A/N: So this is my first CSI:NY fic, so I hope you all like it. I'm rather new to the fandom, but I've spent the last three weeks watching all four seasons on DVD. So now I get to get caught up on this season! I wanted to write something like this before I tackled a bigger project. Lyrics are from "Moondance" by Van Morrison, and I guess it's set at some point past the end of this season.
Disclaimer: Yeah, we all know I don't own it. These things get old after a while.
I sighed morosely as I stared at the pile of paperwork on the corner of my desk. Such a vicious cycle. I'd start on one case file and then the phone would ring with another case. So I'd go out on the case, come back, and it seemed like the pile had grown exponentially. Some days it just wasn't fair.
Somehow I felt like a five-year-old even thinking that.
The coffee cup on the corner of my desk called my name, and I reached for it without a second thought. It wasn't as hot as it had been an hour ago, but it was caffeine. My life-force. I took a sip, enjoying the feeling of the lukewarm liquid sliding down my throat. Days like today were only good with caffeine.
And Mac Taylor.
There he went, slipping into my brain again.
It seemed to be happening even more in the past few months, ever since the Diakos debacle had been resolved. I couldn't seem to stop it, and it was driving me up the wall. Stella Bonasera wasn't like this. No sir-ree.
I tried to focus my attention on the case file spread open across my desk. It had been a difficult case. A little girl had been shot in Greenwich Village, and no one even bothered to look up. No one had even reported her missing. It took us an entire day to track down her identity, and when we did, she was another foster child, broken and abused by bad parenting. Finally her foster father had had enough and just shot her. Just like that. Snuffed out a young life, before it even had a chance.
Cases don't get to me very often. I'm a product of a bad childhood. Strong, tough, because that was the only way to survive. But cases like this, cases where children were abused and neglected simply because they were an imposition…
I sighed again and ran a hand through my tangled curls. I'd almost lost it when we finally found the guy and the evidence to prove it. Which was odd. I don't lose it. That was something that Mac had always praised me for.
A movement outside the glass walls of my office caught my eye, and I looked up to see Mac's silhouette pass by once again. A tiny smile played with the corners of my mouth, and I shook my head. He'd passed by at least four times in the past two hours. Probably checking up on me. Now there was a strange role reversal. Usually I was the one checking up on him. I guess it's a testament of how deep our friendship is. We have our rough spots like any other relationship, but at the end of the day, we're there for each other. I don't usually like having people check up on me, but it's different with Mac. He's my best friend, the only family I've ever known. I trust him implicitly, and trust has never come to me easily.
My eyes followed him until he disappeared from my sight, and then I returned to my work. The DD-5 glared back at me, and I literally growled at it. Paperwork and I had never been friends, and this one, this case was hard. Somehow I just couldn't find the words. You would think that a report of the evidence would be simple, but it wasn't. Not for this case. How do you find the words to describe the two-inch diameter in an eight-year-old's skull? How do you describe hearing her foster father admit to the murder without even blinking an eye?
Suddenly a knock at my door jerked me out of my own little world, and I glanced up just in time to see Mac pull open the heavy glass door and step into my office. He'd discarded his trademark blazer somewhere, and the sleeves on his blue button-up shirt – that one that brought out the blue in his eyes – were rolled up, revealing muscular forearms. "Hey," he said softly, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his slacks.
"Hey yourself," I replied, leaning back in my chair. As he stepped farther into my office, I could feel the corner of my mouth lift into a half-smile. It was good to have our relationship back to normal after the whole Diakos issue. It drove more wedges between us than any other thing in our fifteen years of friendship.
"Paperwork?" he asked.
"Bane of my existence."
That got at least a chuckle out of him. "I know how you hate paperwork."
"About as much as you hate politics."
He snorted derisively at the sound of the "p" word, and I grinned. Mac never played nice with the brass, and it got him into trouble more than once. But I had to respect him for it. He knew what was right, and he wasn't afraid to step on toes to make sure it got done. He had the highest sense of honor and morality I'd ever seen in a man.
"You should go home and get some rest."
The sound of his voice broke me out of my thoughts, and I pursed my lips at him. "Pot," I said, pointing at him, then I pointed at myself. "Kettle."
Mac grinned and shook his head. "Stubborn."
"Look who's talking."
He peered at the still-open file on my desk and frowned as he read the title upside down. "The Miller case?"
I nodded once and sighed.
"That was a tough one." When I didn't say anything, he arched an eyebrow at me as he leaned back against a table next to my window. "You okay?"
"Fine," I lied, and his eyebrow went up further. Damn, I thought. He knows me far too well. "Yeah, it was a tough one."
"You looked upset after the interrogation this afternoon."
I harrumphed softly and folded my hands across my abdomen. "Yeah, I guess I was."
