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Two days, two nights

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To illustrate, Alex's hands lift and tilt, fingers forming a dome. Danny watches as they perform their architectural dance, straining to concentrate on Alex's whispered explanations of the hall's acoustics.

The quickly quaffed glass of pre-concert wine is spreading its warmth through his belly. Danny feels fidgety, happy, distracted and out of place. His attention drifts to the grown-up faces of the arriving audience and he wonders if those whose eyes he meets recognise him for the suited fraud he is.

He glances down at his knee brushing against Alex's and tries not to get turned on. He obsesses again over why Alex chose today, of all days: an unremarkable Thursday evening. He longs to scratch the infuriating itch along his collarbone, just beneath where Alex's hands had earlier shaped the immaculate knot of his tie.

The same hands now join in the polite applause that begins to fill the hall. Danny turns from Alex, towards the stage, and sees the four musician take a bow beside their instruments. He's agape at their youth and their seriousness - so like Alex.

The strings begin in a drawn-out, solemn unison but soon split to dance and meander about each other. A single violin pitches above the others to form a melody and its melancholy sweetness cuts Danny through with a deep ache, as if the bow were sawing and swaying directly over his heart. He feels his face crumple with feeling and when he dares to glance at Alex he meets the same expression as his own, fixed not on the stage but on him.

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The music swells, dives, dips, weeps. Danny swallows back tears and wants to hold Alex's hand. Over six months. Over six months of Alex side-stepping all the clichés Danny had always thought he was desperate for. Six months of Alex forging from inexperience a new language that Danny is only now beginning to grasp.

Their one, three, six month anniversaries drift by unacknowledged. No dirty or love-sick texts appear on Danny's phone. No expensive gifts his trashier mates tell him he should expect.

Meanwhile, Alex ties his ties. Alex stops him in mid-stride and crouches down on the pavement to redo the laces in his canvas trainers. Alex crooks his finger and lets its knuckle play absent-mindedly with Danny's earlobe. Alex carries spare socks and a spare parka on their country walks. Danny finds the hole in the sleeve of his coat mysteriously mended and the broken lamp beside his bed working again.

With a knitted brow, Alex listens silently as Danny whines about not being having been texted the day before. The following week, daily at the same time, Danny's phone buzzes on the overground home from work. Each day a new picture. A long shadow cast by iron railings. A refraction of imperfect glass. An obscure, amusing blue plaque. A murmuration of starlings above Southwark cathedral.

Alex pulls him in by the hips when they dress in the morning, places a single kiss on the small of Danny's back then lets him go. Alex pauses when they fuck and, holding deep and perfectly still inside him, reaches down to move trembling fingertips over Danny's face, stricken as if he's seeing him for the first time or the last.

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The concert crowd pours out into the rain, streaming towards Bond Street tube. They huddle in the corner, out of the way, and button up each others' coats beneath the frosted glass awning of the hall.

"So at some point you're going to tell me, right? What we're celebrating?"

"Celebrating?"

"I've been wracking my brain - it's not an anniversary..."

Alex's lips part in response. He looks worried, mouths for words. Danny clasps his hand, soothing, smoothing over his questioning. 

"It's just... this seemed so special. It is so special."

"Danny... I'm sorry. I just thought you'd like the music."