Title: Spectator (Whoever It Is You Talk To)
Author: Candle Beck
Email: meansdynamite@yahoo.com
Pairing: Josh Lyman/Danny Concannon (I know. It surprised me, too.)
Rating: PG
Spoilers: I guess that scene in `The Short List' when Josh walks Danny to his car, seeing as how that was the whole reason I wrote this.
Archive: Wherev.
Feedback: Appreciated.
Disclaimer: Characters herein depicted belong to Aaron Sorkin, Bradley Whitford and Timothy Busfield. I also borrowed a line from `Sports Night,' because it seemed `plicable. No money is being made off this story.
Summary: On a non-linear timeline, Josh and Danny have several conversations, in addition to other stuff.

Spectator (Whoever It Is You Talk To) by Candle Beck

The first time, after it happened, Josh asked listlessly, "Are you going to write about this right away or wait for a time when it'll get more notice?"

Danny hiked his eyebrows. "What makes you think I'd ever write about this?"

Josh slanted him a skeptical look. "Come on, Danny."

Danny shrugged. "Not gonna write about it. Never intended to. It's nobody's business."

Josh laughed roughly. "Well, that's something I never expected to hear a White House press corps reporter say."

Danny grinned. "I'm probably the *only* White House press corps reporter who wouldn't write about it. Just shows you got good taste."

And Josh's eyes were dark, and his voice was bitter as he said, "Well, lucky fucking me."

And Danny wondered, did you want to get caught?

* * *

What it was, on the campaign trail, down in Austin shoring up support after Hoynes had finally come on board, Danny and Josh were drinking together, and Josh was talking about Lyndon Johnson.

"The man declared a war on poverty, Danny. *Poverty*. That's been a constant ever since human society was set up, that's been around forever."

"Yeah, how'd it turn out for him?" Danny asked, casting a skeptical look out the window of the bar, where across the street they could see a ragged man sitting on the sidewalk, his knees up, his head cradled on his arm, a dirty Styrofoam cup in front of his feet, looking for spare change.

Josh glared at him. "Don't be so literal."

Danny laughed. "I'm a reporter, Josh, what else am I supposed to be?"

Danny was always reminding Josh that he was a reporter. Because Josh had a tendency to get caught up in things, talking too fast for his mind to filter out stuff he might prefer not to have said, and Danny could sense that sometimes Josh stopped thinking of him as a reporter, just a friend, and because Danny had a suspicion that, under different circumstances, Josh might have been one of the best friends he'd ever had, because Danny had this suspicion, he never failed to remind Josh that they weren't really friends, they couldn't be.

Josh's eyes were bright as a city skyline, his madman's hair catching the light and flashing pale red, clutches of autumn. He waved a hand through the air, dismissing Danny's response.

"But, come on, man, you have to love that. The . . . the idea of it. A war on poverty. Like, yeah, we can fix the world. We can try."

And Josh grinned, and Danny knew for sure that Bartlet was going to win.

* * *

So Danny gave Josh tips, occasionally told Josh things that would cost Danny his job, his credibility, his life.

Danny was Josh's source, he was who Josh came to when Josh needed information that he couldn't figure out himself, but Danny didn't think of it as compromising his professional integrity, because sometimes there's a higher good.

Because they might have been best friends, under different circumstances. Because under different circumstances, Danny would have been working for Bartlet's campaign, not just reporting it.

If Danny hadn't been fifteen years old when Watergate broke, if he hadn't seen Woodward and Bernstein become heroes, young crusaders, if he hadn't watched a criminal taken down from the presidency by a couple of kid reporters, if Danny hadn't been wide- eyed and amazed that shocking summer back in 1974, then maybe Danny wouldn't be a reporter today, maybe things would be different.

But things were as they were, Danny was a reporter and Josh was Bartlet's senior political director, and then Bartlet's Deputy Chief of Staff, and if sometimes Danny thought Josh was seeking out destruction with the single-minded determination of a martyr, it wasn't something Danny could ask about, it wasn't something he could help Josh with, it wasn't any of his business.

