Author's Notes: Okay, so this isn't an update on the other stories but it's where my head when after watching "Brooklyn Til I Die." At the time I started to write this, no other post-eps had been posted so I hope it doesn't tread too close to anyone else's take. If so, my apologies. I hope you enjoy it.
Disclaimer: CSI: NY and its characters belong to CBS and its respective creators/authors. I am merely borrowing them for the entertainment of myself and other readers. The events and details of this story are my own creation and should not be used in other's people's stories without my express written consent.
Lucy Messer was growing up too fast. Lindsay was as sure of that fact as she was of the knowledge that she loved her husband and daughter more than life itself. It seemed like only yesterday that she'd brought the small bundle of the fruits of hers and Danny's love home from the hospital. She'd been in such awe of newborn Lucy and also completely head over heels impossibly in love with her daughter. She could sit for hours just sitting in the rocking chair holding her daughter, caressing the infant's cheek or hands, or toes, or whatever other soft skin she could touch, marveling at how Lucy was such a perfect blend of both Lindsay and Danny. How had they managed to infuse all their best features in such a perfect creation?
In the weeks that followed Danny's shooting - those days when as much as she wanted to believe in the best but wasn't sure her husband would walk again - rocking her daughter had been her saving grace. With infant Lucy in her arms, the world didn't seem quite so scary. Besides, Lucy was totally dependent upon her for everything and Lindsay couldn't let her daughter down. So, when things got too hard to handle, she'd escape to the nursery to nurse or otherwise care for her daughter. She'd end up in the rocking chair with Lucy nestled securely in her arms and allow herself to get lost in her daughter's eyes and dreams of the future the way Lindsay felt it should be.
Now almost three years had past. As much as it pained Lindsay to admit, Lucy was no longer a baby but a toddler, a miniature version of the little girl and then woman she'd one day become. She was still Lindsay's touchstone - her oasis when times got difficult - but finding times to indulge in cuddles and dreams didn't come as easily any more. While Lucy was still dependent on her parents for the big things, she was quickly inserting her independence wherever she could. Lindsay tried to blame her daughter's new found stubbornness on Danny's genes to which her husband had merely snorted and replied "Whatever."
Lucy insisted on trying to do everything herself. The first battle over independence had come over dressing herself. She didn't want anyone to help her pick out her clothes or help her don whatever she chose to wear. It was a battle that Lindsay decided wasn't worth fighting so she'd simply spent a whole day off organizing Lucy's closets so that whole matching outfits hung on the same hanger. She agreed to allow Lucy to pick what she wanted to wear with the stipulation that she could only pick one hanger and had to wear the whole outfit. It was the first of what promised to be many mother-daughter compromises.
For the most part both Danny and Lindsay wanted to foster Lucy's growing independence because they both wanted their daughter to grow up strong and determined. For Danny, the hardest part was sitting by and watching Lucy as she insisted on trying to do for herself something he knew she'd eventually need help with. He hated to see the defeated, frustrated look on her face when she'd finally have to give in and allow someone to help her. For Lindsay, the hardest part had come when Lucy had decided she no longer needed rocking at night to go to sleep. The two-and-a-half year old still wanted one or both parents to tuck her into bed with stories and hugs and kisses, but no longer wanted to crawl into either lap in the rocking chair in her room for extended cuddle time before falling asleep. The first night Lucy had shunned Lindsay's attempt to rock her to sleep, Lindsay had retreated to her own bed and cried for four solid hours. Even though the rational side of her knew better, she had felt rejected by her own daughter for the first time in their short history together. Danny had tried to reassure her that this was a good thing because it meant Lucy was growing up and felt secure in her own home, something they weren't sure any of them could feel after Shane Casey had threatened them all in their old apartment. After all, they couldn't expect to rock Lucy to sleep forever could they? Still, Lindsay had mourned those sweet times of watching her daughter slip off to sleep knowing that she'd provided that safe environment for Lucy to do just that.
Now the only time Lucy would consent, no more like demanded, to be rocked to sleep was when she wasn't feeling good. It was a catch-22 situation. Lindsay never wanted her daughter to feel unwell but at the same time savored those moments when she could return to those long ago days of rocking her daughter to sleep.
