A/N: I feel like I've turned uploading a new story on a Saturday into a little bit of a routine: maybe it goes back to posting the post eps after the Friday night episode on the Saturday morning. A habit I just can't break?! Who knows! Anyway; I got to the end of my rewatch and sobbed my little heart out... so naturally I went straight back to season 2 as I'm not ready to let it all go yet.

I think I started this after my first rewatch of stealing home (one of my many absolute favourite episodes) but it just didn't feel right or finished. Leaving it and returning to it with a fresh head was what was needed as whilst it's turned into something entirely different to the original story, I'm so much happier with it!

Thank you to everyone who has been reading, favouriting and sending love about the other stories I have posted. All your thoughts are always so welcomed and appreciated so thank you for that! Hope you enjoy this one!

—-

It's funny how we both want the same things but still we just can't seem to agree. It's not that I don't get what you're saying, I just wish you could be happy for me

-Happy for Me - James TW

Set after the episode 2x22, Stealing Home

"Alright Mom, I gotta go I'm heading down into the subway and I won't have any service."

"Alright honey, be safe. I'm proud of you."

Lindsay smiled as she heard the usual words her mom used to end their conversation. "I will. Love you." She paused. "Tell Daddy I love him."

"I will."

Her heart ached as she heard the click of the line die. She'd spoken to her mom just like Sarah Butler had. And just like Sarah Butler, Lindsay Monroe still hadn't spoken to her dad.

Tha parallels between her life and Sarah's has scared her. Unnerved her: she saw too much of herself in Sarah. The rawhide braiding scars. The strained relationship with her dad. She'd listened to those same words you walk out that door, there's no coming home. She knew he didn't mean it. She hoped he didn't mean it. She knew he didn't like her doing what she did. He'd been incredibly vocal about it. He didn't like the things she saw. She knew he wanted to desperately protect her but he couldn't. By the age of sixteen she'd seen the worst she ever would. Nothing would ever top what she saw that night. Nothing. Ever.

Lucy. Her heart twisted painfully as she thought about her. God she missed her. She was her best friend... the one she treasured. She was the closest thing she'd ever had to a sister and was completely irreplaceable.

It was days like today, nights like this, where she really, really missed her.

She had to imagine what their lives would be like. Would they have all gone to the same school like they so desperately wanted to? Would Lucy have moved away from Montana? Would they be as close now as they were back then or would they be even closer? She had so many questions and not so many answers.

Life, she decided, was a load of crap. Why did she have to survive? Why did she have to wash her hands? Why hadn't one of them come too? Lucy always went with her to the restroom. What made that time different? Why hadn't they gone home earlier? Why hadn't they gone somewhere else? Why hadn't they stayed home that night?

She was going to drive herself insane...

And now this case... She was absolutely exhausted but just knew as soon as her head hit the pillow, sleep wouldn't come. It was always the same story. Every time she'd close her eyes, she'd see his villainous face and she'd just be as angry as she was in the light of day.

She took a deep breath in and let it out again as she tried to get a control of her emotions. Going to see James Vackner hadn't exactly worked out for her as she had wanted it to. She hadn't really known what to expect, but she had gone looking for answers. She knew she was probably stepping over the line that was engraved into her line of work, but at this point she was past caring. She needed answers. Answers that she still didn't have.

She pulled her phone from her pocket and sighed at the sight of the unread text message. She'd received it a while ago but had ignored it… until now.

I wish you'd answer your phone, Montana. Call me. I wanna make sure you're okay. I know you don't wanna get into it but i'm a little worried. I'm getting off in an hour. Let me know if you want me to come see you. D

Lindsay sighed heavily as she ran her fingers through her perfectly crafted curls as she pocketed her phone with her spare hand. Or at least they had been perfect when she had left for work nearly two days ago. Now they were more on the messy side… and not the cute kind of messy.

She liked Danny outwardly showing concern for her; but it wasn't what she needed right now. James Vackner had effectively riled her to the point of no return. She was furious, and was feeling a desperate need to see retribution; more so than what she knew was healthy. She wanted him thrown into a prison cell with angry black bears and for the prison guard to lose the key. She hated few people but James Vackner presented her with someone she'd never been able to face. She'd never had the opportunity to question her own James Vackner. She hadn't been able to ask him why – why her, why them? How much money had he gotten form the cash register that night? What were the lives, the lives that meant so much to her, worth? She didn't understand why he'd done it – both James Vackner and her own personal monster. How could they do it?

