Death, Poetry and All the Living Things by illman [ - ]
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Category: CSI: NY - Ship Ahoy! > Mac Taylor/Stella Bonasera
Characters: Mac Taylor, Stella Bonasera
Rating: PG-13
Genres: Angst, Hurt Comfort, Pre-relationship
Warnings: Adult themes

Summary: She has been reading poetry to him for four years. All because she had found her first family in a man who hadn't opened his eyes in four years.

Chapter I
Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?

1. The Boy, October 3rd 2009

Jonathan Fredrick Hollenbeck, called Johnny, was six years old, had blond curls and grey eyes. When he'd vanished from a neighborhood playground shortly before ten in the morning, he had only left behind his broken glasses.

The police had sat up command at the Hollenbecks city home; they were expecting a ransom demand. The Hollenbecks were in the diamond mining business in South Africa, but had sent their two children to the United States four years ago to live with the mother's sister.

Stella Bonasera measured the last of the twenty-six shoe impression moulds taken from the sand box and the park surrounding the playground. Sixteen of the shoe impressions were small, too small to be from the shoes of an adult.

She checked her watch. After almost four years, she didn't need to look at a watch anymore to know, it was a habit. She wasn't going to be able to finish analysing each shoe print to determine what model it had come from. There simply wasn't enough time.

They always covered for her. Danny, Lindsay and Sheldon. Leaving at 5 p.m. on the spot every day for the last four years hadn't earned her the favour of their new supervisor, Paula Manning. Her career had suffered for her personal life, something, if she had been told only five years ago, she wouldn't have thought possible.

She wouldn't let a case suffer for her commitment, but she had set her priorities since then in her heart and in her life.

Stella put the photographs taken of the prints at the scene back into the file, tagged the moulds on the table and finished her notes.

She was just about to leave the room when she heard someone approach from behind. Turning around, she saw Paula Manning, a clipboard pressed to her chest, come towards her.

"Stella." Paula paused, tucking a strand of hair behind the ear. "How are you coming along?"

"A lot of the impressions didn't come out well, but the recent rain helped us a lot. We have shoe profiles of ten adults from the park, but there is really nothing to go from there," Stella explained.

"That's unfortunate." Paula frowned. "It's been seven hours and we haven't got anything. Nothing on the background check popped. We're going back to the park and we are widening the search radius. Someone has to have seen something. The commissioner assigned extra personnel to the case, so Flack is going to go door to door in the neighborhood. We're going back to every trash can, pond and rest room in and around Roland Park."

Stella nodded. "All right, I'm not through identifying the shoe prints yet, but..."

Paula raised a hand to stop her. "I know you make a point of getting off at five, Stella and frankly I don't care why. Today, I need everyone for as long as it takes to find Johnny Hollenbeck."

"It's fine. I wasn't..." Paula always made Stella feel like she needed to defend herself.

"Just call the guy," Paula told her. "I'll see you at Roland Park."

The door slapped shut behind her.

2. Snow falling softly, December 1976

Stella sat at the last desk by the window. That way she could look out the window when Ms. Elmer wasn't looking.

Snow was falling outside, in slow, thick flakes, white against the lead sky. Stella wrapped her arms around herself, trying to pull her light blue knitted vest closer. It was her favourite piece of clothing. The vest was almost two sizes too large and its colour was faded to light blue steel. But the vest was hand-made and the fine knots spoke of it. It was the luck of the draw really what clothes you got out of the heap.

"Stella, stop dreaming." Ms. Elmer tapped her on the shoulder. Stella turned from the window and looked up. There was a frown on Elise Elmer's round face, but she never stayed sour for long.

"You haven't drawn anything on your card yet. Don't you want to give it to a friend for Christmas?" Ms Elmer asked.

Stella nodded. Half the class lived at the home; of course Ms Elmer knew that she had no parents at home.

Stella took the green crayon and listlessly started to draw a Christmas tree. They had one at the home every year, for as long as she could remember. The tree stood in the entrance hall and always arrived in the first week of December. Stella liked its smell.

