Author: The Atomic Cafe PM
Nominee for the CSI Fanfic Awards 2006. MacStella, MacClaire. Before the blackness, he remembered Stella.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst - Words: 1,883 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 2 - Published: 09-04-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3139440
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I do not own CSI: NY or affiliates.
Insect-filled light bulbs flickered, finally sending the room into temporary darkness. There was nothing to be illuminated - the walls were a dull grey color with splotches of blood lining them and the door was shut, blocking out all light and sound. It hadn't opened at all that day, which worried the man the most. There was a small chance that it wouldn't open, and he wondered if that would be a good thing compared to what would happen if it did open.
For the rest of the night, the door stayed closed, and the man stayed as happy as he could. He slept for only a few minutes at a time, his eyes dropping shut against his will.
When he felt the cool breeze and smelt the sudden change from the stale air he was so used to, the man's eyes flashed open. He had been disturbed from the only moment of peace he had ever had, even if it wasn't in great context.
When the door opened and shut again, he glanced at the approaching figure. The new man, who had a somewhat heavy build and was of average height, reached out as though in an embrace. As the arms wrapped around the prisoner, the prisoner found that he couldn't struggle. He had already been shot three times, could barely move his limbs or breathe. He welcomed the touch, curious as to the end.
If it's going to go on, better end soon.
The hands touched his neck, applying pressure. It was a talented touch, soft at first and probing his neck until it tightened. He choked as the finger pressed harder and harder, couldn't see as his eyes rolled back. He tried to breathe, taking shuddering breaths, but they were pressed out of him before they got to him lungs.
His brain starved slowly, a bit at a time, until the man felt numb. He wanted to reach up and get the hands off him, do anything to fight, but there was no energy to struggle. He felt paralyzed and had for the past day.
As his finger froze and his nose and mouth burned from trying to fight in air, the man remembered. Remembered his childhood, which had been filled with dreams of leaving home and finding somewhere else to be. Remembered the forms he signed out before he went off to fight. Remembered every gunshot he heard in his life, from the practice arms he used to the sound of the snipers practicing to the real drills where the bullets came dangerously close to him. Remembered the sounds of bomb around him, going off, the remnants of a building falling around the troops. Remembered the smell of acrid smoke just a few years before, the smell of the loss of everything he had loved then. Remembered funerals he had been to.
He had no happy memories left. His brain seemed to have eaten them off first in an effort to save itself. He couldn't remember cooking breakfast with his wife, his honeymoon, any of the trips they had taken. The man had spent too long trying to get rid of those memories, and when he wanted them, there wouldn't come.
Before the blackness, he remembered Stella.
She kept a tight hold on Mac's hand, her lips pressed tight together. The cool September air didn't reach them, even though the hospital window was cracked open slightly. Whenever she closed her eyes, she only heard the sound of the respirator.
Stella opened them, staring at Mac, concentrating on his face. She always loved his eyes. They were a smooth blue and green color. Now, even if his eyes were still open, she couldn't see the color. The eyes were darker, almost dead, and completely blank.
It was just their second case of the month. Mac had examined each of the women they had found dead, watched everything he could about them, doing everything to find the killer. When they had found the last one, alive but not reacting, Mac had been the one to watch over her in the hospital, trying to identify her and her killer. And when they had found the man, he had been the one to arrest him.
Stella still didn't understand anything after that. Right before the man was officially in prison, he had managed to leave, but not without Mac. It had been a fight that she hadn't been at work to see. (She cursed that day every moment since - You could have stayed a few more hours, finished your cases. You didn't need to leave yet. Waited, stayed with Mac… Just a few more minutes.) He had taken the gun off another officer, gotten the officer first, then Mac right when Mac couldn't defend himself.
And they had found him. And there he was, right in front of her. Frozen from the eyes down.
She considered how Mac had spoken to the victim before she died. Giles had told her that after they closed the case about it, explaining the entire syndrome to her. Stella couldn't help but feel amazed at Mac.
She lightly touched Mac' forehead, carefully touching his hair as though to smooth it back. He blinked. She understood that the end would come.
