For some reason, sleep would not come to him tonight. It had proven elusive, like a mirage; just when he thought he reached it, it pulled away from him. There was no reason, really. This was his first day, or rather night, off season. Something he looked forward to immensely. He had had an out-of-the-world season, a superb comeback and, to top it off, he had finished without any major injuries. So really, there was no reason at all why this niggling feeling of restlessness had chased him all day and evening, and now into the night. He lay there awake. Eyes tracing patterns on the ceiling, illuminated by the faintest hint of moonlight which seeped through the gap in the drawn curtains. Aware of the calm surrounding him and the ticking of the clock on the wall. Yes he had a clock on the wall, a Swiss Cuckoo clock, which he had set to only chime during the day. But it still made faint ticks at night, audible only when you really tried to hear them or if it was quiet enough, like right now. It was generally quiet in this little house he had purchased in the Swiss Alps, a home no one knew about, apart from Mirka, his parents, Seve, Ivan and Tony. A retreat, he liked to think of it, from the fast-spinning world around him. Something that would take them and offer them refuge and allow them to be who they were without worrying about spying cameras and enthusiastic fans. Just him, the Swiss country side and a particularly special someone. Thinking of which, he turned his head to face the other half of the king-sized bed.
Beside him, Rafa slept blissfully. Rafa never had trouble falling into a deep slumber, as far as Roger could remember anyway. As much as Rafa was energetic when awake, he was quiet when asleep. He did not toss or turn. But just before falling asleep, he would fling an arm across Roger’s stomach, throw his right leg between Roger’s thighs and snuggle closer, anchoring his lover to himself for the rest of the night. Roger didn’t mind, of course. In fact, he loved it more than anything. Being so close to Rafa, sleeping with him the whole night and finding him warm and cosy in the morning, was something Roger could never get enough of. Especially on nights like these, when he was feeling emotional and restless, Rafa’s arm proved to be a valuable anchor to reality: that he was loved and no matter what he would always find Rafa by him. An assurance that kept him going through the night and stopped him from drifting too far away in his own thoughts.
Roger snuggled closer to his lover, placing a soft kiss on his arm and, for the millionth time tonight, tried to fall asleep. He thought about how this thing with Rafa had ‘officially’ started, so many years ago, when suddenly every step had become cautious, every word measured and every glance a privilege. Everything was new and careful. Whereas prior to the ‘confessions’, everything was smooth and easy; banter and chatter had always been intrinsic to their friendship. But the awkwardness of a new realisation had taken its time to wane. It was funny almost, how they got along smoothly when they were ‘just friends’ and then it had all gone clumsy and shy when they decided to take it further. 2009 had triggered it all, that half hug Rafa had risked, on stage, in front of thousands and millions, had lit an unexpected fire inside Roger. Even through all those tears and emotions and disappointment, he remembers that particular sensation very well. A little something that he tried so hard to brush away. Of course, it had taken a very long time for that little spark to turn to a proper realisation, way too long. They fell for it eventually.
Roger smiled as he felt those memories carry him to the embrace of sleep. Finally.
Which is when, of course, his phone rang.
Roger jerked up, disgruntled by the shrill tone that speared the serenity of the room. Frowning, he disentangled himself from Rafa enough to grab his phone from the nightstand. A glance at the Cuckoo told him it was two in the morning. His frown only deepened at that new piece of information.
The screen showed a name: Mirka. Mirka? At 2 in the morning?
“Hi, um… you okay?”
His thoughts raced from apprehension to confusion to panic. Because that wasn’t Mirka voice on the other end. It was someone else entirely. It took him a moment to realise what was being said and yet another to even out his thoughts to form the next words.
“Where?” He asked, his tone had taken a quality of calm that surprised him. He wasn’t feeling calm. Certainty not.
The voice on the other end answered.
He hung up.