"You wanna talk about it?"
I sighed again and brushed an errant curl from my face. "Not really, Mac." When I saw the look in his eyes, I shook my head once. "It's just… some cases get to me, ya know?"
Mac nodded. Of course he knew. He knew about my past life in the system, and he knew how much I identified with girls like Lizzie Miller. We let a comfortable silence fall on us for a moment. He was there, and that was enough to make me feel just a little better.
"Listen," he said, breaking the silence. "I think I might have something to help you feel better."
"Ten days paid vacation?" I asked with a grin, grateful for the change in subject.
He chuckled and shook his head. "Follow me," he said as he straightened up and shrugged a shoulder in the direction of the door.
I narrowed my eyes at him. "Follow you where?"
There was something in his eyes I just couldn't place, but I did as he asked anyway, pushing my chair back and following him to the elevator. My curiosity piqued even more as the elevator doors slid closed and he pressed the button for the roof. "You know, the last time someone took me to a roof, he ended up being a psycho stalker," I joked, giving him a suspicious look.
He gave me a slightly amused look, but didn't crack a smile. "Hmm. Last time I checked, I'm not a psycho."
"I see. So you're taking me up there to kill me. No one would ever suspect a murder in the lab."
That got him. Mac's face split into one of his rare grins. "I could hide your body in the morgue and blame Sid."
"I can see the headlines now. CSI Murdered at Crime Lab, Annoyed Colleague Suspected. They're always talking about getting more publicity for the lab."
We shared a laugh, and then the elevator dinged, signaling our arrival at the rooftop. Suddenly I felt a warm pressure on the small of my back and tried to hide the blush creeping over my face as Mac ushered me up the short flight of stairs and onto the rooftop.
The gasp escaped before I could stop it.
It was absolutely breathtaking.
I'd always loved New York City at night, with all the multi-colored lights casting an ambient glow over the city. But as the cool October breeze blew over us, I realized I'd never quite seen New York like this. The lights from the neighboring buildings illuminated the night sky, and in the distance I could see the twinkling lights of the Brooklyn Bridge. "Mac, this is beautiful," I whispered.
"There's more." He reached down and grasped my hand, and I tried not to shiver at the feeling of his warm fingers against mine.
"More?" I echoed.
But he didn't say anything. He just gently pulled me to the other side of the building.
"Mac, what are you doing?"
"Moondancing," he repeated with a grin.
"I knew I shouldn't have gotten you that Frank Sinatra CD for your birthday."
He shook his head and grinned. "See?" He pointed to the sky, and my eyes followed the line of his finger. A full moon smiled down on us, the wispy clouds around it glowing silver from its beams. As if this wasn't beautiful enough.
I glanced back at him, smiling softly at my partner and best friend. No one had done something this nice for me in a long time, and especially not just to cheer me up. "Mac, this is truly amazing."
"You looked like you needed some fun. And you can help me out too."
My eyebrows narrowed at him quizzically. "How's that?"
"Well, you know the mayor's ball is coming up."
"So I heard."
"And it's supposed to be swing dancing."
"Uh-huh." Finally understanding hit me, and Mac nodded smugly. "You want me to teach you how to swing dance."
"Unless you wanna go back to your paperwork."
"Oh, no. I think I'm good with this."
Mac grinned. "That's what I thought." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a tiny remote. Deftly he pointed it behind him, and suddenly I heard the strains of Van Morrison over the traffic noise below us.
Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
'Neath the cover of October skies
With a wide smile on his face, Mac turned to me and stretched out his hand. "Dance with me, Stella?"
I chuckled, shaking my head. "It'd be my pleasure."
He wrapped my hand in his larger hand, and I hoped that the night would keep him from seeing the blush that had spread over my face. His other hand snaked around my waist, pulling me close to him, and my hand settled on his shoulder. I could feel the warmth radiate from him. It felt right. Which was odd. But comfortable.
"So," he said with a smirk. "Where do we go from here?"
"Uh." I tried hard to remember the steps through the fog his scent was creating in my brain. For working in a lab all day, he sure smelled good. "You step with your left." He complied, and I stepped with my right. "Now the right." We stepped simultaneously. "Now rock step."
"Is there an echo in here?" I mimicked, and he grinned. "Put your left foot behind your right and rock back on it, landing on your right foot when you come back down." He did it, watching my feet carefully as I executed the step. I looked up at him and smiled. "See?"
"That's it," I answered. "You wanna try it with the music?"
He grinned and pulled out the remote to restart the song.
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow
And I'm tryin' to please to the calling
Of your heartstrings that play soft and low
Mac had the hang of it within minutes. Truthfully, he was a good dancer. Probably from years of attending the Marine Corps Ball and various other social functions. He wasn't very social, but when he had to go, he had to go. And between Claire and me, we got him to loosen up a little bit.
