A/N: Well, just a big warning as this is rated T for violence in the first chapter. (3 shots)

Summary: Few days before Christmas, tragedy strikes the CSI team as one of their own is taken from them. Will Christmas season brings them the miracle they're all waiting for? Angsty Smacked but it's Christmas so... All the team is there.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything, beside the characters I created for this story. CSI NY belongs to CBS and Jerry Bruckeimer.


Chapter 1: In my darkest hours....

December 20th

He blinked at the file before him as the lines faded in a gray, hazy blur. Tired, he pinched at the top of his nose trying to shave off the sleep that weighed heavily on his eyelids. This day had been too long; hell, the entire week had been pressing its heavy wings on him. But now the case was closed, thanks to the high quality work his team had put onto the case, Henry and his scum bags would never again threaten the city. Though some members remained to be identified, the most dangerous had been taken off the streets and that was the most important.

He let out a tired sigh as he slumped back into his chair, and closed his eyes for a minute. Maybe he would be able to recharge his battery if he allowed his body to rest just fifteen minutes. He felt the tensed muscles of his shoulders starting to relax a bit as his mind drifted off far away from his office. The tension in his neck fading and his mind slowly surrendering to exhaustion, he didn't hear the quiet heels entering his office and closing the door behind her; although the faint scent of her well known perfume carved a faint smile onto his lips.

"What is it Stella?" he mumbled, his eyes still closed.

Even without looking at her, he could hear her lips curled into a smile. She was probably going to tell him something like, go home Mac, or I told you so. So he kept his eyes closed and waited, whatever he said wasn't going to change her mind. In ten years of friendship, he knew better than to try to change her mind when it wasn't work related.

As she gazed at his sleeping form nestled in his chair, eyes closed, his dark blue shirt lightly open just enough to reveal the black t-shirt underneath and his sleeves rolled up half way his arms; it was all to make her heart skip a beat. He looked so tired, she thought with a frown.

"You know, we..." Stella said, stressing the 'we'. "We...normal people, do use a bed for this kind of activity," she dropped, half amused to watch her boss and best friend lying in his chair to find sleep and hoping to push him out of his office for a well deserved rest back home. Although, she was more than glad that he thought about taking some time for resting, especially after this week, but his office was surely not the best place.

"I'm well aware of that fact, thank you," he replied with a tired sigh. But then he continued on a more playful tone. "Although, I do know other activities for such furniture too."

Suddenly, his eyes jerked open when he realized that he had just spoken his thoughts aloud. A wide grin spread over Stella's face as she was staring at him, not sure she had clearly heard him, but decided to play along.

"Well I guess if you still know how it works, then, you should go and rest. The other kind of activities isn't possible until you have recovered a bit of your strength," she teased with a big grin.

What? She thought, as she watched him sit back straight up in his chair and his face blushing into a nice shade of red. Did she just flirt with him? Her own cheek turned into a bit of dark pink as she tried to hide the smile carving her lips; her mischievous mind now playing with the possibilities. Stella Bonasera, what are you doing to your friend? She scolded herself.

"Huh, I... Did you come for something in particular?" he articulated, as his nervousness grew suddenly, a stunned expression painted on his face.

He tried to shave off the feelings Stella's flirt was producing in his mind, as images involving his partner suddenly flowed his mind. Silently, he swallowed his nervousness and put on a more serious mask, shaving those thoughts as they weren't good for a long lasting friendship like he had with her. There were things that would never happen, he scolded himself, and Stella was one of those things. She was so full of life, and he was too broody sometimes that the two of them had nothing in common besides their love for justice. Well, sometime it's all it takes, replied his mind. No, shut up! It would never work anyway. He shook the idea just before his eyes connected with the amazing gleaming emerald of hers. Although... He sighed. Drop it, Mac. Crap, I'm really too tired.

"So," he said, giving her another tired smile as he straightened up in his chair. "You've come for?"