And Josh helped Danny with CJ, giving Danny the information Danny couldn't figure out on his own, Josh helped Danny out, in his own inimitable style, telling Danny she loved goldfish without specifying the kind you ate from the kind you fed, and Danny knew Josh had to be having a pretty good laugh over that one as Josh tapped on the fishbowl and said, "Hey, Gail. Hey, Gail, it's Josh. Hey, fishy, hey little swimmy," before CJ came in and started giggling at him.

Because friends help each other out with girls.

But they weren't really friends.

* * *

The fifth time it happened, Josh said, "I'm trying to figure out which one of us is the biggest idiot."

Danny rolled his eyes. "Well, first of all, it's which one of us is the *bigger* idiot. Because there are only two of us."

Josh smirked. "Careful, Danny, your English degree is showing." He rubbed his hand over his face, yawning into his palm. "But okay, which one of us is the bigger idiot."

Danny sighed. "Just to cut through the chatter, can I take a stab that it's you?"

Josh propped his head up on his hand and looked down at him. "Well, with me, I risk losing everything."

Danny's face tightened, but Josh didn't see it, continuing, "But with you, you could actually *gain* everything. I mean, you've got a blockbuster story just lying here in bed with you. So you must be pretty stupid not to take advantage of that."

Danny knocked Josh's arm out from under him, sending Josh flopping down on his stomach, scowling at him over a crushed pillow. Danny pushed his hand through Josh's hair and said, "Yeah, I'm pretty stupid."

* * *

It's nothing Danny could talk about. Because anyone he told would wonder the same thing Josh wondered, the same thing Danny wondered.

Why didn't he write about it?

Josh had left himself open, begging an attack, and they weren't friends, he didn't owe Josh anything.

But Josh owed him a lot. And Danny had never been that kind of a reporter, anyway.

So he didn't talk about it, didn't write about it, and didn't think about it, at least not too much.

* * *

They talked about him, sometimes, the other reporters in the press corps. They said he's too close to the staff, too close to being friends with them. CJ wasn't the only one who had to worry about appearances in this town, and Danny was aware that a big part of his crush on her was his fairly solid certainty that she would never actually accept his proposals, because she was too smart for that.

Even during the campaign, when all the reporters, no matter how jaded or cynical, began to fall under the insurgent power of the staff, began to be taken in by the sheer youthful energy, even back then, Danny had been set apart, the teacher's pet.

Because he talked Notre Dame football with Bartlet, because Josh and Sam teased him like he was one of their own, because Toby trusted him and Leo respected him, because CJ rolled her eyes and smiled affectionately when he asked questions they all knew she wouldn't answer, because of all this, the rest of the press had muttered under their breath about objectivity and sleeping the enemy.

Danny had never considered Bartlet's staff the enemy.

His colleagues were jealous, and they didn't hide it well. But Danny was good at his job, and nothing he wrote about the staff ever hinted that he'd bummed five bucks off Sam to buy a sandwich the day before, or that Bartlet sometimes called him `son' when they'd all been up for three days straight, or that he occasionally, accidentally, unexpectedly found himself sleeping with Josh.

If Danny got more exclusives than the others, if CJ pulled him aside to leak a story more often than she did with any other reporter, that could just be chalked up to him being the senior White House reporter, writing for the Washington Post, the heir apparent to Ben Bradlee.

Danny *was* too close to the staff, but it wasn't his reputation that he was worried about.

* * *

The ninth time it happened, Josh tried to stop, one hand twisted in Danny's shirt, the other hooked on Danny's belt.

Josh pulled back, gasping, and dropped his head to Danny's shoulder. "Wait, wait, wait," he said, his breath falling hot on Danny's collarbone.

Danny flattened his hand on Josh's back and waited.

