Dessert For Two
Disclaimer: Don't own anything.
Content Warning: Danny/Aiden undertone.
She sat in the break room, nursing a beer and staring at the paper in front of her. Words blended together on the page, her vision slightly blurred by the onset of tears that so relentlessly endeavored to break her down.
However, she wasn't going to let them make a crybaby out of her. Oh, no she wouldn't let herself succumb to the gnawing anxiety in her stomach and the feeling of dread in her heart.
It was bad enough that the affidavit on the table kept taunting her, preying on her weaknesses and teasing her emotions, Aiden simply couldn't bare to look at it any more and arbitrarily flung it across the surface, successful in making it disappear.
Taking a sip of beer, and feeling it go down not so smoothly, she coughed for a moment and stared out the window, watching snow fall in makeshift flakes, coating the glass from outside in capricious designs.
No sooner than she contemplated heading home, did she feel another presence in the room. Sliding a finger under her eyes, testing for moisture before turning around, she tried to compose herself, and not show any more vulnerability than her eyes would certainly betray.
"No drinking on the job Aid." He said whimsically, however in his voice Aiden could detect a pinch of concern.
The investigator was leaning against the door frame, the sleeves of his white dress shirt pulled up to his elbows, exposing luxuriously well toned arms; the jacket of his dark gray suit nowhere in sight as he stood patiently waiting for any sign of life in his partner.
Aiden continued to gaze over his body, a skillful hand in the pocket of his slacks, the other scratching his eyebrow reflexively, then his finger traced the frame of his glasses, which did nothing but accentuate the luminance and beauty of his blue eyes. Usually Aiden appreciated their presence, but at this moment, the same intelligent pools of blue were probing into her soul, disguised by their owner in a concerned glance.
"Hey Danny." She said not at all pleasantly, her voice sinking as she turned around, her hands sliding around the neck of the bottle.
Danny surveyed the scene as any competent criminalist would, and everything seemed to be in place, except for the papers scattered at the foot of the table, judging by their position, he assumed Aiden had flung them across the table.
"It's almost eleven, what are you doing here?" He walked into the room slowly, hoping to pass on the message that he wasn't trying to intrude.
Aiden shrugged, and moved the ale closer to her, tracing the water rings it left behind, "You remind me of a babysitter I used to have. She would question me discreetly and I was too little to figure out I was falling into a trap by answering her."
Danny situated himself across from her, careful not to touch the papers on the floor with the foot of his chair. He scanned her face, from her furrowed brow to the slight quiver in her lower lip, and frowned. It didn't take a criminalist to figure out that something was wrong.
"So what you're saying is, there's no chance in hell I'm getting an answer out of you tonight?"
Aiden smirked, "Not sober at least." She confirmed, and watched his gaze glide over the beer bottle, "Don't get any ideas Messer."
Then she toasted him and took a long pull of the ale.
Danny let out a hoarse chuckle, surprising Aiden by the intensity of his laugh, "Trust me, I'm too tired to even think of booze right now." He took off his glasses and rubbed his tired eyes, blinking back the darkness that situated them during the ordeal.
Aiden studied him peculiarly but silently, until her state got to be too much, "What?"
She blinked and took a sip of beer, "Nothing, just thinking about how many hours of palates I'm going to have to do to work off this beer."
Danny looked a little perplexed at this, "You don't strike me as the calorie obsessed type."
"Well, my mom was an excellent cook, so in order to not blow up like a balloon I learned a few things." Aiden shrugged, still drinking.
"Uh, yeah, you should come and play hoops with Flack and me sometime." Danny fingered his cufflink, avoiding looking at Aiden.
She smiled at his sudden shyness, "Yeah, and then we could share a milkshake with two straws." She teased him primitively. Danny missed the twinkle of innocence in her eye as she spoke.
"Three." He said.
"Three straws, 'cause Flack would b there." Danny smiled, loving how he confused her, "And it would defeat the purpose of shooting hoops." He leaned in closer, a whimsical tint in his blue eyes and the corner of his mouth curved upward, "Do you know how many calories are in one of those concoctions?"
Aiden let out a snicker, and leaned back on her chair. The atmosphere seemed extremely lighter since Danny came in, and the same could be said for her mood.
He yawned involuntarily, and caught sight of the papers on the floor, "So wanna tell me why you threw this on the floor?" He asked carefully.
Aiden's eyes immediately darkened, anxiety building up in her stomach, "No."
It seemed so easy to refuse when he placed it in question form, but as he retrieved the document, her heart sank, and tears threatened to break her resistance.
Danny studied the first page of the deposition, then looked passed it to Aiden. Despite her best efforts, he noticed the shimmer in her eyes, tears ever so present.
"Aiden, are you alright?" He asked lamely, mostly from lack of better word.
She contemplated just taking off, figuring he wouldn't hesitate to let her go, but decided she shouldn't make it even more dramatic and exude more pity from her coworker than she already did.
"No." She wiped her tears away, " I'm really not."
Danny looked crestfallen at her, an angry Aiden he could handle, a frustrated one, even better, but when her voice broke down and silent sobs wrecked her body, he was at loss of what to do.
Pulling his chair to her side of the table he placed a tentative hand on her shoulder,
"Aid, what's wrong?"
"This stupid case. What good is my job if I can't help incriminate the real murderer? Why does an innocent kid take the blame?" She sighed, her sobs no longer placid, but very, very violent.
Danny wasn't completely clear on the circumstances surrounding her case, but he felt she could no longer explain, and scanned the report himself.
Aiden let out a breath, "The victim was found her apartment in Queens. She worked as a waitress in a diner, and had an abusive boyfriend. There were day old bruises on her abdomen and thighs. The bastard knew exactly where to hit her." She played with the bottle cap, unable to sustain regular breathing.
