blue flamingos

3am, Wide Awake

Fandom: CSI: New York

Category/Rated: Slash, PG

Year/Length: 2006/ ~2796 words

Pairing: Danny/Mac

Spoilers: Minor spoilers for 'Charge of this Post', 'Heroes', 'On The Job' and 'Run Silent, Run Deep'.

Disclaimer: No, I don't own them, for which I should think they're profoundly grateful.

Summary: Unable to sleep, Danny runs and thinks.

Author's Notes: Written for [info]delgaserasca's Multifandom Ficathon Fest . Prompt: "I always wanted to be somebody but now I realize I should have been more specific."

Feedback: Yes please. Even if it's bad. Especially if it's bad.

hr

Unable to sleep, Danny runs. It's a holdover from his baseball days that he turns automatically to the park, but he's only gone a block and a half when he realises where he's heading and changes direction, heading down the next cross street. Even if they hadn't been in there a couple of weeks ago, processing another mugging turned homicide, he's had enough years on the job to know how dangerous places like that get in the early hours, not to mention what people get up to in parks that he just doesn't want to stumble across tonight.

He runs through empty streets instead, past dark, closed up store fronts and rows of silent, sleeping houses, flashing in and out of shadow as he jogs through the pools of light cast by the street lights. It's long past closing time, but too early for even the earliest shift workers to be up, and he has the streets to himself, beyond an occasional cat sticking its nose out to look at him with disdain. Danny sympathises: he hates being woken up in the middle of the night, unless he's being called into work and even then he'd rather stay in bed.

His footsteps seem to echo back to him, though he knows it's just his imagination, and the way he can't seem to stop straining his hearing for someone creeping up on him. He never takes his gun or his shield out with him except when he's on his way to work, and he doesn't want to end up another crime statistic, another crime scene for Mac and Stella and Hawkes to work up.

There's been enough of that lately to keep them going for months.

Danny shoves that thought away and concentrates again on the sound of his feet on the sidewalk, the way the cool night air feels going into his lungs. That's half the reason he's out here anyway, when he's due back at work in too few hours to think about, because he wants to lose himself in motion and forget about everything.

The other half is that he knows he's keeping himself awake, waiting for someone he knows won't be coming. Better to be out of his apartment, which feels weirdly empty, too big, with only him taking up any space in it. He shouldn't be so used to having someone else there with him, but he's not home much and when he is, there's usually another body in the space, in *his* space, and suddenly he misses it.

He's not thinking about this shit, Danny tells himself firmly, except that the mindless monotony of running is having the opposite effect on him to usual: now his brain doesn't have to think about crime scenes or dismantling bombs or even driving Lindsey home, it won't switch off, just gets filled with all the things he doesn't want to be thinking about tonight, or any night.

He wants to run faster, to push himself until his muscles scream with pain, distracting and absorbing. Trouble is, he hasn't been watching street signs that carefully – he's lived in this neighbourhood for four years, he can't get that lost – and he's not totally sure how far he is from his apartment. The fact that he doesn't recognise anything any more would seem to suggest pretty far, and, along with his gun and his shield, he's left his wallet at home, so he doesn't have any choice but to run back, or collapse on the sidewalk and hope someone takes pity on him rather than arresting him for loitering. The way his luck is going, the latter is far more likely, and he's not so far gone that he wants to provide that kind of entertainment for the lab. He's sick of being the centre of attention.

He feels bad for the thought, like he's brought bad karma down on them, like having the thought now could've caused everything that came before. Danny shakes his head at himself. It's bad enough to be feeling sorry for himself, without sounding like his hippie-witch neighbour with her oils and incenses that stink up his apartment at odd hours of the day and night. He ran into her in the corridor the other night, coming in late from work, like always, and she tried to palm a handful of incense sticks off on him. Danny refused, not entirely convinced that there wasn't something in them that he should be arresting her for, but she insisted, telling him they're good for stress, and depression.

