Danny’s not sure when he first starts noticing he doesn’t see girls the same way a lot of boys his age do. He’ll hear them talking about how pretty they are, and while he can agree to that, it’s not in the way they mean it. He doesn’t want to kiss girls or hold their hands the way all the other boys do.
“Lydia is the prettiest girl not just my grade, but in the whole school,” Stiles is saying one day.
Scott makes a noise of agreement, “She is pretty. But so is Laura.”
Stiles wrinkles his nose, “I guess so, but she’s a lot older than us.”
“So? That doesn’t mean she can’t be pretty.”
Danny looks up from his food when Stiles nudges his arm, “Come on Danny. Back me up.”
He has a moment of panic, wondering what he’s supposed to do. He looks across the table and his eyes land on Jackson. He takes in the way he’s laughing at something Greenberg is saying, his eyes crinkled up in the corners, and his filter leaves him.
“No one is as pretty as Jackson is,” he says.
All conversation stops for a moment. Jackson turns his head to look at him. His brow is furrowed in confusion. Danny is tempted to get up and flee the table, not liking all the attention being on him.
Next to him Stiles starts laughing, “Good one, Danny. Jackson is pretty .”
Jackson throws a fry at him, “I’m not pretty.”
But watching the way Jackson’s cheeks heat up and turn a light shade of pink, Danny can’t agree. He is pretty. The prettiest person Danny has ever seen.
He makes it through lunch without further incident, but winds up spending the rest of the night locked in his room. He has no idea what’s going on. Jackson is his friend. His best friend. And he’s a boy. He’s not supposed to like him like that. Not the way that Stiles likes Lydia. But he does . And he’s not sure what to do with that.
He pushes it aside and tries not to think about it. It’s working pretty well until one night he’s watching Degrassi: The Next Generation re-runs with his sister and he sees Dylan and Marco together. It doesn’t make him want to stand up and shout “that’s me!” but it does make something settle inside him. He spends the rest of the night watching, even after his sister goes to bed. And then he goes on the internet.
He’d been avoiding it. Afraid that someone might hack into his computer and see his search history. But this feels important. He’s gotten a hint that he might not be alone, and that what he’s feeling isn’t abnormal. And he’s right. The internet is filled with people like him who are figuring out who they are, and others that have been through the same thing and are offering advice.
He still doesn’t tell anyone. It feels like something that belongs just to him, at least for now. And if he’s being honest, reading about people’s coming out horror stories doesn’t exactly make him want to jump up and tell his parents. He knows they love him, and that they probably won’t react badly. But there’s still that nagging worry that makes him keep his mouth shut.
Until one morning Danny is sitting at the table having dinner with his parents and his sister. They’re all laughing and talking about something that happened to Lucy at school. Danny feels words building up in his throat. Words he’s been holding back for going on three years.
All conversation stops. His mother shares a look his father before turning to him. She smiles and puts her hand on his cheek, “I know.”
Danny stares, “What? You know ?”
His parents share a look again before his father speaks, “We weren’t aware it was even a secret.”
“Though we are, of course, glad you decided to tell us dear,” his mother says. “It’s just…”
“Well I may have come across something while I was grabbing laundry from your room,” his mother admits.
Danny thinks about all the things she could have seen, and groans. He doesn’t want to know what she specifically found. He’s better off not knowing.
“And you’d never seemed interested in girls,” his father said.
“ And I saw how you were watching Marco and Dylan,” Lucy says. “And the way you look at Chris Pine.”
“He is an attractive man,” his mother says.
Danny sighs, “Well so much for some big coming out.”
“I’m sorry. Do you want to do it over and us act surprised this time?”
Danny smiles, “No, it’s okay. I think we did find the first time. I’m just glad you’re okay with it.”
“Of course we are,” his mother says. “We love you and just want you to be happy.”
“Does anyone else know?” his father asks.
Danny shakes his head, “No, I wanted you to be the first. And then…”
Blue eyes and a cocky grin flash in his mind. He swallows.
