Disclaimer: I own nothing and no-one from CSI:NY, I'm just borrowing them for a while. No infringement intended. Any new characters - well they're mine!
A/N: This is my first foray in the world of CSI:NY. I'm a major fan of Detective Flack and so wanted to write a little something centred around him and the O/C I've created. There will be adult themes during this fic, which is almost complete. I've really enjoyed writing it, all the more because of the wonderful Aphina, whose patience and support have been incredible. Thank you, you wonderful lady! Now, I'm not one to ask for reviews but I would appreciate them (please be nice!). Most of all though, I hope if you read this you'll enjoy it.
And So It Begins
Don arrived at Danny and Lindsay's apartment just in time to give little Lucy Messer a kiss goodnight. Lindsay had already gone out for the evening and Don enjoyed watching Danny play with his daughter before putting her to bed.
He came here fairly regularly now for a meal and to just kick back with his friends. After Jess's death it was one of the few places where he could come and feel comfortable; no-one would either force him to talk or feel awkward when he mentioned her. He thought that Danny and Lindsay were worried about him and wanted to keep an eye on him and they'd have been right to. That was a while ago now though, yet the habit of coming over kind of stuck.
Don sat back in an easy chair smiling to himself as he heard Danny coo to Lucy over the baby monitor. He looked around the familiar apartment, a testament to the young family that lived here. Some soft books and Tutter from Bear in the Big Blue House, Lucy's favourite, on the sofa seemed out of place with the science text books and their gory content on the bookshelves. There were pictures scattered around the place of the mountains of Montana, the day they got married, a newborn Lucy and a tired looking Lindsay and one that particularly made Don smile of the CSI Team, including himself, from last Christmas. The apartment was obviously clean but with that loved, lived in feel, Lindsay's feminine touch in the colours and soft furnishings, contrasting starkly with how Don remembered Danny's bachelor pad.
There had been a time when being surrounded by all this had been difficult and had left him bitter, but now it felt so natural and like his second home. The smell of something good in the kitchen helped as did the fact that he was starving.
Danny came quickly into the room to grab Tutter,
"Won't be a minute, this little guy should do it."
Sure enough, a few minutes later Danny came back into the room and both men sat for a little while listening to the soft snoring coming from the baby monitor.
A little later Don pushed away his plate and sighed contentedly,
"Man, I'm stuffed. That was one great plate of pasta Danno."
"You're welcome," replied his friend, raising a glass of red to the compliment.
Just as the men were sitting in sated silence, the door to the Messers' apartment opened and Lindsay appeared, raising a smile from both the men in her dining area.
"Hey, Linds," said Flack "your old man here's just made a great pasta. You joining us?"
Lindsay kissed Danny before replying.
"Not for me thanks, I'm on the salad. Give me five to grab a shower and I'll be back for a glass of wine though."
Once she was gone, Don looked confusedly at Danny who rolled his eyes and shrugged.
"She's got this thing about her weight and body since having Lucy. I don't know why – she always looks great to me – but she's found this dance pilates class at NYSB…
"A what?" asked Don. "You mean Lindsay's taken up ballet?"
"Nah not ballet, but one of those classes that mixes pilates and dancing all together? Hey, I don't know, but anyway, she loves it, does it twice a week and I have to say, she's looking good."
Danny leaned forward and lowered his voice, a smirk crossing his face.
"I went to pick her up the other day – I'm telling you, the teacher is hot, her body's insane!"
"I heard that Messer!" Lindsay's voice came out from the bedroom causing Danny to wince and Don to laugh.
After her shower and checking on Lucy, Lindsay joined the men. She and Danny enjoyed having Don round but she still worried about him. Since Jess's death he'd gone through a really rough patch; drinking, mindless one night stands, depression, the whole nine yards and although he was through that period now, he needed to find someone, to love again. But this was Don Flack we were talking about and it just wasn't that easy for him. Lindsay didn't understand it – Flack was one of the good guys and it didn't hurt that he was tall and handsome. Her and Stella were saying just the other day what a great husband and father he'd make. She guessed he just needed time. It had been well over a year since Jess was shot and killed, he should be moving on - but it was easy for her to say. She didn't want to even contemplate how she would be if the worst had happened to Danny…..
The week was passing slowly for Don. Having injured his shoulder a few weeks back and with it still being painful, he'd decided the time was right to catch up on the horrendous backlog of paperwork that he let mount up. He hated this so much. If he'd wanted to be a damned administrator, he wouldn't have signed up for the police academy straight from high school. He sat sullenly, forcing himself to go over statements, fill out forms, cross reference information and write his reports but anyone who bothered could see his body language becoming tenser and tenser the longer he sat. He began to get up at every excuse – to get a coffee, visit the bathroom, get something to eat, another coffee, catch up with a uniform he hadn't seen for a while. So he couldn't have been more relieved when his boss called him in.
