The beginning of chapter 2 and the last chapter in this story! I've really got nothing to say for the AN for a change, so I hope you like this chapter!


Mac slowly let Lindsay go, and his gaze traveled over the crime lab. Adam and Sheldon were helping a young tech to safety, blood coming from her shoulder. His gaze went to the left and suddenly saw a head of curly brown hair. He knew that hair…

"STELLA!" He bellowed, dashing towards the prone figure on the ground. Her eyes were closed and blood was coming from her shoulder and her abdomen. "No, no, no, no," Mac said anxiously, ripping his jacket off and trying to stop the bleeding in her abdomen. "How are you here? You're not supposed to be here," He begged, and he heard Lindsay screaming for a paramedic in the background.

"Why is she here, Mac?" Lindsay asked, dropping to her knees next to Stella's body. Mac responded by quickly pulling off his shirt, leaving only his undershirt, and pressed it to Stella's shoulder. Lindsay placed her hands on Mac's shirt and helped him try to stop the bleeding. Sheldon came skidding to a stop by Stella's head and he checked for a pulse, and then for her breathing.

"She's got a pulse, barely, and she's not breathing," Sheldon said, bending down and giving her mouth to mouth. He knew that most people discouraged that now, but it was the only thing he could do to try and save his friend's life.

Paramedics came sprinting towards them and slowly Lindsay and Sheldon backed away, giving the medics room. Mac refused to move away until Don came out of the elevator and together he and Sheldon managed to pry Mac away from Stella. "Why is she here?" Don demanded in a broken tone, and Lindsay closed her eyes.

"I asked the same question."

They stood in silence as the medics loaded Stella up on a stretcher and rushed her down to the ambulance. Mac just stood there so Lindsay followed them, intending to ride with Stella to the hospital. Mac brokenly looked down at his hands, covered in Stella's blood, and he whispered, "My fault…"

"Your fault? Mac this is not your fault," Sheldon said immediately, and Mac shook his head, his eyes snapping open.

"If I hadn't pushed her away like that, she would've had no reason to come back!" Mac said loudly, his anger getting the best of him. He walked rapidly towards the stairs and he could remember when Don when after him all those months before…

"Mac! Hey! MAC!" Don yelled, his voice echoing in the stairwell. He finally caught up to his friend and grabbed him by the shoulders. "What the hell was that?"

"She's leaving. You knew."

"Of course I knew! And the only reason she started to consider it is because she thought you signed off on it! Sinclair told her, showed her your signature! She had no reason to doubt it!"

"She, she should've come to me first,"

"Listen to yourself!" Don gave his friend a little shake. "The only thing you can do is get your ass back up there and apologize. She's leaving, Mac, don't let her leave thinking you hate her."

"I don't hate her, I just don't know if I can trust her,"

"Mac, that's not you talking. You trust Stella with your life," Don watched with wide eyes as Mac shrugged and continued down the stairs. "Don't, Mac, don't do this!" Don yelled as a last-ditch effort, but the door slammed, letting Don know that Mac was on the street and either hadn't heard him or didn't care. He hoped it was the former, not the latter.

"Stop it!" Danny yelled at his boss, and Mac looked at him in shock. "Quit making this about you when it's Stella's blood on your jacket, your shirt, and the floor of this lab!"

"Excuse me?"

"You keep saying 'this is my fault' and 'if I hadn't yelled at her' well guess what Mac Taylor? It ain't about you. It's about Stella Bonasera. It's about her fighting for her life." Danny stated firmly and walked away to get his kit before he said something he would really regret later.

"Would you rather go to the hospital or stay here and work the scene?" Don asked Mac, and he immediately responded with,

"Let's catch this bastard and then we'll have something to tell Stella when we go visit her."

And he proceeded to avoid the hospital for the following days. He received updates from Lindsay, Don, Danny, Sheldon, Adam and Sid when they went, but other than that he focused all of his attention on the case at hand. When the whole thing came to a head and the man who shot Stella and the lab was killed, Mac finally went to the hospital and all he could do was sit in his car, gazing up at the hospital.

