A/N: So this is my final chapter. I'm sorry it took me this long to get it done. I struggled with this one but now it's done. I wanted to have the perfect ending to my story. I hope you enjoy it.
"Before I let you continue. There's something I need to tell you."
Mac wasn't sure what was coming next but he let Stella to continue.
"I saw you on Ground Zero."
Mac didn't know what Stella was talking about and Stella noticed that too "Hannigan showed me this tape. Tape of you while you were visiting the Ground Zero."
Mac finally understood "He filmed it?"
"Yes. And I saw something that I've never seen before."
"I'm not sure how much you saw but I was out of line. I shouldn't have acted like that."
"You were mad."
"Yes, I was." Mac ran his hand through his hair "Hannigan was making fun of me, saying awful things. It was just his game...and I fell for it."
"I also heard what you said." Stella confessed.
"I wanted to get my hands on him so badly. I know there was lots of words coming out of my mouth that I should have left unsaid."
Now Stella wondered what exactly Mac regret saying.
"I know I was acting unprofessionaly. Flack actually gave me hard times on next day."
"Yes. I was acting like a one man army. I didn't let anyone to help me."
"This one really got to you huh?"
"You have no idea how badly." Mac said sincerely "I don't know what I would've done if I didn't found you."
Stella walked up to Mac and laid her hand on Mac's shoulder "But you found me. I'm here."
"Yes you're. And I don't want to loose you again." Mac said and looked into Stella's eyes "It's you who makes me happy. You make me a better man Stella."
Stella was holding back her tears. She closed the gap between them and she put her arms around him. Mac didn't hesitate to put his arms around her. Mac needed to feel her in his arms. She was really here. Safe in his arms.
When Stella pulled back Mac didn't want to let go but reluctantly let her go. Stella stood close to him and touched Mac's cheek with her right hand. Smile spread to her face when Mac looked down on her.
"I heard what you said to that police officer." Stella said when she took her hand off from Mac's cheek.
For a moment Mac wasn't sure what Stella was reffering to but when it hit him he blushed and dropped his eyes to his feet.
"Mac, it's ok." Stella assured him.
Stella was afraid that Mac might go back to his shell again. She loved this new side of him. She loved seeing him so open but now she was afraid he might pull back.
Mac didn't know what to say or what to do so he did what was familiar to him, he stepped away and turned around "I'm going to clear the table." he said when he started heading back to the kitchen. He backed out of the situation. He was good at that.
Stella let out a deep sigh. Frustrated she ran her hand through her curly hair "I'll help you out."
"No. You stay here. Sit down and relax. I'll be right back."
Stella watched as Mac hurried back to the table and started cleaning up.
Stella sank down to the couch. That wonderful moment that they just had was gone. Stella knew it was difficult for Mac to reveal his feelings and he'd been so close to do so but in the last minute he pulled back. Stella sat in quiet and tried to figur out the way to make him open up again.
Mac was almost finished up cleaning the kitchen. He knew he might have hurt Stella's feelings by walking out on her like that. But he had no idea Stella had seen the tape and actually heard what he had revealed. He knew he should tell her the truth. They've been going circles for so long and Mac remembered what he promised to him self while Stella was still missing. He had promised to him self that he would tell Stella about his feelings if he got the chance to see her again. But why it was this hard?
After Mac was finished up in the kitchen he walked back to the living room. He saw Stella sitting on the couch in silence and probably in her thoughts.
"You want to talk about what happend to you?" Mac carefully said as he reached up to the couch. That wasn't the best question but he had to start somewhere.
"Not really." Stella said quietly and looked down on her hands.
"I understand that." Mac said and moved to sit next to Stella on the couch.
After sitting all quiet for a while Mac spoke up again "You know, I saw a tape as well."
"I know you went through a hell and it killed me to watch you go through all that. It killed me to know I couldn't do anything to stop it. All those beatings, touches..." Mac grinded his teeth "...lifting your shirt up, that..that forced kiss..." Mac felt his temper building up again but then Stella cut him off.
"Stop!" she said loudly but then lowered her voice "I don't want to talk about it. It's...It's too painful."
"I'm sorry." Mac regret bringing all that up "But I'm here for you if you want to talk."
"Thank you." after thinking for a while Stella continues "I did wanted to talk to you but you walked away."
Mac hung his head he knew he had screwed up "I'm sorry. It's just..."
Stella cut him off again "No need to explain Mac. I know you. I just hoped that at least this once you wouldn't have shut me out." Stella said disappointed and irritated.
"I'm sorry." Mac tried.
Stella just nodded and let out a deep sigh "I'm tired. Maybe I should try to get some sleep."
Stella wasn't in the mood of talking. Not after when Mac walked out on her.
Mac gently ignored her "Maybe we should talk things through."
"I already tried. Now I'm tired and I just want to get some rest." Stella tried to push her point through.
"No. Please Mac." Stella stood up from the couch.
