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How Their Lives Changed

By csinycastle85


The Arrival

Mac and Stella had been called to a crime scene of a John Doe. As they arrived at the scene, Don let them know the scene had been cleared and that they could go in and begin processing. However, no sooner had they crouched down to do their job when they heard Don yell from outside, "Hey NYPD, you can't go in there!"

Hearing that, the two CSIs stood up glancing at each other just as an unidentified man appeared. Mac had his gun drawn, but before either he or Stella had time to even take the safety catches off their weapons, the man fired at them. In horror, as it seemed to happen in slow motions, Mac found himself helpless to prevent Stella from taking a bullet in her left shoulder. She fell backwards with a cry even as Mac fired at the perpetrator, cursing as his shots missed their mark. The perp threw the gun at Mac and fled from the room through the smashed window.

Mac heard Don and his men give chase, and hurried to Stella's aid. He felt his blood chill as he saw her lying on the floor bleeding from a wound in her shoulder and from the side of her head. Her eyes were closed and she gave no response when he called her name. Sick with fear and beginning to be aware of a growing anger towards Flack for having not kept the scene clear, Mac radioed for a bus and did what he could to try and stem the blood flow coming from his wife's injuries, all the while speaking softly to her, trying to reassure both her and himself that she would be okay.

It had taken Don a good ten minutes before he had the perp. He was angry with himself for not having checked the scene thoroughly enough and there was fear gnawing at him as he remembered the gun shots he'd heard before the perp had come running from the scene.

Only after he had gotten the man safely in the squad car could he find out what had happened to Mac and Stella, and it was with a sick lurch to his stomach that he saw from a distance the ambulance outside the building. Leaving the perp guarded by one of his officers, he jogged over in time to see a stretcher being carried out, and when he saw Stella immobilized and unconscious he gasped. Mac was following the stretcher and when Don saw the look on his friend's face before he stepped into the bus, he knew he was going to get it from Mac for being irresponsible.

With nothing more he could do to help his friends for the time being, Don walked back to the squad car with a heart heavy with guilt.

Once at Trinity Hospital, Mac had to stay back to stay back to let the doctors do their job. One by one, the members of the team showed up: Lindsay, Danny, Hawkes, Sid, and Adam. They gathered around Mac and as he tried to stay strong, he told them in his words what had happened.

As Mac finished telling them, Don finally showed his face. The others stared at him, silence falling as Mac slowly turned round. As soon as he saw him, Mac stalked his way past the others towards Don and did not think twice about giving the younger man a piece of his mind.

"I thought you said the scene was cleared," he began furiously. "How the heck did that man manage to get through? You better have a damn good explanation."

Don hung his head land did not say anything, He felt terrible for what had happened to his two best friends; he could use the loss of Angell as a reason but he knew that would seem like a weak excuse.

Mac mistakenly took Don's silence as indifference, and that was when he lost it. "How dare you not care?" he yelled. "After everything we've done for you, especially after talking to your superior into not suspending you when you came to work drunk. After all that, this is how you repay us?"

Mac didn't bother to lower his voice, letting the other team members all hear his rant. As they glanced at each other in embarrassment, Hawkes decided now was a good time to find out Stella's status as he knew how uncomfortable it was to get a lecture from Mac.

Don, on the other hand was now feeling worse than he ever had before and barely noticed what the others were doing.

But right as Mac was about to begin another tirade at Don, Hawkes managed to break in, "Mac, listen, I found the OR doctor who operated on Stella, Dr. Steven Jensen."

Mac allowed Hawkes to lead him away from Don to where the doctor was standing in scrubs, "Dr. Jensen, I'm Stella's husband, Detective Mac Taylor. How is my wife?"

Dr. Jensen answered as truthfully as he was able to, "Well Detective Taylor, your wife did not sustain major injuries as the bullet we removed did not nick any nerves, vessels or muscles. However, I am concerned about the swelling of her brain when she fell and hit her head."

Mac felt cold; he hadn't realized Stella's head injury had been so severe. Trying to focus, he listened as Dr. Jensen continued, "So I have put your wife in a medically induced coma in order make sure the swelling goes down and there are no further complications such as brain damage."

Mac rubbed his hands on his face in order to process the news; Stella was in a coma. When he was finally able to ask, "When can I see her doctor?"

Dr. Jensen looked sympathetic, "She's being moved into ICU room 201 as we speak. Only three people maximum at a time can go and visit her."

