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Love Confessions in a Hybrid

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“I forgot how cold it is.”

“It’s January, Danny.  Of course, it’s cold.”

“Yeah, but it’s really cold.  Like deep in the bones as Day After Tomorrow plays out around me.”

“It’s forty degrees.  Not a cloud in the sky and there's no snow mentioned in the forecast."

"Who died and made you a weatherman?"

"You're ridiculous.  One year in California has turned you into a wussy."

"Not true."

"Dan, you used to ride the Staten Island Ferry in shorts during actual snow storms.”

“I used to do lots of insane things in my imprudent youth,” Danny commented.  Casey rolled his eyes and Dan grinned at him.  He patted Casey on the shoulder and said, “It is good to be home despite the weather.”

“It’s actually quite nice considering it’s winter.”

“It’s winter in Los Angeles, but I went surfing before I caught my plane today.”

“You have become a cliché, my friend.”

“How dare you, Casey!  I’m offended.  Or I would be if I wasn’t completely Zen from all my yoga and spiritual walk-abouts.”

Casey snorted.  “Jackass.”

“I get it, Case.  I, too, once was a slave to the Northeast and it’s crazy whims of sixty degrees followed by negative twenty within two days, but not any longer.  I discovered a brave new world.”

“Do not sing Aladdin.”

“That’s Whole New World, heathen.  You work for a network owned by the Disney company – aren’t you expected to know these things?”

“Is this what the whole ride is going to be like?  If so, I’ll just drive this car into opposing traffic now,” Casey responded, glancing at Dan out of the corner of his eye.  A part of him had missed the easy banter that he and Danny had always shared.  He hadn’t realized how unique the partnership he and Dan had for years was.  In the years since Sports Night had run its course and they had gone their separate ways, Casey had never found that instant and easy chemistry with anyone else.   It made him miss Dan all the more whenever he would find himself reading terrible copy and have no one to bemoan it with.

Casey still remembered how shocked he was when Danny announced his move.  When he had left Sports Night, that hadn't been unexpected, even if Casey hadn't want to see the signs as it played out.  The show had run its course and Danny had lost all interest in sports, wanting to make more of a difference after it felt like the world had started to spin out of control.  Casey had tried not to feel betrayed and angry that Danny was bailing on the show.  Casey was mostly sad to see their partnership end.   Dan had dropped plenty of hints about working together in some other venue, but Casey wasn't made like Dan.  He was practical and liked what he knew - he knew broadcasting and he was good it.  He couldn't afford risks with a kid that needed to get put through college.  Casey was well aware that Danny needed the change and didn't doubt that he would do amazing things.  Except Casey had no idea how to say any of that and ended up giving Dan the cold shoulder unless they were filming.  Natalie finally interfered when Casey had taken to using the conference room as his office to avoid awkward silence.

“You’re an idiot, Casey.  You’re still his best friend.  His person.  So don’t be an idiot,” Natalie had stated, hitting him on the back of the head with a rolled-up magazine.

“What the hell?  How did you even get in the building?  You work across town.”

“My husband still works here and you’ve got Danny in a tailspin.  So fix it.”

“I didn’t do anything.”

“Exactly.  Stop being a selfish jackass and be happy for him.  He needs this.”

Casey had hated that Natalie had been right.  Danny, on his own, was a force to be reckoned with and Casey was both proud and disheartened by it.  They had always been such a good team.  They fed off each other, made each other better (sometimes worse though they worked through that) and now it felt like a fleeting memory.  It was a strange thing to hate a situation but also find himself extremely proud of Danny for taking that leap of faith.  Casey just wished he could find that ease with work that he once had.

No...Casey was not surprised when Dan Rydell moved onto other things, but moving across the country?  That was out of the blue and unnecessary.  Casey had pointed out that Dan could do his work from anywhere and it made no sense to uproot his life.  Casey had expounded on things like earthquakes and landslides and wildfires, but if fell on deaf ears.  Dan would quip, "Wow, Case.  Sounds like you'll miss me."

