AN1: Characters are not mine. It's been a long time since I've written a D/L story, but the holidays and the current developments are quite inspiring :) So this one's dedicated to all my online friends and D/L fans in general. May you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
A Fairy Tale of New York
New York City - Christmas Eve
The chilling, howling wind blew down the backstreets of the city, sending the snow into tiny corners and alleyways which could not even be reached by the lights of the streets and the buildings surrounding them. The bright Christmas decorations and holiday lights seemed to fade further and further in the distance as the frail girl followed the lead of the wind, too weakened to run against it anymore. She knew that she was leaving the busy streets behind and was heading for the cheaper, more dangerous parts of town, but somehow the still and quiet of the dark was quite alluring.
The ever-falling flakes had soaked her hair and the now wet locks streaked in her eyes every time she quickly turned her head to check whether something or some one was actually behind her or if it was just nature playing tricks on her, wondering more and more if it had been wise to try and escape the rush of the shopping people and honking and speeding cars. She kept running as fast as she could through the now already thick layer of snow, without somewhere to go and too tired to turn back now, keeping her eyes cast down to not attract the attention of the tramps in the almost deserted, stinking alleys.
A shadow suddenly appearing next to hers on the ground startled her and made her stumble and slip. And while she tried to keep her balance she felt the laces of her left shoe snap and the next step had her falling over in the icy snow. The fall made her lose the shoe entirely and before she even had time to sit up and look for it, she felt some one rush out of the shadows, grab the shoe and skid off again, leaving her with the scent of cheap liquor in the stale night air and a bare foot. Knowing that trying to get back to the more civilized parts of the town quickly on just one shoe would be risking severely hurting her ankles, she sighed and bent over to take off her right shoe, too.
The moment she reached out her hands, she felt that she was no longer alone, but before she had even time to look up, something pushed her over and made her land face forward in the snow, knocking the air out of her lungs. While she struggled to get up, the familiar scent of liquor hit her nose again just before a hand pushed her head down roughly and made it collide hard with the street beneath the still soft layer of snow. The last thing she realized before she passed out was that she was dragged into the dark even further, and then another, even more intense darkness took over completely.
High above the icy cold of the city, detective Lindsay Monroe stood with her forehead pressed against the cool glass of her office window. While softly rubbing circles on her swollen belly, she sighed when she watched the snowflakes hurling past the building. She felt as lost as those tiny flakes, being tossed back and forth by the howling wind.
The next day would be Christmas and despite the fact that it was her favourite holiday she felt like crying. While slowly turning away from the window she now pressed both her hands to her belly, willing the tiny human being in there to give her a sign of live. She smiled when she felt the familiar flutter and closed her eyes to say a silent thank you, only to snap them open again when the tingling in her belly stopped almost as sudden as it had begun. "Come on, little one", she whispered "it's almost Christmas and I need to know that you're here with me". She didn't know how to explain it but she couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong and that the bond between her and the little unknown person within her was slowly, but securely being severed, as if a tiny flame was slowly dying.
That's how Danny Messer found his girlfriend, and mother of his unborn child when he went looking for her. He smiled when he watched her through the window and saw her whispering to the child, but furrowed his brow when he noticed the intense sad look in her eyes.
Not to startle her or give her the impression that he was keeping too close an eye on her, he slowly opened the door and walked in behind her. He encircled her and felt her sigh when he put his hands on top of hers and dropped his chin on her shoulder.
"Hey Montana, everything alright with the two of you?" he asked, while tightening his hold on her and pressing protective hands on their baby. "You looked like you're not feeling well; do you want me to ask Mac to let you leave early tonight?"
She smiled her first true smile of that night when she heard the obvious concern in his voice. There really was no need to worry him with her silly thoughts and she didn't want to upset him for which was probably nothing. "No Danny, I'm alright, just a little tired, and when you add the hormones and the holidays to that, I think I just get a little melancholic", she put on a –hopefully- convincing smile and turned around in his arms. "Now, what did you come here for?"
He scrutinized her once more, his blue eyes staring into her brown ones, but when he saw no sign of any discomfort anymore there, he grinned. "Looks like our last night before our week off has a case after all. We just got called in to investigate some attack or something in an alley. Flack will meet us there, so get your kit and let's go!"
She slowly came to. Not sure how or what had woken her, but with each blink of her eyes her vision got a bit clearer. Unfortunately with that also came the awareness of the cold, the dark and the stinging pain in her right ankle. Dizzily she pushed herself up against the clammy, mouldy wall. She felt feverish, but even her increased body temperature could not let her forget the freezing cold. She tried to put her, now both, bare feet under her as best as she could, but it took every last bit of energy she had left. 'My other shoe' she realized 'whomever did this, just wanted my other shoe, and must have twisted or broken my ankle when he took it off'.
