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Hard to Handle

Chapter Text

You hummed Take On Me by A-ha theatrically as you made your way upstairs with your groceries. At some point this week you would have your monthly pasta night. (Who were you kidding. You would have pasta night followed by leftover night until it was all gone.) The song had come on the radio just as you were pulling into the parking lot, meaning that it would be stuck in your head forever.

You noted that your next door neighbors’ door was wide open. You knew that two men lived there, but that was all you knew about them. You had lived in this apartment for well over a year, but had never bothered to introduce yourself. By now, it would be awkward to try. In your defense, they hadn’t tried either.

You slid your key into the lock and cursed as it failed to turn.

“Come on, not again.” You whispered to yourself. You carefully turned your key back and attempted to pull it out of the lock when it snapped in your hand.

“Oh, come on.” You whined. You shifted your groceries into your left hand and reached for your phone with your right hand. Management was the only number you had on speed dial. In fact, management was the only reason that you even knew that speed dial still existed in the modern age.

“Southwind Apartments front office, this is Trish, how may I help you?”

“Hey, Trish, it’s [First Name].”

“Oh, sweetie, your key broke again? I can’t believe they’re still giving you those brittle things.” The receptionist’s understanding tone helped soothe some of your annoyance at the situation. She was as tired of this problem as you were. According to her, the boss had gotten a lot of keys made on the cheap years ago when he got tired of replacing the ones stolen by old tenants. He had been planning to change all of the locks, but he wanted to get rid of all of the old keys first. You never said anything about how unsafe that was, much less how frustrating it was.

“Yeah, I know. This is the second time this month.” The woman clicked her tongue.

“Give me a minute? He’s out to lunch. I’ll need to call him.” “Sure thing. Thanks, Trish.” The second the hold music started to play (Summer Samba (So Nice) by Walter Wanderly, you had it memorized) you let out a quiet shriek. If you could afford it, you would have moved out of this shithole a long time ago. Unfortunately, there wasn’t another place in Los Angeles that would cost you less than $2,000 a month that included all amenities like this one did. There damn sure wasn’t another place like this with less than a half hour commute to work.

“Hey, you live next door, right?” You looked up and then had to look up at the tall man who was standing next to you. You must have missed him ascending the stairs while you were talking to Trish.

“For over a year now.” You said with a smile, “I’m [First Name].”

“Danny. Nice to finally meet you, neighbor.” He said with a grin. You couldn’t help but to smile back at him. Now that you could see your neighbor, you regretted not talking to him before. He was pretty. There was something about tall boys with crazy hair… Not really. There was just something about this tall boy with crazy hair. You were about to say something that would have probably embarrassed you when Summer Samba stopped playing in your ear.

“[First Name]?” She sounded sorry, which was never a good sign.

“Yeah, Trish?” You covered the microphone on your phone and mouthed Sorry to Danny. He shrugged and disappeared into his apartment. You couldn’t help but to feel disappointed as he walked away. You never had any desire to talk to your neighbors before now, but you had never really appreciated that one of them was a Cute Boy™ before now.

“I’m sorry, Honey.” Yep, Trish was sorry. Not a good sign. “Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” You groaned audibly this time. There was no point in hiding your frustration at this point, Trish knew.

“Give me the bad?” “The bad news is that you’re going to have to wait a few hours.” Another groan.

“A few hours? Really? And the good?”

“The good news is that you’re finally getting a new lock on that place, and a new key.” That, at least, was something. At least this way you didn’t have to worry about breaking your key twice a month in an increasingly damaged lock.

“Finally. Alright, thanks Trish. A few hours’ wait is worth it for a working lock. I’ll figure something out. Bye.”

“No problem, sweetie. Bye.” She hung up the phone and you shoved it into your back pocket, shifting your groceries to your left arm. You hadn’t registered how tired your arm was getting while you were on the phone. You turned to head back to your car when your neighbor—Danny—reappeared.

“Hi again. Sorry, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I overheard. Key problems?” He asked. His sympathetic look told you everything you needed to know. This entire place was a shithole, not just your apartment. That made you feel oddly reassured.

“Yeah, they’re finally changing my lock in a few hours.” You said, trying your best to sound cheerful about it.

“Does that mean you’re locked out for a few hours?”


“If you don’t have a place to go, you could hang out with me for a while. I know we just met and all, but I have video games and a place to refrigerate your groceries.” You beamed. If you hadn’t been holding a giant cloth bag full of groceries, you could have hugged him. Of course, that would have been incredibly embarrassing. You quietly thanked circumstances for helping you maintain the illusion of being a normal human being yet again. So far you were two for two, which was a good sign.


He grinned and gestured to his open door.

“Mi casa es su casa!” He said in a bad impression of a cheery Mexican accent, “Well, and Barry’s, but he’s not home right now.” You laughed and followed him into his place. You tried your best not to make it too obvious that you were looking around as you walked in. The place was cleaner than you anticipated, and sparsely furnished. The TV, you noted with approval, was massive. Danny led you to the kitchen and helped you store your eggs and cheeses.

“Make yourself at home. I have the gamecube hooked up right now, but we can play whatever.”

“Mario Kart?” You asked hopefully and he grinned. He grabbed the game from a shelf in the living room and popped it into the console. He dropped onto the couch in a tangle of limbs and hair and you marveled at how tall he was. He patted the seat next to him and you sat, taking the controller he handed to you.

“You have no idea how badly you have fucked up.” He teased.

Hours later, you and Danny have taken turns beating each other at Mario Kart with no clear winner. Two hours in, Barry got home with pizza and asked you to eat with them. (And by asked you meant forced. There was no question involved.) You regretted not introducing yourself to them before now. They were legitimately cool people.

Your phone rang in your pocket and you drove off the side of Rainbow Road.

“Fuck.” You fished your phone out of your pocket and jumped up, heading outside to take the call.

“Oh, [First Name], I was just calling you.” Your landlord pressed a button on his cell phone—You tried not to cringe at the fact that he still had an old school Nokia brick—and your phone stopped vibrating. He pressed a key into your hand and smiled as if this whole thing weren’t long overdue.

“Try not to break this one, eh?” He said. You bit your tongue to hold back a rude comment.

“I’ll do my best. Thank you.” He nodded curtly and made his way back to the front office. You sighed. He wasn’t a bad landlord, just a cheap one. You stared at the new key. You had completely forgotten that you were only hanging out with your neighbors because you were locked out of your place.

“They finally fixed it?” Danny walked up behind you and you tried your best not to look disappointed.

“Yep! Thank you so much for loaning me your living room.” You said with a smile and a wink.

“And my fridge, yeah? Let’s get you your groceries.” You followed him back into his apartment and gathered all of your groceries. Leaving was more difficult than you anticipated. Spending time with Danny and Barry was some of the most fun you had had in months. You shouldered your grocery bag and waved at the guys.

“I had fun. We should hang out again.” Danny walked around the island and crossed his arms over his chest.

“And where do you think you’re going at this hour, missy?” He asked teasingly, “It’s dark out. You can’t go home alone.”

“Danny, I live next door. It’s fine.” You assured him.

“Nope. I can’t let you walk home in the darkness alone. C’mon, I’ll walk you home.” He hooked his arm through your free arm and led you out the door as you waved your goodbye to Barry.

The outside air was cool and inviting. You hadn’t realized how hot your face was burning until you could feel the breeze on your cheeks. Danny made a show of escorting you to the door of your apartment.

“I’ll stay to make sure your new key doesn’t break, as well. It would be a shame if you had to stay the night just to lose at Mario Kart.” He teased. You unhooked your arm from him and glared, digging in your pocket for your new key.

“I’ll have you know I was catching up.” You replied indignantly. Danny laughed and you opened your door without fanfare. This lock didn’t even catch slightly when you were removing your key like the old one did.

Sure you were.” He teased. You turned and looked up at him, feeling not unlike a teenager getting back from a first date. With nothing but the porch lights to help you see, you couldn’t help but to marvel at how pretty Danny was. His dark eyes peered at you from under heavy lashes, the curve of his bottom lip was almost sinful. Was that a trace of eyeliner? You realized that you had been staring and averted your gaze. Danny swallowed and cleared his throat.

“Tonight was… really fun.” He said after a tense moment. A smile cracked his serious expression and you found that you couldn’t resist smiling back at him, “We should really do this again soon.” “

Yeah. Yeah, I’d like that a lot.” A quiet set over the two of you and Danny took a step towards his apartment.

“You should put those away, otherwise refrigerating them would have been for nothing. We’ll talk soon, yeah? Good night.” You looked at your groceries as if remembering that they existed for the first time.

“Yeah! Soon. Good night, Danny.” With that, the two of you set off for your respective apartments. You hummed Take on Me softly under your breath as you put away your groceries, thinking about your new dark-eyed, wild-haired friend.

It wasn’t until you were in bed later that you would realize that you had forgotten to ask for his number.

Chapter Text

Pasta night, the most sacred of all scheduled dinner nights. (Followed shortly by take-out night and breakfast for dinner night.) You cranked your Bluetooth speakers up and blasted your favorite playlist as you danced around your kitchen. You had peppers and onions in a pan with mushrooms on a plate waiting to follow shortly afterwards and alfredo sauce simmering in a pot. You were left with the impossible decision of how much of this box of pasta you should dump in the water.

You frowned and flipped the box over for the hundredth time. The serving suggestions on the back weren’t exactly helpful. You sighed and shrugged, dumping the entire box of pasta in the water. It wouldn’t be too much. Besides, whatever you didn’t eat tonight, you would finish over the next few days. It was pasta. You didn’t realize the error of your decision until you were combining the sauce, vegetables, and pasta all together. This was a lot of pasta. More than you could eat in three weeks, much less one night. You would never be able to eat pasta again if you tried to finish this yourself.

You hummed to yourself, staring at the mountain of food in front of you. The answer came in the form of a shout from next door. The walls in your apartment weren’t thin, exactly, but loud noises moved between apartments easily. Danny. It had been five days since you had spent time with your neighbors, which you considered a good enough span of time to look mostly sane.

You stepped out your front door, careful to shove your keys in your pocket and knocked on Danny’s door.

“Fuck you, Danny!” Barry yelled. There was the sound of plastic against wood and then a boisterous laugh that you identified as Danny’s. You were considering slinking back into your apartment and coming back at a better time, but the door swung open and Barry grinned at you.

“You came back for more. We thought we scared you away.” You laughed and shook your head.

“If I heard correctly, you just got your ass kicked. I’m not sure I’m up for all that today. How do you two feel about pasta?” The question sat on dead air for a beat before Danny came to stand behind Barry.


You smiled sheepishly.

“Basically I have no concept of how much pasta is acceptable for a single human being to consume and I made way too much. If you’re into spicy alfredo, you’re welcome to come to dinner.” You said hopefully. Barry looked between you and Danny and shook his head. The invitation was extended to both of them, but there was no disguising who you really wanted over for dinner.

“Can’t tonight, I promised a lady friend I’d take her to see Deadpool. Save me some leftovers, though.” He slipped away from the door, leaving the ball in Danny’s court. He hoped that the other man wasn’t too blind to see the opportunity.

“I- Yeah, sure! I’d love to have a chance to try your cooking. I was just gonna order take-out tonight. Be over in twenty?” You nodded dumbly. You hadn’t anticipated being alone with Danny. Not just yet. You were just coming to terms with the fact that you found him more than a little bit attractive. Now you’d have to act like a normal person while he ate dinner in your house.

“Perfect! I’ll toss up a salad or something.” There was a snicker from behind Danny.

“Fuck off, Barry.”

“Gladly.” You groaned and made your way back to your own apartment, ever conscious of the fact that your face was turning a shade of red that rivaled the tomatoes you had for the salad.

