Title: New York Stories
Chapter 1 - Welcome to the Manhattan Mews
Summary: Six lives; three emerging couples and one future. As they try to find love; work past heartaches; discover new paths, try to make a success of life in the same cozy apartment complex and come together as friends in a small corner of the big apple. MS DL FA
Disclaimer: I don't own Mac Taylor but I wish I did! This is a piece of fan fiction. It is written for pleasure and not for profit. The characters of CSI New York and any other regular cast and supporting cast members all belong to CBS, Paramount & Jerry Bruckheimer and Anthony Zuiker. All other characters are my own. Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental.
A/N: okay so this is the first of two AU whole team fic stories that I have started; yes one of the few whole cast! This one is going to be more character and relationship based. I will try to throw in some angst and peril (what I do best grin) to keep things interesting and to keep you all from becoming bored! NOTE: in this they'll all be about ten years younger (all about late twenties, early thirties) so it can lend some youth and inexperience to their lives. Hope it's not too OOC but I will try to keep their personalities true to form as I do with all my other stories; just different professions. I really hope you all like this idea.
This is only my second whole cast fic so please forgive in advance if I don't get the other two couples right as I am truly a SMACKED author (so I write them well grin)! So authors who write DL or FA well please forgive my humble attempts to get them right and if something is very off please PM me! And in my whole cast stories all parings will try to have equal time, so it shouldn't be too SMACKED heavy although as you all know I love my SMACKED! So please give this story a chance and enjoy and please review often to keep me going. Thanks in advance!
~Thanks so much to my muse BF and Brinchen86 for helping with this and being an amazing DL writer and SMackedFan for listening and both giving me the boost to put this up! (You both rock!)~
When his wife suggested they downsize their secular responsibilities, Sid Hammerback, never thought she meant staying in the caretaking business. At their age, early fifties, he figured she'd want to move down to someplace warm like Florida or Palm Springs; places people went to retire and take it easy. But she had surprised him on an afternoon a few months ago with a decision that would certainly change their future.
Sid leans back in the small leather chair in the office in the back of their ground floor apartment and offers a small sigh, closing his eyes as he remembers that very decisive conversation.
'Sidney, I think this place would be perfect for us.'
'To look after.'
'Alice, darling I thought you wanted to take it easier now? The Hotel is offering us a nice package and...'
'Sidney, look at the price. We can more than afford to invest in this. Manhattan Mews. Six floors, secure underground parking, a nice quiet park on one side and some new brownstones on the other. It is only twenty years old, has in-house laundry, sauna, gym, games room and patio. Only five suites per floor with one penthouse. A coffee shop nearby, small market, a shuttle to the subway, quiet neighborhood and...'
Sid looked at her and smiled. 'Alice, I thought you wanted to take it easy?'
'Thirty suites Sidney? It's like having our own home. One that pays us to live.'
'But here we are in charge and we get to set our own standards and rules; like we always wanted. Unlike this large Hotel chain, that just tells us what to do; here we would be in charge. I have looked at the tenant list and like what I see so far. Young working people, no history of any crime, violence or disruptive behavior.'
'Sounds like your heart is set on this place.'
'I think there would be a lot less work than here and...Sidney I just can't leave my daughters and our grandchildren behind. I'm not ready to retire just yet and move away. What do you think?'
'I think that if you'll be happy there, then so will I. How much again?'
'Here take a look.'
He looked at the cost of their investment and then at the rent and then up and her and his lips curled into a slight smile.
'Actually looks doable.'
'Really? You agree then?'
'I'm too young to retire also,' Sid smirked. 'Besides, not really a fan of Florida. I like it here, in New York. Where my family is also. Call Mrs. Grable and tell her we'll take it.'
'Oh Sidney thank you.'
That was just over two months ago and as much as the first few weeks took some adjusting, he had to admit that he really did like this place more and more each day. He looks at his tenant list and slightly frowns, only two vacancies left, and they would have a full house by the end of the week.
Dr. Sheldon Hawkes and his wife KaSaundra moved into the penthouse on the sixth floor about six months ago. With no children and working full time at the small medical clinic that Sheldon now runs, they hardly see the professional duo, except on the weekends, enjoying some time in the park, at the market or inside on a rare laundry run; when they need an extra washer or dryer, their penthouse having an in-house set already in use. Sid always told himself that if had the opportunity to do it all again he would go into the medical field; maybe even a doctor and so has a special affinity for the brilliant young physician.
Sheldon and his wife KaSaundra, who is a Registered Nurse, used to have a very lucrative private clinic on Long Island, but when they realized that they could be helping more people; people in actual real need of medical help and advice, instead of high paying clients seeking a quick fix as Sheldon put it, they promptly closed their doors, sold their comfortable home and opened a public walk-in medical clinic not far from where they live now. Suits Sid and Alice just fine; as both hate to take the subway into the busy downtown of Manhattan just to get some medical advice when something is not life threatening.
"Dr. Hawkes said his clinic will be having those flue shots in the next few weeks," Sid frowns as he reads the email on the computer screen before him.
