Chapter 4: Fearless

There's something about the way

The street looks when it's just rained

There's a glow off the pavement

You walk me to the car

And you know I want to ask you to dance right there

In the middle of the parking lot


"Adam," Mac says as he walks into the trace lab.

"Hey, boss," the lab tech pulls his headphones out. "I'm still analyzing the trace you gave me. It's going to be a little while."

"I need you to run a credit card for me."

"Oh… Okay," Adam goes to a free computer. "What's the name?"


"Our Stella? Why do you need to know what she's buying? Can't you just call her if you need to know something?"

Mac sighs, "She quit. She's not at home, and she won't answer her phone. And I found this in her apartment." He shows the lab tech the flight reservation.

"She went back to Greece? Is she going to come back?"

"I don't know. She still had a whole bunch of stuff in her apartment so I think she's going to come back, but I… it's my fault she ran off again."

"Here, she paid for a hotel room after she booked the flight," Adam points at the screen. "Are, uh… are you going to go after her again?"

"Yeah. Get me a ticket for the next plane flying to Athens," he says before heading to his office.

"Mac, have you seen Stella lately? I've got a huge lead on our case, and she'd probably be mad at me if I go without her, but I can't find her," Danny asks, stopping Mac in the hallway.

"She quit. Danny, I'm putting you in charge of the lab for the next few days."

"Okay… Are you going somewhere?"


"She left the country again?"

He nods, "I have to go bring her back. It's my fault that all this happened."

The younger detective puts a hand on his boss's shoulder, "Just tell her how you feel, Mac. Apologize for everything you've put her through. And definitely do not try to tell her that you can't be in a relationship because you know that that is just an excuse. You've already lost everything with her, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing this."

We're driving down the road

I wonder if you know

I'm trying so hard not to get caught up now

But you're just so cool

Run your hands through your hair

Absent mindedly making me want you

Stella pushes the sheets off of her and sits up, her mind unable to stop working so that she can sleep. Mac had to have tried to contact her by now; he had to know that she was no longer in New York. In a way she wanted him to come after her. If he did follow her, it had to mean that he loved her, that he was willing to admit it, and that he wanted to be more than friends.

But she was also dreading the thought of seeing him again. She knew he wouldn't take the loss of their friendship well, that it would probably send him into a depression deeper than the one he fell into after Claire passed away. He would probably come after her just to keep from losing her, not because he really loved her. And she would be forced yet again to either deal with the pain he caused her or run away again and make his life miserable.

Sighing, she gets out of the bed, deciding that she should find something to eat if she wasn't going to sleep. She quickly showers and dresses in jeans and a green tank top. Before leaving the hotel room, she digs her cell phone out of her suitcase and turns it on to see how many messages he had left her. She has seven missed calls, six from Mac and one from Lindsay, but neither one had left her a message.

Stella grabs the key to her room and leaves, taking the elevator down to the lobby before she exits the hotel, stepping out into the mid-afternoon sunshine. She smiles, hoping to leave behind her troubles for at least a few hours so she could enjoy the scenery.

As she walks down the sidewalk in search of a decent restaurant, she hears someone shouting her name. "Stella," a familiar voice calls. Habitually she turns upon hearing her name to see who it is.

And I don't know how it gets better than this

You take my hand and drag me head first


And I don't know why but with you

I'd dance in a storm in my best dress


"Mac, what the hell are you doing here?" she asks, then realizes that she already knows the answer.

"What are you doing here?" he counters.

"I asked you first," she resorts to the childish remark to put off their conversation.

"And I'm sure you can figure out the answer."

"You didn't have to come after me; I don't have any stolen documents with me this time."

"Stella, I came after you because I care about you," he begins.

She cuts him off before he can continue. "Yeah, that's what you said last time. But you obviously don't care enough. I really don't want to deal with you and your lack of emotions right now, Mac. Just go back to New York," Stella snaps, turning to walk away from him.

He grabs her wrist, keeping her from getting away from him. "I'm not leaving unless you're coming with me."

"You're going to be waiting a long time; I don't have any intentions of going back to New York soon, let alone with you."

"Stella, can you just listen to me for a minute?"

"No. Save your breath; I don't want to hear you say that we can't be together, but you still want to be friends," she turns to go again, but he refuses to let go of her wrist. She tries to pull away from him, but his grip tightens. "Let go of me, Mac Taylor."

"No. I want to talk to you. And preferably somewhere more private," he glances around at the people watching them.

"Fine, you have ten minutes. Start talking."

"Can we go up to your room so we can be alone?"

She frowns at him, "No."

"Do you really think I'd force myself on you?"

"I'm not paying your bail if you do," she says. When she heads back toward the hotel, he lets go of her wrist and follows her.

So baby drive slow

'til we run out of road in this one horse town

I want to stay right here in this passenger's seat

You put your eyes on me

In this moment now capture it, remember it

"Seven minutes," she reminds him, sitting down on the edge of her bed.