Danny was coming over. You did a quick survey of your living room and picked up a bit of clutter from the floor. Your XBONE controller was on the floor where you had dropped it after you fell asleep the night before. The cardigan you had worn to work that day was draped across the top of your couch, where you had thrown it. A pair of heels you had worn to a bar last week was still sitting next to the door. You put everything back where it belonged and checked the guest bathroom. It was still clean from the last time you’d been on a cleaning kick, but you sprayed air freshener anyway.

When you were satisfied you sprinted to your kitchen to turn your music down and stir the pasta before it burned. The salad was a rushed affair. You hoped that Danny wouldn’t notice your sloppy knife cuts, but you weren’t exactly preparing a salad for Chef Gordon Ramsey. He would be fine (you hoped). This would be the night that you found out that Danny was a professional chef or something. It would be just your luck.

Danny stood in front of your door watching his watch. If you happened to look out of your peephole, you would see him standing there literally counting the minutes. Barry had left ten minutes ago, leaving him alone to twiddle his thumbs. When the last minute ticked away, he knocked on the door three times.

“One second!” He did his best to make himself presentable as he waited for you to come to the door. Rather, he looked down at his Rush T-shirt and dark jeans and decided that there was nothing he could really do to look more presentable. He was reaching for his phone to check on his hair when you swung the door open.

“Sorry, had to pull the pasta off the stove before it burned. I almost forgot about it.” You admitted sheepishly.

“It’s fine. I had to make sure I looked dapper enough for dinner anyway.” Danny said jokingly, pretending to adjust a tie. He hoped you didn’t catch on to the fact that he was only half lying.

“What a gentleman. I’m afraid I’m underdressed. No one told me this was a black tie affair.” You said, winking as you stepped aside. Danny gave you a sweeping look as he stepped into your apartment. You were still dressed in the casual dress you had thrown on after work and a pair of converse.

“I think you look fantastic.” He said, grinning. You closed the door behind him and led him to the dining area as a replacement for something to say. You couldn’t tell if he was flirting or just joking around and you were not about to risk misjudging him. The sound of tires spinning played from your kitchen and you jumped.

“Give me Fuel,

Give me Fire,

Give me that which I desire,


You ran to the kitchen and switched your Bluetooth speakers off.  You grabbed your phone, pausing Fuel by Metallica and closing the music app.

“Sorry about that.” You looked up and Dan was staring at you intensely. You noticed again that he had what looked like the ghost of eyeliner on his upper lids. You wondered what that was about. You didn’t realize that he had walked closer until his hand was on your shoulder.

“You listen to Metallica?” He asked, not breaking eye contact with you.

“Uh-huh.” You answered. Dan shifted suddenly and grinned at you, breaking out of his intense persona with cheery ease.

“That’s really awesome. How do you feel about Rush?” He leaned against your counter like he’d been in your home a million times. You envied how relaxed he was able to appear in your apartment. You had been incredibly on edge when you were hanging out at his place. You turned away from him to fix plates to keep your mind off of his looks.

“Rush? Subdivisions and Fly by Night are two of my favorite songs of all time.”

“No way, you’re just saying that to get on my good side. I know you saw my shirt when you were admiring my physique.” You couldn’t tell if he was kidding. Had he noticed you checking him out?

“Grab my phone. Look for the Favorite Songs of All Time playlist, you’ll see.” You gestured to your phone and he pushed off the counter. You wondered how he managed to move so gracefully despite being so gangly. He grabbed your phone and found the playlist in question.

“I stand corrected. Damn. I was hoping you just wanted to impress me.” Okay now he was definitely flirting. You bit your lip and finished plating the food.

“I’m sorry to disappoint. What do you want to drink? I have booze, soda, water, apple juice.”

“Apple juice?” You placed the plates on the table and turned to see Danny’s face light up.

“God, you sound like a five-year-old. Want some apple juice?”

“Hell fucking yes, I want some apple juice!” He said cheerfully. You laughed and poured two glasses of juice.

Dan made a huge show of pulling your chair out for you and helping you into your chair.

“A cider for the sir.” You said in a fake British accent, handing him his juice. He tipped a fake hat your way and started to speak.

“Don’t you dare.” You said, narrowing your eyes at him. A devious smirk crossed his features slowly and you waved a fork in his direction threateningly.


”M’lady” You groaned and dropped your fork onto the table.

“You are horrible.”

“Yeah, yeah. You’ll learn to love it.” He quipped. You rolled your eyes, pushing back the thought that maybe you could.

Chapter Text

You pressed your head back into your pillows and clenched your sheets in tightly balled fists, looking for any sort of purchase as a low moan escaped your throat.

You had laughed when Danny borrowed one of your ponytail holders to pull his hair back into a messy ponytail, but there was no laughter on your lips now.

The warm, wet heat of his mouth was all you could comprehend, all you knew—All you wanted to know.

He nipped at your thigh and you were forced back into reality, opening your eyes to see him staring at you intently.

“Do not look away.”

His eyes burned into yours as he dipped his head, lapping at your core.

You were vaguely aware of your body quaking, your hips bucking up against him, his hands pushing your pelvis back down…

You unraveled, waves of your climax overwhelming your senses.


 Your body jolted to awareness and you were plunged into reality with a not-so-quiet moan of Danny’s name. You sat up and bit your lip, pushing your hair away from your sweat-slicked forehead.

“Fuck.” You would never be able to look at Danny again, much less talk to him. You stood, shakily, from your bed and tiptoed into the kitchen as if trying not to wake the men in the apartment next door. You glanced at the microwave clock and groaned. It was already 5am. There would be no more sleep for you that night.

You powered on your Keurig and dropped in a k-cup for cinnamon tea. It took you a moment to realize what was missing, and you were fumbling with a mug when someone knocked softly on your front door.

You looked through the peephole and were met with a mass of messy brown curls illuminated by a yellow streetlight. Danny. Of course it was Danny. You sighed and swung open your door.

“Hey, uh, oh sorry—were you sleeping? I, uh, I thought I heard you scream my name and I got worried…” His eyes did a quick sweep of your form and then focused pointedly over your shoulder. You set your jaw and looked down at yourself. You had gone to sleep in your usual pajamas of a band tee and comfy panties and hadn’t thought to slip on any pants when you woke up…

“Oh! Sorry, I didn’t realize the walls were so thin. I must’ve been having a nightmare or something, I’m sorry. Come on in.” He walked past you, still not quite looking at you and you locked the door behind him. A nightmare. You frowned at your own lame excuse. If the walls were thin enough that he heard his name, they were thin enough that he knew that it was not a nightmare you were having.

“Get comfortable, I was just about to brew some tea. I’ll be right back.” You hurried away to your room to find some shorts and groaned at your luck.

Danny took a seat at your kitchen table and raked his fingers through his hair. A nightmare. Had he misheard? Your voice echoed in his head and he bit his lip. No, that was not a nightmare. He wasn’t sure what he had hoped to accomplish by coming here, but neither of you were sleeping so he didn’t see the harm in not sleeping together. Then again, he wouldn’t particularly mind you sleeping together.

He firmly pushed that idea out of his head. He was certainly not thinking about how nice your ass looked as you ran away to your room, or how nice that small expanse of flesh between the bottom of your shirt and the top of your cherry blossom underwear had been. He was also not thinking about the fact that you had moaned his name just as he was stroking his cock, pointedly not thinking about the woman who slept on the other side of his wall.

You returned, moments later, still clutching an empty mug. Danny noticed, not without some level of disappointment, that you had slipped on some sweatpants. He watched as you placed the mug in the Keurig and started the machine.

“I have tea, coffee, cider, hot cocoa. If you want anything hot, I pretty much have it.” Danny silenced the urge to say yes you do and instead asked for hot cocoa. The two of you stood in silence until you sat next to him with the drinks.

“I hope I didn’t wake you up.”

“No! No. I—couldn’t sleep anyway.” Danny admitted, taking a sip of his cocoa. You nodded and held your own drink close to your face. At least this way, both of you could pretend that the red staining your cheeks was a result of the hot drinks and not because of the thinly-veiled sexual tension between the two of you.

Danny pushed his hair out of his eyes for the umpteenth time and huffed.

“Do you have a ponytail holder I can borrow?” Danny didn’t understand what about his question made you choke on your tea or what sent you into hysterics afterwards, but he didn’t mind it if it meant having you as company in his insomnia.

Chapter Text

“CJ, shut the fuck up.” You hissed the command to your best friend through clenched teeth. You were standing in the soup aisle of your grocery store, eyeing the merchandise for the best weapon to use against CJ. You always enjoyed grocery shopping with your best friend, but he had a good way of making you miserable when he felt like it.

“What? All I said is that you should’ve let him slide in them cheeks.” CJ dodged your first slap and caught the can of soup that you threw at him, but your third slapped connected solidly with his left cheek. A mother walking with her two children glared murderously at the two of you and marched away angrily, leaving behind both brands of Beef and Vegetable soup she had been trying to decide between. You muttered something close to an apology, but the damage was already done and she was gone. CJ just laughed.

“Let’s just go before you kick us out.” You insisted. You steered the shopping cart towards the check-out lanes, changing course for the self-check-out once you realized that CJ would use it as another chance to embarrass you in public. He grumbled something about ‘rude bitches these days’ and walked past you to grab a bag of jolly ranchers. You decided to let it slide this time.

In the car, the discussion came up again. The Incident was all CJ seemed to talk about since you told him. It had been a long time since there was any real romantic interest in your life and he was all about it. Beyond all about it. He had made it his goal to get the two of you together.

Your phone vibrated as you started the car and you reached for it, only to touch an empty cup holder. CJ had gotten to it first and was eyeing your phone with a mischievous grin.

“A text from Barry. My, oh my, isn’t he the roomie? How scandalous.” He teased. You cursed at him, reaching to snatch the phone away. He was faster, holding the phone just out of your reach.

“You’re driving. Hands on the wheel.” He clicked his tongue in faked disappointment and you made a mental note to poison the next batch of cookies you baked for him. You grit your teeth, deciding that it wasn’t worth the argument.

“Fine, what’d he say?” CJ cleared his throat theatrically and you groaned. He took a deep breath and read the text in his most theatrical sultry voice.

“Danny and I were wondering if you’d be down for Mario Kart and pizza Friday night? Maybe a little booze, if that’s your thing,” and then in his own voice, “Mario Kart and pizza? Is that like a Netflix n’ Chill kinda thing, or…”

You did snatch your phone from him this time, tossing it in the back seat before he could say anything else, or worse, reply for you. When CJ protested, you blocked his voice out by turning the radio up as loud as possible. When you dropped him off, you honked your horn and flipped him off as he stood outside of his apartment blowing kisses in your direction.

You only realized your mistake when you were standing in front of your open trunk, staring at a mountain of groceries. You sighed and grabbed your phone from the back seat. Somehow, you’d have to haul all of this up the stairs and into your apartment in one trip. You started with the gallon of milk, suddenly regretting your decision to cut down on trips to the store and do all of your shopping for the month in one day. Your flimsy cloth bag couldn’t save you this time. As you loaded both arms with groceries, you reminded yourself of why you were doing this: One trip, don’t be a bitch.

“There was a bounty hunter from the depths of space

And she could easily combine your stupid ass with your face.”

Your salvation came in the form of the man you least wanted to see. The hair on the back of your neck bristled as you recognized Danny’s voice. You hadn’t seen him since the night of The Incident and hadn’t really planned on seeing him again until at least that Friday, which you still hadn’t made a decision about. You could already feel your face glowing red at the thought of seeing him again.

“Her name was Samus Aran, and she would destroy Metroids

When she wasn’t totally pissed, she was extremely annoyed.”

Somewhere between struggling with your groceries and dreading seeing Danny again, you appreciated whatever song he was singing about Metroid. You’d have to remember to ask him about that when your arms weren’t at risk of detaching from your body and going on strike. You turned to see him making his way towards you. You could identify the exact moment that he spotted you because he stopped singing and his grin rooted you to the spot.

