The Right Red?

AU

Warnings: angst

Disclaimer: Characters belong to Aaron Sorkin…duh! I have no money I am a poor college student!

            Dan walked into his apartment that night.  Casey hated him.  What was wrong with him? Why did he do it?  Why couldn't he just sit there and do his job?  It wasn't Casey's fault that his life was falling apart.  It wasn't his fault that Natalie made him look dumb on the air.  Nobody wanted him.  Nobody wanted to be near him.  His father hated him, blamed him for the death of Sam.  And Dan knew it was true it was his fault that his genius little brother was dead.  Casey was the one who used to tell him that it wasn't his fault, that his dad loved him he just didn't know how to express it.  But now Casey had experienced Dan at his worst now and he didn't like him anymore.  Casey would never forgive Dan.  Why should he?  Dan humiliated him on air.  Casey would never tell him it wasn't his fault again, he would never say that Dan's dad did love him.  Because…because now he knew the truth.  Dan never wanted Casey to realize it but now he knew how destructive Dan could be.  It was true he destroyed his friendship with Casey the only person who loved him, just like he destroyed his little brother by showing him how cool it was to do drugs.  Sorrow filled Dan like a heavy nauseating pit in his stomach that made him want to cry and vomit and die. 

*********

Dan looked at his face in the mirror.  He was no longer the attractive one.  He had a haunted look in his eyes.  He looked tired and he was.  Rinsing his mouth one last time he stepped out of the bathroom.  Gathering his composure he went to the hall closet put on his coat and grabbed his wallet.  He left the apartment and quietly shut the door.

********

The door jingled when he walked into the drugstore.  He turned into the third aisle and walked halfway down it.  He picked up a package and went to the register.  The kid at the register recognized him.  He paid and signed an autograph and walked out.  The door jingled behind him.

********

With a pair of pliers from under the sink Dan took apart a disposable razor.  It's blades were flexible and small.  He placed them one at a time on the counter.  He swept up the remains of the razor into his hand and threw it in the trash can.  He put the pliers back under the sink.  He did the dishes that were in the sink and tided the living room.  Dan walked back over to the counter, for a split second something flashed across his eyes but it was gone just as quickly and his eyes glazed over.  He picked up the blades and went to his room.

********

It felt cool running across his arm.  Just a bit harder and a beautiful red graced his skin.  He wanted to make sure it was the right red so he hesitantly touched his finger to the red and put the finger in his mouth.  It tasted biter and metallic like iron.  It was the right red, he was doing something right.  Stars and moons and cars and trucks and drugs and bottles and lists and money and finally a football player were all doodled into his arm in that red.  With a sigh he leaned his head back against his pillow.  It felt so nice, he was so tired.  He pulled the blanket up around him.  He was starting to feel cold.  He closed his eyes and that was all there was to it.

********

The next morning the phone rang.  It rang eight times but nobody picked it up.  Dana slammed down the receiver in her office.  "Where the hell is he?  He better be really sick or something.  He really doesn't want to piss me off anymore than he already has today!"

********

Dan wasn't there at the noon rundown.  Natalie was starting to get worried, so was Dana and Isaac.  "If he's not in by the four o'clock rundown…" Isaac did not finish the sentence.  He was very close to Dan and saw the look in his eye last night.  He knew about Dan's therapy and the fact that he had been in pain for awhile, but he would still hope. 

********

At four thirty Casey came back from doing an interview over a late lunch.  Casey needed twenty extra seconds in the thirties.  He went to find Dan to tell him.  Dan wasn't in the office, he wasn't in editing or the conference room.  Finally Casey went to Isaac's office to see if Dan was there, but he wasn't, nobody was there.  "Dana!" Casey called as he speed walked down he hallway.

"What do you need Case? Have you seen Dan?  He is so not on my good list today."

"That's what I was going to ask you about.  Where the hell is he?"

"Well Casey your bet is as good as mine.  Dan hasn't been in all day."

"What!?! Where the hell is he?"

"That's what I would like to know.  I'm…I'm kind of starting to get worried Case" she whispered.

********

A half an hour later Casey had called everyone he could think of, including Abby.  It seemed as though Dan had missed his appointments the past couple of weeks.  Casey was well on his way to scared for his friend, only was he still his friend.  Dan had asked him to come to his Seder thing and Casey had rejected him.  But still it wasn't like Dan to disappear and not tell Casey.  Had he really lost him?  Did Dan not need him anymore?  Casey started to pace.  At six o'clock he grabbed his coat and keys and went to the elevators.  "Where do you think your going?"  Dana called out.

