into his life after all, because they were so, so different. Luke liked getting up early in the mornings, and he was useless after ten o’clock at night. Michael didn’t function until noon on a good day, and he loved the nighttime more than anything else. With Luke in Michael’s bed, there was no way Michael could miss how vastly different their timetables were.
Even worse, Luke liked cuddling, and he liked tangling his feet in Michael’s, and he liked the feel of Michael’s skin on his own, even something as simple as Luke’s face pressed in the curve of Michael’s neck. Michael slept all sprawled out, his limbs contained to half of the bed but otherwise spread, leaving no room to cuddle up with. Maybe Michael didn’t like sleeping pressed so closely to another human being like Luke desired. He would soon find out that Luke liked that, and he would have to tell Luke that it wasn’t working out—that he couldn’t sleep with somebody who had no respect for personal space…
Luke flipped uneasily onto his side, facing Michael and curling his own arm underneath his chin. It wasn’t quite enough, his arm hugging nothing but the air. He longed to drape it over Michael’s body, rest it on the slight curve of Michael’s belly, but he curled his hand into a fist instead, beating back the urge. He felt all alone in Michael’s tiny bed.
“Stop thinking so much,” rasped Michael.
Luke jumped, his heart skipping a beat in his chest. His eyes widened in the darkness. A rush of guilt washed over him. Michael had been sleeping so soundly. Luke probably woke him up with all of his tossing and turning in his attempt to get comfortable in Michael’s bed and fall asleep without curling up into his safe, little ball.
“Sorry,” whispered Luke. It was truthfully barely more than a breath molded to carry the apology. Luke didn’t dare speak any louder. The serenity that was blanketed over Michael was too precious to threaten. “Can’t seem to fall asleep.”
Michael shuffled a little in bed, scooting over toward the middle where Luke’s free hand grazed the invisible dividing line. Michael’s bare skin felt warm against Luke’s cool fingers. The mere touch was enough to soothe only the worst of Luke’s overworked nerves. Somewhere in the back of Luke’s mind, he just knew Michael was going to kick him out in the middle of the night for not being able to sleep and for, worse, disturbing Michael’s own rest.
“It’s ‘cause you’re all the way over there and not snuggled up with me,” murmurs Michael, gently in the darkness. “You can’t sleep unless you’re curled up around something.”
Luke sucked in a startled breath. His heart thumped in his chest. He felt vulnerable, laid bare before Michael even though he was clothed and even though the room was drenched in the pitch black of night, so dark that their only sight was from a combination of hearing and touch. Luke didn’t think Michael knew that about him. He didn’t think Michael paid enough attention to learn that about him.
“How did you—”
“You fall asleep on the couch all of the time when we have movie nights, but you’re always curled up around something—yourself, a pillow, Ashton, that one time—and, well, you know, I think you’re more captivating than anything on the television screen, so…”
I watch you sleep hung unspoken in the air, because that wasn’t something a person admitted out loud, not even when that declaration was oozing of adoration and heart-fluttering love. It especially wasn’t something a person admitted out loud to someone they had only known for the few short weeks Luke had known Michael. But Luke heard the words anyway, and he let them wash over him, and it made him smile so widely that he wanted to kiss Michael.
Michael kissed him first, leaning over the distance between them and pressing his lips against the side of Luke’s mouth. He was probably aiming for Luke’s lips, but, in the darkness, it was good enough, and the kiss was messy, almost overwhelmed by lateness of the hour. When it was over, Michael laid back down. He reached over and pulled Luke to him. Luke went happily, scooting across the bed until he was flush to Michael’s side, his head resting on Michael’s shoulder and his arm curled around the slight curve of Michael’s belly.
Luke smiled into Michael’s chest, sleep already overtaking him. He drifted off, comfortable curled up around Michael, in Michael’s bed for the very first time. Luke’s last conscious thought, before he gave in to the sweet lull of sleep, was that sleeping curled up in a ball didn’t even compare to sleeping curled up around Michael.
Underneath the covers, Michael tangled his legs around Luke’s, and Luke finally knew what to do with his feet.