Josh took a long moment, then stepped back, taking his hands off the other man, leaving Danny's shirt hopelessly wrinkled, like crumpled paper. Josh wouldn't lift his eyes, speaking to the floor. "We really need to stop doing this."

Danny sat down on the bed, looked up at Josh. "Yeah," he said evenly, because Danny was a pretty sharp guy, and he knew that Josh wasn't done with him yet.

Josh glanced at him, then ducked his eyes away, blowing out a sigh. "I'm serious." He paced back and forth, briefly, which put Danny at ease, because when Josh wasn't moving, something was wrong with the world. "We can't . . . it's different now."

Danny leaned back on his hands. "What, because now you work for the president of the United States instead of a long-shot candidate?"

A slight ghost of a smile rose to Josh's face at the mention of his new job description, but it slipped away like a cobweb caught in the wind as he nodded. "Yeah. I . . . I gotta lot of stuff I need to deal with, I know. I need to grow up."

Danny kept his gaze steady on Josh even as the man ricocheted around the room. "Josh, you're thirty-eight years old. And now you're the White House Deputy Chief of Staff. How much more grown up do you want to be?"

Josh flipped his hands, making Danny think of the old joke: How do you get an Italian to shut up? Tie his hands together.

"I need to stop being so stupid," Josh said, stilling his restless pacing, poking at the mess of notebooks and pens on Danny's dresser. Even now, with Danny in the room with him, Josh's eyes were quickly scanning over the scrawled pages, seeing if there was anything interesting, anything Josh could use.

Danny knew there was nothing of importance in those notebooks, so he didn't bother telling Josh to knock it off, just asked, "And the first step in this new Josh Lyman improvement program is not sleeping with reporters anymore?"

Finding nothing worth his attention, Josh turned away from the notebooks, leaning back against the dresser, facing Danny. "Well, not sleeping with you anymore. Since you're the only reporter I'm sleeping with."

Danny shrugged. "Okay."

Josh narrowed his eyes. "Okay?"

"What do you want me to say? You want me to throw myself on the floor and beg you not to leave?" Danny laughed quietly. "Come on, man, we both knew what this was."

Josh shook his head slowly. "Well, no, I never really did get a firm grasp on what this was. But . . . I guess it doesn't matter now."

Danny shrugged again. "Guess not."

Josh squinted at him for a moment longer, then tipped his head. "All right then. I'll . . . see you around, I suppose."

"Yeah."

Danny watched Josh looking at him distrustfully, sneaking glances as Josh pulled his coat on and walked out. Danny heard the front door open and then close again, and he wasn't all that surprised to hear footsteps coming back, wasn't at all surprised to see Josh in the bedroom doorway again, a hard confused look on his face.

"Listen, don't think I'm, like, fishing for compliments or anything, but you seem to be taking this pretty well," Josh stated.

Danny just shook his head, asked softly, "What were you expecting?"

Josh looked at him, his face tired and uncertain and sad. "Nothing. I guess . . . nothing."

Danny stood up, crossing to Josh, putting his hand on the man's shoulder. "Stop being so stupid, Josh," he whispered, then pulled him in, and when Josh left before dawn the next morning, there were strands of Danny's fiery hair caught up in Josh's fingers and in the buttonholes of his shirt.

* * *

Work in the White House press corps long enough, and objectivity becomes a personality trait, not just a job requirement.

For a long time now, Danny had seen things in a clear, straightforward manner, never letting perspective taint the facts. His job was to observe, not interpret. Relate the who, what, where, when and how of what happened, not voice his opinion about it. Tell the story, don't invent it. Most of all, most importantly, don't become the story.

Danny wasn't supposed to have emotional reactions to things. He wasn't supposed to get attached.

And he didn't, at least not much.

* * *

Walking out to his car that night, Lillienfield's ridiculous accusations clouding the White House in suspicion and fear, there was something in between what Josh and Danny were saying to each other, something that only the two of them could be concerned about.

