AN: I never seem to be able to post one of these holiday stories on the actual day. :) Anyway, this is a oneshot in honor of Father's Day and part of my AU for the Everything Old is New Again series. It falls about a year after the events of "We Are Family." And fair warning, while there's no real angst, I did tear up a bit myself writing this. :)
As always, thanks to my amazing betas, Kerry Blue and printandpolish.
Disclaimer: I do not own CSI:NY or its characters. I also do not own the title of the story, you can thank Harry Chapin for that. Finally, I do not own the Navy or its SEALs, though I thank them profusely for all that they do.
"I hate lawyers!" Lindsay proclaimed as she and Danny entered their house from the garage. "The audacity of that…that…slimeball!" She unceremoniously dropped her purse on the kitchen table.
Danny chuckled. He hadn't liked the lawyer either, especially when he tried to claim that Lindsay didn't run the lab well, but watching her all riled up was always amusing to him. At least, when her anger wasn't directed at him. "Don't let Tess hear you say that, Montana."
Lindsay rolled her eyes. "She's not a practicing lawyer anymore."
"Yeah, she's worse now. She's a politician." He easily dodged his wife's swat and headed towards the refrigerator. Opening the door he scanned the meager options within. "Have any ideas about what you want for dinner?"
She groaned. "I say we call for takeout. Neither one of us has had time to buy groceries this week."
"Sounds good to me," Danny agreed, taking the kitchen phone from its place on the wall. "Any preferences?"
"Anything but pizza," Lindsay told him. "I'm going to go get the mail."
"'Kay." He walked over to the fridge where they kept several takeout menus stacked on top. With all the kids grown and out of the house it was almost like when they were first married, that idyllic time period before Lindsay was ever pregnant and it was just the two of them. Instead of having to constantly worry about finances and wanting to make healthy meals for the kids, they could just order out after a long, tough day.
Picking out a menu for Italian food, he put the rest back on top of the fridge. Before he could turn away to peruse the options, his eye was caught by a picture on their fridge. It was a photo of the last time all four of his kids had been together, taken over a year before on Memorial Day.
They had all groaned at their mother's insistence that they take their sunglasses off so she could see their eyes, but they complied. Wistfully he thought about the days when he would come home to excited shouts from his kids. Back then he hadn't always realized how lucky he was. When it had been a frustrating day at the lab and he came home to Dominic wanting to play catch with him, the girls demanding he read to them, and Devon crawling underfoot, he didn't appreciate the bliss that was having his kids around him.
"Hey," Lindsay said softly, coming up behind him, putting an arm around his waist and peering over his shoulder. "You okay?"
"Yeah," Danny replied. "I was just looking at this picture of the kids. Can you believe it's been more than a year since we've seen them all at once?"
Lindsay squeezed him slightly in shared feeling. "Well, at least we got to see three of them on the computer at the same time a few weeks ago." Dominic, Ana and Ella had surprised their dad with a web cam conference on Father's Day since none of them could make it back to New York. Dom was playing across the country that weekend and both of the twins were in the middle of cases that they couldn't break away from.
But busy schedules were something Danny could understand. Heaven knew he had disappointed his kids enough times when he couldn't spend time with them because of something that came up at work. And talking with the kids had been great. Lindsay had brought out the gift the kids had bought for him and sent ahead, a Joe DiMaggio baseball card autographed by the man himself, and they had playfully argued over which kid had worked the hardest to get the gift. That had morphed into a walk down memory lane of times he had taken the kids to baseball games, the time the twins had hit back-to-back homeruns during one of their softball games, etc.
It was a memory he would treasure forever because those kinds of moments didn't come as often anymore. Oh, he knew his kids didn't have anything against calling home for the most part. It was just that they had grown up to be a little too much like their parents in the independence department. He supposed it was one of those things you didn't understand until you were in that position, but he now knew what his mom must have felt like when he didn't stay in touch more. He had bristled at being nagged to call more often, but now he felt bad that he hadn't phoned her more often just to talk.
