Disclaimer: HAHA, I have not written one of these in so long, I think I forgot how. Um. Both characters mentioned here, albeit not by name, are the intellectual property of CBS, Anothy Zuiker, Pam Veasey, and possibly a host of other people with a bevy of lawyers on retainer, from/to whom if I am ever prosecuted I shall humbly beg forgiveness and plead love of their creations as an excuse for why I am playing with them without express written consent.

A/N: Let's see. I started writing this, er, the week after "Love Run Cold" aired? Over two years ago. It therefore takes little to no canon into account – one of my originally planned author's notes was "I live in a stubborn world of denial in which Lindsay has no Deep Dark Backstory" – and is the product of my little brain honestly trying to come up with a reason she might have stood Danny up.

During episode discussion, I was venting my frustration as to why she couldn't have at least called him or something, and suddenly I recognized familiar behavior patterns. I had long since shelved the half-finished product and given it up for lost, when the nagging sense of the unfinished compelled me to dig it out and top it off.


Questions and Pretensions

She couldn't decide what to wear. She had nothing in her closet. For the first time in her life, she had become the stereotypical woman.

Speaking of firsts - first date. First dates were always awkward, particularly when you hadn't been on one in a while. But this wasn't any first date, two attractive people locking eyes one day and wanting to get to know each other. What did you wear to dinner with someone you'd already held onto as if you'd never let go?

She could have made time to go shopping last night, but had told herself it was ridiculous to buy a new outfit for something so minor. No time now, and yet nothing to wear. Pants weren't dressy enough and her dresses were too elaborate; little and black had always made her feel more diminutive when she was. Why did she not own any skirts?

There, at the back. She did have one, admittedly black but etched with deep red roses. Lindsay snatched it so quickly the hanger spun, put it on and surveyed herself in the mirror. Meant to hug the frame, the skirt clung more stubbornly than it should have to her hips, pinching at the waist. When had she had time to gain five pounds?

On second thought, it didn't feel tight. It was entirely possible the ill fit was all in her head, as her disquieted nerves had begun to feel considerably more like an anxiety attack. Her pulse had been steadily picking up speed from the moment she opened the closet door.

A date carried expectations, a date meant polite little conversations; she wasn't good at that and never had been. And then there was the elephant in the room. She fervently hoped he would ignore it, but at the same time that elephant was the catalyst, the reason he'd finally asked her out, so how could they avoid acknowledging it?

She'd never been impulsive, and tumbling into bed was not her style. But after what they've been through, they're long past the point of you-look-nice and what's-your-favorite-movie. She can't play the interview game; you can't work with a person like that for over a year and not pick up enough scattered facts to compile a small biography. She envisions awkward silences and picking at her salad, while they pretend they have not been falling for each other over the last few months.

Because this date will be about pretension, about make believing that she doesn't dream about his arms around her, about concealing the truth that out of the whirl of confusion in that day, his embrace was the one thing etched in perfect detail on her memory. It will be about him trying to hide the heart on his sleeve while they feign an attempt at small talk with neither of them saying what they mean.

She's starting to lose control of her breathing. If she's like this now, what will she be like once she's there? Maybe she should wear something sleeveless. Or maybe she just shouldn't go.

She grabs onto that thought like a lifeline, eyes darting up to meet their reflection in the mirror. Furrowed brows shrink hazel eyes, as the possibility of an exit sign glows from within.

What's the worst that could happen if she just stayed at home tonight? Things are stilted for a day, and then she'll burn through it, maybe. They'll go back to being friends and co-workers (were they ever the former?) and he'll find someone else to fall in love with, someone who doesn't come with baggage and neuroses and the fear of getting too close.

She checks her cell, whose glowing display reads ten to seven. She has forty minutes to get there and seventy before she guesses he'll walk away. The phone powers off before she sets it down again, erasing any potential for ringing reminders.

It's only 7:00. Plenty of hours until work, no need to sleep. With all those hours, she'll think of something to say to him. An elegant excuse, and a reason to keep him from asking her again.

Anything but the truth.

-fin-