Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot. And a shiny new television, ready for when we get series 3 over here in England.
Jack stepped out of the elevator and made his way to his office, having been home to shower and change. He had given Viv the basics of Danny's condition, which she had passed on to Samantha and Martin, and now he was ready to face going into detail.
He called all three of them into his office. They all knew that the only topic of conversation was Danny, but none of them knew how to start. There was a moment of silence before Jack decided to jump straight in.
"As you know, I saw Danny last night," he began. "Afterwards, I spoke with Doctor Palmer, his psychiatrist. She's diagnosed him with major depressive disorder, most likely triggered by unresolved issues with his parents' death."
"He will be okay, though?" asked Martin.
"He'll be in the hospital for a while. He's been prescribed Prozac and, when he's up to it, he'll go to group therapy and one-on-one therapy. It won't be easy. But I have faith in Danny. I believe he's going to get through this."
"What can we do to help?" asked Viv.
"Just let him know we're there for him and that we care. That's all we can do. For now, it's in the hands of the professionals."
All four of them fell silent, each of them knowing they were not directly at fault, but feeling guilty nonetheless.
Clare Metcalfe stared at the phone, wondering if she should phone Jack. After a couple of minutes, she decided against it and went back to her magazine.
She had called him almost everyday for the last five months, ever since Danny had been hospitalised, to ask how Danny was doing. He was always nice to her when they spoke, but lately she thought she might have been making a nuisance of herself.
Recently, all the news had been good. He seemed to be steadily improving all the time. She hated that she hadn't been able to go and see him, but she understood. Danny didn't want her to see him in the state he'd been in.
The doorbell interrupted her thoughts and she went to answer it.
"Danny!" she shrieked as she threw her arms around him.
"Hi, Clare," he said, smiling as he returned her hug.
Fifteen minutes of small talk and two cups of coffee later, Clare was finally calm enough for a proper conversation.
Danny finished his coffee and leaned back in his chair.
"Ever since I've known you," he began. "I've been putting myself in your place, trying to imagine, to empathise, with the way you felt about your mother's death. But a couple of months back, I looked at it in a different way. I put YOU in MY place."
"How do you mean?"
"If it was you in the car instead of me. If your parents were arguing and you said something and your dad lost control. I kept wondering what I would say to you."
Danny took a deep breath and was about to continue, when Clare started talking.
"You would tell me exactly the same thing that I would tell you. That it wasn't your fault and they know you didn't mean to make them crash. They know that if you could, you would bring them back and they love you."
Danny blinked back tears as Clare repeated what he had said to her the night they found her by the lake.
"I guess I'd always known that it wasn't my fault, but I never really believed it until I viewed it as an outsider. I have to accept what happened that day. I have to live with it. But I no longer have to live with the blame."
For a moment they both fell into a thoughtful silence, until Danny spoke.
"By the way, Jack says hi. He told me you two have been talking on the phone a lot recently."
Clare smiled sheepishly.
"I bet he got sick of me, huh?"
"God no. He thought it was sweet that you cared so much."
It was 6am. His alarm was due to go off in an hour, but he hadn't been to sleep yet. Instead, he had spent the last seven hours lying down, staring at the ceiling.
April 7th was always hard for him. But this year it was a little better.
Danny had spent the night on Viv's couch. She'd insisted that he shouldn't be alone. He was expecting it to be a rather awkward evening, with Viv constantly watching him and asking if he was okay, but he had a really good time. He spent a good few hours playing computer games with Reggie until he went to bed, and then had yet another Mets vs. Yankees debate with Viv. He knew that she would listen if he wanted to talk about how he was feeling, but she didn't push it.
Viv had always felt the need to mother him. She seemed to sense that he needed somebody to look after him and, over the past year, she had been even more maternal towards him. And he just knew that she would insist on him having a proper breakfast before they headed into work.
He'd been back at work for nearly two months now and things were going well. So far, he'd been on desk duty to ease him back into things. But with weekly counselling sessions and the untiring support of his colleagues, he was ready to go back on active duty.
Viv glanced across to where Danny sat in the passenger seat, reading a newspaper. They were on their way into work and Danny had been quiet since they left the house. He was going back into the field next week, and she was worried how he would cope.
She knew that he had changed since he'd been ill. He was being more open with her and the rest of the team. If something was bothering him, he would talk to one of them. He had even told them some things about his past, a topic they all knew he didn't like to discuss.
He turned to her and grinned.
"Yankees lost last night. One of these days, somebody should teach them how to play baseball."
"Yeah, and afterwards they could head over to Shea."
"I'll have you know, the Mets won their last game."
"First time for everything."