Oh, The Places You'll Go

In Vino Veritas

Notes: Prompted by the word 'skittish' which appeared unbidden in my head one morning, for no readily apparent reason, and refused to leave me alone. And with a nod to Mr W. Shakespeare who knows what too much tequila can do to a guy...


PORTER: Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes; it
provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance:
therefore, much drink may be said to be an equivocator with
lechery: it makes him, and it mars him; it sets him on, and it
takes him off; it persuades him, and disheartens him; makes him
stand to, and not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him in a
sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him.
Macbeth, II, iii


Something was not right. Dan was ...

Skittish. That was the word that came to mind as Casey watched his friend. Every time they made eye contact, Dan's eyes would skitter away, to the laptop screen, to a book, to thin air. Dan's hands skittered across the keyboard, to his coffee cup, to fidget with a mechanical pencil, back to the keyboard. If Casey made a sudden movement or noise, Dan would flinch a little. And if Casey's attempts to start a conversation led with anything other than work or sport, Dan was out of the room before Casey had managed to reach the first period. Skittish. There was no other word for it.

Casey frowned as he studied Dan. What was this all about? He couldn't think of anything he had done. Not this time.

It had started a few days ago, the night after Dana's birthday bash at Anthony's. God, that had been a great night. Apparently. He didn't remember much of it, but he remembered the morning after.

~

He woke, head pounding as the sun laced across his pillow. Squinting, he looked around blearily. He was in his own bed - that was something at least. He yawned, smelling his own sour morning breath, and winced as the throbbing in his temples cranked up a notch. He felt cramped up and wrinkled, and stretched his limbs, pointing his toes down to pull at the tight muscles in his calves, drawing his shoulders up. There was a strange sensation on his belly; something was tugging at his skin. He dragged at the sheet and was met with a dull ripping sound and a sharp, stinging pain as if he had removed a Band-Aid. Casey grimaced. What the? Memories of adolescence crowded into Casey's befuddled head and realisation dawned. Oh. That. He blushed. It had been a long time since that had happened. No big deal, he thought. He must have had some interesting dreams, it was just a shame he'd been too drunk to remember them. In fact, he couldn't even remember getting home. He did remember betting Kim that in two minutes he could drink more tequila shots than she could. He had no idea who had won, but he knew that after the eighth shot he hadn't cared.

Getting out of bed, a man old before his time, he creaked into the bathroom. It was only when the hot water was running over him that he realised that he had gone to bed naked. His brain was definitely on a go-slow. He hoped that the world of sport was going to take a day off.

When he finally made it into work, sunglasses still firmly attached to his head despite the significant lack of sunshine inside the CSC building, Dan was already in the office. The look of alarm on Dan's face at the sight of him surprised Casey.

"It's OK. I don't have a brain tumour or anything. Just the world's worst hangover." Dan said nothing. Just stared, face pale. Casey made it as far as the couch, manoeuvring himself from a standing to a sitting to a lying position in a series of moves that made Mr Bean seem adept.

"Danny, I think I might not be much use today. I can't even remember how I got home last night."

"You can't remember," echoed Dan.

"Nope," replied Casey, cheerful in the face of adversity. "But I woke up in my bed, so I consider that a bonus."

"Right," said Dan, in a faded voice.

"You'll have to be my man today, Danny. I get the feeling I'm going to be useless."

Dan stared. Then left the room.

***

Casey was watching again. Dan wished he would just say something. This jovial bonhomie was killing him. Did he remember, or didn't he? There was no way Dan could ask. Dan stared through the screen as he typed his report on the Orioles' latest signing. When he drew his eyes into focus he found he was not surprised that the script read "cowardcowardcowardcoward ..." He deleted, and gazed at the blank page. It was no good. How was he supposed to think about anything with this thing hanging round his neck? He couldn't decide if he was more frustrated, worried or wounded. Dan wondered if it would look out of place if he started banging his head on the table. It was partly his own fault, he knew. He shouldn't have left, he should have seen it through, but the terror had been overwhelming and he hadn't been able to fight it.

