[identity profile] puff-dannyocean.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] remix_redux
Title: Happy Times (The Bookends Remix)
Author: [livejournal.com profile] quiesce
Summary: Dan sometimes thinks of himself as Charlie's backup parent.
Fandom: Sports Night
Character(s): Dan, Casey, Charlie
Rating: G
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Aaron Sorkin, not me.
Original story: Happiest Time by [livejournal.com profile] phoebesmum
Notes: Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] kmousie for the beta.



Happiness, as a whole, is something Dan knows isn't in the cards. He knows it exists -- he's seen other people find it -- but it's not something he'll ever have. Happiness, for him, shows up in small, isolated pockets of time.

It's not a lot, but it's enough. It has to be.

*


Dan sometimes thinks of himself as Charlie's backup parent. Not in any legal sense -- that falls to Lisa's sister -- but in the everyday sense. Whenever something is too silly, too immature, too loud, too long, too anything for Lisa, Casey calls Dan, and Dan fills in. And he does so gladly because the McCall men -- if young Charlie can be described as such -- bring pockets of joy with them that, for reasons Dan's never understood, they're willing to share with him. Which is why, when Casey calls him hours before his alarm is set to go off and asks if Dan wants to take Charlie to see a mall Santa, Dan doesn't complain about the time and is pulling on clean clothes before the call ends.

At the mall, Charlie runs ahead, turns and makes a put-upon face when Casey tells him to slow down, runs back and tugs at the hand of whomever he decides is lagging behind the most, explaining that Santa is a very busy man and they don't want to miss him. Then he gives up and runs ahead again.

While Charlie's out of earshot, Casey thanks Dan for the company.

Dan shrugs and smiles. "My parents never took me."

"Uh-huh. Well, I question the sanity of anyone who agrees to spend more time than absolutely necessary in a mall in December, but it's appreciated."

The line is long, slow-moving, and filled with loud children, some squealing in delight and others crying in terror. Charlie decides how they spend the wait, insisting that both Dan and Casey be able to recite the names of all nine reindeer before they reach Santa.

Eventually it's their turn. Casey walks Charlie over to Santa, and Dan crosses over to the waiting area on the other side of the cordoned off area, trying to keep out of the way. He gets to spend the whole morning with Casey and Charlie, but this small moment is just for them.

Santa, however, has other ideas. He tells his camera-wielding elf to wait and waves Dan over, insisting that "both dads" be in the picture. Dan hesitates for a moment but Charlie thinks it’s a great idea, and that decides it for him. The camera captures Dan laughing that Casey's embarrassed flush is a near match to Santa's suit, with Charlie on Santa's lap between them, beaming. The tableau is almost identical when the camera flashes again, several seconds later.

Dan gets the pictures from the elf as Casey helps Charlie down. He hands one of the photos to Charlie -- making sure it's the first one -- and shows Charlie how to wave it around. They race to see which picture develops fastest, and Charlie wins.

Dan hands the second photograph over to Casey. He inspects it, and an odd look that Dan can't discern fleets across his face, but it's gone before Dan can ask if there's something wrong. Casey smiles and hands it back, saying that Charlie's copy is good enough for them and Dan should keep a copy for himself.

The first thing Dan does when he gets home is put the picture up on his fridge with a magnet. Then, after kicking off his shoes and hanging up his coat, he grabs a beer. It's only early afternoon -- far too early to be drinking -- but the loss he feels at the sudden end of a few whirlwind hours like he had today always hits him hard. When he heads to the kitchen for a second beer, he's not sure if he wants the picture up where he'll always see it. By the third, he decides that yes, he does.

Casey's quiet the next day, guiding all conversation back to work and only work. Dan lets it pass for the afternoon but forces Casey to explain what's going on when he doesn't snap back by the second rundown.

Casey tells him that Lisa threw the picture out after Charlie went to bed. That she was not amused when Casey recounted the story of why Dan was in the picture. That she inferred all kinds of crazy ideas about what it meant, like it mocked her beliefs and she was being intentionally excluded.

