Spoiler Alert: Spoilers for Seasons 2 & 3, up to and including "Silent Night".

A/N: This is the final chapter of the story. I know there are still questions unanswered, and plot lines to follow. I hope to do that in a sequel. Give me a couple of days, though, could you?

There is no way to adequately thank all the people who have reviewed and questioned, suggested (and threatened) me throughout the past 10 weeks. Everyone who has responded has had an effect on how this story turned out. Thank you to all the people who read and enjoyed this story as well; I could feel your presence.

Disclaimer: No infringement of copyright is intended. All characters originated with CSI:NY; all song lyrics are from The Beatles.

It's A Long Journey Home

Chapter 61: Journey's End

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting

Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,

and I say it's all right

Time compressed and expanded meaninglessly. Lindsay stood by the window in the small room in the Bozeman hospital, leaning her head against the cold glass. She could hear people moving through the halls, machines beeping, announcements being made over the sound system, the hushed voices of nurses and techs.

She waited, utterly passive, utterly spent. There was no room in her for anything but a grinding, all-encompassing fear. She was beyond bargaining, beyond anger, simply holding the image of Danny in her heart and praying he would open his eyes.

Finally, an investigator came and processed her: scrapings, photographs, swabs, questions, questions, questions.

Finally, she was allowed to step in a shower and watch the remaining evidence wash down the drain. She turned the heat up as high as she could stand it, and stood under the pounding water, it seemed, for hours, flinching as the water turned red around her feet, wincing at, then ignoring the scorch burn on her leg from the gun shot. Finally, she changed into clean scrubs, as her clothes had been taken back to the lab.

It was the same shower, the same scrubs, the same smells and sounds and institutional babyshit-green walls. Everything was the same as it had been thirteen years ago.

Except her.

She walked briskly out of the shower, and straight into her mother.

"Lindsay," Diane said, enveloping her in a tight embrace.

"I'm okay, Mom." Lindsay pushed away as soon as she could. "Where's John? I need to know what's happening. No one will tell me anything about Danny or the case."

Diane stepped back, a little shocked by the cold voice and stiff response of her daughter. Then she looked into Lindsay's eyes and saw the blankness still wrapped around her little girl, and knew it for protection from the effects of shock. "Let's go find out about Danny, okay?"

Ted reached out and clasped Lindsay's hand tightly a moment, but followed Diane's lead as they went to the waiting room. Lindsay was held together by thin wires of determination and nothing else; pushing at her would only force her to come apart. Later, maybe, that would be the right thing to do. Right now, she needed help keeping it together.

"Wait here a moment," Diane said, "I'll go find Chris."

Lindsay relaxed a little at hearing Chris Martens' name; Danny and he had seemed to get along fine when it had been her in the hospital. She stood staring out yet another window while Ted sat looking at her helplessly.

"How did you know I was here?" she asked idly, all her attention focused on what was happening in the operating room.

"John radioed as soon as you were put on the helicopter. We were already on our way into town; Jamie and Mick are on their way." Ted looked down at his hands. He didn't want to give Lindsay any false hope or lying comfort; no one had told even Diane the status of Danny's surgery, just stared at her with grim faces and answered her with hushed voices. He couldn't think of another time Diane had been shut out like this.

"Lindsay," his voice broke a little, "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine." Her voice was distant, as if she really wasn't paying attention to him at all. He could feel it; everything in her yearned towards the man who had flown out to save her, and ended up being the one who needed saving. Ted dropped his face in his hands and sent up a fervent prayer that Danny Messer would be saved. Losing one could lose them both.

They heard the sound of Diane's footsteps coming down the hall. There was little chance of mistaking her for anyone else; she always moved as if the world was put in place simply for her to stand on. She came around the corner and went straight to Lindsay, grabbing her hands.

"He's going to be okay, Lindsay. He lost a lot of blood, and they couldn't stop the bleeding at first, but they have now. The bullet was a through and through, and did some damage, but nothing he won't recover from. He was lying in the snow long enough to slow down the bleeding in the first place. He'll be weak and pissed off for a while. But if there are no complications, he'll make a full recovery."

As Diane was talking, Jamie and Mick came down the hall at a run. "Peanut? Are you okay?" It was they who broke her, her big brothers, the ones who had always protected her until they couldn't any longer. It was the look in their eyes that finally cut through the wall she had built up during the helicopter ride. She collapsed into her mother's arms and was immediately surrounded by her family.

Then it was bad hospital coffee, food snuck in from a fast food joint around the corner, updates from the doctor, check-ins with the police officer still waiting to take statements, more bad coffee from vending machines, sitting in chairs so uncomfortable they seemed to design to cripple people for life, waiting for another update, waiting to hear from John.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

She couldn't phone Mac and tell him what had happened until she had seen Danny for herself, and she couldn't be let in to see him in Recovery. She had to wait until he had been cleared for a bed in the ICU. Diane had bustled off as soon as Danny went into Recovery to make arrangements for a private room. Lindsay left her to do what she did best: arrange the world to suit her needs.

Finally, John Monroe showed up, FBI agent face firmly in place, to run through her statement. Ted opened his mouth to protest his son treating his daughter in such a stiff and professional manner, but Jamie's hand on his arm stopped him cold. Ted looked at Lindsay's face – a mirror of her brother's – and realized they were both more comfortable doing things this way.

