AN:This was written for challenge 2 of round 1 of tvnetwork1_las over on livejournal. I don't remember what the prompt was and the journal has been purged so if anyone else remembers it, if you message me, I will update this.
"You know how we thought this trip was going to be cool?" Dan says, tossing his tennis ball up in the air and catching it. He's lying over the row of plastic seats, his head resting on his back-pack. His t-shirt, black with the Orioles' logo scrawled in orange across the chest, is beginning to become untucked from his jeans. I can't help but think he looks exhausted, yet somehow incredibly young.
"Yep," I say, lounging back against my chair opposite.
"And how we talked about spending a week in the sun with only little bits of work?"
"And you know how everyone was kinda smiling and laughing about it?"
"I think they were conspiring against us."
I raise an eyebrow. "Do you now?"
"Yep, I think it was a big conspiracy to keep us trapped in this airport in the middle of nowhere for another day so that we'll miss the recording."
This is typical Danny. Well, typical us. But if it's his turn to come up with a stupid theory then it's my turn to laugh at him. "Yeah, that makes sense. It wasn't like Dana was pissed off at all when I phoned."
"Danny!" He sits up too quickly and the tennis ball he had thrown hits the crown of his head and bounces off into a corner. While he sits rubbing his head and making exaggerated noises of pain – if he was actually in pain he'd pretend to be fine – I snap, "She nearly bit my ear off when I told her that we stuck here overnight. And Lisa was hardly excited I couldn't take Charlie."
He freezes. "This was your weekend with Charlie?"
"Yes, alright." Of course that's enough to set him off. It's hard to know how far I can go with Danny these days. Even with everything we've been through, even with all those years where we could look at each other and just know what the other needs. I mean, Danny's always had his bad spells, his bouts of despair, but this one is by far the worst and even though everything should be fixed now we made up and the station wasn't sold … well, I'm well aware that I screwed up this time and he will take longer to heal. I know I've always been self-centered, but it was far too much this time.
"Oh Casey, I'm so sorry. I know you don't get to see him much since the divorce. It's my fault, if I hadn't been stupid enough to accept this assignment." He looks like he's going to cry. God I don't know how to deal with this, but I've got to because I didn't before and …
I walk across and sit beside him. Punch him in the shoulder. Smile. "I knew you were arrogant, but I didn't think even you would be stupid enough to think you can cause a freak storm." He raises his head from his hands, grasps my shoulder and gives me The Look.
I try and pretend he doesn't give me The Look. I really do, I always have done. The one where he stares into my eyes like I'm his world, like he's drowning and I am all he can cling on to. He only looks at me like that when he's so lost inside the darkness that he needs something to center round.
I am also well aware he's in love with me. I'm sure his therapist has something to say about his tendency to fall in love with people who can't want him back (me, the therapist whose name I can never remember, Rebecca – who'd broken him once, come back, and then left when she realized quite how broken he was – and several more who don't deserve to be remembered), but I don't think it's up to me to … I can't … If I acknowledge it I have to turn him down. I can't turn him down.
I can't let him down. I pretend it isn't happening.
"Now, as for the conspiracy, I think you're overestimating the skill of the people we work with. Last I heard Natalie and Jeremy were still arguing over whether Ron Weasley's owl was called Pig or Pigwidgeon."
Danny hides The Look and conjures a smile which, if not completely real, is on the way to being anyway. "They haven't worked out that Pig is short for Pigwidgeon yet?" He's trying for humor and he's close enough to succeeding that I can almost pretend he hasn't started shaking.
"Well who would waste that entertainment by telling them?" I pat him on the back. He relaxes slightly against my hand and I start rubbing circles on it instead. "It really isn't your fault Danny."
The smile drops before he takes he takes a deep shuddering breath and a kind of calm settles over him. "Ok."
His grip loosens slightly on my shoulder, but he doesn't let go.