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If Only In My Dreams

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It was two am and the fog had started to lift, leaving behind a cold that crawled into your bones and took up residence. Donald shivered, pulling his coat tighter around himself, and checked his watch. He'd been sitting in his car for almost six hours doing surveillance on what was supposed to be a vacant apartment. The owner of the building had hired him a week ago to remove the interloper who had taken up residence without paying rent or signing a lease. It was an easy gig in terms of effort; all Donald had to do was sit on his butt and wait. Eventually the man or woman would return to crash. Once that happened, a call to Albany's finest would take care of the rest.

That was one of the best parts about this particular job. No confrontation, no risk, just a simple spy and call because the city was too short of men to pay someone to sit on a stake out for something as low priority as trespassing. Not that Donald was going to complain. He should earn enough from this one job to buy a Christmas tree and make the final payment on Timmy's gift. The rest of his shopping had been done in the beginning of December. A bottle of good scotch for Bub and a week's paid vacation over the holidays for Kenny. Everything else would be a joint gift from him and Timmy and Donald had enough sense to leave the selection to the man with the more refined taste and better bargain hunting skills. For Timmy though, the gift couldn't be something practical or mundane. It had to be something special that came from the heart and expressed how Donald felt. The prefect present would make Timmy press his lips together and blink rapidly a few times before saying 'oh, Donald' in that husky voice that promised love, devotion and a lifetime of great sex all rolled into one. Hearing it was enough to make Donald fall in love all over again.

In the process of looking he had acquired a soft blue angora scarf, a cd of chanty monk music he was sure Timmy didn't own, and a box set of old black and white mysteries. The last begged to be watched on a cold winter night while sharing a bowl of popcorn and sipping martinis. After searching for a little over a week Donald had finally found what he was looking for. The pocket watch was made to give the appearance of an antique with embossed designs on a gold case. The inner workings, however, were cutting edge and guaranteed to lose no more than a second every ten years. The dichotomy between the inside and the outside was a perfect symbol of the man himself. Even before he looked at the price tag, Donald knew he was going to buy it.

The shadows next to the building he was watching shifted and disgorged a figure dressed completely in black and Donald's brain snapped back into detective mode. Across the street the man he was watching slipped around the corner of the building and merged back into the darkness. Swearing softly, Donald strained his eyes trying to see if he could spot where the object of his surveillance had disappeared to. Unfortunately, between the angle of the streetlights and the residual patches of mist, visibility was minimal at best. Sighing, Donald threw off the heavy blanket he had wrapped around himself. With slow, careful movements designed not to attract attention, he got out of the car and shut the door behind him.

The damp was already seeping through Donald's heavy wool coat as he moved down the sidewalk before quickly crossing the street. Utilizing the same shadows as his quarry Donald sped up, eyes searching the dark for any sign of activity. Mentally he was already sipping hot coffee in the kitchen, watching as Timmy made breakfast in his robe. If this wrapped up soon enough they might even have time for a bath and a tumble before it was time for Timmy to leave for work. With a smile curving his lips Donald moved from the protective shadow, crossing to the building he had been watching for the last week.

The blow came from behind, taking Donald by surprise. Stumbling forward he regained his footing, spinning as he fumbled for the gun in his pocket. The second blow wasn't so much of a shock and Donald managed to blow most of the impact with the flat of his arm. Stepping back, his foot found a patch of black ice and slid out from under him. With a grunt of surprise he went down on one knee, sending white hot pain shooting up his leg. The heavy soled boot struck him in the shoulder and Donald flailed helplessly trying to maintain his balance in an extremely precarious position. Catching himself as he hit the wet pavement Donald rolled into a protective ball, pulling his legs up tight to his body so that his groin was not easy accessible. When his assailant moved closer he lashed out, grabbing a handful of black pant leg. Pulling up and forward he felt as much as heard the other man hit the ground with a crack that reverberated up the deserted street.

Breathing heavily, Donald pulled himself up. The body next to his was still and the mist in the air made it impossible to tell if he was breathing. Awkwardly balancing himself on his uninjured knee he pulled loose the scarf that obscured everything but a pair of closed eyes. With a sharp intake of frigid air that burned his lungs, Donald stared at the exposed face. The porcelain skin and soft features of a young woman no more than twenty glowed accusingly in the darkness. Bending closely he slipped two fingers under her jacket collar to check for a pulse. When his fingers made contact with her skin she jerked. Her eyes popped open and her elbow came up slamming into Donald's nose and sending him sprawling back on the sidewalk.

