TITLE: Black Tie Affair
AUTHOR: Sugah Sugah
SUMMARY: You are cordially invited to the 38th Annual NYPD Awards Banquet.
SPOILERS: season 2
RATING: T. Sorry, it was lower, but there were too many bad words.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own them, CBS does.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This little plot bunny popped into my head weeks ago, and with my abundance of free time, I thought it was time to get it down.
Split perspectives. She said, he said kind of deal.
I have no idea what number NYPD awards banquet it would be. I just picked an arbitrary number.
No way would a limo move that quickly through the streets of New York on a Saturday night, but this is my story, and I say there is no traffic. Traffic be gone. :waves magic wand:
This is in no way related to "She Says". Completely separate.
DFO Done Fell Over. I don't know if they say that on NY, but I like the term.
For Ashley, Mountie, and Trace. Because I can think of another black tie affair we're all prepared to attend. At Elvis's Chapel O'Love.
Reviews make me happy. So does world peace. But I'll settle for reviews for the moment.
Black Tie Affair
Lindsay stared apprehensively at the invitation that had been pinned to the bulletin board in the break room. In fine calligraphy that was either a masterful computer creation or the result of hours of painstaking work, the words jumped out at her, mocking her with their elegance.
You are cordially invited to the 38th Annual NYPD Awards Banquet. Saturday August 26, 2006. 7 PM. Waldorf-Astoria. Black tie.
The concept of a yearly police awards banquet was nothing new to Lindsay; they'd had a similar function in Montana, though she suspected that Bozeman's annual shindig in the banquet hall of the local Holiday Inn was nothing compared to the black tie, cocktails, shmooze-fest that was a New York City affair. The Waldorf-Astoria? Lindsay was afraid to even set foot in the lobby – the entrance alone intimidated her. She would have to get her blue dress dry-cleaned; it wasn't like she owned a vast assortment of gowns, and she wasn't about to shell out good money for another dress that she would probably only end up wearing once. It didn't matter that everyone had already seen her blue dress.
Beneath the calligraphy was another note, written in Mac's careful cursive.
Attendance is mandatory.
She wasn't yet certain if that was meant to be a joke or not. She had planned on attending in any case, but at least this way she could claim that she had to be there, if the night ended up being a complete waste of her nicest dress. At least there was a free meal involved. Lindsay couldn't argue with anything that provided her with dinner. And Stella would be there, so she would have a bathroom buddy and someone to check out all the cute guys with. Lindsay smiled. They could laugh in a high girlish giggle and whisper to each other…Lindsay knew from experience that that sort of behavior around men made them extremely paranoid.
As she was staring at the invitation, her eyes were drawn towards the bottom and a hastily written postscript that was scrawled in what appeared to be Flack's practically illegible chicken scratch.
Dancing is required. This means you, Messer.
She smiled in spite of herself. She would pay good money to see Danny Messer struggle to dance. No doubt he had put up a fight at last year's banquet, which was why Flack had obviously felt the need to write that little message. Danny didn't strike her as clumsy in any way; he just didn't seem the type who leapt at the opportunity to show off his moves on the dance floor.
It wasn't just moves he could show off. Lindsay imagined that Danny would look extremely good in a tuxedo. Truth be told, he looked extremely good in almost – if not everything – that he wore. A flush crept across her cheeks as she stopped her mind from wandering to that naughty place it tended to go whenever she thought of Danny – which was happening more and more frequently the longer she knew him.
She was suddenly very much looking forward to Saturday.
Danny eyed the invitation on the bulletin board in the break room warily. It was fancy, written in the kind of loopy cursive hat signaled either a gala or a wedding. As far as he knew, no one from the department was getting married, getting engaged, or even seriously dating anybody, so the wedding option was out. It must be a gala. He leaned forward, in order to better make out the words.
You are cordially invited to the 38th Annual NYPD Awards Banquet. Saturday August 26, 2006. 7 PM. Waldorf-Astoria. Black tie.
