Todd doesn’t realise he and Dirk are living together until weeks after Dirk has already moved in.
It starts with small things- Dirk’s jackets turning up in the closet, Dirk’s toothbrush by the sink, Dirk’s favourite mug by the kettle. Dirk's clutter- the good, the bad and the nonsensical- creeping into his own living space.
At first he just thinks they just spend a lot of time together- they’re friends, boyfriends and work colleagues, of course they spend a lot of time together. Of course Dirk stays over a lot. Of course it's easier for him to leave some stuff here.
It takes Todd’s ratty old couch magically transforming into Dirk’s for the penny to drop.
Dirk used to own too many sets of pyjamas for a person who more often than not just conked out fully-clothed in front of the telly. He still does, but if anything he wears them even less.
There's only one thing he really wants to wear when he sleeps, and that's Todd’s Mexican Funeral Shirt. It’s soft, it’s comforting, and he’s probably less likely to get shot at in bed than anywhere else so clearly it’s the easiest way to keep his promise to Todd.
Todd always laughs and tells him he doesn’t have to take that comment so literally. Teases him mercilessly when he clambers into bed, still stubbornly clad in the increasingly well-worn shirt.
But when Dirk wakes up to find Todd already awake and watching him, he knows he's not imagining the look of soft, unguarded fondness on Todd's face.
Or the way his hand bunches in his shirt on Dirk's waist when they kiss good morning.
Todd often catches Dirk eyeing his guitar. Sometimes he'll even reach out with reverent, tentative hands and pluck the strings when he thinks Todd isn’t looking.
Until one day, when Todd decides enough is enough.
He rolls his eyes, sits Dirk down and teaches him a G-chord. Dirk doesn't do terribly, and his eyes light up, and he looks at Todd like he hung the moon.
Every time Todd catches Dirk taking interest in the guitar, he teaches him a chord. When he runs out of chords, he gives him tips on perfecting his fingering. When he runs out of tips, he teaches him about chord progressions.
Dirk isn't a natural by any stretch of the imagination. But he tries hard, and he hangs on Todd's every word and whenever he manages a chord change without too much fumbling he grins like he's just solved the heist of the century.
He'd never say it out loud, but their impromptu guitar lessons soon become a highlight of Todd's week.
Sometimes he'll wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of careful, experimental threads of chords floating over from the couch, and he'll know that Dirk is having the kind of night where he'd rather avoid sleep altogether.
But he’ll look over and see Dirk smiling softly down at his fingers as they frame the chords, and he’ll know that he’s okay.
Dirk just needs to feel like he’s the one manipulating the strings every now and then.
Dirk doesn’t always receive compliments from Todd but when he does, they’re as heartfelt and sincere as can be.
They’re also immediately downplayed by the sarcastic comment or exasperated insult that follows.
It used to sting, feeling like Todd couldn't ever give him a compliment that wasn't backhanded. Used to make him doubt their relationship, his place in Todd's life.
Now though? Now it's not such a hardship.
He understands Todd- possibly better than he's ever understood another human being- and he knows that this is uncharted territory for him. Todd has never been a relationship person, never had one before that he didn't immediately sabotage. Never reached the point of emotional vulnerability that they have. He has ways of coping, just like Dirk does.
When he tells Dirk he's the bravest person he's ever known, Dirk hears exactly that.
When he follows it up with "and the stupidest", Dirk hears and I love you.
Todd isn't sure he's ever dated someone as tactile as Dirk. Honestly, the man has no concept of personal space.
It doesn't always present itself in romantic, sexy or even comfortable ways. This isn't the casual physical affection of college girlfriends who used to sit on his lap in crowded bars, of college boyfriends who used to drape themselves over him like blankets on the couch.
But Dirk had been grabbing, prodding, patting and generally making a nuisance of himself since day one. He touches Todd when he's happy, when he's sad, angry, afraid, overwhelmed. He touches Todd (and other people, but he has a particular fondness for Todd) because he can do that now after years of being starved for it. It grounds him in the moment, reassures him that what he's seeing and feeling is real.
And Todd grumbles, and rolls his eyes and scowls for the benefit of whoever's watching. But it's healthy, it's good, and he never turns Dirk away. He wouldn't even want to.
The days when Dirk doesn't reach out for him, or for anyone, the days when he keeps his eyes downcast and his hands to himself...
Those are the ones Todd worries about.
Dirk and Todd don't become a couple until long after they've already started doing the things that couples do. Until they've already started living together, sleeping together, sharing minty kisses in the half light. They live, they laugh, they kiss, they hug.
And they fight.
They fight over the little things- over who was supposed to do the dishes, over who tracked crime scene blood over the carpet, over who ate the last of the Lucky Charms (Dirk, Dirk and Dirk).
And then there's the not-so-little things. The things that they avoid talking about for as long as possible because when they do it's like pouring salt into an open wound. Things like Dirk and his reckless, heat-of-the-moment endangerment of himself at the whims of the universe. Things like Todd's emotional self-sabotage and inability to well and truly leave the past behind. They're both self-destructive people, in their own ways. And it hurts. It hurts them both more than they think the other can possibly comprehend.
And so they fight- never physically, but viciously nonetheless. They know each other too well, back to front, good and bad. Know each other well enough to make their verbal punches hit where it hurts, even accidentally. And it is an accident, whenever either of them says something truly cutting. They don't want to hurt each other, ever again, not after the Patrick Spring case and the painful separation by Blackwing that followed. But sometimes they just can't help themselves.
Which, unfortunately, comes as a surprise to neither.
Because Todd always hurts the people he loves.
And Dirk can't hold onto anyone, no matter how hard he tries.
And so sometimes, when their voices are hoarse and they’re all cried-out and left to stand in the fallout, they go their separate ways.
Dirk seeks sanctuary with Farah- when she hears him knock politely on her apartment door instead of clambering right through the window, she knows. She just knows.
Todd, with nowhere else to go, tracks down Amanda. Their relationship still isn't perfect and her resentment hangs over them like a cloud- but she knows Todd, knows his mourning signs, and knows exactly what to do.
Sometimes it takes days, or weeks. Sometimes it takes Farah, Amanda and the Rowdies literally setting up an ambush because Dirk and Todd can both be stubborn arseholes when they feel like it.
But eventually, when the storm’s blown over and the dust has settled, they drift right back into each other’s orbit.
They look at each other, for the first time in far, far too long, and they smile as the universe tips back into balance.
They both know that this won't be the last time. They're both messed-up people with mountains of flaws and change is a slow process. Sooner or later they'll break again, and it'll be some time before they mend themselves.
But they will mend themselves. Every single time. Being together can be difficult, but it's nothing compared to being apart.
To Todd, Dirk is hope. He's warmth, and sunshine and unconditional love and affection. He's mutual understanding. He's magic and adventure and complete and utter fucking chaos. He's living proof that whatever mistakes they make, whatever bridges they burn, somehow they'll always wind up exactly where they need to be.
And to Dirk? To Dirk, Todd...
Todd is home.
He's never really had one of those, but he thinks he rather likes it.
Honestly, ‘couple’ seems a rather pedestrian term to describe what they are. Doesn’t quite capture the enormity, the complexity, the sheer absurdity of them.
But they adopt it anyway, by mutually tacit agreement at some point in their relationship that neither can remember.
It makes first introductions less of a headache.