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Saturday, January 20th, 2007 12:42 pm
Title: Long Distance
Author: [personal profile] bluflamingo
Fandom: CSI/CSI:NY x-over
Pairing: Sara/Aiden
Rating: PG
Words: 1707
Feedback: Yes please. Even if it’s bad. Especially if it’s bad.
Disclaimer: No, I don’t own them. To my profound disappointment.
Spoilers: CSI:NY ‘Heroes’ and 'Grand Murder at Central Station'

Summary: Danny'd rather act out his responsibilities as a CSI than as a best friend
AN: For [livejournal.com profile] 30_friends prompt #13 long distance; sequel to Worth Staying For, but you can read it without



Long Distance

The shrill ringing of her phone drags Sara out of sleep into mid-afternoon daylight that means she doesn’t have to wake up for at least another couple of hours. She fumbles for the phone anyway, expecting a familiar voice on the other end, because working round different time zones and strange hours has never been something they’ve managed to work out.

“Sidle.”

A man clears his throat on the other end of the line and says, “Sara?” sounding unsure.

“Yeah.” Sara pulls herself upright, shoving her hair back from her face. She reaches for the light switch on muscle memory, then pulls her hand back, even though no-one can see her. There’s something about being woken by a strange voice that makes her want to do it, get the light that would have brought her awake faster if it was dark. “Who’s this?”

Not Aiden, not the lab, not a wrong number… she’s pretty much out of other suggestions at that point, and since he’s neither of the first two, she’d just as soon he get off the phone and let her go back to sleep.

“It’s – you don’t know me, my name’s Danny Messer, I worked with Aiden, in New York.”

She’s never met him, wouldn’t say she knows him, but she certainly knows enough of him for her stomach to lurch and her chest to get tight. Aiden talks about him on the phone, often, how he’s coming over for dinner, or has taken her out and teased her about her girlfriend in Vegas, asking when he’s going to get to meet Sara.

Sara’s far from sure she wants to meet him, even less so now.

“OK.”

She wants to ask, what do you want? wants to say, just tell me, whatever it is, before I have to imagine the worst.

“You, er – I should have come in person, I’m sorry.” He pauses to breathe, and Sara knows what he’s going to say. She was a cop, for a while, before she was a CSI, she knows what breaking bad news sounds like. More than bad news, the worst that she was just trying not to imagine.

“You don’t have to say it,” she says, and her voice doesn’t sound any different.

Maybe that’s why Danny draws another deep breath and says, “Aiden was found dead this morning. I’m sorry.” He sounds more broken than she does, on the edge of cracking. He’s had longer for it to sink in than her.

She lets the silence stretch longer than she means to, waiting for him to break it, then not knowing how to do it herself.

He breaks first, and says, “I don’t know what happened. We don’t know what happened. We-“ He stops, suddenly, and Sara recognises that as well.

“Tell me,” she says, calm like she is with witnesses and suspects, then, “tell me!” again, the words splintered and sharp.

When she reaches out again, unable to stop herself, it’s for something that isn’t there.

Danny’s indrawn breath on the other end of the line is sharp, wet sounding, though his voice is clear. Just the facts, ma’am, Sara thinks insanely, and fights off a sudden burst of totally inappropriate giggles. “A body was brought into the lab this morning. It was badly burned, beyond recognition. We did a facial reconstruction, matched it to a picture in the files.”

Aiden, Sara thinks stupidly, with something like shock, even though he already said. A body, burnt beyond recognition. Facial reconstruction, Aiden’s thing. Aiden.

Aiden, who called her last night, an hour before she had to leave for work, plenty of time to talk, who sounded normal, talked about studying for her investigator’s licence, a bit about her case, and whether Sara might get some time off to come and visit.

Aiden, who said, I miss you, when they were saying goodbye, and never said, I’m going to go out and die tonight.

“What happened?” she asks. She wants to be there, in the new lab that Aiden barely settled into before she was fired, the one that she talked about jealously when she was asking Sara for tiny amounts of chemicals from their own lab, ones she couldn’t buy for herself, to get her hands into the evidence and find something.

“We don’t know,” Danny says. “We only just…” He trails off, sounding exhausted, and Sara finally realises: he really doesn’t know anything, because they only just made the identification, and he called her, before he had anything else to tell her.

He called her, because he was Aiden’s friend who teased her about her girlfriend in Vegas, who knew that they called each other most days and wanted to tell her before she could worry when Aiden didn’t call.

She feels like all the air’s gone out of the room, her throat tight, sharp pain in her ears, and she hopes that Danny will understand when she hangs up on him without a word.

*

After Pratt’s confessed, while he’s being processed and Danny has literally nothing to do except start his report on something he’d rather never think about again, he finds an empty interview room and digs Sara Sidle’s number out of his wallet.

