These were originally three separate stories, but I figured it would make my life and your lives easier if I just put them all into one. I'd like to thank everyone who originally reviewed all three stories in the series. I felt bad when I deleted the first two off the site (to plop them all in here) because so many people reviewed, but thank you.
Never Let It Go
Lindsay Messer couldn't help the smile that blossomed over her face as she stepped into their apartment after a rather busy shift. The case she and Mac had covered had closed itself, but the others had not been so lucky. Her samples had been pushed aside for a high profile attorney murder Stella and Hawkes had been working. She'd been more than happy to take Mac's advice and head home early to her two boys. She took in the two soup bowls on the counter and smiled softly before turning her attention to the living room and the occupants of the couch.
Danny and Braden Messer slept peacefully, the television flickering on a Disney movie in the background. Lindsay had to smile at the adorable picture they made. Braden was curled into Danny's chest, one hand grasping a handful of his father's t-shirt. Danny's arms were wrapped tightly around the three-year-old.
It had taken them a lot to reach the point they were at. There were things she had to let go of, things in her past she had to come to grips with. That didn't even touch on Danny's past and the issues within. While she had been able to testify to her problems, to air them in court, Danny had been forced to battle his internally, without any sort of real closure. It had taken Lindsay months to work past his walls and she had been forced to draw on every ounce of her patience to do so. Still, when he had opened up, when she had told him it didn't matter and that his past made him the man she loved, the intensity of his response had been worth every nail-biting minute.
Lindsay sighed, heading into the bathroom to wash off her makeup and possibly the exhaustion she was feeling. Having both boys sick had been difficult for her. If Braden wasn't crying, Danny was up emptying his stomach. The three days they'd both been home had been torturous. It didn't mean she would change what she had. Despite Braden's button nose – an inherited trait from his mother – he was all Danny, and Lindsay quite enjoyed having him around the house.
Having changed into comfortable track pants and exchanging her work-appropriate blouse for a simple t-shirt, she made her way back into the living room and then on to the kitchen. Since they were both sleeping, she was reluctant to wake them up, even just to say hello. Braden's sleeping patterns had been odd from the start and though she wished her son was up racing about the apartment. The quiet would allow her headache and frustration to dissipate. As quietly as she could, she cleaned up the pot, spoons and bowls, replacing them in the cupboard after drying them off. As she was stretched up to put the last bowl back on the top shelf of the cupboard, she felt a tiny tug on her leg.
Braden looked up at her hopefully and she smiled as she picked him up. "Hello, sweetheart," she cooed softly, resting her head on his as he snuggled into her neck. She was pleasantly surprised to feel his forehead had cooled down since she had placed her wrist against his forehead that morning. Lindsay went about wiping down the counters and the stove, Braden still perched on her hip.
"How are you feeling?" Lindsay asked softly after she'd finished cleaning the kitchen.
Braden whimpered and shook his head, his hair brushing her cheek.
"Maybe we should put you to bed, huh? You and Daddy." She spun as she heard a low chuckle.
Danny walked towards her, brushing his hand over Braden's head and chastely kissing her cheek. "Good day in the office, dear?"
She couldn't help the smile that blossomed. "Mac and I were shoved aside for the high profile case Stella and Hawkes pulled. He sent me home early to my two sick babies," Lindsay replied kissing Braden's forehead.
"We spent most of the day sleeping. Neither of us had to race to the bathroom today."
Lindsay smiled down at her little boy. He was already falling back to sleep. "So you're feeling better?"
"Much. We both managed to keep down soup. I should be able to head back into work tomorrow," Danny replied. Nothing could ever rival the picture Lindsay made cradling his son close to her chest. It still took him by surprise sometimes when he woke up beside her, awed him when he caught the glint of her engagement ring and wedding band in the edge of his vision. Lindsay Monroe-now-Messer had not only agreed to date him, but eventually married him and gave birth to his son.
"We'll have to take him in. I don't want him to go back to the daycare until we know he's back to one hundred percent," Lindsay admitted.
Danny let out a huge yawn. "Well let's see how he is tomorrow. Come lay down with me?"
"You just woke up," she said with a laugh.
"And I'm tired again. Come on, Montana…"
With Braden asleep on her shoulder and Danny whining with a puppy dog face, Lindsay didn't stand a chance at resisting. "For a little bit," she conceded. "We'll see if you guys can handle some solid food for dinner."
Lindsay allowed Danny to take her hand and lead her to the bedroom. Carefully, they moved around until Braden was tucked securely between them. When Lindsay curled in close, entangling her feet with Danny's, Braden grabbed a handful of her shirt, exactly the same way he had when he had been an infant. Lindsay locked eyes with Danny over their son's head, closing her eyes at the gentle way he tucked a curl behind her ear.
"Good night family," he whispered, his hand trailing down across her cheek and over Braden's head.
As Lindsay drifted off, her eyes slipping shut and closing out everything but the feeling of the little boy in her arms and the man snuggled close, she knew that whatever happened outside of their apartment she had everything she'd ever wanted right there beside her. Every minute she spent with them she treasured and held close to her heart.
And she'd never let that go.