Disclaimer: Sadly, still not mine. But at least I can dream about Flack :D
Notes: A very slightly late birthday present for Blue Shadowdancer! A little Don and Jess story. Thank you for the prompt from Crowded Angels and thank you also to Ballettmaus and Suallenparker for their help :)
Breaking the Rules
"I'm cold," Flack grumbled and tucked his chin even deeper into his collar, an action that gave his face a strangely truncated look. "And I miss my scarf..." He trailed off, the absence of words full of meaning as he scowled at Jess. She stared at him, experiencing a moment of guilt. Only a moment though as she reminded herself why she had done what she had done. A little bit of suffering for Flack was more than worth the loss of a fashion atrocity.
"Want to borrow mine?" she asked him, all innocence as she pretended to begin unwinding the pastel-shaded scarf round her neck. What was visible of Flack's face scrunched up in disgust and she grinned. "I'll take that as a no." She had already seen the scarf she wanted to get to replace the one she had... disposed of and intended to buy it that afternoon.
He grunted and she nudged him. "Oh come on, Don. It's not that bad. I've told you I'm sorry and that I'll buy you a new one."
"That is not the point," he growled. "I don't want a new one; I want the old one back."
Stamping his feet on the frozen ground, he plunged his hands into his pockets and gazed away across the park, sullen-faced, coughing and clearing his throat exaggeratedly for good measure.
"Got something caught in your throat?" she asked him, straight-faced.
He turned and gave her a frosty look. "My neck is cold. I'm probably getting sick."
"You could always try keeping yourself warm with the thought that it's your turn to buy lunch," she suggested, not even attempting to hide a smirk. As Flack's mouth had almost disappeared into his collar, his reply was muffled, but she got the gist of it and snickered. "We still haven't tried that new place on 5th that's supposed to sell the best Italian gelato in the city, according to Stella..." she said, giving him a sly glance. Another growl answered her and she shook her head and placed her hands on her hips, a look of mocking sternness now in her face.
"You're going to have to move on from the scarf, Don," she told him. "I know it was your favourite and I know it was careless of me to leave it in the diner, but it's gone. You have to accept that."
The mournful gaze he turned on her, his blue eyes looking pitifully at her almost broke her and forced her to confess that leaving the scarf in the diner had not been careless so much as deliberate...
Again she brought the image of the scarf to mind, reminded herself that it was hideous; worse, that a previous girlfriend had bought it for him and her resolve held. Her action was completely justified. Flack clearly had not read the rules about gifts from ex-girlfriends or understood that any such gifts must never be worn, liked or displayed...
Nonetheless, it was with a softer look that Jess rubbed the top of his arm. "I'm sorry, okay? I promise I'll get you a new one and buy you a hot chocolate later. How's that?"
Flack heaved a sigh and from somewhere deep within the collar of his coat came a mumbled ''kay.' Patting him on the arm, she turned her attention to where an SUV containing Mac and Lindsay was pulling up.
Mac approached and greeted them in his usual formal fashion, giving Flack only a glance tinged with curiosity before he fired a few questions at them and took the perimeter of the scene. Lindsay, however, lingered a little longer, staring at Flack in concern.
"Is he okay?" she asked Jess, who smirked as Flack removed his mouth and chin from his coat.
"In case you hadn't noticed, I'm standing right in front of you," he complained.
"Sorry, Flack." Lindsay grinned, not at all contrite. "Are you okay? You look kind of cold."
The look of martyred triumph that Flack sent Jess caused her to roll her eyes and make her way over to Mac. But even as she answered his questions, she kept an ear to Flack and Lindsay's conversation, garnering enough to know that Flack was recounting the woeful tale of the lost scarf to the CSI. He had done exactly the same earlier to Stella, who had simply laughed, thrown an understanding look at Jess and told Flack that a little bit of cold shouldn't hurt someone who chased criminals for a living. That had not gone down well and Jess had suffered his sulking ever since. In Lindsay though, Flack seemed to have found a more sympathetic audience and he glanced over at Jess every so often in pointed fashion.
She ignored the looks, even though guilt irritatingly tickled her conscience again, so she mentally repeated her mantra.
Fashion atrocity. It was a fashion atrocity. It broke The Rules...
