"Ian!" Anthony cried. "Watch the road!"
"Wha?" Ian said, jerking out of his state of half-sleep. He realized the car was about to drift off the road. "Shit!" He jerked the wheel to the left, pulling them back onto the highway.
"Now that you've almost gotten us killed, can we please stop for the night?" Anthony asked, sighing tiredly.
"No, we're almost home," Ian replied, rubbing his eyes.
"It's still an hour and a half away," Anthony said, frustrated. "Neither of us is awake enough to drive for that long. Just turn off on the next exit and we'll get a motel."
Ian yawned. "Alright, alright, fine. I could use some sleep anyway."
"No kidding," Anthony muttered. Ian turned off the highway, onto some small-town road.
"Where the fuck are we?" he murmured.
"We'll figure that out tomorrow," Anthony said. "There's a motel sign up there, let's just a get a fucking room."
"Someone's cranky when they don't get their sleep," Ian said, smirking. He pulled into the parking lot.
"Fuck off," Anthony said, yawning hugely as he climbed out of the passenger seat. They stumbled across the lot to the motel office. Inside, a middle-aged woman sat at the desk, reading a mystery novel.
"Can we get a room?" Ian asked, running a hand through his hair.
"Let me check," the woman said. She rifled through a small stack of paper on her desk. "Yep, there's one left."
"We'll take it," Ian said, relieved. He reached for his wallet, but Anthony stopped him.
"You paid for the gas this whole trip," he said. "I'll get the room."
"Thanks, man," Ian replied tiredly as Anthony handed his credit card to the woman. She tossed Ian the keys to the room. The keychain was emblazoned with a gold number 24.
"Your room's right at the far end," she said. "Return the keys by ten o'clock tomorrow morning."
"Thanks," Ian said, smiling politely. The woman returned Anthony's card and Ian followed him back out to the parking lot.
"I'll go get our stuff from the car," he offered. "You can go find the room."
"Sure," Anthony replied, taking the room keys. Ian jogged to the car, shivering slightly against the cool night air. He pulled open the trunk of the car and grabbed both of their bags. Looking over his shoulder, he saw that one of the motel's lights had come on. Anthony must have found their room. He hurried toward the light, slinging both bags over his shoulder. He'd never been so excited to get to bed. Well, not when there wasn't a girl involved, anyway.
When he reached the doorway, Anthony was leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed.
"What's up?" Ian asked, confused.
"The room," Anthony said, pointing.
"What's wrong with it?" Ian stepped inside. When he realized what Anthony was talking about, he groaned. One double bed took up most of the space in the small room.
"You'd think the motel lady would have mentioned that," Anthony said, shaking his head.
"She probably thought we were a couple," Ian said. "Wouldn't be the first time… or the second… or the fifth…" He sighed. "I'll sleep on the floor, if you want."
"Nah, it's fine," Anthony replied. "We can share, can't we? We'll just sleep in our clothes."
"Dude, I'm so tired, I don't care what you wear. You could be naked and I'd still sleep next to you," Ian said. Actually, it might be kind of nice…
He cut off the thought before it could complete itself. I'm just tired, he thought. Being tired makes everyone think weird things.
"I think I'll keep my clothes on," Anthony said, laughing. He kicked off his shoes, slid off his sweater, and climbed into the bed.
"I'll get the lights," Ian said, shedding his own hoodie.
"Hurry up," Anthony whined as Ian bent down to untie his shoes. "I wanna go to sleep."
"You can sleep with the lights on, asshole," Ian said, but as he pulled his shoes off he obediently flicked the light switch. The room was plunged into total darkness.
"Fuck, now I can't see where I'm going," he grumbled. Suddenly he gasped as something touched his arm.
"It's just me, you idiot," Anthony's voice said. "I'm helping you find the bed." His hand found its way to Ian's wrist and guided him gently forward.
"Okay, I found it," Ian said, feeling the edge of the mattress against his knees. He groped for the covers, pulled them back, and climbed into bed beside Anthony. The mattress was hard and the pillows smelled like cheap laundry detergent, but at least he could finally sleep. And the sound of Anthony's breathing beside him was reassuring, in a way. He settled down into the blankets, trying to get comfortable.
Sleep wouldn't come. Ian found himself staring at the alarm clock on the bedside table, watching the glowing green numbers change. Ten minutes passed. Fifteen. Twenty. It was nearly four in the morning. His drowsiness had evaporated, leaving him with a vague physical sense of exhaustion, but his mind was wide awake.
"You asleep?" he whispered over his shoulder to Anthony.
"No," came the reply.
There was silence for a few minutes.
"Ian?" Anthony asked softly.
Anthony was quiet for a second. "Never mind," he said finally.
"Okay." Ian rolled over on his side, facing the wall. Just go to sleep, he told himself. It didn't work. Ten more minutes passed. It was 4:12. He still wasn't tired.
He felt the bed shifting underneath him as Anthony moved around.
"Anthony, what are you –" his voice trailed off as Anthony's arm wrapped around his waist. He stiffened. "What are you doing?" he asked finally.
"I'm doing what we always used to do," Anthony replied. "Don't you remember when we used to cuddle all the time and it was no big deal?"
"Of course I remember," Ian replied. He couldn't remember how it had started – they were only eighteen at the time – but it had been one of his favorite things about their friendship. It seemed like nearly every night Ian would find himself spooning on the couch with Anthony watching TV, or lying with his head in Anthony's lap as he checked his e-mail, or just lying curled together in one of their beds when they were too excited about their newest video ideas to sleep. It had gone on like that for nearly five years, but then…
Anthony pulled Ian closer, gently insisting. I'm not supposed to do this anymore, Ian thought, but he was too tired to care. He relaxed into the soft touch, pressing his back against Anthony's chest and letting their legs brush together. It felt so good that Ian suddenly had to blink back tears; he couldn't understand how he'd gone nearly a year and a half without it.
"I've missed this," Anthony said softly.
"Me too," Ian admitted reluctantly.
"Then why are you so against it?" Anthony asked. "We used to cuddle all the time. And then one day you just… stopped. Every time I tried you'd get up, or push me away. What happened?"
"I… well, don't you think it's weird for two twenty-four year old guys to cuddle?"
"Like it wasn't weird when we were twenty-two? Or twenty-one? Or even eighteen? You didn't care back then, dude. It was just what we did. Now it's like… it's like you think you're too good for it, or something."
The hurt in Anthony's voice made Ian wince. "That's not it at all! Don't think that," he said, rolling over to face him. He could barely see him in the dark, but he looked him in the eyes as best as possible. "Trust me, it's just… stupid issues. My stupid issues. It has nothing to do with you."
"Why can't you tell me?" Anthony asked. "I thought I was your best friend."
"You are! Fuck, Anthony, I… I just…" he buried his face in the pillow, frustrated.
"Just tell me," Anthony said. "Please."
Ian sighed. "Fine. But you're not going to like it."