FIC: Love Will Tear Us Apart, From There to Here, Daniel/Joanne, M (4/4)Posted on 2014.08.03 at 20:51
Current Mood: tired
Current Music: James -- Born of Frustration
Rating: M overall for sexual content.
Summary: When emotions run high, mistakes and painful misunderstandings can so easily occur. One night, the tension in Daniel and Joanne's relationship becomes too much for either of them to handle.
Notes/Warnings: Spoilers for the entirety of From There to Here, at least broadly. This is set sometime during the scope of episode 3 (summer of 1999 to be exact). As you might guess from the summary this is not exactly War and Peace, more of an angst-ridden relationship exploration.
Word Count: Entire fic around 9,000, this final chapter being 3,000ish.
Love Will Tear Us Apart
Once again, as with far too many mornings in the past three screwed-up years of his life, Daniel Cotton woke alone. Initially his brain felt a little fuzzy and slightly confused by the unexpected but familiar surroundings, like when you have those weird dreams about the first flat you ever let on your own and can't quite figure out whether you're truly awake or still caught up in nostalgic imaginings of the past.
A small smile flickered over his face as he spied the head-shaped indent in the pillow beside him. He ran his fingers over the material, lazily pretending that the warmth from the sun radiating through the filmy curtains was actually a remnant of her presence in the bed.
Daniel thought back over the events of the previous night, sliding both hands behind his head with elbows splayed out in either direction as he reclined comfortably. What had happened between them, well… it had certainly been a surprise. He felt a distinct absence of the doubt that had been gnawing at his stomach for many months, eating away at him with the thought that Joanne might never let him all the way back into her life. It was a fate that perhaps he would have deserved, even if it was the furthest possible thing from what he wanted.
And oh, did he ever want, and in so many ways.
He wanted more minutes and hours of holding Joanne in his arms, awake or asleep. There had been plenty of opportunity for both throughout the night, although each time they awakened to make love again Daniel had wanted to keep his eyes open even longer just to hold on to the awareness of her skin pressed to his and the tender weight of her head against his shoulder.
He wanted the simple things; to be here on a Sunday morning and read the paper like it was a normal activity, to sit on the sofa with Scarlet while she watched cartoons in her pyjamas, to help Joanne with the washing up after dinner or kiss her for no reason without feeling the weight of Ryan's judgement heavy on the back of his neck… that was the life he wanted. And maybe, just maybe all that and more could be possible now.
After a few more moments of pleasant contemplation Daniel levered himself out of the bed and gathered his clothes, glancing at the digital clock on the bedside table as he dressed. It was already after 9am— not that it was surprising that he had slept in, after such vigorous activities throughout the night.
As Daniel descended the stairs he draped his jacket over the post at the bottom of the bannister just like he always used to do. It was then that he heard raised voices emanating from the kitchen, almost fully audible even from the opposite corner of the small house. He cringed, recognizing Ryan's most petulant tone. This was something he should have anticipated, and any hopes Daniel might have had for a peaceful morning with a spot of tea and breakfast were swiftly dashed as he quietly crept closer to the unfolding argument.
What had she been thinking?
Sure, it had seemed all well and good under cover of night, with just the two of them, with so much depth of feeling and ever-present attraction drawing them together. And God, she had been able to push away her misgivings with ease just because of how right it felt to be wrapped in Daniel's arms.
It would be simpler to explain it away if it had only been the once or she had kicked him out of bed, told him she had been wrong even if neither of them would have believed it, but she had wanted him to stay. And when she'd woken up in the dead of night laying half on top of him in an airtight, tangled embrace? She had wanted him more than anything, needed to watch him gasp and bite the inside of his lip as she lowered herself onto his cock and rode them both to completion.
Three times. She briefly leaned her forehead against the palm of her hand, watching Scarlet play with pieces of puffed cereal in her highchair out of the corner of her eye. They had done it three times, including once at the edge of daybreak with grayish-blue light peeking through the curtains and birds cheerfully singing outside the window. It has been slow and fierce and perfect, that last time, and Joanne could practically feel the ghosts of Daniel's fingertips stroking up and down her spine as they clung to each other in the aftermath of their coupling.
She chewed on the cuticle of her thumb, wondering what the hell to do about this ever-so-messed-up situation that she had assisted in creating. There was still so much pain, so many reasons why they couldn't be together. For a moment Joanne hated herself not only for being too weak to resist the temptation but for sending mixed signals, for giving Daniel false hope when the reality of the situation was that she simply wasn't ready for this. Not in the slightest.
Completely caught up in her thoughts, Joanne didn't register the sound of the front door slamming or the hurried footsteps padding across the carpet in the sitting room. The sharp sound of Ryan's voice startled her out of her reverie, rudely shaking her free of an already dark train of thought.
"Tell me there's a good reason why that bastard's car is parked outside."
