A/N: Hey guys! so this has been my actual mission for this week so far (even though we're only on Tuesday techincally :P) I'm heading to the airport in three and a half hours to go on vacation (WOOOO!) but I refused to leave without posting a little something while I'm away because I promised fluff. So here we go. Fluffy WYHTG!
Huge thank you to all of you who gave me some lovely feedback from last chapter. It's given me a few things to think about for future chapters :) Meggie, Pheonix1995 , RandomTVFan30 , buddymt96, MarkandLexiefan, Lindsay1234, Christina5139, brendanakai, afrozenheart412 and messermonroeforever125. You guys are superstars. Thank you! :)
After dropping his children off with Flack, Danny Messer had navigated his way through the excessively busy city in his SUV. The windows were down, his sunglasses were perched on his nose, and he couldn't help but feel a little... hope. The last few months had been hell, and if he was completely honest, he was surprised he'd managed to make it through in one piece... for the most part. His relationship with his wife had steady foundations with a sturdy frame that supported their marriage; she was someone that he could rely on and fall back on when times were tough. So when he had felt their foundations shaking, he'd started to question things. And that had scared him. The actions he witnessed in himself scared him; they were so uncharacteristic that at times, he wasn't even sure he knew himself anymore.
But all of that was in the past now.
He killed the engine outside of the building he'd been travelling towards and leant his head against the back of his headrest. Things were getting better. Lindsay had been through a few sessions of therapy now, and although she hadn't told him much, he felt comforted in the fact that she was considering the ways in which this nightmare had affected her. It was all he could ask for. He knew that she wasn't talking to him about it, but at least she was talking to someone; someone who was better prepared for any of this than he was. He pulled his phone out and quickly sent her a text message; letting her know he was there and was waiting for her.
He resumed his former position of his eyes closed and leaning against the headrest. He couldn't say that it didn't hurt when she closed off about that day. He'd been there too and he'd witnessed everything that she had. He'd gone through her suffering with her; and there were times that he felt like he was at the end of his tether with her, feeling that his only option was to scream at her just to gain some form of reaction. She was a pain in his ass - but she was his pain in the ass, and he would never, ever change that. He loved her despite everything that they'd been through – and he even dared to say that all things considering, he was proud of what they'd weathered together. Granted it had been significantly rocky but they had managed to grasp onto their relationship just before it slipped through their fingers. And the fact that they had fight left in them after everything restored his faith in himself, in Lindsay, and them.
Feeling the heat from the rising temperatures outside, Danny turned the key in the ignition and blasted the air-con as he rolled the windows in front seat up, deciding that cool air was ten times better than the heat in New York.
He could feel himself zoning out as he sat stationary at the side of the road. He had quite the afternoon planned for them. He'd felt bad about passing his children off to their doting adoptive uncle, but when he'd offered to take them for the afternoon, his gut had jumped at the chance to spend some quality time with Lindsay.
He glanced up and spied her heading down the stairs of the building, almost with a spring in her step; which surprised him greatly. She wasn't... she didn't... He hadn't realised how much better she was getting with her mobility. He watched her take the stairs, deciding to bypass the banister that was there to support her descent down the steep set of stairs.
"Hey baby," she smiled as she seemingly slipped into their SUV effortlessly. "Have you been waiting long?" she inquired as she pressed a kiss to his cheek.
Deciding against making a big deal of such normalcy between them and her ability to walk, Danny simply smiled and shook his head. "No longer than five minutes. Did everything go okay?"
"Fine," she shrugged as she leaned over and pressed another kiss to his cheek, to which he caught on his lips from turning his head just in time. "Did you happen to forget two little people?" she inquired. "If you did – don't freak out - but we may have a spot of bother on our hands. I'm pretty sure we're breaking a law or two there with that."
He couldn't help the smile at the warmth spreading through him at her affection and humour. "They're with Flack for the afternoon, wiseass. He and Angell apparently wanted to go check some exhibit out at the zoo, but couldn't without kids – something about free entry? And not looking like a psycho creeper without children in a child orientated place."
"Cheap skates... not to mention users," Lindsay muttered with a smile tugging at her lips. "So they're using our children for their own entertainment?"
"Pretty much," he nodded, "So I thought that we could maybe, you know, do something this afternoon; something special. Just you and me?"
