Disclaimer: I don't own any of the CSI NY characters, I'm only borrowing them, and I promise to return them in minty fresh condition when I'm finished.
It was all Jo Danville’s fault. That much at least they had agreed on afterwards, long afterwards.
Don Flack admitted that maybe he had been partly to blame as well. After all, if he hadn’t decided on a whim to see if Mac Taylor was going to be free for lunch, he’d never have been in the labs that day, would never have been strolling along towards Mac’s office at that time, and would never have crossed paths with Jo who had been on the lookout for somebody to help her with a reconstruction.
“Don Flack, you are exactly what I’ve been looking for!” said Jo, who had been walking down the corridor when she had seen the tall Detective saunter out of the elevator car.
“Ah Jo,” said Don with a mock sorrowful expression on his face, “You know I think the world of youze, but I gotta say, it’s just as a friend.” He sighed theatrically, before a grin appeared on his face.
“Oh you!” Jo made an exasperated sound, “I need some help with a reconstruction and there’s nobody free in the labs that would be tall enough. Can you spare me a few minutes, it won’t take long, ten minutes, maybe fifteen…twenty at most I’m sure of it!” She looked at him with her best ‘damsel in distress’ expression, which, as she acknowledged to herself, wasn’t all that convincing.
“Well,” said Don, torn between wanting to help out a friend, and wanting to spend time with his partner. “I was just here to see Mac…”
“Oh, he’s in the middle of a conference call with the Commissioner,” said Jo, nodding towards the meeting room. “It sounded like it could go on for a while.”
Don’s face fell slightly, before his grin reappeared, “Looks like I’m all yours then.”
In the end, it took Jo a full ten minutes just to set up the reconstruction and explain to Don exactly what it was she was hoping to achieve and why it was essential that she have somebody about six feet tall to launch dye filled water balloons at various white sheets that she had hung up in the lab. Don’s eyes had glazed over as he’d buttoned up the lab coat that Jo had insisted he swap his jacket for.
“Just tell me what to throw and where to aim,” said Don. “I don’t need to know the why.” He slid on the protective glasses. “Let’s do this.”
And it had started out well. Jo gave Don a water balloon, instructed him as to how to throw it and then stood back and watched the impact before examining the pattern and making a note of the results. Rinse lather and repeat. All was going well until Jo asked Don to try an overarm throw and picked up one of the balloons to explain. “Try and let it go at as high a point as you can reach,” said Jo. She swung her arm to demonstrate the required action and then watched in horror as the balloon slipped from her grip and smashed straight into Don’s head, bursting, and splashing its contents all over his face and upper body.
Jo gasped in shock. “Don are you all right?” she asked, concern evident in her voice.
The impact had startled Don into taking a few steps backward and his arms flailed as he regained his balance. “Ugh, what the hell, Jo?” Don pulled off the safety glasses and glared at her.
Jo tried to stifle a laugh as she looked at Don. Apart from the area that had been covered by the glasses, his face, and indeed most of his chest was covered with the green dye that she had been using. “Don, I’m so sorry,” said Jo, “It just slipped out of my hand.” She took a step towards Don, “Here, let me get you out of the lab coat before it soaks through.”
“Too late for that,” growled Don as he pulled the sodden material away from his body to reveal an equally saturated shirt beneath. By the damp feeling against his chest, Don knew that the dye had soaked through his vest as well. “This had better not be any sort of permanent dye,” he warned her.
Jo grimaced as she grabbed some paper towels and started dabbing at Don’s face. “It should come off easily enough…probably.”
Don grabbed the towels from her, glaring as he wiped the liquid from his face.
“What the hell is going on in here?” Mac’s voice echoed round the room. Jo spun around to see him glowering in the doorway.
“Mac,” said Jo, a little shamefacedly, “Don was helping me with a spatter analysis, and I’m afraid there was a bit of an accident with the water balloon.”
“And what exactly was in the balloon?”
“My own recipe,” said Jo, “Saline, some dish soap, a few other bits and pieces, oh and some fabric paint to make it stand out.”
“Green fabric paint?”
Jo shrugged helplessly, “I find it comes up better in the photos. But it should all wash out easily enough…I hope…”
Mac rubbed his hand over his face, “I have just finished arguing with the Commissioner over the budget allocations and I told him that we have an impeccable safety record in the lab because I hire highly trained individuals who don’t waste resources or make stupid mistakes.” His voice was raised loud enough for people in the neighboring labs to notice.
“Mac.” Don’s voice cut through Mac’s diatribe. “It’s just a little dye. You want to maybe take things down a notch, hmm?”
His voice was calm, but there was an undercurrent of something in it as he held Mac’s gaze.
Jo watched the interaction with interest. She knew that Don and Mac were a couple, and boy was that a case of ‘opposites attract’ if ever she’d seen one.
