Prompt:: arin confesses and Dan rejects him, but slowly realizes that warm butterfly feeling inside of him whenever he was with arin wasn't just a coincidence and theres a good ol gay happy ending :)
ahahahaha. so this turned out to be an angst fest, but i refuse to apologize.
is there a happy ending? i guess you’ll have to figure it out for yourself.
let me go get some tissues also holy crap this is long it’s over 3000 words
dedicated to @rubberbangin bc i teased a few spoilers
warning: sexuality crisis and small panic attack!
There was a happy sound ringing throughout the Gru//mp room.
One of Danny’s favorite sounds was Arin’s laugh. He wasn’t completely sure why, but he figured it had something to do with the fact that Arin’s laugh was extremely infectious and made a warm, bubbly feeling rise in Danny’s chest.
He always felt comfortable when he heard Arin’s laugh. It felt like an old friend greeting you with a genuine hug.
Not that he’d thought about it, of course.
In fact, lately Danny had been doing his utmost to not think about his best friend and fellow Gru//mp. He didn’t like some of the thoughts that had been running through his mind recently, so he did what he always did: he stamped it out.
But tonight wasn’t about whispered self-doubts and inner struggles; it was about Arin sitting beside him laughing while Mario jumped yet again and sank helplessly in the water level they were stuck on.
“Dude, the fuckin’ fish is giving me the side-eye,” Arin howled, clapping his knee with mirth. “D’you see that shit? I love Mario!”
Danny’s face hurt from laughing so much. “I know, man.” He adopted a high-pitched, gurgly voice for the fish: “Dammit, Arin, you fucked it up!”
Arin laughed as Mario died and the game over screen flashed at them. “Priceless. Alright. I think it’s about time for next time on Game Gru//mps.” He yawned.
“Yeah, we’re both sleepy. Take care, all you beautiful people,” Danny chirped into the mic.
As he reached forward to start putting stuff away, Arin mumbled sleepily, “You’re a beautiful person.”
Danny smiled and “aw”-ed, switching off the recording as Arin jotted down the time. His heart had perked up at Arin’s compliment, but Arin always said things like that. Arin had a heart of gold and would take every opportunity to praise him.
“I mean it. Like, you’re gorgeous,” Arin rambled, rubbing his eyes as he gazed at the screen blearily. “Fuckin’…like…I love the way you look. I love your smile, and…your sense of humor, and, like…your fuckin’ eyes…”
Danny was fighting to control his panicking brain, reminding himself Arin was sleepy and confused. “C’mon, dude, you don’t have to flatter me to get in my pants,” he teased, hoping the banter would liven Arin again.
But to his confusion, Arin just turned and gazed at him. “But you are pretty, Danny,” he murmured. “It’s one of the reasons I love you so much.”
Danny’s chest dropped, and an unfamiliar feeling filled the room. Danny felt his fingers squeeze the side of the couch, and he forced a laugh. “Knock it off, Ar. Let’s go, it’s late.”
Arin frowned. “You’re not listening to me.”
Danny stood. “You’re windin’ me up. I’m going home.”
Danny found himself standing against the wall, Arin standing in front of him. Arin no longer looked sleepy or confused. His eyes, those familiar brown eyes that often twinkled when he laughed, were serious and looking directly at him. He looked somber, but his eyes still held warmth. He stood a couple feet away.
“I need to talk to you, Dan.”
Danny straightened, telling himself to stop freaking out and listen. Arin might need help, he scolded himself. You’re his best friend. Listen to him.
“Yeah, Arin? What’s up?”
“I need to tell you something important.” Arin’s gaze shifted slightly, and he rubbed the back of his neck—a nervous habit, Danny knew. “Um. I’ve been meaning to tell you for some time, but…it’s kinda hard.”
“I…fuck, man, I’m in love with you.”
Silence stretched between them, and Arin took a few beats before speaking again, his words coming out jumbled and rushed:
“I know it’s weird, of course I know that, but I can’t help it. I understand if it’s strange, but I felt like you had a right to know, and—”
Danny cut him off. “Stop it.”
Arin paused, a confused look passing across his face. “Huh?”
“Stop teasing me, dude.” Danny’s face looked dark as he turned away. “It isn’t funny. Stop it.”
