Fandom: CSI NY
Pairings: Hawkes/Aiden, Danny/Lindsay, Mac/Don (if you squint and wish upon a star)
Challenge/Prompt: This challenge // What is the first business of one who practises philosophy? To get rid of self-conceit. For it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn that which he thinks he already knows. ~ Epictetus
SPOILERS: Most of the second half of season 2, especially the last two eps, the Kid Rock episode and vague hints of that one with Danny’s brother (I don’t know the titles of these things).
Summary: Set during the last episode of the season. The fallout from the shit that happened to everyone over the season.
Author’s Notes: OOC and actually *overly* angsty, but it’s my first stab at CSI NY fic so feedback is love and it was far, far too fun to write. :D
What is the first business of one who practises philosophy?
Mac Taylor stares unseeingly at the coffee in the paper cup. Black, two sugars, and it went cold a long time ago. He feels faintly guilty. Stella went to the effort of getting it for him, the least he could do would be to pretend to drink it. Carefully, hands trembling slightly (although they’re not- they’re not) he places the still-full cup under the hard plastic seat and gets up, shifting his shoulders from where they’ve been hunched. He can’t remember how long he’s been sitting there, not seeing anything, not hearing anything, his legs going to sleep, a curious numbness running through his whole body.
“You should get some sleep,” Stella had said, her fingers lingering a little too long on his shoulder when she finally said she had to get home. Mac had smiled and said he wouldn’t stay too much longer. He’s not sure how many hours ago that was. Too many. Too few. And Flack is still lying there with the monitors quietly beeping away and Mac can feel his blood on his hands whenever he dares to look down. First Aiden, now Don. He’s failed them, somewhere, somehow.
Mac makes his way into Flack’s room, because he knows that he’s not going to get any sleep tonight and that’s ok. The least he can do is make sure that Don isn’t alone tonight. Try to look after a friend for once. After all, he trusted Lessing, started out by assuming that he could be trusted. He was wrong, and more people could have paid for that mistake.
Some philosopher I am he thinks bitterly, watching the green lines on the monitor. Aiden had said it to him a long time ago; called them all philosophers because they were seekers after wisdom and knowledge. He’d asked her why she called it that and she replied it glamorised the job; and it was easier to get a date when people asked what she did for a living. Philosopher sounds so much more sophisticated than ‘I investigate dead people’ she’d explained, and at the time they’d both laughed.
It doesn’t seem funny now and Mac grips Don’s hand, silently apologising to him and to her for not being enough to save them.
To get rid of self-conceit.
Stella Bonosera turns on every light in her apartment the moment she walks in and spends some time walking around it before she puts her handbag with her gun in it down on the hall table. It’s a nightly ritual; one she just can’t shake. She’s had the locks changed and there’s a panic button somewhere in the kitchen and both Danny and Hawkes offered to come and sleep on her couch for a while, if it would make her feel safer, but she still doesn’t feel quite right and she knows that sometime soon she’ll have to move. The bathroom still makes her shiver; she can see her own blood and hair in the tub every time she looks, even though Stella knows that it’s gone, and has been gone for a while.
For a while, and she isn’t entirely sure why, Stella was arrogant enough to think that they were infallible, all of them, that they solved crimes but couldn’t be touched by them. That they were wrapped in a safe cocoon, where they watched the seediest and dirtiest of crimes but the grime would never rub off on them. But she knows better; much much better. Danny was accused of murder from a cigarette butt and she herself was tortured by her ex and Don was blown up and Aiden was… was…
Stella has been holding it together for so long that the sobs come out in a rush that she just can’t stop. She sinks down onto her bathroom floor and cries and cries, remembers things she doesn’t want to remember, rubs the fresh scars on her fingertips from that razorblade fumbling in her blood-slick fingers, remembers Don hugging her and telling her that he was there for her (she should be there for him now, but she’s just so tired and the hospital isn’t a place for tears like this), remembers Aiden’s brief hug outside the coffee shop the last time she saw her alive.
She can barely breathe and she keeps her hands pressed against her face because she can’t believe that she ever thought that they’d be safe, because every single one of them is fallible and at some point they will all pay the price. And slowly, when she can stop sobbing, Stella gets to her feet, fingers curving around the edge of the bathtub, and realises that the hospital corridor felt more warm and safe and friendly than her own home does.
For it is impossible
Sheldon Hawkes sits in the lab and spends a long time just looking at his hands. At the clipped-short nails and the scratch on one of the knuckles and the tiny scar at the base of one of his fingers from picking up broken glass as a kid. These hands touch death every day, wield scalpels and find evidence and brush against the edges of the most hideous wounds. It was with these hands that he detached Aiden’s head (didn’t know it was hers at the time) and washed away the remains of the skin and hair that he’d spent so much time looking at. It was these hands that had sketched her face, that had used the computer programs to identify her.
