Summary: Danny spends Christmas alone. Or maybe not.
Warnings/content: Just a bit of angst and hurt/comfort. Spoilers for 1x18.
Word count: ~2200
A/N: Written for simplyn2deep for h50_holidayswap. simplyn2deep, I hope you enjoy this! Thanks very much to shinysylver for the beta and brainstorming and to nova33 for all of her help and suggestions. <3
(By the way, I know it's called a mjolner!)
"...and then I got a Iron Man action figure, and he has these things on his hands that make him fly, and I also got a Thor action figure and he has a hammer called a mullet--"
"It's not called a mullet," says Shawn. "God, you're so stupid."
Danny hides a smile behind his hand. He's sitting on his couch with his laptop balanced on his knees, the Celtics/Knicks game muted in the background, talking to his nephews via Skype. Danny can see the rest of his parents' living room behind them, the tree sparkling in the background. It's probably seven feet tall and decorated with red lights this year instead of white, but the gold star on top is the same one Matty made in shop class nearly twenty years ago. It used to be tradition that Matty would put the star on the tree himself, usually while Danny provided commentary in the background, but not this year. This year, Danny is stuck in Hawaii and Matty is...well, no one knows where Matty is.
"Yes, it is," Brian says, glaring at his brother. "That's what he calls it."
"It's called a mulner," says Shawn. "It's Asgardian."
"Asgardian?" Danny asks, taking a sip of coffee. "Is that...?"
"It's a language," Shawn tells him. He tilts the laptop so that the webcam is facing himself instead of Brian. "It's what they speak in Asgard. That's where Thor and Loki live."
"Stop moving the screen!" says Brian, pulling the laptop back so that both boys are in view again. "I can't see anything!"
"I can't see anything either," Shawn says, jerking the laptop towards himself again. "Just--"
"Stop it, I can't--"
"Okay okay, that's enough," Renne says, coming up from behind them and steadying the laptop before the boys knock it over. "Go wash up, we're about to eat."
The boys keep arguing all the way into the kitchen, and Renne looks down at the laptop. "Sorry, that's all they talk about these days. I swear, I know more about Stark Industries than I do my own company."
"Hey, maybe they're hiring."
Renne rolls her eyes and brushes a loose strand of hair out of her face. "Did you talk to Dad? He went out for ice but I think he just got back."
"No, not yet."
"I'm here, I'm here." Danny's father plops down into the empty desk chair, still wearing his fleece vest. "Sorry, I had to stop at three places."
"Tell Grace to send me those pictures from her recital," Renne tells Danny, and he waves goodbye.
Danny's father slips on his reading glasses and squints down at the laptop, adjusting the screen. "Can you hear me?"
Danny bites back a smile. "Yeah, Pop, I can hear you."
"She's, uh...she's fine." Danny leans back against the couch. "I dropped her back off at Rachel's last night." He'd wanted her to spend the night, and Rachel probably would have let her, but they had plans to spend Christmas Day at Stan's parents house on North Shore and wanted to get an early start this morning.
"You're not alone, are you?" his father asks. "You've got friends in town."
"A couple," Danny hedges. Lori flew out to Washington D.C. to spend the holidays with her brother, and Chin is in Maui with Malia's family. Danny's already talked to Steve, who is in L.A. visiting Mary, and exchanged a few texts with Kono, who is in town but at her parents' house for the day.
Danny's father frowns. "If I find out you're spending Christmas alone," he threatens, "I'll get in the car right now and drive down there myself."
And he isn't kidding. "You can't drive to Hawaii," says Danny.
His father sighs. "Danny--"
"I'm fine," Danny tells him. "Really. It's kind of nice having a day to myself. I'm gonna watch some movies, take a nap, catch up on my sudoku--"
"Is Kono coming over?" his father asks, and at Danny's surprised expression says, "That's her name, right? That girl you work with? Julie said you've been seeing each other for a couple of months."
"Uh..." Danny scrubs a hand over his face. He should know better by now than to trust his sisters with secrets about his love life. "Yeah, she's spending the day at her folks' place."
"So why don't you go over there? Did she not invite you?"
"No, she did, it's just..." Danny sighs. "I haven't met her parents yet. We're not really..." He doesn't know how to explain that he and Kono aren't exactly dating, per se, since dating implies going to the movies together and eating meals in nice restaurants. Most nights, they end up ordering take-out and making out on her couch.
"You sleeping with her?"
Danny chokes on a mouthful of coffee. "Pop!"
"What?" his father asks. "You think I'm so old, I don't know how this works. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I think if you're sleeping with her then you should meet her parents. And, you know, she should meet yours."
Danny looks at him for a moment. "I know," he says finally.
"You're still coming for your mom's birthday next month, right?
"Well, there you go."
Danny laughs and shakes his head. "I'll think about it."
"Hey," his father says, leaning forward. "We miss you."
Danny purses his lips together. "I know. I miss you too."
"It's the first Christmas I haven't had both of my sons here with me. I hate it."
Danny's chest aches. "I'm sorry, Pop."
His father nods. "It's not happening again next year. Your mother's already told everyone we're spending next Christmas in Hawaii. If Muhammad won't come to the mountain..."
"It's 'if the mountain won't come to Muhammad'," Danny's mother says, coming into view behind him. "You never say it right."
"That doesn't even make any sense," his father protests. "A mountain can't move."
"Honey, that's the point." Danny's mother looks at the laptop. "We're about to eat. You doin' okay?"