And the worst thing was she couldn't bring herself to tell a soul. So this storm she was fighting? She was fighting it solo. She wanted nothing more to tell Danny but there was just something stopping her. She couldn't envision him walking away… but she couldn't see herself unloading such a heavy amount of baggage onto someone that she still didn't know properly. Yes, she really, genuinely liked him – but it didn't take away from the fact she hadn't known him for a whole year yet. So with that in mind, the one person she would actually consider telling… she couldn't; simply because her stubborn self wouldn't let her.

She stood, ready to leave the subway at her stop. She pulled her phone out of her pocket again and slid her finger across the bottom of her screen, which automatically brought up Danny's message again. She read his concerned words again and felt the tears rising in her eyes. She didn't mind crying but not here. She stepped off the subway and quickly headed through the deserted subway station as she made her way up to the street. She knew that she could get to her apartment in six minutes if she walked quickly and she thought that maybe, just maybe, she'd be able to keep it in until then. When she got home however, she couldn't promise anything.

—-

Checking his phone for what seemed like the hundredth time, Danny sighed heavily, she was seriously a pain in his ass sometimes. He was pretty worried about her; especially after talking to Mac and hearing from him that she had still been struggling about the case. He hoped she wasn't too angry about him telling Mac that she had struggled. He hadn't done it out of spite; he'd done it because he was genuinely concerned about her and thought that while he and she were close, Montana and Mac were possibly closer. Mac had this way with Lindsay; it was a father-daughter kind of relationship and Danny couldn't put his finger on it, but what he did know was that Lindsay had quickly secured a permanent place in Mac's heart. Danny had never seen anyone click with Mac like Lindsay had. It was one of the reasons Danny had quickly realised just how special Lindsay was. Mac Taylor did not suffer fools: except for maybe Danny Messer himself, but that was a different story for a different day.

He licked his lips and slammed the case-file shut as switched off his monitor. He was done checking his phone. He stood from his desk and grabbed his jacket which was hanging on the back of the chair. He grabbed his keys from the desk before shoving his jacket on and heading to the exit. His shift ended ten minutes ago and Lindsay didn't have a choice whether he went round to her place anymore… he was going with his niggling instincts.

As it turned out, Lindsay had made it home with a second to spare before she broke down and lost it. She'd slammed the door shut and had proceeded to slide down it, erupting in a bout of sobs that had shaken her entire body. She hadn't cried so hard for a long time. After the last couple of days she just felt like she was absolutely helpless. She was sixteen years old again; going back to school on her own. She felt like she was that little girl again… she shook her head to try and rid herself from the memories but she'd dipped into Sarah Butler's life and had seen similarities in her own. Why her? Why Sarah? Why anyone?

She'd eventually stopped the tears and she had headed into the kitchen to make herself a drink and something to eat, even though she wasn't all that hungry. She'd forced down an apple and some blueberries before deciding that she'd had enough. She'd kicked off her shoes and switched the television on, wanting some background noise to stop herself from over-thinking things. Flicking through the channels, she sped past the procedural crime dramas; wanting something a little less close to home and a little more effective in numbing her mind for a while. She'd paused to take a drink and it just so happened that her clicking of the remote had landed on a local news channel; covering a story on the exact thing she was trying to escape from… James Vackner.

Any composure that she had gathered was soon lost and she launched the remote control away from her in a rage. She then threw her water bottle to the floor in fury and kicked the table in front of her.

Pursing his lips together, Danny fought the feeling of guilt as he typed in the combination to gain access into Lindsay's building. He felt bad for betraying her trust in just letting himself in, but he just had a bad feeling – he could sense that she needed someone... if he let himself be bold, he could convince himself that maybe the person she needed was him.