At least on the surface though, it seemed to her that the only things that the pair had in common was their professionalism and dedication to their jobs. And she sometimes wondered just how they’d even become friends in the first place, let alone lovers.
But now as Jo watched Don hold Mac’s gaze, she could see that there was a deeper connection in play. One that they didn’t let other people see, at least not while they were on the job. Heck, she had been working at the crime lab for almost a month before she’d even confirmed that they were an item.
“It was an accident, Mac,” said Don, still holding Mac’s gaze. “I’m fine, yeah?”
Mac sighed, “I’m sorry, Jo. It’s just Sinclair…I didn’t mean to take it out on you.”
“It’s okay, Mac,” said Jo. “And I should have been more careful.”
“Don, come with me. You can clean up in the decon showers and I think I have a spare t-shirt in my locker.” He looked at Jo, “Jo will get this mess cleaned up.”
“Of course,” said Jo, watching as Mac guided Don out of the lab, one hand on his back. “Sorry Don!” she called after the pair.
Don waved a hand in acknowledgement.
“Yo, Mac, wait up!” Danny Messer called after the pair as he increased his pace to catch up with them. “I got those results…whoa, Donny boy, you okay there? You’re looking a bit green about the gills!” He grinned widely. “What happened?”
“I was helping Jo with a reconstruction,” said Don, glaring at him.
“See, now this is why you should leave the sciency stuff to people who know what they’re doing.”
“Keep walking, Messer,” growled Don.
Danny turned his attentions to Mac, “You got a minute?”
“Let me get Don sorted and I’ll see you in my office in five.”
Danny nodded and walked off
Danny wasn’t the only one to notice Don’s appearance, but most of the rest of Mac’s people were sufficiently in awe of him to do more than just stare and speak in hushed whispers as they passed by. Not all of the whispers were adequately hushed though.
By the time they reached the locker room, Don’s earlier equanimity had faded, his scowl had grown with each stare and barely audible comment on his appearance.
“I am going to be the laughingstock of the whole lab,” groaned Don as the locker room door closed behind them.
“It’s just a little dye,” said Mac, smiling. “Maybe *you* need to take things down a notch.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Don sat down heavily on the bench. He didn’t really know why the comments had bothered him so much. He was used to the lab rats seeing him as nothing more than a dumb cop who didn’t understand half of what they said in front of him. And it didn’t bother him, not much anyway. At least it hadn’t, not until he and Mac had got together. “It’s just…it’s just that I know that a lot of folks round here think it’s weird that you and I are hooking up. I mean, you're so smart and you're dating a big lug like me who can't even do a reconstruction without messing it up."
“You know Danny doesn’t mean anything by it,” said Mac.
“Yeah, *he* doesn’t.” Don hadn’t meant to let it slip out, but sometimes being around Mac had a way of loosening his tongue in ways he hadn’t intended. Safe in the knowledge that he could trust Mac implicitly, Don sometimes found himself being unflinchingly honest in front of him.
But that didn’t mean that he wanted to burden Mac with everything and certainly not something like a few dumb remarks that he’d overheard.
It wasn’t everybody in the lab of course. His friends, Danny and Lindsay, Hawkes…while there might be the occasional snarky remark, especially from Danny, Don knew that they didn’t mean anything by it.
But some of the more sciency types, the ones that spent more time hunched over a microscope than working cases in the field. Don had good hearing and an ear for gossip and even before he’d gotten together with Mac, he’d heard enough disparaging comments about cops and detectives who were barely smart enough to tie their own shoelaces. He’d ignored them for the most part, knowing that as long as they did their jobs to Mac’s satisfaction, their opinion about him was irrelevant.
But sometimes their words hit a nerve and Don wondered if Mac ever felt a sense of impatience when he had to explain something to him in detail that Danny or Jo or even the newest recruit to the lab would understand in a few words.
“Has somebody said something to you?” asked Mac, his face serious.
“You really think anybody would say something to the face of the boss’s boyfriend?” Don forced himself to smile. “Look, it doesn’t matter. They do their job; they get the results. They’re entitled to their opinions about me, about us. It just sometimes bugs me a little, I guess.”
“Is there anybody in the lab whose opinion about our relationship carries more weight with you than mine? Because if there is, then they’re fired.” Mac’s tone was deliberately casual but inwardly he was seething at the thought that somebody on *his* team had made Don feel less than welcome.
“Come on, Mac,” said Don, “You can’t fire somebody just cause they say something mean. I’ve got a thick skin; I can handle it.”
“No, you’re right, I wouldn’t fire anybody,” said Mac, “But let’s just say, the next time we get we some animal crap to sort through, I’d know who I’d be assigning it to!” He smiled at Don and was relieved to see a genuine smile in return. “Okay, let’s get you sorted out.”
