Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Danny, Steve considered the scrunched up, red face through the observation window. The tag on the end of the bassinet read, ‘BABY BOY EDWARDS’. There was no telling by looking at the baby who the father was. All of them looked the same to Steve. Baby Boy Edwards was wailing and appeared pissed off. If you took that at face value, then it could be a Williams. If it was Danny’s son, Steve would adore him just like he adored Grace. Any kid of Danny’s was a part of the man he loved.
Rachel said it was Stan’s son. Steve hoped like hell she was right. If the baby was Danny’s then Steve would lose him for sure. There was no doubt about that in his mind. Rachel would leave Stan and it was game over.
There was another sure thing that tormented Steve. His best friend, partner, and lover was still in love with his ex-wife. It was written all over Danny’s face as he stared longingly at Rachel’s son.
Danny was a good man, the very best. This was breaking Danny’s heart and, in the process, breaking Steve’s. Taking the high road, Danny even sent a picture to Stan. Steve noticed Danny saved it on his phone and knew Danny would stare at it later, trying to see Grace’s features in the ruddy little face.
Steve knew he had a truck full of trust issues. That’s why he preferred to keep his relationships easy. Catherine understood. No real commitments. Steve didn’t want the All-American White Picket Fence dream. He never promised anything and it worked for him. That was until Danny came barrelling into his life.
Partners first. Friends quick enough. Best friends. He learned to trust Danny. Came to rely on him more than anyone he’d ever dared to before. Close. Too damn close.
Danny made the first move. Friends with benefits, he called it with a Jersey attitude and smirk. Get your rocks off, no strings attached. No harm. No foul. Right. That should’ve worked just fine, until Steve went and fell in love with Danny. There was no grand realization, only a slow build and Danny’s strong presence in his lonely life.
He loved Danny, but Danny was still in love with Rachel. Sure, he knew Danny loved him in his own way. You couldn’t show that much loyalty without it, but not the deep-down, soul crushing love Steve was branded by.
He thought... hoped Danny was getting over Rachel. With time he hoped Danny would move completely on, only connected to Rachel through their shared love of Grace. Then Danny told him he’d gotten back together with Rachel. His Danny, the man he thought he knew with high morals, never would’ve slept with a married woman. It was only more evidence that Danny was a different man when it came to Rachel and Grace. The same devotion that brought Danny to Hawaii.
Rachel tried to take away Danny’s daughter and his pride after a bitter divorce. Hell, the woman had even taken his dog and Santa costume. She had a cruel and vindictive streak, Steve was sure of that. Discarded for a second time, Danny still came when she beckoned. Here Danny was at the hospital where Stan should’ve been. Danny might’ve signed those divorce papers, but his heart never accepted the reality.
He was sure Danny dreamed about that picket fence life – a wife, two kids, and a dog. Hell, if Rachel let him Danny would raise that boy as his own. Grace’s little brother. Danny was a wonderful father and could love any child, no matter the results of a DNA test.
Danny was passing time with him because he couldn’t have that life.
How do you accept that you’re second best?
How do you live knowing the person you love would leave you if their true love wanted them back?
How do you ignore the depressing fact that the one you love is only in a relationship with you because it’s better than being alone while they wait?
You accept what you’ve got and live with it. That’s the tough lesson Steve learned. He grew up learning that. His mom loved him and died. His dad said he loved him, but sent him away. His sister had always been their dad’s favourite. Nothing he ever did was good enough for his dad. Nothing he could do would make Danny love him the way he wanted.
Steve had never been enough.
If Steve could make Danny love him, then he would, but he couldn’t.
If Steve were a stronger man, he should walk away, but he couldn’t.
Steve would take what he could get from Danny and it would have to be enough.
Danny might want to be with Rachel, but he was coming home with Steve. It wasn’t much of a consolation, but it was something. Something was better than nothing. Even a fraction of Danny’s love was better than being alone. Steve would treasure what he could, while it lasted because Danny would leave him some day. Anyone Steve ever loved always left him.
As they walked away from the nursery, Steve forced a smile onto his face and teased Danny, trying to get him to feel better even for a fraction of a second. But, Danny wasn’t focused on Steve, either that, or he ignored him.
As the elevator doors closed, Danny’s gaze was locked on the nursery.