Casey came so close to laying every emotion on the table.  Of course he was going to miss Danny.  Dan Rydell was his partner and best friend, meant so much to him that it was more than a little unsettling at times to his mental health.  Except Casey couldn't say any of that.  As close as he and Dan were, there were certain things that were not discussed. There were moments between them, stray looks and confusing actions from both of them that went unspoken.  The two of them had perfected this dance over the course of their friendship, even as outsiders like Dana and Natalie muttered at him about being an idiot.  When Casey had asked why he was moving for the millionth time, Danny had stared at him for a long moment, shrugged and replied that he needed a change. Casey could tell Dan was choosing his words carefully as he went on about how he was no longer satisfied with where life was taking him and needed to do a reboot, as though that was a real thing.  Casey recognized a losing hand when he had it and as confused, upset and angry as he was, he decided to let it go.  He had hoped that Danny would get out there, realize it was a mistake and turn around to come home.

Casey hated himself for it and he hated himself even more when Danny seemed to thrive without him.  Dan Rydell became a brand of his own, like everyone but Danny had always known could happen, with a podcast that took off and showed no signs of slowing down.  The Dan Rydell sitting before him was the same, but different.  Healthier.  Happier.  Casey just wished he hadn’t needed to put three thousand miles between them for Danny to find that.

Casey couldn't blame him though.  Sometimes even he had tired of that stupid dance of theirs.

He almost smiled when traffic cleared, but groaned when it stopped abruptly right after an exit.  They were never getting out of this car.  They were going to die, suffocated by a tension someone could cut a knife with.  

And that was not a turn of phrase he liked.  He grimaced at his own brain.

A finger snapped in front of his face and he glanced over at Dan, who was watching him with an amused, but concerned expression.  He asked, “You okay, Case?”

“I wasn’t actually going to drive us into oncoming traffic, Danny.”

Dan huffed and said, “Good to know.”  Dan turned so he was facing Casey and he gave him one of those looks that led Casey to believe Danny could read every thought in his mind.  It was an uncanny Dan-ability that was a part of their friendship from the day that they met.  Casey often wondered if part of his issues with Lisa had stemmed from that – shouldn’t she have been able to understand him the way Danny did?  Danny rubbed his chin and said, “Casey, talk to me.  You’ve been sullen since you picked me up at JFK.”

“The traffic is a nightmare, you keep going on about the weather and we have to drive to New Jersey.”

“I'm not sure what I can do about any of that. It's New York City at the holidays - traffic is going to suck.  I am not going on about the weather.  I simply pointed out that it's fucking freezing.  It's not my fault you're weirdly protective of Mother Nature.  While I will take the blame for the New Jersey thing, I want it on record that I do not feel that is something to get that expression on your face for."

"What expression?'

"The my-dog-got-kicked-Casey expression."

"That's not a thing."

"It is."

"Dan."

Dan grinned and said, "Totally a thing."

Casey couldn't help returning the grin, but he forced an annoyed sigh out before he asked, "So how was this holiday reunion party your fault?  I need to know so I can hold it over your head for years to come."

"I may have mocked Natalie mercilessly when she and Jeremy started house-hunting.  It's not my fault.  She's the one who spent hours of my time blathering on about good school districts and important pedestrian safety.  I snapped after the fifth talk on bicycle lanes, made some snarky comments that involved words like soccer mom and mini-vans.   It's possible that I drove her to live in Paramus."

"You think teasing her made Natalie buy a house in New Jersey?"

"I try to use these powers for good, Casey, but sometimes it backfires.  Like when you bought this Prius."

"I like my Prius."

"I know.  It's creepy," Dan replied.  He slapped Casey on the arm and said, "Anyway, I apologize that we're all doomed to travel into New Jersey for this holiday, though I’d pay good money to see some of those housewives.”

“What?”

“The Real Housewives?”

“I don’t have time for nonsense.”

