I apologize to everyone who reviewed one of my stories/chapters and didn't get a reply yet, I promise I'll be getting to that "soon"! Let me just say a "group THANK YOU" to all of you for all the nice comments and alerts and everything :-) And thanks again to my friend and reliable guinea pig reader Mitch for pre-checking my work and making me aware of the one or other mistake - he recommend not to put in a TBC, so you owe it to him that you get this one in one piece :-)

This one's - well, something that was on my mind for a long time now and I finally put an end to it. No story with a deep meaning or anything, just nice and pure StellaMac - and a little portion of jealousy. Hope you like it! Drop a little comment - I'll reply to those first, so I won't forget you ;-)

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Features the song "New York Minute" by The Eagles

Disclaimer: All the original characters belong to their owners - except for Mac. Mac belongs to Stella.

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Mac entered the DNA lab after he had gotten a pager call from Jane Parsons about some urgent test results that he had asked her to finish.

"There you go," she smiled at him. "I hope it helps to solve the case, I even cancelled an invitation for dinner tonight."

"Sorry for that," Mac apologized, "it was really important to finish the tests today so that we can have comparisons with the data base run over night and hopefully work with results in the morning."

"Oh, it's not that bad. It wasn't a date. Just something to eat with friends and maybe a few drinks later…" Jane still smiled brightly.

"Well…" Mac hesitated. "Um, I will invite you for a drink if you like… I mean… After all I owe you for working overtime for this and for missing an evening with nice company."

"Your company would make more than up for it," Jane cheerfully accepted the invitation.

"Okay, I'll just take the results to the computer. Meet you at the elevator in fifteen minutes?"

"Yes, I'll just close up here and grab my coat."

Jane smiled to herself while she packed her stuff and walked along the deserted corridors of the nightly lab. She had been attracted to Mac for a long time, but always wondered if there was anything going on between him and Stella. She could tell their relationship was special. This understanding each other without words, sharing the same thoughts...

She wondered if anyone knew anything. Sometimes she was sure there was something, then again she wasn't sure if they knew it themselves or if they realized if there was. Maybe tonight was a chance to find out.

XXXXX

The little bar was crowded, but the atmosphere was nice and cozy. Mac found a little table in a niche and waited for Jane to sit down before he took off his coat and sat down opposite to her. He was very gentle and polite, but she could feel quickly that he was reserved and seemed to be rather uncomfortable. She realized without thinking about it that she had never seen him like that when Stella was around him.

-

What the head makes cloudy
The heart makes very clear
The days were so much brighter
In the time when she was here

-

Is he thinking about her – or does he feel guilty to meet another woman because of his late wife?

Even though Jane tried to create an easy mood, it didn't really work. She could see Mac's mind was somewhere else. After some more time, she knew it was not because he felt guilty because of Claire.

"Can I ask you about something personal?" she asked softly.

"Sure," Mac replied while playing with his glass. "What's on your mind?"

She took a deep breath.

"Well, you may tell me to mind my own business if you want," she said politely. "But what's the deal with you and Stella?"

She could see the shock showing on his face and hoped that the fact her question had come completely out of the blue would get her an answer instead of Mac being mad at her.

"What do you mean?" Mac asked back, trying to regain his composure.

"Come on, Mac. If there were anymore sparks flying around at the lab, the fire detectors would go off any time you two are in the same room…" Jane explained calmly without taking her eyes off of his.

"That obvious??" he quietly returned.

-

But I know there's somebody somewhere
Make these dark clouds disappear
Until that day, I have to believe
I believe, I believe

-


"Have you ever told her?" she asked, feeling a certain amount of confirmation from his reaction.

"No..." Mac answered looking down at table. "I could never ... She could have any guy she wanted, you honestly think she'd be interested in someone like me??"

Do I honestly…? Why are men this complicated??

"But you'd like her to, don't you?" she asked in her typical strong British accent instead of replying to his question.

Was that a sigh? Or did he just breathe out a little more audibly? Was that a nod in reply to my question – or did he just move his head slightly when swallowing?

"Mac?" Jane asked after a while of silence.

