Disclaimer: I own very little, especially not CSI NY.
Author: Lily Moonlight
Notes: This is a two part story written for my friend Brinchen86, who is one of the most dedicated DL writers on the site. I haven't written much for this pairing before, but I wanted to give this a try for her and this is the result – something rather more lighthearted than usual, featuring Danny, Lucy and Lindsay with a little bit of Mac and Stella as well :D
Many thanks to Ballettmaus and DNAisUnique for their time and help with this.
"You almost ready, Luce?" Reaching the doorway of his daughter's bedroom, Danny rested his hand on the door jamb above his head, grinning at the sight in front of him. "I guess not..."
His four year old daughter, dressed half in and half out of a pink sweater, hopped about the room. The only parts of her he could see were a tuft of blonde hair and a hand, sticking out of the neck hole, which waved about in the air.
"Anyone ever tell you that sweaters are really great when you put them on with your head through the head hole and your arms through the arm holes?"
He took a step into the room and crouched down. As Lucy stood still, panting with the exertion of her attempts to get dressed, he managed to tug at the bottom of the sweater. A moment later, her head popped free revealing pink cheeks, tousled hair and a look of surprise on her face.
"Daddy! I was doing it!" Her voice rang with indignation as she wriggled away from him while he tried to straighten her outfit and release her arms. A few hours alone with his daughter, something that should have been straightforward, was turning out more difficult than usual. It was not an unusual occurrence, being in charge of Lucy. Duties roughly evened out between Lindsay and him. Today's change in Lucy's usual routine, however, and the visit they were going on that was the cause of that change meant emotions were running high for the youngest Messer.
As he sat back and watched her wrestle with her sweater, Danny considered that it had seemed a pretty straightforward series of events; entertain Lucy for the morning, give her lunch, go to the hospital. Lindsay had even written him a reminder of the visiting hours of the hospital. It should have been easy. Should. A vague memory wandered into his mind, some quote he'd heard somewhere, possibly from Mac, about best-laid plans... A grunt of irony escaped him.
The morning had gone smoothly enough, consisting of breakfast without too much chaos and a trip to the nearest park to enjoy the warmth of the spring day. Afterwards they had stopped on the way back home for a milkshake. Danny, remembering it with a twinge of guilt, hoped Lucy's strawberry milk stained T shirt now tucked at the bottom of the laundry hamper could be washed back to its regular colour.
Unfortunately, the harmonious mood had become discordant over lunch.
Lucy's unequivocal opinion was that he hadn't made it in the right way; the way Mommy made it. He'd disagreed; arguing that he'd made it exactly the same way Mommy made it, he'd just used a can of soup and added a little more brown to the toast. Sure, he didn't normally open a can, but they were short of time and for once their frozen supplies of homemade soup were cleaned out. The bowl of soup tipped up all over the table and toast thrown on the floor had preceded howls from Lucy and bewilderment from him.
However, he had soon had the mess cleaned up and his temper cooled. Following that, a sniffing and tear-streaked Lucy had snuggled into his arms, both of them having admitted that they missed Mommy when she was at work. At least he had been able to promise they would be seeing her in a few hours, and before that they had someone very special to meet. Then Lucy would have the important job of telling Mommy all about him.
That affirmation had calmed the sobs and dried the tears. After a few last gulps and a scrub of her eyes and nose with his shirt, she had scrambled down out of his arms and rushed to get herself changed. Danny had grabbed a cloth from beside the sink and rendered his shirt and himself presentable.
Smiling to himself now, he admired her efforts to manage by herself; however, it was clear that some assistance might be needed. Admirable as it was, Lucy's enthusiasm to get dressed by herself hadn't quite been able to overcome the challenges a sweater, a skirt and a pair of tights presented. A pink sweater, a red skirt and a yellow pair of tights no less. Danny had winced at the sight. Even as a man who did not expend much concern on colour coordination, he knew some colours should not be worn together. But as Lucy stood in front of him, a look of exasperation on her face, he couldn't stop a smile cracking his face.
"You know what, I can see you're doing a great job getting dressed, but maybe I can give you a little help to speed things up?" he offered, still crouching on his haunches in front of her.
