A/N: This story was inspired by a variety of small things and I like the way it kind of came together. The thought came to me one day: What would happen if Danny was left in charge of Lucy while Lindsay was absent?
DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the characters or ideas created by Anthony Zuiker, Carol Mendelsohn and Ann Donahue. I borrowed them for the entertainment and amusement of my audience.
SUMMARY: Two men and a little lady. What could possibly go wrong?
DEDICATION: Sydney, who brightens my Sundays, and charms the entire world with her infectious smiles and laughter.
DATE: July 28, 2009
The phone rang as Don was relaxing at home. It was the first day he had had off in a long while. There had been some cutbacks in the law enforcement departments in New York and those who had managed to survive the cuts had been pressed into working longer hour days with more days per week. Don had just finished up a fifteen day work period. The only time he had gotten off over the last fifteen days was devoted exclusively to sleep. Now he had an entire thirty-six hours that he could spend any way he wished.
He had just finished up an eight-hour sleep and was now laying on the couch watching a Bruce Willis Die Hard movie that was showing on cable. Reluctantly, he picked up the phone. As he was putting it to his ear, he swore he was going to break something if this was work calling him to come in.
"Yo, Don, I need some help. How fast can you get over here?" Danny's voice sounded strained on the other end of the phone. In fact, after muting the TV, Don could hear screaming in the background. It sounded like all hell had broken loose on earth.
"Give me fifteen minutes. I'll be right there." Don hung up the phone and went into the bedroom to pull on some clean clothes. Grabbing his keys and wallet, he headed out the door and to his car. Hopping into the driver's seat he started the vehicle and sped out onto the street. Something definitely seemed wrong at Danny's place.
Twenty minutes later, Don pulled up outside of Danny's apartment and, after parking his car, he sprinted up the steps and burst through the door of Danny's apartment. He hadn't been too far off in his estimation that all hell had broken loose.
Trashed. That was the only word to describe the scene that met his gaze as he surveyed the apartment. It looked like a tornado had blown into the apartment and stayed for an extended period of time. It looked like someone had puked all over the kitchen area as there was green goop covering the walls and even the ceiling. Magazines and a couple of books had been torn apart in the living room as there was ample evidence covering the floor in the form of various sizes of confetti. And sitting right in the middle of it all was little Lucy, who was thirteen months old, and very happy with the current magazine she was tearing asunder.
Approaching the little girl, Don was surprised to see Danny lying sprawled across the couch with an arm over his eyes, moaning. Don reached out and shook his shoulder and Danny jumped up faster then a speeding bullet.
Trying to keep a straight face, Don asked, "What is going on here? I thought someone was dying. I heard screaming over the phone…" His voice trailed off as Danny waved a hand in front of him signaling Don to shut up. Danny heaved a deep sigh and replied, "You'd think I was trying to kill Lucy with all the screaming she put up. I was only trying to feed her!" At this he looked up at Don with a pleading look in his eye. "You can't leave me alone with her. She's gonna be the death of me."
Don threw up his hands and said, "Hey, buddy, she's half yours. I'm inclined to think that the messy half of her character came from you. I can't imagine Lindsay being—" he ducked as Danny swung a fist towards him and came back up laughing hysterically. "But, as your friend, I will do what I can to help you. How long is Lindsay supposed to be out of town?"
"She will be back tomorrow morning sometime."
"Well, I don't know anything about kids, but, like I said, I'll do what I can. For starters, may I suggest we clean up? Now…where's Lucy?" Don had just noticed the toddler was missing and Danny started panicking. It was then that Don discovered the door hadn't closed all the way behind him. Both men leapt out the door and scanned the hallway. Lucy was toddling down the hallway away from the stairs, happily gurgling her baby talk as she started pounding on a neighbor's door, three doors up the hall from Danny's apartment.
Danny ran over and scooped her up, but not before the door opened to reveal a pair of smooth, tanned legs. Danny, still being crouched down to pick up Lucy, was transfixed by the sight and slowly raised his eyes to the face of the legs' owner. He was stunned but a little confused as he stood up, holding Lucy. This was his neighbor, Mark's, apartment and, as far as he could remember, he didn't have any female roommates, especially such stunning ones as this woman was. He certainly would have remembered her. Hey, he was a married man, now, but a man nonetheless.
