JC loved to watch Justin sleep.
Not because Justin looked different, younger, more vulnerable. Because he didn't. He looked the same asleep as he did awake, a little quieter maybe, a little more flushed. But he had quiet moments during the day, although it was mostly JC who saw them, and Justin always glowed.
JC loved to watch Justin sleep because of the distance it put between them.
During the day, JC and Justin were always together. JC's head tilted as Justin whispered in his ear, Justin's hand hovered over the small of JC's back as they walked offstage. JC turned always into an embrace. Lance would smile and say, "You two are joined at the hip," and Chris would smirk and mumble that they were joined somewhere else.
During the day, JC felt bound to Justin in some essential, instinctive way. Their love felt inevitable to him, inescapable. On endless interstates he would close his eyes and flip through his memories, like paging randomly through a photo album, and every image seemed to lead inexorably to Justin's arm loose around his shoulders, Justin's breath warm on his neck. During the day, he could never imagine any other way.
During the day, there was no distance between them.
At night it was different. Justin usually fell asleep first. He approached sleep the way he approached everything else in his life, confidently, laying his head on the pillow knowing that slumber would rise up to meet him. Not even insomnia would deny Justin Timberlake anything he wanted. JC stayed awake. He had a name for loving to sleep, for dozing everywhere, on the bus, in green rooms, in hotel lobbies. But that was because sleep came to him erratically, like an inconstant lover, sometimes knocking him over with ardent force, sometimes eluding his desperate grasp. JC approached sleep sneakily, seductively, gratefully taking what he could get when he could get it, carrying a pillow with him everywhere to steal every last moment of slumber he could snatch. Which probably explained why every night Justin snored peacefully while JC slid from under his hand and turned on his side to watch.
Justin looked the same asleep as he did awake. His lips curved into a smile. His throat worked as he murmured and hummed to himself. His hands scrabbled restlessly against the sheets. But there was something different. Justin's smile sparked from a secret joy JC couldn't share. Justin's words answered a private question JC couldn't hear. Justin's hands reached for a hidden hope JC couldn't see. JC lay beside Justin, each of them in their separate worlds. He watched Justin's face, intent on some dream task JC couldn't imagine, and the distance between them was vast and unknowable.
Every night JC chose to cross that void. Every night he chose to kiss Justin's smile. Every night he chose to whisper against Justin's throat. Every night he chose to clasp Justin's hands in his own. In the morning Justin curled drowsily around him and told him his dreams, told him of an unnamed bliss that suddenly doubled, of a magic incantation that leapt to his lips just before the darkness devoured him, of an unknown gift that filled his hands just before they closed on emptiness.
Every night JC watched as Justin closed his eyes and left him, embarked on some private journey. Every night he watched as the distance swelled between them. He never loved that distance more than when he bridged it and looked back at it from the other side. From Justin's side.
During the day, JC took what was given to him, and never dreamt of anything else. But every night JC chose. He chose, and slept, and dreamt of watching Justin sleep.