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Dad Tip #98.2: The ideal nap is ninety minutes long, but twenty minutes can help with drowsiness

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The nap, it begged to be said, was something lyrical. The way all naps should be, but rarely are.

All the crucial components were there; a broad, soft couch, not so narrow that you were forced to lie straight out and stock still like a corpse in a coffin, with no stiff springs or unwelcome smells or tufts of animal hair or stray crumbs waiting to prick at unfortunate skin.

A good set of blinds, perfect for shutting out the precious gift of the day and casting the room into a comforting shade of early twilight.

A quality blanket, more for the security of curling up under a blanket than an actual need to retain warmth.

And most important of all, one (1) set of strong dad arms.

When Gabriel blinked his way back to the waking world, he couldn’t be exactly sure what had awoken him; the buzz of a distant lawnmower, maybe, or a car rattling by just a little too loudly. The important thing was that his return to conscious existence was met with a complete and utter deficit of anything resembling urgency. Craig’s kids wouldn’t be getting back until 8 that night, and the neon green clock below the TV read a generous 3:00.

As anyone knew, waking up before you had to actually be up was one of those little bones life threw you as compensation for getting older.

He’d fallen asleep with Craig holding him to his heartbeat, and that still held halfway true; one of Craig’s arms remained draped around his back (comfortably close to his rear), though the other had taken to dangling off the side of the couch like some world weary southern poet. His mouth was open in that inelegant, dangerous sort of way that turns so easily into drooling all over the pillow. Even so, Gabriel was floored by what a shockingly pretty sight he made.

That tuft of black hair, smashed by the pillow and ruffled to softness. His deep, even, easy breathing. His t-shirt riding up to showcase the lovely space between his ribs and his hip. The peaceful slackness in his closed eyelids and the way the short, dark lashes crossed his cheeks.

To watch Craig Cahn on the go, in his element, was to admit that he was a pedometer wrapped around a wet dream. But to lay like this with him, just quietly watching him sleep…

Well…it was something Gabriel was more than willing to keep all to himself.

He smiled a slow, indolent smile and thought back to when they were kids in college, all those lifetimes ago. They’d stumble back in on a Friday night in September (before classes got into full swing, before the weather turned, before their rooms went to shit) so full of cheap pizza and beer that they barely knew which direction was up, and wake up hungover on the floor -- backs aching, mouths dry as fur, but safe and content in one another’s arms. Or sometimes, if they’d made the mistake of taking on too many 8 AM classes, they’d skip an afternoon lecture and tangle up on Craig’s bed, which had the benefit of getting the choicest rays of sunlight from the window overlooking the commons. And everyone would laugh at them and make cracks about “exchanging long protein strings” and seriously, this was why they needed to try and make the next alumni reunion. He was sure a couple of folks lost bets when they married other people and was curious to know how that got resolved.

Inelegant or not, those parted lips were tempting. Gabriel had never been the sort of person who was good at resisting temptation, so he leaned up and kissed Craig, hoping to do so softly enough to avoid waking him. Craig shifted anyway.

Mmm…” He growled, and stretched a very attractive, arching stretch. Settled heavily back down onto the cushions, looking perfectly poised to stay there for the duration, but then— “Crap, what time is it? Are the girls back yet?”

He began to jolt awake, and Gabriel could see it on him – that persistent, looming, leering worry that his five minute breather was going to come back and bite him in the ass, or God forbid, lead him to commit a bad parenting decision. Gabriel leaned his weight onto him, soothing him the way birds soothe chicks in the nest.

“No, no, we’re good! It’s only 3. You’re fine.”

For an instant, he worried Craig’s paranoia would win out – as it sometimes did – and he’d fly up to fill that wedge of time with something productive; emails to answer and crunches to fit in and the week’s worth of dinners for the kids that he already made and froze yesterday, but Lord knew he’d second guess himself half a dozen times if you let him. He could so easily have done any one or all of these things, but instead his sigh of relief was chased by him rolling over, burying his hands beneath the warmth of Gabriel’s shirt, palms resting comfortably against bare stomach. Gabriel felt his face heat.

“…Good call.”

“Not my fault you’re warm,” Craig murmured into his shoulder. “And you smell nice. Stop smelling nice, I’ll get up and…something.”

Normally, that would earn him a kiss on the knuckles – one of Gabriel’s favorite displays of little spoon affection. Wrapped up as they were, a headbutt on the bicep would have to do.

“Another hour in Napville, then?”

“Mmm…hour, five minutes.”

“Marry me.” Craig laughed, thick and sleepy, and only one thing remained to be done before Gabriel could follow his example. He twisted, arms outstretched at nothing, back elongating and bending and twisting until suddenly, with a loud, worrying, thoroughly satisfying crack -- there.

The perfect position. Peak comfort.

Absolute, unfettered bliss.

Craig muttered something about it being bad for his spine.

Gabriel smiled, closed his eyes, and wanted for nothing.