“Jackson,” his mother guesses. Danny nods. She squeezes his hand. “He’s going to be okay with it to. I know he can be… difficult. But you two have been friends for so long.”
The hardest part isn’t telling Jackson. He thinks he can do that fine. It’s doing it without adding on “oh by the way, I also have a massive crush on you .” Which isn’t 100% accurate. It’s more than a crush by now. But that just makes it worse. And it’s not really something he should be telling he’s straight best friend when coming out to him.
But he needs to do it. He’s told his parents and now he needs to tell Jackson.
He’s thinking about it a lot the next time they hang out. They’re sitting on the end of Danny’s bed and getting ready to play PlayStation, but all Danny can think about is telling him.
Jackson makes a noise of frustration after Danny dies for the fifth time, and turns to him. “What is with you?”
Okay , Danny thinks to himself . This is your opening. All you have to do is say the words.
"I'm gay," Danny says. He feels like his heart has made its way up to his throat. Maybe his lungs too. What with the way he's having trouble breathing.
Jackson shrugs, not seeming the least bit surprised. "Okay."
"Okay? That's all you have to say?"
"I know I can be an asshole, but I'm not going to have some freak out about you being gay. You're still my best friend."
Danny feels himself relax, "Thanks man."
"Does anyone else know?"
"Just my parents. They were cool about it."
Jackson nods, “Good. Two less people’s asses I have to worry about kicking.”
Danny shakes his head, “I don’t think you’re going to have to kick anyone’s ass, Jacks.”
Jackson shrugs, “People can be assholes. Believe me, I know. I am one.”
“Well at least you can admit it.”
“I just can’t believe you thought I didn’t know,” Jackson says.
“I’d never said anything!”
“You called me pretty in the third grade when Stiles asked you to back him up about Lydia being the prettiest girl in school,” Jackson says. “And you never dated any girls. It wasn’t that hard to figure out. But I’m glad you’re in a place where you can be open about it.”
Danny sighs, “Yeah me too. But now I have to worry about coming out to the rest of the school.”
“You don’t have to,” Jackson says. When Danny frowns, he holds up his hands. “I just mean you don’t have to make a big deal about it. You’re gay. It’s part of who you are. But it’s not anyone else’s business. Though I mean, you could just wear a t-shirt or something.”
“A t-shirt announcing I’m gay.”
“It was just a suggestion,” Jackson says. “Or I could find a boom box and walk behind you holding it up as ‘I’m coming out’ plays loudly.”
Danny laughs and shoves his shoulder lightly, “As epic as that would be, I think I’m going to pass.”
“I wouldn’t stress about it,” Jackson tells him. “You come out in your own time. And if anyone gives you any shit I will kick their ass.”
“How sweet,” Danny says. “Defending my honor.”
Jackson knocks their shoulders together, “Shut up. Are we going to play this game or what?”
Things continue as normal after that, or as normal as they can be. Danny doesn’t go out of his way to tell anyone that he’s gay, but he has started letting people know. Like the one time a girl a few years younger comes up to him and asks him on a date. He smiles politely and tells her he appreciates the thought, but he’s gay.
Of course she scoffs and mutters something about all guys saying that when they want out of something. Danny just shrugs. He’s not going to go out of his way to prove it.
“What was that about?” Jackson asks him. He leans against the locker next to Danny’s and looks down the hall after the girl.
“She asked me out,” Danny tells him.
“Poor girl,” Jackson says. “And what did you tell her?”
“I told her I appreciated it but I’m gay,” Danny says. “She didn’t believe me.”
Jackson grins, “So your first time telling someone besides me and your parents went over well I see.”
“Wait, Danny’s gay?” Stiles questions.
Danny looks over Jackson’s shoulder to see him standing there with Scott. Danny shoulders his backpack and closes his locker before turning to face them, “I am.”
Scott smiles, “That’s great man.”
“This makes the whole saying Jackson is the prettiest person in school make so much more sense,” Stiles says.
“Well he’s not wrong,” Jackson says. “Though I’d say I’m more handsome than pretty.”
“So have you gone on any dates yet?” Stiles asks him. He falls into step next to Danny as they make their way down the hall.
