She Is

Do not get me wrong I cannot wait for you to come home

For now you're not here and I'm not there, it's like we're on our own

To figure it out, consider how to find a place to stand

Instead of walking away and instead of nowhere to land

As Mac steps into the doorway of the break room, Stella pushes past him and continues down the hallway without even so much as a glance at him. He can tell that she is in a bad mood, and when he enters the break room, he finds five pairs of eyes on him. "What happened?" he cautiously asks, not liking the way that they are all looking at him.

"She dropped the coffee mug while she was pouring herself some coffee, and it shattered. Then she just stormed out of the room," Danny answers. "I don't know why that upset her so much; it was an accident."

His gaze turns to the broken mug, "Someone clean that up. I'll go talk to her." Mac follows her down the hallway and into the locker room. He hears the water in one of the shower stalls running, and since she is not by her locker, he assumes that she is in there. He leans against his own locker, which is across from hers, and waits.

Five minutes later the water is shut off, and she comes out moments afterward, a towel wrapped around her body. She doesn't notice him as she makes her way to her locker. As she stands in front of her locker doing the combination to open it, he clears his throat to get her attention.

Stella jumps a foot in the air, whirling around to see who is watching her. "Mac! I…" she runs a hand through her wet curls.

"Good morning, Stella. I was hoping we could talk."

She frowns, "Am I in trouble?"

"What would make you think that?"

"I've just had a terrible morning. And it really wouldn't surprise me if I was, though I don't know what it is that I did this time."

"Relax, I just want to know why you were upset."

"That's all? You're standing there and watching me, and all I have on is a towel. And all you want to know is why I'm upset?"

He turns around to face the lockers, "I'll give you some privacy so you can dress."

"Can I trust you or do I need to go into the bathroom?" Mac doesn't reply, but she starts to dress anyway, knowing he isn't that type of guy. "So… you wanted to know about my day?"

"More or less."

This is going to break me clean in two

This is going to bring me close to you

"Well, Flack called me at three-thirty this morning to process a scene. He said you were at another scene, and there was no one else to call. What he forgot to mention was that the body was in the dumpster. So… I had to search the whole thing, and then I smelled like garbage. God, I hate dumpster diving. And then we finally got back here; I went to get a cup of coffee, and the mug slipped while I was pouring it." She sits down next to him on the bench, now dressed.

He looks over at her, "Am I forgetting something about today?"

She hits him lightly in the arm, "Mac."

"Happy Birthday, Stella. I was on my way to see you when you so politely ignored me."

She smiles, "Thanks."

"So… do you have any plans for tonight?"

"No. Why?"

"I'll take you out to dinner. Your choice, wherever you want to go."

"You don't have to do that."

"I want to, Stella. And I have something for you, but it's at my apartment."

"What is it?"

"I can't tell you. You'll just have to wait and see," he smiles as she frowns. "What time would you like me to pick you up?"

"You don't have to do that; my hotel is on the opposite side of town as your apartment. I can just take a cab," Stella says without really thinking.

"You most certainly will not get in a cab," he sternly tells her. "And what are you still doing in a hotel?"

"I haven't found a place yet. Haven't really looked since we've been so busy."

"Hotels are not cheap, Stella, especially when you're going to have to pay for a new apartment and furniture and replace all your clothes and stuff. Stay at my place, and take a few days off to search for a new home."

"Mac, I already told you - "

"You did not snore six years ago when you stayed with me after Claire passed away, Stella. Besides, we won't be in the same bedroom; I won't even be able to hear you."

"Okay. Do you have a suitcase I can borrow?"

"I'll bring it over this evening."

"You're sure you don't mind?"

"Of course not. You'd do the same for me."

She is everything I need

That I never knew I wanted

She is everything I want

That I never knew I needed

"Wow, Stella, you look amazing," Mac compliments her as she opens the hotel room door.

"Thanks," she blushes slightly.

He wheels a large suitcase inside the room, "I wasn't sure how much you had so I just brought the largest one I had."

"That's fine."

"Do you need me to help with anything?"

"No, I've got everything ready to go into the suitcase. It should only take a few minutes."

He watches her pack what little she had managed to replace since the fire had destroyed all of her possessions. She barely had enough clothes to last two weeks; before the fire, he had never seen her wear the same top twice in one month.

