James is struggling to get used to the orthopaedic mattress. Which seems significantly daft to Robbie, given that the lad helped him choose it in the first place. Even helped him heave the old, sainted mattress he shared with Val, the last remnant of his marital bed, into an unguarded skip by moonlight. Can’t believe they are where they are now, after all that – wasn’t that the night he tried to persuade the lad back into Fiona’s bed? Lucky for him she wasn’t interested. It’s taken a while, but well. Anyway.
It’s all the pointy bits, Robbie realises. James is all points, shoulders and hips and ribs, ‘all bones and saltcellars’ as his mam used to say. He’s trying to pretend everything is fine, but Robbie’s known him too long. And besides, you could spot the dark shadows under his eyes from the moon.
After yet another grumpy morning, during which they fight over coffee and make up over toothpaste in the sink, James is adamant he doesn’t want to retreat to his own flat, for a few restorative nights at least.
‘The bed’s too big without you,’ he says, kissing the side of Robbie’s neck as he shaves. ‘And you can’t sleep in in my bed. It’d ruin your back.’
Lewis decides to consult the augurs.
‘You need a mattress topper,’ Laura says, as if Robbie is a complete imbecile, as if everybody would know the solution because it’s so obvious.
‘A mattress topper. A layer of memory foam for preference, but you could go for goose down if you like. You put it on the bed, under the sheets, and it makes it more comfortable. Softer. Problem solved.’
‘Won’t that defeat the object of having an orthopaedic mattress in the first place?’
Laura rolls her eyes.
‘The hard mattress is still there underneath,’ she huffs. ‘It just softens the surface. It’s only an inch or two deep. You won’t notice it, but I guarantee James will.’
‘Where do I get one of these things, then?’
Shoeing him off in exasperation so she can get on with her work, she sends him the internet link later. He orders online, and collects on the way home.
‘What on earth is that,’ James asks when he gets home from his band practice, and finds Robbie still trying to sort out the ties that are supposed to secure the topper firmly onto the bed.
‘I got you a mattress topper,’ Robbie tells him, all proud of his new knowledge.
James sidles up to him, predatory with lust.
‘You’re the only mattress topper I want,’ he croons as he slips his arm around Robbie’s waist.
After that, there’s a lot of wandering hands and sweat, and the new mattress topper gets a bit stained.
James sleeps like a baby. And wakes in the morning with unquenchable desires.
They are late for work.
Laura winks at Robbie suggestively when James comes into the lab, whistling. ‘I see it worked, then.'