Thanks for all the support for my last fic. Let's keep up the Mac/Stella love!

Thanks goes to lily moonlight for always guiding and encouraging me.

This was written for lily moonlight's birthday nearly a month ago, but I forgot to actually post it. Ironically, I'm posting this on my birthday! Well, technically, the day after. :D



Stella placed the half-finished glass of wine on the ledge, stepped into the deep tub, and sank into the warm water, the bubbles parting around her then covering her in a foamy blanket. A single lit candle cast a cozy glow around the room, and she sighed, unable to remember the last time she'd taken a bubble bath. It was perfect.

Well, almost.

"Hey, Mac, where are you?" she answered her phone, head cocked to the side, the device pressed between her ear and shoulder as she searched the closet for the black dress she knew he loved so much.

"Still at the lab," he sighed.

"You're going to be late."


"What's wrong?" she questioned, neck straightening as she took the phone in her hand, abandoning the search for the dress.

"I don't want to bother you…"

She could see him-probably standing in his office-rubbing the back of his head the way he did when he was anxious or upset. "You're not bothering me. Do you want me to come back in?"

"No, Stell, we've got it covered. Besides, it's your birthday." He paused and sighed again. "I'll make it up to you."

"Yeah, you will," she replied lightly, though she was disappointed that their celebration would have to be postponed. "Things happen, Mac," she continued in a more serious tone. "That's the job." A pause. "See you when you get home."

"Happy birthday, honey. I love you."

In the background, Stella heard the unmistakable snickers from Danny and Flack. Boys!

"Tell them to mind their own business," she grinned. "Love you. Call if you need me."

"I'm always going to need you."

The snickers escalated into full-blown howls of laughter, and she was almost positive that the 'thud' meant her husband had thrown something at their friends…

A 'thud' in the present pulled her from her reverie. Immediately on alert, Stella sat up and focused on listening for additional sounds. Another came shortly, and adrenaline kicked in, fiercely pumping through her veins.

Someone was inside the apartment!

She quickly, but quietly, slid from the tub and wrapped a towel around herself. This was her home, and she wasn't going down without a fight. Easing open the closet door, she searched for anything she could use as a weapon. For a moment she considered making a break for the bedroom to get her piece, but she didn't want to risk revealing her location to the intruder. The dim light from the lone candle made weapon-searching difficult, but finally, her hand closed around a plastic handle. It wasn't the best of weapons but it would do.

The flickering candlelight cast odd shadows around the room, and she quietly extinguished the candle. She learned in a self-defense class a long time ago that darkness during a break-in was always an advantage for the resident because who knows the layout of the home best, especially in the dark?

Another sound, closer this time, caused her breath to hitch in her throat. She could hear and feel the blood pumping in her ears. Her palms were sweaty, but she didn't dare move for fear of making a sound and alerting the intruder to her presence. There was no other exit except through the intruder. The squeak of the floorboard just outside the bathroom door was nearly enough to make her jump out of her skin, and she bit the inside of her cheek to keep from screaming.

The footsteps passed the bathroom, and Stella knew whoever was there was going to the bedroom. How long had she been holding her breath? She drew in rapid, shallow gulps of air, the action making her slightly dizzy. She briefly considered making a beeline for the door now that it was unblocked, but that idea was quickly nixed as she heard the footsteps retreat from the bedroom and head back in her direction.

Breathing halted again, she gripped the handle tighter and steadied herself for an attack. Fear transformed into rage-whoever was in her apartment was about to face her wrath. The door opened and she swung with all her might, the blow landing on the trespasser with a loud 'crack.' Stella was poised to strike again when a loud grunt and a long string of curses flew from the mouth of…


She quickly turned on the light, confirming that the 'intruder' was actually her husband. An angry red mark was already forming over his right eye.

"What are you doing here?" she asked, panting and trying to catch her breath, adrenaline still speeding through her. "Why didn't you call?"

"I wanted to surprise you," he replied, rubbing his forehead where he'd been whacked. "Guess the surprise is on me."

"I'm so sorry, honey," she said, an apologetic look on her face. "But you really should have called."

"Won't make that mistake again," he half-chuckled, his fingers still running over the wound. "What the hell did you hit me with, anyway?"

Sheepishly, she showed him the weapon.

"A toilet brush?" he questioned, amused. "Planning on cleaning my clock?"

Stella shrugged. "I thought you were a burglar, and the toilet brush was the only thing I could find. Why didn't you call my name when you came in?"

"I thought you might be sleeping."

She studied his wound. "I must've hit you really hard. Does it hurt?"

"Yeah, but it'd feel better if you'd kiss it," he smirked.

She grinned and rolled her eyes. "First of all, you're not five, and second, there's no way I'm kissing you until you've washed your face."

"But you thumped me with the toilet brush."

"Which wouldn't have happened if you'd called," she pointed out as she placed the weapon/cleaning implement back in the closet, trading it for a washcloth. Realization hit then and she narrowed her eyes as she faced him again. "You weren't working on a case, were you?"

Mac shook his head. "But I never said I was."

She thought back to their conversation. Technically, he was right. "So Danny and Flack's guffawing… They were in on the whole thing?"

"They knew of my plan to surprise you, yes."

"They are so dead," she muttered, knowing that even as she said it, she could never hurt either of them.

Mac chuckled again. "I know we planned to go out for your birthday, but I thought it'd be nice to spend the evening at home. Alone. I hope you're not mad. Before you answer that, you should know I brought chocolate cake."

Stella's eyes brightened at the mention of chocolate cake, and she grinned as she wet the washcloth with cold water and handed it to Mac. "I'm never upset by spending time with you, though I have a feeling you're the one who's going to be mad."

His eyebrows shot up in question as he pressed the cold cloth to his forehead.

"I was planning on wearing that black dress."

His mouth formed an 'O,' and his eyes slid over her appreciatively, affectionately. "It's very beautiful but it's not the dress I love," he said sincerely, noticing her attire-assuming a towel could be considered attire-and the bubble bath. "What, you're celebrating without me?" he smirked, the fingers on his other hand tracing over the top edge of her towel.

"Only because I thought you wouldn't be home until later. But now that you're here…"

The towel hit the floor, quickly followed by the washcloth, and she reached for his belt buckle.

Stella couldn't have asked for a better birthday celebration.


Thanks for reading!