A/N: so, fun fact? The first episode I ever watched of csi:ny was Snow Day (I know right? How was I NOT going to be a DL shipper after that being my first taste?!) and while I've posted bits here and there, I've really really enjoyed exploring baby DL in their early days of season two as it was something I'd kind of missed really. Prepare yourselves for a couple more that are coming up… Hope you like it as much as I loved writing it!

—-

You cleared the smoke and picked up the wreckage.

-End of the World, Kelsea Ballerini

Set during and after the episode 2x20, Run Silent, Run Deep.

—-

She felt her heart sink.

Anyone... Anyone but him.

Her eyes scanned the page again. She was desperately hoping, wishing, praying, she'd made a mistake. Read it wrong. Something. Anything. She knew in her heart though. She knew it was accurate. Correct. There was something else to it; there was something more. He absolutely would not and could not have done this.

Think, Lindsay… think.

She glanced around the lab and swallowed the lump in her throat. She knew she had to tread carefully. How did she approach this? She turned the piece of paper upside down and secured the evidence. She sealed the cigarette end back up and grabbed the piece of paper and shoved it into the case file. She held the file close to her chest, allowing no-one else to see.

She pulled out her cellphone and clicked onto her messages. Licking her lips, she took a deep breath. She clicked on his name. Her fingers furiously typed out the message as quickly as she physically could.

911. Meet me upstairs. Urgent.

She locked the computer she was working on and jumped out of her chair. She hoped he wasn't too far away because she wasn't sure how long she could sit on the results.

Taking his jacket off; he flung it back into his locker and stretched the kinks in his back. He felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He pulled it out and looked at the sender.

Lindsay.

"Hmm." He said; pressing the READ button. His eyes scanned her message. 911 meet me upstairs. Urgent

Weird. He thought. She was working the giants stadium case. It wasn't like her to beep him 911… whatever it was must be pretty serious, he figured.

He closed his locker door and went to find her. Unsure of what could possibly be so urgent…

The past few days had been nothing but a whirlwind. Lindsay hadn't been home, she had barely eaten… she definitely hadn't slept. There had simply been no time. Danny needed as much help as he could get.

She sighed heavily as she ran her fingers through her hair. She was running on pure caffeine and adrenaline at this point and she knew it wasn't going to be long before she crashed. She just wanted to help. She wanted to do whatever she could to make the situation better. If she could pick up a little bit of the wreckage and clear a little bit of the smoke, she wanted to do it for him because she knew he'd do the same for her.

Lindsay looked down to the cassette and the tape player she had in her hands. She knew she was stepping close to the line again: if not stepping over it. She knew she could get hauled over hot coals by Mac for what she was about to do but she had to. He deserved to hear it. He deserved to know what his brother did for him. The sacrifice his brother had chosen to make for him: Plus, she figured in this case it might be easier to ask for forgiveness from Mac rather than permission.

She pushed through the door of their office and sighed as her eyes fell on Danny. He was hunched over his desk, with his head resting on top of his arms.

"Hey." She said, announcing her presence.

Danny glanced up and met her eyes. "Hey."

"What are you doing here, Danny?" Her voice was soft and full of concern. Her hand pressed against his back, trying to offer him a little bit of comfort. "Shouldn't you be with your family? I can drive you over there if you want."

"They're on their way to the hospital." He said simply. "I don't know though, I think I'm avoiding it...Seeing my ma, my pop so upset-" he trailed off. "I don't think I can stomach being there right now. I just need some time."

Lindsay nodded, rubbing his back affectionately. She definitely understood. Grief was felt in a plethora of different ways and she certainly wasn't going to sit and judge Danny for dealing with what had happened to his family in his own way.

"Listen, I wanna say… thanks… for what you did." He began."I know you put your neck on the line for me and I appreciate what you did for me with the whole cigarette butt results. It meant a lot that it could come from me. Thanks for giving me that." Danny said. "I know you've put in a hell of a lot of hours the last few days... more than what you needed to."

"You'd do the same for me." she said softly. "Danny, I uh, I have something that I feel you need to listen to."

"I don't know whether I can take anythin' else today Montana. Can it wait?"

"No." She shook her head, taking a seat next to him. She laid the cassette player on his desk in front of him. "No it really can't wait. I really think you need to hear this."

"What is that?" He asked her.

"When I picked up Louie's things from the hospital, it was in the bag. He was wearing a wire, Danny. You... you need to hear what's on the tape. I think it will help things."

She put the cassette into the tape player and pressed play before she silently stood, leaving the room.

Danny leant forward and pressed pause on the tape. "Linds...wait."

She turned, her hands poised on the door handle. "Yeah?"

"I uh, i could really do with a friend right now."

At his words, she couldn't help the little smile that tugged at her lips. He'd never called her a friend before. She made her way back into the room and sat down on the chair she'd recently vacated. She reached for his hand and held it tight in hers. "Whatever you need." She said softly.

