Title: My Heartbreak, My Heartbeat
Disclaimer: Just borrowing these from J.B. & Co. The title comes from Melina's old friend Bob DeNiro and his American Express commercial.
Spoilers: Just tiny references to "Blood, Sweat, & Tears" and "Hush," and then the whole 2nd half is post-ep for "What You See Is What You See"
Summary: Nobody knows you like I do. Stella's POV. 1/1
I found you out on the beach that night. Coney Island. You and Claire used to go there all the time. She told you she loved the smell of the ocean and how it mixed with the smell of the concessions on the boardwalk. You argued that all you could smell was the fish, but you brought her back every Sunday after mass.
I don't know what made me believe that I could find you there out of the millions of places to go in this city. Just a hunch, I guess. Or maybe she was guiding me somehow. I'm not sure. All I know is I cleared everyone out of your house and locked the door behind me when I left.
At the bottom of the steps, I saw you. You were the only one on the shore, knees in the sand, the tide rolling in just feet in front of you. A smoky haze hovered in the sky. I passed your expensive leather shoes abandoned on the way. I'll never forget that image: the silhouette of a broken man, outlined by the moonlight. Your funeral clothes were disheveled. Your suit jacket barely rested on your shoulders, your navy socked feet were tucked beneath you. A hundred yards or so up shore would be the spot where we'd find that kid buried in a box in icy February a few years later.
I stood behind you for a moment with the straps of my heels in my hand, running conversation openers through my mind before I stepped to your shoulder and stared out at the waves.
"Everyone was wondering where you went."
You recognized my voice, but you didn't turn back to greet me.
"Go away, Stella," you said coldly.
"I don't want to."
"I don't want you here."
"Too bad." And I kneeled beside you on the shore.
"I mean it, Stella. I don't want you to see this."
"See wha--" A moonbeam caught sight of a pistol in your hand. I think my heart stopped. Did you hear it? "Mac--Mac, what are you doing?" I looked at the gun and then back up at you.
"I don't have anything left, Stella. Nothing."
"Mac…" I whimpered.
"All it would take is one shot. The tide would take me out before morning."
And then I heard the hammer click into place. Tears were being blinked back just as fast as my eyelids could move. The only thing I could imagine was boats dragging their nets and finding you, leaving me the most alone I've ever been in my entire life.
"Don't do this. Please don't do this."
"They took everything I had." I watched your hand rise.
"You still have me!" I pleaded. I turned to face you on my knees, and you just stared out at the sea. "Give me the gun, Mac. Please." I held my palm out in front of you. It was shaking terribly, as was yours, wrapped around the handle. "Please? You still have me. She wouldn't want you to do this."
An eternity passed. My mind's eye recalled the day we first met. The day you introduced me to her. The day she died in that building. All of it. I saw it all, just waiting for you to listen to me.
And you looked over at me, your eyes brimming with tears, looking at mine in the same condition. And down at my unsteady hand. And I watched you carefully release the hammer, empty the chamber, and place its only bullet in my grasp. I have held many bullets in my time, and never have I felt one so cold as the one you gave me. You tossed the gun onto the sand right before I chucked the bullet into the water, as far as I could, so that even if you wanted to, you would never be able to find it again.
I pulled you close in an instant, your head against my chest, and I cried relief into your hair.
Did you hear my heart shatter for you?
Years have gone by. I can't deny the fact that we aren't those same two people on the beach that night. We've moved on. I have. And I know you have even though you're slower to admit it.
That gun still haunts my dreams every now and again. I wake up immediately, and every single curl on my head is sopping when I hear that hammer fall down.
The ring is gone from your finger now. But Claire is not gone from your heart. I'd never expect her to be, nor would I ever ask for her to be. She was a big part of your life. Mine too, I suppose. Anything in your life is a part of mine.
I stood my date up that night. But I guess you already knew that because you showed up at my door at 9:30, and I answered. I don't know if I asked him out because I wanted to, or I felt like I needed to after talking to your damsel in distress.
My hair was pulled down from those clips that I never wear to work. I don't know why I even put them in. My little black dress was lying in a pile of dirty clothes at the foot of my bed. I traded it out for a pink tank top and a pair of gray sweatpants the very moment I got home.
You were still without your tie. Something I was pleasantly surprised to see, considering I would've bet Flack good money that you'd stop off and buy a replacement before you got to wherever it was she invited you to.
"I… didn't expect you to be here," you said when you stepped through the doorway.
I immediately knew that wasn't true. But I let it slide.
"Well, I am. Where's your diner friend?" I asked from the couch. I knew her name was Rose, but I wasn't about to acknowledge that.
You sat down at the opposite end like some little schoolboy afraid to sit next to a girl, though we'd sat closer in an interrogation room than we were in my living room at that moment.
"She went home."
"Yeah. I got there, and I realized that even though I think it's time to move on… I don't think she's the one I want to move on with."
"Oh?" I asked, curious as to where this conversation was headed.
"I mean… she's nice. And pretty. And she – she memorized my breakfast order…" you said with a smile.
"Mac? Is there a point to this?" I cut in, starting to feel queasy.
"But she's not you," you added and looked over at me.
All I could do was grin at you with a tinge of apprehension.
"She doesn't know the things we've been through. And she wasn't the one watering down my drinks when I was hell-bent on draining every bottle. She wasn't the one who saved my life."
"On more than one occasion," I declared, remembering the shipyard; though I knew which incident you were referring to.
"Yes, on more than one occasion," you nodded.
I never asked you if you still thought about the beach. I assumed you did but never said, or you tried to forget. I wouldn't have blamed you if you wanted to. And I didn't want to be the one to remind you.
"She doesn't know me like you do."
No one knows the Mac Taylor that I know. The naïve Marine. The most intelligent CSI that New York has ever known. The perfect husband. The widower. The broken man on the beach, who would have ended it all if I hadn't found him. The man from whom I draw all of my strength, all my wisdom. Though you might not call it wisdom per say. You like to tell me I am the most stubborn human being you have ever met. But I know that in spite of everything that I am not, deep down, you still care about me and all that I am. I may never hear it from your lips because I also know the reserved side of you, but I know it's there. I've always known it was there.
I remember every word, every moment.
I woke up to the sight of you sleeping beside me. I didn't know why, but it was somewhat calming to know that you could finally rest your eyes. I watched you for a moment or so before I placed a gentle kiss on your lips, and my thoughts ran over our night.
Did you hear my heart race for you?
A/N: I'm not good at (nor used to) writing "happy" or romantic so if it sucked, please don't hesitate to tell me.