By the Lights of Brooklyn
"Pull over," Danny says, and Mac looks at him in surprise. They're at least half a dozen blocks from the nearest subway station -- half a dozen dark, desolate blocks, and the train that goes through that station will still take Danny nowhere near anyplace he might want to go -- and Mac can't imagine that Danny is intending to walk back to the city over the bridge.
"Pull over, I said." Danny's tone is sharper now, and Mac first slows, then stops the car, letting the engine idle.
"You're not intending to walk, are you?" he asks.
"No, I'm not intending to walk," Danny says. "Give me a fucking break."
"Then what's the problem?"
"What do you think? Same fucking problem it always is."
They had been driving in silence for close to ten minutes before Danny told him to pull over; Mac had thought that the issue was, if not entirely settled, at least a done thing for the time being. He sighs and turns the wheel, angling the car into a more orderly line in what passes for a parking space on this dead-end street, then cuts the engine.
"We talked about this, Danny," he says.
"No, we didn't," Danny says. "You talked. You told me why it wasn't an issue. Excuse the fuck outta me if I still think it is."
"I explained to you the reasoning behind my -- "
"Yeah, yeah you did." Danny is staring straight ahead, not looking at him. "You packaged it up all neat and pretty, nice little bow and everything. Words don't mean shit, Mac, you should know that. It's all about intent."
"And what was my alleged intent?" Mac asks.
Danny laughs at that, though not the way he laughs when he finds something genuinely funny. "Ain't nothing alleged about it, Mac," he says. "Fact of the matter is you don't trust me. Still, after everything that's happened. And we both know it."
"That's not true," Mac says. He can feel the anger rising in his throat, and can hear it in his voice. It's the unfairness of Danny's accusation that really gets to him, he thinks. To imply that he could still think like that after all this time and after their earlier discussion...it defies belief. Mac thinks all this, but the only thing he can say is, "It's not true at all."
"No, it is true," Danny says. He turns in his seat to face Mac. "If it wasn't, you would just let me do my job. And you wouldn't check up on me behind my back."
"I wouldn't check up on you behind your back if you didn't give me reason to," Mac says.
"See, that? Right there? Proof fucking positive, Mac," Danny says. "Quit trying to dress it up."
Mac suddenly wishes that he could see Danny's face better; although he suspects he wouldn't like whatever he might find there, it's better to know than to be caught by surprise. But there are no nearby streetlights, and while the light from the dashboard does nothing, Mac can't bring himself to turn on the overhead. There's the bridge, but Danny is facing away from it, and so it backlights his head and throws his face into deeper shadow. There's no help there.
"I had good reason to check up on you," he says. "You'd already gotten aggressive with one witness, and you did it after I'd already told you that the angle you were pursuing was a dead end. You -- "
"It didn't feel like a dead end to me," Danny says, and Mac can't help sighing again. They've already had this argument.
"You had no proof to back that up," he says.
"Isn't that the whole point of investigating in the first place?" Danny says. "So we can get the proof?"
"Chain of evidence," Mac says. "You know that as well as I do."
"Yeah, I do, and I went and found the fucking chain." Danny slams the flat of his hand against the dashboard. "Don't you even try to tell me that I didn't."
"After I had a talk with you about it."
"You mean after you butted in when you didn't need to?" Before Mac can say anything, Danny holds up his hand. "Sorry. Yeah, okay. After you talked to me, I went back and got the evidence. And, by the way? I'd like to point out that the asshole I got maybe a little testy with, nothing bad came of that. Matter of fact, he wound up spilling some of what we needed to know."
"That was luck, Danny," Mac says. "It could just as easily have gone the other way."
"Yeah, but that's true whether we got the evidence or not. Anyway, it didn't." Danny pauses. "And then there I was, following the chain of evidence and the whole fucking shebang, and then I question another suspect. And then I find out from Scagnetti that you went to him and asked how I conducted myself during interrogation. Fucking Scagnetti came to me and told me that, 'cause he thought I should know how you were checking up on me. What the fuck am I supposed to do with that, Mac, huh? You wanna tell me that? You know how fucking humiliating that is?"