~

Casey was wrecked. Really wrecked. Dan hadn't seen him so drunk since the divorce had been finalised. He warned him not to go toe-to-toe with Kim, but Casey was on a high and there was no stopping him. And honestly? Dan was pretty drunk too, and his efforts to hold Casey back were fairly perfunctory. Everyone wanted to see Casey get his ass whupped by a girl. And it was, because Kim kept going the whole two minutes, whereas after eight shots Casey forgot that he was in a contest and started hugging everyone in sight, whether he knew them or not. Dana suggested that it might be time to take him home, before the law suits started piling up. Dan wanted to know which idiot had to take on that job and was somewhat startled and hurt when everybody laughed. Apparently it was his job by default.

"You're partners," Natalie explained when he complained about the inevitability of it all. "You take care of each other. It's the rules." Dan failed to receive a satisfactory explanation as to whose rules they were and why they were weighted so unfairly against him, and found himself disengaging Casey from a random brunette. It was unclear to him whether she was grateful or annoyed for this interference, but he didn't much care either way. Neither, it seemed, did Casey, who merely transferred his embrace to Dan, muttering into Dan's hair as he was dragged from the bar.

"'R m'bes' frien', Danny," he slurred, his breath hot against Dan's ear.

"Well, the taxi driver tha's crazy enough to let you into his cab is mine. You'll have to get in line." Danny frowned. Was that a slur? And he had thought he was the sober one.

Casey stiffened.

"'M hurt!"

"Drunk."

"Hurt!"

"Extraordil...extranor...very drunk."

"Drunk," nodded Casey, the motion causing Dan's hair to stand on end. Dan smiled to himself. At least Casey was in agreeable drunk mode - that would make dealing with him much easier.

"Druuuunk," drawled agreeable Casey, tightening his embrace around Dan and rubbing his cheek along the side of Dan's head. Dan felt himself harden. Not now, he told himself desperately. Not now. As a yellow taxi pulled up at the kerb, Dan wondered if the driver would take kindly to being kissed by an indebted man. He presumed money would be a more customary choice.

They made it back to Casey's apartment without mishap, Dan propping Casey against the door jamb and removing his keys after he had spent the best part of five minutes trying to get the door open with the key to Charlie's bike lock. Once inside, Dan lost no time in ordering Casey around. Get it done and get out, he told himself. Get home and you can jerk off until you see stars, but just get away from him. He loved Casey in every guise, but agreeable-drunk-Casey, who hugged and petted and gangled and peeped up from below his eyelashes with some darkly suggestive looks, that Casey was one of his particular favourites. But it wasn't the real Casey and he knew better than to interpret the touches and gazes as anything other than the result of the alcohol galloping around Casey's bloodstream. Or was that the blood galloping around his alcohol stream? It was hard to tell at this point.

So Dan issued the orders and Casey followed them like the good little tin soldier he was. First to the bathroom, to pee and brush your teeth. You'll thank me for it in the morning. Now into bed while I fetch your water. Clothes off. You're not sleeping in those. And here's the water and ... Oh.

Casey had followed orders all right. To the letter. Dan had told him to get undressed but hadn't mentioned putting on night clothes. When Dan brought Casey his glass of water, he found him naked on top of the covers. A little water sloshed over the top of the glass, dripping over Dan's hand. He had seen Casey in various states of undress, stood next to him countless times at the urinal, but nothing had prepared him for this. For this. Wanton nakedness. Casey's eyes were shut and one arm hung off the bed while the other was flung above his head revealing damp, curling hairs. Rooted to the spot, Dan had an overwhelming desire to bury his nose in Casey's armpit, to drink in his smell, to lick the sweat from him. He swallowed hard, but that only served to push the craving down from his gut into his groin and he swelled again.

