"You're still here."

The words make Daniel jerk his head up in surprise, the magazine he was reading slipping out his hand and tumbling to the floor.

"Uh, yeah." He gives Tupac a sheepish smile as he leans down to retrieve it, showing Tupac the cover.

It's a hip-hop magazine with rappers he's never heard of with grinning out at him from the cover. They have enough bling around their necks to buy a small country. It had caught his eye when he slipped out a few hours ago to get something to eat. It seemed like the kind of thing that Tupac would read, but when he had come back to check on him again, Tupac had been out cold. For some reason, Daniel hadn't wanted to leave him.

Daniel holds the magazine out to Tupac in wordless offering, feeling inexplicably awkward for some reason, but Tupac just waves it away. "No thanks, bro." He says, one of his hands lifting to touch his forehead. He gives a brief wince of pain. "I don't think I could read anything right now."

"Oh." Daniel stares at him helplessly, half-rising out of his chair and looking for some way to help. "Do you need me to get you a nurse?" He darts a glance over his shoulder at the closed door, trying to see through the tiny window if anyone is in the hall. "Or um, water." He reaches to the empty cup resting on the table beside Tupac's bed. "I could fill this up for you, just give me a-"

Tupac huffs out a breath. It sounds almost like a laugh, but it could just as easily be an annoyed exhalation. Or a pained one. Daniel keeps on worrying.

"Don't sweat it, bro." Tupac finally says. He looks up and meets Daniel's gaze. "I'm fine."

Daniel attempts to settle in his chair again. There must be some sort of rule that says they have to be made out of the hardest, most uncomfortable plastic around. "Like you'd tell me if you weren't, tough guy." he sighs. He was aiming for a light, jokey tone, but he clearly fails.

"Mm," Tupac agrees faintly. When Daniel looks, he's half in and out of sleep again.

Daniel is strangely relieved. It's less weird like this; he's free to openly study Tupac's face without the other boy thinking he's crazy. He can't help but worry about him, though. Who will if Daniel doesn't?

Daniel catalogues all the changes in his face, the pallid colour of his cheeks, the bumps and bruises. Aside from that, though, he looks okay. Everyone who had checked him over had said he would make a full recovery, but Daniel can't help feeling like things could easily have been different. He remembers the fear that clenched his gut as he had watched Tupac throw himself over the railing and off the side of the building. The idiot could have killed himself.

Daniel's hands knot into fists on his lap, and he tries to make himself relax. He drags his eyes away from the grazes on the side of Tupac's face and trails them down until this rest on his mouth instead. Tupac's lips are gently parted as he inhales and exhales steady gusts of air, and that's a reassuring sight.

His lips are still the same colour as they always were, and they look soft. Daniel freezes, smacking the thought away as soon as he realizes it has crossed his mind. That can't be normal, can it? Guys don't think about their mates lips looking soft.

Daniel shuts his eyes, takes a deep breath, tries to hold it for a moment before he lets it out again. Okay, that was just a brief moment of madness, nothing more. He risks opening his eyes again, but of course they go straight back to Tupac's mouth.

He finds himself unconsciously biting at his own bottom lip as he stares, his hands balling into fists again on his lap. God, it's just as well that Tupac is asleep or else-

"What?" Tupac's voice suddenly breaks into the silence, and Daniel starts and jumps in his chair like he was tasered.

"Huh? I- what?" Daniel manages to stammer inarticulately, jerking his eyes up to meet Tupac's.

Tupac's eyes still look foggy from exhaustion, but with each second that passes they grow more and more aware. He stares at Daniel like he's trying to read his thoughts. Daniel looks anywhere but at him, a flush crawling over his skin. He wishes he could just get up and bolt from the room.

Tupac suddenly makes a small disbelieving noise, and Daniel knows he's fit the puzzle pieces together.

"Were you thinking about…" Tupac hesitates, and Daniel resists the urge to bury his face in his hands and groan. "Kissing me?" He finishes, the last two words coming out thick with disgust.

Daniel reacts before he even thinks about it, shaking his head quickly and cutting the air between them with his hand, waving it back and forth in a 'no, no' gesture. "No!" He half-shouts. "I wasn't. I'm not… " His scrabbling mind comes up with a name, and he throws it at Tupac like it's a weapon. "Sophie!"

Tupac looks confused, so Daniel continues babbling. "She's a girl. I like girls. I mean, we… I-"

Tupac lifts a hand to silence him, and Daniel snaps his mouth shut. "Bro," he says, and Daniel risks looking at his face because at least his voice has lost some of that revulsion. "Are you sure? The way you were looking…"

Daniel finally gives in to the urge to press his face into his hands, his breath coming hard and fast. He tries to tell himself that he has nothing to feel guilty about. Yes, he had been staring at Tupac's mouth with enough heat to burn it, but he hadn't actually been thinking about kissing him.

