Characters: Lindsay [Danny/Lindsay later]
Challenge/Prompt: fanfic100, 010. Years and psych_30 #14 Fixation
Copyright: Various shades of Tori Amos.
Summary: Lindsay tries, but she can’t move on.
Author’s Notes: Spoilers no further than 3x14 “The Lying Game”. Apart from a couple of teeny not-very-spoilerish details on Lindsay’s Traumatic Past Thingy. I wrote quite a lot of this in a café on Monday, and then in Spanish on Friday. Some observations are amusingly close to the ones in the episode, just taken a lot further… :D
I. Her blood’s on my hands; it’s kind of a shame ‘cause I did like that dress.
There is a hole in the left knee of her jeans. It is surprisingly large, given that it was not there this morning, and Lindsay does not remember tearing her jeans at any point. The edges are ragged white against the dark blue and from certain angles the rip looks like a gaping, screaming mouth, revealing hints of a sun-kissed knee and a long-healed scar where she once needed four stitches.
Because there’s nothing else to do, Lindsay pokes her finger into the gap and rips it a bit more; it makes a horrible little sound and she shivers. Her mom puts her hand on Lindsay’s arm, maybe a warning to stop wrecking her clothing, maybe a comforting gesture. Lindsay can’t tell the difference.
Finally, she raises her gaze from her jeans to her mother’s face. There are tears sparkling in Kate Monroe’s blue eyes, which is terrifying, because Lindsay has never seen her mom cry before. She swallows hard and reaches a hand out for the can of soda her daddy got her from the vending machine before he went out to get Lindsay clean clothes from home.
The ones she’s wearing now have curious red patches all over them, drying out and turning brown under the garish hospital lights (“But I’m not hurt,” she’d insisted to the paramedics, but one look at her face and they’d bundled her into the ambulance anyway). Lindsay is not allowed to keep them, because they are covered in evidence. And blood.
Lindsay wishes that she hadn’t just thought ‘blood’, because it makes her stomach lurch in a nasty way and now her head is spinning.
“Linny?” her mom whispers, clasping her hand, but Lindsay is dizzy, dizzy, dizzy.
She takes care, when she throws up, to avoid her evidence-spattered shoes.
II. Now I’m not seventeen, but I’ve cuts on my knees.
Black was never her colour. She likes green, or maybe purple to match the ever increasing circles under her eyes (she can’t sleep for thinking that he’s still out there and when she does sleep she dreams in red). Black just marks her out as damaged and grieving.
The memorial service is unbearable. Lindsay feels alternately too hot and too cold, hands twisting together in her lap, mom on one side and daddy on the other. Strong. But Lindsay can’t stop shivering. The others’ families – her friends’ families – look so different. She’s known them all her life, but now their faces are drawn with agony, pale and sad, and they look at Lindsay either with pity or resentment. She can’t exactly blame them for wishing that she had died and their own daughter had lived.
She declined to say a few words, because her emotions are still scared and erratic, and she can’t trust what she’d do. Around the church, Lindsay can feel people whispering about her. “That’s John Monroe’s kid.” “Only one to survive.” “She was lucky” “Poor little thing.”
Lindsay wants to get up and walk out because it’s too hot in here and she can’t breathe, but that would look worse, so she stays sitting and tries to make herself feel ok again.
III. You could maybe turn this white light into navy before you leave here.
There is a calendar pinned to Lindsay’s wall with a black marker ‘x’ on every day that she manages to get through without crying or panicking or being morose and unhappy. She realises, flipping back through the pages on a cold October afternoon that it’s like a very complicated graph; the number of crosses rising and falling (and there isn’t a single ‘x’ in April, which is concerning). It’s almost laughable; that she thought that by charting her emotions, she could control them. Make them manageable, something tamed and quiet and no longer scary.
It’s been eighteen months. She still dreams in different shades of blood.
There’s a psychiatrist Lindsay goes to see once a fortnight, who isn’t helping, but maybe she’s just not trying hard enough. A large part of her doesn’t really want to go on living – her friends didn’t get the chance, why should she? Lindsay still counts, she can’t stop herself, the glittering, ever-lengthening number of sunrises they’ve never seen. Sunsets they won’t get to admire. Sunlight on her skin, the winter’s first, bitter frost. These things belong to her, but not to them, and she ties herself in knots trying to figure out why she won the key to all this, and they didn’t. Why did I survive? Perhaps it was luck, or fate. Or maybe she was cursed, to feel and laugh and cry and scream, rather than that endless soft, silence.
And Lindsay makes sure she takes fresh roses every week. It’s the least she can do. Sure, it’s the consolation prize – sorry you died, but I’ll bring you flowers ‘til I stop feeling guilty. Or maybe she won’t stop. Maybe the lack of scars on her skin, the way she avoided being a bullet-riddled corpse; the guilt is her own special mark, to say she won’t escape the roadside diner, trapped inside for an exhausting and painful eternity.
She wakes, screaming.