While the fever took over more and more, its tremors raking her fragile body, she let her hand slid into her thin coat's pocket trying to at least keep her fingers warm. She didn't realize at first what she touched in there, but when she pulled her hand out she soflty smiled when she saw her grandfather's solid silver lighter which she was now holding between her trembling fingers.
Earlier that evening, when she had finally ran out of her home after her dad had hit her again, intending on leaving it for good, it was the only thing she grabbed to take with her, hoping that she could pawn it somewhere to buy some food and to keep her alive 'till she found some shelter or a place to stay. She ran off knowing that her alcoholic, abusive parents would probably miss that lighter more than they would miss her. After her grandfather died last year, the only person who had ever truly loved her was gone. She had never been to any school and besides the few intoxicated people that frequently came to her parents' house; no one cared or even knew that she existed.
In the back of her foggy mind she knew that a lighter meant fire, and fire meant warmth. With a shaking hand she opened the cap and with a push of her thumb a bright flame sprang to life. She stared into the flame and could almost feel the heat enveloping her.
She imagined herself in a warm living room; she saw a bright fire burning in a fireplace and heard a woman singing a Christmas song. She looked to the right and saw a man with a kind, handsome face and bright blue eyes smile at her. She smiled back at him when a sudden pain in her thumb made her realize that the lighter was red hot. She dropped it in the snow and immediately the room, the people and the warm feeling were replaced by the cold of the dark alley again.
Lindsay watched the lights of the city go by as Danny carefully drove over the slippery roads. Knowing that she was safe with him she allowed her mind to drift off again. She watched his silhouette in the dark and remembered that day, not so terrible long ago, when he asked her to marry him. Even now the thought of how nervous he had been made her smile.
So much had happened in the last year, she still could barely grasp it. First she had fallen in love with him, they had gotten closer until Danny's neighbour kid Ruben had died in his care and the grief about that had driven them apart, and just when they were in the middle of slowly getting back to each other again, trying to get back the promise of what once had been there, she had found out that she was pregnant. That pregnancy had sent both their emotions and feelings in a maelstrom and fortunately that maelstrom had washed their love to the surface.
She simply knew that he loved her, just as she had known for a long time that she loved him. And where she at first had been afraid that he loved their child perhaps more than he loved her, she now knew that it was not the case. Through the last couple of weeks they had gotten so much closer and she was aware that he loved her above all, the pregnancy had just forced him to admit it sooner than he would've perhaps liked, not just to her, but more importantly to himself.
In the middle of reflecting upon what she would do if he should ever propose again, the happy feeling about her answer and her smile were suddenly wiped away when a piercing hot pain shot through her abdomen. She moaned as softly as she could and bent over to ease back the pain a bit. 'Oh no, please don't let anything be wrong with my baby', flashed through her mind just before the next sting made her catch her breath.
Danny heard her sharp intake of breath and looked to his side. "Linds, are you alright? Are you feeling well?"
She looked at him, trying to force back the pain and her horrific thoughts and breathed a little easier when she made eye contact with him and felt the agonizing stings subside a bit. "Yeah, I'm alright, just a bit uncomfortable with the combination of a seatbelt and a kicking baby" she assured him "nothing to worry about" 'one of us worrying while at work is more than enough for now'
He still wasn't convinced though. "Are you sure there's nothing wrong? You've been kinda out of it all night and I'm not sure it's just hormones."
"I'm sure Danny; just let us get to that crime scene as fast as possible. The sooner we get there, the sooner we will be finished and we can enjoy the couple of days off we have ahead of us". She put her hand on his and squeezed "after a few days rest, I'm sure I will be better than ever". For now ignoring the dull ache and her conscience whispering 'liar' she looked out of the window to where she saw the first blue flashing lights reflect on the dark buildings.
The falling lighter had melted its way through the layer of snow onto the street and it took her a while before her unsteady fingers finally came upon it again. Relieved she picked it up, hoping that the wetness had not disabled it. She already felt the black ghost of unconsciousness creep back in the corners of her mind and knowing that the idea of a little comfort would help chase it away she held her breath and let her thumb hit the lighter again. After her second desperate attempt the bright light of a flame suddenly illuminated her fallen in cheeks and her too clear, big eyes.