His eyes swept over Casey's body, long and lean, yet still soft. He was not surprised by the hairs on Casey's chest, had seen them before, but the sudden darkening and thickening of the hair around the base of Casey's cock caused his breath to catch. And then there was the cock itself, tired, flaccid, drunk and dozy, but Dan still wanted it. Wanted to take it in his mouth and suck the life back into it, goad it into a reaction with his tongue and his teeth. A tiny moan escaped him and Casey opened his eyes. And, dear god, there was that look again. He had to escape.

Dan broke eye contact and strode round the bed to the bedside table. He put the glass down, wiping his still-wet hand on his pants, accidentally brushing his erection as he did so. He winced. Get it together, Dan, he admonished.

"OK," he mustered up some brightness. "Tha's everything. You might want to climb under the sheets, gets cold round sunrise. 'm gonna get going. Can hear my bed calling across the New York widler ... wilderness. G'night, Casey. Be int'resting to see tomorrow's fallout." Long words were complex entities, Dan thought. And then wondered idly how he could think them lucidly yet be unable to say them.

He turned to go, but before he had taken a step his wrist was encircled in a firm grip. Dan tried to pry off Casey's fingers. "Casey, c'mon. I have to go."

But Casey held firm and Dan was forced to look at him. Casey's eyes were trained firmly on the bulge in Dan's pants and the look on his face was unmistakeable. He wanted it. Wanted Dan. Just the idea made Dan harden even more, taking him to the tipping point of pain and pleasure. Casey reached out with his other hand, his aim obvious. Dan grabbed it before it could reach its destination.

"Casey, no," he managed to get out between clenched teeth.

"I thin'...kyoumeanyesss." Casey's words ran over themselves. He released Dan's wrist and renewed his foray. He feinted to the right, Dan missed, and Casey's hand settled for a brief second over Dan's erection, stroking downwards with slender fingers before Dan pulled him away.

Dan wanted to scream in frustration. He was trying so hard to do the right thing. Why did Casey have to make it so difficult? He could go off agreeable-drunk-Casey, he decided.

"I said no, Casey. Believe me, 's for the best."

"Whose bes'?"

"Yours."

"Not yours?" Casey scrunched up his face in what Dan presumed was probably his best attempt at an 'I'm perceptive' expression.

"Yes. Mine too," he said more sharply than he meant.

Casey shook his head.

"No. Not yours. You wan' me. I see it. Loo'!" He nodded his head disturbingly close to Dan's groin.

"I want doesn't get. Didn't your mother ever tell you that?"

"Nope."

"How about 'you can't always get what you want'?" Flippancy. That's right, thought Dan. Always a good distraction technique.

"Bu' if you try sometime, you mi' find you ge' wa' you need. Right?"

"I don't need you, Casey."

"Are you sure?"

Dan dropped Casey's arms and backed up against the wall, welcoming the cool surface as he pressed his body against it.

"Drop it, Casey. I'm going home."

"Yeah, looks like it." Casey smiled. A slow, lazy, sexy smile that Dan had never seen before. His mouth went dry and he longed for the glass of water Casey was now draining. Dan was very grateful for the support of the wall; it seemed the alcohol that he had consumed before their abrupt departure from the party was causing his legs to shake.

Casey put the glass down and smiled again. "C'mon, Danny. Aren't you tired of this game already? It's been ... what? Years? Seems to me the only time when we dare to be honest, to be real is when we're drunk."

Dan didn't know if he was more surprised that Casey had stopped slurring or that his world had been so comprehensively turned upside down by Casey's words. Reality had swapped sides. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to do, so he did nothing. Casey stretched out a hand towards him, open-palmed, inviting. Dan shook his head, mute. The blood was pounding round his body so hard now that he knew if he stepped away from the wall he was liable to drop like a stone. His brain struggled to compute the meaning of Casey's words, to fit it into his mental schema. If Casey believed what he said, then all those times when they could've ... And he'd ... That time. That first time he'd met agreeable-drunk-Casey, when nineteen year old Dan had taken pity on moping Casey whose fiancée was out of town and they'd whiled away a pleasant evening in an unremarkable bar. And when they had parted company at the end of Dan's street, there had been that look and a leaning in and a warm, soft kiss, all too brief, before Casey had turned away, saying "I'm sorry, I miss Lisa."

