Hi! This is my first story on - tell me what you think! Will of course turn into SMacked - the best CSI ship!

Anyone could see that it had been a rough month for Stella Bonasera. Case after case had involved children – dead, missing, assaulted – and Mac had cruelly thrown each one at his second in command, and best friend, preferring to let Danny and Lindsay handle less personal cases.

The latest really had Stella thrown. A two-year-old from a wealthy New York family had been found bound and gagged, in a disused warehouse. His parents hadn't been contacted for a ransom, and had only been made aware of his disappearance from nursery after the child had been missing for three hours. With no leads, an interested press and two traumatised parents, the ever-mounting pressure was becoming too much for Stella.

"Pronounced" did not even begin to describe the circles under her eyes. Bruise-like, they perforated a sea of otherwise unblemished skin. Not only had she been losing sleep, but she had struggled to find the will-power to eat, or the time, and just the thought of the abuse that the baby had suffered was enough to bring a sour taste to the back of her mouth. As a result her wrists looked scraggy, and her frame could no longer be described as "defined", but "emaciated".

It was dozing, however, that Flack and Hawkes found her in the break room, legs curled up, jacket thrown open to reveal the all-too-pronounced outline of her ribs. Flack smiled at her at first, and moved to wake her, but Hawkes stopped him, gesturing at her gaunt face and withered appearance. Lindsay entered the room, followed by Danny, and Stella stirred uncomfortably, rubbing her stomach and yawning as she awoke.

"Jesus Stel, you wanna get some food down your throat, you're gonna start wasting awa…" Danny broke off, as Hawkes shot him a meaningful glance.

"Very tactful, Dan," muttered Lindsay, as Stella murmured something about a non-existent lunch break, and hurried off to collect a long-awaited set of test results from Adam. "She was finally asleep, and you go and wake her up by yelling something stupid about her appearance!" She glared at him, and he turned to Flack for support, but was surprised to see a similar expression on the detective's face.

"It's obvious that she hasn't been eating properly Danny, but there's no need to comment, and force her to clam up about it, you idiot!" Added Hawkes, pouring himself a coffee. "She's stressed about her case, I heard her telling Sid this morning, but Mac keeps handing the hard ones to her rather than…" He tailed off, but not before Lindsay caught the full meaning of his words, and blushed.

"Mac doesn't have to do that, I'm perfectly capable of distancing myself from cases. It's what we do, isn't it?" She asked, more for her own benefit than anyone else's.

"Of course Montana, but you know what Mac's like. You should be honoured that he cares about you enough to…" He tailed off again as Lindsay coughed meaningfully, and turned to see Mac standing in the doorway, an amused expression playing around the edges of his lips.

"Oh man, today's really not my day is it. Sorry boss." Danny nodded curtly at Mac and exited swiftly, a slight blush on his cheeks.

"So who hasn't been eating properly?" The ex-marine asked, a hint of concern in his otherwise even voice.

Lindsay rushed to make some sort of excuse, Flack found himself being paged, and Sheldon's tie conveniently got caught in the coffee pot, but all three fell silent when they heard a crashing sound outside the break room.

Reviews = love! Next chapter up tonight probably.