A cough and small groan pulled Lindsay from her thoughts and made her look down at a drowsy Lucy. The young mother had come home from a terrible day at work wanting nothing more than to crush her daughter to her chest and never release her. She'd resigned herself on the drive home that she'd have to settle for hugs and kisses instead of that long slow surrendering to sleep cuddles she desperately needed only to find that Lucy had fallen victim to the cold bug that had been running rampant at the preschool the last couple of weeks. Lucy wasn't truly sick, just a little under the weather. But still it was enough so that at bedtime it was Lucy who had stubbornly insisted on pulling Lindsay to the toddler's room to the rocking chair before climbing into her mother's willing arms and welcoming lap.
Lindsay had soothingly rubbed the Vicks on Lucy's chest to help with the slight congestion, knowing the touch of her hand would do just as much good as the medicated rub would. Lucy hadn't wanted Lindsay to tell her a story, still independent enough to want to be the one telling the story instead of listening. So, Lindsay had listened as her daughter babbled on, not really understanding the plot but loving the sound of Lucy's voice as she told it like it was the next Pulitzer Prize winning novel, and allowed the day's stress to slowly ebb away. Lindsay had absently checked Lucy over from head to toe to further convince herself that nothing had really changed about her daughter in the time that had passed since the last time she'd been graced with this rare opportunity to snuggle. She paid careful attention to Lucy's hands, obstinately counting and recounting that there were four fingers and two thumbs on each hand.
Her story completed and her eyes half closed, Lucy reached one of those chubby, perfectly intact hands up to pat Lindsay's cheek as the other hand curled inward with only a thumb extended poised to go in her mouth. The toddler smiled. "My mommy."
Lindsay's eyes watered but she willed the tears to stay unshed as she smiled back at Lucy. She tenderly ran her own fingers over Lucy's still baby-soft cheeks. "My Lucy. I love you to pieces, you know that don't you? Mommy will always be here and will never willingly allow anything bad to happen to you. I'd give my right arm if you needed it."
"S'ly Mommy. Oo need oo arm. I's aw'wedy gots two." Lucy puckered her lips for a kiss but was too tired to move her head from its comfortable perch right over Lindsay's heart so Lindsay bent down to oblige her daughter, breathing in the sweet smell of baby powder and Vicks as she did. As Lindsay lifted her head again, Lucy smiled at her and plucked her thumb into her mouth, sleep just seconds away. "Lucy loves Mommy."
Then Lucy surrendered to sleep. Lindsay continued to rock her sleeping daughter, loathe to put her to bed and leave the room, needing instead the comfortable weight of her daughter in her arms. Now though the tears that had abided by her wishes to remain unshed now flowed freely down her cheeks unnoticed by both mother and sleeping child. Lindsay was lost in a world that had shrunk to just her and Lucy for the longest time until a warm, slightly rough hand brushed a few tears away. She blinked and looked to her right into the concerned blue eyes of her husband. She hadn't even heard him come in and kneel beside the rocker.
Danny pressed his own kiss to Lucy's golden curls before looking back up at his crying wife. "She's okay, you know. No fever, just a little cough and congestion. She'll probably be back to her usual beautiful stubborn, independent self again by tomorrow. Nothing to worry about."
"I know." Lindsay squeaked out as the quiet tears threatened to turn to full out sobs. Growing more and more concerned about Lindsay, Danny tried to ease the sleeping child from her mother's arms to put her to bed but Lindsay tightened her hold. "Please, I just want to hold her a little longer."
"Linds, Babe. Something's got you all choked up. Do you really want Luce to wake up and see you this upset? It'll scare her." Danny hated seeing Lindsay cry. It happened so infrequently that Danny knew something major was going on in her head and he wanted to make it better. He couldn't really do that while they were all sitting in Lucy's bedroom with a sleeping toddler between them. He hoped Lindsay would listen to reason.
If anything, Lindsay's control slipped further and her arms tightened unconsciously around Lucy, drawing her closer to her bosom. "I'm okay. Just a few more minutes. Please." It was the pleading tone to her last word that did Danny in.
He shifted so that he was sitting on his rear end instead of his legs. He rested his chin on Lindsay's legs, looking up into her face. He covered one of her hands with his larger one. He'd give her the few minutes she'd requested but there was no way he was leaving her alone when she was this upset.
