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Chapter three: Why don't you betray me?

For at least the third time today, Mac wasn't able to move. Speechless and horrified about the scene that happened before his eyes just minutes ago, he didn't have the strength to move his legs. But his legs were to walk away, they wanted to finish the unfinished. They wanted to walk towards Internal Affairs, making him tell everything like he was supposed to. Whenever something happens against protocol, for instance like one of your subpoenas inducting their own investigation, it was required to notify Internal Affairs.

Mac felt his legs tingling, forcing him to move away from the spot he was now standing on for ten minutes. He looked down, not knowing what to do, not knowing what to feel. He still couldn't believe all the things Stella had just said. Mister Perfect. Live to work. Don't pretend to give a damn. Only interested in yourself. Was it true, did he only think about himself? His mind was racing from the right half of his brain to the left, the reasons and the emotions were having a dog fight and they were ripping apart his heart. Finally it all permeated through.. he had lost her. The way she looked at him when she said all those words… it didn't matter if these words were right or wrong, she believed it. She believed he was only interested in himself.

Since he was staring at the floor, deep into his sad thoughts, Mac didn't hear the footsteps walking towards his office, the knock on the door and the door being opened.

"Mac?" Mac almost jumped in the air out of surprise, his face now looking straight into the eyes of the man in front of him.

"Hey Mac, are you alright?" Danny didn't move, not sure what was going on with his boss. The younger detective used the time Mac was recovering from the surprise, to take a good look at him. Mac's face was extremely pale, his eyes were wide open and a drop of sweet was near his temple. Looking down a bit, Danny also saw the redness of his boss's palms, indicating he was probably severely angry. Danny had seen Stella leaving in a hurry, her face not pale like Mac's, but red and furious. Suddenly Danny realized Mac was still looking at him with wide eyes, not said a word in the meantime. The younger man approached him slowly.

"It is okay man, it's just me. Say something okay? You're having me worried." Finally some motion came out of the older man.

"I.. I'm sorry." Mac's stutter didn't exactly make Danny more at ease with the whole situation.

"What do you mean, you're sorry?" Danny couldn't help but mimic the surprise look Mac was so dear hanging onto.

"I..I.. What are you doing here?"

"I saw Stel leaving looking like a madman and you aren't that good-looking yourself at the moment, Mac. I just want to know if you're alright." Mac quickly turned around to look at himself in the window showing New York City in a nice moonlight. Because of the darkness outside, Mac could have a good look and saw what Danny was referring to; he really did look like hell. He turned around again and shook his head, failing to produce a smile.

"It's just.. it's complicated Danny, but it'll all work out soon. So, why are you not home yet?" Danny wasn't satisfied with his boss's answer but continued anyway, wisely letting the conversation drop for now.

"I was heading there. I only get nervous at home you know." Mac didn't respond to the younger man's move to get his attention.

"Okay. See you tomorrow then." Danny shrugged, giving up.

"Yeah. Bye, Mac. Don't blow your head off okay?" Danny tried once more but then let it go and left the office and headed to the elevator as well, a questioned look on his face.

Mac followed Danny with his eyes, trying to put all the pieces together what was happening around him. If he would decide to notify Internal Affairs, he wouldn't be the only one losing a friend, but Danny and the rest of the team too. And no matter what she did, Stella was still one of the best detectives in the city, so the city would also lose a friend. He couldn't tell, not today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow he had cleared his head, finally thinking straight again. With a big sigh, Mac finally moved and made the same trip Stella and Danny had done before him, to the elevator, the garage, his car and his home.

6:00 am the following morning…

Mac had tried to sleep but it was in vain. He had turned and turned around in his bed, sweating all around, and he had ended up on his back with his eyes wide open, with only his boxers still on. He eventually switched off his alarm clock, knowing he wasn't going to need it anyway. For hours he was looking to his crystal white ceiling, seeing the events of the past day dancing around like a comic strip. The hope he would be wiser this day, he would know what to do about all of it, didn't work out; instead, he was now even more confused than yesterday. He had thought about all the pros and cons of reporting Stella to IA, but every time he came up with the same conclusion: he simply didn't know what to do. With his eyes locked onto the ceiling, he slightly startled when his phone vibrating at the end of his night stand. He reached to it and held the phone above his head, trying to focus on the screen in front of him. It was a notification. Seven am, conference room, crime lab. Mac's eyebrow rose. Hmm, what could be so important to tell at 7 am in the morning? Feeling a headache coming up because of all the thinking, the lack of sleep and lack of enough food and liquid, he slowly rose out of bed and made his way to the kitchen, deciding to only make some coffee while heading towards the bathroom for a quick shower. The quick shower soon became a long shower and after putting his clothes on, he noticed the time and rapidly made his way to the doorway, totally forgetting about his so needed morning coffee.

After twenty minutes Mac arrived at the NYPD, parked his car in the garage and headed towards the conference room still not knowing what to expect. When he noticed he was the only one in the elevator, he took a glance at his watch. Oh damn, 7.15 am. The metal doors of the elevator finally opened and Mac almost ran past all of the labs and his own office to head straight to the conference room. Arriving there, he opened the door at quiet as possible, quickly standing against the nearest wall at the back of the room. He looked around and saw everybody of the crime lab and of more departments in the building in the room. When his eyes finally reached the podium, his breathing suddenly stopped.