He groaned. He'd completely forgotten about the annual banquet. He had hoped to completely block out the painful memories associated with every banquet he had ever attended – especially after his spectacular failure two years ago with the blonde girl from day shift, who apparently thought he was worse than a leper, if the look she'd given him after he'd asked for her number was any indication. Flack and Aiden had gotten a good laugh out of his failed attempt. They brought it up for weeks.
His chest constricted. Aiden. The night just wasn't going to be the same without her. Danny wondered if he should just skip the whole ordeal altogether, but then something caught his eye, directly underneath the details of the event.
Attendance is mandatory.
It was written in Mac's handwriting. Danny sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. So much for skipping the thing. Mac was big about departmental unity. And now, with Aiden gone, and Flack only recently out of the hospital, unity within the department was more important than ever to Mac.
Danny licked his lips unconsciously. He'd have to rent a tux. He didn't own one. He'd never even considered buying one. How often did he have to wear one, seriously? It was cheaper to just rent one for the one night a year he actually had to suffer through a black tie affair.
He was turning to refill his coffee mug when Flack's note caught his eye.
Dancing is required. This means you, Messer.
"Hell, no," Danny said to no one in particular, as he was currently the only one in the break room. No way was he dancing. No way. Not after last year's drunken mambo, when he'd ended up spraining his wrist, which was no doubt what Flack had been remembering when he wrote the note. He ran a hand through his hair. Maybe he could fake sick.
Movement out the break room window captured his attention, and he turned to see Lindsay approach Stella and whisper something to her. Both women laughed and disappeared down the hallway.
Danny glanced back at the invitation. On the other hand…black tie meant that he would get to see Montana all dolled up, like that one time in the subway. And if attendance was mandatory, then she would have to be there. And if Flack was serious about the dancing being required, then it wouldn't be such a stretch if maybe Danny asked Lindsay to dance.
He smiled. Maybe this year wouldn't be such a bust after all.
Lindsay suddenly and inexplicably hated everything she owned. Her magnificent blue dress had come back from the cleaners with a huge black smudge right on the bodice, and there wasn't enough time to take it to another place to try and get the stain out. She'd had to suck it up and make a trip to the nearest bridal shop and find another dress. She grabbed the first one she saw that struck her fancy and tried it on; luckily, it fit.
When the saleswoman saw her in it, she said, "Honey, that man of yours is going to swallow his tongue when he sees you in this."
Lindsay had thanked her, paid, and left the store in a hurry. She didn't put much stock in what the woman had said because she was a salesperson and was trying to make a sale. Also, she didn't quite understand what the woman had meant.
Shoes, makeup, hair…Lindsay frantically tried to get everything done, but having to buy a new dress had thrown her for a loop. She knew exactly what accessories best complimented her blue dress, but she was going to have to start from scratch with this new one. Hence why she currently hated everything that she owned. Nothing seemed to match.
Why was this such a task? Who was she trying to impress? The answer to that question popped unbidden into her mind. Danny Messer.
She glanced at the clock. Five-thirty. The limo was picking her up at six. She sighed and stared at her jewelry box for the umpteenth time, hoping that the proper earrings would leap out and bite her.
Danny stepped out of the shower, towel wrapped tightly around his waist, and stared at his reflection in the mirror. He rubbed his chin and briefly contemplated shaving, then immediately decided against it. He'd gotten more than his fair share of compliments on his five o'clock shadow, so it was definitely staying. He planned on bringing his A-game tonight.
He ticked everything off his mental checklist as he did them. Deodorant? Check. Cologne? Check. Teeth brushed? Check. Mouthwash? Check. He did a compulsory breath and underarm check and decided he was adequately cleansed and could now get dressed.
One thing about renting, Danny noted as he pulled on the slacks, was that the tux always looked immaculate. If he'd owned his own tuxedo, he would be responsible for having it cleaned and ironed. When he rented, the store did that for him. Also, if it was a rental, and the person who'd had it previously hadn't suddenly DFO'd, then he knew it wasn't soaked in formaldehyde, and he could put it on without fear.
As he buttoned up the shirt, he realized he had absolutely no idea where his cuff links were. He sighed and dropped to his hands and knees, feeling his way around his bedroom until he located the missing cuff links. How they had managed to get all the way over on the other side of his bed was a mystery to him.