Danny nodded and pressed play on the tape. He listened to his brother's voice, to Sonny Sassone's voice. He listened to Louie dragging a confession out of Sonny. Louie knew what he was doing. Louie's choice of words weren't an accident; everything he said was for a reason. He was proving a point. He was saving Danny's ass. After all the years of pushing him away, giving him the cold shoulder, it had all been a lie. Louie had done all of that to protect him: to save him from the same fate. To give him the chances he hadn't had himself.

As the tape ended, Danny rewound it and listened to it all a second time. Then a third. Eventually, he turned to Lindsay with unshed tears in his eyes. "Does Mac know you've done this?"

Lindsay shook her head. "Not yet. I was going to tell him after you listened." She said. "I figured it'd be better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission."

He turned to look at her, her fingers were still intertwined with his. "You have no idea how much I appreciate you doing this." He said softly. "This means everything to me."

"I know." she said. "That's why I've done it."

"No, you've got no idea. You don't know how badly I needed to hear this." He paused for a minute. "Listen, I'm gonna get to the hospital."

She nodded and let go of his hand. She went to collect the cassette player and placed it back into the evidence bag.

"Montana:" he said as she made her way to the glass door of the office to leave the room. She turned to look at him and smiled. "Thanks." He said. "For everything you do for me. For being you. Thank you. I'm lucky to have you."

She smiled again before pushing the door, holding it open. He grabbed his jacket and quickly made his way through the door she was holding open and headed straight for the elevators.

As he disappeared out of sight onto the lift, Lindsay took a deep breath. She wasn't sure how the conversation she was about to have was going to go but she hoped for the best. Whatever happened, she didn't regret her decision and she stood by it. She just hoped Mac was in a forgiving mood.

She knocked on his glass door and made her way into his office.

"Lindsay, hi."

She silently shut the door and went to sit on the couch.

"Is everything okay?"

Lindsay took a deep breath.

Mac stood from his chair and made his way to sit next to her on the couch. "Lindsay? What's wrong?" Mac pressed. "What's the matter?"

"I've made decisions over the course of the Louie Messer case that I know don't reflect your expectations. I know what you expect from me and whilst I stand by my choices and decisions I know that it doesn't make what I've done okay and I want to apologise:" she paused. "I hope you know me well enough now and know my usual work ethic and what you typically get from me. I follow the rules and procedures to the letter and this is a one off situation. I just hope this doesn't change your opinion of me. Professionally or personally."

"Lindsay, what on Earth are you talking about?"

"I went to Danny with the results from the cigarette butt first. I know it wasn't in line with protocol but I couldn't go behind his back. I couldn't do it, Mac. I needed to show him that I respect and trust him and needed to give him the opportunity to tell you himself. And I know I probably shouldn't have but I let him listen to the tape. I know it's evidence and I know that it's wrong but if he dies Mac…" she took a deep breath. "If Louie does die; I wanted Danny to have made peace with his brother in a way that was on his terms with all the information we could physically give him. He deserves that. I couldn't bear the thought of Louie dying and showing Danny the tape after and Danny never being able to say what he needs to to his brother… I know he's in a coma but they say that coma patients can hear and if that's the case then I-"

"Lindsay." Mac finally cut her tirade of words off. "You don't need to apologise."

"I do." She said softly, tears rising in her eyes. "There are rules and expectations in this lab that I respect and I want you to know that I-"

"Lindsay." Mac's voice was firm and cut her off. "You need to listen to me."

Lindsay opened her mouth to protest but promptly closed it again.

"The integrity you show towards me, this lab, your responsibilities as a crime scene investigator, this job, your co-workers… your friends… is one of the very many, many reasons why I know I made the right decision when I hired you. Your conviction towards everything you do is admirable and I think a lot of us could learn a lot from you and your ethics. You do not need to apologise for the decisions and choices you've made during this case. Whilst a little off the cuff; I know you well and I know why you made the decisions you made." Mac paused. "And I appreciate you acknowledging the choices you made as being questionable, but I think even I can excuse them in this situation."

"But why?" She asked. "I've broken the rules."

"And you know that." He said. "And don't quote me on this but sometimes rules are there to be broken. I know that you and Danny are very close and I understand why you made the choices you did. We all care deeply about him and wanted to help in every way that we could. You are no different. I respect your honesty and your courage but there really is no need to apologise."

Lindsay nodded, a slight blush washing over her cheeks. "Thanks Mac."

"Is he going to the hospital?"

Lindsay nodded. "Yeah, I think his parents are on their way. I think he needs a friend though."

"You best get over there then." Mac smiled.

"I don't think it's me that he needs." Lindsay said, standing from the couch. "I've done my bit. I think the person he needs is you." Mac nodded thoughtfully as she moved towards the door. "For the record, I am sorry Mac."

"I know," he said. "Go home, Lindsay. Take tomorrow. Sleep. Eat. I don't want to see you here tomorrow, okay? You will be no good to me dead on your feet, okay? Take this as all the breathing breaks I owe you."

