A/N: Presenting, for your enjoyment, the final chapter. Thank you all for staying with me throughout this entire story, and many, many thanks for the continued reviews. They are very much appreciated.
Unbeta'd, again, but many thanks to Mandy for all her help.
Chapter Twelve: Understanding
Mac felt the bile rise in his throat as he stared through the glass at Dmitri's interrogation. They had been hard-pressed to find someone to conduct it who wasn't totally biased against him. Because in addition to killing ten innocent people, he had also tried to kill a New York City police officer – and may have killed an FBI agent. Flack, as the detective assigned to the case, should have taken it, but he was still at the hospital, waiting for news on Terra. Mac would have taken the interrogation, but after his mistake with the Pamchenkos' apartment, he wasn't willing to risk it.
So he had asked around the precinct. With the importance of the case, most of the officers didn't want to run the chance of screwing it up. Finally, Scagnetti volunteered. Now Mac watched as the seasoned detective got Dmitri to crack. It took a while – Dmitri was adamant that he had done nothing wrong – but as evidence came pouring in, supporting their belief that he had framed Pamchenko for the crime, he began to change his tune.
Mac wasn't sure which was more disturbing – the fact that he had committed this unspeakable crime, his reasons for doing it, or the complete lack of emotion with which he told his tale. As Dmitri told his story, it sounded as though he were describing the events of a movie rather than confessing to a crime. And when Scagnetti asked him why, Dmitri's response was spoken as though he were surprised no one knew.
"I was not good enough for her," he explained. "She wanted him. I am better than he was. And I was going to make sure that she knew it."
Mac had wanted nothing more than to bust through the glass and strangle Dmitri with his bare hands, and from the look in Scagnetti's eyes as he sat back, he had a similar desire. But neither one acted on it, and eventually Dmitri was led away in handcuffs – handled none-too-lightly by the guards. Mac scrubbed a hand over his face. People's motives were getting weaker all the time. More and more people were killing over less and less. It made Mac sick just thinking about it.
There were some days that he hated his job. He hated seeing the lengths people would go to over the most ridiculous things. He hated seeing the looks in people's eyes when they were caught, because more and more, they looked as though they didn't even care – as though what they had done didn't even resonate with them as being wrong. Sometimes, knowing the 'why' behind a crime was worse than not knowing, because it was just another indication of everything that was wrong with society. He couldn't help but think of a teenage Lindsay, trapped in a bathroom as her friends were murdered for no reason. She always wanted to know the 'why'.
More often than not, lately, he preferred not to know.
He was still in the observation room, leaning against the glass, when Stella came looking for him twenty minutes later.
"Lindsay doesn't have a concussion," she informed him, no small amount of relief in her voice. She didn't seem to notice his mood, but perhaps she was just excited to relay the good news. "Just a nasty bump. Doctors say they don't even need to keep her overnight. Danny's taking her home."
"That's good to hear," he said. But truthfully, he hadn't been all that worried about Lindsay. He knew his CSIs, and she was a tough girl. He still vividly remembered the way she had taken down a suspect on her first day. He'd had no doubts that she would be fine. On the other hand… "And Terra?"
Stella pursed her lips. "Still in surgery. She lost a lot of blood, Mac. It doesn't look good."
Mac sighed. He had never really warmed up to Terra, in a personal sense. A lot of that was because of her relationship with Danny, which Mac knew was unfair. However, as an agent, he had a lot of respect for her. She was a highly decorated agent, with more awards and commendations than Mac himself. She probably could be running that branch of the Bureau, but she remained where she was. She hadn't even complained when they'd taken her out of the field, or so he heard. He usually didn't put much stock in idle gossip, but he had to admit that he'd followed Terra's career with great interest, especially after he learned that – despite his campaigning – she would not be fired.
He knew very little about her personal life – only what he could learn from her personnel file and the internet. She was from a wealthy family and had been raised in a life of privilege and prestige, the only daughter of a Texan cattle rancher who had struck oil while drilling a well. Mac never would have guessed it, from the way she carried herself; she didn't act like someone who had grown up with money, but he suspected that to be one of the reasons that Stella disliked her so much. Stella had worked for everything she'd ever gotten; she probably assumed that Terra, coming from money, was handed everything on a silver platter. But Terra's multiple diplomas spoke volumes – as did her fluency in nearly half a dozen languages at the age of fifteen.