“You got all that?” He asked, half-running half-jogging over to you and still managing to make it look casual. He was already taking groceries out of your arms before you could even respond. When he finished redistributing the groceries (read: taking everything heavy from you and pretending like things just happened to work out that way) you regained your lost footing.

“Thanks. You’re my grocery hero!” You said dramatically. If you weren’t carrying groceries, you would have faked a swoon.

“Anything for you, m’lady.”

“You know what? I take it back. I hate you.” You slammed the trunk closed, careful that your keys were in your hand, and stomped away. Danny laughed and followed along shortly afterward, still humming the same song.

“But seriously,” You said once you made it into your apartment and set the groceries on the counter, “You’re always saving me and my groceries. I’m starting to think you only like me if food is involved.” You teased.

“Damn, Girl. Figured me out already, huh?” Dan set down your groceries and you rolled your eyes at him. You rolled your eyes at him, turning with a small huff. Danny admired how you looked in that moment, smiling softly with the sun beaming through the front door, making your eyes and hair shine in the light. He was briefly hit with an overwhelming desire to push you against the cabinet and kiss you then and there, but he resisted the urge.

“By the way,” You said over your shoulder as you squatted to store your vegetables in a drawer in a fridge, “are you my soul mate?” The question caught Danny completely off guard. He had turned to shut the front door, but he tripped into it, slamming it with a loud bang and thoroughly embarrassing himself. You tried your best not to laugh, covering your mouth and looking away, but it was too late. Danny glared and you, only making you laugh harder.

“I’m sorry! I meant- I was going to ask-,“ You stopped to laugh and then took a deep breath, “ I was asking because I heard you singing a Metroid song earlier. I really, really like Metroid. Forgive me?” Danny stared at you for a long moment and shook his head at you. He wanted to be the slightest bit annoyed, but it wasn’t your fault he’d made a complete idiot of himself.

“Oh that! It’s just-uh—“ He faltered, suddenly insecure. There had never been a discussion of careers. He had no idea what kind of job you did and he wasn’t sure if you could still take him seriously if you knew that he made a living with professional dick jokes. “—It’s by this band named Starbomb. They do lots of video game related songs.” He bit his tongue. It wasn’t technically a lie, but it certainly wasn’t the whole truth.

“Starbomb, huh? Maybe I’ll check them out later.” Danny’s eyes widened and he swallowed an instant protest.

“Uh, or we could listen together? I could show you their best stuff, maybe introduce you to a few related bands, too?” You don’t know how Danny expected you to ever be able to say no to that smile. He looked so earnest, standing there with his eyes wide open, hair wildly framing his face. There was a moment of silence that stretched on forever as the two of you just admired each other. Dan was a presence that you were slowly becoming used to in your life. Someone you could look forward to running into. You broke the silence.

“I’d love that. Barry invited me over for Mario Kart and pizza Friday, but maybe another day this weekend? I can brew some tea and we can just chill out here and play music over the speakers.” The tiniest spark of jealousy flared briefly in Danny’s mind before fizzling out just as quickly to give way to rational thought. He had no right to be jealous—no need to be jealous. He and Barry had both decided to invite you over.

“Hell yeah! Maybe I can test your true knowledge of Rush. Saturday, 2pm?”

“It’s a date!”

A date. The words echoed in Danny’s head as he returned to his own apartment. He knew that it was just a turn of phrase, but it could so easily be something more than that. A date with you. He liked the sound of that more than he really wanted to admit. He hoped that you felt the same.

Chapter Text

You were late. Only a little late, but late nonetheless. You had planned perfectly, gotten ready just in time and then you had noticed the stain. It was small and not too noticeable, but it was the result of a white-out disaster that had happened weeks ago and it looked exactly like a cum stain—not really the first impression you were shooting for.

The dress went directly into the trash.

You stood in front of your closet, looking for something else that qualified as cute but that didn’t look like you were going out on the town (or out on a date, for that matter.) You rifled through the clothes you had that were still clean. You really needed to do laundry sooner rather than later, but that was a problem for another day. Future You may not thank you for it, but Current You was quite content with the arrangement. You pushed a few dresses to the side and wondered, briefly, where you had acquired a pantsuit. You settled on a simple light-green camisole and a floral skirt (with pockets!)

Even with all of that, you were almost on time. You grabbed the two bottles of bourbon you had been saving for a special occasion and were striding to the door when someone knocked. Almost.

“Pizza for Danny?” The pizza guy looked from the stack of pizza in his arms to you standing alone in your apartment with two bottles of alcohol under your arm and raised an eyebrow. You stood, gaping, and then scrambled for your wallet. After you had paid for the pizza (and tipped quite handsomely) you realized that the normal course of action would have been to direct him to Danny’s apartment. Of course, he had been judging you and you panicked.

And now you were late.

Laden with food and booze, you finally left your apartment, awkwardly balancing everything in your left hand to lock the door. If Danny’s apartment was literally anywhere else, you would have thrown in the towel and gone back to bed with your new supply of food.


“Yo, Danny, where’s the Girlfriend Next Door?” Barry asked, flopping down next to Danny on the couch. Danny winced and scooted away from him.

“Ooh, is our girlfriend coming?” Arin asked, nudging Danny from the opposite side. Danny rolled his eyes and tightened his arms around the snorlax plush in his lap. Everyone had arrived but you. Arin, Suzy, Ross, Holly, Barry, Mark, and Mica Burton were all playing various games in the living room. Danny existed just on the cusp of the room’s energy, his mood somewhere between nervous and excited. He didn’t want to push it by knocking on your door, but he hoped you would show.

“You know what’s super cool of you guys?” Danny asked sarcastically. He didn’t wait for a response, “This.”

Arin laughed and shortly after, the doorbell rang. Danny jumped up, unfolding himself to stand at his full height. He stepped over Ross and Mica who were locked in an intense Pokémon battle on the floor that he wanted no part in. He was met at the door by a small form obscured by a stack of pizza boxes.

“Oh, hey. Give me a sec, I need to grab the cash.” He said, stepping back into the apartment. He only felt a little disappointed. (Or rather, that’s what he told himself.)

“Or you could just let me in? Pizza gets heavy, Danny Boy.” You peeked up over the pizza boxes and Danny scrambled to lift them out of your arms. There was a cheer for food from the occupants of the room and a few scattered greetings.

“They sent it to my place for some reason, so I kind of panicked and paid for it.” You explained as he and Barry cleared space on the table to put it down and handed you a wad of cash that had clearly been scraped together by everyone at the party including about ten bucks in quarters. Already, the pocket skirt was proving to be a good idea.

Before you could even hand off your booze, you were being hugged by a complete stranger.

“You’re [First Name] right? I’m Arin. Here, let me introduce you to everyone.” Before you could protest, he was whisking you away towards a woman dressed almost entirely in black.

“[First Name], meet my wife, Suzy. Suzy, this is my new girlfriend, [First Name].” You started to protest, but Suzy rolled her eyes and waved her husband away.

“You can’t take all of the cute girls. Leave some for the rest of us.” She teased, pulling you away from her husband.

“Ignore him, he’s just trying to get a rise out of you. Just let me know if you need to escape.” She winked at you and then Arin was dragging you away again towards the two playing Pokémon on the floor.

“This Aussie asshole is Ross.” He nudged Ross with his foot, “Ross this is [First Name]” Ross briefly glanced up and smiled at you before mumbling something about needing to win his Pokémon battle. Your introduction to Mica went much the same way, but with a promise to catch up later.

“Hey, what are people drinking? I seem to be a few behind.” You asked Arin quietly. He darted off and you collapsed on the couch next to Danny. Danny was calm and warm and he draped a friendly arm around your shoulder. You just sat there for a moment, trying to commit all of the new names to memory.

“Hey, you okay? I know this is kind of a lot.” Danny murmured, absent-mindedly massaging your shoulder. You took a deep breath and plastered on what you hope looked like a bright smile.

“Yeah, it’s all good. I’m just shit with names.” Danny hummed his understanding and you enjoyed a few more seconds of his presence before Arin was passing you a shot and a mixed drink and pulling you away again.

The next woman tucked something that looked almost like a wand into her sleeve as you approached and beamed at you.

“Hey, [First Name], right? I’m Holly.” There was a certain magical quality to Holly that you couldn’t place. She was somehow real and ethereal all at once. Or maybe it was just the way that she stole the wind from Arin’s sails by introducing herself first that made you feel that way.

“That’s me.” You accepted her offered hug and then shared a laugh as Arin dragged you away to the last guest.

Arin presented you to the last man proudly.

“Hey, Mark, meet my newest girlfriend, [First Name]. She’s cool and smart.” You shook your head and gave Suzy a withering look. She stifled a laugh with her hand and took pity on you. Arin let her drag him away, muttering something about having accomplished his goal anyway.

“Arin’s girlfriend, huh? Sorry to hear that.” Mark said with a wink. You froze, unsure of how to respond to a stranger flirting with you. This time it was Barry who saved you, showing up out of nowhere to confiscate the liquor you had forgotten you were holding.

“You brought booze? You brought bourbon?” You turned and mouthed an apology to Mark as Barry led you away to the kitchen to “appraise” the bourbon.

You didn’t manage to run into Danny again until Suzy was already organizing a game of Truth or Dare. You had several drinks in you at that point and were having a good time. You had been dead last in Mario Kart, so compared to that Truth or Dare was easy. You could handle Truth or Dare, you hoped.

Arin went first, pulling a dare out of a hat.

“Let someone draw a dick on your forehead in sharpie.” He read aloud. The group cheered and Arin spun the empty rum bottle on the ground. It made a few complete rotations before settling abruptly on Ross.

“Ooh, paint me like one of your French girls!” He declared dramatically, swooning into Ross’s lap. Ross spouted off some random French words (all of them oui and bonjour) and got to work with a sick sort of glee that made you all too glad you hadn’t gotten that dare.

Danny leaned closer to you, his hair brushing against the shell of your ear in a way that didn’t quite tickle, drawing your attention away from the game.

“Ross is an artist,” he explained in a low voice, “Arin is about to have a beautiful, magnificent cock across his forehead.” You bit your lip to stifle a laugh, pointedly not putting too much thought into the words “magnificent” and “cock” in connection with Danny.

Holly went next, drawing a dare that required everyone but Danny to take a shot. If you hadn’t noticed the sheer volume of paper in the hat, you would have thought she knew exactly what she was reaching for. The group made a toast to you, the “fresh meat” and took the shot together. Danny did a shot of water to stay in the spirit of things.

Mark was next.

“Sell yourself to someone.”

“Oh boy, I hope it’s me!” Arin said, sitting up from Ross’s lap, now sporting a particularly veiny penis drawing. Mark spun the bottle and you watched until it settled on you. Mica whistled and Suzy clapped as Mark approached you.

He held out his hand and in one smooth motion, pulled you to your feet and into his arms. He was close and warm and he smelled like Old Spice and alcohol.

“Hello, gorgeous.” It took you a moment to realize that he was getting closer and that the group was chanting for him to kiss you. You could feel the alcohol in your system and the warmth of your cheeks.

 You pressed a dollar against Mark’s mouth before he could kiss you and moved away.

“You win, you win!” Mark snatched the dollar from you and grinned. He blew a kiss and the room cheered as he returned to his seat. Mica dived for the hat.

“Two shots with a person of your choosing—no spin,” she read. The second she finished reading, her eyes were on you. You groaned.

“Come on, it’s bonding,” she said, pouring shots, “besides, I have to celebrate kicking Ross’s ass!” Ross made some sound of protest, but was drowned out by chants of “Shots! Shots! Shots!” The chants for you and Mica to take shots steadily grew in volume until you both took them in rapid succession and the room burst into uproarious applause. That made it your turn.

Mica hugged you and gave you the hat.

