Rating: PG for brief language and inexplicit sexual references
Summary: Good tidings of comfort and joy; let nothing you dismay. Danny/Mac.
Disclaimer: None of these are mine. Characters are the property of Anthony Zuiker, Jerry Bruckheimer Television, CBS, and Alliance Atlantis.
Notes: For the fanfic100 challenge (prompt 092: Christmas).
By the time Danny gets through explaining to Mrs. Shawn just how he knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she's guilty of her stepson's murder and that she's going to be going upstate for a very long time, it's a half-hour past the scheduled start time for the lab party. He'll be fashionably late, Danny decides, but even so he's glad he came downtown on official business and has a department vehicle signed out, and he does his best to haul ass through the evening traffic.
Long before he makes his way back to midtown, he's rethinking the whole venture; never a pleasant trip even at the best of times, right now it's worse than ever, since it's two days before Christmas and starting to snow. He has to slam on the brakes twice to avoid tourists who dart into the street without warning, and witnesses one near-collision between a cab and a delivery truck. He's also white-knuckled with his efforts not to go into a skid. Department privilege, his ass; he could have taken the subway and been there by now. He's never been so happy in his life to sign the SUV back in and then get in the elevator and hit the button for the 35th floor.
As it moves upward, he leans against the wall with a sigh, feeling some of the tension drain out of him. Mac had actually been apologetic about sending him downtown to close the case, and had told him to just do what was necessary and then worry about the paperwork in the morning. Thanks to this unexpected magnanimity, Danny is done for the night, and can go party with a clear conscience -- and God knows he can party with the best of them.
He stops by his office long enough to drop off all his crap, then goes to check himself out in the locker room. Despite the frustrating, sweaty drive, his shirt and jacket are still looking fresh and mostly unwrinkled. He spends a few seconds fooling with his cuffs and collar, then runs his hands through his hair, and he's good to go.
The party, a source of as much dread as anticipation for Danny, is being held in the main part of the floor, and he can hear it long before he gets there. He's pretty sure that most of the various divisions within the NYPD hold their own separate functions, but somehow he suspects that even if there were some department-wide holiday blowout, the crime lab would be the last ones invited. That's okay with Danny; he'd rather they do their own thing if it means being able to avoid the inevitable politicking and bullshit that would accompany a celebration with the brass. This way it should all be much more relaxed, and he doesn't have to drag out a stupid suit and tie.
He stands watching the party for a minute before he goes in, trying to get the lay of the land and swaying his hips a little to the music, a swing version of "Angels We Have Heard On High."
He spots Lindsay first, in a corner talking to some of the techs from the DNA lab, and then Flack and Stella. Stella is gesturing emphatically, talking to Flack, who's pointing a swizzle stick at her and apparently trying to speak over her. Danny wonders, with a grin, how many drinks they've had already, or if they're just arguing for the hell of it. Whatever it is, he has a suspicion he doesn't want to get involved. Not this early in the evening, anyway. And Lindsay isn't his favorite person to talk to, even now. Even though it's been a couple of years, and even though he's had ample reason to let go of his initial resentment of her; the tension between them has never quite gone away, and truthfully he hasn't put much effort into resolving it. He's had better things to concentrate his energies on.
Danny keeps looking around the room, because he likes to have a destination, someone to talk to, before he goes into an in-progress party. He's just starting to feel the slightest bit silly about standing in the doorway like this when he spots Hawkes, who's sorting through a stack of CDs and talking to Mac. When Danny sees that, his stomach leaps and he forgets all about feeling silly.
If he's honest, he was really only looking for Mac all along.
He threads his way through the crowd, murmuring quick greetings here and there and stopping just long enough to grab himself a bottle of beer, until he reaches Hawkes' side and pounds him on the back. "Merry Christmas, partner," he says. "Happy Hanukkah, too."
Hawkes puts down the CD he's holding and wraps him in a half-embrace, punching him on the shoulder. "Same to you, Messer."
"Hey, Mac," Danny says as he lets go of Hawkes. "Merry Christmas to you, too."