He cleared his throat. "When will we know something?"
Stella shrugged. "Flack's still at the hospital. He's supposed to call when she gets out of surgery."
Mac studied Stella's face carefully. There was something in her eyes that he immediately recognized. The two of them had been friends for a long time; they'd worked together for years. Mac knew all of Stella's facial expressions, all of her tones of voice, all of her postures, all of her moods. "You're feeling guilty," he surmised.
"I don't like her." She brought her hands to her face, her fingers curled as though she were about to catch a ball. "She drives me crazy. She's arrogant and obnoxious and…" She trailed off and leaned against the glass beside him. "She saved Don's life, Mac."
He nodded. Danny had told them the whole story when he called earlier – although he spoke so rapidly that Mac almost hadn't been able to understand him. "I know. But don't change the way you feel about her just because she got shot, Stella. That's not fair to her."
"This would be so much easier if she could just be a bitch. But no. She had to go and be noble. Makes it really hard to hate her."
Mac smiled sadly. "Well, maybe she'll do something selfish soon, so you can go back to disliking her without feeling conflicted."
Stella sighed. "We can only hope."
There was a knock on the door, and both Mac and Stella turned to find Chief Robinson silhouetted in the doorway. He shot a pointed look at Mac, who excused himself from Stella and made his way out into the hall. Mac wasn't sure what to expect from the chief, since the last time he had seen the man, he had almost gotten fired. And as the two walked down the hallway, with the chief still not saying anything, Mac was beginning to fear the worst.
"You'll be pleased to hear," the chief said, sliding his hands into his pockets, "that Ambassador Pamchenko will not be pressing charges over the flagrant violation of his rights."
Mac blew out a relieved breath. He had regretted that lapse in judgment from the beginning, but knowing now that Alexi Pamchenko had absolutely nothing to do with the crime made his guilt that much worse. And even though the NYPD had decided not to take action, there was always the possibility of a civil suit. Mac was indeed glad to hear that the ambassador had decided not to go through with it, though he had every right to do so. "That is good news."
"He is also not expecting a public apology, though I trust you will issue one regardless."
Mac nodded slowly. He had been planning on doing that, once the case was wrapped. "Of course."
"And the DA is going to thank the Pamchenko family for their help in the investigation." Robinson folded his arms across his chest and turned to face Mac. "I in no way condone what you did, but I must admit, if you hadn't gone to search their apartment, we might never have found the evidence we needed to convict Kozlov."
"Is the DA confident that we have enough for trial?"
Robinson nodded. "We have his confession, and we have it on videotape, so that it's clear he was not forced into doing it. At this point, any evidence your lab may find is an added bonus. Not to mention the mandatory time he'll have to serve for assaulting Detective Flack and shooting Special Agent McQueen. We'll have plenty of time to start compiling our case against him. Plus, I imagine the ambassador will spare no expense in seeing that justice is served."
Mac hung his head. He hadn't been present with the Pamchenkos had arrived to identify their son's body, but he imagined that it would have been difficult to witness. To be told that your son was the only suspect in a multiple homicide, only to discover that he had been deceased for several days, could not be easy news to here. Mac did not envy them.
"Detective Taylor," Robinson said, and Mac winced at the brusque tone his voice adopted, "I don't think I need to tell you that I'm very disappointed in your behavior on this case."
"I'm disappointed myself, Chief," Mac said. "Rest assured, it will not happen again."
"No. I don't suppose it will. You of all people should understand that the integrity of the lab is at risk. We can't have something like this happen again. It would compromise any open investigations – possibly even closed ones."
Mac nodded again. "Yes, sir. It will not happen again."
"Good. Then I'll let you get back to work." He turned to leave, but stopped and glanced back at Mac over his shoulder. "You will let me know when you hear about Special Agent McQueen?"
Robinson pursed his lips. "She's a good agent. It would be a shame if we lost her."