"Hi! S…sorry for disturbing…you. My daughter, she…just got away from me," Danny stammered. "I'm sorry, isn't this Mark's apartment? I had no idea he had roommates. I'm Danny. Danny Messer. I just live right down the hall."
"Hi!" the woman cheerfully replied. "My name is Brigitte and Mark is my cousin. I am visiting him from France. This is my first trip to the United States." She paused. "May I say you have a gorgeous daughter there? I love children, especially babies. They are so adorable!" Danny could feel himself grinning and was a little irritated when Don pushed him out of the way and introduced himself to Brigitte. He figured it was probably for the best, though. Lindsay would probably have a cow if he was panting after another woman. He started heading back towards his apartment and had just entered it when Don came walking through the door, whistling a show tune.
Without waiting for an invitation to start cleaning, Don picked up a washcloth and, after dampening it in the sink, he started wiping up the strained peas that covered the kitchen. Danny gave him an amused look and, rather enviously, asked if he had gotten her phone number.
"Nope. I only stepped up because you are among the married legion now. Lindsay probably would have skinned me alive if I didn't watch out for you."
"Hmmm…so you didn't want to get some action from 'that'?" he asked, gesturing towards the door, and thereby, the neighbor's apartment beyond.
"Well, the thought did cross my mind, but I am here for you, buddy." Don was concentrating on a particularly difficult spot stained green from the discarded meal.
Danny shrugged and bent down to place Lucy in the playpen that was set up underneath a window. He then proceeded to start picking up the shreds of paper littering the living room floor. Once all of the big pieces had been picked up, he retrieved the vacuum cleaner from the hall closet and finished cleaning the living room with a sweep of the vacuum cleaner.
A short time later, the apartment was as clean as it was likely to get with only a few noticeable green spots in the kitchen. Danny had started to put away the vacuum cleaner when he issued an audible groan. Don looked up from where he had collapsed on a chair to discover Danny's source of irritation.
Lucy was standing up in her playpen watching the two grown men cleaning up her mess with great interest. What shocked him the most was that Lucy appeared to be foaming at the mouth! As he was starting to get rather alarmed, that was when he noticed the decapitated teddy bear littering the floor of the playpen. Apparently, in her search to keep herself occupied, she had torn the head off of her bear and discovered the unparalleled delights to be had with playing with the bear's innards. It looked like a snow globe had exploded in her playpen.
Don went and grabbed a trash bag to clean up the stuffing mess and Danny pulled Lucy's pea covered clothing off of her. As she had not actually eaten anything, Danny decided to attempt the feat again with another selection. He decided it would probably be for the best if he left her in just a diaper, since she was quite the messy eater. He placed her in her high chair and gave her a spoon to play with and then went back over to help Don with picking up the stuffing. Lucy kept herself busy by banging on her tray with her spoon as loud as she could.
Once the disemboweled bear had been disposed of, Don and Danny turned with arms folded to regard their young charge. Noticing that she now had an audience, Lucy began beating the spoon on the tray even harder and quicker. She could have given a professional drummer a run for his money with the ferocity of her banging.
"Alright," Danny said. "Let's try this again. Maybe we should move onto something other then peas. Don, there is a jar of carrots on the counter. Can you get it for me?" Danny kept his eyes glued to Lucy as if he was afraid if he turned away she would get into more mischief.
Don picked up the jar of carrots and opened it. He almost gagged as he thrust the jar away from him and held it as far away from him as possible. "No wonder the kid sprayed the kitchen with her lunch! This smells horrible! How can you expect anyone to eat this stuff?"
Danny had to keep from laughing at Don's disgusted expression, but he did concur with him. This baby food smelled nasty. "Lindsay has the daily menu planned out. Fruits in the morning, veggies in the afternoon and meats in the evening. Lucy did fine this morning, but it all went downhill at lunch. I never knew it was such hard work to feed one little girl."
Don stared at Danny in amazement. "You've never fed your own kid?"
Danny glared at Don. "Of course I have!" After a short pause, "Lindsay is usually close by, though." He grabbed the jar out of Don's hand and plucked the spoon out of Lucy's hand and spooned a little bit of the carrots out of the jar and moved it towards Lucy's mouth.