"I'd love that," she smiled as he took her hand and joined them over the console between them.
They'd been walking hand in hand, for about two blocks after leaving the SUV in their usual parking garage, and almost instantly, he'd insisted on a tortuously slow pace. He had argued that he wanted to enjoy the time that they had with just the two of them – Lindsay however had figured out the truth seconds later. His slow pace was obviously for her; it was his way of meeting her half way. He wouldn't mention the fact that she could probably do with an aid of some sort to help her walk, so long as she adhered to him walking slowly; restricting the pace that he knew she so desperately wanted to instil on the both of them.
It was times like these that made Lindsay realise how much she had missed him. How much she had missed them. Normalcy in their lives had quickly become a thing of the past when she'd been shot. She was positive that she would be unable to count the amount of times that she had cried over the thought of not being able to walk down the street with Danny, hand-in-hand, simply enjoying his company. It broke her heart to think that if that was the case, the both of them would have to deal with what had happened for the rest of their lives.
However, that hadn't been the case.
"Where's your head?" He brought her from her thoughts abruptly.
"I'm thinking that this is nice." She smiled up at him, squeezing his hand gently. "Really nice."
"Yeah?" he smiled. "Good."
She returned the smile and couldn't help the tiny giggle that passed through her lips. For any other couple whom were experiencing the same feelings and emotions that they were, 'nice' and 'good' would most probably be the last words chosen to describe their current situation. Incredible, amazing, accomplished... she knew that any would suffice in their current situation. But there was a general consensus between them it seemed; that they didn't want to make a big deal out of everything. Not today at least. She'd been to therapy already, and even though she knew he most probably had burning questions, she appreciated him casting them to one side and saving his inquiries for later on.
He stopped suddenly, and pulled them to the edge of the sidewalk, looking both ways at the gridlocked traffic, lining New York's busy streets.
"Come on," he said, tugging her behind him.
"Danny, wait! I can't cross just anywhere, what if I-"
He stopped short just in front of a taxi and turned to look at her pointedly. "Do you really think I'd put you in any form of danger, babe?"
"I... I just thought you might have forgotten." She blushed.
"Babe, trust me – what happened to you isn't going to be forgotten anytime soon, k? The lights are on red and the intersection up there is just as packed as this one is. These guys aren't going anywhere for a while."
Glancing to where Danny had pointed out, a small smile had tugged at her lips. When he had pulled her over to cross the street, he'd already assessed whether or not they'd make it across in ample time. "Lead the way, sir." Lindsay squeezed his hand gently, her eyes apologising for second guessing his thoughtful nature.
They crossed the road successfully, weaving in and out of the cars, buses and taxis. They linked hands and continued their steady pace down the road in silence. Lindsay warranted a sneaky glance in the direction of Danny's face and he had a proud smile on his face. What was it that he'd planned, exactly?
"Alright, here we go," he said finally as he guided her into one of the many entrances of Central Park.
A walk? Lindsay's mind screamed internally. Crap! She was okay for short distances, but she just wasn't sure how long she'd be able to last even at a slow and steady pace. She didn't want to let Danny down though. From the look on his face, this was important to him and she just knew that if she told him she was struggling, he'd be devastated that he'd put too much on her plate.
"You done freakin' out?" his soft voice whispered in her ear. "I haven't brought you for a walk."
"You haven't?" she asked eagerly, relief clearly evident in her voice.
"No, I know that the distance we just walked was quite enough for the time being." He gestured down to a picnic blanket with a picnic basket settled on it to prevent it from blowing away. "Surprise!" he smiled.
"Danny.." Lindsay gasped in awe. "Is this... did you...?"
"Gustav other there kindly offered to stand and watch our stuff while he took his break," Danny waved kindly to a horse and carriage that sat by the street. "With the condition that we go on one of his extended horse and carriage rides later, as a form of payment." Danny added with a wink.
"You did this?" Lindsay whispered. "For me?"
Danny nodded and took a seat and made a point of patting the blanket next to him for Lindsay to sit. Settling down to their blanket, Lindsay swiped at the stray tear or two that had sneakily slipped down her cheek at the sight of what Danny had planned for her - and the lengths to which he'd gone to.
"Hungry?" He inquired, swiping a tear from her cheek without a word.
