Thirteen Months Later

a Las Vegas story

by dirty diana

for Shoshanna Gold on her birthday. Spoilers for the Season One finale.

Mike's early getting to the airport, and Danny's flight is late. He waits almost two hours, restless with his hands in his pockets, before Danny shows up at the baggage carousel. He's wearing the uniform that he left in, greeting Mike with pale and tired eyes.

Danny extends his hand for a quick, violent handshake. His fingers are warm and solid against Mike's palm. "How'd you get stuck picking me up?"

"Didn't, man. I volunteered." Mike moves to take Danny's duffel and swing it into the backseat, but Danny sidesteps him almost reflexively, shifting the bag from one shoulder to the other.

"Yeah?" he asks, and Mike almost sighs with relief, because that's the old Danny, the one that could go from cocky to insecure in no time at all.

And back again. Danny puts his bag in the car.

"The least you could have done is washed her," he says.

"Man," Mike protests, "she's clean."

Danny surveys his convertible for another moment, running his finger along the smooth, yellow paint. Then he gets in the passenger side.

"How are you?" Mike asks him as he starts the engine.

Danny shrugs, and Mike's kicking himself, because it's a stupid question. "How are you?" Danny tosses back, then pulls a pack of cigarette out of his pocket and lights one.

Mike doesn't ask when Danny started smoking. He doesn't tell him the Surgeon General's latest statistics. He just flicks on his turn signal, and prepares to change lanes. "I'm good," he says. "Everybody's good. They miss you."

Danny exhales a cloud of smoke into the street. He's quieter.

"So, did you miss Las Vegas?" And then Mike winces, because that's another stupid question.

Danny lets his hand trail out the side of the car, in the cooling desert air. He watches the strip going by, bright lights in the rearview mirror. "Fuck, yeah. Did you do something to my car?"

"No," Mike says. He didn't. He thought about it, but in the end he didn't.

"She sounds different."

Mike falls silent, listening to the hum of the engine, and the gentle groan of dissent when he shifts gears. He shakes his head. "She sounds the same, man."

"I don't want to go home," Danny says, turning the cigarette over in his fingers, studying the quietly burning edges. "Yet."

Mike nods. He's still waiting for Danny to smile. "You could come over. I've got beer in the fridge."

"Yeah?" Danny asks him.

"Sure," Mike says.