Title: Escape from Rikers Island
Chapter 1 - Precursor to Disaster

Summary: A deadly storm; an isolated prison; a killer out for revenge & two people desperate to survive. It's a race against time and nature for trapped Mac & Stella while a desperate Flack & Jessica try to get them help before it's too late. SMACKED action/peril

Disclaimer: I don't own Mac Taylor but I wish I did (course then I'd get nothing done! Grin) This is a piece of fan fiction. It is written for pleasure and not for profit. The characters of CSI New York and any other regular cast and supporting cast members all belong to CBS, Paramount & Jerry Bruckheimer and Anthony Zuiker. All other characters are my own. Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental.

A/N: Okay so I was going to wait until my two other stories were finished before posting any new multi-chapter fics but I just couldn't quiet the muse when this idea popped into mind! So when we finished reading 'Shutter Island' (awesome book!) it sort of inspired this idea. And no it's not the same as the book/movie but just an idea that kinda stemmed from it with a few similarities. Not sure how long this story will be chapter-wise and Jessica will be alive. So I am posting this for you all to see if you even like it.
Special thanks to Stardust585 for the 'talk', hope you like it!


"Damn it Don! I can't get a hold of Mac," CSI Stella Bonasera's frantic voice lightly pants over her two-way as she races for another way in; Detective Don Flack on the other end; each of them at opposite ends of the rundown building, their partner and fellow CSI still missing inside.

It had started with the knowledge that Felix Reite, their main suspect in the grisly killings of at least half dozen young men was spotted trying to buy a fake passport on the street and then made a dash for it; Mac on his tail. Stella had heard from her partner last when he had radioed for help, telling her in a frantic tone that Felix had gotten the backup piece that Sinclair had told him to take just in case and that he was last seen heading into Ocean Bridge Works; a building now abandoned.

'Felix Reite was spotted heading into Ocean BridgeI'm right here. I'm going in and...'

'Mac you need to wait for backup, this guy...'

'Stella, I'm right here and I'm not going to lose him.'

'Mac wait! Sinclair said...'

'No time. Stella, call for backup!'

'Damn it!'

The time it took her and Flack to reach Mac's location felt like a tormented eternity, her mind racing with the grisly images of what Felix was capable of; if Mac made a mistake or allowed his guard to drop for even a second. By the time they reached the site, her heart rate was near critical, her mind racing with agony at Mac's silence; still not returning her frantic calls.

"Don it's almost dark."

"We'll get him Stella."

"Why the hell didn't he just wait?"

"You expect me to answer?" Flack counters in sarcasm.

"No but what if Mac is..."

"Mac said there was only one shot so far and..." Flack huffs in return as he slows to a stop just before a doorway on the opposite side of the building as Stella.

"It only takes one!" Stella snaps in return and then gives her head a small shake. "Sorry he hasn't called since then, what do you expect me to think?"

"Same thing as me. I'm entering the south-west side. Jessica has the main door covered."

"Don I..." Stella starts only to have her lips emit a soft gasp when another shot is heard. "Mac! Don I'm going in."

"Me too."

XXXXXXXX

"If I have to take you a piece at a time Detective Taylor, I will!" The cackling laughter of suspected serial killer Felix Reite is heard reverberating through the rotten pieces of wood surrounding them; finally resting on the ears of Mac Taylor.

"You missed Felix! But you can be sure I won't when I get my chance!" Mac taunts in return as he carefully takes another step out of the shadows, only to be sent back to his original hiding place by another carefully placed bullet from the stolen gun of Felix Reite. Mac's eyelids rapidly blink away any shards of wood and dust that had set their sights on his eyes, his fingers doing a quick once over to ensure they come away only with dirt, instead of his own blood. Ensuring his frame was for the most part in tact, Mac quickly regroups; his mind once again focused on the task at hand; bringing Felix Reite to justice.

"This place is surrounded!" Mac shouts as he finally takes a chance, leaving the rotting vestige of wood for a sturdier place of concealment, one that is now comprised of a few sheets of steel siding and concrete barricades.

"The more the merrier!" Felix chuckles, forcing an automatic wince from Mac's flushed lips.

