Challenge/Prompt: alphabetasoup, Y is for Yearning
Summary: All she really knows is that Lindsay left for Bozeman this morning.
Author’s Notes: There’s nothing about this fic that isn’t confusingly ambiguous. I like to think it’s a literary technique but that chances are it’s not. Set at the end of 3x14.
All she really knows is that Lindsay left for Bozeman this morning (hugging tight yesterday afternoon although they’ll never really be friends for a dozen reasons and that doesn’t bear thinking about because Lindsay’s a sweet person and Peyton is beginning to suspect that she isn’t. Isn’t at all). And the streets are damp with snow. Flecks of it cling to Danny’s hair and the way he won’t look her in the eye.
Peyton pretends that she can’t feel him watching her. But it’s no good because it’s obvious that he is, an edge to him that she knows has nothing to do with her. And yet he obviously wants something because he’s here.
“Danny,” she begins, turning around. But he’s already gone. The message is clear. She can accept it or ignore it as she chooses, but she also knows this is the last point where she gets a choice. The ending to this story is bitterly inevitable. She knows, it’s happened before. Shameful.
Peyton knows how to deal with dead people, though, so she turns her attention back to blood and corpses and the angle of light reflecting off scalpels.
She takes a shower at the end of the day, water on her skin, scrubbing off the scent of death and all that she’s seen. Being a coroner’s not easy. She sees things that no one should have to see, ever. She slides her hands into cavities not made for human touch and there are some nights when she wakes, breathless. Remembering. But she hasn’t given up yet and she won’t.
Her hair is tangled around her shoulders; she scrubs conditioner through, her fingers almost too hard against her scalp, trying to get rid of things she shouldn’t be thinking. Things she doesn’t want to be thinking. It’s easy to be heartbroken here, easy to fall into patterns you can’t get yourself out of. Mac is almost too complicated and she can’t stop thinking about him pulling himself away from her hand. Refusal of her touch and if she weren’t here and it wasn’t now, Peyton might cry.
But she won’t and instead she washes the conditioner from her hair, avoiding getting it in her eyes, and reaches for her towel.
Peyton is safely wrapped in white towelling when Danny walks in, that cocky little grin on his face that makes her alternately want to hurt him and- and, well, she shouldn’t be thinking like this because most of her thinks it’s still moping over Mac and what he won’t do.
Danny offers to take her out to dinner, but Peyton can see in his eyes that there’s only one thing that he wants, and besides, there is a line. She drew it months ago, and that line involves eating dinner with Mac and just screwing Danny. A crude word, not as crude as others she could use she supposes, it’s still enough to make her wince. Besides, Lindsay left for Montana this morning, melancholy in her footsteps and trembling and it’s self-explanatory that Danny doesn’t want to be alone tonight.
There is a moment of perfect silence, and Peyton thinks about it and realises that she doesn’t exactly want to be alone tonight either. Wondering just why it is that Mac won’t love her.
In a time, a long time ago (or at least it feels like it, it’s probably only been a couple of months, funny how time passes and doesn’t pass here), Peyton used to wonder what Danny would say if he found out about her and Mac. Whether he’d feel penitent, or shrug, decide it was none of his business, and continue treating her the way he always has. A curious mixture of sweetness, indifference, and something that could almost be described as passion, but Peyton knows better and it’s just Danny and the way he deals with these things.
He’s speaking, Peyton can’t hear a word. Or maybe she just isn’t listening. She takes a step back, realising it’s an invitation, and the showers by the morgue aren’t exactly private and anything could happen. Anyone could see. Something runs up her spine and Peyton prays that it’s not the urge to hurt Mac, because she still loves him and she used to think she was a fairly nice woman before she came here and discovered otherwise. Funny the things you learn about yourself when you’re not trying.
Danny is warmth beneath her fingers, this is unhealthy, so unhealthy, her hands are shaking on his t-shirt and he has to pull it off himself, smiling in that way that’s both dangerous and hopelessly seductive. It throws Peyton slightly, the way he does that, she’s never sure what he’s trying to accomplish. If maybe this means something more to both of them than they’ll ever admit, except that would be stupid. She loves Mac so bad it has her crying when she’s alone (because she’s lost a lot of things but she hasn’t lost her pride) and Lindsay left for Montana tonight and that’s – that all she needs to know. There’s a reason for everything and this is theirs.
Peyton’s clothes are folded meticulously on the bench, navy blue and unflattering, she has proper clothing in her locker and she’ll change into it later. Danny’s clothes are messier, on the bench and on the floor around it. He doesn’t care. He backs her into the shower stall so fast she almost slips on the wet floor, but supposes that he is considerate somewhere along the line because he makes sure to remove her towel before turning the water back on.
At some point, Peyton thinks she says something like if you call me Lindsay I’ll hurt you and Danny laughs although the smile doesn’t meet his eyes and he replies as long as you don’t call me Mac, sweetheart. Peyton’s breath catches in her chest and the situation is so crazy that she can’t breathe for a second.
Mac is scared to get close to anyone. And Lindsay is gone. Both those things make sense and yet Peyton can’t figure out exactly what they’re trying to achieve here. When Danny smiles it makes his eyes look bluer and the hard – and slightly scarred – muscle beneath Peyton’s fingers should answer the question she’ll never vocalise but it doesn’t work like that.
She’s never been good at figuring out just what she wants and why. It might be a fatal flaw of some kind, but it seems Danny has the same problem. Well, at least they have something in common.
Danny leaves the tiniest of bruises on her shoulder, barely bigger than a fingertip and a beautiful shade of dark purple. It’s distracting and Peyton feels it beneath her clothes for days, even after it’s long faded.