Sometimes Howard dreams of what might have been. Steve, wearing his service uniform, is standing in the middle of a dance floor and he’s smiling. The band strikes up a song, something slow, and Steve holds out his hand.
Howard knows he shouldn’t take it, everyone’s watching them, but then Steve says his name. He takes Steve’s hand and is pulled close. He rests his cheek on Steve’s shoulder and closes his eyes. Words rush to his mouth, too many of them, but all he can say is “I missed you.”
Howard expects Steve to say it back, but he only laughs, “I’ve been here all this time, waiting for you.”
“I didn’t know! No one told me!” And he feels so stupid.
But Steve kisses his hair and they begin to move to the music: every worry, every care, melts away. He’s happy.
They’ll dance like this forever.
When he wakes, he’s smiling, because he remembers Steve with a startling clarity, as if the decades since the war have melted away.
Those mornings, when he goes downstairs for his coffee, he pulls Maria into his arms and they dance around the breakfast table.