The building used to be a storage facility for bridge supplies that was abandoned when the economy started to wane; the company never returning to reclaim what was rightfully theirs. So in addition to a hardened killer trying to take his life; Mac knows that even the simplest piece of rebar or disguised piece of concrete, could have deadly or even life ending consequences if happened upon in an unfortunate or surprising way.

Mac's weary frame rests against the wall for a split second, his chest lightly heaving from the chase and his head slightly pounding from the tumble he and Felix took earlier; the tumble that allowed Felix to get his backup weapon, offer him a harsh blow to the head and then take his leave.

He feels his phone vibrating against his tender ribs; reminding him once again that his partner is still frantically trying to get a hold of him; his silence ensuring a tongue lashing for sure. But each time his fingers attempt to reach for it, a new threat is made and his fingers quickly retreat; this time the threat comes in the form of frantic feet shuffling in the opposite direction. A new escape attempt trying to be played out.

"Damn it," Mac angrily curses as he leaves his secure hiding spot and hurries in the direction of the footsteps; the eerie shadows of the dimly lit surroundings watching with vested interest as the lone Detective chases the wily perpetrator. Mac rounds a corner only to stop short, just as the landing beneath his feet threatens to give way.

"Told you Taylor," Felix's voice calls from behind. "A piece at a time."

Mac quickly turns in the direction of the voice only to be met in the stomach with a piece of wood that Felix somehow managed to scrounge in the darkened area and use to his advantage. However, Mac, knowing what Felix is capable of and driven by pure hatred and vengeful adrenaline, shoots out a hand and yanks an arm full of musty fabric in his direction; pulling Felix into his grasp.

"Hello again," Felix offers a nicotine soaked greeting; to which Mac's stomach instantly recoils, his grip however, remaining firm.

However, the structure has the last laugh as the landing; not being able to support the weight of both men, starts to give way, their destination a darkened story beneath them. Mac's fingers scramble to hold onto anything that will ensure he stays put, while Felix tumbles to the ground; but just as the ground gives way, Mac feels Felix's arms wrap around his waist, tugging him into the inky blackness beneath them.

"Mac!" He hears the beloved voice of his partner calling to him, just as he and Felix fly through the air, a jumble of frantic arms and legs. Felix's body slams into a pile of rotting foam insulation, wood and sawdust, ensuring that while neither would be seriously injured, both would feel the effects of their ill-fated chase but still be able to walk away.

"Stella!" Mac manages before his lungs are forced to suck in stale air, sawdust fibers and mold spores; his eyes watering further.

Mac's body slams into Felix's, his lips offering a painful gasp as his lungs are temporarily winded from the fall. His chest starts to heave for fresh oxygen as his face creases; an outward expression of hurt for an inward feeling of pain. While his fingers were able to hold onto the weapon in his hand, he hears the unmistakable clatter of Felix's weapon being tossed aside and knows he finally has been given the upper hand.

However, not going down without a fight, Felix wraps his arms around Mac's waist, just as Mac tries to roll himself off his suspect's battered frame and holds on.

"Told you...Taylor..." Felix wheezes as Mac lands an elbow to his ribs. Felix emits another cry of pain as Mac tries to twist himself out of Felix's grasp.

Mac finally manages to pry his fingers away and roll off the stack, tumbling a few more feet to the cold, harsh concrete below, thankful to be free of the grasp of the wanted killer. But knowing that his safety still isn't guaranteed, Mac is quick to push himself to his knees; forcing to the back of his mind any searing pain this body wants to force him to take note of.

"It's...over...Felix," Mac pants as he slowly staggers to his feet, his gun aimed and ready. He quickly brushes away some dust from his face, smearing faint traces of blood and dirt over already roughed up skin. "You are under...arrest," Mac barks angrily as he fires off a warning shot into the air. "I missed on purpose; next time I won't."

"This isn't over...Taylor," Felix manages as he rolls onto his side and squints down at Mac.

"Yes it is."

Mac locks eyes with the hardened killer; watching as images of dead bodies start to swim around in the deathly black pools that Felix Reite looks through every day. Felix raises a hand, forcing Mac to cock the trigger once again.

