Disclaimer: I do not own CSI: NY or affiliates.
Thunder cracked over the city like an invisible whip, its owner angry and fast in his movements. The lightening struck so close to the thunder's rolls that they could have come from the same place. Dark clouds gathered over New York, threatening a power outage and a week of rain, and it was surprising to think they only gathered there that morning.
Mac stood close to the window, his hand on the cold glass. The temperature had dropped since the beginning of the day from the seventies to the fifties. He silently had to thank someone for there not being a crime scene yet in this weather. He had experienced rain stealing their evidence, and wasn't tempted to again.
Seconds after the next round of thunder, Mac heard the sound of a quiet knock at his door. He paused for a moment, unsure of whether it was the door or the weather. When the knock returned, more insistent than before, he crossed over to the door to open it.
Stella stood there, soaking wet. Her hair was plastered to her skin in loose curls, and even her eyelashes seemed wet.
"Need an umbrella?" Mac asked as he smiled and let her in. Stella entered slowly, her long sleeves dripping onto the carpet and her shoulder hunched around her ears.
"Sorry, Mac." Her voice stayed low and sounded as though her teeth were chattering. "I was walking, and it started to -"
A clap of thunder filled the room, and the room seemed to brighten with the sudden lightening. Stella jumped slightly, glancing at the uncovered window.
"You alright?" Mac touched her shoulder, causing Stella to jump again, then led her to the couch. She sat down gratefully with another shiver. "I'll get you a towel."
She nodded, her hair dripping onto her shoulders. With another glance at her, Mac left the room to the closet. There was a stack of pillows, blankets, and towels. He grabbed a blanket and a towel, carefully unfolding them as he walked back to Stella.
Stella still hadn't moved except to jump with the next clap of thunder. Mac handed her the towel and draped the half-folded blanket around her shoulders. She thanked him quietly and toweled her hair with one hand while holding the blanket around her.
"I'll take it that's not normal surprise," Mac said, sitting beside her. "You sure you're alright?"
"Yeah," she answered, sounding distracted. "Just don't like storms."
She stared out the window as though to prepare herself for the next jump-inducing sound. Rain beat against the windows rhythmically, the thick drops blending together into a single sheet of water.
Stella smiled. "Alright, more than that. Rain… I like rain. Sometimes. Thunder, though…" She shivered again and pulled the blanket closer. "I hate it when it's so close and loud."
She held the towel limply in one hand, and her hair seemed to have regained its usual curl. Mac took the moist towel from her. "What were you doing out here?"
"Just finished a shift. I was going to pick up something for dinner before I got a taxi." When the next round of thunder and lightening came, Mac touched Stella's arm. She closed her eyes and didn't jump as much as before. He kept his hand on her even when the sounds faded to only the rain, and she didn't seem to reject the touch.
"Did you still want dinner?" he asked. "I can go out and grab you something."
"No thanks." Stella smiled. "That's why I came up here in the first place - didn't want to be alone in a storm." She paused, and her face took on a slightly pained expression. "I'm really sorry, Mac -"
"Don't be." Mac patted her shoulder. "I've bothered you before, and you're not doing any harm."
Her expression didn't change. "I am sorry, though. I wish I weren't so jumpy."
Mac smiled and was glad to see a small smile appear on her face again. "If you won't let me grab you something, I'll go get something from the kitchen." He stood up before she answered. "I didn't get to go shopping, but I have ice cream and hot chocolate."
Stella laughed. "Alright. Thanks, Mac."
He left into the kitchen and dug into the freezer, trying to find the ice cream. He hadn't opened it yet and couldn't quite remember why he had bought it in the first place. Winter was coming, and it was already too cold.
"Chocolate chip alright?" he asked.
From the doorway, Mac could see Stella moved to blanket to cover her legs and body and drape around her shoulders to cover her arms, too. He smiled, surprised at how childlike she appeared in that position.
Pulling out a bowl from the cabinet, he paused and considered before taking out a second bowl and two mugs. He dug out the packets of hot chocolate mix from the cabinet and found a pot to boil water. Mac carefully scooped out the ice cream into the bowls as he watched for the water.
"Have you seen the weather channel lately?" he asked.
"Nope," she answered. Mac looked at the wall that separated them.
"Said the storms were going to continue all week."
Stella laughed. "Looks like you're going to have to get used to me panicking and diving for cover, then."
Mac grinned. "My apartment is free for your protection."
She laughed again, sounding amused and embarrassed. "How flattering. I hope I don't have to do this every day."