Don picked up the day's newspaper off of the table and started browsing the headlines. Sitting down, he had just found an interesting article to read when an orange projectile of slimy, nasty-smelling baby food hit him square in the eye. Too stunned to move or even blink, he froze for a full minute before reacting.
"IT BURNS! OH, THE PAIN!" Seizing a dishcloth off of the table, he began furiously wiping at his eye. Danny started panicking, thinking his friend was seriously injured, maybe from an allergy or something in the carrots. He jumped up and ran to get a glass of water to rinse out Don's eyes. When he brought back the glass of water, Don lowered the towel in front of his face to reveal a face red with laughter.
Danny stood there dumbfounded for a minute and then proceeded to dump the glass of water over Don's head. That only made him laugh harder and he fell off the chair, he was laughing so hard. "Sorry…I just…couldn't…resist!" he gasped between breaths. All of this excitement had gotten Lucy riled up and she had overturned the jar of carrots that Danny had left on her tray in his haste to help Don. By the time Don and Danny had regained their composures, she had made quite a mess of herself and her immediate area with the carrots.
"Oh, Lucy! You're supposed to eat it, not play with it!" Danny lamented. He gingerly lifted her out of her chair and held her at arm's length away from his body as he led the way to the bathroom.
Don started the bath water and adjusted the temperature for the squirming toddler. Then he turned to Danny and Lucy and the former held the latter's behind up to Don and asked him to take off her diaper. After the diaper was pulled off, Danny started forward to put Lucy in the tub and Lucy chose that particular moment to relieve herself. All. Over. Danny.
"No, no, no, no, no, no…" Danny repeatedly moaned, looking disgusted. "Lucy! Lucy! Lucy!"
Don did his absolute best to keep a straight face, even though he was incredibly amused by Lucy's behavior. He could tell Danny was getting worn out by the difficult time he was having caring for Lucy alone. Now that he thought about it, Lindsay was very protective of Lucy and was hardly ever away from her for any extended periods of time. Danny was a great father, but he had approached fatherhood with some apprehensions. He tended to draw his strength from Lindsay. This was the first time Danny had been left alone with Lucy for more then twenty-four hours.
"Don, you've gotta watch her for a few minutes. I have got to get out of these nasty smelling clothes. I can't believe she did that!" Danny continued muttering as he left the bathroom and headed towards his and Lindsay's bedroom to change.
Don leaned against the bathroom counter as he turned to watch Lucy splashing around in the bathtub. She was sitting on a blue rubber bathtub mat that helped to keep her from sliding around too much. She continued on this way for some time and it wasn't until ten minutes had passed that Don realized Danny had not come back yet.
"Danny? Hey, Danny! Where are you?" Don called. He hadn't ever taken care of a child before, but Don knew enough to not leave a baby unattended in a bathtub. As he looked in the bathroom cupboards for a clean towel, he kept calling for Danny. Locating a towel, he pulled the plug in the tub and scooped Lucy up and wrapped her in the towel.
Holding Lucy in his arms, he turned off the bathroom light and strolled down the hallway to the bedroom. Peeking in the open door he saw that Danny was completely zonked out on the bed. He had at least got the foul smelling shirt off, but it looked like that was as far as he got. He must have been extremely exhausted. Don smiled as he quietly closed the door. Turning around, he found Lucy's nursery across the hallway from the master bedroom and went in to find some clothes for her.
Thirty minutes later, Don and Lucy were settled in the living room. He had never thought that attempting to dress one little girl could be so much work! It wasn't difficult to find the diapers and clothes, but Lucy was a very active baby and she kept moving around while he was trying to dress her.
Now Lucy was occupied with a bottle, laying down on the living room floor and Don was relegated to watching TV as the only pieces of reading material that were in the living room were now in the bottom of a trash bag ripped to shreds. He had the volume down low so as not to disturb the sleeping Danny and soon to be sleeping Lucy. After settling on a sitcom, he stretched out on the couch and, keeping one eye on Lucy, he proceeded to watch the program.
Shortly after starting her bottle, Lucy was passed out on the living room floor. One arm was still clutching the bottle that had fallen out of her open mouth and the other arm was curled around a grey elephant stuffed animal. Occasionally she heaved loud sighs and twitched in her sleep, sometime smiling, sometimes frowning. There was a mystery that required some thought. What did babies dream about when they slept? What caused those rapid changes between smiles and frowns that graced their faces in the deepest of slumbers?
