Prompt: What is the longest time you've ever waited for someone or something? Why did you wait?
He'd waited seven hours for someone to tell him if his parents were going to be okay. He'd escaped the accident relatively unscathed with only a cut on the head and a broken finger. But he'd been wearing his seatbelt. His mother had made sure he'd put it on before they'd left the store. His parents, however, had been too busy arguing to pay attention to such things and neither of them had buckled up.
For seven hours he'd sat by himself in the hospital. Three of those hours were a little blurry as the nurses and one kind, young doctor had fixed him up and made sure he was all right. But after a while, Danny started to think that they had all forgotten about him.
Wide-eyed, he watched the other people in the emergency room, smiling at the little girl – she couldn't be more than two – who kept hiding behind her mother's chair. He tried sleeping, but the hard, plastic chairs were not at all comfortable. None of the magazines were of any interest to him; he was only eleven after all and hardly interested in anything that might be printed in Time, Newsweek or People. A brief exploration of the nearby halls brought him quickly back to the waiting area after he saw a woman crying and clutching her husband's hand. It made him think of his mother, and for some reason…it scared him.
He didn't cry. He didn't interrupt or ask anyone for answers…he didn't know if he was allowed. When Rafi showed up, escorted by a neighbor, Danny latched onto him, feeling safe for the first time in seven hours. He stayed close to his brother's side, listening without saying a word as the doctor explained in a soft voice that there had been too much damage, too much blood loss…his parents were dead.
Seven hours. And his life had been forever altered.
Quite possibly the longest four weeks of his life. Every day was like torture, waiting until his shift at the restaurant was over so he could rush back to his apartment and check the mail. Every day, desperate to find that letter. The one that would change his life irrevocably.
Congratulations…or we regret to inform you…
He needed to find out. Needed so badly to know if he would be going to New York and to college. Needed to know if he would be able to escape.
They'd said it could take up to six weeks to receive a response, but Danny had no idea how he'd be able to wait that long. No matter what he did, he couldn't keep his mind off of that letter. Couldn't force himself to stop hoping, to stop praying that they'd accept him, that they'd give him a reason to leave Florida. To leave everything. To start over.
He spent the days working, trying to take his mind off what he wanted most. At night he'd lay awake for hours, second-guessing himself and wondering if he'd been foolish to set his sights so high. How would he survive in New York? Dade County Community College had already accepted him. He only had so much time to enroll in their classes for the fall. It was the sensible choice, the choice he was expected to make. It was better than a lot of other choices he could have made.
Sundays were the worst because there was no mail. No possibility of knowing. He spent most of those days – when he wasn't working an extra shift – with friends he'd long since outgrown, drinking too much and feeling trapped.
But then it was Thursday…exactly one month from when he'd held his breath and dropped the application in the mailbox. As usual, he shifted through his mail with a frantic hand, tossing aside junk mail and bills to find that plain white envelope. The one with a New York address in the top left corner.
His fingers trembled so badly he was barely able to open it. He held his breath as he unfolded the paper and leaned back against the front door. His eyes skimmed instantly to the first word and he sunk down onto the cement and leaned back against the door, his heart beating wildly, his eyes stinging with tears.
One month. And everything had changed.
The longest he'd ever waited for anything. Because no matter what he did, he couldn't make himself give up. Couldn't give up on the idea that Martin would understand, that Martin would want him back, that they'd stop coming so damn close before they fell apart.
So many missed chances and moments where Danny had thought they'd finally taken a step in the right direction only to have it all brutally thrown back in his face. First it was just an attraction, a game and a whole lot of lust. Then those looks had made him breathless, that lingering uncertainty and hesitation had made him desperate for more. For something real.
And through it all, he kept waiting. Nights up late, together, both of them wanting more. After that, when the wanting had turned into reality and then a cold bed in the morning. An ache that wouldn't go away no matter how many times it happened.
It's all I can give you… Martin's words. Heartbreaking. Sad.
Through misguided relationships that never stood a chance of working. Through cases gone wrong and faces they'd both like to forget. Still Danny waited, letting Martin know silently and on a level that only the two of them understood that he was still there.
Then bullets had shattered glass and ripped through a rainy night, changing everything. Instead of crossing the unspoken barrier between them, it had forced Danny away. Terrified that he might lose Martin to nothingness. Maybe it wasn't meant to be and staying away would keep him safe. Ill thought logic, yes, but it was the only thing he believed.
It only got worse from there. Martin was broken, hurting and utterly alone. Abandoned. And Danny realized his mistake too late; blind to Martin's silent screams for help because all he could remember was bullets on a rainy night.
But then months later, a year later…and it was suddenly different. Easy again, as if someone had lifted a weight off of both of them; the air wasn't so thick anymore. And Danny didn't know what had changed, but the more he wondered the more he thought he didn't need to. The past forgotten…or at the very least, forgiven.
Flirting turned into soft smiles and blushing, blue eyes crinkling with amusement and something infinitely sweeter. This time the nights together were lighter, not so painful or full of secrets. And when it turned into more they both surrendered willingly. Soft whispers against each other's lips…full of need and want and love.
And neither of them ran away. Waking up still wrapped up in each other's arms, good morning kisses that tasted warm and sleepy. It was so good, so right.
Finally. Martin smiled as Danny murmured the word, pausing to look into his eyes, nodding gently, lips soft as they pressed the word yes to his mouth.
Yes. Conviction, need, hope…and above all, love.
Six years. And he would've waited six more.