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softly slowly

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Danny was sleeping peacefully, soft sunlight streaming through the open bay windows and gently filtering over him and the white sheets of his luxurious, shared bed. He was tired deep in his bones lately, a sure sign of getting older and aging (even if it had taken years and years and years to do so) but it was a nice kind of tired, a satisfied type of tired. So he slept. Deeply and without a worry in the world. Danny had long since found his slice of happiness and he reveled in its safety.

Sleeping in used to be a very rare luxury. Something he hadn’t afforded himself in his early teen years, he’d had too many responsibilities and too many nights filled with fighting. And then he matured, maybe not in body at first (not with his halfa status slowing his growth significantly) but in the very least in mind.

Years passed and he made truces and deals and treaties. Years passed and he learned to sleep and eat and care. Years passed and he learned and he yearned and he finally grew.

Years and years flew by and, eventually, wonderfully, he fell into a warm and comfortable type of love. Enemies at first, then reluctant acquaintances, then friends, and then so peacefully in love it still took his breath away. It seemed like the natural course, though many might disagree. He still only looked 25 after all, but the many that disagreed didn’t know that he’d been 25 for a very, very long time. He’d long since stopped caring about them. Not when he was loved in such a perfect, familiar way.

So he slept. He let the sunshine wash over his body and caress his dreams in a warm embrace, he let his breath continue its slow, unhurried pace, and he let his limbs relax and drift away.

He dreamt of bright smiles, soft fires, and long silver hair. He dreamt of a warm body, secure arms, and the gentle purring of cats. He dreamt of beautiful laughter, grand open windows, and the first soothing bars of his favorite piano song.

He woke slowly and with a great long stretch after that, moaning in bliss and relief. He loved the days he could sleep in, loved the slow Sunday mornings that let him wake up on his own terms.

With a yawn and one final stretch he let his eyes blink open and he felt ready to face the day. He felt especially ready to sit back and do nothing with his favorite person. The ritual of their Sundays.

Then his gaze landed on the note written in fancy, nearly indiscernible, handwriting, sitting on the antique nightstand on his side of the bed.

He picked it up and smiled.

Dear Daniel,

I know how much you enjoy your mornings in, so I will let you sleep. You look too cozy to disturb. Breakfast, as always, will be saved in the fridge for when you wake. I only write to ask that, once you’ve eaten, to please find me in the third floor study. I’ve been setting up a surprise for you.

With Love,

Vlad

His smile widened and he kicked off the rest of the sheets still tangled around his legs, all the while clutching the note and rereading it with a childlike excitement. He always loved Vlad’s surprises.

He rushed through his morning routine; shower, shave, etc. etc. He nearly took the steps two at a time to get down to the kitchen before giving up entirely and flying the rest of the way. He slowed down for breakfast because he always tried to savor Vlad’s delicious cooking. He also didn’t try to skip eating because he knew Vlad would be angry with him when he found out he skipped a meal. And Vlad always found out. He could never be too bitter about it, though, because he did the same thing when Vlad tried to go without sleep for a night.

Their relationship was mutual like that; Vlad taking care of him and Danny taking care of Vlad in return. Vlad may have a few years of experience over him but they were still equals in everything. Keeping peace among ghosts, managing everything in the house, and taking care of the each other in every way. Whether it be with stern glares, whispered praise, or gentle kisses. They took care of each other. They loved each other.

Danny chewed thoughtfully on his perfectly crisped bacon as he looked around the kitchen with that same sense of contentment that always seemed to wash over him when he stopped to think about his life. It still seemed so fresh sometimes, so new and dazzling but without the nervous underlying fear of the first few weeks. The fear that it would all unravel and fall apart like a too-good dream. But now he knew it wouldn’t. Years and years and years made everything solid, sturdy, secure. Even when things felt new again he could feel the old as a base below.

The sunlight that had woken him in the bedroom poured into the kitchen, glancing off smooth tile, dark wood, and shiny metal. Danny watched the dust motes dance in the air and his eyes softened for no explicable reason. Everything was soft about him nowadays, but he didn’t mind.

Memories drifted through his mind like the dust motes through the sun, idyllic and graceful. Deep laughter, clouds of flour, small fires (that still weren’t his fault, thank you), arguments with tears, and lazy dancing after a comfort-food dinner. He finished off his French toast with a grin.

Danny put his dishes in the sink with a delighted hum and danced around the kitchen with an excited rhythm, his excitement back as he remembered the surprise that awaited him. He felt giddy and he was sure his eyes were shining with held-back glee.

The third floor felt like an eternity away and all he wanted was to rush up and away and shower Vlad’s thoughtful face with kisses. But he refrained. He knew Vlad loved to keep his surprises until the best possible moment, his need for dramatic flair shining through. The man loved to be as dramatic as possible. Though Danny had to hand it to him, it worked out in his favor the majority of the time.

So Danny didn’t rush. He didn’t fly directly to the study and phase directly into the room like he really, really wanted to. He took the stairs instead, each quick footstep adding to the excitement and setting his heart a-pounding, his stomach tied up in anticipatory knots.

