Title: Definitely Something
Author: Caitrin Torres
Fandom: CSI: New York
Spoilers: "Stuck On You"
For the third time in ten minutes, Danny glanced at the clock and went back to bouncing his pencil against the surface of the lab table as he sifted through the piles of paper spread out in front of him. After the fourth time, Lindsay reached over and snatched the pencil away. "What is wrong with you tonight?" she asked in irritation. "You're usually not this fidgety. Are you missing something? A hot date, maybe?"
"Actually, yeah, I am." Lindsay blinked in surprise, and Danny chuckled as he took his pencil back from her. "I didn't know you thought so little of me, Montana. You don't think I could find a hot date?"
The annoyed look she gave him didn't have much power behind it. "I know better than to answer that."
He grinned. "There's this guy I've known since high school, and he's getting married this weekend. Me and a few other guys were going to take him out tonight for a little fun. Don't worry about it, though. Once we find our match here, I should be able to catch up to them before they get him too drunk."
"You should go. I can finish this up," she said.
It was his turn to blink. "You sure? There's at least an hour and a half of work here if it's just you doing it. I can stay until we're done."
"It's fine, honestly. Friends are important. Get out of here." She shooed him towards the door. As distracted as he was, she knew she'd be doing most of the work whether he stayed or left. This way, at least one of them would get to keep their plans.
"Thanks, Montana," he said, and he pulled off his lab coat and draped it over his stool. "I owe you one."
Lindsay watched him wistfully as he hurried down the hall towards the elevator then looked at the clock herself and sighed. If she was lucky, she'd be on her way home before nine, and at that point, going home would be the only real option. "I shouldn't have planned to be there this week," she told herself. "Two weeks in a row would be too often. Every month is too often. Tonight, it's home, a bath, and a good book. It'll be fun." She picked up another stack of papers and started sorting it. By the time she found the records they were looking for, she might even have had enough time to convince herself.
The next morning, Lindsay squinted against the glare of sun on water as she turned into a gravel parking lot. She'd never heard of Pelham Bay until Stella cornered her with the assignment as she walked in that morning. Lindsay already knew that she'd be coming back when she had some free time, despite the brutal drive she'd just had across the Bronx. The peacefulness of the sprawling park was refreshing in its contrast with the chaos of the city.
She pulled up next to the only other two cars in the lot and quickly finished the last dregs of her coffee before killing the engine. She saw Flack standing under a tree and talking to a man who held his dog's leash in one hand while he gestured strongly with the other. When Flack caught her eye, he pointed down to the shore and narrowly missed having his hand slapped away as the man shook his fist to emphasize whatever point he was trying to make.
Lindsay steered clear of them to avoid being drawn into the conversation and carefully picked her way across the rocky beach. Mac was crouched by the water's edge with his camera, snapping photos of the rotted remains of what was once the end of a pier. "Morning, Mac," she called out as she reached him.
He glanced over his shoulder and then stood when he saw her. "You made good time," he said. "I wasn't expecting anyone for another twenty minutes."
Lindsay set her case down next to his out of reach of the slowly advancing tide. "I got lucky with the traffic on the bridge. What are are we doing all the way out here?"
Mac stepped aside to let her see what he had been photographing. Bobbing gently in the shallow water was an old, weathered rowboat with a dead man in a business suit face down in the bottom. "We had a few cases like this last spring and never caught whoever was responsible," he explained. "The others were in the East River, but there are enough similarities here that it could be the same guy."
She took his flashlight from him and ran it over the body and the boat. "What do we know so far?" she asked.
"DB is male, caucasian, probably in his thirties. We'll have to wait until we can look for a wallet to learn anything else on that front. There's no obvious cause of death from this angle and no blood that I can see in the boat. There weren't any vehicle tracks, but that isn't surprising on rocks like these. The footprints along the waterline there belong to our treasure hunter up there and his dog."
Lindsay turned off the flashlight and stood up again. "Treasure hunter?"
Mac jerked his head in the direction of the parking lot. "The man with the dog. He says he walks along the shore here every few weeks to look for anything that's washed up out of the Sound. There are a fair amount of people in this area who do that for exercise. There's always trash, but sometimes they find coins or something more interesting."
She finished the thought. "And sometimes, it's a dead body. Do you believe him?"
He shrugged. "For now. He was shaken enough to be telling the truth."
There was a bit of fabric snagged at the top of one of the support pilings. Lindsay reached out to grab it with a glove and handed it to Mac, then jogged back up to the truck to get her waders. They worked quietly as they searched the pier for other bits of trace evidence.
As she finished with the half of the pier she'd claimed, Lindsay looked at the bow of the rowboat and was startled when she realized just how much the tide had risen. "Mac? When do you want to untangle the boat?" she asked. "If the tide brings it up much more than another foot, it's going to hit the underside of the pier."
Mac looked at where she was pointing and winced. "Flack called Auto Detail and the ME's office before you arrived. I wanted to wait for the trailer, but you're right. We have to do this now." He turned to yell up to the parking lot. "Don!" Flack looked up from his notebook. "Where's my trailer?"
Flack put the notebook back in his jacket pocket and walked down to where they were waiting. "They're stuck in traffic. It'll probably be another fifteen or twenty minutes. I don't know where the ME is either, but is there anything I can do to help while we're waiting?"