Which was the lie? The kiss or the comment?

Dan's fingers moved unconsciously to his lips, tracing the lines that Casey had kissed all those years ago. He felt as if his mind was on the verge of exploding as contradictory memories, ideas and beliefs warred with one another. The fingers on Casey's outstretched hand curled and uncurled.

"Danny," he said, and Dan could hear the desire hidden in the word, dark and sweet, and suddenly he couldn't think any more. In two strides he was at the bed, and then Casey's arms were reaching up to pull him down, and the second their lips touched Dan knew all higher order functioning was going to have to wait. There was no tentative touching here, no testing the waters, just years of repressed passion all clamouring to be expressed at once. Casey's mouth opened under Dan's and he slid his tongue in, tasting the peculiar combination of tequila, toothpaste and something else, something uniquely Casey. Casey sucked at Dan's bottom lip drawing a whimper and prompting Dan to clutch Casey's hair, pushing their heads closer together, as if anything could be close enough. Casey's hands were busy unbuttoning Dan's shirt with a determination Dan would have been proud of had he been able to focus on anything other than the sensation of Casey's tongue stroking the underside of his upper lip. Casey pushed the open shirt down over Dan's shoulders and between them they managed to remove it, the awkward shuffling of weight from one side to the other causing their lips to part. Panting heavily, with Dan now half-naked and his cock, still imprisoned, hard against Casey's hip, they looked at each other, kiss-swollen mouths, black, black eyes, and grinned.

"Hi," said Dan.

"Hi."

"This is good."

"You want to talk or d'you want to shut the fuck up and kiss me?"

There was only one response to that and Dan bent his head to Casey's again, resting his weight along the length of Casey's body. He moved from Casey's lips to kiss along his jawline, letting his tongue flick just behind Casey's ear. That got goosebumps and a moan. He kissed down the tendon at the side of Casey's neck, then settled in just behind the collarbone, sucking and nipping. More moans. He moved across to the hollow below Casey's Adam's apple, swirling his tongue around it then blowing on it with hot breath.

"God, Danny," groaned Casey. "You're killing me." And Danny started the same journey in reverse up the other side of Casey's neck, to his ear and along his jawline until he reclaimed his lips and kissed them into oblivion. Casey writhed underneath him; grabbing Dan's hair he pulled gently, breaking the kiss.

"I want to see you, Danny. I need to see you. Please."

Dan needed no second bidding. His cock strained against the cotton and he knew from the warm wetness against his skin that he'd been leaking, impatient to be touched. He rolled off Casey and, half-sitting, removed the rest of his clothing with alacrity. He turned on his side to face Casey.

"Oh!" said Casey, his eyes sweeping the length of Dan's body. "You're beautiful, Danny. I always thought ... God, you're so beautiful I can't stand it."

Dan reached out to stroke Casey's face with the back of his hand. He turned it to brush across Casey's shoulder, his flat palm tracing the contours of the muscles in Casey's arm. As he stroked across Casey's hip, the nagging awareness that had been at the corner of his mind crystallised. Here he was, so ready to go you could hang the Stars and Stripes from his dick, and there was nothing, no answering response at all from Casey. Casey must have seen his face fall because he laughed and leaned over to kiss Dan. When they managed to drag themselves apart after several minutes (it was honestly like being a teenager again, Dan thought), Casey took Dan's hand and placed it on his soft penis and laughed again.

"'s like Shakespeare said. Tequila provokes desire, but takes away performance. 's not you, Danny, believe me. This is all José Cuervo's fault." Dan obviously still looked unsure because Casey continued, "Seriously, it's not you. Look at you. I want you so much right now I could ... I could ... I could spontaneously combust. Boom!" His arm flailed in the air, then landed with a slap against Dan's hip. " Any other time? I would totally be poking your eye out with this thing, but ..."

"Tequila."

"Yeah, tequila."