"Merry Christmas, Danny," Mac says, and gives him a friendly nod, a nod that has no subtext at all unless you know what to look for, which Danny does. It's all in the quick moment of eye contact, the pleased little smile that's just a touch more professional under close inspection. They don't hug each other, but Danny thinks about it, thinks about the feel of Mac's arms around him, his cheek against his, as he stands there and gives Hawkes another punch for good measure and smiles into Mac's eyes.
"How did it go?" Mac asks.
"Ah, you know me," Danny says. "Not the least little problem."
"Good. And you left the paperwork for tomorrow, like I told you?"
"Yessir," Danny says, just to see Mac cringe at the "sir," which always amuses him. "Left there, came here, arrived with bells on. And I didn't get a traffic ticket."
Mac raises his eyebrows, and Danny figures that he's dying to ask if there was any reason why a traffic ticket might have been an issue, but all he says is, "Good."
"So what'd I miss?" Danny asks.
"Not too much," Hawkes says. "It hasn't been long enough for the drunken debauchery to really have a chance to ramp up yet. Give it another fifteen minutes or so. In the meantime, Mac and I have been discussing the Feast of St. Nicholas."
"Really," Danny says. "That some fancy name for Christmas?"
"It's a separate celebration," Mac says. "And did you know that St. Nicholas is the patron saint of New York City?"
"No, I did not," he says.
"Neither did I," Mac tells him. "Hawkes was just filling me in."
Danny nods, unsurprised by now at Hawkes' seemingly endless supply of esoteric knowledge.
"He's also the patron of pawnbrokers and merchants," Hawkes says. "Along with thieves and murderers, sailors, and orphans."
"Sailors, huh?" Danny says, and gives Mac a cheerful smile. "That's appropriate."
"As are the thieves and murderers," Mac says, deadpan.
"You leave your shoes out on St. Nicholas Eve, in hopes he'll ride through on his white horse and leave chocolate." Hawkes smiles. "Of course, if you've been bad during the year, Black Peter will visit you instead."
"Yeah, so what does he do?" Danny asks.
"Oh, you don't want to know that," Hawkes says. "But that's where we get candy canes from." He pauses, then, before either of them can ask him to explain that statement, claps his hands together. "Now, if you gentlemen will excuse me, I believe there's a bottle of Grey Goose at the bar calling my name."
"We got an open bar this year?" Danny asks as Hawkes walks away. "Not just beer and wine?"
"Well," Mac says, "the brass wouldn't let us rent out a restaurant, and I had to spend the budget somehow."
Danny grins. "Clever. Very clever." He takes a swallow of beer, and he and Mac look at each other. There's a little moment of silence.
No one would ever guess, Danny thinks, what goes on between him and Mac outside of work. Not even now, with this flash of eye contact that's going on just a little too long to be entirely casual. Hawkes, with whom Danny probably spends the most time when he's on the clock, hasn't figured it out. Neither has Stella, as far as he knows, who probably spends even more time with Mac.
"It looks like a good party," Danny says, just to break the silence before things get too weird.
"So far it seems to be," Mac says, nodding.
Danny isn't even sure if there is anything for Hawkes to guess, or what he would say to him if he did figure it out. Okay, there is something for him to guess, because Hawkes certainly doesn't know that Danny has been bedding the boss for almost two months now, but what Danny doesn't know is if there's anything beyond that. Like, what would he say if Hawkes realized what was going on (God forbid), and asked Danny to be specific about exactly what it was? Danny has wondered this, trying to imagine just how Hawkes would apply his analytical nature to the question.
Danny doesn't worry about it all that often, though, outside of these occasional flashes of curiosity, because right now he's enjoying the ride too goddamn much to trouble himself with overanalysis. And it's only every now and again, at work, that he gets hopelessly distracted by things like Mac's mouth or the way his hands move, that his attention turns from DNA results to a memory of how Mac leaned with him up against his front door the night before, kissing him, his hands resting on Danny's shoulders, and groaning a little when Danny hooked his fingers through the loops of Mac's belt and hauled him in close.
These things only get to him sometimes.
And times like now, standing here with Mac and watching the party swirl around them, Danny feels perfectly content with the universe, and has no need at all for definitions or analysis or clarification. This thing with Mac just is, and it's good, and that's all Danny needs to know.
