A/N: This fic is dedicated to cod-fish101 who challenged me to write a Mac and Stella romance where neither of them almost get killed.
So this is my offering, and I hope it works! Do please review and tell me what you think. Kate x
"Isn't this my office?" Mac asked.
Stella looked up from the sheets from the case folder she had spread out over the desk and was now examining. "Yep."
"So… what are you doing in here?"
"Waiting for you."
"I was out."
She raised an eyebrow. "Yes, I did guess that much. Hence me having to wait in here for you."
A slight look of perplexion registered on his face. "No, start again. What I meant was – why have you taken over my desk and chair?"
She stood up with an impish grin. "There, have them back."
"Thank you very much," he said dryly. "Why did you need to see me?"
"Right." She pointed to one of the crime scene photos spread across the desk's surface. "You see that mark on the body, just there? I think I know what made it."
And from then, it was only work.
- - - - -
Her pager beeped and she turned around from the layout table, looking through the glass walls of the room, across the corridor, and through the glass wall of his office where he stood and waved to her. She followed the signal.
"You paged me?" she asked as she pushed open the glass door. "You couldn't walk over and talk to me?"
"I thought you'd hate to be deprived of another chance to try to steal my office."
"I'm not trying to steal your office. But I'll swap if you're offering."
"What's wrong with your office?" he asked, slightly confused.
"Nothing. It's just yours is bigger. And has a better view. And it shouts out 'This is the boss'."
He laughed. "Yes, which is why it's mine. I happen to be the boss."
She saluted. "Yes, Sir."
His mouth curved up into a grin. "Anyway, evidence in the Langford case."
"What about it?"
"Where's the rest of it?"
"Unfortunately, it's only what you're looking at."
"That's really all?"
"Yep." She shrugged, and sighed.
He picked up a few photographs which he'd grouped together into a pile. "Let's go back to the scene. I've got a theory I want to test."
"Sure." She waited for him to leave his desk and stopped him for a second with her hand against his shoulder. "I get to drive."
"Wouldn't dream of arguing with you, Stell."
- - - - -
She watched Mac as he leant back in his chair and closed his eyes, rubbing his forehead with the heel of his hand. He wouldn't leave early. She'd been watching him for the last couple of days as he'd managed to fit four shifts into that time, although thankfully not all back-to-back. He was oblivious to her presence as she watched the slow progress of the clock, as each second jerked past.
As the hand hit the 12 and started a new minute, she opened the door. "Shift's over, Mac. Get out of here."
He glanced at the clock. Seven seconds past seven o'clock. "You were waiting, weren't you?" he asked.
"Yep. Your shift's finished."
"Yes, and like a sane human being I'm now going home, exactly as you normally wouldn't but are going to tonight."
Mac stood up obediently, then paused. "Are you going straight home?"
"Let me take you to dinner."
Stella's eyes opened wide in surprise. "Seriously?"
Her face lit up with a smile. "I'd love that. Really. Do you have anywhere in mind?"
"How does pizza sound?"
"Pizza sounds wonderful."
They left together, walking in step, down to and along the sidewalk. There was a pizza place on the next block, and they talked easily as they ate, lapsing every now and then into a comfortable silence.
They parted at a cab stand. "Thanks for the meal," Stella said.
"You're welcome," Mac told her.
She kissed his cheek. "Sleep well," she said with a smile, and climbed into the waiting cab. "Boyfriend?" asked the driver, with a knowing smile, as he started the engine.
She felt a faint blush spread over her cheeks. "No, just a good friend."
- - - - -
"Oh, so you do spend some time in your own office occasionally."
"Flack's jokes are worse, I wouldn't apologise."
"I brought you coffee."
Stella smiled wearily at him, using both her hands to push her hair back from her face. "Thanks."
He placed the cup down in front of her. "Are you ok?"
"Mmm. Tough case."
"What've you got?"
"A man we know is guilty, and no evidence to prove it."
He rested a hand gently on her arm. "You'll find something."
Her cell phone suddenly beeped and she pulled it out and read the text message quickly. A smile burst into life on her face and she jumped up and hugged him happily. "Danny found new trace. We've got him!"
"See? I told you."
She laughed. "Let me take you somewhere to eat tonight, to celebrate."
"I'd love that."
- - - - -
"DB's name is Matt Williams, Caucasian male. You're late, by the way." Her teeth were chattering slightly.
"Are you cold?" Mac asked her.
Stella glared. "No, I'm shivering for the hell of it."
"What happened to your coat?"
"I left it in your car when you dropped me home last night, my spare one's being dry cleaned, and it's freezing here. Please tell me you didn't arrive by cab."
"Umm…" He was rewarded by another glare. As she crouched next to the body, he took off his own coat and draped it over her bent back. Without it he immediately felt the wind knife into him. She pushed her arms into the sleeves. "Am I forgiven?" he asked her.
She pretended to think it over. "Alright then."
He managed not to laugh. She noticed. "I can always change my mind, you know."
"Are you free tonight?"
She turned her head and grinned. "As always."
- - - - -
Stella sat at one end of Mac's couch with her legs tucked under her, and Mac sat at the other end. "You'll have to come to dinner at mine again soon," she told him.
He smiled wryly. "Yes, I know you're far better at cooking than I am. No need to rub it in."
"Hey, I didn't say anything," she defended herself.
"You didn't have to. I know you too well."
She tilted her head back against the cushion in acknowledgement, and caught sight of the clock on the wall. "I should be off now, I think. It's getting late."
He stood up at the same time as she did. "I suppose I'll see you tomorrow then."
"Yeah." They both remained standing in the same place for a while, somehow unwilling to move. Finally Stella stepped towards the door, and Mac followed, handing her coat to her.
He unlocked the door and stood back slightly to let her pass. "Thanks for coming," he told her.
She smiled. "Thanks for inviting me."
They both paused again, and looked at each other. "Stella…" Mac began.
"What?" she asked.
He thought about it, and couldn't find the words he wanted. So he leant forwards and kissed her instead. Then realisation of what he was doing came over him and he jerked backwards. "Sorry," he muttered.
She said nothing, and he dared to meet her eyes. To his surprise she was trying not to laugh. "Sorry?" she asked.
"Yeah. Umm, I didn't mean… that is…"
She put her arm around his shoulders and kissed him back. "Well, I meant it," she told him, and laughed at his confusion and embarrassment.
She was still laughing at him. "I really have got to go now."
"Stella…" She waited. "Would you like to come over again tomorrow evening? I mean as – you know what I mean. But if you don't want to…" He trailed off awkwardly.
Her whole face was lit up with a beaming smile. "I'd love that."