"Drive by" is a song by train, I do not own it, or Mac and Stella. Oh, and btw, still not over the fact that Stella's gone. Sadface. Enjoy anyways.
"Oh but that one night, was more than just right. I didn't leave you cause I was all through, oh I was overwhelmed and frankly scared as hell, because I really fell for you"
After she left I told myself that it wasn't my fault. I told myself that she had left because she was offered a better job. I tried to convince myself that I was not to blame for her leaving; in essence I just lied to myself. She had tried to talk to me about it, but as per usual I was too busy burying my head in my work to have time for what I deemed to be pointless.
"If you're asking me about it Stell, then you've probably made up your mind and you just want me to tell you that you've made the right choice." I had sighed as I looked up from the file that I was working on. My tired eyes met hers, "And to be honest Stell, I just don't have the time at the moment."
Stella raised her eyebrow, almost defensively, in my direction. Over the years I had learned that the look that she gave me was not a good one. "So you don't want to know what my decision is?" she asked me, her tone could have sliced through several layers of skin had it been a knife. "Don't you care?" she added fainter this time, but it still caused me to sigh heavily.
Almost reluctantly I put down the pen I had been using, "Stell, it's not that I don't care... it's just I..." I paused; my brain was somewhat unwilling to work in coordination with my mouth. The words seemed to get lost somewhere along the way.
"You just what, Mac?" Stella questioned, her impatience getting the better of her. She had gotten better at controlling her temper but sometimes, just sometimes, it got the better of her, and almost a hundred percent of the time it happened around me. But it wasn't her fault, it was mine, I tend to grate on peoples nerves.
I was too old for all of this, arguing was a younger man's sport not mine. "I just don't want to force you to stay, but I don't want to make you leave either. I couldn't handle loosing you, so I would rather play no part in your decision," I told her before I brought my hands to my face, maybe I was using it as a final defence against her, to hide my shame, or maybe I just needed sleep. "It just hurts too much."
The silence told me that I had stunned her; I dared not to look up. It was an unspoken fact between us that I was being a coward. I just didn't have the guts to admit it, and she had the curtsy not to say it. "I didn't know..." she admitted. I couldn't blame her, I didn't leave many hints for her to pick up on and even a detective needs something to go on.
"I didn't want you to, I thought it would be better that way." I told her, I removed my hands from my face and stood up. I made my way around my desk and leaned back upon in – somewhere between sitting and standing. "So... what were you thinking of doing?"
I caught her off guard by changing the subject so quickly, but she didn't seem to mind in fact, she looked quite relieved as if she had just been saved from certain death. "I, uh, I was thinking that I'd take it." she stammered, her words sounding alien as they left her mouth.
"You should," I commented with a small nod, "I mean, I'm not retiring anytime soon." The look that she gave me then told me that she could see right through me and all the lies that I was spinning to keep myself safe.
For her sake and mine she pretended that what I was saying was true. She pretended that I was telling her to accept the job for her own sake, instead of me sending her away because I was scared. "I know." She added after a couple of seconds had passed, her hand slipped into her coat pocket. "Consider this my two week notice then."
I tried to hide my shock as she lifted my hand from the desk and pressed the envelope into my palm. My composure returned after what felt like a couple of slow seconds. "Okay." I tried not to choke. "You're going to be good boss."
"A great boss." She corrected, "Thanks Mac." She added. She hovered for a moment or two her eyes scanning me for a sign of weakness, I replied by standing strong, or so I hoped. "I better go and let them know."
"Yeah, you should." I found myself commenting, almost encouraging.
"I enjoyed working for you." She told me, the conversation was growing awkward, but neither of us wanted to admit it.
"You're a good employee – New York's loss is New Orleans gain." I told her, it must have been one of the only truthful things that I'd said so far. "You better go."
Stella nodded in my direction. "Thanks," she told me, her eyes suggested that she'd found a chink in my armour but she seemed to let it pass.
I watched her walk to the door and pause for a moment, but soon the moment was over and she was gone, leaving my office colder than it was before. It was better this way, I told myself as I once again buried my face in my hands searching them for an answer that would grant me satisfaction. It was for the greater good... it was in her best interests. But yet every moral fibre in my body seemed to disagree.
"On the other side of a street I knew, stood a girl that looked like you. This must be deja vu, but I thought this can't be true. Cause you moved to west LA or New York or Sante Fe, or where ever to get away from me..."
It can't be her, there's no possible way that it can be. She hasn't been here for almost five years now; surely the streets must have faded from her mind by now. There are plenty of women in New York with curly hair, and long legs... and that old familiar bounce in their step.
"Stell!" I find myself yelling at the top of my voice, my legs carry me in the direction of her, without my brains consent. We'd fallen out of contact since she had moved, but I could never erase her from my mind, I would never want to either.
The woman paused for a moment, as if she was contemplating whether to stop or not. "Stell!" I yelled again, something inside of me was compelling me to repeat her name over and over again at the top of my voice. I made a mental note to catch and kill that thing once it surfaced its ugly head again.
The woman turned and so did the man that was walking beside her. "Mac," she greeted, a pained look appeared on her face at the exact moment a sick twisting feeling started to develop in my stomach. "Fancy seeing you out of the office." She commented.
"Who's this?" the man next to her interrupted, personally his tone sounded judgemental to me, but I had to be civil.
"Ah, yeah, Scott, this is my old boss... Mac. Mac Taylor." She introduced, "And Mac, this is my husband, Scott Roberts."
My husband. It's funny how I never imagined those words coming from Stella's mouth. My mouth seemed suddenly dry and it became increasingly hard to breathe. "Why are you here?" I managed to choke out, silently cursing the air for being so thick and hard to swallow.
She wasn't exactly comfortable with this meeting and it was easy to tell, but she continued with the charade if only for her husband's sake. God forbid that he found out that they had a nonexistent romantic history. "We're celebrating our anniversary." She answered simply, each of her words cutting me to the bone.
"We're getting the New York City experience." Scott chimed in.
I nodded – which was about the only thing I trusted myself to do, apart from hit the guy. He'd done nothing wrong to me; apart from marry the woman that I had fallen for. He was blameless. "Well congratulations then."
"Thank you." Stella replied curtly, leading me to wonder how we had become just strangers on the street. Just Christmas card friends. How could history be erased so easily?
"I start soon," I tell her, it's my day off but any excuse is welcome in this situation. "So I better be getting off... have a good time and all."
"Bye Mac," Stella says, a couple of seconds later her words are echoed by the man with her before they turn and walk away.
I watch for until they disappear out of sight, two people lost amongst a mass of people. The New York City experience.
As easy as it was for me to blame Scott for the loss of Stella it was easier to find my faults in the whole process. I'd let her go, I'd not fought for her; I might as well have been the person who married them.
As I said in the beginning, it was all my fault. I'd let the best thing that had happened to me since Claire go because I was scared, but even then, didn't that just underline the fact that Stella deserved better than me?
The short answer is yes, she does deserve better than what I can offer her. Even if it hurts me to admit it, she deserved a man who would look after her, like Scott would. He could offer her more than I ever could, and I had to respect that painful fact.