"He hasn't even been gone twenty-four hours, and you're already taking over," Danny attempts to cheer her up as he enters Mac's office.
Stella sits at the boss's desk, staring at her cell phone anxiously. "It isn't a funny matter. He's been kidnapped. He could be dead by now, and we have no way to find him."
"Mac's strong and smart. I'm sure he's figured something out."
"The guy had a gun, Danny. He probably shot him already."
"Stel, he was a Marine. He was trained to fight," Danny puts a hand on her shoulder. "And you waiting here isn't going to do him any good. Just because we haven't heard from him doesn't mean he's dead."
Sheldon knocks on the door. "Flack got a call about the location of the car. It's been abandoned. He and Lindsay went to check it out."
"Maybe he got away, but there's no way for him to contact us," she says hopefully.
"Adam's still working on IDing our gunman."
"What about the first robbers? Did we find them?"
Her phone rings suddenly. "Bonasera."
The two men wait impatiently until she hangs up. It couldn't be Mac since she didn't seem too happy about the call.
"Lindsay found blood in the car. One of them is injured. She's sending it over right away. Someone has to find a sample of Mac's DNA to make a comparison. You two want to go?"
They look at each other. "Sure."
She pulls her keys out and takes one off the ring, handing it to Danny with a post-it containing Mac's address. "While you're gone, I'll map all possible routes from the bank to the place the car was found. They could have gone somewhere first, but it's a start."
As the other two leave, she heads into the lab and puts on her lab coat. The computer next to Adam is open so she logs in there. After she has plugged in both addresses, her phone rings again. She doesn't recognize the number but answers. "Bonasera."
"Stella," he begins before she interrupts.
"Mac, are you okay? Where are you?"
He gives her a location, and she rushes to her car. "I'll be all right."
"Did he shoot you?"
"No, I'm not really sure what happened. I think he knocked me out and dumped me here. My head is bleeding a little, and I've got a terrible headache."
"You stay there. I'm on my way now."
"I wasn't planning on going anywhere. Every car passes me by."
As she pulls out, she turns the lights and siren on. "Twenty minutes, Mac. I'll be right there." After hanging up, she dials 911 to get an ambulance and curses at the traffic for not moving out of her way.
The ambulance arrives first, coming a shorter distance than Stella. The paramedics examine a wound on his head, trying to convince him to go to the hospital as he had also gotten a concussion.
"I'll be fine. Just bandage it up so I can go," Mac stubbornly says.
"Sir, you really need to see a doctor. You have a serious injury that could later affect you. Lie down, and let us help you," the medic tells him, quickly losing his patience.
An SUV pulls up, and Stella jumps out, jogging to them. Mac tries to get off the gurney, but the paramedics grab him, forcing him to stay seated. "Mac," she stops in front of him, throwing her arms around his neck.
"Miss, we can't do our job if you're touching him," the man sighs.
Reluctantly she lets go of him. "What'd he do to you?"
Mac shakes his head, "I don't know."
"I guess you need to be processed."
"You're not going to find anything." He takes a moment to look around. "Stella, where are the others?"
She looks away. "They're… out. I, uh… didn't tell them you were found."
"You came alone and didn't tell anyone you were leaving? This could've been a trap so he could get more from the police to escape. Then both of us might have died." Much to the paramedics' frustration, he gets off the gurney and paces. "You're a better detective than that."
"I would've known if it was a trap, Mac. You would've found a way to get me the message."
"You're right," he sighs. "You know me too well."
"We should get you to the hospital," she rests a hand on his arm.
"No, I'm okay. I don't have to go to the hospital; I'll be fine once they bandage the wound up," he insists.
"Detective, can I speak with you?" one paramedic asks, motioning her aside. "Your friend won't go to the hospital. We can fix the head injury without a doctor, but we think he also suffers from a concussion."
"He should be okay in a few days, but a doctor really needs to look at it and make sure he isn't suffering more internally."
She nods, "You think I can convince him to go to a hospital?"
"Yeah, why not?"
"When Mac has made up his mind, it doesn't change."
"You convinced him that it was completely safe for you to come here without backup."
"That most likely was only because of his brain injury."
"Can you at least try?"