"Ok, so I guess you've had enough of sitting on your ass all day?" growled Best, Don's new boss not waiting for an answer and cussing as his 'phone rang.
Don suppressed a smile as the older man barked at whoever was on the end of the line. He liked Best and he was one of Sinclair's better ideas. He was a well respected cop of many years service, old school, tried to keep out of the politics but his ear to the ground. He knew what being a cop in this city actually meant and as such had the respect of every officer in the building. Sure, he was grouchy and rude - being forced off the streets through injury would do that to a man like him - but he backed his officers' every step of the way.
"Jerk." Best hissed as he slammed the receiver down. Turning his attention back to Don, he searched for what he was going to say.
"Right, You. The name Larry Parks sound familiar?"
"Yeah," came Don's immediate reply. "He's wanted for questioning in at least three murders and dealing drugs among other things. Guy's a damned eel, can never get our hands on him."
"Well, tonight may be our chance. Narco are raiding an address that's apparently come in from a reliable source." Don couldn't help but notice the scorn in his superior's voice. "I want you there to make sure we get our share of whatever they find. Take one of the lab rats with you – I want on the spot evidence where possible. This SOB's gone through our fingers enough times and Narco aren't known for their thoroughness. Get the Crime Lab boys to check for anything and everything."
Don nodded his understanding and Best handed him the address in one of the city's most desirable areas. He looked at it and whistled low through his teeth.
"Would appear our Mr Parks has gone up in the world? Who's leading the Narco team?"
Best checked a file on his desk before answering.
Don couldn't hold back the groan he had on hearing that name. The few times Don had worked alongside Caplin he'd been unimpressed by the other officer's lack of research and gung ho attitude – one that had resulted in good men and women being put in unnecessary danger. Caplin was impatient and a glory hunter. He wanted the praise but he was impulsive and unwilling to put the scut work in; it might be dull but that's what routine police work was. Maybe it was all the work Don did with the Crime Lab that had made him pay more attention to small details, but either way, going on a raid with Caplin in charge didn't fill him with confidence.
"Sir, how sure are we…"
Best knew what his detective was going to say but had reached his end with this conversation.
"Being sure is not our problem. YOU just make sure we get anything we can on him okay?"
Sighing in resignation he made the call to Caplin to check times and then to Mac to request a CSI to the scene for any immediate evidence gathering or testing that may need doing. Mac confirmed that Narco had already requested someone, that Lindsay was on call that evening and would be the one to meet him there.
Elinor sighed as she hauled herself out of the bath. She'd stayed in there as long as she could, enjoying the heat soaking her muscles and relaxing her whole body. She thought about the five months since she'd come to New York and how she was finally settling into the city. In fact, she loved it. After the last eighteen months or so, it was just what she had needed and in spite of the protests from her parents and friends, life here came together very quickly. For the first time in a long while, she felt as though she was beginning to get her old self back.
She slipped quickly into her jersey silk pjs, revelling in the luxurious material before going to the kitchen and the mug of hot chocolate she promised herself. Spring was here but it was still chilly outside and even though her apartment was lovely and warm, there was just something about hot chocolate.
She had just settled down with one of her favourite CDs and books when it happened. The shock of it made her scream and almost scald herself on the hot drink.
She vaguely heard a male voice shouting 'LARRY PARKS NYPD' but it was drowned out by the front door to the apartment being smashed in over and over to get through the reinforced plating and locks that she had insisted on having fitted, that really scared the her. The wood splintered and before she could say anything a stream of dark blue and black entered her apartment, guns raised, men shouting at her to not move, to put her hands up, to tell them where someone named Parks was. She watched horrified as they swarmed through her apartment heading for the different rooms.
Elinor finally gathered herself enough to find her voice and talk back at the man that was shouting at her.
"What the hell is going on?" she demanded.
"NYPD. Where's Parks?" hissed the man.
"I don't know anyone called Parks," she insisted.
"Parks. Larry Parks. This is his address. Where is he? You either tell me now, or we can take this down town." He drew the words out slowly as though he was talking to a small child.
Elinor looked at the man with a mixture of fear and astonishment.
"I don't know any Larry Parks. I live here alone and have done for the past five months."
The man looked at her with disgust in his eyes, clearly not believing her. His eyes still trained on her, Caplin shouted to the room in general.
"Anybody got anything?"
He was clearly frustrated when a chorus of negative responses came his way.
Elinor didn't have the faintest idea what he was talking about and looking around she couldn't believe what she was seeing. Her kitchen cupboards were being pulled out, the sofa she had just being sitting on was being tossed and searched and worst of all, her wardrobes and drawers were being opened and the contents tipped onto the floor, her underwear for all to see.
"What is all this about? Please, I don't know any Parks. Why won't you listen to me?"