Arin’s face crumpled. “Dan, you think…you think I’m joking?”
It’s Arin’s ruined expression that really sent the message home, and Danny wasn’t quite sure what he felt. Emotions churned within him, demanding to be released, but he pushed them down again.
He didn’t want Arin to see his face. He turned away.
“Even if…even if you’re not kidding, you can’t expect…” he trailed off. A lump had lodged itself in his throat. He couldn’t even believe he was having this conversation. “You can’t expect me to feel the same way.”
After a small silence, Danny risked a look back at Arin. He wasn’t crying or looking angry or anything. In fact, he just looked blank.
“Right.” Danny hated the way Arin sounded more than anything in the world. “I—I know. I know you don’t feel the same, uh, I just thought you should know. Don’t worry, this won’t change anything.” It took him a moment, but Arin mustered up a genuine, if small, smile. “I’ll see you in a few days, okay?”
Danny felt like his heart was frozen as Arin walked out the door.
Danny was going crazy.
He paced his room, discarded half-assed lyrics scattered across the floor. He could still hear Arin’s voice echoing through his head:
I…fuck, man, I’m in love with you.
He flopped onto his bed, panic beginning to edge in. He was terrified and he wasn’t even sure why. Where had all that honesty come from? Where were all these feelings coming from? Why had Arin said that so suddenly?
And why had it…excited him?
Danny knew he needed to sort out his emotions, but that scared him even more than seeing Arin’s upset face. He felt like he wasn’t strong enough or ready to tackle all these weird and new feelings.
But then Arin had thrust him right in the middle of it, forcing him to come to terms with the storm in his heart.
Frustrated tears pricked his eyes. He needed to talk.
So, he rolled over and pressed the speed dial to someone who wouldn’t judge and would listen.
Danny opened the door to welcome Brian. “Hey, man. Thanks for coming over.”
“Well, you did say it was an ‘emergency,’” Brian replied, stepping inside. “So, what’s going on? And why haven’t you texted me back in two days?”
Brian followed Danny to the living room. Danny was jittery. This was the first time he’d confront these emotions and let his secret slip to someone else. But it needed to be done. For Arin, he reminded himself.
Danny sat, motioning for Brian to do the same. “It’s…about Arin.”
Brian quirked an eyebrow. “What about him?”
Danny took a deep breath. “Something happened a couple days ago.”
After Danny had completed his story, Brian got up, walked over and stared Danny dead in the eyes. “Let me get this straight. Arin told you he was in love with you, and you told him to stop kidding around?”
Danny winced. “Well—”
“Dan.” Brian sounded exasperated. “I know I don’t have to tell you, but you’re a fucking idiot. He didn’t even get a full response!”
“I know!” Danny cut him off before he could get into a full-blown lecture. “I feel really shitty about it, okay? But I wasn’t sure what to do! I was too scared!”
Brian’s face melted into confusion as he sat back down. “Scared?”
Danny chewed on his lip. “Look, it’s just…lately, I’ve been feeling…different, and it scares me, okay? I’m not even sure who I am anymore.”
Brian softened. “What is it, Dan?”
“It’s my feelings!” Danny burst out. “I’ve never had feelings for a guy, Brian! We make jokes and rib each other, but none of us have…y’know…confessed! Or dated a dude! And then, of all people, I start…l-liking a guy? It fucking scared the shit out of me.” He went silent, staring at his shoes. “And then I think, is there something wrong with me? Why only this one guy? I’ve only ever liked girls before. And then the feelings are so fucking strong, and it makes me reevaluate everything I thought I knew about myself.” Tears leaked out, and Danny wiped his face. “It’s terrifying to not know who you are, Brian.”
“So, then you were forced to confront these new ideals when Arin confessed,” Brian said gently. “You were trying to repress them, weren’t you?”
“I know it wasn’t right, but I didn’t know what else to do,” Danny said quietly. “It freaked me out. The person I usually told about these sorts of things was the one person that couldn’t know, Brian.”
There was a short silence, and something clicked for Brian. “Wait. You love him?”
Danny jerkily moved. “I don’t know. I don’t fucking know.”
