Thank for everyone's continued support! I really appreciate it!

Just a little history of how this fic came about. A few months ago, lily moonlight and I were talking over possible fic ideas. We decided to make a challenge out of some of the ideas, one of which being Mac and Stella in the rain.

This is the result. :D Also, please check out lily moonlight's fic, A Different Story. You'll certainly enjoy it! Read it!

So, a huge thank you goes to lily moonlight for commenting on numerous editions of this, always steering me in the right direction, and for being such a great friend. Thank you.

Enjoy!

VVVVV

Mac Taylor enjoyed afternoons like this. It was sunny and warm, and the best part was that he would spend this particular afternoon with the woman he loved. The thought put a spring in his step, and he quickened his pace, eager to get to her place. Finally, they were having the rain check date that had been postponed five times because of work, and he hoped the would-be criminals were taking the afternoon off, too.

Minutes later, hand poised to knock, Mac's eyes widened in surprise as Stella opened the door with a grin.

"I could've been a stranger," he greeted her.

"Couldn't have been anyone else. You're always right on time."

She laughed and kissed him, pulling him into her apartment.

He chuckled and held her against him, their lips working in unison in a tantalizing, intoxicating dance.

"I love it when you do that," she whispered breathlessly, clenching his t-shirt in her hands as they broke the kiss. "But we are not spending this afternoon indoors. It's too beautiful outside."

"No outdoor weather could match the beauty I see right here," Mac grinned, his hands stilling on her hips.

"Mac! I thought we agreed there'd be no more comments like that."

"No," Mac shook his head, "you suggested it. But I like complimenting you, Stella."

He watched as she averted her eyes and drew in a shallow breath. She wasn't used to being praised-not this way, anyway. But he decided that she'd just have to get used to the compliments because he had no intention of stopping.

"Did anyone ever tell you you're cute when you're embarrassed?" he smirked.

"Yeah, once," she replied, her eyes flicking back to his in a quick-witted challenge. "They never found the body."

"Oh, yeah?" Mac countered, his thumbs rubbing slow arches just above her hipbones. He'd recently discovered how sensitive she was there, and he was now using that to his advantage.

"I know what you're doing, Taylor," she said, stepping away and casting a sideways glance at him, tiny traces of a smirk etched on her face.

Advantage erased…

Clad in a sleeveless yellow cotton sundress that fell to just above her knees, she was a vision, and he couldn't help but stare at her. He enjoyed her company all of the time, but especially so outside of work. She was carefree and showed a side few people ever got to really see. No doubt, he was the luckiest man in the world. Sighing happily, he watched as she picked up a picnic basket and blanket then slid her feet into a pair of sandals.

"Seriously, Stella, you are amazing."

She glanced over her shoulder and studied him for a moment, finally deciding he wasn't trying to embarrass her. This time. "Thank you," she said with a genuine smile as she walked back toward him. "Right back at you!"

"So, you want to tell me where we're going?" he continued, eying the items in her hands.

"No," she grinned impishly.

He narrowed his eyes playfully. "Okay, I'll play detective. Location: Unknown. But I'm guessing we're having a picnic," he mused as he reached forward and took the basket from her. It was heavier than he anticipated. "How many people are you feeding?" he joked, lifting the lid.

She playfully smacked his hand. "No peeking!"

"Okay, okay," he chuckled and moved to take the blanket, too.

"I've got it," she grinned. "Besides, your hands are full," she finished, sliding her hand into his free one and giving it a gentle squeeze. "You're going to burn up in that shirt, Mac."

He shrugged and returned the grin. "I know how much you like my black t-shirts, so it's worth it."

She giggled and quickly kissed his cheek. Who knew that Mac Taylor could be so…mushy?

Soon, they exited her building and took a left, falling into stride with others who were enjoying the beautiful, sunny day.

They walked for almost ten minutes before the tall buildings gave way to a fair-sized park, rich with lush, green grass. A concrete path-busy with dog-walkers, runners, roller skaters, and bicyclists-circled the park, and Mac and Stella had to craftily dodge them as they crossed into the grass. Stella's eyes panned over the different groups of people: college-age guys Frisbee-throwing, kids blowing bubbles while other rambunctious kids raced to pop them, people of all ages reading, and other picnickers. Everyone was enjoying the abundant sunshine.

She pulled him along, and they finally found a spot where they wouldn't feel crowded. Mac put the basket on the ground and took hold of two corners of the blanket, Stella holding onto the other two. Together, they laid the blanket on the grass and sat down.

