"Okay... let's hold on here, a second, alright? Nobody *wanted* to hurt your son. Seriously, I never even saw him. He was behind me... then I got knocked down and I shut my eyes... I swear, I barely know what happened after that. I was hurt, half-conscious..."
"Shut up! My son didn't do that! The boy I raised would never go out and... he just wouldn't!"
"You know what? You're kinda right. That wasn't really him. Drugs mess with you. They can change you so totally you might as well be a whole different person... one who says things an' does things that never even crossed your mind when you were clean. I'm sorry he got lost, I really am... but you gotta know I had nothin' to do with it..."
Utterly focused on stalling and keeping the distraught woman from using the weapon, it took Adam a few seconds to understand why, a moment later, she abruptly tensed and growled under her breath.
"No... no, you can't..."
"It's over." Mac told her softly, pressing his gun into her back just enough so she could feel it. "Let it go. Put it down, ma'mm, please."
"No! Not until I make it right!"
"I understand, but this isn't the way to do it..."
"Don't you see, I tried to save him, but he wouldn't let me! I tried... this is all I have left..."
"The son you knew, the boy you remember... would he be happy you're here? Would he want you to hurt another innocent person because of his mistakes and wrong choices?"
"Daaaavid..." the woman wailed, her hand slowly drooping. Mac snatched the gun from her loose grip, handed it to the officer who had been waiting behind him and passed off the now compliant woman as well. The moment she was out of his way, he rushed to support Adam, who was also on the verge of collapse.
"Boss... Oh God, boss..."
"I know. It's okay now... it's okay. Great job, kiddo... you did everything right." Mac soothed, wrapping his arms fully around the shuddering young man. "C'mon, let's get you to the couch."
Mac hardly had time to get Adam stretched out before Danny and Stella both careened into the office. Spotting his friend, Danny immediately went to his knees next to the sofa, petting Adam's hair, rubbing his back and murmuring reassurances. Stella approached Mac, drawing him a short distance away.
"What the hell, Mac?" she demanded quietly. "Is the universe out to get him or something?"
Mac scrubbed a hand over his face.
"I wish I knew. He's safe... that's all that matters. Look can you go help out downstairs?"
"With what? All I heard was that Adam was in trouble."
"The mother of the guy who attacked him... she shot the guards in the lobby so she could get up here. Stopped just short of the metal detector, pulled out an automatic and started firing."
"Two dead, one critical."
"How did you find all this out?"
"Marta out at the desk was able to call security. They called me. I was just sitting in here, checking over files, lost in my own head... I didn't even look up 'till..."
"Hey, hey... stop. Last you knew, Adam was in the elevator. You couldn't anticipate anything like this would happen."
"I said I'd protect him."
"You did, when it counted. Call full stop on your oil tanker of guilt, okay, before there's a million gallon spill that even FEMA won't touch."
Mac laughed ruefully and allowed a thin smile to touch his lips.
"I'm not that bad, am I?"
"You have no idea." Stella responded, touching his face briefly and placing a quick peck on his forehead. "You're dad around here, I get that, but you didn't actually give life to any of your pseudo-kids and you're not responsible for every bad thing that happens to them."
"Kids?" Mac countered skeptically, one eyebrow arched.
"Okay, so Sid's more like your wise older brother and I'm your impulsive, mouthy twin sister. We're still a family, DNA or no DNA."
"Yeah... yeah, we are." he agreed, hugging her fiercely and studying the pair on the other side of the room over her shoulder.
"Adam, Adam... shhhh, it's all done. You're safe, buddy... you're safe an' I'm right here."
"C-can't stop shakin' , D... m' arm hurts, head hurts..."
"Stress does that, kid. I get that way, I make these tight fists an' don't realize it... my bad hand aches like a bastard for days after."
"I know. I can always tell. You hold your coffee in the other hand, you shake and massage the bad one a lot... only when you don't think anybody'll see, though."
"Damn... thought I hid it pretty good."
Adam slowly sat up and turned toward Danny, throwing his good arm around the other man's neck.
"I'm the only one who loves you enough to really look..."
Danny inhaled suddenly, softly, and pulled back a little.
"You mean that?"
"Oh. Danny, I... that just slipped, I swear... I don't wanna..."
"Yeah... it's all good. I understand. You needin' a little space makes sense, 'specially with all you've been through lately..."
"That's not it, I don't wanna push you. I promised myself I'd wait 'till you said... that word first. If I messed things up..."
"You didn't, Adam, you didn't. I 'that word' you too, babe." Danny whispered, tugging the younger man close again.
A light hand between his shoulder blades brought Danny's head up and around to find Stella smiling at him. "Hey..."
"Good. I'm going down to the lobby, see if I can give them a hand. Mac's okayed the rest of the day off, so you can take Adam back to the apartment and stay with him." She informed them, handing Danny Mac's keys.
"Later, okay? I'll call when things here calm down."
"Okay." Danny reluctantly conceded, assuming she was trying to spare Adam any more anxiety. "Mac already down there?" he asked, looking behind her but seeing no sign of their boss.
"Say thanks for me... when you see him."
LOBBY: 10 MINUTES LATER
"Stella. Boy, am I glad to see you." Lindsey sighed. "We can use all the help we can get. This is such a huge mess..."
"I see that. Whatever I can do, I'm here."
"Is Danny coming?"
"He took Adam back to Mac's place. Poor kid's so shaken up..."
"Yeah... yeah anybody would be. Did, uh... why Danny, did he say? I mean, the two of them don't have much in common, you know."
"More than you think. Don't tell me you haven't noticed?"
Lindsey frowned slightly.
"Damn." Stella mumbled, realizing she might just have made a huge mistake.
"Let's get to work, alright?"
"What aren't you saying? If it's something I need to know..."
"I can't. You'll have to talk to Danny, Linds. You want me to help with prints?"
"No... no, that's covered. Nobody's doing photos yet."
"I'm on it." Stella replied, bending to open her kit and, for all intents and purposes, dropping the thorny conversation whether Lindsey wanted to or not. The older woman was painfully aware, however, that the fallout hadn't even begun.