A/N: OMG it's me! Yes, this isn't a joke. While I am probably the most hated person here, I am slinking back to finish what I started. I hit a rough patch and had some issues and then just wasn't motivated and had no ideas. I'm REALLY sorry about the wait. I feel horrible about it. But I am back, and with a long, action-packed chapter. It may read like crap, but at least it's here.
The voice sounded distant and distorted, as if traveling through water. As he experimentally shifted his head, Mac realized it was true. Water cascaded down his face as it fell through the shattered and now non-existent passenger-side window. Half of his body was leaning out of the open space, and the only thing preventing him from toppling onto the hood of the Explorer was his right arm, pinned between his seat and the door.
He hadn't lost consciousness- not really. The events ran through his head with only a fraction of a second missing at the moment the SUV collided into the Avalanche. After that he had watched everything happen from a distance, like an out of body experience- the glass shattering, being launched from his seat into the air, and finally landing across the door with a painful wrench of his shoulder. The frigid wind was quickly bringing him back to harsh reality. His unfocused eyes looked down at the twisted and conjoined metal of the two cars and slowly traveled up to look through the spider-web cracks that crisscrossed the Explorer's windshield.
The driver's seat was empty.
Mac gingerly attempted to right himself and immediately felt Don's helping hand on his shoulder, pulling him back into the car. "You alright?" He frantically asked once Mac was back in the passenger's seat.
Mac tried to free his right arm and was rewarded with an excruciating pain in his shoulder instead. "I'm stuck." He rasped.
Don leaned over the center console of the truck and swore. "At least that means it's still attached right?" He asked in an ill-attempt at humor. The slight tremor in his voice betrayed his panic. He unbuckled and kneeled on the console to get a better look. "What, no seat belt?" He said, placing his hands on the passenger door to lean over his trapped friend.
Mac realized humor was Don's way of reaffirming his grip on reality, but it wasn't appreciated at that moment. Don reached down to assess how stuck Mac was, eliciting a curse from the CSI.
"Okay, you're stuck." Don nodded, leaning back onto his knees, his shoulders brushing up against the ceiling as he craned his head to the side. Even Mac might have found it an amusing sight if not for the fact that his arm was trapped between almost six tons of mangled steel.
Mac only had the energy to throw his head back and glare. "Where's Williams?"
Don glanced up at the Explorer and shook his head. "I don't know. I didn't see him until our car was wrapping around his hood." A steady stream of scarlet trailed down the left side of his face. He wiped it away with the back of his hand as it started to drip off his chin onto the dashboard.
"We need to find him." Mac hissed in pain as he tried to free his arm again.
"I know that!" Don snapped. "Stop moving, dammit." He pressed the heel of his hand into his forehead and dropped back into his seat. "Alright, I got an idea… This is probably going to hurt."
"Just hurry." Mac said, resigning himself to whatever Don had decided. The homicide detective reached under Mac's seat and he realized what Don was about to do. "Go for it."
Don gripped the latch under the seat and lifted. He attempted to push the passenger seat back on the tracks, but it didn't budge. Mac lifted his foot and kicked it against the dashboard. The seat flew back no more than six inches, but it was just enough. Mac felt his arm being pulled from his shoulder for a brief moment until his hand came free. The fiberglass splint was cracked, and there was a deep gouge across the back, but in was in-tact.
"That splint may have just saved you a limb." Don said.
Mac didn't have time to be grateful. "Come on, let's go." Cradling his arm, he climbed out of the twisted wreckage behind Don, immediately becoming soaked in the downpour. Gusts of wind came off the nearby raging sea and immediately chilled him to the bone. He could taste the salt in the air. It stung the shallow cuts on his face and burned his eyes. The icy air would be painful enough to breathe on its own, but Mac's ribs, already tender from Williams' kick, had been aggravated even more by the crash, making every breath and movement an agonizing experience.
"Over there." He suddenly realized Don's hand was gripping his good arm, whether for Don's benefit or his, he wasn't sure. Don was pointing with his other hand across a deserted parking lot toward a white-washed adobe building with a shallow slanting roof that spanned its entire length. Some of its numerous windows were boarded up, but most were at the mercy of the storm. The marina lay just beyond the structure, but a thick mist hung over the water, a mixture of rain and blowing wind that made it impossible to see past it.
