He crouched down low, examining the blood trail again. He followed it from one side of the hotel room to the other, noting –again- the directionality, consistency, coagulation...

Again, his brow furrowed, deep lines forming on his forehead. Something wasn't adding up.

He looked over his shoulder to the divot in the wall, spinning on his toes and taking a closer look. His hands leant heavily on his knees as he stood up, his mind too engrossed in the case to realise he action was taking more effort lately.

The divot suggested the bullet ricocheted off to the right, which would tally with the previously collected evidence, but... he dug his phone out of his pocked and dialled, his other hand checking behind a plant for a casing or a bullet or just something that made sense.

"Mac?"

He stilled, before bringing the phone from his ear and checking the screen. "Stella?"

"How are you? Is everything okay?"

She had a bounce in her voice, but also an element of uncertainty that she was trying to disguise.

He stood up, smoothing down his jacket. "Yes, yeah, everything's fine. I, er, I didn't mean to call you."

"...Oh."

"Habit, I guess." His eyes closed as he berated himself for the hurt suddenly in her voice. "I-I'm at a scene that doesn't feel right."

"And you wanted to talk it out?"

He smiled, "Yeah."

"You still want to?" He could almost see her grin: a smirk slightly off to one-side, a coquettish pout that she'd used far too often on him and every male in the labs for her own gain.

He laughed, "You've got more important things to think about than a scene a thousand miles away."

"It'd be a nice distraction. Plus, it's nice to hear your voice."

He smile faltered, "I'm sorry I haven't called."

"It's okay. You're busy."

"I could have made time."

She was silent before asking quietly, "Why didn't you?"

He couldn't say anything.

She cleared her throat, "How is everyone?"

"They're good. They miss you."

"I miss them too."

"Stel-,"

"Ma-," she left it a beat for him to speak before adding, "Sorry, Mac, I gotta go."

"Oh, right, okay."

"Have a good day, Mac. Give my love to everyone."

"I will."

She cut off.

He pulled the phone from his ear, cursing himself for being so awkward.

Suddenly, the phone vibrated in his hand, the screen announcing a text message. "I miss you too. S x"