(Ported in from its original location on Tumblr… with thanks to all the folk above me in that thread who kicked me into this unusual mode / moment of fiction. Because, among the many tropes in fanfic, is there one better loved than this…?)
Warning: crackfic follows.
There was only one bed… and it wept alone in the darkness, as it wept every night.
“Is there no one for me?” it whispered.
It didn’t matter that it was a double bed. It was still the only bed in the room. And it was so alone, and wept itself into aching silence every day, though weeping never did it any good.
Every sunset it would say to itself, “It doesn’t matter that I’m alone. I’ll be the best bed I can.” For the bed knew what it was for. Whenever anyone lay on it, it did its best to help them find comfort and give them good rest. And if rest wasn’t what they desired—for example, if a couple (or more) someones were on the bed for whom rest was the very last reason they’d lain down—then the bed would make sure that all its springs reacted with their utmost springiness, and that its memory foam absolutely remembered what to do. To be so close to joy, and to help it last: that was worth so much.
Yet knowing what you’re for in the world, and scrupulously being that, is not necessarily enough for one to be whole. And sure enough, so often the darkness would fall, and there would be no one else in the room where the bed lived. And without fail the loneliness would creep out of the shadows and slide in among the bed’s springs and insinuate itself between the layers of foam—inhabiting the bed in ways it had no power to prevent. Then it would weep again, and be ashamed to do so… but the bed just couldn’t help it. “Is there no one for me?” it would whisper, one more time, into the emptiness… from which no answer came.
Now it may not be widely known, but there is a God of Beds (or Goddess, depending on what mood you catch Them in) and Their name is Lectula. And Lectula is so overworked that you would not believe it, because everybody’s bed is either Oh, Fine, I Suppose or oh God WTF is Wrong With This Thing?! And if there’s any God who’s run off Their feet dealing with prayers and requests and unfocused beseechings, it absolutely is Lectula. You should just see Their inbox, it’s a complete disaster.
And Lectula was in Goddess mode this one time and digging down through the inbox, mail by mail and prayer by prayer, muttering to Herself, “Spam, spam, spam, no, spam, nope fuck right off, Yeah, okay—” (clicking on “Got that, thanks!”)—“spam, spam, this damn spam filter is useless, spam—” And then She clicked on the next message along, and with shocking suddenness the sound of midnight tears rose up from the screen.
“Oh no, how did this get so buried,” Lectula murmured, distressed. For as She scrolled down, She saw that this was just one more in a long, long string of messages… an endlessly hopeful, endlessly unresolved conversation with emptiness; a long string of weary-sorrowful-miserable-anguished plaints in the dark from some lonely bed shut in a room by itself.
Lectula was stricken; for even more than to the beings who used them, her mission was to the infrastructure itself—the furniture that was the only source and place of solace in too many lives. “Oh gosh I have got to get this sorted,” She breathed, “forever sorted, happily ever after sorted, this is such a mess, this poor baby has been like this since…” She checked the timestamp on the first email, and winced. “… 2017! What’s going to be the best way to deal with this?”
And She thought and thought and thought and thought for about forty-five seconds, and then she grabbed her phone and called the God of Love. (Who is also sometimes a Goddess, and indeed sometimes both at once, which will be no surprise once you start getting to grips with the overlaps between even otherwise nongendered erotic and romantic love, but getting into any kind of meaningful analysis on that subject right this minute is beyond the scope of this article.)
“So come on, Rosie, help me out here,” Lectula wound up saying as She paced up and down Her office. “This is a customer service fiasco already and it can’t be let stand a moment longer! Best way to sort this out is to interleave this variant of the trope with one of the older ones. They’ll solve each other and never be a problem for either of us again. Who’ve you got who’s ready to pop and who’s somewhere near the Premier Inn in Ashby de la Zouch?”
“Two secs,” said Eros, “let me check the database…”
And then without warning He made the happy version of the sound that the dishwasher repairperson makes when they discover that all the machine’s gaskets are blown, and if you’d used it one more time, your kitchen would have wound up looking like the Red Sea, pre-parting, and Charlton Heston nowhere to be found.
“I do not believe this,” Love said. “You want tropes, I have got you a fucking full house. Same sex, tall/short, fair/dark, UST out the wazoo, flatmates if you please, and pining, mutual pining, oh sweet Me the pining! It’s damn near thermonuclear. Amazing it hasn’t melted its way through to the Earth’s core by now. Between that and the rampant denial, these two have been driving me around the bend for fucking ever. The hardest pair of hard cases you ever saw… and this could just solve it. Let us do this!”