Mac and Don hadn't taken two steps toward the building when a sharp crack! and an almost simultaneous thunk! sent them diving for cover behind the Avalanche. Another bullet pinged against the hood of the totaled truck. Don already had his gun out as he pressed himself against the wheel well. Mac was unarmed except for a small paraframe pocket-knife. In fact, Williams was probably shooting at them with his gun.
Sloshing through the water, that at only inches deep threatened to sweep his feet out from under him, Mac made his way around to the other side of the truck and peeked around the side. In a stand of trees no more than 50 feet away and just along the shoreline, he saw the flash of a muzzle and heard another faint sound of a gunshot. Spinning back around to take cover, he caught Don's attention and in a few quick hand signals, relayed Williams' position.
Don hurried to Mac's side and immediately squatted back down, pulling up his pants leg. He reached into an ankle holster, retrieved a small caliber pistol and held it out to Mac. "Left hand this time." He warned.
As if he had a choice.
Mac took the .25, and trusted that Don kept it loaded. He didn't have the limbs or time to confirm it. Using the tire of the Avalanche in place of his right hand, Mac pushed back the slide and racked a bullet into the chamber.
He couldn't hear any more shots hitting the car and risked a glance around the side of the truck. Williams was running, just a hazy figure through the downpour, but visible as he sprinted for cover behind the building, toward the docks. Don spotted him as well and was hot on Mac's heels as they both left their cover and took off across the parking lot.
Mac stopped at the corner of the building and carefully peered out around the edge of the slick wall to try and catch a glimpse of Williams. The docks were clear from what he could see- which wasn't much, but enough to realize that even attempting to traverse the old wood deck was suicide. He could see the rounded hulls of some of the smaller vessels which had capsized in the churning water. Part of the dock had even been swept away, leaving most of the marina completely inaccessible.
Don swore. "Mac, if he's got someone out there-."
"Did Jaycie say where he was keeping the hostage?" Mac asked, spinning back around to see the detective's eyes were frantically scanning the ocean.
"Said he was using a boat to get around, but he was keeping her at the marina. I don't know!"
Heart sinking, Mac carefully stepped around the corner of the building, his good hand holding out the pistol in front of him. He suddenly felt a jerk on his collar as Don pulled him back. Mac figured he had spotted Williams, but Don motioned to the ground where Mac was about to step. What looked like just another part of the flooded concrete was a stairwell, probably leading to a basement, filled to the brim with water. As wet as he already was, Mac didn't fancy taking a sudden dip, and nodded briefly in thanks.
Don took the lead, skirting alongside the boarded up windows of the building until he came upon the un-boarded and subsequently shattered window of a glass door. He gave a questioning look at Mac who nodded his agreement. They stepped through the white wooden frame of the door and onto the crackling shards of glass scattered over the deep red carpet inside. The wind still howled and rain blew in through the broken door, but the noise decreased considerably as they walked further into the dark interior. With the lights out, the sudden lull in noise was probably the only thing that saved Don from getting a bullet in his chest.
Mac heard the familiar click of a gun slide and pulled his partner back behind a thick white pillar seconds before a shot whistled past them and embedded itself into a wall. Eyes now sufficiently adjusted to the dark, Mac whirled around the pillar and fired back. Don came around the other side of the pillar, letting loose his own barrage of bullets at the dark silhouette across the room.
Williams took off, ducking low as he ran across what Mac now figured was some kind of banquet hall. Tables and chairs were stacked along the walls. As he passed, Williams pulled down one of these precarious towers, sending heavy chairs spilling across the floor behind him. Mac skirted around the mess while Don simply vaulted over it with his long legs, beating Mac to the swinging door that led to a large and empty kitchen.
It was equally dark in here. He could make out a stainless steel counter that stretched down the center of the elongated kitchen. What light made it through the cracks in the boards that covered the windows reflected off an endless array of metal pots, bowls, and- Mac nervously took note- an impressive collection of long-bladed knives.
They split up again. Mac quietly made his way along the far side of the counter while Don took the near side. A series of stoves and storage containers sporadically occupied the wall near Mac, and cast large shadows over the empty spaces. The tiny pistol wasn't doing much to alleviate any of his nerves in this environment, but Mac went on, his sharp eyes carefully studying every darkened space.
