“Hi mom, I’m home!”
Danny’s voice rang out as the door swung open. He caught it on his foot, letting it shut behind him.
Silence. No cheerfully bitchy ‘Hey pussyface’, no shower running, and no sound of Roy taking a nap (snoring) in the disheveled bed either.
Danny stepped further into the room. Roy’s suitcase was laid out on the coffee table, so he knew he had the right room (reception had a key waiting with his name literally on the envelope). The blackout curtains were drawn against the street lights, and he paused to let his eyes adjust.
It was possible that he’d gone out, but Roy knew Danny was flying in that evening and they’d been planning to go out together. He hadn’t even bothered stop in to his own room, sending his luggage ahead with a saucy wink to the cute bellman.
Something caught his attention. Listening intently and squinting in the low light, he could just make out quiet sniffles and the hitched breathing of someone trying not to cry. Tossing his backpack carelessly towards the couch - not noticing it miss and land on the floor - he moved around the end of the bed to check the other side.
The very few times he’d seen him truly upset, Roy was in motion, tapping his foot and clutching a pillow or pacing angrily. Instead, he sat with his back to the side of the bed, knees tucked to his chest awkwardly as if he’d simply dropped from where he’d been standing, barefoot and with his hoodie half on.
Danny was on the floor beside him before he even realized it, barely registering the shock of his knees hitting the carpet. He didn’t acknowledge Danny’s presence, forehead pressed to his crossed arms and face hidden in the shadows. Unsure of the proper reaction, Danny hovered inches away. If this was a panic attack, he shouldn’t touch without permission, but everything in him cried out at the restraint.
“B? It’s me. I’m here.”
The sniffles abruptly cut off, and he saw Roy’s shoulders go rigid with the effort of containing them. An attempt at a wobbly smile when he raised his head made Danny’s heart ache. There were no tears wetting his face, but his beautiful eyes were swollen and red, dull with exhaustion. His cheeks and nose were puffy and raw looking, as if he’d been rubbing them for a while.
Roy’s normally raspy voice was almost inaudible, cracked and brittle.
Despite the relative warmth, he was shivering, and Danny reached out to tug the hoodie up from where it was hanging off one shoulder. It seemed woefully inadequate, and a moment later he pulled the duvet straight off the bed, wrapping it around his body.
“Baby? What’s wrong?”
Roy shrugged, chewing his lip and shaking his head.
“Fucking bullshit. You’re...you don’t gotta tell me, but...”
Danny shifted closer as he spoke, sliding under the duvet and wrapping an arm around his shoulders. He wasn’t expecting the weight sagging against him, or the way Roy’s fingers clutched at his shirt.
Worry growing, he quickly ran through a mental list of possible causes - not Courtney or Darienne, they’d been active in the group chat when he got off the plane; Jamie ought to be vacationing with his daughter; and nothing on social media about their other friends when he checked on the taxi ride from the airport. Danny tried to back calculate how long Roy could have been sitting here alone. His flight should have come in the night before, giving him time to settle in and catch up on sleep. He’d sent a string of emojis into the group chat a few hours ago as well, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary then.
“It’s not family, is it? Like-“
Danny kissed his temple, nuzzling the messy hair.
More suppressed shivers.
The fact that Roy couldn’t get the name out was deeply disturbing, never mind that Danny knew exactly who he meant.
“Shit, did something happen to-“
Roy raised his head from Danny’s shoulder enough to give a negative shake.
“Did you have a fight?”
If so, it would be impossibly out of proportion. Roy was the steadiest person he knew, and whatever had him this shaken couldn’t possibly be minor. Worse, he couldn’t think of what might have caused such a violently emotional reaction to begin with. If Roy’s boyfriend had done something to upset him that much, Danny was going to go through the roof and to hell with anger management.
“B, if I need to call him and-“
Roy shook his head again.
“It’s over. We’re done.”
Vague relationship details are intentional; it’s based on some of the things Roy posted on social media, but won’t be getting overly specific because that’s not the focus of the story and we don’t want to speculate / imply that we know the details.
Short installment - currently traveling abroad, so we’re not writing and editing as rapidly as usual.
Danny’s jaw dropped, sure he’d heard right but disbelieving. Roy wasn’t prone to hyperbole when he was being serious, and it didn’t sound like a lovers’ quarrel or misunderstanding that just needed some time to cool off.
“...what? I thought...I thought you two were gonna work on it. That it was good.”
“How,” Roy’s bitter laugh filled the air before burying his face against Danny’s neck, “would I when he- when it’s...no.”
His voice trailed off into a whisper, shoulders quivering.
Sighing, Danny pulled him closer, hand rubbing soothing circles on his back (shoulder blades more prominent than usual, and he’d promised he was taking care of himself while on tour), untangling Roy’s hand from where it was clawed into his shirt and squeezing gently.
“I don’t get it. You guys just got back- everything seemed fine.”
They’d looked so genuinely happy in photos, and he could hear the affection in his voice when Roy spoke about him. Danny would never begrudge Roy his own happiness, even if seeing that private smile posted on Instagram was...disconcerting. Coming from a self-professed over-sharer, that said a lot.
Hot, silent tears soaked the fabric over Danny’s collarbone, and he swallowed past the lump in his own throat.
“Hey, crying is my thing. You can’t steal it.”