"I don't recall Shakespeare name-checking the party animal's drink of choice."

"I may have been para ... paphara ... making it up a little."

"OK." Dan smiled back. "You want me?"

"Who wouldn't?"

"You got me." And Dan pulled Casey on top of him and stopped thinking about tequila.

Casey's mouth and hands were everywhere and Dan's body sang with sensation. His skin puckered and tightened under Casey's touch, then was smoothed and gentled by more fingers or lips or tongue or hot breath or all at once. Dan revelled in the electricity that flowed through his body into his fingertips, the persistent buzz that was building up, deep inside, white heat, liquid emotion. And then Casey's tongue licked a broad stripe up his cock, lips encircling the head, and Dan saw stars. It wasn't going to take much, he was so close to the edge, but Casey somehow knew that and coaxed him along the precipice, moving from his cock to his balls, sucking them gently into his mouth, moving on again as Dan began to shudder, to lick the seams of Dan's inner thighs. And then back to his cock, taking it in so slowly, lips tight around it, tongue lazy and flat or sharp and busy. Dan felt the pressure building inexorably, he was breaching the atmosphere, he was ... he grabbed Casey's shoulders.

"I'm gonna ... Casey, I'm gonna ... I have to kiss you. Now!"

Casey scrambled back up Dan's body, locking their lips together and wrapping his hand around Dan's cock, stroking once, twice and then Dan was in orbit and, as he cried out his orgasm, there were galaxies and star clusters and comets and velvet blackness. Casey stroked him through it, kissed him through the aftershocks, then rolled off, wiping his sticky hand on his belly.

"'S'like milking a cow!" he grinned.

Dan half-heartedly swiped at his head, buzzing too much to care.

"Mountain goat," he said from nowhere. Then, "I'm sleepy."

"Well it is ..." Casey squinted ineffectually at the clock, "... sleeping time."

Dan contemplated Casey.

"I wish I could do something for you."

"Oh, you have, Danny. Really. Because that? Was amazing."

"You know what I mean."

"Another time." Casey wriggled and twisted until he had organised himself under the sheets. He indicated to Dan that he should do the same.

They settled down with Dan's head resting against Casey's chest and Casey's arm around Dan's shoulder. It felt remarkably familiar. Another time, thought Dan as he drifted into sleep. He wants there to be another time. A warm feeling suffused his body.

Three hours later Dan woke and sat bolt upright in the bed. He clapped his hand over his mouth to quieten his scared breathing. Beside him Casey snored gently. It had been a nightmare. He had dreamt that in the morning he awoke to find Casey, the whole Sports Night crew, his parents and school friends from way back all standing around the bed laughing at him. Laughing at how they had managed to make him expose his feelings and make a fool of himself. Then Dana had stepped forward and smiled, baring vampire teeth before kissing the life out of Casey. Dan had watched in horror as blood dripped from Casey's lips but he didn't seem to care, grinding himself closer to Dana. Finally, he had pulled away and turned to face Dan, smile bloody and then dropped to the floor. In his dream Dan had screamed that he needed to wake up and so now he sat, shoving his fist in his mouth as the sobs threatened to come.

This was a mistake, it was a big mistake. Casey had been drunk. Really drunk. He should know better than to trust the word of a drunk man, no matter how persuasive. What if Casey woke up and regretted it? How could he face him?

If he left now at least Casey would have time to work out what he really wanted without the whole morning-after rigmarole. He slipped out of the bed and collected his clothes. It wasn't until he closed Casey's front door quietly behind him that he allowed himself to breathe. And that was a mistake too as the reaction to the night hit him and he began to cry, deep, heaving sobs.

He fled down the stairwell. It was only when he got back to his own apartment that he wondered if maybe he should have left a note.

***

Casey had thought long and hard about the Dan problem and the answer he had come to was this: Isaac. Everyone went to Isaac with their problems, whether he liked it or not. So he found himself sitting in Isaac's office at the receiving end of an discomfiting gaze.

"You don't know."

"No."

"You really don't know."