"I'm unarmed...want to shoot me Taylor? I dare you!" Felix laughs, flipping a piece of long, black greasy hair out of his line of sight; his eyes fixed on the seasoned Detective before him.

"You are under arrest," Mac repeats with firmer conviction this time, his heart still racing but his mind now working with the knowledge that very soon help should arrive.

"I don't...THINK SO!" Felix shouts just as he lunges toward Mac.

Mac takes a step back; allowing Felix's body to miss him and land with a painful thud a few feet away. Mac aims his gun once more, just as two large bay doors start to slowly open. Mac turns for a split second, but that's all Felix needs. His hand shoots out, grabs Mac's pant leg and gives it a good tug; forcing Mac to tumble forward, his destination the man before him.

Felix quickly rolls to the side as Mac's body crashes to the ground on his knees, his lips once again emitting a painful gasp but his brain refusing to give up. He pushes himself forward, taking Felix back to the ground just as his ears finally pick up a few more voices.

"Mac!" Stella calls as she nears the two struggling men. "NYPD freeze!" She shouts just as Felix was about to impale Mac with a nearby piece of rebar. She fires off a shot that nearly misses his fingers, forcing Felix to drop the rebar; letting it clatter to the floor, Mac looking at the makeshift weapon in shock.

"Next time..." Felix hisses as Mac glares down at him in anger.

"There won't be a next time Felix. You are going away for life," Mac growls as he finally pushes himself away, standing up beside his partner and refusing to show any kind of weakness to the man looking up at him with a smug smile.

"There will be a next time Taylor; and she won't be invited. It'll be just you and me...to the death."

"Mac!" Flack's frantic voice shouts as he and two other uniforms officers finally surround them. "Felix Reite you are under arrest."

"Yeah piss on it; he said that already," Felix sneers at Flack.

"Get him out of here!" Mac hisses through clenched teeth; his eyes not daring to look at his partner's face just yet; although he's more than aware of the penetrating gaze her emerald orbs are offering.

"Gladly," Flack replies as he nods to another officer to cuff him while he reads him his rights, leaving Mac and Stella alone as they drag a struggling Felix Reite to jail. "Let's go Felix."

"See you soon Taylor!" Felix Reite's voice is left hanging in the air; the haunting words lingering over the heads of the two remaining Detectives.

Mac finally dares to turn to face his partner; his eyes still darting nervously around in case any surprise was overlooked. He holds up a hand, his face letting her see a small wince, his eyes holding remorse. "Save the lecture."

"Lecture?" Stella arches a wary brow. "Is that what you call concern? Damn it Mac, it was Sinclair that told you to wait not me!"

"I didn't have time," Mac groans as he slowly pushes past her, brushing her shoulder with his as he heads for his spare gun.

Stella looks at her sleeve and then at her partner, her head already shaking in disbelief; her fingers coming away from her shoulder with fresh blood; a wound on his arm that was garnered in the one story fall.

"Anything else you didn't have time for?" She asks in exasperation.

"I didn't check for..."

"Personal body injuries?" Stella holds up her hand. "This is yours."

"Just a scratch," Mac frowns as he gingerly touches his throbbing arm; a fresh painful sensation flooding through his body as his fingers dance around the ripped up flesh carefully hidden underneath his torn suit jacket; his brain too busy earlier to notice his arm being snagged on a piece of rebar as he flew through the air.

"Come on. Let me take you..."

"Stella, I'm fine, really."

Without saying anything further, Stella turns and heads for the exit; Mac slowly following behind, his brain refusing to show any kind of physical weakness in a public setting. He stuffs his main piece back into his hip holster, his dirty fingers still encased around the handle of the spare that Felix Reite tried to use in vain to end his life.

"Backup be damned," he mutters in contempt as he finally reaches the cool winter weather outside the building. With the rain still pelting down, the wind blowing around them and the cold air dancing with any exposed flesh it can find; it's not long before Mac's body starts to offer him up as a sacrificial lamb to the harsh elements.

"Was it raining earlier?" Mac frowns as he nears the Avalanche, Stella showing him her set of keys and heading for the drivers side.