"Yeah?"

"Go and tell her!" she suddenly encouraged him.

"Excuse me?!?"

"Stella. Go and tell her what you feel. I think with her being a woman, she already knows anyway. I can tell from the way she acts around you, the way she looks at you. She's waiting for a sign because she doesn't want to push you. Let her know before it is too late..."

She gave him a comforting smile and reached across the table, softly patting his hand, although she felt a bit sad for herself. This evening gave her the last proof that there was no chance for her in this game, but she liked both Mac and Stella and if she could do anything to put them on the right track, she was willing to help.

XXXXX

"So, where are you going for lunch today?" Mac asked Stella the next day as she turned to leave his office after a short talk about some case-related stuff.

"That's none of your business, you know that?!" she snapped at him. "I have time for a lunch break in my work contract and I can do with it whatever I want. Unless of course you want me to work on something right now, which of course I would do then. Work always comes first – you know that, I know that. So can I leave now or do you want me to stay?" she looked defiantly at him.

Her voice had been raising steadily with each passing moment until she finished her monologue. Mac sat there dumbfounded, completely tongue-tied. He had no idea how to fix the mistake he had obviously made, especially since he had no idea about when or what he had done wrong. But it seemed Stella was pretty upset by it.

"Um, no… uh, I mean yes," he returned pretty confused.

Ouch! That hit home… What the hell had that been about? The moment before they were discussing the evidence and everything was in order. Or so he had thought. And then he just asked what she was doing for lunch without any ulterior motive, just being polite as he always was – and suddenly she was at his throat?

Oh, wait a second… This wasn't about work, she was behaving normal all day. At the crime scene that early in the morning, back at the lab working on evidence, just like she always was. THIS now was personal. Personal? But why? How could it…?

Stella glanced over at Mac, watching him stutter and fumble with an apology. She couldn't help but chuckle at the sight. He stared at her wide-eyed and even more confused.

"Stella…?"

"I'm sorry, Mac, the look on your face was just priceless."

"So you're laughing at my confusion?" he asked, raising his voice. She shook her head, desperately trying to cease her laughter. "No, I just... thought it was cute, that's all."

He paused. Again. More confusion.

Cute? Since when did Stella see anything he did as 'cute'? He shook his head.

"Stella, I'm really sorry."

Even though I don't know yet about what…

Stella sighed. Why couldn't she be mad with him even when she wanted to be?

"It's alright, Mac... it just gets to me sometimes... that's all. I'll take my break now, see you later."

He nodded, relieved that he seemed to be out of the line of fire for the moment, but still not knowing the reason for her outburst.

XXXXX

Mac was still sitting in his office, long after Stella had left, when his beeper indicated a call from Jane. Earlier in the morning, she had called him to see if he had already talked to Stella. He hadn't – and the attempt he had just made hadn't gone all that well. What could she want now? Stella was acting weird, she had avoided him all morning, had snapped at him with no apparent reason and he had no idea why. He shook his head again in an attempt to clear his thoughts and went over to the DNA lab.

Jane seemed to be surprised when he entered the DNA lab. Why was that? After all she had called him there…

"Mac, hello… Um, you know… I'm sorry that you came all the way here, but there has been a little mix up and the test results I wanted to show you are not yet here. I will let you know when they are ready," she said. Her little plan to get both Mac and Stella together to have them talk hadn't worked out because after she had beeped first Stella and then Mac, Stella had called her back because something else had come up. Too late for Jane to tell Mac he didn't need to come over anymore.

"No problem, just let me know when you need me," Mac returned and left again, wondering why she seemed so distracted, as if she had been expecting someone else.

Test results? What was she talking about? I don't even have any pending DNA tests at the moment that I would need to wait for or discuss with her… he wondered on his way back to his office.

XXXXX

Mac needed someone to talk to. The evening with Jane had triggered feelings and emotions that he had been trying to fight and hide for a long time, but now nothing he tried seemed to work anymore. He never thought he would ever tell anyone, but when Flack arrived at his office and made a joke about him looking like an exposed puppy, he just talked. He told him about his feelings for Stella and that he didn't know how to tell her or IF to tell her at all.