3. John Donne's first book, Christmas Eve 1984

The food was the best thing about Christmas, after that, maybe the big tree in the hall.

Stella was wearing her 'best dress'. Dark blue velvet, slightly faded, from a clothes' donation. The last of the food was eaten and the boys on dish duty were clearing the room.

Stella got up from her chair. She was full, tired and really wanted some time alone. Christmas Carols were blaring from the radio in the corner of the dining room and most of the children were chattering, as for once talking at the table was allowed.

Stella was already half way up the stairs when someone snagged her by the sleeve.

"I didn't want to give this to you before when we everyone was around." Ariel, a plump girl with beautiful dark red hair, handed her a wrapped present.

"Oh, thanks." Stella smiled. "But I didn't get you anything. I feel bad about that now. I'm sorry."

"Don't worry." Ariel pulled her into a brief hug. "Merry Christmas, Stella." Ariel looked down.

"Can I unwrap?"

Ariel nodded. Stella carefully removed the plain blue wrapping, trying not to tear it up any more. It had been used before, but she didn't care. She had just gotten her first real Christmas present. Not just the anonymous chocolate that every kid at the home got for Christmas.

Stella pulled a book from the paper. It wasn't new; it had gone through many hands. 'The Poetry of John Donne'

"It's poetry," Ariel pointed out when Stella didn't say anything.

"That's perfect. Where did you get it?" Stella had to ask even if it was not the polite thing to do.

"The used book store across from your school. I saved lunch money," Ariel said. "I really miss Christmas." She sat down on the step.

Stella joined her. "I don't remember celebrating Christmas with my family."

"Been here that long?"

"Fourteen years," Stella replied.

"Never knew your folks then?" Ariel asked.

"No, I came to Greenwood at two months old. No idea what happened to my parents. Wallace says I have to be eighteen to get a look into my file." Stella sighed.

"Nothing much in mine. My mom took off." Ariel shrugged.

Stella didn't know what to say. She didn't understand how Ariel's mother could just have left her daughter, but many of the kids came from parents who had taken drugs, had taken off or were in prison.

"My mom was kinda screwed up, I hardly ever saw her at home, but I can't imagine not knowing anyone of my family." Ariel pondered.

"I just want to get to know my family."

4. Torrential, October 3rd 2009

Stella had just climbed into her car when the down pour started. It was like the sky at literally opened up. In two minutes, all the evidence that might still be in Roland Park would be washed away completely. Maybe Paula and the others were already there, Stella had not exactly hurried to leave the lab. By the time she'd get downtown, the scene would be gone.

She leaned her head down on the steering wheel and closed her eyes. Sleep was tempting her to give in, but she couldn't, not yet. Her family was waiting for her. At least that was what she used to think when she was tired, when her muscles ached from sitting in a chair too long. All because she had found her first family in a man who hadn't opened his eyes in four years.

Stella pulled out of the crime lab parking lot. She had a family to come home to. While she was making her way out of the City, she dialled Danny's number. Paula was going to expect her at the park, not that it mattered with the rain now.

Danny answered the phone immediately, indicating that he was still at work.


"Danny, it's Stella. I'm headed out for the day," Stella told him.

"Yeah, I guessed so. Paula chased us to the park, but then the rain washed everything away. Hawks is still there on the trash patrol." She could hear the smile in Danny's voice.

"So tell Paula that I'm headed home when she gets around to why I have left the assembly line," Stella said, stopping in front of a red light.

"It's not that bad." Danny laughed. "I'll cover for you with Paula."

"You don't have too; just tell her to call me if something breaks on the case." Stella sighed.

"I will. Give Mac my regards. Bye." Danny hung up.

Stella shut her phone and concentrated on the traffic.

5. The Office, March 1985

Mrs Wallace's office was furnished in dark woods, but the once classy and expensive pieces had seen better times, they were chipped at the edges and the lacquer was splintering off.

"You asked me here, Mrs Wallace." Stella stood straight in front of the head of the group home.

