Chapter 1: The Day Before.
Danny was so lucky he’d ended up with Steve as his partner. They got along well and that was the most important thing on a job where you spent up to six months alone together. If it didn’t work out you couldn’t just go your separate ways out in the artic wilderness.
‘Do you want tomatoes or beans?’ Steve held up two tins.
The food wasn’t the best and they had to eat a lot of it. They were consuming around seven thousand calories a day and they were still losing weight but the cold did that to you.
‘Tomatoes. Last time we had beans the air got a little rarefied in here.’
Steve chuckled quietly and opened the tin of tomatoes, adding it to the pan. Outside a dog howled as the wind blew a ferocious gale. The noise of the wind could send you mad if you let it. With a shiver Danny grabbed the wind up radio and started to crank the handle. Some music would drown it out some.
Danny had always craved adventure, his parents had been worried when he’d joined the Copenhagen police department. They were speechless when he told them he was trying out for the Sirius patrol on Greenland.
He set himself a gruelling training regime. Improved his physical fitness, learned survival skills and how to read the night sky. It worked and he can still remember the giddy, half sick, feeling of disbelief and elation when he got the letter saying he was part of the next intake.
Six months of intense training followed. He got to know the other men during that time and they were a good group. He’d been hoping to work with Schmidt as he was ex police too but the day Danny found out he’d passed training was also the day he found out he’d be partnering Steven McGarrett. McGarrett was a bit of an enigma. Kept to himself, was friendly enough but not chatty.
Now he and Steve have been working together for a month and it’s good. He’s far too tired at the end of another nineteen mile sled trek to face a chatty partner. Steve’s quiet but easy manner is the perfect way to end the day as they sit in their tent, trying to warm up frozen limbs and painful extremities, before doing the whole thing all over again the next day.
‘Foods up Danny.’ Steve gives him one of those rare, dazzling smiles and starts to ladle the steaming contents out the pan.
Stomach rumbling, Danny shuffles over to join him in the far corner of the tent to eat. Tomorrow the sun will set for the last time for nearly two months and Danny has butterflies he can’t quite tame at the thought. For now he wants warm food and bad pop music to distract him from what lies ahead.
Chapter 2: Sun going Down.
Steve thought as a Frogman he was more prepared for this ordeal than Danny, a cop from the city. He might just be wrong.
Continuation of the story for Kristen999
Two men. 14 dogs. One sledge. Months of isolation and...no daylight.
Steve awakens to total darkness. His alarm bleeping insistently as he surfaces, gasping, from the dream he was having. It’s warm in the tent, heaters still working, and he’s a little bit clammy.
Danny is facing the wall, wrapped up so tight in his sleeping bag he looks like he’s in a cocoon. Today they’ll have about ten to fifteen minutes of pure sunlight before it sets for the last time. That’s if the skies are clear. With the wind blowing up a storm last night it would be just their luck that today will be overcast. Maybe not even knowing that exact moment when the light goes out. For some reason that gives Steve the creeps a little.
Moving to sit up he realises his body is aching slightly. Not the normal ache to do with the cold and the arduous physical nature of their work, he’s used to that. This is a different sort of ache and with a sinking feeling he realises he might be getting sick.
Steve’s used to harsh physical conditions and pushing his body to the limits. Before this he spent four years in the Danish Special Forces as a frogman. One of the toughest training regimes in the world it sees around six hundred starters whittled down to a dozen graduates. Steve was one of the dozen.
All of which means he knows his body and he knows now that he isn’t feeling his best. Far from it. Pushing his way out the sleeping bag he makes his way to his rucksack and takes out the medical bag.
After digging around for a while he finds what he needs and swallows down two Aspirin, dry. Hopefully they’ll help head off whatever he might be dealing with. He has a feeling of slight unease at the thought that it might purely be the cold and the exhaustion making him feel bad. Steve doesn’t like to think of himself as frail in any way. The realisation that he might be the one to suffer from the environment they are dealing with and not Danny – who all said and done was just a cop before – doesn’t sit easy.
He’ll just have to deal with it. They need to reach the old trapper hut by the end of today and send in a report. Otherwise they’ll already be falling behind schedule and its too early for that.
Different teams have different ways they favour of working. Some teams like to take very few supplies with them and build sleds for speed above all else. Those teams are so crazy about weight that the men have even been known to cut all the labels out of their clothing to make sure they’re carrying as little as possible.
Steve and Danny both decided early on that they wanted to go ‘slow and heavy’. Which meant they wanted to be fully provisioned, take longer doing the actual route but not have to spend as much time at supply stations as they’ve got everything they need with them. It means however that they really need to keep to the schedule, they’ve not got any time in the bank as it were.
At least the wind has died down today. When its as ferocious as it was yesterday he and Danny can’t speak to one another while on the sled. It also tires the dogs out and he’s worried about Yeni, one of the older dogs. Steve knows what he’ll have to do if the dog can’t keep going and the thought makes him a little sick.
A hapless grunt lets him know Danny’s awake and as usual is struggling to get out the sleeping bag he’s oh so tightly wrapped himself in.
With a smile Steve fires up the small camping stove, so they can have a coffee before setting out and facing the freezing day.
Chapter 3: Patrol. Chapter 3. Mornings are the worst.
Danny hates the mornings the most.
Continuation of the Au fic for Dante-s-hurt comfort meme. For Kristen999
The mornings are the part of the day Danny hates the most. It’s so weird waking up to dark and knowing it will hang around for another three or four – or more – hours until the sun finally struggles its way above the horizon.
The time the dark lays claim over the land has been stretched out more and more each single day. And come tomorrow there won’t be any official sunrise. Oh, there’ll still be some sort of half assed dawn but then the light will fade as quickly as it has come and the semi-dark will reclaim the land.
Danny’s not sure how he’ll react to being in perpetual twilight, or worse. He’s heard some men go mad, literally. Others suffer Seasonal affective disorder so badly that they have to be hospitalised and given intensive light treatment.
And Danny’s not a hypochondriac, really he isn’t but when he’d read about early polar expeditions and their horrific suffering at the hands of ‘The Sailors Disease’ – Scurvy – he’d got kind of freaked out. He’d made sure they had a ton of vitamin C tablets despite Steve telling him that canned and freeze dried foods these days kept their vitamin content. He really doesn’t want bleeding gums and falling out hair, thank you very muchly.
Thing is though, he’s feeling good, more than good. In fact – and this is really quite odd – Danny’s feeling great.
