Indulgence

Summary: Mac has a massage, and one thing leads to another... Rated T for Mac's fantasies and what ensues.

Disclaimers: I have made no money from writing this story. I do not own anything connected with any of the CSI franchises, which I assume belong to CBS and its cohorts. I would quite like to borrow Gary Sinise, however… just for a day?

A/N: Set during series 5, about a fortnight before Lindsay goes to Montana. Total, unashamed fluff, to alleviate the drabness of season 6.

It was the way Stella thrust her fingers through his hair, lazily twirling the thick strands, emphasising the natural curls that betrayed Mac's Italian ancestry and which he had tried so hard to keep under control in the Marines. It didn't do for a Lieutenant to look like a girl: and anyway, he preferred to emphasise his darker, Scottish side.

Her hands were strong and decisive, her fingertips firm – almost aggressive – on his scalp. He leaned into her touch, sighing in deep, primitive contentment, feeling safe and cocooned and utterly carefree. Moaning gently, and sinking further into the softness and warmth of her, it was the delicious culmination of months of silent longing, a strong, secret desire fulfilled at last.

He settled back, making himself more comfortable, wanting to enjoy this sensation completely before moving on to – other things. His stomach tightened at the thought, but he controlled his sudden need. There was time enough for everything he wanted – everything he had ever dreamed of – he'd hesitated for so long that a few more minutes would make no difference. Let this indulgence last.

He heard a woman sigh, and knew that the sensuality was getting to Stella, too. This was so perfect – so out of his experience, but so everything he could ever imagine wanting. His mind began to wander as the expert fingers found another part of his skull to caress, soothing and smoothing away all the tension that had accumulated over the previous weeks and months. God, but it felt good. He imagined what they would do afterwards, when he was so relaxed that he would be at her mercy – putty in her hands. He liked the idea of surrendering: control was not something he gave up easily, but when he did, he gave it up completely. He imagined…

He imagined her sitting astride him in pale cream bra and panties, her slender legs bare as she encased him in smooth, perfect thighs: slowly she unbuttoned his shirt, making each fastening last a lifetime, slipping her hands beneath the material and caressing his naked chest with her fingers and tongue, gradually working her way towards his navel… He tried to rise up to meet her, but her weight held him deliciously down.

She leant forward, brushing him with her breasts, firm and heavy in their silken prison but straining to break free, wanting to give themselves to his impatient hands and lips. Running his hands over her back – oh, the softness of her skin! – he unfastened her flimsy armour and let it fall, liberating the beauty within. Stroking her, he guided first one nipple then the other to his aching mouth, nibbling and licking and sucking passionately on the sensitive flesh until she cried out in reckless delight. She writhed and bucked and tried to escape, but he held her to him, a willing captive, and explored every yielding inch of pliable flesh until she could take no more.

Then – then… He felt himself responding, straining at his clothing in his body's eagerness to reach her and make her his own. He groaned, a low, visceral sound that emanated from deep in his chest.

And heard something totally incongruous.

"Mac's really getting into it, isn't he?"

The words hit him with the viciousness of a wet slap. Forcing his heavy eyes open, he looked round in horror. Where the hell was he? He heard laughter, and reality seeped back: he felt his face begin to burn, and knew he must be scarlet with embarrassment.

His fuddled brain gradually remembered: Lindsay, an indulgence afternoon, Stella (foolishly) volunteering to keep her company and asking him to join them, him (foolishly) agreeing, because it was for Lindsay. At least that was what he told himself: because it was for Lindsay. The fingers deep in his hair were those of a trained masseuse, and not Stella at all. His disappointment was brief but overwhelmingly bitter.

He looked blearily across the room: Stella was there all right, but fully-clothed and deep in a foot-rub; and Lindsay was having a full French manicure. This was her final bit of frippery before the baby came: she was off to Montana in a couple of weeks, and wanted to convince her worrying mother that she was looking after herself. He had come here to keep her company, and all the while he had been fantasising about Stella. In public.

He scrambled upright, disturbing the woman whose Indian head massage had so thoroughly affected him, and making himself painfully uncomfortable. Better that, though, than… He glanced at Lindsay: she was trying not to smirk. But he was too good a reader of faces not to know. She and Stella must have seen. He grew even hotter.

He hadn't said her name. He was sure he hadn't said her name.

"Found a new consuming passion, Mac?" Stella asked. He could hardly bear to look at her, for fear that she would read his thoughts: but when he did her eyes were alive with amusement, not unkindness, and he realised, all in a rush, that she and Lindsay were indeed laughing – but with him, not at him. He felt humbly grateful for such good friends.

"Perhaps not one I should indulge in too often," he replied drily. "It's a little too consuming."

