The view out of Casey’s picture window had never been what attracted him to that condo. He had bought the place on the strength of its location (close enough to work that his commute wasn’t a nightmare), price (slightly under budget despite the HOA fees), and two bedrooms (one for Charlie and one for Casey).
So he wasn’t expecting the view to soothe his soul when he stared out. He needed somewhere to look, and it happened to be there.
The buzzer sounded. He ignored it. He continued ignoring it for the next ten minutes, and also his cellphone, which intermittently rang from his coat pocket across the room. He’d already unplugged his cordless.
When the buzzer stopped going off, it took about another two minutes for Danny to get up to his floor and start banging on the door.
“Casey!” came through the door muffled, but still very clearly Danny. “Casey, answer the door!”
Casey heaved a deep sigh, took his eyes off the tan façade of the building across the street, and got up to open the door.
He let Danny in without a word.
“It’s so dark in here.” Danny walked into the condo after Casey, blowing on his cold hands to warm them. “What, did you figure it was time to lock yourself into Sadness Central?”
“Danny…” Casey didn’t have the energy to finish the sentence. He sat back down in the armchair, staring out the window again.
“One of your neighbors let me in. I told them I had pizza. They may get upset about that.”
Casey closed his eyes briefly. “You should go.”
“Like hell I should go!” Danny’s voice had risen to a shout. He was standing behind the sofa. Casey couldn’t see him from that angle. “What happened, Casey?”
Dan used his whole name like that, Cay-see, overpronounced syllables, when he was really pissed.
“I got caught.”
“No shit! Everyone knows you got caught! I’m asking what happened. Who was that guy?”
“Didn’t you watch Jay Leno?” Casey closed his eyes again, squeezed them shut tighter this time. “He’s an aspiring model named Umberto.”
“Don’t talk to me like I’m other people.” Danny’s voice was soft and savage.
“Wouldn’t dream of it.”
“What were you thinking?”
“I thought I wouldn’t get caught,” Casey retorted.
“Casey!” Danny was getting loud again. “You know—don’t pretend you don’t know exactly what I’m talking about.”
“Don’t do this.”
“You know why I’m this angry.”
Casey dug his fingers in to the stuffing of the arm, feeling it warp and give beneath the fabric. “Don’t do this, Danny.”
“It should have been me!”
Casey said nothing.
“We both know it should have been me,” Danny repeated, forcefully. “Damn it, Casey, look at me.”
“That’s going to make this more difficult,” Casey told the picture window.
“You know.” Danny’s footfalls were silent on the carpet. He interrupted the rapidly fading view of the other building. “You know,” he said, “and you’re not even pretending you don’t, so at least admit it, okay? At least admit it to me.”
“Which should have been you, Danny?” Casey leaned his head back and closed his eyes. Danny was too close. “You should have been the one fired in a toxic cloud of gay scandal? Pardon me for thinking that would still have been horseshit.”
“He should have been me,” hissed Danny, and bent down to kiss Casey, ruthlessly.
Casey sat, stock-still, for a long few seconds. Danny wasn’t fooled; he had Casey by the shoulders, squeezing, rubbing his thumb haphazardly across Casey’s collarbone, and Casey’s composure broke. He put his own hands up to touch Danny’s face, running shaking fingers across his cheekbones, his temples, sliding his hands into Danny’s hair. Danny’s cheeks were wet.
“You can’t do this,” Casey told Danny under his breath. “You have to stay with the show—”
“And what, just, just, not see you?” Danny shook his head, rigid with anger still. “You idiot, I can’t believe you threw it away and it wasn’t even for me. And now you have the brass-plated balls to lecture me about what I can’t do—”
“You’re special!” Casey shouted. Danny reared back, blinking at him. “You can’t—” Casey made an abortive, furious gesture. “You can’t get involved in this. You have to no-comment your way through this and wait it out. They’ll get bored, they’ll move on, and you haven’t done anything. They don’t have to know about you. You can keep the show!”
“You want me to move on?” asked Dan incredulously. “Like the fucking press will? You think I’m going to just move on?”
“You have to.”
“Like hell I do.”
“Danny, you were meant for the show. I fucked up. Don’t—don’t fuck up with me.”
“You fucked up.” Danny closed his eyes. “Do you even understand how you fucked up? Do you have any idea what you did wrong here?”
“Yeah, I did a model, that was my first mistake!”
“No. You knew. You knew what we were, what we are, and you chickened out and ran away and fucked some idiot with more hair than brains.”
“I can’t let you do this,” said Casey.
“You don’t even know what I’m offering to do.”
“You can’t be seen with me. You can’t be seen coming to my building at night, Danny.”
“Why wasn’t he me?” Danny asked in an undertone, leaning in again.