Before Donald could react she jumped to her feet and landed a blow to his stomach. Curling in on himself he wrapped his arms around his head, protecting the most vulnerable part of his body. Blows rained on his back and legs and Donald felt himself floating away. The pain no longer registered as his brain and body began to shut down in self defense. Bub would never let him live this one down, the gay detective who got beat up by a girl. Self depreciating laughter burst past his lips, echoing in his ears and bringing a new level of clarity. Raising his head slightly, Donald watched in slow motion as a boot sole came into view. His field of vision narrowed to where his whole world was a series of rubber treads. It seemed like hours, though in reality it was less than a few seconds, before the kick connected and sent him tumbling into unconsciousness.

***********

The first thing Donald noticed on his slow trip back to awareness was that he was cold. Not frozen in his bones and aching, but right below the level where he would be comfortable. The second thing was that he tied up. His arms were bound behind him with some kind of rough material. Cheap rope or possibly strong twine was the most likely candidates. His ankles were done up the same way which seriously limited his mobility. He was lying on a mattress that smelled of mildew and old urine and covered with a scratchy blanket, the kind that the Salvation Army gave away to the homeless in the winter.

A careful survey of the room revealed no windows and a single door that was shut tight, probably locked though Donald couldn't be sure of that from his current position. The walls were made of old red brick and covered with a layer of dirt and grime. Abandoned spider webs hung in the corners and from the tarnished metal cone that passed for a shade over the single light blub that hung from the middle of the ceiling. The cracks in the stained plaster above his head made Donald think of the jigsaw puzzles that Timmy enjoyed so much. Even when they were completed you could still see the lines that defined each individual piece.

His whole body ached and he couldn't decide if the urge to pee or the need to throw up was stronger. Rolling forward a little he caught a strong whiff of the mattress and gagged answering the question. Leaning back put weight on his arms which would eventually make them go numb, but for now it was better as it shifted some of the pressure off of his shoulder. Experimentally, he tried to move his legs, stretching them out to see if he could touch the end of the mattress. The pain in his knee made his breath hitch and again he struggled to keep from vomiting up anything that might be left in his stomach. Apparently he had done some damage when his knee had hit the sidewalk. Knowing he was injured didn't bode well for his chances of escaping. Not that his prospects were looking too good on that score at the moment.

Carefully, using small movements, Donald categorized his injuries. One side of his face was swollen, most likely bruised, and there was a split in his lip. His back was a mass of small hurts that melded together into a patchwork of pain. The lower was worse than the upper, but only by degrees. He could move his arms and hands enough to determine nothing was broken or otherwise incapacitated. Other than his knee the damage was inconvenient but manageable. The aches and pains that came with a beating were something he was familiar with and had learned to work around a long time ago.

Rolling onto his back Donald sighed, this position wouldn't be comfortable for long, but for now it eased the cramping in his stomach and back. There was no way to tell how long he had been out. It could have been days or minutes. He wasn't hungry, but that could have just as easily been from the hit to his stomach as the fact that he was still full from the meal he'd eaten while sitting on stakeout. He tried not to think about the two meatloaf sandwiches keeping company with his thermos of coffee on the front seat of the car. It took all his willpower not to dwell on his warm stakeout blanket that smelled of Timmy, Watson and home, which lay abandoned over top of them.

Hopefully the fact that he was tied up and left meant that his assailant wanted him kept alive. Otherwise why bother with the mattress and the blanket? Hell, why bother at all? Just kill him outright and be done with it. If ransom was the intent then his captor or captors would be back at some point to check on him. He was warm enough that he wasn't going to freeze and Timmy had been teasing him about the little paunch he was developing. Missing a couple of meals wasn't going to hurt either. While he was certainly far from comfortable he'd been in much worse positions. Letting himself find a level of comfort in the web of denial he had created, Donald closed his eyes. A nap sounded really good right now. No doubt when he woke up things would look much better.

It felt late when his eyes opened some undetermined time later. Trusting in his highly tuned sense of time Donald tried to guess how long he had been out. At least a few hours he estimated. Probably closer to four or five judging by the way his whole body had stiffened up in the time he had been sleeping. He rolled onto his back, having shifted in his sleep, and flinched as his muscles protested. Pressing himself into the mattress then pulling up allowed him to rise up into an awkward sitting position. Moving his feet up and leaning forward helped ease the immediate ache in his lower back, but his knee made its unhappiness known. Maybe all those hours at the gym doing sits ups hadn't been completely wasted. By rocking and scooting on his butt Donald was able to turn himself so he faced the edge of the mattress. Stretching out his legs so his feet were planted on the floor helped him balance and took the pressure off his loudly protesting knee.

