Title: Unfinished Business
Author: Jaxson K.
Pairings: Don/Jackson/Danny (past), Don/Jackson?
Rating: R
Summary: Will losing Danny help Don and Jackson find each other again?
Warning(s): Character death


Jackson was trying to keep calm as the cab stopped in front of the chapel. At this moment, there was no place he would rather be , than back home in Texas, but he was here to say his final goodbye to his ex-lover and friend Danny Messer. When Mac Taylor contacted him about Danny's death, Jackson was a bit puzzled because he hadn't lived in New York or had any contact with Danny, Don, or any of his New York friends in nearly ten years. Mac said that he knew it had been a long time, but thought Jackson should know. He gave Jackson the funeral info should he want to send flowers and Jackson thanked him for calling. As soon as Jackson ended the call, he got started making flight and hotel arrangements.

Meanwhile, Don was sitting on the sofa in his apartment mourning his former lover and best friend. So many memories came to mind from the time they were in the academy together, to working together on cases, to the time he and Danny had been with Jackson, etc. Although he didn't want to think about it, thoughts came to him regarding the break-up of the threesome and afterward. Danny had wanted something different, and had told Don and Jackson that he wanted out. When he left, Don and Jackson tried to make a go of things, but Don was scared that Jackson would want to leave, too. He never told Jackson these things and left him without much of an explanation. Not long after, he'd heard that Jackson had returned to Texas.

He had wanted to get in touch with Jackson over the years, and had even tried. The thing was he chickened out at the last minute every time thinking that Jackson wouldn't want to talk to him after everything that had happened. The problem lay in the fact that he still loved Jackson, but had no clue how Jackson felt about him anymore. Don came out of his reverie and noticed the time. He needed to shower and get to the chapel for the viewing.

Jackson paid the driver and made his way to the front door of the chapel. No one was around, and he left himself into the viewing room where Danny was. As he looked upon his former lover and friend, he began to weep at the loss. Many memories came to mind and Jackson got swept along thinking about the good times, and even touching on some of the not-so-good times too. He said a prayer for Danny and was getting ready to leave the room when the door opened.....

"Hello, Don....."

Don walked toward him and the two embraced. Don had never been so glad to see Jackson in his life. The two parted , Jackson looked up and said, "It's good to see you. It's a shame it had to be under these circumstances....."
"I know what you mean....."

Jackson walked to the casket and looked down at Danny. As the tears began to flow, a million things ran thru Jackson's mind about Danny. To his shame, the one thing that stuck was the last time he'd seen Danny and how they had argued. Danny had tried to talk him out of going back to Texas, telling him that he just needed to give Don more time. Jackson remembered telling him that Don had used all his time up, and that Jackson wasn't waiting around any longer. Jackson was brought back to the present by Don putting an arm around him and guiding him out of the viewing room. Just as he was about to ask why, he saw people from the lab filing into the lobby. Many of them greeted Jackson warmly and asked how things were in Texas. He greeted each of them in turn, accepting a hug here and there and making small talk. He noticed that Don had disappeared and as soon as he could, he excused himself to try and find him.

He didn't have to go far. Don was sitting on a bench outside having a smoke. Jackson reached into Don's pocket and got one for himself. The two men sat there for a moment, and Jackson apologized for being so familiar when reaching for the cigarette. Don laughed and said it was okay. He went on to say that if it had been anyone else, they'd have ended up with a broken nose or a sock in the jaw. Before Jackson thought about it, he asked Don what made him different.....

"It's pretty simple, Jackson.....you were my baby once, and I guess I'm still comfortable with the idea of you being close to me....."
"I see...."
"Do you? Do you really?"
"Yes, Don...I get what you're saying......"
"I guess I shoulda kept my mouth shut, huh?"
"No, Don.....It's okay that you said that. Old habits do have a tendency to die a slow death, don't they?"
"Yes, they do....but it's more than that....."
"How so, Don?"
"I never got over you....."
"Oh, Jesus....."
"What?? I guess I really said the wrong thing this time....."

Jackson never heard the last part of what Don said because he was up and at the street hailing a cab. At that moment, he wanted as much space between him and Don as he could get because he wasn't prepared for those particular words to fall from Don's lips. He never dreamed that Don might still care about him, and it shocked him to find it out. He needed some time to process all of this, and he needed it now!

Don watched as Jackson's cab pulled out in traffic. He knew exactly why Jackson left, and it was all his fault. If he'd only kept his mouth shut, Jackson might still be sitting here beside him. The thing was; Don couldn't help himself. He wanted him to know the truth, and just now realized that he could have picked a better time and place to blurt things out. He knew he needed to do some damage control because he didn't want Jackson to stay away from Danny's service because he kept running off at the mouth. The trick was getting Jackson alone long enough to tell him.

