There is a day in Mac's life he always stayed alone, but not this time.
DISCLAIMER: CSI belongs to CBS, Alliance Atlantic, Jerry Bruckheimer, Anthony E. Zuiker and whoever else claims rights. We don't. Nu-uh! We just play with 'em.
The Denuo universe was created by Lara Bee and myself
Macx's Voice of Warning (aka Authors' Note): English is not our first language; it's German. This is the best we can do. Any mistakes you find in here, collect them and you might win a prize The spell-checker said everything's okay, but you know how trustworthy those thingies are....
The day came like every year. And like every year the weather, no matter if sun or rain or cloudy sky, mocked him. It mocked his emotions, his mood, his general existence. Sun would laugh at him, rain would cry with him, and the clouds churning in a sunless and rainless sky would be gray and lifeless, just like he himself felt.
For the first time since he had lost part of himself on that day, he was with someone. Not just a buddy fuck or a one-night stand, of which he had had none in the past years, but an honest-to-god relationship. For the first time he felt something more than just nothingness. He felt love. He could love. He did love. He had fought for this love, and the relationship, and he dreaded its loss.
He had nearly lost it once before.
Now he was facing a past loss with the man he loved at his side - but still alone.
Mac Taylor gazed out into the darkness that was New York City on this evening. He had gotten off work early, wrapping up a rather simply homicide with what could almost be described as ease. Stella had shooed him home, told him she would handle the rest, and he had gone without protest.
The day was weighing on him.
The day before... before he had lost almost everything.
Minutes ticked away, became hours, and the date was coming closer and closer.
Maybe he should have decided to spend the time with his lover, with Don, but he hadn't found the strength, nor the will to inflict his own morose mood on his younger friend. Don knew what was tomorrow. Everyone knew. The whole world knew. Mac still refused to crumble before that world, to break and show his need.
It was an hour before midnight that he left his apartment, unable to sit still. He walked, eyes slightly unfocused, mind blank. Movement did him good, it pushed away the anxiety, but it also brought no peace. No one gave him much attention. Everyone hurried past. Those who had lost like he had had their rituals, had their family, had their friends. Mac had never tried to make a ritual of the day, had tried to live with what was to come and what would always be in his heart and mind.
But it hurt.
The first time, the anniversary, he had spent with Stella. Not at the site, not watching TV, but simply going out into city and having a drink. They hadn't talked much and when they had, it hadn't been about that day.
The second time he had spent at home, listening to music, gazing at the world outside his window. It was what he had done from then on if he wasn't on a case, if work didn't keep his attention until the day was over.
Now it was different. He had Don. For the first time since the terrible loss of his wife, Mac Taylor felt like sharing the day with someone he loved more than a friend.
He stopped in front of a well-known apartment building. It was small, with only a few units, some of them occupied by families, others by singles, and one by an old couple. They lived on the ground floor and knew everyone and everything that went on in the house. Don liked them. Matthew and Nunna Olsson, immigrants from Sweden, both in their seventies, but fit as a fiddle and quite sharp.
Mac gazed at the locked door, the mostly dark windows. It was near midnight. He hesitated, aware that it was late, that Don had had a harrying day with a violent arrest. He had gotten the story from Hawkes, who had been the CSI on the case and who had accompanied Flack to the home of their suspect. Mac had missed Don at the precinct, had been told the detective had been called away by something else, and Hawkes had only given him the brief version of it all. Their former ME had come away unscathed, but he had mentioned some heavy struggles between Flack, the uniform who had come with them, and the heavy-set suspect.
Taylor took out the key to the apartment and unlocked the door, stepping inside the dark entrance. He switched on the light and walked up the two flights of stairs, refusing to use the elevator. When he arrived on the third floor, the stopped outside Don's door, listened for a few seconds, then used his key to gain entrance.
It smelled of food from a few hours ago, something like pasta and tomato, and there was the sound of a TV running. Mac silently closed the door, but he wasn't surprised when Don appeared in the doorway to the living room, dark eyebrows climbing in surprise.
"Mac?" he queried softly.
Mac met the bright blue eyes silently, then shrugged. "I was in the neighbourhood," he said simply.
That got him a narrow-eyed look, but Don didn't press any further. Taylor walked into the living room, aware of the time, aware of his lover's closeness, and when he turned to look at him he found Don right there, next to him, looking worried without trying to be so.
Mac reached out and cupped the narrow face, pulling the younger man into a brief kiss. His eyes searched for visible injuries from today's scuffle, but he found none.
"Do you mind?" he asked.
"No," was the immediate answer. "Want to stay?"
He had clothes here. They had started to leave a change of clothes at the other's place a while ago. Mac just nodded now and Don responded with another kiss.
"I was about to head for bed. Bad day. I'm tired," he explained.
Flack wasn't touching the topic of what tomorrow was, what significance it held for the other man. They just wordlessly prepared for bed, switched off the apartment lights, and Mac slid close to the slender form, enjoying the company.