"Oh thanks for reminding me," Alice gently mentions as she pushes her reading glasses a little higher up on her nose. "I told KaSaundra that I would help with some of the shots that are to be administered to the children. Just with the clean up and such."
"You know every time you spend a day with Mrs. Hawkes you come back with a slight British accent," Sid teases as he thinks about Sheldon's wife. A mix of British and Indian, who has the exotic looks to match her interesting accent.
"Well she is a classy Lady all the way," Alice replies warmly. "I am glad they picked our apartment to live in. Brings the level of tenants up a notch."
"And what of the rest of the miscreants?" Sid counters and Alice just hits his shoulder with a nearby newspaper.
"What is that?" Alice quickly asks as their computer beeps.
"Just got another email from General Ford over at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn. That young man, Mac Taylor, which he told me about is arriving tomorrow from Chicago. Derek thinks, this Mr. Taylor will come here first to show respect for me, but if he's true blue military, he'll check in at the base first to show respect for General Ford. Derek and I have five bucks on it."
"Sidney!" Alice scolds. "You are betting on the future of this poor young man who hasn't even arrived yet?" Sid just chuckles but when he looks over at his wife he is quick to notice her strained expression.
"Alice, seriously, it's not that big a deal. The General and I...what?"
"Just worried about this Mr. Taylor. Those army guys can be pretty rowdy at times and this isn't the place for wild parties."
"You were also worried when you heard that Danny Messer drives a Harley and he's proven to be a valuable tenant in just the few months that we've known him. Even with a kid to look after. Besides, I have it on good word that in addition to Derek's word, this Mac Taylor comes recommended from his military base in Chicago and you know Derek would never just send us someone we'd have to set the cops after."
"If it makes you feel any better we can get rookie Detective Don Flack to check him out," Sid suggests.
Alice looks at him with a frown. "No then I feel like we don't trust the poor boy and haven't even given him a chance."
"Ah the motherly heart strings are being tugged already," Sid mentions warmly as Alice's eyes look at the paper before her.
"Don't get me wrong, I am still a bit uneasy but if you think he'll be okay then I'll go with that. Which apartment did he take?"
"503. The other one on the second floor, already went through to Ms. Lindsay Monroe. She arrives tomorrow evening."
"503? But we haven't..."
"Derek said this Mac Taylor will take most of the furniture Mr. White left behind, minus the bed of course. He said the last number of years he was in the field and at home and didn't have much time to collect furniture. Alice, it will be okay."
Alice looks at her husband with an uneasy feeling, which prompts Sid to gently squeeze her hand.
"You wanted this, remember," Sid gently reminds.
"So did you."
"None so far," she counters. "But you know I always worry."
"Can't blame you, I worry also. Why don't you see what needs tending to outside. It's too nice a day to waste in here just worrying. I'll be out shortly."
Alice offers a small nod and then quietly takes her leave; Sid turning back to his computer to reply to his friend, General Derek Ford. He glances at the personal paragraph that Derek has written on Mac Taylor and smiles. Former field Marine now turned instructor, decorated, father was a marine until he died of cancer, mother still in Chicago, not married, no kids, no pets, no vehicle as of yet. "Guess that will come," he mentions as he marks down Mac's name beside an empty parking stall. "Seems like a descent guy so far," Sid mumbles as he hits the send button and then finally pushes himself out of his chair and slowly wanders over to a printer and retrieves what he just sent to the machine and puts on his reading glasses.
He hears the distinct roar of a motorcycle engine and for a split second thinks that Danny Messer is home early. However, as the sound passes he quickly realizes that Danny is still at work and then heads back to his work desk and sits back down.
Danny and his best friend Don Flack Jr. moved in around the same time about two months after the Hawkes, when two vacancies had just opened up. Said they wanted a new place with a bit more class; and with the affordable rent, it was right for them. Sid knew Flack's father by reputation and figured his son would be just as upstanding. When Don Flack Jr. vouched for his best friend Danny Messer, Sid wasn't one to suffer that recommendation lightly. Both have proven to be valuable tenants so far.
Danny works as a motorcycle mechanic in his brother's garage while Flack followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a cop with the NYPD; just recently moved from beat cop to Detective. And despite the fact that Flack works in a profession that demands aggression, his down to earth appeal, ensure he's well liked and well respected; mostly by everyone he meets, especially single women. His unmarked police cruiser is usually parked beside Danny's Harley.
He's a good compliment to Danny. Danny's sometimes, rush in where angels fear to tread motto could have landed him in a lot of hot water, if not for Flack's patient guidance. Course Danny also reels Flack in when the rookie Detective has had a bad day and one too many. All in all, his initial worries about both men have since eased and he now respects and likes them both.
Sid glances to a small picture on his desk that Danny dropped off.
'My niece Lucy drew it for you.' He had offered with a sheepish smile; the picture very telling for that of a just over two year old. Lucy was the daughter of Danny's sister Lisa. And when his sister and brother in law were killed in a horrific car crash that killed them both instantly, Danny was named trusted guardian in his sister's will; much to the chagrin of his mother, who now acts as daily baby sitter when Danny is at work. Always arriving early in the morning to pick up her small granddaughter and then returning faithfully each night when Danny is home, or letting Lucy stay over night, if Danny wasn't going to come home at a descent hour or needed a private night to himself.