"Excuse me?" Mac stared up at her and she stared back.
"I... I was thinking out loud, sorry," she said, clearing her throat before redirecting Mac back to the original topic of their conversation which he, after a searching look at her, continued with. Most of it she listened to, although she did take a moment to note that Mac wore a scarf she knew Stella had bought for him. Feeling even more justified about getting rid of Flack's ex-girlfriend's gift, Jess complimented Mac on his scarf, which brought a brief but pleased smile to his face, which she made a mental note to tell Stella about.
It seemed far too long before Jess and Flack were back at the precinct, in the warmth, ready to tackle their latest paperwork before they planned to get a late lunch. As she sat down, Jess gave herself a luxurious stretch, giving Don a languorous look as he plumped down opposite her, only then popping his head out of his coat like a tortoise.
"Warmer now?" She raised her eyebrows at him and he grunted.
"I will be when you get me the hot chocolate you promised..." Not so much tortoise now as puppy dog, he gazed up at her and she sighed, pushing herself up from her chair.
"Okay, okay, seeing as I promised you."
He grinned, swinging his long legs up onto the desk. "And when we finish later, you can get me an Irish coffee, to get rid of the last of my shivers."
"Don't push your luck," she warned and he grinned widely, folding his arms across his chest.
"I'm a lucky guy..."
"Yes you are," she said, smiling sweetly at him as she swept past on her way to get the promised hot chocolate, leaving him chuckling.
The cold weather seemed to have brought on a demand for hot chocolate and it took Jess more than quarter of an hour to get back to Flack with the drinks. As she approached him, weaving her skilful way through the crowded squad room, she saw a familiar figure talking to her boyfriend.
"Hey, Jess," Lindsay turned and greeted her with a bright smile, though the one Jess was about to return her froze on her lips as she saw Flack. More specifically, when she saw what was draped round his neck.
"Your scarf..." she managed to sputter and Flack beamed at her.
"My scarf. Returned to me courtesy of Mrs Lindsay Messer."
"How?" She turned to Lindsay, who lifted her shoulders, although she was clearly pleased with herself.
"Flack told me which diner you'd left it in and as it's near the lab, I called in after we'd dropped the evidence back there. They'd seen you leave it and as they recognised you as being a regular, they'd kept the scarf behind the counter for when you came in again."
Jess gave an involuntary shudder as she caught sight of the length of green, blue, purple and yellow striped wool.
"That's great," she managed to get out through clenched teeth and a smile that was almost a rictus.
"Isn't it?" Flack said and tossed the end of the scarf round his neck before lifting one of the cups of hot chocolate out of Jess's hands with a broad grin. "Thanks, Linds. I owe you."
Telling him it was no trouble, Lindsay smiled at him, turned to Jess, and realisation struck. Glancing between Flack, whose attention was on his hot chocolate and his scarf, and Jess, her mouth dropped open and her eyes widened. Jess mouthed the words 'ex-girlfriend' and Lindsay winced.
Mouthing 'I'm sorry', she backed up a few steps and departed from the squad room in a hurry, leaving Jess to sink into her chair with a sigh, cursing Lindsay's thoughtfulness. Her seemingly fail-safe plan to 'lose' the scarf had failed. Why had she not chosen to leave the scarf in a diner further away from the lab, where she would have been in no danger of being recognised as a regular?
But it was too late. The scarf was back.
She looked up at Don as he took a gulp of the hot chocolate, a few dark brown drops of liquid sliding down the side of the cup as he set it down on the desk.
An idea formed in her mind.
Hot chocolate. Difficult to get out of fabric. The potential to stain.
A smile formed on her lips.
Taking a sip of her own drink, she confirmed it was lukewarm and stood up, the cup in her hand as she saw one of their fellow detectives walking in their direction, her concentration focused on a file. Jess took a step closer to Flack, keeping the detective in sight out of the corner of her eye. And as the woman reached them, she took a step sideways and collided. Exactly as planned.
The file flew into the air, the cooled chocolate tipped over its intended target, Flack's howl of dismay rang through the squad room.
A day later, a scarf patterned in sober stripes appeared on Flack's desk, together with a message stating, 'To keep you warm when I'm not around.'
Thanks for reading :) Reviews very welcome! Lily x