"All week Mac, it's winter," not caring if was just making idle conversation.

"I'll drive Stella."

"Mac, I swear I'm no mood for your macho heroics right now. If I have to cuff you and toss you in the back I will, but I'm driving and that's final."

"I said I didn't have time for backup," Mac counters with a firm tone.

Stella turns on her heel and looks at him with anger and concern; a dual of emotions waging war in emerald pools. "I saw those pictures Mac; those men. I know what Felix Reite is capable of. He wouldn't have thought twice about taking you down and carving you up for us to find if for even one second he had gained the upper hand."

"He was unarmed."

"Not for very long!"

"Fine, next time I'll wait for him to carve up another body before he offers us another chance at taking him down when he's alone!"

"Fine!" Stella growls in return as she heads for the front driver's side; getting in and letting the door slam so hard that Mac's feet felt the small tremor on the ground.

"Damn it," he lightly curses as he slowly heads for the side door and pushes himself into the passenger seat, praying for his heart rate to return to normal. The hardened beads of rain beat against the side of the truck; keeping time with Mac's heart rate, his head still throbbing and body wracked with pain, drained of adrenaline and energy. All he can do is allow his body to heave its last heavy sigh of relief and become one with the soft leather seat; relinquishing silent control to his partner.

He looks sideways at Stella, who has her gaze fixed ahead into the unfriendly area before them and knows he needs to make some kind of amends before tension is allowed to foster. He offers her a slight frown; knowing inside that she's been witness to him chasing after suspects before; his life in danger a few times in the past, none life ending. He makes a slight flinch toward the middle console, forcing her body to slightly recoil and his hand to quickly retreat.

"He's going away for life, hopefully death row," Mac finally mentions as Stella's fingers still hover over the ignition switch.

"The last victim looked just like you Mac," her voice manages, a soft whisper full of torment and fear. "The last crime scene I was working on could have been you. Do you get that?"

Mac looks at her in sudden realization; it wasn't just him facing a killer one on one that had worried her, it was her finding his body as the next victim of Felix Reite that was forced into her mind when he said he was going in after him and then didn't return her calls; each time she had worked on a victim she was reminded that it could have been him she was working on.

"Why didn't you tell me?" He asks in misery; his mind finally pondering her stoic silence or short answers the few days prior to and then leading up to this event.

"Would it have made a difference?" She counters bitterly. "Especially today?"

"I didn't have time to think, I just saw the opportunity and took it," Mac tries to justify as Stella finally turns the key, allowing the engine to spring to life, flooding the compartment with some much needed heat; a slight quiver in his voice, finally fueling her need to take care of him. Mac's fingers reach for the heat switch, hoping to turn it up when Stella's actions stop him; forcing his eyes upward.

"I'm sorry you're cold," she whispers as her fingers wrap around his, not caring about the transfer of blood and dirt to her own flawless skin.

Mac's skin instantly warms in the location her fingers dared to linger; forcing a new surge of adrenaline to course through his veins; feelings he tells himself are not appropriate for this kind of setting, but not having the strength to actually want to break contact, delighting in the feelings more than he's willing to admit.

"I'm dirty too," Mac finally quips with a slight smirk, her eyes finally casting themselves in his direction; allowing him to see a rare momentary display of weakness on her part. "Stella I'm sorry."

"I know," she assures falsely, pasting on a tight lipped smile that he knows in an instant is fake and put on for his own mental comfort.

"But you don't believe me?"

"I don't believe you," she replies as her hand drops his to his lap and resumes its position near the steering wheel; his flesh instantly cooling, inner disappoint starting to rise.

"Stella..." he starts in mild protest.

"I should get you..." she quickly cuts him off.

"Felix..." he tries to argue, his lips trying to stifle another painful twinge; not lost on his observant partner.

"Flack will take care of him, now it's your turn to be taken care of."

"I don't need a hospital," Mac tries.

"I don't care," Stella retorts in a tone that suggests there is a hidden lie to her words; her caring for him deeper than both might realize right now or her wanting to admit right now.