"I'm fine, Ma."
"We love you."
"I love you too."
"Give Gracie a kiss for us," she says, and he nods. She blows him a kiss and the screen goes blank.
Danny sits there for a long time, the basketball game still playing silently in the background, looking around at his empty apartment. Pieces of tissue paper are still strewn all over the floor, left over from unwrapping gifts with Grace last night, and the bottle of cologne she'd bought him is still sitting on the coffee table. It's strangely quiet somehow. His neighbors aren't even screaming at each other or having unnecessarily noisy sex.
Danny closes the Skype window and sets his laptop on the couch. It's almost 2:30, and the Chicago/Green Bay game isn't scheduled to start for another hour. He flips through the movie channels but everything is holiday-themed, and there's nothing more depressing than watching a heartwarming Christmas movie all by yourself. Finally he tosses the remote to the side and starts cleaning up the apartment. He does the dishes, picks up all of the wrapping paper, and folds a pile of laundry that's been sitting in a chair in his bedroom for three days. By the time he gets back to the couch with a beer in his hand, it's not even 3:00 yet.
Danny looks at the bottle of cologne still sitting on the coffee table. On impulse, he picks it up and splashes a bit onto his wrists. It smells like a combination of burnt rubber and laundry detergent, and makes him miss Grace so bad it actually hurts. He picks up his phone and starts to send her a text. I love you and miss you so much, he types out, then erases the whole thing. He sits there for a few minutes trying to decide what to say, but all he can think about is how much he wishes she was here, and that's not fair to her.
The thing is, he should really be used to this by now. It's not like this is the first holiday he's spent without her. But usually Steve is around during times like this to distract him, or at least bring beer. Maybe his dad was right, maybe he should have gone to Kono's place. She really had invited him, but he's pretty sure she only did it to be nice.
Suddenly his phone beeps, alerting him that he has a text message. He opens it, expecting another picture of a goofy L.A. billboard, but it isn't Steve.
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Danny leans forward and sets his beer on the coffee table, considering his reply. Depends on who's asking...and why.
I don't have any coal, if that's what you're worried about.
Danny grins. Ok I guess I'll go with naughty then.
He looks down at his phone for a while, waiting, but he doesn't get a response. Suddenly there's a knock at the door.
"Ah," Danny says, holding the door open. "No sexy Mrs. Claus costume?"
Kono arches her eyebrows at him. "It's at the cleaners," she says. She's wearing a red sweater and a pair of jeans, her hair is pulled back into a ponytail. She's holding a brown paper sack.
"What're you doing here?" he asks, letting her into the apartment. "I thought you were at your parents' place today."
"I was." She hands him the bag. "I thought you might be hungry."
Danny peeks inside. "What is this? It smells amazing."
"Mochiko chicken. I knew the take-out places weren't delivering today and I didn't want you to starve."
"You know, I am capable of cooking," he says.
"I'll believe that when I see it."
Danny heats up the chicken, and when he comes back into the living room Kono has kicked off her shoes and is sitting on the couch with one leg tucked under her knee, watching the Chicago/Green Bay pre-game show. She looks over at him when he sits down next to her.
"You heard from Chin?" he asks, and she nods. "How are they doing?"
"How do you think? They're so happy, it's disgusting. I got a text from him earlier," she says as he takes a bite of chicken, and he raises his eyebrows to tell her to keep going. "He sprained his pinky finger."
"Doing what?" Danny asks through a mouthful of food.
"He didn't say and I definitely didn't ask," she says, and Danny snorts. "You hear from Steve?"
Danny nods. "It's been two days, and I think he and Mary are ready to kill each other. I'm not sure which one I feel sorrier for."
Kono reaches up to tighten her ponytail holder. She straightens her legs out and props them up in Danny's lap, her eyes flickering up to meet his. They watch each other as he chews.
"You didn't have to come over," he says finally.
Kono looks surprised. "Who said I had to do anything?"
"It's Christmas. You should be with your family."
Kono huffs a laugh. "I've had enough of my family." Danny arches an eyebrow, and she rolls her eyes. "My cousin Lani's in town," she explains. "Every time she comes home, my aunt gets stressed out and makes everyone else miserable. She and my mother have been arguing all morning. Even in the middle of all of that, my uncle still finds time to ask me when I'm going to settle down and start a family." She wrinkles her nose, but then her expression shifts suddenly and she looks over at him, concerned. "That wasn't a hint."
"Trust me, it didn't sound like one."
Kono sighs and turns back to the television. She looks tired, like maybe fielding questions about future husbands had worn her out more than she'd let on. Danny sets his plate on the coffee table and grabs her hand, tugging her into his lap. He leans his head back against the arm of the couch, and she tucks herself against his side, her ear pressed to his shoulder. On television, a few of the commentators from ESPN are weighing the odds for the game.
"No way Chicago is taking this one," Kono says, the words rumbling against Danny's chest.
"They've got a shot," Danny says and, when Kono laughs, adds, "What? Is that funny? You wanna bet on it?"
"Nah," says Kono. "I don't like taking people's money."
"Oh, that's cute."
Kono grins against his throat, and Danny tightens his arm around her. A moment later he can hear her breathing in deeply, like she's sniffing for something. She looks up at him, brow furrowed.
"Do you smell burning rubber?"
A/N II: I once tested a cologne that smelled exactly like a dead body rotting in a freshly shampooed car, so yes, I imagine there's probably one that smells like burning rubber! :D