TITLE: Mandatory Weekly Bonding Activity
SUMMARY: Danny goes to Terra for some advice.
PAIRING: Danny/Lindsay and Flack/Terra implied
DISCLAIMER: I own absolutely nothing. Everything belongs to CBS and Jerry Bruckheimer.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Fourth in the Terra Fabula series. Takes place approximately three months after "Ghosts in the Wind" and follows the canon set forth in that fic. If you haven't read that yet, now might be a good time. Otherwise, you'll be a little confused.
And, yes, I am writing these out of order, so you didn't miss the second or third fics, because I haven't written them yet.
A lot of people assume that Danny is from Staten Island, because Carmine is from Staten Island, and because they've never actually come out and said where he's from. However, after repeated viewings of the episodes and discussing things with my roommate, we have arrived at the conclusion that he probably grew up in the Bronx.
Mandatory Weekly Bonding Activity
Danny had grown up in New York City – born and raised in the Bronx – and he could count the number of times he had been to the Met on one hand. He was not a museum kind of guy, and the Met seemed too pretentious for someone of his caliber to even set foot through the doors, so the only times he had ever been there were under extreme duress – once for a school trip, once with an ex-girlfriend, and once accompanying Terra to some black tie benefit.
Terra loved the Met. Danny never quite figured out why. But it was her turn to choose their mandatory weekly bonding activity, and she wanted to come to the museum and see the new Greek and Roman wing, so Danny reluctantly made the trip into Manhattan to meet her.
The mandatory weekly bonding activity was almost never weekly. Danny's schedule was so haphazard that they were lucky if they could make the events monthly. They had been doing them for about four years. Prior to that, their outings basically consisted of hanging out at a sports bar until all hours of the night, but they both soon grew increasingly tired of the bar scene. So Terra had come up with this alternative as a way for them to spend time together. They alternated as to who got to choose the activity, and he supposed it was only fair that she drag him to the Met, as last time he'd forced her to go to the batting cages, and her arm was still in a sling.
He had to admit, though, that he got a kick out of being able to beat her at something. For as coordinated as she was, she sucked at baseball.
She was sitting on the steps when he arrived, the corner of a nicotine patch visible from underneath the sleeve of her T-shirt. She was obnoxiously chomping on a piece of gum, her left leg bouncing up and down with restless energy. She nodded in greeting and rose to her feet, slinging her bag over her shoulder.
"No complaints," she grinned, "and you're here on time. You must want something."
Danny rolled his eyes, though she wasn't entirely inaccurate. She'd suggested the Met more than once, and he usually complained until she changed her mind. He hadn't put up a fuss this time because he needed to talk to her, and the better mood she was in, the easier it would be. "Just the pleasure of your company."
Terra laughed and shook her head. "Doesn't everyone?"
She paid for both of their admissions before Danny could even get his wallet out, shooting him a pointed look over her shoulder as she handed the cashier her credit card. Danny smirked and flicked his eyes to the sign above his head, revealing that the suggested donation for entrance was up to twenty dollars now. The one time Danny had had to pay to get in, though, he dropped a quarter on the counter without a second thought. He must have told Terra that story.
"Museums should be free," he grunted as he affixed his pin to the collar of his shirt.
Terra snorted and dropped her wallet back into her bag. "You are such a whiner. I swear. I don't know how Monroe stands it."
Danny raised his eyebrows. "I thought she was Lindsay now."
Terra furrowed her brow and was silent for a minute. "Force of habit."
He pursed his lips. It was something Terra did, as a way of keeping people at a distance. She only referred to people by their first names if she liked them and was comfortable around them. If she didn't like a person, or didn't know him all that well, she used his last name. It had taken her almost two months to call him 'Danny', yet only a few days to call Flack 'Don'. And he'd thought she was more comfortable with Lindsay after their unintentional double-date to Coney Island the week before. Lindsay claimed that the two women had bonded over he and Flack acting like asses.
"Look, if things are going to be problematic – "
She cut him off with a wave of her hand. "I'm just not used to actually liking your girlfriend," she said with a wink.