"Okay." Mac said quietly he didn't want this day end like this but he decided to give some space for her.
"I can take the couch."
Mac shook his head. "That is not an option."
"Mac, it's fine."
"No. It's not fine."
Stella turned around and looked down on Mac "You're not sleeping on a couch either."
"True. We will share the bed." Mac said while he walked past by her "I need to keep an eye on you." he reasoned.
At first Stella was surprised by Mac's words. But then Stella wasn't sure if she was just too tired to argue or if she really wanted to share the bed with Mac but she decided not to question it. "Okay. I'll go brush my teeth."
"I'll be in the bedroom." Mac said before disappearing to his bedroom.
Stella took her toothbrush out of her bag and made her way to the bathroom.
While brushing her teeth she looked at her reflection from the mirror in front of her. When she bend down to spit to the sink and when straighten up again she saw Hannigan standing behind her. Stella gasped in horror and quickly turned around. When she turned around she didn't saw anyone. Her heart was beating fast and she tried to calm her self "It was just your imagination." she told her self. It had felt so real and all the horror came back to her mind. All what she'd been through flashed before her eyes and she had to shook her head and close her eyes to make them disappear.
Mac was in the bedroom making the bed ready when Stella walked in the room. When he looked up to her he saw her standing next to the bed white as a sheet and she looked quite shaken up.
"Stella are you all right?" he said with concern.
Stella snapped out of her thoughts and shook her head "I'm fine. Nothing is wrong."
"You look like you've seen a ghost."
"No really, I'm fine." she tried to assure him.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah." she tried with a weak smile "I'm just tired. That's all."
Mac wasn't still buying it but he let it be. "Okay. I'll be right back." and with that he headed to the bathroom leaving Stella alone in the bedroom.
Stella let out a deep breath. She knew she should take a sleeping pill but she knew it would make her disorderly and she didn't really want to rely on the pills. She was sure she'd be tired enough to fall a sleep without a pill so she slipped under the covers. She laid down on her back carefully. Feel of warm and soft bed made her relax. It felt so good after trying to sleep on a rock hard mattress and tied up to the bed frame. She shook her head again. She should try not to think about bad things just before falling a sleep.
When Stella heard footsteps approaching the bedroom she turned her focus to the doorway. Mac had turned off the lights from the livingroom and the kitchen. Now he stood on the doorway and looked down on Stella "Are you set up?"
After getting the answer from Stella he turned off the lights from the bedroom. Only a little lamp on the bedside table brought light to the room.
Mac walked to the other side of the bed, he took off his pants but left the boxers and a t-shirt on before getting under the covers as well.
"Good night Stella." he said softly.
"Good night Mac." Stella answered as softly as he did.
Mac turned off the light and settled down. After getting a comfortable position silence filled the room. If they listened carefully they could hear each others breathings.
"Everything is going to be ok." Mac knew that wasn't the thing he had meant to say at first but somehow he had backed away from it.
"I know." Stella said quietly.
Mac was finally about to fall a sleep after listening Stella's breathing and every move she made. But then he noticed the change in Stella's breathing and he could feel the bed shaking just a little bit.
Mac knew exactly what was happening.
"Stella?" he started carefully trying not to startle her "What's wrong?" he got up to a sitting position.
Stella didn't answer. It broke Mac's heart hearing her crying and not saying anything.
He could see her lieing on the bed back towards to him "Stella, talk to me." he tried again.
"I thought I saw him." Stella finally said quietly between breaths.
Mac hardly heard what she said but he was sure he heard her right "Where?"
Stella got up and sat on the edge of the bed "In the bathroom."
"He wasn't real." Mac said and watched Stella as she hang her head down and wipe off her tears.
"Hannigan is dead. I killed him."
"I know that too but what I saw seemed so real."
Mac moved agross the bed and came to sit next to Stella "He can't hurt you anymore."
"He still keeps haunting me just like he said he would."
"I know it's going to take a while to get through this but you're safe here. I don't let anything bad happen to you." Mac laid his hand on her shoulder to assure her.
"I'm afraid to fall asleep." Stella quietly admitted.
"Did you take the sleeping pills?"
"No. I don't want them."
"I know what you mean. I didn't take mine when...Claire died."
"I remember. How did you get through?"
"It takes time. And it takes a friend." Mac was refering to Stella "You were there for me and you pulled me through the bad times." after a little pause he continues "We'll get through this Stella."
He reached out and turned her face so she was face to face with him. He cupped her face with his hands and brushed the tears away from her cheeks.
"Let me take care of you."
Stella looked into Mac's eyes. She though she saw affection, security, careness and...maybe even love in Mac's eyes.
"There is something I have wanted to tell you for a long time." Mac carefully started and tried to find the right words "I...I love you Stella." he finally blurted out.
Stella was holding her breath. Was she really hearing this? Is Mac actually telling her he loves her?
