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Admit Impediment

by A S Lawrence

[Story Headers]

Dan finally finished settling his cravat - it had taken him nearly twenty minutes - and turned for the compliments he knew were his due. "Well?"

Casey let his eyes wander, let his smile become speculative, appraising and - he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror, over Dan's shoulder - just the least bit wolfish. "Good enough to eat," was all he finally said; he meant beautiful, and marvellous, and mine, but the words he wanted to say, needed to say, came hard to him, even in bed; he had to treat this, what they had, lightly, let it flow through his hands. He knew if he held it too tight, looked too closely, he knew then that it might slip away from him, vanish, dreamlike, evanescent. And he couldn't have borne that.

Dan's smile flashed like summer lightning, in perfect understanding. "Later," he said, and made it a promise. "No time now. And remember, these suits are rented ..."

There was even less time than that; they should have left half an hour earlier. Casey said so. Dan shrugged. "Perfection takes time," he said.

"It seems to me," Casey observed, thoughtful, "that it takes longer than it used to ... When you were - you know ..."

Dan glowered. "What?" he said dangerously.

"... younger ..." But he was on thin ice there, and he knew it, and moved hurriedly on. "You remembered to pick up the wedding gift?" He'd left that to Dan. Danny was good at that sort of thing. It might have been a stereotype. Only, if so, what did that make him?

Dan scooped up a gift-wrapped package from the hall table and brandished it aloft. "Toast rack," he said.

Casey rolled his eyes. "That'd better be a joke. I'm not going down in Michael's family album as 'the guy with the half-share in the toast rack'." He took the package from Dan. It seemed reassuringly weighty in his hands. He stood for a moment, looking at it; at the paper, silver-sprigged with embossed bells and horseshoes, the elaborate ribbons and bows that enwrapped it, the heart-shaped gift tag. Tacky; trite; tasteless. But...

He looked up and met Dan's eyes, suddenly serious. "Danny? Would you like this - all this - one day? For us?" That was one of those things that he would never ordinarily say, so far over the line he'd drawn for himself that the line was only a memory. But this wasn't an ordinary day. Friends were marrying, their union blessed in the eyes of god and their families and of the world in general. And, witnessing it, he and Danny would sit in different aisles in the church, and at different tables afterward, and pretend that they were not in every way as deserving of this ritual, this ceremony and celebration and all that it implied, as any man and woman there, pretend that they were nothing more than friends. Because that, too, was what the world wanted.

He remembered then why so much of what they had together was left unspoken. Dan's face was wary, as though he suspected a joke, a bad one, and one to which he didn't know the punchline. He thought, a little affronted, that Dan should trust him more. And then he thought, well, why should he? When we never say what we want to say, when we never say what we mean? It was another of those vicious ironies that seemed so constantly to befoul them.

"Are you asking me?" Dan's voice shook, and the uncertainty in it hurt Casey as he had thought he could never be hurt again. He'd thought that love would be proof against that when, as it turned out, entirely the opposite was true.

"Do you want me to?" he said; his own voice was as unsteady as Dan's, and he stopped, drew breath, gathered courage. "I love you, Danny," he said then, and it was easy after all, as easy to say as to feel and when had he ever not felt it? - and if that was easy, then the rest should follow, all the other words, everything they'd thought was forbidden them.

For a moment something wistful flickered in Dan's eyes. Then he shook his head, shrugged it away. "No. They'd turn it into a circus. A freak show. No." He didn't specify they; he didn't have to. It was everyone: it was not us. He stood for a moment, still and silent, his eyes never leaving Casey's face. It had always been easier for Dan, the talking, far easier than it was for Casey; sometimes the problem was making him stop. A stillness like this meant something that even Dan, who was open and honest and brave and more than a little crazy - something that terrified even him. Something too vast, too awful, ever to voice aloud.

But Casey knew Dan; could read him without words. And the words Danny wasn't saying were, I can't even walk down the street with you and hold your hand, I can't even kiss you where people can see, it kills me that we can't do that, do we have to talk about it too? I don't want to be patronised by the well-meaning, or spat on by the ignorant. All I want is to be who I am. And to be who I am, I have to pretend to be someone else, someone I'm not. Don't ask me for more than I can give.

He knew.

Dan moved at last, came to Casey, laid his hand on Casey's chest, open over his heart; laid his head on Casey's shoulder. "I have all that I need," he whispered.

And Casey thought it almost might be true.

Admit Impediment
July 2004

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Fandom:  Sports Night
Title:  Admit Impediment
Author:  A S Lawrence   [email]
Details:  Standalone  |  G  |  *slash*  |  5k  |  02/25/06
Characters:  Casey, Dan
Pairings:  Casey/Dan
Summary:  There's a wedding; not their own.

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