"How can I know if she feels the same way? I don't wanna put any pressure on her. What if I go forward and destroy everything we have now? I don't wanna lose her as a friend. I don't wanna urge her into anything. I'm not even really sure if I'm ready myself. What if not and I disappoint her…"

After an endless monolog with countless 'What ifs…', 'BUTs' and 'Ors', Flack who had listened patiently without interrupting finally sighed and exclaimed

"For God's sake, Mac! GO and TELL her!!! A blind man can see what you feel for each other – SHE knows, YOU know, we ALL know! Time to face it!"

XXXXX

When Stella came to his office later, wanting him to cross-check some files, he started to read while she kept standing in the middle of the room, watching him. It made him uneasy and nervous. After a moment of unsuccessfully trying to focus he looked up.

"There's no extra charge for sitting down," he remarked.

"Huh?" Stella snapped back to the present.

He nodded towards the chair next to his desk.

"Sit!" he invited her to take a seat.

"Am I a dog or what?" she snapped.

"No. A dog won't argue," he returned.

"Just have a seat and relax, you won't make me read faster by watching every motion of my eyes," he added in a friendly tone, noticing that Stella's nerves were a bit strained and she wasn't in the mood for games right now.

Unwillingly she finally took place and watched him study the papers she had handed him. After a few moments of him leafing through the documents very carefully, but more concentrated on her than on what's in front of him, she jumped up again.

"Stella, please..." he carefully started, trying not to sound patronizing, well aware of an imminent outburst that he wanted to avoid by all means. She turned to leave without further words, which caused him to jump up and get to her before she could open the door.

That was it. Mac felt his desperation about the current tension between them turn into anger. Before Stella could open the door more than a few inches, he quickly reached over her shoulder to slam the door shut. The sound made her wince slightly. In one quick motion he swung her around and pinned her to the wall next to the door.

-

In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute
You can get out of the rain

-

Suddenly Stella saw herself confronted with Mac standing very close in front of her. Her back was pressed against the door, his left arm leaning against the doorframe. His right hand was holding her left wrist, leaving her no way to escape. Stella tried to put some distance between them. Blood rushed through her body as her heart hammered against her chest. She couldn't help a certain feeling of defenselessness, mixed at the same time with excitement. They were standing so close to each other that she could feel the warmth from his body on her skin.

Mac looked her into the eyes. He hated it when things were like this between them and he would end this – here and now.

"So? What are we gonna do now??" he softly asked.

He felt like trying to calm down a wild cat, not sure if she would purr or jump at his throat. Stella seemed to think about the second option for a moment, but then figured that she wouldn't have much of a chance here.

Mac's chest was heaving with his breathing and she saw that he had trouble controlling his temper. Stella felt the first shock about his behavior drop and change to rising anger. She straightened her shoulders, raised her head and glared at him.

He had been the one who had started this mess in the first place. Who did he think he was to be mad at her now?

They looked into each others eyes in silence. Challenging at first, neither one of them willing to be the first one to give in. Thoughts spoken aloud with just a glance. Stella was determined not to let the rising attraction influence her persuasion. Not this time. The challenge changed into something else. When he lowered his head to hers, she closed her eyes.

Helpless to stop himself, Mac leaned in and softly kissed her lips. Stella was quick to return the tender kiss, which he took as an invitation to continue. Stella held on to his arms, trying to pull him closer and steady herself as she leaned against the wall. His tongue started exploring her mouth, their breaths got caught in passion.

Until Stella pulled back and out of his embrace. She caught him by surprise with her swift motion and made a few steps away from him.

"What's going on between you and Jane?" she asked.

"Jane??" Mac tried to get his brain back on track while trying to realize what had just happened between them.

"Yeah, Jane. You know, when I asked you out for a drink the other night, you told me that you had to work late, had to wait for DNA results."

Mac eyed her with a questioning look, not quite sure where this was going.

"Yeah right, DNA results," Stella spit out. "When I came to work this morning, everyone was talking about you and Jane and your little get together at some bar last night. Why didn't you just tell me, why do I have to hear that through the corridor news channel?"

