Chapter 1 – About a Boy
Summary: Reed returns with a surprise for Mac that turns his life upside down, putting Stella into an unexpected position. Strict judge, suspicious Sinclair, jealous Aubrey, growing love & a new situation all add to new tensions that Mac & Stella have to deal with
Disclaimer: Well if you don't know I don't own them by now, you have issues! Lol any OC's are mine and any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental. And yeah if I owned Mac Taylor…I'd never have time to write! :D
Special thanks to Denese925 for the discussions on this over the past few weeks. Gurl you were there at its doubtful beginnings! And to snow6835 for the suggestions and 'tweeks'. Most appreciated! Also many thanks to Stardust585 for the background info and authentic language bits! Hope I did some small amount of justice to this idea. Hope you all like the start of this next SMACKED adventure.
Mac slowly makes his way toward the back of the noisy diner, easing himself down into their booth to await his dinner date. Even though they had been friends for well over ten years, best friends over the past few years, they had never really decided to test the romantic dating waters until a few months ago. Today would be their one month 'official' dating anniversary and he was more than ready to have a few more anniversaries to be looking forward to.
Mac allows his mind to wander back to the first time he had finally worked up the courage to ask Stella out on a real date; not just a rushed coffee over lunch or take out Chinese over case files after the working day had ended. It was a romantic evening at her favorite Italian restaurant and even now his mind is able to recall even the slightest detail of what she wore, what she said, ate, drank, laughed at, pouted over and how she felt in his arms before they said goodnight.
Now as he sits and waits for her, he wonders why they were so afraid in the first place. Sinclair would be kept out of the loop until things really became serious enough to tell; and they knew they had the teams support right from day one. He knew he wasn't about to rush anything, wanting to take the time to enjoy every second of their being together; of course his mind always paving the way for the future when he would ask her to become his wife. That one thing was certain. But for now he knew they had time; nothing was going to force their hand.
He looks up as she enters and feels his heart starting to beat a bit faster; even now, after all these years, a mere smile was still able to do that to him. He was weak when it came to her, but he didn't mind. He was in love; of that he was certain. He could only hope she feels the same way and wants the same future he does. Then it would be worth the fear he has pushed aside.
"You made it," he smiles warmly as he slightly raises, kisses her on the cheek and then watches as she settles in across from him; her facial expression making his time to wait all the worth while.
Stella quickly works to remove her coat and then looks up at the handsome face watching her. Over the years she had come to know every expression, every frown, smirk and elusive smile. But since he asked her out, his face now held a whole myriad of new expressions to cherish. Maybe not so much at work, because at work he was still very private and emotionally closed off; but when it was just them, his lips would curl upward more, his tone would be lighter, his eyes crinkle more and his posture relaxed.
When he had first asked her out she was more than thrilled and unable to say yes fast enough. She had loved him for many years and now that he had finally taken the first step, her love was free to express itself to him; sometimes without bounds.
However, Mac was a gentleman and a bit old fashioned, telling her that he wanted more than casual sex and was never into a one night stand; she said that was exactly what she was thinking also. The first few weeks after the first date were kinda strained and hit and miss and she did wonder at the time if they would ever get into a solid dating pattern. But now, here they were, after one 'official' month and things were going great – at least so far. She was in love and just hoped that he was feeling the same way.
"Waiting long?" Stella inquires as she takes the menu from his fingers.
"Just a few minutes," Mac answers just as his blackberry buzzes to life. He looks at Stella with some agitation. So far, on their at least, more romantic and private dates, he was able to dodge a call from work. Had his luck run out?
"I know you have to get that Mac," Stella urges him to answer.
Mac gives her a nod and then reaches for his phone, only to see that it's a text message and thankfully not a call to action. But when his brow furrows further she's quick to call him on it.
"No just a note from Reed."
"Reed?" Stella asks with a warm smile. "How is the happy wanderer?"
"Still wandering," Mac smirks.
"What does he say?" Stella wonders; finally accepting the phone from Mac's fingers.
'Hey Mac. Am gonna be in town 4 a couplea weeks. Need to talk 2 U & need advice & possible help. C U 2mrow. Reed.'
Stella reads and then hands Mac back his phone. "Advice and help. How were things when you two parted?"
"You mean when we had our friendly chat over a year ago? Goodness well over a year now," Mac arches his brows as he stuffs his phone back into his inner jacket pocket. "A bit strained but everything seemed okay when I drove him to the airport," he lightly frowns as he leans back in the booth; his mind quickly replaying the last moments he spent with Claire's son, a young man he has grown affection for over the past few years.