Brian leaned forward, narrowing his eyes. “Dan. Listen to me. There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s perfectly normal to suddenly get feelings you don’t expect. And yeah, it’s terrifying to have to figure yourself out all over again when you’re almost forty. But we as humans are always changing, Dan. It’s a part of life. And as far as labeling yourself or deciding the type of person you like…who cares? Just let yourself be you. I know all your friends would support you.” Brian smiled. “Arin would support you.”
Danny smiled, his eyes watery. “Yeah. He always does.”
Brian moved to sling an arm over Danny’s shoulders. “You okay, Danny? I know this must’ve been scary to think about.”
“It was only scary because it was all so new and I didn’t know who to talk to about it,” Danny said softly, reaching for a tissue. “I guess I panicked a little with Arin, huh?”
“You can take time to sort yourself out,” Brian suggested. “Take as long as you need to be comfortable and then talk about it with Arin and whoever else you want to tell.”
But Danny shook his head. “It’s not fair to Arin. He didn’t even get an actual response from me, Brian. Besides, I want him to help me sort this out. I don’t want to do this without him.”
Brian smiled. “Just don’t feel like you owe Arin anything. He would hate that. He’d much rather your reply be genuine and thought out than rash and just because you’re confused, you know.”
“Yeah. I know. But you know the funny thing, Brian? I did have a response for Arin. I think my answer is why I freaked out in the first place.”
Brian quirked an eyebrow. “Really?”
Danny felt a blush creep over his cheeks, and he stared at his shoe. “So maybe my feelings for Arin haven’t been strictly platonic. And maybe that’s why I started having these new thoughts in the first place.”
Brian didn’t look surprised. “How long?”
“Just a few weeks.”
Brian sighed and leaned back on the couch. “When are you gonna tell him? Because I’m assuming you’re not just gonna never tell him.”
“I’m not! I’ll tell him after our next session. It’s not exactly easy to bring up, Brian.”
The two men looked at each other, and Brian flashed a mischievous grin. “Just don’t have sex on the couch, okay? I’d rather the Space remains clean.”
Danny turned red and shoved him. “Shut the fuck up!”
Danny tentatively entered the Space,
but if he expected anything to be different, he was mistaken. Arin greeted him
with his usual grin and big hug. And yeah, maybe Arin’s cheerful tone was
carefully even, and maybe Danny’s heart beat a mile a minute when he saw him,
but everything was normal.
Okay, so maybe not completely normal.
If Brian was expectant, he didn’t show it. He greeted Danny with a middle finger and a hello as Suzy and Ross ambled in to say hi. Danny chatted with Vernon for a few minutes, keeping an eye on Arin, who was laughing with Ross about something. Eventually Arin wandered into the office area to do something, and Danny was close on his heels.
He sat on a beanbag near Arin’s desk as Arin opened something on his computer. He watched him for a few moments before asking as normally as possible: “How was your and Suzy’s trip to Disney yesterday?”
Arin’s eyes lit up and a smile tugged on his mouth. Danny watched him with fascination as he told a story about how he’d nearly thrown up on Space Mountain and Suzy had almost demanded for the people to stop the ride.
Danny’s heart felt fuzzy and mushy. He wondered if everything would be okay. Would Arin even still want him? What would the others say? What about Suzy? What…what would dating Arin be like?
He mentally shook himself. Today wasn’t just about him. Arin and Suzy both had a part to play, too. He’d talk to Suzy later. Now, he needed to speak to Arin about all of this.
Opening his mouth, Danny was about to say something when Barry popped in, grinning. “Hey, Dan, didn’t see you come in. Arin, we need to talk about this next episode of Doodle Doods. Ryan’s editing it right now.”
“Sure,” Arin replied, looking away from the computer. “We don’t have to start recording for a little while. What’s up?”
Danny waited, somewhat impatiently, as Barry explained something about the style of the video and when it should be cut and so on. Arin thought for a moment before asking if he could see the video. To Danny’s disappointment, Arin followed Barry over to Matt and Ryan’s editing stations.
He supposed their talk would just have to wait.
Eight hours and three bags of
Skittles later, Danny was sitting on the Gru//mp couch watching Arin finally
complete a Mario level.
It was as if their awkward conversation a few days ago had never happened. Arin was as lively and goofy as ever, and Danny found it surprisingly easy to slip into his normal routine with Arin again. He kept having second doubts. Maybe he shouldn’t say anything. Maybe things were better like this. Maybe he shouldn’t risk their friendship for what they could be.