Sid fingers the small frame holding the picture with affection. His own grandchildren he inherited from his second wife's side and although not his own blood, he's come to love them as if they were his own. But when Sid watches Danny take Lucy to the park, or even just a small walk outside, he smiles with affection at the young man; a man who could have very easily given up his rights as the child's legal guardian but has shown remarkable maturity and devotion to the small girl that loves him very much. He puts the frame down just as the phone rings.
"Hello Ms. Monroe? Yes that's right. Sure tomorrow evening will be just fine. Just come to suite one hundred when you arrive and myself or my wife Alice will be here with your keys and rental agreement. Correct. Great, we'll see you tomorrow."
Sid hang's up with Lindsay and offer himself a small smile. When KaSaundra first mentioned Lindsay to Alice; a small town girl, moving to the big city and make it on her own, Sid knows both he and Alice were more than impressed. It's very hard for someone who has never lived here, to pack up; lock, stock and barrel and just put yourself into a strange place and hope for the best. But with the job of assistant veterinarian waiting for her in a well known clinic beside the Hawkes's medical practice and an apartment ready and hers for the taking, she already has two major bases covered.
"Wonder what she drives?" Sid questions himself as he looks down at the parking plan to see which spot she'll be assigned. "Next to Stella or Jessica?" He wonders. He likes to put the single female tenants in areas that are well lighted and close to the elevator and stairs; thinking the young men can fend for themselves if ever the situation arose. However, their parking area was secured and so far nothing bad has happened so he wasn't worried about Lindsay's automobile. He remembered Sheldon asking if only Danny could park beside either his BMW or his wife's British Edition Austin Mini, as it didn't take up a lot of space and offered no door dings.
"Silly man," Sid chuckles to himself as he writes down Lindsay's name next to Jessica's. "From the sticks? She'll probably drive a truck. I'll put her next to Jessica."
Jessica Angell teaches French at a local High School, a building right beside the NYPD precinct that Don Flack works at and kitty corner to the child crisis center Stella Bonasera works at. Jessica's family lives in another part of the city but when she hosted a large family dinner in the party room a few weeks back, Sid was more than pleased with the people she was related to. Very different from Stella Bonasera who grew up an orphan and has no family outside close friend Jessica Angell and Don Flack; both whom she knows separately.
Sid remembers when Stella first moved in and he asked her why she had taken such a rough job; working with troubled and orphaned children as a crisis worker. She told him it was because she was a product of the system and if she could help even one child to have a better life, then her time would be well spent. Still he often worries when she has to work late; taking the subway home in the dark isn't something a pretty young woman should be doing, no matter what kind of self defense training she has taken. Stella and Jessica often share the shuttle in the morning and then the subway or a cab into work, but each need a parking spot for their vehicles as they do rely on them more often than each of them care to admit.
Sid finally puts everything in order for his two new tenants arriving tomorrow and then pushes himself out of his chair and heads outside to see his what his wife is up to. He smiles as he watches her puttering around in the front flower bed, before slowly walking up to join her.
"I think these pansies will survive the coming cold season, but not sure about these lilies."
"You mean we actually have flowers that Lucy hasn't picked out for us?"
"I got after Danny for that," Alice smirks. "I told him if he did it again, the next load of manure would be on the back of his bike."
"Alice Hammerback you are one tough cookie," Sid chides his wife as he bends down to help her.
"Everything all set?"
"You mean for our two new tenants?"
"And then we are full right?"
"That's it. Full house. And hopefully for a while," Sid gently huffs as puts on a pair of garden gloves and starts to help his wife with the fall maintenance.
"When both are settled, I think we should have a complex pot luck," Alice suggests, not looking up. "Just something where everyone can come and meet each other. Something informal before the weather turns cold. Give us a nice opportunity to use the party patio."
"Who is going to cook?"
"Sidney my dear, we have a building with young men in it. If they want to impress any of the young ladies they better learn fast."
"Then ask Don Flack, I think he likes Jessica Angell."
"How is it that you even know that?" Alice queries and Sid shrugs.
"Just do. Okay so before it gets too late, what do you need my help with?"
"Sidney Hammerback are you trying to play matchmaker?"
"No. Just observing," he smiled. "Now what can I do?"
Alice explains to Sid what she needs done and he happily complies. A few hours later, both head inside as the sun is starting to set. He offers a quick glance to the clock and knows that very soon their once quiet apartment will again be alive with the chatter from its inhabitants as they return home. And as he sets the table, Sid is actually now excited about the community pot luck he'll be helping his wife plan; a real chance to get to know all the people that will soon share the same home as he. A group of people he'll become very fond of in the weeks, months and years to come.
"Sid!" Alice calls from the dining room and he's quick to drop what he's doing and join her for dinner.
Stella Bonasera finishes up her task and then closes the file on her latest case. She glances up just as a young dark haired boy hurries up to her with a small object in his hands, an eager smile on his small face.