He was happy that his children had grown up to be responsible adults with successful, fulfilling careers. He was thrilled every time he got to watch Dominic do what he hadn't been able to. He was endlessly proud that his daughters had chosen to follow their parents into law enforcement, even if he did worry constantly about their safety. And Devon…
Like any good parent, Danny truly did love all of his children equally. But he had a unique place in his heart for each one and Devon held the place in his heart for the baby of the family. His birth had been totally unexpected, coming eight years after the twins were born. When the others were grown out of wanting to do different things with their dad, Danny still had Devon to read to and tie his shoes and teach how to swing a bat.
But Devon wasn't a baby anymore. He had enlisted in the Navy and not long after the Memorial Day picture was taken had joined the SEALs. Danny and Lindsay had shown him nothing but support, but behind closed doors they were scared to death. They had felt a little better when he managed some leave over Thanksgiving and they got to see firsthand how much he had grown and matured both physically and mentally and he talked about all the training he had gone through and the good people he worked with.
Nevertheless, he was still their child, so their hearts had skipped a beat when he said his SEAL team was being deployed overseas for several months. That was why he hadn't been able to take part in the Father's Day web cam conference. He hadn't even managed to call and Danny knew that, given the technology available these days to communicate across the world, it meant Devon had likely been out on a mission. Devon had called since then, but hadn't been able to catch them and had just left a message on their machine. Danny often found himself wishing Devon had taken more after his mother in the communication department.
Sighing, Danny rubbed his thumb over Devon's figure in the picture he was contemplating. "It's too bad Devon couldn't be there though." Danny smirked slightly. "He would have been able to defend himself all the times the others were talking about what a baby he could be."
Lindsay laughed softly, then held up an envelope that she had been holding in her free hand. "Maybe this will help, cowboy. It just came in the mail."
Danny looked at what she held out and raised his eyebrows at the familiar handwriting. "A letter from Devon? Has he ever written us a letter?"
"Not us, Dan, it's only addressed to you." Lindsay took the phone and takeout menu from his hands and gave him the envelope. "I'll take care of dinner, you go ahead and read your letter."
Danny felt a small sense of trepidation as he looked down at the white envelope in his hands. His son was more the short e-mail or voicemail type, not really the one to handwrite a letter. After carefully opening the flap, Danny pulled out one of the kitchen chairs and sat down as he pulled out a sheet of paper covered in his youngest son's handwriting.
Don't worry, everything's fine. I know I've never written a letter home before, but I was just sitting here and I realized that it was Father's Day and that I wouldn't be able to call you or see you, so this will have to do even if it will get to you weeks late.
This morning I had a huge insect crawl across my arm. One so big it made even my skin crawl. But it got me to thinking. Do you remember that time I found a bug in the backyard and brought it in the house? I was, what, six? Ana and Ella were yelling at me to kill it and Mom wasn't happy that I made the girls scream. She told me to take it back outside, but I took it to you because I wanted to know what it was. You didn't laugh at me or tell me I shouldn't freak out my sisters. Instead, you shut us away in the study so the girls wouldn't have to see the bug, we put it under a glass, and together we searched the Internet to find everything there was to know about that bug. It's one of the best memories I have from when I was a kid.
Those kinds of moments aren't the only things you gave me. I don't think a day passes where I don't apply something you've taught me. Even if it's just to pick myself up from the ground, brush the dirt off and not feel sorry for myself. I've kind of gained a reputation for never giving up and always pushing the limits in everything and when I'm asked about where it comes from I just say it's a Messer family trait, because it is. I know you and Mom go full tilt every day to catch the bad guys and while the Navy called out to me, I always wanted to be like you guys. I just found a different way.
I don't have any more paper, so I've gotta end this, Dad. I'll call home when I can. I hope you have a great Father's Day and that you like the baseball card. Don't listen to Dominic when he says he did everything, the card was totally my idea. I don't know when I'll get to come home next, but we'll get together then and go to a game or something and have a good time just you and me since we haven't done that in awhile.
Thanks for being the best father a man could ask for. Happy Father's Day.
Danny blinked away the tears, though one managed to fall and left a wet spot on the letter. Lindsay came up behind him and leaned against him with her arms around his shoulders. "You okay?" she asked quietly.
"Yeah," he rasped. He carefully folded the letter back up, put it in its envelope, and set it on the kitchen table. Taking hold of his wife's hands, he kissed them and then held them tightly. Nothing more was said for awhile as they held on to one another, silently thinking about their beautiful family.