He sat unmoving, catching his breath, as he surveyed his surroundings from a new, higher, vantage point. There were still no windows or vents large enough for even a smallish man to fit through. Turning his head and neck he could get a fairly clear view of the door. There was only one lock, but it appeared to be a deadbolt with a key slot. Letting his head droop to his chest, Donald took a deep breath and assessed his situation. Things were pretty grim, but he had been in some bad situations and lived to tell about them. This would be no different. A picture of Timmy flashed across Donald's vision and he closed his eyes against the pain. Timmy must be frantic with worry by now. Kenny had the case details and Timmy had all of Bub's contact numbers in case Donald ever went missing. No doubt they were already looking for him. Bub would want to wait forty eight hours to file a missing person's report, but Donald had no doubt that Timmy wouldn't stand for that. When it came to out stubborning other people Donald always put his money on Timmy. The only one who had ever made Timmy capitulate was Donald himself. Under the combined efforts of Timmy and Kenny, Bub had about a snowball's chance in hell of holding out.

Chuckling at the visual of his husband and office manager harassing Bub into submission made Donald feel better than he had since he’d regained consciousness. Thinking about Timmy always had that effect on Donald. With renewed hope he did another visual search of the room. The first priority was to get out of the ropes. Until he had use of his hands and feet he was virtually helpless to do anything but sit and wait to be rescued. Donald shook his head and grimaced at that thought. No matter what his faults were Donald Strachey was not a passive damsel in distress.

The floor was clear if filthy as far as he could tell. However, the light from the overhead lamp was not strong enough to completely chase the shadows from the corners of the room. He could see into the ones closest to the mattress he lay on, but the ones on the other side were dark enough to possibly conceal something. Flipping a mental coin he decided to focus on the one furthest from the door. A controlled lean to the side allowed him to flop over with a minimum of discomfort. Taking a deep breath and counting to ten he forced his body forward until it toppled over onto the floor. The impact jarred his shoulder and knee leaving him too breathless to fill the air with the swear words that echoed around in his brain. His vision narrowed, but Donald hung onto consciousness by sheer willpower, focusing on the variety and quantity of swear words at his disposal instead of juts giving way to the darkness.

He wasn't sure how long he lay there. Eventually, the icy cold of the concrete began to numb his body making moving clumsier, but something he could do without screaming in pain. The next few hours melded into a miasma of pain and frustration. Alternating between a sort of snake slither on his belly and a sideways scoot on his side Donald slowly worked his way across the floor. Prolonged exposure to the cement brought on uncontrollable shivering and even clenching his jaw wouldn't keep his teeth from chattering. Midway to his destination Donald paused, resting his flushed face on the dirt covered floor. Closing his eyes, he let his mind drift for a minute. What was Timmy doing right now? Sleeping? Working? Eating? Probably not the last one Timmy was notorious for not eating when he was upset. Was someone with him? Hopefully Kenny or, better yet, Kelly was camped out at the house to make sure he was not alone. Watson was there too and he always knew when one of his masters was upset. The thought of Watson curled up Timmy's lap brought on a flood of emotion. Homesickness battled jealousy and comfort bringing tears to Donald's tired eyes.

After wiping his face on his shirt Donald resumed his snail crawl across the room. When he was within an arms length from the wall he could tell there was something dark resting within the shadow though he couldn't be sure what it was. Cautiously, forcing himself not to hope, he shifted around so he could back into the corner. He couldn't suppress the grin of triumph that broke across his face when his fingers brushed against the sharp edge of a piece of broken glass. He ran his fingers carefully around it trying to get a sense of size and shape. One side was smooth which should allow him to use it as a knife without inflicting more damage on himself. Things were beginning to look up. Grasping the glass as tightly as he could Donald twisted his wrist and began to work on the first of several strands that held his wrists together.