“Kiss the person to your left.” You instinctively turned your head to the left and saw that Danny was already looking at you. If you weren’t already flush from drinking alcohol, the way that he was looking at you would’ve made you blush. You dropped to your knees and leaned into Danny. He was even more attractive up close. He glanced up at you from under his heavy lashes, his pupils blown wide. His lips were slightly parted and you could feel his warm breath against his face. You closed the gap, pressing a slow, sensual kiss to his cheek.

“Oh come on! Arin yelled, breaking the spell, “That wasn’t a kiss.” You stuck your tongue out and Danny just smiled, happy that you were fitting in so well.

You excused yourself during Danny’s turn with a mumble about needing fresh air and stumbled out the door. After a few moments, Danny followed you outside.

You leaned against the metal bannister outside, enjoying the cool air against your burning skin. You could feel the alcohol working its way through your system. You hadn’t had enough to be nauseous yet, but it was just enough that you were on the edge of discomfort. You took a deep breath and tried to gather your thoughts.

Danny peeked out of the apartment door and saw you leaning against the railing. He shut the door carefully behind him, leaving the ever-increasing sound of the ongoing Truth or Dare game in favor of the quiet night.

“Hey, you okay?” He asked. He walked beside you and draped an arm over your shoulder. You leaned into him, welcoming his presence.

“Yeah. I’m sorry, that was just… a lot.” You admitted.

“That’s fair. Mica and Arin are fighting over who gets to take you on a date first and Suzy is calling Ubers for everyone. If you want, I can just tell them you had to pass out.”

“Please? I’m so exhausted. Just give them my number?” Danny nodded and ruffled your hair. He helped you back to your apartment in silence and put a glass of water next to your bed. Danny was nicer to Future You than Current You would ever be.

You still had to do that laundry in the morning.

Chapter Text

If you never had to do laundry with a hangover again, it will have been too soon. Your stomach lurched as you moved your clothes from the washer to the dryer. There was no part of this experience that wasn’t completely awful. The machines were loud, you had to dig quarters out of the bottom of your bag, the smell of dryer sheets was far too pungent, and the lights were blinding in the completely white room.

It was a perfectly manufactured hangover hell, and you were stuck in it for two whole hours.

When you finally escaped, you were ready to chug as much Gatorade as physically possible and pass the fuck out. Of course, in proper Past You fashion, you had made plans for today that you couldn’t cancel. You groaned quietly and snuck covetous looks at your bed while you put away your laundry. It would be such a small thing to text Danny some bullshit excuse and then climb in bed.

You picked up your phone to send a text and it vibrated in your hand as you unlocked it.

Pumped to show you Starbomb today. Prepare your ear canals. ;)

You frowned. You couldn’t blow Danny off. Especially not the day after he had introduced you to all of his friends. You groaned, only hating yourself slightly more than a little bit.

Oh, they’ll be prepared. ;)  

You finished putting away your laundry and did your best to make yourself presentable. And today “your best” was a pair of grey joggers and a cropped hoodie that said “HANGOVER HOODIE” in all capital letters. You would let no one accuse you of a lack of subtlety.

You finished your prep for the morning with a bottle of Gatorade and an aspirin. Aside from a lingering nauseated feeling, you almost felt like a person again by the time Danny was lightly knocking on your front door.

As he walked in, he handed you a strawberry fruit bar.

“These are the best popsicles; they have strawberry chunks. I hear they’re great for hangovers.” You thanked him and unwrapped it immediately.

Danny, having abstained from drinking the night before, looked completely fine. No dark circles under his eyes, no visible signs of discomfort, even his hair looked excited to be alive. If it was anyone but Danny you were talking about, you would hate him for it. He sprawled across your couch like he lived there and you found yourself pushing his gangly limbs so that you could have a place to sit.

Move, Danny, you’re too big.” You complained, shoving his left leg off the couch. He snorted, shifting to somehow take up even more room.

“I hear that all the time, baby.” He said, cockily. You groaned and shoved a couch cushion into his face with as much force as you could muster. You went to smack him with it again when he grabbed your arm and pulled you down over his body.

It wasn’t the most comfortable way you had ever laid on your couch, but you couldn’t exactly complain. CJ was going to ruin your ear drums when you told him that you had finally gotten “on top of Danny,” but you didn’t really mind that either.

“Hey, that’s not nice.” His voice shocked you from this close, or perhaps it was being this close that shocked you. He pulled the pillow from your grasp and tucked it beneath his head, grinning at you as if he weren’t being insufferable. You sighed in defeat and dropped your head, trying to pretend like it was normal to be this close to Danny. If either of you were brave enough to look at the other, you would see that both of your faces were flushed red.

You shifted, grateful that your popsicle had somehow survived the tussle.

“Sooo, Starbomb?” You asked. Danny grabbed your Xbox controller without moving and grinned at you.

“So, I’m in a band.” He started, navigating to the Youtube app, “Well, a few bands.”

“Go on.” You picked up your head and smiled reassuringly. You weren’t sure what answers Danny was looking for, but he seemed to find them in your face. He launched into an explanation of Ninja Sex Party and Starbomb, talking at a million miles per second. You let him talk, enamored by how passionate he was about his music. When he finally trailed off, you placed a hand on his forearm and squeezed it gently.

“Play the song, Danny.” You urged gently. Danny laughed at himself and played the Metroid song that had started this whole conversation to begin with. You made it through the first Starbomb Album and two Ninja Sex Party albums before calling it quits. You had grown comfortable tangled with Danny on the couch. He didn’t seem to mind that you had practically died laughing on top of him and when you looked up, he was glowing with pride.

There was a long moment in which neither of you moved and neither of you spoke. It was a simple thing, but it was warm and fuzzy and comfortable.

“So what if, “Danny said after a moment, absent-mindedly playing with your hair, “hypothetically speaking, I invited you on a whole foods date to eat free cheese samples with me? That would be totally lame, right?” Danny regretting asking as soon as the words left his mouth. He had mostly managed to play it cool the past few weeks, but this would be the end of that small victory.

He could see your rejection forming on the tip of your tongue. He remembered the party and the way that you had instantly clicked with Mark. There had been something growing between you and Danny this whole time, but with Mark there was electricity. Danny saw it. Everyone else in the room saw it. He was sure that you saw it too.

“Hypothetically speaking,” You said, interrupting Danny’s racing thoughts, “I would be beyond fucking down for that.” Danny beamed at you, looking like a complete dork and looking entirely unbothered by the fact that he looked like a complete dork all at the same time.

“So while we’re talking hypotheticals, what does Tuesday afternoon look like for you?” You hummed as if thinking, checking the calendar on your phone for dramatic effect.

“It would seem that Tuesday afternoon is hypothetically booked for a rad cheese sampling date.” Danny celebrated under his breath with a quiet, “yes.”  

“Grilled cheese for lunch?” You offered, slowly detangling yourself from Danny’s limbs.

“Oh fuck yes. You know, you really get me, girl.” Danny said, winking at you. You both stood and stretched and enjoyed the warmth of each other’s company. You turned to ask him what kind of cheese he wanted for his sandwich and the light caught his eyes in just the right way and you were trapped.

You were not sure what prompted it or who initiated it, but Danny’s fingers were in your hair and your arms were around his neck and he was kissing you and it felt so fucking good that you didn’t want to do anything else.

He kissed you like he had been waiting for it for centuries and couldn’t wait a moment longer, leaving you breathless and wanting more. There was something absurd in the fact that it had taken cheese to get to this moment, but you couldn’t think of a better way.


Chapter Text

You held a dress in front of your body and posed dramatically.

“Too churchy.” CJ said, shutting down yet another one of your potential outfits. He snatched the dress from you and tossed it onto the ever-growing reject pile with a flourish. You reached for another outfit and posed, trying your best to look “fierce” but succeeding at looking very stressed out and kind of uncomfortable.

“Too raunchy. Girl, are we fucking on the first date?” CJ snatched the outfit from your hands and held it up in front of himself. He mimed cat claws at the mirror and growled, “Actually, I might have to borrow this from you.” You rolled your eyes and took the outfit back, throwing it onto the pile with the rest of your wardrobe.

“Your shoes cost more than that entire outfit, you can get your own.” CJ made some noise of protest, but re-focused on you when you held up a shirt and skirt combo.

“Plaid? Too schoolgirl.” He paused, regarding you, “Kinda kinky…” You tossed the outfit onto the reject pile before he could say anything more. You groaned and sat on the edge of your bed, fighting the urge to rub your hands across your face. CJ had just finished your makeup and you were not willing to go through that torture again.

“Let me handle this.” CJ looked through the few things remaining in your closet and tossed a pair of black jeans your way. Then he turned his attention to your dresser. You had hoped to avoid this, as it gave you another chore to finish, but you let him work. When CJ was on a mission, there was no point in trying to stop him. He dug through your dresser until he found the bleach stained Rush t-shirt that you had cut into a crop top. It had been your favorite shirt until you ruined it, then CJ cut it for you and it became your favorite shirt all over again.

He threw the shirt at you and kicked your combat boots your way. The outfit was perfect, but you would never admit it to CJ.

“Stop trying so hard. Just let the man hit, for both of our sakes.” You huffed and pushed CJ out of your room so that you could change. He was singing some god-awful song about “macaroni time” and you needed him at a distance so that you could pretend like he was referring to food.

You knew that he was right about you trying too hard, but it was difficult not to when you were this goddamn nervous. This was a casual date, barely a date at all, but it still was a date, and that was enough to make your head go all fuzzy.

You emerged from your room to see CJ leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over your chest. You stood still as he observed you, congratulating himself on how good he was at dressing you. Before he left, he slid you a pack of condoms and stole the outfit that you told him he couldn’t borrow. You often wondered how you could tolerate a best friend like CJ, but this time you just shook your head and stashed the condoms in your purse.

Trojans weren’t cheap.

Once CJ left, time slowed to a crawl. You only had half an hour until Danny was supposed to pick you up, but it felt like an eternity. You hung the entire reject pile back up in your closet and sorted your clothes by purpose and color. You tried to listen to music, watch tv, play a game, and even read a book, before finally settling on pacing back and forth in your living room. You were beginning to worry about wearing a rut into your carpet when your doorbell finally rang. Time jumped back to a normal progression and you took a deep breath.

You grabbed your purse and forced yourself to walk to your door at a normal pace. You wanted to at least pretend like you weren’t freaking the fuck out over a cheese date.

Danny stood outside your door, doing his best to look calm and collected. He still couldn’t believe that you had agreed to this date, much less with him. He wasn’t sure how he should greet you. The two of you had kissed once. Could he kiss you again? Was that too much too fast? He really wanted to kiss you again, multiple times, soon…

You opened your door as Danny was contemplating the politics of kissing and he beamed at you. He wrapped you in a warm hug before you could greet him and you laughed, loosely returning his hug.

“Nice to see you too, Danny.” You joked. Danny pulled away and you thought you caught the briefest hint of embarrassment, but it was gone before you could be sure. You envied the way that Danny could be calm no matter what was happening. You couldn’t even manage to be calm when nothing was happening.

“You look really good.” Danny said after a moment, looking you up and down. He didn’t know that he liked crop tops, but he was starting to realize that they were pretty nice. You thanked him quietly, trying not to look at his face for too long. You wondered if it were too soon to kiss him again.

Danny saved you, by hooking his arm through yours and leading you to his car. Cheese. You needed to focus on cheese. Danny blasted Rush on the way to the Whole Foods. You were grateful for the distraction, screaming the lyrics along with him as he drove. It was enough to lift the tension from your shoulders and remind you that this was supposed to be fun. Being around Danny felt good.

Danny jumped out of his car, singing the last few lyrics of the song you had been on and rushed to open your door for you. He offered you his hand and helped you out of the car, bowing with an exaggerated flourish that had his hair tickling your face.

