Jim Donaldson was handsome by anyone's standards. Daniel always knew it would be hard to hold on to him, and even harder because he wasn't sure that Jim even recognised why Daniel had invited him to his parents' grand house by the fjord, why he'd bought him a drink in that bar in København that night, shortly after the liberation. It wouldn't be unreasonable for Jim to assume that Daniel was simply another admirer of British Wing Commanders, one of those the most fascinating representative of the liberating forces: the fly-boys.
Daniel saw how other people looked at Jim, his sister included. Daniel knew very well she'd try her tricks on him, and Ellen was good at those. She was pretty and intelligent and always smiling – the kind of girl men would kill – or die - for. Jim was the kind of man who'd love to at least believe he would lay down his life for love. He was proven right when she enticed Jim out for a drive around town.
Seeing them drive off in Jim's jeep – sure to draw even more attention – Daniel was jealous. It hurt and he wished so dearly that things were different, dreamed all kinds of interventions, but all he could do was stand there and look after them. If he said anything, people might know. No-one could know. It would never be all right if they did, it would be the end of everything. So he clenched his fists and kept it all in. His father was, as always, thinking Ellen could do no wrong, he only beamed and waxed on about her language skills as she spoke with Jim in English. Mother looked at Daniel as if she knew, but Daniel didn't want her to and didn't want her sympathy. What good was it to be felt sorry for? Especially when all he wanted was to prove himself. He'd all but given up on proving himself to his father, but with Jim he'd at least had a chance at having something good. And as usual, his sister got it instead.
The bitterness lingered after Jim and Ellen returned, it stayed with him all day till, right up until he went to bed. It was too early, really, but he couldn't stand being around people any more, not with the way everyone fawned over Jim and Ellen, the traitor, was hanging at his arm. Daniel had to get away, and the only available place was his bed.
He didn't fall asleep, the sounds of the people downstairs taunted him and kept him awake. Their laughs especially stung him like bees, constant jabs that injected poison into him, festering in his wounds. He could feel tears press at the back of his eyelids and fought not to give in, he didn't want to give the bloody world that satisfaction! Only when the house began to quiet, did sleep creep up on him.
The creek of the door opening woke him with a start and gasp.
'Who's that?' he asked, slightly ashamed when his voice cracked on the question.
'Shh. It's me, you fool,' Jim's amused voice answered from the not-quite-dark of the Danish midsummer night. Daniel wasn't sure if he heard or saw the smile on his face. He closed the door again and tip-toed closer as Daniel sat up to see him.
'What are you doing here? I thought-'
'You clearly thought wrong.' The amusement was still there, brightening the room, and Daniel found that it didn't matter if it was a laugh at his expense. 'I'm here for you.'
Daniel couldn't stop smiling, and he was glad that Jim didn't seem to need any more words, because he wasn't sure he could trust his voice. He held up the duvet and Jim got in. Up close like this, Daniel could really see the smile and he felt too it when Jim kissed him. He'd never have thought a day that had been that awful could lead to such a wonderful night.