This peaceful little moment is shattered when Stella staggers up to them, clutching a sprig of mistletoe and a glass of God knows what, and sort of collapses against Danny. "Hi," she says happily, drawing the word out.
"Hello." Danny tries to prop her up. "I see we're having fun."
"We are." She slings an arm across Danny's shoulders and leans toward Mac, speaking in a loud whisper. "This open bar thing was a great idea."
"Oh?" Mac looks dubious.
"Uh huh. Flack and I were just...Flack? He was here a second ago." She glances around, then waves her drink in dismissal, spilling a little of it on Danny's shirt. "Anyway, we were just saying to each other what a great party this is. I've got vodka, I've got mistletoe...what more could a girl ask for? Except -- "
"How about some food?" Mac says.
"What? No. Later. Except for people kissing me under the mistletoe, that's what I was going to say." She smiles at them, clearly delighted with the brilliance of this scheme. "So what do you say?"
"Stella, wouldn't you rather sit down?" Mac asks.
"No." She takes a step away from Danny and holds up her sprig of mistletoe. "C'mon, now."
Mac and Danny look at each other. Danny is pretty sure that Mac is reconsidering, and regretting, the whole open bar thing right about now.
"Come on," Stella says, looking stubborn, hair already flying every which way, including in her face. Mac sighs and pushes her hair out of the way, then leans in and kisses her on the cheek.
"Merry Christmas, Stella," he says.
"That's not a real kiss," she says indignantly, and Danny puts a hand on her shoulder and plants one on her mouth before her protests can get too loud. No tongue, but nice, and he's not even flattering himself there; he knows it was good, because Stella stops talking and smiles at him.
"Better," she says. "See, now that's a real kiss."
"Yes, I see," Mac says, and Danny thinks he's trying not to laugh. "Now do you think you could -- "
"Hey, how you doing?" Hawkes says, stepping up and taking Stella by the arm. He's got his other hand wrapped around the lapels of Flack's jacket, and is sort of dragging him along.
"Flack!" Stella says, sounding happy again, and snuggles up close to Hawkes.
"Hey, Stella," Flack says, and looks around at all of them. "Fuckin' great party, Mac," he says. "Fuckin' great. Much better than last year. Much better than the bash I hear homicide is throwin', which is why I came here, even though I'm not really one'a you nerds."
"And we're very glad to have you, Flack," Mac says.
"What would we do without you?" Danny says, and pounds him on the back.
"That's goddamn right, Messer," Flack says, and jabs a finger into his chest. "And don't you forget it."
"We love you, Flack," Stella adds, and starts laughing.
"I have a wonderful idea," Hawkes says, and tightens his grip on the two of them. "Why don't the three of us go sit down at that nice table over there and have some of this lovely vegetable tray that I've laid claim to?"
"Yes, I need to make my speech soon anyway," Mac says, looking at his watch.
"Ooh, speech!" Stella exclaims.
"They're not bullshit," she tells Flack. "Not when Mac does 'em. He gets right to the point." She pats Flack's arm. "It'll be just fine, don't you worry your pretty lil' head. And maybe you can kiss me." She waves the mistletoe at him.
"I'll do more than that, doll, I'll -- "
"Okay, time to sit down," Hawkes says loudly, and drags them off.
"Good luck," Danny calls. "Better him than me," he adds to Mac in a lower tone, and they look at each other again. After a second, Mac grins and then shakes his head, and Danny finally gives into the laugh he's been biting back for the past few minutes.
"Rethinking the open bar?" Danny asks.
"You have no idea," Mac says. He glances at his watch. "And now I really do have to make my speech. Stay here?"
"Of course," Danny says, and Mac gives him one of those little smiles that Danny likes to think is just for him.
Just like Stella said, and Danny figured, Mac's speech is short and to the point. He thanks everyone for all their hard work during the past year, mentions how proud he is of the entire lab and everything they've accomplished, and then tells them all to have a happy holiday season and to enjoy the party. Not even five minutes start to finish, Danny thinks. And sincere, that's the main thing; Mac means every word he just said, and that's why it's so much more meaningful than any wordy, fancy round of bullshit would be.
"Good speech," he tells Mac, when he rejoins Danny.
