Chapter 31:

Danny had come back home deep in the night yesterday. He had thought about taking some time to sleep long, but he knew he couldn't skip another day of work. The longer he stayed away the harder it would get to convince Jack to stop being mad about his behavior. He knew there would've been other ways to clear the situation – like taking a few days off – but he had been angry about Jack's decision to keep him out of the Matthews case. He had made a decision by impulse and he had been wrong with it. But there was nothing he could do about this right now.

When he entered the bureau the following morning, he was pretty happy it was Sam, not Jack, who was the first person to meet this morning. She looked almost surprised to see him – like she hadn't believed he would dare to turn up so soon. She sounded slightly nervous when she addressed him with a little smile.

"Hey."

"Hey."

"So, you're back in town."

"Yeah."

He paused and studied her face for a moment.

"You look pretty content – anything I missed?"

"We found Joaquin Matthews..."

"That's great! Where did you find him?"

Sam didn't want to tell him about Joaquin's sister's death. Danny had been that emotional about the boy, she feared telling him that Joaquin just lost a beloved sister would provoke a deeply emotional reaction from her co-worker. She didn't want that to happen – not again. Therefore she decided to skip that part of the story.

"He visited his corporal sister – in Mexico..."

"Mexico? That's quiet a trip. How the hell did he get there?"

"He must've been planning this for a while. He admitted that he frequently took money from the Matthews to be able to pay the flight to Cancun. The decision to leave had been made long before that night's fight with his foster parents. How about you? How do you feel?"

"I'm fine – or let's say: better. There were a couple of things I had to think about and that's what I took my time for."

Sam nodded and sighed soundlessly – she had hoped not to be the one to inform him.

"Jack would like to have a chat with you..."

Danny could see the nervousness laying in her gesticulation and mimic. She was troubled about sending him to their boss and he completely understood it. But he hadn't expected any different reaction from Jack. He would trounce him to not simply disappear from work ever again and he definitely would be interested if he took his advice. Danny gave an assuring smile to Sam and went for Jack's private office. This was going to be the real hard part of it. He knocked and entered, carefully closing the door behind him. He tried a smile, but having a look at Jack's face, he stopped immediately. Jack ordered him to sit down and an awkward silence emerged between them before Jack finally took the word once again.

"Where the hell have you been for the past three days!"

He knew he needed to get a hold on his temper and stay calm right now. Getting cocky with his boss, would only make the situation worse. But he actually didn't want to inform him, didn't want to let him in. There was a particular reason why a "private sphere" was called like this – it was private, not meant for anyone else and Danny wished to keep it private. There were too many, too dark secrets about his past and he didn't feel like anyone, especially his boss, needed to know about them. But if he wanted to keep the discusssion he was about to have on a constructive path, he had at least to reveal parts of his privacy.

"I've been down in Florida…"

He stated in a hesitating voice and Jack needed some seconds to realize what he had just told him. He hadn't seemed to believe he would actually get an open hearted answer to that question. It seemed to calm him down a little at least.

"And what did you do down in Florida, for heaven's sake? You were supposed to be working!"

He really had difficulties to keep his feelings at bay and not shout at his boss, not tell him, that he hadn't asked him to work´. He had asked him to step away from their case, he had put him on desk duty – that had nothing to do with work. But he swallowed the comment down and tried to keep rational. But he could hear the slight trembling in his voice when he answered.

"I know that! But I did what you asked me for…"

"I didn't ask you to skip work and leave town!"

"No, you didn't, but you asked me to get rid of the troubles that intervened with my working routine."

"So you wanna tell me that's what you did in Florida? That's hard to believe."

"I know it is, but that's the way it happened.

Jack's furious expression seemed to soften right now. They knew each other for quiet a while, for a pretty long time to be exact and Jack knew, Danny wouldn't lie to him. He would keep things private from time to time, but he would never openly lie to his face.

"I guess you don't wanna tell me about it?"

"Yeah, that's right and I'm sorry about it. I know you would want me to tell you, but it's…"

"Private?"

"Exactly. I don't wanna talk about it. Let's just say that there were a few things that had been occurring a long time ago, I had to come clean with."

"And you did?"

"I tried to. I just hope it worked."

"And you believe it worked out that well, these troubles you had won't intervene with work any more?"

"I'm not absolutely sure, but I hope so. At least I feel ready to restart."

"That's good. You know I'm not happy about the way you did it, but I appreciate that you listened to the advice I gave you."

"Desk duty?"

"Exactly – get to work."

A little smile crossed his face when Jack was allowing him to leave. This had worked out better than he actually had expected. But in the end he hadn't done the wrong thing. It was just the how´ that had been a little out of place. Just like Joaquin Matthews – the thought suddenly crossed his mind and made him smile even more. He definitely had been right with the feeling that he and that missing teenager had some things in common – except for the mostly bad experiences of the past. Of course they both had lost a family, they both had to experience the life in a foster family and they both hadn't been happy with the decisions others had made for them. But apart from that, they both seemed to be stubborn, independent characters, trying to come clean with the inevitable situations of the past they hadn't been able to do anything against and it seemed to work out.

That at least was what Danny hoped for when he left Jack's office, still wearing that little smile on his face – for himself and for Joaquin.

THE END