A/N: Alright everyone, here we go. A story involving Flack, a new partner, Hawkes and other random things… Yes, I suck at summaries. But please give it a chance… You might be pleasantly surprised!
Disclaimer: Obviously, I do not own CSI:NY or any of the characters… Otherwise Jess would not be dead, Flack would not be lonely, there would be a helluva lot more D/L and Adam would be finding more suitable sleeping partners than Stella… *takes deep breath*
Don stifled a yawn as the car slowed down at a set of traffic lights. He pinched the bridge of his nose and hastily gulped down a mouthful of takeout coffee. He jiggled his foot impatiently and beat a rhythm on the steering wheel with his forefinger as he waited for the red light to morph to green.
"Everything alright, Don?"
Don looked up, surprised. He hadn't realised he was doing anything noticeable. But Lindsay Messer, sitting in the passenger seat beside him, clearly had. She was leaning slightly towards him, brow furrowed slightly, a tiny sliver of white tooth visible as she bit down anxiously on her full bottom lip. Her left hand hovered uncertainly in the narrow space between them, clearly uncertain as to whether she should reach out to him or not. As much to spare her blushes as his own, Don managed a smile and poked at her shoulder.
"Of course, Lindz. Why wouldn't it be?" he teased breezily, glancing out the window and wishing the lights would change so that they could move and he wouldn't be stuck in a car with his best friend's wife, who was one of the few people who knew him. Who would know if something was wrong. If he wasn't coping. "I'm fine."
"If you're sure…" Lindsay said doubtfully, fiddling with the small gold locket dangling from her neck. "Sorry for fussing over you Don, it's these stupid maternal instincts. I can't stop myself from being overprotective. It's just that we're all worried about you over at the lab, the others are expecting a full report on your wellbeing when I get back." She shot him an apologetic smile as the traffic lights flashed green and the car jolted forward. Don forced himself to nod affably.
"I appreciate that Lindz, but really, I'm doing better now. You tell those lovely lab rats to quit mothering me now, 'kay?" Don laughed hurriedly, but it sounded too loud, too contrived in the small space, and there was something far too understanding in Lindsay's grin.
"I'll do my best," she said softly. "But I'm giving you no guarantees. You know how Stella can be."
"That I do."
"She's really worried about you, we all are. Danny especially."
"You've said that already. Lindz, I'm-"
"Fine. Yeah, I think we covered that, too. However, you neglected to mention the fact that you left Danny sitting in the bar for an hour the other day and never turned up like you promised, not to mention that you skipped the Angell's birthday celebrations for Jess yesterday." Lindsay's voice was soft, but she might as well have shouted. It hurt as much as if she had. Don had to clench his fists around the steering wheel and bite his lip to stop himself from swearing or coating Lindsay in bad-quality coffee. He could feel the bite of tears snipping at his eyes as her name echoed in his head, taunting him.
"Don?" Lindsay reached out and patted the back of his hand tentatively. "Don, I'm sorry. That was insensitive of me, I shouldn't have-"
"No problem, Lindz."
"Lindsay, relax. It's fine. I'm fine. Case closed. Now you better get out."
"Don, there's no need for that!" Lindsay exclaimed, looking distraught.
"Ah, but there is, Mrs Messer," smiled Don softly, pointing out the window. "That right there is the NYPD crime lab, and you have a lot of work to do to help me solve this case."
"Oh! Oh, yeah," Lindsay exclaimed with a tiny burst of startled laughter. She unclipped her seatbelt and leaned into the backseat to retrieve her kit. Pointedly avoiding his gaze, she opened the car door. "Th-thanks for the ride."
Without another word, she got out of the car and strode onto the sidewalk, one hand gripping the handle of her large, chrome-coloured kit, the other buttoning her long purple coat right up to her throat. She half-turned towards him, still pulled in to the side of the packed street. Uncertainly, she raised a gloved hand and waved sadly to him. Don immediately felt a pang of guilt. He shouldn't have gotten upset, not while Lindsay was in the car. He should have controlled himself, at least until she had left. She was only trying to be a good friend. Trying to help him. He shouldn't have worried her.
He rolled down the window, wincing slightly as the sharp winter wind bit at his exposed cheeks. He took a deep, steadying breath and called out before he had the chance to stop himself. "Hey, Mrs Messer!"
Lindsay looked up hopefully, brushing a stray strand of light brown hair out of her eyes.
"Thanks for your help today."
A funny expression crossed her face as she took a couple of steps back towards the car. She put her free hand on her hip and reluctantly allowed the slightest of smiles to creep across her tired features. "I was just doing my job, Don," she shrugged. "No big deal."
"Well it makes my job a whole lot easier when you do all that science geek stuff."
"Very funny, Detective Flack. When we get anything on this, I'll send Haylen over to you. You're going to need to get used to her. If the quality of her work's anything to go on, she'll be sticking around. Try not to tease her too much."
"I'll look forward to it. Tell that husband of yours I'll be by later to watch the game. Like I promised."
Lindsay was still smiling as he pulled away from the kerb.
Don was feeling marginally better as he ducked in the door of the precinct, dusting the snow from his shoulders. He was glad he'd managed to convince Lindsay that he was alright. He hated that everyone was so worried about him. Hated thinking that maybe, just maybe, they had good reason.
"Hey Flack, how's the Montrose case comin'?"
"Oh, hey Scagnetti," Don replied, noticing his colleague entering behind him. "Not too bad, actually. We may have a couple of leads, Lindsay Messer's chasing up some prints as we speak."