Joanne frowned, rising from her chair as the kettle clicked off. "Last I checked I was still the parent here. So why don't you tell me where you've been until 9 o'clock on a bloody Sunday morning?"
Pouting, Ryan crossed his arms over his chest. "It got late and I stayed at Alfie's. We went for breakfast." He craned his neck, trying to force eye contact. "Has he lent you the car for something? We don't need his help, mum. You know Dez says we can borrow a car anytime—"
"It's not like that." She opened the cabinet and reached toward the mugs, finally looking at her son's face. "D'you want a cuppa?"
"No, I don't want a cuppa. I want to know what the hell is going on!"
Realization seemed to dawn as Joanne busied herself preparing a cup of tea, not aware of the fact that she had in fact still removed two mugs from the cabinet out of resurrected habit in spite of Ryan's refusal of her offer. The young man cast his eyes about the room as if scouting for evidence, peeking around the corner into the sitting room and craning his neck as if he could see through the ceiling to the upper floor. "Is he in the house?"
Joanne sighed heavily, leaning against the kitchen counter and trying not to think of the way Daniel had pressed her against it the night before. "Ryan—"
"Don't 'Ryan' me! You…" He scrutinized her carefully, eyebrows knitting in suspicion. "You slept with him, didn't you!"
"I hope you aren't seriously expecting me to answer that."
"You don't have to, I can see it in your face." Ryan shook his head, chest heaving angrily. "How could you, mum? After everything he did!"
Shutting her eyes and pinching the bridge of her nose, Joanne tried to deflect. "Will you keep your voice down? You'll upset Scarlet."
In point of fact the little girl seemed fairly oblivious, sipping from her juice cup and watching the scene with marked disinterest until an unexpected presence entered her line of vision at the threshold of the room. She smiled brightly, pointing to attract the attention of her brother and her mum. "Look, Daddy!"
Heart in her throat, Joanne looked from her eldest son to her baby daughter and finally over at Daniel's tall frame, leaning against the archway between the sitting room and the dinette. He looked tousled and apprehensive, his face rakishly unshaven and the collar of his blue and white Oxford shirt slightly askew. There was absolutely no denying that he had the look of the well-shagged about him, a fact that caused answering flutters in the pit of Joanne's stomach regardless of the tense situation.
"Errr… Good morning?"
Daniel rubbed the back of his neck nervously. Ryan clenched his fists, expression thunderous. Scarlet clapped her hands and held her arms out to Daniel, clearly wanting to be picked up, not aware of the uncomfortable atmosphere that had descended. Joanne was at a loss, thankful only that Lee was still upstairs asleep and not present to witness a situation that was almost guaranteed to end badly.
Well, this is awkward.
From the look of things, it was not a good morning at all. Daniel briefly smiled over at Scarlet, who was far and away the happiest person in the room. Joanne's body language was tense and closed off, with arms crossed and eyes seemingly focused on a stubborn crack in the kitchen linoleum. Ryan engaged him in hostile eye contact, but when the younger man spoke he addressed his mother, chin jutting forward defiantly.
"Why is he here?"
Daniel rolled his eyes. "Why are any of us here, really? One of the great mysteries of life."
Just play it cool, he told himself. This isn't the first teenage tantrum you've dealt with. He stepped further into the room, hopefully noting that Joanne had placed his favourite mug on the kitchen counter next to the tea kettle.
Ryan was less than impressed with the flippant response. "Don't get fucking clever with me, mate!"
"Oi, watch your language!"
It was the first time Joanne had spoken, and Daniel was surprised by the tremor in her voice. He observed the unhappy set of her mouth as her eyes darted back and forth between himself and her son, seemingly at something of a loss. Honestly, he couldn't blame her. Ryan might be a stroppy teenager but he wasn't an idiot, and it wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the reason for Daniel's presence. He'd had enough practice recognizing the signs when Daniel and Joanne had been together, surely.
Uncertainty began to gnaw at Daniel again. Were they together now? The last 12 hours had been a bit of a blur, but he never would have expected Joanne to take him to bed unless there were some manner of reconciliation in the offing. Then again, it hadn't seemed like either of them had given it much thought at the time, being far too wrapped up in physical pleasure to worry about the aftermath. They would have to have a long talk, as soon as they managed to diffuse this confrontational situation.
"Alright, love?" He had moved to stand just behind Joanne, reaching out with one hand to grasp her elbow in a supportive gesture. She flinched, but didn't draw away. Not the reaction he had been hoping for, but he would take it under the circumstances.
"I'm fine. Ryan, could you give us a minute? Please?"
There was a drawn out moment of eye contact between mother and son, and Daniel could sense the battle of wills, communicated on a genetic familial frequency to which he did not have access. In the end, Ryan appeared to concede. He was plainly unhappy about it, however. "I don't want him in the house."
Daniel tilted his head to the side, face scrunching in irritation. "Well that's not really up to you, is it?"