“If you say ‘m’lady’, I swear to god I will walk home right now. Don’t test me, Daniel.” You said, taking a step back from Danny to regard him with narrowed eyes. He looked up at you sheepishly, still doubled over from his bow and smiled. Caught in the act, he couldn’t exactly follow through on that joke, so he stood back to his full height and offered you his arm.

“Fine, then I’ll just heavily imply it.” You took his arm and scoffed at him.

“Then I’ll heavily imply fuck you. How about that?”

“Ooh, you know you want to, girl.”

The two of you walked into the store cackling at your own stupidity. You were always nervous about spending time with Dan right up until the point that the two of you were actually with each other. From there, it was just natural.

If there was any question that the two of you were actually serious about cheese samples, it went out the window the moment you walked into the store. The two of you made a bee-line for the closest sample tray.

“By the way, have I mentioned that you’re looking very gouda today?” Dan asked, passing you a cube of aged Applewood gouda on a toothpick. You groaned, but ate the cheese anyway. And thus begun the most pun-filled hour of your life.

“Wow, you don’t have to brie so cheesy.”

“Please bleu better.”

“Real mature.”

“See? You’re getting Feta and Feta!

Though the puns couldn’t have gotten much worse, after an hour of slowly wandering around Whole Foods, you reached the last try of cheese and gave up on them. It was an aged Havarti with a few floral notes. Not the best cheese you had ever tried, but also not the worse. You indicated as much to Danny in an over the top posh accent, and he reciprocated, miming a monocle as he listed various qualities of the cheese, several of which that you were sure were fake.

 “You’re a true master, Sir Daniel.” You said with a sweeping bow. Daniel straightened his back and turned up his nose.

“Shouldn’t it be Master Daniel?” He asked. Your accents were barely even recognizable as the caricatures of posh accents that they had been as you fought the urge to laugh. You scoffed and broke character, rolling your eyes at him.

“I am not calling you master.” You insisted, crossing your arms over your chest.

“Oh really?” Danny asked, his voice low and suggestive. Suddenly he was very, very close. Gone was the fake posh accent and the turned-up nose and in its place was a raw, hungry Dan Avidan. You reminded yourself to breathe slowly, and you hoped that the slight tremble that you felt wasn’t visible.

You barely managed a weak, “Really.” Before Danny was stepping forward. A nervous joke about personal space bubbled at the edge of your awareness, but died before it could escape the unfiltered part of your brain. You were acutely aware that you were blushing. Danny leaned down, his eyes focused directly on your mouth and he pressed a cube of cheese between your lips.

You swallowed the cheese out of shock and stared wide-eyed at Danny. He cracked a grin and brushed his thumb across your bottom lip. The absurdity of the moment sunk in and you couldn’t stop your laughter.

Danny watched you laugh. There was something freeing in the sound that shattered the tension lingering between the two of you and sent him into his own laughing fit. The absurd image of the two of you posing for a stock image laughing by cheese sent you into an entirely new fit of giggles and you fought for air as you tried to explain the mental image to Danny through your laughter.

Eventually he just gave up and ruffled your hair playfully. You elbowed him in the side and rolled your eyes at him.

“Let’s get out of here before we get asked to buy something.” You said, dragging Danny away from the prying eyes of the store clerks. He followed along with little resistance, grabbing a final cheese sample for both of you before leaving the building.

He drove you back home with the windows down and Rush blaring through his speakers. You were doing your best not to think about the sheer amount of cheese you had consumed in the last hour. You would regret that at some other point in time, but it had been worth it.

A pressure on your knee drew you out of your thoughts and you looked down to see Danny tracing circles into your jeans with his thumb. Something about the simple gesture was intensely intimate. You licked your lips and glanced over at Danny, but his eyes were on the road.

When you reached your apartment, he helped you out of his car with no mention of what happened. Both of you walked up the stairs as slowly as possible. Danny made some weak joke about being an old man, and you just went along with it. If you didn’t reach the top of the stairs, the date wouldn’t have to end.

“Hey, uh, this was a lot of fun.” You said when you finally reached the top of the stairs. Danny looked suddenly uncomfortable, like he was thinking something that he didn’t want to say out loud.

“Yeah… So, can I have parmesan to kiss you?” You stared at him, aghast for a long moment, wishing that he hadn’t said anything.

“Will you promise to never make another cheese pun in my presence?” Danny grinned and leaned down to kiss you, pressing one hand to your lower back to bring your closer to him.

It was a soft, sweet kiss that tasted just a little bit like cheese, but you wanted more. Danny wanted more. When he pulled away, the two of you stared at each other for a quiet moment before you stepped away to unlock your front door.

“Want to come in, for a bit? Maybe eat something other than cheese?” You offered hopefully.

You thought you heard Danny mumble something about eating whatever you let him, but out loud he said “Hell yes!” and followed you inside. You would have to question him about that other bit later.

Chapter Text

You stripped down in your living room the second the door clicked shut behind you. You started to walk away from the pile of discarded clothing, but you thought better of it. It was Friday and you needed to at least pretend like you were going to start the weekend right. You scooped the pile of clothes up off the floor and dumped it into your laundry hamper. It was starting to look a little full, but you would put that off for at least another week.

You slipped on your silky house robe and tied it loosely at the waist. Tonight was going to be about comfort and relaxation. You slipped into a pair of comfortable (read: old) panties and started to make a mental list of the things you needed to get out of the way so that you could enjoy the weekend.

Your phone vibrated where you had thrown it on your bed and you pounced on it to read a text from Suzy.

You up for going out tonight? We miss our girlfriend! ^^

And then a text from Arin.

Dan is coming. ;) ;) ;)

You stood and slipped out of your comfortable panties and into a pair of cute (read: uncomfortable) panties that you had picked up last time you wandered past a Victoria’s Secret. Okay, so no comfort and relaxation. There was no point in pretending that you were going to start your weekend off right when you would be consuming copious amounts of alcohol in just a few hours.

Your doorbell rang and you tightened your robe around your body. You rushed to the door and swung it open to reveal a very flustered Barry.

“Oh, hey, Barry. What’s up?” You asked. You did your best to look cool and casual in only a thin house robe and a pair of lacy panties. You succeeded only in looking awkward and uncomfortable in only a thin house robe and a pair of lacy panties. It may have actually been less awkward if you had been completely naked, but you weren’t going to test that out.

“Hey! Uh— I was just making sure you got an invite for tonight. Dan’s Designated Driving for me, if you want to save on an Uber.” Barry said, making very deliberate eye contact. You weren’t sure if he was intentional emphasizing Dan’s name or if he was trying really hard not to acknowledge your state of undress, but you let it go for the sake of avoiding further awkwardness. You mumbled some sound of affirmation and let him know that you’d meet them in an hour.

Thankful for the end of that exchange, you rushed to your room to get dressed and Barry went back to his apartment to tease Dan.

Yet again, you found yourself standing in front of your closet, trying to figure out what would be appropriate to wear. Without CJ around, you would just have to trust your own judgement. This time you actually were going clubbing, so you at least didn’t have to worry about that angle. Your eyes fell on the “fucking on the first date” outfit that you had finally managed to steal back from CJ and you knew that it was the one.

You dug through the mess of shoes on your closet floor and found the pair of high heels that you had worn once before and sworn to never wear again. Before you could talk yourself out of it, you put them on and walked a practice lap around your house. You wondered how close to Danny’s height you would be in those. You decided not to get your hopes up.

You modeled in front of the mirror and completed your look with black lipstick and dramatic winged eyeliner. A few texts to CJ later and you were convinced that your looks could kill a man. With ten minutes to spare, you grabbed your keys and your purse and walked outside. For once, you were on time.

Danny and Barry were leaving their apartment when you walked outside. Barry whistled at you jokingly and Danny fumbled with his key as he attempted to lock his door. You locked your own door and then did a twirl.

“Hot date?” Barry asked, not-so-subtly glancing at Danny. Next to Dan, you felt ridiculously overdressed. He had gone through the trouble of dressing in his usual band tee and jeans. He still looked fantastic. You were going to have to add that to your list of reasons to fight Daniel Avidan when you got back home. As he offered you his arm to help you down the stairs, you realized that he still managed to tower over you. You would add that to the list as well.

“You could say that.” You said with a teasing smirk, “Suzy is pretty hot.”

Barry laughed, only slightly disappointed that you didn’t take his bait. You called shotgun the second that Danny’s car came into view, doing an awkward half-jog to get to the passenger door before Barry could.

Barry shouldered you out of the way anyway, but then opened the door to let you in.

The ride to the club was spent, as all rides with Danny were, screaming along to Rush songs at the top of your lungs. Barry recorded you from the back seat, mouthing the words. You were in high spirits by the time Danny managed to find parking, and the three of you got out of the car laughing.

“These are so going on Twitter.” Barry teased, skipping to a point in the video where you’d grabbed an old water bottle to use as a microphone. You groaned, but let it go. You didn’t have a Twitter, so you weren’t going to have to watch it again.

“Umm, I believe that’s my date you’re giggling with.” Suzy said from behind you. She wrapped her arms around your waist and whispered something in your ear about you looking hot.

“No fair, Suz, it’s my turn to date [First Name].” Arin protested. He crossed his arms and pouted, but Suzy only scoffed as she pulled away from you.

“No way, Arin. She’s mine on the weekends. You get Monday through Wednesday.” You considered asking who got you on Thursdays, but the two continued bickering all the way up to the line in front of the club. You decided to stay out of it.

You could feel the music from outside the club. The bass was high enough that the whole building was basically vibrating. As Mica joined you in line, you quietly mourned the loss of your relaxing weekend.

The music was ten times louder inside than it had been outside. You walked into a wall of sound and almost stumbled as you fought to adjust to the sensory overload. Mica helped you steady yourself and lead you to the bar where Mark was waiting with a tray of shots. He greeted you with a hug and a kiss on the cheek, but you didn’t get a chance to process that, as a shot was being pushed into your hand.

You grimaced as you swallowed it. It was, in fact, vodka.

From that point, the night was a whirlwind of drinks and dancing. You managed to drag everyone out to the dance floor with you aside from Danny, who was determined to not make a fool of himself.

“Danny, please? Just one dance.” You asked, batting your eyelashes at him. Arin nudged Danny and urged him to go with you, but he was resolute in his refusal. Instead, he watched as Mark pounded a shot and then took your hand. Dan took a slow breath as he watched Mark pull you to the dance floor. You shot him a final pleading look but he had already turned away.

The spark that Danny had noticed between you and Mark that night at his apartment was still there. Brighter, even. It didn’t help that it was magnified by the alcohol and the close-quarters of the dance floor.

Earlier, Danny had been watching the way that you moved. You danced with Mark easily, comfortably. You let him guide you and he was flirtatious in his motions. Dan didn’t want to admit that he was jealous. He had no right to be jealous. Not after just one date. Still, that’s what he felt. He took a sip of his water and took another deep breath. Arin was saying something teasing, but the music was too loud and Danny was trying not to imagine your dancing.

You kicked your heels off as Mark pulled you back to the dance floor. You weren’t sure how you had managed to make it in them this long, but you couldn’t do it anymore. Another shot before you were on the floor and the empty glass was whisked away by some stranger.

Suddenly Mark was close and warm and you forgot how to breath. The two of you danced as Mica and Suzy cheered you along. The song was something fast and hot and kept bringing the two of you closer closer and then drawing you away. Your skin tingled where Mark touched you. Your arms, your side, your exposed midriff, your neck. Where Danny was fire, Mark was electricity.

With the alcohol coursing through your veins you just wanted to feel.

And so you felt.

And Danny just watched.

Chapter Text

If you claimed that no one had ever ghosted you before, you would have been lying. It would be honest to say that it had never hurt quite this much.

You missed Danny in a slow, aching way, even just as a friend. You had no one to text during the day when you had random bit of a song stuck in your head that wasn’t quite enough to google. You couldn’t just dump your excess pasta on your neighbors when you made far too much for human consumption. You couldn’t look at a few of your favorite cheeses because they reminded you of that kiss. Of that date. Of that blissful day that seemed so fucking far away.

