AN: So this is the last installment of the series. I suppose it's possible I might write more, but I think this wraps this particular AU up pretty nicely. It might be a little early for Christmas fic, but.. meh whatever, lol. Consider this my thank-you for reading this story :) Enjoy!


Stella sighed and snuggled closer to Mac on the couch, her head lying on his shoulder and his arm draped around her.

"I don't want to leave tomorrow." She said and buried her head in his shoulder.

Now it was Mac's turn to sigh. "Yeah, I can't believe you have to work the day after Christmas."

Stella rolled her eyes. "Says the man working Christmas Day afternoon."

"Hey now, that's only because I knew I'd be putting you on a plane at lunch. You know that."

At this Stella raised an eyebrow. "Without me here, does anyone ever make you go home? Or, Heaven forbid, take a full day off when it's not a National holiday?"

Mac smiled apologetically.

Stella shook her head, the hint of a smile playing at the corners of her mouth. "Yeah, that's what I thought. Next January cannot get here fast enough."

"Now on that we agree," Mac replied, kissing her temple. "It's not the same around here without you."

Stella sighed and snuggled back into Mac's shoulder, trying to soak in as much of him as she could before she had to leave. This long distance thing pretty much sucked, but they were working it out as they go, a little at a time. Neither of them had been able to get away at Thanksgiving, but they'd had four wonderful days this week, and he was coming for a whole week in March.

It was almost laughable how everything had played out in the end. When they were practically living at the lab, in each other's space nearly every day, they couldn't get it together. But put them hundreds of miles apart and it was like a switch had been flipped.

Now that they were together it would be easy to regret leaving in the first place, but she couldn't bring herself to. She had needed to spread her wings, and it had been the catalyst for this, for them. A them she could hardly believe was real. Yet, here they were, half-asleep on Mac's couch and in theory anyways watching Holiday Inn.

As it all worked out, New Orleans would be able to spare her next winter. A year was a long time, but it honestly didn't seem like that far away. The journey it took for them to get here had been a marathon from the beginning. They'd reached the biggest hurdle when she left and five months later had already passed it and the first checkpoint. After years of confusion and steps forward and back, this next leg of the race would be a walk in the park.

Listening she could hear that Mac's breathing had slowed. She knew she should wake him to move, and she would soon but it could wait a few more minutes. They could wait. A year wasn't so bad, not when she knew that many more lay in front of them.

fin.