Mind and Vision by InSilva
Disclaimer: oh, I don't own Danny.
Summary: early Danny in "Body and Soul" verse.
A/N: yet another fic on the go? Well, this makes complete sense, doesn't it? :) This is (probably) going to be a lot shorter than "Body and Soul". But I just felt it was needed. Not by you, the reader, maybe, I'll grant you. But definitely by me.
Chapter One: Introductions
The first time Danny saw someone lift a wallet was at his cousin Cynthia's wedding reception.
He was sat underneath a table with a large plate of buffet contraband. One wedding guest had remarked loudly to another that she considered it vulgar not to have a sit down meal at the reception but Danny didn't mind so much. He had managed to secure several intricate things on sticks, some fancy sandwiches and a host of sticky, sweet stuff that he wasn't too sure about but was willing to try in order to have an opinion.
The tablecloth in front of him was arranged into scalloped drapes and he was delighted to have found what was firstly a sanctuary from Abigail, Cynthia's sister, the nine-year-old bridesmaid, who seemed to think her seven and three-quarter-year-old cousin was fair game; secondly, it hid him from his mother and her insistence on cleaning his face with her own spit (and what was that about?); thirdly, it afforded him an excellent view of the room.
Little groups of giggly, young women and smiling, young men; elderly women nodding wisely at each other; older men with drinks in one hand and cigars in the other.
Then, Danny saw him. A man in a tux with dark hair and the twinkling eyes and the charming smile. Something made Danny watch him as he span from one group to the next. It was like a dance and it twice brought him closer to Danny.
"You're with the groom? Ah, I'm the second cousin of the bride. Yes, she is a beautiful girl…"
The second time, he was an old friend of the groom. It made Danny take even more notice of the man. Food forgotten, he watched the man exchange groups expertly. And then he saw the lift. A casual bump, an apology and the man's fingers had lightly delved into the jacket of another and come away with property that was not his.
Dumbstruck, Danny saw it happen again and again and then the man was heading out of the room and away and Danny was spurred into action. He scrambled out from underneath the table and chased after the man. The thief (Danny had seen and heard enough cop and robber shows to know the term applied) - the thief had a headstart but Danny had the advantage only a determined seven-nearly-eight-year-old could have.
He caught up with the man just outside the main room and laid a hand on his arm.
"I saw you," he blurted out.
To the man's credit and Danny's surprise, he didn't say "What?" or deny it or anything. Instead, he pulled Danny into a room laid out with wedding presents and an elaborate cake and sat down on a chair, motioning to the one opposite.
"I'll stand," Danny said firmly.
"Well, if you must, you must," the man said lightly.
"I saw you," Danny repeated angrily.
"Oh, you got me, kid, bang to rights."
The man's eyes were twinkling and Danny flushed. Then the man smiled. An open, friendly, completely captivating smile.
"All I'm doing, kid, is evening things up a bit. You see in this world, some people have got more than others. They had more than me. Now, they don't." He shrugged. "Now, it's fair."
Danny thought this over and then frowned. "That doesn't make sense. Now, you have more than they do. So you should give it back."
"But I don't want to."
"But…you should." Danny was very certain on that point.
"But I'm not going to," the man said with a smile. "Which leaves us with what you're going to do about it. Not a squealer, are you?"
No, no, he wasn't. Not even when he'd heard his two half-brothers - who were what? Twenty? Thirty years older than he? – heard them talking about their father (his father) being a soft, old fool and his mother as a – Danny knew that was a bad word. He hadn't said anything at the time. Not even to Luis and Maria. No, he wasn't a squealer.
The man was speaking again.
"I guess I'd better stay here while you go and fetch someone."
Danny nodded. That sounded like a plan. His eyes narrowed.
"You won't leave?"
"Cross my heart and hope to die," the man said solemnly.
And when he returned breathlessly, having dragged along the first adult he recognised who turned out to be Cole and they'd found the room with the empty chair and Cole had given him an exasperated cuff about the head, Danny had learned that men could lie as well as steal.
"He didn't even look sorry," Danny explained over a bowl of homemade soup and fresh bread.
"That's because he probably wasn't," Luis pointed out, banging his pipe out on the kitchen table and ignoring Maria's scolding look.
"But he should have been," Danny said and took another mouthful of the soup, part of him wondering why food eaten in the kitchen with Luis and Maria tasted ten times better than any meal eaten in the formal surroundings of the dining room; another part of him knew the answer to that one.
