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Flirtational Theory

by Shrift

Notes: Thanks to Nestra for judo-chop beta, and to elynross for the canon help.


"You know what I said about desperate times? People sleeping with each other in the last days of a war?"

Casey glanced away from the bar, where Dana was having an intense conversation with a stocky, balding man in an expensive sports coat. Danny's long fingers methodically peeled the label from one of Casey's empty bottles of Budweiser. "Danny, Kim's not going to sleep with you."

Danny's mouth twitched, and he rolled his eyes. "Of course she's not going to sleep with me, Casey. I've been treating her like my secretary for the last three years. I'm surprised she hasn't arranged for my intensely painful death at the hands of a large man named Gino and his friend the meat cleaver."

"Mobsters kill people with meat cleavers?"

"So I hear."

"Interesting."

Dan let go of the damp beer label and flattened his palms on the table, leaning forward. "Now, do you remember what I said the other day about people sleeping with each other in times of war?"

"Yes, I do."

"Well, I was blowing smoke," Danny said.

Casey sipped his beer and raised an eyebrow. "No way."

"People don't sleep with each other in the last days of war. It's a matter of historical record that they sleep with each other after the war."

Casey groaned. "Didn't we stop talking about this two days ago?"

"Work with me, Casey," Danny said. "It's a matter of historical record. What springs to mind?"

"The Baby Boom," Casey said, nodding.

Danny smiled. "The Baby Boom, my friend."

Casey leaned forward to ask, "You're not suggesting we find random women to impregnate, are you, Dan?"

Danny made a huffing noise into his hand like he was attempting to smother a laugh. "No."

"Just checking," Casey said. "I don't think Charlie's ready for a little brother or sister."

Casey doubted he could dismiss anything out of hand today, not after CSC's miraculous ninth inning rally under the ownership of Quo Vadimus. Furthermore, they'd been coming to Anthony's every night after work -- or rather, Dana and Natalie had forced them to go to Anthony's every night after work -- and despite the well-deserved euphoria that had turned a somewhat lackluster script into a damn good show, Casey's brain was starting to feel a little pickled from nine days of beer.

"Casey..." Danny twirled the ice in his glass of scotch five times before dropping his hands into his lap. "Casey, Casey, Casey."

"What?"

"I don't think I could have gone to L.A. without you," he said abruptly. Danny stared at the table, his face entirely too serious. This was a heart-to-heart conversation that Casey had been successfully avoiding for more than a week with, he dared say, aplomb. Danny had been a lot harder to shake off ever since he had started therapy with Abby, like his weekly habit of talking about his problems had infected his behavior with everyone else.

"It doesn't matter anymore, Danny," Casey said easily. "We're still gainfully employed."

Dan just sat there and breathed loudly for a minute before saying, "It matters, Casey."

"Okay."

"It could happen again."

"It could," Casey agreed.

"In fact," Danny said, finally looking up, "it probably will happen again."

Danny still looked too serious, his red shirt halfway unbuttoned and his face flushed from the celebratory consumption of alcohol. It wasn't often that he could tell Dan to lighten up, so Casey grinned and said, "But not tonight, my friend."

"No," Danny said, his funny mouth lifting in a half-smile. "No, not tonight."

They clinked their glasses together and were drinking to the toast when Natalie called out "Night, guys!" as she dragged Jeremy past their table. She smelled strongly of coconut, and she had her tiny fist wrapped around Jeremy's tie like a lead rope. Jeremy shrugged sheepishly, his brown hair askew and his glasses half-off his face. Casey and Dan both waved as Natalie towed an unresisting Jeremy out the door.

"See what I mean?" Danny said. He folded his arms on the table and watched them leave over his shoulder. "People sleep together after the war."

"That they do." Casey felt a brief pang of regret that he probably wouldn't be leaving with someone tonight, and that there wasn't anyone waiting for him at home. Dana looked entirely wrapped up in the balding guy wearing the expensive sports coat, but to be honest, he'd given up on the idea of Dana a while ago. Casey had also given up the idea of one-night stands after the mess with Sally, so he was at something of an impasse.

Kim was still holding court with Will, Chris, Dave and Elliot at one of the bigger round tables, and Danny was staring at him with an intensity bordering on the extremely strange. Casey passed his hand over his nose and said, "What? Do I have something on my face?"

