amongmycabbages: (phoq elder adrian)
[personal profile] amongmycabbages

Dan
Dan drifts for a little while, warm and cozy and content. His mobile phone goes off in the nightstand, an alarm set to remind him to take his pills. He is usually up by now and has of turned off. Its shrill ring pierces the calm morning and Dan groans, reluctantly rolling away to grab it and turn it off. "Dammit, " he grumbles, thinking with a small smile that at least it hadn't gone off when they were... A bit busier earlier. Adrian probably would have made them stop so Dan could take his meds. He rolls back over into Adrian's arms. "Mmn, that's my cue."

Veidt
"Indeed." Adrian nudges him, a little playfully. "Time to leap into action?"

Dan
Dan groans, nuzzling into him again. "Nnh," he whines, "five more minutes."

Veidt
Adrian's prodding becomes more firm. "No dawdling, Dreiberg." He's smiling, though, half in amusement at himself. "If you'd like, I'll get them for you."

Dan
Dan practically scoffs at the idea of being helped. "No thanks. I can get them myself." And then he's getting up from the bed, stumbling a little bit, sore after what they'd just done together, but he gives Adrian a smug look and heads downstairs, stark ass naked.

Veidt
Adrian watches him go, chuckling at the look. "Well, then, suit yourself. I need a shower, and I was going to ask if you would be interested in joining me...after more important matters are taken care of, of course."

Dan
Dan if a few paces down the hall when he hears this. His head pokes back in the door a moment later. "Make it a bath and you've got a deal." His legs are none too steady as it is. He disappears downstairs for those pills.

Veidt
Adrian smiles-- that sounds like an excellent idea-- and stretches as he heads in to run a bath, as requested.

Dan
Dan joins Adrian in the bathroom a few minutes later, medicated and missing him already. He had never been a bath person til he got older, always with more important things to do.

Veidt
Adrian stands up from adjusting the temperature and smiles at him. "Nice soaking tub...did it come with the house, or did you have it installed yourself?" He climbs in, looking inquiringly at Dan, with a gesture to invite him to settle himself back against Adrian.

Dan
Dan frets a bit, getting into the tub without spilling water everywhere, and then settling back against Adrian's chest. "I installed it. Laurie made us get one for her back in oor old house, and I guess it just sort of spoiled me." He manages to feel embarrassed as he brings water up to wash over his face.

Veidt
"Mmm. It's certainly an excellent way to relax-- I've gained an appreciation for it, myself." He used to swim a lot, having a small pool in Karnak for that purpose, but the forced immobility of a warm bath definitely has its benefits... Adrian smiles and cups water in his hand, bringing it up to pour over Dan's chest.

Dan
Dan nods in silent agreement, reaching for the soap bar and discreetly washing off his inner thighs and the lot. "It would have helped me a lot as a kid too. A nice soak after a hard fight would have been nice." He takes Adrian's hand as it lands on his chest, leaning his head back against Adrian's shoulder.

Veidt
"Oh, yes. Keeping vertical was often a challenge, especially when I had to get up and go into the office the next morning. Not as demanding a situation as my current one-- " Adrian smiles to think of the way the students are always watching for weakness, like a pack of wolves-- "but still, keeping up appearances was important." He rests his cheek against the top of Dan's head, idly running a finger up and down his chest.

Dan
Dan runs his hands over Adrian's thighs in the water, closing his eyes and sighing softly. "I got hit in the chest with a crowbar once, right in the solar plexus. And Rorschach, of all people, told me I should lie in the bath for a while. I wish I'd listened... And not teased him for suggesting it. It was back when he still cared more, so... Still, it was weird coming from him." He smiles at the memory. "Anyway, he hit me in the gut for it. Which didn't help."

Veidt
Adrian's mouth sets at the story, but not out of anger-- more of an attempt not to laugh. "Ouch. It's a good thing you had such good armor." He settles down a little, pulling Dan back against him; in Adrian's world, baths are for relaxation, showers are for getting clean, and he'll take one afterwards.

Dan
"Armor did nothing when it came to point-blank-range punches from that guy. It honestly hurt worse than the goddamn crowbar." Not that Adrian would know. He was always too fast, too superior, to let a guy like Rorschach hit him. Dan cared too much to stop him.

He sinks down into the water a bit more as he feels Adrian do the same behind him, setting his head back on his shoulder and sighing softly as he sets his forehead against Adrian's neck. "You know... It's been a week?"

Veidt
Adrian tips his head to the side and nods, even as he runs his fingers idly down Dan's arm. "Oh dear. Yes, I can imagine." He'd seen the damage Rorschach could do, and been impressed.

He leans down as Dan settles, kissing the top of his head. "A week. Who knew so much could happen." He sighs.

Dan
Dan doesn't move, doesn't say anything, hardly breathes. The ripples in the water only move from Adrian's touch on his arm. "Yeah." He says finally when he can think of nothing else. He's at a loss all of a sudden. Because so much has happened, and it's only been seven days. Not even. Six and change.

