It's two hours later when Steve knocks on Danny's hotel room door. He leans against the door frame with one arm stretched out, glancing both ways down the hallway, while he waits for Danny to answer. It takes longer than Steve thinks it should and he frowns at the door impatiently, about to raise his fist to knock a second time, when it opens.
"Hey," he grins at Danny, who is barefoot and wearing only a t-shirt and soft blue jeans.
Danny smiles and moves back from the door to let him in but says nothing yet. Steve gives the hallway one last quick look, but it's completely devoid of life, so he steps inside, shutting the door and leaning back against it to study Danny's compact but very sexy body inside the very fitting t-shirt.
"Must have been an important meeting," Danny says, his eyes going from Steve's face to his feet and back up again in a way that sends Steve's pulse racing. "You want something to drink?"
Steve shakes his head, his lip curving invitingly. "Just want you."
Danny snorts lightly. "Are you always so direct?" He steps forward, but doesn't touch.
Steve shrugs. "Makes life easier most of the time." He reaches out a hand, touching the tips of his fingers to Danny's chest and moves them until he hits a nipple, then circles it lightly, his eyes meeting Danny's.
Danny swallows audibly, but doesn't move away. "You must do this kind of thing all the time."
Steve realizes that Danny's nervous; more so than he was last time, and a lot more anxious than Steve can manage to feel. He grins widely. "Only it's usually with women. In fact," he drawls slowly, letting his finger continue its slow circuit of Danny's quite obviously erect nipple, "You're my first man."
Danny blinks, and reaches up to wrap a fist around Steve's wrist, effectively stopping him from the nipple-circling. "You're kidding, right?"
Shaking his head, Steve looks at their joined hands and then at Danny's eyes. "What?"
"I thought… I mean, I'd never heard any rumors or anything, but I assumed you'd just been discreet about your male conquests?"
Danny's wrist is tighter than Steve is comfortable with, and there's something about the way he asked that last question that makes Steve think their last encounter must have been some kind of a test. His smile drops away and he feels coldness slide through him. Danny had promised that what happened between them wasn't going to end up in his article, but now he wonders if that was just a line to get him to open up about his scandalous sex-life. "Can you let go of my hand?"
Danny complies and moves away, turning his back on Steve and walking over to the mini-fridge. He opens it while Steve stands there, his desire turning slowly to fear. Danny doesn't turn as he reaches inside the fridge. "Are you sure you don't want something to drink?"
Steve swallows the knot of tension that has suddenly appeared in his throat, and wanders over to the window by the balcony. It's a big room, but he suddenly feels hemmed in and needs the view out over the city to help centre himself. Chicago, he thinks, trying to remember where he is. "Yeah, okay. There any beer in there?"
It's a minute or so before Danny appears at his side, silently handing him an opened bottle and swigging slowly from its twin. "Pretty, huh?"
"Did you…" Steve tries as he turns the beer around in his hand, appreciating the coolness of the bottle. "I mean, you said you wouldn't write about… about you and me. Was that a lie?" He gulps from the bottle and turns to scowl at Danny.
Danny takes a step back when he sees Steve's expression and holds up a hand. "Whoa there, sailor. I wouldn't do that to you."
"You're a journalist. What's to stop you trying to get some kind of scoop? I imagine most of my life is an open book; Rolling Stone – and whoever else can make money out of it – would love to get something on me that no one else has covered before."
"That's true," Danny nods, taking another sip from his own bottle. "But I told you I wouldn't use the fact that we slept together and I meant it; it's not the way I work."
"So how do you work?" Steve says, still suspicious.
"Do you want to sit down? Get comfortable?"
"That depends. Are you going to ask me more questions about other people I've screwed?"
Danny narrows his eyes, like he's just realized something crucial about Steve, and moves to sit on the couch facing the window, one arm spread comfortably along the back of it and the other holding his beer loosely on the cushion next to him. He lifts one foot and crosses the ankle casually over his other knee. "Do you want to tell me about them?"
Steve shakes his head. "No. But they've always been women, and there's nothing new in a famous musician bedding women wherever he goes."
"Why don't you sit down, Steve? I honestly don't care if you've screwed women, men or combinations thereof since you first picked up a guitar. I was just surprised."
He still isn't convinced it's as simple as that, but Steve sits in the armchair closest to Danny's end of the couch. "What about you? Do you sleep with everyone you interview?"
Danny laughs. "You won't believe me, but you're the first."
And Steve doesn't believe him, but he laughs too, swallowing more beer when he's done being amused. "So, we're both firsts for each other. Why not?"
"Why not, what?"
"Why haven't you slept with any of the others? Wrong sex? They weren't interested?"
"I was married until recently."
Steve nearly chokes on the mouthful of beer he's just taken. "Married?"
"What? You thought I was gay?"