Stella pushes the Avalanche into traffic; the waiting ER department her next destination; a heavy winter storm still beating down around them. She glances at Mac, who has his head turned toward the window and allows her frame to sag back into the leather seats; her mind finally starting to feel some semblance of peace now that her partner is at her side and safe.

The ride to the ER is spent mostly in stifling silence; neither wanting to justify the harsh words spoken a few minutes earlier or make idle chit chat just for the sake of speaking. Mac sees where they are heading but decides to bite his tongue; not wanting to tempt fate a second time and knowing his partner capable of her threat from earlier.

"Probably would enjoy it too," he sighs in exasperation.

"Enjoy what?" Stella inquires, her eyes fixed ahead; knowing that with the harsh weather, any visual deviation might result in an extended stay in the ER; a visit neither would welcome right now.

"Tossing me into the back," he comments as he ventures a glance in her direction.

"You're damn straight I'd enjoy it. You've earned that action a few times now."

"I had to bring him down Stella."

"I know you did Mac," she sighs in return as she brings the truck to a stop just outside the entrance to the ER. Mac's fingers gingerly brush against hers, forcing her eyes to wander in his direction one more time.

"Thank you."

"Nice try, but I am coming in there with you."

"What?" Mac asks in disbelief. "Stella, I'm perfectly capable of walking through those doors and getting myself some help."

"I know you are, but will you?" She counters with a lighter tone, her face finally softening. "You're bleeding here," she whispers as her fingers touch his forehead with some hesitation.

Mac's lips finally curl into a half smile as they linger in their locked embrace for a few seconds longer; before the all too familiar blaring of ambulance sirens, breaks the moment and the mood quickly dissipates. "You're cold. Let's get you inside," Stella finally states before she pulls back, his hand going for the door handle; Stella's actions mirroring his on the other side.

They slowly head toward the entrance; side by side walking in silence, until the doors part and both are greeted with a blast of warm air; dotted with the distinct aroma of hospital.

"Ah Detective Taylor," head ER physician and friend, Dr. Ben Adams, walks up to them with his trademark frown. "I really do appreciate you keeping me in business, but I think you've outdone yourself this time," he sighs as he carefully observes Mac's disheveled and battered appearance. "Does he not know how to play nice with the other children?" Dr. Adams queries and Mac just rolls his eyes.

"I look worse than I feel," he frowns as he nods sideways to Stella. "Wasn't my idea to come here Ben."

"Never is Mac," Dr. Adams retorts as he looks at Stella with a slight smile. "You are too good for him, you know that right?"

Mac simply shakes his head as he looks at Stella who merely shrugs but says nothing further.

"Right this way," Dr. Adams gestures to his right; allowing Mac and Stella to file in behind him as he leads them to a small waiting room. "Take off your jacket and shirt," Dr. Adams instructs Mac.

"Do you want me to leave?" Stella queries as she looks at Mac who hesitates before getting undressed.

"Promise not to lecture me?" Mac asks lightly.

"She won't have to," Dr. Adams pipes up. "I'll save her the trouble."

"Damn conspiracy," Mac grumbles as he slowly removes his dress shirt, handing it, along with his torn suit jacket into the waiting hands of his partner.

Stella's eyes slowly fix themselves on Mac's bloody upper arm, her stomach tightening as Mac's lips offer a gasp of pain as Dr. Adams carefully pulls out a piece of t-shirt fabric had had embedded itself in the wound when it was being created.

"I won't say it," Dr. Adams shakes his head as he helps Mac remove the last of his undershirt; so that Mac sits bare chested on the small table before his partner's examining eyes. He looks up at Stella who finally offers a sympathetic stare, her eyes almost misting the longer she watches his body slowly reveal its inner frailty to her.

"Sorry," he mutters; not caring what Dr. Adams might judge his comment to be.

"I know," she nods in understanding, having been in a similar situation in the past. However, the last time it was Don's life on the line and while she cares for Don as a friend and big brother; inside her mind and heart she knows that she'll use other terms to describe her partner and best friend, her feelings slightly more than platonic and growing stronger as the days slowly pass. Dr. Adams exchanges a glance with her; the older man knowing what with just a look between them, her and her partner are on the path to something more than friendship.