She huffed out her cheeks, shook her head and proceeded to twist herself round in a series of impressive rubber-boned movements, hidden half inside her clothing until both arms finally poked out of the sleeves. The achievement put a look of triumph on her face and a swell of pride in his heart. At the same time, he couldn't deny that it brought its own kind of sadness. Lucy was more independent than he would like at times, and he sighed. He watched his daughter, his eyes drinking in the present; seeing at the same time the future that would come, inevitably.
As happy as he felt seeing her able to manage these tasks by herself, it reminded him that there were fewer and fewer things she needed him to do for her. There would be fewer times when he could offer her his hand and his help, and gradually, he knew, her hand would not fit so securely within his anymore. He would have to let her go, and hope that she knew she could always return and that his hand would always be there to hold hers.
Shaking himself, Danny pulled himself back to the moment. Being grown up was still a long way off, a very long way off. So he kept and would keep telling himself.
Watching Lucy dancing about the room enjoying her success lifted some of the burden of his thoughts. He grinned, rose to his feet and seized the opportunity to tiptoe up behind her and drag the sweater into place, provoking a squeal of protest.
She stopped in front of him, hands on her hips, presenting a sight that made him squint in consideration. While his wife was certainly not fussy, she took a certain amount of pride in Lucy's appearance and he could guess what she would have to say. The much-maligned sweater was stretched at all angles with loose threads dangling from the cuffs. His heart sank as he realised that it was the pink sweater that Lindsay's mother had bought for her granddaughter, and that Lindsay liked to keep for special occasions. In the state it looked now though, it was likely to be demoted from its status as 'best' clothing.
But, it would have to do. There was no possibility of getting Lucy to change clothes again. While she began to gather up a few toys to take with her, he noticed the sweater she had worn in the morning bundled on the floor. Picking it up, he saw with resignation the streak of oatmeal down the front of it. That, he decided, had probably come from breakfast. Lindsay would love the fact Lucy had managed to go through three outfits in a day, he thought with some irony. He tossed it into the laundry hamper to join the T shirt, deciding he could load the washing machine when they returned.
If they were ever ready to leave...
Managing to smooth his daughter's hair down, he asked, "You going to be much longer? We don't want to keep Aunt Stella and Uncle Mac waiting, do we? Or Alexander," he added, the realisation striking him that it was taking some getting used to that those two had become three. Most people indeed were still getting used to the fact that two such defined individuals had become one couple.
Oblivious to his musings, Lucy abandoned her toy hunt and flumped down on the carpet, her legs stuck out in front of her. At that point Danny noticed exactly what her footwear was.
One eyebrow quirked. "What's the deal with the shoes, Luce?"
Lucy sighed and regarded him with an exasperated look as she held out one foot. "You have to tie my laces for me, Daddy. You know that."
It was a good way to avoid answering his question; Danny had to give her credit for that as he crouched down and took hold of the proffered foot. "Usually I have two lots of laces to tie. Where's your other sneaker?"
"Under my bed." She rolled her eyes to indicate it, and almost lost her balance tilting over in the process.
"Uh huh..." Danny nodded. "Well, when I've tied the laces on this one, you go fetch it. You are not going to be able to walk in two different shoes."
"But I can't decide!" Lucy gazed at him with wide eyes as he finished a deftly done bow on the sneakers with a flourish, before placing her foot back on the floor.
Bracing his hands on his knees he gave her as stern a look as he could manage. "You're going to have to decide; sneakers or princess shoes, not one of each."
"But I want to wear both," she insisted, perplexed at the fact that he did not seem to agree with her. "They're both my favourites. Mommy bought me my sneakers and Aunt Stella bought me my princess shoes."
As Danny gazed at the numerous pairs of shoes strewn round the room he felt his forehead crinkling in amazement at just how many pairs a four year old could possess.
"You and your Aunt Stella have been doing too much shoe-shopping..." he murmured to himself, considering that Aunt Stella had a lot to answer for – he hadn't missed how Lucy's eyes lit up whenever Stella offered to look after her, knowing full well she would be allowed to play dress up with her extensive collection of shoes and outfits or be taken on outings to add to that collection. It prompted him to wonder if Mac was even allowed any closet space for his clothes...