Don grimaced as he pulled his shirt away from his body. As he had suspected, the dye had soaked through not only the lab coat and the shirt, but also the undershirt he’d been wearing. He pulled the layers over his head, not even caring that more dye was being deposited on his face.
Mac appeared in his field of vision with a bio-hazard bag. “Put them in here,” he instructed.
“Bio-hazard, are you kidding?”
“It’s standard procedure for stained clothing. Ensures that there’s no cross-contamination between cases, and of course that all toxins are removed.”
Don dropped the clothes in the bag.
“Maybe you should join me in the shower then, help make sure I get the rest of the dye off.” He leered at Mac, “I’d hate to miss any ‘toxins’.”
He struck a pose which would have been a lot more provocative if it hadn’t been for the streaks of green which covered his chest.
“Hands off while on the clock,” said Mac, although in truth, green or no green, he would have liked nothing better than to make sure that every part of his Don’s body was in pristine condition.
It had been one of the ground rules that he’d insisted on when their relationship had shifted from friends to lovers. “We have to continue to behave in a professional manner if we want to keep working together,” Mac had told Don that first night as they’d lain entwined in each other’s arms.
“So does that mean that I can’t make out with you at a crime scene?” teased Don.
“I’m serious,” said Mac. He had disentangled himself from Don and sat up in the bed. “I won’t compromise the integrity of the crime lab for anybody, not even you.”
“Hey, it’s okay. I get it Mac, I do.” Don had sat up as well, and now he squeezed Mac’s shoulder. “The last thing I want, the last thing either of us want is for some two-bit defense attorney to accuse us of messing up the case because we were too focused on each other instead of what we was supposed to be doing. So, you want to operate a hands-off policy while we’re on the job, that’s fine by me.” He let his hand slide around Mac’s body pulling him close. “Just as long as we get to be as hands on as possible when we’re off the job.” He’d sealed the deal with a kiss and had proceeded to show Mac just exactly how ‘hands on’ he liked to be.
“Hands off while on the clock,” said Mac. “But I promise that tonight I’ll give you a thorough going over, and if I find a trace of green where it doesn’t belong…” He caught himself and added in a more professional tone. “There’s a spare t-shirt of mine with the towels and at least your trousers didn’t get splashed. Take your time and join me in my office when you’re ready.”
Don sighed, “You know, just once maybe you could act a little less professional when it’s just the two of us?”
“Don,” Mac started to protest, but Don didn’t let him finish.
“I mean, some days I feel like the next thing is that you’re gonna insist on us going back to calling each other ‘Detective Taylor’ and ‘Detective Flack’ when we’re at a crime scene together, just so nobody thinks we’re letting our relationship affect our work. But then I gotta say, hearing you call me ‘Detective’ doesn’t exactly bring out my professional streak, not when it’s coming out of your mouth. I’m not saying that exercising your authority like that isn’t a turn on, but it can be kinda hot sometimes.” He grinned at Mac and got a slight flush in response.
Don took Mac by the hand, “We can still be professional with each other, but that doesn’t mean we got to behave like robots. Heck, even before we hooked up, we could be pretty damn informal.” He squeezed Mac’s hand, “And I get what you’re saying, really, but right here, right now, neither of us is holding any evidence, we got no suspects or witnesses to deal with. So why don’t we gets to show each other a bit of affection, just cause we happen to be in our place of work.”
Mac sighed, and Don could see him visibly relax, “Perhaps I have been a little…over cautious,” he said, finally. He reached out and ran a thumb over Don’s cheek. “But right here, right now, you’re covered in dye. And while Jo has assured me that it’s not toxic or indelible, I don’t want to take any chances with you. So, you get cleaned up. I’ve got to go deal with Danny.” He cupped Don’s cheek in his hand for a few seconds, before pulling away with obvious reluctance.
“Yeah, you go talk to Danny,” said Don. “And try not to think of me working up a lather, making sure I get into all my…crevices. Just running that washcloth over my nipples, cleaning off every last speck of dye…”
Mac swallowed hard and tried to get himself under control, “You can be a right bastard sometimes, Don Flack,” he said, his voice half a growl as he reluctantly turned and walked towards the door.
“Yeah, but you love me for it,” Don called after him. He turned and reached for the towels. Behind him he heard the door open and then close again and footsteps came towards him.
“Yes, I do love you, Don,” said Mac, softly. “For that, but for so much more as well.” Hand on the back of Don’s neck, Mac pulled him in for a kiss.
Don started to return the kiss, but then pulled away, “What happened to ‘keeping our hands to ourselves while on the job?’” he asked.
“We’re not at a crime scene, there’s no evidence unsecured,” said Mac, “I’ll put myself on report later if I feel that I’ve compromised the integrity of the lab by showing affection to my partner.” He kissed Don again.