Dr. Adams administers a Tetanus shot thanks to the rust residue from the dirty piece of rebar that left it's mark and then works on the few stitches to close the wound and send Mac home to rest for the night.

"So if I don't see you again Mac, I will be happy," Dr. Adams quips as he applies a square patch over Mac's darkened skin.

"That makes two of us Ben," Mac huffs as he takes his dress shirt back from Stella and starts to redress for the ride home.

"And where the hell is your coat?" Dr. Adams wonders.

"Don't ask," Mac retorts as his eyes fix on the buttons, the top of his head instantly feeling the rueful gaze of his partner; her knowing all too well he left it behind so he could chase their suspect without waiting for backup; true Mac Taylor fashion.

"Thanks," Mac offers to Dr. Adams for his kind treatment once again and then watches Stella near him just as Dr. Adams takes his leave. His fingers slightly tremble as he hurries to fix the buttons, her presence starting to hinder his actions. Stella gently pushes his dirty hands aside and continues the task of fastening his shirt side, finally standing back and handing him his suit jacket.

"Thank you," Mac rewards her actions; holding her hands in his and delighting in the feeling once again of added warmth.

"You were taking too long," she tosses with a slight smile. "Got a text from Don, he has your coat."

"Shall I ge...right I'll get it tomorrow," Mac states in haste as she looks at him sharply. "For the record I'm fine."

"Tell me that again without the added wince for effect."

"Stella..."

"Mac, you fell one story onto a hardened pile of rubbish, onto the stomach of a man who wanted to kill you. You'll get the damn coat tomorrow."

"I said I was fine."

"You seriously want to go there right now?" Stella counters with a soft glance as they reach the front of the truck; the rain still pelting them with icy droplets of cold water.

"No," Mac answers simply as he gets inside; thankful for the warmth, instantly stopping the trembling his body was offering as proof of his partner's suspicions.

Mac settles back in the seats, his body finally starting to feel the full effects of being drained of energy; his mind, however, refusing to allow him to fall asleep or show any kind of fatigue while his partner is still in his presence. Thankful that Stella makes light conversation about the after affects of this case; his brain can once again focus on work, instead of the dull thud his aching chest wanted to offer as a reward for putting his body through hell without asking for permission first.

They reach Mac's apartment, Stella stopping the truck but then surprising Mac by getting out instead of offering him the simple goodnight he was assured would follow another concerned lecture.

"Stella, you can be sure I will go inside."

"Humor me Mac," Stella slightly frowns as Mac turns the key to the front door and then lets them both into the comforting warmth of the apartment foyer. "Besides, this way I can go home knowing I did my job today."

"You always..." Mac starts in protest only to have Stella's finger gently press against his cool lips, stopping his speech.

"My real job. Just hush now," she insists as she offers him a tender smile. "What floor Mr. Taylor?"

"Funny," Mac deadpans as they both step into the elevator and wait in silence as it slowly climbs to the desired floor; depositing them both out a few feet from Mac's front door. But when Mac sees that Stella has no intention of leaving he looks at her, making no move to open the door. "I will be fine; no one is waiting inside."

"Sounds lonely."

"I meant..." he lightly stammers.

"I'm going to come in there and make some coffee while you take a shower and then I'll leave when I have put something in the microwave for you."

"You don't have to."

"I know, but I am going to."

"Okay," Mac's face softens; his brain finally getting it through to him that she's not going to leave until she's assured that he'll at least rest for the remainder of the night; instead of sending her home in a worried state, keeping her up wondering if he's at home or doing something else work related to garner her frustration.

Once inside his quiet apartment, Mac slowly eases off his tattered suit jacket and then looks at Stella with a nervous glance.

"So I could..." his voice starts in a nervous ramble.

"It's just me Mac; why are you nervous?"

"Not sure really," his brows display a nervous expression.

"We aren't at work so this should be easier for you."

"Should...be," he mumbles as he looks at her in expectation. "I am tired."

"I know you are," Stella replies in a comforting tone, as she takes a few steps closer. "It's just that..." her voice dies out.

"Come here," he invites; to which she readily complies.

