Disclaimer I own very little, especially not CSI NY

Author Lily Moonlight

Notes Second and final chapter. Thank you very much for all alerts and favourites; to everyone who reviewed - please continue, or add one if you've enjoyed this; to cmaddict for help with this chapter; and to Blue Shadowdancer for chats, episodes and icons!

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In Your Hands

Chapter 2

Aware of the lights dimming above him, and the sudden chill as he travels further down the corridor, Mac shivers and keeps moving. No one else passes him. He glances into rooms either side, seeing only thick darkness and the haggard negative of his reflection. His face, composed of caverns and shadows, stares back and forces him to look away. He carries on, picking up speed as his movement pushes blood back painfully into his muscles.

The face of the little girl, her eyes and features, fill his mind. And he realises suddenly, with a feeling that warms through him, easing some of his ache, that he recognises her. He knows where he has seen her features before. He knows who shares them, and he begins to wonder and hope at the patterns and design that lie behind her formation. As he does so, he sees another face in his mind. A face whose features he loves and longs to trace his fingertips over. Questions form, and answers dance at the edges of his mind, just out of reach. Answers…

Stella.

She always has answers for him, but he still needs to find her to find them. Giving him the spurt he needs, her face becomes clearer in his mind, and he rounds a bend in the corridor. Where the shadowing lights flitter across the glass walls, he sees at last a door and a room he recognises. His office; his sanctuary. As he gets closer, however, he sees it is occupied, and his first thought is anger at the invasion. But a few steps further, and he sees that it is occupied by the only person who is not an invader of his peace.

"Stella!"

He stumbles in his rush of relief, and his palm hits the glass, stinging his flesh as he almost falls through the door.

She sits at his desk, in his chair, and he sees his pen in her hand. As she looks up, it slips out of her fingers, falls and hits the floor.

Her lips thin into a dark line, and relief curdles in the pit of his stomach, "What are you doing here?" She says, cold, unwelcoming, "This isn't your place anymore, Mac."

Mouth falling open, he gapes at her. Her eyes are hard and stare unblinking at him, making his skin crawl in fear. Bending down, her hair tumbling over her shoulders, she picks up the pen and starts to tap it against her fingers. The movement draws his eyes.

Up.

Down.

Up.

Down and down and down…

Until he shakes his head to clear his vision.

"Stella, I…" He lurches towards her and stops.

"What do you want?"

The pen twirls in her hand.

"Something's wrong, and I need to know…"

"What do you need to know, Mac?"

The air starts to thunder through his head again as she hits back everything he says, her expression impassive.

He persists, "Whatever you know. Please…"

Another step towards her, and he stops, sensing a precipice between them.

Her eyes are chips of stone, "I can't tell you anything anymore. It's too late. You made the decision; you chose to let go, and I suffered the consequences. All of us did."

All the strength he has gained begins to leak out of him again and his legs tremble. Feeling himself starting to lose his balance, he grabs hold of the desk with both hands, and his head drops for a moment, until he forces himself to look up and back into her stony eyes.

"Stell, please. I've… I've been trying to find you. Please just talk to me, answer me, I can't get answers from anyone else…"

She tilts her head on one side and regards him carefully. The pen stills in her hands.

Her voice, when she speaks, is softer, "Sometimes I don't have all the answers, Mac. Sometimes you do."

He shakes his head, "Not this time. Just… tell me… what you know. Please. What's going on? Why's everyone's acting the way they are? As if I shouldn't be here, as if I've done something… What did I do?"

"You mean you can't work it out?" The softness is gone, and he hears bitterness in her tone that is poison to his ears, "Come on. This isn't like you. Surely you've realised?"

"Realised what? I can't… Can't…"

His voice dies, slaughtered by the sudden rush of air past his ears. It rises to a deafening pitch, and there is pain in his arms now; agonising pain that feels like his muscles are being ripped out of his skin. As Stella stares at him, her hands clench together, and the pen snaps in her fingers.

"You let go, and you're dead."

Condemnation resonates in the air.

"No…" Breath rushes out of him, lost in horror, "I'm not dead! No!" His head shakes in denial. No. Impossible. No!