“No,” Danny says. “Not yet.”
Stiles nods, “I imagine it’s hard, you know, dating. I mean, it’s hard period. But how do you know whose straight or gay or bi or whatever? Some people might take it okay if you asked them out but then others might deck you in the face.”
“Thanks for that Stiles,” Danny mutters.
Jackson shoves Stiles aside, “Fuck off, Stilinski. No one’s going to lay a hand on Danny.”
“Not with you acting like that,” Stiles says. “You’re bound to scare any prospects off.”
“Come on,” Scott says, grabbing Stiles by the backpack. “We need to get to class.”
Jackson watches them go with a scowl on his face, “What idiots. How were we even friends with them?”
“I bet people wonder that about you,” Danny tells him.
“Whatever. I’m awesome. People would be lucky to be my friend.”
Danny doesn’t bother arguing.
They’re back at Danny’s place, lounging on his bed as an episode of Buffy plays on the TV. Danny sighs, "You know, talking to Scott and Stiles made me realize something. Dating is going to be a lot harder. I'm going to be lucky if I've kissed anyone before we're out of high school."
"Now you're just being dramatic," Jackson tells him. “You’re an attractive guy. Plenty of people will want to kiss you.”
“Yeah but not anyone I like or care about,” Danny mutters. “Or that’s a guy.”
“That’s bullshit,” Jackson says. “I can name at least three guys that want to kiss you. But if you're so worried about it being someone you care about…”
Before Danny can react, Jackson is on him. He hovers over him, looking intently at Danny before leaning down and kissing him. It's surprisingly soft. Danny always thought Jackson's kisses would be as rough and hard as he pretends to be. Except, of course, with Danny. Which is probably why he kisses him so gently. At least until Danny moves a hand up to his hair. Danny feels him smirk, before deepening the kiss. When Jackson’s tongue tangles with his, Danny groans and tries to pull him closer.
He never understood it when people always said they got lost in kissing someone. It never seemed real. But right here, with Jackson kissing him the way he is, Danny gets it. He doesn’t think he could ever get enough of this.
When they pull back, they're both panting for breath. Jackson rests his forehead against Danny's, "Don't say I never gave you anything."
"Did you just quote One Tree Hill at me?"
"Shut up," Jackson mutters. "You're the one that made me watch it with you. And Nathan’s a great character."
"He is," Danny agrees. "Jock that seems like an asshole, but has a heart of gold."
"And falls for the cute nerd that tutors him. Sounds familiar."
"Yeah?" Danny asks.
"Yeah," Jackson says, then he's kissing him again.
Danny wants to give into it, but he has to know. “So does this mean that you’re…?”
Jackson sighs, resting his head against Danny’s, “I don’t know. I know I like girls. But you…”
“I’m definitely not a girl,” Danny tells him. He rolls his hips slightly to prove his point.
Jackson reflexively rocks down, making them both groan. He holds Danny’s hips still with one hand, and gives a shaky laugh. “Oh I definitely know that. I just… I don’t know. I like girls. And I like you. But everything’s always been different with you.”
Danny gets it. He does. And he really likes Jackson. And that’s why he has to makes things clear between them. “I can’t be some experiment for you. Okay? I like you. A lot. And I know it could be serious. Which is why I can’t be with you if you’re not sure. It would hurt too much if you suddenly decided this wasn’t something you wanted.”
“You know I would never use you like that.”
Danny smiles and squeezes the back of his neck, “I know you would never hurt me on purpose. But if we’re going to do this, and trust me I want to, I need you to be sure. So take the time you need to figure it out.”
“Okay,” Jackson says. “If you’re sure.”
“Well I mean, this is going to give me a chance to explore the club scene before settling down,” Danny says. Jackson narrows his eyes before digging his hands into Danny’s sides. Danny laughs and bats his hands away. “Don’t tell me you’re already jealous.”
“Always when it comes to you,” Jackson mutters.
Danny runs a hand through his hair, “I don’t see why when I literally just told you that you could be my endgame.”
“Where do you come up with this shit?” Jackson asks him.