She raked her throat as she saw his expression return to his normal, tired self, and bit her lower lips at the turmoil that had returned in the gleaming blue pool of his eyes. She marvelled an instant if he knew how his eyes could switch from a dark, serious blue to a mischievous green on the same day, and the effect it had on her. She breathed slowly as she was about to challenge his well known stubbornness.

"As you may have noticed," she started, "it's way past nine, the case is closed, and everybody, but you, was back home two hours ago. The lab is empty, Mac, so what are you still doing here?" her tone was soft, but implied she wasn't about to leave without a good answer.

He sighed, somehow he had known the minute she had entered she hadn't come to talk about work. Although he was grateful she was looking out for him, but times, like tonight, was making him grumpy, and he wondered how close he had let her in to let her think she had to do that. Because if she was doing that, it meant he had shown weakness somehow during the day, otherwise she wouldn't have come, and that simple idea was enough to make him grumpy. He replayed quickly today's events, and what he had said, thinking he had probably dropped his barrier when she wasn't far and that had to be what had triggered her coming in his office. He sighed, as he stood up and turned to the window behind him. A dark night had settled behind the glass, only broken by the blinking lights of the city.

"Mac," her soft voice broke the silence of his office, pulling him out of his thoughts. "You haven't done anything that has me worried," she said as if she could read his thoughts, her eyes watching the faint reflection of his face through the black window.

He turned slowly, their eyes silently connecting, blue ocean meeting gleaming emerald. "It's just that with this week...and knowing you...well, I knew what it would do to you." She cocked her head on the side, trying to get a reaction from him, her eyes sparkling.

"Ten years of practice, right," he huffed, putting on his charming smile. He sighed, as his hands rested wearily on his hips. "Why do I even bother to try?"

A wide smile spread over her face, responding to his. "Well, I still have no idea. But since, for once, you're in the mood to listen, why don't you go home and have a good night sleep, okay? I'm on call, so if anything happens; I'll protect the city while you sleep, Batman."

He chuckled at her reference. "Alright, alright, Robin," he emphasized the name. "Hold the fort for me, will ya?"

He walked toward the door and grabbed his jacket and coat. Outside, snow had begun to fall again in heavy bundles and Christmas week was going to be coated with a real, thick layer of white flakes. Sliding into his coat he turned to her.

"You go home too," he uttered with a smile.

She smiled back. "Don't worry for me, I'm not like my boss," she teased with a wink. "I do know when it's time to go home. Besides, I have Christmas presents to pack and tag."

He let out a fake offended grunt, before he turned to the hallway.

"Good night, Stell."

"Nighty night, Mac, see ya in the morning," she said as she patted his arm.

He lingered a few seconds in her touch, his tired sight unable to look away from her emerald eyes, as a lot of thoughts soared into his mind; hope, fear, love; all blended into one. His mouth was dry and his heart was beating fast when he finally nodded tiredly before heading to the elevator. As the doors closed behind him, the beating slowed but pain settled in instead.

A few minutes later, he exited the building and hailed a cab. He was too tired to drive, and the cab would take him home fast enough to be sure his eyes wouldn't close off before he reached his apartment.

As he slumped in the back of the car, shaving the white flakes covering his shoulders, he remembered Stella's face, and when her cheeks had reddened. Strange thoughts had then appeared before his eyes; images of a life he once had. As he let his head slant on the back of the seat, his mind wondered how it would be to have her every day, at home like he used to with Claire. He sighed, recalling the unfair twist of fate that had taken her from him. But then Stella's face appeared again before his eyes and he wondered why his thoughts were always driven to her lately.

Since Greece, there hadn't been a day without him thinking about her. It was like something had changed in their relationship, but he couldn't quite grasp it. He sighed, deep down, he knew that feeling. The way he had managed to see her all these years had changed, though since he had met her, he had been aware of his deep feelings toward her, but with Claire, her sudden death and his twenty four hour job, he had always managed to keep them at bay. Well, until now. He closed his eyes. But in Greece, he had told her. He had let her see something he hadn't even admitted to himself for years. He felt his tensed shoulders beginning to unwind. Although he felt relieved, somehow, to tell her, she hadn't exactly responded as he would have expected. Despite the fact she hadn't rejected him, she hadn't said a thing about it since their return, and now he was wondering if he hadn't hurt her in anyway.