"Thank you," Mac says.
They talk for another minute or two, about nothing important at all; Danny wouldn't be able to remember the words, anyway, because the whole time he's just looking at Mac, soaking up being in his presence and enjoying how comfortable he feels around him right now. It doesn't matter that no one else knows this is anything more than a standard conversation between boss and employee; Danny knows, and what's more Mac knows, and that's all that matters to him.
Eventually, Mac does have to go mingle, and Danny figures he probably should too, and he gives Mac a little wave as they go their separate ways.
It's maybe an hour or so later, while he's standing by the bar eating some fancy little fishy-tasting hors d'ouevre thing whose name he didn't catch, that Danny realizes he hasn't seen Mac in awhile. He surveys the room casually and still doesn't spot him; now that he's thinking about it, he hasn't since their conversation right after Mac's speech, after the thing with Flack and Stella. He knows exactly where the two of them are, because after a brief period of quiet, they're back up and running again, and Hawkes, sitting at a table with them, is looking both amused and resigned.
At least they've put the mistletoe down, Danny thinks, and he picks an abandoned sprig of it off the bar and threads it through the buttonhole of his shirt. Nice and festive. Assuming that Mac hasn't suddenly been called away on a case -- possible, but unlikely, because he'd have snagged one of them as his second, or at least let someone know what was going on -- Danny thinks he knows where he is.
He manages to slip away from the festivities without attracting undue attention, and then walks slowly through the lab. Away from the party, it's quiet and dark, a little bit eerie, and at first, when he leans his head into Mac's office, he thinks that he was wrong after all, because it's as black and silent as the rest of the place. Then his eyes adjust a little more to the dark and he realizes that his instinct was correct after all, and that Mac is standing on the balcony beyond the sliding door on the far side of his office.
Danny hesitates for just a second, then walks across the room. Mac is facing away from him, looking out over the city, and even now, when he's alone, his posture is straight and alert, no hint of relaxation in his shoulders or back. Danny doesn't want to disturb him, but he also doesn't want to startle him, and he pauses on the opposite side of the door. Mac turns to look then, unhurried, and when he sees who it is, Danny thinks that some of the wariness that was in his gaze at first fades away.
"Knock knock," Danny says, and raps his fist against the glass.
"Danny," Mac says.
"Hope I ain't bothering you. I'm sorry to interrupt if you were..."
"No, it's okay. Did people notice I was gone?"
"Just me, I think," Danny says. "Everyone else is busy."
Mac looks thoughtful. "Now, when you say that, you mean -- "
"That Flack and Stella are performing 'To All the Girls I've Loved Before,' and Hawkes hasn't been brave enough yet to try to stop them."
Mac sighs. "I think I'll stay here for a little while."
"Prob'ly smart," Danny says, and thumps his knuckles against the glass again. "Everything okay here, long as we're on the subject?"
"Yeah," Mac says, looking surprised. "It's fine. I just...don't care for crowds all that much."
"Ah. Well." Danny stops knocking and straightens up, backing off a pace or two as he feels heat spread through his face. "I didn't mean to...right. I'll just be -- "
"You're fine, Danny." Mac holds up one hand, and even though he's not touching Danny, it's enough to stop his retreat. "You're -- you're not crowds."
"Well," Danny says, and adjusts his glasses, trying to hide his relief at this statement. "That's good, that's good," and he clears his throat. "Quite a view you got up here," he adds, nodding toward the balcony.
"Yes, it is," Mac says, and then moves over, making room for Danny to stand next to him. Danny, pleased all over again at the unexpected invitation, only regrets his lack of a coat for a moment before joining Mac on the narrow balcony.
And it really is a gorgeous view. All Danny can do for the first few seconds is stand there and stare. It's not the tallest building in the city, not by a long shot; there are plenty of people with much better views. He can't even see Central Park from here, because it's blocked by another building. But Danny can see the city, and from up here on 35 it looks pretty damn spectacular. Multicolored lights on the buildings, and windows lit up here and there, and far down on the street, the red and white lights of cars going back and forth; and on top of it all, the snow that's still coming down lightly.