Luis filled the pipe with tobacco and took his time pressing the leaf into the bowl. Danny loved the look of concentration on his face that implied there was an art to a well-lit pipe. He was also aware that the delay was related to the fact that Maria's scolding would turn verbal and possibly physical if Luis dared to light the pipe before Danny had finished eating. And since he liked both of them very much and since Luis and a pipe meant either a game of cards or a story or, if he was lucky, both, he raced through the rest of the soup.
The dishes cleared away, Luis had poured himself a whisky and reached into a dresser drawer and found the pack of cards.
"Bridge," he said to Maria before she started. "I'm teaching the boy bridge."
Bridge sounded respectable and part of a set of social skills that would be helpful in life. It was not at all what they were playing.
"Five card draw," Luis explained as Maria busied herself with the washing up and Danny nodded. They'd played this before.
"The thing is," Luis went on as he dealt the cards, pipe between his teeth, "the man had a point."
"A point?" Maria's ears were sharp. "You going to tell little Danny it's a good thing to steal?"
"The point is," and Luis glared at Maria until her lips pursed and she turned back to the sink, "that not everyone in this world is blessed equally."
Danny looked at his hand. A pair of sixes.
"I'll take three. You mean with money?"
"Money, for sure. Money is part of it. But I was thinking of other riches."
The three new cards were all Jacks. Danny's fingers tightened on the cards.
"No, no, no." Luis was smiling. "You don't give yourself away like that."
There was a short discussion on the importance of controlling any tells and then the hands were redealt and the game continued as Luis puffed on his pipe and Danny wondered if he was going to get the rest of what the point was.
Eventually Maria put the bottle of whisky down beside Luis and a cup of cocoa down beside Danny and as she poked the kitchen fire and then started in on tomorrow's vegetables, Luis started speaking again.
"I remember back in Spain when I was young, the lesson to be learned was how one should act in this life."
Felipe. Danny knew it. It was going to be a Felipe story. He sipped his cocoa and waited.
"In the little village where I grew up – I have told you about my little village, haven't I?"
Danny nodded impatiently. Luis began nearly every story like this.
"Mmm. I thought so. There were rich men and there were poor men and my family was very poor. And our neighbours were very poor, too. And their son was my best friend. His name was Felipe."
Danny inwardly mouthed the last four words along with Luis. Felipe figured often in Luis's stories. He was a year younger than Luis but that seemed to be the only difference between them. He and Luis were closer than anyone could imagine. They hid out in private little dens that only they knew about and they charmed food out of the women cooking and they skipped school and they played innumerable tricks on the people in the village and they lived a life that Danny yearned for without realising.
"Felipe and I soon came to understand in this life that some people have great heart. Great goodness of spirit. Generosity and love to spare. And they are not always the people who with the most money." Luis paused and then clarified, "They are rarely the people with the most money."
Well, that was probably true. Danny couldn't say that he felt much goodness of spirit emanating from Cole or Randall or, if it came to that, his mother and father. And they certainly all had money.
"So there are those with riches of a different kind. The haves. And there are those with physical wealth and nothing else. The have nots. Felipe and I liked to even things up occasionally."
The story went on involving the schoolteacher who was too poor to ask the prettiest girl in the village to marry him and a pig that was sold many times over in order to raise enough gold that Felipe and Luis could leave a sack of it on the poor man's bed and then watch as he woke up and cried.
The fire was dying now and Danny's eyes were closing even though he was fighting to keep them open. And Luis's pipe had gone out as he slumped further back in the chair, the bottle of whisky now three-quarters drunk, his words fewer and rambling and even though he spoke perfect English, he was now muttering in his native tongue.
"Time for bed, Danny," Maria whispered and he sighed and nodded and slipped away.
That night, Danny lay in bed and stared at the ceiling and thought about Luis and Felipe. He knew the truth from Maria who had sighed and told him one day when he had pressed and pressed her for information and she had run out of patience.
Luis and Felipe had loved each other as brothers and friends and something so much more involving honour and a code and everything that mattered in the world. They had grown up together and they had lived alongside each other and they had enlisted at the same time and they had fought side by side in the Spanish Civil War. And Felipe had died. Young and valiant and never knowing life beyond eighteen.
Danny had cried long and hard about that. It seemed so very unfair. And it wasn't as if he was ungrateful that Luis had left Spain and come to America and met and married Maria. It wasn't as if he wasn't thankful that the pair of them had come to be in service in his household because truthfully, they were warm little parts of his world. But Danny couldn't help thinking about the pain of loving and losing and part of him wanted a happy ending that just wasn't there.