What if it wasn't really drugs Lillienfield was after? What if someone had finally found out about Josh and Danny, months after the fact, and had given the information to a man who could do more damage with unfounded claims than most people could do with documented proof?

It was basic strategy, divide and conquer. Get them worried about drugs, then blindside them with a story about Josh, about Danny, about something that had never really meant anything, because it couldn't mean anything, blindside them, knock their legs out from under them, take aim for the kill shot.

It was there between them that night, unacknowledged, the shifts of glances, the tug of memory. This undercurrent of panic, because maybe they hadn't destroyed each other, but that didn't mean someone else couldn't.

It was just one more thing they couldn't talk about, which didn't make it anything special, because they had never really been able to talk about anything that mattered.

* * *

There was one time, when Danny had been working late in the bullpen, the muted blue glow of his laptop screen the only illumination, the steadying quiet as people left for the night, the White House getting hushed and lonely.

Danny finished the story and rubbed his eyes, hoping that what he'd written would still be coherent in the morning. When he stood up, his back cracked, and he went looking for someone to talk to for a little while, because finishing a story always made him want to talk, about stupid stuff, about whatever, adrenaline skimming through his mind.

The place was pretty well deserted, but there was still a soft gold wash of light coming from Josh's office, and Josh was always a good guy to talk to about stupid stuff.

Standing in the doorway, his hand raised to rap his knuckles on the door to alert the other man of his presence, Danny realized that Josh wasn't working, but was just sitting staring out his window.

It was raining out there, fierce end-of-the-world rain, like a trapdoor had sprung open in the sky, the kind of night that made you listen closely to the thunder, trying to hear Gabriel's trumpet coming down from heaven.

The president had been quoting Shakespeare and the Gospel according to John all week. It was clearly rubbing off on Danny.

Danny watched Josh for a moment, the room blunted by shadows, then said, "Hey."

Josh started, his hand jerking on the sheaf of papers that covered his desk. He looked over, his eyebrows quirking as he saw Danny standing there. "It's a little late to be skulking around, Danny."

Danny shrugged. "Sorry. Didn't mean to spook you."

Josh snorted. "Well, you didn't *spook* me, but only because I'm not eight years old."

"Well, mental age notwithstanding," Danny said back, a good sweet kind of exhaustion making him heavy, plagued by yawns.

He came into Josh's office, sitting down in the chair. "What're you working on?"

Josh looked at him blankly for a second, then shook his head, half-smiling the way he did when he couldn't quite remember something. "I'm . . . it's the, uh, the thing. The . . . it's the health care bill. Yeah."

Danny nodded, not calling Josh on the fact that he'd been doing no work of any sort, unless staring out the window was one of his job responsibilities.

Tilting his chin towards the window, Danny said, "Rough night out there."

Josh let his eyes wander to the storm again, his expression drawing far away, a place where Danny couldn't reach him. "Yeah," he said quietly, the rain-battered glass casting his reflection back into the room, blurry and uncertain.

"You look like you want to be out there," Danny observed, thinking that Josh would fit right in out there in the disastrous weather, because Josh had been slipping away quietly for weeks now, the slow disintegration that happened from time to time, the circles digging in around Josh's eyes, the way his hands shook sometimes like he couldn't stop them, the broken panic splintering in his face, just below the surface, something Danny probably only noticed because it was Danny's job to notice stuff.

Josh kept his gaze turned towards the window, Danny trying to read his face in the reflection, unable to see anything clearly. "Just . . . a storm like that's got more power than any of us, you know?" Josh answered, his voice drifting, almost lost. "I mean, you get to thinking you can do almost anything, but then you see something like that . . . kinda puts it in perspective, I guess."

He shrugged, a self-conscious smile on his face, turning back to Danny. "Rain makes me philosophical."