He glanced at his clock. Six. The limo was picking him up in fifteen minutes. He fiddled with his tie for a few futile moments but ultimately gave up. Aiden had always tied his tie for him.
Lindsay fiddled with the diamond – okay, cubic zirconium – bracelet she'd finally decided on. Everything about her outfit felt wrong. She felt basic next to Stella, who had gone all out for the occasion. Her black gown had glitter everywhere – she looked like a disco ball when she moved – and her shoes probably cost more than Lindsay's monthly salary. She'd even gone so far as to sport a silver tiara.
Her excuse? "Awards banquet only comes once a year," Stella had said when Lindsay gaped at her ensemble. "Might as well enjoy it."
"What was that, Stel?" Flack had asked, cupping a hand to his ear, like he hadn't heard her. "I couldn't hear you over your dress."
Danny was the last one in the limo. Flack opened the door for him and greeted him with a high five as Danny climbed in and slid into the only available seat. Which happened to be right next to Lindsay. He glanced at everyone as he sat down, but he did a double take when he saw her.
"Damn, Montana," he said, licking his lips.
"What?" she asked, finding herself suddenly breathless by the look in his eyes. She noticed absently that he hadn't yet tied his tie, so she set about doing it for him, not really realizing what she was doing until she was smoothing out the creases in his dress shirt. She saw that Flack was grinning. Her cheeks grew warm, and she knew that she was blushing. She quickly lowered her hands, dropping them into her lap.
"Nothing," Danny said. He reached up to finger his newly tied tie. "Just…damn."
She could say the same about him, but she didn't. He looked good. Amazing. So incredibly fine. She'd guessed right. He did look incredible in a tuxedo. It was simple and basic, classic. She liked it. She wished she could see him dressed like this more often. They needed to have a monthly awards banquet, and not an annual one.
She was acutely aware of Danny's eyes on her the entire ride.
The limo pulled to a stop outside the Waldorf. Desperate to prove that he was a gentleman – to start the evening off right – Danny scrambled out of the limo first and held out his hand, intent on helping Montana out of the car, like a Don Juan or Casanova.
"Allow me," he said, stopping just short of bowing his head, but the person that took his proffered hand was not Lindsay. Or, if it was, she had really masculine hands.
"You're a peach, Danny," Flack said. He clapped Danny on the back and ambled up the steps and into the lobby.
Danny ended up having to help everyone out of the limo before the hand he was longing to hold again slipped shyly into his. He hauled her to her feet, using more force than necessary, causing her to crash against him. She threw up her hands to brace herself; they ended up splayed against his chest. He was certain she could feel his heart beating; it was going so fast that he was surprised it didn't just putz out on him. He coughed uncomfortably and took a step backwards.
She looked amazing. Stunning. So incredibly fine. It was a simple red dress, thin straps, embroidered bodice, but it fit her perfectly. It hugged her curves in all the right places, leaving little to the imagination, but still teasing him with the promise of what lay under all that fabric. She was obviously trying to kill him. Trying and succeeding. But what a wonderful way to die.
"Thank you," she said, smiling up at him. He loved whatever she had done with her makeup. Her eyes looked bigger, brighter, and they met his with an intensity that frightened and intrigued him. "But I think you need to work on your technique."
He grinned. "My technique, Montana," he said, waggling his eyebrows, "has never gotten complaints."
She cocked an eyebrow at him. "That you're aware of."
He placed a hand over his heart and screwed his face up into what he hoped was an expression of mock pain. "That hurts, Monroe. That really hurts."
She shook her head, still smiling, and carefully made her way up the steps. He followed close behind, steadying her with a hand on the small of her back. He opened the door for her when they reached the lobby, and they joined the others, who were waiting just inside the glass doors.
Everything about New York City impressed Lindsay. She'd been here almost a year now and she never ceased to be amazed by how different New York was from Bozeman. It was no great revelation, but she'd never really considered it before. An hour and a half into the awards banquet, she found herself struggling to remember what these shindigs had been like back in Montana.
