This is a silly, short oneshot I wrote for the lovely Lily Moonlight. Since she enjoyed it so much, I hoped someone else could as well. Happy holidays to all!
"New York Tonight"
I should be home.
The thought occurs to me for the millionth time tonight as I drag my tired body through the empty lobby of yet another mediocre hotel. My feet hurt, my contacts have dried out, and I'm sure my hair is a tangled mess. If the looks I'm getting from the hotel staff are any indication, I need a hot shower and a good nine hours of sleep before I fly back to the city tomorrow. In fact, I think I'll have room service send up a bottle of wine while I'm at it. I have one more night to myself before getting back to work.
I'm currently in Boston. I was invited to give a speech at a conference for forensic specialists on crime scene safety procedures. Thoroughly enjoying the irony, I accepted. Mac agreed to let me have the time off if I promised to take it easy while I was here. Crossing my fingers behind my back, I nodded dutifully and started packing my bags. I presented early Wednesday morning. It is now Friday night, and three full days of listening to dry speeches have me falling asleep on my feet.
I let myself into my room at a little after eleven o'clock at night, moaning with pleasure as I kick off my ridiculously high heels. My feet sink into the surprisingly lush carpet and I wonder if this is what heaven is like. My jacket and jewelry are the next items to go, and they fall on the dresser a few feet away from the bed. I fall next, bouncing once before sinking into the mattress. I can't remember feeling anything so soft in my life. I close my eyes, savoring the feeling of complete and total relaxation. The room is silent, and the air is still. For the first time in what may be months of anxiety, I am finally at peace.
Until my phone rings.
"Scratch that," I murmur unhappily and pull my cell phone out of my pocket, wincing at the annoying electronic ringtone. I make a mental note to get it changed in the near future and fling it open, resting it on the bed next to my ear.
"I thought my orders were to take it easy for a change?"
I smile at the deep, languid voice on the other end of the line. I know it like I know my own, and I can honestly say that it's probably the only voice in the entire world that I don't mind hearing right now.
"Who says I'm not?"
"It's almost midnight and you sound exhausted," he points out, ever his logical self. "That conference should have ended hours ago. Where have you been?"
"Sorry I forgot my curfew, mother, but it was a busy night," I joke and smile at the resulting scoff on his end of the line. "A few of the other speakers and I went out for dinner afterwards. I started to decline, but you know how nerds are. Insatiable."
"I may have heard that somewhere," he says in a low voice and I raise an eyebrow that he can't see.
"What are you doing?" I ask. "Are you still at the lab?"
"I'm just putting the finishing touches on some paperwork," he says. "What are you doing?"
"Staring at the ceiling and missing New York," I say mournfully, completely honest. "I can't wait to get back tomorrow."
"Missing the lab?" he asks and this time it's my turn to scoff.
"Yeah," I reply sarcastically, "It's the lab I'm missing."
"I miss you, too," he says and the warmth I can picture in his eyes makes me sigh. "When are you coming home?"
"Tomorrow. My flight leaves first thing in the morning."
"It won't be soon enough," he replies frankly. "It's been dull here without you getting yourself in trouble." The idea makes me laugh. "I mean it. I haven't had to get on to anyone since you left."
"Careful with the flattery," I warn gently. "I may not come back."
"You will if you know what's good for you."
"Threats, Mac? I thought you were above such things," I joke and he laughs.
"Not if it brings you home sooner."
"My knight in shining armor," I reply and we share a comfortable silence. I hear him breathing lightly on the other end, and I'm fine with that. This is how we share a lot of our nights now, and I like the solace I find in these moments. It's amazing to be with a man—my best friend—who's fine to simply be with me. It's liberated me like you wouldn't believe.
"You know, if you were in New York, I should be making you dinner right about now," he says and laughs. "We wouldn't be getting home until about now, anyway."
"Yeah," I agree, "It's your night to cook. The idea of fettuccini from scratch almost outweighs the dread of doing dishes."
"Maybe if you're lucky I'll offer to do both," he hints and I grin.
"What does a woman have to do for a hot meal with no chores attached these days? Sell a kidney?"
"I'll settle for something less dramatic," he informs me and clears his throat. "How about you just open a window for me?"
I sit straight up, looking out at the balcony as though I actually expect to see someone there. Naturally, no one is. It's as empty as it was at six o'clock this morning when I left it. I scowl and shake my head.
"If this is your way of teasing me, it's not funny."
"I'm not teasing."
"Then this is your way of telling me that you're actually Batman. You have the personality for it." I pause, thinking. "You know what, though? I wouldn't mind. All that form-fitting black? Sign me up."
"Careful," he warns, "I'm prone to jealousy."
"So? Do something about it."
"Open the damn window already."
Giggling, I jump up from the bed—finding more energy that I thought I was capable of at this hour—and rush to the sliding glass doors, the phone still pressed to my ear. I look around at the small enclosure to find exactly what I thought I would… nothing. No one is there, not that I logically expected him to be. Stella Bonasera is no fool to think the love of her life would miraculously climb seven stories to surprise her on the balcony of her mediocre hotel room.
Well, maybe I thought it for a second.
"You're a cruel man, Mac Taylor," I swear under my breath, "All that build-up for nothing."
"Learn to follow directions and you won't be so disappointed all the time, Detective," he teases gently. "Go ahead and lean over the side."
"Yes, sir," I tease lightly and walk to the edge of the balcony. The night air is cool and filled with the sounds of the city. I admire the lights and the passing of traffic for a second before my eyes are drawn to a large black truck. Mac is in the driver's seat, leaning over the wheel with his phone still pressed to his ear. The sight makes me almost giddy to think he drove all this way just to see me when I'd be back in the morning.
I wave and point out, "I thought you said you were doing paperwork."
"Who said I wasn't?" he says and I watch him pull a few manila file folders from the front seat. "I know Boston isn't exactly home, but I got home and realized I count wait. I brought the paperwork so I had to have something to keep me busy until you decided to crawl back to your hotel."
"Mac, I already told you-"
"Hey," he interjects, "Are you going to invite me up or what?"
"Race you to the lobby."