DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS (Chapter One: Wrong All Along)
Danny realizes he is not the only one who has suffered in the events on the past week. Neither him nor Colleen have been behaving like their usual selves recently, and both their actions lead to a painful conversation neither of them expected.
Pairing: Danny x Colleen, IronWing
Genre: angst, romance
Word Count: 2369
Warnings: Possible triggers for suicidal thoughts.
A/N: This is the first fic I’ve ever written, so PLEASE send me any form of feedback or criticism you feel that I need, since I plan on using them before writing any more in the future. This one is based off of a super angsty prompt sent to me by one of my best friends.
It was still early when Danny awoke to the sound of rain battering against the window. Although it had been a full two days since the “accident” at Midland Circle, he could not bring himself to leave the familiarity of the Chikara Dojo and head back to the cold, corporate world of Rand Enterprises. Not yet. Lazily, he swung his legs over the side of the bed and groggily rubbed his eyes as he wandered into the dojo, searching for Colleen. There was no sign of her, but the smell of freshly brewed coffee hung in the air, so Danny assumed she must have headed out in a rush to run an errand or something.
So instead, he quietly lowered himself onto the soft mat, taking up the familiar lotus position he did oh so often when wanting to be left alone in thought. Nonetheless, Colleen would usually join him, and the two of them would meditate in silence, purely content with simply basking in each other’s existence.
And yet…yet, he could not think of the last time they had meditated together. Not since Midland Circle. For the past 48 hours, Danny had been living in a daze. Matt’s death had hit him hard, and he would often be sprawled across the bed, staring at the ceiling and avoiding the mundane corporate calls that never seemed to stop coming in. He’d go over every tiny thing that had happened in the past week. Everything he’d done, everything he’d said. To Luke, to Jessica, to Matt, wondering whether he could have prevented that fateful night.
Colleen was distant too. They’d wake up separately, eat separately, and she’d often be in bed while he was still meditating. In the mornings, she would often leave early to visit Misty in the hospital, but she had never asked him to join her so he didn’t wish to intrude.
Danny raised his eyebrows. Intrude.
A week ago, neither Danny nor Colleen would have considered his joining Colleen on a hospital visit to be an intrusion. What was happening to them?
Brows furrowed, he looked around the dojo. With the events that had transpired in the past week, he knew that Colleen was taking a break from teaching, but a quick glance around the dojo revealed that most of her equipment hadn’t been touched in days. Even Colleen’s prized katana lay in the corner, gathering dust like some forgotten cheap memorabilia. Danny quickly got up and walked towards the weapon, picking it up gently as he crouched on the floor. Confused, he unsheathed the deadly blade, wondering why Colleen would ever leave it here. It was highly uncharacteristic of her to venture outside without her most prized possession, even more so than taking a break from her training.
Just as he was beginning to get worried, he heard the muffled click of a door lock behind him as Colleen entered the dojo. Danny sighed in relief and rose to his feet, katana still in his hands, as he looked at Colleen. Her long, slightly wet ebony hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail and, despite her umbrella, her jacket and jeans seemed to have experienced their fair share of the downpour outside.
“Hey,” she said softly as she shed her jacket and hung it on the coat rack, revealing her soft grey sweater underneath.
“Hey,” Danny replied. “Where have you been?”
“Just thought I would drop by to see Misty. Luke was there. I left you a note on the door.” Colleen nodded towards the note as she crouched down to unlace her boots.
“Oh. I didn’t really look for a note. Just assumed you’d…” Danny trailed off, noticing Colleen’s eyes wandering questioningly towards the katana held gingerly in his hands. “I found this,” he said. “On the floor.”
“I see,” replied Colleen nonchalantly as she removed boots from her feet and placed them neatly against the wall. Barefoot, she now walked onto the mat herself.
“Why was this on the floor, Colleen?” Danny asked, walking towards her until they were both toe-to-toe.
“I must have left it there”, Colleen said. “After training. But thanks for picking it up.” Without meeting his eyes, Colleen took the katana from his hands and sheathed it.
“When?” asked Danny. Peering down at her face, he could tell that Colleen was beginning to get irritated, but he had no other choice but to press on.
“I just told you. After training.”
“You know what I mean. When did you last train? Or practice? Or even pick up one of these weapons?” he gestured around the dojo. Danny’s frustration seeped through his voice, and at this point, he was afraid he knew the answers to those questions…but he had to hear it from her. “When, Colleen?”
“Seriously, Danny?” Colleen gave an uneasy laugh. “You want me to report to you every time I pick up one of my weapons?” she lifted her chin to look him square in the eye. She forced out a painful chuckle again. “What, you think that because you bought the building now you have a right to know every tiny little thing that goes on in it as well? This dojo…it’s not one of your corporations. It’s mine. It’s my home. And you don’t get to intrude on what I do in here,” she spat out. Then, Colleen turned quickly on her heels and marched through the screen doors, sliding them closed with a forceful bang and leaving a stunned Danny standing with his mouth agape on the dojo floor.
Danny didn’t know what to do or what to say. He felt as though Colleen had punched him in the chest and sent him crumpling to the ground. He stood there without moving for what felt like ages, his inner turmoil not allowing him to move or make a sound. He wanted to follow Colleen. He wanted to help her, to hold her, to tell her how much he had missed her. He needed Colleen to know that he was still hers, even if had not been able to show it for the past few days.
He was still hers, and she needed to know it.
She still needed him, and he knew it.