Mac privately agreed.
Danny stepped into the shower, anxious to wash off any and all traces of the day. He rested his head against the cool tile and let the warm water soothe his tired muscles. If ever his heart were going to quit on him, today would be the day for it to happen. He honestly didn't think he would be able to handle anything else without going absolutely crazy, or just dropping dead altogether. Two of the women he cared about most in the world, and he had found both of them unconscious in the same day. Lindsay was fine – nothing more than a bump, and she'd brushed off the doctor's concerns much the same way Danny would have in that situation.
Terra, on the other hand…
He felt guilty. He knew he shouldn't. It wasn't his fault. He had gone with his first instinct, which was to protect Lindsay, whom he knew to be alone. He didn't even have to think about it – he heard the shot, and he thought of Lindsay. Terra and Flack were together, and there was no reason to believe that one of them wasn't the one doing the shooting. Terra had even told him, the night before, that if ever he had to choose between them, not to choose her. He knew he made the right decision in going to Lindsay first. He just wished he didn't feel like he had failed his best friend. Because she was currently in ICU, and the doctors weren't sure if she would last the night.
Danny gave up all pretense of actually showering and just stood under the spray. If Terra didn't make it, if she didn't come through this, he would be devastated. He would not know what to do with himself. But he would survive. If it had been Lindsay…
He didn't even want to finish that thought.
They hadn't talked, on the way back to her apartment. He had driven her in complete silence, neither one of them acknowledging what had happened between them in the alley. Danny still didn't know what had come over him. He was beginning to think it was merely pure stupidity on his part – especially considering that look she gave him when he pulled away. She looked as though she were ready to flee, not fall all over him. What had he been thinking, kissing her like that? He repeatedly banged his head against the wall.
Idiot. Moron. What the hell were you thinking? Way to make things even more awkward between the two of you, you complete fucktard.
He had fantasized about his first kiss with Lindsay hundreds of times – vivid, nightlong fantasies that had him still aroused when he woke the next morning. He would sweep her off her feet. He would dazzle her with his kissing prowess. He would make her breathless, make her flush, make her moan his name. All of his fantasies, all of his plans, had not involved kissing her on the spur of the moment like he had in the alley. That wasn't how he had wanted it to happen. But he was stupid and impulsive and had acted without thinking, so glad that she was alive that he had to kiss her then and there.
He shut off the water and groped for his towel. His ears perked suddenly as he heard the unmistakable click of his front door opening. He quickly wrapped the towel around his waist and stepped slowly out of the shower, reaching for his gun, which he had brought into the bathroom with him.
He shook his head, sure he had just hallucinated. He had to be hearing things. He was under severe emotional stress, and he was going crazy. That could be the only explanation. Because there was no way –
He tightened his grip on the towel and opened the door. Damn, if this was a hallucination, it was good. It even had the accent right. "Lindsay?"
The words were barely out of his mouth when she pressed her lips to his, pushing him back against the wall, her hands clutching the sides of his face with enough force to bruise. He responded immediately, sliding his hands down her back to cup her ass and pull her more fully against him. She was more than willing, attacking his lips with a passion he never thought he'd get to experience.
He didn't stop to question why she was kissing him, mostly because there wasn't enough blood left in his brain to form coherent thoughts. All he knew was that she was here, in his arms, kissing him so completely that he knew no other woman in the world would ever be able to compare to her. Her lips sealed the deal quite effectively. He was hers, pure and simple. He could never belong to another woman, nor did he ever want to.
She ran her tongue along the seam of his lips, and he parted them eagerly, desperate to taste her. He explored her mouth thoroughly, leaving no part of it untouched, and reveled in the faint traces of coffee and something else that was just uniquely Lindsay. He gripped her hips tighter, trying to get her closer. She needed to be closer, even if the only way to do that was to fuse her body to his.
Her hands went to his towel.
He came to his senses abruptly, grabbing her wrists to halt her movements and gently pushing her away. As much as he wanted her to do what she was about to do, they still had a lot of things to talk about.
"What's wrong?" she asked, her voice almost fearful.