Then he saw it- the shadow shifting along the wall, making its way toward another door. The shadow reached out and took hold of the handle, and with a quick prayer that this went better than last time, Mac fired.
Williams' scream echoed around the kitchen, but even as Mac tried to take aim again, his target switched hands and rushed through the door, disappearing yet again, but leaving a trail of blood in his wake.
What is he doing? Mac thought as followed yet again. Williams seemed to know where he was going. Leading them straight to the hostage seemed like a stupid thing to do. Best to lose his tail first and then go back- then again, Williams was anything but logical. He didn't care if he got caught, so long as he carried out his mission first.
Mac nearly tripped as he found that the door led to a set of stairs angling steeply down into an even darker abyss. Don quickly came up behind him and pulled out his flashlight. Stairwells were a bad place to get caught in a firefight. He experimentally sent a quick burst of light into the dark. It was one straight set of stairs that went down a single level into a cement-lined basement, and Williams was nowhere to be found.
Mac knew they didn't have time to waste, despite the danger. Williams was more interested in getting away from them than fighting back at the moment. They needed to find him before he got to the hostage.
Don was about to head down the steps when Mac stopped him. "Remember what I said. You get the hostage." He whispered.
Don didn't say anything. His creased forehead and furrowed brows revealed enough about how he felt about Mac's plan, but he obviously didn't want to waste time arguing. In case he tried, Mac was first to traverse the stairs, wincing as the old wooden steps creaked under his feet. Once at the bottom, he noticed with a twinge of annoyance this too was flooded with over a foot of water. He stepped to the side and tried to let his eyes adjust. "Allan!" Mac suddenly called, and Don shot him a surprised look. "You're trapped down here. Just come out, we'll talk." He heard something splashing through the water ahead and nudged Don with his elbow. "Flashlight," he whispered.
The basement was immediately illuminated along with a stunned Williams, only twenty feet away. He let off a wild shot and ducked behind one of the many heavy shelving units that seemed to fill the small basement.
Mac turned to Don, tilting his head to the left as he sidestepped his way to the right. Don's flashlight faintly lit the entire area, but Mac was mostly in shadow as he waded through the water parallel to him on the other side of the shelves. The faint sound of the raging wind outside was enough to cover the quiet splashes of their movements.
Mac's right arm hung pressed across his body while his left held out the tiny pistol in front of him. It felt slick in his grip and he was positive he would drop it into the abyss and become truly defenseless. His feet were becoming numb. He couldn't even feel his toes anymore. He thought he could hear his own heart pounding above the noises around him the deeper he went into the room. The light was playing tricks on his eyes. It was just bright enough to illuminate the room and make every shadow look like a sneaking human form, ready to spring from the darkness and end his life.
Mac stopped as another shadow morphed just a few feet in front of him. He was about to pass it off as another illusion when the shadow turned and the reflection from Don's flashlight glinted in William's eyes as he stared straight back at Mac.
He started to raise his gun, which Mac noted with some brief satisfaction, was not his gun hand either. That hand was bleeding and pressed against his stomach. Mac didn't have time to hope that Williams was as bas a shot left handed as he had been. Mac tried to pull the trigger on his own weapon only to find his frozen fingers unable to grip the curved piece of metal. They slipped, and finally found purchase on the slick trigger. He squeezed. Williams froze...and the gun clicked. Mac pulled again, and then again, each click of the empty pistol mocking him. He dropped his arm to his side, and his heart immediately followed suit, plummeting into his stomach.
Williams' previously panicked expression quickly morphed into a sickening grin. He paused and then started moving forward, his arm now rising in a slow arc as he brought the pistol higher with every step he took toward Mac.
In an instant, that grin reminded Mac of every corpse he'd had to examinee in the last few days- their untimely deaths brought about by this psychotic excuse for a man. Even more, he thought about the faces he couldn't see- the ones that were never allowed to see their lives fulfilled, cut off in the womb, infinitely innocent and yet this coward deemed them nothing more than tools. He thought about the husbands and families left behind. He identified with them.
He was one of them.
The gun was leveled at his head now. His gun. It was close enough for Mac to recognize it, even in the dim light. Williams' grin grew. He couldn't take it anymore.
