Title: Mutual Admiration

Author: BuffyAngel68

Rating: FRAO eventually. FRT for the moment.

Fandom/Pairing: CSI: NY Mac/Adam/Danny.

A.N.: M/A is immediately post "Down the Rabbit Hole", A/D began post "Snow Day" and [in my head] kept developing slowly from that point. Romance after shared trauma... it's a fan-fic classic and that epi. just screams for it. Besides which... the two scruffy boys together? Hot, hot, hot. Toss in the transformation of Mac by new love and hey presto, awesomeness personified. One hopes...

Summary: After the near disaster with the lab computers, Adam is feeling guilty and frightened. Mac surrenders to the opportunity for a rescue...

Disclaimer: Don't own, making no fundage. If these three were mine... bye-bye preggers Lindsey plotline, trust me.

As he approached the locker room, Mac slowed up then halted completely. Running a hand over his face, sighing with fatigue, he reconsidered his plan to shower there and go out to eat. After the day he'd had, gulping down a bowl of cold cereal and falling into bed fully clothed was starting to sound more and more appealing.

In the midst of his deliberations, a barely audible voice and motion caught just out of the corner of his eye pulled his focus off his own troubles. He looked up to find Adam slumped on a bench with his head in both hands and he appeared to be talking to himself. Recalling the young man's irrepressible joy after winning the online battle, Mac frowned lightly and moved inside to talk to him.

"Adam?"

The familiar voice had the tech up on his feet instantly.

"Mac... hey. You need me for something? I'll work a double, no problem..."

"No, no. We're fine."

"You sure? Seriously, I can take another lab, do scut work in the field, empty the trash, whatever."

"Adam."

"Yeah boss?"

"Sit."

He complied reluctantly and Mac dropped down to sit beside him. "What's going on?"

"Huh? Nothin'. I just wanna help however I can..."

"By becoming a janitor?"

A pained grin flashed onto and off of Adam's face and he wiped his shaking hands on his pants, keeping his gaze on the floor as he began to softly explain.

"You were so ticked off before... not that you didn't have every right to be. I let my ego take over instead a'my brain, thinkin' I knew enough to stop the incursion or-or fix it. I shoulda shut it down the minute you said to, but I really thought I could do it. I was stupid an' arrogant... I'm so sorry. I won't fight the pink slip when it comes, I swear. You won't hear a whimper outta me."

"You done?"

"Um... yeah, I think so."

"Good, 'cause it's my turn. First off, I was afraid and worried, not mad. I yell in both circumstances, so I can see how you might've been confused. Second, I just got finished reading the preliminary report and the best techs we have don't understand what Suspect X used to breach our system. That means, as good as you are, there was nothing you could do either, but you had no way of knowing that, so you're forgiven for thinking otherwise. Third, without you we wouldn't be as close to X as we are right now. Firing you is *totally* out of the question. Did I cover everything?"

"Yeah... yeah, you, uh... you did."

"No more guilt trips or putting yourself down?"

"No more. Scout's honor." Adam vowed with a shaky, nervous laugh.

"Okay. You eaten yet?"

"Nah. I, uh... I thought about finding somewhere to drown my sorrows, but they swamped me before I got a chance. Then you showed up... boom, no more sorrows to drown."

"Boom? Mac questioned, losing a small laugh of his own.

"Right... spending too much time with Danny. I'll work on that."

"There are a lot worse people you could be hanging out with. Tell you what, dinner and coffee are on me, but no alcohol."

"Yeah? Really?"

"Which one surprises you, that I'd treat you to a meal, or that I'd rather you didn't drink?"

Adam tilted his head to the side slightly and produced the first genuine, relaxed grin Mac had seen since he'd sat down.

"Not sure. Both... I guess. Anyway, I'll take the deal."

"Anything you don't like, can't eat..."

"Not a thing. I'm pretty much the world's biggest omnivore."

"Great. Gimme ten or fifteen clean up and I'll meet you in the lobby."

Adam nodded, rose and backed toward the door a step or two before he turned and headed out moving forward, now smiling broadly.

TBC...