Mac feels a brief flare of shame as Danny's words spill over him. He fights it; he did nothing wrong. "I had to make sure, Danny. I couldn't take the risk of anything going wrong. We can't jeopardize our investigation."
"You mean we can't jeopardize your department. Your precious fucking department." Danny spits the words out.
"You know that -- "
"Like it's not important to me, too," Danny rushes on. "You think you're the only one who gives a good goddamn about the lab? That's fucking bullshit, Mac."
"I know you care," Mac says, trying to keep his voice calm. And he does; deep down, he's known that all along. "It's just that -- "
"Just that you don't trust me."
"I do trust you, Danny." Mac sits up straight, leaning forward in his seat. He's not sure if Danny draws back a little or if that's his imagination. "You need to get that through your head. Dammit, if I didn't trust you, we wouldn't even be here right now."
He becomes suddenly aware that his voice has risen nearly to a shout, and he tries to compose himself. He plays back his last words in his head and realizes they could be taken the wrong way, and so he tries to clarify. "During the Tanglewood case, Danny. I don't mean to -- I know what Louie did, but if..." He stops himself. They've never talked about this, and he's never considered his role in that whole series of events in any detail, not really. Nor had he ever intended to use that role as leverage with Danny. It hadn't been worthy of close examination; he had done what he'd needed to do for Danny, that was all. Anything else was just...beside the point.
"I know," Danny says. "I know what you did for me during all of that. And -- and after." For the first time since Mac pulled the car over, Danny sounds a little uncertain, and he's silent for a moment before going on. "Don't think I've forgotten, or that I don't appreciate it, 'cause I do."
"It's not about appreciation, Danny," Mac says. "I didn't mean that."
Danny waves at him impatiently. "Yeah, I know. And look, that's all well and good. But that was...you gotta trust me with the everyday stuff, too, otherwise what's the point?"
"I trust you." Mac wonders how many times he'll have to say that.
"You got a funny way of showing it. Yeah, you came through for me during Tanglewood." Danny turns and faces forward again, and the distant lights hit his face now; Mac sees him blink. "Louie came through for me, too, when my ass was in the fire, you know? But he still -- I mean -- that night we were gonna go to AC, and all those years after that..." Danny shakes his head. His eyes are glittering, or maybe it's only the lights from the bridge.
Mac is silent, and then Danny clears his throat. "Anyway. It's the day-to-day shit that counts, is my point." His tone is dull now; he sounds exhausted.
"Look," Mac says, and then tries to think how to continue. "I won't apologize for doing what I thought was best for the investigation," he says -- and how many times has he said that, too, or something very much like it? "But I'm sorry if my actions made you feel like I didn't trust you."
"If you got a problem with me, talk to me. That's all I'm saying. Not Scagnetti. Or Hawkes, or even Flack."
"I did talk to you, Danny," Mac says, feeling angry all over again. "That's what started this, if you recall." Because Danny hadn't wanted to hear it; of course he hadn't. Danny had gotten defensive as soon as Mac had brought up his concerns about the case, and then had flown off the handle. From there, the situation had deteriorated predictably.
"You don't talk. You lecture." Danny's voice is still flat and lifeless, and Mac feels a twist of fear in his chest in spite of himself. This attitude -- the blind anger followed by blank affect -- is as troublingly familiar as the rest of their argument has been. It's all too much like last spring, a time he'd thought they'd put behind them for good, too much like that idiotic thing with the living statue performer and Minhas and all the rest of it. He doesn't want to find himself back in that place with Danny. Not again.
"Danny..." He hears the faint pleading note in his voice, and hates it. "I'm sorry if we misunderstood each other," he says. "You're a good detective. But if you want me to talk to you when these issues come up, you have to be willing to really talk. Not just lose your temper the second I ask a question."
"Fine," Danny says. "Let me do things my way and I won't."
"As long as your way is supported by the chain of evidence and doesn't run counter to department standards, that won't be a problem." They have been here before, Mac thinks wearily.
"And I apologize for going to Scagnetti." Mac realizes that he means it. "That won't happen again."
"Great." Danny raps his fist on the dashboard again, the gesture less vicious than earlier, then suddenly slumps back in his seat. "Thanks."
"Are we good, then?" Mac asks.
