Chapter 4 is up!!! ENJOY!!!

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"I love you." He said simply, sincerely as he looked her straight in the eyes. Her eyes widened slightly as she kept looking at him, unblinkingly. She saw the love and understanding in his eyes, and the sincerity of them just about broke her. She bit her lip and looked down.

"Stel, look at me," He said softly, putting a hand under her chin and applying gentle force until she finally did look at him.

"No, dammit Stella, look at me, not him," He said heatedly, and Stella knew he was talking about Frankie, that she had looked at him with fear in her eyes and he thought she was flashing back to Frankie.

"Stella, I'm not him, stop thinking I am," He whispered, and she drew in a shaky breath and said,

"I'm not thinking you are him, I'm just scared,"

"Of what, Stel, of what?" He asked gently, intensely, and she lowered her head, and when she raised it again, her eyes were shining with unshed tears.

"I'm afraid of falling in love again, afraid I'll hurt someone like Frankie hurt me. If I did that, especially to you, Mac, I just, I wouldn't be able to face myself," She whispered, and then met his eyes with her own.

"Stel, you won't,"

"How do you know?" She murmured, and he twitched a smile and said,

"Because you don't have it in you." She smiled wateringly and said,

"Sure about that, Taylor?"

"Positive, Bonasera." She smiled and stood, gathering the cups together and putting them in the kitchen before coming back and sitting back down. He carefully reached out and grabbed onto her hands, saying,

"Stella, please, what happened?" She took a shaky breath and then blew out an angry one, trying to keep her emotions balanced, in check.

"I seriously thought that he was going to rape me, and I just, tried to make it go away. Pretended I was somewhere else. Then he would talk to me, and drag me back to reality, that I was about to get raped. God I could feel him touching me, and I hated it. I hated it! It made me feel like, like I was inferior, that I didn't matter. And it made me feel dirty. He just wouldn't stop, and if you, if you hadn't have come, he wouldn't have stopped. And he would've destroyed me."

Mac was speechless as he listened to her confession, and all he could do was squeeze her hands until he knew what to say, what to do. When she finished, she hung her head and Mac finally found his voice.

"He wouldn't have destroyed you, Stella, he would've just hidden the real you for a while," He murmured, bringing her hand to his lips for a long moment.

She jerked her hand away and stood up, striding away from him and saying,

"Fine, but then who would've found me? Certainly not me, since I'm the one who would've been lost, and I would've stayed lost, 'cause I wouldn't have been able to handle it." He was shocked, but then understood when she whispered, tears filling her voice,

"I still can't handle it," He stood up slowly and walked over to her, wrapping his arms around her, with her back to him.

"Stella, it's okay, you'll make it through, I promise you,"

"How could you possibly know that?" She said spinning around to face him. He took her face gently in his hands and laid his brow on hers, saying,

"I know that because you're a strong woman, Stel. You made it through Frankie, the HIV scare, and I know you can make it through this."

"But, I don't think I can, Mac," Stella said, pushing away from him and walking away, putting her head in her hands, saying,

"I barely made it through all of that, I'm still trying to get Frankie out of my mind. I've noticed that I always look over my shoulder now, especially when I'm getting into my car or apartment, and I hate myself for succumbing to the fear and everything like that! I hate myself, Mac, because it's not me, it's not Stella Bonasera, or rather, it wasn't Stella Bonasera. Maybe it's the new Stella. A different Stella. A coward." She said, and Mac felt his heart breaking for her, watching her try to fend off all of her ghosts alone.

Well, Mac Taylor would be damned if he was going to stand there and watch her do it on her own. He was dang well going to help her.

"Stella, you are not a coward." He said firmly, and turned her to face him.

"Stella, you don't have to fight this alone."

"Yes I do," She said, not meeting his eyes.

"Well, you won't."

"I won't?"

"No. You are going to fight off your ghosts for good, and I'm going to be standing right next to you, fighting off the ones I can, and helping you with the others." He said, forcing her to look at him.

"God, Stella, what do I have to do to convince you that I love you, and that I will never leave you, never." He said fiercely, and she took a deep, shaky breath and said softly,

"Kiss me." He twitched a smile but nevertheless consented, bending his head until his lips met hers with a soft, sweet edge to it. When air became a priority, they broke the kiss and Mac saw tears streaking down her cheeks. With soft and gentle hands he wiped them away, and then swept her into his arms when he felt her knees give out on her. He carried her to the bedroom and laid her down, pulling her into his arms and holding her tightly.

That night was one neither would forget, the night Stella Bonasera fought off all of her ghosts from her past, with Mac Taylor right beside her, fighting like hell for her.

When it was all over, the only two left standing were Stella Bonasera and Mac Taylor, and they clung to each other, as that was all they had and all they would ever need.

Forever.

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I hope you like the ending, I just thought it was a good way to end it, since I've gotta finish my other story for CSI: New York, called Deployed. Thanks for reading, and I hope you liked the story!! (PS, Please review!!!)