A/N: This wasn't written as a tag to any particular episode, but I've been told on livejournal that it fits one of the later episodes. I couldn't say which as I'm not up to date with the show, but feel free to read as a tag to whichever episode comes to mind, if any does. :)

A Very Long Time

It's a strange state of mind that Mac finds himself in, after a long day at work and a near death experience for Stella. He isn't sure whether to be tired out or energised by what happened. His heart continues to beat rapidly in his chest (adrenaline), faster than normal, even now, hours later. And yet, there is a fuzzy feeling settling over his thoughts and various limbs. His mind is tired while his body trembles fiercely in a battle of wills.

He swallows and looks at his reflection in the mirror. There are dark shadows under his eyes. His eyes are bloodshot and keep closing against his will and then fluttering back open again with some effort.

His heart lurches.

He almost lost her. Today, Stella came so close to losing her life and he, his best friend. Just thinking about it is painful.

If things had been different, if he hadn't been there to push her out of the way, he'd probably be picking out a suit to wear to her funeral. Either that or booking himself into a mental institution. It was a toss-up. After Claire died, Stella has been his touchstone and to lose her would bring him down further, with no one there to pick up the pieces and hold him together.

At the same time as he's fearful for what could have been, he feels relief and exhilaration that Stella is still alive. He feels dread that a similar situation may come up in the future with far worse results and he feels tired and hungry and like his mind is racing so fast and his body is so hyped up on adrenaline that sleep will not come to him for at least another day.

He craves sleep, to rest his mind and sleep away his emotions. But instead he returns to his desk and slumps into the chair behind it. He picks up a file and then replaces it on his desk before swivelling around on his chair to stare out the window at the black of night. Moonlight floods through the glass, almost surreal in nature.


He cranes his neck to look back towards his door. Stella is standing there, shroud in darkness. There's an unreadable look on her face. "Yeah?" he asks.

"Go home," she says simply. "Please. For me."

"I'll just be a minute." His gaze is drawn back to the scene outside his window and in seconds, he is in a daze again, his thoughts wandering. He doesn't hear Stella approach until she's right behind him and then her hand is warm on his shoulder.

"You okay?"

"Yeah," he says. "Yeah, I'm a little shaken but I'm all right. You?"

"Yeah, thanks to you." She smiles slightly as she says it. She squeezes his shoulder.

Reaching one hand up to take hers, he returns the gesture and then lets her go. He sighs quietly and stands, looking into her eyes. "Good. What do you say we both get out of here?"

Stella rolls her eyes good-naturedly. "Let's! I've just about had enough of this place today."

Smirking slightly, Mac nods his agreement. He gathers his belongings and then leads Stella out, his hand hovering over her lower back and guiding her. When they reach the elevator, Stella presses the button to call it to them. "You sure you're all right?" she asks. "You seemed a bit out of it when I found you there."

"Just concerned," he admits. "I was so close to losing you today. We were. I mean."

Her expression changes as she recalls her near hit. "I know. Don't remind me!"

"Sorry. I just... I'd be lost without you, Stel." He shrugs. "Don't hold that against me, please?"

She stares at him for a moment and then settles with, "Wow." The elevator pings and the doors open for them. They step inside silently.

"Well," she says a few seconds later, startling him. "If it's up to me you'll not have to go without me for a very long time."

Mac smiles his first genuine smile of the night. "If it's up to me, I'll not have to go without you for a very long time either."