He turned back, however, to an expectant Lucy. "Listen, baby, I know you love your sneakers and I know you love your princess shoes, but it's got to be one or the other. You choose. And you're going to have to be quick, because..." he checked his watch, "we got to leave in five minutes."
Silence followed; Lucy remained in the same position, her feet clad in one sparkling pink and white sneaker and one plastic, glitter-splashed high-heeled shoe. Her bottom lip trembled ominously and Danny groaned to himself. Careful, tactful thinking was called for. And not a few of his negotiation skills. Lindsay, he knew, would certainly not want her daughter to be wearing high-heeled shoes to go walking in. The princess shoes were for dress-up only. To buy a little time, he regarded her in vexation. Until an idea came to him.
"How about this," he started, figuring out the scenario as he talked. "You wear your sneakers to start with, because we got to do some walking to get a cab and then more walking once we're inside the hospital..." Seeing Lucy about to protest, as her hands pressed against her hips and her mouth started to pout he held his hand up. "Remember what the rule is about interrupting? Let me finish, then you can tell me what you think, okay?"
Lucy hesitated, then nodded, lips pursed, still wavering as Danny continued, "Okay, so, when we get to your Aunt Stella's room, then you can put your princess shoes on. You can show them to her and Uncle Mac and Alexander. When we leave, you got to put your sneakers back on. But soon as we're home, you can wear the princess shoes again. How's that sound?"
Even though he said it himself, it sounded a pretty good plan; Lindsay would be proud of him.
Lucy, however, did not appear convinced. Her face scrunched up in thought and her index finger pressed to her lips as she pondered his proposition.
As the moments passed, Danny realised his back disliked the position he was in; giving him, as it did now and again, an unpleasant reminder of events more than three years ago. An acceleration in Lucy's thinking was needed. Hiding a grimace from her curiosity, he sat down on his backside opposite her, the soles of his feet touching hers. It didn't take long for another grin to crack his face, despite the attempt to suppress it. There was something about the profound look of thought remaining on Lucy's face that tickled him.
Staying as serious as he could, Danny nudged her foot. "There's a time limit on deciding, I'm going to count you down from ten... ten, nine, eight..."
"I'm thinking!" she exclaimed, banging her heel on the floor.
"Best hurry up with that thinking... seven, six..."
"Daddy!" She gave him her most imploring look, hands clasped together, almost undoing his resolution. With considerable effort, he remained focused.
"Five, four, three, two..." he paused, leaning forwards, elbows out to the side as his hands rested on his thighs.
She drummed her heels and thumped her fists on the floor in desperation. "I need more time! I'm still thinking!"
He swung his head from side to side. "More time ain't part of the rules. One and a half, one and a quarter, one..."
"Okay, okay!" Lucy burst forth. "I'll wear my sneakers." She folded her arms, chin jutting out. "If I have to." The look from the out of the corner of her eye almost finished him off. The thought crossed his mind that there should be awards for keeping his face straight in these circumstances.
Giving her a nod of approval, Danny knocked his foot against hers again. "Good choice, Luce. Fetch me your other sneaker from under the bed and we'll bust out of here when you're presentable."
Heaving a gusty sigh, she crawled over to the bed on her hands and knees and fished about underneath it, finally drawing out the errant sneaker.
Once that issue was dealt with, he was sure they would breeze through all the other items on his checklist. After two sneakers had been secured on Lucy's feet, he sat watching her hunt for the pink backpack that she always took on any expedition, packed with varying treasures and expedition essentials. Though Danny did not consider the assortment of small plastic toys, felt tip pens and other paraphernalia that she usually selected as essentials, he knew their importance to his daughter.
Once the empty backpack was located, also under her bed, she dumped it down in front of him along with the assortment of items she had gathered.
"Can I take Dora doll as well?" she asked, sweeping the doll off the floor and holding her up. "Can I show her to Alexander?"
"Sure you can." Danny wondered though how well that would work and hoped that Lucy would not be disappointed if she did not get the reaction from Alexander he expected she was hoping for. He watched her, considering what else she would ask.