Just got off a ten hour trans-Atlantic flight, so hopefully this is coherent!
For as much as he was loud otherwise, Roy’s quiet tears were all the more distressing. Danny waited - impatient but worried enough to not show it - for Roy’s breathing to slow, thumb tracing wordless comfort over the back of his hand. He didn’t try keeping track of time, and it could have been a few minutes or an hour while he held on tight.
The familiarity of the situation with roles reversed wasn’t lost on him, and he hoped he was providing even half the comfort Roy did for him.
Any other time this would be Roy consoling Danny after a heartbreak, never mind that this seemed to go so much deeper than that. He would be whispering soothing noises while Danny cried himself out, stroking his hair and waiting until he was ready to talk about it. He’d listen, offer his opinion, offer his arms or his company to go out, offer his bed. Roy was always so prepared, but Danny wondered if he ever felt the same sense of helpless worry he was experiencing.
At last, Danny felt something mumbled into his throat. His feet had long since fallen asleep, back protesting the awkward half-twist he’d been maintaining. The dark patch on his shirt spilled across the collar and halfway down his chest, mute testament to the overwhelming emotions that had broken Roy’s formidable self-control.
“What’s that?” Danny murmured into the hair at the crown of his head, “Can’t hear you baby.”
Roy didn’t lift his head from off his shoulder, but he shifted enough to pull his face away from Danny’s neck. The air conditioning raised a chill of goosebumps on the damp skin now exposed, and he pulled the edges of the duvet tighter around them both. It almost felt like how it used to be, the two of them in their own pocket of shadowy warmth beneath the covers of a white-sheeted hotel bed in some far-flung corner of the globe.
“I robbed you once already.”
It took a moment for Danny to even remember what he’d said. His confused noise evoked a tiny, watery laugh, but it meant Roy wasn’t completely gone.
“The crown. I wanted you to win.”
“Nahhh. You’re the best winner there could be.”
He used the trailing cuff of his sweatshirt to swipe at the wetness on his neck.
“For wha? I’ve done worse.”
‘Worse’ was outbursts of uncoordinated drunken anger where he lashed out at the world (never, ever other people). Times when he threw his phone at the wall, yelling and kicking. It was Roy standing or sitting and waiting until the rage drained away, until Danny was left holding whatever objects he’d broken. It was Roy waiting with concern, never fear or judgment.
More of the tension drained out, and Roy slumped against him under the duvet. A draft crept in around the edge and he moved closer, chest pressed tight to Danny’s side. He always ran colder, but this felt more like a search for comfort than warmth. Danny shifted his weight, preparing to move-
His voice was so small and tired, a far cry from Bianca or even his usual self.
“Willow, I just wanna get on the bed.”
Roy didn’t answer out loud, but tightened his grip on Danny’s hand.
“Isn’t your ass falling asleep by now?”
He huffed a breath of laughter at Danny’s appeal to the practical.
“No. It’s carpet.”
Roy had spent an entire (rare) chilly Los Angeles night outside on the back patio with Danny once. He’d made a few attempts to move them inside, but ultimately ended up sitting on the cold cement next to him while Danny alternately rambled and smoked and scribbled lyrics. While it made for a later complaint - long enough after that he’d occasionally bring up freezing for the sake of Adore’s creative process - he hadn’t said anything that day when the sun rose and Danny finally allowed himself to be coaxed into bed. Ergo, he could suck it up and deal with the floor if that was what Roy wanted.
“This angle is killing my neck though,” he murmured, “no, you don’t have to- wait a sec...”
It took a little contortion, folding his leg back and prodding until Roy climbed over his thigh to settle between his knees. He draped the duvet back over his own shoulders, pulling Roy back to rest against his chest and wrapping both arms around him tightly.
He hummed quietly, bars of his own music and other songs, occasionally nuzzling into Roy’s hair.
“I missed you. I know I’ve said so before, but I really did.”
“S’only been a month. We’ve done longer.”
Roy squirmed until Danny loosened his hold, turning to face him.
“I know,” he sighed, “I meant...this.”
“I was trying to let you, you know.”
“Yeah. I just thought, maybe this time it could be...different. With him.”
“I’m sorry, baby.”
Their faces were inches apart, Roy’s exhales feathering over Danny’s cheek. He was suddenly, intensely aware of how easy it would be to tilt his head just so and bring their lips together. Danny watched, hypnotized, as Roy’s eyes fluttered shut, lashes obscuring the traces of pained grief.
Watched his lips part.
Watched him close the distance between them.
Closed his own eyes and let it happen.
Danny almost loses himself in that kiss.
Their mouths moved together in aching slow motion, Danny’s nose pressed to a sharp cheekbone. The salty tang of tears burst over his tongue, the smell of sweat and hotel sheets and Roy’s skin filling his lungs. Everything was so familiar, like coming home after weeks on the road - or more accurately (since he was never in his apartment long enough to call it home), sitting down to drinks with the BCD of drag or slipping under the covers next to Roy anywhere in the world.
For a single moment, he wondered if any amount of alcohol or intoxicating substances or sex with a beautiful boy could ever quite match the rush of this.
