Disclaimer I own very little, especially not CSI NY.
Author Lily Moonlight
Notes A two part story - mystery, drama and romance - written especially for Blue Shadowdancer; to encourage her gently and kindly to update things, and thank her for putting up with my nagging :D
Thanks to Queen Em for helping with an early draft, and cmaddict for help and suggestions with the completed version.
In Your Hands
White thunder in his ears. White lightning scintillations across his vision. Implosions of brilliant, blinding, burning white behind his eyes that suck him in and pull him down and down and down with the sound of velocity hurtling through his brain. The force of gravity slams his eyelids closed as he feels the blood vessels under his skin swelling and breaking. The fall is unstoppable, unending, eternal. Down and down, forever and ever and ever as his existence shrinks to only the sensation of falling and falling and falling…
His eyes jerk open.
He looks around, nostrils flaring as he tries to suck in breaths faster than his lungs can manage. His hand gropes about as he blinks, struggling to focus, until he realises he is lying in the middle of the corridor of the lab, in a part of the building that he passes along every day, more familiar to him than his own apartment. Gasping, he tries to re-orientate himself. The last thing he remembers is air giving way beneath him and plummeting towards a void.
Now here he is lying in the corridor of the lab, feeling cold underneath him and the slightly grainy texture of the flooring beneath his palms.
Mac raises himself on his elbows and lifts a hand, palm up. A piece of grit, he sees as he studies it, turning it side to side, is embedded in the soft flesh. He scrapes it away with his nail and stares at the small, red indentation left there. For a moment, there is a flash of another hand clutching his, and a face looming above his own. Then it is gone, and he is where he has found himself.
Turning his head in all directions, it is clear there is not a soul in sight. Uneasiness grows inside him. Unless something is wrong, there should never be such solitude in the lab. Usually, there is the sound of humanity there, some sound and sign of the lives of those who work alongside him. The silence continues and apprehension starts to gnaw at his gut, leaving freezing gaps throughout him. He has to find out what is wrong. It is his lab. His team who work there. If something is wrong, he needs to find out.
Slowly, he pushes himself up off the floor, pressing his hands down at his side. As he does so, he feels a twinge in the muscles of his back, and a stiffness in his arms; a feeling as if someone has been pulling them. The hand again appears in his mind, and the face; a mouth open, eyes above his, wide and terrified.
It unsteadies him, and he feels his legs wobble. There is something he should remember, he knows, something important that is holding on by its fingernails to the edge of his memory, but even as he reaches to grasp it, it slips and falls into oblivion. A sudden rush of dizziness threatens to topple him, but before he can fall, more by instinct than anything, he lurches towards the wall and collapses against it, breathing heavily. Struggling to remember.
No answers come though, and neither does anyone else. The silence grows and swells and presses against his chest, cutting out the sound of his breathing and his heartbeat. Even the sound of his watch ticking has stopped. Mac closes his eyes and breathes.
Keep breathing. Keep breathing…
Then he is falling again, falling, the ground giving way beneath him, giving way to a swallowing void. Ragged breaths jerk out of his lips as he is surrounded by fog that solidifies into clammy sheets of white, wrapping wetly round him, sucking knowledge from him, blanking what has happened.
But something has happened, and Detective Mac Taylor is going to discover what it is. Emboldened by the affirmation of who he is, and the certainty that even with all the uncertainty he is feeling now, he knows at least that he does not like unsolved mysteries. He knows as well who he wants to find, who will help him discover the truth.
Mac takes a step forward away from the wall, then he teeters again as his legs weaken, and he crashes to his knees. The pain jars every bone and makes his teeth incise his tongue. There is blood, warm and metallic in his mouth. More blood. He knows there has been blood, splashed on him, and on the hand that grasped for his…
His head spins and his own blood thuds through his veins as his eyes close, and his neck feels too weak to support the weight of his head. He is slipping, falling, nothing waiting below for him, only fear and pain and nothing. Nothing…
Relief opens his eyes at the sound of the voice; one that radiates calm and reassurance, pouring oil on troubles. A hand touches his shoulder, "Hey, Mac, everything all right?"