You were aware that you had fucked up.

There was always something between you and Mark. The night that you met him, the two of you had been inexplicably drawn towards each other. He had made his intentions clear and you shied away from that. There was more between you and Danny. The two of you clicked in a way that you had never connected with another person and you knew that. You valued that. Or at least sober you did.

You hoped beyond hope that it would all blow ever eventually. You sent Dan an apology text the morning after, though you owed him nothing. Suzy texted you assuring you that you had done nothing wrong, and that he was just jealous. That he would get over it. That he didn’t own you. That the two of you weren’t exclusive. That she and Arin would try to talk some sense into him. And so you waited. And you waited.

Every time someone knocked at your door, you hoped that it was Danny coming over to talk to you.

Every time your phone vibrated, you hoped that it was Danny with some unrelated comment.

Your waiting was in vain.

He never walked over to have a conversation.

As far as you knew, he never lifted his phone to text you.

Still, time moved on. After the third week of no contact, you decided that you had to as well.

You played Dungeons and Dragons with Holly on the weekends. You went shopping with Suzy and made makeup tutorials with her for her YouTube channel. You worked on cosplay with Mica and met up with her friends for photoshoots. You went clubbing with CJ and turned down anyone who tried to come on to you. You did everything in your power to forget what you had with Dan and to accept that it was your fault that it ended. It was a slow process. It hurt.

Sometimes you called CJ over late at night so that you could mourn would could have been. Some nights he would bring ice cream and wine and let you talk. Some nights he would tell you to snap out of it and get your shit together.

Sometimes Mark came over.

He was sweet and funny and good in bed, and some nights that was enough for you. Tonight, it wasn’t.

You woke up from your restless slumber at 3am and slid out of Mark’s grip. None of this was fair to him. You couldn’t look at him. You didn’t want him to wake up and ask what you were doing, so you slipped on a t-shirt and crept out of the room. You made tea as quietly as possible and carried a mug outside.

The night air was cold, but not unbearably so. You walked to the edge of the balcony and leaned against the bannister, taking a deep breath. You felt lost. You had a great guy in your bed who liked to spend time with you. He only showed affection when he was drunk, but you didn’t mind that. You two were casual. Nothing more.

He would get drunk and fall into your bed or you would get drunk and fall into his. During the day you texted about movies and video games and at night you texted about feelings and feeling. It was shallow. It was a distraction. It wasn’t fair.

You took a sip of your tea and stared up at the sky, not caring that the drink was still too hot. You tasted nothing, but you were used to that. You couldn’t see the stars through the light pollution, but you pretended like you could, tracing imaginary constellations in the dull glow. The moon, at least, was there. It was waning, shrinking slowly into nothing but still casting just enough light that you could seen.

You, too, were waning. You had jumped in with Danny too deep too quickly and left too much of yourself behind. You weren’t sure what that meant for you. You didn’t want to think about it.

Danny sat at the edge of his bed, running his hands through his disheveled mess of hair. He had seen Mark’s car in the parking lot. He had heard the springs of your mattress groaning. He had heard your giggles and your moans and every other sound that you made through the thin walls. This wasn’t the first night. Some nights he could hear you cry.

He felt sick.

You had tried to reach out to him—to make it better. He had rejected you and pushed you away. He had pushed you right back into Mark’s arms. He shouldn’t feel jealous. You went on one real date. You shared a few kisses. You were amazing girl and the two of you had everything in common, but he had no claim to you. Still, he had a kind of poisonous anger pooling in his stomach that had been there for over a month. It kept him from approaching you, from interrupting what you were building with Mark.

He stood and slid his shoes on, still clad in the clothes that he had worn the day before. He needed to clear his head.

He moved quietly so that Barry wouldn’t wake up and opened the door as slowly as possible.

His door opened to reveal you standing in the moonlight and Danny’s heart fell somewhere low in his body. God, but you were still beautiful. You were holding a mug of something steamy and staring up at the sky like the moon was going to give you all of the answers. You searched for something that you knew wasn’t there and kept looking. You hadn’t even heard him open the door. He stood there for a long moment, memorizing the view of you bathing in the moonlight. He stood, silhouetted against the darkness of his apartment before slowly closing his door.

As Danny got dressed for bed, he wondered what you might be thinking about. What you might be looking for. He wondered what could have drawn you out of a warm bed with someone who cared about you into the cold night air. He wondered what thoughts you were storing in those tendrils of steam that rose from your drink and then disappeared as they cooled and dissipated.

He hoped, selfishly, that you were thinking of him.

Chapter Text

Morning came and the sun with it, but Danny still felt cold. He and Barry drove to work in complete silence. Danny couldn’t listen to Rush without thinking about the way that you screamed the lyrics at the top of your lungs no matter what. I didn’t sound the same without that. When they reached the office, Barry gave Dan a long look and just shook his head. He had said everything he could, but he knew that Dan wasn’t going to listen to him. Not when it came to you.

Danny shook that off and found Arin setting up the Wii. From the looks of it, they would be filming a Game Grumps VS in Wheel of Fortune. He could handle that.

“Yo, you won’t believe what I found out last night!” Arin said excitedly as he powered on the Wii.

“What’s that?” Danny asked, only half listening.

“[First Name] is a voice actor! I thought her name sounded familiar, but holy shit, Dan!” He shoved his tablet into Dan’s face and Dan took it. The tablet was open to an IMDb page that didn’t have your name on it, but that sure as hell was your face. You had played small roles in several video games and some anime that he knew Arin watched.

“I had no idea.” Danny admitted, passing the tablet back after a cursory glance. You were smiling in your headshot. You looked gorgeous.

“I invited her to do a Guest Grumps tomorrow. We have to have her on the show.”

Panic alarms went off in Danny’s head. He wanted to protest. He couldn’t. You couldn’t do that. He knew that you didn’t really watch their videos, but you had to know that he would at least be in the office. He was sure that Arin didn’t give you a chance to decline.

“Yeah, man, that’s cool. Let’s play the wheel!” Danny said, feigning excitement about the game just to change the subject to anything else. He felt Arin looking at him as he started the recording, but neither man mentioned the conversation again. They had work to do.

Danny was not at work the next day.

He called out at the last possible minute, telling Arin that he ate some bad Chinese and that he just needed to get it out of his system. Arin didn’t seem to buy the lie, but he also didn’t call Dan out on it. That was all he needed. He spent the day writing lyrics and playing guitar. He felt more than a little bit like an angsty teenaged boy, but he needed that.

Music helped the cold feeling go away. Danny still felt raw. He was still hurting. But it was nice to feel something again.

He returned to the Grump Space the next day revitalized. He listened to Tears for Fears on the way to work and Barry even sung along with him. That helped too.

Arin was talking to someone when Danny walked into the building.

“Yeah, all you have to do is talk. Joke around, hang out with us, it’s really not a big deal.” He was explaining, “You’ll really be totally fine.”

Suzy patted Danny on the shoulder as she passed them in the hall and Danny suddenly felt like the sickness he had lied about the day before had come and hit him full force. He knew immediately who Arin was talking to. It was you. It had to be you.

“I don’t know, Arin. I don’t think this is a good idea.” You said, furrowing your brow in concern, “I don’t think Dan will be comfortable with this.” You knew that Danny would walk through the door at any minute and you didn’t want to know what expression would cross his face when he saw you sitting there. You imagined anger, disgust, disappointment. You weren’t sure which would be worse, but you knew that you weren’t prepared to handle it.

“Seriously, it’s fine. I even told him you were coming. Oh, hey man!” Arin turned and greeted Danny with a smile. You smiled weakly and waved at him. Dan smiled emptily and nodded at Arin. The lack of acknowledgment stung worse than anything. It had been months, and still it was like you didn’t exist.

You knew that he didn’t want to be around you, but to act like you were nothing? The small bit of hope that you had been holding onto crumbled into nothingness and you resolved to get through this video in one piece. Arin plopped down on one side of the couch, leaving you to sit between him and Dan. You should never have let Arin talk you into this.

You swallowed thickly and put on a happy face. You could do this.

The video was awkward in the beginning with Danny barely engaging. He apologized to the audience for feeling sick and only commented when someone spoke to him directly.

“So this voice acting thing. How did that happen?” Arin asked. You laughed embarrassedly and explained that an old friend was working on an RPG and needed a voice for a female guard. That kick started everything and suddenly you were getting offers. You mostly played small roles—quick things that didn’t require any sort of commitment, but you had recently signed for three seasons of an anime dub. That’s how you assume Arin found out about your voice acting. You still had a real job. It was boring and soul sucking, but it paid the bills and meant that you only had to take the jobs that you wanted.

“Why the stage name, though? Your normal name fits you well.” Arin asked, throwing a green shell at you on Mario Kart. You dodged it and elbowed him in the side.

“I started out in music. The name started there and it just stuck. I know it’s no Danny Sexbang, but it’s mine and I like it.” That caught Danny’s attention. He had never known that you were a musician. You had written a few theme songs for some relatively unknown shows before you realized that you were better suited to playing characters than singing about them.

“I think the stage name suits you.” He said, “Do you ever go back to music? I mean, are you done with it forever?” Danny had been barely engaging the entire video, and even that had felt forced. He didn’t want the audience to ask uncomfortable questions and neither did you. But this was in his realm. He was comfortable. He could let his guard down.

“Done with music? What kind of question is that? I don’t make the time for it that I should, but I still play.” You hadn’t played in a long time. Between work and recording and trying to handle emotions, music had fallen to the wayside. You didn’t realize that you missed it like you did, but that hit you full force now.

Arin made a stupid joke about the game and the conversation changed from there with Danny as an active participant. It felt good to joke around with him again. The conversation was natural and flowing and it didn’t hurt.

By the end of the episode, you weren’t sure where you stood with him. Sure, he could joke around with you while the tapes were rolling, but how did that translate to real life if at all? You almost didn’t want to stop recording. You were perfectly fine with maintaining this fabricated world where everything was okay and nothing hurt.

Here it didn’t feel like you were falling into bed with someone who only wanted you when he wasn’t sober. It didn’t feel like you had thrown away an amazing friendship. It didn’t feel like you were drowning.

The video ended and Arin pulled you into a warm hug.

“Thanks for showing up. I’m so pissed you didn’t tell me you were a voice actor!” He ruffled your hair to annoy you and you shoved him away. You fixed your hair and scoffed at him.

“It really isn’t a huge deal, Arin. It’s just a thing I do.” Arin huffed and stood.

“I am getting you into the studio with me and we are recording… something. I’ll start the script right now!” He announced. You waved him off with a roll of your eyes and he left the room. You knew that he would eventually drag you back to do voice acting work with him, but you didn’t mind that thought. You really liked the Grump Space. It felt like home.

That left you and Danny.

“Hey, good job to day.” He said quietly. You froze in your seat and took a steadying breath. You hadn’t forgotten that he was there, but you didn’t think that he would want to talk to you.

“Thank you, Dan. That means a lot.” Dan knew that your smile was a sad one, but he also knew that this was neither the time nor the place. The two of you needed to talk—really talk—and soon.

“Can we talk? After work, I mean.” The question hung heavily in the air for just a moment too long before you nodded your head and stood, backing away from the couch. The air was too thick and you couldn’t breathe. You needed to get out. To get away from Danny and the way he made your head spin and your heart ache. You had recorded what you were here to record and now it was time to go.

“After work. My place.” You confirmed, turning on your heel to get the hell out of there as fast as possible.

Danny watched you run away without another word.

Chapter Text

Your hands shook as you went through the motions of brewing coffee. You didn’t really want to drink any, but it felt like it was the right thing to do. Conversations happened over coffee. Serious ones did, at least. You weren’t sure what it was that Danny wanted to say to you, but you knew that you had to hear it.