He stares at the ground for a few moments, trying to figure out where to begin. "Stella, I… I really do love you. I know it's probably difficult for you to believe after all I've put you through, but I do. I guess I was just too afraid to admit it; I didn't want to lose you if it didn't work out between us. And I felt that if we were to start something, I might lose you, that something would happen to you. I just didn't want to go through that again because… I don't think I'd make it through it if I didn't have you beside me."

Stella looks up at him. "Why did you lie to me?"

"I never said that I didn't love you; you just kind assumed that I didn't because I kept making excuses. And I never told you how I felt because I thought that it would just cause you more pain. I made up excuses so that I wouldn't have to tell you how I felt. But I really did believe that we couldn't be together, Stel, even if we did love each other. I didn't think that it was a good idea for us to have a relationship when I'm your boss, and I definitely did not think that we should be more than friends."

"And now is when you say that you still believe that we shouldn't date," she mumbles, looking away as she anticipates the pain.

"No, I don't think we should. But seeing that this viewpoint has ended both our friendship and our work relationship in addition to all of the pain that it has caused you… I think I can easily be persuaded to start a relationship with you."

Stella remains silent as she contemplates this.

'Cause I don't know how it gets better than this

You take my hand and drag me head first


And I don't know why but with you

I'd dance in a storm in my best dress


"If you can find it in your heart to forgive me," he adds when she doesn't speak. "And if you are still interested in a relationship."

"Mac… I don't want a relationship with someone who doesn't want to have a relationship with me."

"I do want this relationship."

"No, you don't. You said that you're against a relationship, but you're willing try to try it out before making any final judgments. I don't want to be some… tie that you're trying on at a store or a new piece of equipment at the lab."

"Stella, you're not –"

"I want you to go into this relationship wanting it, believing that things could actually work out for us."

"I do want this relationship," he repeats. "I love you, and I want to have a romantic relationship with you."

"Now you're just saying that."

"I am not."

"Yes, you are."

"I never said that I don't want this relationship, Stella. I said that I don't think it's a good idea, but I never said that I don't want to be more than friends."

"Same thing."

"How can I prove to you that I want this too?" he rests a hand on her cheek.

She turns her head, and his hand falls back to his side. "I don't know, Mac."

He sits beside her on the bed and sighs. "So where are we?"

"We are in Athens," she smirks before turning serious. "I don't have job anymore, and we can't figure out what we feel and what we want. We're actually speaking to each other and not yelling. So I'd say right now we're about an inch above rock bottom."

"And how long do you think it'll be before we figure this out?"

She shrugs, "I don't know."

"Well… can I take you out to lunch or dinner or whatever meal people are eating here at this time?" he asks.

"I suppose you can. But, uh… do you want to shower or sleep or anything?" she glances around the hotel room, wondering where he put his luggage. "Where's your suitcase?"

"About that… I guess I have to go shopping."

Well, you stood there with me in the doorway

My hands shake

I'm not usually this way but

You pull me in and I'm a little more brave

"Do you have any suggestions?" he asks, looking at the menu.

She opens her mouth, about to tell him that she was not going to help him figure out how to show her that he wanted this relationship too.

Mac continues before she can speak, "I have no clue where to begin."

Stella sets her menu down and slides out of her side of the booth to sit next to him. "What are you hungry for?"

"I don't know."

She smirks, "I guess you're always pretty indecisive."

"Just pick something for me. I can trust you to do that, right?"

"Maybe." When the waiter comes, she orders for both of them before they fall into silence.

"So… why did you come to Greece?" he questions, hoping that he was starting with an easy question.

"I don't really know. I just automatically typed Athens in when I was searching for a flight. I guess… it's home. Technically," she looks out the window. "I just needed to get away from New York, and when we came last year, we didn't really do much sightseeing."

"Did you ever think about looking for your father?"

"Not really. Obviously he wasn't still with my mother since he wasn't with us in New York. He might not even know that he has a daughter."

"Do you think that it's possible that… the professor…?"

She looks back at him, "Do you know something that I don't?"


"You didn't have Adam run his DNA against mine, did you?"

"No. I wouldn't do that unless you asked me to."

"I guess it's possible. But why wouldn't he tell me?" She sighs, "I guess he wouldn't have told me that; he didn't even tell me he knew my mother."

"Are you like an illegal alien or something since you weren't born in the United States and you haven't been naturalized?" he smiles, teasing her.

Stella frowns, "Hm… I never really thought about that. They must have… naturalized me at some point because I can still vote and stuff."

It's the first kiss

It's flawless

Really something

It's fearless

Their meals arrive, and they silently eat for a few minutes. "Stella?"

"Yeah?" she looks up at him.

"I need some direction here. I need to know what I have to do. I don't want to lose you."

"Right now I just want things to go back to normal between us. I hate not being able to talk to you and spend time with you. I just wish I could go back to that night and keep myself from saying anything."

"I am glad that you did say something, Stel. I just hope you will give me a chance to show you how much you mean to me."

She gives him a small smile, "I will. Just… not yet."

"Can we at least be friends in the meantime?" he holds a hand out to her.

