A/N: This idea came to me while I was waiting for my muse to kick in so that I could write a couple of chapters to my actual multiple chapter stories, but, unfortunately, it didn't quite work out like that and I came up with this. So, this takes place after Charge of this Post. Definitely Smacked.


"I almost lost you."

Stella's voice broke violently and she found herself wishing it hadn't as Mac turned from his office window, staring at her. Feeling as though she was being examined, she turned away, facing the glass of his door. She heard Mac step closer.

Turning, Stella suddenly realized that Mac was much closer than she had thought. Mac raised his hands, embracing her tightly.

"But you didn't, and that's what matters." Mac mumbled. Stella clutched him tighter, assuring herself that he was there, alive, in the flesh.

Just as he had been there for her after the Frankie ordeal, and the Aiden ordeal, she would be there for him. Healing would take time, and she would be there.

"I just… I had to face the reality. What if… What if had I lost you?"

Drip, drip, drip. The steady drizzle of rain outside was the only thing they heard.

"I don't know what would have happened, but I know that you didn't."

"You know, Mac, sometimes, being a hero means just being here, now, alive."

Stella lifted her hand to his cheek, feeling his rough, unshaved stubble beneath her fingers. How she wanted to tell him. She wanted to tell him that he meant so much more to her than just a friend.

"Stella… Why don't we grab a late dinner? I'd like to talk. I want to thank you for getting me out of there." Mac's eyes crinkled at the corners as a smile touched his lips faintly.

Stella winced internally. "I'd like to… But, I have plans. Maybe next time?" Giving him a weak smile, she turned away. She walked away, conscious of Mac's eyes following her. She remembered why she was avoiding him, why she had been so worried about him. His life had been in danger; his life had been in the balance. And it had all depended on her. If he had… Heaven forbid, if he had died, it'd have been her fault. And she couldn't have lived with that. She made her way to the locker room, intent upon hiding her face behind her locker door. Light footsteps padded towards her. Feeling a light, small hand on her shoulder, Stella turned and was met with a light tentative smile from Lindsay.

"Hey, Stella. How are you holding up? You seemed upset when I saw you leave Mac's office…" Lindsay's voice was soft, reassuring.

"I'm… I'm fine…" Stella's voice shook as Lindsay looked on disbelievingly.

"Look, Lindsay, I appreciate your concerns, but I'm fine, really." Stella turned away, slamming her locker. Lindsay followed.

"Stella… Talk to Mac. Please?"

"Lindsay, it's late, I'm tired, not thinking straight. I'll talk to him tomorrow." Stella grew impatient. Lindsay's heart was in the right place, but sometimes, Stella wished that Lindsay didn't have such a big heart. Stella smiled wanly at her friend.

"Come on, Stella, come out with Danny and I. We're going to the pub." Lindsay's soft brown orbs locked onto to Stella's mossy eyes, daring her to try to weasel out of it.

"Lindsay, really, I'm tired. I can barely hold my head up right now." Stella's face warmed.

"Stella…" Lindsay was stopped abruptly, being cut off by Stella's harsh tone.

"I said leave it! I am tired, and all I want to do is go home, alright?" Stella snapped, instantly wishing she hadn't when she saw Lindsay's hurt expression.

"Lindsay, I'm sorry… I just… Have a nice time with Danny." Stella pushed past her friend and rushed through the long corridor towards the elevator, not knowing that her best friend's blue eyes were following her as she stormed away as she tried to brush away the tears before they came. Seconds later, Lindsay came out of the locker room and looked hopelessly at Mac. Mac handed Adam the folder and, in a second, was jogging after his partner.

The brisk wind met Stella's face like a slap, whipping her curls violently across her face. Goosebumps rose, and the chill of the fall night seeped through her thin jacket.

"Stella!" A shout came from behind her, distorted in the blustery wind of the cool night. Stella knew it was Mac. Still, she walked faster, her legs feeling numb.

"Stella!" Mac's voice was closer.

Damn him.

Damn him and his good heart.

Damn him and his uncanny ability of making her fall in love with him.

She loved him too much to tell him, too much to ruin what they had.

A hand reached out towards her, grabbing her shoulder.

"Stella, listen to me." Mac's face was set, firm in the dark.

"What do you want, Mac? I told you, I have plans." Stella pleaded, trying desperately to wrench her arms out of his grasp.

Silence met Stella and Mac's face grew serious underneath the street lamp. The buzz of neon lights and the chatter of New Yorkers surrounded them, filling the silence.

Mac let go of her arms, as if he had been burned. Still, Stella stayed, waiting for his answer.

Mac ran a hand through his hair, sighing. "What do I want? Stella…" Mac's eyes held so much hurt and compassion that Stella swore she felt her heart break.

"I want you." Mac exhaled, the words rushing out of his mouth. Stella's lips formed a small 'o' of surprise and she stepped back slightly, stunned by his sudden openness.

"I didn't want to tell you, Stella. I didn't want to ruin… us. And I have, I can see that."

Mac was hushed by Stella's lips on his own. He was just as surprised as her.

When they pulled back, dizzy with thoughts unsaid, the two just stared at each other.

Mac smiled, and with a confident smile, one Stella hadn't seen in years, asked, "How about that dinner?"

Stella smiled, her heart soaring.

Sometimes, being a hero means just being here, now, alive.


A/N: So, as you can see, I cannot possibly write a sad ending… I hope you liked it.