Without moving her hand away from him, just dragging it across his cheek, Stella thought of something to say.
"Hey," she whispered. "I'm glad you can hear me."
Mac blinked again, causing Stella to wince. She had always been religious, even in the orphanage, but she began to question it. Who would be so evil as to make her do this?
"You know what I remember?" she asked him, still keeping her voice low. "The first time we met. You moved into the apartment close to mine. I know you were wondering why I would have been in your building right then. I never told you, did I?" She smiled at him, feeling a tear come close to falling. "I was just looking around. No secret to it. Someone told me a cop was moving in, so I had to look. I was amazed. I expected a cop like the others - alone, tough, boring as hell. And you were there with Claire and that dog. You were funny. You were sweet. I almost had to ask to make sure you were really a cop."
Stella held his hand again, feeling the soft heat of it. Just a while longer…
"I need to thank you." Mac blinked at her as though in curiosity. "We've been working together for years. I don't know how many times you've saved me. And -" Stella closed her eyes and sighed. "Jesus, Mac. I - I don't know. I can't count how many times you've made me smile or how many times you've made my day better by being there."
She kept one hand around his limp one and put the other against the side of her head, running it through her hair. "When I was a kid in the orphanage, I wanted to leave. Not just leave, but find someone to be with forever who wouldn't leave me alone. I dreamed of getting married, having kids, just so that there would always be someone right there when I needed them." I had you to call at midnight. "It wasn't just having someone, but being able to watch someone else. Know that I'm returning to them. Mac…" She tried to think of what she wanted to say, chewing at her lip. "I'm glad you let me in. After… after everything that's happened, all of the bad things, I'm glad that I could be there for you and you were there for me. That's what teams do, right?"
Mac blinked again. Stella wondered what he was thinking.
"And then we found you, just today." She had to close her eyes, trying to blacken out the image of when they had found him there and shot down the 'doctor'. "You know what I wish? I wish you were fine right now, and we could sit together. Not like this. Just sit next to each other, both of us afraid of what the world is coming to. Just wondering if we could fix it."
She heard a knock on the door and looked. The doctor walked in, her hands empty and in her pockets.
"Miss Bonasera?" she asked, standing in the doorway. She closed the door. Stella remembered talking to her earlier, maybe an hour before. The doctor's name was Gale Gudenkauf. She had talked Stella through what had happened, told her of what needed to be done.
Stella raised her eyebrows at the doctor, asking her to go on.
"He'll be brain dead within minutes," Gale told her, her hands folded. "We can pull the plug now or wait until then."
Stella nodded at her, not answering. She looked at Mac, tightening her hold on him. "I'm - I'm scared, Mac." He swallowed. "I… I can't."
Gale stepped forward, touching a hand against Stella's back and holding it there. "I'm sorry, ma'am."
Stella nodded, not daring to look away from Mac. "Just give me a second, alright?"
Gale nodded and stepped away.
"I love you, Mac." Stella swallowed hard. Her mind kept racing to the end, making her think of short beeps from the machine that led into the final one that lasted a lifetime. "I want you to know that. If - if this hadn't happened, I think I would have wanted to marry you. I just want you to know that I'm here right now. I - I'm right here if you need anything at all." She sniffed, feeling hot tears. She lowly lifted his hand to her face, kissing his knuckles. "I love you. Say hello to Claire for me, alright?"
Mac blinked once. Stella knew what it meant.
Gale moved quickly. Mac Taylor died within minutes.
Mac Taylor opened his eyes. He was in a blank room. Room wasn't the word for it, as he couldn't see the walls. It was just an area with no end to it. Whiteness everywhere.
He glanced to his right, trying to follow the voice. He hadn't heard it in three years.
Claire stood slightly behind him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. "Missed you." She kissed his nose as he turned, then grinned at him.
Mac smiled back at her, lost for words. She looked beautiful, just as he had last seen her. Her cheeks were pink and full of life, and her eyes seemed to dance.
"Hey," he answered. "I have a message to give to you."