"People sleep together after the war, Casey," Danny repeated.

"Yeah, we already covered that one," Casey said.

"So?" Danny prompted.

"So?" Casey knew he was fumbling the pass, but Danny was throwing a wild ball into the bleachers from the fifty-yard line. He took a stab. "Does this mean you're going to call Rebecca?"

He immediately knew that it was the wrong thing to say from the way Danny's face shut down, but was completely clueless as how to fix it. He hated being on the receiving end of Danny's disappointed look, probably because Danny always looked a minute away from crying. Casey couldn't handle it when Danny cried any more than he could when Charlie did. Helplessly, Casey said, "Danny?"

"No," Danny said flatly, then, "I mean, I don't know. Why, do you think I should call her?"

Casey shifted on his chair. He wanted to tell Danny yes, that it was great that Rebecca was pursuing him this time. He wanted to be happy for Danny, but the truth was that Casey wasn't sure he liked how much Rebecca distracted Danny from his work. From his work, and from Casey.

Casey liked having Danny around whenever he needed him, and when Danny had been pursuing Rebecca, the only time Casey definitely knew that Dan was going to be around was when they were physically on the air.

"A park all covered in cheese," Casey said. "I don't know, Danny. Do you want to call her?"

The weird look was back on Danny's face. "No, I don't think I do."

"There you go," Casey said.

"Yeah." Danny drank the last of his scotch, tilting his head back and exposing his throat. Casey watched his Adam's apple bob.

Someone cleared her throat. "Hi," she said, holding a pocket notepad and a Holiday Inn pen. Another tanned blonde this time, doing her unfortunate best to look like Farrah Fawcett. "My boyfriend would kill me if he knew I saw you guys and didn't get your autograph."

"What's his name?" Casey smiled and held out his hand for the notepad. It was how they usually played it; Casey did the practical stuff, Danny did the charming, and they all walked away happy.

"Kris. With a 'K'," she said, lifting her chin and pointing at the notepad like a chicken.

"This is becoming an upsetting trend," Danny said, almost sounding normal as he took the notepad from Casey. "Beautiful women keep approaching us and telling us that they have boyfriends. Does that seem fair to you?"

"No, it certainly does not," Casey said.

Danny nodded. "Totally unfair. I think we should file a grievance."

"Thanks!" Kris's girlfriend said, taking the notepad back with a smile and returning to her table across the room.

"Hey," Casey said, turning back to Danny, "at least she didn't know anyone you used to date."

Danny narrowed his eyes, and Casey had a nagging feeling that he'd just been an asshole. "I'm going home now," Danny said, standing up and pulling on his coat. He rolled his shoulders, dropped a twenty-dollar bill on the table, and walked off without saying good night.

Someone smacked the back of his head. Casey hunched away from the hand and turned in his seat. Kim stood behind him, her hands on her hips and radiating disapproval.

"Ow!" he protested. "What was that for?"

"I'm Natalie by proxy," Kim said.

Casey rubbed the back of his head, although the sting was already fading. "He treats you like his secretary for three years and I'm the one who gets smacked?"

Kim crossed her arms. "I also have Natalie's alcohol-induced mood swings by proxy."

Casey looked around for help. Elliot was giggling so hard he was turning red, Dave was smirking, and Will and Chris were looking away and whistling loudly. "Um," Casey said, "is this the part where you tell me you're not wearing any socks?"

Kim rolled her eyes and walked back to her table, tossing "You wish," over her shoulder and then flipping her dark hair.

Casey sighed and finished off the rest of his beer. Danny wasn't waiting for him outside Anthony's, so Casey whistled to himself until he could flag down a cab. The cab's upholstery was frayed and smelled like decaying fish, so Casey didn't wait for his change when they reached Danny's building. The elevator was empty on the way up, and one of the overhead lights flickered like a bad omen.

Danny answered the door wearing a holey T-shirt and running pants. "Casey."

"Hey," Casey said. It took a moment for Danny to step aside, but Casey didn't find it too worrisome because Danny didn't look angry.

"Want a beer?" Danny asked, already halfway to the kitchen.

"Yeah, sure." Casey locked the door behind him. He had already consumed more than enough beer at Anthony's, but he didn't want to be sitting there with nothing to do with his hands. "I don't actually have to say it, do I?"

