Come Home by AndromedaMarine

Someone to Hold

Stella saw Mac deprive himself every day. He worked until sleep hunted him out, became too emotionally attached to victims that – and she realized...victims that resembled Claire. Stella retreated to the locker room, needing the same space Mac craved.

Perhaps she'd expected Mac to be in his office working on the cold case files. Or maybe in the lab – just not where she was headed. He was in the corner, resting his head against the cool cement of the wall. It took her a moment to realize he was there.

He shifted slightly, just enough for Stella to see he had his eyes closed. He must not have heard her enter – it was a rare occasion when she was quiet as she moved. Years of paying attention to detail made Stella notice that Mac's cheeks were tear-stained.

Stella was torn between disturbing him and leaving to let him alone, but he had a pang that Mac needed human comfort. As quiet as she was when entering Stella walked to Mac's side and gently rested her hand on the middle of his spine.

He stiffened, blinking the remaining tears away. As Stella kept her hand on his back and laid the other on his shoulder he relaxed, but didn't turn his head. He took a deep breath. "Stella," he breathed softly.

She let her hands fall but Mac turned swiftly and caught them. "Mac? Are you all right?"

He leaned sideways against the wall, Stella's hands still encased in his. "No. No, Stel...I don't know where to turn..." He squeezed his eyes closed again.

She pulled a hand from his and in a risky move, brought it up to his cheek. "You know you can always turn to me, Mac. Always."

He was in a flurry of movement, and suddenly had Stella wrapped tightly in his arms and his face pressed to her shoulder. "Stel...what am I supposed to do? It's been two years and I...I'm still lost in the debris." His hand came to rest in her hair.

Stella ran her fingers through his short, black hair. Seeing Mack act like this was saddening and tore at her heart. "You need rest, Mac. You need someone to hold," she whispered, "someone to touch." Her hand rested on the nape of his neck.

Mac sank to the floor, Stella still in his arms. "Someone to love," he said so very quietly.

Stella wasn't sure if she'd heard him correctly, but quietly pressed her lips to his temple, throwing caution into the winds.

For a moment Mac was still, and then he slowly lifted his head to meet her eyes. "And kiss," he breathed. He leaned in and gently pressed his lips to hers.

Stella responded by pulling away. Although she immediately missed the electric feeling she knew Mac wasn't thinking straight.

He seemed to realize what he'd done. "Stel...oh my God...I'm so sorry – I didn't mean –"

She cut him off. "You need to sleep. I know you've been awake for almost fifty hours straight, Mac. And I'm sure as hell not letting you drive. And, because I don't trust you to stay at home – I'm taking you to crash at my place." She cupped his face. "Understand? I'm not letting you out of my sight."

He could tell she wasn't going to bend her decision.

"Now tell me – did you really not mean that?"

Mac weakly held her gaze. "No. I meant it."

Stella gave a half-frightened, half-relieved smile. "All right – let's get you home." They stood, and Mac gave her a light kiss on her cheek.

"Just in case," he whispered. He held Stella's gaze for seven long seconds, hoping to convey his meaning: he couldn't lose her too.