'Reed what brings you here?'
'Well I just need to talk to you about…well about a few things,' Reed frowned as he shuffled nervously back and forth on his feet.
'Want to sit down?'
'Is this about work?'
'Yeah. Well I got a job to do some freelance blogging. Kinda like a globe trotter journalist,' he laughed nervously. 'But something I always wanted to do.'
'Yeah so I gotta leave the US. I know I'm supposed to tell my family and such where I am going but over the past few years I guess I…well I'm more close to you now than John or Karen and so wanted to tell you.'
'So what does this entail?'
'Well I wanted to cover some of the war in Iraq and…'
'Pardon? Reed those are dangerous places. Reporters and…'
'Yeah I know they can get killed but I wanna do this. You know something serious with my life; some real reporting and blogging. I figure if I can do something that people will notice then…'
'It can land you a job with CNN?' Mac inquired.
'I gotta try right? I mean I handed you the take a chance line and I guess…'
'You not have to take some of your own medicine.'
'Right. So I have to leave a copy of my passport and birth certificate…' Reed's voice trailed off.
'So where do you go first?'
"I got a few texts from him every month. He was in Iraq and then he went to Poland and Germany and…" Mac looks up to see Stella watching with an amused expression. "What?"
"You really do care about him don't you?"
"Never had a son and…well he reminds me so much of Claire, I guess especially as he gets older. He has many of her mannerisms," Mac's eyes once again crinkle as he remembers a fond memory of his late wife. Stella's fingers close over his hand, her heart always warming at the love his carries in his heart and yet she knows has room inside for both her and Claire.
"I know she'd be happy that you two are so close. So what else did he say? Has he found a steady girlfriend over there yet? I know you said he said that was kinda interested in one of the female soldiers from Poland and then you said he went to Poland."
"Nothing must have happened because he never mentioned her again," Mac replies with a sight huff. "Young men and their indecision in that department."
"I think that's all men," Stella teases just as their food arrives.
"What?" Mac asks in mock hurt, Stella just smiling at his shy grin. "Since when did…" he starts only to have her offer him a mouthful of food to which he just shakes his head and takes it.
"I was teasing Mac. You're here now right? Nothing else matters."
"Here to stay Stella," he warmly assures her. "That was good by the way, what is that?"
The conversation quickly turns to food, leaving the topic of why Mac did wait so long to ask her on an official date, as Stella doesn't care now about the past, it's the future she's looking forward too.
As the meal progresses she listens to Mac telling her some more of the emails or text's from Reed that she had missed. He had managed to share all of them with her over the past year and a bit but sometimes was called away and would forget as it was just a small note as to where he was in Europe or Iraq.
"You miss him don't you?"
"I think as he gets older I enjoy his company more," Mac confesses.
"I'm sure he does also."
"I think he just needs some money," Mac mentions with a slight frown.
"What about Karen or John, Reed's adoptive parents?"
"He had told me that Karen is now battling cancer, only stage one, but still enough to keep them both busy," Mac relates with a heavy sigh. "So I doubt he wants to bother them. I can't blame him; they have enough stress to deal with right now. At least I was married to his mother but…"
"Mac," Stella quickly interjects. "You don't have to justify yourself to me for wanting to help him," she warmly reminds him. "You had told me about Karen and their current troubles. I think it's great that Reed feels comfortable enough to want to come to you for help, money or whatever."
"Just hope he's not looking for any kind of parental advice," Mac replies with a slight grimace. "I'm hardly qualified."
"Maybe he likes this girl and needs some relationship advice," Stella playfully goads.
"That's even worse," Mac groans as he takes a swig of his beer. "Let's stick to thinking that he needs money," Mac resigns, prompting Stella to offer him a sympathetic smile as they finish the rest of their meal.
But as soon as their dinner nears its end, Mac feels his nervousness starting to build once again. After their past few 'official' dates he had wondered if she wanted to complete the night with an intimate union. And as much as he knows that he wants to be with Stella more than anything; to offer all of himself and to have her offer herself to him, he knows that to push for anything if she wasn't ready would be to push her away, maybe for good.
He had wanted to suggest something to prolong the evening, maybe invite her for coffee; it would of course be an excuse to have her in a more intimate setting. But he also knows that she might feel obligated to offer something more so he holds back. Same with offering himself to coming over to her apartment.
They head toward the front door and Stella's mind and heart has the same fears and reservations as Mac's, neither of course knowing that the other is thinking and feeling the same way as the other. Despite her 'no man' policy over the past few years, Mac is the only man she trusts with her life, her dignity and her honor and knows he would never do anything to break those trust boundaries. But still she has to wonder, if he would feel obligated to offer more of himself if he wasn't ready.
