No spoilers that I know of.

Mac/Stella friendship but more if you want to see it.

For my best friend, JenJen. Love you and this is for you. xx

Summary - Stella is stressed and Mac sees it. As Mac says; desperate times call for desperate measures.

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Desperate Measures

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Stella entered the room, almost in tears. Her beautiful green eyes were already welling up and they threatened to fall with each step she took. Mac felt a pang in his chest at the sight and just wanted to run up to her, wrap his arms around her and tell her it would all be alright.

But he couldn't do it while Danny and Lindsay were in the room. He needed to get rid of them somehow.

He didn't get the chance to do anything until they were done with the evidence. Going through it all seemed to take forever to him, even with all four of them at it, but when the others all made to leave, he lightly touched Stella's arm and she knew what it meant, hanging back as the others walked out the door.

After making sure they were alone, he turned to her and hadn't even had a chance to say anything before he found stella in his arms, nestling her head into the crook of his neck.

"Stella?" He whispered, stroking her hair. God, he loved her hair.

"Mac." He could hear the waver in her voice as she said his name and his heart skipped a beat.

He wasn't sure how long they stayed like that, wrapped up in each other but Stella was the first to pull away.

"I'm sorry." She said, looking anywhere but at him as she wiped the tear stains from her face. It wasn't until then that he realised his shoulder was damp from her tears.

"It's ok." He pointed her towards a chair and she took it. Mac leant against the table in front of her.

"Stella," She looked up at him. "What's wrong?"

The woman paused before answering.

"I know it sounds childish, but I... I haven't been sleeping well..."

"The nightmares again?" She nodded and he urged her to continue.

"I just... I need to sleep so badly but I can't and I'm so sick of... of everything! Of feeling upset at the littlest things, of feeling helpless because I'm too tired to concentrate on anything. I'm sick of even thinking I'm sick of feeling this way." She ground out the last bit through clenched teeth. This was worse than Mac thought. Well, desperate times called for desperate measures.

"Come over tonight."

Stella shook her head. "I have late shift."

"So, swap with someone." She shook her head again but Mac gave her a pointed stare. "I'm your boss, you are taking the night off whether you like it or not. My place, 6 O'clock."

Stella tried to glare at him, knowing Mac knew how much she hated it when he pulled rank on her but she couldn't keep it up for long. She wanted this so much more than she let on and finally caved, though not before pretending to refuse. She would never let him know how quickly he had won this battle.

"Fine."

"Good." Stella nodded, a small smile playing upon her lips as she left with Mac. They went their separate ways though both looked back at the other before they rounded the corner.

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Mac heard the knock on the door and rushed to answer it. He didn't even need to look to know who it was. She was late but it didn't matter to him. He was just happy she came.

"Hey." She said, holding out a bottle of wine. He looked at the label and smiled. It was his favourite.

"You didn't need to do that."

"I just wanted to thank you. I wouldn't tell you before, but I needed this. Thank You." She leaned in and gave him a kiss on the cheek. She passed him into the apartment, immediately making herself home on the couch.

"I thought maybe some dinner and a movie marathon." Stella just grinned back. "Ok, I'll check on the food, you pick something out."

He went into the small kitchen, only to see there was smoke coming from the stove. He swore and that's when Stella knew something was wrong. She rushed in and almost burst out laughing at the sight.

"Remind me never to let you cook again." She said between fits of laughter.

"I guess it's take out then," He stated, trying so hard to ignore Stella's giggles. Stella's laughter was infectious, though, and he soon started to laugh as well, realising how much he had missed the sound.

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"Hey, get your own!" Stella exclaimed, trying to put as much distance between Mac and her fried rice as possible after being distracted by the movie. Mac, with a devilish grin, simply leaned over and took some from her hand. Admittedly she wasn't trying very hard to stop him but it just felt good to be like this with him again.

After Mac had completed his mission, he turned back to the television, watching as the heroine ran through the rain towards her lover. Mac didn't see the point in these movies but he had gotten it specifically for Stella, knowing how much she loved these sappy romances. The movie finished soon after that and they went to the kitchen to clean up their dinner.

"What movie do you want next?" Mac asked her as he threw out the empty containers.

"Hmmm. I dunno, you pick." But after seeing Mac's face she added her conditions. "No action, blood or guts or anything like that. And no horrors."

"So that narrows it down to..."

"Romance and Dramas." She grinned, closing the fridge and going back to the couch, putting her feet up. Mac followed her out and went to the DVD stack. After a few failed attempts he finally pulled out one that Stella agreed to after negotiating for a while. He backed up as the credits started and sat down next to his friend. She leaned into him, feeling the warmth and comfort just emanating from him.

As the first scene for Casino Royale came on the screen, Mac put his arm around Stella's shoulders without even really thinking about it and settled into her embrace.

That was how they awoke the next morning. Stella had fallen asleep not long into the movie and Mac, not wanting to move or wake her, had soon followed suit.

"Morning." Stella said with a smile as she looked up at him. Mac cracked an eye open and quickly shut it again.

"How'd you know I was awake?"

"I can hear your heartbeat." She told him, just giving him a small smile and for a second he thought she might have heard how when he woke, his heart had started to beat just a little bit faster at the fact that he woke up with her in his arms.

"What does it tell you?"

"That you are the reason I had a dreamless sleep last night." She paused then continued with a chuckle. "And you're not a morning person."

"The heart never lies."

"No." Stella said, snuggling into his arms more. "No, it doesn't."

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