A/N: It's been a long time since I have written any fanfic. I'm currently in the middle of an original novel, but after watching a few episodes of CSI:NY the plot bunnies grabbed me in the night and are now holding me hostage until I have written this. Expect quick updates as I really need to get this out of my system then I can get on with other stuff! I apologise for any non-US phrases. I'm English and I don try to write American, but in the heat of the moment I fail.
There are spoilers up to whatever TalkCSI has reviewed (4.16 at this point). This is set after Flack suggested to Angell that they get Irish Coffee (pr was that a euphemism for something else perhaps?).
Please review - reviews are good for the soul, and how quick I can type.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to CBS, I don't own them, don't sue. And yes, the title has been nicked from an REM song.
Chapter One – It's a Bad Day
The bar was quiet for a change; just a few people sat round tables, drinking away whatever troubles they were having. Although the manager had banned smoking a few months ago the memories of its scent still lingered, still attached to the furniture and 70's style wallpaper. It was not the most upmarket of bars, but it was one Don Flack liked to frequent; a little away from the cop hangouts, but well enough known as a place where some officers drank to make sure that he didn't end up standing next to his work.
He was sat with his back to the door, sipping at beer. It had been a long day, a long tedious day which had involved a rainforest of paperwork, and an annoying phone call with a DA. He was hoping the evening would provide pleasanter entertainment, although given that the said entertainment was now over half an hour late he wasn't holding his breath.
Flack heard the door swing open, and felt a blast of warm air. The manager was from Scotland, and couldn't cope with more than a few degrees of heat so had installed air conditioning rather than having the place redecorated. He heard footsteps approach the bar, footsteps that belonged to somebody not wearing flat shoes. He looked up and saw his colleague ordering two beers. She shot him a grin and he smiled back. It was hard not to, even after the worst of days, given that she had a grin that lit up his room anyway.
He and Detective Angell had been meeting at least once a week after their shifts had finished for a beer or a coffee; last week they had met three times and for one of those he had hung around for a couple of hours after work, waiting for her to finish up. He wasn't reading anything into, unlike the rest of the department, or at least trying not to. They weren't exactly dates when all you did was talk about work and give each other a bit of support.
Angell placed the beer down in front of him. "And what time do you call this?" Flack said, tapping his watch. "I have people to see, places to go…" He grinned at her and she gave him a wry smile back. She looked tired.
"I'm sorry. I was going to call and let you know I was running late, but I never got round to it," she took a long drink straight from the bottle. "Besides, I had Mulligan lurking round my desk and I knew if he overheard me call you, which he would as he has ears the size of satellite dishes, then we'd be the talk of the water cooler again."
"Fair point," he added. "Though I'm sure it's good for your reputation, you know, to be associated with me."
She held her head back and laughed, long dark brown hair dangling down the back of the chair. "I would argue it's the other way round, seeing as I am the far better looking."
He grinned, blue eyes laughing. It had become a battle of wits with them, and he enjoyed the banter, finding it a refreshing change for some of the other conversations he had to endure.
"How's Danny?" Angell asked, her laughter subsided and face serious.
Flack shrugged. That had been the first time they had gone out after work without any one else from the precinct; the day Danny's gun had been taken by Rikki Sandoval and Flack had broken all sorts of rules to help his friend. He had been one of their work topics of conversation. Flack, to be frank, was worried about him. A concern he had only shared with Angell, knowing that she wouldn't confront Danny, or broadcast Flack's thoughts.
"I don't know, and I don't mean that I'm being ignorant. We went to shoot some hoops last night and his head's in a mess over Ruben's death and this Sandoval woman. He's jumping from one extreme to another," Flack said, pushing away his empty first beer bottle.
"It wasn't his fault – I didn't think she was blaming him?" Angell said.
"She isn't. But they slept together."
"And you think that's wrong?" Angell said. She sat forward, her face pulled in a quizzical expression.
"It's up to him what he does, Jess. He's a grown man. But Danny doesn't deal well with situations like this," he sat back in exasperation and sharply tapped the fingers of both hands on the table.
"You have to let him deal with this himself. She's on her own now she's not got her son, she'll be looking for company. Danny was with her son last – he's the last contact she's got with Ruben, Flack. Danny probably thinks he's making her feel better. In a couple of months they'll have recovered some and he'll have things in perspective," she took another long drink of her beer.
"You thirsty?" Flack said, nodding to the rapidly disappearing liquid.
"It's been a long day," she said.
He nodded and for a moment they both sat there in a comfortable silence.
"You're right about Danny," Flack said eventually. "It's just frustrating sometimes."
"Sometimes Flack, you have to try to not see everything in black and white. There are shades of grey in between, and that's where Danny is right now," she said, an empty bottle now before her.
"I'm a cop. I only do black and white. Clearly you are an impostor," he said, standing up. "You want another, or something more girly?"
She raised her eyebrows. It had been one of his first sarcastic comments, the fact that she drank beer from a bottle and rarely touched anything that could be declared 'girly'.
"My brothers would tan my hide," she said, passing him her empty bottle.
"And I'm sure there are plenty of men who would envy them," he said, smiling.
"Are you trying to trying to tell me something, Detective Flack?" she said, her eyes ablaze, teasing.