Danny straightened up, one elbow on the refrigerator door and his eyes imploring the ceiling. "I think I missed the beginning of this conversation, Casey."

Casey tossed his jacket onto Danny's leather couch and sat on one of the bar stools. "You wanted to talk about this. We're talking about this."

"Don't do me any favors, Casey," Danny said quietly, twisting the tops off two beer bottles.

Casey caught the bottle when Danny slid it across the counter. "Guys don't talk, Danny."

"I talk."

"That's because you're a woman," Casey said.

Danny laughed and sat down on the other bar stool, his sharp knee bumping against Casey's. "You really don't want to do this."

"I really don't."

Danny pursed his lips. "Then you don't have to."

Casey's spine straightened in surprise. "I don't?"

"No." Danny shook his head and took a sip of beer, then ducked his head and said quietly, "But sometimes I need to know how things stand, Casey, and I really can't do that unless you talk to me."

Casey wanted to call a flag on the play for illegal use of a guilt trip, but instead he took a deep, deep breath. "Okay," he said. "I'd like you to note that this kind of thing is difficult for me."

"This kind of thing is difficult for you," Danny said, leaning forward. "Duly noted."

"I..." Casey said, keeping his mouth open in the hope that other words would follow.

"...have a speech impediment?" Danny continued for him. "Touch myself when I'm on camera? Secretly believe that the Starland Vocal Band will never get the props they truly deserve?"

"Danny, you're not making this any easier." Casey glared. "And I'll remind you that the Starland Vocal Band won a Grammy in 1976 for Best New Artist, and their single 'Afternoon Delight' topped the Billboard 100 in July of the same year."

Danny stopped mocking Casey by talking with his hand to say, "And today VH1 might ask them to film a spot for 'One Hit Wonders: Where Are They Now?' You should call them with a pitch and ask if you can be the guest host."

"Can we stop insulting my musical tastes now?"

"I wouldn't necessarily call it taste, Casey..."

"Dan? Shut up."

Danny raised his hands imploringly. "Sorry, sorry. I promise to cast no aspersions on the Starland Vocal Band oeuvre from this point forward." Casey was about to work up his courage again when Danny continued on with, "You know, Abby says real men aren't afraid to talk about their feelings."

Frustration was building up behind his eyes and twisting into a tension headache. "Danny --"

"In fact," Danny said, "she says an unwillingness to talk about emotions indicates a deep-seated repression --"

Casey slammed his beer on the counter. "I gave up a lucrative career as a talk show host and ruined my marriage to stay with you, Danny, and now I'm asking you not to make me choose between you and Charlie, okay? You're my best friend. Please don't do that to me." Casey thumped his beer down again for good measure. "This is what guys don't talk about. And I hate ending a sentence with a preposition!"

Now he was embarrassed by his outburst and angry about it, but Casey had made the gesture, and the look on Danny's face right now was more than worth it. Danny just stared at him for a moment, his eyes wide. When Casey had first met him, Danny's hair had been a lot longer and it had flopped over his eyes. He'd known Danny for almost a year before he could say with authority that Danny's eyes were brown.

Danny swallowed loudly. "Wow."

"Yeah."

"Wow." Danny reached out and grabbed a fistful of Casey's sleeve, his forehead wrinkling. "I would never..."

Casey patted Danny's knee. "I know you wouldn't."

"I love that little guy," Danny continued, upset. "I would never make you choose, Casey."

"I know you do, Danny," Casey said, sliding his beer bottle back and forth across the counter. "It just didn't seem that way when you were mentioning Laker Girls every five minutes."

Danny's hand tightened on his arm. "Well, I was trying to get you to talk to me. You wouldn't talk to me, so I tried to lure you with scantily-clad women."

"I talk to you fourteen hours a day, Danny," Casey protested. "Frankly, I think asking for more than that falls under the aegis of the state judicial system regarding cruel and unusual punishment."

"Casey," Danny said and shook Casey's arm.

Casey sighed. "I know, I know. I just really didn't want to talk about this."

Danny blinked at him a little, and when he spoke his voice was thick. "You mean the world to me, Casey. You know that, right? I can't imagine doing this job without you."