“Dude, I live on the internet,” Danny tells him. “You never know what you’re going to find there. So if you need some websites…”
Jackson covers his mouth, “I don’t want to know what porn you’ve been watching.” When Danny raises an eyebrow, Jackson sighs and removes his hand. “Okay, maybe I do a little bit. So if you want to send me some things…”
Danny smirks and lets his nails rake down Jackson’s back, and across his skin where his shirt has ridden up. “How would it feel knowing you were watching my favorites?”
He watches as Jackson’s eyes darken, his tone holding a hint of warning when he speaks. “Danny, I thought you said we were taking time.”
Danny takes a deep breath, which is a mistake with Jackson so close. He can smell his aftershave, which has always affected him more than he’d like to admit. The more rational part of his brain tells him to push Jackson away. They are taking time. They’re not getting involved.
“One last make out session couldn’t hurt,” Danny says.
Jackson grins, “You’re going to make this impossible.”
“You’re the one that’s still laying on top of me,” Danny reminds him.
Jackson raises an eyebrow, “Do you want me to get off?” Danny can’t help the way his eyes drift down to the noticeable bulge in Jackson’s jeans. He hears Jackson’s sharp intake of breath, before a hand is on his chin. Jackson’s closer now, their lips barely an inch apart. “I should go.”
“Yeah,” Danny whispers. He makes no move to push Jackson away, and Jackson doesn’t leave. He gets closer, closer, until they’re kissing again. Jackson’s hands are all over him, pushing his shirt up and over his head, and then trailing across his skin.
Danny’s brain is screaming at him that this could be a mistake, but he tells it to shut the hell up. It’s just one time and then everything will go back to normal. He’ll be content in knowing his first time was at least with someone he cares about and not some random hookup. And then Jackson will be off to figure his shit out.
Which is apparently something Danny needs to do just as much. Starting tomorrow. Tonight he has other plans.
He watches as Jackson dates Lydia off and on for years. He does a pretty good job of putting his feelings aside and lets himself have fun. He dates, but nothing is ever serious. But that’s fine with him. It’s going pretty well until the night he finds himself at Jungle and staring into eyes that, while Lizard-like, still look all too familiar. They stare at him like they know him before moving away into the crowd.
He waits until he’s home before having a major freak out about it. When he tries to talk to Jackson about it, asking him if he’s been to Jungle recently, Jackson just looks at him like he’s crazy. It’s then that Danny has then even more frightening realization that he has no idea what’s going on with him.
He tries to figure it out but that just leads to even more startling revelations. He always knew there was something weird about this town, but it’s worse than he realized. Seeing his best friend running around as a monstrous lizard creature is the worst of it.
He almost jumps out of his skin when he comes home one night to find not Jackson, but the lizard in his room. It stays by the window, watching him.
“Jackson?” Danny asks, his voice wavering slightly. “Are you in there?” Nothing happens. Danny steps the rest of his way into his room, closing the door behind him. His parents might be cool and understanding, but there are some things even they don’t need to see.
As soon as the door is closed, Jackson moves towards him. Danny finds himself standing frozen against his door, afraid to make any sudden movements. All Jackson does is sniff at his neck. When Danny raises his hand to touch him, Jackson jumps back.
He’s out of the room before Danny can move. Danny slides to the floor and puts his head in his hands, “What the fuck is going on?”
It’s weeks later when Jackson comes to him. He looks tired, and a little wary. He sits next to Danny on his bed. His shoulders are tense.
“You know it was me, don’t you?” Jackson asks him. He lifts his head and meets Danny’s eyes. He looks afraid. Danny realizes it’s the first time he’s ever seen him look like that.
“Yeah,” Danny says. “I do.”
“And you’re not afraid of me?”
“No,” Danny tells him. “I’m not. I mean, I don’t completely understand what’s going on with you. But I’m not afraid of you. If you were going to hurt me, you would have already.”
“I didn’t want to do any of it,” Jackson whispers, his voice strained. “All those people I killed, and hurt. I didn’t want to.”