"I know," Danny replied, thinking of Josh standing on the pavement of a truck stop somewhere in Pennsylvania, lightning crashing down around him, broken jags of electricity rising from the asphalt, Josh lit up by the huge headlights of the eighteen-wheelers, Josh looking more in his element than Danny had ever seen him before.

Josh cocked his head at him, a small dim hurricane flickering in his eyes. "What are you still doing here?"

"Just finishing up a story."

Josh nodded. "Cool." He looked like he wanted to say more, the thought snagging across his face, but he just swallowed and looked down.

Danny said, "Hey, Josh."

Josh brought his eyes up, and they weren't friends, but Danny could tell when Josh's life was turning on him.

Josh tried out a grin, but it didn't really work, and he sighed, clenching his fist on the desk. "Listen, I . . . maybe you could stick around. For a little bit."

Like a kid afraid of the dark, Josh's eyes cutting on strange trajectories through the room.

Danny asked carefully, "You wanna talk?"

Josh half-smiled and shook his head. "No . . . no. I just . . . I wanna watch the storm and. Be still for a little while."

And of course Danny knew that the other thing Josh wanted, the thing Josh couldn't ask for, was to not be alone, so he nodded and sat back, and they stayed like that for a long time, silently watching the storm.

* * *

It was the stupidest thing Josh could have chosen to done. Danny was pretty sure that was the appeal, a lot of the time.

Sometimes Danny was sure that the only reason Josh had ever slept with him was because Josh was trying to damn himself, something vast and incomprehensible driving Josh to this brink, throwing him over. Danny knew that Josh didn't think he deserved anything, he didn't deserve to be this powerful, this respected, he wasn't smart enough to be running a national campaign, he was nowhere near good enough to have a hand in running the country.

So Josh tried to wreck his own life, but he picked the wrong reporter to sleep with, if that was his intention.

Because Danny wouldn't betray Josh. He couldn't.

And Josh was left hanging, baffled because he'd done the stupidest thing he could think of, and it still didn't work. Sleeping with Danny didn't damn him, just like a house fire hadn't killed him, just like nothing that ever broke down within him was ever enough to finally make him believe that he'd paid his penance, now he could be redeemed.

And all Danny could do was not write about it; all Danny could do was keep trying to tell Josh that redemption wasn't supposed to feel like this.

* * *

The twelfth time it happened, Josh asked, "Do you think Catholics or Jewish people get into more trouble for being gay?"

"Jesus, Josh," Danny said, caught between amusement and outrage at the conversational tone in Josh's voice.

Josh tipped an eyebrow. "So, Catholics, then?"

"That's just a pretty loaded question for three in the morning, don't you think?" Danny replied, wanting to smooth his thumb across the lines tracing Josh's forehead.

Josh shrugged, his shoulder bumping Danny's arm. "Seems kind of relevant, though."

Danny thought about that, shook his head. "No. I mean, I don't think either Catholics or Jewish people get into *trouble* for being gay."

"You want me to pull out Leviticus, or what?"

Danny rolled his eyes. "Yeah, because bringing the Bible into these situations is always a good idea."

"The Old Testament's pretty clear on this, Danny," Josh answered.

"The Old Testament is pretty clear on a lot of stuff, but seeing as how most of that stuff was only applicable about three thousand years ago, I'm not really inclined to use it as my guide book for modern life."

Josh rubbed his eyes with the back of his wrist. "I'm telling your parish priest you said that."

"Yeah, while you're at it, tell him I said hi, since I haven't seen him in fifteen years."

"You lost your faith, Danny?" Josh asked, a sweetly bent grin on his face, his eyes serious.

Danny looked at him for a long moment, Josh's well-known face, his fine dark eyes, the cheerful lines around his mouth, his tangled hair.

"You can find faith in places other than church, Josh."

Josh squinted at him. "I think you're just avoiding the question."

"Of course I'm avoiding the question. You're Jewish, I'm Catholic, we both just slept with a man, how in the hell am I supposed to answer a question like that?"

