Title: A Father's Heart

Author: FoxPhile

Status: Part 1/?? 2/20/2009

Category: Angst, Romance

Pairings: Danny/Lindsay – married with child

Timeline: Season 5. Begins 3 months after the baby is born

Rating: M – Just some suggestive language and steamy thoughts so far

Content Warnings: none

Summary: What if Lindsay's baby isn't the first time this has happened to Danny?

Word Count: 2,720 words

Disclaimer: CSI-NY and its characters are the property of CBS Productions, Alliance/Atlantis Productions and Jerry Bruckheimer. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. Please do not post or archive without the consent of the author. © FoxPhile

Reviews are lovely, aren't they?

Author's Notes: I always come late to the party. I've been a big fan of CSI-Vegas for years. Now, in it's fifth season I've discovered CSI-NY. I'm catching up, and loving every minute of it. Hurray for DVDs!

I love the Danny/Lindsay relationship. It's so refreshing to have a 'ship that's actually CANON!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Danny Messer turned the key in the lock and gave the door a shove.

"Hey, Montana! I'm home!"

"On the sofa, Danny," came the response, in a voice just above a whisper. There was just the tiniest note of tense reproach in her tone.

Her husband of just six months barely heard her. But he knew that tone. It didn't take a forensic scientist to figure out that the baby was napping. He walked into the apartment as quietly as he could, knowing that he would catch more grief than he needed this evening if he woke his daughter. Carefully hanging his jacket on the rack by the door, he set his keys down in the little dish on the hall table that Lindsay had placed there for that purpose. As his keys mingled with Lindsay's, metal on metal made an unexpected clatter and Danny froze, his thumb and finger still holding the keyfob suspended a few inches above its intended destination. After a moment, he released the breath he'd been holding and gently lowered the keys the rest of the way.

Just half a year ago, he would have tossed his jacket in the general direction of the coat tree, giving himself two points if by some miracle it actually caught on one of the hooks. At least half the time, it missed and he would let it stay on the floor where it landed. The keys would have likewise been pitched, underhanded, in the general direction of the hall table, to land amidst the detritus of unopened mail, bills, notices from the building management, spare change and other general junk from his pockets that had been collecting there for weeks or months.

Now, there were rules to be followed and he followed them.

His life had changed so much since he'd followed Lindsay into the locker room and gotten his first look at their baby on a small, fuzzy ultrasound print. But it was a good change. His family had assured him that the "pretty little country girl" would dump him by now. Well, she was still here and he hadn't seen the family since he'd taken Lindsay out to meet them a few days after the wedding. That night she had promised him that they would make their own family, that she and the baby would be all the family he could ever want or need.

As usual, Montana was right, even if he would never come right out and tell her that!

Carefully avoiding the one floorboard that always creaked, he walked quietly into the living room. She was curled up on one end of the overstuffed sofa, her feet tucked up underneath of her, the baby held protectively to her breast, which was partially bare. It was a sight he saw nearly every day, but one that never ceased to cause his gut to tighten and parts south to stand up and pay attention. For what seemed like the fiftieth time, Danny wondered if it was some sort of perversion to get so turned on watching the mother of his child breast-feeding.

Some player he turned out to be!

As Lindsay's belly had grown, he'd found her blossoming form more and more appealing. Danny blushed as he remembered the night she had gone into labor. He'd come home from the lab and found her curled up and napping on this same sofa, wearing nothing but a tank top and panties, her swollen belly exposed. It was late May, and even with the A/C on, she was constantly complaining of being too warm. Did she have any idea what it did to him to see her like that? In spite of the rising heat he was feeling, Danny had only meant to kiss her soft lips in greeting. But she had woken up and languorously wrapped her arms around his neck, deepening the kiss until he'd had no choice but to scoop her up and whisk her away into the bedroom where they'd nearly scorched the walls.

He'd been gentle, of course. But as the doctor later explained, to a very embarrassed and concerned Danny, that sort of activity in late term pregnancy often brought on labor, but did no harm. In fact, doctors sometimes recommended it to women who were past term as a way to speed things along.

Two days later they had brought 8 pound 7 ounce Lucia Angela Messer home. But not until Danny had endured 24 hours of hell as his wife went through an exhausting, and for Danny, frightening labor. Again, the doctor assured him that, while the labor had been hard on her, she had never been in any real danger. She quickly went on to caution Danny that, although restrictions on sex after childbirth were now generally believed to be unnecessary, in Lindsay's case it might be a good idea to wait the six weeks and give her time to regain her strength. Halfway through the ordeal his wife had announced to most of the hospital that it would be more like sixty years before Danny Messer or any man got within a hundred yards of her. By the time it was all over, Danny was in wholehearted agreement.