Freezing mist rises round him now, scalding him with a cold-fire touch and his eyes sting and burn. The solidity of the floor beneath him begins to wobble and he almost loses his footing, his feet scrabbling against nothing. A fog-filled crevasse appears as the floor splits and opens in front of him, and tendrils writhe up from its depths, reaching for him. Mac groans in fear, and tries to find his footing to drag himself back to safety, his feet scrabbling against nothing. But there is nothing solid beneath him anymore, he realises with a quake of terror, and nothing real or solid around him either.

"What's… happening?" He fights for breath as the scene starts to evaporate.

His surroundings, the comforting familiarity of his office disappears rapidly, swallowed up by murk and mizzle. Looking up, he sees the only reality he has to hold onto is Stella. And, with his heart plummeting, he realises that he is losing his grip on even his strongest anchor to life, as her image starts to blur before his eyes. His vision smears as fog-phantoms hover round him and start to creep closer. Closer, silent, unstoppable. They reach for him, wrapping white, insubstantial hands round him; blinding him, grasping him, pulling him. Famishing for his life.

"Please help me…" It is a whisper, he barely hears his own words.

A glimpse, one glimpse of Stella's face, before weariness drags his head down, and he loses sight of her again. He is tired, so tired, and every muscle in his body is beginning to seize in pain. It would be so easy to let go.

So easy…

Thick fog drifts into his mind now, easing him, loosening his hold. Exhaustion deadens his thoughts and he waits for the inevitable.

For the fall.

Down and down and down…

Until Stella's voice sounds again, so far away, but he knows he has to listen.

Because his life depends on it.

"I'm trying to help you, Mac!" Her voice is rising, but he struggles to hear her, fighting off the muting white noise, "But you've got to help as well!"

With a mighty effort, he tenses and pulls up the muscles of his neck to lift his head. Above him, he sees Stella's eyes wide and glittering with fear; green surrounded by white. There seems to be no colour left in her skin; it glistens pale and it frightens him. Mist sways and surrounds him, more ghosts ripple into existence, erasing the edges of his vision.

His fingers clutch the edge of something, but even as he senses the surface, his fingertips begin to slip and slide off the edge, making him lose his balance, so he wobbles and begins to tumble backwards. Slowly, so slowly, but so certainly.

Down and down and down…

His throat fills with air, too full of breaths that he has gulped in. Thick, white breaths of fear that choke his throat. His hands claw for something and someone to hold onto.

"Listen to me!" Stella cries, and he can barely see anything now; all there is are her eyes stark against her skin, and her dark curls tossing wildly about her face. The vision of his office finally tatters to threads and blow away. As if it was never there, as if he was never there. Leaving him in a cocoon of clouds and mist and air. It would the simplest thing to succumb to it. So simple to let go of cares and pain and life. A breath sighs out of his lips, and his eyes close. It would be easy to let go of the faint touch on his fingers; to let go of the voice calling from far away; to let go of his life…

"Mac!" The cry rings in his ears, scything through the white cotton that seems to have been stuffed inside his head, "Don't you dare let go! Don't you dare! Hold on to me!"

His eyes jerk open.

For real this time, as Stella's voice wakes him from the nightmare seconds of lost consciousness. He looks up and up into her face above him, and sees her mouth forming the words that are sinking slowly into his brain. He feels her hand wrapped round his.

"I've got you!" As reality re-establishes itself and the last vestiges of his unconscious disappear, he realises that he is hanging off a ledge above the city.

And her hand is the only thing stopping him from falling into a sea of mist, rain and traffic hundreds of feet below.

You let go, you're dead…

He looks up, blinking at her through the rain that stings his eyes and slithers down his face. Each drop is a needle prick to his skin, and he feels it piercing and soaking his clothes, weighing him down even more. Pulling him down. A long, long way down.

Piecing his consciousness back together in a rush, he twines his fingers as tightly as he can with Stella's. He won't let go. But their hands are cold, numbing fast, and wet with rain. Not only rain, he sees with fear. Rivulets of watered red are streaming down her arm. Blood. From the deep gash sliced open in the top of her arm.

He knows what has happened now.

He knows, only minutes before, how they chased the suspect to the top of a an apartment block, and how Stella pushed in front of him as the man grabbed a discarded bottle as a weapon, smashed it and lunged for them.