The lips pressed to his were swollen with the same flush painting Roy’s cheeks, but he still kissed with the all-encompassing intensity Danny remembered. His eyelids felt heavy, weighed down, and when he finally forced them open halfway, he was surprised to find Roy’s still tightly shut. The lines of stress creasing his forehead smoothed out, leaving only the dark circles below his eyes and moisture clinging to his lashes to tell the story.
That single word breathed against the corner of his mouth made him tremble. Fingers buried themselves in his hair, angling his head for the careful slide of tongue caressing the inside of his upper lip. It was a move that always went straight to his groin, and the hungry moan it pulled from the pit of his stomach snapped him back to the reality of the situation.
It took more willpower than he knew he possessed to push back on Roy’s shoulders, to lean away. The wet sound of their mouths separating echoed in his ears.
Roy’s eyes flew open, brimming with wounded rejection, before his face shuttered and the Bianca mask locked down. To anyone else, the blank, impassive front would be unreadable. For Danny, so accustomed to that face in all of its moods, it couldn’t hide the way his lower lip quivered or the sound of his breath going shallow. His lips parted, and Danny bit his tongue hard to resist the urge to claim his mouth again.
“You shouldn’t...I don’t- “
”You don’t want me. I get it.”
Roy’s voice was completely devoid of emotion. He started to push himself up, and Danny caught his upper arms, tugging him back down.
“Of course I still want you. Don’t be a fucking idiot.”
Bianca’s tell - the faintest twitch of emotion at the corners of her mouth - was less apparent on Roy’s unpainted lips, but still very much present.
“But you never...?”
Sighing, he brushed off the implication that he was a guaranteed thing. (For Roy? He always had been.) His hands slid down to grasp at Roy’s, surprised by the strength of his grip. His fingers were feverishly hot, and Danny wondered if he could feel the pulse beating hot in his own palms. Licking his own lips was automatic, and possibly a mistake, every sense alight. The taste of Roy lingered on his tongue, the heat of the kiss still flushed his skin, and he couldn’t unsee the slope of loss in Roy’s slumped shoulders.
Danny couldn’t believe he was refusing Roy, but it didn’t feel right when he was so emotionally vulnerable. He rarely turned down a chance to get off, but he also would never knowingly take advantage of someone. A rebound fuck was fine; being Roy’s was something else, and he wasn’t sure he could handle the fallout. This wasn’t just casual sex with a friend to get over heartbreak, not for the two of them.
Why his brain was leaping to sex immediately was a subject for another time.
“Cuz it’s not- we shouldn’t. M’not gonna let you fuck it up.”
”Right now. I- you don’t...it’s not.”
“ S’not...I don’t want it to be a mistake.”
“You’ve never been a mistake.”
It's been a month since the last update, yikes! The story is mostly written at this point, but I need to get it edited.
The low-voiced statement was urgent in its quiet intensity and Danny let the words settle into his skin. He concentrated on breathing slowly, ignoring the tang of saliva still smeared over his lips. Palpable sexual tension or not, he reached out and gathered Roy close in a proper hug, squeezing tight. No matter what else went on, their bodies always knew each other and he felt his own heartbeat slow as their cheeks pressed together.
It was always so easy to forget how much smaller Roy was without Bianca. He’d noticed earlier that something was off, but it was much more apparent with their bodies in full contact and his arms crossed over Roy’s shoulders. There was something about the way the point of his shoulder dug into Danny’s chin that left him unsettled, but he couldn't quite tell without touching more. He skimmed his hands across Roy’s back and sides as they separated, letting his fingers read what his eyes couldn’t see under loose clothing.
“Yanx...” Danny’s disapproving tone accompanied a firmer pass of his hands over Roy’s torso, fingers fitting into the hollows between his ribs, “you’re too skinny.”
Roy pressed his lips together in a firm line, sighing, and Danny knew that he could tell Danny wasn’t deliberately trying to change the subject.
“When’s the last time the you ate something?”
“Today. Earlier, whenever.”
”M’fine. Not hungry right now.”
Danny wasn’t sure if he really believed him, but he’d leave it for now. Roy raised a hand to his face, cupping his jaw with fingertips exerting the kind of subtle pressure that would normally pull him straight forward. He shook his head gently, even as his body yearned to respond to the unspoken request for a kiss.
Even though they both wanted it.
Closing his eyes for a long moment, Roy slid his hand down to Danny’s neck, fingers hooking in his hair instead. It was one of those tiny gestures that was so very them, one he’d missed without ever realizing it.
“I- Okay. I shouldn’t be arguing when you’re finally trying to be the responsible one, but you don’t...“
”I meant a mistake cuz maybe you can fix this and-“
Roy held up a hand, fingers splayed out in the universal gesture for stop.
“It’s not like we’re getting back together.”
Danny frowned at the decisive statement. What could have happened to make him say that with such finality?
“What happened? I really...you looked really happy. You- it’s okay if you don’t wanna tell me,” he added quickly, “I won’t be mad or whatever.”
“I couldn’t be what he wanted.”
Danny didn't bother suppressing his reaction.
“Then he’s a fucking idiot.”
Roy sat back on his heels, dragging a hand through his hair. Years of never spoiling Bianca’s wig meant that small gesture spoke to deep distraction.
"I don't want to argue with you about it."
Danny bit his lip hard, forcing back down the words. Automatic defense of Roy to anyone aside, he knew exactly why this conversation had the potential to blow up between them and needed to avoid it. He squeezed the hand still buried in his hair, pulling it down to wrap both of his own around it. Roy's fingers were broader than Danny's, but right now he felt almost...fragile. That in itself was enough to shake the foundations of his calm.