"So what were you thinking about in there?" Stella asked as they walked down the hot, crowded street outside. Involuntarily, he glanced at Lindsay, finishing up a call to Danny and walking a little ahead of them: he wasn't going to share his thoughts with Stella, and he certainly wouldn't even hint at them with Lindsay around.

But Stella misinterpreted his hesitation, and mouthed at him in astonishment. "Lindsay?"

She had barely whispered, but Lindsay was a country girl, with the stomach of a goat and the ears of a cat. Turning to her friends, she smiled sardonically. "No, Stell, he wasn't thinking of me." Mac felt himself grow red again. "Listen, I'm off downtown – getting some stuff for the baby one of Danny's friends' girlfriends' mothers has picked up." She sighed. "This is so complicated. Still – see you guys tomorrow, yes?"

"OK," Stella replied. They watched in silence as Lindsay waddled to a cab: something hung in the air, and Mac didn't think he wanted to find out what it was. He kept reliving the feel of Stella's nipples hard against his chest, and had to focus all his attention on what she was saying in order to make any kind of sensible response. Coffee – she'd suggested coffee.

"Er – sure," he said, feeling stupid. He had to get that vision out of his head: ashamed as he was to admit it even to himself, if he could have had one wish right then, he would have transported himself to his apartment, alone, so that he could continue to think of Stella undisturbed.

They walked for perhaps two blocks and then, without warning, the sky tipped a week's worth of water on them. Running, along with everyone else on the sidewalk, for any shelter they could find, they careered into a recessed doorway that gave some protection from the downpour, and Mac instinctively wrenched off his jacket and threw it around his companion.

Old-fashioned gesture it might have been, but Stella wasn't going to shun anything that came between her and the unremitting onslaught of rain. He felt her snuggle deep into the jacket: it protected her on three sides, and his body shielded her on the fourth. She buried herself in his solidity, and he almost cried out with the frustration of it: she was warm and soft against him, just as she had been in his fantasy. But it was only because of the rain…

Life could be so unfair.

He snuffed up the scent of her hair, and waited for the cloudburst to pass.

"So," Stella said as they sipped their coffee, the sudden summer storm over and only a gleam on the streets to show that it had ever been. "You going to answer my question now?"

"What question?" He avoided her eyes. The rain's chill had cleared his head somewhat, and he wished now he hadn't made such an exhibition of himself. He must learn to be more guarded. And Lindsay's hints, as heavy as bricks, hadn't helped.

Stella sighed and shook her head. "You know what question, Mac. I was only curious."

"Why?"

Was it his imagination, or was it Stella's turn to blush? "It can bring out the deepest desires in us, that kind of relaxation. You did look – very relaxed, Mac."

He smiled, wilfully misunderstanding her. "I did?"

"Well Lindsay says it wasn't her, so…" She paused. "You're not going to tell me, are you?"

He smiled again: it was answer enough. "What were you thinking of, Stella?"

She pulled a face. "Nope – I'll share if you will. But not otherwise."

"Fair enough." But something rose up in him – an urge to confess that he knew he must resist. Half a dozen words – that was all it would take to let her know how he felt. To ruin a friendship… He sighed, staring into his coffee: he had managed to control these feelings more than adequately since he'd become aware of them, but this afternoon's experience had thrown them into sharp, almost painful relief. It was as if Stella had really been in his arms, and not just imagined in some dream, the remembrance was so powerful.

Without any conscious intention, he raised his eyes: he could see the shape of her pressing up beneath her thin summer dress, round and curving and everything that was unbelievably beautiful. He felt himself begin to breathe slightly faster, his lips opening to accommodate his increased need for oxygen. Stella's breasts, in his hands…

Suddenly, Stella's fingertips were under his nose, snapping him back to reality. "Hey, Mac – it's rude to stare. I'm not a piece of chicken!" For a moment he was bewildered and lost once more. Then he realised what she was talking about, and abruptly pushed his chair away from the table. He had to get out of here. "Hey!" she called again. "Where are you going?"

"Home!" He hailed a cab: he didn't want to walk.

"Can we share?" He heard the edge in her voice as she scrambled after him, and knew she was – what? Angry – upset – confused? He was all those things, and if he wasn't careful he'd start taking his thwarted desires out on the one person in the world he wanted to treat the most tenderly.

Head massages were dangerous, he decided: they opened doors that ought to remain firmly locked.

"Sure."

He gave the direction for her apartment: she opened her mouth to speak, then clearly thought better of it. He knew he was being unreasonable: but better she thought him unreasonable than in love with her! That would spoil everything. Wouldn't it?

They travelled in silence, Mac aware with every nerve he possessed of her proximity, warm and solid and there for the touching, if only he had the courage to reach out. He did not: but, drawing up outside her building, the thing that had been mounting inside him ever since they had left the salon finally burst.

"You!" he called as she left.

"What?" She bent down at the window, her dress falling away from her like smoke.