"Okay so there's nothing obvious so we'll need to test stuff. Where's the damn lab rat?"
"On the way."
Elinor looked back towards her front door to find who the owner of the new voice was, and found the most startling pair of blue eyes looking at her. They held her gaze for the longest time even as the voice spoke again.
"Excuse me ma'am. Caplin, a word."
Don managed to ignore the thump in his chest and tore his eyes away from the woman in front of him as he virtually dragged the other man aside.
"What the hell are you doing? You don't wait for me or the CSI, you don't find out who's in the apartment before you bust in and once you've done that and the guy's not here, you just start tossing the place anyway without even thinking there just might be some major screw up happening. You could have got your men killed. What if Parks had actually been here? Did you even look at the way he works? The guy's never alone, always got a couple of monkeys with him. You could have got your team killed, you know that?"
"Back off Flack. This isn't your bust, you're here as a courtesy, that's all"
Don squared right up to Caplin.
"Damn right it isn't my bust – it's your ass that's going to get handed over on a plate." He motioned over to Elinor. "Look at her. Does she look like she has anything to do with a low life like Parks? No, you've screwed this one up big time man."
Don backed away giving Caplin the time and physical space to think things through. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. This was such a mess and exactly what the department didn't need at the moment. The press would just eat this up. God, he hoped this woman was reasonable, not that he'd blame her if she wasn't. He looked over at her, her head down and her arms wrapped tightly around her body, hugging a cushion, fighting tears and clearly terrified, the shock hitting her. It was then that he realised she was only wearing pyjamas.
"Excuse me Miss…"
"Foster, Elinor Foster."
Her distinctive English accent took him aback for a moment.
"Miss Foster. Would you like to get a robe or something?"
"What I'd like is to get everyone out of my home and then someone explain to me exactly what the hell is going on here," she snapped in a moment of bravado before she looked around again, her voice faltering at the sight. "Besides, I don't think I'd find one now."
Taking off his NYPD jacket and offering it to her, Don saw the surprised that registered in her eyes. Brown eyes, he noted. Large, soft, dark brown eyes. She took it gratefully and slipped it on as she winced and clenched her hand.
"Would you like a medic to take a look at that?" he asked gently.
"No. Thank you. It'll be fine. If I could go to the kitchen I can take care of it myself." She answered in flat, even tones and didn't make eye contact.
Don nodded. As she went he cast his eye around the room. Classical music playing, a book, one mug of a now spilled drink, fresh flowers, personal photographs, soft furnishings, the art on the walls, hell even the colour scheme. This wasn't the home, even temporarily, of a drug dealer from Parks' background. He was overt, brash and a control freak. He tastelessly flaunted his wealth. The muted colours and feminine feel of this place was just out of place, pure and simple. Caplin had got this so wrong.
"Flack, what do you think you're doing? You can't let her just wander off like that, she could be destroying evidence. I don't know how you boys in Homicide roll, but here we keep suspects contained." Caplin all but roared at Don.
Don had had enough.
"What evidence? Tell me, cos I really want to know. What damn evidence? Look around this place. Nothing here is Parks' style, especially not the girl. He doesn't go for upmarket white girls. Man face it, this has just gone bad. I'm going to go talk to the girl."
"The hell you will Flack." Caplin called out to one of his officers to bring Elinor back. "I'm not letting you interview her alone. And where's the damned CSI?"
Don just shook his head in a mixture of frustration and disbelief.
Elinor came back into what had been her neat, comfortable sitting room. An officer had told her that Detective Caplin wanted to speak to her and she was disturbed to see Blue Eyes wasn't there. He'd been the only one to have been reasonable and civilized to her. The shock was wearing down now and she was just plain angry.
Caplin started on her almost the second she came back into the room.
"So tell me about your boyfriend Parks," he demanded.
"I have told you already, I don't know anyone called Parks," replied Elinor wearily.
Caplin moved aggressively towards her, causing her to instinctively step back, fear once again crossing her face. His voice was barely a whisper, menace dripping from it.
"Listen lady, I've got it on good authority that Parks has been using this place on and off for the past year and want that bastard. I want to know where he is and I want to know now. I am very pissed off so I suggest you make this easy on yourself and tell me what I need to know before I haul you in on an obstruction of justice charge."
Something in his attitude made her hackles rise. Elinor mustered every bit of dignity she could before answering, her accent becoming very clipped and dripping in superiority.
"I am sorry you are not having a good night but I say again, I have absolutely no idea who you are talking about. I do not know and have never known anyone by that name, I only arrived to live in New York five months ago."
Caplin hissed as he reached for the cuffs on his belt.
"Okay lady, if that's the way you want to play it. Turn around. We'll continue this downtown."
"Elinor? What happened here? Are you alright?"