"I don't wanna argue either. Just...I wanna understand. And I'm worried about you, baby. You can’t survive on wine and vodka.”
”I’m eating. Really.”
Before he could stop to think too hard about it, he pressed a kiss into Roy's palm, letting his lips linger for a moment as Roy's fingers caressed his cheek.
”You’re working yourself into the ground, then.”
Roy shrugged, not denying the statement.
”B...” Danny reached out for the room service menu on the nightstand, “let me at least get something.”
"You're definitely Bonnie's, you think anything can be fixed by feeding someone."
He took the quasi-complaint as assent, pulling the duvet back up around them while flipping through pages. Halfway through the appetizers, Roy's head landed on his shoulder, and Danny rested his cheek against his hair without a word. They stayed like that while he called in an order, not moving as he set the phone and menu back up on the nightstand.
"Okay. I'm really not trying to make it into something B, but you've never...not like this."
Danny almost thought that Roy might have fallen asleep, because he certainly looked like he needed it. Instead, a moment later he felt the hand on his knee tighten.
"Yeah. I know you're not. Thought that it might be less painful after a while."
“It’s been a few hours-“
The bitter, pained laugh cut through his attempt at trying to soothe.
“Try a few weeks.”
“When- the fuck? You’ve been acting fine for the last month!”
“Thought it would get better. Or something. Fuck if I know.”
“B...why- how...why didn’t you tell me? Tell us?”
The relationship had made sense, in its own way - two professionals with demanding career choices. Danny had met him on a few occasions, spoken politely enough, and from Roy’s stories he seemed easygoing and devoted. Nothing that should have led up to this. There hadn't been any sign that Roy was anything but his usual sarcastic self, no changes in the group text or mentions on the phone. He had been posting a few things on Instagram, interspersed with the usual photos and reads, about instincts and trust and lies, but Roy was definitely a thinker and Danny assumed there wasn't any weight behind them. In hindsight, he should have known better.
“I didn’t want to dump it on you guys. And I was okay.”
"You didn’t look okay when I got here.”
“Looked on my phone for something to post. Liking mentions, and someone...someone tagged me.”
“In a photo. With him. And it just...yeah.”
He knew exactly which photo, because he’d seen it while scrolling through Insta on the ride from the airport. The same one that always sat uneasy, not because capturing a private moment was a problem, but because it felt like an intrusion, splashed across the internet for anyone to see. Roy put a lot out there, both as Bianca and as himself, but there were some parts that were meant to stay personal. And that smile? Shouldn't have been shared.
Roy shook his head, and Danny was caught completely off guard by what he said next.
“You didn’t like him.”
Bianca's Instagram posts:
Actual posts from Bianca's Instagram. There's no direct link to a relationship, but the timing is rather coincidental. I may be projecting my own feelings about them onto Danny in this case, but I can completely see Roy not wanting to "bother" his friends with something like that.
The content of Roy’s argument is fictional. We certainly don’t know the circumstances for real, but this seemed like a scenario that made sense in context.
Roy lifted his head from Danny’s shoulder, and he tensed until it was clear that he wasn’t moving away, just sitting up enough to see his face.
“...I never said that.”
“Pussyface, you can’t lie to me.”
True. Also true - he was still capable of lying to himself.
“M’not, I never said it.”
Frustrated resignation clouded Roy’s eyes, and Danny shifted uncomfortably. Dropping the semantics, he stared down at his lap and took a steadying breath. There wasn’t really a way around it, no dissembling or avoiding the question.
“Whatever you’re thinking, I’m not gonna be mad at you.”
Under the duvet, his hand sought out Roy’s, twining their fingers together. Palm to palm, the thrum of his pulse settled something in Danny’s stomach.
”I wanted him to be what you wanted, cuz he was making you happy. I didn’t like, not like him, I just...I thought he seemed sorta, you know- kind of, ummm...”
His expression was unreadable in the murky light, halfway between pained and unsurprised.
“Pretty but kind of shallow.”
“And I thought he was into you, like of course. But also...sometimes- I-“ Danny swallowed down the unease before blurting out, “sometimes it felt like he was using your name to like, promote himself. Like he liked to show you off to his friends on Insta, and...I dunno, stuff that you always keep private. And I didn’t- didn’t like that.”
He chewed his lip, waiting, but no reply was forthcoming. Instead, Roy fixed him with an expectant look, tempered with a strange sort of compassion. Of course he could tell Danny wasn’t saying everything, and he wasn’t going to get away with it. Never had, unless it had to do with the two of them. Everything else though, they somehow couldn’t be anything but honest.
Now or never, then, and he hoped Roy would understand.
“...and I never thought he really liked you spending so much time with me.”
A tired sigh ruffled his hair, reminding him of Bianca’s even breaths gusting over Adore’s bare shoulders while cinching her before a show, of falling asleep to the rise and fall of Roy’s chest under his cheek.
“Maybe. I don’t know.”
Danny was expecting confirmation or denial, not this weary uncertainty.
“Doesn’t matter though, not what I think, it matters what he said to you or whatever happened to make it like this way. I’ve never...you scared me, B.”