Danny didn't push her to continue, instead dropped his hand to her back, rubbing soothing circles in effort to calm her down.
"She had custody of her 16 year old brother. Their parents died in a car accident last fall, they moved in with her boyfriend. She was killed from an overdose of painkillers. You're probably thinking, a suicide, but no dice; the pill bottle only had one set of prints on it: her brother's, and the partial handprint on her cheek also belonged to her brother.
However he had been in school until 4 30, and work till 8, her estimated time of death was 8 30, and the brother's story was that Mary had been sick with the fever for a few days, and refused to take pills because they made her woozy and she couldn't work the double shifts she wanted."
"So he force fed them to her?" Danny interrupted, and then felt guilty when Aiden looked at him, teary eyed, suddenly the story took a back seat to his friend's well being.
He urged her to continue after a sheepish apology.
"He admitted to that, however he said he only gave her a double dosage, figuring she missed the last time. What he didn't know was that she'd had about half a liter of vodka in her system already. That explained her lackluster state, and not fighting back when he gave her the pills, yet I couldn't imagine that she would drink alone."
Suddenly, Aiden didn't feel so keen on drinking the rest of the beer and abruptly stood up to go throw it away. Danny watched her silently, until she settled on the counter, retelling her story.
"Flack dug up a past on her dead beat boyfriend. He'd been a recovering alcoholic for about three years, but when he met Mary, he fell off the wagon, drinking again. Mary was working double shifts to save up enough money for rehab, according to her brother. He wasn't at all happy with the predicament he was in, and since he had a steady job and could juggle school as well, he sent in papers to b emancipated from his sister."
"That gave him motive." Danny nodded her along, and Aiden sighed,
"Yeah, especially since the boyfriend is nowhere to be found. According to their neighbor, Eric, the brother, got a severe beating from Mary's beau the night before, but the guy didn't leave his house like he usually did for his midday binges. And Eric only called 911 at 9 30, giving him an hour to dispose of the boyfriend's body if he did in fact kill him."
Danny furrowed his eyebrow in thought, trying to piece together the puzzle Aiden had been working on for the passed 72 hours.
"I know it seems awfully convenient that the boyfriend disappeared and Eric waited so long to call for help, but I just can't believe that he would kill his sister. It doesn't matter that some fucking legal papers told him he could venture off by himself. He had no one else, why not kill the boyfriend, why go after your sister?" she questioned, already defending the protagonist in her mind.
"You know, Aiden." Danny rose from his seat, slowly walking to her, "I've learned that you can't mix intuition and evidence, and especially let it overpower the case presented to you. Besides the domestic abuse and alcoholism, you can't place blame on this 'boyfriend' character. Who knows, maybe the neighbor never saw him leaving because he left later, and maybe he's passed out in some ditch in a drunken stupor right now. Maybe Mary drank to ease her troubles, and in his negligence Eric killed her. You need to look at the evidence above everything else."
He came close to her, almost in touching proximity. Aiden looked down at her shoes, knowing he was right, but not able to own up to her own emotions and how for the first time her instinct might've failed her.
"Do you hear me?" Danny asked softly, breaking through her pensive reprieve. His hand moved slowly up her arm, providing a soothing touch and much craved human attention.
"Yeah." She smiled delicately, " I hear ya."
Aiden still refused to look at him, ashamed at being so incompetent. Though she knew Danny had a few of his own cases that got to him, she felt awestruck by how simply he handled this one.
Danny didn't pay much mind to what she was thinking, but reached up slowly, and wiped a descending tear off her cheek, as it gleamed with moisture. Aiden was stunned by their sudden contact and wanted nothing more than to slide into her warm arms and allow him to coax her until she couldn't cry anymore.
Yet, she knew it wasn't possible, however friendly the two of them were with each other, Aiden just wasn't ready to cry a river in front of an audience, even if that audience had the most amazing blue eyes, and the softest touch known to men.
Danny wasn't sure if he should inflict more contact on her, but remembering his mother's voice in his head telling him a hug could remedy any situation better, he placed his arms on either side of Aiden and pulled her into a bear hug, hoping she wouldn't reject him.
Aiden felt a wave of relief wash over her as she wrapped her arms around his torso, inhaling the scent of soap and cologne that was so familiar to Danny's aura.
"Thanks for making me feel better." She said a few minutes later when they separated.
"Don't mention it." Danny returned her smile, "I hate it when girls cry." He admitted.
"Why? Because then you can't make a move on them?"
Danny smiled when he noticed the color returning to her cheeks, and her wit renewed.
"You are way too cynical for your age. C'mon I think what you need is a milkshake." He walked to the table to retrieve his glasses.
Aiden laughed, shaking her head, "Nah, I think I'm just gonna go home."
Danny was relentless, "C'mon, you know you want to do the whole 'two straws' deal. I mean on Saturday Flack is gonna be there, and he's not a vanilla man like you and me."
Aiden looked thoughtful, "I actually prefer Oreo."
Danny deadpanned but resumed their playful banter.
"Well, I think since I'll be driving you can make the exception."
Aiden laughed, "Who says you're driving?"
Danny pointed to the bottle cap on the table, "You've been drinking missy and there's no way in hell I'm stepping over to the dark side of the law."
Aiden rolled her eyes and walked toward the door, "You are such a drama queen."
"Ouch, tenth grade flashback." Danny rubbed his temple, and Aiden turned around with a quizzical look on her face.
He stood still for a moment before letting out a small grin, "I was a late bloomer."
For the first time Danny Messer witnessed Aiden Burn giggle...