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H50 Ficlet: Time It Was (And What a Time It Was)

July 3rd, 2011 (07:12 am)

Title: Time It Was (And What a Time It Was)

Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: I wrote this for sockie1000, who threw a list of prompts at me to see what stuck. For some reason, my muse gravitated toward The old, wooden chairs on Steve's beach. And this is the result. Thanks to geminigrl11  for the beta :)

A/N 2: This is mostly a character introspective, but it is set during the Pilot and has preseries spec/references. Title borrowed shamelessly from Simon and Garfunkels "Bookends."

Summary: The chairs have been there longer than Steve has.

 

-o-

When Steve thinks of coming home, he thinks of the stretch of beach behind his father's house, with warm water gliding up and down the shoreline and two chairs positioned slightly askew in the sand, overlooking the idyllic scene. It's always sunset in his memories, the sun-aged chairs pale against the irrevocable night.

The chairs have been there longer than Steve has. They are staples of his earliest memories, guideposts of his childhood. He remembers Mary learning to walk on the sand; small, grubby hands reaching for the stable wood to hold onto before she toppled haphazardly on the uneven grains. He remembers birthday parties and the Fourth of July, sitting on the well-worn wood in comfortable anticipation of another day to come.

He remembers his mother seated in one, her hair blowing in the coastal breezes at sunset, staring out over the water while he and Mary swam in the shallows. He remembers his father coming home late, kissing her on the cheek before sitting in the one next to her, their bodies positioned toward each other even if they never made eye contact.

He remembers hearing the news that his mother had died, remembers feeling so lost and alone with nowhere to go but the those two chairs. He remembers curling up in one as best he could, staring out over the water, wondering how it was possible, wondering if it might be real. He remembers looking at the other chair, wishing there was someone to sit there. But his father was at work and Mary was off with friends and his mother was gone.

In the years that followed, Steve didn't visit often. When he did, he made a cursory hello, chatting with his father in the kitchen, but when he invited Steve out into the back to sit and eat, Steve always said no, giving those chairs one last look before telling his father he had to go.

When his father dies, Steve gets the house and everything in it. The chairs are his now, and when he sits in them, he thinks about the times he sat here, the times he could have sat here and didn't, the times he'll get to sit here and his father never will.

He leaves most of the house the way it is. He cleans up a few things and switches out a few others. His own belongings are sparse, and it seems more practical this way. But even as he uses his father's coffee cup and sits in his mother's rocking chair, somehow it's harder to sit in the chairs out back. Every time he tries, he feels more alone than before because there's no one to sit next to him anymore.

After his first day in charge of the governor's task force, he has a cranky partner with a chip on his shoulder and a growing sense that this job might actually be something meaningful. It's not necessarily in his nature to be friendly, but after the day they've had, inviting Danny back to the house to go over the evidence and pop a few beers seems like a natural thing to do.

Danny is hesitant, but only for a second, before he seems to concede that he's not going to get away from this job and he may as well give in. At the house, Danny seems to know where things are already, and after some work, Steve invites him out back for a much needed reprieve.

It's almost sunset, and the sun is low on the horizon. The waters ripple gently toward the beach, lapping over the soft sands in the simple rhythm of Steve's childhood. Danny stands for a moment, with his hands in his pockets. When Steve offers him a fresh beer, Danny takes it, shaking his head.

"Quite a view," he says.

Steve shrugs. "My mom liked the beach," he says.

"If you're into that kind of thing," Danny amends with a small shrug.

Steve rolls his eyes.

Taking a drink, Danny sighs slightly before moving toward one of the chairs. Steve almost says something, but doesn't know what, and before Steve can come up with anything, Danny's already eased himself back into one of the chairs.

Danny takes a moment to adjust himself, as if testing the wood as he settles in. When he's done, he looks comfortable, taking another drink as he looks up at Steve. "Must have been great for dates," he says.

And Steve has to laugh. "Yeah," he says, moving around toward the other chair. "It really was."

Danny nods a little and squints back over the water. Steve hesitates for a moment, remembering all the people who have sat in these chairs who aren't coming back, and then looks at Danny again. It's then that Steve realizes that making sense of the past can't mean sacrificing the future. This job, this partner, this home--they're his now, and he has as much a right to them as he does these broken in beach chairs on this private stretch of beach.