While Don was trying to figure tings out, Jackson sat looking out the hotel room window thinking about Don, Dann, and how they had managed to end up here. The Danny thing couldn't be helped. He'd been killed in the line of duty, and that was that. Don had let the one thing slip that Jackson had spent so much time longing to hear and when it happened, Jackson freaked. He knew he could have handled things better than leaving the way he did, but it was a lot to take in. If only Don had said these things all those years ago, maybe things would have turned out different. Jackson knew he needed to address the issue with Don, but now really wasn't the time to do so.Perhaps after the funeral, and before Jackson headed back to Texas, they could sit down and talk to about this.

Don sat at the table with the rest of the gang at Vinetti's waiting for Jackson to show up. Mac had reserved one of the large table in the back and had invited everyone to dinner. Jackson had the time and place because Adam had written it down and given it to him at the viewing earlier. To say that Don was getting antsy was an understatement. Just about the time Don was about to give up hope that Jackson was coming, he walked in. When he saw him, Don couldn't help but stare. Jackson looked so good standing in the foyer of the restaurant. It reminded Don of the the times all those years ago when he and Jackson first met, and that brought a tear to Don's eye because they had been so happy for so long and now here he was so miserable that he could barely stand it.

Jackson made his way to where everyone was and took a seat at the table across from Don. Mac started out with a toast to Danny mentioning how he had been an excellent CSI and a good friend. The toasts went much in the same vein until it was Jackson's turn. Jackson simply stated that Danny had been a fine man, and that he was glad he had the chance to know and love him as he had. Don's toast went along in the same vein with Don stating that he was glad he had been friends with Danny, and that loving him was an experience he would forever cherish. After the toasts, Mac signalled the waiters to bring the food in, and after dinner, Don asked Jackson if he waned to step outside for a smoke. The two men were sitting on a bench outside the restaurant when Don spoke.....

"Jackson, I want to apologize about this morning....."
"Don, don't.....you did nothing wrong....."
"I shouldn't have blurted it out like that....."
"Maybe not, but know that I'm okay with it, and I'n not angry about it, okay?"
"If you say so....."
"Don, now is really not the time to get into this.....how about we table this discussion until after the funeral and get together before I leave for Texas so we can talk about eberything?"
"You really want to to talk about all of this?"
"I do, Don.....maybe it's time we got this settled once and for all....."
"I really would like the chance to do that because there are so many things I want to say, and to tell you....."
"Me, too....."

About that time, Mac and the rest of the gang came out and the moment was gone. Everyone was chattering at once, and Don and Jackson gor separated by the crowd. Everyone started to go their separate ways, and Jackson thanked Mac for a nice evening celebrating Danny. Mac replied that it was only fitting because it was Danny. Mac asked him how he was holding up, and Jackson said that it was a bit surreal being back after all these years, especially under these circumstances. Mac explained that he felt an obligation to call him and let him know especially in light of the fact that he and Don had been involved with Danny and it was only fair to let him know what had happened. Jackson thanked him and the two parted company until they would see each other at Danny's funeral.

Don really wanted to continue the conversation, but knew not to push the issue. He hailed a cab for Jackson and lingered on the sidewalk until the cab was out of sight. He went back to his apartment and made sure everything was ready for the next day. While doing this, he was thinking of what he wanted to say when he and Jackson had their talk. He knew he wanted to tell Jackson how sorry he was for leaving him and just exactly why he'd left. What it amounted to was Don felt the need to bare his soul and face the consequences. He felt that Jackson deserved the truth and nothing less. As he was getting ready for bed, Don said a prayer for Danny and another prayerthat he would have the courage to face the music with Jackson.

Across town, Jackson was doing pretty much the same thing Don was. He said a prayer for Danny and reflected on his relationship with the man. The thought that the man he'd once called his 'Doodle Bug' was gone hurt Jackson deeply. To make matters worse was the guilt that Jackson felt because he and Danny had parted on bad terms. His thoughts turned to Don and the promise he'd made. He fully intended to make good on that promise so he could maybe get some closure after all these years.

The next day dawned bright and sunny.....a perfect early summer day. Jackson was up early andwas getting ready when his cell began to ring. It was Mac reminding him to be in the lobby a bit early so he wouldn't miss the car service. Jackson thanked him for the reminder and Mac asked how he was holding up. He replied that he was alright and Mac said that he would see him soon.

The turnout at the church was quite large. It took a while for everyone to get seated, but once that had taken place, the service got under way. Several people spoke and everyone had nice things to say about Danny. Jackson thought that a bit ironic since Danny had been the target of gossip and speculation many times over. He was sitting between Don and Adam Ross and as grief and tears overtook him, he put his head on Don's shoulder. Don put his arm around him protectively and Adam reached over and took his had to comfort him. Once he had himself under control, he whispered his thanks to Adam but didn't try to move Don's arm. In truth, it felt comfortable. He snuggled closer to Don and felt his arm tighten around him. The two sat that way for the rest of the service, drawing curious looks for nearly everyone.

