Title: Safe Place

Author: Me

Rating: PG

Summary: post All Access Ficlet

Disclaimer: CBS owns them, I just borrowed them. Flames will be promptly extinguished, feedback welcome

She thought she could do it, she really had. But going back in there, seeing everything just as it had been, the blood still everywhere, it had overwhelmed her. She threw a few things into her bag, zipped it up and headed for the door. She was still shaken but thought she could still drive all right.

Mac had gotten in a little while ago, and had sat down to a late dinner. He'd shed his jacket and shoes but was still in shirtsleeves as he would get rid of the pants and shirt right before bed. His mind was still replaying the day's events and he knew how easily it could have turned out differently, which left him unsettled. The sound of the doorbell rousted him from his thoughts. He answered it and Stella was there.

"I changed my mind about staying at home." She said. "I thought I could handle it but I guess I'm not so tough after all."

"Come in, sit down" he told her. "It's late but I can still find somewhere…Or if you want, since it's so late, you can stay here until morning, I don't mind."

"I don't want to impose…"

"You're not, not at all. You want something to drink, some coffee?"

"Just water, I think. I'm already jumpy enough." She managed a slight smile. "And thanks, I appreciate everything."

Mac got her the drink and they sat on the couch. Stella still looked understandably shaken, even now.

"I still don't know how it even happened" she shook her head. "I mean, I didn't see any signs at all that anything might happen."

"Sometimes there aren't any, it just happens. Even a background check might not have shown anything if he was never arrested for anything."

"I know. But even without any signs, I don't know why I didn't trust my instincts. I opened the door, saw him there, I should have run right then, or at least got my piece out and called the uniforms on him.

"It can happen to anyone, Stella. One little lapse in judgment is all it can take. It doesn't mean you're weak or that you're not a strong, smart woman. From what you've said, you were nothing less than amazing during the whole thing. You never stopped fighting back no matter what."

"I don't feel very amazing right now. Hell, the only reason I'm not dead is because Frankie didn't check the safety on my gun."

"All that matters now is that you're alive…Just take things one step at a time. You were violated and you're bound to feel vulnerable. You'll get through it, I know you will. And you won't be doing it alone. You have a lot of friends who are going to be there for you."

"I appreciate that, it really means a lot." She sighed. "I'm too exhausted to think straight, but I doubt I'll sleep tonight.

"I'll sit with you if you want."

"No, that's all right, you need sleep just as much as I do. Go on to bed, I'll be all right."

"You want my bed? I'm willing to take the couch."

"Thanks, but I'm all right, really. I'll be okay on the couch."

"If you're sure."

"I'm sure."

Mac went on into his room after cleaning up the meal he'd never finished and now wasn't in the mood for, and undressed except for his shorts and t-shirt and got into bed. He lay for a long while, tired but unable to sleep. His mind keeps replaying the entry into Stella's place.

He sees her motionless, and it sets his heart to racing. He fears for a moment that they've lost her, but she's still got a pulse. He kneels beside her, saying her name, trying to get her to wake up while Flack calls for an ambulance. Relief floods him when she opens her eyes.

For a moment, she fights him, kicking and thrashing, but he keeps talking.

"Stel….Stella, it's me, it's Mac. It's me, it's okay."

She settles, clinging to him, her eyes wide with fear. He slips his arms under her and pulls her to him, knowing procedure would forbid it but wanting to comfort her.

"Shh, it's okay, I've got you. It's all over.

"Frankie…"

"He's dead, he can't hurt you anymore."

She buries her face against him, sobbing, as he gently rocks her, wrapping his arms around her protectively. Flack kneels next to her, gently rubbing her back for a moment. "The ambulance is coming. Just relax, you're safe."

When the medics come, she's almost reluctant to let go and he doesn't want to let them take her, though he knows he has to.

Mac's thoughts are interrupted by cries from the living room and he gets out of bed and hurries to check on Stella. She's half asleep, in a sort of flashback, reliving her experience. He gently shakes her, narrowly avoiding her fists as she comes fully around.

"It's all right, you were having a flashback. Everything's okay."

She sat up and he sat next to her, slipping an arm around her as she snuggles against him.

"Thanks…Told you I wouldn't get any sleep. I see it again every time I close my eyes."

"I know. Some level of PTSD is expected after something like this. That's why you need a couple of days off. I don't want you to come back if you're not at your best."

"I guess you were right about that one. I just hope I can do the job all right when I do come back."

"I think you will. You're a tough lady; it's one of the things I like about you."

"Glad you think so." She replied, the small smile coming back.

"I'm sorry I wasn't there" he told her. "I wish I could have stopped him earlier, before you had to go through all that on your own."

"It wasn't your fault, Mac, you didn't know."

"I know, I just…Finding you like that, I can't tell you how frightening it was…It thought for a second we'd lost you. It about tore me apart. I can't find the words to say how happy I am that you made it through alive." There was so much more he wanted to say, to tell her he loved her and wanted to be with her the rest of his life, but that would be in the future, after her mind had a chance to heal and she was ready for it.

"I'm glad you were there when you were." She said. "You and Flack both."

"We're a team, we all have to look out for each other. And I'll always have your back, no matter what."

"I know. And I'm glad it's you having it. I have yours always too, partner."

Stella was slowly drifting back to sleep. The two of them sat quiet for a long while, and Mac thought about carrying her to the bedroom, but decided against it. He shifted just a bit, settled down with his body pressing against hers, his arms still wrapped around her. Gently, he kissed her forehead, then rested his just above it.

Sleep well…You're safe as long as you're with me he thought. You're good at taking care of yourself, but I'll take care of you too, however I can. I'll never let anything happen to you as long as there's something I can do to stop it. And one day, when you're ready, when you're healed, I'll tell you how much I love you. Until then, though, until you're ready, I'm happy being your friend and partner.

His eyes closed and, putting the future thoughts out of his mind and contenting himself with what he and Stella were sharing now, Mac let himself drift off to sleep.