Disclaimer: I'm thinking I need to change my disclaimer after an issue I discovered while reading other stories this weekend. The characters belong to CBS and the respective creators of CSI: NY and are being borrowed solely for the entertainment of myself and others. This story, however, is my own creation and should not appear in the same context in other people's stories without my express, written permission. Thank you.
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Shots were being fired all around her but this time, it didn't send her spiraling out of control in a panic attack even if they did almost grate on her nerves like nails on a chalkboard. She blocked everything out of her mind as she extended her right hand to fire Danny's service revolver, her left hand steadying the weapon as she slowly squeezed the trigger. She held her breath as she willed her hands to not shake and mess up her sight. She fired six quick rounds and then lowered her weapon. Danny, who had been standing well behind her as she fired, cheered as she finished. He didn't need to see a close up of the target to know that she had fired well. He wrapped his arms around her waist as he pressed the button to bring the target close. Once they had the target, they could see that although the shots weren't perfect, they were well within the acceptable target area.
Danny kissed Lindsay's cheek. It had been a tough week and a half since Atwood had killed himself during the sentencing phase of his trial. The nightmares that Lindsay had suffered right after the attack had resurfaced so neither of them were getting much sleep at night. She would first wake up crying and upset but that would soon give way to anger, not the same white hot rage she'd experienced that first night but enough that a smaller set of gloves now resided next to Danny's in the closet of the spare bedroom. Night seemed to be about the only time Atwood, even in death, could unleash his worst on the young woman. Mac had spread the word at the lab that Lindsay didn't want to hear the man's name mentioned or talk about the incident and as her friends, everyone complied. The only things haunting her at work were the stipulations Mac had been forced to put on her by Sinclair.
"That's great, Babe; you'll have your gun back in no time." He smiled at her. He was so proud of her, not just for her starting to overcome her fears of the gun, but for how strong she was showing herself, him, and everyone else she was. Atwood's death hadn't healed her completely, that wouldn't have been possible, but she was determined not to let it define who she was. The day after the attack at the courthouse, once she was able to convince her muscles to move after the abuse she'd heaped on them the night before with the punching bag, she had made an appointment with Michelle to discuss her reactions. Her therapy sessions and her nightmares were the only places that Atwood's attack were allowed center focus on her thoughts and with the exception of the occasional bad reaction to something before she could catch herself, people were starting to see the Lindsay they knew and loved reemerging.
"Yeah, well it's still three weeks until the re-qualification test and my psych eval that will allow me to fully do my job again but I'll be ready for it." Lindsay agreed. Mac had been more than generous with her in spite of Sinclair's restrictions. Every case she worked was either with him or Jo and they didn't treat her any differently in the field except where not having a gun would endanger her.
Danny rolled his eyes. "You shouldn't have to wait. You are ready now for it. I don't know what Mac is thinking'…"
She twisted in his arms and placed a finger over his mouth. She was much more understanding about the restrictions than Danny was. "Mac is following orders and being a good boss. I know from experience that failed qualification tests and evals can play hell on your career jacket. Back in Bozeman it took me a while to work past them. Mac set the test far enough out so that I could be sure to pass it the first time. Don't make him the bad guy here; I'm the one who let what happen to me interfere with my work. Maybe it wasn't in a huge way but it did interfere. Fortunately the worst it did was put me on Sinclair's radar. I'll be fine and I'll get through this. I have you and everyone at the lab, including Mac and Sinclair, looking out for me."
Danny shrugged. He guessed his own earlier experiences after the Minhas shooting still colored his judgment about dealing with the upper brass but he had to admit that Lindsay's experience seemed to be much different. "A'right, A'right, I'll leave it alone. Want to shoot some more?"
Lindsay shook her head. "I want to log out of here so we can get home. I need to go pick up Lucy so she's already there when you bring home her new best friend."
Danny grinned, anticipating Lucy's reaction to seeing the puppy for the first time. "You're gonna have the camera ready to capture her face when she sees her right?"