“You sound like my grandpa.  Gonna tell us whippersnappers how much a gallon of milk cost in your day?”

“I’m not that much older than you, Danny.”

“I leave you to your own devices for a year and you’ve turned into a curmudgeon.  I’m concerned,” Dan paused and made a circular motion around his face for emphasis, “This is my concerned face, Casey.”

“It’s something alright.”

“Seriously, what has crawled up your ass?  I could’ve caught a taxi into the city if it was going to piss you off so much.”

“I wanted to pick you up, Dan.  I’ve missed you.”

“Yeah, I’m getting that in waves, buddy.”

Casey shook his head and replied, “I’m sorry.  I am happy to have you here.”

“I’ve missed you too, you know.”

“Okay.”

“Moving to Los Angeles wasn’t because-“

“-Please, god, no.”

“You’re my family, Casey. That won’t ever change and-“

“-I know, Dan.  You forced me to go to your therapist with you so you could explain, remember?"

"Because you were making me rethink everything and I was seeing things and...I thought that it was the best way for you to actually hear me."

"I'm not the one bringing this up.  I told you that I understood then and I still understand,” Casey replied. 

"Except you don't."

"I do," Casey said, shutting his eyes and trying to get his emotions under control.  This was what he was afraid of.  Being this close to Dan again, feeling all the familiarity and love and everything else that he had fought so hard to push down...it was bubbling up in his throat and that was the last thing he wanted.  He heard the honk of a car horn and opened his eyes, only to see traffic was still stopped.  He had no excuse not to look at his best friend.  Casey forced a bright smile and went on, “And it’s worked out.  You look good.”

“I needed the change after my dad died.  Our relationship was always tempestuous and, god I hated him sometimes.  Didn’t expect to miss the bastard as much as I did and then we lost Isaac and I felt like my whole world was shifting too fast…” Danny’s voice trailed off and he glanced out the window. 

Casey slapped Dan’s knee, hating that within an hour of being back in New York City Danny looked so lost.  Casey didn’t want to scare him away permanently – needed his best friend too much for that – and said, “You don’t owe anyone explanations, Danny.  It’s okay to put yourself first every once-and-awhile.”

“You might want to take that advice.”

“I do.”

“Casey…”

“I’m perfectly content.”

“To people who don’t know you, maybe.”

“I’m great.”

“Dana says you bail on get-togethers all the time-“

“-I work early in the morning.  I can’t.”

“Natalie said that she’s seen me more than she’s seen you and I live on the other side of the country.”

“Work keeps me busy.”

“Charlie says you don’t date.”

“You don’t date either.”

Dan glanced out the window and said, “I tend to fall for the wrong people.”

“I’m the one with the divorce under his belt.  Not about to criticize you about that.”

“But judgmental Casey is a favorite of mine.  Right after I’m-totally-cool-in-flannel Casey.”

“Life is good, Danny.  My son is graduating from high school in the spring and he’s grown into a good man.  I’ve got my work and the network sees great things for me.”

“Good.”

“It is good.”

“Except how you hate your job.”

“I do not hate my job.  I am very good at my job.  I’ll have you know I’m a fan favorite.”

“That I don’t doubt.  You grow on people like fungus.  I’ve always said so.”

“I can’t believe I missed you.”

“All I’m saying is that there are other things you can do, Casey.  You don’t have to stay at a job just because you’re good at it.”

“Not all of us can run off and start a podcast that takes over the world.”

Danny shrugged and said, “I’m not saying you move into the woods like the Unabomber.  Hell, I’m not even telling you to up and quit your job, but I want you to be happy and you're not.  You can fool a lot of people, but not me."

"i'm good."

"I want you to be happy.  I tune into your show and your phoning it in.  Life's too short for that bullshit, especially with your talent and contacts."

"Danny..." Casey replied.  He had no idea what else to say.  Words, which were usually a friend of his, tended to fail him at the most inopportune times.