He stared at her, narrowing his eyes, attempting to gauge the sincerity of her remark. She seemed genuine, and he really didn't want to push it, but it was important to him that she and Lindsay got along. If he ever had to choose between them, he wouldn't hesitate to pick Lindsay, but he didn't want to have to make that choice. Terra gave him a half-smile and wandered off, heading straight through the gate into the Greek and Roman wing. Danny followed her to a statue of an Athenian warrior that was mostly intact, save for its left arm, which was missing from the elbow. The plaque on the base read "statue of a wounded warrior".
"Think he's wounded because he's missing an arm?" Danny asked. Man, that guy in the statue was ripped. He'd need a few thousand reps on his ab lounger to get anything close to that. What the hell did they do in Rome to get a six-pack like that?
"You're just jealous of his six-pack," Terra teased. "How many sit-ups a day are you up to now?"
They wandered through the wing, and Danny made as many wisecracks as possible, earning him more than one glare from the other patrons who were silently observing the relics. Terra ignored him with practiced patience and attempted to keep his attention diverted by asking him about work. He launched into a full account of his most recent case, which he'd wrapped the day before. He entertained Terra for a good twenty minutes with the Tale of the Tormented Trombonist, who apparently was so pissed off that the guy who sat next to him in orchestra kept going flat that he bludgeoned him with a metronome and shoved him in a tuba case.
"I'll tell that to my mother the next time she mentions that I should have played an instrument." Her voice was sad, and he realized that she was probably envious; she was still on suspension.
"When are you supposed to start back?" he asked.
There was something in her tone that gave him pause. "You not looking forward to it? I figured you'd be bouncing of the walls waiting to go back."
She shrugged and folded her arms protectively across her chest, leaning forward to examine a piece of jewelry in the case before them. "I assumed, when they took me out of the field, that I wouldn't get shot."
Danny frowned, not liking the direction in which this was going. "You nervous about going back?"
Terra shot him a glance that he couldn't read and returned her attention to the display case. "Not every day you get shot. It makes you think."
He chewed on his lower lip, wondering if he was the person who should be talking to Terra about this. It was no longer his job, really. It wasn't that he wouldn't have gladly consoled her, or advised her on what she should do, but he had a feeling that Terra pouring out her fears to him meant that she wasn't confiding in the person she should be confiding in. "You talk to Flack about this?"
She smiled softly. "Don's a cop. He had his stomach blown open and went right back to work."
"What, you think he won't understand?" He didn't mean it to be accusatory, but that was how it came out.
She groaned quietly. "Cut me some slack. You of all people know how long it's been since I've been in a relationship this…serious. I'm accustomed to coming to you." She jammed her hands in her front pockets. "He hates it. I know he does. But it's – "
"Force of habit," Danny finished for her.
"So what do you want?" Terra asked, clearing her throat. She moved over to examine a statue from ancient Greece that was only a torso. She cocked her head to the side to get a different view, and he glanced around the room searching for anything slightly more interesting. Something with limbs, maybe?
"What makes you think I want something?"
"Danny, come on. You hate this place. Last time I brought you here, I practically had to handcuff you, and that was with the promise of free food and an open bar." She turned to face him, leaning lightly against the base of the statue. "Pony up, Messer. What's going on?"
He sighed heavily and ran a hand through his hair, making it stand up. This was something that had been weighing on his mind for a long time now, and it was completely foreign to him. He certainly couldn't talk to Lindsay about it, and he and Flack weren't on the best of terms right now. He would rather die before asking Mac for this sort of advice, and going to Stella just seemed too weird. So, really, that only left one option. "I want us to move in together."
Terra smirked. "I like you, Danny, but I think your girlfriend would mind."
It took him a few seconds to figure out what the hell she was talking about, and he belatedly realized just how he had phrased his statement. "Don't get cute, Terra. I'm having some serious issues here."
"Oy," Terra mumbled, bringing her hands up to rub her temples. "This sounds like the type of conversation that requires being seated." She took a deep breath and glanced up at him. "What, specifically, are your issues?"