Dan tries to keep the anger out of his voice as he lists the many ways in which Lisa is unreasonable, immature, and insane but he can't help himself when Casey starts defending her. His volume rises and rises until he notices the set of Casey's jaw, the way he's holding back even as he tries to explain away Lisa's actions. Dan realizes he's probably reciting the very arguments Casey must have made to Lisa the night before and cuts himself off mid-rant.

"Sorry," he mumbles.

Casey nods and turns back to his script.

When Dan gets home, he takes the photograph down from the fridge and finds a frame to put it in. Knowing that his is the only copy makes it seem even more treasured somehow, and he doesn't want anything to happen to it. He reorganizes his desk, shuffling books and papers around until there's room for the frame to sit front and center, in a place of pride.



*****




Dan checks himself in the mirror and straightens his tie. He wills his reflected self to speak up and reveal that this is all a dream, a nightmare, and it's time to wake up. Tired eyes blink back at him.

He walks around from one room to the next, wondering if there's anything he should bring, anything he can offer. It's odd, he thinks, that this place seems bigger and emptier now even though he's lived alone for years.

His eyes come to rest on a picture frame on the desk in his den. The photograph inside is faded and yellowed but it's perfect. He removes it from the frame and slips it into the breast pocket of his jacket, then heads out the door.

At the service, Dan steps in as backup parent once more. He stands on the other side and rests a steadying hand on Charlie's shoulder whenever he turns to Dan, lost.

After, back at Charlie's, Dan sticks to the corners and watches people mill around, waiting their turn to offer casseroles and condolences. He nods at the few familiar faces in the crowd -- relatives and acquaintances he's met over the years and, in a couple cases, old friends of his own that drifted away long ago. Mostly, though, he watches Charlie: solemn and stoic, offering handshakes and accepting hugs. If he steals a quick glance, Dan thinks Charlie could pass for his father, the way Casey had looked when they first met nearly thirty years ago. Under scrutiny, traces of Lisa are more apparent: the nose is rounder, the cheekbones more prominent. The biggest difference, it pains Dan to note, is the sadness in Charlie's eyes. Even during the worst days of the divorce, Casey had never worn an expression like the one Charlie had now.

Eventually, the last of the stragglers leave. Lisa busies herself with cleaning up, and Dan and Charlie are left alone. Dan lets Charlie pace the length of the living room twice before gently guiding him to the couch. Dan takes the photograph from his pocket and hands it to Charlie. A smile slowly reaches Charlie's mouth and, a few seconds later, his eyes.

"I think I remember this." Charlie turns to Dan with his brows furrowed in thought. "Santa thought you and Dad were a couple?"

Dan nods.

Charlie glances over towards the kitchen and lowers his voice. "Were you? Then, I mean."

"No, not then." Dan wonders if he should be surprised that Casey never talked about this with his son. Probably not, he decides. "Not until well after the divorce."

Charlie considers this. "He missed you," he offers.

"I miss him."

"You know, I always hoped you guys would get back together."

"Me too," Dan sighs. "Just wasn't in the cards, Charles."

"You're the only one who calls me that." Charlie lets out a hint of a laugh. "Well, you and couple relatives of the cheek-pinching kind."

"From what I saw, it looked like several of them were here today."

"Yeah." Charlie briefly raises a hand to his face then goes back to fiddling with the photograph. "I didn't know there was a picture. I didn't know it actually happened. I thought maybe I'd imagined it." He looks over to Dan again. "Tell me about that day?"

Dan does, grateful that he is able to give a tiny pocket of happiness back to the remaining McCall man.

It's not a lot, but it's all he has.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-22 09:10 pm (UTC)
catwalksalone: happy grey cat surrounded by flowers (dan scruffy)
From: [personal profile] catwalksalone
That's so sad. Poor Danny, destined for only pockets of happiness. What makes it more unfair is that obviously he and Casey did get together for a time and then broke up. Oh, boys.

And Casey dead. So young. When he probably thought he had still got all the time in the world to get things right.