Except… now he is. Oh god, he totally is. And it's not as weird or gross as he thought it might be. It's kind of hot, imagining how pliant Tupac's mouth would be, how they'd slide their lips together, soft and warm, and kiss lazily. There wouldn't be the head trips or the mixed signals or the games that girls liked to play. They could keep everything exactly the way it was; afternoons spent on the couch watching DVDs, nights sprawled across Daniel's roomy bed talking about anything and everything. It's just that they could kiss occasionally. It wouldn't have to be a big deal.

"Dan," Tupac's voice cuts into his thoughts again, making Daniel lift his head and look at him reluctantly. Who is he kidding? Of course it would be a big deal. He doesn't know why Tupac hasn't climbed out of bed and beat him senseless yet, but he figures it's because he's in no state to. If he wasn't nursing fractured bones, he probably would have.

Tupac sighs, and the sound of it is uncomfortably loud in the space between them. The only other noise Daniel can hear is his heart thumping loudly in his ears as if it's trying to escape. "You've only ever been with Soph, right?" Tupac asks, his tone hesitant. When Daniel nods slowly, Tupac sits up a little in the bed . "Well then, you don't know if you might be…"

Daniel shakes his head again, but it's not as desperate as it was the last time he did it. He feels defeated and beyond mortified. "I'm so sorry, man." He rises out of the chair on shaky legs. "I'll go." He's about to turn and head for the door, when he feels Tupac's hand on his arm. This is it, he thinks. He's going to beat my brains in.

But Tupac just flexes his fingers around his arm and says, "stay?"

Daniel stares down at him in surprise. Tupac's face is unreadable at first, but as Daniel watches his mask cracks bit by bit, until he looks as terrified as Daniel is feeling.

"I'm not going to pound you or get my cousin on your case if that's what you're thinking." Tupac's hand slips off of his arm and he pauses to take a breath, his tongue sliding out to wet his lips and his eyes shifting to the wall behind Daniel. "I mean, I've never done that either. And… I kind of want you to."

Daniel feels like he's missed very something important here. His throat has half closed up on him. "You want me to what? Stay?" He manages to croak out.

Tupac shakes his head, and Daniel is momentarily even more confused until he says. "I want you to, you know, kiss me."

Daniel stares at him, his eyes narrowing and his heart speeding up again; this time in anger. "Dude, that's not funny! You don't have to be a jerk about this."

Tupac shakes his head, finally looking up at him again. His eyes look pleading and one hundred percent serious. "I'm not. Dan, I'm not that much of a jerk."

Daniel sinks heavily into the chair, feeling like everything has been tipped upside down on him. "Yes, you are." He mutters, and they both laugh softly. Nervous laughter.

Tupac reaches out for his arm again, and this time he uses it to try and pull Daniel closer. "Please? Look, we can blame it on the meds tomorrow. I'm still pretty out of it."

Daniel looks at him, releasing his breath slowly. Part of him thinks that maybe he should protest against kissing people who are high on medication, but a bigger part of him is insisting he would be stupid to pass it up. After all, they might never get another chance to try this when they don't have such a convenient excuse.

Their lips meet a little off centre and clumsy at first, eagerness making them bump together a little too hard. They both laugh softly, and then Tupac moves his hand to cup Daniel's jaw, holding his face in place as he presses their mouths together again. Softly this time, experimentally.

This is much better. It's just lips for now, sliding warmly against each other, learning and exploring. Daniel gives a slow sigh when Tupac rolls his bottom lip between both of his and sucks it into the wet heat of his mouth, feeling the sweet shock of it rushing through every part of his body.

It's almost like an out of body experience when he lets himself think about exactly what he's doing, and who he's doing it with.

He pulls back a little, laying several quick kisses on Tupac's mouth before he dives in again for something a little deeper. Tupac's lips open up against his this time, and their tongues brush together, hesitantly at first and then growing braver. Tupac makes a sound in his throat that resembles a growl when Daniel strokes his tongue with his own, and the noise hits Daniel somewhere low in his stomach.

When he pulls back, it's not because he wants to; it's because he has to. They're both gasping for air, small smiles on both of their faces, and Daniel can't help but laugh.

"I…" He shakes his head. "Wow."

Tupac snickers, running his tongue slowly over his lips and looking pleased with himself. "Yeah. You weren't bad yourself."

Daniel punches him in the arm.