Veidt
Adrian lifts his head a little, looking down at Dan, brow furrowed. He has the sudden fear that Dan is coming to his senses, realizing what he needs to do. Adrian's half-expecting it, and utterly dreading it, even though he knows that it's right. His arm tightens imperceptibly around Dan, then releases.

Dan
Dan swallows audibly and he turns his head to look at Adrian at the squeeze, shaken out of his momentary trance. The look on Adrian's face. "What?" His own brows furrow and, Jesus, is that fear in those clear eyes? He turns more and the water sloshes around them. "What is it?"

Veidt
Adrian curses himself for the lapse, in the face of Dan's reaction. He smiles, falling back on an attempt to reassure. "It's nothing." He runs a hand over Dan's back, looking into those intent, near-burning eyes, and decides to amend the statement. "Just...thinking, is all. About everything." It's true, but not true enough. "How good it is to see you." It still feels wrong, being able to admit it, given his own culpability.

Dan
The change in Adrian's face is obvious enough, at least to Dan. But, good as Dan is at reading Adrian, there are still some moments when he has no idea what to make of him at all. He stares back at him for a long moment, waiting for more, then leaves it all to trusting him, Adrian’s promise of years ago to be always honest with him.

He turns more in the water, laying nearly chest to chest with Adrian and placing a hand over the other man's heart. "Yeah I know what you mean. So much has changed. I never dreamed this would happen." He noses up under Adrian's chin, planting a light kiss on his neck.

Veidt
"Neither did I," Adrian whispers, laying his hand atop Dan's and reaching out with the other one to pull him close, suddenly needing the comfort even as the self-loathing part of him condemns him for it.

He leans down to bury his lips in Dan's hair. "Thank you." As incongruous as it is, he can't resist saying it, again.

Dan
Dan shakes his head against Adrian's neck, lifting his head to look him in the eye once more. "No, I-- You have no idea what you've done for me, just by being here. I..." Dan pauses and sucks in a slow breath, a pained look crossing his face. "I don't know that I would have made it through the rest of the month. Thank you."

Veidt
"God, Dan." It's a bare whisper, and Adrian doesn't know how to continue, looking mutely into his eyes for a long moment. He finally blinks and reaches out again, even as he's speaking with quiet vehemence. "You don't ever owe me anything-- least of all thanks."

Dan
Dan lowers his eyes at Adrian's whispered words, feeling ashamed, and he pushes himself to sit up in the tub even as Adrian reaches for him, shivering as the water streams down his body, leaving him cold.

He doesn't know what he would have done. He doesn't know if he could have taken his own life, but he certainly could have stopped living. Or maybe he could have just... He could have stopped eating, or taken enough of those damned pills that he would never move or speak or even think again. He wouldn't have felt a thing. Or he could have stayed out on the dock through one of the cooler nights, or in the water even and...

Dan looks down at his distorted reflection in the water of the bath and puts his face into his hands. Seven days. Six and change. Dan finds himself wondering if so much really has changed... Or if his self-deception is really so deep.

Veidt
"Dan?" Adrian sits up too, letting his arms drop, but then he reaches out again, hand hesitating short of falling on Dan's shoulder. All of this pain, it's his fault, he knows it, but he can't think about it now in the face of Dan's need, and he does touch him, moving forward to curl an arm around Dan's rigid shoulders. "What is it? Talk to me."

He doesn't stop there, hitching himself up closer, wrapping the other arm around Dan's front, willing him to take comfort from it.

Dan
Dan sniffs, not letting himself fall into Adrian's arms as he so wants to, just shaking his head and hiding his tears away in his hands. He turns more to put his back to Adrian, not wanting to see him, not wanting him to see how far he's fallen. He's going to die. Soon. And there's nothing either of them can do to stop it. And he's sitting here pretending, acting like everything is okay, fine and dandy and dragging Adrian down as well with his delusion, this man who loves him. He should never have come to Adrian, let him see him again, let him love him and have him like this. He should have just stayed here, in his place, alone, and let it all go.

Veidt
Adrian stares at him mutely, cold air prickling his skin, letting his arm drop but leaving one hand on Dan's back, unable to let go completely. Maybe Dan is coming to his senses, and he resigns himself to that, to the idea of being left so deservedly alone again. Fitting...

But there's something else in the way that Dan's shaking, and his words, and suddenly the idea of Dan not being touched, which he seems to need so much, is unbearable. He moves forward again, until he can slip both arms around Dan, regardless of any protest he might make, and holds him, lightly but not at all hesitantly, willing him to find comfort in the support.

Dan
He takes a ragged breath, his voice strained as he sobs softly, "Don't. I... You shouldn't... Do that." He is getting up suddenly, feeling claustrophobic in the small, suffocating bathroom. He stumbles blindly out into the bedroom and then into the hallway where he stops and lets himself collapse into the wall, sliding down to the floor, a wet, shivering lump. And to think... He had told Adrian that it would be too selfish to go back to his family only to die in a few years. What Adrian must be feeling...