Sighing with exasperation, Joanne turned her eyes to the ceiling. Daniel knew he wasn't helping, but the younger man's attitude made him bristle. The feeling seemed to be entirely mutual, as well.
"Oh, right. It's got fuck all to do with me, has it?" Ryan took a large step toward Daniel, throwing his shoulders back to make himself as tall as possible. "I've been here, all this time. You haven't. And who do you think will have to pick up the pieces the next time you hurt her?"
Hands on his hips, Daniel glared steadily. "Yeah, well that's not going to happen."
Ryan scoffed, releasing a humourless laugh as he backed away. "I'll try not to hold my breath." His footsteps echoed as he crossed the sitting room and stomped up the stairs, leaving Daniel and Joanne standing a few feet apart with Scarlet peering curiously at them from her highchair.
Feeling guilty for his role in fueling the argument, Daniel winced and looked down at his feet. "Sorry. I know I shouldn't fight with him, but the way he talks to you really gets my back up. And the way he talks to me. I—"
Holding up a hand, Joanne interrupted his diatribe. Daniel didn't like the way she was looking at him. It was far too close to pity for his liking.
"No… I'm sorry. This—" she choked on her words for a moment, and took a slow breath. "This was a mistake. You had better go."
Daniel was blindsided. "I— You what?"
She looked so vulnerable, but he recognized the edge of steel creeping into her voice. "It shouldn't have happened. I told you to stop—"
"You asked me to stay!"
"God, Daniel… I know. But I shouldn't have. It confuses the kids and I'm just… not ready. I don't know if I ever will be."
His mouth opened and closed. There were no words, no adequate means to describe the cocktail of emotions he was feeling— disappointment, misdirected hopes, and a lingering tenderness that seemed doomed to go unrequited. He wanted to feel betrayed, wished he could make himself angry, because it would hurt so much less than this.
"I love you. You know I do." He peered at Scarlet out of the corner of his eye. "All of you. I could even learn to love that mouthy little git if he'd just give me a chance." He gestured to the upper level of the house, where Ryan had retreated. "Don't do this, Jo. Please."
There were tears in Joanne's eyes, but she was strong and stubborn and she wouldn't let them fall. "Sometimes…" Her lip trembled and Daniel wished he could take her into his arms and hold her, let those tears soak into his shirtfront and then kiss her until they were forgotten. But no. "…sometimes love isn't enough."
Running a hand over the lower half of his face, rough with stubble that served as a reminder of the night he had just spent ensconced in her bed, he entreated. "So that's it? You're shutting me out. Even after…" His mind drifted to thoughts of their bodies entwining, her hands all over him. That had been real… hadn't it? "…after last night?"
She shook her head. "One night doesn't change everything, Daniel. I still can't trust you, not really, and I won't put all of us through this again. I can't do this again…"
What more was there to do or say? Her expression brooked no argument, those blue eyes that could be so lovely and warm piercing him with the ice of her determination. Daniel felt like he had left his body, watching from outside himself as he turned on his heel and walked away. His long legs carried him through the sitting room, one numb hand reaching out to grab his jacket from the end of the bannister as the other reached for the door handle.
If he had been able to hear anything other than the empty rushing sound that had overtaken his senses, Daniel might have heard a soft 'thunk' as Joanne sank to the floor and released the flood of tears that had been gathering. After the door slammed behind him he might have heard Scarlet, innocent bystander that she was, calling "Daddy?" in the wake of his retreating form.
Daniel heard none of it. He climbed into the driver's seat of his car and did not move for a long while. His eyes filled, and he didn't have the fortitude to stop his own tears from spilling over. The salty trails meandered down his cheeks and along his neck to snake beneath his shirt collar as he leaned back against the headrest.
There was still so much guilt, such mistrust, nearly all directed inward against himself. He couldn't fault Joanne for feeling the way she did, when even he didn't know what he was about. Still, hadn't he done his penance? Almost two years he'd been languishing, uncertain of how to move forward. When he'd awakened this morning he'd been so sure he'd finally found the path, only to have the door metaphorically slammed in his face.
If love wasn't enough… what would be?
He knew he would have to think long and hard, and he had a feeling he might know where to begin. Daniel remembered Claire's words on that day at the hospital. "Write it all down," she had told him. The entirety of his and Joanne's relationship… everything. If he could do that, surely he would know?
Tear tracks drying on his face, Daniel finally put the car in gear. Wounded heart soothed by new-found purpose, he set off in search of a stationery shop that would be open on a Sunday morning. He would need a whole journal; infinite pages, an ocean of ink to explain it all. But at least he knew where to start— with the bomb, of course.
There is a follow up story planned for this, and in case you couldn't have guessed from the ending it may involve the journal Daniel gave to Claire at the end of the series... maybe Daniel will get lucky and Joanne will actually agree to go on a date with him? We'll see how badly he can screw *that* up! ;D
Hope someone out there enjoyed this. If so, click the pretty little button and let me know!