Stella turns to Mac, "Are they done with you?"
"Then let's get you back to the lab so we can process you," she smiles at the paramedic. Once they are both in her car and she starts it, Flack calls. "Hey, Don."
"Nothing much in the car, but we're taking it back. No leads on their whereabouts."
"Mac's safe. Just a minor head wound and a concussion."
"How do you know?"
"He's right here. The guy dumped him on the side of the road," she informs him.
"I'll lecture you about going off on your own later. You going to the hospital with him?"
"Yeah, but he doesn't know it yet. He's putting up a fight."
"Know what?" Mac looks at her curiously.
"Don, we'll talk later," she hangs up. "We're going to the hospital whether you want to or not."
Trapped, he doesn't say anything. There was no way out of the moving car without further injury. Plus Stella was good at putting up a fight when she wanted something, maybe even better than him. Hence him always giving in to her.
Stella is sitting in the waiting room when the others arrive. "Where's Flack?" she asks, noticing his absence.
"Joe was found in New Jersey, fleeing as fast as he could," Danny says. "Flack wanted the honor of interrogating him."
"How is he?" Lindsay asks.
"Fine. They stitched his head and bandaged it. He should be almost done with the head scan. The doctor said I shouldn't worry about it if he was able to put up such a fight to avoid coming here."
"Is he staying over night?"
She shrugs, "They said they'd come out and talk when they're done. If it's up to Mac, he's not staying."
"We should have someone stay with him when he's released," Sheldon suggests.
"I'll stay with him. He can be a… pain sometimes without realizing it. And he's not going to be happy with not being able to work for a few days."
"And you're the only one that can get through to him."
A nurse comes out, "Detective, your partner has a room now. You can see him. The doctor will meet you in there shortly."
The group stands and follows her to the room. Mac lies awake in the bed. "It's no big deal. You don't all have to be here."
"Mac, you're lucky he didn't kill you."
"Do you have any leads on him?"
"He was caught speeding out of Jersey. Flack's with him now."
"Who decided you had to go in there, Mac?" Stella suddenly asks.
"Joe wanted a CSI. Said he'd kill the hostages if someone wasn't sent in to prove him innocent."
"I know that, but who decided you were going to be that person?"
Mac shrugs, "Probably Sinclair. Thought he could get rid of me that way instead of doing it himself." There is silence in the room while everyone reflects on this. "I wouldn't have let any of you go in there. It's better that they chose me."
The doctor chooses to enter now. "Quite a crowd you have here." No one speaks so he continues. "Mac should be fine in a couple of days. The concussion was only minor. But I suggest someone stays with him for the next few days just to be sure."
The others look at Stella, who nods. "You hear that, Mac? Doctor's orders."
"The injury didn't affect my hearing, Stella," he frowns at her, realizing he was now stuck with a personal 'doctor' until she decides otherwise.
"I can go fill out your release form, and you can get out of here," the man offers, exiting.
Mac gets out of the bed and looks around. "Where are my clothes?"
"In my car. They're evidence."
"We brought these from your locker," Danny hands him a bag, and he heads into the bathroom to change.
Ten minutes later the group is leaving. "Need any help, Stel?" Sheldon whispers so their boss can't hear.
"No, I think I can manage. But can you take his clothes to the lab since you're headed that way?"
"No problem. Let me know if you need anything."
The three others leave Mac and Stella alone. As they get in, he says, "So you have first watch."
"And second and third. Is there a problem with that?"
"I guess not. You're sleeping at my place then?"
She glances at him. "It's completely as friends. You'll sleep in your bed, and I'll take the couch."
"Mac, you're injured. Don't argue with me."
"I have an extra room, Stel. You can sleep there." He pauses to let her make a remark, but she doesn't. "I still have some clothes of yours from… when you stayed after Claire… I left them there thinking you'd have to come back again… I just forgot about them after that. So you have a change of clothes for work tomorrow."
"I'm not going tomorrow."
He frowns. "Why not? Someone has to drive me there."
"You can't go to work tomorrow, Mac," she glares at him.
"I have to. I'm the boss."
"Forget it. No one expects you to be there."