Standing listening with the others, Lindsay was still in shock about all that had happened, but gathering herself together, she offered that she and Danny go with Mac. Obviously still in shock, he agreed. Lindsay briefly turned her head and noticed that Don was nowhere to be seen. She shook her head, guessing that right now, Don must be feeling terrible and probably had no wish to incur Mac's wrath even further, otherwise she was certain he would have wanted to see Stella.

A short time later, Mac, Lindsay and Danny had made their way to Stella's room and were shocked to see Stella looking so pale. Thirty minute later, everyone had visited Stella and all wished for her to get better soon.

Once everyone had left, it was just Mac for the rest of the night. He kept a vigil by her bedside hoping for the best.

Mac continued to sit by Stella's bedside, refusing to leave her, honoring the wedding vow he had made to her. He only checked into the lab every few days whilst designating Danny as the temporary head of the lab. Lindsay, Danny, Sid, Hawkes, and Adam had been by to let him go home for a few hours to get something to eat, shower and get some sleep. Although Don did want to visit he could not bring himself to face Mac right now as he was pretty sure Mac had not forgiven him.

Days had passed with no word and Don was at the precinct trying to focus on paperwork but was having great trouble, it is because of him that his Mac's wife and his best friend was in ICU fighting for her life. He threw down his pen in frustration and rubbed his eyes and let his mind wonder, this is all my fault Stella is in the hospital, why couldn't I have been more vigilant? There has caught to something I can do.

Just then the ringing of his phone shook him out of his trance. Seeing that it was Lindsay he picked up, "Lindsay, how is Stella?"

Lindsay sighed as she answered, "Still no response from her but her doctor said she is improving. Say Don why don't you come to see Stella and talk to her, you are the only one who has not visited her."

Don was hesitant but Lindsay picked up on it and said, "Don I know that you are avoiding Mac because he is angry with you but he went home for a few hours to rest so now is your chance to come and see her. I know she will appreciate it and does not blame you for what happened, what do you say?"

Don was still hesitant but reluctantly agreed. After telling his boss he was going on lunch break he took off. After getting a quick bit to eat at a hot dog stand and had gotten a bouquet of mixed flowers he was on his way to Trinity General.

Once Lindsay saw Don come into the room she quietly went outside to give Don some alone time with Stella. Placing the flower vase he found a chair and moved it closer to Stella's bedside he sat down. Seeing her with a bandage wrapped around her head and looking helpless caused the flood gates to open; this was only the second time he had cried, first time being when he lost Jess, "I am so sorry Stella that this happened to you, I know there is no excuse for not doing my job properly, if there is anything I can do for you and Mac I will do it even if takes forever to earn yours and Mac's forgiveness, but one thing is I need you to recover and soon because if you don't then Mac will be far too devastated to recover and he will crawl back into the shell that you got him out of and he may stay there and never come out. So if you can hear me please wake up soon, Stell, we all need you."

After kissing her hand he stood up and with one last glance left the room once Lindsay went back in.

Following two long weeks of close monitoring, Mac received the best news ever—Dr. Jensen was satisfied that there was no more swelling and Stella showed no signs of brain damage. The injury to her shoulder had also healed well and so they began to slowly bring Stella out of her medically induced coma.

When Stella was finally able to open her eyes, Mac was overjoyed. Once awake, she was determined to leave the hospital as soon as she could and only a few days later, she was told she would be allowed home. Before her discharge, however, Stella had learned from Lindsay about the tirade Mac given Don. Now Stella knew she herself couldn't stay mad at Don for what had happened because situations like this occurred. But she was not about to try and persuade Mac otherwise because she knew Mac was firm in his views and would become extremely stubborn. She would just have to wait for the right moment.

As soon Stella had been cleared by her doctor to leave and the discharge papers were signed, she and Mac were on their way home. She sighed in relief as they got in the car and drove away; she had hated having to spend time in hospital and was looking forward to returning home with Mac.

However, no sooner had they reached the fifth floor of their apartment building when Stella spotted a small pink suitcase and a girl no more than four clutching a teddy bear.

Both she and Mac approached the little girl carefully, who was standing in the corridor not far from the elevator. When Stella was close enough, she crouched down and said in a gentle voice, "Are you lost, sweetie?"

The girl lifted her head when she heard a kind voice, looked Stella in the eye and Stella gasped; she would know that sweet face anywhere. It was none other than Daniela Myerson.

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