"Starving," she smiled. "What have you got in there for us?" She could only imagine the range of food he'd probably bought... anything to get away from the usual crap they were forced to eat to pacify Amanda. "Please tell me you've got... I don't even know what it is I want."
"Hah," Danny licked his lips as he searched for a way to break the news to her. "Well, see the thing is babe..." He let out a sigh and went digging in their picnic basket for what he'd prepared for them. "My plan was a little off the cuff so I didn't have a whole lot of time to prepare."
"So you didn't bring food?"
"Well, I brought food," he smirked as he laid out the two ziplock bags containing two sandwiches. "Bologna and cheese." He shook his head sadly. "Kraft cheese no less... with mayonnaise; it's all we had in. We didn't even have any damn mustard." He sulked.
"I see you've cut the crusts off too." Lindsay observed.
"Yeah, I was in automatic pilot mode, and when I realised I wasn't making lunch for the picky princess, there was no going back... We're out of bread by the way."
Lindsay shook her head with the beginnings of a smile tugging at her lips. "What else you got in there?"
"Well," Danny smirked. "Two bags of cheetos, quite the rarity in the Messer household."
"Ooooooh, Amanda's gonna be pissed when she finds out you stole her lunch treat, Daddy." Lindsay sing-songed.
"Well, she'll just have to deal with it." He huffed playfully. "That kid's got monopoly over all of the good stuff."
"Can I just add here that we give her wholesome food too? Because as it stands right now, all it seems like she eats are cheetos, sandwiches and blueberry muffins..."
"Well, you might give her wholesome food," Danny coughed.
"What? Babe, I can't help it. She comes over to me with those beautiful eyes and asks for crappy food and I just can't say no."
"I've watched you wrestle a bag of chips from her and hand her a celery stick... don't pretend you're the good cop. You're just as much bad cop as I am."
"Busted," Danny sighed sadly. "Can't get shit past you, can I?"
"Sadly no," Lindsay smirked. "So, what've you got for dessert?"
"What makes you think I brought dessert?"
"Danny, honey, I know you. You brought dessert."
Sighing, Danny went digging in the picnic basket and pulled out two small objects. "For dessert we've got a choice... chocolate pudding or a..." he paused as he read the label, "Exotic fruit cup, with real fruit juice! Consider yourself lucky too; I had to hide these in the dishwasher this morning... what kind of a kid wants chocolate pudding for breakfast?"
"I didn't realise Flack picked the kids up from the house," Lindsay teased.
"Oh yeah, that's funny, Montana." Danny shook his head. "Laugh it up... poor guy does us a favour and you're makin' fun of him."
"Oh please, you know you would have taken that opportunity... and don't deny it Danny."
"Busted... again!" Danny implored, before turning a little more serious. "I know it's not exactly what you expected when you saw the picnic basket and I'm sorry if you're disappointed... in fact, shall we just pack this away and go get lunch somewhere?" He pursed his lips as he looked at the pathetic array of food in front of them. Before Lindsay could even answer, he swiped the sandwich and chips away from her and shoved them back in the basket. "Yeah, come on... there's that really good diner over on-"
Lindsay cut him short by holding her index finger over his lips and offered him a warm smile. "Stop worrying, this is perfect."
"Linds, it's far from perfect. It's a friggin' bologna sandwich. We haven't been out in... God, I don't even know and this is all I can come up with?"
"Danny, it's perfect," she smiled at him. "So long as you're here, that's all I need. And anyway, it's the thought that counts. You've brought me on a romantic lunch date to the park... what does it matter what we eat."
"When everyone asks though..."
"Then I can say that he brought me one of my favourite sandwiches." She smiled at him.
"Fake sandwich meat and fake cheese? Yum..."
"Hey! You eat what you can when you've got a two year old that will only eat fake sandwich meat and fake cheese."
Danny sighed, his forehead wrinkling with frustration at his efforts. "I just... it seemed like a good idea when I was making them. I was so excited to be doing something I didn't even stop to think what it was I was makin'. Like I said, I was on autopilot."
"Why are you being so hard on yourself?" Lindsay asked as she shuffled closer to him and leant her head on his shoulder.
"Because I wanted this to be perfect." He sighed. "I wanted to take this time to make good on my promise-"
"You haven't promised me anything Danny," Lindsay interrupted him. "We said we needed time. We didn't make promises so that we didn't break them to each other, you know that."
