by HYPERFocused

1. Next Stop

Four A.M, and Dan is wide awake, listening to the sounds of the commuter train, as it reaches out to places unknown. Or at least, places barely known to him and Casey.

It's not surprising that he's wide awake. His insomnia is near legendary. What is surprising is that he's actually on the train -- with its seats sticky with gum, and God knows what -- heading towards dawn, and no real destination.

It's what Casey had wanted. He'd been in an odd mood all day. Curt with Dana, overly abrupt with the food service girl (whose name he never could remember; it was Cookie, which ought to have made it easy.) By the end of the day, Natalie had a new nickname for him: Snitty McSnotpants.

With Dan, he had mostly just looked at him oddly, and sighed. Dan wasn't sure if it was a "you're the hottest thing going, and I can't wait til we can go home" dreamy sigh, or a "you confuse me. I wish things were back to normal" sigh.

He feared it was the latter. A week into their relationship, and "things" -- junior high school term if ever he heard one -- were too new between them.

To Dan, it was a newness reminiscent of the sweaters his mother used to buy him for the third night of Hanukah. They were attractive, but made him uncomfortable, and a little bit itchy. After a few washings, they felt like he'd been wearing them all along.

Just like Casey. A little bit new, but mostly a comfort. Dan knew that he would grow into him.

The first two nights were the good gifts; An Atari, a new basketball hoop. The things he wanted. It was the rest of the week that he got the things he needed.

After the show that night, and their obligatory stop at the bar across the street, complete with expected flirting, Casey didn't want to go home.

"We're going someplace new," he said. "And we're going there by train."

When Dan pointed out that there wasn't any place either of them had a need to get to by commuter rail, Casey just laughed, and called him a snob. "That's ok. I am too", he said. "I just want to know what it's like out there, where the real people are. Sometimes I just feel --fake"

So that was why they found themselves on the 3:20 A.M to Far Rockaway. And why Casey was currently sound asleep, missing their journey. Dan really didn't mind.

He just watched as the random patterned lights of the city played over Casey's face, his lean torso, and finally slid down his long legs.. He looked pale, his face a canvas, head thrown back, eyes closed in imitation of something Dan had so far only imagined.

Red rectangle green rectangle blue, moving over Casey's still form like the color bars they'd left behind at the station.

He was a work of art, like they hadn't seen at the MOMA, and Dan was having a Casey McCall renaissance. He waited for Casey to wake up, so he could tell him.


2. Not the Destination

Casey awoke when the rhythm of the train started to change as it approached the station. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he looked up to see Dan, looking drawn, and tired, but altogether beautiful.

The small noises the train made had a cadence that was as soothing to him as Dan's voice. Casey could listen to Danny talk for hours, and never get bored. Sometimes he would lose the thread of thought, and just let the words wash over him.

In the past - read: the nine years they had known each other before this past week --, he'd tried not to let that happen when he and Dan were trying to work. He was too professional to lose control while they were on the air, but the same could not be said for the hours spent trying to write the show. When it happened, he had a joke, or a quip to distract Dan, or a baseball to toss at him. It usually worked, but sometimes, Dan would give him a look, as if he was puzzled to get such a reaction.

It was funny. Their whole lives were about words, and the way they twined together, but their best communication was non-verbal.

Casey was fluent in five languages. He rarely struggled to turn a perfect phrase. Even so, he spoke best to Dan with touches. A casual arm around his shoulder, fingers curved against the warmth of his neck, so vulnerable, and dear to him, with its nearly shorn hair. A little bit gay. Casey'd wanted to kill Dan's father for that comment, so close to the truth, but meant in cruelty.

There was nothing little about Dan. He was generous to a fault (case in point, his presence on this ridiculous journey to nowhere), deeply knowledgeable, and, Casey had to admit, greatly attractive. Casey didn't understand how anyone could treat him with anything less than respect, least of all his own father. He prayed that Charlie would never look at him with the horror he'd seen in Dan's eyes at another of his father's visits.

Really, though, no one was as unkind to Dan, as Dan could be to himself. He was always the first to forgive Casey for his bonehead moves, but unwilling to do the same for himself.

No matter how many times Casey tried to tell him it wasn't his fault, that an eighteen year old boy -even a misguided, selfish one (which Casey didn't buy for a minute) - wasn't supposed to be responsible for his younger brother. Sam had been old enough, and plenty smart enough, to take a modicum of responsibility for himself. He should have known better. Even Dan, in his hedonistic hey-day, had never driven while impaired, and risked his own, and other lives.

Dan pretended to agree, but Casey knew he never meant it. Dan felt responsible for everything. He hadn't noticed Isaac's health faltering, and therefore his stroke was unexpected, and unprevented. He had been enthusiastic about the opportunity Natalie had, getting that locker room interview, so it was his fault she came home bruised and violated.

He even felt guilty that Casey hadn't taken the Conan gig. "You must think I'm incredibly needy, to give up such an opportunity," he'd said, on the drive to Casey's apartment the day he'd learned about Casey's sacrifice. It really wasn't a sacrifice as far as Casey was concerned. His place was by Dan's side, wherever they could work together.

Right now, he and Dan sat thigh to thigh on the 4:17 back to Manhattan. They hadn't actually gotten off the train, Casey finding the answers he needed right there, where they always were. There had been revelations, of things they'd both always known.

When the train pulled in to their stop, they were dead tired, starving, and had 3 hours until they had to get up for work. Even so, it wasn't a wasted journey.


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