Veidt
Adrian freezes as Dan speaks and then pushes himself up and leaves, and sits there, alone in the cooling water. So that's it, then. Dan needs to go home, and as soon as possible.

A sharp thread of worry leads him out into the hall, where he finds Dan, slumped on the floor, much as Adrian had been, and the fact that this is an emotional upheaval rather than physical pain doesn't help much. Adrian crouches, opposite him, and searches for words...and then he notices the set of Dan's shoulders, the way he's shaking, and he knows that feeling. Fear, and despair, and self-loathing...but what reason on Earth does Dan have to feel that last? He moves across until he's close enough to touch, but doesn't lean in. "Don't do this," he says, his voice low and intense. "There's nothing to blame yourself for. Nothing at all."

Dan
"Everything is wrong," Dan says quietly and he reaches up to cup Adrian's cheeks in his hands, despite himself. "It always has been."

And he's right. Dan, the ever-forgiving, circumstance-ignoring, love-desperate (but self-aware) idiot has always been in the wrong and known it. And in the end, despite what he thinks are his best intentions, he never stops hurting people. His father. Rorschach. Laurie. Mason.

And now Adrian... He can see it in him. But, of course, Adrian can't. The man who carries the world on his shoulders would never see past his own guilt to blame others. And Dan has taken advantage of that guilt (for his trust and affection and his love) for the last time. And after so many years, Dan is getting what he deserves.

"I'll take you back to New York," he says quietly, his hands falling into his lap. And leave you there.

Veidt
Adrian, staring at Dan mutely during the touch, closes his eyes and swallows at Dan's last words, nodding once or twice. He's no longer sure he can survive this-- having had Dan for such a short time, he knows most of him will be gone when Dan leaves. He opens his eyes and looks back up. "Let me get the transport ready," he says, quietly. "You shouldn't have to worry about that. When it's ready, I'll let you know." And then Adrian will fade away, as he should have years ago.

Dan
Dan turns his face away, staring at nothing, his head rolling back to rest against the wall. "I'm not going back," he says flatly.

Veidt
Adrian, who has slumped back against the wall himself, freezes, not sure what's he's hearing, and turns his head incredulously. "What?"

Dan
Dan is quiet for a long time, unable to look at him. "You heard me just fine." He feels tired, weary. From everything.

Veidt
Adrian has never felt more at sea than he does at this moment. "But...I thought that's what you meant. What you decided to do." Could he have misread this, like so much else? "If not, then...why?"

Dan's changed his mind, come to his senses about Adrian. That's fair enough, Adrian acknowledges, through the blood pulsing in his ears. It's just, after all. He should never have expected otherwise.

Dan
"No," Dan whispers, looking down at his hands, his eyes straying instead to glance over his worn, tattered body. "I'm done hurting people. Laurie and Mason already think I'm dead and gone. I shouldn't have come back to you and let you know I w-was... I'm just going to die on you anyway. I shouldn't have... I'm just done. Finished." He thinks of a drowning city and Rorschach at his back, a pattern of red on swirling white snow. "I'm not going to live like this anymore."

Veidt
Adrian's head tilts as he listens, not sure he's comprehending...and then understanding creeps in, slowly, and he has to suppress a sob or a laugh, he's not sure which. He reaches out to take Dan's hands in a gentle but firm grip. "Dan." He runs his thumbs over the backs of Dan's fingers, searching for words. "Is that what this is about? Hurting me?"

Dan
Dan finally looks at him, really looks at him. "Don't tell me that I don't."

Veidt
"Dan." And there's that old tone, the one that Adrian knows Dan hates, the one that sounds like a schoolteacher or boss who is Very Disappointed and wants you to know it...but Adrian doesn't care, because it's appropriate.

He moves in closer. "I am alive because of you. And I'm not talking about all those years ago, about some sort of debt I feel I owe to you." Even if he does. He strokes Dan's hands as he continues. "This past week...you've shown me what real joy can feel like, for the first time I can ever remember. Do you honestly think I would trade that for anything?"

Dan
Dan's eyes glitter with tears. He wants to hit Adrian in the face. Or fall apart in his arms. Or tell him that he's sorry and just take it all back. "But... The pain. Adrian... It never ends." He pulls his hands away to wipe at his cheeks. "Christ, it's been a fucking week. Do you really wanna go through this with me every other day until I die?"

"How can anything of what's happened make you feel joy?" He knows it's there. He's felt it too. But amongst everything else he feels right now... Well, the good is often outweighed by the bad.

Veidt
Adrian has been moving closer, to put his arms around Dan again, but swallows and looks away at Dan's second question. It's an apt one, and once again he has to search for words to answer. "I wish the circumstances were otherwise, yes." At the root, he's responsible for them, after all. "I don't know, but I do. I suppose it's one of those great mysteries."