Danny blinked. Truth be told, he wasn't entirely sure. He had been considering asking Lindsay to move in with him for weeks now, but something stopped him. They had only been dating – really dating – for about three months, but it felt like they had been together longer than that. After everything they had been through together, it seemed like they had been a couple forever. But still, he feared that he would rush Lindsay, and he didn't want to do anything to pressure her. He didn't want to screw things up, now that they were finally where they should be.
There was a part of him – a fairly large part – that feared he would screw things up irrevocably, if only because the longest relationship he had ever been in was with Terra, and they had never been in a relationship. Three months was the most amount of time he had ever seriously dated one woman, and he was just waiting for the moment when he would muck everything up. He couldn't help thinking of all the ways things could go to hell on him, and the idea of Lindsay leaving him was too much for him to bear.
Terra cocked an eyebrow at him, waiting for him to explain. His words tumbled out in a rush. "It's just, you know, d'you really think I'm ready for something like this?"
She titled her head to the side and stuck out her lower lip in a pout. "I don't think anyone can ever be ready for something like that."
He groaned. "Now is not the time to wax philosophical. I could really use your help."
"You want my help?" Terra snorted. "What the hell do I know about living with someone? I'm 28 years old, and I live with my brother." Danny snickered at that, and she thumped him hard on the shoulder. "I'm not waxing philosophical, I'm being honest. This is a huge step you want to take, Boomer – and it's a step you've never taken before. And even if you had, Lindsay isn't like any of the women you've dated before. So it would be a completely different experience. This isn't a test you can cram for. You can't prepare for something like this."
She sighed and ran her tongue along her teeth. "Do I think you're ready?" she repeated. "No, I don't. But no one ever is, not for that. And, anyway, does it really matter?"
He was silent, for a moment, turning over what she'd said in his mind. Was him being ready even an issue? If he weren't ready, he doubted he would have entertained the idea of asking her. So what was the problem? What was it that was really stopping him from physically posing the question to Lindsay?
"I don't want to screw things up," he told her honestly, hoping that the waver in his voice wasn't as pronounced as it sounded.
"I have faith in you," Terra murmured, patting him on the cheek. She brushed past him to move into the next room. He followed, not even bothering to look at any of the pieces on display. "Are you afraid of rushing her? Taking things too far too fast?"
"Something like that," Danny admitted, addressing his reply to the floor. Even with Terra, this type of stuff was not easy for him to discuss. He coughed, uncomfortable, and tucked his thumbs into the waistband of his jeans.
Terra kept her eyes on the sculpture in front of her. "It seems to me that every problem in life comes down to a series of simple questions. Do you love Lindsay?"
"Yes." The answer was automatic. Like breathing. Lindsay was practically the only thing in his life that made sense. At times, he wondered if she were the only thing that had ever made any sense. Being without her was like being without oxygen. He knew that he loved her as soon as she volunteered to go undercover to snag Ghedi. He knew that he couldn't live without her when she went to Montana and he was forced to. He barely survived those few weeks when she was gone. The only thing that got him through was the knowledge that she would be back.
"Do you want to live with her?"
"Yes." It wasn't as automatic as before, but there was still no hesitation in his response. He loved the idea of her crawling into his bed every night, of waking up next to her every morning. He wanted cozy nights spent on the couch, curled up under a blanket, watching one of those chick flicks he claimed to despise yet secretly loved. He wanted to cook her dinner every evening; he wanted her to be there when he got off shift, and he wanted to see her walk through the door after her day at work.
"Then I don't see a problem."
He really hated when she was right. "I guess not." He just couldn't shake the nagging feeling in the back of his brain.
"I don't believe you're a commitment-phobic, if that's what you're thinking," she said, as she leaned forward to read the plaque. "I just think you hadn't found the right person to commit to until now. And rest assured that if you do screw this up, I will kick your ass for being the dumbest person on the planet."
Danny had no doubts that she would, in fact, do just that. "How'd you get to be so smart?"
She smiled. "Years of practice."