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Rest and Relaxation

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The end of his cigar glows orange in the dark of George’s bedroom. They’re lying on their backs on a plush mattress under a navy blue-and-gold sheet. The large, matching comforter had been kicked to the end of the bed ages ago, but Jack doesn't mind. He's still a bit too warm and winded after what he and George had gotten up to. Jack stares up at the ceiling, which he can barely see the ceiling in the dark. He can hear the curtains whoosh and billow in the breeze; the cool air feels refreshing. He feels very sated and relaxed, but there's something on his mind that's keeping him from falling asleep.

“George?”

George takes a long puff, and smoke curls up into the dark reaches of the ceiling.

“Hmmm?” he asks.

“Does—well, maybe this is silly, but. Does Gracie ever ask you about us? About how we do this together?”

George gives a raspy chuckle.

"Sure she does. Can you blame her?"

"Well, no, but. Well, what do you tell her, exactly?"

"I tell her the parts I think will get her in the mood."

"In the mood?" Jack asks, incredulous. "George, what in god's name about our fumbling around in the dark would put Gracie in the mood?"

A light turns off in the hall, and the two mean hear the soft padding of stockinged feet walk across the carpet that lead down to master bedroom at the end of the hall. George and Gracie’s room. George puffs some more.

“I don't know, Jay. I think she just wants to understand it better. Hell, sometimes I do too. Gracie is a very understanding woman.”

“I get the feeling that she doesn’t like when I stay over like this. I feel like I'm taking you away from her, George.”

Jack turns on his side and props his head up on his hand. The sheet slips down a few inches, but everything is lost in the darkness. It doesn't matter though; George has already seen everything.

“Jack,” he rasps. “You’ve got nothing to worry about. She knows you, she trusts you, she likes you. Believe me, she’d be more upset if you were a woman. Besides, Gracie loves you.”

“Well, I know, but I just feel so guilty that I—”

Jack.

Jack breathes. Still, those currents of worry make his chest pound and his pulse race, and he’s pretty sure his palms are sweating.

“George,” Jack croaks.

“Aw, now don’t do this to yourself, Jay. C’mon, now.”

George puts down his cigar in the ashtray and moves closer to Jack. He puts a hand on his cheek, and Jack burrows his face into his palm. His suddenly feels wet.

 

“You've got nothing to worry about, alright? Gracie knows. Gracie wants you to be happy here with me. She wants us both to be happy. Aren’t you happy, Jack?”

“I’m a wreck.”

Jack laughs weakly at his own joke, which George takes to be a good sign. 

“Come on. It’s all gonna be alright. Just relax and get some sleep. Nothing bad is gonna happen to you. Not while I’m here.”

Jack gives a watery smile and swipes at his eyes. George wishes he could see how blue his eyes looked while magnified by the lingering wetness.

“I’m sorry for getting into such a state. I—I don’t know why I get so worked up like this.”

“You just need some sleep, is all. I must've tuckered you out.”

"George," Jack playfully scoffs.

Jack settles back down onto the mattress before sitting back up to pull the comforter into place. What had once felt refreshing was quickly becoming quite frigid.

“I’m so cold without my shimmy.”

George chuckles around his cigar.

“Imagine you in a shimmy.”

Jack’s head hits the pillow, and he molds into a proper sleeping shape.

“No need to picture it. When you’ve played Gracie as many times as I’ve have, you don’t need to.”

George lets out an interested noise, but he ultimately lets the silence hang. Then they are back to resting quietly in a dark room lit only by the end of George’s cigar. Jack is nearly asleep when George speaks again.

“It’s gonna be alright, Jack,” he repeats.

“I believe you, George,” he whispers. "Good night, now."

George smokes his cigar until it’s down to the nub, patiently waiting for Jack to fall asleep. When he hears a light snore come from the man next to him, he stamps his cigar end out and lies down, his watch over.

“Goodnight, Jack.”

He closes his eyes and dreams.