Disclaimer: I don't own CSI:Miami or NY. Madonna owns the lyrics to This used to be my playground. No profit is being made.
Spoilers/Timeline: Set after The Closer. Also contains a mention of On The Job and Lost Son happened.
This used to be my playground
Danny Messer kicked the ground underneath his feet. His sneakers shifted the first a little but otherwise didn't make a difference. He wasn't really wearing the best kind of sneakers for playing but he had no intention on actually running, so these would have to do.
He just needed to blow off some steam and, after their latest case, the old baseball ground seemed like the best place for that.
Danny had grabbed his old ball-machine from where it had been buried in the back of his closet for the past fifteen years. When he had been younger he would have taken it with him to his grandparents house. They lived in the country and Danny would use the machine to practice his swing during the long summer vacations.
Danny had loaded the machine into the trunk of his SUV and headed out to All-Stars Ball Park.This used to be my playground
This used to be my childhood dream
This used to be the place I ran to do
Whenever I was in need
The machine was controlled by a small remote control you could fasten around your wrist. At the press of the button it would fire baseball at the pre-set speed.
Danny pressed the button and the machine whirred to life. Danny gripped the bat with both hands, planting his feet firmly as the machine fired a baseball in Danny's direction. Danny took a swing of the bat. The sound of the ball colliding with the wood sounded amplified in the silent ballpark.
Danny watched as the ball travelled through the air, out of the area lit by the headlamps on the SUV and into the darkness beyond.
Danny hissed when he felt pain shoot through his right shoulder, reminding him why he had been driven to the baseball ground in the first place.
Their latest bad guy had used baseball as a weapon; used the sport to take away two innocent lives. Baseball had always been the one thing that was good. The one thing Danny could run to, the one thing he could use to forget to about what was happening in his life. It was the one thing that he could rely on. And now that image was tainted.
Of a friend Why did it have to end?
And why do they always say,
Don't look back?
Danny remembered sitting in the dugout behind him, waiting to be called up. He pressed the button again and another ball flew through the air towards him, which Danny hit and knocked into the darkness.
Danny lowered his arms, leaning against the bat and closed his eyes. The air in the park felt eerie. He could hear the faint sounds of the crowd cheering and the mouth-watering small of the refreshments stand. It was almost like he was thirteen again, sitting next to his best-friend and next-door neighbour, Johnny, laughing about some lame joke. Johnny usually dragged his other best friend from school to practices. Danny hadn't known him very well, but they got on well enough.
Danny pressed the button again. Six years after that memory, Johnny had been injured in a snowmobile accident. Danny hadn't been able to go on the winter skiing trip, he had been forced to go to Europe with his parents and he could still remember receiving the news. Three days before Christmas.
Danny lowered his head, panting as he tried to catch his breath. He knew he hadn't played in years, but the hour or so he had been the park was already starting to take it's toll on the CSI. But Danny refused to leave, he had gone there to vent and he was determined to do that.
Johnny had been paralysed from the neck down, rendering him completely motionless. Danny and Johnny other best friend, Tim Speedle, had spent all their free time with Johnny, trying to make him feel like he wasn't left of things.
One day, on his way to the hospital to visit, Danny had been attacked by a group of thugs. Even after so much time, Danny still couldn't remember how it had happened or who it was. The doctors had told him that was natural in some attack cases. The only thing he could remember for definite was his left arm bleeding and hot liquid running down his back.
The next thing Danny remembered were the doctors telling him that the ligaments in his arm and shoulder had been badly damaged, along with his ulna, which had been broken completely. They had told him that, while he would be able to play baseball for fun in several years time, there was no way his injuries would ever be healed enough for him to become the professional baseball player he wanted to be.Keep your head held high
Don't ask them why
Because life is short
And before you know
Danny had fallen at that moment in time. He became moody and withdrawn, taking his anger out on the people around him.
Danny took another swing of the bat. He had eventually become addicted to the painkillers that he had been prescribed. It had just been too easy to take a couple of pills and forget about how much his life sucked.
Johnny and Tim must have talked about him a lot because one day Tim arrived at Danny's house and dragged him over to see Johnny. They had done everything, short of beating him up, to knock some sense into Danny and make him see that he was doing himself more harm than good.
It had taken a year for Danny to completely shrug himself free of the hold the painkillers had on him. But when he did, he enrolled on a forensic science degree course at John Jay University. Tim attended Columbia where he was doing research to find a way to help Johnny.
Tim and Danny had gotten together one night after two many bottles of beer in Danny's dorm room and it wasn't long before they ended up in bed with each other. Hand's everywhere, touching every inch of skin they could reach.
Danny wiped his hand across his cheek, drying the few stray tears that were mingling with the beads of sweat on his face.
Danny and Tim had been in Staten Island, visiting Danny's parents when Johnny had been scheduled for surgery. Neither of them knew that Johnny had even agreed to it, otherwise they would have been in the hospital waiting room, waiting for him to come out of the theatre. But he never did. Johnny's parents were told that the doctors had experienced complications and that they just couldn't hold on to Johnny long enough.
Danny had lost his first best friend and, ultimately, his lover.You're feeling old
And your heart is breaking
Don't hold on to the past
Well that's too much to ask
Johnny had been buried less than a week when Tim disappeared, without a word to anyone. From what Danny had been able to work out Tim had just packed some stuff into a small backpack, got on his bike and headed out of town.
Danny titled his head back looking at the night sky. Danny never spoke to, or saw him, again. Until some cruel twist of fate had brought Horatio Caine up to New York. Caine was the supervising Lieutenant with the Miami-Dade PD. He had suggested that Danny converse with one of his CSI's in Miami in order to find who they were looking for.
Even though it had been so long, Danny instantly recognised Tim's voice on the other end of the line. It felt like he was dreaming, he had imaging hearing Tim's voice for so long that it didn't feel real.
It had been a tense phone call, Danny had so many things that he wanted to say to Tim – none of which were really suitable for the NYPD's crime lab, but as he listened to Tim falling over his words, his mouth wouldn't say what his brain wanted it to.No regrets
But I wish that you
Were here with me
Well then there's hope yet
"You're going to break your neck, standing like that."
Danny scowled, staring into the darkness in front of him. "You're not real," he muttered.
Tim chuckled. "Well, sure I am." Danny shook his head. "I'm a real ghost."
This time Danny nodded, taking another swing of the bat. He had been seeing Tim's ghost a lot over the past few months and even more so after the Minhas shooting.
Tim had been shot and killed in the line of duty almost a year before. When Danny found out his initial reaction was anger at Tim for leaving him alone again. But when the anger subsided he found himself mad at Horatio for pulling Tim off of his vacation. Tim had been planning to use the vacation to go back to New York to explain why he left Danny in the first place.
"Come here," the ghost whispered and Danny could feel cold against his back where Tim was pressed up against him.
"Since when do you know how to play baseball?" Danny whispered, unable to keep up the pretence any longer. Tim's ghost was here and he obviously wasn't planning on going away at the moment.
"Babe Ruth taught me," Tim replied, closing his ghostly hands around Danny's.
"You're shitting me!" Danny scoffed, widening his stance.
"Am I?" Tim replied as Danny activated the machine.
Danny momentarily forgot about his dead lover's comment as he took a swing for the ball. It connected then travelled through the lit area and into the darkness. Danny had no idea how far the hit had gone until he heard the ball hit the stands on the opposite end of the park.
"I haven't hit that far in years," Danny mumbled. He frowned when silence answered him. "Tim?" he asked, turning around but Tim's ghost was already gone.This used to be our playground
This used to be our childhood dream
This used to be the place we ran to
I wish you were standing here with me