It was slow, tedious work that required frequent breaks so Donald could flex his fingers and work the cramps out. By the time the last loop parted Donald's arms were shaking from exertion and lying in the uncomfortable position required to get a good angle to cut. He groaned, remaining motionless for a moment before stretching his stiff shoulders and arms. Rolling onto his back, he worked his arms out from under him and brought them up to rest on his stomach. He wiggled his fingers and grinned at the simple act of watching them move. The heavy gold band he wore to symbolize his lifetime commitment to Timmy gleamed dully in the low light. Donald ran his fingers over it using the physical symbol of connection to his husband to help calm his ragged breathing.

Using his now freed arms, Donald levered himself up off the floor, twisting his body to allow himself to lean back against the once white wall. He blew on his fingers and rubbed his hands together to warm them up and increase circulation back to normal. Once they were no longer cold against the skin on his stomach and had regained a healthy pink color he went to work on the knots that kept the remains of the rope wrapped around his arms. Dexterity returned as he patiently picked each one apart. Once both pieces of rope were lying on the ground, Donald considered the problem of the restraints on his legs.

The ropes were wrapped tightly around his ankles overtop of his boots and jeans. It made the strands more accessible, but it kept him from being able to work his boots loose and slide the rope down without cutting or untying it. Sitting up straighter, Donald brought his feet up as close to his body as he could, swearing colorfully when pain shot through his knee setting the nerves of his leg on fire. Once again he assessed the situation. There was no way he was going to be able to free himself without aggravating his injury. There was nothing for it but to grit his teeth and suck it up. /Don't be such a pussy,/ Kyle's voice echoed in Donald's head, startling him. Their relationship had never been one of comforting words or tender romance, but something of that moment resonated in Donald and firmed his resolve. Yeah it would hurt, but he'd been shot and lived to tell the story. He was tougher than a bruised knee no matter how painful it might be.

In the end it was his army training that got Donald through the next few hours. His arms and shoulders were an aching mass, but they were overshadowed by the concentrated misery that had taken up residence where his knee had been. Twice he had to stop and dry heave, gasping for breath as the pain ebbed and flowed having crested the mental dam that Donald had erected. When the final rope parted, Donald let the glass slip from his fingers and slumped over to lie panting on the floor. There was no pleasure in having succeeded just waves of relief as he straighten out his legs and felt them move separately. With an inner strength he didn't know he possessed, Donald forced himself to crawl across the room. Collapsing onto the mattress, he wrapped the blanket around his shivering body and sank into an exhausted sleep.

The next time he woke up he noticed two things. The ache in his shoulder had eased considerably and his stomach felt like it was imploding in on itself. There was a hollow feeling in his middle that made him suddenly have a moment of sympathy for the characters in Alien. Despite the pain he knew the real danger wasn't having no food it was lack of water. He'd learned in basic training that you could go for a couple of weeks without food, but no water would kill the average man in three to five days. Donald added another day to the end of the estimate. He was in good shape and had been well hydrated so that worked in his favor. On the other hand the exertion of worming his way across the room and cutting the ropes had left him sweating for an extended period of time and robbed his body of precious moisture. How long though? That was the question.

Mid stretch he stopped, laughter bubbling past his lips. His watch! Of course. He could read it now. With new appreciation he looked at the dinged time piece. Four twenty three. Unfortunately since he had fought the trend to go digital there was no way of telling if it was AM or PM, but being able to mark the passing of time was enough make him feel light headed and giddy with pleasure. He spent exactly one full minute watching the second hand move tick by life affirming tick around the dial. It was hypnotic and for a very short time it helped to take his mind off of how hungry he was.

Gingerly he flexed his uninjured leg and found that the rest had worked some of the kinks out of it as well. It was stiff and sore, but nothing that a hot bath and a good massage wouldn't cure. Taking a deep breath he moved the other one slightly. The pain made his breath stutter and catch. Bile burned his throat as he fought the urge to vomit. Lying back on the bed he closed his eyes feeling the raw nerves throb in time with his heartbeat.

Forcing himself to focus around the pain, Donald emptied his pockets onto the bed next to him. There was a dollar eighty two in assorted change, a small pocket knife disguised as a pen that Timmy had given him as a birthday present, two paperclips, a ball of lint, and a peppermint candy. Eagerly he unwrapped the sweet and popped it into his mouth. The taste burned his tongue a little and made his mouth water. /I'm still producing saliva so I'm not dehydrated yet/ the logical part of his thought before it was overridden by the pure hedonistic joy of eating. His cell phone, wallet, and car keys were missing, but he would have been surprised if they hadn't been taken. Maybe whoever had done this would wreck the car and the insurance company would give him enough for a down payment on something newer and more reliable. The thought of having a car with a working heater was enough to make him smile.