Flanked by a Bozeman police officer and stenographer, John led the way to a room where they could talk privately. He placed a tape recorder on the table and stated his name and rank for the record. He read Lindsay her rights and asked if she wished for representation from either a lawyer or a union representative. She formally declined, and proceeded to give her statement lucidly and efficiently from the moment she had identified Ross Adams from the picture in the yearbook to the moment she had pulled the trigger and killed him.

John Monroe's face remained impassive throughout the process. Lindsay completed her formal statement and waited for the stenographer to complete a written draft of the notes, which she signed. Everyone in the room signed sworn statements verifying the process, the collection of evidence, and the information stated by Detective Lindsay Monroe. No one was taking any chances on this evidence going missing.

When that was finished, and the stenographer and other officer had left the room, John swept Lindsay into his arms and held on for dear life.

"Jesus H Christ, girl. When we figured it out – when we realized it was Adams and he was missing – then we got there and heard the shot…" His voice dwindled to nothing and he hugged her again.

"I didn't even hear it – the helicopter. I felt it, but I didn't hear it. All I could think about was Danny, and how McKim had been right. I nearly got him killed, John. Just like Cameron. I nearly killed Danny." She had begun to shake again, and she wrapped her arms around her body protectively to ward off the traitorous response.

John stepped back, hands on her shoulders, and looked at his sister, "I don't ever want to hear that again, Lindsay Monroe. You are not responsible for Justin Forbes' actions, or for Ross Adams'. This is on them, entirely on them. And Cameron and Messer did what they chose to do, too. Cameron loved you, and goddammit, I guess Messer does too."

He shuddered as he thought back to the evidence at the scene; in spite of the blood loss, Danny had managed an impressive turn of speed to get to Lindsay. He chose not to tell Lindsay about the coyote tracks they had found in the snow following Messer's blood trail.

He had something else he had to tell her, though. He put his hand under her chin and stared into her eyes, as if gauging how much more she could take, "Lindsay, about McKim …"

She clutched his arm, "What?"

"Adams had tried to frame him, making it look like he was behind all this. It was clumsy, not well done, mostly a paper and computer trail. McKim must have figured something out, though. We think he went to confront Adams this morning, before Adams took off to find you."

"Is he dead?" Lindsay's voice was hardly above a whisper.

"No. No, honey. But he got in front of Adams' truck when the guy ran. He's in a coma. The doctors … don't know what will happen."

Lindsay pulled air into lungs that suddenly seemed too tight to expand. "I need to see him."

John just nodded. He had already cleared this with the doctors.

Lindsay sat beside John McKim's bed and held his hand. "John? John, I know you can hear me. And I know you'll want to know. Ross Adams is dead. He was the second shooter at the school; Chief Graham must have suspected, maybe known, and did everything he could to protect him."

She clenched her hands in useless anger at the man who had put personal loyalty before the truth, then went on, "Adams shot Justin Forbes – to make him a hero? To punish him? I'm not sure – Ross wasn't very clear about some things. He admired you, though; he wanted to be like you. I think he framed you to make you notice him. He was … so screwed up, John." She closed her eyes, trying to wipe the look on Ross's face out of her memory. She knew it would never go away; she had looked into the soul of another person and seen a screaming, hurt little boy, viciously striking back against the dark.

She opened her eyes again and focused them on the man in the bed, "You taught me to watch, to plan. You helped save me out there. Don't die. I don't know everything that was going on with you. I don't know why you tried to get me to go with you, or why you chose that way to do it. But I know you wanted to fix this. Don't die, John. Don't stay wherever you are now."

She sat for several minutes more beside his bed, holding his hand and waiting for some sign that he had heard her. Aside from the machines monitoring and assisting him, though, she felt no sense of presence.

She stood up and kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you for everything you did for me."

She would not let the tears fall. It felt too much like defeat.

When she walked out of the room, her mother was there again. This time, Lindsay walked straight into her arms and held on tight.

Diane soothed and petted for a few minutes, then took Lindsay's hand. "Come on. Someone is refusing proper medical care until he sees you."

She came into the room at a limping run, sliding to a stop when she saw two nurses and an intern struggling with a very disoriented and angry Danny. "What are you doing? He just came out of surgery!"

"He needs to stay in bed, miss. He keeps saying he's going to Montana. We've told him he's in Montana, but he isn't very lucid."

Lindsay couldn't help the snort of laughter that rose like a bubble in her. "Let me." She reached for Danny's hand and leaned forward to whisper in his ear, "Danny. It's Montana. Siete calmi. I'm here."

Instantly, he stopped trying to get up, sighed, and said with surprising clarity, "Where the hell ya' been, Montana?"

She hushed the others in the room and motioned them to leave. The older nurse threw her hands in the air and muttered, "If he's pulled out his stitches, I'm not using a local next time!" and ushered the two younger staff members out with her.

"I'm here now, Danny. I'm here." Carefully, she sat on the bed beside him, trying to avoid all the tubes and wires attached to him, monitoring his every breath and twitch.

"Where's here?" His voice was slurred now, but one hand held hers tight and the other reached up to cup her cheek, his thumb running over its smooth curve.

"Home, Danny. You and me, wherever we are. As long as we're together, we're home."



A/N2: The characters in this story have amazing loving sex. They also have unprotected sex. Unless you are actually a fictional person, don't follow their example. Their risks are controlled by me. You have to control your own risks. Don't be a statistic.