The weekend! Stella's mind states in triumph. I'll have him over for a romantic dinner on the weekend and then we'll see what happens after that. If he wants something more then I will be happy to accommodate.
"Well…" Mac's core starts to tighten as they linger outside the small restaurant, hovering under the awning, away from the din of the street traffic.
"Are you on call this Saturday?" Stella inquires.
"No I have a rare day off. And you?"
"The same," she whispers as she moves in closer.
"Should we plan something together?"
"I was wondering if you wanted to come over for dinner. Give you a taste of some home cooking."
"Stella you don't…" he starts only to have her lean in a bit closer and brush the tips of his lips with hers.
"I want to," she assures him haste. "We've always gone out and…"
"Just didn't want you to feel obligated to uh…"
"Offer dessert?" She counters with a wry grin.
"Yes that," he stammers. "Stella…"
"Mac, I want this. Do you?"
"Very much," he replies warmly as his fingers wrap around her forearms and gently hold her in place before him. "I guess I just want both of us to be ready."
"Goodness Mac, it's just a home cooked meal. So relax."
"Right," he answers with a small nervous chuckle. "Thank you again for tonight," he mumbles as he leans in closer, his warm lips connecting with hers once more, preserving some heat that was growing between them, their warm breath a welcome change to their cool skin thanks to the crisp fall evening air. But just as their kiss deepens, destiny intervenes.
"Mac…" Stella starts just as his phone rings. She utters a small Greek curse under her breath and pulls away.
"Sorry," he frowns as he answers it. "Taylor. Right…thanks Don. I'm on my way."
"Sheldon is on his way there so we'll meet him there."
"Just lead the way."
"So do you want me to bring anything on Saturday?" Mac asks as they head toward the waiting Avalanche.
"Mac it's Sunday night, you can worry about that Saturday morning," Stella assures him as they head toward their late night crime scene. "As in five days from now."
Mac feels his anxiety lessen to a degree now that their weekend date has been settled; something for him to look forward to all week. Stella had put forth the invitation so she must feel that she is ready for the next step. If that's the case then he tells himself, he's also ready and that next weekend is going to be the next step in their growing relationship, he would be determined to show her that.
As soon as they reach the scene it's all business; Stella always amazed at how Mac is able to just turn from being Mac Taylor romantic partner in training to Mac Taylor seasoned lead CSI in an instant. She watches him for but a moment before she takes part of the scene and starts to process.
Finally a few hours pass, Mac telling her that he'll see her tomorrow as he heads back to the lab with Sheldon, Stella saying she'll catch cab and for him not to worry. She reaches home and then glances at her kitchen table, her mind now trying to picture the private romantic dinner her and Mac will be sharing on Saturday.
"Now what on earth will I make?" She quickly puts her coat away and then heads toward the bathroom, wanting to take a hot shower and clean the smell of death and evidence off her. You won't have to wash Mac off on Saturday night until you want to Sunday morning, her mind reminds her happily.
With that thought now dancing around in her head, Stella finishes off her shower, dries, dresses and then heads into her bedroom to plan the perfect menu for Saturday. She knows she's looking forward to their dinner for more than mere sexual gratification she hopes will top the evening. She has spent the bulk of the past decade with Mac in a mostly professional atmosphere, the occasional detour to Cozy's a welcome change. But still there is still so much about her partner that she doesn't know and hopes that Saturday will be the start of many intimate days together, just learning about each other in such a setting, not have to rush or force anything.
Her phone buzzes to life and her lips curl automatically when she reads his message: 'thanks again for dinner. Can't wait for the weekend. Sweet dreams and see you tomorrow. Mac.'
"It's going to be perfect," she utters fatefully as she texts him back.
Mac finally arrives home just before midnight. He had stayed a bit longer than intended at the lab but was glad he did as he was able to get everything done that he needed. He enters his quiet apartment, takes off his coat and then heads toward his bedroom, his body actually feeling fatigue from the busy weekend. He had opted to be on call and so was looking forward to a weekend, at least one of the days, to just spending some quiet time with Stella. He settles in his mind that he'll head over to her place a bit earlier and just spend some quality time with her; doing…well whatever they wanted just as long as they were together.
Over the years he had come to know certain details about the private life of his partner but there was still so much he had yet to learn, still so much he wanted to know about her deep down inside. He knows that he cannot make anything good to bring in the way of an edible offering so tells himself that he'll bring flowers and something to drink.
"Can't really screw up wine can I?"