"Thanks Billy, I really appreciate the help. You did excellent today," Stella praises the young orphaned boy before her as she takes the object and sets it aside. She offers the small child a little sweet treat and then sends him on his way just as best friend, fellow commuter and apartment dweller Jessica Angell pushes her way into the shelter and up to her well worn desk.
"Thought you were working in the other building today?" Jessica asks, referring to the same building that shares with the NYPD; a place where Don Flack frequents.
"Never got over there," Stella sighs as she leans back in the ratty wooden chair as her close friend slowly walks into the dingy back room and sits down on a nearby stool. "But you did right?" She asks with a small smile.
"Did you see him?"
"Him who?" Jessica mumbles as she tries to downplay the redness in her cheeks.
"Don Flack who," Stella reminds her. "I know you like him."
"He's hot but he's taken."
"Not any more. He and Cassidy broke up two weeks ago."
"Really?" Jessica states in interest as Stella just arches an amused brow. "And what about you? Any more calls from Psycho Frankie?"
"No thankfully," Stella frowns heavily as she closes down her computer for the night. "I am swearing off men for awhile."
"Yeah right," Jessica laughs as she tosses Stella her well worn leather jacket. "You couldn't anymore than I couldn't."
"Nite Polly!" Stella calls to child case manager and site supervisor Pauline Whitehouse.
"Don't you find this place depressing?" Jessica wonders as she offers a sad smile to a small boy recovering from drugs and who was taken from an abusive home and is waiting placement in the foster care system.
"Jessica, I nearly ended up in a place like this," Stella softly reminds her friend as they step outside into the early evening brisk air. "The least I can do is lend as much help and support to these kids while they are still alive. Besides not every day is depressing."
They both head outside, the sun already starting to set and wander down to the subway station. Stella glances over at her friend, who is looking in the direction of the police precinct that Don Flack works out of.
"I might have left something inside my desk in there," Stella notes and Jessica looks at her in haste.
"Nice try," Jessica mentions.
"You know hockey pre-season is starting in a few weeks and I happen to know that Don is huge Rangers fan. Hmmm aren't you a huge hockey fan?"
"It would freak him out," Jessica huffs as they wander down the stairs.
"A guy finding a girl who likes sports as much as he? Trust me, he'd totally be turned on. Cassidy hated sports, remember?"
"She was a bimbo."
"You're not. How was school today?"
"New school year," she sighs. "I signed up for some volunteer duties again this year."
"Such as?" Stella queries as they take their seats and wait for their stop and then short shuttle ride home.
"Not sure yet. Chaperone at a school dance or at one of the fund raisers or something."
"Chaperone?" Stella lightly laughs and Jessica pouts.
"Well it was either that or help manage the boys rugby team."
"Well that would have garnered Don's attention for sure."
Stella smiles at her friend who simply shakes her head and then pulls out her blackberry, reading an email from a fellow teacher, one who has an interest in the raven haired French Instructor. Stella leans her head back against the cool window of the fast moving subway and allows her mind to think on her own recent romantic adventure. Frankie Mala. Inspiring Artist and owner of a local gallery. Just starting out but his enthusiasm for his job was something that fascinated her right from the start. But as their month long relationship progressed, she found him to be controlling and very demanding at times; traits that worried and scared her. Dealing with abusive situations on a daily basis, now affords her the insight to see personality traits she's rather avoid. And so told Frankie two weeks ago that it was over and not to bother calling again; thankfully he's taken the hint. So far.
They finally get off the subway and head for the small shuttle that will take them home. When Stella first heard of the vacancy in the Manhattan Mews, she was living with a friend in a rundown area in Queens; a part of the city she still hates but was there to save money. So when she talked to Mrs. Hammerback and got the details on the rent and such, that and having no roommate to contend with, it was an opportunity she couldn't pass up and took it right away. At the same time, another vacancy opened and she was able to persuade Jessica to move in also. And although not on the same floor like Don and his best friend Danny Messer are, at least her and Jessica are in the same building.
"See you in the morning," Jessica mentions softly as she looks up and see's Flack's apartment is still dark.
"He's probably still at work," Stella notes and Jessica looks at her with a soft smile. "See you in the morning."
They take leave from each other and Stella leaves Jessica on the third floor and then heads up to her own apartment on the fifth floor. She glances at the vacant number 503 across the hall from her, and wonders who the Hammerback's found to fill it, as the No Vacancy sign was taken down today.
"Hopefully someone who doesn't play loud music," she notes to herself as she closes and locks the door to her homey apartment.
Having painted her apartment in warm earth tones, Stella actually likes coming home. And while she would like to have someone special at times to share things with her, mostly a home cooked dinner and conversation about their day, she knows she has more than accepted the fact that she'll be alone until she finds someone who fills whatever mental list she has come up with. Growing up without parents, in various foster homes and having to make it on her own has taught her to be self sufficient, never needing or having to rely on anyone for anything. She put herself through college, got her various degrees and has proven to the world around her that Stella Bonasera is a force to be reckoned with.
