A/N: It's been ages since I last wrote something. Blame real life or my lack of connection with the series after season 6 or "Leather, not Lace", which completely drained me.

However, this idea has been bugging me for several months and I finally decided to see where it may go. As an adult writer, I tend to write about adult themes, be it because of the situation, the language, the sex or the violence. You've been warned: if it's not your cup of tea, feel free to leave whenever you'd like.

None of the characters you recognize are mine. I just borrowed them for a while so they could play with some characters of my own (namely, the ones you don't recognize).

Let the games begin…

X o x o x o x o x o x o X

"Fuck off, Taylor"

She raised her eyes from the cup of tea she had been quietly nursing as he stated his request. She met his gaze, and held it, and smiled inwardly when she saw no reaction in it. She could pride herself that, when it came to Mac Taylor, she could probably get away with murder with just a couple of scratches here and there. Probably being the operative word here.

"Nessa…"

"I said no, Mac. It's non-negotiable."

Mac Taylor studied the woman sitting in front of him. She knew him well, perhaps even better than he knew himself sometimes, but through the years he had also gotten to know her as well, and he knew when a "non-negotiable" was truly final and when it was just a smoke screen, and right now he was pretty certain this particular refusal belonged to the latter type.

"Think of it as occupational therapy, Nessa. I`m sure the PhD in you would be more than thrilled to get his hands on a case like this."

"Occupational therapy my ass, Mac. Don't try to guilt-talk me into it. My panties stopped getting all bunched up over lost causes a long time ago."

"I wouldn't say he's a lost cause Dr. Ferrer. If any, he's a lost soul…"

"Then you should have asked his priest for lunch and have him fix your guy or damn him to eternal hell or whatever is in fashion in religion right now. You and me, let' just gossip like old friends do. Which reminds me, have you decided how you`re going to bring Stella back? I still think some good ole fashioned caveman grab-by-the-hair –and-get-her-home would be the best approach…"

Mac shook his head and took a sip of his lukewarm coffee. Somewhere along the line of their relationship, Lord only knew if it was the personal or the professional one, Dr. Vanessa Ferrer had decided Stella Bonasera was the woman Mac should marry and she wasted no opportunity to address the issue. And since Stella had left the city, the focus of this particular topic had been how to get her to come back to NYC.

"Vanessa…"

"Oh no…. hell no, Mac! Don't you dare Vanessa me! I KNOW what's comes after that, and it's definitively not something I'm going to like."

Nessa glared defiantly at Mac while he calmly looked at her.

"You'd go as low as to pull rank on this?"

The man in the suit simply stirred the cup in front of him, his silence louder than her exalted words.

"You`re a stinking rat, Taylor, do you know that? Fine, I`ll take a look at your fallen angel, but I make no promises. And," she looked at Mac with a devilish gleeful glint in her eyes, "I still want your first born with Bonasera as payment for all my sacrifices."

Mac chuckled. The whole concept of turning in a Taylor-Bonasera offspring, be it the first or the last, was ludicrous, to say the least. Nevertheless, it was a recurring blackmail threat whenever he tried to strike a bargain with Nessa.

"So?"

"Excuse me?"

"Where is it? Let me have a go at it"

"Where is what?"

"And now he's playing coy. Ladies and gentleman, a big round of applause for the great Mac Taylor! Give me the bloody file, Mac; I know you have it with you…"

Mac suppressed a sigh and took the file out of his briefcase. He had kept Nessa in the dark on purpose, as he was sure she would have refused for sure if she knew what it was Mac was asking her to do. But Vanessa Ferrer was the best grief counselor, not only in the department, but in the whole damned state, and given the severity of the case, only the best would do. Mac could only hope that her ability to empathize overcame her angry reluctance.

"Eres un hijo de puta, Macario…"

All hope of this being an easy agreement vanished, and he noticed, not without irony, that he had been right about what her reaction would be when she read the file. Nessa, whose parents had arrived from Mexico and Venezuela long before their five children were born, resorted to swearing in her mother tongue when she was royally pissed or totally wasted, and Mac was certain that the alcohol level in her chamomile beverage was non-existent.

"Forget your firstborn. No way in hell I'm touching this one, not even with a ten feet pole. I can't do it, Mac… I'm still not strong enough"

She placed her hand on her chest as if to emphasize her words. Mac was certain it was a reflex more than a purposeful action on her side, and his own heart went out to his friend and therapist. Her own recovery back from the gates of hell had not been without hardships, and Mac could see the toll it had taken on her. Nessa had lost some of her self, which came as no surprise, having come so close to losing her life.

Cops who had come face to face with death could find counsel with the shrinks working for Internal Affairs and appointed by the Union… but where did a therapist nearly mortally wounded in the line of duty go to? Mac suspected Nessa had nursed herself back to functioning on her own, refusing to let others see just how deeply her wounds went. He'd visited her twice, once at the hospital and once when she had gone home, and she'd made it quite clear that she wanted to be left alone.

"Why?"

Her question cut his reminiscence short. He pondered for a second as to how to answer it, and decided to play it safe for the time being.

"Cause only someone who has been there will be able to bring him back…"

"You've already pleaded your case, so don`t waste our time being redundant. Answer the question, Mac. Why him? What's so special about this Don Flack that you're willing to risk me to get him back?"

X o x o x o x o x o x o X

A/N: You can't say this is a cliffhanger… not really. And if you read me before you know how fond I am if doing this… and you know you love it, too! So… Nessa… love her? Hate her? Let me know!