‘Come on, it’s not so bad. It’s Florida. Besides, I never get to travel. Let’s have fun.’
Danny is gliding his suitcase across the tiles of Miami International Airport with barely disguised glee, and Porter wonders precisely when his life got in to this state; so wrapped up in the numbers, the takeout coffee and the wall street bubble that a reconnaissance mission to nowheresville Miami starts to look like a good time.
Perhaps the largest part of the appeal is that he’s here with Danny, a traitorous part of his brain supplies. Porter tries to convince himself that the trip would be just as appealing with Mark or with Vinny, but the truth of the matter is there is no one he’d rather be sent to Miami with than Danny. He’d sooner invest his personal fortune in housing bonds than ever admit that, mind, and he’s going to kill Mark as soon as he gets back for arranging the whole thing, if he doesn’t die of sexual frustration first.
It’s hot in Miami and Danny is wearing a polo shirt that fits very snugly around his arms. Porter pinches the bridge of his nose. It's going to be a long day.
‘Don’t be chipper in the face of me being miserable. Please. It makes me hate you.’
They fall naturally in to their roles, the easy banter that makes long hours in the office considerably less awful than they could be.
‘I wasn’t being chipper.’
Porter thinks that’s the conversation closed, and then:
‘Maybe we can get some Cuban food. I hear it’s amazing in Miami.’
‘I’m serious Danny. Knock it off.’
Porter knows that Danny loves Cuban, and Porter knows there is great Cuban food in Miami. He also knows that sitting across from Danny at a small plastic table decked out with candles and listening to the appreciative noises he makes when he eats a good ropa vieja will do absolutely nothing but add fuel to the fire of this infuriating crush, and that no good could possibly come of the whole endeavor.
‘How is wanting to eat chipper?’
They leave the airport and pile in to a waiting taxi, and thankfully the subject is dropped. It’s half an hours drive to the hotel, and Porter spends the ride texting Mark, texting his mother to say yes, he arrived safely and yes, he’ll say hello to Danny for her, and resoutley not looking over at the man in question. Danny has wound his window down and has one arm resting on the door and the other tapping out a rhythm on his thigh. The wind is ruffling his hair and he’s humming some inane tune and all of that shouldn’t be attractive but god, it is. Porter wants desperately to lean across and shut him up with a kiss but if three years of pining has taught him anything it’s that they’re co-workers, they’re just friends, they’re utterly platonic, and wasn’t Danny still seeing that guy who works at the dunkin’ doughnuts on the corner of 48th and 7th anyway? (Porter considers ruining his credit score, but eventually decides against it)
When they get to the hotel, the sun is setting. Porter rummages in his pockets and pulls out the list of housing estate subdivisions that Mark wants them to visit.
‘So do you want to get started on these tonight or-’
He is cut off by Danny yawning loudly, and that answers the question really, so they drag their cases in to the lobby of the hotel and check in.
They are assigned a pair of rooms with a lockable connecting door and a shared balcony, and Porter thinks that honestly, after a long day travelling, this will do very nicely thank you. He throws his suitcase on the sofa and flops back on to the bed with a sigh. He takes a few deep breaths and rubs his hands over his face in exhaustion.
Less than 30 seconds later, the connecting door flies open and Danny is bounding through.
‘Oh um, you weren’t busy or anything were you?’
Porter lifts his head off the bed and raises one eyebrow. Danny has the good grace to look sheepish for a few moments, and then:
‘Only I’m gonna go see if this hotel does food and I wondered if you wanted to-’
An uncharacteristically nervous hand-wave, and then:
‘to also do that’.
Porter reluctantly peels himself off the bed and nods.
‘You’re right, we should eat’
The hotel, it transpires, does in fact have a restaurant, although Danny complains that anywhere ‘with such a shitty menu’ shouldn’t be allowed to describe itself as such. Danny orders a bottle of red wine and Porter has barely opened his mouth to complain when he’s shot down.
‘Dude, we’re on holiday. Sort of. And it’s not a holiday without wine, right?’
Two glasses of the stuff and some distinctly average pasta later, Porter is starting to agree. He’s starting to agree with a lot of things, actually, and that’s probably the late hour and Miami heat at play. They’re sitting across from each other in a booth with dark red seats and dark red walls and it’s hideous, actually, but Danny has his arms spread out over the back of the seat with his usual easy confidence and he’s laughing at something that Porter said and Porter thanks the lord he had to give up rowing because there is nowhere in the world he’d rather be right now.
Danny launches in to a detailed story of an incident involving Mark, a taxi driver and a spilt cup of coffee and Porter wants to listen but their feet are touching, just slightly under the table, and if he moves just a little...