Lindsay ceased the rocking of the chair so she wouldn't accidentally hurt Danny so the small family sat almost in tableau for the longest time, the only sounds filling the room were Lindsay's sniffling and the occasional cough from a sleeping Lucy. Finally after about ten minutes, Danny broke the near silence. "Linds?" He whispered, asking permission to put Lucy to bed.
"Do you ever worry?" Lindsay's voice was equally quiet but full of misery. With a sigh, Danny stood and ignored his wife's protests as he shifted Lucy to his own arms. The small child didn't so much as stir as he eased her into her own bed and pulled the covers up to her chin. He made sure her favorite teddy bear was tucked into her arms and kissed her cool forehead. Satisfied that the move hadn't fazed his daughter in the slightest, he turned toward Lindsay who was still sitting in the rocker looking bereft.
Danny crossed back to her and lifted her in his arms as well, cradling her to his chest much the way she'd been holding Lucy until he had taken the child from her. She burrowed her head in his chest, almost instantly soaking his shirt with her tears. He carried her slight frame easily to their bedroom not releasing his hold on her even as he sank into their bed. He held her tight against him hoping to bring her comfort as she cried the loud scary tears she'd been holding back for Lucy's sake.
When at least the flood seemed to stem just a little, he used one hand to lift her head ever so slightly. "Do I ever worry? About you and Lucy? All the freakin' time, tonight maybe more than usual. What's wrong, Babe? I know this isn't about her cold; you don't get this upset about something so small. Did something happen today that I don't know about? Mac told me how you were all kick ass with the mom during the Seville rescue but he didn't suggest that anything bad went down. You interviewed Seville later; did he say something to upset you?"
Lindsay, even through her tears, could hear the protectiveness come out in Danny's voice and knew he was ready to do battle at a moment's word from her as to who or what was to blame for her current upset. "Preston Seville was once just as small and innocent as Lucy is now. Surely at some point his father put him to bed just as tenderly as you just did Lucy. Didn't he ever look at his son's sleeping face and dream about what his future would be? Did he ever press his son's tiny hand against his own and marvel over how perfect and small it was compared to his own? Didn't he?"
Danny shifted her closer to him once more, understanding her sudden distress. She'd always taken cases to heart, wanting to know the why behind people's actions. Sometimes he worried that she cared too much but it was also a trait that made him first fall in love with her. He knew people believed he was passionate about his job and he was when it came to the science of proving someone's guilt or innocence; a passion for justice. She was just as passionate about the science - it was one of the things that made her endless and sometimes humiliating reconstructions so endearing - but she was also passionate about people whose lives had been touched by crime. He knew it stemmed from her own experiences as being a victim of crime. Usually she was able to put that passion in proper prospective but there were times, like apparently today, that it hit too close to home for her to put a case aside after its completion.
"I don't know, Babe." He answered honestly. "I have a hard time seeing how anyone could look at one of God's perfect miracles and not humbled and full of awe. But in our line of work we know there are some people out there that aren't. Whether Seville, Sr. once worshiped the ground his son walked on and just got disenchanted later in life or never wanted to be the father he should have been, I don't know. Who knows, maybe in some way he still cares about what happens to Preston but he just doesn't show it the way we would expect. Either way, there's nothing you can do to change what happened"
Lindsay continued almost as if Danny hadn't said anything. "He stared at his son's finger; he knew Preston was in grave danger but he was more worried about proving a point to the kidnappers than he was about protecting his son. His money was worth more to him than his son's safety. I don't understand that."
"Neither do I, Babe. But even if Seville, Sr. isn't a candidate for Father of the Year, it's okay now. Preston is safe and once his hand heals he'll be just fine." He tenderly cupped her chin to make her look up at him. "You played a big part of that outcome, don't forget. You made the connection that lead us to the Williams' apartment."
Her arms wrapped around his broad, strong chest, needing his closeness in the absence of Lucy's. She appreciated his attempts to make her feel better but this was about something bigger than mere safety. "Physically, sure he'll be fine but what about mentally? He knew, Danny; he knew that his dad would never willingly turn over the money. He'd seen his girlfriend killed, had his finger cut from his body while he was awake to experience the pain, knew they would kill him if they didn't get what they wanted and he KNEW his father wouldn't pay the ransom. Scared that he was going to die because his father wouldn't play by the kidnapper's rules, he told them how to get money from his father. Said he knew the only way they would get the money was if there was a gun on his dad's head."