Even being in the same room as him that day had been more than you could have hoped for. It had been two months. Two months since you had even caught a glimpse of him. Sometimes you had heard him singing from the other side of the wall, and sometimes you could hear him laughing at something that Barry said, but that was all. You hadn’t even run into him in the parking lot during those two months.

You flipped the switch for the coffee pot on and looked for something else to busy your hands. You had cookie dough left over from a late night stress-baking session so you made those now. The act of rolling the dough into balls was therapeutic, even if it made your hands greasy. You had cookies in the oven and coffee in the pot, and still you weren’t satisfied.

You had cleaned your apartment as soon as you got home. You changed from the clothes you had worn to the Grump Space into yoga pants and a t-shirt, throwing your hair up into a messy bun so that you could at least pretend like you were relaxing. Your original plan was to go back to work after the recording session, but you were too shaken up for that. The morning had gone well, but you were still on edge. Danny wanted to talk to you. Danny wanted to talk to you. Your mind raced as you tried to figure out what he would say.

Would he be sorry? You wondered if he had any concept of how much his silence had hurt you. You wondered if that would scare him away. Too deep too fast. You reminded yourself. Just because you were there doesn’t mean that he was too. Yes, he had been the one to take a step back, but what did that mean? His friends assured you that Danny had never been a jealous man, and yet…

The doorbell rang and your heart leapt into your throat. You could hear it beating even as you tried to convince yourself that you could do this. It was just Danny. But it was Danny.

You bit the bullet and swung open the door. Every single time you saw Daniel Avidan, he was wearing some variation of the same outfit, but he still managed to look gorgeous. That hadn’t changed, but he looked different somehow. Tired. Defeated. You wanted to reach out and touch him, but you stepped to the side and invited him into your apartment instead.

The first thing Danny noticed is that you were shaking like a leaf. Trembling even. He wondered what he had done to inspire that much fear in you. The thought made him sick and so he pushed it away.

He wanted nothing more than to pull you into his arms and beg you for forgiveness. You weren’t his to control. You weren’t his at all. He shouldn’t have gotten angry at you for being with another man. He shouldn’t have gotten jealous. It wasn’t his place. He resisted the urge. He had come to talk, and the two of you would talk.

Your apartment smelled like coffee and cookies. It was a strange combination, but not entirely unpleasant. The oven timer beeped and you cursed, shutting the door behind him and rushing to take the cookies out of the oven.

Danny took that time to survey your apartment. Not much had changed. You had switched up some of your posters and rearranged your couches. There were different placemats on your table and the atmosphere was different too, but that was all. It was still undeniably yours.

You transferred the cookies to the cooling rack and pretended not to watch Danny as he got reacquainted with your apartment. With both hands in his pockets, he looked entirely at ease. You envied him.

“You can take a seat.” You called out, “Couch or table, it’s up to you.” It was better that he made the choice. That he set the tone. You would follow his lead.

He chose the couch. He didn’t sprawl across it like he used to, sitting mostly upright with his legs crossed at the ankle. That shouldn’t have made you choke up like it did, but it still did. You wondered how you had made such a mess of yourself. You put the cooling cookies on a tray along with coffee, mugs, cream, and sugar and set them up on the coffee table. You also grabbed two bottles of water from the fridge and placed them on the table too. You were about to go back to the kitchen when Danny spoke.

“Sit down. Please.” You obeyed without a thought. You wiped the cookie dough grease on your sweatpants and took a seat on the other side of the couch. Danny regarded you silently. He wanted to ask you if you knew how beautiful you were. He wanted to tell you that you looked perfect like this. That he wishes he was the one who could always see you like this. He wanted to say so much that he had no right saying.

“I’m sorry.” The words came tumbling out of his mouth with no planning and no grace. He had everything in the world to say to you, but he could only form the two words. He hoped you knew that he meant them.

“No, I’m sorry.” You countered. You opened your mouth to explain, but Danny shook his head. When he made eye contact with you, it was clear that he needed to get his words out and so you let him.

“You have nothing to be sorry for. I have been the most immature dick for the past two months and that is not okay. I got jealous. I got angry. I didn’t know who I was. I took that out on you, and that wasn’t fair.” You opened your mouth to protest but he shook his head again as if predicting what you were going to say, “Please don’t try to defend it. What I did was way uncool. Beyond that. You have a right to do what—and who—ever you want. I only hope that you can forgive me.”

And that was that. He laid it out in front of you. No excuses. No explanations. No fluff. He left out the fact that he had been pining for you for months. That he wore earplugs on the nights when Mark came over, even if it meant that he would miss his alarms in the morning. That he spent countless nights wandering the apartment complex trying to think of things that he had done differently. That he so desperately wanted to pick up where the two of you had left off, even if he knew that he didn’t deserve that.

You couldn’t hold back the tears that came. The loneliness, the insecurity, the regret, it all spilled out of you in that moment and you covered your face with your hands as you sobbed.

“I thought you hated me, Danny. I just wanted to talk and you were never there. So many nights… So many nights I just had to go outside because everything felt wrong and I couldn’t breathe. Danny, it was awful.” Some of your words were lost to your sobs, but Danny understood. He remembered the image of you standing in the moonlight, face turned towards the sky. There had been tears then too. He had hidden in the darkness.

He moved closer to you cautiously, afraid to push your boundaries, but when he was close enough, you launched yourself into his arms and he held you, rubbing your back.

There were no words between the two of you as you cried. Nothing could change the fact that Danny had hurt you, even if he desperately wanted to take it all back. Nothing could change the fact that he had been hurt, too.

He whispered soft I’m sorry’s to you as you soaked his shirt with tears and you forgave him. For you it was never a question.

You weren’t sure how long it took for you to stop crying, but you felt better once you did. You set up slowly, pulling yourself away from Danny.

“God, I’m sorry.” You said, wiping the tears from your eyes hurriedly. You felt embarrassed and vulnerable. You hadn’t planned on letting go like that in front of him. You meant for this to be a civil conversation and here you were drowning him in tears. You stood to do something, anything, but he followed and held your hand.

“Stop apologizing to me.” He said gently. You didn’t crumble this time, but you did let him hug you. You wrapped your arms around him and buried your face in his still-wet shirt. The two of you stood there for a moment and then you reached up, pulling him down to you and kissing him with everything that you had been holding back.

He matched your passion, falling to the couch over you as you pulled him down. Your fingers slid into his hair and you pulled him closer. He pressed kisses to your lips and face and neck and then the doorbell rang.

You stopped cold, staring at each other for a long moment before Danny thought to move away from you. You jumped up and hurried to your door. You weren’t expecting company besides Danny.

When you opened the door, Mark was standing there with a pair of your panties proudly balanced on one finger.

“You left these at my place so I washed them. Thought I’d drop them off since I was in the neighborhood.” You looked between him and Danny and took a step back to let him into your apartment, taking your underwear from him as you went.

Danny half-smiled and greeted Mark with a handshake as he left to go back to his own apartment. The coffee and cookies on your coffee table sat untouched.

Mark noted your red, puffy eyes and your swollen lips and he understood.

“I actually wanted to talk to you.” He said quietly. He shut the door and led you to the couch, sitting you down.

“I don’t think it’s good for you, what we’ve been doing.” He admitted, “falling into bed after drinks and out of bed when we’re sober… It’s tearing you apart. Look, I just…” He trailed off for a moment and you stared at him expectantly. You weren’t sure if you were teary-eyed from your conversation with Dan or if these were new tears, but they were there nonetheless.

“I’ve told you I’m not looking for anything but casual and you don’t need casual. You’re cool as hell and I want to be your friend, but we have to stop this.” You nodded your understanding and took a slow, shuddering breath.

“Yeah. Yeah, alright.” You said. You knew in your heart that you wanted to be with Dan, but this still stung. It didn’t make sense and it didn’t have to. It just hurt.

Mark leaned forward and pressed a slow kiss against your lips. There was the normal crackle of electricity that you felt when he touched you, somehow enhanced by the bitter-sweetness of the moment. He pulled away and smiled at you, and then he was gone.

There was something sad in that smile that you couldn’t quite place, but it was gone just as quickly as it came.

Danny sat at the edge of his bed and tried to think through everything that had happened that day. Forgiveness. Redemption. Mark had made a decision when he shook Dan’s hand, and Dan could see it in his face.

Dan’s phone vibrated in his hand and he looked down to see a text from the man himself.

She’s crazy about you, Avidan. Treat her right.

He wondered if the or else behind those words was just his imagination. He wondered if you even knew how much Mark actually cared about you. He wanted to reach out to Mark, to make sure he would be okay, but he didn’t.

It wasn’t his place.

I will.

Chapter Text

Healing was a slow and painful process. It took time to wash the taste of Mark out of your mouth. It took even longer to wash the smell of him off of your skin and out of your sheets. There is no way to get rid of the memory of his touch on your skin or the richness of his voice when he whispered drunken nothings into your ears.

You never showed your sadness. You had something casual with Mark. Something fun. Something that would have destroyed both of you if you had tried to take it a step further. Something that never would have lasted no matter how you played the game.

Still, you quietly mourned its loss. You washed your sheets every Friday night and tossed the pairs of underwear that most reminded you of him, replacing them only at 3am when you needed a distraction from whatever thoughts were plaguing you. You stopped drinking alone, putting all your alcohol in a trunk under your bed.

It took a while, but you healed. You put yourself back together. And then you let Danny back in.

That, too, was a slow process. You texted him when you needed help figuring out what song you had stuck in your head and he always had the answers. You brought over pasta in Tupperware when you made too much for one person and he and Barry were always happy to take it off your hands. You bought cheese again.

You found yourself again in small increments. You brought your guitar out of storage and practiced on your off days. You found a small keyboard on Craigslist and it took up residence in your living room. You picked up the pieces of yourself that you had left behind. There was more than Danny and more than Mark. You had lost with them, too, but there were parts of you that had fallen away long before you met them. You reclaimed those now, too. You rebuilt yourself until you were whole.

You laid on your bed with your guitar laying somewhere to the left of you. You had been trying to compose something, but you were feeling utterly uninspired. It had been a month since you and Mark “broke up” and a month since you had reconciled with Danny. CJ insisted that the two of you were taking things too slowly, but you could tell that he was proud of you for picking yourself up.

Is that a guitar I hear?

You ignored the text at first. It was late and you didn’t want to go out clubbing with CJ. Not this weekend. You tried to form an excuse, but you decided to be honest with him instead. You didn’t expect to see Danny’s name on your phone.

That it is. I didn’t realize the walls were that thin.

Danny winced at that comment, pointedly not thinking about the kind of things that he had heard through your wall. He hadn’t realized that you didn’t know.

Care to jam?

He didn’t acknowledge the comment. The two of you, despite rebuilding your friendship, hadn’t hung out one-on-one since your last talk. Since that kiss. He had poured everything he felt for you into that kiss and you had done the same. The distance was good. It gave him time to forgive. It gave him time to be forgiven.

Get your ass over here, Danny Boy.

Dan smiled at the nickname and grabbed his own guitar. He was eager to see you again. He would be lying if he claimed that he hadn’t been thinking of you, but there was something to be said about gradually allowing a person back into your life. It felt safe. It felt right.

For once, you didn’t have to scramble to clean your apartment before Danny came over. Not everything was in the right place, but that was fine. There was an Xbox Controller on the kitchen counter and mail on the coffee table. One of your posters was hanging crooked on your wall, but you couldn’t tell if it had always been like that or not. Nothing you did seemed to fix it, so you had stopped trying.

You did change out of the clothes you had worn to work that day into a soft t-shirt and a pair of shorts. You left your hair down, running a hand through it as you relocated to the living room.

For the first time in a long time, the knock on the front door didn’t make you feel anxious. You thought that was a good sign.

