AN: Domestic violence is mentioned in this part, but nothing too explicit. Just a warning.
Friday, October 31, 2003
2302 Hours (local)
Mac was lying in bed, reading, when the knocking began on her door. It was too late for trick-or-treaters, and since it was Halloween, Mac figured it was just some young kids trying to play a prank, so she ignored it. Three minutes later, when the knocking didn't stop, Mac rose out of bed, wrapped her robe around her, and walked to the door. She looked out the peephole and was shocked by the sight that greeted her. She yanked open the door and said loudly, "Denise! Are you all right?"
Denise's left eye was almost swollen shut and dried blood was crusted on her lower lip. She didn't have a jacket or a coat on, only a short-sleeved red top, and Mac could see red marks and the beginnings of bruises on her arms.
Mac stepped back and allowed Denise to enter. "He did this, didn't he? Your husband?"
Denise nodded. "He locked me out of our apartment. I didn't know where else to go. You're within walking distance."
"Come on," Mac said, leading the way to the kitchen. "Let's get you cleaned up." She immediately put a few ice cubes into a sandwich bag and wrapped it in a towel. "Hold this to your eye," she instructed. She dampened a paper towel with warm water and dabbed at Denise's lip. It didn't look too bad, just a lot of blood, and it wouldn't need stitches.
"You've done this before," Denise stated as Mac delicately cleaned her lip.
"Unfortunately, yes. I was afraid this would happen to you after the whole thing with Harm."
"Pat flipped out when he found out I went to the club again last weekend. I told him I was going because I had to for the case. He found out Harm was there and he was livid. I told him I would be returning tomorrow night and he lost it."
"You won't need stitches," Mac said. "Come on, let's go sit on the couch. You'll be more comfortable." Denise followed Mac to the couch and sat down. Mac pulled a cream-colored blanket off the back of the couch and tossed it to Denise, who immediately spread it over her lap and pulled it up to her shoulders. She continued to hold the bag of ice to her eye. "Has he ever done this before?" Mac asked.
"No. He has been through anger management and has threatened, but in nine years of marriage, he has never hit me."
Mac regarded Denise for a moment. "Can I get you anything else?"
Denise shook her head.
Mac was silent for a moment as she continued to study Denise. "Why me? Other than because I live close, why did you come to me? You know that I'm not really happy with you because of the whole Harm thing…" Mac trailed off.
"I know. I just didn't have anywhere else to go. I needed to go somewhere. And I just got this feeling, like you would be able to understand. But I was also afraid you'd slam the door in my face."
"I couldn't. Not even to you." Both women were silent for a moment.
"Thanks," Denise said, her voice just barely above a whisper.
Mac smiled weakly. "I know I should tell you to go to the police and press charges-" Mac began.
"I won't," Denise said firmly, cutting Mac off.
"I figured as much. I'd probably say the same. But, what are you going to do?" Mac asked.
"I'm not going home tonight. I'll go back tomorrow. But…" Denise trailed off.
"Stay here," Mac insisted.
Denise smiled in thanks. "I wouldn't ask, but I don't have any money or anything."
Mac nodded. "I know. Look," she paused, "about tomorrow night, don't come. I don't want this to escalate into something really bad between you and your husband."
"I'd have to notify work and they probably don't want you guys going in alone."
"We can handle it. Jen will be wired, our guy will be around the corner. Odds are, nothing will happen anyway. Call into work and say something has come up, a personal problem. Just call me and let me know tomorrow what is going on."
"And if they don't let you guys go in?"
"We'll take the weekend off."
Denise looked carefully at Mac. "Thanks, for everything. You didn't have to do this."
"Yes, I did," Mac smiled weakly.
"When did this happen to you? The hitting?" Denise asked.
"Long time ago," Mac replied, shaking her head. "I'm not going to get into it." Mac rose up off the couch. "I'm going to go get you some sheets and a pillow, you can sleep on the couch. If you want, you can take a shower and clean up," Mac offered.
Denise shook her head, "Nah. I'm okay."
Mac nodded and left the room. She returned a moment later with a bundle of sheets and a t-shirt and sweat pants for Denise. "I thought these might be more comfortable to sleep in," she said, handing Denise the clothes.
"Thanks," Denise said as she got to her feet. "I'll just go change," she said as she wandered back towards the bathroom. She took the bag of ice with her.
Mac spread the sheets out on the couch and waited for Denise. When she returned a minute later, she only had the towel, having dumped the ice out. She placed the towel down on the coffee table. Mac asked, "Can I ask you something?" Mac wanted to know, but she didn't know if she had a right to the information, or if Denise would even tell her. If the situation had been reversed, Mac probably wouldn't have given the information over.
"Go ahead," Denise responded, nodding. She had a pretty good idea of what was coming. She took a seat on the couch.
"Why'd you do it? Cheat on your husband?"
"I honestly don't know," Denise responded. "Harm wasn't the first man to come along that seemed interested in me. And he wasn't the first one I've been attracted to, but he is the first one I followed that attraction with. I don't know how you guys have been able to work together for so long and not act on it. You are both attractive people. Maybe it was the environment we were in, or maybe I have just gotten bored with my marriage, I don't know. And the sad part is, that given the chance to do it over, I'm not sure I'd do anything different. I think it has been over between Pat and I for a while and this was just the final nail in the coffin, so to speak. Maybe it was my passive-aggressive attempt at getting him to not want me anymore. I don't know."
Mac nodded, looking down at her feet.
"I am sorry if it hurt Harm. Or you. And for the problems it has caused on this case. If I could take that much of it back, I would."
"Oh," Mac responded. She had her answer, but now she wasn't sure of what to say.
"Did I answer your question?" Denise asked timidly.
"Yes," Mac responded, ashamed for having asked it in the first place. Leaving the topic, Mac went on, "There's food and things in the kitchen. Help yourself to anything you want. I was in bed when you got here, so I'm going to go back now. Don't hesitate to ask if there is anything else I can do for you," Mac said.
"You've done enough. Thank you, Mac," Denise said.
"You're welcome," Mac responded as she walked towards the bedroom. "Good-night."
"'Night," Denise called.
Mac shut the door behind her and sighed heavily. She didn't really like Denise, hadn't since the beginning, but she couldn't just let her walk away after she had been beaten by her husband. As Mac slid beneath the covers on her bed, she felt sorry for the woman. But she had gotten herself into it.
When Mac got up in the morning, Denise was gone. The sheets were folded, along with the clothes Mac had leant her, all neatly stacked on the coffee table. On top was a note that said, "Thanks, Mac."