Casey cleared his throat loudly and nodded, unable to speak. It was at times like these that Casey envied the easy way Danny could say things like that. He'd watched Danny charm a very large number of women over the years with his ability to talk openly about his emotions. The whole thing baffled him. His family didn't do confrontations or heart-to-heart chats by any stretch of the imagination. It had taken his mother calling her sister Vera, Aunt Vera calling Casey's grandmother, and then Grandma Harris calling Casey for him to discover his mother was upset and hurt because he and Lisa hadn't asked her to be more involved in their wedding plans. That trickle-down of information had taken almost six months.

Then again, Lisa would have thrown a fit if she'd known about it at the time, so there were a couple of benefits to Midwestern repression.

"So," Casey said, swallowing a gulp of beer. "In an abrupt and jarring subject change, what's the deal on your obsession with people sleeping together in desperate times?"

Danny suddenly started tapping his bare foot against a wooden rung. "Would you believe me if I said I'd developed an alarming addiction to the movie Speed?"

Casey glanced down at Danny's long, pale foot tap-tap-tapping on the barstool. "Considering your previously expressed opinions regarding Keanu Reeves being a vacuously pretty black hole of talent whose career should have ended after the first Bill and Ted movie, no, I don't think so."

"Yet the man still hasn't met the anti-Keanu and exploded into nothingness. I consider this a personal affront."

"It's clearly part of his evil plot to diminish your quality of life," Casey said. "Going back to my question: what's up with your obsession with people sleeping together in desperate times?"

Danny laughed and clenched his hand more tightly on Casey's sleeve. It was Danny's giddy, nervous laugh. It occurred to Casey that he hadn't heard that laugh in a while. That more than anything made Casey realize that seeing Abby had done Danny some tangible amount of good.

"Come on, Danny," Casey said. "Quid pro quo."

Danny somehow managed to blush and narrow his eyes into a glare at the same time. Then he said something into his hand so quickly and quietly that it was completely incomprehensible.

"Come again?"

"I was flirting," Danny blurted, eyes widening like he couldn't believe he had actually said it.

Of course, Casey was suddenly wondering if his hearing had gone haywire like that time with the studio-bombing stealth fly, so he doubted his expression was any calmer. "You were flirting?"

"Possibly, yes."

"With whom?"

Danny blinked rapidly for a moment. "With whom was I flirting?"

"Yes, Danny, with whom were you flirting?"

"Well, Casey, since I haven't yet mastered the art of telepathy, generally speaking I flirt with whomever I'm talking to at the time."

"You were flirting with me?" Casey said incredulously, and having said it out loud, he realized that it hadn't exactly come out the way he had intended it to. Except for the part where he hadn't intended to say anything of the kind.

"Possibly, yes." The smile on Danny's face wasn't entirely pleasant. It was like Danny's disappointed look after unexpectedly biting into a pickle.

"Wait a minute." Casey held up his hands in surprise. "You were flirting with me and I missed it? How could I have missed it?"

"Casey, Casey, Casey..." Danny said, sliding his hand up over Casey's shoulder to cup the back of his neck and shake him slightly. "You missed it because you are the most oblivious man on the face of this planet, my friend."

Danny took his hand away, and the back of Casey's neck felt cold. "On what basis do you make this assumption?"

When Danny smiled this time it felt real, nervous anger mostly gone from his face. "Oh, I make this assumption based on the fact that I've been flirting with you almost every day for the last ten years and you've never caught on, Casey."

Casey ignored the fact that Dan's revelation wasn't quite as much a shock as it should have been, nor was it a particularly unpleasant shock. Clearly he'd wandered through the looking glass at some point during the day, because this conversation felt normal, and it shouldn't. "What else have I been missing?" he wondered.

Danny took him seriously. "Alyson has never and will never hit on you. She's in a relationship with a nice girl named Mindy. Jerome used to belong to a nudist colony upstate until his mother was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. Dana's in love with Sam Donovan. Sally Sasser is an alien freak, but since you figured out all by yourself that it would hurt Dana if she found out you were bagging Sally, I'll give you a free pass on that one."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome."

"Since when do you flirt with guys?" Casey demanded.

Danny cocked his head. "Are you sure you want me to answer that question?"

"I asked the question, didn't I?"

"Ah, but grasshopper," Danny said, pointing at Casey with his empty beer bottle, "just because you are capable of asking a question, it does not mean you are ready to hear the answer."