He reaches out to stroke the hair away from Dan's forehead. "People can make their own decisions. A wise old owl keeps telling me that." He smiles, gently, but then his eyes drop, and he fights for the words. "If this is what you really want, for me to leave you here to deal with this on your own, I will try to respect that." It's the most excruciating ordeal he can envision. "But as for me, there's nothing I want more than to be by your side, as long as you're here." Alive, or in this universe, Adrian doesn't know-- and it doesn't matter.

Dan
Dan doesn't fight Adrian this time as he is wrapped up in him. And he weeps. Like he hasn't in years. Decades. "I don't want to die," he whimpers like the most helpless thing, and he clings to Adrian like he's the only thing keeping him above water, from drowning, as he surely is. "But..."

Veidt
Adrian pulls him in like he has the power to shut out everything-- the cruelties of old age and illness and all the other indignities that are out there. But he doesn't, and silent tears start leaking from his own eyes as he hears Dan's plea, wishing that it were in his power to make everything right again.

Dan
When Dan was a young child, he had taken a cookie, fresh out of the oven, without asking, earning a hard smack on the mouth to go with his burnt fingers and tongue. His father stood staring down at him, unrelenting for his tears and sobs, and made him apologize for being so greedy. His mother had made his father sleep on the sofa for a week, Dan curled up against her breast in his stead. It was the first lesson learned. Always ask. Never take. Mind the hand of the Father. And always love the Mother. And Dan never wept so hard as he had at her funeral, seated beside his father, tucked into his arms.

He shivers in Adrian's embrace, feeling as empty now as he did then, as his tears course through him.

Veidt
Adrian holds on, feeling the tremors course through Dan's body, wondering what he's thinking, and rocking him a little when it seems appropriate. He frowns to feel Dan shivering, and wonders if he should help him move, but they can stay put for now. All protests aside, they have been going too fast-- not for their desire, but for their capabilities, and for the uncertainty of the entire situation. They need to relax, and let things settle.

Dan
Dan keens softly as Adrian rocks him, another bout of tears starting in again and he whispers a small plea against his neck, wrapping his arms around Adrian finally and squeezing him so tightly it makes his joints hurt.

When finally his sobbing subsides, he stays securely locked in Adrian's embrace, not wanting to move or be moved if he can help it, just the slight movement of Adrian's body soothing him, the wrap of his arms and beating of his heart holding him safe.

"Will you forgive me?" he asks, his voice soft. "Don't tell me that there's nothing to forgive. Just tell me that you will."

Veidt
As hard as it is to see Dan this overcome with nameless, inexpressible emotion-- grief, fear, shame, something he doesn't think either of them know how to describe-- Adrian lets himself be glad that he's helping, that his warmth and closeness is doing some good. He leans down to rest his lips against Dan's temple, eyes drifting shut, but he opens them again at the question. There really is nothing to forgive, at all, and it disturbs him that Dan seems to think that there is, that he's unworthy in some way. He kisses Dan's hair, again, before leaning down to bring his face close in next to Dan's. "I forgive you. For anything at all you need forgiveness for." He nuzzles Dan's cheek, smiling faintly.

Dan
"Oh," Dan huffs, like he's about to start crying again, a hand curling around Adrian's neck, clutching at him. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'msorry." He murmurs it right into Adrian's mouth as he lifts his head to kiss him and he can taste their tears.

But then he's pulling away, his head hanging sharply like a puppet whose strings have been cut, but for the strength in his hands where he presses hard enough to bruise... His shoulders shake once, then twice, and he whispers a prayer, something that sounds like, "Give me strength..." And then he finally subsides, taking a deep shuddering breath and letting it out as he settles against Adrian's chest once more, sinking into him.

Veidt
Adrian lets himself be kissed, readily, but watches wide-eyed as Dan pulls away, not far, and finally comes back in to rest against his chest. He doesn't let go, continuing to rock Dan, lowering his head to murmur soothingly against Dan's bent head, nothing substantial, only light, calming sounds. It feels right. He's worried, about this collapse and what it might mean, but at the same time he knows this kind of upheaval well, from past, personal experience, and so he does what he knows will help, resolved to sit there for hours or even days, as long as Dan needs him.

Dan
Dan is quickly coming around, though, if not only for his shivering and his need to breathe some fresh air. So he pushes away from Adrian enough to look at him, his eyes swollen and tinged with red though dry of tears. He looks down for a moment and wipes at his nose. "Let's get dressed and go downstairs," he says at last.

Veidt
Adrian nods, without saying anything, and levers himself upright, reaching out to take Dan's hand. He lets Dan lead him back into the bedroom, still watching him quietly, ready to do anything he needs.

Dan
Dan just gets dressed without a word, his eyes kept low. And he dresses warmly, slipping a sweatshirt on before turning and looking expectantly at Adrian, waiting for him to dress as well. He doesn't want to go downstairs without him. Or anywhere for that matter.

Veidt
Adrian, meanwhile, has slipped into a pair of loose pants and a shirt, and comes back around the bed to slip his arm around Dan's waist. "What do you feel like, for breakfast?" he asks. "I hope you've gotten your appetite back."