Yeah he hates the mornings and yeah he really, really hates having to piss in temperatures so cold that you could literally freeze your knob off. But oddly enough Danny, outgoing, garrulous, life and soul and all the rest Danny – he’s thriving on the solitude.
Well not the solitude exactly, because he isn’t alone. Danny has a sneaking feeling he might be sort of thriving on Steve.
Steve is something else. He’s this person that Danny both looks up to and also wants to bring down a tad, all wrapped up into one delectable package.
Danny’s only been with a guy twice. Once was a drunken fumble and he has a theory that nearly every guy on gods green earth has done something similar. The other time meant more to Danny but clearly not to the other participant. Other than that Danny’s been all the way heterosexual. He’s not homophobic though. Can’t stand guys that are. Can’t stand it either when guys pretend they can’t tell if another man is good looking or not because they are so straight!
Danny calls bullcrap on that, because yes people can tell if a person of the same sex is good looking, whether straight or gay or anything in between.
Which is why at first he’d not been too interested in his easy recognition of just how good looking Steve was. In time though that recognition has grown into something a tiny bit more. Danny’s sure now he’s maybe, sort of, a tiny bit, attracted to Steve.
With a loud curse Danny flops out his sleeping bag and writhes on the floor for a moment, like a bug just out its shell. He ignores Steve’s quiet snort and concentrates on trying to stand up with dignity. It’s so very annoying that every single morning he takes an age to get out of his damned sleeping bag. He’s always so wrapped up in it that he can’t seem to worm his way out without a lot of effort and grunting and general bad temperedness. Steve of course just steps out of his. Not that Danny’s witnessed him do it too much, as his partner always seems to be up and about before Danny’s even opened his eyes.
Often Steve’s washed up and is already making breakfast by the time Danny has managed to stand up and kick away the hated sleeping bag. Which is quite nice actually because it means Danny can get washed, which is always an ordeal in a cramped tent but better than doing it out on the freezing tundra, and then grab some hot food and coffee.
‘You want a coffee?’ Steve is smiling at him and in an instant any remaining bad mood evaporates, like the steam chugging out the pan on the stove.
‘Yeah babe, I will thanks.’ He tries not to blush at using that term of endearment - again. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s something Danny had picked up when working vice, a jokey thing but for some reason every time he says it to Steve it makes him flush a little.
‘Do you want to feed the dogs or take down the tent?’ Steve is stirring the pot absent mindedly, clearly not noticing Danny’s little schoolgirl moment.
Danny’s about to open his mouth and say he doesn’t care when Steve looks right at him and Danny feels a tiny bit of the breath leave his body at his appearance. Steve looks a lot worse for wear. His skin is pale and has a waxy sheen. His pallor is a tad concerning to say the least. He looks like he needs to get straight back into his sleeping bag and grab a few more hours.
‘Steve? You okay?’ Danny keeps his voice light.
‘Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?’ Steve frowns back at him.
‘You look pale that’s all.’ Danny turns away, not wanting to scrutinise him too much.
‘I’m fine D.’ Steve uses his own term of endearment. ‘Just feeling a bit cold and tired, that’s all.’
Danny nods his head and gets on with packing up his sleeping bag but his mind is whirring. He saw the pale greenish hue to Steve’s skin and he saw the drops of sweat beading his forehead. They’ve got a long day ahead of them and they have to reach that hut tonight if they don’t want to miss reporting in. If Steve is going to get sick he couldn’t have picked a worse time.
Chapter 4: The last day.
Steve and Danny watch the sun rise and then set together.
If anyone who reads this is an expert on polar survival or artic living then please forgive any mistakes - cause I'm not.
Steve has served in the arctic before. He was based in Northern Greenland for two months a year ago and he loved it. He’s also served at the Greenland Artic Research station, helping provide security and supplies. That was particularly great, he’s always been interested in the sciences and is seriously thinking of doing a marine biology degree after serving.
So he’s used to the arctic in a way Danny isn’t. Knows that you get to see and experience things most people never will. You can see polar bears, the Northern Lights, perpetual daylight, perpetual nighttime. On certain days, if the atmospheric conditions are right you can even see mirages. They’re not hallucinations, they are optical illusions and you can actually photograph them. Steve knows this because he has a picture of one taken last year, an iceberg floating above the snowy ground where there couldn’t have been one.
The silence is incredible out here too... until you start walking that is. The tightly packed snow contains air near to the surface and amplifies footsteps like a drum, creating a weird experience where walking becomes one of the noisiest things you can do. At other times the wind creates strange and alien noises as it howls around the flat, snow covered land.
At some point they say the snow will melt completely over northern Greenland, many look forward to that day as it will free up precious minerals to be exploited but Steve thinks when it happens his heart might just break a little bit.
Today is a clear, bright day and the goings good. They’re actually slightly ahead of schedule, which means they can stop in a while and watch as the sun struggles over the horizon for the last time. All there will be tomorrow is the anaemic grey light of dawn for a few hours.
Steve’s seen the last sunset before but Danny hasn’t and Steve wants him to be able to experience the momentous occasion and he’s so glad it’s not cloudy. He’s excited for it himself too but it’s tempered by how rotten he still feels. He’s still aching and his throat is sore now too. He doesn’t think he’s got a particularly high temperature though, perhaps just a mild one and that’s a good sign.
Ten minutes later and they’ve stopped. The dogs are meant to be resting but they’re restless and whining. Nearer to a wolf than a domesticated dog they’re in tune with the environment and Steve’s seen this behaviour in them before when the sun is about to make its last appearance for the winter.
Slowly the pale light of dawn begins to warm up and the sky takes on a weak yellow hue.
‘It’s kind of weird to think we won’t be seeing sunlight again for such a long time.’ Danny sounds slightly worried. He has ice clinging to his eyelashes, eyebrows and the stubble on his chin. Steve expects he looks exactly the same. They’ve only had their goggles off for a short time but that’s all it takes.
‘I was reading about how suicides are much more common in places with weeks or months of no sun.’
‘Cheerful.’ Steve huffs out a laugh at that. ‘Actually.’ He turns to Danny. ‘The suicide rate is highest in spring when the sun returns.’
‘Really?’ Danny raises a white eyebrow.
‘Yeah. The theory is people are still depressed but get a surge of energy with the return of sunshine and before they can lose the depression they…well you know.’
Suddenly Steve doesn’t want to talk about things like that.
‘Well, I suppose months of darkness is a lot to take.’ Danny looks slightly freaked out.
