Please read (if you want) and tell me if it sucks *g*
Set after the film, contains spoilers for the ending, especially the Dan bits.
The Morning After by ToraK
Pairing: Dan/Duck implied
Warning: Not really. Couple of bad words.
Disclaimer: Not mine, the characters belong to Dan MacIvor, I have shares in Callum Rennie. (That may be a lie)
Next morning, everyone who comes into Iggy’s is talking about Dan Jarvis.
Sandra is relieved to find that - despite what she heard outside the French house last night - not everyone is glad about what happened. Some people seem genuinely worried about Dan. She overhears people talking about whether to visit him, other people making vows to rent more movies from his store. Old Mrs Henderson is at one of the tables, knitting needles in hand, sorting through patterns so she can make him a jumper.
Of course there are still a lot of people who wish Carol French had taken a little longer to find him last night. Irene, obviously, is one of them. She’s sitting in her usual seat in the corner, holding forth to anyone who’ll listen. In the three months they’ve been back on the island Sandra has tried to shut her up more times than she can count and today she’s trying extra hard. But today the town gossip has actual gossip and there’s no way to damped her fires.
No way, that is, until the door pushes open and Duck MacDonald, looking tired and wearing his good shirt, comes inside. Sandra doesn’t understand why, but the moment Duck enters Irene drops her voice and continues her tirade in a tone so low only those closest can hear. From the look on Duck’s face Sandra doesn’t think he’d hear anything anyway. There are heavy, grey bags under his eyes and he hasn’t shaved, but judging from his soft, dreaming smile, he isn’t minding too much.
“Duck?” Sandra puts down her magazine and leans over the counter towards him.
He blinks, like he’d forgotten where he was. “Oh, hey, Sandy.”
“You look like you’ve been busy.” She winks, leaning closer, “Care to share?”
He grins at her, but shakes his head. “Not yet. And I haven’t been, er, busy like you think I’ve been busy. I … I just had a long night.”
He’s not the only one. “What can I get you?”
“Er,” he scratches the back of his neck. “Can I get a couple of those?” He points at the pastries on a dish by the counter – the first thing Sandra cooked in her oven. “And, and a couple of muffins.”
Sandra bags up the pastries and hovers the tongs over the muffins, “Chocolate or blueberry?”
Duck frowns. “Better make it both.”
She puts them in a separate bag and lays it on the counter. “Having a party?”
“No,” but he blushes, which is something Duck MacDonald never does. “Just going to see a friend.”
She rings up the cakes and pours him a coffee even though he hasn’t asked for one. Today might be a new start for her, but she’s feeling a little fragile and it would be nice to have a friend to talk to.
“Did you hear about Dan Jarvis?” She asks, mainly to make conversation. She doubts there’s anyone in Wilby who hasn’t heard about Dan.
He looks at her sharply, his expression unreadable. “What about him?”
Sandra blinks at the harshness of his tone. “He, er. That he tried to kill himself last night. Over at Buddy’s mum’s house.”
“He didn’t try to kill himself; the chair slipped.” Duck says shortly.
Sandra is just about to ask how the hell he knows that, when the door jingles and Emily comes racing in. She’s waving something that looks suspiciously like a cookery book, but she pulls up short when she sees Duck. “How’s Dan?” She asks crossing the floor towards them.
Duck smiles at her and when she smiles back their expressions are so intimate that Sandra feels excluded. “He’s fine. He’s going to be fine. They’ll let him go in a couple of days.”
“Even though he’s suicidal?” Sandra asks, trying to reclaim their attentions.
Duck shrugs. “Yeah, s’long as he’s got someone to watch out for him. And anyway, he’s not anymore.” Again a look passes between Emily and Duck that makes Sandra equal parts jealous and curious.
“When did you visit him?” Sandra asks.
“This morning. Soon’s I found out he was there.”
“Well that’s real nice of you.” Sandra didn’t even know they really knew each other.
“Oh, yeah, real neighbourly.” Comes Irene’s grating voice from the back of the shop. Sandra should have known she wouldn’t be able to keep quiet for long.
Duck doesn’t turn round, but Emily does and she glares at Irene.
“People like them gotta stick together.” Irene carries on, unperturbed.