Dan
Dan's arms go around Adrian as well and he hugs him, wrapping the other man up in his embrace this time. "I don't care," he says quietly. "Whatever you want." He honestly doesn't feel like eating, even if his stomach does rumble at the thought, on cue as always.

Veidt
Adrian looks down at him, pausing, and decides not to press the issue. He leans in to kiss Dan's forehead before leading him down the stairs and into the kitchen. He wants to tell Dan to sit down, let Adrian take care of things, but right now he'd rather let Dan be comfortable, so he merely pulls out a chair and murmurs, "If you'd like," before moving away (but not too far) to get breakfast ready.

Dan
Dan moves to the door of the patio, sliding it open and taking a step out. The sun is still rising, the songs of birds chirping happily in their trees, though perhaps annoying, is somehow a small comfort. He takes another few steps out and sits down, his legs hanging over the side of the patio. It looks as if yesterday's rain is nowhere in sight, and as he lays back, his hands folded on his chest, he stares up at the cloudless sky... And lets his mind clear, somewhat blissfully, as the cool wind sweeps over him.

Veidt
Adrian, for his part, busies himself with the small matters of cooking-- making oatmeal (good for the heart, after all), slicing fruit-- looking out from time to time to see that Dan is still there, relaxing. He looks at peace, and Adrian feels something within him begin to uncurl.
He brings everything out to the patio and arranges it on the table, finally crouching down next to Dan, smiling at him.

Dan
His eyes are closed behind his glasses and there's a small wisp of a contented smile on his face. When Adrian's shadow falls over him, one eye pops open to look at him, expectant, and he smiles back, if only a bit warily. "Breakfast ready?" He pushes himself to sitting up and then gets to his feet with a groan.

Veidt
Adrian smiles back, and reaches down to help him up. "Yes. I did forget to ask if you like oatmeal-- although since it was in the pantry, I suppose you can't blame me if I misunderstood." He winks as they walk over to the table, fingers loosely entwined.

Dan
Dan finds it within him to chuckle. "Well, yeah. I did buy it. And you know I like to eat just about anything. Except tofu." He sits down beside Adrian instead of across from him and gives a wearing sigh as he tries some of it. It's good. He makes himself eat some of it, but it takes him forever to swallow it down and he hasn't eaten much before he's finished.

He looks out over the pond for a long while, silent. Then, "Can... May I still stay with you?" he asks quietly, not looking at him.

Veidt
"Yes, and that makes you a delight to cook for, you know. As for the tofu-- just you wait." Adrian's voice is light and teasing, before he turns to his own breakfast, enjoying the morning calm, the sunlight on the pond, and the presence of the man beside him.

When Dan speaks again, Adrian turns his head, surprised. "Of course you can. I...would insist, at this point." He reaches out and lays a hand atop Dan's, then thinks better of it, shifting closer and putting the same hand on his shoulder, urging him to look at Adrian. "I was going to ask, as well, if you would rather stay here a few more days. If you would be more comfortable." It would be awkward, taking more time away from school, but that's really not that important to Adrian right now.

Dan
Dan makes a face, wanting to outright refuse the tofu, but he'll let Adrian have his due, he supposes. He ought to, anyway.

His hands clutch his coffee cup, but his shoulder leans into Adrian a bit and he stares at his oatmeal, not quite able to look at him, but at least he's being attentive. He mulls over the idea, looking out over the water some more. He had already decided days ago not to take any more time from Adrian's life than he already has, a week now. He shakes his head, refrains from repeating himself from earlier, Whatever you want. "No, we can go back."

Veidt
Adrian's eyes narrow a little as he peers at Dan's face. He's sitting next to Dan, their shoulders and hips almost touching, and it's easy for him to reach out and slip an arm around Dan's waist, now turning him bodily so they're face to face. "Are you sure? I hope you're not saying that just to please me." He rubs his hand up and down Dan's back. "I told you: whatever you need. Making sure you have that is a joy, not an obligation." He smiles.

Dan
Dan's eyes widen a bit behind his glasses for a moment. "I need you," he whispers. "Clearly." Then he shakes his head, forcing a small smile and looking away yet again, though he puts his hand on Adrian's thigh and leaves it there as he's done so many times before. "We can go back. It's fine. Really. I'm just..." He exhales forcefully. And sniffs one last time, looking back up at Adrian and giving a small sincere smile. "I'm just a mess right now, so... Bear with me."

Veidt
"I did mean that I'd stay with you here. But whatever you wish is my command." Adrian, on a whim and to lighten what's already become a strange, heavy morning, takes Dan's hand and kisses his fingertips, before smiling back at him.

He shakes his head. "It's all right. It has been, as you said, one hell of a week." And more. Adrian smiles, himself, faintly, before squeezing Dan's waist.

Dan
Dan pulls his hand from Adrian's lips and brushes it through soft silver tresses, hesitating a moment before he leans in and kisses him lightly. So it's settled then. They're going to New York.

As Adrian finishes his breakfast, Dan takes their dishes in and washes them, thinking of all the things he'll need to bring with him, all the things he'll need to do before he can leave for an extended period. Throw away the milk for one thing.