‘Except its not you know. Not really. Dark, I mean.’ Steve nudges Danny’s shoulder, wanting to give the man some sort of comfort however small. ‘In towns, the use of artificial light means the sky seems much darker than it is. I think it makes it much worse. Out here? You’ve got the moon and the stars and you get the Northern Lights. Sure you have dark nights but you also have nights when the moon is so bright you could read by it.’
‘Really?’ Danny looks a bit cheered.
‘Really. I promise you that before we’re through with this trip you’ll have sat out in the moonlight and read a book!’
The sun is just above the horizon now, a dim orange disc, oddly flattened. It will skirt along the horizon for a short period of time before sinking back down again.
‘I’m glad it’s not cloudy.’ Danny leans into Steve slightly, mirroring his earlier action and bumping his shoulder.
Steve doesn’t move away, just enjoys the gentle pressure of Danny’s body against his. ‘Me too D.’
They sit in companionable silence and watch as the disc of the sun shudders back down below the horizon. Steve feels the usual emotion swell in his chest at the site and has to stop himself from tearing up; he doesn’t need the agony of frozen eyes.
He glances at Danny; his face is a mixture of wonder and fear. Steve isn’t scared, he knows he can deal with the dark, he’s done it before but he was the first time he faced it. The unknown is always more disconcerting.
‘How about tonight we really tie one on and have a beer each with dinner?’ He waggles his eyebrows at Danny.
‘Yeah. That sounds good. We can put the radio on, listen to some tunes.’
Steve laughs at the idea of them having a tiny party to mark the occasion. He gives a small shiver when he goes to get up, his aching body is really starting to piss him off. Steve doesn’t do illness and he refuses to be sick now. With a determined grunt he’s up and clapping his hands at the dogs, getting them back on their feet so they can carry on and get to the hut in time to report in.
Chapter 5: When you don't see it coming
It all goes horrifically wrong.
I have painstakingly researched this but there will undoubtedly be innacuracies in both descriptions of sledding accidents and medical trauma, so for those I apologise in advance.
He’s so tired he could fall asleep stood up on the sledge. After such an easy first half to the day Danny is shell shocked by how tough it got all of a sudden. Firstly they had to cross an area where the ice had created huge ridges, meaning they had to walk, one leading the dogs, one by the sled. Then as if to really top things off the weather had changed in an instant, the wind picked up and the clouds rolled in. Snow fell so heavily they could barely see their hands in front of their faces.
This last section of the journey was always supposed to be the most arduous part and yet they’re already bereft of energy. They are travelling over a frozen lake, heading towards the shore of the arctic sea for the modified and equipped trapper hut where they’ll spend the night. The next day will see them cover around twenty miles to reach the northern, nord patrol station. He’s really thankful that by tomorrow evening they’ll be at a properly equipped station, as Steve’s still not looking too hot.
The schedule allows for one night at Nord but Danny thinks they may have to spend a couple, let Steve rest up. There will be a few military personnel around and most of all; medical supplies, running water, showers, beds and chance to recharge their batteries.
He’s not mentioned this to Steve yet, sure that the man will insist they spend only one night and then continue according to their schedule but he’s going to fight that battle once they’re there tomorrow.
A loud crack rings through the air making the hair on Danny’s neck stand on end. Steve’s hand shoots up as he yells the command for the dogs to halt. It’s impressive how quickly they react and Danny grips onto the bar in front of him as the sled comes to a standstill.
Steve is pulling his parka down from around his mouth.
‘That was the ice.’ He looks over to Danny, concern writ large on his features.
It’s been unusually mild this year so far in Greenland. Average temperatures for this time of year are minus twenty and it’s ‘only’ been around minus five for the last few days. It’s turned now and the air is freezing around them but the preceding warm weeks mean the ice is not as thick as it normally would be this time of year.
Right now Danny’s cursing the mild weather he’d enjoyed previously, you don’t want to hear the ice cracking like that when you’re on a frozen lake. When they were first working together, building their sled, Steve had taken Danny out kayaking past icebergs in Baffin Bay. They’d made so much noise. Hissing and fizzing and every now and again letting out loud groans or booms like canon fire. Steve had explained then how dangerous they could be, they could collapse at any time.
That was the first lesson in having respect for the ice and Danny’s not forgotten it. He listens but there are no more sounds. Not even the eerie groans you often hear.
‘What do you think?’ Danny looks at his partner, the man’s face is set in a grim line.
‘I don’t like it but we can’t just stay here. It’s whether or not we take it really slowly and lead the dogs by foot, which means it will take us all night to cross the lake, or we trust their instincts and keep going with them pulling us.’
‘I say trust their instincts Steve. They’re better than ours!’ Danny’s constantly amazed by how the dogs seem able to predict the smallest changes in the weather, their behaviour changing sometimes hours before the weather shifts. If the dogs go from settled to hyper or excited you know a storms coming.
Steve nods in agreement. They both pull their parka’s back up to cover most of their faces and with a shout from Danny to the lead dogs to move, they’re off. At one point Danny feels as if the dogs are going just a tad too fast, Steve must be thinking the same thing as he calls out ‘woah’, the wheel dogs slow down immediately acting as a natural brake on the rest of the pack out in front.
Half an hour later and they are making good progress. The snow has started up again and Danny just wants to be at their destination, when it comes out of nowhere. One moment they’re moving along just fine, the next the sled is on its side, being pulled to the left.
Danny used to think when people said things happened in slow motion they were lying. Now he knows they were telling the truth. He sees Steve fall as one of the sled’s runners disappears into soft, slushy ice. The dogs are baying, some still trying to pull forward in their confusion, others being dragged sideways and down too with the sled.
Danny can see that Steve is half in and half out the water, a huge hole in the ice now apparent through the driving snow. He jumps off the sled as it continues its horrifying slow motion lurch towards that gaping black hole of icy water.
His brain is screaming, he doesn’t know what to do, help Steve and risk losing the sled and dogs or try to save the sled and risk Steve’s life. In one moment his decision is made, he checks that Steve is hanging on and runs to the front of the sled, if they lose the sled and dogs they're both finished. The dogs are panicked and he rights the two that are on their sides and soothes the others, as he gives the lead dogs the command to turn right and with all his force starts to pull the sled too. He keeps one eye always on Steve, making sure he’s still got his upper half out the water. He can see partner is struggling to pull himself out. Time is of the essence, the water will be so cold Steve will have already probably lost the feeling in his legs, which might be why he can’t pull himself out too easily.