IV. Heart falling fast when she left even the Milky Way was dressed in black.
It’s clear that her mom thinks it’s a terrible idea, and her daddy wants her to stay and work on their ranch for the rest of her life, where he can keep an eye on her. But Lindsay is quietly determined and her parents have to agree, because she hasn’t been determined about anything in a long time. Four years that have dragged by in awkward silences, false cheerfulness and sobbing into her rawhide-calloused palms because the sky was too blue or she couldn’t keep herself from remembering. Morbidly clinging on. But she’s growing up now, eighteen, although she never believed she’d make it this far, got a date for the prom and a pale blue dress, so maybe Lindsay will be all right. Do normal things. With normality comes stability. At least, she hopes so.
But her decision, that she’s going to train to be a CSI, a forensics expert, doesn’t please her parents. Lindsay suspects that they think this is her latest method of clinging onto her bruised past, fingers wrapped around the neck of her memory and bleeding it dry, and God knows she hasn’t been the easiest of daughters over the last few years, but in reality Lindsay knows that the only way to move on is to become desensitised. Deal with death every day, it becomes a way of life, not a phobia locked in a glass cabinet to be taken out and handled with masturbatory reverence.
And maybe Lindsay can stop other girls from sitting in their rooms biting their nails and seeing nothing and wondering where he is now and whether he’ll come back for another shot. She’d give anything for a little peace of mind. Anything at all.
V. I called her up and I said “you know that I’m drowning”.
In time, blood stops being terrifying. She starts dreaming in pale green and dark blue, and dead bodies are sad but she is sensible about it. Lindsay learns about fingerprinting and DNA testing and how to find the tiniest scraps of evidence in a haystack made of needles. How to look at blood’s impenetrable pattern and unlock its true meaning. She’s almost too good at that, and in the end decides that she’s got to get out of Montana. The McGinty killings are the final straw. A whole family, teenage girls and all, gunned down in cold blood. Lindsay looks at the photographs until they sear themselves onto her eyeballs, and she interprets the blood spatter after two consecutive sleepless nights and more caffeine than she intends to drink. She’s praised, and it feels like damnation.
It’s easy to put in for a transfer, and Lindsay just hopes she ends up somewhere far away from Bozeman and its connotations as she can manage. Somewhere clean and new, where her past doesn’t haunt her every step, where she’s just Lindsay Monroe, broad smile that can melt the iciest of hearts, ruthless attitude to suspects, a country girl who isn’t the slightest bit squeamish.
Leaving will be hard, she knows that, the pulse of the wheat fields as the wind teases through them, the sky an impossible shade of blue. In the summer, her hair goes gold. But she gets the call from New York of all places, sky scrapers and yellow taxis and that downright confusing nasal accent, their crime lab needs someone and fast, how soon can she come? Lindsay doesn’t tell Mac Taylor that she’s been packed for a fortnight, but promises that she can be there for the end of the week.
VI. I’m not sure who’s fooling who here.
Their belief in her innocence is sweet. Mac might have read her background file – though if he has he doesn’t show it in his friendly but detached expression – but the others clearly all think that Montana lacks a certain je ne sais quoi when it comes to gory and vicious murders. Lindsay could tell them all a thing or two about blood glistening on worn linoleum, except that would defeat the whole object of moving to New York.
Danny makes it clear from day one – what he wants, the way he sees her. It’s been a long time since Lindsay has been seen like that by anyone without the connotations of a traumatic past; although she wanted a fresh start, Danny scares her. He has beautiful smiles and a nickname for her, and it’s so obvious, the way he wants her. But she’s still afraid of getting too close. People who get close to her curl up and die. Or they walk away, drift out of reach, sick and tired of not being able to help her. Some nights are better than others. (She can still count the hours since they died.)
Mac forces her to stay in the lab the day a whole group of teenagers are found dead at a pharm party. She’s resentful of the way everyone patronises her – as though they don’t think she’s ever seen blood before. Snarling at Danny, sick of his flirting and the way it confuses her, she almost gives herself away. But that evening, curled up on her couch with the memory of snapping at Danny and the way his smile slipped, she thinks it’s just as well Mac kept her isolated. Dead kids never bring out the best in her and the whole point of being in New York is that she isn’t the trembling little wreck that she was in Montana.
She’s strong now. It’s all different. It has to be.
VII. But why do I need you to love me if you can’t hold what I hold dear?
The night Lindsay is putting on mascara to go on a date with Danny, well, he calls it dinner, but she’s not entirely blind and she saw the look on his face when he asked her and it was more anxious than she’s ever seen him, she gets the call. The phone starts ringing and it makes her jump and knock make-up into her bathroom sink, and she hurries to answer it, breathlessly picking it up. It’s her mom. She’s crying, and it takes Lindsay almost too long to work out what she’s saying.
They’ve found him. Arrested him. Her legs give out beneath her, she ends up in a heap beside the couch, phone pressed to her ear, unable to answer her mother’s urgent repetition of “Linny, Linny, are you ok?” Lindsay doesn’t know if she’s ok, her head is pounding and she thought she was better than this. That she’d moved on. Desensitised herself. Oh, who was she kidding? In the end, she promises her mom that she’s just shocked, she’s fine, fumbles with the phone and drops it when she tries to disconnect the call.