"Nothing's wrong," he said. "Believe me, nothing's wrong. But I just… I thought that…" He ran the pad of his thumb lightly across her bottom lip, which was swollen from his kiss. He fought the lump that suddenly lodged itself in his throat and continued. "You wanted to talk."
She smiled softly, a smile that went all the way to her eyes, and it made his heart ache. "I did. But now I think that talking is overrated."
As she began to trail her fingers down his chest, with just the barest hint of pressure, he was inclined to agree with her. However, he still needed her to understand what had happened with Terra, and why it wasn't ever going to happen again. "Lindsay, please. I need to explain – "
She shook her head, her eyes open for the first time in a long time. "No, Danny. You don't."
He raised his eyebrows. This was a new development. "Yes. I do."
She stepped closer to him, and he tried to move backwards, to keep the space between them, but his back hit the wall. He was trapped. "I don't need you to explain. It was wrong of me to expect you to tell me everything about…your past relationships. I can't ask that of you because I haven't been honest with you."
He opened his mouth to speak, but she placed her fingers on his lips. "I should have told you about the trial as soon as I found out. But I didn't want to tell you because I was afraid. I was afraid that if you knew the real reason I couldn't be with you, then – "
"Montana," Danny said, speaking around her fingers, "I didn't need you to tell me. I wanted you to, but mostly I just wanted you to feel like you could tell me."
She smiled with her eyes but not her lips. "Yeah, it took me a while, but I figured that out. My point is, I don't need to know everything, Danny. I trust you."
I trust you. If he wasn't already completely nuts about her, those three words would have done it right there. That was all he ever wanted from her – that she could trust him with her secrets, with her darkness. He just wanted her to feel that she could come to him when she needed someone. He tried to squash the smile, but he couldn't. It spread across his face like wildfire. "I want to tell you. I want you to understand – "
"I do understand." She removed her fingers from his lips and gently brushed them against him arm. He shivered. "I finally think I do. The relationship you have with Terra, it's important to you. I guess I thought that you couldn't have two women in your life. But you know what? I don't care. Because I love you, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let you go."
He laughed, amazed that he got to hear those words tumble so effortlessly from her lips. Unable to stand it, he surged forward and pressed his lips to hers – a gentle caress, similar to their kiss in the alley. He pulled away, resting his forehead against hers.
But Lindsay wasn't finished. "And the fact that you want to tell me," she whispered, "is more than I could ever hope for. But I've been thinking about it, and I think one of the reasons I was so jealous of Terra was because she knows a part of you that I don't." She dropped her eyes, and he blushed when he realized that the towel was doing nothing to hide his current condition. She met his gaze again, the corners of her lips tugging upwards in the trace hint of a smile. "I don't know that part of you because I refused to let myself get too close to you. I pushed you away when I needed you the most. I have no one to blame but myself."
Danny shook his head emphatically. "No. I was an idiot. Instead of talking to you about it, I went out and got drunk and slept with – "
"You were upset. It's completely – "
Was she seriously telling him that what he had done was acceptable? No, it wasn't. The fact that he had been upset did not excuse him treating two women he loved like their feelings didn't matter. "Don't rationalize this, Lindsay. I was an asshole, and I hurt you, and the last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt you."
She looked away. "It's only fair. I hurt you first."
He placed his fingers under her chin and gently turned her attention back to him. He wanted to say something about how much it killed him to see her in obvious pain and be unable to do anything about it. He wanted to say how he would have done anything to get back the Lindsay that had disappeared after the Holly case. He wanted to say a lot of things, but what he said was, "I'm sorry, are we seven years old?"
Her incredulous look lasted a split second before her face dissolved into a grin. "Well, we certainly act like it sometimes."
He brought his other hand to her face. "All I wanted was for you to let me in. I'm in love with you, Lindsay. I want to know every part of you."
She sniffled, and a tear slipped down her cheek. He brushed it away with his thumb. "You know what I want?" He shook his head and held his breath. "I want you to kiss me again."