The lead dogs are pulling with all their might and Danny manages to get the sled away from the weak and cracking ice and moved off to a distance. It’s still on its side and most of their supplies are scattered all over the place but it will hold. He shouts to the dogs to stay and then runs over to Steve.
He’s out the water now, just his feet still hanging over the hole in the ice. Danny grabs and pulls him unceremoniously across the freezing ice and snow, not wanting either of them on the weakened surface for anymore time than is needed.
Steve’s shouting something at him but Danny can’t make out what it is. Finally he comes to a stop by the sled. His lungs are burning and his legs are shaking. He realises that Steve is still trying to say something to him.
He pulls the parka down from around his friends face and leans in.
‘The fucking heaters! They’ve gone in.’
Danny takes a moment to process what Steve is telling him, then he’s running back towards the hole in the ice but something catches his leg and he hits the ground with a thud, air leaving his lungs.
Steve has him by the ankle.
‘No. It’s too risky.’
Danny turns to Steve and crawls back towards him. The rest of their provisions are scattered around them but he can’t see the bag with the SpiritBurner stoves. They’ve got a spare one in the large food bag. But one won’t provide much heat. The hut will have spares but he’s not sure they can make it. He’s not checked the damage to the sled yet and Steve is going to be in a bad way if he doesn’t get him dry and warmed up real soon.
He realises belatedly that Steve is gesturing to him so he leans in again.
‘There’s another hut. It’s….it’s much nearer than the Patrol hut. It’s not got the pro…provisions but we can get there in twenty minutes if we can get the sled moving.’ Steve’s teeth are chattering and Danny can see his whole body is shaking.
‘Give me a moment. I’m going to see if I can get the sled back on track, look at the damage.’
Minutes later he’s managed to get it righted, using some sort of super human reserves of strength he didn’t know he had. One of the runners will need repairing but it will get them as far as the hut, if Steve can navigate them there. He grabs their bags, grim determination winning out over his shaky limbs and his pounding heart. His chest is burning from the cold air he’s gasping into his lungs. But within less than five minutes all the bags are on the righted sled and Danny is running back to Steve.
He places his hands under the taller mans arms and starts to pull him up. ‘Need a bit of help here babe if you can.’ He cajoles Steve.
To his credit Steve somehow pushes himself up on legs that must be useless from the cold. Danny manages to half push him onto the sled before climbing up and hauling him the rest of the way in.
‘Can you get us to the other hut?’ He shouts over at Steve.
The man unzips one of the pockets on his trousers and with a trembling hand takes out his compass. He nods at Danny.
‘I can get us there.’
Danny’s not sure what they’ll do then. Broken sled, only one heater and two freezing cold men, one of whom is wet to boot. He just prays that his satellite phone will work because he thinks they’re going to need help. He’s not sure that Steve will be able to make it to the patrol hut or to north station without it.
Chapter 6: In This We Share
Steve’s whole body is shaking, his teeth are chattering and his legs are aching from the trembling but he can’t stop it. Can’t control it.
Steve has hypothermia. Sometimes people suffering with it try to get undressed, the theory being they may actually feel too warm. They can also act irrationally in other ways too. Thank god he's got Danny!
Steve’s whole body is shaking, his teeth are chattering and his legs are aching from the trembling but he can’t stop it. Can’t control it. He’s feeling oddly warm around his middle though - and he knows that’s not a good sign.
When you stop feeling cold is when you have to worry. He’s praying he’s alert enough to be guiding them to the disused hut correctly. It seems like it’s been longer than twenty minutes. The snows really driving now though and they can hardly see a thing. They could be within ten feet of it and not see it. He’s starting to feel slightly hopeless.
‘Haw!’ Danny’s voice rings out with the command to turn left and the lead pair immediately do as directed. The sled turns in a wide arc to the left and they are, Steve realises, turning around in a big circle.
About to question Danny, he hears an excited laugh from the man next to him. Peering into the gloom he sees a ghostly shape that he can just make out in the snow. It’s the hut. Relief pours through him, so overwhelming that for a moment he feels like sobbing, he doesn’t though. It’ll waste vital energy and freeze on his face.
‘Babe?’ Danny uses that distinctive endearment again, making Steve smile. Or at least he thinks he’s smiling, he’s not sure if his facial muscles are capable right now. ‘Come on lets get you inside.’
Steve shakes his head, they need to unpack the sled, sort the dogs. He steps out on shaky legs and next thing he’s kissing the cold, hard ground.
‘Yep. Definitely need to get you inside.’ Danny’s leaning over him, grabbing his arms, trying to get him up.
With legs like ribbons they’re that weak, he somehow manages to stand and, leaning on Danny, make his way shakily to the door.
Once in the hut Danny helps him down, until he’s sat on the floor, legs straight out in front of him. His partner rushes back out the door and returns with the bag with the lights and the one remaining heater in it. He’s lighting the lamps immediately. They’ve still got some of the old fashioned ones that use seal blubber to work and the hiss of the fat makes Steve smile at the comforting familiarity.
Then Danny’s lighting the SpirtiBurner stove. He’s placed it near Steve but not too close. Then he’s back out the door and Steve wonders what the heck he’s doing now, when Danny is bringing the sleeping bags in off the sled. And Steve’s getting antsy; Danny needs to sort the dogs first. They need feeding and really he’s feeling fine. In fact he’s too hot now they’re inside.
He places his hands on the ground beside him and pushes himself up, steadying himself against the wall when the hut tips alarmingly to one side. Then he’s getting undressed, so damned hot and why is the heater on when it’s too warm?
He’s already got his parka off and is trying to work out his trousers but his hands aren’t cooperating.
‘Hey, what you doing?’ Danny’s up in his face. ‘Wait till I’ve got the bags ready or you’ll freeze even more. What are you, some Neanderthal eh? Doesn’t feel the cold.’ He’s pulling Steve’s parka around his shoulders again and Steve doesn’t like that, not one bit.
He moves away from Danny and when the smaller man goes to follow him Steve pushes him off, with a fair amount of force.
‘Whoah. Okay big guy, I don’t think you’re thinking clearly right now but if you keep this shit up I’m going to have to subdue you somehow and I really don’t want to have to do that, what with you being some sort of man mountain and all. So look, why don’t you just get back into your clothes okay? Just for a few minutes. Just a few minutes babe, that’s all.’ The hands are back on him.
Somehow the never ending stream of words is stopping Steve from being able to think about anything else, being able to move or act or do anything so he just stands there, while Danny pulls his parka back on and keeps talking to him in that soothing voice.
