Spoilers: Through 7x01
Disclaimer: I own nothing but my inspiration.
AN: I actually wrote and posted this at my LJ a year ago. There's also a sequel. I'll add it to this story as chapter 2 in a couple of days.

I'll wait for the day when
We finally say now or never
'Til then I'll be here wanting more
As I settle for atmosphere
send me the moon; sara bareilles

Mac leaned back into his chair and sighed. He stared out his office window at the skyline, searching for stars even though he knew the streetlights would never let them shine through.

This wasn't where he wanted to be, or really she wasn't where he wanted her to be. Stella belonged in New York. She belonged in the office down the hallway from his; the one with the couch he'd seen her fall asleep on so many times. She belonged in this lab working alongside him late into the night, refusing to give up until they solved the case.

Stella belonged here. She belonged with him.

Two weeks, five days, and roughly eight hours; that was about how long after she left that it took for Mac to reach this last conclusion. Mentally all he could do was kick himself for not seeing sooner what had lain right before his eyes. Some detective he turned out to be.

He had talked to her once since she left, to make sure she'd landed safe and sound. Before they got off the phone, she had asked him not to call again.

"I'll – I'll call you when things settle down some."

The words echoed in his head. The catch in her voice held so much more meaning now.

She loved him, too. How had he not seen it?

And now two months have gone by and he can't seem to pick up the phone. His heart aches, missing her so much that sometimes he has to literally stand still to catch his breath. The sound of her laugh plays like a record in his mind, comforting and taunting him at one and the same time. But how does he call her now? She made the choice to leave, and he must have hurt her like hell for her to run all the way to Louisiana.

He had tried to talk her out of going in the first place.

"I need a fresh start. Besides, think of all the good I could do."

"But Stella, New York is your home. And what about the team?" he sighed, exasperated.

"I imagine the team will miss me," she paused looking at him, almost daring him to interrupt, "and it may take some adjusting, but they will manage just fine. I'm not so conceited to think you guys can't survive without me."

He gave up on long lost stars, but kept looking out the window for a while, instead watching the lights in offices across the street go off one by one until only a handful remained.

Mac's chair creaked as he swiveled around. Taking a deep breath, he counted to three and picked up the phone.