He took the stairs two at a time and despite the tiredness already settling in from the last few days; he could feel adrenaline pumping through his body as he quickly made it to the third floor. He pushed through the stairwell doorway and instantly felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. From the hallway, he could hear crashing and smashing. Knowing Lindsay's usually quiet floor, he knew it couldn't be a good sign. As he approached her door with quickening footsteps, he dug in his pocket for the key she had given him in case of emergencies and rammed it into the lock and twisted it quickly. He pushed the door open and sighed heavily as his eyes fell on the chaos.

In front of his eyes wasn't the usually placid and reserved Lindsay but rather a destructive and spiralling Lindsay. He could hear her sobs and watched as she pulled the books from her bookshelf, throwing them to the floor in a fit of rage. Deciding he'd seen enough, he kicked the door shut behind him and jogged to her, avoiding the masses of mess around them. Just as she was about to launch the remote control for the television at the wall, he gently placed his hands over her's and slowly took it from her and dropped it to the couch before wrapping his arms around her tightly.

Instinctively she fought him and he was taken aback slightly at her strength; she was doing a good job of pushing him away both figuratively and physically. Fortunately he was just that little bit stronger and held on a little tighter. He held her to his chest, shushing her sobs every now and then as he stroked his hand through her hair and pressed random kisses to her temple. He could feel her thumping her fist caught between their bodies against his chest, but he ignored it as the thumps were being applied with less and less force until eventually she stood still in his arms. He could hear her panting heavily and hiccupping as she cried her tears. He was utterly clueless as to what had triggered her angry outburst, but he figured he arrived just in time because she had obviously needed someone to hold her.

"It's okay," he whispered, as he slowly led her to the couch. "You're alright," He sat down on the dislodged cushion and led her so that she sat on his lap. She placed her feet on the upturned cushion as she settled on his lap and nuzzled her head into the crook of his neck as he held her in his arms.

"It isn't," she finally whispered after a few moments of her only releasing sobs and whimpers. "It isn't okay; I don't know why he did it."

"You don't always get to know why, Montana… you did good though. You did your job; we got him."

"That isn't good enough for me," she whimpered. "I need to know why."

"It won't be what you want to hear though, Montana. I honestly don't think he has a reason for it. There's no rhyme or reason to what he did… he just did it."

"I don't understand why."

"You never will," he said softly. "Because you're not him, Montana. Only he knows, if he even knows. I honestly don't think he does, sweetheart."

"There has to be a reason." Lindsay implored.

"Not always." Danny reasoned. "Sometimes bad things happen to good people and we don't get to know why."

"Mac said that earlier," she whispered. "That doesn't work for me. I don't understand why Danny, why?"

"Because bad people get what's comin' eventually. Everythin' happens for a reason and everything has a price. You do somethin' bad; it'll catch up to you and you'll pay for it... It might take twenty years for it to catch up to you, but it will eventually, and when it does, you'll pay big time. James Vackner will get his, Linds, don't worry."

It might take twenty years for it to catch up to you but it will eventually, and when it does, you'll pay big time. Danny's words rang in Lindsay's ears; suddenly the face of James Vackner morphed into that of the nameless stranger that had haunted her dreams for so many years. It was beginning to make sense. Sure she was angry at James Vackner for what he did to Sarah Butler, but not as angry as she was making out that she was… really, she was angry with her own James Vackner, desperate for him to pay for what he did.

"Everything will be okay. You know that right?"

As she felt the anger and pain deflate, Danny wrapped his arms around her tightly as she laid her head on his shoulder. Hopefully, Danny was right, when her nameless stranger found that his past had caught up with him, she hoped he paid big time… and if she had anything to do with it, he most definitely would.

It hurt, but deep down she knew she had to accept the unknown and trust her instincts. She hoped that truth would prevail. She hoped that justice would be seen. She'd maybe get her answers one day. For now, she was going to let Danny convince her things would be ok. She trusted him. And maybe one day, she thought, she'd tell him everything. Maybe. Maybe she didn't have her answers, but as she felt Danny's grip tighten on her, she realised that maybe, just maybe, things would be okay.

"Listen, you stay here. Let me make you somethin' to eat." Danny said, breaking her from her thoughts. "You haven't eaten in god only knows how long."