Central Park is there, even if he can't see it, and Danny imagines the streetlamps along the now-deserted paths, the lights shining on the Boathouse and Wollman Rink. Then there are the rivers to the east and west of where they're standing, all the buildings and streets in between, and places like Rockefeller Center up on Fifth and its tourist-bait tree, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to the north and west, gray pile of stone glowing in the moonlight. And the bridge lights and boats on all sides of the island, the grid patterns laid out when it's viewed from above like this. If murders are taking place down there, things Danny will have to snap on rubber gloves for and deal with sooner or later, that shadow-packed city of crime that he knows better than he'd like, well...maybe it's not so bad when there's this city, too, this place packed with dense life and light.
"Danny?" Mac says, sounding concerned, and Danny turns to him.
"Sorry, Mac," he says. "Sorry. I just got lost in the view for a minute. It's..." Despite the images crowding his head, the sense of something bigger than himself and that, for a few seconds there, he was able to grasp the gestalt, he can't figure out how to put it into words. "Look at it," he says helplessly, and waves his hand.
"I know," Mac says, and looks out at the city again. "That's why I like to come out here."
Danny nods. It's not just the view of the city that's getting to him, he realizes, although that's enough on its own to undo better men than him. It's standing out here with Mac; that's part of it, too. Mac and this crazy thing they're doing together -- not hanging out on the balcony in the middle of December in nothing warmer than their suit jackets, but all of it. Trying to be together, after years of Danny thinking his little crush was all one-sided, of the two of them not getting each other at all, and sometimes outright distrusting each other.
But now Danny's kissed Mac and been to bed with him and even shared a couple of secrets with him. He looks at Mac's face in profile as he stares out into the distance, and Mac looks the same as he always has, nothing different in his features or in his eyes to suggest this cataclysmic shift that's taken place. But Mac is different, Danny's sure of that in his most confident hours, and he does see it. When Mac looks directly at him, when he talks to him, there's something in his gaze and in his voice that was never there before, something that no one but Danny notices. The increased degree of familiarity, and maybe even of trust, if Danny's lucky; he doesn't have any other word for it.
"Looking forward to Christmas?" he asks Mac, and leans on the railing.
"It should be a good holiday," Mac says, not really an answer at all.
"You're not going to Chicago, I take it?"
Mac shakes his head. "Back to work on the 26th."
"Yeah." Danny would bet that, even if he had more time off, Mac wouldn't be Midwest-bound this season. Chicago, and family, are two of the things he still doesn't like to talk about very much, which Danny, who has his own laundry list of topics better left alone, respects.
"Are you going to spend the holiday with your family?" Mac asks.
"Nah." Danny shrugs. "I'll stop in for an hour or so on the day. Give them my regards. They'll prob'ly just spend the whole time drinkin' and screamin' at each other. No big loss, since most of 'em don't like me much anyway."
"Neither does my family," Mac says, and Danny looks over at him in surprise. He's still staring out at the skyline, unblinking.
Danny doesn't want to make a big deal of this or embarrass Mac, and it seems like the wrong time, anyway, for a rousing round of Whose Family Sucks Louder. "Yeah, families," he says. "Whattaya gonna do? 'Specially at this time of year."
Mac nods. "Not put myself in the situation, I suppose. I'll all for a nice, quiet day, so I'll do what I do every year -- go to Midnight Mass tomorrow night, for one. Maybe go visit friends on Christmas Day."
There's something a little evasive in his voice at this last part, and Danny wonders if Mac really has friends in the city who are close enough for him to spend Christmas with. There's Stella, of course, but she's never mentioned anything about Mac joining her for Christmas, and she has her own plans, complicated Venn diagrams of different groups of friends that intersect in odd and confusing ways. Danny's sure that Stella would be happy to have Mac hang out with her for the holiday, and equally sure that Mac has turned down any invitations. All Danny says, though, is "You still do the midnight thing?"
"Every year. I enjoy it."
"Even when you were in the service?" Danny asks.
"Sure," Mac says. "Used to go with my squad mates when we were stationed somewhere. I've been to Midnight Mass in Japan and Germany. Among other places." Mac looks down suddenly and starts fiddling with his cuffs. "Claire went with me sometimes after we moved to the city. Most years it's just me, though."