"I'm going to go find Danny." Casey replied.

"Oh no your not.  I've already lost one anchor, you my friend are staying put."

"Dana I think something is really wrong.  I need to go find him."

"After the show, or at least after I have your script written."

"But Dana…"

"No Case, I'm concerned too but we have a show to do tonight.  Now go write your script."

With an aggravated look tossed over his shoulder Casey stomped back to his office and slammed the door shut.

********

At eight o'clock Casey left the building, his script on Dana's desk.  He hailed a cab and went to Danny's apartment.  The doorman let him in, he told Casey he had not seen him since lat night.  "Danny" Casey growled under his breath as he stood in the elevator.  He got off on the eleventh floor and strode to Dan's door.  He knocked on the door.  Nobody answered.  He knocked again, still no answer.  Casey called out for Dan to open the door, but still only silence answered him.  He waited another minute before pulling out Dan's spare key.  Hesitantly,  he turned the key in the lock and pushed open the door.  The metallic smell of blood scented the air.  "Dan… Danny…Danny!" cried out Casey.  He ran through the apartment coming last to the bedroom.  He stopped in the doorway.  A scream pierced the silence of the apartment.  His hands flailed out for something to grasp but met only air.  Casey sunk to his knees as a heart wrenching sob racked his body.  After a moment Casey stood up and rushed to the bed.  "Danny Danny Danny Danny Danny" he cried out until his tears clogged his throat and he could no longer.  Arms grasped the still and cold body shaking him pleading silently for him to respond.  No response came from Danny's dead body.  Casey climbed into the bed and held Dan to his chest sobbing into his hair.  Dan was gone.  Dan was gone. Dan was gone.  "Oh God Danny what have you done?" 

The shrill ringing of the phone brought Casey out of his trancelike state.  "Hello" he hoarsely whispered into the phone. 

"Casey, is that you?" asked the voice on he other end.

"Dana…oh god Dana…" Casey broke down into tears again,

"Casey…Casey what is it? Is Dan alright?  Damn it Casey talk to me!"

"Oh god Dana, Danny he's he he…" a sob interrupting his attempt at speech, "he's dead" he finally got out. 

"Dead?" Dana asked in a hushed voice. "Ok, Casey, ok are you sure?"

"Am I sure Dana? Yes I'm  sure, my god Dana its Danny and he's gone and you can stand there and question my ability to tell?!?"

"I didn't…I'm just…I can't…oh god"

"Dana…I don't know what to…I mean what do I…Dana?"

"Yeah I'll umm…call someone…you want me to some over?"

"Could you tell Isaac…I don't think I can…oh god Dana I've got to call his mother…I…oh god…I have to go."

Casey hung up the phone.  He sat there and held Dan's lifeless body in his arms until the paramedics arrived an hour later to take Dan to the city morgue.

********

Casey hailed a cab and went back to CSC.  The radio in the cab announced breaking news…"Daniel Rydell, sports co-anchor of the CSC show Sports Night is dead.  Unconfirmed early reports say it was a suicide."  Casey started to cry again and begged the cab driver to turn off the radio.  When he arrived at the building there were reporters everywhere.  One of the brethren was dead and they wanted the scoop.  Amidst a flurry of flashes and calls Casey forced himself out of the cab and into the building where a security guard put him on an elevator.  When he reached the 49th floor he stepped out to utter silence.  Somebody grabbed him and hugged him but the tears in his eyes blurred his vision.  He stumbled his way into Isaac's office where the senior staff minus one was sitting.  Jeremy jumped up and forcibly placed Casey in his chair before retrieving him a drink from Isaac's bar.  They just sat there in silence and cried and mourned together.  Natalie was hugging Jeremy, Dana stood above Isaac with her hands on his shoulders, and Kim and Elliot huddled together in the corner.  Everyone had someone to share their grief with but Casey.  His partner was gone. 

********

The news was full of the story.  Reporters interviewed the kid at the drugstore, people Dan had slept with in college back when he was 'Hit and Run Dan', people from Boston and Texas.  Casey's answering machine was full all the time now.  Everybody wanted something from him, a quote, an assurance he was alright, a story about his best friend who had left him all alone.  He supposed he deserved it, he rejected him and then he lost him. 

