Author's Notes: So, I'm throwing my hat in the ring for a post-ep for Means to an End. Something that I believe should have happened after the end of the episode but we'll probably never see. I hope you enjoy it.

Disclaimer: CBS, Anthony E. Zuiker, Carol Mendelsohn, and Ann Donahue own all rights to the characters and premise of the show. I am making no money off this story and it is for entertainment purposes only. However, this particular story is my creation and should not be used without my express written permission.

Coming to Terms

Jo Danville sat in the small interrogation room and longed to be anywhere else. The entire week had been stressful but this day had been the absolute worst. Her entire body protested even the smallest movement. Every ache reminded her of the hell John Curtis had put her through in Amanda Tanner's apartment. The paramedic who had placed butterfly bandages over the worst of the cuts on her face had recommended that she go to the hospital to be checked out by a doctor but she'd refused. Mac stopped short of ordering her to go; apparently realizing he was fighting a losing battle. Now as she set in the room being interviewed by IAB, she wondered if she should have given in to their urgings.

Just answer his questions so you can get out of here. She told herself wearily. Back before she left DC, some of her friends had given her a going away party and had presented her with a bottle of Southern Comfort- a tongue-in-cheek homage to her Southern roots. The bottle had remained unopened, tucked away in a cabinet. If there was ever a day that would be fitting the opening of the bottle, today was that day. She'd talked to Ellie and Tyler both before IAB had whisked her away and had assured them she was okay and had encouraged them to keep the plans both her kids had already made. Tyler was off doing his normal college activities and Ellie was supposed to go to a movie with a friend. So no one would be home when she arrived. No one would mind if she kicked back a drink or two to unwind.

"Detective Danville, you have to understand my concern with this matter." Lt. Addler frowned as he made a few notes on the file in front of him. "I can't fathom for the live of me why Detective Taylor allowed you to even get close to this case."

Jo matched his frown with one of her own. She was prepared to answer questions about her own actions; it was standard procedure after an officer-involved shooting. However, hearing anything negative about Mac was another thing entirely. "Detective Taylor advised me to tread carefully. My role was to simply re-evaluate the DC rapes to see if there was something we'd overlooked that could help us with this one. Even that I did not do alone."

"And yet, you ended up facing John Curtis alone. That doesn't sound like just looking over past cases."

If she buried her head in her arms against the headache that had quickly asserted itself, would it help her case or hurt it? Instead her eyes narrowed slightly as she tried to get a read on the internal affairs officer. "We came across evidence that gave us an idea of how Curtis was choosing his victims. It helped us determine potential victims here in New York. One came forward."

"Considering your personal interest in the case, did it even occur to you that you should have allowed someone else to interview this potential victim? Someone less emotionally involved?"

Jo straightened up in her chair, hiding the wince that wanted to cross her features as a fresh wave of pain rolled over her. "Yes, it did. I could have turned her over to either Detective Flack or Detective Messer but she'd been traumatized; it was hard enough to get her to open up to me. I decided it was better for me to handle the interview than put her through the emotional stress of having to relieve her worst moments with a male office. I won't apologize for putting her emotional well-being first."

"What about Detective Lindsay Messer? Surely it wouldn't have upset the witness too much to talk to another female officer." Addler didn't seem prepared to give her an inch.

"Lindsay was at the lab. She'd been working a murder case related to the John Curtis rape case. I could have called her in and she would have willingly dropped what she was doing to come complete the interview. But I couldn't guarantee that Amanda would wait long enough for me to call Lindsay in. All I planned to do was take her initial statement; then I was going to turn it over to a different detective. Then Amanda told me she had evidence at her apartment; evidence that could positively identify her attacker. I didn't see the harm in accompanying her to her apartment to collect it."

"Except that John Curtis was there waiting for you."

"He would have been there regardless of who would have went with Amanda to collect the evidence." Jo argued, tired and ready to go home. Perhaps she should have insisted on waiting the twenty four hours before answering IAB's questions. She was sure that she'd passed her emotional and physical limits much earlier. "John Curtis was determined to destroy any evidence that could irrefutably link him to a crime. Regardless of who had gone with Amanda; you'd still be sitting here investigating an officer-involved shooting."

"Maybe, but I would feel much more comfortable if I were having this conversation with any other officer. But maybe after what happened in the preliminary hearing, you didn't think Detective Monroe-Messer was capable of handling the job."

Once again Jo's eyes narrowed. "Lindsay testified to the evidence as it had been presented, without bias. I don't think even Mac Taylor is as thorough when it comes to tests as Lindsay is. We can only speak for the evidence and unfortunately we can't force it to always say what we want it to. You have no idea how hard it was for Lindsay to sit on that stand and tell the truth, knowing what it could mean to the case. But it never would have occurred to Lindsay to lie; it's not who she is. However I am glad that it wasn't Lindsay who accompanied Amanda Tanner to that apartment."

Addler's face was expressionless. "So you don't think she would have been capable of handling John Curtis?"

Jo shook her head; this time she did rub her eyes wearily. "She may be petite but she packs a hell of a wallop. I'm glad she wasn't there because it was a kill or be killed situation and I wouldn't want any friend of mine to be in that situation. Look at my face; John Curtis did this to me and he would have done much worse if I hadn't stopped him. Are you really going to sit there and question my actions in this shooting? Are you insinuating that it wasn't a clean shoot?"

"I do have some concerns. You have to see it from where I'm sitting. This is a man you'd already seen get away with his crimes and was on his way to getting away with another. Him dying was one way to make sure he didn't rape any more women."