Danny runs a hand through his hair, hoping he's not about to step on the moment, and says, "You know, I could go with you tomorrow night. If you wanted, that is."
Mac looks at him, and Danny thinks he's surprised. "You want -- but I thought you were lapsed," he says.
"I am lapsed," Danny says. "'Bout as lapsed as you can get. But I remember Midnight Mass bein' nice, the last time I went, and I ain't been in a few years." He grins at Mac. "They let heathens in, right?"
Mac smiles at this. "Yes, I believe they do. I..." He pauses. "I'd be glad to have you join me."
He looks a little flustered, which Danny can't really remember seeing from Mac, but which seems okay, given the circumstances. "Good, 'cause I wanna go," he says. "Say, you don't attend one'a them churches where they bring in a live donkey for the Nativity, do you?"
"No," Mac says. "Disappointed?"
"Naw, you kidding? Relieved. St. Anthony's did that once when I was a kid." Danny shakes his head. "That was a bad idea."
"I would think so," Mac says. "There are no live animals, I promise. I'll send you the directions tomorrow."
"Sure," Danny says.
"Or we could grab some dinner after shift and go over together," Mac adds. He's looking out at the city again, and his tone is casual.
"Sure," Danny says again, just as casual. "That works, too."
They're both quiet then, and Danny watches the falling snow and the lights for a while in silence before he says, "Hey, Mac? I kinda got this other problem."
"Oh?" Mac turns to face him. "What's that?"
"Well, see, I been wearin' this sprig of mistletoe the whole time we've been standin' around talking." Danny tugs on his shirt. "And not only haven't you done anything about it, I don't think you've even noticed. I'm gettin' very worried about your observational skills here, Mac."
"I noticed it," Mac says quietly.
Danny is afraid then that he's made a terrible mistake, overstepped his bounds. That even if Mac isn't actually getting angry at him right now, he's about to list for him, in detail, all the reasons why the two of them kissing each other here at work would be dangerous and inappropriate. And it is, it's both of those things, which he knows perfectly well. But it's also Christmas and it's nighttime and it's just the two of them in this quiet space in the middle of the snowstorm, and this is nothing that Danny planned ahead of time.
"Danny..." Mac says, and now Danny thinks that he didn't make a mistake after all, because he can see that little private smile again, not much more than a ghost on Mac's serious expression.
"Please?" Danny says, and bats his eyes at him.
Mac's mouth is warm against his, contact point of heat in the cold winter night, and Danny kisses him deep, slipping his tongue into his mouth as he slides his hands under his jacket, the soft cotton shirt Mac is wearing wrinkling between his fingers as Danny clutches at it. Mac holds him tight, presses into him nice and close, and his lips are firm, hands moving with confidence over Danny's back, but the inside of his mouth is soft and wet. Danny can feel the pulse beating in his throat as he moves one hand up to Mac's neck, can feel the steady beat of his heart, and there's just a little bit of stubble on his cheeks even though he's clean-shaven, a light and constant scratch against Danny's face that just makes the whole thing that much nicer.
Danny rubs his tongue over Mac's one last time, and then pulls back a little and presses a lighter kiss on the side of his mouth and smiles at him, still leaning in close, their foreheads touching. Mac's hand moves higher, stroking into Danny's hair, and he doesn't pull away.
"Merry Christmas, Mac," Danny says, and smiles.
"Merry Christmas." Mac kisses him again. "You know, you really didn't need the mistletoe for this."
"Yeah, but it's the season," Danny says. He shivers a little, involuntarily, and leans as much of his body into Mac's as he can manage. "Wouldn't be right to just barge up and demand a kiss when I got all this mistletoe at my disposal. Tradition, you know."
"Of course," Mac says. "We really should get back to the party soon," he adds, but he doesn't move an inch.
"Yep," Danny says agreeably. "We should."
Mac lets go of him after another minute or two, but he doesn't make any move to get back to the party, or to get Danny to head on back. Instead, he puts a hand on Danny's arm and lets it linger there for a moment before he turns back to the railing. Snowflakes swirl upward all around them, and Danny can feel some of them melting in his hair and on his face. They stand in silence, shoulders touching, looking out at the city.
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