Lindsay smiled as well, a real smile, the smile that melted his heart and threatened to turn his knees to mush, the smile that had been missing for so long. "Like I would miss that moment. Come on Cowboy, let's go make our daughter's day."
As they made their way to the counter of the gun range, Danny's thoughts turned to the new addition they were about to add to their family. "You don't think Lucy's gonna want to name the puppy Dora or Swiper or something like that do you?"
Lindsay chuckled. "Danny, we agreed that this is Lucy's puppy and she gets to name her. We'll be happy with whatever name she chooses."
Danny nodded but didn't look convinced. "Okay but I don't want people looking at me funny when I'm walking this puppy at ten o'clock at night and calling it some crazy name."
- CSI: NY - CSI: NY - CSI: NY -
Once Lindsay arrived back at the apartment with Lucy, she began to eagerly anticipate Danny's arrival. The two-year-old had no idea that she was getting a puppy although she'd been relentless in her begging for her own Roscoe since their return from New Orleans. Without a doubt, her reaction to the arrival of the puppy would be priceless. Over the last week, Lindsay and Danny had been sneaking in puppy supplies to the apartment and hiding them in the laundry room until they were able to surprise their daughter.
Lindsay pulled out the video camera and suggested to Lucy that they make a video to send to Stella. She figured this would give her a good excuse for having the camera out when Danny arrived at home. First Lucy sang Stella a new song she was learning in preschool. Then she looked into the camera with all the earnestness of a two year old.
"Aunt Stella, I miss you. I wish you and Unc'a Brady could come visit us. You could bring Roscoe with you and I's could p'ay with him while you are here. Peas, Aunt Stella? I loves you so much."
Lindsay hid a smile as she continued to watch her daughter from behind the video camera. Where had she learned to be so good with the emotional blackmail? Though the camera was out to really capture the arrival of the puppy, Lindsay knew this clip would have to go to Stella as well. The older woman would get a kick out of it.
She heard Danny's key in the door and knew the moment had arrived. "Lucy, sounds like Daddy's home. How about we greet him at the door?"
Enthusiastically the little girl ran to the door so that she could be the first thing Danny saw as he came into the apartment. Lindsay maneuvered so that she could perfectly capture the first meeting between canine and little girl. The door opened and Danny stepped inside holding tightly to the brown squirming puppy.
When Lucy saw the puppy, her mouth opened and formed a perfect O in surprise. Her eyes lit up as she began to hop from one foot to the other her excitement growing more and more as she realized what the presence of the puppy meant. The squeal that followed started high and then quickly escalated to a decibel that only the puppy could hear and barked at the sound of it. Lucy sat on the floor as Danny put the new pet in her lap. The puppy immediately began licking Lucy in the face, neck, anywhere she could reach. Danny wrapped an arm around Lindsay's waist as she continued to video tape the pair of instant best friends. He leaned in so that he could whisper into his wife's ear.
"I think we gotta problem here. I don't think that puppy can hold her licker."
Lindsay would have punched him in the arm for the pun if she hadn't been holding the camera. Danny gave her a peck on the kiss with a slight chuckle and then released her to join Lucy on the floor with the puppy.
"Is he wheely wheely mine?" Lucy asked looking up at her father with such a look of bliss.
Danny smiled. "She's really, really yours, Lucy Bear. Do you like her?" It was a stupid question because it was more than obvious that it was love at first sight for the little girl.
Lindsay continued to record father and daughter bonding over the newest family member. It was such a sweet moment that she couldn't help but well up in tears. For just a moment her absence in the shot threatened to overwhelm her. It gave her a glimpse of what might have been if things had gone differently while she was held hostage. If she had died during the attack then the scene being captured by video would have been Danny's and Lucy's life without her. It would have been terrible for them at first, but Danny would have loved Lucy enough to know that he had to make things okay for the little girl. Moments like this would have still probably made it on film but someone else would have been responsible for the video taping, probably Mac or Flack or someone else from the lab who had made it their responsibility to ensure that the reduced Messer family was going to be okay. She reached up and surreptitiously wiped at the tears that had welled up. This could have been their lives without her but it wasn't and she couldn't stand apart from it any longer. Without another word, she placed the camera, still recording, on the little table near the door and joined her husband and daughter on the floor.