Much as Don would have liked to stay in that position, he knew that it was an impossibility, even if there hadn’t been green dye dripping from his hair. “Go,” he said, “Sort out Messer and when I get cleaned up, I’ll take you to lunch.” He let his forehead rest against Mac’s.
Mac sighed and pulled away. With one final caress of Don’s cheek, he left the locker room.
If anybody noticed the flecks of green dye on his face, they all thought better of mentioning it to him.
Except of course for Danny, who had a big grin on his face when Mac joined him in his office.
“It’s a bit early for Saint Patrick’s Day, isn’t it?” A lesser man might have quailed under Mac’s glare.
“Sorry, that took longer than expected,” said Mac, not a trace of regret in his voice.
“Fine by me,” said Danny. “Flack okay?” There was genuine concern in his voice.
“He will be.” Mac collected his thoughts and concentrated Danny and the casefile he was explaining.
That night, with all the case files tucked away, Don sat on the edge of their bed with Mac kneeling behind him to soothe away the last remaining stresses of their day.
Mac started with a head massage, running his fingers through Don’s hair, tracing circles around the scalp until every inch had been soothed. He traced the lines of Don’s ears, caressing each lobe before walking his fingers down the back of Don’s neck and out onto his shoulders. A few kisses on the back of Don’s neck made him shiver with delight before Mac started squeezing on his shoulders.
When he’d finished massaging away any residual tension, Mac’s hands snaked around Don’s waist with the intention of making their way up towards Don’s nipples. But Don’s hands were faster, capturing Mac’s hands in his and holding them snug against his chest.
Mac pressed up against Don’s back and rested his chin on Don’s shoulder. “You okay there?”
“Mmm,” said Don, his eyes half closed, “Yeah.” He was silent for a few seconds before speaking, “So did Jo ever get that experiment of hers sorted?”
“You know we don’t have to talk about work when we’re off duty,” said Mac.
“Yeah, I know. But I just feel bad that I wasn’t able to help her properly.”
Mac smiled and kissed Don on the side of the neck, “And that’s just one of the reasons I love you.” He was silent for a few seconds, enjoying the sensation of Don’s body just resting against him. “Well, the good news is that she managed to complete her recreation. The bad news is that she may have cleared her prime suspect, or at least cast considerable doubt on his guilt. But *that* is not your problem.”
“And what is my problem?”
“Well, I still have to check the rest of your body for traces of dye, and if I find any…” Mac tried to sound stern and severe, but Don’s body was shaking with repressed laughter which proved to be contagious.
Don twisted around until he could kiss Mac on the lips. “Guess there’s no time like the present!”
Later, much later, after Mac had used hands and fingers and lips and tongue to ‘examine’ Don’s body and come to the conclusion that there indeed no errant traces of the dye left anywhere, they lay spooned on their bed.
Mac could tell that Don was almost asleep, but there was something he needed to say. Something he said to him every night they spent together. It didn’t matter to Mac whether Don heard the words or was already asleep, what was important to Mac was that the words were said.
Earlier that day.
Mac went through the report that Danny had brought to him, asking questions at various intervals until everything had been explained to his satisfaction. It took some time, but Mac finally closed the file, nodding approvingly at Danny.
“Good work, Danny. I’ll sign off on it and send it over to the DA’s office.”
“Thanks Mac,” said Danny. He glanced out through the glass and grinned, “Looks like he timed that nicely,” he said, nodding towards the corridor where Don was making his way to Mac’s office.
Mac’s black t-shirt that Don was now wearing, highlighted the difference in body types of the two men. While it did fit round Don’s shoulders, the material had definitely been stretched in order to accommodate the longer length of his torso. The flush of color on his face from the shower and the way the sleeves clung to his well-defined biceps, appeared to be attracting as much attention as the green dye had earlier.
Don, however, strode confidently through the corridor, seemingly oblivious to it all, and only stopping to talk to Jo, who had appeared out of her lab.
Danny glanced back at Mac, the intended snarky comment dying on his lips as he saw the look of devotion on Mac’s face.
“Guess everybody will get what you see in him now,” said Danny, quietly.
“No, they still won’t get it,” said Mac, not taking his eyes off Don, “But I know, and I make sure that he knows, and that’s really all that matters.”
“I love you, Don Flack,” said Mac, his breath hot against Don’s neck. “More than I can ever express.”
Don’s hand reached for Mac’s, squeezing it gently before clasping it to his chest. “Love you too, Mac,” he mumbled sleepily. “Now sleep.”
Mac kissed him on the back of the neck. They would sleep, and in a few hours a new day would dawn, and they’d go their separate paths until God willing, they both returned safely. And Mac would once again make sure that Don knew how much he meant to him. And that was all that mattered.