"Still would be nice to have someone around, once and a while," she muses as she starts to make herself a modest dinner. She tries to concentrate on the task at hand but can't help but wonder who the new tenant, her new neighbor will be; not realizing that the man about to move in across the hall is going to turn her world upside down the moment they meet.
Jessica tosses her large leather carrying bag onto a small hall table, followed by her coat before she heads into the main living area of her apartment. She and Stella had gone paint shopping together, but where Stella stuck with all earth tones, Jessica added lime green for some modern punch to her chocolate brown and light mushroom tones.
She takes out her assignment sheet for the year and slowly heads over to the kitchen table and deposits it on the surface and looks at it with a slight frown. A new school year and teaching senior students French, always added a bit of anxiety but in truth she loves her job and is thankful she went into teaching as studying languages was always a passion for her and something she excelled in.
When Stella first told her about this apartment, she was living at home in her parent's basement suite and was happy to finally find a great new place to call her own. Her mother always sends her extra spending money, telling her daughter that a teacher's salary just wasn't enough if she wanted something a bit nicer than most. One of the things her parents ensured she have was an in-house, stackable, washer and dryer set; much to her chagrin as this meant she wasn't able to see Don when he headed down to the laundry area.
Thinking about Stella's words about hockey season starting her lips curl into an automatic smile as she thinks about something she can use as an ice breaker to catch the attention of the handsome young detective. Stella had invited her to a small celebration out when Don was promoted from beat cop to detective, but she cursed the fact then and still does that she had to work, something she wasn't able to get out of. Something she still laments.
Remembering that she still hasn't checked her mail, she quickly grabs her key and heads back outside, hoping to at least garner a smile from the tall, dark and handsome Detective that makes her heart skip a beat with just a passing glance if she is so lucky. She rounds the corner and frowns when only an empty area awaits, but offers a simple shrug and then presses forward. Just as she gathers her mail and heads back, the elevator doors open and she stares with a growing grin at the two men before her.
"Evening Jessica," Flack greets her with a warm smile; his eyes lingering a little longer than usual.
"Hello Don, Danny," she replies.
"First day of school, huh professor?" Danny gently goads.
"Ca se peut," Jessica retorts and Danny looks at her with a frown, pushing up his glasses with slightly grease stained fingers.
"Ha she got you there Danny boy," Flack laughs and Danny looks at him with a sour wince.
"What does that mean?" He concedes.
"It means you would be right Danny, today was the first day of school."
"Guess I'll have to buy a French phrase book," Flack comments as the elevator stops on Jessica's floor, both men living above her, one floor up.
"And why would that be Detective Flack?" Jessica counters.
"So I'll have one up on Danny also," he replies with a soft smile, his cheeks as warm as hers.
"Well if you ever want a free lesson," she offers with a shy smile as she turns and walks away from them, her heart racing. The elevator doors finally close and Jessica feels herself actually offering a heavy exhale. "Oh you're sad," she chides herself as she locks the door to her apartment, her lips curled into a permanent grin for the rest of the night. And while she doesn't hold out much hope of it actually happening, inside she would be more than delighted to offer a free lesson in French to the handsome blue eyed detective.
"I wonder what Don does to unwind?"
"She was flirting with you," Danny tells his best friend as they continue up in the elevator. "Whadda ya say Don? A little tutor action with a sexy French teacher?"
Flack swats his arm and Danny just laughs. "She's too smart to go for a guy who's just a cop," Flack moans.
"Thought you got tired of dating air heads like Cassidy," Danny tosses back.
"Air head? Oh and the winner you dated last month wasn't much better. What was her name? Morning glory or something like that?"
"It was Dahlia like the flower and yeah she was an air head," Danny frowns as the elevator doors open and they slowly get off.
"Why not take Rikki up on her offer. She has a kid too, you guys could go to the park or something," Flack suggests.
"I got a different kind of woman in mind," Danny replies in haste. "Educated girl next door type."
"Country or city?"
"Country. City girls have no grit," Danny smiles. "But most don't like bikes and well..." his voice trails off as they reach their apartments, side by side.
"What time is Lucy getting here?"
"Another hour," Danny huffs. "When does pre-season start?"
"Just under two weeks," Flack replies with a frown. "I need a girl who really likes hockey. Not one who just says she does and then knows nothing, but one who knows her stuff and can hold her own against me in a few seasonal debates."
"And speaks French?" Danny teases.
"See you tomorrow," Flack calls out as he disappears inside his quiet apartment. When he was first told about this apartment, his mother came with him to ensure that it had what he needed and then made sure it was homey but still masculine. Flack smirks as he takes off his coat, still hearing his mother scolding the movers if something wasn't where it belonged. He hangs up his coat and gun holster and then takes off his shoes. His partner, seasoned detective John Sullivan, tells him that if he wears a tie, he'll face the heat. But so far, it's only been mild jabbing and Flack doesn't mind dressing up for work.
"Never know you'll meet on the job," he reminds himself as he heads into his bedroom to change. Quickly shedding the suit, tie and dress shirt, he quickly pulls on a pair of jeans and t-shirt and then heads into his modest kitchen to make something for himself to eat. Much like Danny, one of the things his mother insisted was that he learned to make something for himself for dinner, besides Mr. Noodles and Microwave popcorn.