"Sure, we're good." Danny still isn't looking at him. Mac reaches over and puts a hand on his shoulder, and as he does, he feels the knotted muscles tense even more.
"Still coming over?" he asks.
Danny shrugs, looking down at his hands, which are curled loosely in his lap. "I don't know."
Mac starts to work his fingers into one of the knots in Danny's shoulder. "I'd like you to," he says. It's what they both need right now: it'll be tension release as much as a way to get back in sync with each other, and anyway, he's been thinking about this all week. They've both been too busy, their shifts stretching out to insane hours, and it's been eight days since the last time they were able to spent any quality time alone together.
In that time, they've kissed only once, a clandestine encounter in the stairwell the day before the trouble had started. That sort of thing was supposed to be strictly verboten during working hours, but when Danny backed him into the wall, Mac hadn't been able to stop himself from kissing back, and Danny had been grinning smugly by the time they finally broke apart.
"Yeah, but how can you trust me to be in your bed when you can't trust me on the job?" Danny says now, and pulls away.
Mac feels another burst of anger and tries to tamp it down. This isn't how it's supposed to go, not now when Danny has agreed that they're good. "I'm sorry you feel that way," Mac says, and leans back in the driver's seat.
"It's not that I don't want to," Danny says. "I mean, it's been like what? Eight days now? Don't mind telling you I'm getting pretty horny over here."
"I'm sure we could -- "
"Of course," Danny goes on, "I could probably take care of that right here."
Danny's just trying to get a reaction, Mac tells himself. Just trying to provoke, the same way he always does when he's pissed off. "Do you want to come over or not?" he asks, and puts his hand on the ignition. "Let's just -- "
"No." Danny puts a hand over his and stops him from turning the key, then edges a little closer, leaning across the seat. "You know, that's actually not a bad idea," he says, and his voice is soft and thoughtful now.
"Danny, stop," Mac says, but he's not trying to start the car, and when Danny moves his hand away from the ignition, he doesn't fight him.
"You didn't trust me today, you don't get to touch me tonight," Danny says, still in that soft voice. "Doesn't mean you shouldn't see what you do to me." He starts to unbuckle his belt.
"Danny, this is..." Mac takes a deep breath, watching as Danny unzips his pants. "This isn't an appropriate place for this sort of -- activity. We could -- "
"Yeah, I know, we could get caught," Danny says calmly. "Chances are we're not gonna, though. Too isolated around here, and even if there is that tiny little element of risk..." He edges closer and lets his hand brush over the collar of Mac's shirt. "You like it when we take risks."
"No, I don't."
"Liar." Danny's smile is all teeth.
Mac reaches out, meaning to touch his face or shoulder, but Danny catches his hand again and sets it down in his lap. "No, you just sit over there. And I'll sit over here -- " Danny settles back into the passenger seat. " -- and I can..." He slides a hand into his open pants, freeing himself, and Mac sees that he's already hard.
"Oh, yeah," Danny whispers, and slips lower in the seat as he starts to stroke himself. The movement of his hand is slow at first, a deliberate riff along the length of his erection, one finger and then another, up and down. "I used to fantasize about you when I jerked off," he says, and that he can sound so conversational even now is not to be believed. "Yeah. Used to imagine what it'd be like to have you fuck me. Get your hands -- " He gasps a little as he runs his thumb across the head of his shaft. " -- on my cock or in my ass, get you to just...shove it in. Fuck me, suck me, whatever. Just do -- do it either way and get in nice and deep."
Danny's hand starts to move faster now, and he squeezes himself tightly for a moment, arching up from the seat a little. Mac realizes that he hasn't offered a word of protest -- that he has, in fact, been sitting here and not moving a muscle, transfixed by Danny's gracefully-moving fingers and by the stiff line of his erection against his shirt and open pants. Light blue shirt, Mac thinks vaguely, as if he'll later be asked to note this detail. Black pants. And Danny's cock, white skin shading to red. Beads of moisture at the tip, or maybe that's just Mac's overheated imagination supplying a detail he can't possibly see in the low light.
v He should protest this, he thinks, and he opens his mouth, but instead of words, instead of denial or objection, what he hears fall from his lips is an indeterminate sound deep in the back of his throat that's very close to a groan.