"Mommy, lookit her. Isn't she perfect?"
Lindsay smiled at her daughter and ruffled the little girl's hair affectionately. "Yes she is, Lucy."
Danny heard the slight catch in her voice and looked at her in concern. When he saw the presence of tears in her eyes, he wrapped his arm around her again. He was becoming used to the fact that sometimes her emotions got the better of her but he couldn't figure out what had caused this current mini breakdown. Giving her a little squeeze, he kissed the side of her face close to her ear so that he could whisper without Lucy hearing.
"What's wrong, Babe?"
She shook her head. "Let's talk about it later. I just want to enjoy this moment for a while."
Danny nodded; he'd also learned it was better not to push her until she was ready to talk. As much as he wanted to fix whatever was wrong immediately, he recognized sometimes she needed to work things through in her own head. She might not confide in him right away but she would as soon as she was able to. Still he couldn't help but worry about her in the meantime. "And are you? Enjoying the moment?"
She nodded, leaning into his embrace. She knew the conversation wasn't dropped just tabled until a later time. Lucy looked up from the puppy. "What's her name?"
Danny smiled down at Lucy. "That's for you to decide. Now we gotta think of a really good name because she's going to have it for a long, long time. We don't want to pick something you won't like in another year or two."
Despite the emotions that were threatening to overwhelm her, Lindsay couldn't help but giggle at Danny's less than subtle attempts to influence Lucy's name decision. He was really worried about what he was going to have to call this puppy in public. Lindsay planted a kiss on the top of the little girl's head. "What do you think she looks like, Lucy?"
"P'butter." Outside of pizza, peanut butter had to be Lucy's favorite food. It didn't surprise Lindsay that the color of the dog's coat reminded her of the color of the creamy mixture. Beside her, Danny groaned, afraid he was going to be stuck having to explain the name to everyone who asked.
Lindsay nodded. "She does kind of look like peanut butter, doesn't she. That's kind of a mouthful for a name though. What's your favorite way of eating peanut butter, Lucy?"
"Reese's." The answer came without hesitation. Both mother and daughter shared a love for the chocolate peanut butter cups that came in the bright orange package. Danny was more of a Snickers fan but he always knew what candy to get his two girls when it came to Valentine's day. Lucy looked at the puppy. "Reese's, you like that name?"
Almost as if she were answering, the puppy clamored all over Lucy, excitedly licking her all over again. Lindsay leaned close to Danny. "I think we have a name. You think you can live with calling her that when you take her for walks?"
Danny shook his head in disbelief. Reese's was definitely a name he could live with but he marveled at how quickly Lucy had settled on a name. He looked over at his wife. "You had that in mind from the very start."
Lindsay nodded. "As much as I love Lucy's name now that it's attached to our beautiful little girl, I've never forgotten that I lost out on the chance to call her the name I picked out. I wasn't going to let that happen again."
Danny smirked. "What happened to letting Lucy name the puppy?"
A ghost of a smile flirted with Lindsay's lips. "She did. She came up with the name all on her on. I just led her in the right direction."
- CSI: NY - CSI: NY - CSI: NY -
It took twice as long as usual to get Lucy to go to bed that night. The only way they coaxed her away from Reese's to eat supper was to bribe her with pizza. When it came time for a bath, Lucy insisted that the puppy join her so it took both parents to wrangle both puppy and toddler in a bath. Bedtime was also a battle. Lucy wanted the puppy to sleep in the bed with her but both Danny and Lindsay insisted that the puppy sleep in the pet crate they had purchased to crate train their new addition. They argued that the puppy needed to sleep in her own bed the same way Lucy had to sleep in hers but the little girl argued that Reese's would be scared all by herself all night long. An exhausted Lucy was on the verge of a full blown tantrum that was sure to spoil the good mood of the rest of the evening.