She opened her mouth to protest but promptly closed it again. Resistance was futile. "That would be great, thanks."

Danny smiled and nodded as he stood from the couch. "And maybe after, we can put this Humpty Dumpty apartment back together again." He said as he looked at the chaos that surrounded them."Jesus Montana, you're a damn whirlwind. Remind me not to piss you off!"

"Yeah, yeah. Ha-ha." She rolled her eyes. "Listen, is it ok if I make a phone call, I'll join you in a minute."

"Sure." Danny said, "you don't gotta worry about me, you do what you need to."

"Thanks." She smiled. He disappeared into her kitchen and she heard him opening the fridge and random cabinets, familiarising himself with her kitchen.

She reached down onto the floor and picked up her cell phone. She took a deep breath as she dialled the number she'd dialled for her entire life. She held the phone to her ear and waited with baited breath.

"Hello?"

At the sound of his voice, Lindsay felt the tears rise in her eyes. Perfect.

"Daddy; it's me. I don't want you to hang up. Don't pass me onto mom. I need to talk to you."

Silence.

"Dad I'm sorry, I'm sorry you don't like what I do and I'm sorry it upsets you but I have to do this. I have to make a difference, I have to help people, help victims. I have to make things better for other people. I want to see the things I see because it means I can make a difference. I know you wish you could protect me and I know you wish I had a safer job, but Daddy, you have to understand that this is what I want. This is what I need. When I came here, it wasn't because I was running away, I was doing what was right for me. I know it came from nowhere but it's something I'd thought about for a long time. Maybe I should have told you guys that. But I love you, I do. And I miss you. I'm not telling Mom to tell you I love you anymore." She finally took a breath. "Because I want to tell you myself."

She still heard silence on the other end, other than the occasional deep breath.

"I know you didn't mean what you said about me not coming home."

"I didn't." It was the first words he'd said to her in a long time. "That door is always open for you, kiddo. No matter what."

"I know." She said softly, thrilled he was beginning to speak to her. "I know you might not agree with my decisions and I know you don't support them; but I just wish you could find it in your heart to still be a little bit proud of me. Be happy for me maybe?"

"Don't you ever think I'm not proud of you Lindsay. I'm proud of you every moment of every day; even though I hate you do this to yourself. I might not be happy about it but I'm damn proud of you." He paused. "I love you honey; I do. I just think you're torturing yourself. How much do you need to see before you draw the line and say you've seen enough:"

"I don't know." Lindsay said honestly. "I don't know what the end point will be. But I promise you when I get to it, it'll be on my terms and what's right for me."

He sighed.

"Listen, I know this isn't easy for you. I know you want me home, but I had to do it: I had to. For them."

"I know you did."

Lindsay took a deep breath. "I love you."

"I love you too, sweetheart. Tough day?"

"You wouldn't believe it." She mused. "But I'm glad because it gave me the courage to call you."

"Doesn't help that we're both as stubborn as the other."

"It doesn't." She laughed finally.

"Are you okay? Do you want to talk about it?"

"Maybe another day, right now I just-."

"-hey, Montana... sorry to interrupt. Do you want a glass of wine with your dinner?"

Lindsay turned over her shoulder. She held the phone away from her face for a minute and smiled. "I'd love that: dinner smells great." She then turned her attention back to her phone call. "Sorry."

"Who was that?" Her dad asked, without missing a beat.

"Danny." Lindsay said softly.

"Who the hell is Danny?"

Lindsay opened her mouth. Who was Danny? What was Danny to her? She hadn't ever put a label on him. Was he her friend? Her partner? More? She wasn't sure.

"He's... he's uh... I guess he's my."

"Boyfriend."

"Daddy!" Lindsay implored. "For goodness sake. No! He's my friend; we work together."

"Friend." Robert Monroe's voice was dripping with sarcasm. "Sure. Friend. Alright, so why's he making you dinner and pouring you a glass of wine?" His voice was teasing her and she couldn't help but smile. "Actually, I'm sure you're right, that sounds very friendly to me."

"Alright Columbo. Friends can eat dinner together."

"I'm not so sure about this." Robert teased. "Does your mother know about him?"

"I've mentioned him."