You opened the door and regarded Danny for a moment before letting him in. He was dressed in what you could only describe as typical Danny attire with his guitar strapped to his back and his hands shoved in his pockets. He had eyeliner on from whatever he had been doing that day, and you hated how well it suited him.

“Hey.” You said quietly, stepping to the side so that he could walk past you.

“Hey.” He responded, his voice soft. Almost tender. More had never been said in fewer words.

“Would you like a drink? I’ve got loads of tea if you plan on singing.” You offered. You suddenly felt very vulnerable in your own home. For the first time in a very long time, it actually did feel like home. Danny smiled at you and some of that vulnerable feeling melted away.

“Tea me, baby.” You laughed and shook your head at him and the two of you were back. You put the kettle on for tea, instead of relying on your Keurig. Something in the process was relaxing. Or maybe you were just pretentious, but you didn’t want to admit to that.

“Oh, I’ll tea you so good.” You picked chamomile with honey. Both of you could use a little soothing, even if Danny looked entirely at home sprawled out on your couch tuning his guitar. You hopped up on your counter while you waited for the kettle to boil. Danny was strumming something and making up the lyrics as he went along. You closed your eyes and just listened.

You thought to tell Danny that sometimes, when you had been lonely, you would listen to Ninja Sex Party songs. It had been a nice way to feel close to him when he was avoiding you. You actually liked their music quite a bit. You decided to keep it to yourself. Partially to keep Danny’s ego in check and partially so you didn’t have to talk about anything that had happened. You both had spent more than enough time getting away from all of that.

The kettle boiled and you brought the two mugs of tea over to your coffee table. You placed them on coasters and grabbed your guitar before settling into the small space that Danny left on the couch. Danny’s random strumming took the form of Subdivisions and you joined in, keeping time with him as he started singing the words.

You knew Rush. Rush was easy. Rush was much easier than whatever weird in-between state you were at with Danny and so you played and it was good.

“I’ve been playing around with something if you wanna help me compose. It’s what you heard through the wall.” You told him. He shifted to sit closer to you.

“Yeah, give me what you’ve got and I’ll follow your lead.” He answered, suddenly serious. You played the bits of song that had been floating around in your head for the past few days. You knew that there was something there, but you couldn’t put it all together yet. You finished the part that you had gotten so far and then started over.

The second time around, Danny joined in, adding a few flavor notes here or there and fleshing out some parts that had seemed bare. You got to the part that you had stopped at and the two of you kept going. It was a duet. You should have recognized that from the threadbare part that you had composed, but you had never really bothered to write for anyone else before. The two of you composed together, backing up a few times to change a note here and tweak something there.

The words would come later, they always did, but for now this was enough. You recorded the two of you playing together with your phone. It was a shitty recording, but it would help you write down the notes for later.

By the time the two of you were finished composing that, two hours had passed. Your tea was mostly gone and what was left had gone cold. You set your guitar in its stand and stretched. Danny placed his back in his case and followed suit.

“God, we’re good together.” You commented as you plopped back down on the couch. Danny looked over at you and smiled.

“Yeah, yeah we are.” He said his words as though they had weight to them—a deeper meaning. It wasn’t lost on you, but you didn’t know what to say in return. You just smiled. Danny was close to you now. Close enough that you could smell the honey on his breath and feel the warmth of his skin. He was looking at you through thick lashes, the eyeliner he was wearing only serving to intensify the look.

You had to remind yourself to breathe.

The world moved in slow motion as Danny shifted and moved towards you. You were leaning against one of the arms of the couch and he moved over you now. He was slow, gentle. He cupped your cheek with one hand and steadied himself with the other.

“May I kiss you?” He asked, his voice low and gentle.

“Fuck yes.” The words were barely out of your mouth before he was kissing you. His kiss was heat and passion and god had you been missing out. He kissed you slowly, stealing your breath and overwhelming your senses. He gently sucked your bottom lip and you gasped softly. You wanted him, needed him. Maybe it was the music or maybe the eyeliner was really doing it for you, but you ached with desire for his touch.

“God. You are. So beautiful.” He whispered between kisses. He needed to be close to you. He needed to touch you.

“Bedroom.” You murmured, shifting away from him so that you could actually talk. The look he gave you was heated, promising. He stood and helped you up, following you through your apartment to your bedroom. Danny’s hands were on you the second you crossed into the room, sliding beneath your t-shirt so that he could feel your skin. He took his time touching you, memorizing the smoothness of your skin, teasing you by touching everywhere but your breasts.

“Strip. Please.” You weren’t quite sure if it were a command or a request but you didn’t care. You undressed quickly, slipping out of your t-shirt and shorts and tossing them into your laundry hamper. When those were gone, he was on you again, pulling you to the bed with him. His mouth found your neck as his fingers found your nipple and you moaned as he touched you.

He peppered kisses along your neck, across your collarbone, on your sternum, and then took your other nipple into his hot mouth. You gave into sensation, closing your eyes and arching into him as he set your body on fire. His movements were slow and deliberate as he touched you. He wanted you to feel him. He wanted you to know who was making you feel.

His kisses took him lower until he was kissing along your panty line, nibbling the sensitive skin of your inner thigh, teasing you through the fabric of your underwear.

“Is this alright?” He asked, moving away, “I mean, do you want this?”

“Yes. God yes. Please.

“Can I borrow a hair tie?” He asked. Your memory returned to a dream that seemed like it happened centuries ago and you smiled as he took the hair tie from around your wrist and pulled his hair back into a ponytail. Oh fuck. The eyeliner was bad enough, but the ponytail made it a thing. You would try to remember to mention it to him later, but he had returned to teasing you, slowly working down your underwear as he pressed kisses to each new inch of exposed skin.

His tongue found you wet and waiting and he moaned as he tasted you. Any semblance of control that he had demonstrated before that evaporated as he slung your legs over his shoulders to get closer. You felt like you were somewhere between a dream and reality as he ate you like a man starved.

You pressed your head back into your pillows and clenched your sheets in tightly balled fists, looking for any sort of purchase as a low moan escaped your throat.

Danny licked and sucked at your clit, intent on wiping that little smile off your face as you writhed above him.

The warm wet heat of his mouth was all you could comprehend, all you knew—All you wanted to know.

His teeth found your thigh and he sucked a hickey there, bringing you back to him. His eyes were on you, burning into you with an intensity that made you weak.

“Do not look away.”

He kept eye contact with you as he dipped his head again, lapping at your core. It was all you could do to keep your eyes open as he unraveled you bit by bit. You moaned, your body shaking, your hips bucking against him. He pulled your hips back down to him and redoubled his efforts.

“Cum for me.” He commanded, and you were undone. Danny’s name escaped from your lips and he, too, recalled that night months ago. A nightmare.

Now the he had seen what you looked like when you came, he wanted nothing more than to fuck you until it happened again and again and again. You were still trembling when he moved back between your legs, but you pushed him away, too sensitive for his renewed onslaught.

He had wanted you before, but now that he had a taste for you, he had to have you. You shifted in the bed, and pushed him up to his feet. You started undressing him without further words, unbuttoning his pants and shoving them away. He shed his shirt and you pulled his boxers down as he stepped out of his shoes and pants. You started to sink to your knees, but he stopped you.

“Not now. I need you. Please, I need you.” His voice was raspy with need and you nodded, fumbling in a side drawer to grab a condom. He rolled it on and then he was on you again, kissing and touching you. Your skin was on fire as he slid his hand down your body, brushing his index finger over your still-sensitive clit before sliding a finger into you. He fingered you slowly, stretching you out so that he could fit inside of you.

“Fuck, baby, you’re so wet.” He rasped. Danny ached for you. He needed to be inside of you. He bit his tongue and slowly added another finger.

You clung to Danny’s arm as he fingered you. You were achy and sensitive in the best possible way and he was teasing with his slow, measured movements. If you couldn’t hear his ragged breathing in your ear, you would think that he was too composed.

“Danny, please. I want to feel you inside of me.” He slowly slid his fingers out of you and then sucked your juices off of them one by one as if savoring the taste of you.

Danny!” He laughed at your impatience and repositioned himself between your legs. He stretched you slowly, with the same tenderness as before. You forgot how to speak somewhere between the first thrust and the second, so you just relaxed into your bed and give in to him.

Danny fucked you slowly, cursing quietly about how hot you were, how wet you were, how tight you were, how fucking beautiful you looked under him.

It built slowly, but you felt tension coiling in your core again. You reached out for him, touching whatever skin you could reach as he pushed you closer and closer to the edge with every thrust. Your breath quickened as you fought to hold on to your composure. You didn’t want this to end. Fucking Danny felt right and beautiful and musical and you were losing control.

His fingers found your clit and you fell over the edge with Danny following shortly after. He moaned your name and trembled as he came.

Danny pulled out carefully and tied up the condom, tossing it in your trash can. You pushed your comforter down and slid underneath, inviting Danny to follow. He slid into bed behind you, wrapping his arms around you and pulling you closer. He pressed a kiss to the back of your neck and murmured something affectionate that you couldn’t quite catch.

You fell asleep in the afterglow, feeling safe and stable in Danny’s arms.

Chapter Text

You woke up the next morning to the soft sound of a guitar strumming in your living room. You stood slowly, still delightfully sore from the night before. You pulled on your silky bathrobe and padded quietly out of your room.

Danny was sitting in the living room with sunlight in his hair and his eyes shut, playing his part of the duet that you had written together. He was singing quietly, writing lyrics as he sang and backtracking when something sounded wrong. He looked so peaceful that you didn’t want to interrupt, so you leaned against the wall and just listened.

Danny was beautiful with the sun shining on him and music on his lips. Even the remnants of yesterday’s eyeliner couldn’t diminish his looks. You watched for several minutes before grabbing your makeup wipes from the bathroom counter and joining him on the couch.

When he noticed you, Danny put his guitar to the side and pulled you into a sleepy good morning kiss.

“I thought you’d left.” You murmured, pressing a kiss to the corner of his mouth.

Never.” He assured you and he sounded serious. You pulled a makeup wipe from the container and made Danny close his eyes, gently wiping the eyeliner from his face. He let you, relaxing under your careful ministrations.

“There you go.”

When you returned from putting the makeup wipes away, Danny was waiting for you. He pulled you down into his lap and buried his face in your neck, kissing whatever exposed skin he could find.

“You’re so fucking amazing.” He whispered, tightening his grip around you. You laughed and turned to kiss him. His kiss was soft and gentle. It held a question that he didn’t dare ask out loud. Not yet.

You led Danny back to your bed and the two of you basked in each other’s presence all morning. There was a feeling of Finally in the air, the neither of you thought to say it.

Danny couldn’t keep his hands off of you. He ran his fingers through your hair, cupped your face in his hand, traced the curve of your spine—Anything to assure himself that you were real. That this was real. He kissed you, always soft and slow and cautious.

Danny experienced a sudden feeling of vertigo as it occurred to him that you still weren’t his. That he had poured out his feelings and you had yours, but he had been too much of a coward to ask you a simple question.

“[First name].” Your name was heavy on his tongue and he had to force the syllables out of his mouth one at a time.

“Yeah?” You asked, shifting so that you could see his face better. Danny reached for you hand and wrapped his hands around one of yours, pressing a kiss into your palm and then balling your hand into a fist.

“Can we make this official? I don’t know if this is too soon or too fast, but I need you to be mine. I need to be yours.” He had so much more to say, but he cut his speech short because you looked like you were going to fall. The first of the tears fell and he pulled you into his chest, whispering to you comfortingly. “Shh, I’m sorry, you don’t have to answer. It’s alright. Please don’t cry.”

You shook your head and kissed him, silencing his concern.

“No, I—Fuck, Danny, of course we can make this official. I’m all yours.” Danny couldn’t think of any words more beautiful than the ones you had just spoken, so he just kissed you and held you close and that was all either of you needed to say.