Not so pleasant was the idea that someone was out there with his credit cards, bank cards, and the card that verified he was a licensed private investigator. He knew from experience how hard it was to pick up the pieces after an identity theft. He'd seen it way too many times in his line of work. Kenny was going to stroke out if someone went on a shopping spree on Donald's dime. He had enough problems keeping the crumpled receipts and scrawled memos straight as it was. Donald didn't even want to think about how Timmy was going to react. The thought of his husband on the phone to some poor worker in the fraud department was the stuff of nightmares.

When the pain had begun to ease Donald opened the blade on the penknife and studied it critically. Knowing it had been in his pocket all along gave him a moment of frustration until he realized that with how his arms had been tied there was no way he would have been able to reach it let alone work it out of his jeans. The blade was dull, but the long slender design would work to his advantage. Turning it over in his hands he let himself remember opening the gift and how he and Timmy had shared a laugh about how it might one day save Donald’s life.

Easing himself around so his back was towards the wall he pushed up slowly, turning so that when he was finished he was sitting with his back to the wall with his damaged leg in the semi bent position that elicited the least amount of pain. He pulled the blanket to him and eyed it critically. It was small, but Donald wasn't a particularly large man. He folded over a strip about six inches in width and measured what remained against his body. It would be tight but he could make it work.

Using the knife, he carefully cut down the length of the blanket, separating the strip. It was slow work and the cut was less than straight, but after several hours he had two pieces. The larger one he folded and put to the side, hearing Timmy's lecture in his head about how a neat bed is an inviting bed. Closing his eyes, he rested his head against the wall and gave into the loneliness. He would give everything he had right now to see Timmy for just a minute. A second even would be worth the cost. The thought made Donald's heart ache and brought a heaviness to his chest that made it hard to breathe.

He could feel the urge to cry welling up inside him like a little boy who had lost his mother in the middle of busy department store. God, he hated it when he got like this, all misty eyed and sappy. With a telling sniffle, Donald rubbed at his eyes willing himself not to tear up. He couldn't afford to lose any more fluids at this point. Not without any water available to replenish what was already gone. Drawing on his reserves Donald made himself think about the task at hand and push all other thoughts aside.

Bending at the waist he wrapped the strip of blanket around his knee, working his way above and then below to support and immobilize it. There was still more motion than Donald would have liked, but it was better than nothing. Using the wall to brace against he slowly moved from sitting to a crouch then finally up onto his one good leg. Once upright he took a minute to catch his breath and decide what it was he was going to do now. Running a hand through his hair brought the confirmation that he was still capable of breaking a sweat. That meant he was still somewhat hydrated.

Hopping on his good leg and using the wall as a support, he made his way slowly to the door. Bracing his hip against the door jamb he studied the lock. Surprisingly there was only the one. His original assessment that it was a deadbolt with a keyhole instead of a thumb latch was correct. The knob turned freely in his hand but the bolt held it securely in place. Kicking it was out of the question and with limited mobility there was no way to put any force behind a body slam. For a split second Donald considered slamming his head into it, but quickly discarded that idea as well.

Taking out his pocket knife Donald began to dig at the wood where the bolt disappeared into the wall. Judging from the age of room and the fact that the jam appeared to never have been replaced he hoped that it might have softened with age. If Timmy had been there Donald would have had him pray for a termite infestation. Donald laughed a little to himself, picturing the look that would grace Timmy's face with that request. Timmy had the most expressive features, eyes that twinkled or crackled with anger and a mouth that spoke volumes without ever saying a word. It was one of the things Donald loved about his husband, the fact that you always knew where you stood with him. There was too much phoniness and guile in his job for Donald to want to go home to someone he had to decode.

One small sliver of wood fell to the floor and Donald allowed himself a flush of pleased accomplishment. At this rate it was going to take a hell of a long time to get to the bolt, but it wasn't like he had a lot of other social engagements at the moment. Diligently he set to work, scraping off splinter after splinter of the paint chipped door frame. After about half an hour Donald's good leg and hip began to cramp and complain from supporting all his weight. Carefully he slid down the wall to sit, breathing heavily. He was surprised to find that his arms and leg were shaking from exertion after the small amount of effort he had put out. He felt almost as tired as he had after cutting loose the ropes he'd been tied up in.

