Author's Notes: The characters and situations herein do not belong to me. This story is meant solely for entertainment purposes. No infringement is intended.

Hi there. I would be the newest convert to this fandom, having just discovered the show within the last few weeks. (Yeah, I'm slightly slow on the uptake. We move on.) This is my first piece for this universe (and this 'ship) and I'm slightly terrified to post it. But I was struck by a couple of things while having my marathon DVD watching sessions, and wanted to see if I could translate it into a story. I hope it works. Fingers crossed.

Thank you to Meredith Paris for getting me hooked on "Medical Investigation", which led to the "CSI: NY" love. And thanks to the ever fabulous Alamo Girl for the beta and encouragement. You girls rock.

This piece is set immediately after "Personal Foul" and contains references to episodes from Season Two forward. Enjoy!


The phone is weighty in her hand, just as heavy as the rain cascading down her back and the pressure of disconnecting--in more ways than one--from Danny.

Her mood is as somber as the world around her; dark and misty in its convolution, encompassing and teetering in the waning silence. She has not heard the bustle of the city around her as she meanders between the raindrops; as he does, Danny changed that, and now she is acutely aware of everything: the vibration of the subway grate beneath her feet, the smell of the exhaust from the manhole covers and cabs as they whisk by.

There is--has always been--a magnetic pull to him, and her feet itch to turn around and head in the direction of his apartment. But her heart and her head refuse to be blindly led, and so she remains enveloped only by the rain and the city and not his heady presence, wandering an endless route; always moving, but never gaining ground.

She has been a mass of conflicting emotions for weeks--months--now, and hates how unhinged and directionless she feels. She has always thrived on law and order, balancing both the practical and emotional; she feels as though the foundation of that stability is fading as quickly as the storm clouds cover the stars. It's why she's out here in a downpour; seeking solace and revelation in between the flashes of lightning and rolling of the thunder. She is reminding herself of her place in the world, of her self-definition, of all the things she once held as gospel; before Danny, before Ruben, before this.

As she turns the corner, a faded striped awning spills over with collected water just as a myriad of thoughts wash over her. Her prayers were finally answered tonight, seeing his name and number pop up on her cell phone screen. The choice is hers now; what to do with it?

It would be easy to go over to his place, to forget the emotional maelstrom of the past few weeks that has threatened to drown her. It would be easy to just be thankful that he was finally reaching out; easy to be ignorant of reasons or rationale, and settle back in to the even existence she's so sorely lacked recently. It would be easy to be blinded by the raw pain in his voice, deafened by the things he cannot yet say. It would be easy to bury her own pain alongside his; to let the current take and submerge them both--at least they'd be together, which is what she missed most in this forced separation. It would be easy to tell herself she loves him and that's all that matters. No sense in questioning the answer she'd been waiting for.

But something holds her back. Isn't this what she wanted, what she'd hung all her hopes on? Why say no to something you once wanted to say yes to so fervently?

And then it hits her: she isn't sure she's ready for him to come back, because she's not sure what he'd be coming back to.

She realizes that, even with his absence, he is not the only one who was lost. She's been just as blinded as he is, scared to puncture the surface and expose the ugly truths they'd hidden for so long. It almost angers her to think she's been so meek and reticent; she's never shied away from diving in head first--except when it came to him.

She realizes she needs to reassess her own position--in her life and in his. She's received the proverbial two-by-four to the head, and it's forced her into an unrelenting position of reckoning. But with it comes introspective clarity, and for the first time since the stillness and space have settled between them, she's thankful for the privacy. It has been a long time since she's been this alone without feeling lonely.

It's been a long time since she remembered who she really is.