I love the dynamic between Dan and Charlie, though. I'm such a fan of that not-quite-parental relationship they have. I thought you wrote it beautifully.

*sniffs*

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 09:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] quiesce.livejournal.com
Thanks! I do love Dan and Charlie together so and jumped at the chance to write all!growed!up!Charlie with Dan. And if a little angst had to happen along the way...

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-23 03:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] out-there.livejournal.com
Whenever something is too silly, too immature, too loud, too long, too anything for Lisa, Casey calls Dan, and Dan fills in. And he does so gladly because the McCall men -- if young Charlie can be described as such -- bring pockets of joy with them that, for reasons Dan's never understood, they're willing to share with him.

Oh, that's both sad and delightful. Delightful to see the moments of happiness shared, even if the sad parts of life can't be avoided.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 10:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] quiesce.livejournal.com
At least Dan and Charlie have each other to share this sad moment with. I'm sure Casey would be happy to know that Dan is still looking out for Charlie.
Thank you.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-23 04:14 am (UTC)
zulu: Karen Gillam from Dr. Who, wearing a saucy top hat (fandom - character death)
From: [personal profile] zulu
Awww! I don't know the fandom well, but do these guys ever get a happy ending? It's character death well written, and that I like to see, so go you, mystery writer!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 10:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] quiesce.livejournal.com
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Dan & Casey kinda got put through the ringer this remix, but they do get happy endings too, I promise!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-23 11:07 pm (UTC)
ext_3751: (LonelyDan)
From: [identity profile] phoebesmum.livejournal.com
Thank you! This is such an old, old drabble, how happy it must have been to have been rescued from oblivion and reread and then transformed into this. Which is marvellous. Poor, darling Danny! Poor, stupid boys!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 11:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] quiesce.livejournal.com
Thanks! I had a hard time choosing between a couple fics and decided to check out some of the old, old drabbles and this one grabbed hold of me and refused to let me consider anything else; I wanted to know what happened to the photograph after the "years to come." (The answer, as it often seems to be the case with Danny, is "something less than completely happy.")

Glad you liked it.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-25 10:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] roga.livejournal.com
Oh, Dan. Sports Night should be a fandom of banter and happiness! So when fics like this get written, it hurts all the more. But it's beautiful, and I love Charlie here, and Dan's relationship with him.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-05-01 03:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] quiesce.livejournal.com
Sports Night fandom is actually a lot like the show itself: there's a lot of banter and happiness, but there's also more than a standard sitcom's share of sad and touching moments too. And I love it so :-)

Thank you!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-25 11:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kassrachel.livejournal.com
Oh, man. This is heartbreaking. It's awesome, and believable, and totally heartbreaking. This makes me so sad for them. (Something tells me the story you remixed is equally heartbreaking; I'm off to read that one now.)

Nicely done, though. Wow.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-29 06:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fantasyenabler.livejournal.com
Oh, I love this, and I'm impressed that you took a drabble and expanded it so well. Dan's pov is so bittersweet. You want to accept that happiness is limited the way he has, but you can't help but wish he'd gotten more. Then in the end, you actually feel sort of proud of him that he can take comfort in Charlie's comfort, even if you still hurt.

Again, I love this. It captures so much of what I love about Dan. I have a feeling I'll be coming back to this and reading it again. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-05-22 03:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] seashellpoet.livejournal.com
Oh, this was really nice. Heartbreaking but so well written. The orig drabble was light and sweet but still believable. It really made me laugh (even though I really dislike Lisa). This one was a totally different mood but still sooooo believable -- I dare say it was a perfect remix! I am so sad for Danny, but I'm glad he and Charlie are still close. Part of me hates thinking that Casey and Danny don't ever have their happy ending, but the other part of me just loves the angst...

Well done!

(no subject)

Date: 2008-01-19 03:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bbmgirlfan.livejournal.com
I can't believe I made myself read this again!!

It's so well-written that even when I began to remember what was coming, I couldn't stop. And, of course, now I just feel like crying.

Casey dead??? No!

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