His own voice surprises him as it comes rumbling from his throat, sounding far rougher and grittier than he has expected it to, "I don't… know."
The Doctor's hand leaves his shoulder, and the tone of his voice changes from concern to curiosity.
"What are you doing here?"
Mac looks up then, vision clearing suddenly, feeling creepers of fear wrapping and tightening around his heart, "What do you mean?" He pulls himself back to his feet, still leaning against the wall, swaying a little as something in Hawkes's question sends a jolt of adrenaline through his nerves, "Why wouldn't I be here? I work here!"
A small smile appears on the other man's lips, "Of course you do." He pats his arm, and Mac looks down at his hand, then back at his face as he continues, "Just wasn't expecting to see you, after, well, after what happened. We thought this was probably the last place you'd want to be, you know…"
Mac pushes himself away from the wall, ignoring the shaking of his legs and arms, and glares at the other man, "Why would I not want to be here, and after what? What happened? What's going on, Sheldon?"
Fear boils up and over into anger as the response he receives is a pitying smile and another pat on the arm, "It's fine, Mac. It's natural to feel like this - anger, denial, grief. I understand, we all do, and we know how much this place meant to you - means to you, even now." He pauses, and then shrugs lightly, "But you made the decision. Anyhow, I got to go, Sid's got some results for me. Good to see you again."
With a nod, he strolls off down the corridor, even as Mac struggles to form the questions that are popping inside his head; but his mouth moves uselessly, his tongue and lips refusing to cooperate.
"Hawkes! Wait!" He manages to choke out, but it is too late, the other man is gone and he is left alone with only the silence of the corridor that rings in his ears. He slumps back against the wall, feeling the chill through his shirt. Then the blankness begins to creep back into his mind, pervading, smothering, soft. With his limbs suddenly boneless, Mac slides down the wall like a rag doll.
Need to find Stella. Stella will know. Stella…
"Boss! Hey! Uh, good to see you here, wasn't thinking we'd be seeing much of you anymore."
Two sneakered feet stand in front of him, and Mac raises his eyes to look up legs clad in jeans, past a slightly grubby lab coat and into Adam's smiling face, "You here for any reason? Or just checking up on us?" Then the smile shrinks and his hand twitches through his hair, "Sorry, I, uh, you know, didn't mean to kind of make a joke of it, I know you're still, you know, getting used to everything, after what… Must be kind of strange I guess?"
Anger and fear pushes Mac to his feet, "After what happened, yes, so Hawkes said, but I still don't know what happened, so are you going to fill me in, or are you just going to stand there looking at me?"
Adam merely shifts from foot to foot and looks uneasy, and something in Mac snaps as he grabs the younger man's shoulders, "What the hell is this, Adam?"
But the lab technician tears away from him with a hard look set into his face, "You can't go ordering me around any more, not after what you did. This wasn't any of our fault, it was your fault, and we're the ones still left living with the consequences!"
"Of what?" Mac roars, and his stomach clenches and roils, the bitter taste of bile clawing at the back of his throat, "Consequences of what? Why isn't anyone willing to give me a straight answer? What the hell is wrong with you all?"
Adam shakes his head and backs away, "You ought to know the reason for that, Boss. It's not up to me to tell you."
Then he takes off, feet smacking against the floor as he runs, and Mac feels limpness washing over him again. It isn't going to defeat him though, he needs answers, he needs reasons, and he needs Stella. He needs to find her, because she always has the answers. Even if they aren't always what he wants to hear. For some reason, although that thought usually makes him smile, this time it frightens him. Something whispered, some memory, some knowledge, that the answer to the situation he is in is one he is not going to like.
But he has to know. He has to ask Stella. He has to find Stella…
Mac totters a couple of steps forward, and takes grim satisfaction from staying upright at least, even if his head feels as if it is full of wet sheets of cotton. He continues, slowly, each step an effort, keeping his hand to the wall as much as he can, trailing his fingers along the glass and the metal. Out of the corners of his eye though, he can see mists; white, but stained crimson at the shredded edges, reaching for him.
And something else too; a second's image of a child running ahead of him, down the corridor, but gone before he can glimpse what they look like.