Lindsay pulled Lucy into her lap. "Lucy, I know you love Reese's very much and want to have her close to you all night. Daddy and I were the same way with you when you were a very little baby. I wanted you to sleep in the bed with me so I could keep an eye on you. Nonna was here and she told me that as much as I wanted to keep you with me it was better for you if I let you sleep in your bassinet. She told us that our bed was so big that you would get scared and could possibly get hurt in it; instead you needed the smaller space the bassinet gave us. Reese's is the same way. She needs the smaller space of her crate to feel secure. We have a blanket for her in it that smells like her mother so she'll think her mommy is still around. You wouldn't want her to get scared during the night do you?"
Lucy's lower lip trembled. "Will she have to sleep in it forever?"
Danny knelt in front of his two girls and gently caressed Lucy's cheek. "Nah, not forever. When she gets a little bigger she won't need the crate any more and then she'll be able to sleep in your room with you. Just like you went from your bassinet to your crib to the big girl bed you have now. So how about it Luce, can you be a big girl enough to let Reese's sleep in her bed tonight while you sleep in yours?"
For just a moment it looked like Lucy was about to put up a renewed fuss but then she reigned it in and nodded slightly. "I big girl Daddy. Reese's sleep in her bed."
Danny smiled, glad that they had won this battle at least temporarily. He wouldn't be surprised if they woke up in the morning to find that Lucy had made herself a pallet in the middle of the night right next to the puppy's crate but he'd take the win for now. "A'right, then I'm going to take Reese's for a walk so she can take care of her potty business before she goes to bed and you, little miss, can let your mommy tuck you into bed. Come here and give me kisses."
Lucy planted sloppy kisses on Danny and then did the same for Reese's. Danny couldn't help but feel a little glad that he got the first kisses as the puppy once again unleashed her excessive licking on Lucy in return. It took another five minutes of the two saying goodnight to each other before Danny was able to slip out of the apartment with the puppy on a leash.
After they were gone, Lindsay re-washed Lucy's face to remove the puppy slobber and tucked the little girl into bed. Instead of a story tonight, Lucy babbled on about what she wanted to do with the puppy the next day and very soon fell asleep mid-sentence. Lindsay continued to stroke Lucy's hair for several minutes even after she was sound asleep. Looking at her, she could almost see the wheels turning in her daughter's head even in her sleep, no doubt dreaming of the many adventures she was going to have with her new friend.
Just as she caught a glimpse earlier while filming Danny and Lucy of what life might have been like if she hadn't survived, now it hit home to her more than ever before what she would have missed out if she had died while in captivity. She would miss seeing the unabashed glee her daughter could display over the gift of a puppy, the innocence that exuded from the two-year-old as she slept. This time with her daughter and the times she spent holding and being held by Danny were the reasons she had survived. Whether she recognized it at the time or not, their love for her and her love for them was the life vest she'd clung to in order to get through the darkest moments.
Once again, the tears welled up in her eyes and she knew she had to get out of Lucy's bedroom before she broke down in complete sobs and woke Lucy up again. She softly kissed her daughter's forehead and rose on shaky legs before bolting to the door. She headed straight to the bedroom she shared with Danny and crawled into the bed before dissolving completely into sobs. She knew it was only a matter of time before Danny returned from walking to puppy and would be concerned to see her so upset but she didn't try to reign in her emotions at that point. She needed to expel them from her system, take them out and examine the closely to see exactly what they meant.
- CSI: NY - CSI: NY - CSI: NY -
It took Danny about twenty minutes to walk the dog and return to the apartment. As soon as the puppy walked into her crate, she settled down on the blanket Mark had sent with them that contained the scent of Reese's mother. He watched, fascinated, by how quickly the puppy went to sleep. It reminded him of how quickly Lucy sometimes tended to fall asleep. Sometimes Lucy falling asleep reminded him of a toy whose batteries ran down causing the toy to slow until it came to a stop. Then other times it was if an off switch had suddenly been pulled and she went from full strength to a dead stop in a split second's time. Reese's journey to sleep tonight was more like the off switch and he was certain that both the puppy and his daughter had been made for the other.