Afraid that the fire would die out, she stared intensely in the flickering light, hoping that she, at least for a while, could flee to that warm and loving place. Even sooner than the first time, the streets of New York City disappeared and instead she was in that same room again. Now she was looking at the biggest Christmas tree she had ever seen, and in front of that tree was -she knew without a doubt- the woman she had heard before. The woman turned around as if she suddenly felt her presence and came towards her with big smiling brown eyes, holding out her arms as if she was going to embrace her. Feeling the love and longing for the feeling of arms around her the girl tried to run forward, only to realize that she fell over in the snow of a dark corner of a street, with an almost empty lighter in her hand.
Tears fell from her eyes and froze on her blue cheeks when the image disappeared again. Her life's energy was quickly leaving her and the only thing she really wanted was to be surrounded by that happy feeling again. 'There has to be some more fluid in the lighter, there just has to be' was the only thing she could still think of when she tried to let the flame flare up again. She smiled when a tiny yellow glimmer lit up the night and the Christmas tree re-appeared in front of her.
Great was her surprise however, when this time, not the man or the woman were in the room, but her Grandfather was sitting next to the tree. "Grandpa!" she cried out and ran to him. No pain any more, no dark street corner, no cold winter night, she felt nothing but warmth and love surrounding her, when he pulled her in his arms and they drifted up in the air. Around them the room slowly disappeared and the lights of the Christmas tree were being replaced by flashing blue.
Danny and Lindsay came to a halt just behind Don Flack's car and quickly got out to get their kits and an update on what was going on.
"Danny, Linds", Flack greeted them "sorry to call you guys out here in the cold, I've just arrived here, but we got a call from a cab driver that he saw some one being pulled into this alley and with the holidays and all we're a bit short-handed tonight".
"No problem" Danny answered "it's our last night and we could use a bit of distraction and something to do anyways, let's just see what's out there".
Lindsay carefully followed the two men through the snow and shivered when she noticed that there actually seemed to be some one lying in the snow at the far corner. She walked a bit faster when she heard Danny say that it looked like a young girl and even faster when Flack added that she was possibly still alive, but barely.
Out of breath she knelt next to the girl. Just as she laid her hand on her forehead to wipe away the wet strands, she was hit by a blinding pain again. Not only her lower abdomen, but her whole body hurt, she heard Danny call her name, but it sounded like he was miles away and before she could answer him or even react, her vision and the world faded.
The girl watched in awe as she floated through the night sky safely in her grandfather's arms. She saw the world below and her own weak body lying on the frozen ground, but it just didn't seem real, it felt as if she was watching the last scene of a sad movie. They watched as the second car stopped behind the first, they saw the three people walk up to her body and she saw the smallest of them, suddenly shudder and fall on her back in the snow.
She gasped and grasped her grandpa's hand when one of the men ran over to the pregnant woman in the snow and she recognized the two people she had seen before in the light of the flame. The woman's face was as white as a ghost's and the kind, warm eyes she remembered so clearly, were shut. As the man reached out to grab his phone a tiny white light left the woman's body and floated up in the air.
"Grandpa", she asked "what is it? What's wrong with her?"
Her grandfather smiled a sad smile and looked up to the skies. "See that star up their, child, the one that's falling?" "It is said", he continued when she nodded "that whenever a star falls, one soul will go up to Heaven. So at this moment Fate is deciding whether it should be you or that couple's little unborn child".
"But that's not fair, grandpa" she cried "that baby should live! I've felt their love, they're kind people and that baby deserves a life full of love, a life I never had. I will be happy in Heaven, there's light there, and love and no more fear and cold, just like there will be on Earth for that child!" She desperately reached out her hand "Please grandpa, take me with you!"
Flack and Flack had made the two in the snow as comfortable as possible, trying not to move them too much, while they anxiously waited for the ambulance to arrive.
Danny watched Lindsay's shallow breathing and almost missed the small movement the girl next to her suddenly made. He noticed only because he saw Flack's curious look. With a soft sigh the girl reached out her small hand and softly grabbed Lindsay's hand.
Both men never knew if it had been their imagination or not, but at the moment the hands touched a bright light briefly lit up the sky and both women started smiling. One smile was of a woman opening her eyes to the man she loved and who knew that her child was safe, and one smile was frozen for eternity under eyes that would never open again; eyes which had seen more glory than any one on earth would ever see, and that knew of the bright future for a child who was not even born yet.
AN2: Title is from a song by "The Pogues" and the girl and her story are of course based on H.C. Andersen's "The Little Match Girl" (on of my favourites)