When finished packing, she turns to face him, finding him staring at what little she now had. "Maybe I do need that day off," she admits.

He can see realization begin to set in her eyes as she becomes aware of everything she has lost. Taking the three steps to her, he pulls her close to him, embracing her and letting her know that he is there for her. Once she pulls away from him, he quietly says, "If you need money, I'd be happy to lend you some."

She shakes her head, "Money's not an issue, at least not until I find an apartment. And it shouldn't really be a problem unless I decide to pay for the apartment right away and not make payments. But the insurance money should help a little with that."

He nods, "But if you do need it, just ask me."

"Thanks, Mac," she kisses his cheek. "Can I get tomorrow off, or do you need more notice?"

"I think I can arrange it under the circumstances."

"I can be on call and come in if you need me to. I just don't want to be intruding in your apartment."

Mac chuckles, "I knew you'd start looking if I made you stay with me. But… I don't want you to take a place just to get out of my place; take as much time as you need in order to find something you like."

"Okay," she agrees.

"Ready?"

"Yeah, I just have to check out."

Ten minutes later they are seated in his car, "So where are we going?"

"I don't know," she shrugs. "Do you have any suggestions?"

"I know a great Italian place, but it's a little bit of a drive."

"That's fine with me."

She is everything I need

That I never knew I wanted

She is everything I want

That I never knew I needed

Rain pours down as Mac pulls into a parking spot outside of his apartment building. He looks over at her, "I can drop you off closer if you want and park somewhere else."

"This is fine. I'm not going to melt."

"Are you sure?"

"Mac, I've been in rain before," she opens the passenger door.

He follows suit, going around to get her bag out of the trunk. She is already reaching for the bag, and he cuts her off. "I've got it. Go inside."

"I can carry it myself, Mac."

He refuses to let her take it from him. As he walks toward the building, he puts his free hand around her to guide her inside. Once they are in the elevator, he lets go of her. Noticing that she is shivering and soaked, he says, "Maybe we should change clothes before I give you your gift."

She nods in agreement, "You better not have spent a lot of money on me, Mac. Dinner was more than enough."

"Don't worry about it. It's something that can't be bought."

Stella ponders this for a moment, "Happiness."

"No…" he smiles. "You'll just have to wait and see."

"Give me another hint."

"You need to learn how to be patient, Stella," he unlocks his door and lets her inside. She follows him down the hall into his small guest bedroom; he would rather she take his room but he knows she won't do this. After setting the suitcase down on the bed, he heads to the door, "Let me know if you need anything."

She changes from her black dress into jeans and a tank top, putting on her dark blue jacket that she escaped the fire in on top. Then she unpacks the suitcase before heading into the living room to meet Mac.

When Mac takes a seat next to her on the couch, he offers her a glass which he fills with wine. He pours himself a glass as well and sets the bottle on the table.

"So… you bought me a bottle of wine. And you didn't even wrap it, Mac."

"No, I told you it wasn't something you could buy," he looks into her green eyes before glancing over at the end table on her side of the couch.

She follows his gaze before turning back to him, "If it isn't something that can be bought, why is there physically something there for me to unwrap?"

It's all up in the air and we stand still to see what comes down

I don't know where it is, I don't know when, but I want you around

When it falls in place with you and I, we go from if to when

Your side and mine are both behind its indication

"You can be so difficult sometimes," he shakes his head at her, smiling.

"I'm the difficult one?" she smirks.

"Yes. I don't know why you couldn't just stay with me in the first place."

"I didn't want things to be awkward between us."

They sit contentedly on the couch together until he glances over to find her deep in thought. "What's on your mind?"

"How can anyone do that? How can you take a child from his parents like that? You can't play God and decide who gets to have children and who doesn't. No wonder she didn't have any children of her own."

"I don't know, Stella. I really don't understand people sometimes."

She gives him a small smile, "You don't understand people at all, Mac."

He playfully hits her on the arm, and she feigns injury. "I do too. I understand you. Most of the time."

"There must be something wrong with me then."

He nods in agreement, trying to contain his smile, and it is her turn to hit him. "Stella, don't blame yourself for all of this. You couldn't have known that she had the girl; you told us you never saw her. And as for Austin… he'd been living with her since before you moved in. There was no one you could know that he had been kidnapped."

"He tried to tell me, Mac. He knew that I'm a detective, and he reached out to me for help. And I yelled at him for it."