Danny's not sure what to make of that comment, whether she was just saying it as a general thing or whether he really does look as worn out and worn down to other people as he feels. It's hardly surprising: they all look it these days, sort of grey round the edges, like they've seen too much that they shouldn't have seen, which Danny supposes they have. Everyone seems older and there's no reason why he should be an exception. One thing for everything that's happened, they're more like a team again, like they were before Aiden was fired, before he was accused of shooting a police officer, before Hawkes joined the ME's office, before Claire died, before, before, before, until Danny realises he can't *remember* before. Maybe they've always been this way and that's almost too depressing to think. It was one of the things that appealed about joining the police, the team spirit they seemed to have, the thing he missed most about baseball.

He thought, and he'll never tell anyone this, because it's embarrassingly geeky and just because he's a scientist, doesn't make him a geek as well, but he thought the good thing about police work would be getting to help people. He was only a patrol cop for six months, barely long enough to get used to it, before his captain decided he was too prone to snapping at the citizens and pointed out that, with a minor in chemistry on his degree, he could join CSI. Should join CSI, actually, and oh by the way, Mac Taylor's looking for a detective third grade, promotion and a transfer all in one. He knows now that the one person Mac Taylor wasn't looking for was him, but he didn't know that then and Mac must have seen something good in him or he'd never have been hired. It's easy to tell himself that now, when a year's passed since Mac told him he was advised never to take Danny on, now that they're getting along again, mostly, and it doesn't feel like Mac's waiting for a reason to fire him.

Sometimes, he still wants to force Mac to sit still, to tell him what changed, what made him stop looking at Danny like he was waiting for him to screw up again, what made him trust Danny again. As much as Danny appreciates the change, it's no easier to relax around this new Mac than it was when Mac would barely look at him, when Danny wanted to be out of a room as soon as Mac walked in. He wants to know what changed and why it changed because until he does, he's just waiting for it to change back.

Danny drops abruptly onto a bench as he's almost jogged past it, jarring his hip against the arm rail. He doesn't know how long he's been running now, but breathing hurts and he's not sure he can take another step right now. He looks round at the streets, trying to figure out where he is. When he does, he'd willingly go back to not knowing and try to retrace his route until he finds somewhere familiar.

Round the corner and across the street, is the bar where he and Aiden used to go for drinks sometimes, after she got first got fired, when she was trying to figure out what to do with her life and he couldn't talk about Mac without getting so angry his hands shook. Right around the corner, and if it wasn't closed, he could go in and be greeted by name by the bar tender and asked where his pretty friend was.

Danny's glad it's the middle of the night and the place is closed. Not that he'd go in if it was open, but this way, he doesn't need to decide.

He and Flack went to her funeral, or rather, Flack dragged him there against his will, because he said there ought to be a few uniforms there, since she was a cop, and Danny hadn't been able to come up with a convincing argument. Hadn't actually tried that hard, though he hates his dress uniform and he hates funerals and he especially hates combining the two.

So they'd gone, and stood at the back of the church, the only two uniforms in the place, and Flack, who's good at these things, had said all the right things to Aiden's brothers and her kid sister and her parents, who looked like they'd been hit with bricks, while Danny stood next to him and nodded at the right moments, because he's never been good at this kind of shit, which is another reason why he never would've made it as a patrol cop.

It was strange, listening to them talk about Aiden, because what they were saying was recognisably her, and yet at the same time not. They knew stuff that she never told him, and he was pretty sure he knew things they never would, but it was more than that, their shock at what she was doing and how she died. Aiden was his friend, probably his best friend, but she was still a cop first and everything else second.

Danny wonders, when he's feeling especially morbid, like now, what his funeral would be like. He's not so self-pitying to think that the rest of the team wouldn't show up for him, not like for Aiden – Mac said he and Stella got an urgent call, but Danny's not sure he believes him. He thinks Mac didn't want to see Aiden's parents, or explain why she wasn't working at the lab any more. They'd show up, because he still works there and they'd have to, but he can't imagine what anyone would say. He hasn't seen his parents since the first night when Louie was in hospital, and Danny explained, or tried to explain, that Louie had saved him, his job now and his life when they were kids, but he didn't explain it well and after that he made sure to time his visits so he wouldn't see them.

Louie's still in hospital, learning how to walk and talk again, and Danny doesn't know what to say to him any more. It's not easy like it was when Louie was sleeping, when he could say what he needed to and pretend like Louie could hear him. Louie didn't hear a word of it, Danny's sure now, and he can't seem to make the words come out right any more, when he wants to say 'thank you,' and 'I'm sorry,' and 'you're my big brother, I love you, I was so scared.' They've fallen back into a life-time's pattern and Danny doesn't know how to do anything else.