Next his friend turns around and starts to unpack and put out their sleeping bags but he’s still talking. After a particularly intense monologue about the brilliance of modern synthetics for keeping heat in, the blond pauses for breath.
‘Fur is better though.’ Steve says. Danny whips around, eyebrows raised. Steve carries on, feeling its somehow of the utmost importance that Danny knows this. ‘The trousers the Inuit make from polar bear fur is the warmest thing I’ve ever worn….so, so warm. Nanuk. Yeah, you need to respect the bear D. The bear lets you catch him, he only does that if he respects your soul as a hunter.’
‘Great. Thanks for that interesting lesson in erm, local culture babe. I see you’re not quite with it at the moment but I’ll only be a second now and then we can get you in here, and get you warmed up.’
He hasn’t got a clue what D is on about. Not with it? He’s on top form. He can remember all the myths and legends he knows about this region, see them even - stretching ahead of him for miles. He could reel them all off to Danny but if Danny’s going to mock him maybe he doesn’t deserve to know.
Next moment nimble fingers are taking his parka off and then his boots and thank god he can finally get out these clothes and get cooled down, get comfortable. He feels odd, like he’s swimming through treacle, his thoughts coming and going so fleetingly he can hardly catch them.
In just moments it seems Steve is stood there and he’s naked, as the day he was born.
‘Sorry babe. Erm, everything’s wet. I’m just going to dry you off okay and then we’re going to have a lie down. You need warming up. Fuck Steve! So cold.’
He laughs at that because what is Danny talking about, he’s nicely warm. Hands are rubbing a towel gently over his skin and Steve wonders if he’s sick or something - because he’s dreamt of Danny touching him but now that he is - its as if Steve’s body has gone offline. Which he’s really kind of grateful for, he’d hate to have a reaction to Danny doing this, it would be just too mortifying. And why is Danny drying him again?
‘Come on.’ Danny’s got the sleeping bag open and he gestures for Steve to get in.
He goes to it and crawls in, he can’t remember what important things he had to tell Danny now, about the myths and the legends and proper hunting technique.
His head is so nicely comfortable once he lays it down and he thinks he’ll just sleep now, thank you very much. What the fuck? Danny is getting in with him. He’s curling up behind Steve and he feels kind of naked, except for his underwear that is, Steve can feel the soft cotton tickle the base of his back.
Oh well if Danny wants to snuggle that’s fine by him. He shuts his eyes and starts to drift but Danny’s shaking him.
‘Steve come on; don’t go to sleep on me. Stay with me babe okay?’
Does Danny want sex? Why won’t he let Steve sleep? And normally Steve would be ecstatic that Danny wants sex with him. It’s something he thought he could never have but right now he just wants to close his eyes.
‘Steve!’ Jesus does the man need to shout! His eyes snap open. Danny is pinching him. Pinching his thigh hard. He should fucking punch him, except he can’t be bothered to move his arm.
‘Listen Steve, tell me some more of those stories! I need to know right? What else should I know about, other than the bears and the respect thing and the rest.’
Wow. Danny sounds like this is really urgent, so Steve tries to summon up some more important things to tell him. The wind howls at that moment, low and lonely against the shack and he feels Danny shiver against him.
‘Don’t worry it’s only the wind. But the Qalupalik do sound like that. They’re not here though D. They live by the sea.’
‘The Qua…the what?’
‘The Qalupalik. They live by the sea and they take children that wonder near the edge and they hum and moan. Not like this though, this is just the wind. Their skins green.’
Danny’s hands are all over him now, rubbing and if it’s meant to be foreplay it’s a little rough. His legs are moving too, it’s like Danny’s rubbing every bit of himself all over Steve, and its weird as fuck but nice, so Steve doesn’t complain.
The rubbing goes on for a while and Steve murmurs other legends to Danny when suddenly, Steve’s is slammed full force with the most indescribable pain.
‘Fuck!’ He gasps out.
And his body and mind are suddenly - and agonizingly - back online. He goes from feeling pleasantly sleepy and warm to feeling cold and aching and his hands and feet are burning.
‘Oh god.’ He moans, not able to hold it in and hating how weak he sounds.
‘I know babe. I know, it’s okay I’ve got you.’ Danny’s still moving his hands over him all the time, and moving his legs too, doing everything he can to warm Steve. He’s ashamed he thought it was anything else and hopes he didn’t say anything while he was offline.
‘Steve, turn over. Turn over and give me your hands.’ Danny is pulling his shoulder.
With a huge effort he turns around, the shaking back now. Danny grabs his hands and pulls them into his body, placing them on his chest, curling himself around them. Steve knows how awful that must be for Danny, how cold his hands must be on the other mans chest but his friend is just holding them there. He bends his head down and blows warm air onto the frozen digits and Steve looks at the wavy shock of blond hair and swallows down the kick of emotion in his gut.
Then Danny’s hooking his legs around Steve’s and pulling his limbs up, so that Steve’s feet are trapped between Danny’s legs and the heat from them.
It burns so bad, it burns as if his feet have been plunged into a hot bath and he knows he’s got frostbite.
The clarity is a bitch, because it makes Steve realise how serious the situation is. And fuck - the dogs!
‘Danny.’ God his voice is pathetic. He clears his throat and tries again. ‘D? We’ve got to sort the dogs, feed the dogs. Get things set up for the night.’
‘I’ll do it in a bit babe, okay? I’ve got most of the things off the sled that we need. The tarps over everything else and I’ve put a tarp up for the dogs to lie under.’ And Steve must have been really out of it while Danny was in an out of the hut earlier on - it only seemed like he was gone for a moment at a time.
Danny carries on. ‘I’ve contacted Nord. Managed to get through and they’re sending someone but they won’t be here for about four hours. Then, we’ll be off to civilisation. Hot food, heating, showers, medically qualified personnel. You name it babe, it’s there and you…’ Danny clears his throat. ‘You are going to be fine once we get there, you here me? So don’t worry about anything and I’ll deal with the dogs in a moment but right now, right now you’re freezing and we really need to warm you up. Okay?’
Steve doesn’t have an answer to any of that, so he just shrugs his shoulders and shivers as Danny keeps rubbing his hands and his feet before wrapping his arms around him and rubbing his back – pulling Steve in and just warming his whole damn body. As he feels the shakes slowly subsiding, Steve lets his body relax into Danny’s embrace.