‘Are you even fucking listening to me? I mean, I know it would be a first but-’
Danny is interrupted mid-sentence by the chime of his blackberry and Porter takes the opportunity to refocus, to try and recall what Danny had been saying instead of thinking about the colour that the wine has turned his lips and how much he wants to move his feet so their legs are properly touching and how much we wants to find out if Danny talks this much in bed too, if he swears this much in bed too.
As the night draws in they relocate to the hotels’ small bar and Danny orders them both something that sounds entirely too tropical for Porter’s tastes.
‘It’s a local speciality, this part of Miami is famous for-’
‘There’s an umbrella in it for fuck’s sake!’
But there is no heat in Porter’s reprove, and when he tries the drink it tastes strongly of rum and brown sugar and actually, it’s delicious. He says so, and can’t help but smile at Danny’s look of pride.
‘Of course it’s fucking delicious, when am I wrong about food?’
‘Well there was that one time you insisted we all went to that Greek place-’
Porter doesn’t manage to finish the sentence before Danny lunges forwards to take a tipsy swipe at him, missing almost entirely and tilting dangerously off his barstool in the process. Porter puts his arms out on instinct to stop him falling and they end up perched on the edge of their stools facing each other, knees touching and hands on each others arms, before Porter realises he hasn’t moved in a few seconds, and he should really let go now. If he’s blushing when he shuffles back on to his seat then he’ll blame it on the wine or the rum.
‘With the exception of that one time, I’ve never recommended anywhere bad. If you and Vinny had your way you’d still be eating those miserable sandwiches from internal catering. Admit it, you need me’
Danny slurps the last dregs of his drink, and winks at Porter.
He’s definitely blushing now and oh god Danny is going to notice and he’s never going to live this down.
The teasing doesn’t come, though, and instead Danny smiles a small, satisfied smile, like he’s confirmed some theory, like he’s been proved right about something. Porter thinks that might be just as bad.
Two sugary rum drinks later, and the barman informs them that the bar is closing. There’s an all-night place on the corner, he suggests, and it’s tempting but they shouldn’t.
‘We should get some sleep if we’re going to get round all of these housing estates in the Florida fucking heat tomorrow’
‘You’re so sensible, Porter. How do you live like that?’
They’re staggering slightly as they make their way down the corridor to their rooms and after bumping into the wall twice, Danny throws his arm around Porter’s waist for support.
Possibly the worst part about having a huge stupid crush on Danny is how bloody handsy he is. Whether it’s leaning right over Porter to steal fries from his plate, affectionate hands on the shoulder when he’s asking if anyone wants something bringing from Pret - you know they have those new chef’s specials in this week right? Guys? - or times like these when they keep each other upright when friday night drinks bleed in to Saturday morning.
They make it to the end of the corridor, to the door to Danny’s room, and Porter can feel the heat radiating off the arm around his waist in waves, doesn’t want to to disentangle himself, but has to.
‘Danny this is your stop’
Danny mumbles in agreement and swipes his keycard on the card reader. The door clicks open and they both stumble forwards - Danny with his inherent clumsiness and Porter dragged along with him.
‘For fuck’s sake, get a grip’
Danny laughs and detaches himself before sitting down on the edge of his bed and looking up at Porter with big round eyes.
‘You’re always looking out for me. I like that’.
Porter smiles ruefully. It’s true. He’s always the one making sure Danny gets in to the cab, walking him up the stairs to his apartment to make sure he makes it home. Maybe it’s love, Porter thinks, or maybe he’s utterly selfish and maybe it’s the opportunity to touch a little more than usual, to take advantage of the closeness of their drunk bodies for a few extra minutes. Maybe it’s the endless, desperate hope that one day Danny will invite him in. Will get to the door and ask if Porter wants to come in for coffee, for a nightcap, for a shag, whatever.
It never happens, though, and it doesn’t happen now.
‘I’ll meet you in the lobby at eight thirty yeah?’
Danny nods and mumbles something that might have been ‘right, ok’ and might have been ‘please, stay’, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
Porter leaves the room by the connecting door, and positively collapses against it as soon as it closes behind him.
Shit, he thinks, fuck, jesus christ man, you’ve got it bad.
It’s 8:40 in the morning and Porter is pacing the hotel lobby. The concierge is giving him a pitying look and he hates that, feels an irrational flare of anger that says ‘you don’t know him like I do, being late is part of his charm’ and ‘you’re living in a bubble, living in a fantasy world, just like the rest of the american public’ and some other awful snobby thoughts he tries to repress.
