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The Little Things

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Loving David Webster is really fucking easy, but also really fucking hard, Joe thinks.

That melodic laugh and the twinkle of those too blue eyes, the purse of those lips when he’s reading the newspaper in the morning — so easy. So simple to smile back, to laugh along, to kiss the corner of that mouth while passing him a cup of tea with one sugar, that’s it, and some lemon juice.

It’s so easy to murmur genuine sweet nothings in his ear just to see him blush when they’re out with friends, so easy to play with his hair when his head is in Joe’s lap while they watch Netflix alone on their couch. 

Relationships are work, and if there’s anything Joe’s Ma has taught him, it’s that hard work can get you anywhere. Loving David Webster is hard work. Work that Joe is happy to do.

At first, Web’s particularly difficult idiosyncrasy isn’t noticeable.

All couples have a honeymoon stage, and Web and Lieb are no different. Joe will always consider sex with David Webster also very easy — he’s sure no two people could ever be as purely, blindingly flammable as the two of them were and still are. But still, it takes a month or two (or three or four, or even five) for the “Going to bed? That means sex,” idea to wear off.

They’d fall into bed together, have easy, yet mind-blowingly brilliant sex, then fall asleep in a tangle of limbs and blankets.

When they start seriously dating, the I’ve-cleared-a-drawer-for-your-clothes kind of dating, the issue begins the first night they go to bed at a relatively decent time without having sex.

Joe had been kicked in his sleep by Web quite a few times before, but this tossing and turning is just excessive.

“Jesus, Web. Your side made of rocks or something?”

A muffled “hmph,” sounds from the pillow next to him. “My brain won’t shut up.”

Joe snorts, despite the grogginess that threatens to make him fall asleep while talking. “Is it telling you to jive?”

David rolls over to face him, pouting. “Ha, ha. I’m being serious; I can’t sleep.”

Honestly, Lieb should’ve known. David’s a writer, and Joe would’ve assumed that all writers are insomniacs, but he stopped assuming things when it came to David Webster.

“Okay, what can I do to help?” Joe indulges him, earning a shocked look from his boyfriend.

“You want to help?” Web’s mouth gapes open, and Lieb has the sudden urge to just reach over and push his chin up to close it, so he does.

Web frowns, but only for a split second as Joe pecks his downturned lips with a kiss.

“I’ll help you, sure. I can’t sleep with you flopping around like a fish out of water anyway.”

“Ulterior motives.”

Lieb rolls his eyes. “Do you want sleep or not?”

David huffs. “Do your magic.”

“My Ma used to do this for me when I was little,” Joe begins, reaching out for his boyfriend and cuddling him closer. “She’d lay in bed with me and name a category, like ice cream flavors. I’d say a flavor, she’d say a flavor, and we’d go back and forth until we couldn’t think of another one. I’d always fall asleep.”

“Butter pecan.”

Joe smiles softly. “Mint chocolate chip.”

“Coffee.”

“Strawberry.”

“Chocolate.”

“Cookie dough.”

Within ten minutes and a short round of “current popular songs,” Web is fast asleep.

From that day on, the Name Game became David’s number one tool to combat insomnia.

Three years later, the game being old hat and the bed they lay in no longer just David’s or just Joe’s but theirs, Web buries his face into Lieb’s chest with a sigh. “Can’t sleep.”

“Types of animals. Go,” Joe mumbles, fingers already combing through David’s dark locks.

“Cat.”

“Lion.”

“Tiger.”

“Bear.”

“Oh my.”

They chuckle, the sound deep and husky with sleep and barely more than a vibration. At one in the morning, Joe thinks, it’s hard to love being awake, and it’s even harder to come up with a laundry list of animals.

By default, it should then be hard to love David Webster this early in the morning. Yet somehow, hearing a sleepy “hammerhead shark” at one fifteen a.m. and the soft snore that follows fills his heart with a rush of endearment, and that’s when Joe Liebgott decides that it’s easy to love David Webster at any time of the day.