Danny pulled her closer; he hadn't heard that part of the story but it didn't surprise him. "I doubt they'll hold him responsible for that. His life was in danger and he was doing what he felt he had to do in order to save his own life. Who can blame him?"
"But for a child to feel that way to start with? It makes me sick, Danny. He was doing that whole game as an attempt to be someone other than Preston Seville, Jr."
"What's this really about?" Danny pressed softly. "I know something like this would be something that would get to you but I'm thinking there's more involved than you just worrying about what's going to happen to the Seville family dynamics. Talk to me, Babe, help me understand."
Lindsay hiccupped slightly. "What if the same thing someday happens to Lucy? Right now she's our sweet little angel but what if we mess up so much that she doesn't trust us to have her back. What if she'd rather be Boris Badenov instead of Lucy Messer?"
"To be fair, I'd think she'd be more likely to be Natasha Fatale instead of Boris, although the more I think about it, she'd never choose either of the bad guys. She'd go with Dora the Explorer more than anything else."
She stiffened in his arms and pulled back slightly. "Danny, I'm being serious here."
Danny cupped her face and kissed her softly even though she didn't respond to his touch. "So am I, Linds. Come on, Babe, aren't you the one always telling me you can't borrow trouble? Right now it seems to me you're taking out a pretty big loan on trouble with this thinking. Lucy's barely three and as independent as she is she still worships the ground we walk on. You can't look at what happened today and assume anything remotely close is going to happen with Lucy. I won't let you do that any more than you have ever let me look at my past track record and assume it mean's I'm not cut out to be a good husband or father. Sure, we're probably going to make mistakes as she grows up. What parent hasn't? But even though there may be times she thinks she hates us, deep down she's always going to know she's loved. God forbid something like today ever happens to her but if it should, she's not going to feel like she has to make the same choices Preston felt like he had to make. Instead, she's going to be warning her kidnappers how her superhero parents are going to kicked their tail ends - see, I'm even assuming she's not going to even think about using foul language here - to the ends of the world. So don't worry about it, okay?"
Once again he brushed away the tears that coursed her cheeks with the pads of his thumbs. He could tell his words were starting to sink in but that she wasn't quite there yet. Not sure if an attempt at levity would meet with success or colossal failure, he continued. "Besides, you don't have to worry about any of that with Lucy. You know why?" She shook her head, staring at his face in an attempt to bring her emotions under control.
"Because remember, as soon as Lucy hits her teenage years, the minute you even had to start thinking about buying her her first training bra, I'm locking her in her room and I'm not going to let her out until she reaches at least thirty. So even if she wants to change her name and become someone knew, she's not going to be able to do anything about it."
It had been his standard threat since even before he'd known that Lindsay was carrying a girl. This was usually the point where Lindsay would lightly hit him in the chest and tell him there was no way she was letting him carry out his threat. He waited for her to do the same now; it would tell him he'd successful shaken her from her morose thoughts. Instead, she chewed on her lower lip.
Danny sighed pulling her close to his body once more. She wasn't there yet but he had no doubt that after a good night's sleep, she'd bounce back from this. She just needed time to process her thoughts and work through them. He trusted that she'd be able to do so. In the meantime, he'd keep her grounded in reality until she got there on her own. He twisted on the bed so that he could easily transfer Lindsay from his lap to her side of the bed. Then he stood after kissing her softly.
She looked at him confused. "Where are you going?"
"I'm going to bring Lucy in here to sleep with us tonight."
Lindsay's expression relaxed but she still gave him a questioning look. "I thought we said we weren't going to let her get used to sleeping with us when she was sick and stuff."
He leaned over and kissed her once more. "One time won't hurt. She's was so deep asleep she'll probably never know the difference. Besides this isn't for her sake but for yours. A good night of cuddles from both your daughter and your husband sounds like just what you need."
As he started to pull away, Lindsay reached out and grabbed his hand giving it a squeeze. "Thanks. I love you."
He smiled back at her and gave her a wink. "I love you too."