Better me than the counter, Rowan. You can break things like that. [He sighs, letting his hands fall to his side.] And if you can’t do that, will you at least come to me when you’re angry? Let me make it better. [Ha. Ha.]
[Rowan shakes his head, then looks down.] I can’t, Danny. I can’t hurt you. [And he thinks of Emma, the way her death was his fault, how he watched her bleed out beside her in the car. Maybe if he hadn’t distracted her, if he hadn’t convinced her into taking him there to get cough medicine. The irony of it all was that he thought, by not driving, they would be safer. He thought he was saving them. And everything he loved, everything he touched, would die. They would wither like Emma’s parents did, mad under the pressure of living without their daughter and having to take care of the one that killed her. He takes another step back until his back is against the rack filled with trays and he can tell that they’re empty by the way they rattle.]
[Danny raises Rowan’s hands to his lips, kissing each knuckle individually like it will soothe away the pain. There’s a sort of gentleness to the action he thinks is almost hypocritical coming from him. His past considered, he shouldn’t be allowed to try to help anymore.
And perhaps that’s why he fucks everything over with the next reply. Because it won’t sit right with him if this works. If things go well.]
Hit me. [His voice is low, but firm.] Don’t— Hit me instead, Rowan. I’ll give, the counter won’t.
What? [Rowan can feel himself sinking, the missing warmth from his knuckles that touched Danny’s lips. His brow crinkles and there’s still adrenaline rushing through his veins, through his blood.] No. [He takes a step back.] No. I’m not hitting you.
[Danny stands watching him for a solid minute before he actual acts. Mostly because the fit stirs up a swell of both confusion, anticipation, and arousal within him and he’s pretty sure none of those are appropriate things to be feeling.
All the same, when she steps forward to take Rowan’s reddened hands into his own, he does it with a kind of purposefulness he doesn’t possess, and a determination to make something about it all better in some way. Like setting the goal will actually prevent him from failing.
He ought to know from experience that it won’t.]
Rowan. [His voice is a softened lull.] Rowan, what’s hurting you?
[Rowan’s vision is a haze at first. He doesn’t know if that’s the anger everyone talks about, the adrenaline pumping through shaking and bruised hands that’ll match Danny’s, but he thinks it is and it suddenly makes him feel bad. If he ever caught Danny punching someone, could he stop him? Could he takes his hands and hold him, ask him what’s hurting?] My hands. [And it’s only then that he lets out a breath, lets out the part of himself that he doesn’t want Danny to ever see, yet he always does.] They were just… itching. And I couldn’t make it stop. [And the pulse and ache and he knows how Danny feels because if the dough weren’t there, he would have broken every knuckle in his hands.]
[Rowan doesn’t mean to. His mantra lately, but he doesn’t mean to be angry. He doesn’t know if it’s the shift in meds or if it’s the way he knows he’s failing at keeping them away, if it’s the repression he keeps from coming back, regressing from one place back to the other. But instead of the usual sad, instead of beating himself up, he channels the energy, really channels it into beating the dough he’s kneading out. He punches it, making his hands raw and red with force before on the last punch, he makes a noise that’s closer to a whimper than a grunt. And when he stops, he brings the flour caked, shaking hand up to wipe his forehead. But Rowan is fuming, steaming, and it’s not with real anger, but hatred and disdain for himself and the things his head creates.
Despite it all, Rowan doesn’t look up from the dough, because a few feet away, someone is looming and he’s too afraid to find out if it’s either trick his mind plays on him.]
[It’s perhaps not the best moment, but it’s the moment that Danny decides that being upright is overrated and bowls the other over. And it’s reminiscent of other moments. Ones not so PG, but ones they shared in common rooms anyways. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. He has Rowan here now and that alone is a level of perfection all of its own. And the distance between them is fucking stupid, so no fucking wonder he closes it. No wonder to he presses Rowan back against the floor, nuzzling into his neck and shoulders (and mouth, with his lips, every few seconds or so) in turn.