Nodding, Steve wipes at the beer that has dribbled down his chin as he spluttered the last question.
Danny smiles thoughtfully, gazing out the window for a moment before answering. "Bisexual, which is part of the reason my wife left me."
"She found out?"
"No," Danny frowns as if remembering something. "She knew when we got married, but she's always been a little paranoid that I'd leave her for a man. Ironic really, considering it was her that left me." He looks directly at Steve. "For a man."
"So you…" Steve doesn't even know what he's asking now.
"I haven't really dated since the split, but there have been… how should I put it? Encounters?"
Steve snorts, amused despite himself. "Yeah, I know about them. It's hard to…" He frowns again, reminded of how lonely he's been. "They relieve a need, but…" he trails off, trying to remember the last time when he felt comfortable enough to just talk like this with someone.
It's odd that it's a man, he finds himself thinking, but then again, he's never really tried talking to most of the women he's bedded in the last ten years or so since he hit the big time. Most of them have just been groupies; interesting in adding a big star to the notches in their lipstick cases rather than in him or his thoughts. He can't remember a single one's name now either, he finds, raising his eyes to meet a curious expression in Danny's.
"You intrigue me," Danny says. "You're not as… confident as you first appear."
"Me?" Steve is surprised. He was the one who made the first move between them, and while he surprised himself with it, he hadn't really been nervous about it, despite the fact that he'd never sought sex with a man before.
"Yeah, you. Okay, so you chased me, but you could tell I wasn't against the idea from the start – I'm pretty sure about that – and as soon as I said I wouldn't use 'us' in the article, you were all over me like a rash." He grins at Steve, a flash of that sexiness that encouraged Steve in the first place in evidence. "A good rash, believe me. But tonight? Your assuredness disappeared as soon as I took your hand off my chest, and something tells me that's more the real you."
Steve doesn't know what to say to that. He gulps the last of his beer down to save answering, and sets the bottle carefully down on the table at their feet.
"You're not gonna tell me I'm wrong?"
Nervously letting out a soft sort of chuckle, Steve shakes his head. "I'm not shy; you know that. And you know I find you attractive. Why did you stop me?"
There's a shrug, and Danny drains his own bottle before uncrossing his legs and placing it next to Steve's. "There's a kind of responsibility involved in being someone's first."
"What do you mean?" Steve asks, not sure Danny's being as straightforward as he'd like.
"When I slept with you…" Danny starts and then stops, lifting his hands and gesturing like he's holding a box. He tilts his head, thinking, and licks his lip, drawing Steve's eye to the motion.
"What?" Steve asks, leaning forward in his seat.
Danny lowers his hands and looks back at him. "You seemed to know what you were doing; I assumed you were like me – that you could appreciate sex with both men and women without getting hung up about it – and that you just wanted a casual fling."
"I still don't understand. I did want…" Steve runs a hand through his hair.
What does he want? He's not even sure now; he tries to recall what it was about Danny that made him go for it. They'd been talking for an hour or so, here in Danny's hotel room, and Steve had enjoyed it – that in itself was different from most of the interviews he'd done before. Danny had asked questions in a relaxed way, some of them seemingly casual ones about his life in Hawaii before he picked up a guitar that no one had ever asked him before, like where his favourite places in the islands were and what did his mother teach before her untimely death when Steve was sixteen. The way Danny had teased at his pronouncements on what made Hawaii such a great place to be a kid had amused him.
And when Danny had stood up to stretch after they'd been chatting – it felt so much more like a couple of buddies having a joking disagreement than an interview, in all truth, especially since Danny didn't take notes – Steve had looked up from his seat to see a thin strip of lean stomach between Danny's shirt and his low-slung jeans and the unexpected rise of desire had surprised him into reaching out and touching. From there, it hadn't taken much more than a few words to get Danny to remove the shirt and they'd tumbled more quickly into bed than he'd done in what felt like an eon.
"I don't want a casual fling, though, I don't think," Danny is saying now, and Steve blinks at the sharpness of the memory that's assaulted him. "Even if I did kiss you earlier and agree that you could come back here."
"What are you saying? That once is all you do?" Steve squints at Danny in disappointment. "I liked it; you liked it. What's wrong with more?"
Danny has that nervous air about him again. He stands up and moves back to the window. Steve watches from where he sits, trying to puzzle things out. The guy had been as interested as him back at the venue, and then when he arrived here, more cautious – anxious even – but not completely against the idea of going to bed with Steve, he's sure of it. Things only really changed when Steve had admitted Danny was his first man.
"Are you turning me down because you're the only guy I've been with? That doesn't even make sense."
Danny turns around suddenly. "Maybe you should just leave. I think I have what I need for the article, anyway."
"What?" Steve stands up. "You are, aren't you? Turning me away because… because I wasn't very good? I'm inexperienced, is that it?"