Reckless now, he leaned across the seat towards her. "You!" Then, before she could react, he turned to the cabbie. "Franklin, please."

Standing in the lobby of his own apartment building, he realised he was trembling. He shook himself, trying to pretend that today hadn't happened. Whatever he had just done, it had to be one of the most stupid things ever. Which was worse, he thought: falling for Stella, annoying Stella – or then telling her so? He really was an idiot. He was still breathing fast, the images refusing to leave him. Irritably he stabbed at the elevator button again: if, he thought, he could imagine himself to the end of the fantasy, he might start to feel normal again. He was disgusted with his behaviour: what did he think he was, seventeen?

He stared up at the closed doors.

"Mac Taylor," he said to the empty air, "you're a fool."

"Foolish, perhaps." With the words came an arm, laced into his, and a kiss on the cheek, and a drift of scent that could only come from one woman. "But not a fool."

"Stella." He hardly had the energy to sound surprised. "What…?"

She smiled impishly. "I followed you. Do you know, that's actually the first time I've said 'follow that cab'? I felt quite excited." She paused. "Or perhaps it wasn't the cab." The elevator pinged. "Am I coming up?"

His heart thundered, every bit as uncontrollably as if he had been seventeen. "I don't know," he said quietly. "Are you?" He had no words to tell her how much he wanted her.

Stella raised her eyebrows. "With an invitation like that," she said, stepping in after him and hitting the floor button, "how could I resist?"

"I'm sorry. Please – please come up with me, Stella." His voice was softer than he'd planned, and he suddenly knew what it was to be scared. She was so near now – less than two feet away…

Then he did something he would never have imagined himself doing here, not in a million lifetimes: he raised a hand and gently laid it on Stella's breast. He felt the warmth of the flesh behind the thin clothing, felt the beat of her heart and the quickening of her breath. The elevator thrummed up through his feet. "Mac…" He should have stepped away, he knew: but he could not. He wanted her in his life, his heart, his bed, with his whole being. His stomach lurched in anticipation, and again he became aware of the constraints of his clothing.

Gently, not wanting to hurt even a thought of her, he began to flex his fingers, pulsing the soft tissue and feeling it pliable and yielding in his hand. Stella gasped. But instead of moving away, as he'd half expected her to do, she stepped towards his touch, pushing herself into his grasp and making his movements more urgent, more insistent. Her own hand came up and covered his, trapping him against her, increasing the gentle violence with which he touched her.

The world dimmed around him: he could hardly breathe. "Stella – oh, Stella… I was – it was this. I was thinking about this."

Her eyes began to close.

The doors opened with a smart swish, bringing them back to the mundane world, and they moved apart and towards Mac's front door. He felt Stella's hand snake beneath his jacket, hot against his shirt. The sensation was like electricity coursing through him. He tried to regulate his breathing: he had to keep control. Had to make sure she really wanted this.

He stopped, suddenly, and she bumped against him. "Mac? What's going on?" Her voice was slightly hoarse.

He turned to look at her: even in this artificial light, he could see her raised colour, her huge pupils, her open lips…

"You realise," he began, "you realise once we get through that door – you do know what's going to happen?"

She looked puzzled – and then amused. "I'm a grown woman, Mac – yes, I think I've figured out what's going to happen once we get through that door. Is that a problem for you? Cause we can stop right now – "

"No! God – no. No…" He gathered his thoughts: he had to be coherent. "It's just – I didn't want you to think that this was all there was. That this was all I wanted. I want you, Stella – " he saw her glance fall to his pants " – but I want you – all of you, not just this. You – you're worth more. I want it all." He stopped: he was not doing this well. Lamely, he repeated himself. "You're worth so much more."

He watched her blink as she processed his words. Then she put her head on one side, and he knew something was coming which would devastate all his carefully-worried out arguments. "What is it you call communion? In church? An outward and visible…"

"…sign of an inward and invisible grace. What's that got to do with anything?"

"Well…" She stepped forward, looked directly into his eyes, and began to run her finger up and down his chest, toying with the top button of his shirt. "I don't want to be irreverent, but isn't that what this is?" She glanced down again. "An outward and visible sign? Of something invisible – something deeper? We can cover the outward sign now, and do the grace bit later." Her voice dropped. "You're not the only one who wants this, Mac."

His head spun. The closeness of her, the feel of her touch, the scent of her breath against his face: he was a thought away from exploding with desire. The only thing in the world he wanted was to hold her, kiss her: explore every inch of her and lose himself completely within her…

Keeping her eyes locked on his, she brushed her hand slowly and deliberately against him and he thought he would drown in fire. Frantically, he fumbled at the lock, hands shaking: she took the key from him and with sure, practised fingers, turned it and opened the door. He felt her hand on him again, and shuddered. "Inside!" she whispered. "Now!"

He obeyed.

The End