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Pinch Hitter

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It was a slow news day. Ridiculous weather in most of the country had canceled most baseball games, tennis matches and golf tournaments. Dana was hoping the Midwest would clear up in the afternoon so at least a few games could be squeezed in, but it wasn’t looking promising. She had Kim and Dave and Natalie trying to dig up enough stuff from overseas or history or whatever that they’d be able to fill the show with more than, “The Cubs/Cardinals were rained out in Chicago, the Sox/Marlins were rained out in Tampa and the Nationals/whoever the hell they were playing were rained out wherever the hell they were supposed to play. The entire MLB schedule to be rescheduled.”

She wandered into Casey’s office to see him reading a magazine. She decided it was entirely possible that she’d been doing her job far too long when a quick glance at the headline style and type-face told her it wasn’t any sports magazine she was familiar with. “Where’s Danny?”

“Appointment,” Casey answered, tossing the magazine on his desk.

“Didn’t he have one of those yesterday?” These days Casey didn’t have to elaborate when he said Danny had an appointment – it wasn’t talked about, but they all knew he’d been seeing Abby more often that he had been, lately.

“It’s been one of those weeks,” Casey said, not sure he could explain why. Not completely sure he knew why, since he, like everyone else, had tap-danced around the issue instead of cornering Danny and addressing it.

Now that she could see the one picture on the page and the headline, Dana was sure Casey wasn’t reading a sports magazine. “What in the world are you reading?”

Casey flipped the magazine back to the cover and held it up for Dana, despite the fact that he was pretty sure she’d give him sixty-five kinds of hell for the rest of the day.

Good Housekeeping, Casey? Seriously?”

He sighed and tapped on the headline on the bottom corner. An article about coping with a spouse with depression.

“Something you two need to tell me?”

“Nothing everyone and their dog hasn’t assumed of us of before,” he answered quickly before adding, “Yes, it’s written from a spousal perspective, but a lot of what they’re saying is just general good information to have. This week is proving to me that I really need to wrap my head around the fact that I have a partner who deals with real life… stuff - mental illness – see we don’t even want to call it what it is. Anyway, it’s not going away anytime soon, and I don’t want him going away anytime soon, so I should figure out what I can do, or at the very least what I shouldn’t be doing. No one wants to talk about it and when he has weeks like this we all tip-toe around him and try to pretend nothing’s wrong when we all know damn well something’s wrong.”

Dana collapsed into Dan’s chair. “Yeah. I know. But we don’t know what to say that won’t make things worse, you know?”

Casey held up the magazine. “Which is why I’m trying to read up on this stuff. And, go figure, Sports Illustrated doesn’t cover this stuff and while I know a few things about a few things, I just don’t see myself wading through peer-reviewed psychology journals. So… here I am.”

Dana picked up the football on the corner of Dan’s desk and spun it between her fingers. “I thought about sending him home last night. He was really off his game.”

Casey leaned back in his chair studying the ceiling for a minute. “You should have. He really shouldn’t have been on the air yesterday, and I’m kinda worried that today won’t be any better. He’s very, very distracted.”

“I didn’t because I didn’t even know how to start that discussion,” Dana said quietly.

Casey sat up. “I get that, I do. Obviously I do, because I haven’t said anything to him either. But it’s stupid, you know? If he came in with a sore throat we’d have no problem saying, ‘Hey Danny, when you’re healthy, you’re really, really good at your job, but right now you aren’t and you need a day - or a few - to get better. So take some time and come back when you’re ready.’”

“But it’s not the same with a thing like this.”

“No and I’m saying it should be. He’s on meds – you knew that right?” Casey realized that maybe he was the only one who knew that and he was about to get his ass kicked for speaking out of school. He loved Dana dearly, but he was pretty sure she couldn’t keep her mouth shut if he duct taped it.

“Yeah. I know, Isaac knows. I don’t think anyone else does.” Dana told him.

Casey let out a breath, quietly pleased that she had been told and yet Natalie hadn’t come running in for a highly-concerned gossip session, so apparently Dana was able to keep certain things to herself. “And it’s stupid that this becomes a thing. He’s on meds. There’s a physical component, otherwise the doctors wouldn’t have put him on them. There’s also that his dad is an asshole, but there’s also a physical thing. And yet we make it this whole other thing and we don’t talk about it because of some ancient cultural taboo about mental illness.”

“Is his dad being a bigger asshole than usual lately?” Dana asked.

“I think there was a phone call last weekend.”

“You should ask.”

Casey sighed again. “I know. You should bench him if he’s still acting like he was yesterday.”

“I know,” Dana said. “But something tells me that I won’t.”

“Yeah. And every once in a while I keep thinking I should tell him to get a new therapist. I’m pretty sure he isn’t supposed to get worse the more he sees her. But something tells me that I won’t.”

Dana spun the football again. “Yeah.”

They sat silently for a few minutes before Casey stood up and grabbed his jacket off the sofa. “This is ridiculous.”

“What is?”

“This? All of this. I’m going to go find him. I’m going to tell him to find someone who can actually help him and I’m going to tell him to take some time to get his feet back under him. Start calling around to find someone to be on standby for him tonight… and possibly for me, depending on how this goes.”

“Casey!” Dana called before he could get to the door.

“What?”

“You’re good for him. Sometimes I think you may be the only thing holding him together when it gets bad like this.”

Casey slumped against the doorframe, his coat half on. “Don’t think that doesn’t scare the hell out of me, Dana.”

She gave him a little smile. “Nah. You know what you’re doing. Danny trusts you. He can get the best therapist in the world, all the drugs they make, but something tells me that nothing will ever do more for him than having a partner who will go to bat for him, even when – especially when - he isn’t up to doing it himself.”

Feeling a little boosted by Dana’s support, Casey left the building, to go to bat for Danny.