He smirked to himself. Well, the fact that she was still coming to his office to make him go home was proof enough their friendship hadn't been altered, but somehow he couldn't shake the idea that something had changed. And now, what was really bugging him was that he couldn't say if it had been for the best or the worst. Now, she seemed more careful with him when she talked about personal stuff. Was she afraid that he wants to take things to another level, and she wasn't ready for it? He slowly breathed out as he felt a small headache rising beneath his temples. Deep inside he wanted things to evolve and try to take the road to this next level, he just didn't know how.

His sight ran outside the window, gazing at the twinkling lights of the street. Night had settled long hours before, and despite the heavy white veil of snow, he could still distinguish the closed shops with their decorated showrooms and the few people hurrying to go home.

Christmas was in four days, and he hadn't talked to her about his project of inviting her. He knew she had no plans for Christmas Eve, and although it tore his heart to know that nobody had thought about inviting her, it made him hope she would say yes when he would ask her tomorrow. Though, he had wanted to ask her for two days now, postponing every time they had a new crime scene, thinking it wasn't the right place. But now, with Christmas coming fast, he had no time to lull more over. No. Tomorrow he would ask her to join him for Christmas, and then he'd know if things could progress between them. Yes, tomorrow, he repeated silently, a faint smile grazing his lips.

The cab pulled over at the corner of his building. After paying the driver, he got out tiredly, his muscles aching and sore from his restless week. The frosty snow cracked under his boots as he stepped onto the curb, and closed the door. Lifting up his collar, a small puffy cloud escaped his lips as he headed toward his building.

Passing before a small narrow street, he stopped when he heard someone yelling. He tensed when he recognized cries of fear and anguish smoldering into a woman's voice. Following his instincts, he stepped into the dark alley, his hand searching for the reassuring bump under his coat. His gloved fingers quickly found the handle of his gun, but he kept it inside his holster. Probably a junky threatening a poor old lady.

But as he stepped closer, the alley remained dark as if the lights usually displayed had been turned off. His heart began to beat a bit faster. Something's off, his mind repeated.

"NYPD," he yelled, as he turned on his flashlight, his beam shaving the darkness before him and revealing traces of footsteps in the white snow. "Show yourself!"

Faint sobs echoed his voice as he took another step, crunching the icy snow as darkness swallowed him entirely. He pulled his gun from its holster, and raised it before him, cupping both his gun and his flash light in a firm handle before him. He could hear now his heart pounding behind his temples. As a former marine who had been confronted to dangerous situations, he had always been able to keep his anxiety at bay, and today was no different.

"Show yourself!" he commanded again. "Show yourself or I shoot." He bluffed with an angry voice.

He wasn't about to shoot on total darkness, but he counted on the fact the other wouldn't know police procedure, and would then, surrender to his threat. Ahead of him, he heard scuffling and metal being raked on the icy ground. Crap, the guy was running, he thought, as he went for a run too, and became totally swallowed by the dark gloomy alley. His beam swayed before him as he could hear his breath coming in short rasps before he stopped, listening. Where the hell is he? His eyes darted through the heavy darkness as silence had once more settled in the alley.

Something isn't right, his mind yelled as he turned on himself. He could see the faint glittering light of the main street. He had run so fast in the alley he hadn't noticed how far he was now from the street, and its safe light. Warnings rang in his mind; but he was a cop, and if someone needed his help, he couldn't yield to safety. His short breath escaped his lips in a big cloud before him as his beam searched the silent, darken place, his fingers gripping around the handle of his gun.

"NYPD, show yourself!" he shouted again.