Chapter 7: Bittersweet
Danny's happy Steve's going to get the help he needs so why is he so damn sad?
Again I'm not a medical expert. I did do my research but any real medical expert will surely spot the mistakes a mile away so apologies in advance for any reading doctors, nurses or patients who have suffered hypothermia. Also this chapter deals with Meningitis so if that is in anyway upsetting/triggery please avoid.
Danny’s dreaming, he’s dreaming of green skinned people with long raggedy hair and long fingernails, waiting in the water to grab those who go too near the dangerous shores edge. The next moment he’s on the ice, he’s facing a huge polar bear; it’s teeth flashing at him.
Steve’s suddenly stood next to him, and he’s naked except for fur underwear. He must be freezing Danny thinks. Walking around Danny, the almost naked, dream Steve, is a sight to behold. He has a spear in his hand and his skin is so tanned that the low Arctic sun paints him almost gold. His tattoos stand out against this darker skin, the blues and the reds swirling in a way that almost dances in front of Danny’s eyes.
‘You need to have a hunters soul before you can wear the bears fur, D.’ Steve says as he continues his slow circling of Danny - and Danny’s not sure if dream Steve’s hunting the bear or him.
With a start Danny jerks awake. His heart is hammering, the sense of danger passes quickly though as he becomes aware of his surroundings.
Steve is fast asleep against him, the other mans hands are bunched into fists like a child’s might be and they’re held up, tight against Danny’s chest. His head is fitted into the crook of Danny’s shoulder and his warm breath ghosts against Danny’s skin rhythmically.
For a second, for just one, gorgeous second, Danny lets himself enjoy it all. The feel of Steve against him, his hair tickling Danny’s chin, his gangly legs still tucked up between Danny’s. Heart beating wildly he realises the enormity of his feelings. He could stay here like this forever. If Steve weren’t sick Danny could reach down, tilt his chin up, kiss those sensual lips he’s been fixated on for so long. He could nibble along that defined jaw, covered with a weeks worth of growth and run his fingers over the solid muscle of his biceps, tracing the ink that’s not dream bright but still colourful, still unique.
Steve is sick, so Danny doesn’t do any of the things he wants so badly. Reaching his arm behind himself, he grabs his phone and looks at the time, shaking off his foolish thoughts. It’s been three hours, hopefully the patrolmen from the Nord station will be there soon - to take them to a place where Steve can get at least rudimentary medical attention.
Reaching back to his partner, Danny feels down his body. He’s no longer freezing cold, in fact except for his feet he feels warm. Clammy actually and perhaps a little too hot. Remembering that Steve was sick even before his trip through the ice hole Danny wonders if his fever has returned now that he’s warmed up enough not to be hypothermic.
Could that happen? Could you go from hypothermia to having a temperature? He feels Steve’s forehead – and yep that’s pretty hot. Kind of burning up in fact.
He struggles up out the sleeping bag and why is it such a chore every damn time? Grumbling softly to himself he starts to dress. He wants to be ready for them to take him and Steve as soon as they get here; he’s not leaving Steve now, that much he knows. They’ll have to have the dogs run alongside the motorised sled their rescuers will be on – or someone will have to come back for the dogs. He thinks the dogs will be able to keep up, they can run fast and for a long way.
Steve needs sorting. The guys still naked and he doesn’t want the patrolmen seeing him that way. Danny opens Steve’s kit bag and pulls out some boxer briefs and a t-shirt. He also pulls out some socks and puts them by the stove for a while.
Pulling the covers back, Danny doesn’t allow himself to enjoy the sight of all that naked Steve skin. In another time, another place, he might have revelled in it but right now his partner is someone Danny needs to care for, keep safe and well. The fact that he’s been so much more for so many weeks doesn’t come into it in the here and now. Steve’s skin is paler than in his dream but the body is the same, strong, lean and long. Michelangelo couldn’t have done better. A tremor runs through that strong looking torso, reminding Danny that right now appearances are deceptive.
He’s going to have to wake Steve to get his briefs on, he pulls the cover of the sleeping bag further back, about to wake Steve and then stops, frowning.
A dark purple rash is spreading out over Steve’s thighs. Danny swallows hard, that doesn’t look good. He’s no doctor but that doesn’t look good, not at all. They need to get him out of here and fast.
‘Hey big guy, come on.’ He shakes Steve’s shoulder.
With a grunt his partner’s eyes shoot open, a wild look in them for a moment before they focus on Danny.
‘Hey. How you feeling?’ Danny smiles at him.
‘Okay.’ Steve goes to sit up and swears softly under his breath.
‘What’s wrong babe?’
‘Christ, my head and neck…they’re killing.’ Steve is wincing and he grabs the back of his head rubbing it with one large hand.
‘Yeah about that. Don’t freak out but you’ve got a rash too. On your thighs.’
Steve glances down. Stares at his thighs for a moment. Then he looks further up his body and raises his eyebrows.
‘Oh yeah. Sorry. I was going to give you these, erm….’ Danny hands him the briefs and turns away, stupidly, for a moment. As if he’s not just spent a night huddling up to a fully naked Steve.
‘The patrol should be here soon enough to get you okay? Then we’ll be off to Nord and they can sort you out.’
‘They’re not a hospital D.’ Steve’s voice is low and he sounds scared. For the first time, he sounds really scared.
Danny’s not thinking, just reacting to his friend’s visible distress. He scoots down back next to Steve, who is sat up propped up against the wall now, briefs on, head lolling back a little.
Danny puts his hand on Steve’s shoulder. ‘You’re going to be fine. The runway is still passable this time of year, if needs be they can fly you out. You can be in one of a dozen major cities within hours okay?’
‘But the patrol…’ Steve sweeps one arm out before it flops down on the sleeping bag again, palm up.
Something about the vulnerable way it looks, laid against the deep blue of the sleeping bag, twists Danny’s gut.
‘The patrol will be okay, people get sick Steve, people have to leave for other reasons, there is always a team to repla…’ He trails off. Yeah, not helpful.
Looking up he sees Steve’s staring at him and it sends butterflies dancing up Danny’s spine to have those dark blue eyes look into his so intently. He reaches his hand out and places it on the back of Steve’s neck, pulling his head down until their foreheads are touching. They stay like that for a moment, Danny not thinking about what the hell his actions must be signalling and Steve clearly not unhappy with the position.
‘If I weren’t probably infectious, I’d kiss you right about now.’ Steve’s voice rumbles against him.
Danny jerks his head up. Looks at Steve for a beat.