In the silence that followed, he felt Roy shivering again, suppressed emotion or hunger or - and Danny hoped not - starting to come down with something. If he wasn’t sleeping and eating right, particularly with the grueling schedule, it could just as easily be the latter. Either way, Roy needed comfort and he was going to provide it. If he also needed it for himself, well, more the better.
“C’mere. I got you.”
He coaxed Roy back between his knees, arms looped around his waist loosely and chin on his shoulder. His body had other ideas, reminding Danny that pressure on his crotch felt good, and he spent a moment thinking about the most unsexy things possible (blisters on his fingers from playing guitar, Adore’s suitcase after a tour and filled with dirty tights) to will away the beginnings of an inappropriately timed erection. Roy would understand, but it would still be awkward as hell.
The room was definitely getting colder (was the heater on at all?), and he briefly considered getting up to check the thermostat. Doing so would mean moving away though, something he wasn’t willing to do. Their little bubble of space was warm and Danny usually produced enough body heat for them both, so it would have to do for now. Somewhere in the hall, a door slammed followed by loud voices. He clamped down on his tongue to keep from saying anything for the moment - it was all too easy to let Roy let him talk when he should be doing the listening.
Neither of them spoke for a few minutes, Danny’s cheek pressed to Roy’s temple and eyes closed. Anyone would have recognized it as a familiar pose in photos of them together, except there weren’t any smiles to be found tonight. He played with the ends of the drawstrings trailing down from Roy’s hood, traced random patterns over his stomach, waiting.
“It was a lot of things.”
Danny made an encouraging, inquisitive noise.
“Being apart all the time.”
“Uhhh, you two totally did stuff just the two of you...?”
Weekend trips and dinners out.
Walking to get coffee, sunglasses on.
Going to shows and clubs in tuxes.
Watching Roy while he designed and created.
This last one was what really bothered Danny when it showed up on his feed, although he wasn’t comfortable admitting to himself why. Plenty of people spent time with Roy as he worked, but coming up behind him and cuddling at the worktable had always been Danny’s privilege. Anyone else got gently shrugged off (plenty of their friends were super affectionate), but he was allowed to stay, feeling the muscles move as Roy manipulated the fabric in front of him. Had always been allowed to stay, even before they became lovers. Seeing someone else with that apparent permission twisted deep in his gut, sour and...not jealous, but uncomfortably possessive.
Thankfully, Roy was staring into the distance and not focused on Danny’s face as it played out.
“He said he shouldn’t have to give up his career just to try and spend a few days out of the year together.”
“Did you ask him to?”
“No. But...he wanted more time. I wouldn’t move back to New York, and-“ Roy swallowed hard, “we argued because he thought I wasn’t putting enough in. And I thought- I guess it doesn’t matter what I thought.”
“You always put everything in when it matters. We all saw it.”
“He didn’t seem to think so. He kept saying we’d never end up anywhere. That I’m married to drag, that I love working, being Bianca more than I could ever- “
“Yeah, well, you’ve been Bianca since before his balls dropped.”
“You know what I mean.”
“I guess we’re at different stages of life. I thought it wouldn’t matter, but it really did.”
Only Roy would be concerned with giving a balanced accounting of a breakup, although Danny privately thought he was being more equitable than the situation deserved.
“I want it to work out for you, baby.”
He honestly did, despite his misgivings. Out of anyone, Roy deserved to be treated right, given back what he gave so freely.
“I should have learned by now,” Roy shook his head and took an unsteady breath, “never works out. M’not meant to have it. Not cut out to be someone’s boyfriend.”
“B...you don’t ever give up on stuff. Fuck, you’re still friends with me even though I’m a mess.”
No laugh or gentle insult followed. He started to say something after Danny’s words trailed off but stopped, tongue pressed to the back of his front teeth.
“What is it?”
Watching him almost physically struggling to get the words out was unsettling and again highlighted just how off things were. Danny couldn’t remember more than a handful of occasions where Roy didn’t know or couldn’t say what he was thinking.
“I couldn’t love him enough. He said he didn’t really know me.”
“Bullshit. He didn’t deserve you then.”
The statement wasn’t just a rote response. When Roy loved it was with his whole heart, even if he wasn’t always demonstrative about it. Anyone who was lucky enough to earn it couldn’t doubt that. He wasn’t a hearts and flowers type - it didn’t fit at all - but he found a hundred other ways to express it.
Danny needs to know what happened to be able to help, but it also means confronting things that aren’t easily resolved.
Additional reminder that the circumstances described are fictional.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Danny cringed as Roy clenched his mouth shut hard enough that he swore he could hear his teeth grinding. Closing his eyes, he gently nudged his nose against the tensed jaw muscles until they relaxed.
I’m here, the touch said, silently affirming his presence.
“You can tell me.”
He kept his voice level, not demanding or pleading. Tried to match the tone of non-judgmental support that Roy used when Danny was having trouble talking something out, neutral but encouraging. Roy’s eyes flicked sideways, meeting his for a moment before his gaze skated away again, skittish and uncertain. He fussed with the cuffs of Danny’s sweatshirt, smoothing out the peaks and valleys creasing the damp fabric.
Danny waited a few more breaths while Roy’s fingers pressed the worn fleece against his wrists. The motion wasn’t just a nervous fidget - Bianca did it as well, when she needed to concentrate on telling a story or maintain her energy, fixating on rumpled seams and shoulder straps gone askew.