Casey squinted at him. "You've been watching kung fu movies again. You know, Natalie threatened to blind you with chopsticks if you mentioned Chow Yun-Fat in her presence one more time."

"Confucius say man who sit on tack get point," Danny said. "And my point still stands, Casey."

Because it seemed important for Casey to know whether Danny just flirted with him, or if this was a more widespread phenomenon that he'd managed to overlook, Casey said, "Since when do you flirt with guys, Danny?"

The stool squeaked against the floor when Danny stood up. "Since I was fifteen. Need another beer?"

Casey nodded dumbly, and Danny walked across the kitchen, his bare feet making slithering sounds on the tile. Danny's calm and easy attitude was getting to him, and Casey didn't want to be the only one whose worldview felt shaken like a snow globe. Danny opened the refrigerator door and leaned down, light filtering through the holes in his T-shirt. Casey opened his mouth to make what he hoped would be a witty retort when he realized that Danny's hands were trembling.

"Huh," Casey said.

Danny looked up at him as he twisted off the bottle caps and dropped them into the garbage can. "You got something to say to me, Casey?"

"Huh," Casey repeated. "Not yet. I'm... processing."

Danny handed Casey a beer and leaned on the opposite side of the counter. "Well, just let me know when you're done being the human equivalent of a Cuisinart."

It was silent enough in the apartment that Casey could hear the little hand on his watch ticking itself past three o'clock in the morning. He'd been embarrassed about revealing too much earlier, and he'd basically poked at Danny for something equally personal in order to get even. His flimsy excuse was that he certainly hadn't been expecting anything like this, because if he had, he would have prepared something reassuring and pithy to say instead of floating in a creek somewhere without any paddles.

"What do we do now?" Casey said.

Danny shrugged. "What do you mean?"

"I mean what do we do now that I know you're vaguely gay and flirting with me?"

Danny shrugged again and looked away for a minute. He turned back and said, "You go home. Go to sleep. We wake up tomorrow morning. We go to work. And then we do our show."

Casey felt like he was missing something important. "That's it?"

"Or you could crash on my couch," Danny offered.

"That's it."

"Yeah, that's it. What do you want from me, Casey?"

Casey looked at the tight expression on Danny's face and decided that leaving right now wouldn't be a bright idea. Crashing on Danny's couch might keep Danny from freaking out all night and showing up in the office tomorrow with bloodshot eyes, and as a side bonus, Casey also wouldn't have to take another cab across town.

He was tired, and he'd done way too much thinking tonight that didn't involve baseball stats, championship forecasts, and clever ways to say a team 'won'. "How about a blanket and a pillow to go with your couch?"

"Yeah, um," Danny cleared his throat and rubbed his hand over the back of his neck. "Okay."


Danny's couch was too short, and it creaked every time Casey moved. Casey slowly and carefully turned onto his side so that he was facing the back of the couch, and just as he thought he'd outsmarted the non-sentient piece of furniture, Casey sighed and the couch reacted with a leathery burp.

He decided attempting sleep was a pointless exercise and stared at the ceiling for a while, feeling sorry for himself.

It was five o'clock in the morning, his eyes felt gritty, his tongue tasted like an old gym sock, and his best friend was suddenly a stranger.

Casey hauled himself off the creaky couch and crept down the hallway, waiting until he closed the bathroom door to turn on the light. Perhaps calling Danny a stranger was overstating the case, because Casey was pretty sure he wouldn't know where a stranger kept his stash of new toothbrushes or if he squeezed the tube of Colgate from the middle.

He got rid of the worst of the stale beer taste in his mouth and left the toothbrush drying on the sink for the morning. Casey turned off the light and eased open the bathroom door. Danny's bedroom door stood open, and Casey paused in the hallway to peek inside. Danny was curled on his side under a thick comforter, hair spiky and his face turned into his pillow. His breathing was slow and even. If he wasn't deeply asleep, then Danny was doing a bang-up job of faking it. Before he knew it, Casey was standing in Danny's room next to the bed. Danny's bed was so huge that it didn't leave much floor space beyond a dresser and a night table.

Danny looked peaceful and familiar with bed-head and stubble. Casey immediately had the urge to wake him up.

He stuffed his hands into his pockets and looked at the view of the city from Danny's bedroom window, listening to him sleep.