Don smiled as he watched her sleep. It was these quiet moments in the presence of sleeping babes that made Don yearn for a family of his own. He hoped that day would come, but so far there were no prospects in sight for a suitable mother. As these thoughts crept through his tired mind, he slowly slipped into a light slumber.
He was awakened suddenly by a slight noise. He quickly propped himself up on his elbows and looked around. The source of the noise was quickly identified as Lucy just turning over onto her stomach as she continued sleeping. Don picked up the remote and turned the TV off and was about ready to lie back down and rest his eyes when a loud rumbling noise distracted him. It took him a moment to realize the noise was coming from his own stomach. Glancing down at his watch, he was surprised to discover that it was close to dinnertime. He had been here for almost six hours.
As he got up to go see what there might be to eat, he heard a noise coming from the hallway. Turning he saw Danny emerge from the master bedroom, dressed in clean clothes and looking a little more refreshed.
"Sorry, man. I must have dozed off. You could have woken me up. You didn't have to watch her for me."
Don grinned at him, "You asked for help, so I came over to help. Even if it meant watching Lucy while you took a nap. But, Lucy fell asleep shortly after you did, so it's not like it was too much for me to handle. I even caught a few Z's myself."
"Thanks. What do you say we order up some pizza for dinner? I've got some beer in the fridge; we can make a party of it!"
"Hey, that sounds like a great idea!"
"Alright, I think I have a refrigerator magnet here somewhere," Danny said as he started rummaging through all of the stuff stuck to the front of the fridge. "Ah! Here we go! Mario's Italian Deli. They make a mean meat-lover's pizza. Does that sound good for you?"
As Don was about ready to answer, a loud growling noise erupted from his stomach. "Well, I think that speaks for itself. Sounds delicious."
Don went back into the living room and sat back down on the couch, as Danny phoned in their order. Lucy was still sleeping on the floor, but she had progressed to sucking her thumb as she slept.
Danny plopped down on the couch next to Don and mentioned that it would be about twenty minutes before the pizza arrived. He asked Don if he wanted something to munch on while they waited.
"Nah, I'll be fine until then."
For a few minutes, they both sat and watched Lucy sleep and then Danny leaned over and picked up the remote to turn the TV back on. After searching for a few minutes, he settled on a football game. They sat back to watch the game. Danny had turned on the subtitles and kept the volume down low.
Fifteen minutes later, there was a knock on the door and Danny got up to get the pizza while Don went to get paper plates and plastic cups out of the pantry. Loading up their plates, they headed back to the couch only to be confronted by a now-awake Lucy. She had pulled herself up to a sitting position and was rubbing her sleepy eyes with her tiny fists.
"My little lady is awake," said Danny as he set his plate down on the coffee table and picked up Lucy. She giggled as he lifted her high in the air and spun her around. He then set her back on the floor with some Cheerios to eat and turned to sit on the couch and start his own dinner. Just as he had gotten comfortable, he realized that he had forgotten to grab the drinks. Getting back up he grabbed a couple of cans of beer and poured them into the cups and brought them back over to the coffee table. He handed one to Don and then took a drink from his own cup.
Turning up the volume they continued watching the game as they ate their dinner. They had just gotten to the halftime show when there was another knock at the door. Danny got up to answer it to find Brigitte at the door. She had been trying to make a cup of coffee, but as things were different in the United States, she was having difficulty getting the machine to work. She had brought the machine over and the two gentlemen spent the next couple of minutes explaining how it worked and what she needed to do to make the coffee.
After Brigitte left, the two friends turned around to a scene that would have given a battle-trained drill sergeant a heart attack. Horrified at what he saw, Don also found some amusement in it, but he was definitely not going to point that out to Danny right now…or in the near future. Maybe some years down the road, they would look back on this moment and laugh about it. But not now.
Little Lucy had pulled herself up to a standing position by the coffee table and had proceeded to inspect the items on the table. Seeing a couple of plastic cups, she had moved around to pick them up and had then decided to inspect the contents of them through a taste test. That's right; Lucy had had her first taste of alcohol. She had actually dumped both cups all over her, so it was hard to determine exactly how much of it she had actually drunk. Danny had leapt over the couch and grabbed the cups out of her hands and lifted them out of reach. With nothing else to do now, both men stood there and stared down at Lucy to determine what the effects of the alcohol were going to be on her young body. As both of them had been caught up in the game they had been watching and then been distracted by the door, neither of them could recall how much beer had been left in their respective cups.
