Title: The Space Between
Rating: PG-13 (language, mostly)
Word Count: 1586
Timeline: Just before the flashbacks of "Collision." The last few lines of dialogue are from the scene with Ana and her therapist.
Author's Notes: I tried as best I could to fit this into cannon, but basically, this is AU. Bottom line: the Danni that's referred to in that episode is female here.
Ana didn't bother to yell or stomp her feet, to throw something, anything to make her stay, because she knew the other woman was already gone.
"Why?" she questioned softly, lulling herself into the idea that she was curious and not heart-broken.
Danni glanced up from the beige duffel bag nestled into the couch, shoving the last shirt of the pile inside and zipping it up.
"You know why."
Ana bit her lip, resisting the urge to scream at such a stupid response.
"No." The other woman paused and looked her over, wondering whether she was actually putting up a fight. "I need to know. Why?"
Danni shook the ebony, almost blue, hair from her eyes and moved to the CD rack, seeming almost disappointed. "Because…" She turned her back on the media player, not even attempting to sort out which were hers or Ana's. It's funny how you don't think to put your name on stuff when you're moving in, only out. "Because of everything. The job, your mother, this place-" she gestured around at the apartment, the dump they could only afford in a place where no one would recognize them. Where no one would recognize her. It hadn't seemed so run down when they'd picked it out, hands looped together and the notion that they were playing house for real still fresh. It wasn't as exciting as it once was. "The shooting."
Ana averted her eyes, the fire still lingering. "That was five months ago."
"I know." Her voice turned to frustration, "Five fucking months. And you still can't get past it. If you don't move on, then I can't move on either."
"What are you, Dr. Phil? I'm trying, alright? I have a shrink, I'm working on it!" Her eyebrows knit together at the insinuation that she somehow wasn't trying hard enough.
"A shrink that they assigned for you. If they weren't dangling your badge in front of you like a carrot in front of a horse, you wouldn't bother. Don't even try lying to me."
Ana crossed her arms over her chest , twisting her head to the side, toward the window.
She replied coolly, "Believe what you want. Don't make any difference to me."
Danni strode over to her tense form, gripping both her forearms and shaking her slightly, forcing a reaction.
"Why are you doing this?" she questioned desperately, gritting her teeth as she spoke. "We were doing so good there for awhile. But then you got shot and suddenly it's like you're a completely different person. You don't care about anything. You don't sleep. You barely eat. I look at you sometimes and it's like you're there, but you're not. I can't help you and it's killing me."
She unconsciously stepped closer, wanting Ana to hold her like she had before, before some kid had popped holes in her and she was just gone.
Ana's eyes swept over her face.
They had met just over two years ago, in a bar that was too fancy for Ana and too stuck up for Danni, but it was a holiday and Christmas bonuses had slid their inhibitions away, allowing them to afford one last hurrah before work the next Monday. The ceilings had twinkled green and red, the tiny lights seeming pale and understated.
Danni hated understated.
They'd gotten to talking over a pitcher of margaritas; it was when Ana was still fairly new to the force and Danni was between her fifth and sixth piercing, when she still worked at the tattoo parlor on fourth, and it was something about the fact that Ana had never met anyone like her, that made her take her home. But now when she stares into her eyes she doesn't see the same vivaciousness, the same ferocious approach to life that had been there on that first night. And it was Ana's fault.
"Leave." She whispered, and Danni blinked surprised.
Ana paused to step away, back towards the wall and the cold. "I want you to leave."
"You don't mean that." Danni shook her head quietly, pursing her lips. "You didn't mean it."
"I do. You can't stay here anymore." She raised her voice an octave and a tiny decibel, making sure her words were clear.
"Why can't you just let me in Ana? You just keep pushing me away. I know I don't understand what you're going through. I know that. I won't try to pretend any different. But you don't have to just…" she moved closer, filling the gap that Ana had left, raising her fingers to tease her hairline, stroke her cheek. "just cut me out."
She twisted away, stepping toward the kitchen, out of Danni's path to the door, when she finally chose that route. Ana remained silent.
"There are other ways." Ana shifted her head, but she didn't face her. "We can try again. It doesn't mean that we just give up. There's always adoption."
Ana snorted this time, spinning around to face her and when Danni looked in her eyes there wasn't a trace of the vulnerability that she'd glimpsed only seconds before. "Right. Like any adoption agency will just hand over a kid to an LA cop and her ex-junkie girlfriend."
Ana knew it was the wrong thing to say when she had phrased it in her head. This was how it had to be.
Danni recoiled, as if she'd been slapped and her features went cold, freezing into an expression of indifference, matching Ana's frost for frost.
"That's not what this is about." Her fist curled and uncurled at her side, digging her fingernails into her fleshy palm.
"Oh yeah?" It was almost a challenge.
"Yeah. This is about you, not me. It's about how fucking self-conscious you are. You think anyone would care if you stopped lying about us? You think your mom or Mike or anyone at the precinct would give a shit if you just told them truth? Hell they've probably figured it out on their own. Your mom's been asking to see this place, to meet me, for the past year and a half, you don't that's a blinding clue?"
Ana tightened her grip on her own forearms, refusing to hear her words, her arguments.
"Whatever." She raised her eyes from the floor to hers, growing ever more perturbed, "Why do you keep making this about that? You want to leave, then leave, but stop turning it into my fault." She was yelling now, edging to screaming, and she was losing control on her own emotions.
This was when the infant next door began to wail through the thin walls, reaching a pitch that got under Ana's skin.
"Shut the fuck up!" This only caused him to cry louder, edged on by the volume and the fact that his parents just switched up the sound on the television.
Danni wondered how it was that people like that could have kids at the snap of two fingers but they had to choose donor's from a list and fill out endless paper-work? That wasn't right, it wasn't fair.
But they were where they were.
"It's not his fault, Ana." She whispered, her eyes dropping like a weight in the ocean to the floor, as if she was suddenly spent of the energy to hold them up any longer.
She was out of words. Ana's tongue was dry and her throat hoarse from screaming, but the ever present tension in her limbs hummed there, unused. They couldn't just stand there frozen forever. This was the edge they were petering on, and gravity wasn't the kind to take excuses.
Ana reached out for Danni's elbow. She liked the way her fingers dug patterns into the other woman's skin, shrieking the finality they both knew was palpable, so she grabbed her upper-arm.
She knew she was hurting her, and Danni knew it wasn't about the pain or dominance. It was the struggle for power that ever threatened to topple them over. Ana was never willing to pretend that she had more needs than a potted plant, and Danni was always nudging her to ask for more, to allow someone to help her. Ana wouldn't have any of it and Danni had known from the beginning it would be the death of them.
"Just… go." Ana practically begged, and Danni knew that she need her to. Ana was sore and raw and completely vulnerable at that moment, like new skin, and if Danni wanted she could just say no. She could refuse to leave, to abandon her even though she was asking for it, and they would be okay for a little while. But Ana would still be bitter and she would still be frustrated, and all their problems would still remain the same and intact. Ana would never tell her mother the truth, Danni would never stop asking her to, needing her to, and months from now they would be here again. Just like this. Only they would be a little older and this rug-burn on all of her insides, her heart, would bleed a little faster. "Just leave."
And Danni nodded without another word, drawing back her arm and stepping away, toward the couch, her bag, her escape.
Danni left and Ana didn't try to stop her.
"So, how's Danni? You two trying to work things out?"
"There's nothing to work out. He left."
"You okay with that?"
"I guess you could say I'm one of those people that's just better off alone."