Disclaimer: The characters of CSI: NY do not belong to me however this story is of my own and should only be used after permission has been asked and given. No copyright infringement intended and no profit is being made.
Summary: Post Ep Stealing Home. Early DL. "Why'd you do it James? Why Sara?"
Notes: This has quite possibly been a year and a half in the making. I started writing what now became the middle section a long time ago and it was placed on the back burner but Friday's episode brought it back and then I was listening to Please Don't Go by Barcelona and the mood of the song just brought everything out. Friday's episode – oh my. Thank you for giving me the inspiration to finish this. One swear - possibly two, but no biggies like the C-word.
All those arrows you threw, you threw them away; You kept falling in love, and then one day; When you fell, you fell towards me; When you crashed through the clouds; you found me.
Please Don't Go, Barcelona.
It had started to rain a half hour ago. Not that she minded. To her, the rain had always felt good, natural even. Whilst the New Yorkers turned up their collars, bowed their heads against the wind and quickened their stride, she found her pace slowing as she embraced the light spring rain; welcoming its calming effect. Walking in the rain was like detox; cleansing both her mind and body whenever things were tough and right now, things were possibly at their roughest since moving to New York.
Sara Butler, the wannabe singer from Montana was dead and all that remained was a fading memory of a beautiful mermaid at a young girl's birthday party.
She reached her block and turned into it, finally heading to her apartment. Her dream of living in Manhattan had been quickly dashed when she'd worked out the price of rent and so she'd settled on a complex in Queens. The apartments were cheap and rundown but she'd done her best to make it home, although tonight she doubted that it would give her much comfort.
She reached the main door of the complex and paused when she saw a familiar man sat on the stoop, sheltered from the rain by the awning and apparently waiting for her.
"Hey." Danny Messer stood, his expression soft with concern.
"You're soaking." He held an arm out, gesturing for her to come beneath the shelter.
Lindsay Monroe gave a shrug as she slowly moved up the steps towards him. "I was taking a rain walk."
"A… never mind," she sighed. She joined him on the top step and looked up into his face. Her expression was etched with confusion. "What are you doing here?"
She hadn't meant for her tone to sound so unwelcoming but she was too tired and weary to go back and apologise. He didn't seem to mind, instead shrugging in his usual easy way.
"I wanted to check that you were a'right."
"I'm fine. It's over. We got him." She knew that she was beginning to sound petulant.
"You don't gotta do that on my account," he told her.
Lindsay frowned. "Do what?"
"Pretend everything's a'right when it isn't."
"You think Danny calls me Montana because I'm a 49ers fan?"
"He calls you that because he has a crush on you."
She chewed on her bottom lip and inhaled slowly through her nose, willing the rising emotions to retreat. "It's cold," she finally said. "We shouldn't be stood out here."
She didn't know whether it had been an invitation or a brush off, but when she pushed her key into the lock and Danny rested a hand in the small of her back, it was clear he wasn't intending on leaving anytime soon. They made their way to her apartment, taking the stairs because the elevator was never going to be fixed and walked down the dingy halls.
"Jeez Montana, you don't get rats in this hellhole you call a home?"
It was a long-running joke, one that would usually get a rise out of her and witty comeback however tonight she merely smiled, the strain peering through the cracks of her mask. They eventually reached her apartment and she let them in, kicking off her shoes and neatly lining them up with the rest. Danny shut the door as she retreated into her apartment, calling "shoes!" over her shoulder as she went. He grinned to himself, glad to see that some of the usual Montana was still there.
Shoeless and jacketless, he walked into her living room and dropped down on to the couch, making himself comfortable. He assumed she'd gone to change out of her wet and cold clothes and so he waited in silence, for once not turning the television on to the latest sporting event. Lindsay's standoffish behaviour told him more than words could; she was struggling with this case and he couldn't say he blamed her. Sometimes cases hit them harder than others, triggered something within them which meant they couldn't simply compartmentalise their feelings and move on as usual. It had happened to all of them, including Mac, and if the most stoic Detective of the NYPD could be rattled then so could the rest of them.
She returned then, dressed in long pyjamas bottoms and a sweater with her wet hair scraped back and a bottle of chilled beer in each hand. Passing him one of the bottles, Lindsay dropped lightly on to the couch and tucked her feet beneath her. They sipped the alcohol in silence, Lindsay staring contemplatively ahead and Danny casting her sidelong glances.
"Stop it," she eventually sighed.
"Stop what?" he asked, his voice too innocent even for his own ears.
"Stop looking at me like that! It's as though you're expecting me to break down at any moment, as though you want some big fall out because it's the normal thing to do! I'm sick of people waiting for it to happen."
"What people?" he scoffed, confusedly. "When have we ever waited for you to break down?"
"What you think I haven't seen blood like that before?"
"I don't know to tell you the truth, have you?"
"Yes. And a lot worse than that."
She knew he was thinking about the team and it wasn't fair of her to bring things up that he didn't know about, things that she wasn't even ready to talk about. But she wasn't willing to let this go yet, she was angry and confused and suddenly Danny was the easiest target in the world.
"You spoke to Mac."
Her tone was cool and casual but her eyes burned with accusation. It was a statement, rather than a question. With a sigh, he took the half empty bottle out of her hand and lent forward to place both beers on the coffee table. If they were going to have this conversation, then he wanted a clear head. He'd thought the prompted talk with their boss would have helped ease her concern but it appeared to have only fuelled the anger and determination.
"Yeah, I did."
"Why?" Lindsay demanded.
