“What are you doing here?”
Steve shrugged and glanced around the baggage claim area. “I like hanging out at airports,” he responded with a straight face.
Danny smiled as he grabbed his bag off the carousel. “Anybody ever tell you you have strange habits?”
“This coming from the man who thinks wearing a tie is normal.”
“Wearing a tie is normal.”
“Not here it’s not.”
Danny made a sweeping gesture with his free hand. “Haven’t we had this conversation before?”
“It’s good to see you, too,” Steve said truthfully. He extended his hand out.
His partner shook it readily. “Anything interesting happen while I was gone?”
Steve shrugged again. “The usual.”
“The usual,” Danny echoed, dubiously.
“Yeah, the usual.”
“There is no ‘usual’.”
“Yeah, there is. Car chases. International plots of murder and intrigue. Hostage situations,” Steve immediately supplied in a nonchalant manner.
“Don’t forget armed conflict,” Danny added, making note of a fresh bandage on Steve’s arm.
“Yeah, that sort of thing.”
“Remind me again why I came back,” he countered flippantly as they started their trek toward the car.
“Because you love it here. And you’d miss me.”
“Grace, yes. You? No.”
Steve beamed. It felt easy and natural to fall back into their regular banter. “How was Jersey?” he finally asked.
It was Danny’s turn to shrug. His gaze instantly fell.
His change in body language didn’t go unnoticed. “Not what you thought it would be?”
The New Jersey native had spent most of the trip back trying to answer that very question. He wasn’t about to admit it though. There were still too many emotions to work through. “Nah, it was fine,” he lied.
“That’s not your ‘fine’ face.”
He shot him a look. “I don’t have a ‘fine’ face.”
“Yeah, you do.”
“No, I don’t.”
“You want me to drop it?”
“Yes, I want you to drop it.”
“Okay. This is me dropping it.”
The rest of the short walk to the car was passed in silence. When they arrived, Steve automatically popped the trunk. Danny dropped his suitcase in without comment. It was the lack of eye contact that bothered his partner. By the time Steve settled in behind the wheel, Danny was buckled in but his gaze was distant and unfocused.
Steve didn’t bother to start the car. Nor did he speak. He just looked over at Danny expectantly, knowing the conversation had really yet to begin.
Danny reached up and took down the postcard secured to the visor. The picture of Grace came next. He stared at them both for a long moment. Steve waited patiently out of respect.
“It wasn’t-“ He cut himself off, rubbing a hand down over his mouth. When he started again, his voice was steadier. “I expected it to be the same.”
When he didn’t continue, Steve prompted him. “But it wasn’t.”
“I felt like a damn tourist in my own hometown,” he admitted, his voice touched with disgust.
“What?” he demanded.
“Welcome home, Danno.”
(500 words. Repost. Originally written as Trekkingalong.)