He felt himself colour; and his mind go a little too numb to think of a snarky comment. He wasn't used to having this reaction. Angell was pretty and smart and good company, but they worked together – not that that would stop a relationship, it was where his father and mother had met after all. He stopped trying to figure out what was going on in his head and went to the bar instead, ordering himself a whisky and Angell another beer.
"You still telling me that's not your girlfriend?" Colin the barman said in undertones as Flack got there. Flack wondered if something was out to get him, or possibly Angell playing games.
"Has she paid you to say that?" he said rather loudly.
"Hey, you think a girl like that needs to pay someone to say she's got a boyfriend? You must have been eating the wrong kind of cheese or something," Colin said, looking slightly worried at Flack's reaction.
Flack shook his head. "She's not my girlfriend. We're colleagues having a drink after work."
Colin shrugged. "Could have fooled me. If you're out from work, why aren't there more of you? And it's not like you've never been here with just you two before. If someone asked me that, then I would let them believe that she was mine."
Flack looked over at Angell; she had turned round, and was watching them at the bar, her eyes wide. Flack figured she was enjoying the entertainment.
"Keep the change, Colin," he said, knowing he was about to be ambushed as soon as he sat back down.
She looked expectantly at him as he put the beer in front of her.
"I didn't think you would like being referred to as somebody's possession," he said.
She nodded. "I don't, colleague."
He winced. Tonight he did not want to go down this road. There were far too many shades of grey. He just wanted good conversation, a bit of flirting which they had mastered the art of, and maybe some take out food on the way home. He kept telling himself this as the evening wore on, erasing those shades of grey that kept appearing.
Three hours and noodles from a reputable, clean, take away later, they made their way toward Flack's apartment. Angell lived two blocks away from him, but his stop was first. Even after they had first been for a drink after work he hadn't insulted her by offering to walk her home. She was a detective, for crying out loud, and would have been put out if he'd questioned her ability to look after herself.
"You want to nip upstairs and grab that DVD?" he said as they reached his apartment.
"Sure. I can't believe I haven't seen it. Are you sure it's an actual movie and not one you're making up to try and get me into your apartment, Detective Flack?" Angell said. The she looked at him, her eyes piercing and he smiled broadly.
He was glad of the darkness of the street that covered his reddening cheeks. She was becoming his achilles heel. As of yet he hadn't sussed out whether she was seriously flirting with him, or whether it was just a game. "I really do have better lines than that."
"I thought you had no game?" she goaded.
"I don't. Lines don't classify as a game, Angell. If I gave you one of my lines you'd be putty in my hands," he said, entering the elevator. Whether it was the alcohol, or something in the noodles, he wasn't sure, but the shades of grey were lightening to become white.
The elevator halted and they got out. He noticed Angell look worried as they walked along the hall.
"This is a reall movie you know, it isn't a rouse…" he stopped as they came to his door, and he pushed it open. Unlocked.
The apartment had been trashed; draws had been emptied, the contents thrown everywhere. The widescreen TV lay on its front, DVD's strewn about the floor. He stood there, in shock, looking about him, listening to Angell as she called it in, phoning the station. He knew that someone would be there in minutes, they looked after their own.
"Bastards," he said, as she stood next to him.
"They're sending someone over and I think Mac's on his way," she said. He saw her looking up at him and felt a hand on his arm.
"I know I've pissed countless people off, Jess, but so have many cops. This is not the norm. When I get hold of the little shits they are seriously going to wish they had stayed inside their mothers'…"
"Let's wait outside. The less we're in here until Mac arrives the better."
He let her guide him out, fighting the urge to hit something hard. Angell's hand was on the back of his arm still, and he found her touch reassuring. The shades of grey were gone. Now there was just black and white. He wanted to know who had done this and, most of all, why.
Detective Mac Taylor looked at the scene in front of him. Someone had been having fun. Clothes and belongings had been scattered around the room, completely inconsistent with anything being searched. Nothing was systematic. It appeared that the aim had been to create as much chaos as possible.
Stella was behind him, checking the door for prints. He doubted they'd have any, except Flack's and Angell's. The kitchen cupboards and drawers had been emptied; even the fridge had been tossed inside out.
There was no blood, no obvious signs of anyone having been injured. One of his first theories on the way there had been that Flack's apartment had been used to dump a body, maybe to try and incriminate him in some way, or as revenge. That now seemed empty. Mac could hear Flack from outside, sounding irate and frustrated. Detective Angell was trying to pull information out of him about who could have been behind this devastation of his property, asking about ex-girlfriends who maybe wanted revenge, a line of questioning that would have made Mac chuckle had it been appropriate. He turned round and looked at Hawkes who shrugged. Flack, it seemed, had many enemies, but most were behind bars as far as they knew.
Mac stepped into the bedroom, noticing Flack's ties flung around the room. Spray paint had been used over his clothes, expensive suits and shoes; designer clothing that was one of Flack's few vices. Mac looked for the can that had done the damage – no other room had been grafittied. The drawers of the dresser were still closed, the only ones so far. Whoever had done this had known enough about Flack to know how to hurt him. He wasn't especially vain, but he valued looking smart, as had his father. Why leave drawers filled with what he valued most empty.
He crouched down by them, and dusted them for prints. None. He wasn't surprised. The middle drawer was slightly, slightly ajar. He moved closer to it and then backed away suddenly. "Out!" he called. "Everybody out! Get the building evacuated now!"
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