Danny seemed to be on the verge of panic as he closely scrutinized Lucy's actions. Don was rather alarmed, but figured there wasn't much they could do about it now aside from trying to induce vomiting, which probably wouldn't be very good for a baby, much less easy to perform.
Lucy decided that the coffee table wasn't very interesting anymore now that the grown-ups had cleared the plates and cups off of it. She turned around and had only taken three very shaky and weaving steps before she fell backward, right onto her bottom. She thought this was great fun and she vigorously clapped her hands before continuing off at a crawl. Having arrived at her small box of toys, she pulled out a rattle and started banging it around, laughing every time she hit something like the wall or the bookshelf. Pretty soon, Danny heard distinct hiccups coming from her as she continued her little "game."
"I can't believe she did that. I have no idea how much she drank, but it can't possibly be good. She's just a baby." Danny was rambling on and on as he started fretting about what to do. "I think I should probably put her to bed soon so she can stay out of trouble, but what if something happens? What if she gets really sick? Maybe I should give her another bath first. Oooooh! Lindsay is gonna kill me when she finds out what happened."
"You mean 'if' she finds out," Don replied. "I'm not one to condone keeping things from one's spouse, but I don't think it's going to hurt anything if you keep this one tiny thing from her. Lucy will most likely be just fine in the morning and I doubt anyone is going to be able to tell the difference."
"I don't feel right about that, but if you think it's not going to be noticeable in the morning, I suppose I could keep my mouth shut." Turning to Lucy, he said, "Come on, darling. Let's go take another bath."
As he picked her up, the jostling of her person must have caused air bubbles to escape her stomach. She burped right in Danny's face. Danny instantly turned green and made a face that looked as if he was about ready to vomit. In fact, he wanted to shove Lucy in Don's arms and make a run for the bathroom, but he bit back the sickness and instead turned Lucy away from his face and cradled her in his arms as he took her to the nursery. The combination of the alcohol and milk formula from earlier did not make a sweet-smelling mixture. Placing her in her crib, he turned around and opened a dresser drawer and pulled out some pajamas to lay out for her. He also got a diaper out and ready and then he turned to face Lucy. Picking her up once more, he put her on the changing table and pulled off her clothes. Once she was undressed he hauled her into the bathroom and held her on his lap as he filled the bathtub up again. Making sure the temperature was right, he then placed her in the tub where she started playing with the bubbles from the baby bubble bath he had put in there.
She started having such a grand old time playing that more then once, she almost fell face first into the water. It was only by Danny's careful watch and quick reflexes that he managed to keep her from severely injuring herself or drowning. Only after she had successfully managed to get water on every surface of the bathroom, did Danny pull the plug and pull her out. He carried her back to the nursery where he dried her off and then got her dressed. Regardless of fact that she had just woken up from a nap, she did look a bit tired. Either that or she was just drunk. Wincing, he decided not to think about that.
Scooping up Lucy, he carried her out into the living room where he found Don stretched out on the recliner chair, fast asleep. Moving into the kitchen, he discovered that Don had put the rest of the pizza away and wiped down the counters. Relieved that he didn't have that to add to his to-do list, he wearily pulled out a bottle and some formula. Heating up the water and then mixing up the water/formula mixture, he carried the bottle and Lucy out to the couch where he sat down and fed Lucy.
When she had finished her bottle, she wasn't quite asleep, so Danny stretched himself out on the couch and laid Lucy on her stomach on his chest, where she quickly fell asleep to the rise and fall of his chest and the sound of his heartbeat. Too tired to move, Danny pulled down the blanket that was draped across the back of the couch and covered Lucy up. It was too warm to tuck the blanket around her body so he just lightly covered her and then closed his eyes to rest them for a time.
A key turned in the lock of the door to the apartment in the early morning hours. It opened and shut quickly as it admitted the personage who had unlocked the door. Hearing no noise, the figure quietly moved through the entryway by the kitchen and into the living room. Peeking into the room, the figure was surprised to see two grown men sleeping in the living room; one reclined in the chair and the other stretched out on the couch with a baby girl sleeping peacefully on his chest.
Lindsay just smiled.