"You had no reason to suspect that he created that hole in the wall other than to spy on you; he was an adolescent boy after all. And Frankie made you wary of the entire male species."

"If Frankie hadn't attacked me, we might never have found those kids."

"See? One good thing came out of his attack."

She rests her head on his shoulder, "And only about a million bad things."

"Did you really stay at your apartment the night after you were released from the hospital?" he asks. He knew she was trying to be strong that night but he hadn't expected her to be able to stand the memories brought up.

"Hotel," she mumbles.

"You should have come here, Stella. My door is always open to you. You were always there for me when I needed you."

This is going to bring me clarity

This'll take the heart right out of me

Mac remains silent for a moment before reaching over to take her hand. "Stella, I'm so thankful that you made it out of your apartment alive. You seem to have developed a habit of scaring me. First, there was Frankie and then the whole HIV thing. And Drew went after you in order to get to me. And finally your apartment building catches on fire. Every time I thought I was going to lose you."

"I'm right here, Mac. I'm fine; I don't know how I did it, but I'm okay. And I don't plan on going anywhere," she gently says.

"I don't know what I'd do if you suddenly weren't here one day. I'd be incredibly lost and afraid. You've inspired me to keep living after Claire passed away, and if you were to leave me, I don't think I'd be able to live anymore. I wouldn't be able to function."

Stella lifts her head off of his shoulder to look at him, "Mac, you've gone more than three-fourths of your life without me. I think that you could get along just fine without me."

"I wouldn't have a reason to live if you were not here beside me, Stel." She searches his eyes for any sign of an exaggeration but can only find truth in them. "You're my best friend. I wouldn't be able to just move on and forget about you."

She nods in agreement. "I'd miss you too, Mac."

Silence again envelops them as they both reflect on their friendship. Suddenly she breaks it, curiosity getting the best of her. "Is there a reason why you're telling me this, Mac?"

"I just want you to know how much you mean to me, Stella. And that I'm here for you if you need anything."

"I know that."

"Can you at least try to keep yourself out of trouble for a while?" he puts his arm around her shoulders.

"I'm sorry, Mac. I don't mean to cause all this trouble. It just… happens."

"I'm just teasing, Stel."

She looks over at the package on the table, "Can I open it now?"

He takes the glass of wine from her hand and sets both glasses down on the table. Then he hands her the neatly wrapped gift. "If you really can't wait any longer…"

She is everything I need

That I never knew I wanted

She is everything I want

That I never knew I needed

Stella rips the paper off of the rectangular package, tossing it carelessly on the floor. "What is it?" she frowns.

"Open it up."

She lifts the front cover of the large binder and gasps. "Mac…"

"I thought this would be a good idea because you lost all of your pictures in the fire."

"I…" she continues to stare at the picture of the two of them on the front page. The picture is from the Christmas party the previous year; Lindsay had taken a picture of them together. "Mac…" she begins to flip through the pages of the scrapbook, amazed.

"Do you like it?" he asks timidly.

She takes her eyes off the article in front of her to look at him. "How did you do this?"

"I went through all the pictures I had. And I told the guys what I was doing, and they were all willing to give me any pictures they had that you might like. Lindsay helped me with the whole scrapbooking part of it."

"Mac, I can't take these pictures from you and the others."

"I made copies of them. Don't worry."

"But the articles… this one is our first case together. You can't still have newspapers from back then to cut this stuff out of."

"Claire… would cut out articles that talked about us. And when she died, I… continued the practice. So I've got a whole box full of articles on the cases we've worked."

"Mac… this is wonderful. I don't know how to thank you," she wraps her arms tightly around him.

"Stella, it was nothing. Really," he says, slowly putting his arms around her.

She places a kiss on his cheek before pulling away. "This means so much to me. I hadn't even realized everything that I had lost in the fire until today."

"That's why I tried to get you to take a day off, but you refused."

"So… how did you find time to do this?" she asks as she continues to flip through the pages.

"I always have time for you, Stella."

"You know… I really missed this side of you, Mac."

"What side?" he looks confused.

"The more emotional side of you."

"Emotional?"

"I… Five years ago you would have never told me how much I mean to you let alone make this for me."

"After all that you've been through, that we've been through, I thought you could use a reminder so you would try to keep yourself out of harm's way."