Mac ducked and lunged forward. The loud crack of a gunshot sounded next to his ear just before he collided with Williams' chest. They were flying through the air and then Mac felt the impact as Williams' back collided with the water. The frigid liquid swirled around him, swallowing him. The cold was now complete, engulfing him from the inside and out as ice flooded his lungs.
He tried to return to the surface, but was only dragged deeper into the water by hands gripping his collar. Mac struggled, but Williams held tight. Already desperate for air, ribs screaming in agony, Mac had to fight back the panic creeping over him. This was not how he was going to die, not at the hands of this coward, not now.
A brief flash of coherent thought suddenly broke through. Yes, he no longer had his gun, but he did have the almost-forgotten pocket knife he habitually tucked into the band of his jeans without even thinking.
Mac's left hand was the only thing keeping him on top of Williams as he closed it around the man's throat. His right was useless and gripped in his opponent's fist anyways. As the darkness started creeping in around him, Mac knew it was now or never.
He let go of Williams' neck and was immediately pulled deeper into the water, hitting the concrete floor as Williams rolled over on top of him and pinned him down. The pain was consuming, threatening to overwhelm Mac's remaining sanity. He involuntarily sucked in more water and knew unconsciousness was moments away.
With his last remaining ounce of strength, Mac flipped open the pocket knife now clenched in his left hand. His arm moved in what felt like slow motion through the water until it collided with something solid, and sunk in. The pressure on his chest shifted slightly, and he swore he could hear a scream, but he was still pinned. He swung his arm again, and then again, before he was finally free. The weight was gone. Williams was gone.
He wanted to find the surface, to suck in the precious air he desperately needed, but Mac only sunk deeper, the darkness almost complete. He was too tired… he didn't even feel the pain anymore. Despite the blackness, he could have sworn his eyes were suddenly opened to a bright light. There was a face just in front of it, a silhouette…familiar, looking down at him. Was it her?
Suddenly the light was gone. He was rising toward the surface now. He felt himself moving, but did nothing to help. This must be part of the whole dying experience, though bright lights and flying seemed a little cliché. Don would have gotten a kick out of that…
He broke the surface of the water, and suddenly the pain was back full force. He felt heavy again. Someone was gripping the front of his shirt, yelling at him. "Mac! Mac! Breathe, dammit!"
So much for being dead.
Mac started sputtering a second later, coughing and hacking to expel the water that had filled his lungs. He felt Don's hand firmly slapping his back, trying to help it along, while muttering something along the lines of "Get the hostage, yeah right. Jack ass."
Mac didn't have the energy for even a sarcastic smile in return. When he remembered what he had told Don about whose job was what, he didn't feel much like smiling anyways. "Did you get her?" He managed to choke out between hacking coughs.
"Yes." Don snapped, and briefly looked over his shoulder. Mac could barely make out the shivering form behind him, wrapped in Don's jacket, wet hair sticking to her flushed cheeks. She was holding the flashlight. The beam trembled in her shaking hands. Mac couldn't help but notice how close she was standing to Flack as he crouched beside Mac in the water. "I spotted her tied to a chair in a corner and couldn't leave her in case Williams was coming. I figured you'd be safe. Guess that makes me an idiot too." Don wiped some of the water from his face and his expression softened immediately. "You alright? What happened to Williams? I heard a gunshot."
Mac shook his head and scanned the basement, but couldn't see anything. He tried to swipe the curls from his forehead and noticed he was still gripping the pocket knife. It was devoid of blood, as though it had never met flesh. The water had washed it away already. Hopefully it had done the same to Williams. "I think I got him." He rasped, barely audible.
Don wasn't much comforted by Mac's vague response. "Think you can stand? We need to get out of here." He glanced up at the shaking woman and carefully chose his next words. "The water's rising pretty quickly." He left out that there was a chance Williams might not be as dead as they hoped.
Mac quickly nodded and graciously accepted Don's help as he struggled to his feet. He had to lean against one of the shelving units to catch his breath and his balance. His entire body felt frozen and unresponsive now. Don was watching him warily, but Mac nodded to the woman. They needed to get her to safety and fast. That was their priority now. He cautiously pushed away from the shelves to prove he was okay on his own, allowing Don to turn back to the woman.