"I mean it.  No one deserves happiness more than you.  You're one of the good ones, Casey McCall." 

Casey swallowed back the wave of emotion that ran through him.  He choked down the half-sob, half-chuckle that wanted to escape and gripped the steering wheel tight to keep his hands from shaking.  Casey wanted to pull the car over and hug Dan.  He wanted to wrap his best friend up in his arms and tell him how much he loved him, always had, and hated that it took losing him to really understand that.  It was so cliché and stupid…and Danny deserved better from him.  Casey forced a smile and said, “I’m a happy man, Dan.”

Dan shook his head and frowned.  “Then I’d hate to see you on a bad day.”

“I can’t pick up and move across country when the urge hits.  I don't have the time or inclination to take six months to find myself.  I know who I am and want I want-"

"-that's-"

"-I don’t begrudge you that choice, but don’t expect the rest of us to follow suit,” Casey retorted with more anger than he expected.  He regretted it the second the words came out and he visibly saw Dan shrink in on himself.  At this rate, Dan was going to be rushing to get the hell out of New York as fast as he could.  “Sorry, I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Danny.”

“It’s fine.”

“That’s your fake ‘it’s fine’ and I’d rather not spend the rest of our trip to New Jersey like this.”

Dan glared at him and said, “So you ready to cut the shit and actually tell me what’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s-“

Dan held up his hand and said, “Casey, I’ve known you for over twenty years.  I know you better than I know myself and you are not okay.  Something's up.”

“Why do you always have to poke?”

“There are so many jokes I could make.”

“Danny, I’m serious.  I want us to have fun while you’re here.  We barely talk anymore.”

“I talk to you every day.”

“No, we-“

“-every day.  Email, phone calls, texts…you think I’m that chatty with anyone else?”

“You sent me a text about a bee chasing you.”

“Felt important to share that event in my life.  You could do the same.  I told you repeatedly that my door was always open.  I’ve invited you to events.  I've asked you to be on my podcast. Hell, I talk about you on the podcast.  I’ve all but written ‘you’re still my BFF’ in the sky.”

“You left, Danny.”

“There it is.”

“I’m not…I’m just…you left.”

“Yeah, I did.  And it pissed you off.”

“It came out of nowhere!”

“No, it really didn’t.”

“Yes, it did.  You seemed happy.  We had gone out for drinks and you were going on about how great things were going.”

“Professionally.  I also told you that I was lonely.”

“And I said you weren’t alone!”

“That’s how you remember it?”

"I'm not the one who tried to rewrite that night, Danny."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Danny snapped.

"You sure you want to do this?" Casey asked.  Dan remained quiet, but arched an eyebrow in challenge.  Casey took a deep breath, unsure if this was smart, especially when there was no escape from the tiny car, but Dan Rydell had always had a way of digging in and pulling things out that Casey would've rather never see the light of day.  Danny continued to stay quiet, his frown deepening, and Casey felt a bit of that buried anger surface.  He went on, "You always want to put it on me, Danny.  This whole...thing...it's your story and I'm the inept idiot in it."

"You're not making any sense."

"You want it to be me that creates the distance between us, but every time we've had issues...it was you that ran.  Not me."

"I wasn't-"

"-sure."

"You're making it all about you.  Not everything I do is about you."

"Really?  Because I wasn't that blasted that night at the bar that I don’t remember you kissing me.”

The color left Danny’s face and he said, “You remember that?  You were super drunk.”

“I poured my heart out to you, Danny.  You kissed me and next day announced you were moving.  How the hell was I supposed to take that?  You decided you wanted to ignore it.  It's what we do...and now you're trying to change the rules!  You want me to seem like the bad guy for not bringing it up and it's not fair.”

Danny’s eyes widened and then he rubbed his hand over his face.  “You did not pour your heart out to me, Casey."