Mac pushes himself into bed, rolls onto his side and then looks at a picture of him and Reed, a small frame beside a larger one of him and Stella.
"Hope its just money," Mac states in a tired breath before he turns off the light and allows himself to be quickly consumed by the darkness of sleep.
The next morning, Mac arrives at the lab to find, as he had suspected, Stella already there and working, her dedication and loyalty always something he cherishes and never takes for granted, at least he hopes he doesn't. But do you thank her enough? His mind questions.
"How late were you here last night?" Stella asks in concern as she hands her partner a steaming cup of black coffee; her eyes noticing the yawn he was trying to stifle.
"Midnight," Mac lightly groans as he takes the cup with a thankful smile. "Thanks for the mild stimulant."
"Mmm didn't know you were looking for a stronger stimulant," she gently flirts as her fingers rest for a few seconds on his belt buckle and then pull away; Mac's eyes darting nervously around, his core temperature rising.
"Right well…" he manages as he tells himself to quickly cool it and that they were at work and it wasn't the place for anything that could distract his mind or worse propel his body into a highly embarrassing situation.
"So what time is Reed coming?" Stella queries, quickly changing the subject; not wanting Mac to drown in sexual discomfort for much longer. The time to act on any kind of growing sexual urges would come on the weekend.
Mac looks at his watch and then slightly shrugs. "Not even sure if he's in town yet or not. I'd call but don't want to seem anxious."
"Okay well I'm going to get started on processing last night's remaining evidence. You know the stuff my boss was too tired to examine," she tosses at him and he just gives her a smirk and then watches her leave. He turns and heads toward his office, shedding his coat and then slumping down in front of his computer to check any urgent emails and then head into the lab.
As he waits for his computer to come to life, Mac looks at his reflection in the darkened screen and frowns. "I do look tired," he states with another half yawn.
He answers a few emails and then pushes himself away from his chair and heads into the lab to help Stella with some leftover evidence.
"Not even an email this morning," Mac informs her as he pulls on a pair of gloves. "As I said last night about young men being indecisive."
"And how much do you get for every time you are right?"
"Not enough," he smirks.
"Hmm and what will you do with all your stored millions?" Stella teases.
"Not sure. What do most people do with stashed millions?" Mac retorts as they work on a shared piece of glass.
"Buy things most people can't get."
"Love?" Mac mutters under his breath, forcing Stella to look up in wonder.
"Well at least we both know you can save your money when it comes to me."
Not really getting it, Mac looks up with a puzzled glance. Stella's lips offer a small laugh as she leans in closer, her lips inches from his ear.
"My love is free Mac, but only for you."
She pulls back and gives him a small nod, his face warm and his heart racing. About to ask her something further but then stopping when they both look up and see Reed hovering in the doorway.
"Reed," Stella greets with a smile.
"Hey Stella," he gives her a small wave, his posture a bit stiff and nervous. "Hey Mac," he greets with a raised hand.
Mac quickly sheds his gloves and then looks at Stella who gives him a reassuring nod before he gestures for Reed to head toward his office where they would have some privacy. Mac closes the door to his office and then heads around to his desk chair, watching Reed shift back and forth on his feet before Mac's desk.
"Reed you okay?" Mac asks in haste.
"Yeah yeah fine," Reed offers a nervous smile as he looks away, his eyes nervously shifting between Mac's firm stance and anything else.
"Reed?" Mac inquires, forcing the young man's gaze back to his. "You said you needed help and advice. What is going on?"
"I uh…you know I shouldn't have come," Reed stammers before he quickly turns to leave.
"Reed wait," Mac rushes around his desk, gently takes the young man by the arm and then turns him around; finally noticing the look of fear and uncertainty in the young man's eyes. "What is it? What is going on?"
"Well I uh…"
"Here, let's sit," Mac gestures toward his leather couch and waits until Reed sits down and then slowly eases himself down opposite him. "Does this have something to do with where you have been for the past year?"
"It does and I'm sorry for…"
"Are you in trouble with the law?"
"Well it's kinda complicated."
"Reed, let's start from the beginning," Mac suggests as he takes a deep breath. Following his lead, Reed also takes a deep breath and then eases himself a little into the leather couch.
"Okay right…from the beginning," he huffs as he looks down, his fingers nervously fidgeting with the zipper of his hoodie.
"Just take your time okay? We have all day."
"Well you know I went to Iraq to cover the war."
"How did that go?"
"It was a real eye opener. I always see what's on CNN and stuff but…"
"A bit more realistic and raw right?" Mac asks gently.
"I mean they never show the suffering that the women or children have to face. Don't get me wrong Mac, I know how you personally feel about the troops and such but…well it was good to be the voice of the little guy you know?"