Veidt
Adrian comes up behind him at the sink and places his hands on Dan's hips, kissing the back of his head. "Let me know what I can do to help you pack." He steps to the side, voice questioning. "I was thinking-- unless you really want to, it might be better if we wait until another day to introduce you to Adrian. I'll tell him, of course, assuming you're still okay with that, but it strikes me that inviting drama of any kind might not be the best idea for this evening." His eyebrows rise in apology.

Dan
Dan's hands still as Adrian's own land on his hips and he cranes his neck and turns his head down as Adrian's lips touch him, in silent invitation. At Adrian's suggestion (about the younger Adrian, not the packing), Dan turns around, his eyes wide. "Oh, god. Please." He had completely forgot about that. "Not tonight. Christ, tell him some other time too." He sways into Adrian a little bit, as if he's suddenly unsteady on his feet, but he merely only needs him close. "No. Not tonight."

Veidt
Adrian reaches out with alacrity to steady him, pressing him close. "Of course. When, and if, you want to-- not before." He dips his head, smiling in faint apology. "I wish Cuss weren't so complicated."

Dan
Dan rests his forehead against Adrian's, his eyes flashing slightly behind his lids. "No offense, darling, but I can't take any more Veidt drama today. Cuss or no Cuss. I plan on going to bed once we get back to the city." He slips an arm around Adrian's shoulders. "A nice soothing drive and then some sleep, thank you." And he seems almost back to his normal, playful, Dan-ly self.

Veidt
Adrian chuckles, richly, in relief as much as amusement. "Fair enough. I suppose I can try to tone it down, for your sake." He leans in to kiss Dan's forehead. "That sounds like an excellent plan."

Dan
Dan leans into him for a moment longer, his eyes closed. And then he steps away, turning back to the sink. "What should I bring?"

Veidt
"Well." Adrian wanders over and absently picks up the dishtowel, putting it to use. "Whatever you would like, I'd say. It does depend on how long you think it'll be before we get back up here. Basic necessities, of course, I have covered, but if you have a particular attachment to anything from here-- your beloved coffeemaker, for example-- we can certainly bring it. It's up to you."

Dan
Dan looks over to the stove, picks up his percolator. "What, this thing? Ten dollars at K-Mart." He smiles sheepishly.

Veidt
"It was only an example. Sometimes the simplest ones do the best job." Adrian shrugs.

Dan
He hands a rinsed dish to Adrian. "How long have you been in love with me?" he asks, quite abruptly. He's been wanting to ask for days, but... Well...

Veidt
Adrian takes the dish, begins to dry it, then stops still at the question. "Ah." He recommences the drying, slowly and meditatively.

"Well. You need to understand that for a long time, I didn't really have a good grasp of what 'being in love' really meant. Abstractly, yes, but...I told myself for a long time that I didn't have time for it." He sets the dish down. "I always thought there was something special about you, from when we first met, but...it was after I got sick that I really started to understand. I suppose, in a sense, I feel like I've belonged to you ever since then. Whether or not you ever had the knowledge, freedom or inclination to act on that." Adrian looks up, then, smile almost radiant to behold, before almost matter-of-factly dropping his eyes and picking up the next dish.

Dan
Dan finishes, handing Adrian the next dish and turning to face him, sidling over to stand near him, leaning against the counter. He looks sad, frowning slightly, and he reaches his hand out to brush the backs of his fingers across Adrian's cheek.

Veidt
Adrian turns his head at the touch, blinking, surprised. "Hmm?" A matching crease appears in his forehead as he notes Dan's expression.

Dan
Dan shakes his head. "Nothing. Same old shit. If I apologize again, I'm sure you'll have my head. So... Nothing." He turns his touch to the Adrian's other cheek as well, leaning in to kiss him lightly.

Veidt
Adrian returns the kiss, lips parting slightly, before he breaks off, smiling. "We might have to introduce quotas...for daily apologies, I mean. That lets us both scratch the itch." The wrinkle returns. "But what would you want to apologize for? My feelings were my own."

Dan
"We'd hit our max before we ever got out of bed." He takes the dish and the towel from Adrian's hands, finishing wiping it dry for him and then putting it away. "I don't know, really. For being... For-- I don't know." He sighs and leans into Adrian a bit, though he's not quite facing him. "For putting all this on you, I guess. I wish things had been better for all our sakes. Not... Not for things to be different than they are," he looks at Adrian, his eyes sharp, "Because you know how I feel. About you. But... Better circumstances, I guess. I'm sorry for things I can't control. Like usual." A wry smile.

Veidt
Adrian blinks, suddenly very touched, once again. It's so like Dan, he's realizing, to find those situations and look for some fragment of responsibility he can take, some way to deflect the blame onto himself. "Better circumstances. Yes, I wish for those, too, even though you know I feel like you do about...now. But...there's a great deal that could have been otherwise." And that is something Adrian does bear direct responsibility for. They both know it, although out of deference to Dan, he won't say it this time.

