The show starts and David is numb.
Syesha is singing first, and David is more nervous than he's been the whole season. As if the personal issues with Danny and his father aren't enough, this week's theme isn't good for David. He doesn't know most of the songs, and he'd been too distracted to focus on listening to them and learning them. Instead, he settled on one he knew a Stevie Wonder version of. He's also pretty sure that his interview video didn't portray him well, but he was distracted throughout the whole thing. Chikezie is on now, and David is slightly annoyed to see that he's doing really well. He's still a bit resentful of Chikezie for Danny's elimination. Then Ramiele is on, and David thinks of Danny watching her. He remembers how close they were, and how it used to make him a little jealous. He wonders if Ramiele has spoken to Danny since Thursday. Then Jason is on, then Carly, and David Cook, and Brooke. The time is flying by, and David is startled to realize that David Hernandez and Amanda have gone, and that Michael is on stage right now. Now his nerves are back, stronger than ever, and his father's voice echoes in his head.
David shakes his head to clear it as Kristy Lee Cook takes the stage. He stands up and tries to calm his racing heart as he approaches his entrance point. Deep breath. Relax. Now go out there, and sing! Seconds before he's supposed to go on, he pastes a smile on his face. He listens to the fading sounds of his introductory video, and gathers himself together. And then he's on. It starts off okay, but then suddenly, he can't remember the words. This has never happened to him before! He has to suppress the urge to stop, or to run off the stage. He hastily skips to the next part he knows, and tries to recover. But he's so distracted from forgetting the lyrics the first time that he messes up again. Three times total, in one song. He feels himself falling apart, but grits his teeth and gets through the song. He can't wait to get off stage and have a moment to himself. The judges are nice to him, softening their negative comments with allusions to his past success. Finally, the show is over, and David leaves in a haze.
Danny watches, half in anticipation, half in dread as the trademark American Idol theme begins to play on the screen. Of course, David's last. Because the producers just like to torture him like that. And he's the perfect way to end any show. Danny admits to himself fondly. As Syesha begins to sing, Danny reflects on how odd it is to be watching from this side of the television. It's ... different, to say the least. He can truly appreciate what everyone is going through. As the show goes on, Danny becomes more and more accustomed to the idea of being eliminated. This really is helping him. He is now looking forward to calling David after the show.
Finally, it's David's turn to sing. Danny is slightly confused by the video, in which David comes across as very apprehensive about this performance. But he blows it off, thinking that it's just David being overly cautious and not wanting to appear cocky. The music begins. Danny smiles as David comes on, though he notices that his smile looks a little forced. David's probably just a little nervous about the new stage. Then David starts to sing, and Danny is instantly engrossed. Suddenly, just a few seconds into the song, the unthinkable occurs. David stumbles over a lyric. Danny is shocked to say the least. David's never done that before, not even in rehearsal. But he recovers, and it's okay. But then, it happens again. And again. And Danny is torn between absolute shock, and more shock. In his benumbed state, he watches the rest of the performance and the judge's comments.
Now Danny is annoyed, not at David per se, but at the situation. He wants to know what's going on right now, because the David Archuleta he knows does not mess up on lyrics, particularly not multiple times. Before the show is even over, he pulls out his phone and begins to call David. He knows David won't be able to answer for a while, but he needs to know what's going on with David right now.
David is cornered by his dad barely 10 minutes after he gets off stage. Normally, he rationalizes, persuading himself that his dad is wrong, that he's just being a stage dad. But this time, he deserves it. He can't believe that he forgot the lyrics! But knowing he deserves it doesn't stop the tears.
This time, there's no Brooke or Ramiele to comfort him, not that he appreciated it at the time. This time, it's just him: lonely David Archuleta and his pathetic tears. Finally, he can't take it and he walks away. But inside, he believes that his dad is right. He isn't such a good singer, he is getting cocky, he makes stupid mistakes, he doesn't have the drive, he isn't good enough.
When David gets back to his room, about 25 minutes after the show ended, there are 11 missed calls on his cell phone. All from Danny. For a moment, just seeing his name, David's heart leaps. He picks up the phone, and is about to dial Danny's number when the phone rings in his hands.
With tear tracks still on his cheeks, David picks up the phone.
"What the fuck, David?"
David is silent. He feels a deep dread and cold depression take hold of his body, and he knows. He knows that Danny is angry with him for not being good enough, for completely wasting his Top 12 opportunity. He knows that he and Danny, whatever they had been, are over forever.
"David, seriously, what is the matter with-" David can't take it anymore. Half a sob rises in his throat and he gasps into the phone.
"Please, Danny. Not you too. I already got it from my dad." Then the tears are back, rolling down his cheeks like little rivers.
Danny hears the sniffles and the gasps and knows immediately what's happening. Oh David. David needs him, right now. David's alone, David's upset. Danny only made him feel worse, just when he probably could have used some positive reinforcement. His stomach freezes at the thought and he regrets his harsh words.
"Fuck, David. I'll be there in 20 minutes."
It takes at least 25 minutes on a good day, with little traffic, to get from
That night, Danny's there in 15. He parks the car, and without a pause, makes straight for the Idol building. Ramiele lets him into the building when he calls her, and thankfully she doesn't ask any questions. She just silently leads him to David's door, and leaves him alone in front of it. He knocks.
A moment later, the door opens, and Danny sees the damage that's been done in just a week. A week ago, David was a happy-go-lucky, cheerful 17-year-old. Looking now at the red-rimmed eyes, and faint traces of tears on David's face, Danny is consumed by the most guilt he's ever felt in his entire life.
It takes him only about 2 seconds after the door is opened to enter the room and shut the door behind them. Then he turns to face David who hasn't moved and is looking at him in an altogether woebegone way. Without a moment's pause, Danny wraps his arms tightly around the smaller boy, crushing him against his chest. One hand strokes slowly up and down his back as the other holds him firmly in place. Danny can feel the trembling in David's body, and he pulls him still closer, cradling him like a small child. Then sobs wrack the body in his arms, and David is crying again and clinging to Danny with all his strength. With a tenderness he hadn't known he possesses, Danny whispers into David's ear softly, telling him how sorry Danny is; how great David has always been; how beautiful his voice is; how he shouldn't give a shit what anyone else, including Danny himself, thinks; how gorgeous he is; how much he deserves all the praise and the place in the Top 12.
He whispers everything that David has needed to hear for the past week.
David is mentally and emotionally drained from the week, and he buries his face into Danny's shirt. When he had opened the door to see Danny's face etched with worry, David hadn't known how to react. But when Danny had pulled him into his arms, David had been unable to stem the flow of tears. Danny being there, holding him is everything and more that David had yearned for this week. He almost can't believe it.
He cries until there are no tears left, all the while feeling Danny's reassuring warmth, and his hand stroking up and down his back, and hearing the comforting words whispered in his ear. Finally he pulls away to look at Danny, wiping his face in an embarrassed sort of way. Danny smiles softly at him, and leans forward and kisses his right cheekbone, right below his eye, and suddenly David feels a familiar warmth in his stomach. He's so relieved that his legs almost give out beneath him. Danny smiles at him and, wrapping an arm around him, leads him to the bed.
David curls up against Danny, suddenly exhausted. Danny kisses his forehead and whispers, "We'll talk in the morning, David. Go to sleep." He pulls David close against him, and smiles, content. David is quickly lulled to sleep by Danny's regular breathing, and by the warmth of the body next to him.