Josh grinned. "This is why you're a reporter, not a politician. You can't handle the tough questions."

Danny rolled his eyes again. He rolled his eyes a lot, when Josh was around. "Yeah, `cause politicians give such straight answers to tough questions."

Josh sighed, settling back. "Just seemed relevant," he murmured, his eyes drifting down. Danny sighed too, reaching out to place the tips of his fingers on Josh's chest, just feeling the rise and fall, not sure of much of anything beyond that this was Josh, and Josh was breathing.

* * *

On Election Night, the whole campaign staff, plus friends and families, plus the press, were all shoved into one hotel suite, hanging off couches, pacing restlessly through the crowd, sitting cross-legged on the tables, a whiteboard tilted against the window, tallying up the electoral votes as the networks announced the winner of each state.

They were all drinking or smoking (though it wasn't a smoking room, the hotel's management knew that this night was something to which rules didn't apply) or gnawing on their lips and nails, they were all wicked with motion or frozen with hope, fear, anticipation, dread, spiking joy, they were clasping hands with whoever was within reach, slamming their palms flat on shoulders, yelling into phones, they'd all been up for about a week straight, shivering and stunned with exhaustion.

Danny was standing with some of his colleagues, a little off to the side, because they didn't quite belong here, they weren't really comfortable, out of place.

Bartlet fell behind as the numbers came in for the Midwest and the South, the governor losing Ohio and Michigan, losing Alabama and Tennessee and Louisiana, the incumbent president forty electoral votes away from being re-elected. The room got eerily quiet, fearful and still, and one of the other reporters leaned over and whispered to Danny, "They should be happy they got this far."

Danny shook his head, because anyone good enough to come in second place was good enough to be disappointed in it. If Bartlet didn't win tonight, his staff wouldn't consider it a well-fought battle, an honorable fight, they would just consider it a failure, and at the end of the day, they would be right.

Josh was bounding around, his energy wild and unchecked, like a pinball, huddling with Leo over some hopeless last-minute strategy, then standing with Donna, one hand pressed over his ear as he half- shouted into her cell phone, "It's okay, Mrs. Moss! I won't let Donna do anything crazy tonight, I promise!" grinning at Donna and holding up his crossed fingers to show he was fibbing, then reading over Toby's drafts of the two speeches, victory and concession, one of which Bartlet would be making later that night, shaking his head, saying, "It's bad luck, Toby, don't think about it, either way, don't think about it," then slinging his arm around Sam's neck and pulling him close, pressing a kiss to the man's forehead, Sam blushing but not drawing away, then Josh was over by the reporters, his hands on his hips, saying with his anarchic eyes, "Listen, screw objectivity, you guys have to be on our side tonight."

One of the other reporters rolled his eyes. "Hey, Josh, I already voted, what more do you want from me?"

Josh grinned, "Just get excited, okay? It's Election Night, man, it's all come down to this."

Then he was streaking away, the reporters around Danny shaking their heads, calling Josh crazy, Danny slipping away from their group, getting closer to the television as the anchor said, "And we're getting the results from the West Coast, I think we're about ready to call California and Oregon."

Danny's eyes flew over to the whiteboard, calculating swiftly, adding California and Oregon's electoral votes to Bartlet's total, realizing that if Bartlet took those two states, he would, he would, he would.

He would win.

Everybody else seemed to realize this in the same moment, and Danny could feel everybody in the room drawing in a deep breath, crash-landing into silence, fingers crossed, hands pressed together, wordless prayers, everybody's eyes huge, everybody motionless and frantic.

"We're ready to call California and Oregon, and the election, for the new president-elect of the United States, Governor Josiah Bartlet."

There was a moment of absolutely shocked silence, the most complete silence Danny had ever known, and then the place exploded.