"Just like that," Danny says, and sinks even lower, legs spread and hand moving faster yet. "And wonder -- I'd wonder what it'd be -- God -- what it'd be like to fuck you. Suck you, make you..." His voice trails off into a harsh, shuddering breath. "Make you come. Your -- cock, and..."
Danny's eyes are closed, his head flung back against the seat. His hand is a blur now, squeezing and stroking in a rhythm almost too quick to follow. His mouth falls open, tongue slicking along his teeth and lips, and Mac stares at the smooth line of his throat as he rocks his hips, pushing roughly into his own touch.
He's just as hard as Danny is, Mac realizes, his dick a throbbing, straining ache inside his pants. He doesn't -- can't -- make a move to touch himself, can only sit here as he's been all along, hands clenching and unclenching in his lap, gaze fixed on Danny.
"Mac," Danny says, and his voice is a rasp. "You -- you make me -- make me...fuck, fuck oh God." The last words are nearly a wail as he arches and comes, hips snapping up off the seat, mouth wide open and the tendons in his neck standing out in clear relief. Whatever he was going to say is lost in a moan.
Mac closes his eyes, then, too, shutting them tight, and his fingers are digging into his thigh as Danny comes beside him.
It's quiet in the car then for a little while, deep silence broken only by Danny's uneven breathing. When Mac opens his eyes, he's nearly blinded by the bridge lights overhead. It takes him a moment to uncurl his fingers, and then he steels himself to look over at Danny. When he does, Danny is staring up at the ceiling of the car, mouth still open a little, cheeks flushed. As he watches, Danny draws in several deep breaths, pressing a hand to his chest, then sits up straight and looks over at Mac. "Wow," he says, and grins. "Guess you liked that after all. You should see the look on your face right now."
"I..." Mac can't seem to get his thoughts under control.
Before he knows what's happening, Danny reaches across the seat and presses the palm of his hand to Mac's hard-on. Mac thrusts up involuntarily into that touch, letting out a whimper that makes heat rise to his face.
"Goddamn, you're hard," Danny says, his tone calm and conversational again. "Musta been rough for you, watching and not touching." He lets his hand slip lower, grip tightening as he begins to stroke Mac, the movement light and almost casual.
"Danny -- please -- " He doesn't even care any more if he has to beg; he'll say please or now or any other damn thing Danny wants. He pushes himself into Danny's touch and reaches for him at the same time, and it's then that Danny pulls away and settles himself into the passenger seat once more.
"You know how to make it better," he says.
Mac stares at him, and Danny shrugs. "Don't look at me like that," he says. "You know how. And, hey, I don't mind watching. I promise." His eyes are very bright despite his casual tone; the gleam in them now is the same gleam that Mac has seen frequently when they're in bed together, or when Danny is trying to get them there.
v "I don't -- " He can't, Mac thinks.
"Only way you're gonna get off right now is if you help yourself," Danny says. "It's no big deal. I know what you look like when you come."
"No." Mac shakes his head. "Danny, that's not -- "
Danny's face shuts down suddenly, the smile slipping from his lips. His eyes go blank and remote, and when he speaks, it's that same flat tone from before, the one that sent a chill down Mac's spine. "Right," he says. "Right, why should you put yourself on the spot like that? Was a stupid idea; just forget it." He moves over to the far edge of the passenger seat, and Mac hears him sigh as he leans his forehead against the window. "We should get going."
Mac bites his lip. They can't leave it like this. Not after Danny has -- and he does want it, that's the thing. He's still just as hard as he was before, can still feel the tension coiling through his groin, skin prickling everywhere the ghost of Danny's handprint lingers.
He can do this.
"Wait," he says, and starts to unbuckle his belt. At first Danny doesn't move; then he shifts in his seat and glances over, and his eyes go wide with surprise as Mac unzips his pants and pushes them back a little.
He doesn't answer, and closes his eyes; it seems like it'll be easier that way. He slips one hand inside his pants, frees himself from the confines of cotton and wool. The air is cool against his erection, his fingers chilled as he starts to stroke himself, but it doesn't matter. He's as hard as he was before, and his skin is like a brand under his fingers, so much pent-up pressure that he can hardly stand it; he'd dig his nails into his own flesh if he thought that would bring some relief, if he thought that it would relieve the ache any sooner.