Lindsay thinks in white for a long time. She just lies there, tears smearing her carefully-applied make-up, crumpling her dress, digging her fingernails into her palms. She remembers, and it’s painful. She’s in New York now, not Montana, she’s different and stronger. But the two lives have collided and merged and now she doesn’t know what to do. Eventually, she thinks that she ought to call Danny, but her hands won’t steady themselves and when she turns her head flashes of blood snap in front of her eyes. So she doesn’t call. And pulls herself together weakly enough to be able to process a crime scene and push Danny out of her life, as far as she can make him go.
Lindsay’s life is too complicated and too screwed up and she can’t believe she was stupid enough to think that she could let other people in. That she was ready to let other people in. It’s easier in the quiet, morose memories that are hers, and hers alone.
In the end, she has to start taking it a day at a time again, marker pen crosses on her calendar that rapidly start dwindling.
VIII. You say “there’s not a lot of me left anymore; just leave it alone”.
The weather gets colder and Lindsay misses home. It’s simple, almost too simple, to think of it like that. In reality, it hurts, stains every conversation that she has. She’s not strong any more. And in time, the others start to realise this. But she keeps her mouth shut and struggles to scrape up a smile and tries her hardest not to remember.
And breaks down in tears all over Stella when this doesn’t work, doesn’t have a hope in hell’s chance of working. Just walking into the morgue burns and sears and red red red red red red. She survived. And for the first time, sobbing weakly into Stella’s shoulder, Lindsay realises that all along she’s wished she hadn’t. Wished that she hadn’t been burdened with having to Deal with all this. In a lot of ways she died in that diner, right alongside her friends, but unlike them she has to crawl along and let everyone think that she’s all right. It’s tiresome, it’s difficult, and Lindsay hates that in a lot of ways she’ll never be anything but fourteen and terrified.
A day later, Danny corners her in the lab. For a minute, Lindsay is anxious that Stella told him, even though she promised she wouldn’t; he’s got a look in his eyes that makes her feel scared and uncomfortable. But at least it isn’t pity. Pity makes her nauseous and feel even more weak than usual.
He opens his mouth and he’s about to say something, really he is, and Lindsay is desperately trying to think of anything she can say that will make him go away and stay out of this complicated and overblown mess that her life has become, when her cellphone rings. She gives Danny an apologetic look that she hopes doesn’t come across as too relieved, because it shouldn’t be relieved, he’s a nice guy and she knows he’d take every step with her the way she needs it to be taken. But she can’t.
“Don’t,” he says, watching her grab her cell, and for a minute she thinks about not answering and just standing here and letting Danny talk. Listening.
“I have to,” she replies, and listens to the world crumpling up with hurt.
IX. I got my Rape Hat on, honey, but I always could accessorise.
They want her to testify, and she sits quiet and trembling and thinks about not being strong enough and how she has to do it for eyes that can’t see and mouths that can’t speak and years and years of scarlet tied dreams. It’s an inner conflict and Lindsay hates it because necessity has made her be about six different people and all of them are scared but resolute. She must go home. She must go home to a community who love her and resent her in equal doses, and she must testify, and she must put her friends’ killer behind bars so that they can all sleep a little easier at night.
Making the decision is easy, when it comes right down to it. She’s the sole witness and the sole survivor and all sorts of little isolated girls weeping into their pillows and unable to face the world. She has the power to make this stop. So Lindsay says that she will testify, and calls up her parents because although she could stay in the blissful anonymity of a hotel room, she’ll stay with them. In her old room, up in the loft, splinters in awkward places and a quilt she spent her three weeks with chicken pox sewing, seven years old and tetchy.
Mac’s hugs are like gold dust, like watertight cases, so Lindsay is glad to receive one and grateful for his words of encouragement. Stella, too, is clearly sad to see her go and Lindsay finds herself pleased that in New York she’s managed to make something of herself other than the desperately miserable and fixated victim. In Bozeman, she’ll always fit that mould. It’s who she is.
Sitting in the back of a taxi watching Danny in the snow, Lindsay comes to realise that she’s ripped the knee of her jeans somewhere. Ten years. Sometimes it feels like more, sometimes like less. The scar’s fading but still there, white. The scars inside hurt just as brutally as they always did. And she can’t work out where Danny fits into the scheme of things. He probably doesn’t. The isolated variable with his smiles like sunshine, breaking her heart and confusing her thoughts and making her want things she never thought she’d be capable of wanting.
It’s hard, leaving. Or perhaps it isn’t. A large part of her will always be trapped in Montana, screaming.
X. If you’re a thought you will want me to think you and I did.
Lindsay puts up with the hole in her jeans and leaves Danny an intentionally ambiguous card, promising she’ll see him soon.
At this point in time, though, she’s not even certain she’s coming back.