Screaming and crying and hollering and laughing, just this full rush of joy, this unimaginable, unbelievable, impossible blast of noise, amazement, leaping into each other's arms, anyone's arms, swinging each other around, lifting each other off the ground, hands pounding on backs and shoulders and chests, everybody hoarse and out of breath, this flood of light, and it took Danny a little while to realize that he was laughing, too, he was cheering like a kid and hugging CJ and hugging Sam and even hugging Josh, somewhere in the midst of it all, he was hugging Josh, too, Josh's eyes hidden in his shoulder, Josh's arms strong around him, and Danny was calling out, "We did it, we did it, we did it!" and it took him a little while to realize that he hadn't done anything.

* * *

In the end, Danny believed in Bartlet, as much as any of them.

Not something he could ever admit, because he was supposed to be indifferent, he wasn't supposed to break the fourth wall, he was supposed to stand back, observe, report, he was just a bystander, just a spectator.

But Danny knew that a good man had been elected president that night, for the first time in decades. No matter what else happened, Danny would always be sure of that, he knew that like he knew the sky was blue.

So maybe it wasn't just Josh he was protecting. Because hurting Josh was hurting Bartlet, and that was something Danny would never do.

But there was probably more to it than that.

* * *

The last time it happened, Josh said, "So, listen," and then didn't say anything else.

Danny pulled himself up onto an elbow, looking down at the other man sleepily. "Listen to what?"

Josh didn't meet his gaze, staring up at the ceiling as if there was something fascinating happening up there. "Pretty much . . . pretty much can't do this anymore."

Danny let a slight, exasperated smile cross his face. "We've actually had this conversation before."

"Yeah. Yeah. Except this time, it's, you know. It's true."

Danny folded his arms and rested his chin on them. "It was true last time, too. You just couldn't quite make it out the door."

Josh whispered, "Danny, this time it's true."

Danny studied his profile for awhile, and Danny was still a pretty sharp guy, and he could still tell when Josh was lying to himself, lying to both of them, and that wasn't what Josh was doing right now.

"Well, I mean . . . what . . . what changed?" Danny asked, because he wasn't going to beg Josh not to leave, but he was going to know why.

Josh sighed, pulling his hand across his face. "Nothing. It's just . . . I do enough stupid stuff without meaning to, I should really quit doing stupid stuff on purpose."

"Are you calling me stupid?"

Josh crooked a vague grin. "I just . . . I never really knew what was going on here. Between us. I could never really figure it out. And I think . . . I think I need something that'll make more sense. Something I can know for sure . . . believe in. I think I need to stop being so confused all the time."

"Josh . . . not everything has to make sense. You don't always have to understand something to believe in it, sometimes you believe in something because you don't understand it. Sometimes stuff just . . . is," Danny said, because he felt like he should at least put up a fight, at least something.

Because under different circumstances, Josh might have been the best thing that ever happened to him. Under different circumstances, they might have been in something like love, maybe. Under different circumstances, the two of them might have been anything. Everything.

But circumstances were as they were, and Danny was just a spectator.

Josh sat up, placing one hand gently on Danny's shoulder. "Guess we knew it had to end sometime, huh?"

Danny rolled over onto his back, Josh's hand following the movement, Josh's palm against his collarbone. Danny looked up at Josh and said, "Guess we did."

Josh's thumb brushed lightly on Danny's neck, their pulses running together until Danny couldn't tell one from the other.

Josh kept his eyes on Danny for awhile, like he was memorizing him, his hand warm, then Josh turned away, stood up, getting dressed, Danny watching him move around the dark room, this uncertain silhouette, vague and Josh-shaped.

At the doorway, just before he walked out, Josh said without turning to face him, "Listen, I'm gonna miss you, Danny."

And then Josh left, before Danny could answer, before Danny could say anything that mattered.

But Danny wasn't supposed to say anything that mattered, he was just supposed to report the words spoken by others, he was supposed to be removed, unbiased, passionless, he wasn't supposed to be affected, none of this was supposed to touch him.

Danny was a good reporter. And it wasn't his reputation he was worried about, it was his heart.

THE END

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