Note: I started writing this story back in the fall sometime. The
first chapter was originally stand alone (and writen before the dvds
came out, so I had only seen the season finally once and didn't
remember it well), but then I decided to continue it.
Thanks to my beta readers who know where I'm heading with this and keep reading it anyway. You two are the best!
As normal, feedback and replies help the writing process and create more chapters! Enjoy!
Danny stood on the curb outside of the airport and watched Mike drive away in his car. He sighed as the taillights disappeared in the distance.
It was the middle of the night. There were only a handful of people around, even here in Las Vegas. Danny picked up his bag, straightened his uniform, turned and walked through the doors.
He had purposely asked Mike to drop him off early; a fact that no one was aware of. He wanted some time to himself before getting on the plane. He needed to get himself mentally ready to go and do what he needed to do.
As he made his way through the mostly empty airport, Danny loosened his tie. He closed his eyes as he walked. He could see Mary waving goodbye to him, only she was younger. The image was from when he left for basic training, not tonight. Sighing, he opened his eyes just in time to dodge a motorized tram heading right for him. The operator waved and nodded in Danny's direction. Danny forced himself to smile in return even though he wanted to yell at the driver.
What people saw on the outside, a strong, confident soldier headed for some unknown destination, didn't match what he felt on the inside. He was scared. He knew where he was going and he was scared that he wouldn't make it back. But this is what he was trained for and his head knew what to do, even if his heart didn't like it. He took a deep breath and ran his hand through his hair.
He stopped outside the little barbershop on the airport concourse. The man inside looked up from his newspaper and then stood up. Danny walked inside and dropped his bag.
Mary had only lasted about ten minutes before she ran out of her house and hopped into her car. It had been a wonderful goodbye, but she couldn't shake the feeling that she would never see Danny again. And that just wasn't an option for her.
She swerved around the few cars that were on the highway at this hour. She even thought she saw Danny's car heading back in the other direction. Of course, she thought, Mike is taking it home with him. Realizing that that meant Danny was already at the airport and her time was running out, she pushed the gas pedal to the floor.
In record time Mary had parked her car, probably illegally, and was running into the airport having ditched her heels outside. She skidded to a halt in front of the television monitor listing all of the flights. Only then did Mary realize that she had no idea where Danny was going. Her heart sank. Her eyes ran over the list of flights again and again, hoping one of them would jump out at her. Nothing did. She didn't know if he was flying overseas right away or somewhere else in the country first.
Mary could feel the tears building up in her eyes. She sniffled and looked around her. There was a waiting area just behind her, so she went to sit down. Something inside of her wouldn't let her leave. The airport was huge. Even with it nearly empty, there was little chance of her finding Danny. She sat there staring at the television monitor, waiting.
The more minutes that ticked by, the more Mary felt she had lost him. She watched flights disappear from the list on the monitor and wondered with each one if he was on it. Voices coming from the entrance pulled Mary's eyes from the screen across from her. Her heart jumped up into her throat. A soldier in his dress uniform walked through the door. He had his arm tightly around a young blond woman with him. Mary watched them walk up and stop to look at the flight listing. She caught the gaze of the woman and they shared a teary eyed smile. Mary looked away and listened as they discussed which gate his flight would be leaving at. Then they walked away, heading for that gate, since his boarding was scheduled to begin in the next fifteen minutes.
Mary held onto the hope that the chance of two soldiers leaving from the same airport on different flights was very slim. As she waited anxiously for the couple to disappear down the concourse toward the assigned gate, she began to wonder. The flight this soldier was on was scheduled to leave nearly an hour later than Danny had led them to believe his was to leave. She began to get nervous that maybe they were on different flights and Danny was already gone.
No, she thought, this is right; he's still here. She stood up and made her way down the hallway, wringing her hands together as she went. She had only a few minutes left, if that at all.
Mary made her way down the hall, staying close to one side. She wasn't completely sure what she was going to do if she saw Danny. The little voice in the back of her head said that he was happy with their goodbye. After all, he'd done the same thing before leaving for basic training. What would he do if he saw her here?
She stopped in her tracks. Did she want the possibility of ruining her happy memory if it wasn't the same for him? Her eyes filled up with tears. Maybe this wasn't right. She would miss him of course. And she would rather have their goodbye at her door to remember than whatever might happen here if he was angry.
She wiped her eyes carefully and straightened herself up. She ran her eyes over the hallway in front of her and up the wall across from her. Her breath caught in her chest and she gasped.
In the little barbershop, the barber made one last pass with his clippers to finish up the soldier who had wandered in. There had been some small talk, but the young man had been mostly quiet. He stared blankly ahead, devoid of emotion. The barber unfastened the cape and let the soldier up. He stood and brushed himself off, retrieving his coat from the empty chair to his right. He asked what he owed and the barber shrugged him off. He was told instead to stay safe and come home. Thanks were exchanged and the young man picked up his bag and left, headed down the hall to the gate where a plane was beginning to board.
Mary had shrunk back behind a row of lockers. She watched Danny walk out of the barbershop and run his hand over his fresh crew cut. She felt the tears running down her face and opened her mouth to call out to him. At that moment the final boarding call for the flight was called; Danny's flight. He pulled his bag up higher on his shoulder and began to run down the hallway. As he turned the corner into the gate area, Mary began to follow him. She made it down the hallway just in time to see his boarding pass returned to him and to watch him disappear through the doorway.
Mary sat down on the nearest chair and cried.