Title: The Eleventh Hour

Author: elegantlyemo

Summary: Mack reflects on the loss of his wife, Claire, and the possibility of new beginnings.

Disclaimer: All the characters of CSI: NY belong to the creators, and the actors belong to themselves.

The Eleventh Hour

It hadn't been that long, really, since September the 11th. One could never fully forget the events of that day. No therapy, no amount of overworking oneself, and no willful ignoring of the event could make one forget it. That day… No, not that day. The day. The day had been a critical point in many people's lives. Including Detective Mack Taylor's.

He had dealt with death before. Mack was, after all, a former Marine. And his current profession was a CSI. It was his job to deal with death- to look at it, day in, and day out- and solve its mysteries. Yet death had never struck so close to home before. Both of his parents were still alive. He hadn't talked to them in years, but they were alive nevertheless. But Claire was not.

Claire. It seemed almost surreal, that when Mack got home from a long night of working in the lab, she wouldn't be there, waiting up for him even though he told her not to. Surreal, that he wouldn't see the towels on the floor of the bathroom. Sometimes, in a fit of angst, he would put towels on the floor himself. But it wasn't the same. Claire used to do that all the time- she wasn't very organized, and that was what drew Mack to her.

He had loved her more than life itself. She had given his life purpose and direction, and as unrealistic as it sounds, made his life color where it was once black and white. Claire was home. The day she died, it seemed as if that home had been suddenly and almost inexplicably ripped from him, without warning. In fact, it had been without warning. It was a normal day- get up, take a shower, talk a bit, kiss goodbye, go to work- but the rest of the day wasn't normal at all.

The first plane had hit. He had seen it, had seen the flames. It hadn't fully sunk in that that was where Claire was until the second plane hit. 'Christ,' Mack had thought. 'My Claire. I have to find her. I have to save her. I can't…I mustn't lose her.' But he did. He couldn't save her. She had made it out, but had died anyways. Something about smoke and debris inhalation. Mack wanted her back. He wanted her out of the ground and back- living, breathing, just as she was before the day- so he could hold her in his arms. Not that he'd wish death on anyone else. Oh, never. Knowing that loss was like suffocating, and dying anew each day.

The one thing Mack had learned after Claire's death was that life goes on. He didn't think it could. He didn't know exactly how it did- for a few months, it seemed as if he had been living life in slow-motion. Everything seemed not quite right, and Mack knew he had to fix it. But the thing was, whenever he was lost, it was Claire who had fixed things. Claire who had helped. It was a frustrating feeling to know that the one you loved most couldn't help you anymore. Mack himself found himself lacking the stamina to deal with his job. He didn't see the point. After all, what good did it do anyways? It's not like people actually changed. They never did.

The Horatio fellow, the one that came from Miami, told him something that made it vital for Mack to at least make an effort to move on. "You know, Mack, one day at a time works both ways." And Mack had made that effort- he was moving on- and that one day at a time was going the way he wanted it to go. But he was lonely. He knew, so soon after Claire's death, that he shouldn't be feeling this way. That he shouldn't want to find love so soon. But he did. And Stella told him that Claire wouldn't want him to feel miserable all his life, just because she had died. Claire would want him to be happy. And so he would be.

Mack found love, eventually. Claire never fully left his heart. But, I suppose, that's why you have to look past the eleventh hour.