Title: An Anniversary to Never Forget

Summary: Ten years after he lost his first love in death, Mac is given a special anniversary gift from another woman he loves as the whole world stops to remember that day. SMACKED small tribute to 9/11

Disclaimer: I don't own Mac Taylor but I wish I did! This is a piece of fan fiction

A/N: This piece will be sort of a follow up to my other 9/11 tribute 'A Walk to Remember' but you don't have to read that one to understand this one.

~This piece is dedicated to all those that lost their lives that day; those of us left to mourn; and those still coming who will always remember those who gave their lives in an unnecessary battle.~


"I love you Mac, I'll see you tonight."

"I'll see if I can get off a bit early."

"Because, I thought maybe we could go out for dinner…you know try something new. That was the deal right?"

"Within reason."

"Oh you and your old fashioned ways. No one ever died from Thai food. Besides a little spice never hurt anyone."

"I love you."

"I love you too. Never forget that."

"Never."

"Okay I gotta run…see you tonight Mac."

"I'll drop by the office at five."

Five…but five o'clock never came in the way he intended. Instead a few hours later, the world around him changed forever.

'I love you Mac…never forget…'

At hearing Claire's voice in his mind, Mac's watery eyes finally snap open, his core on fire and his body covered in a thin layer of sweat from his latest memory laden nightmare. The past few nights leading up to this anniversary had been tormented, sleepless and anguished to say the least. Part of him wanted to forget and part of him knows he never will. How could he? The world was silenced and America brought to its knees in an instant by the designs of one mad-man. And despite the fact that the evil perpetrator now lie in a watery grave, the painful and ugly scars he forced upon the world on the morning of September 11th 2001 would never heal; never be forgotten. Time would always force him to remember.

Without wanting to wake his wife of two years, Mac gently pushes himself out of bed and heads to the bathroom, splashing cold water on his face in an attempt to at least keep the rising heat at bay. It would last only a few seconds, for as soon as he'd close his eyes, he would see himself and Claire in the bathroom that fateful morning and his temperature starts to rise once again.

Still dressed in his sweatpants and t-shirt, Mac very carefully pulls out his jacket and runners, takes his phone, wallet and keys and heads outside into the brisk fall early morning air. It had been ten years today, that his marriage had come to an end in one of the most horrific ways possible. One of the things that would forever haunt him was the fact that Claire's remains were never found. He had never gotten proper closure as others had.

But it was Stella who had surprised him by taking the liberty to erect a gravestone for Claire three years ago, giving him someplace to go on the anniversary of her death or on whatever day he just wanted some privacy to talk and not be judged or to vent, not really wanting an answer in return. He never really knew how to express his gratitude for that kind gesture, even now wondering if his yearly thanks was enough for the heartfelt gift she had given him.

Claire would always be a part of his life and on the ten year anniversary of her death those feelings were as strong inside his heart as the day she died and he had pledged to her a few hours later that he'd never forget her or the life and love they shared together.

The moment he had heard the first plane struck the tower his fingers were dialing, knowing that was the building that his beloved wife was going about her daily routine. But there was no answer. And as the seconds turned to minutes, the minutes to hours and the hours to an entire day he knew – she was never coming back. She was gone for good; his life forever altered.

"Claire," Mac whispers as he slowly kneels down beside her gravestone with a heavy sigh. As strong as he considered himself, the tears came automatically as soon as he would even enter the cemetery, knowing the reason he was there – to tell his deceased wife the same thing each year – she was still in his heart and always would be.

He leans against the cool stone of the grave marker and closes his eyes once more, allowing a few tears to well and the being quite thankful that the cool morning air was keeping his flushed face from overheating any further.

"Ten years today," he mentions in a soft tone with a small sniffle as he opens his warm sapphire eyes and quickly wipes the tears away. "You always said I had a good eye for details and…I still remember what you wore that morning, the white lace of your um…" he pauses as a small crinkle adorns his face, "bra and uh…well the rest. How you smelt…what you said…what we did…oh god Claire…why…" his voice finally cracks as he hangs his hand in his hands and curses life in general.

In truth he had a lot to be thankful but today the memories of happier times of the past would be forced to be mottled by events of that day and the few that followed.

"Stella will be by later, mother as well, you know how she likes to insist that we have our alone time," he refers to his current wife with a tone of affection. "She helped me…but you knew she would right?"

The one thing Mac had always wondered was if he did move on with his life if he was betraying Claire in some way; but Stella always reminds him that Claire would always be a part of his past and live in his heart and that she wasn't threatened by it; in a way she found it comforting that he could love someone that much.

'Just shows me what I'm getting Mac Taylor. I love you with all my heart. There's room enough for both of us in there.'

In that moment he had asked her to marry him; it wasn't a fancy restaurant or a romantic setting; he didn't even have a ring. It was at work and had come across something that reminded him of Claire and the conversation started. But it was the way she had assured him that he didn't have to worry as she wasn't jealous just as long as it didn't hold him back from being loved and loving again.

'Stella…I love you more than anything…will you marry me?'

She had said yes without hesitation and it wasn't long after that that he said 'I do' for the last time in his life. A small noise in the distance captures his attention for a second, pulling his gaze away from Claire's name engraved on the tombstone and in the direction of where the twin towers used to stand. He offers a faint frown as he just stares at the now empty sky and then looks away, fresh tears threatening to spill.

Mac lingers a bit longer, telling her a bit more about recent events and how him and Stella would spend the rest of their Sunday together, not having to work; instead opting to take the day together to reflect; Stella never wanting to leave Mac alone on this anniversary date.

"We'll be back later Claire," Mac whispers in sorrow as he stands up to leave. "I love you…always."