At 8:45 he’s officially bored, and he heads to Danny’s room to see what the fuck is taking so long. He knocks twice in quick succession and gets no response, so he tries the door. It’s unlocked. Cautiously he pushes it open:
‘What the fuck is taking you so long, it’s quarter to-’
The words get stuck in his throat though, because there is Danny, definitely getting dressed in a hurry, in just socks and some rather fetching dark purple boxers, with a toothbrush hanging out of his mouth, looking like a deer in headlights.
‘Mmmmph ghhh unnn rhhhdyyy, mmmph uff’ is what Danny manages to articulate around the toothbrush, but he may as well not have bothered because Porter swears his ears are ringing, that he’s temporarily lost control of most of his senses. Danny has the body of a man with a healthy appreciation for fine dining but also a residents gym in his apartment complex, and Porter can’t look away. When he finally snaps out of the trance, he reverses quickly out of the room and slams the door.
Danny emerges five minutes later - fully dressed this time in yet another slightly-too-tight polo shirt and still smelling faintly of mint. Porter hopes he’ll be able to clean his teeth again without thinking about Danny’s body and his far too endearing… shocked? amused? expression, but he doubts it.
They spend the day visiting estate after estate, trawling through new houses with their old post, old fridge contents, old bills, and old piles of dust. There’s a fucking bubble, alright.
They’re in the back yard of yet another enormous house, and the pool is littered with leaves and debris.
‘I think I saw three houses in the whole development with cars in the driveway.’
Danny nods, uncharacteristically sullen since his encounter with the family with small children.
There’s a noise, then, from the water, and they both spin around to see a ten foot fucking alligator surface from the murky waters of the pool.
‘Holy... fucking... shit’
They race back to the road and take a moment to catch their breath. Danny is pacing, agitated. He buries his hands in his pockets and says
‘Can we not bother with the last estate on the list? Can we just go and get a fucking drink?’
When his eyes meet Porter’s there’s something dark there, something well hidden but still present behind the optimism, and any resolve that Porter had about sticking to Mark’s plan dissolves, vanishes in an instant.
‘Sure. We’ll get a cab.’
They walk in silence for ten minutes, out of the estate and back in to civilisation and lights and noise and it’s a relief, to be honest. It’s human and it’s loud and it’s perfectly distracting.
Porter sees a cab approaching and hails it, sliding across the back seat to make room for Danny. The driver asks where they are going and Porter finds himself saying
And then after a beat
‘Somewhere near Versailles’
The taxi pulls away into the Miami traffic.
‘Versailles as in, the Cuban place? In Little Havana? You’re taking me for Cuban food?’
Danny sounds surprised, but also a little hopeful, and Porter stops worrying that he’s made the wrong choice.
‘Heard the Cuban food is amazing in Miami’
Danny laughs loudly at that, and his face lights up with a smile that Porter feels in his stomach and it’s at this point that Porter realises that his fears regarding small plastic tables and romantic candle light are probably about to become a reality.
The stresses of the day begin to melt away into the Miami heat on the ride downtown. Danny does a hilarious impression of Mark finding out about the alligator, finding out about the enormity of the housing bubble and they try not to think about homeless kids and unpaid bills.
Too soon, almost, the taxi pulls up on south west 8th street, and Porter pushes a bunch of notes under the partition to the driver.
Versailles is a short walk, and on a week night isn’t too busy. They get a table in a corner and there are no candles, and Porter lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. The tables are small though, and their knees are just about touching, and Danny orders wine again but this time Porter doesn’t even try and stop him.
It’s not surprise that Danny is right - the Cuban food is amazing in Miami. Almost amazing enough to distract Porter from Danny’s food appreciation noises, but not quite. Danny talks about the history of the dishes, about the spices involved, and he hails the waitress three times to order more small plates or this and that, insisting that Porter tries it all.
‘Here, try some of my ajiaco ’
Danny holds out his fork like it’s the most natural thing in the world and Porter has closed his lips around it, has a mouth full of potatoes and sweetcorn before the situation really hits him. They’re sitting in a secluded corner of a Cuban restaurant in fucking Florida, and Danny is feeding him and smiling and knocking back glass after glass of excellent red wine, and it’s all a bit much, really. It’s hot in the restaurant, it’s hot in Miami, the world is on fire and Danny is holding the match. Their knees are touching now, and Porter washes the food down with another swig of wine, and fuck, he needs some air because he’s stopped thinking with his brain and started thinking with his cock.
He stands abruptly, flushed but determined.
‘I’m going to call Mark’
He ignores Danny’s confused look, his disgruntled ‘what, now ?’ and makes his way out of the front door.