He knows it was Stella's yell of pain and the blood gushing down her arm that flooded his brain with fury and sent him running after the man. All the way to the edge of the roof, where a brief struggle sent him, arms flailing, over the edge and sent the suspect crashing back against the crumpled railings, weapon falling from his unconscious hand.

He knows how seconds of eternity passed whilst he pivoted and felt for one brief moment the air against his back before he fell.

He knows his hands caught the ledge, and then started to slip, because the gritty stone that scraped his palms was greased with rain. Making his hands slither over them whilst his eyes widened, as he knew instantly he was going to fall into forever, taking every last memory of his life with him, and that his last sight would be the woman above him with rain-soaked curls, throwing herself forward and grabbing his hand nanoseconds before he lost all touch with the living world.

He knows all this, because she has caught him and held on, even as he lost consciousness for vital moments and became a dead weight. Even though he knows she is in more pain than she will say, and the wound in her arm is draining the colour from her skin as she holds onto him for dear life.

He knows that were it not for her, he would have fallen with the rain, all the way to the ground.

Down and down and down…

He blinks droplets from his lashes, as the rain still falls on his face and their clinging hands. Rain that runs red down their joined arms. Blood and water mingle and flows over their hands, making oily their skin, slipping between their fingers treacherously. Causing skin to slide over skin. Causing hands to lose their grip…

"Don't let go!" A glass-sharp cry from Stella. Mac blinks more water out of his eyes, seeing her arm trembling and muscles straining under her skin, slickened by rain and blood. His other arm, the one dangling at his side fights against the gravity that pulls it down, and he stretches for the solid ledge of the building.

"I'm… not… going to." He croaks and struggles for a finger-hold. Stella is hanging over the edge, only stopped from falling by her other hand holding on white-knuckled to a broken piece of railing.

He struggles and their hands slide further and further apart; closer and closer to breaking their hold. Her hand tries to move down and clasp his wrist, but her fingers slide up his hand until they are joined only by their fingertips.

A horrified cry escapes from her lips, before her fingers lose his…

And catch them again.

As his left hand slithers out of her hold, his right hand, with strength given to him by the iron of her blood, clamps onto her wrist. In a second, her hand is back round his. Joined again, and he knows that this time he will not let go.

He will never let go.

"I've got you!" It is a gasp from her, "Keep going! You can do this, it's going to be fine…"

Ignoring the ragged flesh of his palms, the grit that tears at his skin, and the pain of his muscles he does everything he can to help himself and clutches the ledge with his empty hand.

The other hand keeps hold of his lifeline, and she holds on with every last drop of her strength, whilst he pulls himself up and up, and second by agonising second he gets closer and closer to safety. She inches backwards, her grip on his hand never wavering. Slowly, slowly he hauls himself back up. Up towards life. Until his feet kick against stone and he scrambles for a toe-hold…

And finds it, pushes up from it, and with a desperate rush of air, and stone scraping skin, and muscles screaming in agony, he is there. Safe and sound.

Alive.

He collapses and can do nothing but heave oxygen into his lungs as he lies gasping and shivering on the concrete. Slowly though he becomes aware of the hand that still holds on to his and the woman lying half-underneath him.

So he opens his eyes and looks down at a face framed by dark curls that smiles back at him. It is a smile that wavers and is almost destroyed by a sob, but it is the most beautiful thing he has seen. For moments more they lie there and the rain falls on them and drips off their hair and clothes onto each other and he knows that neither of them care because they are together. They are alive and he is holding onto her; onto the woman who holds onto his life.

"Thank you…"

She stills his lips, as her fingers caress the cold skin of his face, warming and reviving him, and he finds his hand in her hair, running through the wet ringlets, as his eyes lose themselves in her gaze. And he remembers again for the briefest instance the other face he saw in those lost moments of time as his life was held only by Stella's fingertips; the face of a child with her father's eyes and her mother's gaze.

But the glimpse of the future disintegrates as the rain falls in the present and the voices and running footsteps of their back-up finally arriving ring in his ears. And as they come shouting towards them, he looks down and sees spreading beneath him a pool of blood and water; her blood. It makes his own run cold, as cold as her skin under his fingers is.