“I’m telling you. Because you need to stay with the show.” Casey let Danny put his hands behind Casey’s shoulders on the back of the armchair, let him get dangerously close. Casey closed his eyes. Could still feel the air moving with Danny’s breaths.
“You don’t want me to go.” Danny had to be so close. “I don’t want to go.”
“Damn it, Danny.”
Danny kissed him again. Softly, this time, a whispering brush of lips over his.
Casey found himself leaning forward helplessly, chasing them.
When he opened his eyes, Danny was staring at him. It was easy to forget, if you didn’t know Danny well, that his fragility was only part of him—not even close to the whole story; that underneath the guy who fretted about whether total strangers liked him was a guy who’d once broken a finger stealing third base, stood up, dusted his pants off, and then at the next crack of the bat stolen home.
Danny was staring at him like he was home plate.
“You don’t want to quit the third-best sports show in television to come be half of a public homo couple with no jobs and no prospects,” said Casey. He enunciated it as carefully as if they were live. “You don’t have the savings and neither do I. I’m going to have to look for some shit job ghost-writing for a hack comic, probably writing jokes about myself sooner or later, and you’re not getting into this with me. Lassie doesn’t need to follow Timmy down this particular well.”
“Fuck you.” Danny gritted his teeth; Casey could see the muscles clenching. “You think after that kind of decision-making that you get to be in charge of any decisions, ever again?”
“This one? Yeah. I do.”
Danny grabbed his jaw in one hand, squeezing almost hard enough to hurt, and kissed him. Years, years of wondering how Danny kissed, and inside ten minutes Casey had three very different examples: it should have been some other kind of occasion.
“You’re such a dick,” Danny muttered. “If you were going to fuck a guy you should have fucked me. We could have kept it quiet.”
“Yeah, right. At that show?”
“At least we would have both been trying, instead of Fernando—”
“—trying to capitalize off of your tenuous fame.”
“He didn’t seem like that when I met him,” said Casey. He was tired. It had been a long couple of days.
Danny grabbed the front of his shirt and yanked him up, knocking their teeth together painfully, kissing him again.
“I want to be your last,” said Danny. “Your last everything. You owe me that.”
“It’s not going to work like that, Danny. You need to go. Now. Before it’s been too long.”
“Fuck that shit.” Danny dropped to his knees in front of the chair and undid Casey’s fly, backwards but practiced. “You’re done telling me what I want. Now I’m going to tell you what you want. You want to fuck me. You want to blow me. You want to come in my mouth. You want to sleep next to me at night. You want to eat breakfast and dinner with me and tell me all about your stupid fucking boring day and hear about mine. You have been pretending that you don’t want these things for a ludicrously long time and I used to think I was crazy, you know that? I used to believe you.”
Casey watched, wide-eyed, as Danny knelt in front of him, incandescent with a luminous, molten rage.
“Tell me you don’t want this,” said Danny, “and I’ll get up and walk out of here. You don’t have to do a single thing you don’t want to do.”
Casey managed to say, strangled, “I—I want it.”
“Want what, Casey?”
“Everything,” Casey whispered. “All of it.”
“Damn right,” said Dan fiercely, and then he went down on Casey.
Casey wasn’t expecting how gentle it was, how lazy and sweet, Danny making it last and last—every time Casey thought he might be almost there Danny would change something, pull his mouth off, use his hands with a languid slowness that was torturous. Danny kept Casey hovering there, at the edge, until he was almost crying with it.
“God, please,” Casey choked out.
Danny ignored that and kept right on going, speeding up only to slow down, sucking hard for a moment only for the pressure to disappear. Casey whimpered in the back of his throat.
And then Danny settled into a rhythm, and Casey knew if he kept it up for more than a minute or two Casey would come; he was afraid to hope but Danny was sliding up and down the length of Casey’s cock, fluttering his tongue over and around it, flicking his tongue over the slit, and Casey came, almost silently, came and came and came, shaking through it.
Dan swallowed, and swallowed again. He kept Casey’s cock in his mouth until it was too much, the shuddering aftershocks leaving Casey spasming like a seizure, until Casey had to shove at his shoulder.
“I’ll keep working,” Dan said, low and careful, like a promise. “As long as I can, until someone notices. I’ll downsize, start saving. Okay? This isn’t the end, Casey, this is the beginning.”
Casey stared at him. The heavy blanket of depression that had settled over him when the tabloid broke the story, when he got called in to the tense meeting with the network execs, when they told him to clean out his desk—that leaden grief and anger had been so palpable, so real. It seemed to belong to an entirely different universe than Danny, on his knees in the twilight, watching Casey with a face full of that curious light Casey could only identify as love.
“Yeah,” said Casey, and heard himself start to laugh in disbelief. “Yeah, okay.”