He pulls the fridge open and frowns. "Damn it!" He gently curses as he reaches for a pen and piece of paper. Offering a heavy sigh he starts to write out a brief grocery list and then opens the freezer side of the fridge and pulls out a hungry man frozen dinner; something his mother said she better not catch him eating.
"She'll never know," he jokes as he opens the package and then stuffs it into the microwave. He grabs a beer and then heads toward his small living room and flips on the TV. But his mind isn't on the sports highlights before him, he's now wondering what Jessica is doing. When he first saw her a few weeks back, he was more than intrigued but was also dating the woman he now calls his ex-air head. Cassidy mostly conned him into their first date and until he broke it off with her, was never the type of man to chase a skirt just for the fun of it.
But now with Cassidy out of the picture, he wonders if Jessica's invitation was something he should follow up on. He knows she teaches French at the high school beside his work; good friend Stella gave him the rundown. Stella also said she likes sports, but most girls need to prove that to him, before he thinks long term. "Has to be hockey," he mumbles to himself as the microwave dings that his dinner is ready.
Heading back to retrieve his meal he hears a faint cry in the hallway and knows that Danny is going to be a lot busier than he expected. "Good luck, Danny boy," he chides as he slumps down in front of the TV, once again wondering what Jessica does at the end of the day to unwind.
"Thanks mom," Danny takes his niece from his mother's hands and holds her up, forcing the small whimpers to change to smiles as Danny whirls her around in the air.
"Danny, you're going to make her sick," his mother chides with a slight frown.
"Is daddy going to make you sick?" Danny teases his Lucy as he brings her back to his chest and cradles her in his strong arms. And despite the fact that he's legally her uncle; when he was given legal guardianship over the two year old, he told his family that he would have her call her daddy; the truth could wait until she was older to deal with the loss.
"Dadda ...sing ...gan," Lucy blubbers as she struggles to get free in Danny's embrace, wanting Danny to swing her in the air once more.
"She just ate Danny," his mother tells him as she turns to leave. "You should clean up a bit more."
"Ma, this place is fine. I just slept in a bit longer today," Danny huffs as he herds his mother toward the door.
"I ran into Rikki in the hallway this morning. She asked about you again."
"Not interested," Danny insists.
"She has a son Danny and is used to children."
"Gee how attractive," Danny retorts and his mother looks at him sharply. "I'll find my own girlfriend thank you."
"She better have nerves of steel. How is Louie?"
"He's almost out of debt now," Danny answers.
"I'm working on getting my own place. Just a few more months of saving and then I'll be the boss," he assures her. "I might even have part of the shop to sell my own bikes."
"Don't be a dreamer," she warns. "You have Lucy to think about."
"It'll happen. Say hi to dad," Danny kisses her on the cheek.
"See you tomorrow Lucy," his mother smiles as she kisses each chubby cheek, before pushing some honey blond strands away from her large dark eyes. "She looks just like Lisa," the older woman remembers with misty eyes. Danny looks at her in concern before offering her a warm hug; Lucy in the middle, offering a squeal of protest when she can't get free. Danny says goodnight to his mother and then looks at Lucy in his arms.
"Want a shower with daddy?" He gently coos as he pokes her in the side and her face lights back into a large smile, followed by a sharp giggle. "I take it that's a yes."
"Souer ...ith dadda," Lucy echoes as Danny puts her down on the floor. He watches as Lucy puts her chubby arms on the carpeted floor and then pushes herself upright. But feeling her fatigue, Lucy takes a few steps and then flops back down on her bum. However, with the same determination that runs in their family, she's back up and heading toward a set of tools.
"Come here squirt," Danny teases as one arm wraps around her waist and scoops her into the air.
"Sing dadda...sing" she urges as she flails her legs. Danny swings around once before he starts to feel the effects of no food in his stomach and then stops. When Lucy tries to protest, he bribes her with gummy bears and she quickly stops. Danny takes her into the bathroom and strips down before he turns on the hot water and then reaches down to the small girl on the floor, now playing with his sock.
"No peeing in the shower," he lightly warns and she looks up at him in wonder.
"Pee?" She repeats and he nods his head.
"Pee only in the toilet like gramma taught you," he frowns. However, no matter how angry or frustrated he gets, when she looks up at him with love and wonder, his anger always subsides. He lifts her up into his bare arms and then heads into the shower. At first, showering with her was quite the task, but after a few months, he finally managed and it saved time. He still opts for the bath when he has more time to linger or she's sick. He gently starts to clean Lucy and then when finished places her at the bottom of the tub and finishes with himself. His mother always scolds him, telling him it's not proper but he has no other choice as he's raising her on his own and has no one to help him and he can't leave her unattended.
Danny leaves Lucy in the empty bathtub, playing with a soft toy, as he gets out and dries himself off. He looks down at her as her small fingers try to pry something apart; and he can't help but smile. His mind drifts back a few months ago when he was told of the accident that claimed the lives of her parents and then remembers almost having a heart attack at the reading of the will, which named him legal guardian of their child, if that was his wish. However, as there was no other family member listed as an alternative, there was no way he was going to leave her to become a ward of the state and so has accepted the role of reluctant parent.