The mattress was an easy belly crawl away and Donald made his way there in what seemed like slow motion. Stretching out in the middle on his good side he could feel the room spinning; first clock wise then counter clock wise. The sensation made him feel dizzy and fuzzy headed like he’d had a few too many martinis mixed with something a lot stronger. From somewhere he pulled the knowledge that hangovers were believed to be a result of dehydration which is why drinking water before sleeping off a binge helped. Even in his muddled brain the similarity made a lot of sense.

Thirty minutes of mild exertion and he was ready for a nap. Fuck, what happened to the days when he could hike ten miles before breakfast? /You were well fed and fully hydrated/ whispered a little voice in his head. /And a lot younger/ whispered another. Glaring at the still spinning ceiling, Donald told the second one to get fucked. There wasn't anything wrong with him that a good meal, a couple of gallons of water, and a hot bath wouldn't fix. His knee chose that moment to twinge, sending a wave of pain that spread out from his hip to his ankle. Grimacing, Donald looked down and flipped it off too.

He wasn't sure when he fell asleep, but he knew he had when he slowly surfaced to wakefulness of a sort. He was hot then cold, kicking off the blanket only to cocoon in it for warmth. The spinning was worse. Instead of just the room moving it felt like his body was moving too, in the opposite direction. The sheer effort of sitting up made it worse and drained the little energy he had built up from resting. His good leg jerked, cramped, and then jerked again. Donald stretched it out and curled his toes working against the tension in his muscles. His leg relaxed and the spasm jumped to the fingers of his right hand. He put it palm down on the mattress and pushed working through the worst of the cramping before his arm started to give way.

Laying back down Donald closed his eyes. He would rest for a little bit then get up and work on the door jam some more. In his mind's eye he could see the wood being slowly shaved away until the bolt was revealed. He could picture himself leaning on the wall as he made his way up the stairs to the main lobby. Whether the stairs existed or not didn't matter, it was all very clear in his head. From there he would find someone with a cell phone and have him or her call Timmy. Once Timmy knew where Donald was everything would be all right. Timmy would come and make everything right in Donald's increasingly disoriented world.

The ache in his chest settled in, bringing with it a weight that made each breath a conscious effort. His eyes burned as he blinked rapidly trying to clear tears that he no longer had enough fluids to make. He swore he could hear sirens and that made him grin. At least he thought he was grinning. Timmy must have called Bub and the whole Albany police force would be on their way. It was funny how these things went everything was so clear. He could smell Timmy's cologne and hear him say hold on. Donald struggled to open his eyes. His body felt so light, like he was floating almost. That should make standing so much easier than it had been. He needed to get back to work on the door, but exhaustion held him in thrall. /Timmy is going to be so pissed if I miss Christmas/ was his last thought before everything slipped away.

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Warmth and softness were the first sensations that wormed their way into Donald's brain. They were followed by an overwhelming sense of exhaustion that wrapped around him like a mummy's bandage holding him fast. Opening his eyes took effort, but this time he could manage it. The room was semi dark and much whiter than he remembered. Frowning, he slowly turned his head to the side, confused, as things came into focus. There was an IV pole, a window, and the tray on wheels that fits over a hospital bed. He swallowed hard, flinching at the way his raw throat protested. His eyes drifted closed again and he slept or maybe he just rested for a moment. Things were all still so jumbled together.

"Donald?"

Donald jerked coming back to wakefulness at the sound of his name. He rolled his head to the other side and cracked open his eyes. A disheveled and unshaven Timmy leaned over the railing on the bed. His eyes were red rimmed and already tears were beginning to pool in the corners. /This is real/ Donald thought trying to smile up at his husband. /I would never imagine Timmy looking like that. It hurts too much to think about him that way./

"I thought I'd lost you." Timmy reached for Donald's hand, entwining their fingers gently.

There were so many things Donald wanted to say starting with how he was sorry he had worried Timmy and ruined Christmas. Moving on to how much he loved his husband and it was wanting to see him again that had keep Donald going. Ending with please take me home so I can sleep in our bed with you. What came out was, "sorry…Christmas."

Timmy stilled, not even bothering to brush away the tears rolling down his face. He shook his head then cleared his throat. When he finally spoke his voice was husky and thick with tears still unshed. "I have the best gift I've ever received. You're here and you're going to be okay. The rest doesn't matter."

This time Donald didn't fight it when sleep claimed him even though it was in the middle of the kiss that heralded the dawning of Christmas Day.