"Well, I didn't verbally promise you anything, but in my mind I promised you that I was going to make more of an effort. I was going to meet you more than half way if you needed me to go that extra distance. It's the least I can do for you. I've sat on my ass over this for too long. It's time you and I get back on track... and I figured that spending an afternoon together might just do that... or at least get us comfortably going on the right track, because I think we're there right now, don't you."
Lindsay couldn't help the giggle that bubbled out of her.
"What's so funny?" Danny growled.
"Can I ask you a question?" Lindsay responded to his question with her own question.
"I guess," he shrugged.
"Over the past few weeks have you been assigned to cases alongside Adam?"
"No, well... actually come to think of it I have been-" stopping short, Danny could only shake his head at his wife, whom was biting her lip to stop her giggles. "Alright, smarty pants, you've made your point. I'm rambling."
"Why?" she asked him softly.
"Because I miss you," he sighed. "I miss us and I want you back, and I wanted to do this to help me get that."
"I'm still here," she whispered, cupping his cheek with her hand. "I'm right here and I'm not going anywhere."
"You disappeared for a little while though," he said quietly, frustrated with himself at how his afternoon was working to his plan. "I just wanted to make you happy."
"Danny, I'm the happiest I've been in so long." She smiled at him, stroking his cheek softly with her fingers. "It would have made no difference if you had whipped out a filet mignon or a bologna sandwich..."
"Although tell me you'd prefer the mignon, otherwise I'm gonna march you down to the courthouse and get a divorce."
She elbowed him playfully before rubbing the offended area herself. "Goes without saying really, doesn't it?"
"Apparently so," he growled as he placed his hand over her's as she soothed his arm.
"So, tell me what it was you had planned for today."
"Well, we were gonna eat, sit and talk... maybe a walk if you were feeling up to it."
"Alright, so what's stopping us?"
"Exactly," Lindsay smirked as she interrupted him before he could provide her with any reasons otherwise. "Nothing, so enough of this... open up your damn bologna sandwich and eat it."
"You're so romantic," Danny teased. "Tell me more, Linds."
She scowled at him playfully as she shuffled away from him and opened up her own sandwich, taking a healthy bite from it.
"You're a piggy," Danny shook his head as Lindsay wrestled with the massive amount of food in her mouth. "And don't even try say somethin', I don't wanna see what you've got in there."
"NO!" Danny cried, clasping his hand over her mouth. "No, don't... don't Lindsay,"
Underneath his hand, he could feel Lindsay's lips parting. Within an instant, he moved his hand and closed his eyes. "Babe, you're... c'mon, we're in public... this isn't socially acceptable."
She giggled, but kept her mouth shut, realising that perhaps it wasn't really the time or the place to wind Danny up with childish antics.
"You done?" he smirked at her, finally daring to bite into his sandwich.
She winked cheekily at him before taking another, slightly smaller bite.
"You've spent too much time with that daughter of yours," Danny mumbled, his mouth still full of food.
"Whoa there, pot... why are you calling me black?" Lindsay implored. "Try chewing your food."
"Smartass," Danny shook his head playfully. "How was your therapy session?"
Lindsay shrugged as she internally tried to decide whether to withdraw from him or let him in. She let out a sigh as she placed her sandwich down. She didn't need to tell him everything; but baby steps would be nice. "It went okay," she began.
"Good, I'm glad." Danny offered a smile, his face displaying his disappointment in her answer.
"Yeah, we made some real progress I think. We really discussed a lot of the issues that I've been feeling over the past few months." Lindsay continued. "We talked about you too," she shuffled closer to him and leant on him, resting her head on his shoulder.
"Oh yeah?" Danny peered down at her, watching her as she nibbled on her sandwich. "Good or bad?"
"Well, if I'm honest, at the time bad." She heard him exhale; clearly that had not been the answer he'd wanted to hear. "But in reflection now, I realise how lucky I was to have you. How amazing you were, and still are. Dr Farber has quite the soft spot for you I think."
"Who wouldn't, I'm quite lovable."
"You're also mine," She reminded him with a nudge of her head against his shoulder. "So she can keep her hands off."
"Who said I wanted her?" Danny nudged Lindsay. "I chased after you for long enough. I think the chances of me ever letting you go are highly unlikely."
