Characters: Lindsay, Aiden
Challenge/Prompt: psych_30 6. Inferiority Complex and fanfic100 076. Who?
Summary: Lindsay can’t hope to compete.
Author’s Notes: This is an idea I’ve been faffing around with for months, and in the end I just sat down and made myself write it. Because I wanted to. I really miss CSI:NY being on TV… must buy the season 3 DVDs sometime.
And you are not me, the lengths that I will go to, the distance in your eyes.
You can feel the space you’re supposed to fill gapping around the edges. Because you don’t fit. Not here. It’s not that you’re unwelcome, you can feel their relief, you can feel that they’re attempting to be pleased, and you can tell that they’re really trying their best, but you’re not her. You smile too much and try to ingratiate yourself in all kinds of ways, and maybe some day they’ll even come to like you, but you’re not quite enough because you’re just not right.
It started the first day, with Danny Messer, eyes twinkling like he found everything about you a highly amusing joke (or maybe he just thinks you have a nice ass and isn’t entirely sure how to deal with it), telling you to call Mac ‘sir’. Because you were the new girl, and humiliation is always ten kinds of fun. And you know that he meant nothing by it, because Danny is all sorts of things but intentionally sadistic is thankfully not one of them, but he still went ahead and set you up just because he could. Tripping you up on your first step as though to remind you that you weren’t in Montana any more and you weren’t even anyone’s first choice.
You are only where you are because Aiden Burn couldn’t handle a rapist going free and so thought about tampering with some evidence. A slip-up, a mistake that any and all of them could have made, and suddenly there was a space in the New York Crime Lab. Any girl’s dream, especially a girl like you, trying to get away from Bozeman and the shiver you still get down your spine when you pass the respectfully refurbished diner, from the pity that has managed to linger for over a decade in people’s eyes.
Mac Taylor found some time on your first day to check that it wasn’t going to be an issue; you know, the whole almost-being-horribly-murdered-at-an-imp
You are convenient, there to fill a space in the world that needed filling, although it’s only too clear that everyone else would rather it went empty. You can’t forget that, and Don Flack can’t even look you in the eye. You overheard his argument with Mac, two days after you got the job. But why do we need a new girl anyway, can’t Hawkes just work an extra shift from time to time, that sort of thing, smacking you away from the confidence you’d been trying to build, just because Danny was calling you ‘Montana’ like it was going out of fashion and Mac seemed to actually want to listen to you.
There’s so much glass here and you feel eyes watching you every time you turn, though when you do there’s never anything there. They are all making you paranoid, and maybe you should have just stayed home where everyone walked on eggshells around you all the time but at least you felt like they might like you a little beneath the pity.
Here, you don’t even have pity to cling to.
Aiden’s telephone number is still on file, you spend about three days toying with the idea of calling, while working on a case with so much blood splashed everywhere that you go back to your far too tiny apartment and remember studying Macbeth in high school. You’re sure you’re being far too unstable about all this but your throat hurts and your head thumps and you don’t want to be here, in another woman’s shadow. It’s cold and dark and it isn’t fair.
So you break.
She answers the phone with a drawl, and momentarily stops you dead. You’ve never even seen a photograph, you don’t know what to expect, and all the things you planned to say drop right out of your head. This was a stupid idea, you think, and then press on anyway.
Aiden laughs when you tell her who you are, she doesn’t sound jealous or even wistful when she talks.
A treacherous little voice in the back of your head reminds you that she doesn’t need to envy you, because she knows that you can never hope to measure up. You slotted yourself into the team and tried your best and they tolerate you but things aren’t getting easier. You still feel on the edges, captured in people’s peripheral vision. You turn up, you do your job. That’s got to be enough.
She tells you she’ll meet you for coffee. Thursday. When you swallow, your stomach twists, but you agree anyway. You want to see her. You have to see her. You need to know.
It takes you an hour, hunting through your closet, wondering what to wear to meet the woman who you can’t ever hope to match up to, the one they all miss although they’ll never admit it. You haven’t dressed with this much care in a long, long time, hands trembling a little on various fabrics, as you hold clothes up to yourself and wish you owned fewer things in green. It’s your colour, it suits you, but it seems to scream the jealousy that’s chewing you up inside. You wonder if she’s taller than you. If you should wear heels or just play it safe, try and make it look like you don’t consider her your rival.
But maybe she’ll know anyway.
Aiden Burn doesn’t hate you. She has no reason to. She doesn’t know the way you feel about her, the way you can’t get out of her mould. The way you want to fill up all the space she left behind, and you fail miserably every time. Flack is still awkward around you, Danny so flirtatious that it makes you anxious just to be in the same room as him, because you can’t work out what it is that he wants from you. Stella smiles but remains a little too detached and Hawkes is never around and Mac is one of those guys who probably won’t get close until you’ve known him for at least half a decade.
They probably don’t even realise the way that they haven’t quite accepted you.
But maybe you’ll meet Aiden, maybe you’ll be able to figure out what it is about her, maybe you could copy her a little and try your best and suddenly be as good as she is. For all you know, you’ve been blowing this out of all proportion, and she’ll just be a person. The not knowing weighs like nausea and you want a resolution now, either way.
She’s drinking a latte by the window, dark hair curling down her back, dressed simplistically but stylishly. You stand for a moment, not for too long, just watching her staring at her drink, waiting for you. For a moment, you consider just walking away, cruelly leaving her to wait for you for far too long.
But it’s not in your nature to do that, so you push open the door and she looks up and you were both going to do something to make sure you’d recognise each other but whatever it was doesn’t matter because you’d know her anywhere, and something about you must connect with Aiden, since the moment she sees you she gets to her feet, smiling.
Aiden Burn has a beautiful smile, and she’s taller than you, and when she holds out her hand, she grips yours firmly and confidently. God, you’d kill to be like her. You’d kill to be her, period.
And it’s almost laughable, that you ever thought you could compete.