Title: Precious Things
Status: Complete 8/15/2009
Category: Angst, Hurt/Comfort
Timeline: Season 6
Rating: T for some language
Content Warnings: MAJOR SPOILERS for Season 6
Summary: Pain is the payment for all precious things
Word Count: 1,987 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
Author's Notes: This is based on MAJOR SPOILERS for Season 6. If you want to remain spoiler free TURN BACK NOW. You have been warned.
Lindsay turned the key in the lock and shoved, shifting the backpack she'd taken to using lately so that it wouldn't fall from her shoulder as she walked into the hallway. She waited for Danny to announce his location. Usually, when she got home, she was swiftly greeted with a loud and cheery "In the living room" or "The kitchen", or once the memorable "I'm takin' a crap - be out in about…ten minutes!" But today, only silence greeted her arrival.
Hawkes had assured her that he'd delivered Danny safely home after his PT appointment that afternoon. And while she knew the sessions could be exhausting for him, Danny was not given to taking naps. As a nagging tendril of worry began to creep into her thoughts, she listened more closely for the sound of a television, or perhaps music, to clue her into her husband's whereabouts. And more importantly, his state of mind. Hawkes had said nothing to indicate that there was any problem, but still, Lindsay got a sense from him that things hadn't gone well in PT; that something was not quite right with Mr. Messer.
Shortly after Lucy's birth, she began to realize that she had a sixth sense for trouble where the baby was concerned. Often, while cleaning or cooking, she would suddenly feel the need to check on the napping baby. Within steps of the nursery door, she would hear the snuffling sound that Lucy often made before she began to cry in earnest. Now, she realized the same sense had extended itself to her husband. A few weeks before she had been napping while Danny watched a basketball game on television. With Danny's condition, Lindsay had to cling to the adage, "sleep when the baby sleeps". But Danny had convinced her to let the baby sleep in her bassinet in the living room, so that he could enjoy having her with him. He'd turned the sound down on the television, insisting that he could tell what was going on just fine without listening to the announcer's prattle.
Waking up from her nap, that nagging sensation of trouble had hit her immediately. Thinking the baby probably needed a diaper change; she'd grabbed her light robe and padded out into the living room. The first thing she noticed was that the baby was alone in the room, still sleeping quite soundly, with no indication of any impending problem. But Danny was missing. Assured that the baby was fine, she wandered into the kitchen, still wondering what had caused her spidey-sense to misfire. Finding no Danny, she turned, trying to think where else he could be. Danny had "inherited" the rent-controlled apartment from an uncle, so it was fairly large yet still well within their budget. But there were still only so many rooms, and she'd checked almost all of them. She could think of no reason why he'd be in the nursery, but she checked just the same and found no Danny there. Likewise, there was little reason for him to be in the spare room, and he was not. That only left one of the bathrooms. They had invested in some temporarily bars that allowed him to better maneuver in the larger of the two rooms, but she had still insisted that he enlist her help whenever she was home. There was no point in taking undue risks, and they were husband and wife, after all. It's not like she hadn't seen it all before. Still, she knew he didn't like having her help. And not just because he was embarrassed by it.
Not surprisingly, the bathroom door was almost closed. It was more difficult to open the door from his wheelchair if it was completely closed, so Danny usually left it ajar. What Lindsay saw through the three-inch gap nearly made her heart stop. It was a glimpse of Danny's jean-clad leg on the floor. And if his leg was on the floor, the rest of him was most likely there as well. She burst through the door and stopped short at the sight of blood on the floor near his head.
In the end, it had been a relatively minor accident. Danny had heeded the call of nature and, not wanting to wake Lindsay, had proceeded to handle matters by himself. In his haste, he hadn't set the brake on the wheelchair completely, and, while trying to leverage himself from the chair onto the toilet, the chair had shot away from him. He'd fallen and banged his head on the edge of the bathtub. Fearing more extensive injuries, Lindsay had gotten paramedics to take him to the hospital. There it was discovered that although he had a nasty gash on his forehead that bled profusely, as head injuries often do, he was otherwise fine, not even a mild concussion. Lindsay told Danny about her sense of danger, but he laughed and told her she probably just heard the clatter of the chair, the thud of his hard head and the stream of curses he'd launched into briefly before he remembered his sleeping daughter.
Fearing a repeat of the incident, she dropped her bag and keys rushed to check the bathroom. Passing the living room, she glanced through to the den where Danny's pool table still held pride of place. Next to it, one hand absently rubbing the felt along one side, sat her husband of just a few months. His head hung dejectedly, hiding his face. Stopping in mid-stride she turned and walked slowly through the living room, coming to a stop in front of Danny. She was still debating if she should try humor or address his obvious misery head on when he raised his head and said words she hoped she would never hear.