"Yeah?" she smiled up at him, dropping her sandwich onto the ziplock bag.
"Absolutely," Danny nodded. "You're all mine."
Lindsay smiled as she dropped her sandwich onto the ziplock bag lying nearby. She then shuffled away from Danny's side and laid down on the blanket."Do you know what I read the other day?" Lindsay questioned as she settled her head on his lap, staring up at him with bright eyes.
"Nope, not got a clue. What did you read the other day?" He replied, his fingers finding a natural path to her hair, where he began teasing the locks of hair.
"That love was when one person knows all of your deepest darkest secrets of which no one else in the entire world knows... and in the end that one person doesn't think any less of you; even if the rest of the world does." She gave him a shy smile as he trailed his fingers through her hair. "It got me thinking about whether there was anything about me that you didn't know... when I realised there's nothing you don't know. Even with the parts of me that are dark, and would send anyone else running in the other direction, you love me more because of them. I don't think I've ever really realised how lucky I am to have you. These past few months haven't been easy and you never gave up on me. Not once. And I know I haven't said this enough recently, but I love you. I just want you to know that."
"You think you're lucky?" Danny chuckled down at her. "You think you're lucky 'cause you have me? What does that make me?"
"Um," Lindsay furrowed her brow as she tried to make sense of his ramblings. "Say that again?"
"If you're lucky because you have me, what does that mean for me? I have you... what does that make me?"
She smiled, finally getting an idea of what it was he meant. "We're both lucky?"
Danny shook his head. "No, I'm so much more than lucky to have you."
"Oh Danny," she shoved his chest lightly. "Stop it, I'm trying to be serious here."
"And so am I!" he protested. "Babe, you've given me two gorgeous children, we've made a life together, we have amazing jobs, we're happy after a long struggle together. You took a bullet to protect me. That shit only happens on the likes of scripted teen drama to pull in the ratings. I know things haven't been easy, but I wouldn't have changed a day of what happened because it's just proven to us that we can weather any storm, and for that I'm proud of us. We've worked hard to get back on track and I think I'm right in saying we're happy where we are right now, correct?"
"I'd say I'm pretty content," Lindsay agreed.
"Exactly, if we hadn't have gone through that tough time, I don't know whether we would appreciate how we are now as much as we do. We've still got a hell of a long way back to where we were before, but if we're in it together, that's all that matters. Are you in?"
"I'm definitely in," she smiled at him.
"Good, and you know, you've got no idea how I feel when I look at you walkin' around like you do. If things had been easy, I don't think I would have appreciated you walking as much as I do. And I know that I've always loved you," Danny continued. "But I never realised how much. I do now. I know that I don't just want you in my life, I need you in my life. No matter what happens between us. Without you, things don't feel right. So yeah, things were tough, and although I regret some of the things that happened; I'd never change it. Live and learn and all of that."
Lindsay swallowed the lump in her throat and smiled as he brushed away one of her tears that had slipped out of the corner of her eye. "Who would have pinned you as a man of words?"
"What can I say?" Danny smirked, "I've got a trick or two up my sleeve."
"What else have you got up your sleeve for this afternoon of ours then?"
"That'd be for me to know and for you to find out." He chuckled. A moment of comfortable silence fell between them before Danny cleared his throat. "I want you to promise me something."
"Alright," she smiled without a moment's hesitation.
"Promise me that for the rest of this afternoon, we won't talk about the past few months, okay? I want this to be you, me and us. Not what's been holdin' us down, you know?"
"That might just be the best idea you've had yet," Lindsay smiled. She then held up her hand and offered him her pinky finger. "I'll do you one better than a promise. I'll pinky promise you."
"A pinky promise, huh?" Danny mused, latching his pinky with his wife's. "No messin' with you, Mrs. Messer."
Lindsay giggled, her eyes twinkling with love for her husband. As far as she was concerned, this afternoon was going to be perfect... and exactly what the therapist ordered.
And I think we'll leave it here for now ;) didn't want all my fluff to be packed into one chapter... and I know it wasn't as fluffy as you may have liked (it wasn't as fluffy as I planned actually) but Fred wants what he wants... next chapter will be utterly fluffylicious. I promise :p I have a whole week to think and plan ;) so prepare yourself for a fluff attack when I get back.
Thanks for reading :)