Title: A Soldier Comes Home
Warnings: Spoilers of a sort for "Near Death". Nothing major plot wise, but as it's based on stuff from the ep, feel free to wait if you haven't watched it yet. Character death warning!
Disclaimer: I don't own CSINY or the characters, I'm just borrowing them.
A/N:The season 8 finale was awesome, but it was very bittersweet. I bet a lot of us wish Claire and Mac could just be alive together, but we know they can't. No one wants Mac to die just yet, but it was still sad he had to leave her behind. Their scenes were definite tearjerkers. This ep still lends itself very well to a follow up like this, when they finally can be together sometime in the future. Obviously, you should probably pass this one over if you aren't comfortable with character death. I didn't use a human beta, but I did correct things with spelling/grammar checker, so hopefully there aren't any glaring mistakes. However, if anyone has things I can improve on this or any of my fics, let me know. (and yes, if I ever get the longer stories I want to do off the ground, I will seek out a beta, since things get more difficult when you're doing lots of chapters.)
Mac moved slowly through the surreal facsimile of the lab, the border of life and death as it was represented to him. Although some thirty years had passed since he had last been here, the memories still lingered, vivid as the day it had happened. He felt a renewed strength and energy, and for the first time in longer than he cared to remember, he wasn't in pain.
For most of the last year, he had battled cancer, never giving an inch the entire time in typical Mac fashion. It had begun in his lungs, possibly, the doctor had said, from his work at Ground Zero, although there was no way to be certain. Despite aggressive treatment, the disease had spread, and he had gotten steadily worse. His last days had been spent in hospice, his ravaged body slowly shutting down. He had never forgotten how he had felt when his father asked Mac to end his suffering, and he had never wanted to put such a burden on Christine or his friends. He'd fought as long as he could, but now it appeared, his fight was over.
He saw her standing there, just as beautiful and clear as the last time, and he came toward her, slipping his hand into the one she held out. His heart no longer beat, but he could feel it racing as they touched. Although Christine had awakened in him a desire to be happy and begin to live again rather than simply existing, he never stopped missing Claire and the ache had never left his heart. Seeing her again filled him with joy.
"Come on, baby...it's time." she said gently.
He looked around, a bit uncertain. "There's...no going back this time, is there?" he asked. "I don't want to die…but I don't think I can go back. I've given everything I have…my body doesn't have anything left."
"No. Not this time." she shook her head, reaching up to stroke his face. "It's all right…It won't hurt anymore. Seeing you like that hurt me so much…I wish I could have been there with you. But I'm glad you weren't alone…you had so many friends…and someone closer…someone to be by your side while I couldn't. But it's all over now. You fought a good fight...You were strong, right up until the end. But you don't have to fight anymore… the battle's over now."
He pulled her closer, and she came willingly, and they held each other for a long moment. He knew that the others would be saddened for him, and he would miss all of them: Flack, Danny, Lindsay, Lucy, Jo, Stella, Hawkes…even Sid and Adam. And most of all, Christine, and the life they had made together. But, he knew that they would also realize he was finally at peace, his suffering finally at an end, and that he was with the love of his life once again. It didn't mean he'd stop watching them, and one day, they too would be here and they would see him again.
Claire began to walk and Mac let her lead him, his hand still holding tightly to hers. The last time, she'd told him he wasn't invite to where she was going, but now, they were going together, and he would never have to be apart from her again.
"Come on, soldier." she said, offering him one of the beautiful smiles he'd so greatly missed. "Come home with me."
"I will search the word
I will face its harms…
'Til I find my hero's welcome waiting
In your arms…"
-"Go The Distance", Michael Bolton