"Nice," said Scagnetti distractedly, glancing over Don's shoulder. "You- uh, you wanna go grab a coffee or a slice or somethin'?"
Don stared openly at him.
"What?" Scagnetti asked shakily, fidgeting with the cuff of his shirt. "Fella can't ask his buddy out for a bite to eat or-"
"What're you hiding, Scagnetti?" Don demanded suspiciously, eyes squinted dangerously.
"I- uh- n-nothin'." There was no denying it; Scagnetti was definitely hiding something. Don wheeled around, keen blue eyes scanning the dark room. His eyes as they always did, flickered to the desk near the window first. It felt like he'd been punched in the stomach.
"Flack, I'm so sorry."
He barely heard Scagnetti. His heart felt like it was going to leap out of his mouth. Blood pounded in his ears. His hands were shaking so badly the vibrations were travelling up his arms as he thundered through the precinct. He pushed past desks, ignoring the protests of his fellow officers and suspects waiting for booking. The only thing he could focus on was the desk. Her desk. Jess's desk.
"Hey. HEY! What the hell do you think you're doing? Get away from there!"
Before he knew it, he was inches from some dumbass rookie's face, panting with exertion and glaring so furiously that the kid looked like he was about to cry. Don ripped the small gilt photo frame with the picture of the two of them inside from his grasp and shoved him angrily into the filing cabinet.
"Who told you you could touch this desk, huh? It's not yours. You don't touch stuff that's not yours, don't you know that? What's your name kid? Who-"
"Flack, leave him alone," Scagnetti interrupted, grabbing his arm.
"Get off me, Scagnetti. I swear, I'll punch you."
"Flack, don't be-"
"He's taking her stuff! It's Jess's stuff."
"I know buddy, I know. I was tryin' to soften the blow, I'm sorry."
Don stopped struggling against Scagnetti's vice-like grip. "You-you knew? I mean….. why?"
Scagnetti sighed and gestured to his won desk. Reluctantly, Don sat down. Scagnetti hopped up onto the wood and ran a hand through his short, dark fuzz of hair. "Look, Flack, the bossman asked me to talk to you. He knows you've been doin' it hard so….. Anyway, the point is, he's havin' Angell's desk cleared out. It's been a couple of months and- and he's replacing her."
"He….. he's what?"
"We need the extra manpower," Scagnetti explained hurriedly. "And he reckons you need to move on. Thinks a new partner will do you good. Newbie, barely a year out of the academy. Starts tomorrow."
Don smacked his fist against the desk. Scagnetti patted his back gingerly. "So you're telling me that, on top of replacing her, they're saddling me with some trigger-happy rookie with a point to prove? This is ridiculous, I need to talk to someone about this. I'm not having it."
"Aw Flack, c'mon. I hear she's a real hotshot, you should just give her the benefit of the doubt," Scagnetti said fairly, shaking his head of tightly-cropped hair.
A terrible feeling of cold dread seeped through every pore of his body. How could the boss do this? Didn't he realise that it was just one small step between replacing Jess and forgetting her altogether? And it was a girl….. Why did it have to be a girl? If it had been a guy, he could have punched him. He could have easily gotten on his bad side. But a girl…..
She would replace her. She would slip right into the fold and take over the role as lone girl among the boys. And the rest of the boys would take to teasing her and flirting with her and slagging her off and making smart remarks about her looks. It would be as though Jess had never existed. The very idea made a dull ache pulse through him, affecting each and every fibre of his being. Don rose from Scagnetti's chair.
"I'm going to talk to the LT. I'm not having this. I'm not having some wannabe with practically no experience swanning in here and taking her place Scagnetti. I don't want her replaced. I don't want a new goddamn partner!"
He turned on his heel and strode towards the LTs office, pounding on the door so hard he was sure when he pulled his fist back it would be riddled with splinters. Again and again, but to no avail.
"He's out for the day, Flack," Scagnetti said in a bored voice, leaning against the wall behind him.
Don ignored him and stormed over to his desk, almost sending a disgruntled Martinez flying in the process. He flopped down in his well-worn wooden-backed chair, his hands reaching almost unconsciously for the small framed copy of Jess's academy photo. Her painfully beautiful features beamed up at him, long, dark hair cascading around her radiant face, dark eyes dancing with delight as she grinned broadly out of the photo.
He could sit here for hours, staring. Just looking at her. Jess.
"Detective Flack?" a female voice asked from far away.
He looked up to see a honey-blonde young woman looking down at him, a thick ream of paper clutched to her chest. He didn't recognise her, with her jeans and brown leather ankle boots, a chunky bangle dangling from her thin wrist. He shot her a questioning look, hoping she couldn't see the pain in his eyes.
"Oh… I'm sorry," the young woman said softly. "I'm Haylen Becall, I've got some DNA results that Lindsay said you might be interested in. But I can see it's a bad time…"
Don sighed and forced himself to sit up straighter. He stretched out a hand tiredly to her. "No, no, it's fine. What've you got for me?"
A/N: Liking it? Hating it? Want more? I won't know unless you tell me, so you see that little button down there? Press it! Go on, you know you want to…
OK, so apart from my blatant pleading, I just wanted to say thanks for reading the first chapter. I know it's started off slowly, but it'll pick up, I promise. Next chapter (if you want one) the new partner will make her first appearance…
So PLEASE tell me what you think! Pretty please with Donald Flack Junior on top???
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