"That's why I'm asking you, Isaac. If I've done anything dumb, swear to god I'd fix it, but I just don't know."

Isaac regarded him in silence for another minute. Casey knew how a bug under a microscope must feel. He had to work hard to stop himself squirming.

"OK," Isaac said. "I'm going to tell you what to do. And you'll do it, right? Whatever I say?"

"Whatever you say, Isaac. But I'm warning you, he won't let me near enough to say much."

"That's OK. I don't want you to go near him."

"Oh."

"This is what you are going to do. You are going to leave here after this conversation. You are going to go to Anthony's where you will drink exactly three shots of tequila. Enough to shake up your brain a little, but not enough to make you drunk. Then you are going to hail a taxi and go home to your apartment. When you get there, do not put on the TV, just go and lie down on your bed. Whatever happens, do not move. I'll deal with the rest."

"Did you have another stroke, Isaac?"

"Funny boy. Listen, this is your best shot. Do exactly what I say and try not to screw it up."

"Best shot at what?"

Isaac stood and headed over to his bar.

"At fixing the problem, Casey," he said over his shoulder. "At fixing the problem. Now go."

"But the show ..."

"I said I'd deal with it. Go."

Casey went.

When he ordered his three tequila shots Jack sent him an odd look.

"What?" he asked.

"That's it, is it?" queried Jack. "Not like last time. You're not going to start hugging everyone again, are you?"

"I did that?" asked Casey, a little shamefaced.

"Yup. You were lucky you had Dan to take you home." Jack wandered down the bar to serve another customer, leaving Casey to his shots.

Dan had taken him home. Why hadn't he said something? Why hadn't he stayed over? He usually stayed over. Casey shrugged and downed the three shots, one after another. Isaac was right; he felt buzzed and relaxed, but not drunk. He headed outside to hail a cab and stood, swaying very slightly on the sidewalk. What he needed was someone to prop him up. He bet Dan hadn't been amused to have that job the other night. At that thought a sudden sense-memory dropped into his head: of standing, arms wrapped around Danny, cheek resting against his head. He blinked. Had he done that? That was kind of ... intimate.

A cab pulled over and Casey got in. Back at his apartment he pulled out his bunch of keys and flicked through them. There were thousands of them. OK, maybe not thousands, but more keys than he had locks for, definitely. Charlie's bike lock key, for instance. Did he need to carry that around on a daily basis?

There was another flash of memory, of Dan patiently removing the bunch from his hand and pointing out that a key that small could not possibly open a lock that big. Hmm. So Dan had come up to the apartment. So far there was nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing that would make Danny so. Skittish.

Once inside, Casey headed straight for the bedroom as ordered. He took his shoes off and lay down on the bed. It felt very comfortable; in fact, he could quite easily doze off. Isaac hadn't specifically forbidden it in his instructions. Sleeping in his clothes always made him feel icky, so he stripped to his boxers, then lay back down on top of the covers, ready to spring into action whenever Isaac called with the next part of the plan.

This really was an odd plan, Casey thought, his eyes drifting shut. The tequila had made him thirsty and he thought about getting up to get some water, but it all seemed like such an effort. What he needed was someone to get it for him. If Danny was here he would ... he would ... Fuck!

And Casey shot upright as the rest of the night began to flood back. Fuck! He had ... and they had ... and Danny had ...

But Dan had left. He had left. They had gone to sleep together and Danny had left. And now he was behaving oddly. Why? Did he regret what had happened? The only thing Casey regretted was not remembering until now.

Oh shit, maybe Dan thought Casey did remember and was avoiding the topic. Oh, this was so mixed up, the only way out of it was total honesty and that was scary. Scarier still was the idea that he could have got so close to Danny only to have lost it. He had to do something.

He scrabbled for his clothes and was hopping into his pants when there was a knock at the door. A hesitant, unconfident knock and Casey remembered the last part of Isaac's instructions. Do not move. This must be the rest of the plan.