Still for less than a minute, Stella kicked off her sandals and got to her knees, pulling the basket onto the blanket. "You hungry?" she asked as she began removing items. "There's sandwiches, mixed fruit, cheese and crackers, lemonade…"

"Stella," Mac uttered, his hand coming to rest on her wrist, "slow down. We've got all afternoon." He took the thermos of lemonade from her hand and placed it on the blanket, then quickly and easily pulled her into his lap.

"Mac!" she squealed, squirming in his embrace.

He laughed in response and silenced her with a searing kiss.

She pulled away breathlessly and slowly dragged her fingernails across the back of his neck, the gesture drawing a low groan from him. She could play the game, too.

"Slow down, Mac. We've got all afternoon," she mimicked with a smirk. Since becoming "official," he'd developed the uncanny ability to make her giddy at a moment's notice. Especially when he kissed her like that. And she'd learned a thing or two about him, too. "I don't kiss just anyone in public, you know."

"Good thing I'm not just anyone," he replied, waggling his eyebrows.

Just then, her stomach let loose a growl, and she laughed. "Sounds like I've got to satisfy my hunger before I can take care of yours," she grinned. "Though we'll have to take a rain check on fulfilling your hunger as that sort of activity isn't exactly legal in public."

"Stella, I can't believe you said that!" Mac laughed heartily, feeling the blush rising to his cheeks.

"That's right, Mac Taylor," she shrugged and batted her eyelashes at him. "I am a constant surprise. Wait, are you blushing?"

"It's the heat," he muttered quickly.

"Right," she arched an eyebrow, not believing his lame reply for a second.

She watched him 'not blushing' for another moment, then climbed from his lap and finished emptying the contents of the basket. She removed the lid from the large bowl of mixed fruit and snagged a strawberry for herself before handing Mac a sandwich.

"Peanut butter and jelly?" he asked with a grin.

"What's wrong with that? I think it's perfect picnic food."

"Didn't say it wasn't. Just unexpected, that's all," he replied, taking a large bite. "This is the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich I've ever had," he smirked, licking away some excess jelly from the corner of his mouth.

"Oh, shut up and eat your sandwich," she replied teasingly, rolling her eyes and smacking his leg.

VVVVV

Nearly an hour later, they'd had their fill, and the majority of the picnic supplies had been put away. They lounged on the blanket, basking in the sun, forgetting that everything existed outside the edges of the blanket. Mac was on his back, one hand tucked under his head. Stella rested against him, practically perpendicular to him, her head on his chest. For several minutes, they silently stared at the sky, lost in thoughts of their own, in thoughts of each other. The entire time, his fingers traced random patterns the length of her arm. Slowly, his fingers slid through the space between her fingers, his palm to the back of her hand. Folding his fingers against her palm, he gently caressed the sensitive skin, the act drawing a giggle from her as she closed her fingers around his.

She loved what he did to her.

"That look like a rain cloud?" Mac asked randomly, studying a light-grayish-colored cloud.

"No," Stella replied languidly, "it's harmless." She sighed contentedly and drew his hand to her lips, softly kissing the back of it before returning their joined hands to rest against her stomach. "I love you so much, Mac. Thank you."

"The picnic was your idea," he told her. "And I love you, too."

"I'm not talking about the picnic. What I meant was that I'm happier than I've ever been, and that's because of you."

"I was thinking the same thing about you."

She smiled, loving the sound and feel of his chuckle as it resonated in his chest. "Why did we wait so long?"

"Because we're stubborn."

She slid her fingers from his and rolled onto her side, leaning on her elbow. The new position brought their faces closer together, and Mac grinned up at her. He pushed himself up on his elbow as well, his other hand brushing softly against her cheek as they erased the distance between them, their lips meeting in a sweet kiss.

"I'm glad we stopped waiting," he whispered when they pulled apart.

"Me, too," she grinned, moving back in for another kiss.

A rumble followed by a loud clap of thunder startled her, and she yelped in surprise. Forgetting about kissing him for the time being, she pushed herself into a sitting position.

"What's so funny?" she asked, noticing the smirk on Mac's face as he sat up.

"Since when are you scared of a little thunder?"

"I'm not scared of the thunder," she said as she began throwing the remainder of the picnic supplies into the basket, "I was just so relaxed that it caught me off guard. But do you know what rain does to this?" she asked, pointing at her hair. "I have a hard enough time managing it without the rain! Now, come on, we've got to go!"

"Your hair is beautiful no matter what," Mac chuckled and handed her the thermos, smirking again when she took a moment to send a mock-glare in his direction.

Mac stood and helped her to her feet then grabbed the picnic basket as Stella stepped into her shoes and picked up the blanket, quickly shaking it free of grass, and messily folding it before draping it over her arm.