He didn't fall asleep though.
He watched midnight come and go, felt the pain of so many anniversaries, and he listened to Don's steady breaths, the light snores, and he took strength from his very presence.
Maybe he had dozed off, maybe he had even slept a few hours, but Mac was awake long before Don even started to stir. In the light of the morning he ran his eyes over the lean form, looking for bruises, and he found some, but none too bad. He studied the man whose bed he shared, had shared before, and who he loved. It was the same emotion he had felt when it came to Claire, but still it was different. Don was different.
Blue eyes blinked open and focused on him. A brighter blue than his own, sharp and alert, and he smiled dimly at the quizzical look. Mac placed a tiny kiss onto the stubbly cheek.
It wasn't even six yet.
Don's voice was rough from sleep and six hours weren't enough to compensate for the last week's stress, but Mac wasn't the mother-henning kind if he could help it, and they had all weekend to catch up on missing sleep.
"Morning," he murmured.
The frown was still there, but Don didn't comment, just nodded toward the bathroom. "Call of nature," he said briefly.
He came back and Mac almost smiled when he tasted menthol toothpaste in the next kiss.
"Mac, what's going on?" Flack asked.
In the past four years, despite all the fucks and tumbles between the sheets that had had nothing of what hey shared now, Mac had never come to Flack's place on this day. They had had each other for mutual relief, but Mac had never sought that relief on the day his wife had died. Had been killed. It had been later in that week that he had come to Don's door, that he had unleashed his anger and mourning in bed with the very willing detective, only to leave afterwards. He had never been able to stay after that day. All the other times yes, never then.
Today was a landmark. Mac was aware of it, and from Don't expression so was he.
Here he was, on the day his wife had died, in bed with his new partner. He had come to this place to be with Don, not to fuck but to stay in his presence, to keep himself from being alone.
"I needed to be here," he answered his lover's question.
There was a shift in the body beside him, a question in those alert eyes, and Mac knew that Don was wondering what he wanted. Sleep with him? Don had never turned him away. Never in those four years he had used the man to fulfil his cravings. And never in the months they had become more, had become lovers in a much deeper sense of the word.
Mac leaned over him, kissed him, tender and loving, and without the hunger and need of the past. His right hand strayed over the muscular torso to the abdomen, found the huge scar, and came to rest on it. His fingers began to explore the bumpy edges and ridges, aware of the tension radiating from the man he loved. Don hated the scarring, hated to look at it, for Mac to touch it so lovingly, which was why Mac insisted on doing so. Not to torture the other man but to help him adjust to the terrible mark.
"I don't want to be alone any more," Taylor whispered after a while.
"Not today. Never again today."
He felt Don's hesitant touches and smiled a little, kissing the unshaven jaw again, trailing tender kissed to the slightly swollen lips.
"I'm not here to forget," Mac went on, resting his head against one shoulder. "I can't forget. I refuse to forget. I... I never told you about Claire."
Flack froze for a second, then he exhaled softly. "No."
"You never met her."
"You would have loved her. She would have loved you." Mac's hand stilled over the scar.
Don said nothing.
It was into the silence that Flack's stomach rumbled a protest that, if Don didn't plan on more sleeping, food would be preferable. Mac smiled and pushed himself up.
"Breakfast," he only said.
Both men showered - separately - and Mac watched as Don prepared a pot of coffee while he watched their toast. There was an ease that belied the man's stressful week, maybe even month, and that hid his bruises and his scars. Mac's eyes fell on the wall clock, the date, and he concentrated on the toast again.
"I want you to know," he said into the silence they shared at the breakfast table.
And he talked about Claire, shared things he had never shared with anyone before. He felt this unexplainable need to... to tell Don who she had been, and he felt the burden ease. It would never disappear. The weight would always be there, but he wouldn't break under it. He had dealt with clinical depression, with mourning and grieving, with anger and fury, and with well-wishers. He had hated every single moment of condolences and pity in their eyes, their empty words.
Don had never said a word about his grief, nor about his need to unload his frustration and fury in a sexual encounter. Mac felt like the worst scum sometimes, thinking back on how he had used the younger man. Don had never said no, and he had never told him about falling in love a long time before Mac had had his eye-opener in form of a bomb and Flack's near-death.
Looking into those bright blue eyes he expected overlapping images, seeing Claire, but he didn't. He saw Don Flack, his lover, his partner, the man he wanted to share the rest of his life with. The man he wanted to share this day with. Without TV, without the radio, without having to see, read or hear about what had happened. He had seen it in his nightmares, and he had read so much, but everything out there on the news or in the history books could reflect the pain of every single person directly or indirectly involved. He was one of tens of thousands who had suffered, Mac knew. He was a tiny piece of grain in this vast sea of annual grieving.
For the first time he shared it, and he shared Claire's memory.