"Hey." Danny's voice was craggy from sleep.

"Hey, yourself," Casey said, taking the opportunity to climb over Danny to reach the wide expanse of unused bed on the other side.

Danny knuckled the sleep from his eyes and turned over to face him. "Something wrong?"

"Couldn't sleep," Casey said. "Your couch hates me."

Danny huffed out a raspy chuckle. "Obviously, my couch still hasn't forgiven you for the Great Ginger Ale Incident of 1998."

Casey tucked one of Danny's pillows behind his head. "That was most emphatically not my fault. It was Game 4 of the World Series."

"Yankees swept the Padres," Danny said. "And yet I still maintain that their 24th World Series championship title should not have been celebrated with Vernors."

"I had a sinus infection. I was on antibiotics."

"Tell it to my couch, Casey," Danny said, closing his eyes and pushing his face into his pillow.

"So why haven't you come on to me?"

Danny's eye popped open. His voice muffled by the pillow, he said, "Who says I haven't?"

Casey began tugging on the comforter, trying to pull it from under his body so that he could cover himself with it. "Granted," he said, "I'm not very adept at ascertaining when a person is flirting with me, but believe it or not, even I can tell what's going on when someone buys me a drink, pats my ass, and asks me how far away I live."

"Okay. I'll give you that."

"Thank you," Casey said, finally slipping his legs under the comforter. "Now, why haven't you come on to me?"

Danny sighed. "Casey, usually when a person fails even to notice that I'm flirting with him, I don't take it as encouragement to feel him up and then ask what he wants for breakfast."

Casey swooped in and said, "Then why do you keep flirting with me?"

"You know me, Casey. When I like someone, I keep flirting until they give in or file a restraining order."

Idly, Casey asked, "Is it true that restraining orders only cost twenty dollars? What kind of evidence do you need for that, anyway?"

"File a restraining order and you'll have to figure out where your real office is," Danny said, closing his eyes again.

"We'd probably have to set up in separate studios, too, unless we sent you on location," Casey said, turning onto his side to face Danny. "To cover soccer. I'd make sure of it."

"Twice as many run-down meetings," Danny muttered. "Dana and Natalie would kill you."

Casey looked at Danny incredulously, but the expression was lost on him because Danny couldn't see through his eyelids. "No, they'd kill you, because I would be the injured party filing the restraining order."

"Whatever delusions get you through the day, Casey," Danny said, peering through his eyelashes. "I'm sure Sally will make an excellent producer for your studio team."

Casey frowned. "Why do I get Sally?"

The bed dipped slightly as Danny dug his shoulder deeper into the mattress. "Because the rest of the Sports Night staff will assume you're suffering from a freakish case of paranoid schizophrenia and will rally behind me?"

He mulled it over for a few seconds. "Well, then I guess I'd better not file a restraining order."

Danny smiled. "Good choice."

Casey propped his head in his hand. "So what do we do now?" he asked, and noticed that the question sounded totally different when he was asking it from underneath the comforter on Danny's bed. He'd been in Danny's bed before like this, talking late at night. It was one of those odd things about Danny that had become normal despite Casey's vehement insistence that grown-ups didn't have slumber parties. At that, Danny had declared his apartment Dannyland and thus no longer subject to the laws of physics or stupid social mores. Casey'd responded to the proclamation with his usual coping mechanism: nodding and going along with it.

Danny's mouth moved like he was trying to come up with an answer to Casey's question; the crooked press of his lips drew Casey's attention like always, and since when did he think 'always' in relation to Danny's mouth?

"I guess that's up to you, Casey," Danny said finally. There was a furrow between his eyebrows, which indicated to Casey that Danny was serious. Casey wished Danny would open his eyes, because it felt like he was having this conversation blindfolded. It was worse than talking on the telephone in terms of conversational cues, although considering he hadn't been smacked upside the head in hours, Casey supposed parts of his night had actually improved.

"I guess..." Casey said slowly. It occurred to him suddenly that he liked spending time with Danny and he didn't want to lose that. In fact, when he went over the last ten years, Danny was the person he liked spending time with best of all. And Danny had been flirting with him the entire time, which meant Casey probably liked that, too. "I guess that means you should keep flirting with me."

Danny opened his eyes. He looked like Casey had told him it was Christmas morning. "Yeah?"