This proximity, intoxicating, is a kind of refuge he never wants to lose. He’s already had it stolen away once, and maybe, just fucking once, the universe will decide that — for Danny — once is enough. A cruelly optimistic though, but one that passes through all the same.
Danny kisses away any doubt he holds, because it’s easier than facing Rowan leaving again at the moment.]
I kept seeing you in places that you weren’t. Just flashes in the corner of my eyes, and I wanted so badly for you to be there. To see you again, to feel you again. To have you again. [The confession is low, paced against the crook of his lover’s neck. He can’t help but smile slightly, despite how unfitting it is.]
[Rowan doesn’t care that he’s now laying underneath Danny in a public room. He knows there were people in it before Danny appeared — real people. But he doesn’t care. In fact, he only pushes against the other, his hands coming up to softly tangle in his hair, to feel the curls again. It’s not something he thought he’d have to miss, though something he savoured when he had it. It was hard not to love Danny like every day was his last. Between the voices and the hallucinations and Danny’s suicidal tendencies, it could have been.
When Rowan catches Danny from a cheek kiss, he moves and his lips mould into the man’s, soft and light, barely there, but a reassurance for Rowan that he’s kissing Danny and that the man talking to him, hugging him, kissing him — that he’s real. Rowan still isn’t sure because it all feels like a haze. But with his fingers in his hair, he thinks he can feel every grain in every strand.] I missed you. [He didn’t think it would be this easy, to fall back into the same pattern, the same routine. He didn’t think his lips would connect so easily when half of the problem had just been standing in front of him. His next words come out strangled, afraid, because if Danny doesn’t say them back, he’ll cower again. He’ll choke.] I love you.
- Danny’s voice is still like maple syrup to Rowan and he kisses Danny sometimes just because he thinks if he kisses him hard enough, he can steal it off of his tongue and really taste it — as if every kiss is an attempt just to taste the subtle scratch and syrup coating. He never gets to taste it, but it keeps him going, keeps his lips attached to Danny’s. He doesn’t say it out loud and he can’t get it into a poem, but he thinks if he kisses him long enough, maybe Danny will share and Rowan will start to sound steadier when he talks, like syrup coats his throat, too.
[He doesn’t know what to do at first. Not really. He knows that Rowan is speaking (and he hears) and knows what every word means. But it’s like someone has put a bag over his head and he’s only hearing the sentences in some diluted form; too distressed by everything else to process it all correctly.
So he doesn’t reply verbally. Not immediately at least, because he’s sure that if he tries, it will be almost as hard for him as it clearly is for the other. But he needs to relieve it all.
Need to comfort Rowan, his Rowan. Seven months apart or not, and there’s still a part of him that knows every inch of the other male. Every curve, every taste, every breath. And he depends on that familiarity, crashing his lips to Rowans just to stop the onslaught if he can.
It’s a kiss, it’s a catch, it’s a break, it’s a sigh; it’s existence in a moment, pressed to another. A give and take. A steady, needy, acknowledgement that it’s been way too fucking long. ‘I missed you,’ ‘I’m sorry,’ and ‘please stay’ all rolled into one. And when he pulls away, he bites down on his own bottom lip, whines, and presses his forehead to Rowan’s.]
It’s okay. You’re here now, it’s okay.
[Rowan kisses back because it puts a warm feeling in the pit of his stomach. He kisses back because it’s Danny and he remembers these lips, even if it was far too long ago that he’d last felt them. Seven months and he still remembers how it feels to have his fingers curl around his neck and his lips take him whole. And it’s the only thing that calms him — that is, as calm as he can get, his own hands still shaking, uncontrollable if he held them in front of himself, and his heart beating too fast, words still unintelligible.
When Danny finally pulls back, it feels too short and too long all the same and he lets out a sigh, nuzzling into the man when he hears the whine. It breaks him, that noise, and it sends him reeling into a place he’s not sure he’s been before, somewhere so between this level of sadness and despair and being okay, because finally, finally, Danny is there, and holding him and kissing him and touching him. He wants to tell him he missed him and that he’s not going anywhere this time and he won’t let them pull them apart. He wants to say it all, but his voice doesn’t work. Instead, he leans in further and he nuzzles his face into Danny’s neck, a relieving breathing in of his scent, remembering how to breathe with deep inhales and soft exhales that he knows Danny can feel, warm and homey. He remembers. He remembers. And he feels like he’s home again. “it’s okay,” he hears from a distant voice far enough away. And maybe it is.]