"Hmm." Lindsay knew her father was shooting a did you know about this lookat her mother.

"Listen, let me call you tomorrow, okay?" She said softly. "We can catch up, talk properly?"

"Sounds perfect." Robert said, "hey Linds, listen before you get off here. I love you and I'm sorry. You know you always can come home, don't you."

"I do."

"And honey; I am proud of you. Don't forget that okay?"

"I won't. Tell mommy I love her."

"I will. Bye honey."

"Bye."

Danny tried his best not to eavesdrop but it was difficult in Lindsay's tiny apartment. He had no idea the crap she'd been going through with her dad. He also understood now why she'd struggled so much after meeting Sarah's dad. It wasn't the case, it was her personal connection. And Danny knew a hell of a lot about that: the job really tugged at your heartstrings from time to time.

He heard his name and he stopped what he was doing. She was talking about him? A smirk stretched across his face. He obviously couldn't hear the other end of the conversation but has a good feeling based on Lindsay's reaction that he'd just been labelled as her boyfriend. He heard her correct his label back to being a friend and he figured she was probably right; there wasn't really a word to describe them. What even were they? Friends? Coworkers? Sure they flirted, teased each other, probably spent more time together outside of work than normal... but they clicked. Both of them wanted to spend that time with one another so why the hell not.

He heard her footsteps padding towards him and he turned round to look at her. He was pleased to see a smile fixed on her face. A genuine smile. He watched her eyes glance over the mess he'd made and he smirked at her. "Don't worry I'll clean it."

"No, no, it's fine!" She laughed. "You cooked, I'll clean." She rolled the sleeves of her cardigan up and began filling the sink with soapy water. She silently collected the pans and dishes and chopping boards he'd used and piled up them near the sink.

As the sink filled, she settled beside him and stood as close as humanely possible. "Smells good."

"I didn't have much to work with." He teased. "So I figured we could have something super original."

"Spaghetti." Lindsay smirked. "An Italian making spaghetti. So original."

"Shut up, smartass." He scoffed. He glanced down to her and watched as her head settled against his arm. He let go of the spoon he'd been mixing the marinara sauce with and wrapped his arm around her. "Hey, you ok?"

"I'm ok." She nodded: "better now. Listen; I don't know how you knew but thanks for coming to save me from myself tonight." She said softly. "I guess I really needed you here."

"Nah; you just needed someone."

"No, I needed you." She turned to look at him.

"What are friends for, huh?" He smiled as he swiped a strand of her hair from her face. She licked her lips as she held his gaze. He could almost feel her closing the distance between them but just as she began to make her way to his lips with hers, the water in the sink began to overflow onto the floor.

"Crap!" Lindsay implored as she shut the tap off. She grabbed the dish towel on the counter and began catching the water as it spilled over the edge. She removed the plug and let the water drain a little as she mopped up the excess water on the floor.

Danny grabbed the dish towel he'd been using and dropped to his knees next to her; helping her to wipe up the water. "There we go. We got it." He said as he dried the floor.

"What an idiot." She rolled her eyes as she tossed the soaked towel on the floor.

"Hey, doesn't matter:" he smiled. "Don't be so hard on yourself, huh." He then stood and turned his attention back to the spaghetti.

She stood and put the plug back into the sink; watching it carefully as she refilled it with some more water. She began cleaning the pans and utensils Danny had used as he resumed cooking their dinner. Occasionally, she'd glance over her shoulder and catch him looking at her.

She wasn't sure what they were doing. She wasn't sure what they were. But whatever it was? She was happy. And maybe, when Danny had said that things would be okay, he was right.

Everything was beginning to feel better. Everything was starting to feel right. And that, was something that Lindsay could get on board with.

"Hey Linds, listen... if you need me. For anything... you know I'm here for you, right? You don't gotta suffer alone."

"I know." She said, avoiding his eyes, scared he could read her mind.

"You're my partner. I gotta make sure you're doin' okay."

"I'm doing just fine now." He voice was soft. "I'm doing okay." And she was... thanks to him and his instincts. She was better than okay.

She was good.

There we go! Hope you enjoyed this one! Any thoughts would be appreciated, as ever! Thanks for reading!