He stops, breathing hoarsely, and clutches at his chest. His heart is pounding agonisingly, his lungs are burning. Fear. Adrenaline. An image of a hand clutching his, but slipping and slithering out of his grasp, sears his mind. He feels the friction of skin as he realises the contact is breaking and he is falling with a horrifying rush into nothing.
"Stella…" He wheezes, and tries to move, but his feet refuse to leave the floor.
He does not hear the light footsteps approaching him until they are in front of him.
"Mac? Are you okay?" A quiet female voice asks, "Hawkes said you were here. Can I help you with anything?"
Lindsay. Brown eyes full of concern, but reservation also. Mac frowns, and sucks a breath in to answer her. She is not the one he wants to see, but maybe she can be persuaded to answer him.
"You can tell me why everyone's questioning me being here." He rasps, "Clearly something's going on, and I want to know what it is."
Fear darts into her eyes and she shifts her gaze from him, back along the corridor, as if looking for the fastest escape, "I don't know, I guess we weren't expecting to see you back here, so soon, after… after…" She falters and stops, pressing her palms together, "I'm sorry, Mac, really, I am, it's just, I don't… don't know what else to say to you! You know I'm not good at this sort of thing, I'm sorry. And… and after what happened, it hit us all hard, you know. Danny especially, he… he feels let down, after what you did." Another quick glance at him, and her eyes drop, "It's hit him hard, Mac, losing more people he loves. Really hard."
Mac presses a shaking hand to his forehead. Clammy. He drags in another breath, and feels each word scraping his throat, "What… what did I do?"
"I'm sorry, Mac. But you should have held on, waited, not been so impulsive. You shouldn't have let go of her. You should have listened."
She shakes her head, hurrying backwards along the corridor, feet quick beneath her, "I'm sorry, I can't help you…" Then she whirls round and is gone.
And mist begins to make milky the edge of his vision, and slowly, slowly it creeps and winds round him, wrapping cold, clemmed arms about his chest and throat, blinding his eyes so he stumbles again, his knee hitting the floor.
"Help!" He gasps, and claws at the white air, searching for something to hold on to. Someone to hold on to; the owner of the hand that he remembers grasping his, "Stella…"
It is not her hand that grips his though. Instead, a small hand, warm and soft, but with unexpected strength, tugs him to his feet and pulls away the choking mist from around him, and for a moment he glimpses the laughing face of a child. A child with eyes that mirror his. Blue and grey and all the shades in between as they catch sunlight that is invisible to him. But then they are gone, and his hand is empty. The corridor is empty and silent except for the murmur of electricity and air conditioning. The life of the building, its pulse.
His building. His pulse. His life.
Folding his body almost in half, he drops his hands to his knees, and heaves oxygen into his lungs again. On impulse, he yanks his shirt sleeve back and with shaking fingers, feels for a pulse against the pale skin of his wrist. For a moment, he can feel nothing, but then, ebbing below the surface, is a thread of life. Faint and slow, unusually so, but there. Just.
He breathes in and out and in, relieved, but with an intensity of relief that troubles him; because why would his pulse not be there? Before he can even begin delving for answers to that question, he feels a sudden plummet in temperature, and raises his head. On the glass wall in front of him, he sees a cloud of condensation, a pearly white shimmer, expanding outwards as he breathes, obscuring his face. With the intention of wiping it away, his hand stretches towards it, but before he can touch it, something appears in the middle of it. Writing. An unseen hand that forms wobbling, finger-written letters that spell out four words.
Hold on to me.
To what? To who? How?
Another voice, another familiar voice, but still not the one he is convinced he needs to find. Sid materialises, clapping him on the shoulder, "Good to see you, we've had quite the time without you." His eyes are invisible behind his glasses, and his hand stays on Mac, "Without you both. Still can't believe what happened…" He clears his throat, "How are you? You've come to see us all, see how we're doing after everything?"
"I'm trying to find Stella." Mac replies hoarsely, "Can't… can't seem to find her… You know where she is?"
Thin fingers tighten round his shoulder, digging into the skin and muscles and a frown lowers onto the ME's face, "Stella? It's a little too late to be looking for her now, don't you think? Don't you remember what happened?"