Hawkes feels faintly sick. He has to keep everything impersonal; if he got attached to every case he’d never be able to do his job- he’d have given up years ago and found another career where he didn’t have to see people die too young too often and then have to cut them open. He doesn’t view it as violation because he can’t. But every now and then something gets right under his skin, and knowing that Aiden has been buried and Flack is even now fighting for his life in a hospital bed makes him feel dizzy and useless.
He touches death. And maybe everything he touches dies. Maybe that’s the price he pays to try and bring killers to justice. He forfeits his right to happiness. Hawkes bites his lips together and bows his head and watches his hands clench on the table in front of him, knuckles turning white.
None of them are safe and none of them are untouchable and at one time he loved Aiden so much he thought he would stop breathing and when he identified her body, just for one moment, he did.
For anyone to begin to learn
‘That ride’ turned into a drink, and Danny Messer watches Lindsay Monroe run her fingertip around the rim of her glass, curling hair falling over her face, obscuring her expression. It’s been an impossibly long day and they should both go home and get some sleep, but New York is the perfect place for insomniacs. And somehow Danny feels sure that even if he did sleep, he’d be plagued by nightmares.
“You all right, Montana?” he asks before he can be lost to his own musings. Lindsay looks at him and he mentally winces at the bruising across her hairline.
“Fine,” she replies with a quick smile. The smile isn’t like her normal smile though; she doesn’t have any conviction in it, and that broken smile almost hurts more than everything else put together. “Got a bit of a headache, but I think that’s to be expected.”
“It could have been me,” she says softly, looking down at her hands like she can’t meet his eyes. Danny follows her gaze and looks at the old scars on her palms, she claims she got them rawhide braiding, whatever that is. “If I hadn’t been getting the footprint lifter, I would have been in that building.”
Danny reaches over and runs his thumb over the back of her hand. He can feel her shivering, wonders if she’s stopped since the explosion this morning. It seems unlikely.
“Flack will be ok,” he promises her, more to convince himself than anything else. First Louie, then Aiden, then Flack… Danny isn’t ready for this and he can tell Lindsay isn’t either. Maybe they didn’t have this kind of thing in Montana. He doesn’t push his luck by asking. Instead, he watches Lindsay’s lips tremble, while she bites them together like she’s trying to hold back tears, and he keeps stroking her hand like it might make everything ok.
He manages not to fall off his barstool when Lindsay hugs him tight, burying her face in his shoulder, and he rubs her back carefully and they both wait for her to get her tears under control. Eventually, she pulls back, and looks up at him with her dark eyes swimming vulnerably. Without thinking he brings his hand up to stroke her cheek and she smiles and then shakes her head.
“It’s been a really, really long day Danny,” she says, “And an even longer month, and I can’t do this right now, ok? I’m sorry.”
“It’s ok Montana,” he replies, digging in his pocket for his wallet. “Come on, I’ll drive you home.”
That which he thinks he already knows.
Don Flack thinks mainly in colours and flashes and dark, dark, pitch-blackness. He can’t hear and then he can and his mind spends a long time processing words that seem to mainly amount to I’m going to get you out of this and you’re going to be ok. He flickers between being in pain and being completely numb and then finds a pleasurable mix of the two. He feels cold, very cold, and wants to tell someone that he is cold but he can’t.
His mind is scrambled, and he works that out fairly quickly, so he limits thought processes and mainly concentrates on the dark because in the dark it doesn’t take much effort and it’s quiet and not very scary. Gradually, little things come back to him- like an explosion, and Mac’s shoes, and a guy with headphones, and something about being safe and getting out of this and his mind keeps returning to the explosion and he thinks that maybe something happened but he doesn’t want to know and he can’t remember anyway. And he was telling Lindsay about parties in the street and she made some crack about Wyoming and she was wearing green…
There’s darkness for a long, long, long eternity, soothing darkness that Don rather likes. And then there’s a voice throughout the darkness, and Don obediently reaches for that voice, because he might as well. He feels dizzy and slightly sick and the pain and everything else is overwhelming, but he keeps straining because he’s not sure what happened but surely he’ll find out.
“Squeeze my hand, Don.” It’s an order and he tries to obey, tries to work out what his hand is and where it is and if it even remembers what squeezing is and there were corridors full of people and they were screaming and they were running to leave and- his fingers twitch. He tries it again, feels them twitch. Yes. That’s got to be enough. Because he doesn’t know what happened- he thinks he knows, which is a different thing entirely- but what he does know is that Mac is there, and he’s not alone, and he must be safe, and Don would smile if he thought he knew how to as he drifts back off into the blackness for a while.