"Yeah." His ears started buzzing like someone had turned on a bank of fluorescent lighting. "And Danny? Don't call Rebecca."

"Don't call Rebecca. Got it." Danny nodded slowly and sat up on his elbows, and suddenly the bed didn't seem as big as it had when Casey had walked into the room. "What about Robert Wagner? Can I call him?"

"You don't know Robert Wagner's number."

Danny smiled. "I don't know Rebecca's number, either, Casey."

"Good," Casey said, leaning forward. The bed groaned at the shift of his weight.

Danny's eyes were dark, and his mouth open. Casey could feel Danny's breath warming his face. "Casey?" Danny said. "What are you doing?"

"I... " Casey laughed a little, but didn't pull back. "I have absolutely no clue, Danny. Why do you think I keep asking you what to do?"

"Oh," Danny said, blinking owlishly. "That's what you meant."

"Yeah."

"I'm usually a little quicker on the uptake," Danny murmured.

"Indeed," Casey said. Danny took a deep breath and looked like he was rallying to talk some more, and Casey wasn't too keen on having another soul-searching conversation about his feelings, so he leaned forward and did something unexpected to distract him.

It was just a dry peck on the mouth, but it left Danny speechless.

Now Casey knew that Danny's lips were soft and his mouth warm from sleep. Somewhere in the back of his head, his manliness was hollering about his perfidy, but it had done that when he'd joined the gymnastics team in college so Casey wasn't too inclined to base his major life decisions on it.

Danny recovered enough to clear his throat, and Casey leaned forward again. It was slow and tentative at first, just the warm slide and catch of their lips. The sensation of stubble poking into the skin on his face was a little disconcerting, but Casey felt weirdly comfortable with his mouth on Danny's.

Then Danny opened his mouth, and Casey quickly revised his opinion of the activity. He was pretty sure it was going to qualify as his very favorite way to keep Danny from talking after they practiced it some more.

Casey wondered exactly when he and Danny had gone insane, but at least Dana and Natalie would have the good sense to get them quietly committed if they became a danger to society.

Danny's mouth tasted faintly of beer and toothpaste, his tongue was smooth and thorough, and he made soft noises in the back of his throat that reminded Casey of sex. He'd seen Danny the morning after plenty of times, and Casey had always wondered why Danny's mouth always looked so swollen and used after he'd been having sex. Now Casey knew it was because Danny was very, very good at kissing, and anyone engaged in the activity with him probably would take issue with stopping.

Casey hadn't kissed Sally all that much, and if his brain wasn't so busy processing the whole kissing Danny thing, Casey would have figured out why that meant something important.

One kiss segued into another, and Casey's elbow and wrist were starting to ache from supporting his weight. He leaned back and was about to say something when Danny yawned right in his face, his tongue curling up behind his teeth.

"Not exactly the reaction I was expecting," Casey said.

"Sorry," Danny slurred through the yawn before finally stifling it. When Casey grunted, he said, "Casey, it's a quarter to six."

"So?"

Danny flopped onto his back and stretched his arms, bringing his hand up to massage an elbow. "So I'm a sportscaster on national television and my makeup artist likes to berate me when I show up with bags under my eyes."

"You, too?"

"It's a small world, Casey," Danny said.

Casey rolled onto his back and sighed. The bed moved and protested as they both settled in for sleep. Casey realized he was pretty tired as the adrenaline spike started to wear off, feeling the stress of the day in the aches in his back and at the base of his neck.

They had a job to do in a few hours that hadn't been secure when they'd gone to work that morning, their team was staying together, and Casey thought he and Danny were going to be okay even if they had both gone stark raving mad.

It was enough. Casey started to drift off, lulled by the sound of Danny breathing.

"You know, technically, you're sleeping with me."

The cotton pillowcase made a soft zipping sound as Casey turned his head to see Danny's sleepy grin. After a moment, Casey got the idea and responded with, "You didn't even buy me a drink."

"Or invite you home," Danny said.

Casey stifled a yawn. "Or ask me what I wanted for breakfast."

"Or feel you up," Danny said. His eyes glittered in the ambient light from the window.

Casey smiled. "I'm feeling cheated."

"I think you're the cheapest date I've had in years," Danny mused.

Casey hit him with his pillow. "For that, you're making me breakfast."


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