They park and get out. Side-by-side they walk inside and onto the elevator. "Stel, either you let me go to work, or I'll sneak out to buy a tarantula and put it in your bed."
"That's blackmail," she shivers. "Are you really being that shallow?"
He shrugs, "It's your choice."
Scowling, she concedes, "Fine, but you're leaving at a sensible time. And nothing too strenuous."
The couple enters his apartment. "If you don't mind, I'm going to take a shower. There's food in the fridge if you're hungry."
While he is gone, she makes them each a sandwich and gets drinks. Starving, she begins eating before he is done. He enters, surprised she had made him something too. "I figured you were also hungry."
"Thanks," he smiles. "I put the clothes on your bed. And I can find you something of mine to wear to bed if you want."
"I'm okay. I sleep in my clothes half the time anyway." Stella stands, "Sorry to be such a rude guest, but I'm exhausted. You probably are too. I'll see you in the morning."
She kisses his cheek on her way out.
Having a hard time falling asleep, she lies awake, staring at the ceiling. Feeling another presence in the room, she turns her head to the doorway. Mac stands there watching her. "Couldn't sleep either?"
He shakes his head, cautiously sitting beside her. "Is this… awkward?"
"No, it's nice," she scoots closer to him, leaning against his body. "You had me really worried today."
"The whole time he held that gun towards me I was more worried about never seeing… never seeing you again. I wasn't scared of dying; I was afraid of losing you."
"Mac, you were the one in danger. I was safe the whole time."
He leans his head against hers and wraps his arm around her. "I wondered what you'd do without me. For some reason I was more concerned with you than myself."
"I'm safe. And so are you. Everyone's alive, and we caught him."
"Stella?" he whispers.
She meets his eyes in the dark. "Yeah?"
"I feel better like this. Can I stay here tonight?"
"It's your apartment. You can do whatever you want."
"Do you mind though?"
"No. I… I like having you here; it reassures me that you're all right."
There is a long pause as they enjoy each other's company. "I think I'm in love with you," he suddenly blurts out. She doesn't respond, making him think she has fallen asleep. In a way he is glad she didn't hear his confession.
"I love you too." He jumps at her voice, surprised. She sits up. "Is something wrong?"
"No. I just… thought you were asleep since you didn't answer."
She places a hand over his heart, which beats rapidly. "I didn't mean to scare you."
"It's all right," he assures.
"So… what do we do?"
"What people normally do when they love each other. But we can't tell anyone," he rolls on his side so he can look at her. "If they know, they'll use it against us, and I don't want you threatened."
Stella timidly closes the space between them, kissing him. "How thoughtful of you," she mumbles between kisses.
Finally he pulls away. "Are you okay with this?"
"Mac, I started it. And I'll stop it if I need to."
"Maybe we should go a little slower," he suggests. "Just so we don't ruin our friendship."
She snuggles up close to him and closes her eyes. "Promise you'll never leave me."
"I won't, Stel. You're too great a gift to leave," he kisses the top of her head before closing his own eyes. "Sweet dreams."
"Oh, they will be with you here."
A/N: Based completely off what I've heard about next season. Although I only read the thing once and then started writing this a couple days later and couldn't remember some of the details. Like Mac is found in New Jersey along the side of the road. And he has something more serious than a minor concussion. Complex... something or other. And... the car is found in a body of water, not in some road somewhere. That's all I can remember. I was just focusing on how he refuses to go to the hospital, even for Stella. But she outsmarts him. Don't know if that happnes on the show. And they probably don't admit their love for each other... but we can always hope. Anyway... my next story will be posted Sunday I think. It's about Danny and Lindsay setting up Mac and Stella. Using their wedding. When someone found out I had written a story like this, they requested I post it soon. So I think I got it typed the next day while my parents were gone. Then I typed ten chapters for another story while they were at my brother's baseball game. He's supposed to have one tonight but it's rained all morning so... I don't know what I will do if he does. I don't particularly feel like typing... but I really should. The next story on the list is only nine chapters... so I know I could get it done. While I think I'm going to go eat lunch and read more of Eaters of the Dead... or watch one of the million versions of Beowulf my karate teacher let me borrow. Please review. Thanks for reading.