Danny watched, a soft smile on his face, as Martin laughed and shook his head, eyes bright. Seconds later he was blushing and lowering his eyes and Danny raised an eyebrow, wondering what his friends were telling him. Martin sat, on a bench with three of Danny's friends, drinking iced tea and looking for all the world as if he were always this easygoing, this carefree. Danny knew differently, of course, but he lived to bring out Martin's lighter side, to make him laugh.
It had been a whim to invite Martin to his rooftop party. At least twice a summer, Danny sweet-talked his landlady into letting him throw a party on the roof for a few of his friends, mostly neighbors, and a couple people he'd gotten to know rather well from AA meetings. His landlady, an older woman who'd lost her husband a few years earlier, always gave him stern warnings about loud music and not letting things get out of control. But he always promised sweetly, smiled brightly and she'd end up blushing a bit and giving in. And it wasn't as if any of his parties had ever been a problem anyway. He was long past the point of throwing – or attending – wild parties. No, they were more like yearly get-togethers…friends bringing food, light music making its way through the summer breeze, all lit by the backdrop of the city and a few randomly strung Chinese lanterns.
It was the second summer he'd known Martin, the first he'd invited him along. Things had changed dramatically, yet subtly, between the two of them over the past couple years. Where Danny had first been wary he was now open, and in some ways he felt closer to Martin than anyone else he knew. The attraction was mutual as far as he could tell, though Martin made damn sure that Danny had to work hard to figure it out. It was as frustrating as it was enjoyable, but Danny had yet to make any sort of real move, not quite sure how to go about it.
He suspected that inviting Martin to the party was the opening he'd been looking for but he knew he had to do it carefully, had to sweep Martin off his feet, as it were, before he had a chance to think of why it would be a bad idea. And oh Danny, himself, knew all of the reasons why their having a relationship could be a bad idea. There were almost too many to choose from. But he couldn't help himself. He needed to take this chance because he firmly believed it would be worth it. And he knew he couldn't live with the regret if he didn't.
Hours later his guests were leaving, laughter and warm thank-yous called out repeatedly as he hugged and waved goodbye, smiling fondly after the friends who let him be simple and easy. They let him forget the stress of his job and the cases that sometimes had him waking up to cold sweats and horrific nightmares.
Martin alone remained on the roof with him, standing now, leaning against the wall surrounding the edge of the building. Danny paused for a moment, holding his gaze, blatantly looking at what he often had to pretend he didn't notice. The jeans and snug fitting blue t-shirt, the strength of the arms that were crossed over his chest, the way his lips formed a small, half-smile and the sweet blush that colored his cheeks.
Finally, Danny shook his head slightly, lips turned upwards into a smile. He lowered his eyes for a moment and walked over to where Martin stood, sighing into the soft breeze that flowed around them.
"Did you have a good time?" Danny asked.
Martin nodded, eyes bright, expression open. "Yeah, thanks for having me," he replied. "Your friends are great. I…well I haven't had much time for friends since I moved here." He shrugged, looking a little sad but accepting. Danny knew there was more to it than that, because it had been a little over two years and Martin was still hiding in his shell a lot of the time. But he didn't push; knowing Martin would figure things out in his own way and on his own time.
The breeze stirred them both again, making the Chinese lanterns sway slightly in the breeze. The music played on, drifting through the air as if it were a part of it, swirling around them.
"I was watching you dancing," Martin said softly. Danny looked at him curiously, smiling a little when he saw the expected blush creep onto Martin's cheeks, the way he lowered his eyes for a moment before looking into Danny's own again.
He smiled brighter. "With Anya? She lives a few doors down from me. Her husband Chris doesn't dance, and she loves coming to these parties because she knows I'll dance with her. Chris doesn't mind. In fact I think he was talking with you for a bit while we danced."