Then, to his surprise, a man stepped out from behind a trash bin and before his light, his hands raised before him, obvious fear painted on his face. As Mac took a look at the man standing before him, no weapon in hand, a small used hooded jacket and a weary green pants, he slowly lowered his gun, his own face relaxing a bit at the defenseless man.

"NYPD, who are you?" he asked, but the man remained quiet, a strange look on his face. "I won't hurt you," he said, his voice softer as he took a step toward the man.

"Yeah I know," replied dryly the man as the look of fear disappeared from his face. "But I will," he stated with a smirk, his eyes looking over Mac's shoulder.

Mac's eyes widened at the sudden realization that the guy wasn't alone and turned to look behind him. Before being able to see what was coming, the rough impact of something hard collided with the right side of his face sending him straight to the ground. In the fall, he lost his gun and light and helplessly heard them rolling into the snow far from him. Hot burning liquid flowed from the right side of his head and dripped into his neck as he laid face down, spitting blood from his mouth. He blinked as some blood slid into his right eye while he raised himself on his hands. But he was cut short as a painful blow struck his back, and he was thrust back into the cold snow. He heaved in pain as the tip of hard boots hit his right side, kicking and kicking again.

He curled into his side to protect himself but some kicks aimed at his head, too, made him break his defense, his back sloping onto the snowy ground. He blinked while he tried to sit and stop the kicks. Though he managed to grab some boots and send his opponents falling into the snow, the kicks kept coming from all directions. His sight was blurry and through the flickering light that was aimed directly into his face, it was hard to see how many and where were his opponents. Several times he tried to rise on his legs, only to be whacked down with vicious blow hitting his back or knees. His head was spinning, and he had trouble breathing. He felt the cold snow beneath his knees as another painful blow hit him right in the stomach, breaking some bones in the way. He fell forward, his hands over his stomach as he was fighting just to stay conscious. Kicks continued to rain over his drained body, and after what seemed like an eternity, it finally stopped as harsh hands grabbed him and shoved him onto his back. He laid motionless in the snow, panting, blood leaked from gashes over his eyes, cheeks and lips. Silent, puffy flakes caressed his swollen and bloody face as they fell with grace from the dark sky over him.

He silently admired that grace as his eyes closed, pain wrenching his entire body. It was hard to breathe now that blood had invaded his mouth and throat. Heaving with each breath, he felt the coppery taste in his mouth and the dull pain in his head warned him about a probable concussion. He swallowed the blood mixed with his saliva and his stomach churned against the taste.

"Who...what.. you want?" he managed to breathe out, his body unable to move.

He heard the first guy smirked before his heart skipped when he heard him give instructions to his men. "Take off his coat and jacket, he won't need it anyway."

Fear seized Mac's chest as he felt pairs of hands grabbing him and turning him onto his stomach. They roughly tugged off his coat and vest, taking off his gloves as well. He felt his body constrict in pain as one of the guys immobilized him, his knees deepening into the small of his back as his arms were pulled back behind him and a small groan escaped his lips. Knowing they were about to tie him up, making his escape even less probable, and with the last remnants of adrenaline in his veins, he jerked his body from their grasps. But too fast, his boots slipped on the icy ground, keeping him in the middle of his opponents. As he fought to keep them from pinning him to the ground once more, he felt his strength quickly abandoning him. His hazy vision rendered him unable to send an accurate kick or punch to his opponents. And soon, he found himself, losing his energy at punching and kicking at empty space, before a dreadful blow to the left of his head ended his worthless fight and left him motionless to the snowy ground, panting for air.

His coat and jacket now off, he felt the nasty bite of the cold harsh weather eating at his flesh as strong knees sank painfully again into his back, crushing more of his bruised ribs. He tried to breathe but his lungs had emptied the minute his arms were tugged with force behind him; a pair of metallic rings clinked before he felt his own cuffs trapping his wrists. Blood leaked from his nose and over his eyes; fogging his vision. With the loud pounding hammering behind his skull, everything seemed dull and far from him, even the cold crunchy snow grazing his cheek wasn't so cold anymore. He heard the same guy barked orders and found himself being hauled back up to his knees.

