Epiphanies

By mcat –

October 22, 2004

Spoilers for "Underground" and "No Man is an Island"

Chapter One – Above Ground

Danny Edwards sat at his desk, quietly typing away at his report. Leaning forward carefully, trying not to stretch out his bruised chest too much, he reached for his coffee.

"Don't ask me again," he told his partner, Chris Gains, and took a sip.

"What?" Chris asked, trying to look innocent.

Danny shook his head and raised an eyebrow. "'What?' you ask?" He put down his coffee cup. "Every time I move you ask me if I'm alright, Gains. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't."

"You wouldn't be making that face every time you move either," Chris countered.

"What face?" Danny asked, turning his chair to face Chris, grimacing as the chair's arm brushed against his chest.

"That one."

Danny let out an exasperated sigh. "Look, Chris, I got kicked, I got bruised. But I'm okay. Remember, the trip to the hospital Harada made me go on? I'm fine."

He turned back toward his computer and resumed typing.

Not satisfied, but put in his place for the moment, Chris returned to his own computer, to finish his version of the events.

Danny was starting to feel uncomfortable. And not just because he was in pain. Even without looking, he knew Chris was watching him. Waiting for him to break down. Waiting for him to admit that he was in pain, or not as perfectly fine as he'd been trying to tell both of them.

He scrubbed his hands down his face and rubbed them back up his cheeks a few times, hoping to rub some life into his sleepy head. It had been a long day, and now, at nearly ten o'clock at night, he really wanted to just go home and leave the reports for the morning.

As if having read his mind, Captain Harada came out of his office.

"Gains, Edwards," he called as he neared their desks. "Preliminaries are done, the DA has enough to get started on his case. Finish this stuff up tomorrow."

"Really?" Chris asked.

"Take your partner home, Gains," Harada ordered.

"I can get home by myself," Danny balked.

"No car," Chris reminded him.

"Shit."

"I expect you boys back here first thing," Harada called over his shoulder as he exited the office.

"You bet, boss!" Chris replied. He quickly turned to find an unhappy Danny looking at him. "What?" Chris asked.

Danny just shook his head, typed a few more sentences on his report and saved it, before turning off his computer. Leaning heavily on the desktop, he rose out of his chair and straightened.

"You're fine, my ass," Chris muttered.

Danny ignored the comment and headed out of the office, Chris on his heels.

The two made their way silently to the parking lot and Danny waited patiently for Chris to unlock his car. He managed not to groan aloud as his body contorted to slide down and inside into the sports car's passenger seat. He leaned his head back against the headrest and closed his eyes.

"Stop staring, Chris," he warned.

Chris turned his gaze forward and started the car, not saying a word. That didn't mean his mind wasn't thinking about a thousand words, though.

Ever since that bank teller had blown his partner's cover, he'd been worried. He'd been unable to prevent the bank robber from savagely kicking Danny while he'd been down on the floor. He'd swear he'd heard ribs cracking. And despite that, his own actions, though in his defense, they'd been to get close to his partner, to think of a plan of action, probably hadn't helped matters. Shoving Danny against the bank's wall must have hurt him just as much as that initial kick.

"If I didn't know better, you've had steam coming from those ears of yours all night, partner," Danny said, though still not looking at Chris.

Yeah, you could say that, Chris thought to himself.

He had been thinking all night. Thinking very hard, in fact. And not just about how bad his partner was or was not hurt. Not even how he had gotten that way. No. He'd been thinking about how bad it could have been. How his partner could have been killed. While he watched. While he did nothing. He'd been thinking of the epiphany he'd had in the bank. When he realized that he was in love with Danny…

Chris parked the car in the driveway of the small bungalow about twenty minutes later.

"We're here," Chris said, putting his hand on Danny's shoulder, giving it a nudge.

"I know," Danny replied, opening his eyes and looking at his partner for the first time since they'd left the police station.

Chris bit his tongue, forcing himself not to ask the question. Danny had already yelled at him once this night. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel.

"Want me to pick you up in the morning?" he asked.

"Yeah, sure," Danny replied, but made no move to open the car door.