"I did-"

"-oh my god!  Oh, my poor repressed Midwestern friend!  You grabbed my shoulders, shook them and said, ‘no one has ever been as good of a friend to me as you have, Danny.  You're great’ and you manhandled me into a hug.   Then it took a weird turn where you waxed poetically about my eyes before you kissed me.  Now, I will fully admit that I kissed you back because I’m only human and I've been in love with you since I was twenty.  But big romantic that you are paid me back by throwing up all over my pants and shoes.  I had to tip the Uber driver heavily that night."

“Oh.”

“Yeah, oh.”

“I just-“

“-you passed out.  I slept on the couch to make sure you didn't die and in the morning you demanded coffee and aspirin.   When you didn’t mention it in the morning, I assumed you didn’t remember.”

“Why didn’t you say anything?"

"What was I supposed to say?  It seemed likely you didn't remember it and I didn't want you to freak out on me."

"Even if I didn't remember, you don’t think I’d want to know something like that?”

"Why would you?"

"First, you're my friend.  I would never want to ruin that friendship or hurt you like that, Danny.  I know I can be an inconsiderate jackass sometimes, but I wouldn't mess with your head like that."

"You have before."

"No."

"Be honest.  You wouldn’t want to know, Casey.  We’ve been down that road before.”

“That was-“

“-twice, Casey.  It was my fault for letting it happen, but I’ve always been a glutton for punishment, especially where you were concerned.”

Casey groaned, recalling a Christmas party not long after he and Dan had gotten their first show together.  He and Lisa were already fighting early in their marriage and he just wanted things to feel like they did when he was with Danny.  It was so easy to love Dan and their simple partnership.  He had pulled Dan aside and kissed him, but played it off the next day like he couldn’t remember a thing. 

And later, after he was divorced from Lisa and done dancing around his flirtation with Dana, he and Danny had shared a drunken moment outside a cab after a long night of drinking.  It was when the show’s future was unknown and right after he and Danny had spent the longest time in their history not talking.  He had wanted, in some way, to let Dan know what he meant to Casey.  He had enjoyed it, but it terrified him too.  With a sober mind, what had seemed like a proper plan to seduce someone he loved turned into a disaster in the making.  Casey wasn’t ready to accept what that meant for him or his relationship with his best friend.  So when Danny had asked him what he was thinking after the night before, Casey had been a jerk about it.  He knew Danny would forgive him and Dan seemed to just forget it ever happened.

Casey had figured he had lost his shot after everything changed, but that night at the bar...Casey had been hopeful and then crushed.  He figured he had it coming, but he never thought Danny would move time zones to get away from him because of it.

Casey inched the car up before glancing back over at Dan.  He said, "Those were completely different.  We were barely back on solid footing after the whole list debacle and I didn't want to rock the boat.  I didn't want us to lose what we were working hard to rebuild.“

"Except you never said any of that to me, Casey."

"I thought it was inferred."

"And people say I'm the crazy one.  It couldn't possible be because you've made me crazy.  While I'm fluent in illogical Casey speak, even I can't read your mind," Dan snapped.

"You haven't exactly been clear about what you want from me either, Danny." 

Dan wouldn't meet Casey's gaze, but Casey could see that Dan looked like he might lose his temper.  His whole posture changed, like he wanted to get right up in Casey's face and would have if they hadn't been trapped in the car.  Dan hunched in slightly on himself and his fingers curled into a small fist, but after a beat, he rubbed at his face and let out a deliberate breath.  When he did look at Casey, he said, "You're right.  I'm sorry.  The thought of losing you as a friend always stopped me from forcing the conversation.  Isaac told me a few times that life wouldn't wait for me to get my act together.  He said to me, 'Danny, I love you, kid, and I want to tell you something.  Not once have I regretted the decision to tell my wife I loved her.'   He would be beating our heads together for this and that's on me.   I knew he was right.  At, the very least, I would know where we stood.  You would finally know what you meant to me, even if you never talked to me again."

"Dan, there is nothing you could ever do that would make me stop talking to you.  Like you said - I'm fungus.  You're stuck with me."

