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Got Serious Issues (But Not the Ones You Mean)

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Their last group session is that evening, and Danny is quiet and contemplative and stuck in his own head during it, and its driving Steve up a wall. While one of the other couples is sharing some whatever the fuck wah-wah detail about he doesn’t understand that after I’ve been taking care of the kids all day that I don’t feel like being intimate on his time table, he leans over and kicks Danny’s foot. “Hey. Stop.”

Danny rolls his head to look at Steve and smiles. “You stop.”

“You’re in your head again,” Steve says, crossing his arms and glaring at him. “I thought we covered this.”

Danny rolls his eyes. “Shut up.”

“You shut up,” Steve snaps back, frown deepening. “Stop taking on the guilt of the whole god damned world, other people need to shoulder their own!”

Danny straightens slightly in his chair. “Steve.”

“I’m sick and fucking tired of you always blaming yourself,” Steve says, and it’s not until then that he realizes everyone around them is silent and looking at them. He blinks and raises a hand. “Uh.” He clears his throat and laughs slightly. “Sorry.”

“Steven is a neanderthal, he does not understand basic human people to people skills,” Danny says, smiling and holding his hands up placating. “We’re sorry for interrupting.”

“You’re doing it again,” Steve yells, throwing his hands out. Danny gives him an incredulous look. “I’m the asshole that interrupted the session and there you go, taking the blame!”

“Is there an issue you two would like to discuss with the group,” Lorraine says, smiling encouragingly. “We have gone this entire weekend without either of you addressing any of the serious issues your relationship is frought with.”

“We don’t have issues,” Steve growls.

Danny snorts. “We don’t? I know I’ve got issues, and you, my friend, you are full of issues,” he says, laughing and spreading his hands wide. “Issues all day, every day. Issues all over the place.”

“Do you know that this guy, right here,” Steve says, smacking Danny on the arm hard enough that the sound of the smack reverberates around the room, “is the best guy you’ll ever meet? He’s the best man I’ve ever known. No. The best person, period. Period.”

Danny’s laughter cuts off and his smile fades. “Steve.”

“But he carries around the weight of the world on his shoulders every day and takes on the blame of everyone’s issues and he thinks it’s his fault, I mean, he really does think it’s his fault!” Steve’s hands spread wide, because he just needs to demonstrate just how much blame Danny takes from every inch of airspace around them. “He doubts himself as a partner, a friend, a brother, a son, and a father, and do you know, he packed up his entire fucking life in New Jersey and moved to Hawaii to live in a piece of shit hovel and sleep on a pull out sofa with a fucking bar sticking in his back every night for a year and then spent the next four taking whatever time he was allowed to have with his daughter when Rachel wasn’t being a bitter heinous selfish bitch and trying to pretend that was enough for him, and still? Still, still, thinks maybe he’s not doing enough?!”

Danny uncrosses his legs and leans forward. “Hey, what are you--”

“And the whole time he’s getting me through the worst time in my life because it might be the worst time in his life too but forget the fact that he just fucking met me, he’s gonna shoulder that too because my Dad died and Danny can’t just take care of himself, he’s gotta give everything to everyone else!”

Danny reaches over and grabs Steve’s hand. “Hey, Steve, seriously, what are you--”

“Let him speak, Danny,” Lorraine says calmly, nodding at Steve. “This is important.”

“So we don’t have issues,” Steve says finally, pointing between himself and Danny and glaring at everyone else in the group. “We’re good. We’re fine. If I can poke him and make him unleash some of that bullshit he keeps pinned up under all the misguided and stupid guilt he shouldn’t feel and he can lash out at me instead of himself, that’s just the fucking cost,” he says, nodding. “But we’re good.”

Danny folds his arms around himself and looks at Steve, confused and lost and rocked to his core. “Seriously?”

Steve blinks and realizes he’s been talking a whole hell of a lot and he can’t remember half of what he’s said. “Seriously what?”

“Do you seriously poke at me until I lash out at you on purpose,” Danny asks, and meeting his eyes makes the entire rest of the room disappear.

Steve shrugs. “Sometimes yeah. Sometimes I’m just an asshole.” He raises his eyebrows at him. “You gonna tell me you don’t do the same? Don’t think I don’t notice that when I’m about to lose it you start picking at some random thing to get my mind off it so instead of doing something crazy I’m instead bitching at you.”

Danny leans back in his seat. “Do I? I don’t really… I guess I do, it’s not a conscious thing.”

Steve closes his eyes and rubs at his face. “You’re an idiot.”

You’re the idiot,” Danny says, frowning at him. “Why do you do that?”

“Because I love you, partner,” Steve says, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. And to him, it is. “Moron.”

Danny grins at him and laughs. “Love you too, ya schmuck.” He shakes his head. “You really think I’m the best person you know?”

Steve rolls his eyes. “Of course.”

Danny kicks his leg out and taps Steve’s foot with his own. “It’s really a shame you don’t know yourself there, buddy. Cause where I’m sitting, that guy’s you.”

Steve grins and kicks him back, and then again the silence around them enters his consciousness.   “Sorry,” he says, and looks around at the other couples. He notices a few of them crying, but no one looking at them like they’re mad or about to laugh at them. It only helps him to slightly feel less humiliated. “I didn’t mean to take the session hostage.”

“That’s okay,” the woman who was so nasty to them their first day says, smiling at him. “It’s obviously something you needed to get off your chest.”

“Okay, that was a wonderful, huge breakthrough,” Lorraine says, clapping her hands together and smiling proudly. “Now, perhaps we can just discuss and think about how we can better channel that kind of supportive inclination in a more positive, less destructive way.”

“Destructive,” Danny asks, raising an eyebrow. “What’s destructive?” 

“The way you two communicate with one another, showing love through insults and arguments, is very destructive to your partnership,” Lorraine starts. 

“Did you not hear the part where I said we’re good,” Steve says, slicing a hand through the air. “We’re good.”

“But perhaps we could find a more healing way of communicating--”

“No really, we’re good,” Danny says, nodding and settling back in his chair. “I’ve actually never felt insecure about our partnership. I’ve got his back, he’s got mine. We really are fine.”

Lorraine frowns. “But.”

“Next,” Danny says, looking around the room and pointing at the lesbian couple. “You, you guys, you wanna go next?”

Lorraine continues to frown at them as the other couple begins to speak but Danny and Steve just grin at each other and tune everything else out.