The hot water in the shower ran over his body. He raised his arms resting them on the wall, sighing. He felt that, at last, he was relaxing, the muscles of shoulders and back melted slowly.
The day just passed unraveled in his mind. Everyone going to camp, the two of them, the teacher and a group of girls. It's supposed to be a carefree trip and they were having fun, even though Danny was not quite agree on the type of teaching that he was giving the girls. He would have preferred to teach them how to find water in the jungle, or how to build a pillow with flowers, something appropriate to the age of those taking part in the excursion. Instead he wanted to teach them how to throw a knife and drive it exactly in the center of a tree trunk, or how to kill and skin a boar, those were survival techniques, damn it!
Of course nothing was going in the right direction and Danny had also taken a bullet. In one arm fortunately. A shiver ran down his spine thinking of what could have happened to Danny if the man had targeted a little more to the left. He would have shot him through the heart and he would die. Grace would grow up without his Danno and he, Steve, without his partner. Suddenly it became difficult to breathe, the hot water had filled the shower with steam and he seemed to choke. Quickly he closed the tap and opened the glass door, almost jumping out. He stumbled into the floor carpet and found himself on his knees. He forced himself to calm down, Danny was fine, nothing irreparable happened. Slowly the breathing regularized and even the heartbeats slowed. He sat with his back against the wall.
What the hell he thought? Was he joking? Partner? Danny was just his partner? Sooner or later he would have to face the reality, because Danny was not just this for him and he knew it. Only he refused to analyze it, hoping that by avoiding the topic even with himself, it vanished. Obviously it was not thus, and with each passing day, the matter was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.
Because Danny was not only his partner. Slowly he became his whole world, and the thought of losing him, gave him almost a panic attack.
He stood up and realized that, although he knew that he was fine, he just had to see him with his own eyes, or he wouldn't be able to sleep. Which is why he dressed himself, took his car keys and headed for Danny's home.
"That's it Monkey. Taste it and tell me if it's good" Danny gave Grace a marshmallow and the little girl tasted it, confirming that it was very good.
"Told you that you could do everything!" she said smiling.
In that moment the doorbell rang and Danny left the tent that had mounted in the center of his living room - the only way to spend a day camping in security - to answer it.
"For sure I could order a pizza Monkey" and opened the door.
Instead of the bellboy he found himself in front of Steve.
"Hey, what are you doing here? Are you okay?" he asked.
Steve didn't answer for a while, lost as he was staring at Danny. Danny was wearing a t-shirt as blue as his eyes and a pair of faded jeans that fell a bit on his hips, leaving open a flap of skin. He wanted to reach out and touch it right there, able even to imagine the texture and the softness. When his hand began to rise to reach it, Danny spoke up again, interrupting that moment.
"Steve? But are you okay? " he asked, waving a hand in front of his face.
He shook himself and said, "Yes, of course Danny, I'm sorry if I suddenly come here, I just wanted to be sure that you were okay. How's the arm? ".
Danny opened the door inviting him to come in. "Well, the arm is fine. Come on in. Grace is still here" and walked into the living room.
When Steve saw the tent mounted in the center of the room, he turned to him in disbelief.
"What the hell is this?" he asked.
"This is safe camp Steve, where nobody gets hurt, or is attacked by someone mentally disturbed, much less bitten by some kind of strange kind of insect" said Danny, hands on his hips in one of his best combative poses.
Steve alternated his gaze from him to the tent and then burst out laughing. Hearing his voice Grace opened the zipper and stuck his head out.
"Uncle Steve! How nice that you're here! want to come into the tent with us?".
Steve turned to Danny and saw him lift his eyes to heaven, but then smiled, motioning with his head to indulge Grace.
"I'd love it, Grace" and, after taking off his shoes and socks, slipped inside with her.
In that moment the bell rang again.
"Folks, here are the pizzas!" said Danny going to open.
Inside the tent Grace looked Steve conspiratorially "You know Uncle Steve, it isn't just like being in a real campsite, but it isn't thus bad either. But if I confess you one thing, you promise me not to tell Danno?" she whispered.
"It depends Grace, you know that it isn't nice to have secrets with him ...".
"Even if it's for his own good?".
"Well in this case ... come on, tell me before he comes."
"Today I had fun as hell, though when the man shot my Danno I was afraid. But it was all so exciting, can we do it again? I would absolutely learn to throw the knife as you did ..." concluded the girl looking at him hopefully.
"In fact I don't think we should tell Danno, I guess he wouldn't be happy ... go back to camp like today, it will have to pass a bit of time, but you'll see that I can convince him to try again" said Steve smiling.
"Thanks Uncle Steve" murmured Grace tying her arms around him.
In the meanwhile Danny had paid the bellboy and was about to lift the zipper, when he heard Grace talking. He stopped to listen, and to her words, he shook his head. Steve had a bad influence on her, but he loved her very very much. He begun to experience a tremor inside. It was a feeling of wholeness and love and happiness that, once, he associated only with Grace. But now it wasn't. Her daughter was not the only one that made him feel alive and loved. He wanted to tell him, but despite his reputation as a talkative, he wasn't yet able to deal this topic with Steve. Sooner or later he would have done, because that feeling, which he didn't want to find a name, was increasingly difficult to hide.
He sighed and picked up the zipper, slipping inside the tent with the pizzas.
"Here, we can eat. I'm sorry Steve but tonight nothing pineapple on pizza, you have to settle" and, after giving her part to Grace, handed him a slice with peppers.
In doing so, glanced up and met Steve's. They stood for a moment to stare without speaking or moving, their knees were touching in the narrow space, then Steve smiled and took the pizza that Danny handed him.
"That's fine Danny, I love peppers."
They ate with Grace that wasn't silent even for a moment, as she told Steve what had happened while he was in the jungle with Lucy and that man.
Finished eating Danny went out and turned off the light because Grace wanted to sleep in the tent.
"Can you stay too Uncle Steve?" she asked hopefully, giving him his best puppy dog eyes.
Steve smiled "Of course Grace, if Danny is fine" and Danny, who couldn't deny her anything when the girl looked at him like this, approved.
They lay down together with Grace between each other and the child soon fell asleep. The silence stretched so much that Danny thought that Steve was asleep.
He was quickly disproved when he heard his voice "Really the arm doesn't hurt?" he heard him whisper.
"Really Steve, I'm fine" he murmured and reached out a hand to place it on Grace's back.
Steve was already there and when Danny felt the hand under his, he took it, lacing their fingers together, shook it and closing his eyes.