The scrap of paper is still clean, the name and number written in Aiden’s neat, dark script. No-one else knows he has this, or that he’s called Sara every day to tell her what they know that’s new. Actually, no-one else except Flack knows about Sara at all, and he hasn’t asked. Danny figures he’s guessed, but he’s keeping quiet – he doesn’t want to hear Flack saying the things that are only in his own head right now.

Aiden gave him the piece of paper two weeks ago, when they’d drunk too much so he could stop thinking about Louie. He asked and she shrugged and made a joke that he can’t remember now, lost in a semi-drunken haze, and he figured, when he found the paper in his wallet the next day, that what happened to Louie and the distance between her and Sara had made Aiden a bit paranoid. Kind of the way someone dying near you makes you want to update your will.

He thinks, now, that she wasn’t as surprised by Pratt as they’re all saying. She left them the clues to figure out her case, but Danny doesn’t think it was a spur of the moment thing. He thinks she knew what might happen, she planned for it, just in case, and that’s why he’s got Sara’s phone number in his wallet.

What he doesn’t think about is whether she wasn’t just planning ahead, whether she was trying to ask him for something, the way she forced Mac to fire her when she needed to get out.

He keys the number into his cell and listens to it ring.

“Hey.” Sara’s voice has grown familiar over the past days, and she sounds tired, worn down. Danny thinks about being in her place, too far away to do anything but wait for daily updates on her girlfriend’s murder like she used to wait for phone calls. As much as he hates the part he’s playing in this, he’d rather that than Sara’s.

“We got him,” he says, and Sara’s gasp of relief comes through the line, loud and clear. There’s a clatter in the background which might be her sitting down. He’s called her cell after the second time, when he couldn’t get her on her home phone, because he’s not sure she’s going home.

“Oh God,” she says. “Thank you. God.” He was half-prepared for tears, but he’s not surprised that all he can hear is relief. It’s over, now.

“It was all Aiden,” Danny tells her. “She left tooth impressions in the side of the car, that’s what finally got him to confess.”

Sara’s laugh sounds watery. He wonders if she’s got anyone to be with: Aiden always talked about how tough she was, but he feels a weird kind of guilt for leaving her alone. He’s got no reason to call her now the case is solved, and maybe no-one in Vegas knew about the two of them; Aiden wasn’t there long enough to get close to any of them except Sara.

“Good for her,” Sara says. “She said…” Her voice drifts off, like she’s remembering, but Danny can finish it on his own – Sara’s said it every time they’ve spoken: she said she’d get him.

Somewhere in the building, Aiden’s body is being prepared for transporting to the funeral home; Pratt’s being processed and flung in a cell, and Danny’s colleagues are getting their stuff together to go drink themselves into a state where they can talk about Aiden and not think about the case.

In Vegas, Aiden’s girlfriend is talking on her cell to a total stranger, because it’s maybe the only link she’s got now to Aiden.

“Let me know what time your flight gets in,” Danny says. “I’ll pick you up, I’ve got a spare room.”

It’s full of boxes right now, but the funeral won’t be for a couple of days: Aiden’s oldest brother’s in Japan on business, and he’s having problems getting a flight.

“You don’t –“ Sara says. She cuts herself off and Danny waits. Maybe she hasn’t booked a flight, isn’t planning on coming at all, or would rather stay in a hotel and be anonymous. “1.30, the day after tomorrow. I wasn’t sure…”

Wasn’t sure when you’d solve the case, Danny thinks. He guesses everyone’s patience has a breaking point, and apparently Sara hit hers by booking a flight. He can see why she and Aiden got on so well.

“OK, I’ll be there. I’ll email you a photo, so you know who to look for.”

Sara takes a deep breath on the other end of the line. “That’s OK. Aiden’s showed me plenty.”

Danny’s glad for a moment that she’s not there to see him flush. He hates having his picture shown around. “OK then. See you in two days.”

“Thanks, Danny. See you.”

His cell beeps softly as Sara hangs up, and Danny thinks maybe they’ll find a reason to keep calling, at least for a while.

Saturday, January 20th, 2007 01:19 pm (UTC)
The beginning of a beautiful friendship? Please?
Sunday, January 21st, 2007 04:31 pm (UTC)
Could be, I suppose :) Thanks for the feedback.
Saturday, January 20th, 2007 09:45 pm (UTC)
Wow. I remember how much I absolutely loved the first one, and this sequel did it complete justice. I would like to see more of this, definitely.
Sunday, January 21st, 2007 04:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I'm glad you liked it! I'm not sure I've got anything else on this one, but who knows.
Sunday, January 21st, 2007 11:20 pm (UTC)
Dear lord, that was great.
Monday, January 22nd, 2007 04:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Monday, January 22nd, 2007 12:34 pm (UTC)
Oh man. I still can't believe Aiden is gone. It's so weird... This was good. No it was beautiful.
Monday, January 22nd, 2007 04:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)

I still can't believe Aiden is gone.

I know - it's not the same without her.