Stella was standing on the podium with the biggest smile on her face, next to her Det. Angell who looked a bit dubious, and between them was a guy with his hands in handcuffs behind his back. Suddenly the muffled sounds of the people in the room were overwhelmed by a voice through a microphone.

"First of all, a good morning to all of you I woke up." Sinclair was speaking through the microphone, obviously wearing the best suit he had. His first sentence earned him a chuckle from a part of the crowd.

"This night, a major case has been solved by these two fine detectives here." His hand pointed towards Stella and Angell, and Stella's smile grew even wider.

"Thanks to the outstanding performance of Detective Bonasera and the support of Detective Angell, we have found the man responsible for killing the Greek fugitive Diakos, and found the collection of antic coins who were stolen in Cyprus!" After Sinclair had finished, a loud applause was heard in the conference room. Two cops were coming forward and let the handcuffed guy between Stella and Jessica stand, after a bigger applause was heard together with a loud 'boo'. The cops took the guy to the back and his place was now taken by Sinclair himself, pulling both the female detectives close to him by their shoulders.

"Yes, give these detectives a loud applause, they earned it!" The applause went on a while longer, while some of those present climbed up the podium and congratulated Stella and Angell, which Stella took gracefully and Angell just nodded once in a while, still not sure what to think of the whole situation.

All the while the scene was happening in front of him, Mac didn't breath. When he saw Flack and Adam coming up to Stella and Jessica, he felt a growing tingle in his head, warning him about the lack of oxygen in his body. But Mac was still not able to breath, expressing his disbelief for the 5 minutes that just passed by. She had solved the case in one night. She found the guy, God knows how, and now she is showing with him, taking credit for it. It was just unbelievable. Mac have known Stella for so long now, and he also knew she didn't like to be in the picture, especially not next to a criminal. This wasn't happening. Mac's eyes were now moving quickly, dancing around in the room, desperately trying to find a clue that he was still dreaming, that he was having a nightmare. But nothing indicated that. He was snapped out of his trance by a patch on his shoulder. He surprisingly looked up and saw one of the guys from the other team of CSI's in front of him with a big smile on his face.

"Congrats man, Bonasera did a fine job there, I'm sure you helped her achieving this victory." Dumbfounded, Mac could only answer with a mumbled 'thanks', probably not even hearable for the guy in front of him. When he looked around in the room once more, he noticed that all of those present were now heading to the exit again. Angell had also been taking by Flack and was now probably having sex in an interrogation room. Soon, Mac was the only one still on the floor of the conference room. He slowly looked up to the podium, seeing Stella looking down to him from upstairs. Her smile had faded, the determined look had stayed. She was now slowly getting off the stage, walking towards him. Only then, Mac noticed she was still wearing the same clothes as last night. The green top, the tight black pair of jeans and her always lovable black heels. Her hair was messy, indicating she didn't take a shower since last night at least.

Mac didn't know what to say, didn't know what to do, so he just stood there, waiting till his best friend moved closer to him until she was standing 10 feet away from him.

"You're not going to congrats me?" Stella's eyes betrayed a deep sense of sarcasm. Mac knew, because he was staring into them like he needed to hang on to them for his life's sake.

"What did you do?"

"I caught the guy who killed Diakos, couldn't you hear?" Stella was not planning on giving up her sarcasm so soon.

"How?"

"By following the evidence. Nothing illegal about that. I did some unpaid overtime that's all. Oh, with your permission by the way." Stella didn't smile, but her eyes betrayed a deep feeling of shame, Mac could see. She had used him once more, pushing him into a situation in which on the one hand he would be the only one taking the heat when there was any heat to be taken, and on the other hand it was impossible to tell anyone the truth otherwise the guy Stella just caught would go free because of an unlawful investigation. Penetrating all this info, Mac just couldn't take it anymore. He pushed himself off the wall and with two big steps he stood in front of his once so beloved female colleague.

"You did WHAT? You thought you didn't use me enough already?" Mac's face became red out of anger, but Stella didn't flinch.

"It was easy, actually. Once I found out you didn't report me yet at IA, I took the opportunity to go on with my investigation. By not reporting me, you strictly gave me permission to go on, you can't deny that."

"What is happening to you, Stella? When did you became the Devil himself?" Now it was Stella's turn to get angry.

"Since the moment you're not able to do your job anymore, Mac. Maybe you should take a break, a little vacation, so you're able to, I don't know, think normally again." Mac's eyes were now spitting fire.

"You take that back!" Stella suddenly took her distance, heading towards the exit. Once there, she turned around to say one last thing.

"I mean it. You're not focused anymore. It happens when you work too much and when you're getting too much involved in things not related to work." Mac could suddenly see the truth in Stella's eyes.

"Take the break, Mac, and we talk about all of this afterwards. You really should. I will cover for you." With that, Stella turned around and left, leaving Mac alone in the big conference room with only her words hanging around to accompany him.