Return to Sender

by Jane Davitt

"Those presents he gave Grace bug the hell out of me. I want to take them off her, but I can't. She wouldn't understand and she's upset enough as it is that he left without saying goodbye." Danny's voice is etched raw with bitterness. "Who paid for them, anyway? Not him. He's left people with nothing, taken it all, and he's spending hundreds of dollars on Hello fucking Kitty dolls and plastic tiaras."

Steve's learned over the past weeks when Danny wants silence and when he wants his anger to be shared, harsh words directed at Matt traded between them in an easy rhythm.

"I paid his hotel bill," Danny says for the third time that night. "Wiped me out, but I couldn't just --"


"I'm so fucking ashamed of what he did," Danny says, lifting his head and staring, not at Steve -- he never looks at Steve directly these days -- but the stain on the wall where blood from Danny's knuckles is a faded brown smear. "It reflects on me, on all of us."

"No, it doesn't, Danny."

"Hell, yes, it does!" Danny's wound up now, quivering with rage, the half-empty beer bottle in his hand held like a club, the liquid within it ready to spill if he raises it. "He's got my name. My mother can't go out without people whispering, pointing -- it's killing her. He did that. He did it all. My brother." The last word is a curse, not a blessing.

The bottle droops, is dropped, rolls and spews flat beer out over the carpet. They both watch it, Danny angry, hopeless, panted-out breaths slowing to a defeated sigh.

"I should've shot him."

Steve braces himself for what's going to come next, an aching pity, unsullied by impatience, filling him too full, so that he can't breathe because there's no room for anything but the pity.

No room for love because that's not needed. Oh, they'll fuck when Danny's tired of talking, with Steve silently offering up his body to be used the same way the wall was, Danny's cock rammed into his mouth or ass like a fist, brutally fast. He'll take the pain, the soreness, the sick loathing he's left with over the times when it's Danny on the bed, a humbled, shaking shape, pleading with Steve to fuck him.

Steve doesn't like being Danny's punishment.

"I should have fucking shot him," Danny says so softly that Steve can only hear the words because they're always the same.

Danny looks at him, for the first time in weeks meets Steve's gaze. His eyes widen, as if he's seeing what he's done, the price Steve's paid.

Steve goes to him at once, kneeling in the puddle of beer, his hands urgent, clasping Danny's head so that Danny can't look away. He tells Danny what he needs to hear, the way he always does.

"You didn't do it. You didn't shoot him, Danny."

Danny's face crumples and Steve wonders how priests can bear the weight of so many sins confessed. He only has one to carry and it's more than enough. "I know. But I wanted to. My own brother, and I wanted to --"

"You didn't do it, Danny. Wherever he is, he knows that you did everything you could for him, everything."

And it cost you everything, too.

Danny's gaze slides to the bed and Steve sips air, a silent moan of protest, a silent 'no'. Since they got word that Matt's body had been found, a bullet in his head, another in his heart, things have been bad.

All he wants to do is make them better, but not like this.

Danny stands, starts to undress, his movements mechanical, his grubby, creased clothes falling to the floor.

"I should've shot him," Danny says one last time, then he crawls onto the bed and waits for Steve.

Not like this, Steve thinks, but he strips, gets onto the bed and tries to take Danny in his arms, hug him gently, kiss him maybe.

Danny's breath is sour on Steve's cheek until Danny averts his face before the kiss can happen. "No," Danny says, his voice breaking with shame. "Please, babe. Please."

Steve closes his eyes. Next time, he'll do this differently, he will. Make Danny take a shower, eat something. Talk about something else, maybe watch some TV.

All the time he's fucking Danny with the slow, merciless grind Danny begs him for, the hard slaps, the hissed-out filth, he's picturing it. What they'll eat, what they'll watch, the walk they'll take along the beach with the waves tickling their feet.

He climaxes before Danny, like always, because Danny never does come, not from this, and pulls out with the only gentleness he's allowed to show, his mind on the sunset they'll watch together, the way the sun will sink and the night will rise around them, kind and dark.

He leaves Danny on the bed, sleeping, his hand curled on the pillow, his breathing hitched and ragged, and closes the door quietly.

It's raining outside, the air holding the heat and the wetness like a grudge, but Steve breathes deeply, freely, for the first time in hours.

Tomorrow, it's all going to change. He'll bring pizza, but no beer, and make Danny let him in, no matter what happened the last time he tried to keep Danny sober -- no matter what Danny says or does or threatens.

He's done with this fucked-up pity party, this slow death he's watching.

Like Grace, whose face had been puckered with tears the last time he saw her, he wants his Danno back.

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