She is everything I need

That I never knew I wanted

She is everything I want

That I never knew I needed

"I always got in trouble when I was little too," she reveals, taking her eyes off of the scrapbook to look at him.

"You did?"

"In the orphanage. I would get curious and do… things that I shouldn't have. And I always got caught too."

"What'd they do to you?"

"At first, they'd always give me extra cleaning or something. But after a while they stopped; punishment didn't keep me from doing things I shouldn't have."

"It still doesn't."

She glares at him for a moment. "I got in trouble a lot in foster care too but… that wasn't my fault."

"Wasn't your fault?"

"The foster parents would punish us for everything, even if we did everything they asked us to correctly. So… it was their fault; they had no reason to punish us."

Mac hesitates, "Were all the homes that bad?"

"Most of them were like that. Some of them were worse… They'd actually abuse you… physically and sometimes… sexually. And some homes were okay and somewhat normal."

"Did you ever get…?" he can't bring himself to say it.

"I was hit and burned and… pushed down stairs plenty of times. But… I was never…"

"Maybe we should talk about something happier," he suddenly realizes that he would rather not hear the horror stories of her childhood. That is, unless she wants to talk about them.

Stella turns back to the book in her lap. "When was this picture taken?"

He studies the picture of the two of them sitting on a blanket, staring up at something in the sky. "I think that was Fourth of July last year. Didn't we have that picnic with the guys last year?"

"Oh, yeah." She turns the page. "Where did you get this picture?"

"Flack and Danny gave it to me. They insisted I put it in there. They said they'd ask you about it. You're more than welcome to tear the page out and throw it away if you'd like."

"They took a picture of us under the mistletoe?" she looks up at him.

He shrugs, "I guess they were glad that they finally managed to get us both under it after ten days of it hanging there."

"I'm going to kill those two," she mumbles, turning the page before her cheeks can redden anymore.

This is going to bring me to my knees

I just want to hold you close to me

Once they have finished going through the whole scrapbook together, Stella takes his hand. "Thank you so much for this, Mac. I appreciate this. It's my favorite birthday gift ever."

"Happy birthday, Stel," he leans forward to kiss her on the cheek. At that instant, she turns her head to say something else to him. His lips connect with hers. Shocked, they immediately pull apart, and she lets go of his hand. They both look down at their feet. "I…" he tries to apologize. "I really didn't mean to."

She sits next to him silently, unsure of what she should do. He stands up and leaves the room so that he can think. She closes her eyes in an attempt to get her heart to slow down.

Five minutes later, she hears footsteps in the room and opens her eyes. Mac is standing beside the couch. "I… I, um, bought a small cake if you're interested."

"Okay," she sets the scrapbook on the table and follows him into the kitchen.

The circular cake is decorated with white icing, 'Happy Birthday, Stella' written across the top in a sky blue color with matching trim.

"Thanks, Mac," she gives him a soft smile.

"I forgot to get candles. And I'm sure you don't want to hear my singing anyway," he smiles shyly.

"That's okay."

He cuts the cake into six pieces and places one of those on a plate for each of them. He hands her a plate and a fork. She looks at it for a moment. "Is something wrong?" he asks, worried.

"Maybe I didn't want that piece."

"Oh… which one do you want?"

"I'm just joking, Mac. This piece is fine," she smiles, trying to ease the tension between them.

He glares at her before shaking his head, "You are such a pain sometimes."

"I know," she sits down at his kitchen table.

He sits across from her. "Stella, I… didn't mean to… earlier. I was trying to kiss your cheek. I'm sorry for… that."

"It's fine, Mac. And it wasn't like it was the first time we've ever kissed."

"So we're good?" he holds his hand out to her.

She takes his hand, "We're good."

After they have finished their cake, he puts their dishes in the sink. "Well, it's getting kind of late, and I have to go to work tomorrow so…"

"I'm going to go to bed too. I have a lot to do tomorrow. God, I hate looking at apartments."

"Well, I'll see you in the morning. Or maybe not until I come home. Good night, Stella. Happy birthday."

"Good night, Mac."

She is everything I need

That I never knew I wanted

She is everything I want

That I never knew I needed

Stella steps off of the elevator and walks into Mac's office, "Hey."

"What are you doing here? I thought you were going to look at apartments," he looks up from his paperwork, confused.

"I found one."