“Tonight.” A pause. “They should be done with business around nine. I’ll do what I need to do to bring things to a head at their end—which’ll take no time at all; you name a brink, they’ve trembled on it—and we’ll be on for nine-thirty and the coup de grace. That work for you?”
“Absolutely. I’ll slide over early to deal with Housekeeping. No point in jury-rigging the infrastructure now and having shit come undone later.”
“I hear you there. —Three words in case I get lost?”
“Right you are. Nine-thirty?”
“You bet. And Rosie?”
“Better safe than sorry. Bring the heavy crossbow.”
So it was that, about three-thirty that afternoon, Housekeeping at the Premier Inn on the A42 in Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire, was notified by local management (secondary to an email from Site Provisioning and Logistics somewhere corporately-upstream) that various rooms in the 1-800 wing of their facility were now being designated “family rooms” to cover for other rooms about to be renovated, and would henceforth be run as double-doubles for the foreseeable future, please make the necessary equipment changes immediately as the reservations system had already been altered accordingly, blah blah blah.
In one of those rooms, the present occupant—having cried itself to sleep, as so often before—had blinked only briefly awake for its daily sheet change and then drifted off into a weary doze in preparation for the evening. It was too tired to wake when the door opened again, and so did not see what the people from Housekeeping rolled in and installed on the far side of the room.
What did wake it (as usual) in the shadows of spring mid-evening was the sound of the room door opening for an incoming guest. It took the bed a moment to register what was happening, at which point it became focused on waking up all the way and being the best it could be for the—not guest, guests—who’d just arrived…
And then it heard something it had never heard before:
And felt itself looked at… by one of its own kind… from across the room.
Utter astonishment shook the bed straight through, from its deepest coils right out to its suddenly-shivering linens, as it looked across—
And was seen.
(Hello…!) said the other bed.
And now, said one of the two shadowy forms strategically positioned nearby (for certain values of “nearby” that were common to both this space and the one from which Gods function): only one thing left to do.
And He lifted the deadliest weapon known to any pantheon anywhere, took careful aim, and waited for the remaining targets to come into frame.
In the doorway, as the key-card went into the slot, as the little lights of the electronic lock flashed and its innards whirred, as the door cracked metallically open… two figures were silhouetted against the lights in the hall. One tall and dark, one short and fair; one flamboyant and charismatic, one solid and steady; both their souls stretched taut with long-unspoken hungers and desperate hopes unfulfilled…
Except: a pause in that doorway, as both peer into a darkness full of unnerving possibilities.
“Huh,” the shorter of them said after a moment. “Thought they said there was just one—” He stopped, as if afraid of putting too much emphasis on something: or too little. “You sure this is the right room? Wouldn’t care to be—” A suddenly dry-mouthed swallow. “Interrupted…”
Key cards were scrutinized. “1-895?”
“That’s what it says.”
Shrug. “Okay. Two beds. Fine…”
The door being let loose behind them, it swung slowly closed on its counterweight: ka-CHUNK.
Stillness, and the dark (except for the strip of golden-and-sometimes-flickery light glowing in through gauzy inner curtains from the parking lot and the traffic on the A42). “Um. Where were we?”
“Out in the corridor, you mean?”
“I don’t mean simply in terms of coordinates, I mean—”
Hands sliding slowly around a waist; settling there.
“—I mean, in terms of—”
A head tilted back. The hands around the other’s waist drew the other closer. The other’s head bowed toward the uptilted face of the hands’ owner.
“Of this,” murmured a mouth now getting back to the business of smiling into another mouth.
In the darkness, a smile back. Hungry… and yet tentative. Bow-bent with the wistful trembling curve of long, long delay.
“So you were wondering where we were?”
“You were kissing me,” said the taller of the two, voice gone so soft and rough. “And, if I’m not mistaken, preparing to rip all my clothes off.”
“Well, maybe I should just crack on with that?”
“Do please, because I mmf—”
There was no telling what the unstated reason would have been, as industrial-strength kissing and disrobing immediately began to ensue.
“Ahh. Yeah, no, wait. Oh. Yeah—”
“—Mind the buttons, mind the buttons, we’ll never find them here, do you really want to get down on your hands and knees on this carpet? Bring a UV light in here and you could probably read by the results.”