"Alright, it's Annie, right? Stick by me, we're gonna get you out of here. My partner Mac here is going to be right behind you. Stick between us and we'll be just fine."
Annie glanced at Mac, and he couldn't blame her for her look of apprehension. He probably didn't look like he could guard her from anything more than the boogey-man, let alone a psychotic serial killer. He tried to flash her a reassuring smile, and it seemed to calm her enough to get her moving.
The water was up to his knees now. The poor pregnant woman in front of him had it up to her mid-thigh. Fighting through his own exhaustion, Mac reluctantly pocketed his knife and stepped up to help her along while Don kept a vigilant eye out.
Don was just starting up the steps and reached back to help Annie up when Mac heard something, a rattling, like a door being shaken. He looked up the steps to the kitchen door, but that door was already open. Don stopped halfway up the stairs and led Annie ahead of him as he turned to look down at Mac. "What are you doing? Come on."
Mac ignored him. The sound was growing more desperate. He walked away from the stairs and peered around the shelves directly to his left. It was faintly lit as Don shone his flashlight toward him again, trying to figure out what he was doing. A few more steps, and the source of the sound finally came into view. Williams, bleeding and frantic, was trying to force open a heavy looking door.
Before Mac knew what he was doing, he was walking toward Williams. He couldn't let him get away.
Williams glanced back, saw Mac, and renewed his struggle with the doorknob. A loud groaning noise suddenly accompanied the rattling of the door and Mac stopped, then took a step back, nearly falling into the water.
He remembered the stairwell outside that Don had stopped him from stepping into, full of water… and all of it behind the door that Williams was trying so desperately to open.
Mac struggled through the quickly rising water, back toward the stairs. "Go!" He cried to Don, who had come down to the bottom steps again.
Don looked confused, and brought up his gun, but Mac shook his head. "No! Go!" He threw his hand up and Don finally got it. He climbed a few steps and stopped, waiting for Mac, which only frustrated him more.
The groaning became louder. Mac finally reached the steps. Don pulled him up and pushed him ahead of him just as a loud crack! echoed through the basement, immediately followed by a thundering roar, as Williams finally succeeded.
A wall of water crashed through the basement, immediately tearing down the shelves and pushing them along, heading straight for the stairs.
Don and Mac scrambled as the wooden steps trembled under their feet, shaking so violently they almost tore themselves apart. They were halfway up when a heavy metal shelf rammed into the stairs just below Don's feet, disintegrating them. He slipped, and Mac managed to grab his arm just before Don fell into the raging mess below them. Don tried to climb up, but the steps under him crumbled, leaving Mac as the only one supporting his weight.
Mac could feel the wood under him start to splinter as well and knew there were only moments before he and Don would fall into the violently churning water, where they would either drown or get crushed under the swirling debris.
Don's hand was starting to slip in his slick grip. Mac struggled to hold on, reached back with his right arm to grab a hold of anything to help them…and felt another hand grab his.
"I gotcha!" Danny cried.
Mac felt a wave of relief wash over him as Danny carefully inched out beside him and grabbed a hold of Don's other arm and helped to haul him up. They managed to drag themselves back onto solid ground onto the kitchen floor as the rest of the stairs gave way under the weight of another metal shelf.
Danny slammed the door shut, and Mac found himself in a sudden muted silence. He was lying on his back on the floor, too exhausted to move. He didn't feel any pain, though he was sure he should have.
"I see you found your sweatshirt." Danny suddenly said, awkwardly breaking the blissful quiet.
"And now you owe me a new one." Don replied with a huff, too tired to muster a laugh.
"There's no way I'm buying Yankees merchandise."
"Then you better think twice before loaning Mac my stuff." There was a pause. "Mac? You alright?"
Mac tried to nod, but wasn't sure if it worked. The blackness was closing in again, but this time it wasn't accompanied by suffocating panic. He took a long slow breath and welcomed it as finally took him over.
A/N: Feedback is much appreciated, but words in place of rotten tomatoes is even better. ;) If you'll all excuse me, Mac has gotten himself stuck inside a window, and I need to save him. That's my new kitten, not the guy. Heck, if it were actually Mac, I'd just keep him there, like a really odd poster.
One more chapter I think, and then guess what? I have a whole new story! I promise it'll be written out BEFORE I post it, so this ridiculousness never happens again.