Fastening his pants as he went, Casey raced for the door. He opened it, flushed and panting a little. Dan was leaning against the frame, a brown paper bag in one hand. He cocked his head to one side and looked inquisitively at Casey.

"Isaac sent me to check up on you. He said you were sick. You do look a little off. Here." He proffered the bag. Casey took it wordlessly. That was the most he'd had out of Dan all week. "It's chicken soup from the deli on the corner."

Casey stood back from the door to let Dan in. Dan hesitated but Casey waited it out and soon Dan pushed himself off the frame and drifted into the apartment. Casey looked him up and down, knowing what he needed to say and not knowing how to get it out.

"Did you lose your voice? There's a lot of laryngitis going around. Sally Sasser's been off for the last two weeks."

"No," croaked Casey, dropping the bag on the hall table. He cleared his throat and tried again. "No. My voice is fine."

"Then what ...?" Dan frowned.

"Can you, erm, could you sit down?"

"Why?"

"Could you please? Sit down. If that's OK."

"Casey?" Dan sounded concerned. Casey gestured towards the couch. His stomach churned and he felt dangerously close to vomiting. Must be love, he told himself with grim humour.

Dan sat. Casey paced.

"OK," he said. "OK."

"Casey? There's a show? Tonight? If we could move this along."

Casey stopped pacing. He sat on the thankfully sturdy coffee table opposite Dan, knees nearly touching.

"OK," he repeated. "The thing is ... what is the thing? The thing is ... I didn't remember what happened at Dana's birthday but I do now." He leaned forward and gripped Dan's thighs. "I remember. Everything. Every little last detail. And I remember meaning what I said, and I remember feeling like the world finally made sense, and I remember waking up the next morning not remembering anything and you weren't there. You weren't there, and that didn't matter at the time, but now I've remembered it all it does matter. It matters more than anything else because if you changed your mind it will ..." and here Casey found himself almost unable to continue; he hummed a little to control the quivering in his throat, "... it will metaphorically take a sledgehammer to my heart and ..." he hummed again, "... I'm not sure how I'm supposed to live if there's nothing left to pump the blood round my body." He gave a little tight-lipped smile and gripped Dan tighter.

Dan's eyes had got wider and wider throughout Casey's speech and he seemed to be brighter, more real. A smile began to curve his lips and his arms reached out for Casey.

"Oh!" he said. And "Casey!" And then nothing coherent for a long time as Casey fairly launched himself into Dan's arms and they collapsed together along the length of the couch, Casey's head buried against Dan's neck.

"Dannydannydannydanny," he murmured, the words buzzing against Dan's skin.

Dan's hand came up to stroke Casey's hair and he twisted his head to land an awkward kiss against Casey's his head.

"'s OK," he breathed. "'s gonna be OK."

His hand trailed down Casey's back, fingers moving soft and slow over the unfamiliar terrain. He traced along the ridges of bone, followed the spine down to the dimpled hollow and Casey shivered and moved in tighter, pressing himself up against Dan. He could feel Dan's intake of breath as he became aware just how turned on Casey was. Casey giggled in an unmanly way.

"Could poke your eye out," he mumbled into Dan's neck.

Dan landed another awkward kiss and continued to stroke, his hand skittering across the wide expanse of skin. Now this was the kind of skittish Casey could get on board with. Especially when the hand wandered below the waist of his pants and started running along the length of his shorts. He breathed in sharply, sucking in Dan's skin as he did so. He licked it. It tasted good. It tasted of Dan. Casey applied himself to discovering whether the rest of Dan's neck tasted the same. Dan groaned and his hand slipped under the band of elastic and his finger traced the seam of Casey's ass. Casey, delightfully shocked by the revelation of sensation that accompanied this, bit down, drawing a gasp from Dan.

Suddenly, the layers of clothing that separated them were too much and Casey scrabbled at Dan's shirt with far less efficacy now that he was sober. Somehow, with a lot of impatience, not a little cursing and some definite ripping, they were naked, warm skin touching warm skin, thighs entwining, arms encircling, lips fusing. Casey thought he could drown in Dan and that there was no better way to die. Every cell in his body jostled for contact, each breath breathed into Dan's mouth was a joining, the beginnings of symbiosis.