Sandra looks at Duck, wanting to see if he knows what Irene’s talking about. But Emily takes her attention by stalking over to Irene.
“Shut up!” She shouts, “Don’t you have anything better to do than say stupid things about good people?”
Sandra feels her mouth drop open. Emily’s right, but she shouldn’t be rude. Especially not to a customer.
“Emily.” Duck speaks before Sandra can, but while she would have shouted, Duck’s voice is quiet and calm. “Come back here please.” And Emily obeys, with a last glare at Irene.
Emily stomps back to the counter. “Sorry,” she snaps at Sandra, before she can say anything. “Sorry, okay? But she’s a bitch, and she’s got no right to think those things.”
“She can think whatever she likes.” Duck tells her, still in the same quiet tone. “Wish she wouldn’t say it though. Dan doesn’t need that.”
“What Dan needs is a trip to the mainland.” Sandra has to wonder if Irene has any concept of tact. “Preferably in a wooden box.”
Duck goes absolutely sheet white and his hands grip the counter top. Sandra can almost see him counting to ten. It’s weird, Sandra really didn’t know they were this close. Whenever she’s seen them both in town, they only nod at each other. Course anyone – except Irene – would say that about her and Buddy and they certainly know each … Sandra feels her mouth drop open as something – something she knows has always been there – suddenly clicks into place.
“Oh my God.” She doesn’t realise she’s said it out loud until both Duck and Emily look at her sharply. “You…” Her voice dies and she can’t stop staring at Duck.
He looks at her. Tips his head in that way he has. “Yes.” He says quietly.
“You … you and Dan Jarvis?” Emily groans and drops her head on the counter, but Sandra doesn’t care if she’s being embarrassing. This is something she has to know.
“Yes.” Duck answers, still calm. He lifts his chin, but there’s something in his eyes that makes her think he really wants her to understand.
“Well. Well, Jesus Duck, that’s quite a bombshell.”
Duck grins at her, a little doubtfully, and she can’t help grinning back. “He’s a nice guy.” She says, giving into the impulse to reach over the counter and squeeze his hand.
He squeezes back. “That he is.”
“And you knew?” Sandra demands, releasing Duck’s hand and turning to her daughter.
Emily puts her hands on her hips. “Only since last night.” She says. “We, I … I stayed at Duck’s.” She says in a rush.
Sandra doesn’t know where she thought Emily spent the night, but Duck’s wasn’t even on the list. “You did?”
“I did.” Emily’s clearly not going to explain and when Sandra looks at Duck his expression is pure innocence. “So I was there when Buddy French phoned to tell him Dan was in hospital.”
“Hang on.” Sandra holds up a hand. “Buddy knows?”
“He’s running the Watch investigation.” Duck reminds her, only to be interrupted by a derisive snort from Irene. Sandra would swear in court that that woman has supersonic hearing.
“Oh yes,” she sneers, “Running it brilliantly, isn’t he? First not pressing charges against the queers, and now making the mayor tell The Sentinel not to publish the names.”
“What?” It’s the first time Duck reacts, and he turns round to face Irene.
“That’s right. You’re in the clear. The Sentinel can’t publish the names, officially cos of what happened with Dan Jarvis. But I still know them, and I intend to let everyone else know the bits of filth we have running around our streets. Pretty soon, your precious Dan will be wishing he had died last night.”
Sandra sees the muscles in Duck’s back tense. She wants to tell him not to engage. But he’s striding across the room before she can do anything.
“Look.” He says, slamming his hands – one still holding the coffee mug – down onto the tabletop. “I don’t give a shit what you say about me. You want to out me, that’s fine. Consider me outed. But you will leave Dan Jarvis alone. If he’d died last night it would have been your fault, and I would have made sure you rotted in hell because of it. And if you hurt him, I still will.”
The room is silent, the few customers there are staring at Duck, some in admiration, some in disgust, and most in confusion. Sandra herself is stunned. Duck was her best friend in high school and she’s never heard him say that much that passionately. Picking up his coffee, Duck stalks back to the counter, picks up his bag of cakes – squeezing Sandra’s hand as he passes – and opens the door.
“And,” Duck turns back into the room. “Next year, we’re having a fucking parade.” He slams the door shut behind him.