Mac took another look at their problem before he answered. "Go back to the truck and see if there's anything stronger than crime scene tape that would let us tie up the boat. I'd rather not ground it until we have something to put it on. If Auto Detail ever shows up, they should have a tarp with them."
Lindsay poked her head under the pier to take a closer look at the rope anchoring the boat. It had been wrapped around one of the struts between the pilings and loosely knotted off. "I can reach the knot and untie the rope, but we're not going to be able to slide the boat out sideways. The pilings are too close together.
Mac took several steps away from shore. The top of his waders quickly reached the level of the water, and he stopped several yards short of the first broken piling. "We're not going to be able to pull it out the end, either, unless you feel like going swimming."
"I don't think so," Lindsay said tightly, and Mac smirked. "We might be able to get it out with a three point turn," she said. "We'd have to bring it back and out as far as it'll go in your direction, then turn it so I can pull it out this way."
Mac nodded. "Good plan." Lindsay smiled at the praise as she ducked back under the pier and reached for the knot.
"You should switch sides first," Flack called out as he jogged back to them. He crouched down at the edge of the water near Lindsay. "I found rope in the truck. Lindsay, if you attach it to the bow of the boat before you untie whatever's holding it now, whoever has the boat when it comes out should be able to toss it up to me, and we'll be good to go. And no offense, Monroe, but Mac's got a better chance than you of controlling the boat while it's floating free."
"None taken, believe me." It was already a bit of a challenge to keep her balance in the waist-deep water. Trying to stay on her feet while backing up would have been worse.
The plan worked, for the most part. It took more wiggling than any of them had anticipated to make the turn and push the boat out of its cage. When it was finally free, Mac threw the rope up to Flack, who wrapped it securely around one of the pilings while they waded out of the water. "I figured you'd need towels," Flack said as he handed them each a set of coveralls. "That's the closest you carry."
"Thank you, Don," Lindsay said. She wiped the water from her face and arms as she sat down on the beach to catch her breath.
Predictably, that was when Auto Detail arrived with their trailer. The ME's van was close behind them. Lindsay pulled herself to her feet and moved to stand with Mac off to the side. They watched the workers as they dragged the boat out of the water and lifted it onto the tarp. There was nothing more for them to do at the scene but wait until the dieners removed the body and the boat was loaded up to go back to the lab.
Lindsay took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. When she did it again, Mac shot her a questioning look. "I had to smell the air," she explained. "I've been in New York for almost ten months and I haven't seen the ocean until now. Other than the dead body and all the commotion, this is nice."
"You still haven't seen the ocean," he said with a certain amount of amusement in his voice. "This is Long Island Sound. It's an estuary. The rivers flow in, the ocean flows in, and the waters mix together. If you want to see the ocean on its own, you'll have to go up the Connecticut coast or out to Staten Island."
She waved the idea away and sighed happily as she looked out on the water. "It smells like fish and salt. It counts."
Mac laughed, but he didn't say anything more. Lindsay let her mind drift on the summer breeze until he startled her back to the present when he pulled a slip of paper from his shirt pocket and handed it to her.
"Mark asked about you last night."
"Mark?" The name was familiar, but it took her a moment to place it. She blushed when she did. "Your drummer, Mark?" Once a month was definitely too often to see his jazz combo play if people noticed when she wasn't there.
Mac nodded. "He was concerned when he didn't see you last night. I didn't realize you knew each other that well."
"We don't, really," she said, slightly confused. "He bought me a drink after your first set a few weeks ago, but we've hardly talked at all before or since. What did you tell him?"
"That you were fine when I last saw you and that I'd pass along his phone number in case you wanted it."
His words were studiously casual in a way that made the conversation even more awkward. Lindsay crumpled the slip of paper into a ball and stuck it in her pocket to keep until she found somewhere to throw it out. "I'm sorry he put you in the middle of this," she said. "I appreciate that you didn't just give him my number. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but I'm happy not being tied down. This is enough for now." The sweep of her hand as she explained took in everything around her: water, crime scene, and both of them included.
Mac gave her a skeptical look. "Rumor around the lab has it that you and Danny have been closer lately. There's no fraternization policy in effect, Lindsay, but if it's true, you need to do a better job of keeping it out of work."
Lindsay stood there, eyes wide in astonishment. When she finally found her tongue, her voice was full of restrained fury. "Detective Taylor, if you're telling me that as my superior, I'd like to remind you that with no fraternization policy in effect, any relationship Danny and I might have would be none of your business. Our behavior has been nothing but professional."
The hint of disappointment in his voice spurred her to relax and keep talking before she stopped to think. "If you're asking as a colleague or a friend, though, I meant what I said. I'm not dating anyone right now because I like where I am in life. Besides, Danny told me he had a hot date last night." A little white lie couldn't hurt, and this one was even true.
He didn't answer, but Lindsay hid a smile as the tension slowly melted out of his stance. Something important had just happened; she knew that much. There would be time later to think about what it might be.
When the dieners were finished, Auto Detail moved in to carry the boat, ground tarp and all, into the back of a trailer. She and Mac would process it back at the lab once it dried out. They spent several minutes scouring the area for any evidence that might have been missed or dropped, and then it was time to go. She picked up her case with her right hand, he with his left, and she resisted the sudden urge to reach for him as they walked up the beach. It was sunny, but it wasn't the sun or the sea air doing this. It was definitely something.