"Yes. Please sit down." Mrs Wallace's voice was oddly soft and her demeanour much friendlier then what she usually displayed.

Stella sat down, unsure what to expect.

"When was the last time that you saw Ariel? Miss Biel told me that you were friends."

Stella shuddered internally at her use of the past tense.

"I saw her two days ago, at breakfast. That was the last time. What's happened?" Stella asked.

"It looks like she has run away. Again. She hasn't been in school or here at Greenwood. I finally had to call the police," Mrs Wallace said tiredly. "I have to ask you, did Ariel see any boys from outside?"

"No, she wasn't," Stella replied honestly. Ariel had problems with discipline, but Stella didn't know of any boy interests.

"I didn't expect an honest answer anyways. I don't suppose you know about her drinking either."

Stella shook her head. She really hadn't known. She had never seen Ariel drunk. People coming back drunk or high weren’t a seldom sight, but not Ariel. There was obviously a lot that Stella didn't know.

6. John Donne's second book, August 2000

The billboard sized sign over the shop front was faded; the black lettering was peeling off in places, just like Stella remembered it.

The glass door was stained from exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke and dust from decades. Stella stepped up the smooth worn stoops and pushed open the door.

It was impossible to tell how large the store room was really, it was maze of shelves. Stepping into the store was like taking a trip into the past.

The air smelled of old paper and coffee, a scent that reminded her of libraries and calm quiet hours. Stella couldn't help but smile. She had spent hours in the 'Blank Pages', whenever a class had been cancelled; she had thought refuge in the small store near her school. She hardly ever had had any money to buy a book, but just looking at the worn volumes, a colourful mix of textbooks, thick, dusty novels and children’s books with creased edges. The textbooks had brought her particular pleasure, thumbing through their pages, made her hungry for the knowledge in them.

Stella took the wooden stairs up to the second floor, following her memory, one hand wrapped around the copy of the book Ariel had given her for Christmas.

7. Poetry in the dark, October 2009

Stella always wondered why the halls were so quiet. The whole building exuded an aura of calm. In the beginning she hadn't been able to see it. She had walked by blind the deep blue mosaic tiles adorning the white walls, the mix of modern openness and old high ceilings and the beautiful park lying behind the building.

Stella walked down the hallway of the fifth floor, the corridor as familiar to her as her own home. She nodded to the blond man passing her. She saw him every night. He had a daughter in room 532. Stella opened the door of room 517.

The room was nice, Stella had to admit. Warm colours instead of stark white. Two comfortable chairs, a wooden drawer chest and off-white, open curtains. But as always Stella's eyes settled on the man in the bed. The wounds were long healed, but she could still see the scars where the bullet had pierced skin. The scars would always mark him as a victim.

Stella settled down and took Mac's hand, like she did every time she came to see him. Touching him made him seem more present. Everything was a well established routine between the two of them.

"Today was a long day. We caught a bad one. A boy disappeared from Roland Park in the middle of the day and nobody saw or heard anything. Nobody ever does in this city. I hate it when it's kids." Stella rubbed a hand over her face. It wasn't late, but she felt as if she hadn't slept for days.

"We haven't been able to contact the family of the missing boy. They have a business in South Africa as far as we know. Big money so Flack is thinking there will be a ransom demand soon. I don't want to hope for that, but since we have no lead, it would at least give us a new direction on the case."

"You know that feeling, when a case is going cold from the beginning? That's one of them. Paula is working us like slaves, but there is nothing to find in that park. She is going to fire me one of those days and I can't really blame her. You'd probably like her as a CSI, she is dedicated and I think she knows every crime statistic the FBI ever published." Stella smiled. She slipped off her shoes and pulled her feet under her. From her bag, she pulled the worn book and began to read.

Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste,
I run to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday;
I dare not move my dim eyes any way,
Despair behind, and death before doth cast
Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it t'wards hell doth weigh;
Only thou art above, and when towards thee
By thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
That not one hour my self I can sustain;
Thy Grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And thou like Adamant draw mine iron heart.