"Am proud of you Reed some of your blogs were very mature. My views are my own but I do applaud you for taking your own stand. So was it because of this that you need help?"
"No. I wasn't in Iraq for the whole time. I think I told you about Poland and Germany."
"Reed, what is it? What is going on? Just tell me."
"Right…well in Iraq I met a solider, a female from uh…from Poland. Her name is Mira Komorowska and she's uh…well she's beautiful and…"
"And you want to get married?" Mac asks in haste.
"Well that's part of it," Reed stammers.
"But you need money to pay for it?"
"It's okay Reed, I understand. So then your time in Poland was spent with…"
"Mira. Yes for the most part. I went to Germany to cover an event there but mostly to get my head on straight and to figure out what I needed to do and then went back there and then came here a week ago."
"A week? Where did…" Mac asks in haste.
"On my own for a few days and then with Karen and John. I wanted to see how she was doing. I wanted to see if they could help me first because of…"
"Reed, I said I don't mind. I don't have any children of my own so I don't mind offering you some kind of financial assistance," Mac insists. "How much do you need?"
"It's a bit more complicated than that Mac," Reed frowns.
"You know you can trust me right Reed? I do want to help and I'm not here to judge. What is it you need?"
Reed looks at Mac and then pulls out his phone. "Hold on a sec…"
"No Mac, this call will explain everything. Hey John. Can you um…yeah you can come up now."
"Reed what is going on?" Mac asks in a mild panic.
"I um…have to show you. It's not money I need," Reed frowns as he stands up and starts to pace, forcing Mac's anxiety to continue to rise.
"Reed what does your adoptive father have to do with all this?"
"I know you have questions but…just wait until he arrives and then I'll tell you everything."
"Do you have to go back to Iraq or Poland or wherever?"
"Yes. Mira is still on active duty. Right now she's at the Gliwice base in… "
"In Poland," Mac concludes. "I know the base. But what does that have to do with…"
"She's trying…" Reed's voice trails off just as they hear the elevator ding and both look out through the glass panel and see John Garrett approaching with something in his arms.
Mac mutters something under his breath drawing a pensive glance from Reed but quickly shelves his frustration just as the older man appears in the doorway; holding a small baby boy in his hands.
"Reed. Hi Mac."
"Good to see you John," Mac takes a step forward and shakes his hand. "Want to come in?"
"Sure," John answers as he steps into Mac's office and stands before them with a heavy frown. "So did Reed tell you what is going on?"
"Not exactly," Mac states in truth as he looks from John to Reed. "Can you tell me?"
Reed takes the small boy from John's hands and holds him in his arms.
"Mac, this is Levi Garrett and he's my son."
Mac stares at the small boy fixed in Reed's arms for what seems like an eternity, until John Garrett makes a slight noise and Mac's attention is quickly pulled back to reality.
"What do you mean your son?"
"Yeah I'll uh…I'll wait downstairs," John offers both Mac and Reed a kind smile.
Mac gives John a small nod and tight lipped smile before he turns back to Reed in wonder. "Your son? And his mother is this girl in Poland?"
"Mira yes. I love her Mac and we want to be together but she needs to…"
"Okay slow down a bit," Mac holds up his hand, his eyes resting on the small baby boy in front of him. He quickly looks at the child and offers a half smile when he sees a mix of Reed and Claire looking back at him; other features he knows belongs to the child's mother.
"I love Mira. I do Mac, I really do love her and want to be with her. We want to be together but she's still on active duty and was told it was better for her to be in that status while she works on getting her legal immigration and citizenship. It's complicated."
"I'll say. So you're married then?"
"Just after Levi was born. He's six months. I'm so sorry I didn't tell you sooner but I didn't know any of this would happen," Reed sighs as he shifts his son in his grasp and then continues. "But I had to bring him here and this is where I need your help."
"I asked him and Karen first Mac. I did but now with her health, you know the cancer and all, well they just can't. But they said they would if you weren't able to but…"
"To what? If you need money for him then…"
"Not money. Mac, I need you to legally adopt my son."
A/N: Okay so they never mentioned Reed's adoptive parents names (not even in the casting notes) so I made them up. Hope that's okay but if anyone knows their names please let me know and I'll change and credit you. And yeah my OC's for Reed's wife's initials are MK *Sigh* still can't let go of my beloved Stella! lol dang CBS!
Should I continue or shelve? Want to know more about Reed and Mira's story? The plan for this to work? Anyone else who might get in the way? And how Stella will factor in? How it will get more 'complicated?' :D