Dan
Dan's smile slips away and he looks down. "Is this going to hover above our heads forever? I can't go on if it will. It happened. I'm here and I'm with you. Whether either of us likes it or not, apparently." He pauses for a moment. "And I'm not going back. Ever. I'm going to die here." He's decided and it reflects in his voice, the way he looks into Adrian's eyes as he says it.

Veidt
Adrian swallows. "Dan," he whispers. Looking back into Dan's eyes, he has no doubt that he means it, every word. The decision has been made. "If that's...what you want."

And that means that Adrian's decision has been made as well, the course of events that he's been considering ever since he found out about Dan's illness, and only strengthened by Dan's asking to stay. When the time comes, as long as he's still capable, he'll go back, and find Laurie and Mason, and tell them. Everything. And at that point, his purpose will be finished.

Dan
Dan plows right past Adrian's uncertainty and continues forward. "And we'll be together." He says this with no less certainty, his hand finding Adrian's though his eyes never waver. "Whether we like it or not, I'm sure." His lips quirk. "Until I die." He brings Adrian's hand up, taking his fingers in both of his hands and kissing his knuckles, like the knight that he has failed to be so many, many times. "So... If we're going to make this work... I'll try not to... To do that thing that I do and try not to keep falling apart on you, okay? And you need to let the past go."

Veidt
Adrian closes his eyes, struggling with some nebulous emotion, touched at the silly, chivalrous, beautiful gesture-- everything he loves about Dan. He nods, not trusting his voice, but lets out a huff of laughter as Dan finishes. "I don't know if I can, but I'll try." There are some pasts that shouldn't ever be let go, after all. He looks down, at their joined hands, then back up to meet Dan's eyes. "You fall apart as often as you feel like. I don't mind at all...that's what I'm here for."

Dan
Dan puts a hand on Adrian's hip, pulling him close and wrapping his arms around his waist. He holds his gaze for a long time, doing something he probably should have done a long time ago.

"Adrian. You murdered millions of innocent people... And saved billions. You saved the world. I wanted to kill you for it myself for years, but you were... Right. And you saved us all. You saved me and Laurie. And that loud Italian family who lived next door to me. They had four children. And Marcus, my mailman. I ran into him when Laurie and I moved back to New York. And you saved my cousins and their children and their childrens' children. And Laurie's mom. And probably everybody in her retirement home. And... Some Eskimos in Alaska." He waves his hand, breaking his intense eye contact for the first time as he looks to the ceiling, his eyes instantly settling on Adrian's again... "And so many others. And I was able to have a son and a family. And so many others were able to have things they never were able to have. Like freedom of fear of nuclear war and love and release."

He reaches up to cup Adrian's face in his hands. "And I know you will probably never ever let that go. But... Thank you." He brushes a lock of hair away from Adrian's face. "And as for the rest of it..." He shakes his head. "I already told you... I told you that first day. I forgive you. So please... Just... Let it go."

Veidt
Adrian listens, eyes on Dan's, and as he speaks, he starts to tremble, just imperceptibly, even though he doesn't move or look away. It had worked, miracle of miracles, even though he'd later realized all he things he'd never taken into account, all the dimensions of experience and perspective that he'd closed himself off from, to do what had to be done...all the things that Dan, in his litany, is setting before him. Families, lives and loves and connections, so many cut short, but so many others preserved. And it could have all gone so wrong, and who knows what will happen in the future. Nothing ever ends, after all, to Adrian's great sorrow, but, in the end, what does he know?

He listens, and his eyes prickle, and there's nothing he can say...so when Dan' voice finally falls silent, he's left with the sound of his own ragged breathing in his ears. And for the lack of any other meaningful response, he nods, once, and leans forward, and rests his forehead against Dan's.

Dan
Dan's arms tighten around him as he feels Adrian shake, even as he speaks. But he doesn't stop, needing Adrian to know and to hear this, because he knows that nobody could have ever said this to him before.

"And I love you. I always have, as my brother in arms. Even when I wanted nothing more than to just..." His hands on either side of Adrian's face, they move down to his neck, the stretch of his thumbs fitting over his throat. Dan could so easy choke the life out of him with his bare hands right here, right now. But he only gently massages the muscles there, his thumbs sliding gently over the skin, threatening to do nothing more than lovingly caress. "Even then... Don't ask me how." And Dan leans forward to press a kiss to the pit of Adrian's neck, then one for each of his eyelids.

"And now..." he draws a slow breath from Adrian's lips. "Please. I need you to forgive yourself. Because I wont survive if I have to see it every time I look into your eyes, as I already have for years."

Veidt
Adrian swallows, mute as Dan's hands glide over his throat. Dan could strangle him, right here and now, and he wouldn't struggle-- Dan knows it. He'll never understand this, what Dan is saying...it's like a holy mystery, and he'll forever be waiting outside the gates.