He let out a faint grunt as his head was harshly pulled backward as a cold, callous hand gripped a streak of his dark hair. A bright light was shoved into his bruised and battered face. He blinked several times hoping to clear his vision from both the hurting light and the blood seeping into them.

A face appeared before him, although he could only smell the fetid stench of the man breathing in front of him, he was able to distinguish the shape of his head, and his curly hair cut by the bright light behind him. He swallowed the painful lump blocking his airway.

"Seems you don't look so proud now detective," sneered the man before him.

Mac blinked as more blood dripped into his eyes. It was hard to breathe, his chest was on fire from the beating, and he knew he wasn't going to stay conscious very long.

"Who ...r ... you?" he slurred, between his swollen, cut lips; his breath too short to give him enough air.

"You don't need to know, you're dead anyway," uttered the man with some pride in his voice as he turned to someone and grabbed something Mac couldn't see.

Then, he whacked a steel bat into Mac's head, and watched happily as the detective's head sagged limply onto his chest, blood dripping freely into the pure, white snow beneath his body. He nodded to one of his men, and the guy behind Mac grabbed, again, his dampened, messy hair and pulled his head back.

His heart hammered painfully behind his temples as he felt his head being pulled back again. If they hit him like that again he didn't think he'd have enough strength left to stay conscious. But he had no time to brace himself as he felt his chest wrenched in pain as the second blow had violently hit him in the ribs, breaking some bones in the way. Released from his assailants' grip, he lurched over as violent tremors ran from his gut and into his stomach. In slow motion, he saw himself throwing up the small contents of his stomach into the snow, the white layer stained by his blood; his flushed, burning face falling into the cold, icy snow as his limp body hit the frozen ground.

A small sparkle of rebellious energy ran through his veins. If he was about to die he wasn't gonna let them have their fun so easily. As another pair of hands grabbed his arms to pull him back to his knees, he pushed on his legs and feet, his head lunged backward. With a satisfied crack, he felt his head hitting the nose of the man behind him. The man screamed from the pain as he loosened his grip on Mac. Not waiting to lose the advantage of surprise, he thrust his body forward and into the man that was in charge. His right shoulder painfully struck the man right into his stomach, emptying his lungs at the same time. Now on the ground and on the top of the guy, Mac slid his legs around the neck of his opponent and locked his neck in a deadly snare. The man choked under Mac's tightening grip. He tried to punch him, but he was too far, and only managed to punch Mac's legs.

His breath short, and his vision greying, Mac knew he didn't have a lot of time left, so he squeezed even more tightly on his hold. If he could make the guy pass out, then he would only have two to deal with. But he didn't get enough time to finish his plans as he was rapidly cut by another blow hitting his head from behind. Knocked out by the blow, he felt his body sink motionless into the snow. His eyes shut as his head was pounding so loud he felt drums beating behind his temples and his head about to explode from the wrenching pain. The noise ringing so loudly, he was unaware of what was going on around him.

Free from the detective's hold, the man coughed and raised onto his feet. He swayed a little as his feet slid in the slick snow. One hand rubbing his neck, he grabbed the baseball bat one of his guys was handing him and even though Mac lay unmoving in the snow, he hit the detective into the ribs with full force. To make sure the blow had broken the bones underneath the blue, crimson stained shirt, he hit another time, grunting in rage and was finally satisfied when Mac moaned a cry of agony. Silence settled in the dark alley, as the leader shot an evil glance at his goons, only broken by the faint whizz of Mac's short, ragged breath.

"You think you can come and rule in our street without payin' the price, Taylor? Well ya were wrong!" the leader growled angrily as he grasped a handful of Mac's dark short hair, lifting his face, so he could see into his swollen eyes. "You cops need some help understanding who's the boss in these streets! And I'm gonna send a message to your sneaky rat friends." He grinned wickedly. "And you're gonna be my messenger!" He roughly tossed Mac's head to the snowy ground.