"You're mixing your metaphors, I think."

Casey rolled his eyes, but concentrated his whole being on Dan.  He said, “I never meant to hurt you, Danny, and I'm sorry.  And this isn't all on you.  What I feel for you has always scared the hell out of me.  Dana always said we were a mess without each other.  Seems like we're a mess with each other too."  

Dan's expression gave way to a slight smile and he replied, "And what exactly do you feel?"

"You're going to make me say it."

Dan nodded.  "It seems like the proper thing to do."

"But I'm driving."

Dan smirked and waved at the traffic outside the car.  He said, "We've gone about three feet.  I think you can manage to take your eyes off the road and spill."

"You're the one who has discovered his soul on his journey of self-discovery.  You should do it."

Dan laughed and said, "You've been working in morning television for too long.  Discovered his soul - that's shoddy writing.  Just another reason for you to leave that job.  It's destroying your grasp of the English language."

Casey groaned.  He wanted to make a retort, but there was something in Danny's expression that made Casey take pause.  Danny had said that he was fluent in Casey-speak, but Casey knew Dan just as well most of the time.  He could hear all the things going unsaid, and, as much as the way this was playing out was insane (their friends would likely say totally them), things hadn't felt this right in a long time.  "Aside from my son, you are the most important person in my life, Danny.  Always have been, always will be.  I never meant to drive you away.  I can't put the blame on you for not bringing it up when I didn't either.  For the record, I enjoyed the kisses.  I more than enjoyed all three-"

"-you remembered the-"

"-maybe.  I think I was in love with you even back then."

Dan sucked in a breath, his face flooded with both wonder and confusion.  He said, "Dammit, Casey.  While I fantasized about this trip going in this direction, I didn't think it actually would.  And this is not how it was supposed to happen.  I envisioned walks in the park, or at least some peaceful groping on the subway.  Instead, we're in a Prius on the way to New Jersey." 

"Maybe not ideal."

"I would say," Dan managed before he started to laugh.  It was a chuckle that turned into loud guffaws with him clutching his stomach.  

"Dan," Casey warned.  Dan continued to laugh and, after what felt like an interminable amount of time, Casey added, "And this is why I don't do these things!"

"No, don't-" Danny grabbed Casey's hand and said, "I'm sorry, okay?  I wasn't trying to make light of this, I swear.  It's just so preposterous.  Not only are we every romance-novel cliche with the mutual pining-"

"-I never said there was pining."

"Pining.  Lots of it.  Yearning and pining."

"And now I yearn?"

"Yep.  Go with it."

"I always do, even when you're certifiable."

“Not only was their mutual pining for years and years, but we finally get our heads out of our asses when we're trapped in a car in bumper-to-bumper traffic."

"You may have a point."

Dan ran his fingers over the top of Casey's hand in a way that sent a shiver through Casey.  Dan seemed to notice because he smirked.  It quickly gave way to a more tender expression and he said, "For the record, I was already planning to move before the kiss, but that night made it clear to me that it was the right call for me to make.” Dan stopped and ducked his head, but Casey recognized the silence for what it was - Dan collecting his thoughts - and Casey bit down on his lip to keep from interrupting.  He and Dan loved to talk, but they never really voiced their emotions until it all boiled over into a confrontation.  It had led to more than one mess and Casey didn’t want that anymore.  He was so damn tired of missing Danny.  Dan seemed to realize that Casey wasn’t going to say anything and he went on, “I’ve been in love with you for years, Casey.  You have to know that by now.”

“I have to know that?”

“How do you not know that?  Your son knows that!  Gave me his permission like four years ago-“

“-oh my god.”

“Don’t worry.  I told him it wasn’t like that,” Dan rushed out.

"Except, apparently, it is, and we're both idiots."

"True.  Does that mean you want it be like that?"