Shoving both hands in his pockets, Mac slowly trudges toward the entrance to the cemetery, nodding to a few others who had arrived to pay their respects to fallen family members, them too meeting an early demise at the hands of a bloodthirsty villain.

Mac quietly enters their apartment, instantly greeted by the smell of freshly brewed coffee, a smile of thanks immediately springing upon his lips.

"Morning," Stella greets him with a cup of steaming black coffee after he had taken off his coat and headed into the kitchen to greet her.

"Morning," Mac replies as he first offers his wife a loving hug and kiss and then taking the cup.

"Was it busy this morning?"

"I think I beat the rush," Mac answers with a small sigh as he eases himself down into a nearby kitchen chair. "Streets are a bit quieter than normal but lots of security around."

"What time to you want do head down?" Stella gently inquires, referring to the ceremony at Ground Zero.

"Whenever you want," Mac replies as his frown grows.

Stella joins him at the table, taking his hand in hers and squeezing it firmly. "Ten years Mac."

"Ten years," Mac agrees, taking a sip of the hot liquid and allowing it to instantly warm his entire core.

"I won't ask how you're doing," Stella mentions softly.

"I will get by as I always do," Mac answers with a small smile. "With you at my side. Just today...ten years."

"At least you have some closure," Stella refers to the announcement made only months earlier when it was made known that the man who had orchestrated the terrifying attacks on September 11th 2001, was finally brought to justice – his own death.

"Some," Mac agrees with a tight lipped smile and small nod before he turns and looks at a closed bedroom door. "She still asleep?"

"Your mother was up and then went back to sleep when she heard you left. She'll join us later."

It was the first year his mother had come down for the 9/11 anniversary date; just something extra special to mark the ten year milestone.

"I have something for you. Wait here," Stella leans in and kisses him on the cheek before pushing herself up and heading for the bedroom. Mac watches her go with a frown but then turns back to his coffee, his eyes drifting toward the headline of the New York Times.

"Ten years…" Mac mumbles to himself just as he hears Stella returning. He watches her sit back down at the table and then pull out a small blue box.

"For you my love."

Mac arches his brows as his fingers pick up the small gift and then look up at his wife. "I thought it was you who loved these little blue boxes."

"Why do you think I went there. Its an anniversary present."

"Stella we got married in the spring," Mac remarks as the little unopened box lingers between his fingers.

"Not every anniversary has to be a wedding one Mac," Stella winks and his face softens. "Open it."

Without saying another word, Mac slowly pulls open the lid and stares at the object before him. "Is that…"

"Technically…it's tin."

"The traditional ten year anniversary symbol. But…" Mac stops as he pulls out the item to inspect it a little further. "Stella…" he pauses as a small lump of emotion starts to form in his throat.

"It's another anniversary to remember Mac. If it's special to you then it's special to me," Stella assures him as her fingers curl around his unoccupied hand for a few seconds and then lets go to allow him to further inspect the item.

It was a tin dog-tag that had him and Claire's name and the start and end dates of their marriage on one side and then him and Stella's on the other.

"You'll always have room for both of us," Stella states.

"Always," Mac echos."

"Do you like it?" Stella asks after a few moments of silence.

Mac looks up just as a soft lone tear escapes the sapphire pools and slowly slides down his cheek, Stella's fingers quick to brush it away before it could splatter on the wooden table.

"It's perfect," Mac answers in truth as he leans in, pressing his lips against hers just as his eyes water further.

Stella quickly pushes herself up from her chair and then eases herself down onto his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck and resting her head on his shoulder. They linger in silence together, each thinking more about the significance of the date and what it truly represented.

"Here…let me," Stella takes the dog-tag and then carefully puts it around his neck, letting it rest against his smooth skin before she pulls his shirt back down. She leans in and kisses him once more, her fingers stroking his cheek before pulling back with her own teary expression.

"I love you," Stella whispers, smiling when Mac's expression finally softens to match hers.

"I love you too Stella," Mac replies tenderly his hands cupping her face and kissing her warmly on the lips. "Thank you for this…for the gravestone…for being here…for saying yes…for everything. I think it's what Claire would have wanted in the event of..."

"She would have," Stella acknowledges tenderly. "And you're welcome," Stella answers with a smile. "Come on Mr. Taylor…lets have a shower before your mother wakes up and catches us."

"Lead the way Mrs. Taylor."

XXXXXXXX

"Good morning my son," Millie greets Mac about a half hour later, coming into the kitchen dressed for the day. "How are you today?"

"Tired," Mac admits in honesty. "I went to see Claire already."

"Did she tell you you're getting thin?" Millie gently teases as Stella walks into the kitchen.

"That's why I am making him and us hearty greek omelets for breakfast," Stella smiles as she greets Millie with a hug.

"Look what Stella gave me," Mac brags about the tin anniversary present around his neck.

"Its beautiful," Millie praises. "And very fitting."

"She'll never be forgotten Mac," Stella assures him as she takes his hand and squeezes it. The three of them sit down for breakfast, listening to the local news and talking about the 9/11 tribute headlines in the newspaper. Finally it was time to head down to Ground Zero and then over to Claire's gravesite and then out for lunch.

Ten years ago, one man had succeeded in forcing a small part of the world to feel terror at its worst and the rest of the globe to hold their breaths in shocked silence. But in the ten years that followed, the world showed that life didn't stop on that day and that what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger. The memory of beloved lost one's like Claire would live on in the hearts and minds of those and that would assure the rest of the world, they'd never be forgotten – ever.

September 11, 2001 truly was an anniversary to remember – forever.

THE END!


A/N: I know this was bitter sweet but all death anniversary's are. I do hope you liked this and please review before you go. A special thank you in advance from me and Alice for reading this special piece today. Thank you!