He looks into Dan's eyes, earnest and pleading, and feels his heart plummet with despair. As he replies, his voice is eerily quiet in his own ears. "I don't know if I can. I can try, but I don't know how, or even where to start." And the thought that this will kill Dan even faster is unbearable. He looks into Dan's eyes, despairing. "Show me?" It slips out, almost unbidden, but it's meaningless. Adrian closes his eyes.

Dan
Dan's fingers glide over Adrian's cheek again, feather light, and he guide's Adrian's chin up, seeking out his eyes. "Look at me, Adrian."

Veidt
Adrian opens his eyes and looks into Dan's as bidden.

Dan
He doesn't know what precisely to tell Adrian, how to mend this or the frayed, abused heart inside his lover's chest. But when Adrian's eyes open to meet Dan's, he holds his gaze for a long moment. "'You are the only thing that keeps me breathing,'" he says, quoting words that Adrian had said to him in that small moment of sickness and weakness, years ago. "That's not a sentence or an obligation. I never thought of it that way, and neither should you. You needed me then and I had you. I need you now. I trust you... Even though I probably shouldn't. And I could go home to Laurie and Mason right now... But I'm not."

He gives Adrian's mouth a small kiss. "I know I've always been far too apt to forgive people... But not for big things. And it took me years to forgive you for what you did. But did you see it, Adrian? Look at our home compared to this place. Look at what you gave us, every living thing on that planet. It would be gone without you. Including me. And now..." He swallows hard for a moment, hesitating. "Fuck. I'm choosing you. If I can't show you in this, then I don't think I can show you any other way." If he had any more tears in him left to shed, he would.

"I'm... I'm giving you the last years of my heart, you silly man." He huffs a small laugh, giving him a heartbroken smile, setting his forehead to Adrian's again, squeezing out just a few more tears. "Please, just... Don't let our past hurt you anymore. I can't bear it. I can't bear hurting you."

Veidt
Adrian looks back at him, hearing the echo of those old but still true words, and even though his first impulse would be to apologize for placing that kind of burden on Dan's shoulders, he's able to let it drift away as the tables turn and Dan lays it all out before him, everything. And he has the presence of mind to realize that any objections that he could raise, chief among them the conviction that Dan should go home to be with Laurie and Mason, are worth nothing here. Once again, he looks at Dan, all his verbosity and argument drifting away in the face of something wondrous.

Then Dan says it, spells it out-- exactly what he's giving Adrian, and Adrian's breath catches in a sob. The idea that Dan is actually doing this, choosing him, is incredible, as Adrian has told Dan that he is on many recent occasions, and somehow everything that would normally give him pause is silenced. For the first time, he allows himself to wonder if the fact that Dan thinks he's worthy of this...makes him worthy. Could it be as simple as that?

He stands there, bringing his hands up to stroke Dan's upper arms, feeling him breathe like he's the most amazing being in the universe (Jon couldn't even come close, he realizes). He feels like he should be on his knees. He looks into Dan's eyes, licking suddenly dry lips, and wills the right words to come. "I...will try," he says, feeling the roughness of tears in his voice. "That's all I know how to do. I'll try harder than I've ever tried for anything." But that same note of wonder is in his voice, and finally word-bereft, he reaches out to embrace Dan, burying his lips in his neck, arms supportive and clinging at the same time.

Dan
Dan shifts closer as that little sob catches in Adrian's throat, and he presses his cheek to Adrian's, holding him tightly. He holds Adrian against him with all of his strength, their bodies molding together, and he only pulls away to see Adrian's eyes as he gives this vow. And then Dan is pulling him in again, closing his eyes and holding his breath as he clings right back, needing him just as much. "Thank you."

Veidt
Adrian wants to thank him right back, but speaking doesn't feel as important as silence right now, so he only curls his arm tighter around Dan's back and lets his eyes drift shut. He truly doesn't know if he's up for this challenge, if it's something that's possible or right for him to do, but he'll try. He has to.

Dan
Dan threads his fingers into Adrian's hair, sensing that he simply needs to be held, much like Dan had earlier. He rubs his back and closes his eyes, breathing him in, as he recognizes this as the moment in which Adrian is really, truly his.

Veidt
Adrian smiles at the feel of Dan's fingers. Predictable, he is (they both are), but it doesn't matter at all. He shudders, but not unpleasantly, and kisses Dan's neck, relaxing a little further as his hands sweep across Dan's back, mapping the infinitely fascinating contours of him.

He drifts, a little, every sensation feeling new and a little raw. He's indescribably weary, and adrift in a wash of feeling, but at the same time anchored. It's hard to sort it all out, so after a while he doesn't bother, coming to focus on Dan's slow breathing.

Dan
Dan will hold him as long as he needs, forever if he has to. He gives an appreciative hum at the kiss, still running his hands over Adrian's back in the moist soothing way he knows how. When he hears Adrian's breathing even out, he turns his face to kiss Adrian's ear, whispering quietly to him. "Shall we pack up and go home?"

Veidt
Adrian nods without speaking, and pulls back, smiling at the mention of "home". If that's not where he is right now, he doesn't know where it is anymore.

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