"What would like that entail exactly?  Though I can't help but wonder if maybe we should reconsider since neither of us can even say the words beyond like that.  There's no one I enjoying talking with more than you, but actual communication is not always our forte.  While I don't think there is anything you could ever do that would drive me away, I'm not an easy person to live with.  I'll test your patience, until one day it's too much and you have to run away again."

"Take a breath and stop playing out an entire relationship in some weird montage in your brain.  I would never force you into anything, Casey, but I would like a relationship with you, where we date exclusively with the hope that it leads to more down the line.  I am well aware of all your foibles, good and bad, and I find them both endearing and annoying.  You've tested my patience every day since the day that I met you.  You are, in fact, testing my patience now because we could be kissing, but you're ruining the moment."

"I'm trying to be realistic.  You live on the other side of the country."

Danny's fingers started to trace random figures into Casey's arm and then his shoulder.  He said, "There are these things called planes.  I just arrived on one.  They work in both directions and anyone can use them."

Casey rolled his eyes and responded, "You know that's not what I mean.  I couldn't make a relationship work when I lived with the person.  There would be thousands of miles separating us.  I'm too old for long-distance, Danny."

"One of the amazing things about being my own boss with my current gig is that I can decide where I go."

"You're happy now.  I don't want you to give that up."

"I wouldn't be giving anything up if that was a decision we made once we've spent time exploring this outside the damn car.  We haven't even kissed without the guise of copious amounts of alcohol as an excuse, so I think we can take a few minutes to enjoy this before we figure out the rest."

"You saying you want to make out with me, Danny?"

Danny's smile faltered for a second and Casey realized that Danny was as terrified as Casey was.  Danny was always better at hiding those sorts of things and it was Casey's turn to be the brave one.  Casey did a quick check and, when he confirmed that traffic was still not moving, he reached out, grabbed Dan by the back of his neck and pulled him in for a kiss.  Dan smiled against his lips, but didn't move for what felt like a long time, like eons of time where Casey wondered if had mistakenly misread everything and would now be stuck in a car filled with awkward tension.  Finally, Dan responded, grabbing a handful of Casey’s jacket and pulling him in closer as his tongue swept into Casey’s mouth.

They only pulled back when a car horn blasted and Casey saw that a foot of space had opened up.  Casey shot a c'mon gesture through the rear-view mirror, but forced his attention back to the road.  Suddenly, Casey wasn't sure what to do.  He fumbled with the radio and said, “I should probably focus on driving.”

Danny laughed and Casey felt the last of his worries fade away.  As if sensing it, Danny shook his head in amusement and said, “You’re an idiot.”

“Quite possibly, especially if we could have been kissing like that for over a year.”

“And a romantic.  I always dreamed that the man I loved would declare his undying devotion in a car on the Belt Parkway.  I’m officially wooed, Casey.”

Casey grinned over at Dan and said, “I’ve been known to break a few hearts.”

“I’m going to stop you now before you make me rethink my new plans for our night.”

"Right now our night involves getting yelled at by Natalie for being super-late to her shindig."

"No one calls things 'shindig' anymore.  And I suddenly feel quite ill, Casey.  I think all this traveling took a lot out of me.  And if I've potentially got a cold, it would be wrong of me to potentially expose everyone to such horrors."

"I'm the lucky one."

"Someone has to be sacrificed.  They would all agree it would be you."

Casey leaned forward and pressed a kiss to the corner of Dan's mouth.  He said, "And what would I get out of this?  The right answer involves kissing.”

“As long as you promise not to throw up on me this time.”

“I can do that.”

“And if you start to lose your mind, you have to talk to me and not suddenly develop amnesia if you regret it in the morning."

Casey braced Dan's face with his hands and said, "Let me be clear about this, Dan.  I never regretted those kisses.  It made me question a lot, forced me to deal with some things, but I could never regret it.  Its you-and-me."

"You-and-me can be a pretty good team."

"We both know how to pick up the slack when the other needs it.  So same goes for you - no running off to another country if you get caught up in your own head."