The food was incredible – quite possibly the most delicious cuisine Lindsay had ever sampled – and it was way more elaborate than anything the Bozeman PD would think of serving. The music was unbelievable – a string quartet for dinner and a jazz band for afterwards. When all the awards had been given out, it was time for cocktails – or, as Flack liked to call it, "singles mingles". There was a dance floor, but most everyone remained at their tables, talking.
As in the limo, she was aware that Danny was watching her. She could feel his eyes on her, the heat in his gaze overpowering. She had to force herself not to make eye contact with him; otherwise, she might come to regret it.
When she could stand it no longer, she turned to Flack. "I thought you said that dancing was required," she said. She gestured at the table, where they all still sat. "No one's dancing."
"Give a guy a break, Monroe," Flack said, lightly tapping his stomach where she knew his scar to be. "I'm still recovering, here. Messer, why don't you ask her to dance?"
Lindsay's stomach fluttered, like the wings of a thousand butterflies. She turned to Danny. "Yeah, Messer," she said, surprised at her boldness, "why don't you ask me to dance?"
Danny raised his eyebrows, then graced her with that wonderful, charming smile that often made her knees turn to butter and her insides turn to jelly. He licked his lips and leaned forward. "Montana, would you like to dance?"
She brought her shoulder to her chin – as sexily as she could make a shrug. "Maybe."
He chuckled softly and shook his head. "Oh, I don't think so," he said. He stood up, grabbed her hand, and pulled her to her feet. "I don't take 'no' for an answer."
Their faces were no more than a hair's breadth apart. It would have taken very little effort to press her lips to his, and at that moment, she wanted nothing else. But Flack's voice interrupted their moment.
"But apparently, he will take, 'Get away from me, you lecherous cretin' for an answer."
Danny blushed crimson and glared at Flack. "That was two years ago, and I seem to recall that she shot you down, too."
Flack laughed. "Yeah, but not as spectacularly as that."
"C'mon," Danny said gruffly into her ear, again placing his hand at the small of her back to lead her onto the dance floor. He grumbled the entire way to the floor, muttering a string of curse words – all directed at Flack – under his breath. Lindsay couldn't help but smile.
"What was that about?" she asked, though she already knew. Flack had told the story in the limo on the way to Danny's apartment.
"Nothing," Danny said. "We gonna dance or no?"
"By all means, Mr. Messer."
And they danced. She'd been right again. Danny wasn't a klutz. He was graceful – surprisingly more graceful than she'd given him credit. He didn't stumble or trip or step on her toes at all. The song to which they danced was up-tempo – a waltz. They twirled and spun their way around the dance floor, oblivious to everything and everyone else. Each had one hand on the other's hip. With the other, they twined their fingers.
She was mesmerized by the look in his eyes, by the feel of his arms, by the gentle rhythm of his heart. She decided right then and there that this was where she wanted to be, always. Her life would never feel complete without him in it.
The band switched to a slower song, but Danny didn't release her. A gentle tug on her arm brought her flush against him. The hand she had rested on his hip she placed on his chest, just above his beating heart. She lay her head on his shoulder; he snaked his arms around her, pulling her even closer.
"Montana," he said after a while, and she looked up at him, concerned by the seriousness of his tone. "There's something I have to tell you."
She nodded, her heart beating wildly, her stomach dropping to her knees.
"You do something to me," he said. His eyes were so blue. She didn't think she'd ever seen anything so blue. "I can't explain it. You make me feel…" He trailed off with a sigh, shaking his head. "I don't know."
She stretched up on her toes and lightly brushed her lips against his. He gaped at her, speechless, and she did it again – more firmly, more urgently than before. She moved her mouth over his slowly, deliberately, pouring all of her emotions into her kiss because there was no way she could ever adequately explain how she felt about him with words. He responded with full fervor, gripping the back of her head to deepen the kiss. Her hands clutched his biceps with enough force to bruise, and she hoped she did bruise him – mark him as her own.
He broke away first, gasping for breath, and rested his forehead against hers. They stood like that for a few moments, gulping greedily for air, before Danny spoke. "God, Lindsay." That was all.
She smiled, her heart soaring, and he raised his eyebrows. "So this is what I had to do," she said, "to get you to call me Lindsay."