After a few minutes of silence, Chris finally asked, "Danny?"

Danny quickly put his left hand up, to stop Chris from overreacting, and said, "I'm okay, just… I can't get out."

Chris quickly got out of the car and headed for the passenger side. After opening the door, he reached in and grasped Danny's hands. He put them on his shoulders and then grasped Danny's waistband with his own hands.

"On three," Chris instructed, meeting Danny's gaze.

He counted off and pulled Danny up and out while Danny held on and pulled up as well, getting his feet out of the car and onto the ground. The partners held onto each other until Danny got his balance and the pain subsided.

"All right?" Chris asked.

Danny nodded and took the five or six steps to the bungalow's front porch. Chris watched as Danny leaned heavily on the railing and climbed the two steps onto the porch. He ran quickly to Danny as he started swaying, and grabbed him around the waist before he could fall back.

"Easy, now, I gotcha," Chris whispered, tightening his hold.

He took the house keys from Danny's hand, unlocked the door and led his partner inside.

"I'll be okay, now, Chris," Danny said, reaching for the light switch.

"Doesn't look that way to me, partner," Chris replied. "Come on, let's get you to bed, before you fall on your face."

Danny nodded his head and led the way down the hall to his bedroom.

"Didn't those doctors at the ER give you any pain meds?" Chris asked, as he watched Danny try to decide how to get his shoes off.

"Just told me to take some Tylenol," Danny replied, still looking at his shoes.

"All you gotta do is ask, Danny," Chris said. "Won't hurt that much."

Danny met Chris's gaze and nodded his head.

"Sit down," Chris ordered.

Once Danny sat on the edge of the bed, Chris knelt and began untying Danny's shoelaces. He took them off, one by one and then slipped off Danny's socks. Danny had already begun to unbutton his shirt, but was having a tough time maneuvering it off his shoulders without causing too much pain.

"Let me," Chris offered and again Danny agreed with a nod of his head.

Chris gently pulled the shirt back and down, easing Danny's arms out of the sleeves. He let out a small gasp when he saw the large bruise that covered half of Danny's chest.

"Pretty, ain't it?" Danny asked, raising an eyebrow.

"No, no it isn't," Chris replied solemnly.

Danny reached for the blanket, ready to pull it back so he could get under it, but Chris stilled his hand and did it himself.

"You got some extra pillows around? Might make it easier to sleep," he suggested.

"Nah, this is it."

Danny slowly maneuvered himself to lie down, sliding his legs under the blanket. Chris pulled it up and over the rest of his body.

"Need some of that Tylenol?" he asked.

"Yeah, I got some in the kitchen; cabinet next to the fridge," Danny replied.

While Chris was searching for the Tylenol, Danny thought about how his friend was acting. This hadn't been the first time he'd been hurt on the job. He'd been in fights with suspects, gotten a few bruises, almost got shot a few times… So why was this different? Why was Chris acting so… weird?

Chris came back, Tylenol in one hand, glass of water in another, and handed them to Danny, who quickly downed them both.

"Thanks," Danny said, handing the glass back.

"I guess I'll, uh, head home now," Chris said. "If you're all set," he quickly added.

"Yeah, thanks," Danny repeated. Then, as Chris turned to leave, he called, "Wait!"

"What?"

"Sit down," Danny ordered, pointing to the end of the bed.

Chris gave Danny a confused look, but inside he was suddenly nervous.

"Please?" Danny asked, and Chris sat. "What gives, Chris?" he asked. "You've been all over me like some mother hen."

"What, I'm not allowed to worry about my injured partner?" Chris balked.

"Sure you can. To a point."

"To a point?"

"To a point."

The two men sat on the bed, staring at each other. Finally, Chris couldn't take it anymore.

"You could have been killed!" he shouted, rising from the bed to begin pacing. "All I could do was watch as that asshole kicked you and then, what do I do? I shove you up against a wall, don't I? And didn't that feel good."

Danny watched as Chris continued to berate himself, still pacing the bedroom floor as he did.

