I wrote this a while ago, but then lost it because it was only in long-hand form. Today I found it (it was in the same place as Eye Spied - also lost, also only in long-hand) and typed it up. I hope that you enjoy reading!
Many thanks to lily moonlight for the beta.
Normal Service Will Be Resumed Shortly
Mac barely made it out of the door before the floor began to sway beneath his feet. He stumbled, and grabbed at one of the – thankfully – stationary walls for support.
"Mac!" His other arm was caught and steadied by Stella, suddenly next to him. "You ok?"
"I'm fine," he said. It was only the floor behaving in a manner quite contrary to its usual solidity which was affecting his balance, and he was trying to work out how to phrase that while Stella ran gentle fingers over his scalp, honing in on a point of pain.
"Did Drew do this?" she asked and her voice was fierce enough that he became quite worried.
"Don't shoot him," he reminded her. It's not allowed – "
Her voice choked into a laugh. "I'll be sure not to."
"Good." Behind them Flack was speaking into a radio as uniformed cops swarmed like blue beetles over the room's contents. Mac felt curiously separate from the minutes-earlier events. Drew was hustled to his feet and shoved out and past them. He didn't raise his eyes to Mac's face, but Mac stared at him, trying to see the boy he had known. He couldn't.
Jimmy was also handed off to someone else, and vanished. Flack lowered his radio and sauntered over to the pair of them. "Hey Mac. You alright?"
"I'm fine," Mac said. Again.
Stella snorted. "Syringe puncture on his neck and a head injury. Call a ride to hospital, would you?"
"Did you think I've been making social calls?" Flack retorted. "EMTs should be nearly here by now."
"I'm not going to the hospital," Mac insisted irritably. "We've got to close the case. There're reports, and – "
Stella caught him as the floor gave another heave and forced him to stagger sideways.
"Looks like Drew injected you with a sizable dose of stupid," Flack said, in an exasperated sort of way. "Mac, you can barely stand and you're starting to slur. If you go back to the lab or the precinct someone'll arrest you on suspicion of being drunk."
He started to protest the unfairness, but Stella clapped her hand over his mouth. "Mac, shut up."
The lights from the coloured window behind them in the room he'd been held in were blurring into her hair. She looked like a nebula.
Flack chuckled. "Now that's an odd picture. C'mon Stell, let's get him out of here. The medics aren't going to be in a good mood if they have to find us in this rat-maze.
Mac wasn't sure why he wasn't getting any say in the matter.
"Because I don't think you realise you're speaking aloud. That gives me a low impression of your current standard of decision-making, I'm afraid."
Flack was being even worse than Stella, which was unusual.
Stella began to laugh. Mac didn't ask her to explain herself, though, because he had just noticed that they were half-way up a flight of stairs, which was confusing when he had thought that they were still standing in the corridor. Flack instructed him to keep moving, which was hard when he was suddenly so tired.
"Just a bit further," Stella said reassuringly, from his other side.
"I think I'll go back to my apartment," he told her. "I can do the reports tomorrow."
"Yes, that's an excellent idea. We're nearly there now."
The three of them emerged into bright, squint-inducing sunlight. It was reflecting oddly from everything, though, blurring outlines and colours.
"That's right, blame the sun," Flack muttered, and finished with the sort of cough which people gave when they had just been unexpectedly elbowed in the ribs. Mac wondered how Stella had managed to reach.
Stella laughed again. It was a nice sound, and the echoes of it continued to ring on in his ears.
He didn't notice the ambulance until they were right next to it. "I don't need the hospital," he protested.
"Okay, that's fine," Stella said calmly. "You lie down and we'll take you home to get some sleep."
"Alright," he agreed. Sleep sounded like a good idea, as did not being upright. He allowed himself to be guided down onto a gurney.
"He's pretty out of it," Flack was saying, and Mac tried to work out who he was talking about.
"I'll tell you later," Stella whispered, with the sun tangled up in her hair.
There was something important he had to tell her. "I should have listened to you about Drew," he said urgently. "I'm sorry, I should have – You could have been hurt in that train – "
"Mac," Flack interrupted, "Whatever it is you think you're saying, it isn't making a blind bit of sense. Leave the speeches for now."
But he had to make Stella understand –
"It's okay," Stella whispered, and smoothed down his hair with her fingers. "Everything's fine. I think I know what you're trying to say."
"That's more than I do," Flack muttered.
Mac kept looking at Stella, kept focusing on the warmth of her hand resting on his shoulder. He needed to know that she wasn't going to disappear.
They were moving, vibrations shaking upwards. Ghosts flickered around in the corner of his eyes. Something was settled over his face and he reached up and pushed it off.
Flack slapped his hand away. "Leave the oxygen mask alone!"
That was a confusing piece of information. They were for people who were hurt.
"Oh, you've caught on?" Flack, again. "That was quick."
"Don't mock him," Stella chided.
"Hey, I don't usually get the opportunity. At least I'm not recording his babbling."
"Being slightly more mature than Messer doesn't get you much credit."
They sounded as if they were referring to a specific incident and Mac tried to ask them about it, making an effort to speak clearly.
Stella leaned over him and took his hand. "Mac, I honestly have no idea what you're saying. You've got an oxygen mask on, remember?"
He'd forgotten, and apologised for that. Flack snickered.
Then there was suddenly sunlight again, and then lights in a hall of white. Stella let go of his hand and he tried to reach for her through the white air. "Wait!" she called, and he somehow stopped his movement, which was good, since he hadn't been in control of it.
She bent down and he felt the gentle warm pressure of her lips against his forehead. "I'll be waiting here for you," she said. "I'm not going anywhere."
That was good. Nice. He didn't want her to leave, and told her so. (Afterwards, he wouldn't remember exactly what he had said, and would find that she hadn't been able to hear him through the mask in any case, and he would feel both relief and regret.)
But right then she began to float away from him into the white, and he was happy to watch after her until the white came and swallowed him and turned to black behind his eyelids, because he knew that she would be there when he woke up.