"I want a divorce."
Lindsay felt suddenly unsteady. She shot one hand out to grab the edge of the pool table and Danny reached out and wrapped his strong hands around her waist, ensuring that she would not fall. As she regained her balance, Lindsay looked into his eyes. The depth of his concern for her was clear, but behind it was a profound sorrow. As if he had lost everything in life that he held dear. Lindsay suddenly knew what she had to do.
"No, Danny. You can't have a divorce." Her mother would be proud of her. Lucy was not even 6 months old and what Lindsay just said came out in exactly the same tone mom had used when telling the six year old Lindsay that she couldn't have dessert because she hadn't finished her supper. Danny's face began to morph from misery to astonishment as Lindsay continued, "I'm going to take a leap here and guess that PT didn't go too well. You're feeling frustrated and wondering if you'll ever get out of that chair. It's making you feel like a failure and you're projecting that failure onto your performance as a husband and deciding that somehow I deserve a refund on a defective purchase. Well, Mr. Messer, it doesn't work like that. Or was there some part of 'in sickness and in health' that was unclear to you?"
Lindsay turned, walked back through the living room to the kitchen and began preparing herself a cup of tea. After a stunned moment, Danny followed her, his hands vigorously pushing the wheels of his chair, trying to catch up.
"Lindsay, I understand that, I do. But I don't think you had any idea you were gonna havta deal with the 'in sickness' part so soon…or so much. You've got your hands full just taking care of Lucy." Danny slammed his hand against the wheel of his chair. "And I can't even help you with her. I can't even change her diaper or give her a bath. I can't be left alone to take care of her, even for a few minutes. You come home from a long shift; you have to do everything there is to do for the baby, and you gotta take care of me, too? How is that fair to you?"
Lindsay turned from the kettle that she had set on the stove. "It's not fair, Danny. You're right. It's not fair at all. But it's not supposed to be fair. It's marriage and family, it's not a basketball game. There's no referee to come in and give us a time out. But Danny, 'in sickness' works both ways. 'In sickness' means I vowed to care for you, no matter what. But it also means that you have to do whatever you can to get well, no matter what, for the good of our marriage and the good of our family. So if you think that you can just give up and spend the rest of your life in that chair, think again, buster, because I'm not having it. I'm holding you to those vows. And if you really want a divorce, you're going to have to fight me for it. And I don't fight fair."
"Lindsay…" Danny's voice was pleading, "Lindsay, I'm working hard, I am. But I can't help wonder what happens if it doesn't work? What if I'm in this damn thing for the rest of my life? What then? How are you gonna keep this up for twenty years? Thirty years? How, Lindsay? I can't do that to you."
Lindsay walked from around the counter, grabbed one of the kitchen chairs and turned it around so that she could sit and face him. Taking his hands in hers, she looked him in the eyes. "I'm not ready to believe it will come to that, Danny. I believe in you, and I believe that you have it in you to work hard enough to get back on your feet." She began to gently stroke his hands with her thumbs. "But if I'm wrong; if it does come to twenty years or thirty years or fifty years, I'll do it. And not just because I said I would in City Hall. But because you are one of the two most precious things in my life." She paused, a sudden memory resurfacing. "Pain is the payment for all precious things." Taking Danny's left hand in both of hers, she fingered his wedding band. "I'll pay any price it takes for Lucy. I'll pay any price it takes to keep you in my life, Danny. And the Danny I married will pay any price for the precious things in his life, too."
The kettle whistled and Lindsay stood to move it off the burner. She tried to read the expression on Danny's face, but all she saw there were clouds. She hoped she'd gotten through to him. If she hadn't, she would have to try again later. She had to go pick up Lucy, and she knew it wouldn't help to pressure Danny too much. She could lead him to the water, but he would have to decide for himself if he was gonna drink it. Pouring the water into a travel mug, she added a teabag and dunked it several times before closing the lid onto the mug.
"Danny, I know things aren't going well right now. But it's still early and you need to give it time. Right now I have to go get my other precious thing." She smiled at her own joke, and gripped his shoulder affectionately as she walked around him and headed to the door.
"Lindsay, wait a sec."
Lindsay turned and watched as Danny swung the chair around. He headed toward the door and grabbed his gym bag on the way. "The therapist told me she had a cancellation this evening, if I wanted to come back and try again." As he reached her side, Danny reached over and took her free hand. "Do you think you might drop me off on your way to pick up OUR precious thing?"