Disclaimer: All original characters and such belong to CBS. I own the characters I created as well as the new plot.

Author's Note: Argh, I know I know!! I keep uploading new stories while still working on multiple others!! I just can't help myself though!

Two things: with the addition of this story, I now have one for every CSI series! So that's good, right?!

Aaaaand I'm sure many of you noticed that I updated every story, not just one this time! So that makes up for the addition of another new one right??

I hope…

Anyways…

Some background information is in order for this story. As I've been watching CSI: NY lately, Mac Taylor has really been bothering me. Don't get me wrong, I love Mac, but he has his flaws like any other character. He has a way of taking things and making them all about himself, and in the season premiere he took it a little too far, putting both himself and Danny in jeopardy. He has really been taking things way too personally ever since. I want to bring him back to Earth, so to speak, and I've decided to do that I need to make something shocking and totally unexpected happen to him, something that will make him uncomfortable and force him to think about his connections to other people.

I hope you guys enjoy the surprise, and PLEASE make sure you read my notes at the end of this chapter. It explains the reasoning behind my decision.

A quick note on chronology: This takes place immediate after the events of the season premiere "Epilogue".


Responsible

Mac Taylor was sitting alone in his apartment, the evening news playing on the TV in the corner, as he went through a stack of reports. He should have been relieved that the bar shooting was finally solved; that he and Stella had finally been able to pack away all the many folders and boxes that had been stacked on every surface of his office for almost a month. They had a resolution, closure.

It felt like nothing. He felt nothing.

The close of the case didn't change things. The bartender was still dead. Danny was still in a wheelchair. He kept having flashbacks to the gunfire, the shattering glass.

But there was work to be done. For every person they hunted down and brought to justice, there were dozens more out there. He hated the thought and threw himself into work like a mad man, trying to ignore the odds.

As he looked through the file for a recent robbery and shooting that left the night cashier of a small deli in the hospital on life support, part of the conversation he'd had earlier with Stella replayed in his mind.

"Three people were seriously wounded! The bartender died, Danny's in that chair! So, when he called…."

Stella nodded. "You had to do something."

"Damn right." He paused. "What did Shakespeare say?" Another pause before it came to him. "Tempt not a desperate man." He looked back at her. "Going into that building seemed like my only option."

"You keep using words like 'my', 'me', 'I'. You are not in this alone Mac."

Sometimes you're wrong, Stella, he thought, frowning with disgust at the photos of the crime scene that showed the cashier's blood spattered on the deli case. I took an oath to protect this city and however irrational, these cases are personal.

He was absorbed in the case file and his own outrage when the phone rang. He reached for it where it stood in its base on the side table, confused as to who would be calling his home phone.

He pressed it to his ear. "Hello?"

"Is this Detective Mac Taylor?"

He frowned. "May I ask who's calling?"

"My name is Clara Young. I'm a physician here at Columbus Hospital in Newark, New Jersey."

He paused, confused. "Yes, I'm Mac Taylor. How can I help you?"

She sighed on the other end of the line. "Mr. Taylor, I know this going to sound very strange, but I'd like to request a meeting with you, here, tomorrow afternoon."

"Ok…what's this about?"

"It's…well, it's very complicated…"

"Does this have to do with a crime?"

There was a long pause before she responded. "I suppose it does, in a way. But that's not…not exactly the reason I need to meet with you."

"Can you be more specific."

"It's not really something I can explain over the phone." She sounded apologetic and…was that a note of sympathy in her voice? "I really think we need to discuss this information in person. Can you be here at 9:00 am?"

"How long will this take?"

"I'm not sure."

He tried not to sound overly frustrated. "Is there anything else you can tell me?"

"Mr. Taylor, I really am very, very sorry. But I think you'll understand why it needs to be this way tomorrow."

He sighed and brushed his fingers through his hair. "All right. I can be there."

"Thank you. I'll see you then."

She hung up, and left the detective thoroughly confused, a little curious, and a little worried.


It was a slightly cold, drizzly, grey day when Mac Taylor pulled up to Columbus Hospital in a black department pickup truck. He'd called Stella to let her know he'd be late, but he intended to keep this mystery meeting as short as possible and head straight to the department afterwards.

In the overly white lobby, which smelled strongly of disinfectants and chemicals, a young Indian nurse paged Dr. Clara Young for him. Mac leaned against the counter while he waited, running through a list of less and less likely reasons she would have called him and arranged a meeting while releasing essentially no information.

"Mr. Taylor? Or do you prefer detective?"