"No!" fury and fear explode from him, "No I don't remember what happened, and no one's telling me a damn thing! Enough with the cryptic clues, just tell me what's going on! Why are you all so surprised to see me here?"
"If you don't know, then I can't tell you that, Mac. I wish I could, really I do, but that's not my job. I've done all I had to do after the event." He shakes his head, and unfastens his glasses, and Mac has the first look into his eyes. He sees regret, and sadness, and then curiosity.
There is a pause, and then Sid replaces his glasses, hiding his eyes again, "You know, Mac, there might be something you can do for me though." Without waiting for a response, he plunges on, "I've always wanted to know, well I expect everyone does, everyone who wonders about these things anyway, but what is it really like? What happens after this life?"
"This life? What is this, Sid? What in hell are you talking about? Why are you asking me questions? I'm the one looking for answers here, and Stella! You can tell me that at least!"
Sid blinks, "You should have held on to her, you know. But you didn't. You let your impulses take over. You didn't think, you let go - of her, and of yourself, and that's why you're here now." He starts to move away from him, walking backwards down the corridor, "Once that happens, once you let go, then there's no turning back. Certainly not from death."
"What do you mean?" Mac chokes, and feels his heart turn glacier-cold, as tendrils of ice force their way through it, trying to seize its rhythm, "What in hell do you mean? I'm not dead! I'm here, talking to you, right now, in the lab! My lab!" White mists swirls and wisps across his vision; billions of droplets of ice cold invading his pores.
Shadows fall over Sid's face, but do not hide the sorrow on his features as he shakes his head, "I'm sorry Mac, truly I am. I wish there was more I could do. But it's down to you now. If there's any chance for you, for either of you, it has to be you that takes it."
"Sid! Wait! Please…" He tries to lift his feet to move after the rapidly vanishing figure, as it begins obscuring into the twilight at the end of the corridor, but he cannot move. His feet will not take him that way and he finds his legs buckling as he sinks to the floor again.
Each breath is becoming a gargantuan effort, and each beat of his heart booms in his head; so loud he can count each one. They come too slowly and ring in his ears like a funeral knell. He counts them, and counts the breaths that pass in and out between his lips, each one making a rushing sound. The same sound the air makes hurtling past his ears in the memory of falling. Gasping, the pressure on his chest tightens suddenly to an unbearable level, the mists coil round him and Mac feels his fingers twitch as his body convulses, and he struggles to breathe. Blood pounds in his ears and pulses in his eyes. Red mists billow round him…
"Help!"He gasps almost inaudibly, breath crowing in his throat "Please, help me…"
Through his darkening, blood-filled vision, there is a hand again, with fingers that are cloud-soft, stroking his cheek. The fog evaporates, and he forces his eyes open, seeing again the young eyes that have looked into his before. The eyes that hold his own and smile at him with a look of curiosity.
He reaches for the little hand and grasps warm, chubby fingers that wrap around his tightly. The eyes crinkle in delight and he sees for the first time the rest of the child's face; steel and sky-blue eyes, skin with a hint of olive, and dark ringlets of hair that frame her face. Her head is tilted to one side as she gazes at him, and he sees she is sitting cross legged on the floor in front of him.
Once more, her hand tugs his, insistent, and he is pulled up off the floor. Some of his strength returns as his muscles feel a release from the weakness that has imprisoned them. Staggering to his feet, Mac holds onto to the little girl's hand and looks down at her in fascination as he leans against the wall and heaves his breath in.
Breaking away from their contact, the child claps her hands gleefully, her face beaming before she twirls round and runs down the corridor away from him.
"Wait!" Mac calls, starting forward in panic, his hand reaching for her, "Please! Wait for me…"
But with legs that have lost their usual strength, he can only manage to hobble forward. His hand closes round empty air, and she vanishes out of sight. Leaving him alone. All alone.
Hold on to me.
So what has happened to Mac? Much mystery, so I hope you're intrigued enough to read on and discover the answers! Reviews very welcome, second and final chapter up soon, as well as the next chapter of 'Old West'. Thank you very much to everyone who has nominated me and my stories for the Fan Fiction Awards, it's much appreciated :D Lily x