A/N: There's something so… so appealing about a man angsting over unrequited love, don't you think? With special thanks to Sharon. "Have step ladder, will travel".

Xxx XXX xxX

I keep looking at you, did you know that?

I can't help it. Even if I could, I don't want to. This, looking at you, has become the highlight of my days, and there's so little joy running around lately I decided I'm not gonna deny me this.

Who cares if it's killing me softly? I've been dying over you for so long I'm no longer alive.

It all began with your curls. In these days of iron straight hair, yours stood out like a marigold in a field of tulips. Then I started to wonder if it felt soft… you can never tell for sure with curls, you know? But then I had a chance to hold a strand or two between my fingers and realized it was, indeed, soft. Softer than I had imagined. Then I began to wonder how it'd feel like to tangle my hands on your mane. Or how it would feel to have those curls of yours sliding down my chest… I know, I know. I'm a horny dog. So sue me. Can't blame a man for having his fantasies.

It wasn't as if I had choice on you becoming the star of them.

Then it was your tops. There must be a law that says it's illegal for women like you to wear those kind of tops to work. Do you have any idea how hard it is to interrogate a suspect with you in the room, knowing he's not listening to a word I say cause he's too busy getting lost in your cleavage? Oh, I know. I've gotten lost in there plenty of times myself. I've just learned to do it when you're not noticing. As for the suspects… it gives me a lot more pleasure to rough them up a bit if they've done it. Ogle you, I mean. I feel so … justified in slapping them around.

Then it was your smile. And your Holly-Go-Lightly attitude. I admire how you always manage to keep an optimistic view. And perhaps I ought to thank you, as more than once you've made me feel better when I thought everything had gone to the dogs. How can I remain mad when you smile as you come greet me? You're the only person who can make me crack a smile in spite of myself.

So far, I thought, so good. Here's this good-looking chick you work with that makes your job a tad easier. So what if your thoughts turn to her every now and then when you're jacking off? I'm a red-blooded American male, and a cop to boot, damnit, so cut me some slack already. It's not as if I were in love with you, is it?

Well? Is it?

You see. That was a problem. Not the part of falling for you, no. The part where I finally acknowledged it. That's where everything went to hell, my soul and heart included.

It literally killed me to see you with Frankie. But you seemed happier than I had seen you in a while and I thought that I could be happy for you, or at least, pretend to be happy for you in public, even if I clenched my fists in rage and disappointment in private.

Seeing what he did to you devastated me.

I wanted to bring the bastard back to life so I could kill him again with my own bare hands. If he had still been alive when Mac and I came into the apartment, he'd probably arrived to the morgue with 7 more bullet holes. I know that once I started shooting I wouldn't stop until all my ammo was gone.

I know that I kept my distance from you then and there. I preferred Mac handle it. I knew if I saw you I would loose it, and I couldn't bring myself to do so then. I heard your voice and I convinced myself that you were all right. Then, when I saw you at the hospital, I convinced myself it was going to be all-right, that you were a fighter, that you wouldn't let the bastard destroy you. I also convinced myself that I could remain close without becoming attached.

I never claimed to be a smart man now, have I?

Then Aiden got murdered and things really began going to hell. I couldn't make sense of all this tragedy, and instead of seeking comfort, or providing it, I isolated myself. I remember your pained expression when you sought to hold my hand at her memorial and I walked away. I hated myself for being such a coward and I almost convinced myself I got stupid stoned drunk that night because of what had happened to Aiden.


Then it all got blown to pieces. Literally. They told me that Mac had held my heart in his hands for a moment there. I could have told them you have been holding it for a lot longer and I'm still here, not so worse for the wear, still waiting to gain enough courage to do something about it.

They told me you had stayed by my side night after night while I was in that hospital bed. I told myself you had done it to keep Mac company. They told me then that you stayed by yourself. I didn't know what to think of it, so I didn't tell myself a thing about that.

Months went by. I felt better, physically at least, and it seemed that my heart would survive. Your smile began to reach your eyes again, and I even got the privilege of listening to your laughter once or twice. The smile and the laughter, however, only seemed to take place when Mac was around.

So I told myself I was happy for you both and that you couldn't hope for a better man. It hurt like hell, but I almost convinced myself of it, even after the arrest of Detective Truby. Damn Mac put my ass in the line and it was months before I stopped feeling the cold shoulder from my fellow detectives. I'm telling you, rat jokes (including rubber rats inside your locker) run thin after a while.

And I stood my ground. Because of you. Because we had been getting assigned to the same cases and I could see your smile and smell your perfume and listen to your voice and then I could tell myself things would eventually get better… even if I believed it was you Mac was running off to after work.

But then I learned that it was Peyton, and not you, who was involved with Mac. And for the first time in a long time I felt really happy. I felt happy for them, for Mac is indeed a great guy and he had been mourning his wife for too long. But mostly I felt happy for me. Cause it meant I have a chance. Maybe not the biggest of chances, but a chance, nonetheless. I mean, if an oaf like Messer gets his shot at love then maybe, just maybe, I can dream of having the same.

I can dream, can't I?

Xxx XXX xxX

A/N: If you like to keep an optimistic, not so angsty fic, read no further. Consider this story finished and get ready to push the "Review" button to tell me how much you loved the storyline and how much we need to have more "Fiesta" (aka Flack/Stella) stories out there. If, however, you're in the mood to get depressed, or if you have are a real glutton for angt-iness, proceed reading at your own risk (don't think, however, that getting depressed over the "alternative" ending will exempt you in any way of sending a review my way!)

Xxx XXX xxX

I can dream, can't I?

That's why I'm sitting here at this bar, listening to some old classics playing in the jukebox, nervously awaiting your arrival. Aretha's claim for respect is substituted by Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly".

Talk about appropriate.

I wonder what's taking you so long. We agreed to meet here after work. I mean, the case is over. The sister did it. Mac and Hawkes were going to do the paperwork. All you had left to do was a bit of clean-up.

I'm getting a bad feeling of this. I just hope that cut you sustained at the interrogation room doesn't become a problem. Not when I've made up my mind and I'm ready to ask you for a chance…

Xxx XXX xxX

A/N2: I told you not to read if you wanted a "happily ever after" ending. Sorry, I couldn't help it. Blame the muse.