Caplin was momentarily put off as CSI Monroe dropped her silver case and went to envelop the woman in front of him in a huge hug.
"I'm fine Lindsay, thanks. They think I'm involved with some man called Parks that I've never heard of. Look what they've done to my place?"
Lindsay surveyed the scene around her with shock before looking up at Caplin with murderous eyes.
"You know this woman then Monroe?"
Before Lindsay could answer, Flack returned. Looking with barely concealed disgust at Caplin, he spoke softly to Elinor.
"Miss Foster. On behalf of the New York City Police Department I would like to offer my deepest apologies for the mistake that has been made tonight and the upset it has caused you. It would appear that several errors have been made including the actual address of the property we needed to raid," he said looking pointedly at an enraged Caplin. "I have also been asked to escort you to a hotel where you will stay, courtesy of the NYPD, until we can secure and clean up your apartment."
It was clearly straight out of the NYPD playbook but it was said with sincerity and Elinor was just relieved to not be going to jail in her pyjamas.
Turning away from her he called to all the officers to leave immediately aside from one uniform that was to stay until the apartment was temporarily secured. Once all the officers were gone, Lindsay gently led Elinor to her bedroom to pack a bag.
Soon as they were gone Caplin unleashed his rage on Don.
"What the hell Flack? Where do you get off releasing this woman and calling off my bust? Just because Parks isn't here doesn't mean she isn't his piece of ass."
"I'll tell you where I get off - when you actually check your facts! Fact, the woman really is Elinor Foster, from the UK, who's lived here five months. Fact, this apartment? It's registered to Judge Lorrimer. You know him? The Supreme Court Judge. Unlikely to loan his place to a low life drugs dealer don't you think? Fact, you got the wrong damned address! Fact, you just opened the department up to a huge lawsuit. Fact, Parks left the country two days ago on a flight to Mexico. Fact, you SCREWED UP! All you had to do was run a few simple checks, but no, you had to go for the glory and now you're up to your neck in crap of your own making."
Don watched as Caplin desperately tried to make sense of it all. Judge Lorrimer? Wrong address? Mexico? This was damned nightmare. As he was still trying to process this new information the cell phone on his hip rang. Don couldn't help but smile as he heard Caplin's boss, a tough Hispanic called Camarda, chewing him out over the phone. He sounded really pissed even from this distance. Caplin snapped his phone shut and looked at Don as though he wanted to punch him.
"Boss wants me back at the station asap. You got this?" he bit out.
Don sighed. "Oh yeah, I got it."
Don made some calls while waiting for Lindsay and Elinor to emerge from the bedroom. Lindsay came out first.
"How's she doing?" he asked quietly.
"She's really shaken up Don. What he hell happened?"
"Long story. Short version is that Caplin screwed up and your friend there got the ass end of it. How'd you know her anyway?"
"The dance class I go to? Elinor's the teacher. She's a really great girl Don. She'd never be involved with a guy like Parks," Lindsay said defensively.
"No-one's suggesting she is Linds. Anwyay, I've booked her into a nice hotel for the next three nights while we get the door fixed and a clean up crew in here."
"Actually, I'd rather do it myself, if you don't mind." Elinor's voice was still a bit shaky.
As Don and Lindsay turned towards her, Don was mesmerised. This woman was beautiful. He didn't know why he hadn't seen it before – or maybe he had. Recovering quickly, he found his voice.
"It's no problem, Miss Foster. We'll be very respectful of your things and it's the least the Department can do," replied Don.
"Thank you detective, but I think I've had enough of my personal belongings being rifled through. If you could replace the door and the security on it, I'd be grateful. I just want to put this behind me and get on with my life."
"I understand. Well, if you're ready, I'll take you to your hotel."
Immediately he saw the look of panic in those gorgeous eyes but it was Lindsay who spoke.
"Elinor will be staying with me and Danny tonight Don. I don't think she wants to be alone and it's just for one night."
"Fine, back to your place it is then, but I'm going to need a statement from you about all this Miss Foster. Would tomorrow be okay?"
Elinor nodded and with that she and Lindsay were gone.
Before knocking off for the evening, Don went back to Elinor Foster's apartment to collect the keys for the large padlock that had been hastily fitted. Whilst the guy finished what he was doing, Don went through the apartment to make sure everything was secure inside as well as to survey the damage. Damn, the place was a mess. He scanned the rooms taking a more careful note of things this time. Here were the personal photos; an older couple, probably parents, then a much older couple, grandparents he assumed, a few with friends. Then he noticed a picture with Elinor in the arms of good looking guy. Boyfriend? Brother maybe? As he looked around the bedroom at the tossed clothes, he couldn't help his professional eye. Something was off. Not in a bad way, just … off. He couldn't quite put his finger on it and that was something that didn't sit easy with Don Flack.