Danny and Claude were practically married before they were even together and Scotty always told them that they needed to include that time as well. And the boys...the boys had been calling Claude “dad” for almost as long. He was on all their school forms as their stepfather, including the forms for when Danny had left Philly for those two years - the hardest years of Claude’s life.
But through everything, through the good times and bad, they made it through. And everyday Claude fell more and more in love with him.
It wasn’t easy. They had almost broken up many times. They knew the best ways to hurt each other. But it was worth all the fights, all the close-calls.
And Danny had almost lost him. Danny had been frustrated while he was in Denver. He missed Philly and he missed his boys and he really missed Claude. But instead to taking advantage of the limited time Danny had had with Claude, he spent the time pushing every button - every weak spot - Claude had until the younger man stormed out of Danny’s apartment.
Sean had called him twenty minutes later and tore him a new one. And Danny was at the hotel the next morning, apologizing to Claude and breaking down and not caring who saw or who heard. Because Claude was one of the most important people in his life and he knew he was about to lose hockey - he couldn’t lose Claude, too.
And Claude - amazing, wonderful, empathetic Claude - understood. And forgave him. And Danny was so grateful for the younger man.
Danny should really be over the butterflies in his stomach when it came to Claude. He really should be.
And yet… it happened often.
When Claude was stumbling into the kitchen, still half asleep, and poured his cup of coffee.
When Danny walked into their bedroom and found Claude wearing a Briere jersey and smirking over his shoulder.
When Claude was in the waking up process - slowly coming back to the world of the living - and was snuffling a little and curling further into Danny’s warmth.
When Claude played street hockey with the boys - even when Danny knew that he was bone tired.
When Claude cheered when Caelan made his first “perfect” grilled cheese like he had just scored the OT goal in Game 7.
When Claude was chirping him for almost burning the nice dinner he had insisted on making.
When Claude spent the night teasing Danny but spent it just far enough away that Danny couldn’t get his hands on the younger man.
When Claude walked down the aisle on their wedding day, looking way too good in the tan suit than he should.
When scored a goal and the camera tracked his celly.
When he was sleepy but insisted he wasn’t only to fall asleep halfway through whatever show they were watching.
When Claude had a bad game, or just a bad loss, and he had a storm cloud over his head and refused to listen to anyone tell him anything positive. God, he was the worst after a loss. But eventually, he would tuck himself against Danny’s side and stick his face in Danny’s neck and finally accept comfort.
Danny was watching the game from the front office box with Scotty, eyes not so much following the game than they were following Claude.
“You know,” Scott chuckled, “You and G? I never thought you’d actually make it.”
“Really?” Danny looked over at the larger man.
“Yeah,” Scott shrugged, “I kept thinking you would have a freak-out - a gay panic, an age gap panic, whatever - and end up pushing him away. I just never figured that he wouldn’t let you push him away.”
Danny went to respond but then Claude scored and Danny smirked when Claude pointed up at the box.
“I’m happy for you guys,” Scotty cut off whatever Danny was going to say, “I lost a lot of money to Simmer when you two got married. But… while I never expected it, I’m still very happy you held on.”
“Claude held on,” Danny replied, “Whenever I tried pushing him away, he never let me.”
“Stubborn ass ginger.”
Danny laughed brightly at that and nodded, “Thank God.”
Danny remembered the night he first said “I love you” to Claude.
It had been just them at the house - the boys were at Slyvie’s - and Danny had picked up dinner from Claude’s favorite restaurant in Philly. He had set the table, lit some candles, and pulled out the chair for Claude.
“What’s going on?” Claude had asked as Danny took his seat across from him, “You don’t have to do all this just to get in my pants, Daniel.”
“I just… I wanted to do something nice for you,” Danny had responded, “We’ve been busy lately and we haven’t had any time for just us and I thought you deserved it.”
“I love you, Claude,” Danny linked their fingers together on top of the table, “I… haven’t told you yet, but I do.”
“Daniel,” Claude smiled fondly, “I already knew you loved me.”
“I know you did,” Danny replied, “But you deserve to hear it.”
Claude had beamed brightly and Danny had thought he had fallen even more in love with him.
Danny should be over all the butterflies. But he wasn’t.
And people could wonder all they wanted about how he and Claude had made it this far. And Danny honestly didn’t one hundred percent know himself.
But he did know that after all this time, he was still into Claude.