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“It's not like it matters, right ?” Danny doesn't mind taking care of the cats. He actually loves everything about them. He loves the way Pascal watches him, making him feel cared for, oddly enough. He loves the way Archimedes always find a way to rest under his clothes, soaking up his warmth.

He doesn't mind cat sitting for Q and James, even the not so amusing parts, like the litter or cleaning after one of them being sick.

He feels less alone.

“I get it's his job first. I understand. I do.” Archimedes seems to disagree, but he's mollified when Danny pets him through his shirt. “But sometimes, I wish he would just... talk to me.” He remembers the fight in the morning. He actually feels a little guilty, because Alex had just been back from a long trip, his beautiful face marred with dark circles. And to be fair, it was a stupid fight, a petty one. Danny doesn't remember just why it was so important to confront him right away.

“I know he can't tell me anything. I know. But he pretends he's fine, when he obviously isn't and I can't... I can't...” He almost chokes on the words. Pascal suddenly opens his eyes and watches around, startled. “Maybe we need a break, after all. Maybe we're too damaged to be together. Maybe...”

“Maybe you should learn to properly lock the door.”

Archimedes leaves a few scratches when Danny startles so hard he almost falls from the couch.

 

James hands him a scotch, and doesn't even comment on the state of the flat. He looks tired, too, but composed and a little bored. Pascal goes to him, happy to be petted and coddled, and Danny sips at his drink.

It's not that he's scared of James, it's just that they're not... close. Nothing like Q and Alex. It's not that they can't spend time together. It's just that they never wanted to.

“Alex once told me we were alike, you and I.” Danny can't help but smile, too, because it's too funny not to react. “I had the same reaction. We are nothing alike, right ?”

“I don't see it, no.”

“I do, now.” James smiles at him from his own chair, sprawled with a cat on his lap. “Alex is at our place. I spent three weeks in the middle of nowhere, you think I would deserve a bit of peace.” He sighs. “Q is with him, of course. They're both gazing into each other's eyes and having silent conversations we're too daft to comprehend.”

“I'm... sorry ?” Danny doesn't know where the talk is going. He hunches his back a little, because he knows it can't be good. Maybe he's jealous Alex gets to monopolise Q. Maybe he's pissed at Danny for picking up a fight with his friend. Maybe he's just fed up with their weird friendship and is just here to collect the cats and leave him in this mess.

“You and I. We're pretty similar.” Danny doesn't ask, so he goes on, eyes on the cat purring and licking his chin. “We're scared of being left, of being hurt. We're terrified of being left behind, so we hurt the people we love so they decide to leave sooner than later.”

It hurts. It hurts so much Danny keeps his eyes on his glass, even when everything gets blurry.

“Alex is mad about you. You're the love of his bloody life, and he's terrified of losing you, too.”

“I know.” Danny whispers, because he knows he's seconds away from sobbing, and he can't, not here, not in front of James who's always so cold and sarcastic.

The hug is warm, comforting. James is all strength and power, and Danny feels protected, safe. It's not the same warmth Q brings to his life, it's not Alex's gentleness. It's not even a real hug, James just has an arm around his shoulders, it could be brotherly, it could, except it's not. It's not in the way he pushes Danny's face against his shoulder, in the way he curls his body just enough, to shield him from the world.

“You need to stop doing that to yourself.” James brushes his curls away from his forehead. He's rough, but tender too, and a small part of Danny suddenly craves for it. “You need to stop talking to these bloody cats and actually call him. Talk to him, for God's sake.”

“I know. I know, I will.”

James doesn't push him away, and slowly, shyly, he moves his arms so he can hold on to him too.