"Guys," he called to the men around him as he nodded toward Mac's curled body, "Pick him up!"

Mac felt his body being dragged upward as strong arms caught him under his arms and tried to raise him onto his feet. His legs, unable to support him, gave out as soon as he was standing, his head sagging limply between his shoulders.

Heaving in pain, his thoughts turned to Stella and what he wanted to ask her tomorrow. But as the man in front of him pulled a knife from his pocket, he sadly realized there would be no tomorrow for him. He should have asked her a long time ago. He shouldn't have waited. But now it was too late. He fought to keep his eyes open, writhing weakly in the goons' hands.

"Hold him!" ordered the man, as he brought the blade under Mac's throat. "Scared to die, Taylor?" he sneered.

Mac tried to free himself from the grasp of the men behind him, but their hold was strong, and his legs buckled under him, sliding aimlessly into the slick snow. His body tensed and he swallowed as he watched the knife tear into the fabric of his dark shirt and then do the same with his undershirt. The cold, freezing wind blew on his bare chest, and he shook uncontrollably, sending jolts of hot, flaring pain through his battered body.

With a wicked smile carved on his face, the man sank the blade into his skin. At first Mac thought the guy was going to kill him, but the blade carved only into the first layers of his skin just over his liver, as the man began to etch letters into his flesh. With each cut deepening into his flesh, Mac felt his rage rose.

He had been so stupid to come into this alley. There had been no warning that this was a trap, but he cursed himself for letting himself be trapped so easily. But mostly, he cursed himself for not talking to Stella. Another cut sank deeper this time tearing more flesh, a flaring pain burst from the fresh cut as the guy grunted at the men behind him to get a firm grip on Mac, who was slipping from their hold.

He exhaled painfully, his head hanging loosely onto his chest and his heart racing madly behind his temples. Smears of red blood rolled down his chest, wetting the waistband of his pants. As a streak of his shirt was suddenly slapped back onto his skin by the cold wind, the torn, crimson fabric remained stuck against his wounded skin while blood soaked the fabric.

The leader took a step back and watched with satisfaction at his work. The detective was sagging heavily between the firm grips of his men. Blood leaking freely from both sides of his face, sliding into his neck, staining his collar with large, dark crimson spots, and his torso bore proudly, his message in dripping, bloody letters. He smiled, before a frown carved his forehead, thinking.

"Hum. What am I forgetting?" he uttered aloud.

One of his men glanced at him with a playful smile. "I don't see punctuation boss!" he stated with a smile.

His boss laughed dryly. "You're right. What would I do without you, guys?"

The men laughed stupidly behind Mac, as their boss stepped closer to him, his face inches to the detective's drooping head, and tightened his grip around the slick, bloody handle of his knife. With a sick nod to one of his goons, Mac's head was again roughly jerked backward.

"C'mon Taylor, don't play dead yet!" huffed the boss as he slapped Mac's bruised cheek. "C'mon wake up! Don't spoil the fun by passing out."

Mac's eyes fluttered open and his blue, green pools locked into the dark void of the man before him. He swallowed painfully as he felt cold sweat dripping to his neck and mixing with his warm blood. He tried to send a cocky replied, but he was too exhausted to, so instead he shot his angriest glare to the man before him as he gulped a cold breath of air.

"Good!" said the boss. "I see you still have the gut to provoke me." He glanced at his guys, sneering at the detective, and then approached his head to be close enough to Mac's ears. "Now remember to tell your friends to never mess with us again," he whispered, before he took a step back and threw his hand forward.

The knife stabbed Mac straight into his right side. The cold bite of the flesh being torn by the blade invaded Mac's body in an instant, before he felt the knife being twisted painfully and then went further up into his gut. Blood rose from his throat and into his mouth as his stomach retched in pain and the boss pulled the knife out from his trembling body.