Martin nodded, easily accepting Danny's words, a smile on his face. But Danny could tell that there was more he wanted to say or ask or do. And Danny watched him, could see the attempts flickering across his face, the way he was obviously debating his next move, trying to figure it all out and what he should do.
Danny decided to make it easy for him and stepped a little bit closer, hand reaching out to rest lightly on Martin's shoulder. He swallowed, paused for a moment because he hadn't expected all the heat that met his fingers through the fabric of Martin's shirt. He met his gaze and licked his lips, watching the brief flash of curiosity – strangely akin to desire – that ran through those blue eyes.
"Martin…do you want to dance with me?" he asked softly, a small tremble in his voice.
He held his breath, waiting, releasing it with a smile when Martin nodded. Shyly whispering a "yes." Bravely meeting Danny's eyes.
Danny reached out first, watching the nervousness play out over Martin's face, heard it in the shaky way he released his breath. But when he slipped one arm around Martin's waist and brought them together Martin relaxed, returning the embrace warmly, hand coming out to grasp Danny's, letting him lead. The music was soft, an easy love song that neither of them heard the lyrics to but it didn't matter. The melody was enough, blending together with the sounds of the city, coloring the night all around them.
Eyes stayed locked as they swayed gently to the rhythm, focused so much more on each other than on the actual act of dancing. So much longing…and for the first time it seemed so easy to let it show. Slowly, Danny slid his fingers over the soft skin of Martin's hand, tangling their hands more fully. He felt Martin's grip on his other arm tighten, felt the way he suddenly seemed to be even closer.
Danny took a moment to realize how far he'd come, how deep in over his head he really was. He let go of Martin's hand, smiling when he wrapped it around his waist, and brought his own fingers to Martin's cheek, smoothing over soft skin to his neck. He heard Martin's soft intake of breath, watched as he closed his eyes briefly and then looked up into Danny's again, a new look there that Danny recognized easily, knew his own eyes looked the same. But he needed Martin to take the next step. He'd created this atmosphere, he'd asked Martin to dance…and Danny needed for it not to be all one sided.
He could see it in Martin's eyes. The simple look that said it all…showed how much he wanted to kiss Danny, to take that step and close the distance between them, to start what had been so long in coming. Danny pressed his fingers into the soft skin just below Martin's hairline at the back of his neck, leaned closer so that their foreheads touched and shut his eyes.
"Martin…" he whispered, a little desperate, mostly hopeful. He knew the fine line they were walking and he needed Martin to cross it before he started to let himself think too much. Needed him to close his eyes and give in…to stop waiting.
Jump without looking and be wonderfully foolish.
He opened his eyes for just a second, saw Martin's shy smile, felt his fingers in his hair and then a soft breath as Martin kissed him. Danny felt his heart clench tightly in his chest, wrapped his arms more fully around the other man and let go. Their kiss was soft, slow, a gentle play of lips, warmth, and a heat that lay just beneath the surface. Heat Danny knew could be his now. Martin was the first to make it deeper, his tongue sweeping across Danny's bottom lip, and then into his mouth when Danny opened. Not sure if it was him or Martin who whimpered – maybe both – as their tongues touched, mouths fitting together easily, plainly.
When they pulled apart, the night was still colorful and inviting…maybe more so. Danny smiled, pressing his fingers to Martin's lips and shaking his head when Martin's eyes widened predictably, reality his almost-constant companion. And Danny wouldn't have it any other way. He knew the thoughts that were most likely speeding through Martin's brain – again all the reasons as to why this relationship could be such a bad idea. But none of it mattered when compared with why it was so good.
And Martin looked at him carefully, studying Danny's eyes and gently running his fingers over his cheek and through his hair. When he smiled, it was genuine and when he hugged him tighter it was real and accepting. And Danny knew he still had convincing to do, knew it would sometimes be a struggle. But as Martin pressed his lips to Danny's neck and laughed softly, Danny knew they'd survive, and they'd be so happy. And he laughed too.
Inspired by the song "You Fool" by Kaci Brown