The sun, not the annoying buzz of his alarm, woke Danny. Rays sneaking in through the slats of his Venetian blinds, just enough light to be too bright. He rolled onto his stomach and clamped his pillow over his head, not willing to leave the blissful state of slumber, where he was having the most amazing dream. He dreamt that he had kissed Lindsay, that they'd returned to his apartment, that she'd spent the night. It was a good dream – the best dream he'd had in a long time.
The bed shifted. Danny raised his head and peered out from underneath his pillow. Lindsay lay beside him, the sheet doing a terrible job of covering her nakedness, not that Danny minded.
So it hadn't been a dream. Danny glanced in the general direction of God and mouthed, "Thank you", to his ceiling, which of course did not return the sentiment.
He lowered his eyes to stare at his sleeping companion. Her hair was a mess – half of it still in that elegant hairstyle she'd worn to the banquet, the other half tangled in pins and barrettes, thanks to his roaming fingers. Her makeup was still on, the eyeliner immaculate, the eye shadow fading, the lipstick completely gone, thanks to his lips. Her skin was porcelain, pale and delicate and dotted with red marks that would be bruises in a few days, thanks to his teeth.
He looked up at God again. Thank you, he decided, was not good enough.
Danny tentatively stretched out his hand to touch her, lightly running his fingers along the slope of her belly, just to reassure himself that she was, in fact, really there. That it hadn't all been a dream. But there she was, warm and alive in his bed. Last night had actually happened.
Her eyelids fluttered and opened. She met his gaze and smiled shyly. "Hi."
He could not contain the grin that threatened to split his face in two if his life depended on it. "Hey."
He ran his fingers up her stomach and she shivered. "What are you doing?" she asked, though she didn't seem to mind.
"Just making sure you're not a dream."
She leaned forward and pressed her lips to his. It was anything but chaste, but was tame compared to the previous night's activities. "Could a dream do that?" she asked when she pulled away.
"I don't know," he said, draping an arm over her waist and pulling her closer to him. "I think I need another one. You know, to compare."
She laughed and indulged him, kissing him again. "Ever the scientist."
He nodded enthusiastically. "That's me."
She snuggled closer to him, and he pulled the sheet up so that they were now both completely covered. Because having naked Lindsay pressed up against him was almost as good if not better than getting to see naked Lindsay. She rested her head against his chest and traced lazy patterns around the tattoo on his bicep with her fingers.
"You do realize," she said after a bit, "that we eventually have to get up."
"Says who?" He clasped her hand in his, then brought her hand to his lips and kissed it. As far as he was concerned, they were the only two people in the world. They were the only two people that mattered.
She smiled. "Mac."
Danny made a face. He had hoped never to have his boss's name mentioned in his bed. So much for that dream. Work was the last place he wanted to be right now. He never wanted to leave this bed. It felt good being there with Lindsay. It felt right. "You know, Monroe, I'm not feeling so hot."
She quirked an eyebrow at him, clearly not buying it. "Really."
He nodded. "Oh, yeah. Something I ate last night didn't agree with me."
She shook her head. "Danny, we all ate the same thing last night, so Mac isn't going to believe that you and only you got food poisoning. Besides, if you were going to get food poisoning, you would have gotten it a lot earlier than this morning, and you seemed more than healthy last night."
He scowled, but couldn't argue with her logic. "Ever the scientist."
She winked. "That's me."
She rolled away from him and slid out of bed, despite his protests. She pulled her dress off the back of his desk chair and sadly slipped into it. "You looked good in that, Monroe," he said as she slowly zipped it up. His blood boiled just thinking of the way that material felt against his bare chest. "You need to wear stuff like that more often."
She laughed and sat down on his desk to buckle her shoes. "Actually, I always thought that the best part of a black tie affair was afterwards."
He raised his eyebrows, intrigued. "Yeah?"
She nodded. "The best part of a black tie affair is taking the tie off." She grinned. "They look so much better on the floor."
She passed by the bed to get her purse, but he grabbed her around the waist and pulled her down on top of him. "Can't argue with you there, Montana."
They were both late to work that morning.