"And why is this any different than, say, three months ago, when Ray Hammer's boys almost beat the crap out of me in the chop shop?" Danny asked. "You didn't act nearly as bad as this then."

"It was different then," Chris replied quickly, not thinking.

"Why?"

"Because then-" Chris stopped what he was saying; stopped his pacing.

"Because then, what?" Danny asked.

"It was just different."

"How was it different, Chris?" Danny pressed, sitting up in the bed now. "What's different, Chris?"

"I gotta go," Chris said quickly, pretending to look at his watch. "I'll see you at the station tomorrow," he added, and hurried out of the bedroom and the bungalow.

Danny slumped back onto the pillow, letting out the painful groans he'd been holding in all night. He didn't know which hurt worse, his ribs or the fact that there was something wrong between him and Chris.

Chapter Two – Two Men on an Island

They'd spent the next few weeks as if that night had never happened. Danny still hadn't understood what had upset his partner so much. So he'd gotten hurt. No big deal, just some bruises.

He'd spent a week on light duty, finishing up all their paperwork from the bank heist, going over the hostages' statements, meeting with the District Attorney's office – the usual post-case paperwork.

Chris had gone about his job as well, helping with the paperwork and meetings. He'd also helped out Sean Harrison and John Declan, working on a murder case involving a local tourist and her older, married boyfriend. Then, the two were thrust back into the drug scene after several local kids overdosed on some bad batches of Ecstasy.

They'd kept so busy, wondering if there was a full moon afoot, that they'd hardly had time to talk about the weather, much less that night in Danny's house.

But now Danny was beginning to understand Chris's point of view. He'd had his own epiphany.

As the group of police officers and their suspect walked to the waiting helicopter, Danny gave Chris a good look.

"You all right?" he asked, for probably the millionth time since meeting up in the jungle.

"I'm fine," Chris said. "Other than dying for a shower and a beer, not necessarily in that order."

"I'd go for the shower, first," Danny replied, taking a few steps away from his partner and pinching his nose.

"Ha ha," Chris sneered.

"Seriously, Chris. I'm glad you're all right."

"Me, too, partner. Me, too. Now come on, let's go home."

"Your chariot awaits," Danny said, gesturing him to take the lead and get into the helicopter.

Danny was exhausted. You'd never know it by looking at him, though. His face had a smile plastered on it. He'd just been reunited with his partner.

He'd spent the past twenty-four plus hours agonizing over the fact that he'd been forced to leave his partner and best friend alone on an island full of drug dealers, including the self appointed president of the tiny little island dictatorship. He didn't ever think he'd get that vision of Chris, hiding behind the fallen debris, shots being fired all around them, as he took off safely in the helicopter.

But that was in the past now. He'd rallied the troops, helped cause an international incident, rescued his partner, and then helped save the inhabitants, and former "bad guys," from his own countrymen. That was when he'd had his epiphany.

When he was told not to go back to the island, when he thought he might never see his partner alive again, he'd realized that it was the worst feeling in the world. He realized that he couldn't do that, couldn't survive without Chris, the man he loved.

And so as he sat in the back of the helicopter, watching his partner, who was sitting up front, next to the pilot, he smiled.

Chris chose that moment to look back. He returned Danny's smile and gave him a thumbs up sign.

"Can't wait to find out what kind of strings you had to pull for this one, Dannyboy!" he called back.

Danny was about to reply when he got a dirty look from the pilot. Remembering their deal, and the other police officers in the helicopter, he said, "I'll tell you about it later!" instead.

After more hours of paperwork than seemed necessary, with Danny still smiling enough that Chris had to wonder if his face would stay like that permanently, the partners headed for the parking lot behind the police station.

As they reached their cars, Danny looked around them. There were several officers arriving for and leaving work, just as they were.

The two men looked at each other. Chris saw something in Danny's expression, in the grin he still had on his face and if finally hit him. He smiled.

"You know," he said.

"Yeah, I figured it out."

"You, too?"

"Yeah."

"So, what should we do about it?"

"Come over to my place?" Danny asked. "Got some cold beers with our names on them."

"Sounds good," Chris replied. "I'll meet you there."