Calling Mark is an autopilot process by this point, and he hears the dialing tone before he even recalls punching in the numbers.
‘Hey Mark, you might want to get down here.’
There are many things he doesn’t say. Hey Mark, you might want to get down here, we almost got eaten by a fucking alligator and there is abso-fucking-loutey a housing bubble. Hey Mark, the fucking global economy is going to collapse and we’re having dinner at a Cuban place despite it all, and Danny looks so fucking good in a stupid polo shirt that I can’t fucking control myself.
He heads back in, and Danny looks up and catches his eye as he walks over to their table, something like relief in his eyes.
‘So, did Mark explode?’
‘He’s coming down tomorrow morning, I think he’s saving the exploding for then’
‘Great, we’ll get covered in the debris’
Porter snorts and upends the wine bottle in to his glass.
‘I’ve ordered another. Erm. While you were on the phone’
As if on cue, the waitress appears and deposits a new bottle on the table. Danny re-fills his glass and takes a breath, like he’s trying to say something.
Porter raises an questioning eyebrow.
‘What’s going to happen to us?’
The question catches Porter off guard.
‘Well I imagine we’ll drink the rest of this wine, crawl in to a taxi and go back to the hotel’
‘You know what I mean, you idiot. Us, the fund. The economy. The fucking world. Me and you.’ a pause, in which Porter can hear his own heartbeat, ‘and Vinny.’
Porter takes a drink and tries not to look uncertain.
‘Maybe it won’t be that bad, you know? I mean, the big banks have sufficient liquidity, and maybe there will be less defaults than Jared predicted. A few guys from liquidity risk will get sacked. We’ll make a bit of cash and the world will carry on.’
‘And if we make millions?’
‘What if we do?’
Porter feels slightly delirious.
Once again, Danny looks like he’s struggling for the words.
‘What will you do? Do you think you’ll still want to work at the fund?’
What Porter probably means to say is that he’s addicted to the numbers, he needs the pressure every day, he needs Mark’s mad, brilliant ideas, he needs the team to function, these days. What he actually says is
‘What, you think I can call the Olympic team and tell them I want to pick up where I left off? Come off it, you know I couldn’t leave you.’
And there we go, the words are out there.
Danny clutches his heart dramatically with one hand and grabs Porter’s hand with the other, grinning maniacally.
‘Porter, I never knew you felt that way’
‘Oh piss off’
And they both collapse in to giggles and it is funny, really, and Porter feels relief and utter helplessness in equal measure.
A final glass of wine later, and they call it a night, leaving a bunch of cash on the table and hailing a taxi at the curb. The ride back to the hotel is mostly punctuated by small talk, and the darkness in Danny’s eyes that manifested in the housing estate has gone. It seems to have been replaced, however, by something that Porter can’t quite put his finger on. Whenever he glances over at Danny, he looks away as if he’s been caught, and the drum beat of his fingers on his thighs seems faster than usual, nervous.
They make their way through the hotel and back to their rooms, and outside of Danny’s room they both stop, and there’s that look again, that uncertainty. Porter ignores the voice in his head that tells him not to touch Danny, that it’s an unnecessary torture, and he reaches out with both arms and grips him by the shoulders.
‘Hey, dude, are you alright? After everything that’s happened today?’
Danny looks up in to his eyes for a long moment and they’re so close now, in this stuffy hotel corridor. Porter feels like they’re the only two things in focus in the whole world, he feels electricity jumping between them, and maybe it’s the wine and maybe it’s the collapse of the global economy, but he tilts his head just a little and leans forwards and suddenly Danny’s arms are wrapped around his neck and there is a hot, desperate mouth on his.
Immediately the world snaps back in to focus, and time rushes to make up for the moments it stood still. Hands and lips are everywhere and Porter doesn’t even recall backing Danny up against the door as he pours three years of sexual frustration into every kiss and every ineffectual attempt to pull Danny’s clothes off with uncoordinated hands.
Danny is the first to break the spell, and manages to get out a breathless:
There is uncertainty in Danny’s voice and Porter’s heart sinks as the gravity of the situation comes crashing down.
‘Are you… are you sure about this?’
Something between a laugh and a whimper escapes Porter’s mouth, and he can feel his face burning, and this is it, really, he’s got to come out with it, and Danny is going to freak out.
‘Yes, Danny, I’m sure about this. Have been for quite a while actually’
Whose voice is that, Porter thinks, because it’s gravelly pitch doesn’t sound like him, but it’s echoing around in his head, and finally he summons the courage and makes eye contact with Danny, and Danny is smirking and oh, that’s unexpected.