He was more than happy to oblige. He dipped his head to meet her waiting lips, kissing her softly, reverently – the way a pilgrim bows before religious relic. He tangled his fingers in her curls, which felt like silk on his skin. His heart tripped over itself when he felt her hands slide up his chest to grasp his shoulders. She opened her lips when his tongue requested access, and he knew he could never get enough of this woman. There was no such thing as enough when it came to Lindsay. He nipped at her lips, and she whimpered.
He froze, and she pulled away, her eyes full of concern. He blinked at her.
Oh, thank God. Still Lindsay.
"Danny? Are you okay?"
He nodded. "I'm good." Then he kissed her again.
And this time, when her hands went to his towel, he did nothing to stop her.
Afterwards, they lay tangled on his bed, the sheet haphazardly wrapped around them but covering little. Lindsay was pillowed on his chest, riding the rise and fall of his breathing, and he was entertaining himself by twining and untwining their fingers, marveling at how perfectly her hand still fit in his. Of course, that was nowhere near as spectacular as the fact that Lindsay was cuddled beside him in his bed. After all the times she had pushed him away, he never thought that they would end up here. But here they were.
"Hey," he said, as something suddenly occurred to him. She looked at him. "How did you get in?"
Lindsay rolled away from him and leaned over the edge of the bed, rummaging for something in her pants pocket. After a few seconds, she held up a key – the key he had given Terra three and a half years ago, when they became each other's 'in case of emergency' contacts. He knew it was hers, because she had painted it Mets colors to piss him off.
"How did you…?"
Lindsay lifted one shoulder in a shrug. "It was in my locker this morning, along with this." She handed him a small piece of paper, which he unfolded. He recognized Terra's handwriting immediately; she'd written him more notes than he could remember.
I think you deserve this more than I do.
He rolled his eyes. "Shit. Now I owe her."
Lindsay smiled. "I think we both do."
He returned her smile, but shook his head. "Seriously. Don't let her know that. She'll collect."
He tensed then, as his mind caught up with his mouth. Terra might not be around to collect. He felt his eyes burn and dug into them with the heels of his hands. He had to stop thinking like that. He hadn't stayed at the hospital because there was nothing he could do, other than call her brother – and hadn't that been a fun conversation. Bullitt's accent was even thicker when he yelled; Danny had barely been able to understand him. It didn't help that the youngest McQueen boy was in Florida and obviously had terrible reception on his cell phone.
Also, he really had to not think about another woman when Lindsay was naked beside him. The familiar feeling of guilt returned. He shouldn't be this happy when Terra was fighting for her life, even though she would kick his ass if she knew he was feeling that way. It just didn't seem right.
"She'll be fine," Lindsay murmured, settling against him once more. She draped her arm across his abdomen. "I haven't known her that long, but she seems like a fighter."
Danny nodded somberly. It wasn't her first time in the hospital. It was hard for him to forget the three agonizing days he had spent on the uncomfortable benches in the waiting room of the psych ward. But he couldn't remember it having ever been so serious before. There was never a chance that she would die. "She is," he murmured, wrapping an arm around Lindsay and stroking her shoulder with his thumb.
Lindsay rested her head against his chest, lightly pressing her lips to his skin. "So tell me about her."
He frowned. This was not exactly the conversation he'd envisioned having in this situation. "I thought you said you didn't need to know."
"I don't," Lindsay said matter-of-factly, giving him another kiss. "I want to know."
He smiled, placed a kiss on her forehead, and settled back against the pillows. "Well then, let me tell you a story about why I don't like taking the Staten Island Ferry anymore."
Lindsay giggled. "Sounds interesting."
"Oh, you'll definitely get a kick out of it." He twined their fingers again. "Lots of embarrassing information about me."
"Must be my lucky day."
He brought their joined hands to his lips and kissed her knuckles. "You and me both, Montana."
Flack hated hospitals. They had always given him the creeps, but ever since the bomb, he hadn't been able to set foot in one without getting the chills. Just walking through the doors was torture anymore. As soon as that all-too-familiar smell hit his nose, he was bombarded with images he'd rather forget. Waking up in a hospital bed, half his stomach covered in skin grafts, wires and tubes connecting him to machines and IVs. The horrible feeling of being completely useless as he suffered through physical therapy. The pitying looks, the people speaking to him as though he were dying… Ever since finally being allowed to leave, he tried to avoid hospitals as much as possible, going so far as to ask the CSIs to handle the questioning of witnesses if one of their cases involved talking to someone from the ER.
