-1Disclaimer: I own very little, especially not CSI NY. Wish I did though

Notes: I'm a student and freelance writer living in Cornwall. This is my first CSI NY fan fiction, so any suggestions / feedback very welcome. Hopefully not too maudlin, and I'll write some happier stuff soon. Mac and Stella, and a little bit of Flack. This is Chapter 1.

It was the end of a long investigation. All we'd had from the scene was a partial print on a carving knife. Until a final, desperate search of the suspect's apartment had yielded the merest trace of blood. It was enough. We had him. So now we were on our way to pick up the guy. There came the irony. After the weeks of work spent in the lab and beyond, all we had to do to arrest him was walk across the street. With any luck, I'd have time to grab a little something for lunch. I didn't put this to Stella though, knowing what she'd probably have to say on the subject.

It was our case, our arrest. Mac had left us to it when we needed it, and been right behind us when we needed that. He smiled as he saw us pulling our coats on, ready to leave the lab:

"Headed someplace nice?"

Stella grinned at him;

"Just across the street to pick up Mr Benatar. Won't take us a few minutes."

"Good. I have something to show you both when you return. Don't even think about grabbing lunch just yet, Flack."

How did he do it? Both of them stood there smirking at each other. Leaving me wide eyed.

"Who said anything about food? Why pick on me? She's always the one who insists we stop at every…."

"Get out the door, Flack." Stella pushed me forwards "If you're lucky, I'll buy you a pretzel."

"Hey, I'm lucky." I protested.

Shaking her head so her curls flew, she turned back to Mac and flashed a smile at him:

"We'll see you soon."

"Make sure you do." As often, his words were stern, but his eyes were bright. We left in good humour, and he watched us go.

He could have blamed me for what happened next, but he never did. I think he knew I blamed myself enough. Fact is, we walked straight out of the building and smack into our own crime scene.

Down the street, a little old lady was yelling in a voice bigger than her body that her purse had been snatched. Sure enough, a kid was running away from her right towards us. He'd picked a bad day for a purse snatch, two of New York's finest in his path. That was my mistake. We'd picked a bad day to be in his path. He came barrelling down the sidewalk towards us, Yankees cap over his hood. Typical punk.

"Stop him! He's got my purse!"

She was a feisty old dame, giving chase herself a good hundred yards behind. Pedestrians were shoved aside as the kid got closer. Badge at the ready, I stepped out in front of him, and caught a glance into his eyes. I knew the look I saw there. A wretched animal look: he needed however many bucks were in that little leather purse clutched in his fist. No one was going to stop him, least of all me. But I had to try.

His whole body weight slammed into my chest, and I went down. Like a ton of lead. It stalled him for a few seconds, and that gave Stella her opportunity. As I struggled to my feet, she had hold of him, and was pulling him up with a choice few words about mugging helpless old ladies. That gave him his opportunity. The snarl that came from his mouth was feral, and with the strength of the desperate he twisted in her grasp, pushed against her with a vicious grunt and broke free. She gasped and staggered a few steps before gaining her balance.

In seconds he was disappeared amongst the crowd. We'd lost him. I stood with a groan. Already a simple arrest was going badly wrong, and we hadn't even started. Stella was standing, one hand held to her chest. She wasn't looking at me.

"Stella. You okay?" I asked with a sudden sickening feeling. Something jumped in my mind. He had had something else in his hand. She turned to me, shock in her face, and drew her hand away. There was blood spreading across the front of her shirt and shining on her palm.

"Son of a bitch had a knife. I didn't see it."

She must have seen the horror in my eyes. "I'm sorry, should have stopped him…"

In a step I was at her side. People were stopping round us. From a long way off I heard the old lady yelling, still running. The crowd blurred at the edges, and I felt light-headed.

"Okay, it's okay. It doesn't matter. Don't say sorry. I should have stopped him, not you. Just stay still, keep your hand over the wound."

Emergency instinct took over, and I pulled out my cell, called EMS, then cleared space by flashing my badge around. And told them that no one was to leave, this was now a crime scene. That almost stuck in my throat. All the while, I was clinging hard to her arm: "Just hang on, we'll have you out of here in minutes. Mac'll hardly notice we've been gone."

She smiled faintly, skin already paling to waxen:

"Call him. Better tell him we're gonna be late."

I did. But it was a call I didn't want to make. I jerked out to Mac what had happened in the shortest terms. Before I could even hang up, he had. One of his detectives hurt; he would be there. And Stella was not just any of his detectives.

"He's coming. So's EMS, hang in there."

She nodded painfully, and then seemed to crumple against me. I held on. Almost carried her over to a stoop. "It's okay. I got you." Blood was running between her fingers. All I had was what I was wearing. I did what I could.

"Your jacket…" She murmured

"Doesn't matter."

It made little difference. I didn't want to think it, but I realised in a moment of freezing clarity that it wasn't looking good. Too much blood. She was going into shock, rapidly losing consciousness. Where the hell were the paramedics? "C'mon Stella. Stay with me. We got an arrest to make later, remember?"

"I remember." Her voice was fainter. Skin cold.

"Good girl. Remember what else we were gonna do?"

"Stella!"

Mac was suddenly there. Instinctively, everyone moved out of his way, fast. He was down beside us, moving me aside, kneeling next to her. I stood back a step. He wrapped her hand in his, pressed it against her. "Stella. It's Mac."