He turned to see a pretty woman in her 30s with short cinnamon colored hair. She was petite but had an authoritative stance and sharp eyes that had seen too much hurt in the world. She wore the standard white doctor's coat over a bright floral shirt and khaki slacks.

"Ah, detective…thanks." He shook hands with her. He couldn't be certain, but it looked as though she were eyeing him with pity.

"Thank you for coming detective. Shall we?" She indicated an elevator. "We can talk somewhere more private."

He nodded and followed her.

They ended up on the third floor, in a recovery ward. There was a small conference room just down the hall. They entered it, and sat on grey-upholstered wheeled chairs in an uncomfortable silence.

"I…don't know how to explain this, so…I guess I'll just start from the beginning," Dr. Young finally announced, entwining her fingers and resting them in her lap. "A few weeks ago, ambulances responded to a bad car accident a few miles from here. A large SUV had come flying around a corner and sideswiped a small car, partially wrapping it around a telephone pole. The drivers of both vehicles were killed instantly." She looked up.

Mac nodded to show that he was listening, but he was still frowning a little in confusion.

"The passenger in the car was…luckier, if you can call her situation that." The doctor's face was recognizably sad now. "The driver of the SUV that struck them was a man in his mid-twenties, strung out on meth and who knows what else. The driver of the car was a woman in her forties, making a shopping trip. The passenger was her fourteen-year-old daughter." She took a moment to compose her thoughts. "The girl had to be cut from the car. The SUV had impacted the driver's side and caused the passenger's side to impact a telephone pole, almost wrapping it around. She suffered fairly extensive injuries, mainly on her right side: broken ankle, broken ribs, some internal bleeding, broken collarbone, extensive lacerations from window glass, and a concussion."

"I'm so sorry," Mac finally said, genuinely bothered by the young girl's ordeal. "Is she going to be all right?"

Dr. Young had an odd look on her face, and paused before she answered. "Physically? In time, yes. Mentally…"

"Her mother?"

She nodded. "She sat with her mother's body for some time before paramedics arrived," she explained in a quiet voice. In the same voice, she added, "To make matters worse: single mom, no siblings."

"She's alone."

The doctor nodded.

Before Mac could say anything else, there was a knock at the conference room door and Dr. Young waved in a tall African American woman in a grey suit with a large, dark curly ponytail.

"Detective Taylor, this is—"

"Wendy Fairbanks." She stuck out her hand to shake Mac's. "Child Services."

He nodded, said hello, and turned back to the physician. "I'm sorry, but…I still don't know why you called me here."

The two women exchanged a look before Clara Young answered. "The girl's insurance ran out shortly after she was brought here. She can't stay here, and she is well enough to leave the hospital, but she needs care and no longer has a home to go to."

"Friends?"

"Legally," Wendy replied with an apologetic shrug. "That's a no-go. It has to be a relative."

"You want me to help try to find her relatives?"

"Not exactly…" Wendy dug into the camel-colored leather bag slung over one shoulder and withdrew a piece of paper. "We've talked with family friends, gone through records, made dozens of phone calls, and it appears as though she has no extended family. However, we were able to search their home for anything that might be helpful and we managed to find this." She slid the paper, a dark photocopy, onto the table in front of him. "That's the girl's birth certificate. According to this…you're her father, Detective Taylor."


Author's Note: Yes, I know giving Mac a teenage daughter he never knew about is probably cliché, but I have my reasons! First of all, to quote Kristine Huntley who writes reviews on CSI episodes (all 3 series) for csifiles dot com, Mac is very much not a parent. In the episode "Greater Good", he doesn't suspect that a man could protecting his child by taking the blame for a car accident. The entire episode is centered around parenthood and, in my opinion, showcases just how much Mac is 'outside of understanding' that bond. What better way to force someone to reevaluate their priorities than to give them the responsibility for another person, especially a child, and most especially, their own child? Secondly, I chose a teenager because I really do not see Mac changing diapers or scrubbing crayon off a wall. I mean, I want to shake the man, not drive him crazy. Third of all, I chose a teenage girl because it will further complicate the situation and their relationship. Mac's ability to connect with Reed Garrett very likely stemmed both from his greater age as well as his gender. Also, I do not know how the legal custody aspect would actually work, so that part of the story is very much artistic license.

I know this setup has been done countless times for probably every TV show ever created, but I've employed this device for a specific purpose and I'm hoping to put my own unique twist on it. Thanks for reading, and I hope some of you stick with me as I try this out.