‘If you weren’t probably infectious, I’d kiss you right back.’
They smile at one another for a long moment and then Danny’s clearing his throat.
‘Come on, you’ve got to get dressed. Let me help you.’
And it takes them an age to get Steve suited and booted enough to be able to go back out there for the trip to Nord base. His friend’s hands seem clumsy and uncoordinated, and after their mutual declaration Danny’s aren’t fairing much better.
Just as Steve’s struggling to lace up the huge, clumpy snow boots he’s pulled on there’s a loud cacophony of barking from outside.
Danny’s never been so relieved in his life. If it’s tinged by a bittersweet sense of sadness that he and Steve waited so long before either of them did or said anything, he brushes it aside. All that matters now is getting the man somewhere he can be treated.
The trek to Nord base is quick and efficient. The motorized sled cutting through the ice at great speeds. Their own sled is left at the shack and the dogs have been fed and watered and are left there too. The team who’ve come for Steve and Danny will head back out for the dogs once they’ve got the men to the base it’s been decided.
Danny has taken one of then men to one side and told them about Steve’s condition. They’ve made sure he keeps his parka up and neither of the two men go anywhere near him.
Once they arrive at the base the sled is met by the ‘medical team’. One doctor and a soldier with some medical training. They take Steve off immediately, telling him to keep his parka up for now and his gloves on etc. Steve doesn’t even turn around to look back at Danny before he’s gone around a corner.
A warm shower and a hot meal later Danny still can’t relax and settle. He’s had a shave and hardly recognised himself in the mirror without at least a weeks worth of beard. There’s a knock on the door of his bunk and he rushes to open it.
It’s the doctor who’d met them off the sled.
‘It’s meningitis.’ Danny’s heart stutters in his chest. ‘But judging from his symptoms I’m pretty certain its only viral. That’s much less severe than the bacterial form. His temperature isn’t high enough for it to be a serious case either way, plus he’s totally with it and his headache and neck pain have been eased with basic pain killers. I’d expect much more serious symptoms with the bacterial form. Plus he hasn’t been near anyone in weeks so a virus is much more likely than a bacterial infection. They can lie dormant in the body much longer.’
‘You say his temperature isn’t that high but he was burning up before - back in the cabin - after I warmed him up.’ Danny feels the blush crawl up his neck as he thinks back to huddling against Steve.
If the doctor notices at all he does a good job of pretending not to. ‘Could have been re-bound hyperthermia. It happens sometimes after a case of hypothermia, the body’s temperature regulation kind of goes haywire for a while. He’s not out the woods don’t get me wrong, even viral meningitis will put you out of action for a few weeks and he’s got frostbitten toes - so I’ve requested he be flown out tomorrow.’ The doctor smiles at Danny as if this is good news. ‘He’ll be taken to Reykjavik hospital. They can observe him, make sure he’s okay. If he did deteriorate further or show signs of a more serious illness they can perform the necessary tests and treatment. I’m pretty confident though he’ll be out the hospital in days and back to normal in a matter of weeks.’
‘So he won’t get to finish this patrol?’ Danny feels sick. Knew this would be the outcome but still hates it.
‘No.’ The doctor pauses. ‘Neither will you I’m afraid.’
‘What?’ Danny is stunned for a moment. He’s been kind of dreading meeting his new partner but this is totally unexpected.
‘You need to be kept here for a few days under observation, make sure you don’t display any symptoms and then you’ll be flown back to Denmark for a full debrief. Sorry, it’s all I know and it’s direct orders from command.’
With that he’s gone and Danny’s left alone in his tiny cell of a room. He lies back on the bed and stares at the ceiling as he thinks about how gutted he is that he’s going to miss the rest of the experience and then thinks about how selfish that is when Steve is sick a few corridors away. As for his feelings for Steve, he can’t deal with those too right now, so he clamps down on them. Or at least he tries to, he’s never really been one for controlling his feelings that well. He guesses Steve is the kind who pushes emotions down and that’s why he’s pretty blown away by the man’s show of affection.
The next day he goes out and waves Steve off as he’s loaded onto the medical evacuation plane, strapped to a stretcher. He’s got more colour back in his face and when he smiles goodbye at Danny, it kind of dazzles him for a moment. Then he’s gone.
Turning back to the station Danny prepares himself for a boring and frankly, unhappy few days and then the challenge of the debrief to come.
Chapter 8: Epilogue
Months later and Danny's heard Steve was back on active duty and Danny's got a new and exciting life but he can't forget those weeks in Greenland - or Steve.
So this is it. The end. I meant to do this series much more quickly as it was for a comment fic meme but got ill in the middle. So apology's.
The room is full, looking out past the bright lights he can see a real mix of people, young and old and everything in between.
After his aborted patrol mission Danny returned to Copenhagen not knowing what the hell to do with his life. He’d not wanted to return to the police force and had been sinking into a pretty major downer when he’d got the call that changed his life.
His old friend Hans Pitland had asked Danny if he was interested in leading excursions of tourists on adventure holidays around the world. He’d needed about three minutes of thinking it over before he said yes. Han’s company also gave talks and lectures on the places they organised the trips to, for those who didn’t feel up to experiencing it for real. This is one of those talks that Danny’s about to give now. He never could have imagined how well standing and talking about his love of travel could pay.
Between leading around four expeditions a year, and giving talks the rest of the time he’s pretty flush right now, which is a first in his life. He also has plenty of time now while at home, to spend with his mother, his brother Matt and his niece Gracie, something he relishes.
If sometimes that luxury of time means he gets to dwelling on Steve and what might have been he quickly brushes it off. He knows the man recovered and from what he’s been told he was back on active duty a month later, although not in the Greenland patrol. So Danny’s life is here in Copenhagen, mostly, with well timed breaks for adventure and Steve? Well he could be anywhere that the Danish government decides to send him. Frogmen aren’t ten a penny and Danny knows the missions are likely to be dangerous. It’s best he just doesn’t think about it. The whole few weeks on the patrol seem like a dream now but it gave him such a chance, the chance to change his life for the better and for that he’s always going to be grateful. If he kind of lost a bit of his heart out there, then he just has to suck it up and deal with it.
Clearing his throat, Danny steps up to the lectern and begins to speak to the hushed room. Forty-five minutes later and his throat’s dry and scratchy, his shirt is sticking to his back and he’s praying there are no more questions. He still can’t believe how nervous he gets doing these things. He’d rather do any number of crazy trips or extreme sports than stand up and speak to people.