I grinned at him as he spun me out and expertly pulled me back into the steps. "You're not too bad at this."
"You sound surprised."
"A little bit."
He shrugged. "You're a good teacher."
My smile widened. "Well, thank you."
"You're welcome." We danced for a few more moments, and then he pulled back to look at me. "Why'd you quit dancing, anyway?"
I shrugged once. "I left the foster home I was at. Moved to St. Basil's. And, uh… they didn't have opportunities for dancing there."
Mac looked at me for a moment, then pulled me tighter to his chest. "I'm sorry," he said softly. I smiled and rested my head against on his shoulder, enjoying the feel of his breath in my hair.
Silence enveloped us for what seemed like hours, except for the strains of the music floating through the air and the breeze blowing past us. Somehow, even just being there with him made me feel so much better. It was as if his strength flowed into me, sustaining me. It was why we were such good partners and friends. I was there for him after Claire died, and he was there for me after I shot Frankie and my apartment burned down. A reciprocating relationship, built on absolute trust.
"I saw me," I murmured, and I felt him lean closer to me.
"Hmm?" he hummed, and I felt it rumble through his chest.
"I saw me in that little girl." He stopped dancing and pulled back, his blue eyes connecting with my green ones. "I know how she felt. Being shuttled from place to place, never knowing if I'd end up in a good home or a…" My voice trailed off, and I glanced down. "To die like that, abandoned and alone. I just… I don't…"
Mac released my hand and wrapped his other arm around me, pulling me tightly to his chest. I held onto his waist, willing the tears not to spill out of my eyes. We stood there like that for I don't know how long, just holding each other.
Finally he pulled back and I bit my lip as he cupped my face with his calloused hands. "You're not alone, Stella," he said quietly. "As long as I'm here on this earth, you're not alone."
I nodded slowly, once, twice. "Thanks, Mac."
He smiled softly, tenderly, at me. "You feeling better?"
I smiled back at him and nodded again. "Much better." My breath caught in my throat as he leaned forward and brushed a kiss against my forehead. My skin tingled as they traveled across my forehead to my cheek, and I tried hard to breathe as he gently kissed the spot right in front of my ear. I'd kissed him before, but he had never, ever kissed me.
"Mac." My voice sounded like a croak to my ears.
"Stella," he replied as he pulled back and looked at me, his arms still enveloping me. There was something behind his eyes. Something I couldn't quite… and it was that same something I saw in my office before we came up here. Never before had this happened – not once in the fifteen years of our friendship. We were heading into uncharted waters judging from the look in his eyes.
Oh God. That look. That was the look, the one he used to give…
"How long?" I asked softly.
Mac shrugged one muscular shoulder and smiled. "Long enough."
I nodded slowly, seriously. "Okay." This was so different. He was my best friend. He cared about me more than any guy ever did, and he'd even risked his life for me. If there was ever a man I was comfortable around, it was Mac Taylor. The man that had invaded my dreams lately, had saved my life on more than one occasion, had been there for me through abusive relationships and AIDS scares and fires.
"Stel?" he said softly, breaking into my thoughts. "You still with me?"
A smile slowly spread across my face, and I shook my head, letting my curls dance over my shoulders. "More than you know."
Before I could change my mind, I slid my hand around his neck and, standing on my tiptoes, tenderly brushed my lips against his. It took him just half a second to react. He gathered me closer to his chest and deepened the kiss, capturing my bottom lip with his mouth and sending shivers up and down my spine that had nothing to do with the cool night air. The breath caught in my throat when his hand left my waist and softly slid up to my face, cupping it gently before it tangled in my hair.
I don't know how long we stood there, pouring years of feelings into that kiss. But the need for oxygen finally took over and we pulled back, both breathing heavily. Mac's eyes twinkled at me as he brushed away an errant curl.
"Mac," I started, wanting to talk about what had just happened and how it would affect us, but he shushed me with another soft but brief kiss, one that left me practically whimpering for more.
"Being with you," he said with a shake of his head, "is a risk I'm willing to take."
I could've practically melted right then.
"Can I have another moondance with you?" he asked softly, taking my hand in his.
I nodded, a smile slowly spreading over my face. "It would be my pleasure."
And all the night's magic seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush
Can I just have one more moondance with you, my love?
Can I just make some more romance with you, my love?
A/N2: So, how did I do? Constructive criticism, praises, and expressions of adoration are all welcome! Just kidding about the expressions of adoration. But if you liked it, I'm thinking about making a collection of Stella/Mac songfics. So let me know what you think about that idea. Oh, and by the way... I'm looking for a beta for some CSI:NY fics I'm working on. If you're interested, please either leave it in a review or PM me. Thanks!