“Well, buy yourself some damn shirts that actually fit you and we wouldn’t have to be worrying about your bloody buttons—”
“—I wouldn’t be critiquing my tailor if I were you, when yours isn’t even a tailor, it’s an M&S tailor—”
“—all the artificial fiber in these jumpers, you know it’s bad for the environment, I really need to buy you some cashmere—”
“What you really need is to stop obsessing about clothes and start obsessing about getting. Them. Off.”
“I’d’ve thought it’s something else that needs to be got off—”
“Not just me.” …And then a long, fraught pause. “Are you…are you sure…?”
A moment’s silence, broken only by the almost inaudible brush of lips against hair, against earlobe, against the soft, soft skin below. “I have never been more sure of anything.” And another pause, gentler the longer it lasted. “Except you.”
Heads seized in hands, and then wet sounds again, as of a man attempting a no-instruments checkup on another’s tonsils even though he knows perfectly well that they’re still in situ, and exactly where. Then some staggering sideways, and a brief paired look that way as both assess their imminent, much-desired destination.
“…You’re too tall for that bed. You’ll be hanging off the end.”
“Mmm. Corporate cost-cutting. Reprehensible.”
“The other one’s too short for you too.”
“Mmm. Well observed.”
“But how about… we push them together.” A smile in the voice: that cunning, wicked sound again. “And then we can get all… diagonal.”
Another long wet-sounding pause, and several gasps. “Plainly… our association… continues to be proving beneficial to your reasoning abilities.”
A low, naughty, hungry chuckle. “It’s been beneficial to my gag reflex, too. As you’re about to discover.”
A sudden gasp, as if at a thought that had. Not. Previously. Occurred.
“… So hold the compliments for the moment, yeah? And get around here and help me push.”
“…Yes.” —Though first there was a lapse into yet more activities that provoked yet more gasping, and left neither of the principals in any better position to detect or analyze (especially in the poor lighting, as neither of their cards had ever made it into the card slot by the door) the way first one of the beds, and then the other one, appeared to be…quivering.
Then came some hobbling/jumping/staggering (secondary to trousers-still-around-ankles-even-though-I-could’ve-sworn-I-got-rid-of-those-across-the-room,-damn-it-all!) which would have been hilarious had there been enough light to see it by, and enough interest from the two who made their way around the far side of the second bed, and pushed.
Until the two beds came snugly together—
(And on an entirely different level of experience:)
(Two equals, meeting for the first time, and meeting intimately. …With instant acceptance, almost a sense of recognition [though how, when they’ve never met? Who cares?]. As if made for one another. Love at first sense, at first touch, if not first sight. And the understanding that never again would there be an empty night, never again the loneliness, from which the other also had been suffering…)
Another trope, thought one of the invisible presences in the room.
Well, why not? Full house, what the hell, let’s go Royal Flush and make this one for the ages.
Leaning back: taking aim: taking a breath. And holding it…
(Yes. Oh yes.)
And from above them, whispered, at the moment of perfect aim, as the bolt flew and struck deep—indeed struck straight through both of them at once in the moment of first embrace, divinely unnoticed (for “falling in love” and “falling in love forever” are so easily mistaken for one another in the heat of the moment):
“Oh, God, yes…!”
And then the falling, in the merely physical sense; the surrender to gravity…and to what awaited each in the other.
And after watching the unfolding tenderness of the ever-new yet immemorial dance for just a few moments more, Eros and Lectula nodded at one another in shared satisfaction.
Then—having made their way out to the clamorous roadside-service parking lot, pulled their phones out, and logged themselves off duty—the Lady of Sound Sleep and Quick Lie-Downs, and the only son of the Ineluctable One, the Bitter-sweet, Love Herself—took themselves offsite to one of the spaces of Everlasting Late Afternoon where the Sun is always over the yardarm; where the Gods do repair Themselves of an evening for a drink or a bite after work.
There the two of them got absolutely plastered on Negronis and Americanos, and other far less salutary cocktails made with bottom-shelf booze. They were both cheap dates, and didn’t care who knew it. But nobody (least of all Them) cared, because today they had the best possible reason for it: job done.
So: in the final analysis, it was HEA of one of the more classic sorts. For the so-trope-ridden humans involved, it was always more or less a foregone conclusion. The next morning they went their (now undeniably, intimately) conjoint, conjunct way, and the world was better for it.
And as for the permanent inhabitants of room 1-895 at the Premier Inn on the A42, there was never again Just One Bed.
Which (in this case) is just as at least one Goddess would have it. Because—as She so often says—“Won’t somebody think of the furniture?”