"Jesus, Steve, that's not it! You were… you were good. I had no idea I was your first; doesn't that say something?"
"Then what the hell is this? I thought we connected somehow; and if the sex was good, why not do it again? I don't get… a lot of time for…" He runs his hands through his hair distractedly, confused about what he's saying. Danny gets him bothered for more reasons than one; the least of it is because he's a man, even if the idea of that getting out isn't exactly something Steve's ready for right now.
"Look, you should just go, okay?" Danny gestures towards the door.
"No! I don't want… look, there are things you haven't asked me about the music; I'd like to talk about-"
"In all honesty, Steve, I have enough after our last conversation. I have another job to get to, and my boss wants me to fly to Los Angeles tomorrow to start it. If you go now, I can finish writing up what I started earlier, and… and…"
Steve suddenly realizes he wants – no needs – to see Danny again; he doesn't want things to end like this. "Don't," is all he says, swallowing something he hasn't felt in years.
"You're just angry because I'm turning you down," Danny says. "People don't usually do that to you, I don't suppose."
"That's not it," Steve tells him, moving closer.
Danny backs up. "I bet it is. You're a force of nature, Steve, and most people figure they'll keep you happy if they just say yes."
Steve stops where he is, studying Danny's eyes. "You're scared. Of me? Or of what you feel?"
Danny looks up at him properly, his eyes widening. "I'm not scared of you."
Steve smiles, triumphant. "You like me."
Danny snorts disbelievingly. "You know what? What I said before about the real you? I was wrong. You are deluding yourself if you think I like you that much that I'm running away."
"And yet you're ready to push me out the door instead of having some fun with me."
"Fun? Yeah, it'd be fun, but I have this feeling that I'm gonna be some kind of gay experiment that you keep wanting to draw back into your orbit while you work out exactly what you really want."
"You think I'm…" Steve can't even say it. He stands very still. "I like you, Danny. I don't want to… to play with you like you think. I just want to… do this some more." He gestures between them, holding back from what he really wants right now, which is to draw Danny in and kiss him till they're both desperate for air.
"Look, there are other guys, Steve. You should… play the field more, before you settle on one person. Maybe you won't want it again; maybe you will. Maybe you'll go back to women and that'll be that."
"Is that what this is about?" Steve is slightly shocked at how much this means Danny must want what Steve wants; at his fear that Steve will sleep with him till Danny's hooked and then abandon him.
"I'm your first; who's to say where your inclinations will eventually land? I would have been prepared to have some fun, with you, Steve, but I'm not going to let you draw me into your flame until I burn up in it."
"I wouldn't do that to you." Steve is hurt that Danny would think that way. Steve was in it for fun, initially and he does want more of it, but he has a feeling that it could be more and maybe – just maybe – Danny is exactly what he needs.
Danny must see something of the hurt in Steve's eyes because he takes a step nearer and puts his hand on Steve's arm. "Maybe you wouldn't mean to, but I just came out of one bad relationship, and much as I'd love for this to stay casual between us, I can't see it being so easy, and I can't afford to be a mess again so soon after the last time. I have… a daughter, and I need to be as good a father as I can be for her."
Steve is shocked; he didn't expect Danny to say that. "You have a kid?"
Danny smiles, wistfulness in his eyes, and his hand strokes the hairs on Steve's arm as if he doesn't realize he's doing it. Desire sweeps through Steve at the action and he closes his eyes momentarily, willing it away so he can hear what Danny says next and doesn't come across as some kind of sex-crazed lunatic.
"Yeah, she's eleven and living with her mom in New Jersey. I don't get to see her often enough, and… okay, I do like you. I don't know, Steve – there's something needy about you that scares me, okay? I would love to experiment with you, I admit it, but I can't, I just… can't go through any more shit right now, you know?"
Steve nods, amazed at this sudden rush of honesty. He places his free hand over Danny's, still on his arm, and squeezes it lightly. "I get it," he says. "I thought this was just for fun at first too, and I can understand how that would have been okay while you're away from home; it won't affect your daughter if you fool around on the road. But getting involved with someone like me more long-term? That could change everything, and not just for you. I was being selfish; you were right. I'm gonna go now."
He takes back his hand and heads for the door, pushing down the need inside him that tells him Danny doesn't want him to leave any more than he wants to go. He totally gets the whole deal now he knows about Danny's daughter.
Danny looks at him as Steve turns at the door, but he says nothing, his eyes wary. "Look, if you do need more – you know, for the article," Steve tells him, "Call my manager; we can come to some arrangement. But, in case we don't see each other again, thanks. It's been fun, and…"
He pauses, hoping Danny will say something; anything to make him stay, but he doesn't.
"See you around," he says as he slips out through the door and heads down the hallway towards the elevator.