PP 01 (ch 12)

Title: The Panic Pure
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: mm, suspense/thriller
Summary: Danny is currently being stalked by a serial killer. Marshal
has announced that he loves Danny. And Arthur and Sophia are trying to
deal with the unexpected arrival of the evil Lauren Green.

To catch up on the story, check it out at my FictionPress page:
http://www.fictionpress.com/~harperkingsley.
==========

CHAPTER TWELVE

They continued their dinners together and weeks passed. Enough that
Danny didn't feel so much like spinning apart whenever he asked
Marshal to sleep over. And all they ever did was sleep.

It got to be something Danny looked forward to. There was something
about listening to another person breathe that soothed Danny instead
of completely terrifying him as he would have thought.

He was happy and that had everything to do with Marshal. It felt as
though he had finally learned how to breathe.

"You're smiling. A lot."

Danny turned his head to give Arthur a grin. "I think I am. Do you
think we should be concerned? Maybe it's fatal!"

Arthur nudged his shoulder gently. "I'll take you to the doctor for a
checkup later."

They were in the study. Danny had been reading "Kirith Kirin" when
Arthur decided to make his presence known by snatching the book out of
his hands and flipping through it.

"Were you kidding me? Is that what it is, you were pining for my
company?" Danny waggled his eyebrows. "Just because I'm in a
relationship now doesn't mean I don't have time for you, Artie."

"Oh, one look at you and anyone could tell you're either in the midst
of a relationship or a midlife crisis, and you're a bit young for the
latter." Arthur paused his book flipping to raise his eyebrows. "What
exactly are you reading here? Wasn't this kid just like fourteen or
something?"

Danny ran his finger across the polished table, drawing lines and
circles. "You should read it before you make a big judgment. It's a
beautiful story."

Arthur read a few more pages before handing the book back. "Sorry,
friend, not my bag."

Danny groaned. "I know you think it's funny, but whatever accent
you're trying to do is simply terrible."

"How do you know that's not the response I want to get?" Arthur stuck
out his tongue childishly.

Danny snorted a laugh. "Well, if that was the plan, then you succeeded
beautifully."

Arthur stood up from the couch he'd gracelessly flopped down onto and
paced in front of the shelves of books. "I worry about you," his voice
dropped seriously. "I try not to, but I can't help myself." He turned
to look at Danny. "I'm glad you're doing as well as you are. I'm glad
you found someone that cares about you and who you actually care
about."

Danny smiled. "Me too."

Marshal had been wonderful, more so than Danny would have thought he
deserved. He still couldn't figure out how he had gotten so lucky to
end up with someone like Marshal in his life, but he wasn't going to
waste it.

"I'm happy," he admitted.

"Good," Arthur said. "You deserve to be."

"Now we just have to find someone for you," Danny teased.

"Hey!" Arthur wagged his finger. "That right there is closed. You know
I'm not ready to settle down. I've got another four years before I
want to even think about settling down and raising babies or any of
that stuff."

Danny laughed before suddenly falling serious. "I really like Marshal.
What would you say if I decided to keep him?"

"'Congratulations, when's he moving in?'" Arthur raised his eyebrows.

"Exactly."

* * *

Being an FBI desk jockey meant dealing with the reality that sometimes
things didn't work out and there were some cases that resulted in dead
ends. Janeane's case was one such.

They'd tracked down the boyfriend–a young black man named James
Southerfed–but he'd had a pretty solid alibi after Janeane left his
apartment. They'd climbed into cabs side-by-side after a romantic
goodbye and he'd gone straight to the airport. Two weeks in Florida
for his job, and he came home to a missing girlfriend.

Marshal hated to admit it, but after awhile it didn't even feel like
his cases represented people anymore. Janeane had just been a name and
a photograph.

Right up until he imagined what it would be like going away for work
only to come back and find Danny missing, possibly forever. Murder
would have broken something in Marshal, but to always be left
wondering… the not knowing would have killed him.

Talking to James left him feeling disturbed enough to go up three
floors and bother his old friend Hamilton Assanti.

"I'm telling you, Hammy, loving someone means seeing their face in
every missing person case. I think it's fucked up my brain." Marshal
slumped across Hamilton's desk.

Hamilton had been doing something busy with important information and looked a bit as though he wanted to tell
Marshal to get lost. He refrained.

"How long have you been in love for?" Hamilton asked curiously. He'd
loosened his tie in the privacy of his office and he was in his shirt
sleeves, though it would take a lot more for him to seem slack. He
just had one of those faces that seemed perpetually on the job.

"I don't know," Marshal said, "forever? We've only been dating a
month or so, but I had a complete case of the instants the first
time I saw him. I think I'm losing my mind."

"It sounds like it." Hamilton steepled his hands in front of his chin.
"How does he feel about you?"

"It's not one sided," Marshal said. He didn't know if Danny loved him,
but he knew there was something there. "He's got issues."

Hamilton made a murmuring hum in his throat. "I'm really not that
surprised. You're someone that thrives on the kind of drama that would
send me up the wall. He at least knows you're dating, right? Each
other?"

They'd known each other since college, so Hamilton had seen Marshal in
his most stupid moments. Still, Marshal wasn't thrilled about being
treated as though his being in love meant he'd lost all touch with
reality.

"Yes, he knows we're saying. Each other," he added off Hamilton's
raised eyebrow. "I'm telling you Hammy, he's complete damaged goods,
but he's sweet and maybe a bit naive. I feel like he needs me, and I
need to be needed, but it scares me too."

"Why would you be scared?" Hamilton asked. He looked like he was
trying to maintain his disinterest, but he had always been the go to
guy and it was a role he'd reveled in as long as Marshal had known
him.

"He's been hurt." Marshal clasped his hands together on his knees.
"You just gotta look into his eyes and you can see he was damaged and
not put back together right. I don't want to be another chink in his
armor."

"You're scared you're going to break his heart. Good."

Marshal blinked in surprise. "It's good that I might end up hurting him?"

Hamilton shook his head. "That part's not good, but the fact that you
care is. It'll make you more careful with him, which is good if he's
as damaged as you seem to think. Look man, no one wants to spend their
whole life alone, so if he's letting you in that's a really big honor,
one you shouldn't waste by being stupid and careless. Treat him like
precious goods and never forget that you don't want to hurt him."

"I really don't want to see him hurt," Marshal said. "He's been
through too much and I don't want to add to everything that's been bad
in his life."

"Then don't." Hamilton sighed heavily. He'd never been very fond of
giving romance advice, but he was good at it. "The fact that he's let
you into his world at all is a sign that he wants more in his life
than what he had now. If he lives as strictly regimented as you
suggest, then maybe he's searching for some way to break out.

"He wants to live and enjoy his life. And it looks like he's open to
letting you be part of it." Hamilton gave Marshal a piercing look.
"Don't screw him up more. This might not work out between the two of
you, but don't let yourself become another scar on his psyche."

Marshal shook his head. "I don't want that either." He wasn't going to
insist that he and Danny were going to be together forever all roses
and ponies. He knew that every relationship came with the risk that it
wasn't going to work out.

But he knew that he wanted to have something with Danny. Something real.

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