With that, Steve sits down, feeling the contours of the wood conforming to his imprint. This is where he belongs, he thinks suddenly. His eyes linger on Danny. Maybe this isn't the future he thought he'd have, but maybe it's still the one he's supposed to have.

"Me, I personally always preferred the back of a car," Danny continues. He shrugs, making a face, gesturing with his free hand. "Less sand to deal with in the aftermath."

"And have you considered that maybe that's why you're divorced?" Steve returns.

Danny looks at him, a forced smile on his face, but there's still humor dancing in his eyes. "Wow, an actual joke," he says. "I was beginning to think the only things you were capable of were mass destruction and insanity."

Steve smirks. "I may just surprise you," he says.

Danny snorts a little, rolling his eyes and looking back out at the ocean. "Something to look forward to, then," he says.

And Steve has to smile, taking a sip of his beer as he lets himself relax even further and the sun slowly begins to set with the promise of a better day to come.

 

Comments

Posted by: Kare (kare)
Posted at: July 3rd, 2011 03:05 pm (UTC)
H50 Steve sad eyes

Oh, really lovely character piece. And the start of a beautiful friendship.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 6th, 2011 01:33 am (UTC)
danny gun bw

Now that the season's over, I've enjoyed reflecting on how far these two have come.

Thanks!

Posted by: kristen999 (kristen999)
Posted at: July 3rd, 2011 04:03 pm (UTC)
copcar

This was a beautifully written character piece. I loved the symbol of the chairs and how Steve had to let go of the past in order to look at the future.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 6th, 2011 01:33 am (UTC)
danny

I'm glad you liked it :) Thanks!

Posted by: harrigan (harrigan)
Posted at: July 3rd, 2011 04:52 pm (UTC)

Steve smirks. "I may just surprise you," he says.

Danny snorts a little, rolling his eyes and looking back out at the ocean. "Something to look forward to, then," he says.


Perfect!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 6th, 2011 01:33 am (UTC)
danny steve bust

Thank you :)

Posted by: The Libran Iniquity (tli)
Posted at: July 3rd, 2011 05:57 pm (UTC)
Steve & Danny

I really enjoyed that! Lovely look at Steve's past and potential future.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 6th, 2011 01:33 am (UTC)
danny and steve work together

Thank you so much :)

Posted by: Saphira (saphirablue)
Posted at: July 3rd, 2011 07:12 pm (UTC)

Beautiful!

The beginning of a great friendship started on this chairs. :)

Thank you! :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 6th, 2011 01:34 am (UTC)
danny steve bust

The two of them on the chairs in the Pilot is still one of the most vivid scenes for me :)

Thanks!

Posted by: StarbucksSue (starbuckssue)
Posted at: July 3rd, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC)

Very nicely done. I love Steve's reflections here and his reluctance to sit in the chairs with all the memories attached to them until Danny's presence changes his view.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 6th, 2011 01:34 am (UTC)
danny steve partners

I love looking back and seeing how Danny changed Steve (and vice versa).

Thanks!

Posted by: a rearranger of the proverbial bookshelf (embroiderama)
Posted at: July 4th, 2011 03:18 am (UTC)
H50 - Steve

This is lovely--and it made me tear up for Steve.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 6th, 2011 01:35 am (UTC)
danny thoughtful

Steve could probably use a hug for all he went through this season.

Thanks :)

Posted by: jesseofthenorth (jesseofthenorth)
Posted at: July 4th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)

Very nicely done!
I think you really nailed the Steve we saw in the pilot very infightful.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 6th, 2011 01:35 am (UTC)
hawaii family

I'm glad you liked it :) Thanks!

Posted by: sans_souci2 (sans_souci2)
Posted at: July 4th, 2011 02:32 pm (UTC)

this was great!
I love the way you used to chairs as a link to his memories-
and yes!
you nailed early episode Steve and Danny :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 6th, 2011 01:36 am (UTC)
danny makes a point

It's fun to go back and think about how they started :)

Thanks!

Posted by: kae_kae (kae_kae)
Posted at: July 5th, 2011 03:59 am (UTC)

What a great character piece! I love how the chairs just represent another way that Danny just sort of plows into Steve's life, comfortable and oh so Danny.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 6th, 2011 01:36 am (UTC)
danny steve walk

LOL, despite Danny's stand-off-ish nature at first, he certainly did make himself comfortable in Steve's life pretty much right away.

Thanks :)

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