But now here he was, sitting in one of those blue plastic chairs, his fingers tightly gripping a Styrofoam cup of something that slightly resembled coffee, his eyes glued to the window across from him, where curtains still surrounded Terra's bed. It was like watching a train wreck – he didn't want to look, but he couldn't tear his eyes away. He was afraid that if he even blinked, something would happen, and he would miss it. She had come out of surgery after a few hours – he made the necessary calls to let everyone know, though he left it up to Danny to pass the news along to Terra's brother – but the doctors were not optimistic.
One of them, whose name Flack should know but couldn't remember for the life of him, had taken him aside to give him the news. It had taken some prodding for them to tell him anything; Flack wasn't family, nor was he her 'in case of emergency' contact – Danny was, and he didn't even want to think about that – but it had only taken one flash of his badge to get the doctor to start talking.
"We were able to stop the bleeding, but she's lost a lot of blood. We gave her a transfusion, but it might not be enough."
Flack had offered his own blood, as much as they could take. He was halfway through rolling up his sleeve when the doctor laid a hand on his arm. It wasn't just the blood, he told him. Because of how the bullet had entered her shoulder, it was entirely possible that she might lose all motor functions in her arm. They wouldn't know how bad the damage really was until she woke up.
If she woke up.
"It's really just a question of waiting," the doctor had explained. "The longer it takes for her to wake up…"
Flack had cut the doctor off with a wave of his hand. He really didn't need anyone telling him about comas. He had enough firsthand experience to last a lifetime. The doctor had gratefully taken the hint and left Flack alone with his sour mood. That was hours ago, and Flack was still here, waiting for someone to tell him something – anything. He couldn't take the waiting. Patience had never been his strong suit.
Tired of sitting, Flack got to his feet, restlessly pacing the corridor in front of Terra's room. He had no idea what to do with his hands. He shoved them in his pockets. He absently rubbed the back of his neck. He clenched and unclenched his fingers. His eyes darted back and forth between the window and the clock mounted to the wall.
He was very slowly losing his damn mind.
What was it about this woman that had him so completely turned around? Why was he in a place he hated, anxiously waiting for news? Why was he so terrified that something bad would happen to her if he were to leave? He knew very little about her, except that she had eight brothers, wore men's shoes, and apparently was pretty adventurous – considering she'd been cited for public indecency at the Statue of Liberty. She could speak different languages. She could fight. She had wicked aim. She effortlessly quoted Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, quite possibly one of the greatest movies ever made. She was beautiful. She was smart. She was amazing.
She had saved his life. He sat down again, his restless energy manifesting itself entirely in his left leg, which bounced. If she hadn't thrown that knife, Flack would be the one in the hospital bed right now – or possibly in a body bag. And the fact that she had hauled herself to her feet while suffering from a gunshot wound was nothing short of amazing. And she had done that for him, when he'd given her no real reason to.
He went to the window again, placing his fingers against the glass and willing the curtain shielding Terra's bed from his gaze to just disappear, so that he could see her with his own eyes. He glanced at the door. No one had been by in a while. No one would notice if he just slipped in. Ah, hell, he was already breaking half a dozen hospital codes having stayed this long in ICU anyway, might as well break a few more.
He moved quickly, opening the door as quietly as he could and shutting it behind him just as silently. He braced for an alarm or something, but the only sounds in the small room came from the machines monitoring Terra's breathing and heart rate. He cautiously reached for the curtain and drew it back, and his heart broke.
She was so pale. Her shoulder was bandaged and bound tightly to the side of her body. Wires hooked her to the various machines beside her bed, and tubes connected her to at least two IVs. Her breathing had steadied but her chest still hardly moved, and it didn't mean a damn thing if she didn't open her eyes. It was remarkable that there weren't more cuts on her body. He glanced down at the insides of his forearms, which had been scraped raw by the roof.