The morning after they brought the baby home, he had woken to find himself alone in their bed. Wandering out to the living room, he found his wife and daughter on the sofa. Lucy was eagerly having her breakfast, her tiny fists clenching and unclenching against Lindsay's heavy breast as she avidly suckled. All memory of the labor fled his mind and it had taken every bit of self-control in his soul to keep from jumping his wife. Echoing the doctor's orders like a mantra in his head, he had mumbled "Good Morning" and grabbed the newspaper, holding it strategically to hide the embarrassing tent in his pajama bottoms. Giving Lindsay a quick kiss on the top of her head, and reminding her that he found her the most beautiful woman in the world, over the age of 3 days anyway, he quickly escaped to the relief of a long and very cold shower.

That was the first of many times that he found himself beating his fist on the shower walls and berating himself for the pervert he surely must be.

It was the longest six weeks of his life.

Fortunately, he had lived through it and Mr. and Mrs. Messer's love life had resumed in more or less normal fashion. He hadn't confessed his perversion to Lindsay, but he suspected she knew. She had a way of smiling at him when she was nearly done feeding the baby. A knowing smile that hinted at what he could expect once the baby was safely back in her crib, sleeping off her meal.

Over the last three months Danny had ample opportunity to work on his self-control. Lindsay fed Lucy about 8 or 9 times a day, about half of which happened while Danny was on shift. When he was home, she wasn't always in a mood to indulge his fantasy, and he knew he had to be sensitive to that. He was perversely proud that he could usually get himself under control within a minute or two if Lindsay's smile was the contented, happy mother smile. An annoyed, "You did this to me" smirk meant the baby had been fussy and he risked life and limb if he got within six feet of her. Most disappointing was the exhausted complete lack of smile that signaled a day spent endlessly walking and rocking, wondering how one baby could scream and cry for so long.

As he sat down on the sofa next to her, Danny was glad to see the mischievous little smile that told him she knew exactly what her little display did to him and had, in fact, arranged to be in just this position when he got home from work. Leaning over to capture his lips, she gave him a kiss full of promises.

"I'm just going to put her down. I'll be right back," Lindsay whispered as she rose from the sofa.

Danny gently stroked the baby's cheek and whispered, "I love you, beautiful", dropping a kiss on the baby's head as she passed by.

The ringing of the doorbell was followed almost instantly by a loud and very perturbed wail. Lindsay followed that almost as quickly with a muttered, "Damn that Flack! I thought you told him not to ring the bell!"

Danny sprinted to get the door. "I did tell him! I told him to knock once, *QUIETLY* and use his key."

"Well tell him again. And this time tell him *I* said so! I'm going to see if I can calm her down and get her to sleep again. I'll be back out when I'm decent." Lindsay disappeared into the small nursery, which had formerly housed Danny's pool table.

Danny opened the door, ready to read Detective Don Flack the riot act, fueled by his frustration and the continued screaming of his infant daughter. But the person on the other side wasn't his friend and colleague. Two people were waiting outside his door. Danny recognized the look, and the stance. Although he didn't know them personally, he knew they were cops, no mistake.

"Yeah?" he greeted them. As his anger faded, his suspicions rose. And with it, worry began to needle his mind. He was one of them. He knew that police at the door never meant good news.

"Are you Daniel Messer?" asked the woman. She was medium height and attractively, if conservatively dressed. Danny guessed that she was in her mid thirties. She was carrying an enormous black satchel that was apparently stuffed with papers. It must have weighed a ton, but she seemed accustomed to the weight. The man with her was tall and lanky and about ten years younger.

"I'm Danny Messer," he said. Crossing his arms, he stood with his feet planted firmly, swaying back and forth, guarding his turf. "What's the problem?"

The woman flashed an id quickly and announced, "I'm Nancy Wells, this is detective Mark Jackson. Do you know a Melinda Ponzio?"

Danny stared at the floor a moment. When he raised his head again, his eyes were wary. This visit was quickly going downhill. "Yea. I used to know a girl by that name. Why?"

"I'm sorry to tell you, Mr. Messer, that she's dead."

Danny's eyebrows rose as he took in this news. He did remember Melinda from his old neighborhood. But that was another life. He hadn't seen or heard from her in a long time. "I'm sorry to hear that, too. But I don't understand why you're telling me?"

"Mr. Messer, maybe we should discuss this inside," suggested the young man who had until now been mute.