"I pity whoever's working on a crime scene with you," Mac answered as he dug through the cabinet again. There was a small container of sprinkles, and he smiled to himself as he picked them out and dumped some into the bowls. He picked up the bowls of ice cream and reentered the room. "What's wrong with thunder?"
Stella fought her arms out from under the blanket to take the bowl and smiled at Mac. "Sprinkles. You sure know how to cheer people up." He noticed his look and sighed. "It's a long story."
"You're going to be here a while." Mac smiled back and seated himself in a way to make his obvious he was curious.
Stella sighed. "I just remember, at the orphanage, hearing that the thunder was all sorts of ridiculous things. Angry gods. Fighting demons. Someone's death. A warning." She gave him a crooked smile. "None of it was too positive. Never got rid of the feeling that I was in trouble." She dug her spoon into the ice cream, turning it around to get a softened amount of ice cream around the spoon, which she licked off slowly. "I bet you grew up hearing the exact scientific reason for it, didn't you?"
"That didn't come until middle school," Mac answered with a grin. "Sadly, I spent the first few years of my life crawling into bed with my mother every time I heard it."
"Bet that was comforting," Stella said.
Mac jabbed at the ice cream awkwardly, unsure of how to respond. He had never looked at Stella as ever having been an orphan and much less at being at all broken. There never seemed to be an obvious importance to ever experiencing life the way so many people had, with parents and a childhood, and it had never bothered him like this.
Stella put down her ice cream and leaned into Mac. He bent over the arm of the couch, ignoring the strange bending of his arm in order to put down his bowl. Stella breathed on him, warming a small area of his shirt. One of her curls, still slightly moist, touched his collarbone, and he felt a small shiver run up his spine.
"You're not wearing a dress shirt," she murmured into his chest.
"It's my day off." Mac out an arm around her shoulders and pulling her closer. "I didn't see a point to wearing one."
"It's nice to see you like this." Stella smiled, though her mouth was mostly hidden from his view. He only saw the rise of her cheeks. "It's white, though."
Mac remained silent.
"I hate associating you with white. You should wear… green. Or red."
"Merry Christmas," he answered quietly, and Stella giggled.
She fingered his shirt for a moment, and Mac felt his shoulders freeze for a moment, then loosen. He hadn't seen Stella like this in a long time, and he liked the feeling of it.
"Thanks again, Mac," she whispered.
Unsure of how to respond, Mac moved a little. "Water's boiling."
Stella turned her head to glance at him, then sat up. Mac stood, leaving into the kitchen. He still felt the warmth of her breathing and face on his shirt, a strange pattern against his chest. The feeling didn't fade at all. Even the moisture of her hair remained on his collarbone, sensitive and unrelenting. It made him feel awkward, though not in an uncomfortable way.
He quickly stirred the mix into the water, then picked up the two mugs and took a deep breath as he returned. Stella took a mug with another whispered thanks, and leaned against him again when he sat down. The blanket draped over his legs.
"You always surprise me," she whispered.
Stella nodded, and he felt the shifting of her heat on his chest. "If I had been Danny or Don or anyone else, you would have just kicked me out, I bet."
They're not you, he thought. "They're men, to begin." Mac smiled. "This would be a strange situation." He couldn't help but touch Stella's shoulder again as she laughed, and his fingers played with her curls. "And I don't think any of them are afraid of thunder."
"Danny always jumps at the first sound. Never does anything after that, though."
Mac looked down at Stella, his eyebrows raised. It seemed like such a strange thing for Stella to notice, but her perception seemed to make sense.
Stella wrapped her free arm around Mac's chest, bringing herself even closer, leaving no space between them. The rain still slapped at the window. "Thank you so much, Mac."
He smiled. "Don't thank me."
"You deserve it," she whispered, then tilted her head to kiss beside his mouth. She didn't move after that, and her breathing warmed his cheek. Mac turned so that he faced her lips. Her eyes had never looked so large or green. He started to notice the light grey specks in her eyes and the careful tilt of her nose.
He kissed her back slowly. His brain skipped as he did so, first telling him that it was her mouth, for Chrissakes and then you're kissing your friend and ending with go on. Stella let him kiss her, and that's all he could concentrate on.
When she stopped the kiss, her cheeks reddened, she leaned back into her original place as though nothing happened. The world kept turning and their hearts regained their skipped beats.
"I hope it rains again tomorrow."he thought. "They're men, to begin." Mac smiled. "This would be a strange situation." He couldn't help but touch Stella's shoulder again as she laughed, and his fingers played with her curls. "And I don't think any of them are afraid of thunder."