"You did? Already? You aren't moving into the first one you saw just to get out of my place, are you?"

"No, I like the place. I looked at it before when I moved, but it was a little more expensive than the place I got. So I just decided I'd spend the extra money and get this one this time. Hopefully nothing bad happens now."

"Don't you have to shop for furniture then?"

"I have a couple weeks until I can move in. Plus I'm not sure how much furniture I can afford right now."

"What about clothes? You can't possibly live on less than two weeks' worth of outfits, Stella."

She frowns, "Are you trying to get rid of me? I get the feeling that I'm not wanted here."

"No, it's just… I thought you were taking the day off. And we're not busy so… we don't need your help right now."

"Well, I just came to tell you that I found a place so you won't have to put up with me for very long. And I was wondering if you had plans for dinner tonight."

He shakes his head, "I figured we'd order take-out when I got home."

"I'll cook."

"Are you sure? Last time you tried to cook for me you almost burnt the food."

She sighs, "I won't get distracted this time."

"Okay. I'll be home around six-thirty."

"Alright. I've got to stop at the store and pick up some ingredients."

"See you later," Mac says, and she walks out of his office and over to the elevator.

A few moments later she comes back inside his office. "I, um, kind of need a key in order to get in your apartment, Mac. I didn't think you'd like it if I left your door unlocked while I was gone."

He pulls his keys out of his pocket and removes one from the ring. "There," he hands it to her. "Now, I expect to have an apartment when I come home from work so don't go burning my apartment down too."

She scowls, "How many times do I have to tell you that I'm not the one who started the fire, Mac?"

She is everything I need

That I never knew I wanted

She is everything I want

That I never knew I needed

"I have to admit that dinner was better than I expected it to be," Mac tells her as he takes their plates over to the sink.

"I do know how to cook some things, Mac."

He joins her again at the table a few moments later, setting a piece of cake left over from the previous day in front of each of them. "So how was your day off?"

"Okay. Anything new with the cab killer?"

"No, we have no leads. But we also didn't have any new bodies."

"The attacks seem random, like he's not specifically targeting people. He just kills whoever happens to get in his cab."

"We'll find him. And I hope it's soon. We're under enough pressure on this case." He looks up at her, "You have icing…"

She wipes her mouth, "Is it gone?"

He shakes his head, reaching out to wipe it off for her. "There."

She blushes at his touch, "Thanks."

They finish their cake in silence. After he has put the dishes in the sink, he asks, "What do you want to do now?"

"I don't know."

"Are you coming back to work tomorrow?"

"Yeah."

"How about we watch a movie?"

"Why do you keep changing the subject?"

"Because… I can if I want to."

"I'm getting the feeling that there's something bothering you, and you don't want to talk about it. If it has to do with me, Mac, just let me know, and I'll try to change whatever it is."

"You can't change it, Stella."

"So it does have to do with me? Come on, Mac, I can at least try to, can't I?"

"It's not you; it's me. I can't change how I feel about you," he leaves the room after his admission.

Stella takes a few minutes to ponder what he said before following. He is sitting on the couch with his head buried in his hands; she sits beside him. "How do you feel about me?" she quietly asks.

He shakes his head, "I can't tell you."

"Mac, I'm your best friend. You can tell me anything."

"Do you promise not to hate me if I tell you?" Mac looks up to meet her eyes.

"Yes. I could never hate you, Mac. Just tell me."

"Stella… I care about you a lot. As more than a friend. And having you here is only making it harder for me to fight this feeling." He looks away, takes a deep breath, and meets her emerald eyes again. "I love you, Stella."

"You don't have to hide your feelings from me, Mac."

"Why aren't you running away from me?"

"Did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, I might love you too?"

He frowns, "You… do?"

"Yes."

"Are you sure?"

She laughs, "Of course I'm sure."

"But what about -"

He is cut off by her lips pressing against his. As soon as she feels him start to kiss her back, she pulls away. "Is that enough proof for you?"

"No, I think it may take a little more convincing," he smiles and leans forward to kiss her again.

She is everything

I needed

She is everything

A/N: I meant to post this a while ago but school started and I kind of forgot. Anyway... hope you liked it. I have another story in the works. If I had a title for it, I'd start posting it, but I can't come up with a title. Maybe I'll write some more after I post this... So please review. Thanks for reading. Oh, the song belongs to The Fray.