Come Home by AndromedaMarine

Making it Something More

Stella never forgot the unintentional yet intentional kiss between them. As they walked from Ground Zero – away from everything Mac had lost two years previously – their friendship became much stronger than either thought was possible. She was his shoulder to cry on, and as the days went by he found himself grieving less. Soon he realized that Stella had slowly taken Claire's place. He removed the wedding ring he'd held on to for so long, and when he looked up from his desk one day at the calendar, he felt only a tinge of sadness when he saw it was September eleventh, seven years to the day of the attack. Five years had gone by with Stella by his side. Five years had gone by and he realized that he couldn't grieve forever. Five years went by and Mac suddenly understood that what he felt while around Stella wasn't just friendship. The picture of Claire had long been absent from his desk and replaced with the picture of the team. He and Stella stood close together, his arm around both her and Lindsay's shoulders. The photo had been taken four years after he lost Claire, and Mac suddenly realized that the smile on his face in the picture was completely because of Stella.

He stood and soon found himself pushing through the metal door into the locker rooms where, five years ago, Mac had found an unlikely beginning to something much more. He saw her standing where he had been five years ago, her eyes closed as she leaned sideways against the wall. Her cheeks were dry, thankfully, but Mac couldn't help but notice that her shoulders were shaking ever so slightly.

Her eyes flickered open and she saw Mac standing there. "Oh! Hello," she began rather weakly. "I was just...going." She tried to step past him but Mac's arms reached out and he placed his hands firmly on her shoulders.

Mac shook his head. "No, you weren't. This is just the reverse of what happened five years ago," he said simply. Her bright green eyes swept up to meet his piercing blue ones. "And this time I'm not letting you out of my sight." His hand trailed down her arm. "I still mean it," he whispered, leaning closer. "I've been out of the debris for a few years now, Stel. I found the strength to move on." He lightly kissed her, his arms snaking around her waist.

Again, she pulled back, but her eyes shone. "Someone to hold...someone to touch...someone to kiss...and love..." She held his gaze a moment longer and then kissed him back, her hands in his hair. "And I love you, Mac," she breathed.

He smiled, resting his forehead against hers. "I love you too." Mac looked into her eyes. "Why are you sad?"

"Because I thought you still hadn't moved on," she replied, becoming very interested in his shoulder. "I've waited for so long to tell you that I love you...and here you are – saying it for me." She gave a flickering smile. "Five years, Mac..."

"I know," he interrupted. "But it was worth it having you beside me every step of the way." He sighed. "If you hadn't forced me to sleep at your place I don't know what would've happened. Like I said – you kept me on my feet."

"But Claire –"

"Is gone, in the past, just like the Twin Towers. I'll never forget her, no, but you helped me move on. And you have no idea how much I needed that. Seven years is long enough, Stel. Let's make this into something more."

He kissed her again, and was completely oblivious when Danny and Lindsay quietly stumbled in, hand in hand, looking for their own place to kiss. Danny grinned and placed a finger to his lips, and the two slowly left the locker room, leaving Mac and Stella to themselves.

Mac had come home.