She laughed and nodded. "Thanks." She moved towards him and wrapped her arms around him tightly.

"What for?" He smiled at her; cautiously wrapping his arms around her in return.

"For everything." She whispered.

—-

She wasn't sure if she was making a mistake. She wasn't sure if she was overstepping yet another boundary… but sleep hadn't come easy and her mind had been racing a hundred miles a minute. And so? Here she was.

She swallowed the lump in her throat as her boots tapped against the sterile floor of the hospital. She took a deep breath. She paused outside the hospital room and knocked softly on the door. She opened it ever so slightly and poked her head around the small space between the door and the frame. "Hey." Her voice rang out quietly.

"Linds… hey." Danny straightened up in the seat. "What are you doing here?"

"Well, I couldn't sleep and I figured you'd probably be here. I also figured you wouldn't have eaten and neither had I so… " she held up two homemade sandwiches she'd been holding in a brown paper bag as she made her way into the room and sat next to him. "It's nothing exciting but it's something."

"That's really thoughtful." Danny said. "Thanks, kiddo."

"How's he doing?" Lindsay asked as she handed him one of the sandwiches she'd made and packed for him.

"They don't know." Danny said, taking the sandwich gratefully before he fixed his eyes on Louie's chest rising up and down through the aid of the machine. "He wasn't breathing when they arrived on scene. They think his brain might have been starved of oxygen for a little bit too long. They just can't be too sure yet. They're still running tests. We might know something more in the morning."

"Too early to tell." Lindsay nodded in understanding. "Did your mom and dad leave?"

"Yeah, it was too much for her. He's broken her heart too many times. Think this was the thing she's been dreadin' the most so my dad took her home."

"How's your dad?"

"Usual self." Danny shrugged. "Stoic, quiet. Usual cop exterior- didn't give anything away but I know he's hurtin'."

Lindsay nodded. "Louie will get through this Danny."

"I wish I could believe you Linds, I think this is the thing he ain't comin' back from. Not this time."

"I don't know." She shook her head. "If he's anything like you Danny, he'll fight to stay. He'll do what he can. I'm sure."

"I hope so." Danny said, unwrapping the sandwich. "Cause I got a lot I wanna talk to him about."

"You should talk to him." Lindsay said. "They say coma patients are aware of their surroundings."

"But I want him to answer me. I want him I know what I'm sayin'."

"He'll know," Lindsay said softly.

"I want to know why he did it." Danny said. "Why did he never tell me? Why didn't he take me to the side and tell me what he was doin'? Everything would have been so different if he had."

"I don't know." Lindsay sighed. "I'm sure he did it because he loves you."

Danny nodded thoughtfully. "Doesn't make this hurt any less."

Lindsay shifted in her chair. She placed her hand on Danny's and squeezed it softly. "Nothing will." She said, "but you have people around you that are willing to help."

"I know." He sighed. "Thanks." He squeezed her hand. After a couple moments of silence, he cleared his throat. "Listen, do you wanna go get some coffee? I could do with stretching my legs… and my head is feeling a little fuzzy."

"Sure." Lindsay smiled. "Whatever you need."

He stood and offered her his hand. She took it and he pulled her up from her seat. She tried to let go but he had a grip on her hand that told her he didn't want to let go just yet.

"Listen; I just want you to know how much everythin' you've done for me means. You didn't need to come here tonight Montana. You must be exhausted."

"Nah." She shook her head. "I'm used to it."

He cocked his head to the side and stared at her pointedly.

"Alright, I couldn't quite settle at home." She sighed. "I figured you could use a friend. Decided to go with my instincts."

"Always a safe bet." Danny said as he turned to look at his brother. He let go of Lindsay's hand and turned to squeeze Louie's leg affectionately. "I'll be right back, okay?" He then turned to Lindsay and held his hand out again. She looked at him for a moment before accepting the hand he had extended to her. Once her hand settled in his, he squeezed it and led her from the room.

"So, coffee?" She asked him.

"Coffee." He nodded.

"Lead the way."

Her eyes were burning. Her legs were aching. Her head was fuzzy. She didn't quite know how she was still awake and functioning. And for some reason she was just about to consume yet more caffeine.

But despite all of that? She felt a warmth spreading through her. While she hated the situation he was in, she liked being able to pick up the pieces for Danny. She liked being able to clear the smoke for him. She liked clearing the wreckage. She liked being able to help him, support him, care for him.

She knew that at more than one point in the last seventy two hours he'd thought it was the end of the world. Understandably so. But little did he know she'd been waiting, ready to show him that actually, while things were bad right now, they'd get better.

And as she walked down the hallway of the hospital holding his hand tightly, she realised that whilst he needed her… she needed him just as much.

"I'm glad you're here, Montana." His voice broke their silence.

"Me too."

A/N: a little different compared to my usual stuff but hope you liked it anyway! I know I enjoyed writing it! Any feedback is, as always, gratefully appreciated!

Thanks for reading!