Danny closed the crate and turned off the lights and locked the door before heading to the bedrooms. He looked in on a sleeping Lucy first and smiled to see her sleeping so contentedly. Closing her door behind him, he made his way to his bedroom. There he heard Lindsay's sobs first and then noticed her shaking figure huddled under the blanket. He was at her side in an instant, gathering her in his arms. Whether she was ready to or not, he knew the time had come for her to fill him in on what was upsetting her so much. But first he had to help her get her tears under control first. He simply held her and pressed kisses against her soft skin until finally her tears were spent and she looked up at him. He looked down at her worriedly.
"What's wrong, Babe?"
"He took my trust in people. He made me doubt whether you and I would be okay again. He made me question my ability to do my job. He took things from me that I may never get back again."
Danny considered his words carefully. He'd talked with Sam a few times since Lindsay had given him the other man's number and Sam had warned him that there would continue to be random times when the attack would come back to Lindsay with a vengeance for no apparent reason. Sam had advised him that during these times, Lindsay might just need reminding that she was okay and was going to recover fully. Somehow though, Danny had a feeling that what Lindsay was experiencing was something a little more profound than that. "What brought this on, Sweetheart?"
Lindsay took a shuddering breath trying to organize her thoughts into a logical form that she could make Danny understand. "Earlier this evening I was watching you with Lucy and it hit me that that would have been what your life was like if I had died. Then when I put Lucy to bed it hit me again what I would have lost if I hadn't survived."
Danny instinctively pulled her closer, running his fingers through her hair comfortingly. "Aw, Babe, you can't think like that. You did survive. Luce and I didn't lose you and a million prayers of thanks a day wouldn't be enough to express how glad I am of that."
Lindsay stretched up enough so that she could kiss Danny. "I know; I've been so bogged down mourning what he took from me that I sometimes lose sight of what he could never take no matter how hard he tried. At the end of the day none of those things I lost when he attacked me can destroy my life because I still have the two most important parts of my life that he couldn't even begin to threaten - you and Lucy. Both of you, your love for me and my love for you never faltered through any of this and that love is what is pulling me through to the other side and making me a stronger person. I love you Danny and I love Lucy and I love that the two of you love me back unconditionally."
Tears touched his own eyes as he kissed her once again. "Damn straight we do."
"I never thought I'd say this but I actually feel a little sorry for him. During his stay in prison he lost the same things I lost, maybe even more but he stayed so bogged down in that loss that he didn't see what was right in front of him. Just like I have you and Lucy, he had someone as well. He had a wife and a son who loved him just as much as you and Lucy love me. Instead of clinging to their love with all that was in him, he chose to stay in that dark place of loss and pain. That's why he ultimately lost everything and I'm not going to. That pain and loss won't go away right away but I don't have to stay in that hell hole. I choose the light of the love my family surrounds me in instead and none of that bad stuff can take that away from me. I'm going to be okay."
"Not a doubt in my mind." Danny assured her.
Lindsay smiled and snuggled closer into his embrace. She couldn't change what happened to her. She'd been in the wrong place at the wrong time but that place and time didn't have to continue to hold her prisoner. She wrapped Danny's arms tighter around herself and looked into his eyes. "Here in your arms is always the right place and the right time for me."
- CSI: NY - CSI: NY - CSI: NY -
Author's notes: Well, all things must eventually come to an end and at last we've reached that point with this story. I hope you have enjoyed the journey as much as I've enjoyed writing it. I never imagined when I started out with this story that it would be this long. I can't wait to hear your thoughts.
I promise that I will now throw my energy toward Gassed and try to start back with regular updates with it.
Again, thanks for sticking with me til the end with this story.