Dan pressed his lips to Casey's as he moved closer to Casey until he was practically sitting on the console.  Dan rested his forehead against Casey's and said, "Not going anywhere."

"And I'm not panicking."

"We will need to talk more about this when we get back to your place."

"Please tell me talk is code for-"

"-yes, Casey, there will be more kissing.  One-track mind over here."

"I'm not opposed to much more, but I don't want you to think I'm that easy."

Dan snorted and said, "I don't know why I love you, but I do."  Danny pulled Casey's hands away from him, but held onto them.  He said, "I want us to have a real shot and as much as I would love to get right to the naked debauchery, we have to make sure we're on the same page."

"I'm all in, Danny.  If that means, I move to Los Angeles, I'll do it."

"Casey..."

"It's not some great sacrifice.  Charlie will be heading to college in Chicago and, as you've pointed out, I don't particularly enjoy my job.  I can look for work out there-"

"-you don't have to say that, Casey.  Neither of us should have to give up anything like our career."

"I'm just putting it on the table, okay?  We don't have to decide our whole life tonight, do we?"

"No, but you’re also too important to me to throw caution to the wind.  I need you in my life.  I don't like who I am when you aren't in it and....”

Casey took Dan's squeezed Dan's shoulder and said, "...you're the one freaking out now and it's okay.  We'll be okay."

“And you don’t want it to be a fling, right?”

"I just offered to move to Los Angeles. I wouldn't do that for a fling, even if it was my best friend.  We've been a part of each other's lives for over twenty years.  I've seen you at your ugliest and best and there was no one else I would've wanted in my corner.  I would hardly call us a fling.  I might be a complete moron when it comes to my love life, but I know that no one could mean what you do to me.  It scares the hell out of me most of the time and I’ve missed you more than I can probably ever communicate, but I'll try.   You make me happy, Danny.  I realized I took that for granted and I hate that it took first losing our partnership and then losing you to Los Angeles to really understand that.  I wish I had woken up that morning and cured my horrendous hangover with a kiss.”

“Sometimes you’re not so bad with your words, Casey,” Dan replied, his eyes glistening with emotion.  He reached out and took Casey’s in his.  He squeezed it and said, “For the record, you couldn’t lose me if you tried.  Even when I’ve hated you, I’ve loved you more than anything.  I misguidedly thought that if I put a country between us I might be able to finally let go of those feelings, but I still compared everyone to you.  If this is what you want, what you really want, I’m willing to figure it out.”

Casey lifted their joined hands to his lips and brushed a kiss over Dan’s knuckles.  He loved that Dan was the one to shiver under his touch this time.  Casey couldn’t wait to get them back to his apartment so he could see what other reactions he could elicit from his best friend.  Casey said, “I want this, Danny.”

“Yeah?”

“More than anything.”

Danny grinned at him, a smile that Casey had never seen before, but took the breath away, and said, “I want it too.”  Danny pulled his hand out of Casey’s grasp and moved it to Casey’s leg.  He said, “Now, if you could get us out of the cold and this car, I could get to work on showing you how much I’ve missed you.”

“That a promise?  Because I’m not opposed to some illegal shoulder driving.”

“It’s one of the things I love about you, Casey.  You live on the edge.”

“Shut up.”

“The bad boy I’ve always dreamed of.  Bet you don’t even say ‘thank you’ when you get your coffee.”

“I’m rethinking everything,” Casey remarked.  He leaned over and kissed Dan again, excited that he could do that now, and added, “And I love you too, Danny.  We’ll figure the rest out.”

Danny ran his fingers along Casey’s cheek before pushing him away.  He said, “I can’t believe you did this in a car on the parkway.”

"You've mentioned."

"The Parkway.  I feel like I'm in a twilight zone version of Sex and the City."

“I didn’t exactly have it planned.”

“I would certainly hope not.  Though I now have the title for my next book – Love Confessions in a Hybrid Car.”

“A little on the nose, don’t you think?”

“It’s catchy.”

“Whatever you say, Danny.”