[Any and all intention of not touching Rowan can basically go fuck itself the second Danny sees the tears. And before he can really think about what he’s doing, he’s cupping the other male’s face and pulling him forward until he unbalances, falling from the chair and landing closer to where Danny kneels. For a moment, he’s torn between kissing and hugging the other; only actually settling for something in between.
His fingers run along every piece of Rowan he can reach; tracing lines and valleys and roads across flesh — leaving kisses with his fingertips where his lips cannot reach, distracted. Because while his hands contour neck down, the pieces that have been missing, his lips are busy with tear-streaked cheeks and a possibly too-warm forehead.]
No, no. Rowan no, you don’t need to apologize. [And he doesn’t. Even if he does, he doesn’t.]
[It’s okay now to cry only because he’s in a warm embrace of Danny, the real Danny, again. It’s surreal and he can hardly handle himself so much that when he falls to the floor, his mind collapses in on itself and he leans into every touch Danny gives him, every pair of lips he knows and every finger that brushes his skin and they only make noises, his fingers. They only force out of Rowan’s throat what he’s been holding for months, the pain and sorrow and crippling fear he learned how to grow numb to. When he got here, it was all back — and worse.
Rowan’s hand comes up to cover Danny’s hand and he leans into it too, throat closed and choked and eyes red and caked with tears, unpleasant salty rears ruining the taste of his cheeks to his frantic lover’s lips.] I wanted to stay. I c—… [He abandons it. He tried. He tried and Danny knows by the way the c cuts off in his throat, like how when his lips are parted after it cuts off, he was still trying, but abandoned it too soon. His words come out so tangled between noises and tears that it’s pointless to try because he doubts Danny will understand.] I was just trying t-to talk to him. And then… and then I didn’t c-control… it. I didn’t have. I just, I opened… [He shakes his head and his eyes shut tight, crunching to get the vague and uncontrollable memory of the dead staff member out of his head. He was a murderer now, after all. It was his fault, being sent away.] I’m sorry.
You don’t think I’m real?
[His voice cracks as he speaks, but only because he’s choking back a desperate and simultaneously relieved laugh. It’s the kind that his eyes slightly watering, but scrunched in amusement all the same.]
Rowan, I’m not sure that you’re real.
[And he wants to cup the boy’s face in is hands and hold him close, but he doesn’t. ‘Too afraid of what that might bring.’ Too afraid that the next time he blinks he’ll be waking up, but there is no way to confirm without touching, and no way to touch without breaking the illusion.
But it’s Rowan. Rowan is here again, and he’s not too different, but he really is. Danny knows it’s too be expected. They’ve both grown in more ways than one, even if it looks like Rowan has been shrinking as Danny bleeds out through his eyes and nose and ears and lips.
Oh how desperately he wants it.]
If you’re real, I’m real. How about that?
[It’s a child’s deal. The kind of logic that is blatantly fallible. But it works for him. He’ll crack that deal.]
[It doesn’t work for Rowan because it means they could both be fake, but he can’t question it because he’s staring at the man before him and he thinks it might really be him. He thinks he knows his hair in curls lesser than his own, but enough that he once could curl his finger into them. He remembers how that face looks in pure bliss and how his lips felt.
Rowan’s lips quivers and then he chokes back what might be a sob, some mangled noise exiting his lips when they finally part again.] I’m sorry. [The words come out hard and rough, rushed and sanded down around the edges like his voice was gone. And now there are tears in his eyes and he’s sure the noise be made was a sob.] I’m sorry. [But like he had throat cancer, he pushed out all he could and the next apologies that come are all whispers waiting to be cut off by Danny, in any way. In lips to lips. In proximity.] I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry… [They all come out different, desperate, unsure, but they all mean something different. He has so much to be sorry for.]