So, Danny made his way across the floor of the dojo, despite his legs feeling like lead. Gently, he slid open the doors, stepping into the little area that confined Colleen’s living space. Colleen was sitting on the side of the bed, staring at the raindrops beating incessantly against the windows with her back to him as he stood tentatively at the doorway, unsure of how to approach her. Eventually, he decided to carefully make his way around the bed and sat by her side. For a several moments they sat in silence, neither of them acknowledging the other. It took so long that Danny feared they may have to stay like this forever, frozen in time—until he felt a small movement by his side. Surprised, he looked down to see Colleen had softly shuffled and placed her hand over his, her touch as light as a feather.
Danny thought he might nearly cry of relief, and intertwined his fingers through hers. “I didn’t want to intrude,” he began. “That was not my intention. I don’t care who owns the building. It’s your home. That’s why I’m here—for you. Because I need you. If you want me to leave, I’ll go. I care about you. I want you to be safe. To be happy. Hell, I need you to be safe and happy. Colleen, I—”
Colleen shook her head roughly at his words and stopped him mid-sentence by placing her hand against his cheek. He fell silent immediately, and she could feel his tension by the way he clenched his jaw so tightly beneath her soft touch. His eyes bore into her, fearful of what she might say next.
“Danny,” she started. “Wait. Let me explain,” she pleaded, staring directly back into his eyes. For the first time in a long while, he got a good look at her. She was tired, her exhaustion had absolutely drained her. In all the time he'd had known her, Danny had never imagined she could look so frail. She was still mesmerizing, but gone was the energetic fire that seemed to always rage within Colleen Wing. How could Danny not have noticed? He felt as though he had wronged her so many times in such a short span of time, he simply could not deny her the chance to explain herself now.
So he nodded, asking her to continue. Relieved, Colleen spoke again.
“I’ve just…it’s not been easy. You. The others. Midland Circle…Bakuto. I sat there, in that godforsaken police station for what felt like a lifetime, not knowing where you were or who you were with.” She turned abruptly towards the window again, poorly veiling at attempt to avoid Danny’s intense gaze when he heard the crack in her voice. “Danny…I thought you were dead,” she choked out softly.
He had never seen her so vulnerable. He could see tears forming in her eyes, and he pulled her tight against his chest.
“Colleen, I don’t know what to—“ he began, and Colleen cut him off again.
“I thought you were dead, Danny,” she spoke, her shaky voice muffled against his shirt. Danny’s chest began to ache. “Dead. Can you even imagine what that’s like? You’re all I had. It was me and you against the world and I …I thought you’d left me all alone. Like Bakuto said you would.”
The painful ache in him chest now felt as though it could tear him apart entirely. He held Colleen a little tighter in his arms, afraid he may simply implode if he ever let her go.
“I know…I know now that’s not true. But when you were in there, Danny? When I came to Midland Circle? I still didn’t know. Claire told me Luke was lucky to have made it…and he’s unbreakable. You could have been dead for hours before they even brought him in. And…and when I actually got there? When Bakuto found me, when he found the explosives…for a moment I thought I wouldn’t mind.”
Danny was scared of what she might say next. He softly grabbed her arms, silently asking her to face him.
“Colleen, what do you mean?”
Colleen let go of Danny, peeling away from his chest to look at his face once more. “I’m saying, Danny, that when Bakuto activated the explosives, or when he’d slashed my back open with his blade…I thought for a moment that I wouldn’t mind dying.”
Danny was at a loss for words. “How can you—"
Collen shook her head again. “You don’t get it, Danny. I’d lost the Hand. I lost the Bakuto I thought I knew. I was this close to losing New York. I thought I would lose you. You, Danny. For a moment, it seemed okay to just be rid of the sheer stupidity of it all—of a life not worth living. If it hadn’t been to protect Claire or Misty, if it had been for myself…maybe I would have just stayed there. Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten up.”
Danny couldn’t believe the words that were leaving Colleen’s mouth. Softly, he lifted her chin with his right hand and placed a gentle kiss on her lips. He could taste the saltiness of her tears. His chest felt as though it could burst, but for Colleen, he composed himself and simply rested his forehead on hers, both of them shaking with emotion.
“Colleen, you…you are the most incredible person I have ever met. I’ve lived my life across two dimensions. I’ve seen mystical creatures, super humans, and black skies. Even then, it is you—always you, who astounds me. Your fire, your passion, your joy…God, I can’t even describe it.”
“Danny, you don’t have to say any of that just because—” Colleen tried to stop him.
“No, no, I mean it. I can’t even begin to describe you. Everything about you—just so perfect. Even if I’d died that day, I’d be perfectly content knowing you were alive and well. There’s been many Iron Fists before, and there will be many more once I die. You’re the only Colleen Wing this world ever gets to have, and God, it would kill me to even imagine a world without you in it. You’re the reason I’m here, still breathing. You’re the one I want to come back to, always. You’re the strongest person I know, and I can’t ever imagine you—of all people—ever believing otherwise.” He cupped her face with his hands, and tears were now silently streaming down her cheeks. Once again, they sat in silence, but this time it did not hurt. It was the kind of silence you relished and enjoyed, the form of silence that blanketed you in its warmth. It was the kind of silence that helped Danny realize everywhere he had gone wrong.
It was always Danny who needed Colleen. He knew that. Colleen knew that. Claire knew that. Hell, even Matt and Jess and Luke had known that. Yet, here he was, oblivious to the fact that all this time, she had needed him too. She needed him despite his temper, despite his recklessness, and despite his trauma. She needed him, regardless of his past or purpose. To her, he was more than just some kid with a glowing fist.
It had never been just Danny who wore a cloak of bravado, but rather Colleen as well. And now, she had taken it off. She’d given it up, for him. Just as he had for her back when they’d first met. Danny felt overwhelmed. All his life, he’d grown up believing the only people who had ever truly cared for him were dead. That he would always care for people more than they could ever bring themselves to care about him. And here he was, with Colleen by his side, wondering how he had never noticed that he had been wrong all along.