“I...yeah. Just. Not- I don’t know.”
He scrunched his toes down against the soles of his shoes in agitation, a habit that wore holes through his socks but was a lot less noticeable (and disruptive) than tapping his fingers or bouncing his leg, particularly when the whole point was to keep Roy from tensing up again. There was something tugging at his tongue, something one of their drag sisters had said as an idle comment that left Adore wanting to throw up. A question held back by his teeth, because he couldn’t think of a way to ask it that didn’t seem accusatory or self-serving.
Screwing up his courage, Danny swallowed hard and gave up trying to make it less provocative.
“He didn’t think we were...” fuck, don’t go there, "-that you were cheating on him?”
It definitely wasn’t the most tactful way to phrase things, but amazingly Roy didn’t seem insulted or defensive. Or surprised. Instead, his shoulders slumped further and his fingers ceased their restless movement.
“No. I don’t know. Maybe. He wasn’t happy and-“ Roy’s expression was more tired than he’d seen before, “and you were acting strange.”
How Roy jumped between the two things was unclear. Hard on the heels of that thought, Danny searched his memory for what he could be referring to. Normally he was the one whose logic wasn’t easy to follow.
”What do you mean?”
“I missed you.”
Such a simple statement, and yet infused with an inexplicable weight. Something significant.
Roy shook his head, sighing in a way that said he was annoyed with himself.
”I know it was weird for you.”
Danny couldn’t argue with that. Regardless of any other labels, their friendship meant he wanted it to work out. He’d tried to respect it, knowing the thing that mattered most was Roy’s happiness. On the other hand, he also thought he’d done a better job of not being awkward about the change in their dynamic, but there wasn’t hiding anything from Roy, not for him at least.
Over the last several months, the hugs and cuddling hadn't stopped, but there was something ever so slightly amiss between them. Selfies with their cheeks pressed together and arms around each other, but something off in their eyes. Less sharing a bed, Danny finding other places to stay or making excuses about why he needed to leave, more clothes on when they did. Definitely no kisses.
The first time he stayed over after Roy made it clear he was serious about his new relationship, neither of them seemed to realize what it would mean. Danny had headed to the bedroom after he couldn’t keep from yawning every other sentence, then began stripping down to his skin without thinking about it. Their routine was so ingrained that it wasn’t until he felt Roy’s alarmed eyes on him as he went to pull his briefs off that he realized it wasn’t just fucking that was off the table. Sex was as far out of mind as it ever could be, but given privacy they usually slept in the nude for the simple comfort of touch.
“I don’t have to stay-“ he’d started, still gripping the elastic waistband.
“No, I promise,” Roy had insisted, staring down at the sheets, “nothing is gonna be different.”
It was a lie they both wanted to believe.
Climbing into bed together that night should have been familiar. Instead, Danny was aware of the inches of sheet between them, the way Roy lay tense and still on the other pillow when they ordinarily shared. He couldn’t remember how long it took to fall asleep, only that he’d woken wrapped in Roy’s arms, limbs tangled together and one of his hands up the leg of Roy’s boxers, fondling his morning wood.
For a few seconds while he laid there half-awake, he couldn’t remember why he’d opened his eyes feeling so uneasy. As soon as he remembered, Danny had snatched his hand back and pretended to be asleep, and so witnessed the look of conflicted confusion when Roy woke minutes later. He’d stayed perfectly still at the kiss pressed to his temple, pretended not to hear the sigh as he left Danny warm but chilled on Roy’s side of the bed.
It had gotten easier after that, slowly. There were more than a few mornings of waking up and rolling over for a kiss when Danny was harshly snapped back to reality, remembering that he couldn’t. Even an affectionate peck on the cheek seemed like it was crossing some sort of line, although Roy certainly never explicitly put restrictions on things. Danny had tried hard to not examine too closely the reason it felt like a loss.
And yet. Sometimes he wondered if a particular someone found and appreciated the same solace in waking up to the sound of quiet snoring. Danny missed the seriously good orgasms, but discovered through its absence how much more he missed the physical intimacy.
Despite their face value, some of the things they did were more about affection and connecting than anything sexual. He missed the lazy kisses in bed before turning out the light, leading nowhere other than enjoyment of each other. There were no more shared showers, no letting Roy wash his hair or bickering over shampoo and soap. Most of all, he missed drifting off curled around each other with nothing between their skin, idly caressing without the intent to arouse until their hands fell still with sleep.
Danny wasn’t sure where the conversation was going, but the sense of unease in his stomach increased. He shivered, icy trepidation knotting his shoulders.
“You don’t have to say. Really, like...s’not, if it’s, if you can’t, you don’t gotta do all that.”
Between his knees, Roy went still, unblinking. The silence stretched out, and Danny found himself counting every shallow breath. He reached thirty seven before Roy spoke.
“We disagreed. About what we should be doing. I don’t...I think someone said something to him.”
Roy shrugged, looking down at his lap. The covers had fallen again, and he seemed so small, mountains of fabric bunched on the floor around them.
“I couldn’t, after that. Had to hang up for a show, thought he was just, something. Pissed about something else. Drunk. Fuck knows, but yeah. After I got back, he left a message. Told me- yeah.”