Lucy had already bent down to sort through the heap of items. "Can I show him my shoes too?" After plucking one of them from the collection in front of her, she continued to survey the rest of the items with her hands on her hips and her forehead puckered in consideration.
"Yeah, them too," he smiled, taking the one she held and pulling the other one towards him ready to go in the bag.
Nodding thoughtfully, Lucy looked again at the toys. "But he can't play with my shoes 'cause I'll be wearing them. What else can I take for him to play with?"
"Maybe just take stuff to show him today, honey," Danny began to undo the knotted drawstring of the bag and prepared to explain matters. "Because he's way too little yet to play with. I'm sorry honey, it's great that you want to share your toys but that's the deal with babies. You see," he continued as Lucy stared at him looking disappointed, "when babies are as new as Alexander, they're kind of... helpless. Their Moms and Dads have to take care of them and do everything for them; feed them, wash them and..." he grinned at Lucy, "get them dressed."
"But I do all those things by myself," Lucy argued, crossing her arms in front of her chest. "I eat all my food by myself and brush my teeth by myself and... and everything!"
"Course you do, 'cause you're a big girl, not a baby. You're smart and you know how to do lots of things. But you didn't when you were a baby," he said, finally managing to undo the stubborn knot and open up the backpack. "Your Mom and I did all those things for you then. I know you're disappointed, but you're going to have to wait a couple of years yet before you can play with Alexander."
Lucy's face fell. "But years are a long time, Daddy. A really, really, really long time." She chewed her lip in thought and then turned wide brown eyes to him. "That's hundreds and hundreds of sleeps!" A disgruntled look appeared on her face. "I'll be grown up when he's big enough to play with me."
With a chuckle, Danny kissed her nose. "Not quite, baby, you got a lot more years to go yet before you're a grown up like your Mom and me." Although, he had to admit, there were days when Lindsay would be hard pushed to describe him as a grown up...
Seeing Lucy was still dissatisfied, he tried to elevate her mood by reminding her that she could still show Uncle Mac and Aunt Stella her toys and when they got home, they could have some playtime as well. And there was the bouquet of flowers they had bought that morning to give to Aunt Stella as well. She agreed with a heavy sigh, looking a little more cheerful nevertheless, and the backpack was soon filled.
Five minutes later, they were ready to go. Danny breathed a sigh of relief and checked his watch again. The day was back on track.
The cab ride to the hospital passed rapidly, with Lucy kneeling to look out of the window, apparently unimpeded by the seatbelt. Cab rides through the city were amongst her favourite activities and she never seemed to tire of the sights she saw. Dogs were always looked for and during the journey she compiled a list of eighteen dogs she had spotted. It was almost another struggle to remove her from the cab once they reached their destination, but after reminding her why they were there, she clambered out with willingness.
At the main entrance, only half-listening to Lucy's enthusiastic chatter while he made sure of his grip on her hand, Danny strode forwards. Fatherly instincts were on full alert due to the streams of people flowing to and from the doors. It would not take much to lose hold of a small hand in a large crowd so he made sure hers was enfolded in his. His grasp was secure but gentle; mindful of the still so very little fingers within his.
Beaming up at him as she skipped alongside him, her eyes were bright and her face joyful. She jigged up and down on the spot as he asked for directions at the reception desk and hauled him along towards the elevators as soon as they were pointed out by the receptionist. Danny grinned, glad to see her mood had perked up again and that she was still excited about meeting Alexander.
A few people were waiting at the bank of elevators including a young woman dressed in an outfit almost as garish as Lucy's who gave her a smile and a wink. Danny gave her a brief smile and Lucy, after a moment's stare, returned her an exaggerated wink then hid her face in Danny's legs with a giggle at her audaciousness.
As soon as the car arrived, Danny guided Lucy forwards with his hands on her shoulders, maneuvering into a space near the back. The usual elevator silence amongst strangers fell as the doors slid shut, but it was not a silence that lasted long.
As the car shuddered into motion, a little hand tugged on his and a clear and carrying voice asked, "Daddy, where did Aunt Stella's baby come from?"
I hope you enjoyed this first chapter; chapter two will be up on Friday. I'm a little way out of my comfort zone in writing this, so I'd really appreciate your thoughts in a review! Thank you, Lily x