One hand tightens his grip on hers, and the other cups her face, his thumb brushing her cheekbone, as her eyelids begin to look heavy, "Don't go anywhere, Stell. Hold on, just hold on."

She smiles as rain drips off her lashes, "Not going anywhere, I'm not letting go."

People appear at the edge of his vision, shouting, speaking, touching them both. He wraps his hand round her arm, trying to stop the life streaming out of it. Flack crouches in front of him, guiding him to his feet, whilst Danny bends over Stella, helping her to sit up as his hands also try to stop her bleeding. But the rain still falls and more of her life washes into the drains and gutters of the city and disappears. All Mac can do is hold her hand, and keep holding on, willing her to do the same.

Hold on to me.

The words he saw, the writing on the wall, written by a child. They ring in his mind as the suspect is hauled to his feet and taken away, people cluster round them, and they stand there dazed and shaken.

Hold on to me.

Accompanied by Flack and Danny, they keep their arms round each other as they both walk on wobbling legs to the elevator and descend through the building. As they reach the sidewalk, his arm tightens in fear as she sways in his hold. But after a pause, a deep breath, and a quick smile into his eyes, she walks on beside him.

Hold on to me.

Sitting beside her on the back steps of the ambulance, his arm stays round her waist, and he grips her hand as her injury is treated. Finally the rain runs clear again down their arms as her hand squeezes his with strength that restores him.

And she holds on to him, all the way to her apartment, and all the way through her door and into the living room where they stop and stand and stare. Water drips and pools at their feet. They breathe

Alive.

Fingertips brush each other's palms, contact never ceasing, and they see the fear in each other for their lives that were almost lost. Rain-soaked skin shivers in the air before in a rush of heat and need to feel the reality of each other and the assurance that they are alive, their lips and hands meet and touch and join. They breathe, fast, urgent, together; wet clothes fall to the ground; skin warms against skin. And they hold on and on to one another.

…...

Not a hint of rain is in the blue acres of sky as they walk through the park hand in hand. Warm June air breezes round them, and the sun gilds the hair of the little girl who skips between her mother and father. Just beyond them, the city traffic roars along its streets, but Mac hears and sees only his family as Stella twirls their daughter round in a pirouette, and laughs at the little girl's gurgles of delight.

His hand moves to Stella's shoulder, drawing her closer to him, unable to prevent his fingers running lightly over the fine white line left on her skin. It still haunts him. On days when rain saturates the streets and the sky bleeds grey water, his eyes see the chasm that opened up in front of him that day almost four years ago. He still sees the blood that mingled with the rain and the void that would have claimed him.

If she had not held on.

Even as he turns and smiles at Stella, and sees the glowing colour of her skin and eyes, he still sees what was almost lost. And he knows she sees the same. He remembers, as he often does, the moments of the dream he had in those seconds of unconsciousness; the visions and words he saw; how he told her about them that night as they lay in each others embrace, listening to the rain and their beating hearts.

Hold on to me…

He remembers the little girl in his dream, and sees her now, exactly as she was then, and his heart lifts at her existence. Their little girl. Skipping at his side with curls bouncing on her shoulders and sunlight shining in her eyes, she points at a butterfly, watching its flight in fascination. She pulls away from his hand and chases it round and along and onwards. On down the path. And Mac watches her; smiling, wondering and marvelling.

Until his mind sees seconds ahead, and he sees the path and he sees the street at the end of it. The busy street with the traffic that will not see a little girl, a little life. And as the knowledge detonates in his brain, he begins to run towards his daughter as she dances along the path, oblivious to any danger. He hears Stella's exclamation, and knows she is too far behind this time. But he is not, because it is his turn today, and with one last, long stride, as his daughter teeters at the very edge of the kerb, he lunges forward. His hand closes round her tiny one with a shout of desperate relief. Holding on, he swoops her up and presses her to his chest, soothing her frightened sobs as Stella clutches them both to her.

With their hearts beating next to his, he knows there is nothing more important than holding on to them. The lives he loves and that are the reason for his.

I hope this chapter answered all questions satisfactorily :D Did you enjoy it? Please review and tell me what you thought, I'd love to know! Thank you, Lily x