Danny looked the two over another minute. "You got a badge, detective?"

The young man suddenly looked flustered and fumbled in his coat pocket. He retrieved a small case, flipped it open and displayed the badge and id inside. Danny scrutinized both carefully before stepping aside to allow the couple entrance.

"When you come to someone's door, detective, always announce yourself and show your badge *first*, before you start askin' questions. It's proper procedure."

"Huh?" Detective Jackson stopped in the middle of the entrance hall and turned, his confusion clearly stamped on his face.

Danny lifted the edge of his shirt to display his own badge. "I got a few years on ya, kid. Seems like you could use a few pointers."

"Oh…um…I'm sorry…um…Detective Messer…Sir?"

Only the knowledge that someone he had known had died, kept Danny from laughing outright. This kid was green! He made Danny feel like an old man. He could feel himself channeling Mac Taylor. "S'ok kid. But don't call me sir."

"Mr. Messer," Nancy Wells had found her way to the living room and was standing by the sofa. "If we could continue?"

Danny turned, leaving the flustered young detective to follow behind. "Sure. Have a seat. What's this all about?" He took his own seat in the armchair across from the woman, who seated herself on the sofa. The young detective sat and busied himself returning his id case to his coat pocket.

"Mr. Messer, Melinda Ponzio was found dead yesterday in her home in Brooklyn Heights. So far, her death appears accidental, although the investigation is still ongoing. We're interviewing anyone who may have known her, or seen her recently. Can you tell us the last time you saw Ms. Ponzio?"

Danny sat with his feet planted about a foot apart and leaned forward, steepling his fingers, resting his elbows on his knees. "I don't know where you got your information, but I haven't seen or spoken to Melinda in years. She lived down the street from me when I was growing up on the Island. She used to come over and play at my house when we were just kids, and we dated once or twice in high school. Since then, I think I ran into her one time about… about two years ago, when I was home visitin'. Haven't seen or heard from her since then."

Nancy Wells took a small notebook and pen from her satchel and began jotting down notes. "You say it's been two years since you last saw Ms. Ponzio. Are you quite sure of that, Mr. Messer?"

"That's what I told you." Danny was beginning to get annoyed.

"And how well did you know Ms. Ponzio before that?"

Just then Lindsay came back into the room. She had changed into a modest t-shirt and jeans, and brushed her hair back into a ponytail. Noticing the unfamiliar guests, she asked, "What's going on, Danny?"

"I ain't sure, Linds. These two fine people have come here to let me know that a girl I knew growin' up, that I've hardly seen since high school, was found dead. And I'm real sorry to hear that, but they haven't given me any reason why two of New York's finest were sent over here to tell me."

Lindsay smiled and moved to sit in the other chair. She recognized Danny at near boiling point. His quick temper had gotten him into trouble more than once, but she'd become adept at diffusing him. "Danny, I'm sure they're just following up on anyone the poor girl might have known. You of all people know how that is."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Messer, you misunderstand," Nancy Wells brought out her id again and handed it to Danny. "I'm not with the NYPD. I'm with Child and Family Services."

"Excuse me?" Danny stared at the woman. "Child and Family Services? What the heck is going on?"

Danny was suddenly gripped by fear. Why would Child and Family Services be here? They couldn't be thinking of taking Lucy away. Could this be because of Ruben? Maybe they figured if he'd been involved in the death of one kid, he couldn't be trusted with his own? And what did Melinda Ponzio have to do with any of it? No way was he going to let this pompous witch and a snot-nosed kid of a detective take his daughter. Danny glanced to where his gun was sitting in its holster, high on a shelf in the entrance hall. He'd kill them both first, if that's what it came to. He'd kill them and he and Lindsay would leave. They both knew all about forensics. If it came to it, they could remove any evidence and get away and take Lucy with them.

"Mr. Messer, were you aware that Ms. Ponzio had a young child, a son?"

"No. Like I told you, I haven't really talked to her. Not since high school." Danny was beginning to breathe again. So that's what this was about. Poor, dead Melinda had a kid and CFS just needed to find her parents, someone who could become the kid's legal guardian. "If you're trying to find her parents, I can probably remember the address, if you give me a minute."

"No, thank you, Mr. Messer. That's quite all right. We've already contacted Ms. Ponzio's parents." Nancy Wells pulled a file folder from the satchel. She opened the folder and began flipping through the papers inside. "Mr. Messer, Ms. Ponzio's son is almost three years old. And according to his birth certificate….. Ah, here it is….. You're the boy's father."

…to be continued