Eyes still closed, he leans back against the seat the way Danny did, and he tries not to think about the fact that Danny is no doubt still watching him. And, suddenly, doing this is much easier than he thought it would be. He tenses his fist around his erection and feels muscles in his hand contract, feels his dick twitch against his touch, and he's thinking about friction and wet, about the damp inside of Danny's mouth as he starts to rock into his hand. There's a rhythm now, he's got a rhythm and it's good, and he's been waiting so long: not just this last half-hour or so, but the last eight days.
"Jesus," he hears Danny whisper, and even that doesn't stop him, doesn't make him flinch or take his hand away, like he might have thought it would if he had ever considered this before. He hears Danny moving beside him, but his eyes are still closed and he's not thinking much about it, is still focused on pushing himself toward what he needs; and so it comes as a shock when Danny's mouth suddenly covers his and one of his hands slides down to join Mac's, fingers sliding through his and wrapping around his hard-on.
He gasps and pushes up into Danny's kiss, all rough edges, Danny's tongue thrusting deep into his mouth as his free hand slides into Mac's hair and pulls his head back. Danny is half in his lap now, pressed tight against him, and his hand moves up and down his erection. Mac starts to take his hand away, to get out of Danny's way, and Danny mutters, "Fuck, no," and tightens his grip, holding Mac's hand in his, holding it on his cock. He finally gets the idea and keeps on stroking himself, doing it harder and faster now and letting Danny do it with him, their fingers entwined, palms brushing as they jerk him off together.
The rhythm's good and it's fast and the pressure is too much now, high-tension wires in his body pulling themselves taut as he slides his tongue over Danny's and Danny's teeth rake his lip, and now Danny is squeezing him tight, helping Mac squeeze himself tight, and now he's the one moaning, "Fuck," and arching himself off the seat, thrusting himself toward Danny's mouth and hand, sweet crashing oblivion as the orgasm tears through him. Shudders wrack his body and his hand has gone slick with come, and Danny's fingers are so tight around his now that it would be painful if it didn't feel so good.
He sinks back into the seat at last, gasping for breath, his heart a jackhammer inside his chest, and Danny falls backwards with him, still pressing frantic little kisses to the corners of his mouth. Mac's hands drop to his sides, and one of Danny's hands presses against his waist. He cups Mac's face with the other, letting go of his hair as he rubs his thumb across his cheek.
"Christ, Mac," Danny whispers in between kisses.
"Was -- " He tries to breathe evenly. "Was that what you were looking for?"
"Better." He opens his eyes at last, and Danny is staring down at him, eyes wide and glazed. "So much fucking better."
"Good." Mac wraps one arm around Danny's waist. "Now maybe we can reconsider some of those trust issues."
"Yeah. Those." Danny looks away, his jaw tensing. "I suppose you -- "
"I suppose I don't demonstrate it very well."
Danny, who was starting to pull away, stops and looks back at him. "You could say that," he says slowly. There's no rancor in his voice, Mac notes with relief, and better, none of that uncomfortable blankness. He puts a hand to Danny's face.
"Maybe it's something I need to work on," he says.
A smile edges up the corners of Danny's mouth. "Maybe so," he says. "Maybe I could help." He does shift away from Mac now, sliding back into the passenger seat, and reach for his seatbelt. "Can't do everything alone, you know."
Mac laughs as he zips up his pants. "No, I guess I can't," he says.
"That offer of your place still good?" Danny asks.
"Yeah," Mac says, and fastens his seatbelt. "It is."
"Then let's go."
Mac spares one more glance at the bridge before he turns the key in the ignition and pulls out. The lights bright across the span of the East River, and somewhere overhead there's a gorgeous moon. Later, maybe, they'll have time to look at it, up on the roof of his apartment. After they talk and after they finish this painstaking process of reconnecting with each other, he thinks; it'll have to wait for that, however long it may take.
He looks over at Danny as he slows to a stop at the intersection. Danny isn't looking at him, but there's still a little smile on his face, and he lets his hand rest on top of Mac's for just a moment, stroking the back of his hand before he moves away again.
Maybe it won't take so much time after all, Mac thinks, and just then the light turns green.