She looks at his hand for a moment before taking it in hers. "I'd like that."

He slides his plate across the table toward her, "Do you want to try it since you picked it? It's delicious, whatever it is."

"Sure," Stella looks at him for a moment, wondering how he could so easily transition back into their normal routine. She slides her plate across the table.

"So what exactly does 'normal' mean, and does it include coming back to New York?"

"Of course I'm coming back to New York. Greece is nice, but New York is my real home. I just have to figure out what I can do with my life now since I'm no longer a detective."

"Well…" he smiles shyly, "no one has seen your letter of resignation but me. And maybe Danny if he's been snooping around in my desk. And I put you on leave before I left. So… you're welcome to come back to the lab if you want. It'll make things more normal…."

'Cause I don't know how it gets better than this

You take my hand and drag me head first


And I don't know why but with you

I'd dance in a storm in my best dress


Mac comes up next to her, looking at the view. "Are you sure you'd rather go back to New York?" He didn't want her to leave him, but he couldn't see how she could prefer the skyscrapers to this.

"Yeah… unless you'd be willing to move over here too. I could teach you Greek so you could communicate with everyone," she offers, smiling as she looks up at him.

"You know that I can't leave the US," he reminds her.

"Even for this?"

"You want to go sit down while we watch the sun set?" he places a hand on her back to guide her.

They make their way from the Temple of Poseidon, where all the other tourists were, to the more private ruins of a temple for Athena at Cape Sounion. She sits down on one of the steps, and he follows suit. "So how many more days do you think we can get away with before Sinclair will fire us?" she asks quietly.

"Probably not too many more, especially since we're both over here; he might get mad because we didn't tell him about us."

"There is no us."

"Yet. But he doesn't know that. You know… you could stay over here longer if you'd like. If you want to sightsee or search for more information on your family or… just take a break from me for a while."

"I think we're okay now though."

He remains silent, not wanting to push her. As the sun touches the horizon, he puts his arm around her, pulling her close to him. Surprisingly she doesn't pull away, telling him that she didn't want this yet and that it wasn't part of 'normal,' and she leans against him, her head resting on his shoulder.

"Mac…" she says but stops, deciding that she had no idea what she wanted to say to him.

"I love you, Stella," he whispers, kissing her forehead. "I just wish I had had the guts to tell you so I could have spared you the pain."

'Cause I don't know how it gets better than this

You take my hand and drag me head first


And I don't know why but with you

I'd dance in a storm in my best dress


A tear rolls down Stella's a cheek, and she lifts her head off of Mac's shoulder.

"Stel… did I do something wrong?" he asks, worried that he had pushed her too far and they would never be able to be together.

"No… no, it isn't your fault," she wipes away the tear and looks him in the eyes. "Mac… if the planes hadn't flown into the World Trade Center… you and I wouldn't be here right now. You and Claire would still be together, and I'd probably be with a jerk like Frankie."

"Hey," he whispers, "don't think like that. Obviously Claire and I weren't meant to spend forever together. That's why I have a second chance at love with you. I still love Claire and I miss her, but I'm grateful for this opportunity with you. I think that Claire would be supportive of us; she always liked you." Mac pulls her to her feet and embraces her as the sun sinks below the horizon.

After a few moments, she suddenly pulls away from him. "I'm so sorry, Mac. I really shouldn't have done this to you."

"Done what?" he asks, confused. Worry is visible on his face as he begins to think that she no longer wanted a relationship with him. "No, Stel, don't worry about this. I've already caused you enough pain; I deserve this. Just… promise that we'll go back to New York and try to be friends again."

"But I want to be more than your friend, Mac," she frowns, not sure what he is talking about.

"You're… not breaking up with me?"

"No… I'm sorry because I've been wasting our time together. I've been waiting for some kind of sign that I'm doing the right thing instead of just letting it happen and taking advantage of whatever time we have left together. We've both seen enough death to know that we shouldn't take what we have for granted."

"It's okay, Stel. I probably wouldn't trust me right away either if I was in your place," he takes her hand. "So about this whole not wasting any time thing…"

"No, Mac. We have to take things slowly, especially now that we know what will happen if things don't work out."

"But not too slowly, right?" Mac smirks.

"Are you up to something, Mac Taylor?" she smirks back. "Because you are definitely sleeping in your own room tonight."

"Well, I was just thinking…" he places his hands on her waist, "… that now would be the perfect time to do this."

Just as she is about to ask him what it was the perfect time for, his lips press against hers, and her eyes close as her arms wrap around his neck. He doesn't let the kiss last too long because he doesn't want to pressure her, although she seemed to be enjoying it.

Stella smiles reassuringly at him, "We are most definitely not going to take things too slowly, Mac."


I don't know how

Oh yeah

A/N: So this is it. And for once I don't think I have any other stories written at the moment. I've been kind of lazy. Actually, I've been reading Castle fanfiction, which I have found much more entertaining than writing stories myself. Plus I'll be starting college in the fall so who knows when I'll post anything again. Anyway, thanks for reading.