"There goes your Friday nights," he remembers his brother goading him at work a week later. However, as Danny lifts Lucy out of the bathtub and lays her down on a plush towel and starts to dry her perfect pink skin, he knows he made the right decision. He quickly dries her and then puts on a clean training diaper for sleeping in and carries her into his bedroom and places her on the bed and then closes the door so that can dress, without worrying where she's gotten to.
"Someday squirt," he smiles as he scoops her back onto the bed and puts a soft sleeper on her and then heads into the kitchen. "Someday we'll have a great woman in our life that will love us both very much."
"Lub," Lucy claps her hands together. He kisses her cheek and then straps her into a high chair and gets busy. Often being teased by the guys at work for having to cook for a kid each night, when Danny looks at her and she offers him a soft smile, he pushes their words aside and knows he's actually pretty happy. "Now let's see what we have for dinner."
As he steps off the military transport the following morning and squints into the bright sunshine at the military hangar of JFK, Mac Taylor feels an excitement growing inside him. He spent the last number of years in the field as a Marine but after his injury in Beirut was very appreciative that his request for base duty was accepted. The injury wasn't enough to kill him or even wound him mortally, but it was enough to make him finally notice that his skills would be wasted lying in a shallow grave on foreign soil. He loves working in the military; taught from a young boy to follow in the footsteps of his father and feeling it is his duty and honor to his country to offer his life and time as much as possible.
However, when he was stationed in the Congo and got the call from his mother that his father was near death, he was granted leave and then put in for a base assignment. Mac is always thankful that he was able to be at his father's side when he finally passed but no longer had the desire to return to the field so started looking for other positions. His mother tried to persuade him to stay in Chicago but there were no jobs of interest. Then the weapons instructor position came available in New York and he applied and was accepted.
"Welcome to New York, Lieutenant Taylor," he's greeted by a young solider that offers a polite salute. "There is a transport Humvee waiting to take you to Fort Hamilton, Sir," he's informed. "However, General Ford isn't expecting you until thirteen hundred hours."
"Thank you private, but I'll be heading to the Fort right now," Mac confirms as he reaches for his dark green duffle bag; the only things he actually owns all jammed into one bag. Being on military bases and moving around so much, hasn't afforded him time to purchase anything in the way of furniture. The only thing he actually owns besdies cloething is his bass guitar, which his mother kept safe until he returned home. He hops inside the Humvee just as his phone rings.
"Hi mom. Yes I got here safe," he answers with a soft frown.
"I am sending you a care package tomorrow Mac, so I expect your full address when you arrive."
"I don't need..." Mac starts in exasperation.
"McCanna Taylor," she addresses him by his full name and he's quick to snap to attention.
"Okay fine," he concedes. He talks a bit more and then hangs up, offering a sheepish glance to the man beside him who just shakes his head.
"My mother is the same," he tells Mac. "Doesn't matter how old you are, a mother will always worry."
"Good thing she didn't move with me then."
Mac peers outside as the Humvee nears the city and feels nervous anxiety starting to build. Fort Hamilton was one of the only active, working military bases in the heart of a big city. The residents of Brooklyn had opened its arms and now a thriving community has grown around the base, offering everything from an Arts Club, to sports arena, shopping, neat eating places and the like.
Mac, however, was given the address to an apartment that General Ford recommended. Far enough away so that Mac could start to enjoy some of the other things a city like New York has to offer. They finally cross the Brooklyn Bridge and then enter the fort. Mac leaves his guitar case and stuffed duffle bag with one of the Private's and heads for General's Ford's office.
He knocks on the door and then peers inside.
"Mac," General Ford greets with a slight frown. He offers himself an inward curse at the fact that he now owes Sid five bucks.
"Permission to enter Sir," Mac requests.
"At ease Mac," General Ford suggests as Mac comes into the room and stands at attention.
"Thank you Sir," Mac replies with a warm smile.
"How was your flight?"
"Hopefully the last one for awhile," Mac answers as he takes a seat before the older man. "Won't miss flying."
"Or ducking?" General Ford offers warmly and Mac smiles. "How is your mother?"
"Worried," Mac frowns. "But I know I made the right choice."
"You know, I am flattered that a young man of your military stature and future potential has chosen us, as I know you did turn down West Point. Might I ask why? Mac to have West Point on your resume would be very impressive."
"Here I can make a difference Sir," Mac replies in haste. "There I would just be another drone."
General Ford smiles at the young man before him and nods his head. "Well we'll put you to good use here Mac, that's for sure. Field Recruiting, weapons training and demonstrations; security planning, tactics operations; and a few other tasks. We might be in the heart of one of the world's biggest and busiest cities, but we are a fully operational military base."
"When do I get my uniform Sir?"
"Your mother still send her care packages?" General Ford smirks.
"Yes," Mac huffs.
"Well take this," General Ford hands him a piece of paper. "And you'll get another. Everything you need before you start tomorrow. And I hear you have a place to stay."
"Manhattan Mews," Mac informs him.