She regretted her harsh tone the moment she saw the look in his eyes. Surprise? Shock? Hurt? It almost made her want to hug and sooth him without thinking twice. What if she was wrong and it was something totally harmless? She hadn't even given that a second thought, hadn't even given him the slightest chance to explain. She could have just asked him.

"I didn't know… Will you hear me out while I tell you what really happened last night?" Mac carefully asked.

She nodded and he briefly explained the late visit at the DNA lab and how he had felt the need to thank Jane for working late just because he needed the results as soon as possible.

"I'm sorry I snapped at you," Stella apologized after he had finished. "I overreacted, I just thought that everyone knew but me and I felt… I don't know, left out somehow. I thought you didn't want to go for a drink with me so that there wouldn't be talking behind our backs, you know, and when I heard that you went out with Jane instead, I was just…"

He approached her and this time she didn't resist when he reached out and pulled her closer.

"What do I have to say to convince you there was nothing between me and Jane? We are just colleagues – and I will always meet her here at work or maybe sometimes outside of work by coincidence," he said, concern and almost fear in his voice.

Stella leaned her forehead against his as she desperately tried to figure how to convince him that he had nothing to worry about. She believed him. The problem was just – how to make him believe this?

"Look…" she took a moment to think about what to say and how to say it. "I just don't know how to assure you that you don't have to worry about … nothing. I don't care about you meeting her – or any other woman for that matter – because of work because I know there is nothing," she softly explained while tenderly touching his chest the entire time. "And should there ever be, I just expect you to be honest with me and tell me."

"There will never be anything, you have to believe me! Please?" Mac replied instantly, almost shocked.

Stella rolled her eyes in resignation.

Oh boy! Poor choice of words…

"I didn't mean that there actually could be something," she sighed. "I was just trying to say… Pfff. I'm gonna have to suffer from this for a loooong time, right?"

The look he gave her showed careful hope. She knew it wouldn't be easy to have him drop this issue for good. But she had a good feeling that things would work out.

"Ready to call it a day?" she asked with a soft smile. "I could cook something for you if you like."

"I like Greek," Mac smiled back.

"I hope so…" she winked at him, causing him to almost blush. "I'll meet you at my car in ten minutes."

She left his office and went over to her own while he looked after her, still trying to realize the latest events.

XXXXX

About 45 minutes later Stella finally appeared at the parking garage in the basement and found Mac sitting on the hood of her car.

"Sorry… didn't get out as fast as I thought…" she apologized.

He grinned.

"Who am I to complain about such enthusiasm for work? As your boss, I like this. As a man though, I have to admit it's not nice to be kept waiting so long…"

"I'll make up for it," she smiled and placed a light kiss on his lips, causing goose bumps to appear allover his body.

XXXXX

Early the next morning Stella woke up when the doorbell rang. She opened one eye and peered at the clock on her nightstand. It was Saturday, it was the day off – and it was 7:30 a.m. The doorbell rang again. Stella cursed grumblingly before she wrapped a blanket around herself and shuffled to the door.

After a short look through the peephole that should have warned her enough, she opened the door and faced two elderly women with old-fashioned hats, coats and handbags. Stella rolled her eyes inwardly and when she recognized the mistake she had made by opening the door to them.

Jehovah's witnesses on the lookout for Watchtower "subscribers"…

"Good morning," one of the women said. "May we talk with you about God?"

She looked at them from top to bottom, her eyes still half closed. Then she slammed the door shut into their faces, shuffled back to bed and crawled under the comforter.

"What was that?" Mac wondered next to her, pulling her back into his arms.

"My ticket to hell," Stella mumbled already half asleep again while she snuggled tightly against his warm chest.

-

In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute

-

The End


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Liked it? Let me know - I can't read minds ;-)

"Baby Blue" is almost finished, should be coming out real soon (there will be some days at work the next weeks where I'm all alone and will get bored - uh, I mean get the chance to do some REAL important work done - if you know what I mean...).

xxxlittlesheepxxx