Danny moves closer, wrapping his arms around him. They haven’t been this close since they were younger. But Danny tries not to think on that. Jackson’s arms move around his back and fist in his shirt. His face is tucked against Danny’s neck and he can feel hot tears there. He holds him tighter when he feels Jackson start to shake.
Danny isn’t even sure what he can say to make Jackson feel better, if there is anything at all. He’s still pretty confused about the whole thing if he’s being honest. But he knows now probably isn’t the best time to question him.
“It’s going to be okay,” Danny tells him, running a hand through his hair. “I’ve got you.”
Jackson’s hands tighten around him. “I could have hurt you,” Jackson whispers. Danny hates the way his voice breaks. “I wasn’t… I wasn’t myself. Not really. Someone was controlling me and making me do these things. But through the fog I could sense you. I felt more real when I was around you. Safer. But even then if those bastards said to kill you I don’t know if I…” he starts sobbing again. “I would destroy anything that tries to hurt you. Even myself.”
“Luckily it never came to that,” Danny says. “Or are you still worried it will?”
Jackson shakes his head, “No. No one’s controlling me now. I feel more like myself. But this place…”
“You’re leaving,” Danny says, the realization settling heavily over him. He should have realized.
“I can’t be in this place anymore,” Jackson tells him. He pulls back, putting distance between them. Or at least that’s what it feels like. “It’s not safe. And after everything that happened… I just need a fresh start.”
“Where will you go?”
“London,” Jackson says. “My parents know some people there.”
“A werewolf in London,” Danny tries to joke. But it sounds flat even to him. It’s hard to joke when he knows his best friend isn’t just moving away, but out of the country. “I guess visits won’t be an option then.”
Jackson hesitates a moment before placing his hand over Danny’s. “I know you won’t leave yet. You want to finish school here. But when the year is up, you should come find me.”
Danny thinks about it. He thinks about leaving this hell town behind and going to London, away from all the danger here in Beacon Hills. It sounds like a pretty good idea.
“You don’t have to say anything right now,” Jackson tells him. “But I need you to know something.”
“You gave me time, and all it’s done is make me realize one thing: You’re my endgame too.” He kisses Danny softly before pulling back. “I’ll be waiting.”
Danny watches him go, swallowing past the lump in his throat. He’s not going to cry. Jackson is doing what’s best for him. Danny just has to believe this wasn’t the last time they’ll see each other.
Ten hours and ten minutes.
Danny wishes he could say he slept on the long flight, but he couldn’t. He’s been filled with nervous energy for months. Ever since he booked the flight and made a decision that has a possibility of changing everything.
Now, as he’s standing in the crowded airport, he feels a wave of panic hit him. What if this doesn’t go the way he wanted it to? He knows Jackson said he’ll be waiting, but what if he found someone else? And he just thinks Danny is here as his friend?
Then he spots him.
It’s been almost a year since the last time he saw Jackson in person, but he’d recognize him anywhere. His hair has grown out more, but he still looks the same. He hasn’t noticed Danny yet, and Danny can recognize the familiar nervous tick as Jackson’s hands clench as his sides and he scans the airport.
When his eyes land on Danny, he smiles, and Danny can only smile back as he starts towards him. He drops his bag at his feet and moves into Jackson’s waiting arms.
“I missed you,” he whispers.
Jackson’s arms tighten around him, “I missed you too.”
Danny pulls back, and their eyes meet, looking at each other in silent question. Danny isn’t sure who moves first, but the next moment they’re kissing. Danny’s hands move up to Jackson’s neck, and he pulls him closer.
Jackson smiles against his lips, and it feels so familiar. Danny smiles back as he continues to kiss him. Because he can. Because they’re here now, together, after everything that’s happened.
“I told you I’d be waiting,” Jackson tells him.
“Of course you did,” Danny days. “We’re endgame, remember?”
Jackson laughs, “We’re still going with that?”
“Why not? It works for us.”
Jackson brushes their noses together and smiles, “Yeah, I guess it does.”
Danny thinks of the long road they had to take to get here. All the pain and confusion and loss. But they made it. That makes it all worth it.