Thunder rumbled again and they took off in the direction they came, their pace slowed by the hundreds of other people also attempting to exit the park. Finally finding a crack in the wall of people, Stella grabbed Mac's hand and pulled him after her.

They sprinted past one tall building after another, thankfully only having to stop at two crosswalks as they hurried back to Stella's apartment. Stella glanced upward, amazed by how quickly the dark clouds had spread across the sky. The temperature had already dropped a few degrees, and the wind was picking up. It was only a matter of time before the rain began.

"Hurry!" she exclaimed, finally seeing her building in the distance.

But then the bottom fell out of the sky, and immediately they were soaked by endless sheets of rain. Hand-in-hand, they kept running-which wasn't an easy task given Stella's footwear-until they finally reached her building. He held open the door for her then scurried inside behind her. They waited for the elevator, chests heaving as they sucked in as much air as they could get. Running in the rain was some serious cardio.

"Guess that was a rain cloud after all, huh?" Mac stated.

Stella glanced at him and burst into a fit of giggles. "Guess so."

In that moment, she didn't care how messy her hair was because of the unexpected rain shower; it was all worth it to see Mac in a rain-soaked t-shirt. She grinned and watched a few excess raindrops trace their way down his forehead, and she couldn't resist reaching forward and wiping them away with her hand. He smiled and returned the gesture, sweeping away a rain-plastered lock of hair from her neck.

But of course, like so many times before, they were interrupted…this time by the arrival of the elevator. Mac chuckled and shook his head, as a thought crossed his mind…

Good things come to those who wait.

"What's so funny?" Stella asked as they stepped onto the elevator.

"Oh, nothing…"

Once inside the apartment, Mac put the picnic basket on the floor as Stella went to get some towels.

She returned shortly and tossed a towel at him. "As much as I love you in that wet t-shirt, you're dripping on the floor," she smirked. "Strip."

"Ooh, demanding," he replied, arching an eyebrow at her.

"You know you like it."

He chuckled and nodded before peeling off the t-shirt. "Do you still have that shirt I left here?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about," she smirked as she dried her arms with her towel.

He narrowed his eyes knowingly. Ah, so she still felt like playing games… "It's a blue t-shirt with 'Cubs' printed in red…" he said as he walked toward her.

"Not ringing a bell…"

"Inside a white circle…"

She shook her head and bit her lip to keep from grinning.

"All within a blue circle," he finished.

"Sorry, haven't seen it!"

"Huh, I was sure I left it here…" he said, now standing just inches from her.

"Nope!" she exclaimed, grabbing his wet shirt from his hands and rushing from the room. "Be right back!" she called.

Mac shook his head wryly and swept the towel over his head then across his chest. Heavy rain pounded against the window and he sighed. They were lucky to get inside when they did. Suddenly, a thought occurred to him, and he eyed the basket where he'd placed it on the floor. They'd never gotten around to eating dessert in the park, deciding to let the other food settle so they could enjoy the double chocolate brownies without feeling miserably full. He smiled to himself at the thought of her brownies, and he quickly fished the container from the basket and carried it to the couch.

"What's going on?" Stella asked as she reentered the room.

"Seems we have a picnic to finish," he told her, removing the lid from the container.

She sat down next to him on the couch, tucking one leg under the other.

"So not fair, Bonasera," he said, noticing her new attire-a pair of black shorts and the Cubs t-shirt he'd described just a few minutes before.

She grinned and shrugged then reached for a brownie.

"You mean you'd let me sit here shirtless and freeze?" he asked in mock-hurt.

She broke a piece off the brownie and popped it in her mouth. "Shirtless, yes. And it's still in the eighties, so I doubt you'll freeze."

He slid to the edge of the couch and placed the brownies on the table before he stood up slowly.

"Mac?" she asked, looking up at him.

He swiftly scooped her into his arms.

"Mac!" she gasped. "What are you doing?"

"If I can't wear my shirt, then neither can you," he smirked, carrying her toward the bedroom.

"But what about dessert?" she asked not-so-innocently, wrapping her arms around his neck.

"How about we take a rain check on the brownies? I've got a different dessert in mind right now."

"Mm-hmm," Stella agreed as she planted multiple kisses along his jaw line. "You know what the best part is about rain checks?"

"Cashing them in?"

"Definitely," she grinned, loving that the rain was still falling, and they had no place else to go.

Stella loved it when she got what she wanted. And right now, she had it all.

Mac. Check.

Rain. Check.

VVVVV

Thanks for reading! Don't forget to check out lily moonlight's A Different Story!