Both men beside him let go of him as he collapsed into the snowy ground with a dull thud. His beating heart echoed painfully in his ears as he watched the white snow being quickly stained by a small, crimson puddle of his blood. His vision greyed and he knew, that, this time, he had no strength left. With one last thought to his partner, and regrets she would never know what he really felt for her, he watched helplessly as dark spots blurred his vision. The faint beating of his heart was all he could hear now as the world had shut down everything else, and his life was quickly leaving his numb body as darkness claimed him.

xxx

With a tired, though, happy smile grazing her lips, Stella stepped out of the elevator and entered the main hallway of the Crime Lab building. She had left her car at home this morning, and she knew from the start that she would have to get a cab to come home tonight. And now the perspective of letting herself sink into the back of the cab to bring her home was more appealing than anything else. Though, she knew something else that could be even more appealing than that. With a sparkle of joy, she let her mind wander back to the conversion she had with Mac earlier, and as usual, her face lightened at the thought of his charming smile that she had always thought was reserved only to her. She didn't know why, but she couldn't help but think about her partner, since they have returned from Greece.

She knew that Mac was a very private man, but what he had told her there had been as if he had opened a door she had never hoped he would. She bit her lower lip, as a playful smile tried to curve her face. Gee! That man had made her blush with just few words and now her mind was marvelling at what could happen next if he was serious.

She shook her head trying to be more serious. No. There were small chances that Mac would try to get serious. She sighed, her smile fading at the sad thought. But it quickly reappeared when she thought about the present she had already bought for him and had still to wrap before she could give him on Christmas Eve. Well, if I can arrange things to see him at that moment. He sure was going to love it. She hoped he would. A frown carved her forehead. No, he will. She decided. And maybe it would give him a hint.

As she passed the guard on duty and headed to the main door, she stopped dead, hearing tires screeching. Screams came from the street outside, and she was about to rush outside, her gun already in hand, when someone threw a heavy package through the main windows. The glass shattered to the tiled floor, as the package rolled into the floor and crashed into a bunch of chairs, breaking the legs of the wooden table in the center. The heavy tray, laid on the table, dropped right over the package with a thud.

She rushed outside just in time to see the back of a black van turning into a corner. As she walked back to the building, she noticed a dark trail of drops from the curb, and continuing through the windows. Following the trail, pieces of glass crushed under her heels as she stepped over the broken window, her gun now back in its holster and headed quickly to the broken table as she had spotted a pair of dark, black boots underneath.

Trying to quiet her heart, beating a bit fast in her ears, she glanced at the stunned guard, civilian, she noted as she crouched near the table and lifted the wooden tray.

Her heart stopped beating in her chest the second she saw the face of the bruised man laid before her, and then spotted the dark, crimson pool already forming under his body . Oh god, Mac! His hands cuffed behind his back, his body laid terribly still in the middle of the shattered glass, his head sagging limply on his side.

Dropping on her knees, her eyes set with horror on the pouring blood leaking from his battered body. "Call an ambulance! An officer is down!" she shouted frantically as her hands pressed on Mac's stomach trying to stop the blood from leaving his body.

"Mac! Oh, no! You stay with me, okay?"

Getting no response from her wounded partner, she let her voice rise into the hallway, not caring if anyone could hear her fear smoldering behind each word.

"C'mon Mac, stay with me!" she shouted again with a croaked voice and between hot tears, trying desperately to get a response from him, but her partner's eyes remained desperately closed as more blood oozed between her fingers. Fear clinging at her stomach, she slapped his face with a bloody hand. "Don't you dare die on me, Mac! Stay with me, please! Stay with me, Mac!"

TBC... two more to go...


A/N: Okay, sorry for the cliffie but it was necessary for the story. Two more chapters before the end, so don't forget to let me know what you've thought of this chapter. And thanks for R&R.

About Darkness closing in, don't worry that story will be update, though my beta and I got carried away by this Christmas fic and so it will be delayed for the holidays, I'm really sorry for that.