Both of her questions were answered when Mac brought his lips against hers and kissed her softly. The kiss was tender and it was everything that Stella had dreamed on but unfortunately it all ended way too soon as Mac pulled away. But they never broke their eye contact. Stella brought her hands up and cupped Mac's face just like he had cupped hers.
Mac was anxiously waiting for Stella to say something.
Between her breaths she managed to say "I love you too." and a tear escaped from her eye.
Joy and happiness filled Mac. All his worries and walls came crashing down. He felt like his heart was finally set free.
Stella pulled Mac into another kiss. This time it was more passioned and they both hunger for more. But the kiss was soon broken when they both pulled away and winced. They both had their bruised lips and their passionate kiss was little bit too rough.
Both held their lips and then looked at it each others "We might have to take baby steps." Stella said and chuckled.
"I think you're right." Mac smiled and after a little pause he continues "Come here." he said and laid down on a bed.
Stella watched as he got under the covers and motioned her to come next to him. Stella didn't waste no time. She snuggled up to him and Mac put his arm around her. Stella laid her head on Mac's chest and let out a reliefed sigh.
For a moment they both were in silence before Mac spoke up "I'm not sure why I went to Ground Zero. I always go there when I want to speak with Claire but I don't know why I went there this time. But when I left there I knew something. I knew there was no going back to the way the things were before."
When it comes to Claire, Stella knows it's a hard subject for Mac. Even when the years has passed by. She knew about his trips to Ground Zero but he never explained why he goes there and she has never asked. She felt like it was something so personal for Mac that she didn't need to know the reason.
"I knew I can't give up. There are so many things I haven't told to you. I already lost Claire and there was so many words left unsaid. I wasn't about to loose you. I wasn't going to let that happen."
"Oh Mac." she said affectionaly and she ran her hand along his chest.
"I don't know why I waited this long. And how it took this long for me to realize how much you mean to me. It almost took me to loose you and that scares me. I need you Stella."
Mac's sudden openness surprised Stella she had to think for a moment for her next words.
She gave a quick kiss on Mac's cheek "You got me. And I'm not going anywhere."
"I'm not going anywhere either. Not this time, not ever. I almost left and now I see how big mistake that would've been."
"I actually for a moment thought you left. And that's what Hannigan tried to make me believe at first."
"Why did you thought like that? There was no way I could've left. That wasn't an option anymore."
"I saw you with Peyton and you told me you were going to London with her and I assumed..."
Mac cut her off "Peyton never meant to me as much as you do." Mac admitted shortly.
Stella knew this wasn't a place or time to talk more about Peyton.
"There was times when I didn't know what to believe and I was loosing track of time and...I was about to give up at some point." Stella admitted "But then I remembered you telling me several times how strong you think I am and I guess I wasn't going to let you down. You kept me going. I wanted to see you again."
Mac was glad to hear Stella opening up as well "I felt like I was loosing my hope at some point. We had no clues and we didn't know which way to go next. I knew you as being a strong and tough person would buy us some time but I knew you can't keep that up forever."
"I tried. I tried so hard to get out of that place but everytime he was there to stop me. He said that I was going to start a new life with him and I would never get away. And so many times I had to fight back so he wouldn't touch me or.." her voice started to trail off and Mac held her tighter.
"It's ok Stella. It's ok." Mac tried to soothe her.
"I thought I wasn't going to see you again and saying good bye..." Stella started to sob and she grasped Mac's shirt to hold him even closer to her.
"I'm here. I'm right here. I got you." Mac soothed her and held her close.
Mac let her cry. He knew she needed to do that as a one part of her healing process. He knew the only thing he was able to do right now was to hold her and be there for her. Just like she was there for him all those years ago.
When she stopped crying and found her voice again she raised up from Mac's embrace and started to brush her tears away "I'm a mess." she said with a weak chuckle.
Mac raised up as well "No you're not. You're beautiful." he told her and helped her to brush her tears away.
"Thank you Mac." she said softly.
"Being here for me."
Mac lifted up Stella's chin so she made an eye contact with him "Always."
Stella slowly brought her lips close to Mac's and they shared another tender kiss.
"Come on. Let's try to get some sleep." Mac said after the kiss and laid back down on his back.
Stella joined him and they settled down once again like they were before.
"I'm glad you took my offer and came home with me."
"I'm glad too." she said and let out a sigh of happiness "Feels like home."
"I love you Stella."
"I love you too Mac."
They both fell in silence and listened each others breathings. They both knew that now they can finally rest. They have each others. They finally have their shared love which was hidden for so many years but was now finally set free. They both fell asleep with a hint of smile on their faces knowing that for now on it would all be more than just ok.
A/N: Thank you all for following up my story. I had a great time writing it and I enjoyed and appreciated each review that I received. It's been a great ride. You have all been awesome! Thank you. I have this new fanfiction idea in my head but I'm still not sure if I'm going to start writing it. But you never know. Maybe we meet again in the future. ;-) But until then...take care everyone! Enjoy our Smacked love and don't loose your faith on them.
Peace & Love