"Why'd you do it James? Why Sara?"
Lindsay's earlier words hit him hard. The use of Vackner's given name still caused a feeling of unsettlement within Danny, especially when it was coupled with the nearly sensual tone and close proximity as she bent over their perp's shoulder in the interrogation room.
"'Cause you were getting in too deep, Montana."
She scoffed in denial, rolling her eyes and shaking her head. Anger boiled in Danny's stomach and he resisted the sudden urge to lean across, grab her by the shoulders and shake her until some sense returned.
"Ya think you weren't?" he ground out, his voice rising and his accent thickening. He began speaking with his hands, a sure indication that he was furious. "I've seen what happens when my partner gets in too far. Aiden lost her job 'cause she couldn't let the case go, and now she's stuck tryin't' get work as a PI 'cause she can't be a cop anymore. I'll be damned if I let the same thing happen to you what happened to her."
Lindsay looked away, tears rising in her eyes and clogging her throat. She bit down on her lip to stop it from trembling.
"We got the guy, Montana," Danny implored, his voice softer and calmer than before. "We got the evidence to send him down for a long time. He's already in Rikers and he's gonna stay there. How come the 'why' matters so much anyway? What can't you just leave it be?"
The tears left as quickly as they came. "Because I don't get it," she said, her voice tight. She looked back at him and he frowned at the unreadable expression within her eyes. It concerned him that the usually spunky Detective was slipping into a dark place. He'd already had to pull her back from the brink when she'd lost it in interrogation the previous week.
"Sara was beautiful and yet he didn't sexually assault her. She had an iPod, a hundred dollars in cash and a well-paid check but it wasn't a robbery gone wrong. He didn't even know her. There was no motive behind the killing so why did he do it? What did he gain from killing her?"
"Power," Danny answered simply. Lindsay pursed her lips in frustration. "Sara was a young woman, petite, distracted by her iPod and wearing a mermaid's outfit; to Vackner she probably looked like the perfect victim. Vackner probably did it for the simple thrill of murdering someone. Not every murder has a justifiable reason behind it and you've gotta know that."
She did know it; she knew it more than most Detectives did. She leant forward and picked her beer bottle up again, taking a swig of the amber liquid.
"I went to Rikers. I asked him, face to face, why he did it and he couldn't even tell me – maybe he doesn't even know why he did it." Her finger was picking at the corner of the bottle's sticker. She didn't want to look at Danny, worried about what she'd see there. Anger and disappointment she could handle but it was his concern which burned through her, a shock to know that someone could care about her that much.
To her surprise, he was understanding. "I can't say I blame ya. We all have our cases which get to us more than most."
"What's yours?" she asked softly. She didn't want to pry but knowing that they shared something like this would possibly ease some of the guilt she was carrying. And maybe Danny sensed that, for he started talking without preamble even though she knew it must have been hard for him.
"It was last year; Aiden and I were working this case where a Gypsy cabbie had had his throat slit. I shoulda been more sympathetic but all I kept thinking about was when I was ten and my Pop and me were beaten up by a Gypsy cab driver. Turns out this guy was actually the hero; he saved a young woman from being raped and died because of it. I'd spewed all this shit to the cabbie's son about how his father was an illegal driver and whether he was seeing someone on the side, when really he was the good guy." Danny sighed, the guilt obviously still with him. "I apologised in the end but knowing that a guy who'd stop a rapist was murdered… well, that got to me."
"How did you move on from it?" Lindsay asked.
"By telling that kid that his dad was a good man. I know it doesn't bring these people back and Hell, it might even sound like empty words at the time, but we do what we do because we want justice for those who've died – not answers."
Lindsay sighed and as she expelled her breath, the cold exterior seemed to melt away. Danny couldn't deny that he was glad; angry Linds he could deal with, she was even mildly cute, but this cold and hard Lindsay was something new altogether and for a while there it had been a little frightening as he wondered whether she'd fall into the abyss. He'd already lost one colleague and friend; he didn't want to lose another. He especially didn't want to lose Lindsay.
One hand was holding the beer bottle and the other was curled into itself, lightly tracing the calluses that he knew marred the soft skin of her palm. "Sara's father told her that the city was no place for a Montana girl."
"He obviously hasn't met many Montana girls."
She graced him with a small, shy smile. "I think everyone back home is waiting for me to crash and burn."
"So you've gotta show them that it's not gonna happen," he told her with conviction.
"When I told my dad I was coming out here, he cried. And I don't think I'll ever forgive myself for doing that to him," Lindsay admitted. "We used to be so close, but whenever I talk to him now there's this tension… like everything isn't the same anymore."
"Maybe you should let him know that things will always be the same, whether you're in Bozeman or New York," Danny gently suggested.
Lindsay shrugged. "He probably wouldn't listen. He's not big on the emotional stuff."
"I'd bet he'd appreciate it anyway," Danny told her. "All I know is that if I had the chance to, I'd tell Louie everything I felt about him – even if he did call me a sissy or a wuss – just so he'd know."
She tilted her head sympathetically, an understanding smile crossing her features.
"You gonna be ok?" he asked and she nodded.
"I'll be fine," she reassured him. He appreciated that she was admitting that she wasn't quite fine yet, but she'd be back to normal soon.
"Good. It's late so I'd better get going."
He rose from the couch, leaving her tucked in on herself and withdrew from her apartment, collecting his shoes and jacket on the way. As he pulled the apartment door shut behind him, he heard her talking on what he could only assume was the telephone.
"Hello? Daddy? Yeah, it's me. Listen…"