Suddenly, a knock came at his window and he was shocked to see Danny, Sid, Sheldon, Adam, Don and Lindsay holding Lucy standing there. "C'mon, Mac," Don said, jerking his head towards the entrance to the hospital.

Mac slowly got out of his car and went with the group into the hospital and travelled to Stella's floor in the elevator. When the doors slid open, Mac walked almost in a trance to room 337. The others filed into Stella's room and Mac stood outside, gazing through the glass window.

"You're walking!" Sheldon exclaimed, and Stella nodded with a grin.

"I can walk around the room without much pain, but other than that, I'm still a cripple."

"Well, that bullet hit a few ribs, Stel, you're going to be in pain for a while," Sid said logically, and finally everyone cleared from Mac's point of view and he could see Stella standing there, holding Lucy.

Her green eyes suddenly flew up to meet his, and in that instant he felt his heart leap. This was the woman he loved, no question about it. And he was going to make it right with her no matter what he had to do. He'd gladly follow her to New Orleans if that's what she wanted, because his work was done. He had closed his last open case, and Danny was more than ready to take over the position as head of the lab, and he knew the others would be okay with that.

Mac stepped to the doorway and Lindsay silently look Lucy out of his godmother's arms. Stella stood stock still as their eyes were still locked together. "I'm so sorry," He whispered, and took a chance by holding his hand out to her.

She didn't hesitate and took the last few steps in a hurry, wrapping her arms around his neck as she quietly said, "I'm sorry too," He carefully wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close, not hesitating in bending his head and kissing her soundly on the lips.

Stella returned the kiss for a long moment and then drew back, both of them ignoring the whistles and cat calls from the rest of the team, mostly Danny and Don. "I'll go to New Orleans with you, Stella, I'll go anywhere. I can't live without you, I just can't," Mac begged in a low voice, and Stella's eyes filled with tears. She buried her face in his chest for a long moment and said,

"There's an opening in my team. Megan, my second-in-command, had to go on maternity leave and she's decided to be a full-time mom and she's not coming back. I suggested you take her place, and my boss told me to come here to see if you were interested."

Mac drew her head back and when she looked him straight in the eyes she could see the excitement growing there. "Are you serious?"

"Absolutely. I can't live without you either, Mac," Stella said gently, and Mac kissed her again.

"Then I suppose we should book 2 tickets to New Orleans," Mac decided, and Stella grinned through her tears. He gently wiped her tears away before turning to the rest of the team and saying,

"Danny, you'll take over as head of the lab. Jo will be your partner, and Sheldon will be Lindsay's partner. Maybe Sinclair will find another CSI to add onto the team."

"Are-are you serious boss?" Danny said, goggling at Mac like he had lost his mind.

"Absolutely." Mac replied, and Stella smiled at Danny.

"You're the boss now, Danny. Technically you've got a higher rank than Mac,"

Danny gave a whoop, high-fived Don and kissed his wife and child before high-fiving Sheldon, Adam and Sid. "It's not like a permanent goodbye, we'll come back and visit," Stella said, looking at her goddaughter.

"And we'll come visit you," Sid said, coming over and hugging Stella.

"All right, that's enough. Only one visitor from now on, please, and Miss Bonasera, you've been on your feet long enough. Get back in that bed." The nurse said from the door, a pleasant smile on her face.

"Yes ma'am," Stella said meekly, but she grinned as she climbed back into bed and said her goodbyes to the team. Mac pulled up a seat and held onto Stella's hand until the nurse left, and then he crawled onto the bed with Stella. He wrapped her carefully in his arms and kissed her head, saying,

"Sleep well, my Stella. I love you."

"I love you too."

I know the ending was sappy and sweet, but that's my favorite kind of ending! Thanks so much for reading my first post-hiatus story, and let me know if my writing deteriorated any during that hiatus. Seriously, though, I do appreciate constructive criticism, but no flames, please and thank you! :)