blue flamingos

Vodka and Cake

Fandom: CSI:NY

Category/Rated: Gen/G

Year/Length: 2006/~1517 words

Pairing: Danny/Aiden friendship

Spoilers: Set between S1 and S2, minor spoilers for S1.

Disclaimer: No, I don't own them, for which I should think they're profoundly grateful.

Summary: Aiden's not sure what prompted her to do this

Author's Notes: Written for the [info]friend_fic challenge and Prompt #11 Night In at [info]30_friends.

Feedback: Yes please. Even if it's bad. Especially if it's bad.

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Aiden's spent most of the last week alternating between three things: packing boxes, wishing for a case, any case, and avoiding being around Danny Messer. Of the three, she's successfully accomplished the first and the last, and, though New York is still mysteriously free of serious crime requiring a CSI, she's feeling victorious.

Which doesn't explain why, on her way out of the building earlier, when she bumped into Danny, she invited him over for dinner.

Actually, nothing explains that, not even her desire to try out a new cheesecake recipe on someone who isn't herself or her attractive, probably-straight, next-door neighbor.

In fact, the only possible reason for her sudden invitation – other than unanticipated good-heartedness on her part – is that she's come into possession of a bottle of Grey Goose vodka, which Danny loves and she can't stand, and, if she manages to get him drunk enough, she might just get out of him exactly what his problem has been over the last few weeks, which has got to be the first step to beating some sense into him so things can go back to what passes for normal in their world.

Suffice it to say, Aiden's approaching her evening with mixed emotions, and, she discovers when she catches her reflection in the window, melted chocolate across her cheek. She rubs it off and goes back to the sink, up to her elbows in hot soap bubbles, with a satisfyingly shiny stack of clean dishes on her left. She actually enjoys that part of cooking, the way everything can be wiped and cleaned away until it looks as though none of it existed.

Sometimes she wishes life was that way as well.

She feels bad, occasionally, for not wanting to be around Danny, which is maybe part of why she invited him over this evening. He's one of her best friends, after all, and he's obviously hurting, but it's just... Aiden sighs. She's never yet managed to finish that sentence, not to herself or to Flack, in Sullivan's a few nights ago, after Danny turned them down, again, graceless as ever.

Aiden wipes the last of her measuring spoons and pulls the plug, watching the water swirl away. Her kitchen clock reads quarter past nine, and she told Danny some time after nine. She's not even sure he'll turn up, whether to take the grunt and the way he pushed by her out of the lab as an affirmative or not – it's getting hard to tell with him, these days. She wonders whether it's too early to put her cheesecake in to bake, then decides she might as well do it. If Danny doesn't turn up, she'll take some into the lab tomorrow.

When she started at the lab, cakes and sweets in the break room were a regular thing, an excuse to stand there and gossip for a few minutes, and sometimes even enough to entice Mac to join them, just for a minute, until Stella said something that made everyone else laugh and him blush, or someone's pager went off and Mac remembered he was running a lab, as he used to say, not a coffee morning.

That was a long time ago, though, not long after Aiden joined the lab. She thinks about mentioning it to Danny, if he turns up, but it stopped, not long after he started there. She doubts he even remembers now.

Aiden glances at the clock again, and goes to the fridge for the bottle of wine she opened a couple of days ago. Maybe she should call Flack: he can keep her company if Danny doesn't show, or help dilute Danny's depression if he does.

It's a good idea, Aiden thinks, but she curls up on the sofa instead of picking up the phone. There's a part of her that doesn't want to admit Danny doesn't want to see her, the same part that doesn't like to admit she has no real idea what's wrong with one of her closest friends, not for lack of trying on her part but because he doesn't *want* to tell her. It's part of why she's been avoiding him all week, not wanting to be around him when she can't talk to him about anything, not even trivial things like the crowds on the subway now the summer's finally arrived, or something funny one of the lab techs said to her.

It's a good idea to get Flack over here as well, but if Danny won't talk to her, he's even less likely to talk when Flack's there. To one of them, maybe, but not to both, not ever. Anyway, for all she doesn't know about what's making Danny be the way he is, she knows he feels betrayed, by both Mac and the lab. Everyone knows he's been taken off the promotion grid and everyone knows Mac never takes Danny out with him on a case any more. They'd have to be blind not to: usually, Mac divides up assignments so no-one notices but, a couple of times, he's called Stella away from a crime scene she and Aiden have been working together and sent Danny to replace her. It kinda works in Aiden's favour, if she can stand the black mood that pervades the scene and the lab for the rest of the day, because Danny trying to prove himself is a force to be reckoned with, a force that hardened criminals crack before.

Most days, Aiden would rather slog through piles of trace evidence and get nowhere on a case for weeks, if it meant she got to work with a friend.

She sighs, and gets up to cut herself a slice of cheesecake, still warm from the oven. Perhaps she should ring Danny, ask him to bring ice cream.

The thought makes her laugh, bitter and dark in the back of her throat. Danny's not coming, she reminds herself silently, sticking the fork viciously into her slice of cake. If he was, you wouldn't be eating this.

When her intercom buzzes and Aiden shakes herself out of her thoughts to get up, she hasn't eaten a mouthful of her food, just crushed it into a sticky mess on her plate. A waste of good cake, she thinks, plus now she won't even be able to offer it to her neighbor, not with a chuck taken out of it. This had better be Danny on the other side of the door, even if he is late and it's coming up on midnight.

"Hello?"

"Aiden?" The static distorts the voice on the other end, but Aiden's got used to Danny's voice over bad cell lines and yelling across crime scenes.

"It's about time." She pushes the button and hears the front door buzz.

She's just opening her own door when Danny's head appears up the stairs, swiftly followed by the rest of him. He's changed out of the suit he was wearing, into jeans and a soft looking shirt, though he might as well not have bothered, from the way he comes up the stairs, like he's casing the place, just waiting for something to go wrong.

Aiden wonders if she should be meeting him with a glass of vodka, not a plate of smashed up cheese cake, and the image of herself playing the good housewife to Danny's bread-winning husband makes her smile at just the moment Danny looks over at her.

"What?" he asks, sounding defensive. Aiden wants to kick him.

Instead, she smacks his shoulder, just hard enough to really hurt. "Where the hell have you been?" she demands, the irritation more faked than she expected. Somewhere, she's glad that he's here, relived that he's shown up after all, enough so that she can put off being pissed at him for a few minutes, at least. "I hope you brought something with you to make up for it."

Danny pulls his hands from his pockets, revealing open palms. He's looking down again, so Aiden can't see his face. She chances it anyway, and rolls her eyes.

"What was I thinking?" she asks, stepping back for him to come inside. "Expecting you to bring things, anyone would think we were supposed to be friends."

It's both a not-very subtle dig and a long-standing joke, and Aiden holds her breath, waiting to see which way Danny will take it. He still isn't looking at her, his back to her as he shrugs out of his jacket.

"Yeah," he says finally, his voice giving nothing away. "You had a recent head injury?"

"Must have," Aiden agrees, not allowing any of her relief to show in her voice. "You want cake or vodka?"

Danny turns round, raising his eye brows.

"Never mind," Aiden says. "I guess it was a redundant question."

Turning to the kitchen, out of the corner of her eye, she sees Danny's mouth quirk up in a fraction of a smile, just for an instant.

Even though it's nearly midnight, and he's only just got here, Aiden chalks the evening up as a success.


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