As she puts more distance between them--this time of her own conscious making--her mind begins to whirl with understanding and possibility. She realizes with a stunning certainty that, somewhere along the line, she's ceased being who she considers to be the true Lindsay Monroe. She is no longer the fighter who effortlessly chases down and cuffs suspects twice her size; no longer the self-assured (sometimes to the point of immovable, tenacious confidence) scientist who found her place among an already cohesive team, in spite of the obstacles impeding her path. The girl who'd cheated death more than once--the girl who had found the strength to face the monsters lurking in the dark shadows of both the real world and her own personal hell--has morphed into someone she doesn't quite recognize. Somehow, a blurred line has appeared between feisty, strongly willful Detective Monroe and the softer, more vulnerable and dependent "Montana". She used to straddle that border, carefully walking the delineation and never letting one bleed into the other. But over time--as she and Danny cautiously treaded into the murky waters of a relationship--she's stopped caring about the boundaries, mixing the light of the work day with the private darkness of night, creating the ultimate shade of grey.

Now that night is something they no longer share, the trained spotlight on her life is becoming insistent, never fading, but she cannot--does not--shield herself from the scrutiny. Whereas Danny cannot be completely open with her, sightless in his own pain, she decides to try and be honest with herself.

Her steps are quicker now, but not because of the torrential rain; her pace is instead hurried as recognition starts to refuel the fading embers of the fire beneath her spirit. She wonders if she had--has--any right to expect anything from him. She knew what she was getting in to, pursuing a relationship with him. Since she's known him, he's always done things his own way and in his own time, and she knows from personal experience that one retreats to the comfortably familiar when most threatened; she should have expected him to pull away. Hell, she did it herself by leaving for Bozeman with only a note in goodbye, hiding her simmering past as it threatened to become a conflagration and singe her carefully constructed barriers into ash.

She also knows that he's never had a relationship like the one they have now--so intricately woven that if one cord is unwound, the other will surely follow and fray. He had a reputation as a "player" with a different girlfriend twice a month, freely giving the physical but avoiding the emotional. He was probably as uncertain as she was before that fateful "snow day", especially given the fact that he'd put himself out on the ledge by asking her out and she'd let him falter on the precipice, abandoning him at his most exposed when she stood him up.

She feels guilty at forgetting the significant hitch to his voice and the naked confusion in his eyes as she'd tried to rationalize the unexplainable; when he'd reached out and did what she could not: confronted her about the undeniable chemistry that lay between them. She is finally finding pattern in the disorder--perhaps, on some level, he felt as though he couldn't come to her, given her reaction the first time he'd laid himself open. Perhaps while she has been strengthened by the move into deeper, more meaningful water, he's felt like he was caught in the undertow, fighting the tide as it swells between them.

Perhaps in her search for an answer, she's failed to ask the hardest questions of herself.

She is clear in her conviction that she does not blame herself for his distance--his choices are his own, just as her decisions rest solely on her conscience. But the rain walk has done its job; as the drops fall, they beat better understanding and recognition into her once weary bones. She is examining all possible hypotheses--all possible meanings behind the evidence before her--and she has finally reached a conclusion.

She still wants to be there for him, but she'll do it on her terms, not his.

She will forgive him his sins, as long as he does the same for her.

She will try to understand the inexplicable; will strive for honesty--to him, to herself--above all else, regardless of the number of wrenching wounds she rips open in the process. She will not forget the hurt or the fear, but she will make a conscious effort to move past it; instinctively, she knows it will take more effort to remain hidden in this shade of grey than it will to step back into the sometimes ruthless--but still comforting--light.

She will meet him halfway.

They cannot go back to before, and, truth be told, she's not sure she wants to. She wants to be the Lindsay Monroe that sifted through tiger dung her first day on the job, the Lindsay Monroe who made dumpster diving look good. She wants to be the girl that he--and she--fell in love with, once upon a time and a few last chances ago.

The cold rain is no longer sending chills down her spine; instead, it is anticipation, and it thoroughly warms her. Steely conviction has replaced aimless, restless wandering, and she finally has understanding back within her grasp.

She will go home, sleep in her own bed, and report for work at the dawn of a brand new day. She will remember who she is and why she's here, and perhaps it will be in that reminder that they will forge a new path, two lost souls fighting the tide but finally coming to rest on a peaceful shore.

Together.

FIN