He looked around for a chair and found one in the corner. He pulled it across the floor and sat beside her bed, his eyes trained on her face – on the eyes that moved rapidly behind her lids, on the barely parted lips. He wrapped his hand around her wrist, his fingers settling on the delicate throb that was the only sign that she was still alive.
The steady rhythm of her pulse lulled him to a restless sleep.
He came awake suddenly, a sharp shooting pain traveling across his badly injured face. His eyes flew open, and he raised his head from its place of repose on Terra's bed. He had no idea how long he'd been sleeping, but the hospital was still dark. He glanced around the room, trying to find what had woken him, and his eyes came to rest on Terra.
She was awake. Her eyes were open, at least, and they were clear. She raised her eyebrows at the sight of him.
Flack didn't know what to do. Should he find a doctor so that they could come and check on her? Should he call Danny and let him know that she'd opened her eyes? Or should he just stay here, his hand still maintaining its death grip on her wrist, and enjoy the few moments of peace they got to have before the real world ruined everything?
"Hey," he whispered. He immediately caught himself. He hated, back when he was in the hospital, when people spoke to him in hushed tones. His stomach had been blown open. His ears were fine. "Welcome back," he said, slightly louder.
She blinked at him, and for a moment he wondered if she had any idea what was going on. But then she went, "Did we get him?"
He couldn't help but smile. He was glad he had thought to ask Mac about the case when he called earlier. He had a feeling, once she woke up, she would be anxious to hear what had happened to Kozolv. "Yeah. Once Mac and Stell knew what to look for, the evidence came pouring in. He gave a full confession. We got him."
Terra nodded imperceptibly. "Good." Her eyes made a slow trek downwards, coming to rest on his shirt. "Are you okay?" she asked, the concern evident in her tone.
Flack followed her gaze, only just now realizing that his shirt was covered in blood. He hadn't even noticed. He looked up. "I'm fine. It's, uh… It's yours."
She kept her tone light, but her face sobered. "Oh. I guess I owe you a new shirt."
He licked his lips and took a chance. "I'd settle for dinner."
Her smile was faint, but it was there. "I can do dinner." She bit her lower lip. "I hope you don't mind leftovers."
He hated that she knew he had called her that. He hadn't meant it. He resisted the urge to touch her anywhere else, keeping his fingers locked around her wrist. "Are you kidding? I love leftovers."
She slid her arm out of his grip, and he furrowed his brow, confused. From the way their conversation was going, she wanted to give whatever was between them a try, but if she didn't want him to touch her… His unasked question was answered a moment later when she rested her hand on top of his. He looked up at met her gaze – he was pleased to note that the emptiness had vanished from hers.
"Don," she said, and his eyes widened. He had never heard her address anyone, besides Danny, by first name. "The thing you have to understand about Danny and me is that our relationship was a lot different when we first met. It was fun, you know. It was about… Well, I don't think it was really about anything, actually."
He exhaled slowly through pursed lips, but he didn't interrupt her.
"Now… I don't know how to explain it. It's not the same as it used to be. The closer we got, the less we… I'd say he's like a brother, but considering the situation, that sounds kind of sick." Flack raised his eyebrows in silent agreement. Terra shook her head and continued. "But it's true. My brothers… They started treating me differently, like I was this porcelain doll that was easily going to break. Danny doesn't do that. Danny treats me like…me. I'm not sure quite how to describe it, but he's important to me. That isn't going to change."
He sighed. He really wanted to be able to get past this. It had happened before he and Terra had ever met. He knew he shouldn't let this be a problem, but he couldn't help it. "I don't know if I'll ever be okay with the idea that you slept with him."
She rolled her eyes. "And I don't know if I'll ever be okay with the fact that you're a Yankees fan, but you make sacrifices."
He smiled. He was more than willing to try, as evidenced by the fact that her being a Mets fan did absolutely nothing to change his opinion of her. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on the bed. "So, about dinner… What do you think? Italian?"
Terra pursed her lips. "Nah. I'm sick of Italian. But I know a good Irish pub in the Village."
Flack laughed and ducked his head. "Sounds good to me."