Dan's hand had resumed its wandering path, dipping down low to streak up the back of Casey's thighs, lingering over the area where front became back and back became front, making Casey crazy and incoherent. He trailed up slowly, slowly to Casey's neck, letting his fingers brush the delicate skin at the same time as his tongue stroked Casey's. Casey convulsed against him, unable to do much more than grab Dan's hip, pulling him tight against him, feeling a charge as their erections pressed together. Casey broke the kiss and looked into Dan's eyes.

"It's another time," he said, his voice darkly deep and unfamiliar to his own ears.

Dan smiled, a flash of joy crossing his face. He shifted, freeing his other arm and, still gazing at Casey, still allowing that skittering hand to choose its own path, he rubbed his palm and wrist over the length of Casey's cock, down across his balls, fingers cupping naturally to hold them gently, to squeeze. He began his slow, lazy journey back up again, running his hand over the head, collecting the droplets that had begun to gather there, continuing along the inside of the shaft before curling his fingers around it in a loose grip and beginning to stroke. Long, languid strokes. Casey's eyes widened. Nothing had ever felt like this. He was going into meltdown. His synapses were close to sensory overload, his brain surely could not continue to compute and process the millions of information bits that were reaching it every second. He gave up. There was no point in trying to focus, just relax and let it happen.

Dan must have seen a change in his expression because he grinned and nodded. He's enjoying this, thought Casey. And then, but he could be enjoying it more. And his arm snaked underneath Dan's and took hold of his thick, hot cock. His hand fitted perfectly around it and told him that this was home. He copied Dan's pace and rhythm and was rewarded with a moan and that strange look that means pleasure but says pain. God, this man was so hot.

Dan upped the pace a little and Casey matched it, sweat shimmering across his body. He saw the same reaction in Dan, saw the little beads gathering on his upper lip and leaned in to lick them from him. Dan let out a strangled sound, tightened his grip around Casey's cock and began to stroke with greater urgency. Again, Casey matched him. He could feel his balls begin to tighten, begin to force their needs on him, the pressure compelling, the buzzing contracting to a pinprick of intense pleasure. He opened his mouth to warn Danny but then Dan's thumb brushed across the head of Casey's cock and he was shouting "fuckohfuckohfuck" and coming and coming and coming, the hot spurts expelling themselves like an exorcism. And he nearly collapsed with relief but Dan wasn't there yet so he held himself together and then Dan clutched his shoulder and breathed out Casey's name as he juddered and came, his fluid mixing with Casey's so that who knew where one stopped and the other started.

Then Casey did collapse, onto his back, pulling Dan over to rest on his chest. He lay there panting, grateful that he had bought such an unnecessarily big couch.

"Danny?" he opened, his thumb caressing Dan's ear.

"Mmmm."

"That thing. You know that thing I want to say. Should say. You know it, right?"

"Mmmm."

"It's just that ... I don't want the first time I say it to be in a post-orgasmic haze."

"'K."

"It doesn't mean I don't. I'd rather say it when you're not expecting it. Then you'll know it's true."

"I know it's true."

"And I know you know but it's just ... you know?" Casey felt the smile against his skin.

"Mmmm."

There was a pause where all Casey could hear was their breathing and all Casey could feel was his heart slowing down, beating against his chest, beating under the hand of the man he loved. It's only fair, he thought. He owns it.

Dan shifted slightly, breaking the silence.

"Casey?"

"Yeah."

"It's true for me too."

"I know."

When their limbs were finally untangled from each other and sweaty, sticky, skin pulled apart with a grin and a grimace, Dan added, "Isaac. The show."

Casey reached for the phone, but he already knew before Isaac answered that it was all taken care of.

"Everything go according to plan, Casey?" asked the omniscient old man.

Casey looked down at the dark head pillowed on his chest and smiled.

"Yes. I believe it did."


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