He sighs and pulls himself upright again. The sky's beginning to lighten, which means he needs to head home if he wants to get any sleep at all before he has to go into work again. He starts jogging, slowly, reminding his muscles that they do still work and they're gonna have to carry him home, and thinks about ringing in sick, except Mac probably hasn't slept at all, probably went straight to the lab, if he's even left the hospital yet.

He's tired now, not just physically tired from running too far after too long not running anywhere, but bone deep exhausted from too much stress and too much worry and... just too much. He'd like to fall into bed and sleep through today and tomorrow, till things are better again. Instead, he'll drag himself up and go into work, and not talk about Aiden who's gone and Flack who could be, maybe even should be, and find the answers for everyone but the people who really need them, and go home with the same questions pounding in his blood, why them, why all of this now?

He knows his neighbour would tell him it's karma, that they're atoning for something bad they did. Danny doesn't believe in that, but even if he did, it'd still be stupid, because what they do is good stuff, they help people, as dorky as that sounds. He believes in that, they all do, and that means they don't deserve what's happened over the last six months. They deserve a break, all of them, though Danny jolts awake some nights filled with trepidation, trying not to think about what might happen next. He knows now, anyway.

He seems to run home more quickly, though he suspects it's just an illusion, that or he's taking a more direct route now he knows where he's going, and he manages, finally, to fall into the routine of movement and not think.

So much so, that he's nearly half way up the street before he realises there's someone on the front step of his building. It takes him another few paces to make out that it's a man, and he thinks about just keeping going. His building attracts its fair share of homeless looking for a safe stoop to sleep on, and Danny doesn't have the energy to deal with another one of them tonight.

Then he gets another look, and he can't quite believe he didn't see it the first time.

He stops, leaning against a building, more for the shadow than the support, just to have a few minutes to think. His hands are trembling, not just from exertion and exhaustion, but from something more familiar, from nervousness and a little bit from excitement. He's still tempted to turn round and go back in the opposite direction.

Danny sneaks another peek down the street. His visitor's facing the building, the line of intercom buttons labelled with the apartments' residents, so he can't have been there long. Danny could stay where he is and wait for him to realise Danny's not getting up and leave.

Except... except this is who Danny was staying awake for, who he never thought would turn up on his doorstep in a million years, who's standing there, waiting for Danny.

For one shallow second, he wishes he wasn't wearing his oldest work out clothes, and that he'd bothered to shave some time in the last god-knows-how-many hours.

Then he shoves himself out of the building's shadow and makes his way slowly down the street.

The figure turns when Danny's a few feet from the steps, and Danny sees that he's in the same clothes he was wearing in the hospital. He came straight from there to Danny's place, didn't bother stopping off to change clothes, and Danny feels a sudden rush of something he doesn't want to think about too closely.

"Danny," he says, and he sounds as rough as Danny feels, his voice low and scratched like he's been shouting – Danny thinks, for a moment, of standing in the hallway, back in the old lab, and feeling everything collapse around him – his face drawn with exhaustion.

Danny climbs the steps carefully, absurdly worried that he'll trip on one and fall flat on his face. When he gets close enough, he reaches out for the other man's arm, and gets a hand on his elbow, something like a hug, only better, more reassuring and less claustrophobic. He tells himself firmly that he can do this, whatever it is that he's supposed to do, and fumbles in his pockets so he doesn't have to see the look in Mac's eyes.

"You want to come up?" he asks, and he doesn't need to look to know that Mac's nodding yes, or that, when he follows Danny into his apartment, the empty, too-big feeling will be gone.

Mac will tell him much later, that he stood there for fifteen minutes but didn't press the buzzer, and Danny will think of Asha, of how she'd say it was fate that drew Danny back at that moment. He won't say this to Mac, but he'll still wonder whether that counts for something or if it's just so much hippie bullshit.

Danny doesn't know any of this as he leads Mac up the stairs to his apartment, where, at least until sunrise, they can stop being cops and, for a few hours, just be men.


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