At the cemetary, it was basically the same thing. The comfortable feeling stayed with Jackson and he tried to keep Don as close as possible. When everyone began to disperse, Jackson asked Don what he was doing that afternoon, and Don replied that he didn't have anything special planned. Jackson told him to go home, change clothes, and meet him in Strawberry Fields in an hour. He also told him to bring and extra large strawberry soda. At the mention of that, Don grinned and said he'd be there.

At the appointed time, Jackson saw Don walking down the path toward him carrying two extra large soda cups. He knew one cup would have the strawberry soda he requested and the other cup would contain root beer. Jackson couldn't help but smile because Don looked like a big overgrown kid. The two men sat and talked about anything and everything for a while until Jackson steered it in the direction they both knew it needed to go.....

"So, Don... what did you mean about still caring for me?"
"Just what I said.....I do still care about you....."
"Don, you know it's been over for us for a long time....."
"I know that, but I also know how I feel, and I still care....."
"Well you sure have a funny way of showing it......"
"What do you mean?"
"Don, you left me......you wouldn't take my calls, I didn't know where you were.....and you have the nerve to say you still care??"
"I had my reasons for leaving....."

Jackson had been waiting for this moment ten years. He'd wondered and fretted over it, and hopefully he would have his answer.....

"When Dan left, I got scared....."
"What were you scared of, Don?"
"I was afraid that you were going to leave me, too.....I couldn't stand that thought, so I took off....."
"You mean to tell me that you tore my life to shreds because you thought I was going to leave you???"
Don started to fidget. That was a sure sign he was getting nervous, but Jackson couldn't be bothered to care at that moment.....

"Don, why didn't you say something?"
"I was hurt and confused.....I didn't know what to do...."
"Don't you think that Danny's leaving hurt me, too? Surely you remember how things were when that went down! You were my rock, Don, you always were!"
"Babe, I'm so sorry. I know I fucked up....."
"That's putting it mildly, Detective Flack!"

The two men sat in silence for a while trying to process everything that had been revealed. Jackson finally had his answer, and still didn't know what to make of it, and Don had finally been able to say to Jackson what he'd needed to say for all these years. Don looked at Jackson with tears in his eyes and shakily began to speak.....

"There's something else I want to talk to you about....."
"What is it, Don?"
"Do you have someone back in Texas now?"
"No, I don't.....do you have someone now?"
"No.....I never could quite move on from you even though I was the one who ruined things....."
"Don, I couldn't seem to move on either....."
"Jackson, I know this might seem kinda crazy, but there's something I want you to think about....."
"What's that?"
"You don't have to answer right now, but I want you to think about this....."
"Would you run that by me one more time?"
"I want you to consider getting back together with me....."
"I thought that's what you said......Don, that's a lot to ask considering the fact that we haven't spoken in 10 years, and now this?"
"Baby, please just think about it....."
"At this point, all I can say is that I'll think about it, but I want some time and some space to do it.....I leave for Texas tomorrow afternoon, but it's gonna take more than just a day to think about all this. One thing I can tell you is this: If we do this, and that's a BIG if, you will have to come to Texas. I say that because I don't think I could live here again. Too many memories......"

Don went to Jackson and held him in his arms. Jackson's crying spell didn't last long, but it was powerful. Don's heart was light for the first time in a very long time because Jackson had told him that he would consider taking him back. The two walked in the park for a while and Don put Jackson in a cab to take him back to his hotel. Jackson had promised to call Don before he left town the next day and gave him his new phone number in Texas so they could talk. The next day Jackson called Don when he arrived at the airport. The two men talked for a while and then Jackson had to go. That was the start of many phone calls between the two. As time went by, things began to look up between them except for one thing: Don moving to Texas.

It got to the point that Jackson began to dread Don's calls because they always got stuck on that particular point. Jackson finally lost his temper and told Don that it he wanted him, he would have to move to Texas and if not, he could stay in New York. Jackson was so angry that he didn't take Don's call for a few days. One afternoon he was out in the back yard when the phone rang. He ran into the house to catch it, but it stopped ringing. Just as he was about to go back outside, the phone rang again. When he answered, he heard Don's familiar voice on the line. They were talking when Don commented on Jackson's choice of clothing that day. Specifically the purple t-shirt he had on! Jackson asked Don how he knew that, and Don told him to look out on the front porch. Jackson ran and opened the door to find Don standing there with several suitcases.....

"Do you mean it, Don?"
"I've never meant anything more, Baby!"
"Then welcome home....."