No one else has their hand up, so he thanks them all again and then turns away from the audience as they start to shuffle out and begins to pack his bag up on the table behind him.
‘Fuck.’ Danny nearly jumps three feet into the air. Turning around angrily he’s about to tear a new one for the ninja-skilled idiot who has just sneaked up on him when his words die in his throat.
Stood looking at him, moving nervously from one foot to another, is Steve. He looks great, he looks more than great, he looks like the best thing Danny’s seen in an age. He’s wearing a tight blue t-shirt from which his ink peers out, bright patterns wrapped around impressive biceps.
‘Your tattoos are brighter.’ Danny can’t quite believe that’s the first thing to come out of his mouth. He can’t say, ‘‘oooh you’re so muscular’’ though. Which is what his brain really notices. Steve is bulkier, heavier than before - skin tan and weathered. He also has just a tiny smattering of stubble, no beard and Danny can’t tear his eyes away from that defined jaw or that strong neck. He kind of looks like he had all those months and months ago in Danny’s dream. Without fur knickers of course - or a polar bear nearby.
‘Yeah. I had them re-touched.’ Steve laughs, touching one hand to a bicep, before dropping his arms back down to his sides again. ‘So…’
‘Yeah. So…Erm, how’s things? How are you?’ And Christ but Danny just wants to launch himself at the vision in front of him, not make this small talk.
‘I’m good. Really good. You? I mean you…you look great and that talk…’ Steve waves his hands to take in the whole auditorium. ‘Really impressive. So you’re taking trips now?’
‘Yeah. I’ve done two already, will be doing around three or four a year and the talks in between. I don’t really like this bit…the lectures. But it pays good.’ He smiles up at Steve.
‘Do you want to grab a beer?’ Steve is looking at him intently. ‘I want to talk to you.’
‘Sure. A beer would be great.’
Danny follows him out the lecture hall and to the side where the cavernous hotel bar is situated.
Steve orders them a couple of beers and then sits down, fingers playing with the beer mat in front of him for a while.
‘I quit the forces.’ He says quietly.
Danny’s heart spasms a little. He wasn’t expecting to see Steve ever again and he certainly wasn’t expecting him to be sat in front of him telling him he’s no longer on active duty.
‘After getting so sick and…everything that happened on that patrol. It made me think about what I really want from life. I had to decide, sign up for another three years or leave. I chose to leave.’
‘Wow. So what are you doing now?’
‘Well. I’m going to be starting an MA in Marine Biology, here in Copenhagen in the fall. It’s expensive but I’ve got savings and I thought…’ He trails off, still not looking at Danny, still playing with that damned beer mat.
‘You thought?’ Danny’s got an idea where this might be going but he dare not hope too much.
‘I thought I might try to find some work guiding expeditions.’ He glances at Danny then, really looks at him and smiles, bright and full. ‘A friend just told me it pays well.’
‘Oh he did, did he?’ Danny is laughing now.
‘So if there’s any chance, an opening at all, I’d appreciate it if said friend could put a word in.’ Steve’s still smiling.
‘I think said friend can do one better than that.’ Danny’s full on grinning now and knows he must look idiotic but can’t stop himself. ‘As it happens I’m leading a trip in two months. It’s a three-week trek. To Greenland, to see the Northern Lights.’
‘Ah, I love Greenland.’ Steve’s smile softens and his little finger ghosts again Danny’s hand almost imperceptibly.
‘Yeah - me too. I had a trip there last year but it had to be cut short. Thought it would be nice to go back.’
‘Yeah that does sound nice.’
‘So if you wanna come with?’ Danny moves his own little finger until its curled around Steve’s and looks at where they are touching.
‘I’d love to come with you. And of course I expect we’ll need to do a lot of preparation and planning right?’
‘Yes we will. You’ll need to get used to me being in charge this time though. I’m a strict task master.’ Danny laughs.
‘Oh, I’m good at taking orders, D.’
And Danny has to shift. Something in Steve’s tone and the way he’s looking at Danny, loads his words with a meaning, which Danny’s body is responding to in an altogether too obvious manner.
‘Really?’ He nods his head smirking. Steve just smirks right back.
‘I trust you.’ Steve’s face is suddenly serious. ‘I trust you implicitly. You saved my life. And I….I’ve really…I missed you.’
‘Babe, I’ve thought about you every single day since I waved goodbye to you at Nord.’
‘Every day?’ Steve raises his eyebrows in that odd, unique way only he can; the inner corners turning up.
‘Every day. I missed you too. It seems like…’ Danny takes a hearty pull of his beer and wishes it were something stronger. ‘Seemed to me anyway, like we maybe had something between us. Or could have had, if events hadn’t got in the way.’
He wants it out there, how he feels. He’s never felt this way before, Danny is pretty much, hundred percent sure that he’s in love with Steve and yet they’ve never even kissed. If someone had told him a year ago you could love a person you’d not kissed, never mind had any sort of sexual contact with Danny would have laughed them out the room.
‘Danny?’ Hans is stood by the entrance to the bar smiling over. ‘You’re still coming with us for the meal right?’
And oh shit! Danny has totally forgotten that he promised to have a meal with fifteen attendees of the lecture. They’ve paid extra to dine with Hans and Danny and two other expedition leaders. More performance but its all part of building up their reputation and getting more people on the tours.
‘Sure. I’ll be there in two minutes Hans.’ Danny turns back to Steve. ‘I’m sorry. I’ve ah, I’ve got to go. How about we pick this up tomorrow? Dinner? My treat?’
‘Great. Shall I just meet you here? Say at eight.’
Danny smiles at Steve taking charge again.
Steve makes to stand up and Danny reacts quickly. He glances around the bar and sees there’s no one else in there, he looks to the bartender and he’s watching the football on the TV above the bar, back to them. Danny’s hand snakes out and grabs Steve’s wrist. He pulls the dark haired man close and then tentatively, oh so tentatively, touches their lips together.
Steve’s lips are soft and he tastes of beer and salt. Danny can’t help but give a little sigh against Steve’s mouth. It’s brief and almost chaste and it leaves Danny feeling like a man dying of thirst.
‘Tomorrow. Tomorrow we’ll really talk and catch up.’ He says ever so quietly against Steve’s ear as they pull apart.
Steve smiles. ‘You bet.’
Then they just hug for a moment, arms around one another, friends, more than friends, pure possibility stretching ahead into infinity. Danny breathes the scent of Steve in and feels like he’s come home.