But he kept remembering Brian’s stern eyes and his own resolve to do this for Arin’s sake. It was that promise of what they could be that made him ready to talk.
And things weren’t totally normal. There was a conspicuous lack of playful flirting and sexual jokes. Dick jokes were abundant, but no flirty suggestions or kinky banter at all. Perhaps Arin thought Danny wouldn’t like it anymore.
It was the exact opposite. Danny missed it.
Finally, Arin’s hands dropped the controller as he said goodbye. “See you guys for…whatever the fuck we play next.”
Danny laughed and added his own farewells, reaching forward to flip off the recording. He took a deep, calming breath. He could do this.
He turned to look at Arin, who was scribbling on the paper in front of him. He was softly biting his lower lip, his eyes creased in concentration. Danny’s heart pounded in his chest.
Danny cleared his throat. “Um. Hey, Arin.”
Arin turned to him, expectant. “What’s up?”
He fidgeted. “Uh. I, um. About what happened the other day…”
A shutter closed over Arin’s eyes, his smile turning into a carefully neutral expression. “Dan, look, like I said, just forget—”
“I was wrong,” Danny blurted, cutting him off. He stumbled on. “I-I was wrong about…about what I said.” He ran his fingers through his hair, feeling the panic starting to swell in his chest. “I didn’t mean what I said. I mean, I meant it at the time because I was scared, but it isn’t like I hated what you were saying. I just panicked, because this was all so unexpected and…”
Danny couldn’t breathe. He felt like his throat was being constricted, and he gulped for air. His shoulders were shaking, and he tried desperately to suppress the panic rising in his voice.
Before he knew what was happening, Arin was beside him, placing a hand on his back and holding the other one. “Breathe. C’mon, Dan, deep breaths. Watch me, okay? Breathe with me. That’s great, you’re doing great.”
Danny focused on Arin’s eyes, glinting with compassion and concern. Slowly, his breathing returned to normal and he stopped shaking.
Arin was rubbing his back and squeezing his hand. “There you go. You okay, buddy?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m okay.” Danny whispered, squeezing Arin’s hand back. As if just realizing they were holding hands, Arin quickly released Danny’s and looked at his lap.
“If it’s really that hard for you to talk about, why don’t you just forget it happened?” Arin asked in a tiny voice.
Danny steeled himself. “Because I don’t want to forget it happened, Arin. I mean, fuck…it was the best news I’ve gotten in a long time.”
Confusion marred Arin’s face as he looked back up. “What?”
Danny’s hands twisted in his lap. “I actually…I like you, Arin. It just took me awhile to realize it.”
Arin blinked at him slowly.
“I’ve been dealing with a lot of shit lately, and I’m sorry I took it out on you,” Danny continued, his voice soft. “I started having strange feelings about the same sex and it scared the hell out of me. I didn’t want to think about it.”
Arin’s face was a mask. “Dan.”
He looked at Arin’s face, expectant.
Arin softened slightly. “It’s not your fault. I should’ve realized.” He moved to pat Danny’s shoulder. “I’m here for you, okay, buddy? I know what it’s like to have to figure out your sexuality. It’s confusing.” Arin paused. “But you’re not alone. And hey, if you like dick, that just makes us more alike than we originally thought.”
Danny laughed, a little brokenly, not realizing how much he needed to hear those words from Arin until now.
“Let yourself figure it out.” Arin smiled. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Danny reached forward to close his fist around Arin’s sleeve. “I love you.”
It was a quiet but shattering phrase. Danny meant it with every ounce of his being. Whether it was meant romantically or platonically, he wasn’t completely sure yet. But he meant it.
And Arin knew he meant it.
Maybe they weren’t dating. Maybe they would never date. But there was something more there, something shimmering under the surface. Danny knew Arin loved him, and Arin knew Danny loved him.
Danny was confused and Arin knew that. There was a tangle of emotions between the two men. Love, hurt, confusion, affection, heartbreak, and more. It was left to stir with them. No one knew each other as well as they did. No matter what, they had each other. Their friendship was all they’d ever needed.
And maybe, Danny thought as Arin enveloped him in a hug, maybe that’s enough.