"Good place. My close friend caretakers it. Sidney and Alice Hammerback. You'll like them. Alice can become a bit motherly, but I don't think you'll mind. And if you ever need anything; and I mean anything, Sid's door is always open."
They make small talk a bit longer before Mac finally takes his leave. He heads back to the waiting Humvee and collects his things before looking back once more at the large base behind him.
"I think I'm here to stay," he whispers to himself as he hails a cab and gives the driver his new home address. Taking a deep breath, Mac gets into the cab, his mind now wondering what on earth this new chapter in his life has in store for him.
"Hey wake up Linds, we're in the city now," Lindsay's brother Clint, gently pokes her arm.
Lindsay Monroe quickly pulls herself from her sleepy stupor, pushing some honey blond curls off her face and staring outside in wonder. "Gosh Clint, how long was I asleep for?" She questions, as she fixes the seatbelt in the front passenger seat of the pickup; her pickup that is pulling a U-Haul trailer with her things behind them.
"You drove all night remember? Can't arrive at your new home or work, looking like that."
She just rolls her eyes and tries to fix herself as she straightens upright in her seat, her eyes still outside, watching all the busyness of the New York mid-day traffic. Nervous excitement fills her brain as she thinks about what lies ahead for her. A new job; a new apartment all her own; a new future to shape as she wants.
"Mom talking to you yet?" Clint asks softly.
"Yeah we came to terms over the phone last night," Lindsay huffs as she closes her eyes and remembers the strained conversation with her mother.
'Lindsay, I don't understand why New York? Surely there are other vet cli...'
'Mom, I have always wanted to live in a big city and...'
'Lindsay, New York, is the biggest in the US. Why not Denver or...'
'Because it works for you right? Because that's what you want?'
'Lindsay, that isn't fair!'
'Mom, I am going to New York with a job and an apartment of my own, one I'll actually be able to afford. Most don't have that. If I were to turn down that opportunity now, I'd regret it forever.'
After that, things were strained until she left, never looking back. Lindsay opens her eyes back up and looks down at the note still clutched in her fingers; the address to her new apartment.
"Scared?" Clint asks softly.
"Very," she replies in haste.
"I know you'll be fine Linds," Clint smiles at her.
"Well I'm happy that I'll at least know KaSaundra Hawkes. Really happy she remembered me when that assistant position opened up. She also said she'd give me another reference if needed so that I can pursue my doctorate in animal medicine."
"Sounds like you have it all figured out."
"Yeah except how to make a success of it. Oh Clint, what if I don't make any friends? What if the place is scary at night and I'll be taking classes at night? What if..."
"Linds, stop it," Clint laughs. "You are driving me crazy, you must be driving yourself even more so. Like dad always used to say, a day at a time right?"
"Right," she answers firmly with a nod of her head. She leans back on the seat and tries to settle the nervous feeling that is growing inside her stomach. Growing up on a farm in Montana, afforded her the opportunity to work around animals and even from a small child, wanted to be with her father or the local doctor when one needed fixing, mending or even being put down. She had no qualms about getting her hands covered dirt and blood, reasoning that they were all earthly elements and nothing to really fear. Plus she always had a strong stomach.
She had put herself through college as a veterinary assistant, wanting to work and get hands on experience before she went for her full vet degree, a doctor with her own place to run in the future. That was her goal. Determined was something she was now used to being called; tenacious, intelligent and optimistic, other terms she took with affection. She had frequently argued with her mother about her career choice; the arguments only intensifying when she told her mother that New York is where she wanted to live and work.
They near the busy part of the city and Lindsay looks at her brother with concern.
"What?" Clint asks.
"Now suddenly I'm nervous," she states as her fists clench tightly. "Like I want to turn back."
"Linds, you know if you back down now, you'll never forgive yourself for not at least trying this for a year. You have a home and a job with good income all ready to go."
"I know," Lindsay replies with a tight lipped smile. "Just nervous."
"I would be too," Clint laughs. "We'll go to your new home, drop off your stuff, get the paperwork and then check out work. How does that sound?"
"I'm buying dinner."
"Buying dinner?" Clint teases. "You have to make me dinner."
"Nice try," Lindsay counters.
KaSaundra had told her about the Manhattan Mews and right from the first description, Lindsay was in love. Plus it was to be her first place; a place all her own. To do with as she pleased, no one telling her how it should look or what she should put and where.
They near the front of Manhattan Mews and Lindsay feels her heart starting to beat faster as she looks at her brother with a nervous smile.
"Ready?" He gently asks.
"As I'll ever be."
"Then let's get this new adventure started."
She pushes the door open and heads for the front walk of her new apartment, her eyes never looking back; the future ahead the only thing on her mind now.
A/N: okay so what do you think so far? Kinda nervous about this idea, and not used to writing whole cast, so tell me if you love it, hate it, want more or not to bother. This was just a sort of brief intro to each team member but as the story progresses there are lots of ideas that will come to bear as each pairing comes together and then the team as a whole works to cement their friendship.
Please review and let me know. Thanks in advance!!!
PS: Target Specific will be updated this weekend.