********

The funeral was a quiet affair.  It was open to family and friends only.  Charlie wanted to come but Casey told him he was too young.  Casey watched as his friends body was lowered into the ground somewhere in Connecticut, in a grave right next to one inscribed 'Samuel Rydell 1972-1988'.  There was a Star of David on the top of Danny's tombstone.  It read 'Daniel Rydell  1970-2000 Beloved brother son and friend.  He will be missed by all.  We love you.  Rest in Peace.' 

********

Back at the Shiva house, Dan's parents' home, people milled about.  Casey slipped out of the main room and snuck up to Dan's bedroom to see it one last time.  He wanted to see the stuff that made Dan him.  He knew he would never set foot in this house again after today.  He opened the door and to his amazement saw Jacob Rydell, Danny's father crying on his son's bed clutching a picture of the family when all the kids were young, before Sam had died.  There was a cardboard box nest to him filled with tapes, and on the bureau the old black and white television that Dan had refused to get rid of as a child played silent episodes of Sports Night.  Casey cleared his throat.  Jacob looked up and motioned Casey over.  Casey went to Jacob and sat on the bed next to him, watching the shows that Jacob had taped every night, every single episode was there in that box.  "Did I do this to him?" Jacob asked Casey.

"No.  I think I did."

"What do you mean?  You were best friends, you loved each other."

"We had a fight.  I rejected him, then this happened.  What other explanation is there?"

"Casey, one fight, this fight, if my Daniel did not already have this in him a fight would not have cause him to…"

"But it did.  I knew he was hurting and I didn't care because I was mad at him.  I walked away and he needed me.  I deserted him so he…he left me too."

"Aww Case…" Jacob leaned over and pulled Casey into a hug.  They cried together for what seemed like hours but may only have been minutes.  They finally shut the television off and went back downstairs. 

********

Three months later Cont. Corp sold CSC to Disney.  Disney broke up the network and sold it in parts.  They offered jobs to Jeremy and Kim.  Jeremy went to work for ESPN and Kim for ESPN 2.  Casey could not stand to be on camera without Danny.  He took a job as sports editor for the New York Times.  Natalie landed a job with Saturday Night Live, she didn't want to stay in sports after the loss of one of her closest friends, it hurt too much.  Dana was offered a job producing a sports show in LA, she accepted the offer and left, leaving behind Natalie, breaking a promise she once made.  Isaac retired.

********5 years later********

Everyone had RSVPed to the wedding.  Natalie was looking forward to seeing her old friends again all in the same room.  Jeremy just grinned every time they thought about seeing the old gang.  The grin never quite reached his eyes, but it was something Natalie was used too.  They were finally getting married, and it had nothing to do with Natalie's being pregnant, thank you very much. 

Dana stood as Natalie's witness.  Casey stood as Jeremy's.  It was a simple wedding.  Only about 70 people were there. 

At the reception the old friends mingled amongst themselves.  Everyone except Isaac was there.  He had another stroke.  He was in the hospital they didn't expect him to last the rest of the year.  Esther was there though, and while she looked tired she was more than happy to talk about Isaac and his glory days. 

Everyone seemed to be doing alright for themselves.  There was a gap in their circle and hearts but they expected they always would be and for the most part they were used to the feeling. 

When the reception was over Natalie and Jeremy hopped into a limo that would take them to the airport.  They were going to Hawaii for two weeks for their honeymoon.  Dana, Casey, Kim, and Elliot said their farewells and went their separate ways.

*****6 months later*****

Natalie looked radiant as she held her son.  Jeremy appeared to have dropped comfortably into the role of overprotective father as he cradled his daughter and cooed to her.  The door opened and Casey came in.  "Ready to go home?" he queried. 

"You bet we are!" answered Natalie.  She stood and put little baby Isaac Miles Goodwin into his car seat.   "Come on daddy lets bring these babies home"  Jeremy oh so carefully placed little Danielle Ruth Goodwin in her car seat.  Natalie sat in the required wheelchair and let Casey push her out to his car so that Jeremy could carry the children. 

When they got to the house in Brooklyn Heights Casey decided to park and go in with them.  The Goodwin family and Casey went up to the nursery.  It was decorated in a lovely shade of red with blue and yellow trim.  "I read that primary colors were good." Casey said.  He had painted the nursery as a gift to the expecting couple. Natalie gave Casey a warm look.

"Thank you for everything Case." She softly replied.

 "Is it the right red?"  Casey asked nervously.

"Yeah its perfect." Jeremy answered.

 Casey grinned in response. "Good."