”Made it clear why he knew we’d never work.”
The humorless laugh in response twisted unease into dread, constricting Danny’s throat. Roy’s lips curved into something that could have been called a smile if it wasn’t full of distress cloaked in artificial calm.
What could have been said that Roy, understanding to a fault and endlessly forgiving those he cared about, wouldn’t be able to work past?
He wanted to demand to know everything, to give substance to the sense of anger at injustice.
He also was positive that he absolutely didn’t want to know.
“He asked if I loved my job and my friends...if I- you were...I. More than him.”
Danny felt his mouth hanging open. No wonder Roy hadn’t been surprised by his awkward question. He already knew.
Privately (and admittedly petty and extremely drunk), he’d dared to wonder if the guy was bothered by those who had an earlier claim to Roy’s affection, if it made him insecure. Once. The moment it crossed his mind, Danny buried the thought deeply, deeper even than the still not completely resolved issues that led him into Roy’s bed as a lover to begin with.
Roy deserved better than that.
This one left me more unsettled than Danny is at the end of the chapter. I’ve been holding onto it for fear that Roy comes across out of character. The strongest people also have hearts that are easy to wound, and I wanted to portray the way that things dealing with relationships aren’t always packaged up into neat boxes.
Roy’s the steady one, his anchor. Danny’s not used to being the one giving comfort.
“I couldn’t after that,” Roy repeated, voice strained, “I tried to call him, but he wouldn’t answer. Texted. Gave it a few days, and he’d cut me off online. So...I. Yeah. I can’t figure out why. I wasn’t...I don’t know why.”
"Maybe it's not gonna make sense, you know?"
Danny wished that he knew what to say, wished he had the wisdom to make sense of it. The flare of temper at how Roy had been treated warred with helplessness at being unable to fix it. Not that he was usually the one on this side of the equation, but Roy deserved him trying his hardest. It was the least he could do in return for everything, and his own internal uneasiness was going to have to take a backseat.
“It felt like. It feels like, I don’t know. Like it shouldn’t have happened that way. And I don’t know what I did to make him think that.”
Roy fell silent, plaintive hurt in the way his eyes squeezed shut, the dimples bracketing his mouth deepening in controlled emotion.
"Baby..." Danny sighed, swallowing down a lump in his throat at how lost he sounded.
Silently, he rested his forehead against Roy’s shoulder, pressing a kiss there. At the angle they were sitting, Danny couldn’t tell if he was holding in tears or something else. He loosened his arms around Roy’s chest, tugging on his chin with gentle fingers until he turned to make eye contact.
“You always tell me, some shit isn’t going to add up. ‘N when it doesn’t, s’not stuff...like, other people are gonna do what they want no matter what you do.”
The corner of Roy’s mouth quirked up briefly.
”So you were paying attention.”
“I might be dumb, but I do listen.”
Roy was always thoughtful and often self-deprecating, but the uncertainty and doubt were the most difficult to face. Even when situations were out of his control, he usually had a backup plan or quickly adapted to whatever change was thrown at him. Then again, Danny had never seen Roy in a relationship before. Not this way.
We’re not like this. I won’t ever hurt him this way.
Shoving that thought into the overflowing closet marked Only When Not Sober, he forced himself to focus on what was literally right in front of him. Roy was back to staring at the wall, and Danny hooked his chin over Roy’s shoulder, feeling the rasp of stubble across his skin as their cheeks met.
He searched for something, anything that might help. If he failed, it was more than likely that Roy would try to stuff the broken bits back inside and act like he was fine. Clearly, the tactic worked only too well, and he kicked himself for not noticing sooner. Danny was no stranger to suppressed issues exploding back to the surface. Roy might pretend to have it under control, but just because he wasn’t yelling and throwing things didn’t mean it was any less painful.
”It’s okay to not be okay.”
I can’t help but think how Danny would be trying so hard to help, even if he doesn’t know exactly what to do.
He felt Roy's head sag against his, the weight familiar and not unwelcome.
"I thought I was fine alone. Before. You know?”
That was the sound of Roy trying to convince himself of something that they both knew wasn't quite true. Biting his tongue, Danny responded to the subtext rather than prickling with indignation at the implication that Roy didn't have anyone.
“You’re not alone, B. You’ve got all of us. You’ve got me.”
Sitting still was never easy, so he channeled the energy into tracing patterns over Roy's arms, drawing shapes and invisible words. Everything about Roy was contained, kept inside, showing only what he was comfortable with others seeing. Unlike Danny, he had no interest in being inked, no need to wear his thoughts on his skin. He couldn't really imagine what Roy would even consider important enough to go under the needle for anyway. A pair of sewing shears on his wrist, maybe? Definitely nothing from Bianca, not when he didn't need her to define himself.
Danny’s eyes fell shut as Roy turned his head, nose slipping down his cheek. It was less a nuzzle and much more like trying to hide. Danny pulled the duvet up nearly over their heads, tightening his arms in silence and letting his hands speak instead. A few minutes passed before Roy stirred. His neck had to be hurting from the angle it was craned back, but he showed no signs of discomfort when he straightened.
"I'm not sure why I thought it would be different this time. I just thought that I'd showed him how much- that I'd done enough."
"And it's not your fault...you know that’s not- that’s bullshit. Anyone who knows you, we saw how much you put in. And if he couldn’t get that, then it’s not you. That's all him.”