Since when was their home so large? Yes, they lived in a mansion, because Vlad’s opulent ass wouldn’t settle for less, but this was starting to seem ridiculous. Why did they even have three floors?! Two was a perfectly reasonable number of levels. Honestly, they never even used the third floor study, it being empty for the most part.

Danny’s was itching to take flight and just rush the rest of the way, he was far too wound up with anticipation. But he kept walking, complaining about how big their house was instead of thinking about what possible surprise Vlad could have come up with.

He held his breath when he stopped in front of the third floor study door, just staring at the thick wood and stopping himself from rocking on his toes. He taped down his grin as much as he could and knocked.

Vlad opened the door with a bright smile, only showing the barest sliver of the room to Danny so he could speak. Danny tried to look around him but the room was far too dark to see much, which made him very, very suspicious.

“Daniel,” Vlad said, “Good morning, dear.”

“Morning, sweet pea,” Danny chirped back with a cocky grin, knowing Vlad still had mixed feelings about cheesy pet names.

Vlad scowled at him a bit but Danny’s grin only widened when he spotted the soft, barely-there blush on his cheeks. Success.

Vlad pouted but then returned to smiling, his eyes shining with just as much excitement as Danny’s were, the cobalt of them bright like moonlight illuminating the deep blue ocean.

“Almost done,” he whispered like the surprise might startle if he spoke to loud and then closed the door, leaving Danny to wait and bite his lip to prevent himself from phasing through the door right then and there.

He was startled when a few moments later Vlad himself phased through the door, keeping it closed. He moved to stand behind Danny, his arms wrapping around Danny’s waist and his chin resting on Danny’s shoulder.

“Are you ready, honey bunches?” Vlad murmured in his ear and Danny shook with laughter. Fighting fire with fire was a new tactic for Vlad but the teasing tone of his voice just made it hilarious and endearing.

“As I’ll ever be, cutie pie,” Danny shot back, his hand already excitedly shooting for the door knob and turning with glee.

The door creaked open and he gasped.

Dark curtains blocked out most of the sunlight but warm, honeyed stripes of it peaked out from underneath and spilled across the wooden floor, creating long swathes of soft orange glow. It was a dazzling affect when paired with the surprise twinkling up above.

The shadows the curtains had provided were illuminated by the gentle glow of hundreds and hundreds of tiny little star lights all rigged up to span the ceiling and, as Danny looked closer, actually reflected the constellations in the real night sky.

“Vlad…” he whispered in awe. So much work must have gone into this, so much effort and love.

Vlad chuckled. “There’s more, dear,” he said, gently pushing Danny further into the room and closing the door behind them.

Danny was still too busy looking up and counting the stars, spotting the constellations and trying not to cry. Vlad took his hand and led him to a spot more thoroughly draped in shadow, hiding the only apparent furniture in the room. Danny hadn’t even noticed it was bare until he saw that the only thing there was a plush green rug and a scattered amount of stone gray pillows. It looked like grass and rocks and now that he was closer he could see the walls were painted the deep blue of a night sky. He was sure Vlad didn’t do it on purpose but it was nearly the same shade as Vlad’s eyes.

“Do you like it?” Vlad asked in the quiet of the room.

“I love it,” Danny breathed back, his gaze moving back to the stars. He didn’t notice when Vlad moved to kneel down in front of him.

The surprise, it seemed, was still yet to come.

“Daniel,” Vlad whispered, his fingers rubbing nervous circles in Danny’s hand.

Danny looked back to him and his eyes widened, his breath catching in his chest and his heart doing leaps behind his ribcage. The artificial starlight lit up Vlad’s smiling, anxious face with a soft glow as he knelt on one knee in front of him. One of his hands still clutched at one of Danny’s but the other was now holding a small velvet box.

He waited for Vlad to go on, his free hand moving up to cover his mouth in some vain attempt not to cry. This wasn’t a surprise so much as an inevitability, but he hadn’t expected it now, hadn’t expected it all to feel so perfect, so right.

Vlad flipped open box and the simple golden ring inside caught the light of the stars and Danny already felt tears leaking over his hand. It was perfect, not too flashy, not too plain, beautiful designs carved into the sides and likely an engraving on the inside if he knew anything about Vlad. The room was perfect, the ring was perfect, Vlad was perfect.

Danny fell to his knees beside Vlad, tackling him into a speechless, tearstained hug.

“Will you marry me, Daniel?” Vlad whispered so earnestly that Danny felt like his life would be complete forever from that moment on.

“Yes,” he whispered back, “Yes, yes, yes.”

Vlad smiled as he took the ring and slipped it on his trembling finger. Danny grinned back and tackled Vlad nearly all the way to the floor, the ring on his finger glowing along with the bright smile that stretched his face.

“I love you, sweet cheeks,” he said, moving to cup Vlad’s face between his hands and shower him with a thousand kisses.

Vlad laughed and held him gently, “I love you, too… sugar plum. Happy anniversary.”