She finally wraps her arms around his weary chest, holding on as if it would be the only physical contact she'd ever be offered, his warm breath sending small shivers down her worried frame.

"God I thought I lost you," she whispers with a hint of remorse. "You said the shot was fired and then...then silence. Damn it Mac."

"Sorry."

She pulls back, finally allowing emerald to lock with sapphire, her fingers gently brushing a piece of dirt off his rough cheek.

"You need a shower."

"I do," Mac agrees with a heavy sigh.

"Just go and do what you have to do and I'll...well I'll do what I have to also," she instructs in a light tone. "Please?"

Knowing it's pointless to argue, Mac simply nods and then turns, heading for his bedroom to change, his usually strong shoulders, displaying weary fatigue for her to view.

"Oh Mac..." Stella whispers with a twinge of sorrow as she turns and heads for the kitchen.

She busies herself with trying to find something for him to eat; shaking her head at the sad state of his fridge and uttering a soft ethnic curse at the dismal state of his cupboards. Finally discovering a microwave dinner in the freezer, she pulls it out and then goes in search of a plate. However, not hearing the shower starting up, she pokes her head around the corner to see Mac's bedroom light still on; bathroom door open but otherwise his apartment is bathed in silence.

With a slightly worried expression and expecting to see him sitting on the edge of the bed having a silent argument with himself, she heads toward his room and stops in surprise.

"Mac what ar..." her words die in her mouth.

Stella stops and leans against the doorframe, gazing upon her partner's still frame; her heart instantly breaking into small but understanding pieces.

"Mac..." she softly laments as she slowly enters. Mac had managed to get his dress shirt undone, his dress pants still on, but he had lost the battle and simply fell asleep where she assumes he just thought he'd rest for a few minutes before continuing. Very carefully she pushes his other leg all the way onto the bed, his body slightly stirring but thankfully never fully awakening.

Stella quickly retrieves a warm quilt from his closet and carefully covers his slightly trembling frame; taking small comfort when his body finally lies still; the warmth easing his nerves instantly. She kneels down beside him, her concerned eyes studying his handsome face, her heart rate finally slowing at the visual knowledge that her partner will finally get at least some rest. Her fingers tenderly fix his collar so that his face is fully at peace; his brow finally starting to ease as his body continues to revel in the newly found sensation of sleep.

"Goodnight Mac," she whispers as she leans in closer, plants a soft kiss on his cheek, his lips slightly parting as he mumbles a slight, 'g'night,' in return, his eyes staying closed. Stella gives Mac's covered frame a once over; wanting to ensure that his body heat remains; before she turns off the small bedside light and then heads for the kitchen. She ensures that the coffee maker is turned off; dinner back in the freezer; only one light left on and then locks the door, his spare key being carefully tucked inside her pocket as she slips away into the night; heading for her own apartment with the comforting knowledge that her partner is safely tucked away; his weary frame getting some much needed rest.

Stella pulls her coat closer around her body as she quickly gets out of the cab and hurries toward the front door of her apartment building; the wind blowing harder, assaulting her with hardened pellets of rain and merciless gusts of wind as the storm continues to garner strength, the week ahead promising to be one of hell.

Stella lets herself into her quiet apartment and quickly sheds her damp coat and wet shoes, quickly turning up the heat and then heading for the TV; her mind however, still displaying tender images of her partner at sleep in his bed.

'And Greater New York continues to be pounded by this raging storm...' the weathercaster's voice fills the void of her apartment as Stella wanders toward her kitchen, putting on the kettle; opting for a warm cup of tea instead of a chilled glass of wine.

'Will continue to gain strength in the next few days; various travel advisories issued for...' the stern warning continues to echo between the wooden boards surrounding her small entertainment unit; trying to press into her worried brain that something other than her partner's health was also worth paying heed to.

'Possible power outages and storm surges in certain areas...'

"Well Mac...at least the worst for us is over," Stella utters fatefully.


A/N: Okay so do you guys like it? Hate it? And I know I still have Target to finish up which I will (with another AU based on #2 of my poll results waiting to post) but wanted to throw this up and see what you all think. Please let me know if you want me to continue and thanks in advance!!