"He said people were always asking why we were...together. It didn’t make sense. To them, I guess.”
Danny didn't disagree, but saying so wouldn't be helpful.
"The last time I was in a relationship, pussyface, social media meant MySpace. Fuck, no one even had a camera phone. And no one knew who I was anyway."
"I mean, there weren't complete strangers posting their opinions all over Instagram."
He chose his next words carefully, keeping his tone deliberately neutral.
”You always tell me that shit isn’t anyone’s business, and it doesn't matter what they think.”
They were interrupted by a knock on the door. Room service. Fuck, he’d forgotten all about it.
Danny unfolded himself from the floor, crossing to answer the door before Roy could untangle himself from their nest of covers. He opened the door just far enough to accept the tray, signing Roy’s name on the receipt and digging his wallet out for a tip. When the door closed again, Roy was still sitting on the floor, watching expectantly. He didn’t bother trying to convince him to eat at the table or on the couch - for whatever reason, Roy was happy where he was and Danny didn’t mind. Laying the tray on the carpet, he scooted back next to him, duvet abandoned around them.
His stomach chose that moment to remind him that he hadn’t eaten since before boarding his flight hours ago, but he waited for Roy to pick first. They probably ought to turn the lamp on to eat, but Danny figured they could manage with the slice of streetlight between the blackout curtains. As he watched, Roy lifted the covers off the dishes, examining them in the low light.
His voice was scratchy and tired, but carried a hint of humor.
“Hey, you’re rich, I figured we’d eat it all anyway.”
Danny considered the landscape of food, hoping he'd picked right. Sliced fruit and cheese crowded on a plate with hummus and warm flatbread, next to a plain spinach salad and grilled veggie wrap. Beside that, a bowl of soup balanced precariously on top of a small margherita pizza, nearly pushing the boat of fries off the edge of the tray. Fitted between the larger dishes, dessert plates featured chocolate cake and an assortment of cookies.
He didn’t know what would tempt Roy’s appetite, and had chosen a selection of things that might fit the bill. Vegetarian options tended to be limited, but fruit and whatever bagged salad they had on the menu were usually passable. (Breakfast had also been available, and he’d almost ordered that instead before deciding against it. It brought on memories of their earliest days as lovers, uncontrollably aroused by Roy licking syrup off his fingers. He still occasionally got a semi any time the smell of syrup mixed with Roy’s wicked grin, which did tend to make brunch...interesting.)
Danny held his breath as Roy glanced at him, seemingly seeking something in his expression. What he saw must have satisfied him, because he reached for a spoon and freed the soup, huffing as the bowl came up with long strings of cheese clinging to the bottom. He didn’t say anything, just handed Danny the pizza and switched his attention to the food in front of them.
For a few minutes, the only sounds in the room were cutlery clinking on china and Danny’s inability to chew quietly. He forced himself to eat slowly, trying to make sure that Roy actually had enough. He was a master at pushing his unfinished plate Danny’s direction, to the point that he automatically ordered less food for himself when they were out together.
After finishing the soup, Roy set the empty bowl down and they shared a look of despair over the wilted state of the salad. He ignored the fries and moved on to the starter plate, shoving the cheese off to the side to reach the grilled flatbread. Danny realized, not unpleasantly, that they were managing to share one set of flatware without issue. He hadn’t noticed up until Roy handed him the half-eaten slice of cake, fork already covered in frosting.
At last, Danny sat back, surveying the remains of the meal on the tray. They’d done a good job of clearing it, although the sad salad remained intact. He rescued the plate of cookies, setting it on the nightstand with what was left of the fruit, before rising to deposit the tray in the hall. When he returned from latching the door, settling cross-legged in front of him, Roy had an odd expression that he couldn't quite place.
A tiny half-smile tugged at Roy's lips, and Danny couldn't help but respond with one of his own.
"What?" he repeated, trying to figure out why Roy was staring at a point on his face somewhere above his chin, "Are you...?"
The smile deepened, settling into a dimple. Mystified, he waited as Roy reached out with one hand.
"You've got frosting..."
His thumb swiped across the skin just below and to the left of Danny's mouth, lingering for a moment after, close enough that he could feel its heat. There would have been a time when he wouldn't have thought twice about licking the leftover frosting off Roy's fingers, playful and comfortable, a time when Roy would have left his hand in range for precisely that reason. Roy's smile turned wistful, both of them clearly remembering. Then his gaze dropped, pulling back with a barely perceptible sigh and wiping his hand on his pant leg.
Danny licked at the spot, tasting faint sweetness.
"You wanna keep talking about it, or-"
"Not really, no."
"But if I don't, we...I'll end up right back here again. And it's fucking horrible."
He paused, probably expecting Danny to pick up on the last statement with a mock protest about his company. Instead, Danny shifted marginally closer until their knees were touching.
"Yeah. I'm a good listener. I'm a Libra."
The old joke earned a laugh that seemed to startle Roy as much as it did Danny. He leaned forward, waiting until Danny caught on and met him halfway for a cheek kiss.
The room service interlude floated into mind and couldn't be ignored. Oops?
Danny and Roy both seem to be vegetarians based on various things they've said in interviews and on social media. (Roy has definitely said "I don't eat meat...well, not that kind.")