A/N: First SMACKED fic. I am stalled on my NCIS fics, just sort of lost interest in that whole thing from a bad experience…

But I am now totally in love with Stella and Mac. So here's a new offering and I hope it's not going to get crucified.

Disclaimer: Own nada.



"You're a real piece of work you know that?" Her soft voice echoes down the hallway as she replies to something someone has said and I can almost picture her rolling her eyes and giving them that signature half smile.

The reply goes by unheard as I head in that direction, anxious for the possibility that I may make it in time to see that grin on her face. My feet move as quickly as I'll allow to maintain some form of professionalism and I enter the room to find her with Adam; those green eyes sparkling at him as they smile and tease each other about something that I am not privy to. And then she did it, she reached up and cupped his cheek and kissed the other side of his cheek before pulling back and chuckling with him again. I silently back out of the room, knowing I've gone unnoticed and rightly so, she's moved on with her life and I am no longer that support that I once was.

I'm not sure how I got here. The moments after witnessing that are completely black but as I sit here, staring at the paperwork on my desk, at her name on the paperwork, I can't help but to feel every ounce of my being fight to keep myself in check. I can't be angry over this. I have no claim to her. I never did. The only thing I can claim, is the blame. I did this. I let things devolve to this. She needed me after Jess and I… I did what I do best. I put my well built walls up and shut her out. I ignored the calls. I denied the coffee trips. I turned away from our semi-regular dinners. I pushed her to the edge of my emotions and kept her out. I forced her hand to this; to him. Her laughter echoes out of the AV lab and my eyes lift on reflex, expecting to see her coming towards me with her coat to try to convince me to go home; but she's not. She's leaning her forehead to his shoulder, her own shoulder's shaking with laughter as he tries to explain whatever is causing the melodic lullaby to escape her throat. His eyes catch mine and he stops. He pauses and nudges her slightly, and in an instant those piercing green eyes have found mine. The bright smile that was there a few milliseconds ago dims but remains as I am granted a slight upturn of her lips and slight nod. She tilts her head as I return the nod and I can almost hear her ask if I'm ok. The most I can offer her is a smile and nod to the papers on my desk, before dropping my head and returning to staring at her name and trying to look busy.

"I wouldn't quit my day job if I were you."

My eyes lift again on reflex and, this time, she is at my door; arms crossed over her chest, body leaning against my door frame, and that trademark half smile on her lips. My spirits lift slightly seeing that look, seeing it directed at me once again. The confusion I'm feeling over her statement but be reflected on my face because a moment later she nods to the paperwork and takes a step toward me, "You won't have a successful career as an actor. You can't pull off pretending to be busy, let alone Shakespeare."

It's that moment that I realize that she might know me better than even Claire did. Stella can read me like a book. I've often privately speculated that she could read my mind if she wanted to. I smile and let a soft chuckle bubble from my throat as I lean back in my chair and tent my fingers while looking at her, "Can I help you with something?"

She glances at her watch and then lifts her eyes to mine, "When's the last time you slept Mac?"

Silence is golden. I heard that once, and no one has that game down like him. He could teach a college course on how to shut down and go silent and stupid in 1 second or less. I've learned to work past it. I've learned that no matter what I do or say, he will always do this to me. He will always pull this card. There has to be something wrong with me because I can't seem to help myself and before I know it I'm asking him to come back to my place for a VERY late dinner. This can end one of two ways. Both end in me lying in bed regretting this invitation. His gentle nod and tired smile agree and as we head to my office to get my jacket and purse I can't help but think that maybe, just MAYBE, there's some shot in hell that I won't regret this. He holds my coat for me to slide on and I swear I feel an electrical spark jolt through me as his fingers brush my neck. When his hand finds that spot on my lower back as he escorts me out to his car, I can't stop my mind from musing about how sometimes you need to make a mistake that's beyond horrible, in order to see the thing that's been right in front of you for so long.

The ride was relatively silent, other than discussion on at we felt like ordering in. I hate this. I hate this tension between us and more importantly I hate that he can't seem to disengage those damn walls he has up. It was hard enough to break through after Claire, and then slightly easier after he and Peyton ended, but we are back to the place we were when Claire died now. I don't think I can handle this. I don't think I can handle watching him bury himself into this case and not escape for a moment. I barely register what's going on as we take the elevator up and enter my apartment.

When the words fall from my lips, it almost sounds like someone else speaking them, "I wish it had been me instead of Jess."

His hand grips my wrist and I feel him turn me around, and then those eyes are on me. Those all-seeing, all-knowing eyes stare through me and unravel me as I lean into his chest and battle for control of my emotions.

"Why would you say that Stel?" My words are softened, muffled by the curls I'm speaking into but I know she can hear me.

My hands rest on her back and move in a soothing circles as she leans back and looks me dead in the face, "Then I wouldn't have to see what this is doing to you."

She pulls back and heads to her kitchen in a brisk clip and leaves me at her door, staring after her like a mute idiot. The momentary hesitation passes and I follow after her sensing another of our famous battles and knowing that accepting this invitation might've been one of the worst choices I could've made. I lean my hands down on her counter , pinning her between my arms and meet her eyes, "What does that mean?"

Her brows knit together as she glares at me, "Give it up Taylor. You don't eat. You don't sleep. You've shut down on everybody, including me. I don't know what to do with you anymore Mac. I thought we'd gotten past this. Past this whole need to be the man in charge who feels nothing phase."

She swallows and puts her hands on my chest, "I miss who you were before this started to eat you alive. I miss the Mac that came to Greece to make sure I was ok." I can't look at her as she speaks, instead opting to eye the spot on the wall, just beside her head. Her disgruntled scoff and a shove are clear indicators that she's picked up on my game and is less than pleased.

"I thought you cared about me Mac, but that's clearly not the case. Not since you feel that I'm not worthy of your conversation."

My original two thoughts come back to bite me square in the ass. I am going to go to bed tonight regretting this. My voice is raspy; torn apart from the increased volume and near screaming levels that I have just reached. The look on his face as he stares at me is all at once undeniably heartbreaking and terrifying at the same time. I don't know that emotion from him, I don't know how to cope with it, and I can't read what he's thinking.

When he speaks, it is a whisper. "You not worthy? I'm the one who isn't worthy of YOUR conversation."

For the second time in this conversation I feel my brows come together and my eyes narrow, "What?" He takes a step back from me and turns to leave before turning back and licking his lips.

He grips his fists at his side and shrugs, "Well clearly you'd prefer to discuss things with Adam over me." And then I felt my heart stop.