Yep, that bottle of Southern Comfort was definitely calling her name. She cocked her head slightly to one side and stared at him in disbelief. "Are you suggesting that I set all this up just so I could kill Curtis?" She reached down to her waistband and pulled her shield off. She let it hit the table with a thud before giving it a little shove toward Addler. "If that's what you think then you should take my badge right now."

"Detective Danville…"

Jo shook her head. "No, I'm not sorry Curtis is dead but I am sorry he didn't have to answer for his crimes. His victims deserved better. I was lying there and I could see Amanda lying there but I didn't know if she was unconscious or dead. He had beaten the ever living snot out of me and then proceeded to unload my clip bullet by bullet as he taunted me. If I hadn't realized he hadn't thought about the bullet in the chamber then I would be the one dead right now."

Addler pushed the badge back toward her. "Go home, Detective Danville. I don't have any more questions for today. We'll let you know our ruling as soon as possible. Our office will set up your first session with the department shrink."

After he stood and left the interrogation room, Jo continued to sit there for several more minutes. Finally the need to go home was greater than her anger at his accusation and she stood to leave. She was surprised as she stepped out into the hall to see Lindsay standing there. The younger woman smiled sympathetically at her.

"Mac said you looked rough; I should have known it was classic Mac Taylor understatement. Are you okay?"

Jo shrugged. "Nothing that won't heal. I'm surprised that Mac isn't here."

"He was until about ten minutes ago. He got called to a crime scene that has potential to be high profile. I promised him that I would make sure you got home okay." Lindsay gave a nod toward the room Jo just left. "I can imagine that was just a barrel of monkeys good time. I know they have a job to do but I think Addler takes some kind of perverse pleasure in doing it."

For the first time all day, a hint of a smile crossed Jo's face. "I think you are right. I appreciate you sticking around but I'm okay to get home. I'm sure you want to get home to Danny and Lucy…"

Lindsay shook her head. "My husband and daughter are enjoying an evening out together. I'm free for the next little bit and I have the keys to an Avalanche. Are you ready to go home or would you like to stop at Sullivan's for a drink first? You look like you could use a Jack and Coke, heavy on the Jack and easy on the Coke."

Maybe she wouldn't have to open that bottle of Southern Comfort just yet after all. The two woman headed out of the precinct and toward the truck. "That sounds great. But if you are driving…."

"I'll have a virgin Jack and Coke."

Once they were heading toward Sullivan's, Jo looked over at Lindsay. "So what are Danny and Lucy up to that gets you a night free?"

"The community theater near Danny's parents is having a puppet show tonight." Lindsay explained but didn't elaborate. Not long after returning to the lab, Danny had read something about establishing regular date nights with the women in your life. So, he decided it was worth giving it a try. A few weeks ago, he'd dressed up and taken his mother out to dinner during one of his father's poker nights. Then last week, he'd taken Lindsay dancing. Now it was Lucy's turn to have a date with her father. Lindsay thought it was very sweet and spoke volumes about the man Danny had always doubted he could be. Still, she kept quiet; she didn't want anyone at work teasing him about it. She knew that Jo wouldn't do such a thing but if the story got out; someone else might.

"He's such a good father. Russ would do things with Tyler but it was usually things he wanted to do and he just expected Tyler to tag along and have a good time regardless."

They didn't say much more until they reached Sullivan's and took their ordered drinks to a table in the corner. As Jo sipped her drink, she thought back to her conversation with Addler. "I think IAB is ready to crucify me over the shooting. They are making me see the department psychologist."

Lindsay nodded. After the incident with Shane Casey, she was well versed in IAB procedures. "Get ready for five months of sessions."

"Five months? Are you kidding me? That's a bit extreme, don't you think?"

Lindsay shrugged. "As it was explained to me, when there's a shooting that was more personal than business, they want to make completely sure it's not going to spill over into the workplace. It's excessive if you ask me; but they insist. Jo, IAB is going to clear you in this; they don't have a choice. You did what you had to do."

Toying with the napkin under her drink, Jo wouldn't meet Lindsay's gaze. "This case was personal for me, Lindsay; there's no question about that. I had to make sure Curtis paid for what he did to Serena and to all those other girls who were too scared to come forward. Mac warned me that I should let it go and let you and the others take care of things but I couldn't do it. I had to see it through to the end."

"Don't beat yourself up for being human, Jo. We all have cases that get under our skin. You aren't the first and you won't be the last. Maybe you skirted the line of being too emotionally involved but you did it because you wanted to see justice done. Your methods might not have been perfect but your motives can't be faulted."

Jo shook her head, not ready to be let off the hook so completely. "Still I'm not sure I like the person I've seen looking back at me in the mirror the last few days. I treated you badly and I never apologized for that; not even after you extended an olive branch and offered an apology first. There's no excuse for that."

Lindsay sighed. She hadn't planned on getting onto this subject tonight. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt. I felt like you were questioning my ability to do my job and that wasn't fair." She knew it had been a rough day for the older woman but Lindsay also knew that Jo wanted honesty. "At the same time though, I knew where you were coming from. We've all been guilty of letting our emotions overrule our good sense at times. And when that happens we say things we normally wouldn't say without regard to the consequences. But we are teammates and friends; we have to support each other when things get rough. If that means getting my feelings hurt while you deal with the pain of having your worst case come back into your life like a slap in the face, then I'm big enough to take it."

Jo finished off her drink, recognizing that her body was going to shut down soon and it would be better if she were home when it did. Before they left the bar, she chewed on her lower lip. "Are we okay?"

Lindsay nodded as they stood to leave. "We will be. How about I get you home before you fall asleep on the drive to your apartment?"

Jo nodded. "Sounds like a plan."