Danny tries to stop himself from tiptoeing, the floorboards creaking underneath him and dust so thick, he worries that abrupt movements will upset the grim silence. There is no electricity, the place stinks of disuse. Or misuse, rather. A uniform waves at him, urging him to cross the threshold quicker. He ignores the signs, but instead follows the trail of blood that disturbs the thick carpet of dust underneath his feet -- brown, coppery stains against restless grey.
He steps outside, onto the back porch, and is assaulted by blinding light and fresh air. The whole back garden, small and contained within its high wooden fences, is awash with fluffy white dandelion pappi floating with no where to go. He squints to see the black shadows of uniforms, paramedics, and a dead body cushioned on a bed of jagged dandelion leaves.
He remembered an old, abandoned house at the end of the street. A house with a secluded corner overran with dandelions. When they bloomed, they were painfully yellow under the sliver of sun that filtered through the gaps of old boards and metal. But Danny liked it best when the dandelions were seeding. His mother used to find him crouched in the middle of a white storm of feathers. It was a place of sanctuary for him, before it was taken down and a new house went up in its place. A new house with a scary dog and brass-knuckled angry teenagers.
There was an old piece of wood, a solid branch of a dead tree that leaned against the board. Little Danny called it Lenny. And he would tell it untold secrets and hopes and dreams. He would often touch it softly, so it didn't fall, because he thought that it looked otherworldly all propped up like that -- all twisted and gnarled. When the light from the sun fell upon it just so, it etched a deep black scar upon the rotting old boards. When he sat there, surrounded by white angel feathers and staring at the black gash, Danny felt absolved.
When his mother called from the edges where green touched grey concrete, he would grab a handful of dandelions. It would snap in his hands, sap seeping through his fingers. He felt it coiling around his fingers and through the creases of his palm. At home he would stare at the brownish stain under the table, forgetting dinner, and would end up being sent into his room without it. In the darkness of his room, illuminated by the occasional passing car and other people's lights, he would stare at his hands. He lifted it up in the darkness and turned it this way and that way. He traced the stains on his hands by feel, familiar and heavy against his skin. Sometimes, his mother would clean it and he would fall asleep with water trickling down onto the bed cover and his mother's calloused fingers on his wrist. Other times, though, he would wake up feeling as if he had just spent a night in a field of broken dandelions.
It was when he was very young and growing a little too big for his mother's lap when he first found the dandelion patch. The patch is a mix of browning yellow flowers and a smattering of white clouds. His mother came to fetch him not long after and he asked her what the plants were called. Instead of answering, his mother huffed and puffed like a suffering housewife and dragged him home. The second day, Danny took his mother to the patch and asked again. He received an answer then, and claimed the patch as his own. It was quiet there, he realized later, not quite understanding why nobody ever bothered to hang out there. He thought about the little playground with sullen teenagers, cocky runners, pimps and hookers, and boys bigger than him who didn't care two shits about him.
On the third day he saw jagged green leaves in his salad bowl. When he went to the patch later on that day, he grabbed a handful of dandelion leaves and put it in his mouth. It tasted foul and when his mother came to pick him up, she laughed and told him what an idiot he was. He learnt the difference between young leaves and old leaves and for the first time felt what it was like to have brown stains being scrubbed viciously away off his hands by his mother.
It was when he was barely a teenager, covered in welts and little scratches from the bottles that his father threw at him that he started to throw curve-balls at the old fencing at the far end of the patch. It was also the first time when a person other than himself or his mother breached his little sanctuary. There was a long shadow, curling over his back and onto the wood in front of him, and he turned around to find an old man in a sharp suit. That's a mean curveball, kid, the old man said to him and sat on a fallen tree carcass across the patch.
Danny studied the man for a while, decided he should just ignore the seemingly rich bastard. He turned back towards his ball, the fence, and his throwing. He winced every so often when he jarred a scab or when the wind picked up to whistle harshly against the cuts on his face. The old man was still sitting there when his mother came to collect him. She looked at the man and cringed and grabbed Danny so harshly he felt like a bone snapped out of its socket.
The old man was already there when Danny arrived the next day, sitting on the same spot. The old man was not alone though. He had a young man standing next to him, leaning against the fence with a pair of sunglasses over a smug-looking face. Danny walked up to them and told them not to bother him and picked his way through the patch where he threw curve-balls after curve-balls at the fence until his mother came to collect him. His mother cringed a bit more, yanked a little bit harder, and hurried away with him in tow, watched by an amused old man and a smug younger man leaning against the fence.
It was a little over three weeks until the old man stopped watching silently and started asking him questions, and it wasn't until the second month before the old man offered to pay him to play ball. Danny would have answered, but his jaw was wired shut just the day before when a knuckle tried to be too friendly with his jaw, and he wasn't in the mood to talk.
It was in the midst of swirling cloud of white fluff, with an air cleared by heavy showers, and soft dirt underneath his shoes, that the old man extended his offer again. He had just gotten away from a fight with his father which earned him a nasty bruise and possibly a cracked something, and he was utterly bitter that he told the old man to take him as far away from the neighborhood. The old man laughed, withdrew his offer, told him to go back to his father to apologize.
Three days after he pulled a handful of dandelions to put over his mother's grave, the builders came and tore the house down. It fell, embracing the ground, and sent an almighty gust of dust and white dandelion fluff into the heavens. Three hours later it rained and pressed the dust and fluff back onto the ground. Three days passed and the old man stood on the porch to his house and offered him a job. It was also the first time he saw his father stuttering and sputtering and tripping over his own words.
Danny told the man that he would think about it, and the old man gave him a full week -- seven days to make his mind up. Danny asked for a number and the old man smiled and told him to ask his father. As he bundled up in bed that night, he imagined sticky brown sap running between his fingers. On the fourth day he made his mind up. On the fifth day, he learned that the old man had died. And two days later he learnt that he would've worked for the mob.
Mac is irritated. The 'why he is irritated' question has an obvious answer too, because he has been standing in the same spot for the past couple of minutes, staring into space. The small "Wha'? Oh!" response doesn't necessarily earn Danny any brownie points either. Mac watches as Danny picks his way carefully through the dandelion patch towards the dead body and lets out a sigh.
As they leave, Mac notices Danny breaks off of a handful of dandelions, and watches white sap drips onto Danny's fingers and turn them brown. Danny looks up to meet his gaze and shrugs. The wind gathers speed and sends the white feathers into a frenzied sway, along with Danny's dandelions. The sun dips lower into the horizon and Mac walks away with Danny in his wake.
Note: Okay, so I am relying on the charity of others now to set the records straight. I don't know anything about Danny's past and if there's any canon about it. If there is one, then there is a big possibility that my rendition renders this fic an AU fic. In which case, please treat it as such. I don't even know whether there's a secluded place in New York anymore, especially where Danny lives, and I don't even know whether dandelions grow in droves in New York anymore... So. Despite the oopsies with details and such... I hope this makes sense. Comments and helping hands will be gratefully accepted, as always.
Summary: A crime scene connects Danny with his past. Warnings include: possible botanical and/or geographical mishaps.