Disclaimer: The characters are still not mine... even though I've been much nicer to them in this story than usual :P
Notes: This is for Crowded Angels, who gave me one of my favourite ever prompts – details of which are at the end of the story! Thanks to cmaddict and Ballettmaus for their help with the story
Wishes and Dreams
On his way back from the AV lab, Mac paused. Stella's light was still on and, curious, he looked into her office. Apparently oblivious to his presence, she sat at her desk, head bent, frowning in concentration over a piece of paper she was writing on, her hand moving across the white sheet, stopping every few seconds while her frown deepened and she tapped her pen against the paper...
Almost unaware that he was doing so, Mac watched her for some minutes, until she finished with a flourish and set the pen down, a satisfied expression on her face, which was the moment she glanced up and saw him.
Caught, Mac let a grin wander across his face as he pushed the door open and she spun round in her chair to face him.
"Writing your letter to Santa?" he asked, raising an eyebrow as he cast his gaze over the paper. Exactly what was scrawled was illegible, but he could see it was a list of some kind.
Smirking, Stella let her gaze slide to the sheet of paper. "It is Christmas Eve, Mac." Her eyes narrowed as she turned back to him. "Why? You think I'm too old for a Barbie Dream House?" Her face remained serious, yet her eyes gleamed with laughter and he chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck as he sat himself on the corner of her desk.
"If that's what you really want for Christmas."
She shrugged, her gaze darting away for a second, the teasing still in her face.
"Question is, would it be big enough for all my stuff? A girl's got to have plenty of closet space and I got a feeling the Dream House just wouldn't cut it."
Deciding it might be best keeping to himself his opinion that a Dream House would certainly not have enough space for the contents of Stella's closets, Mac settled for a sceptical expression and Stella's face broke into a wide smile. Picking up her pen, she twirled it between her fingers and gave him an appraising look.
"When did you last write a letter to Santa, Mac?"
That was not what he had expected and for a moment, the question floored him and he stared at her, while his brain started to rummage through all his childhood Christmas memories.
"The last letter I wrote to Santa was when... was probably when I was 8 or 9," he said and picked up a small glass paperweight from her desk. "The year I wanted a new bike, seeing as the one I had had gotten kind of small for me."
The pen now lying on the desk, her hands curled under her chin and her elbows propped on her desk, Stella regarded him with a softer look. "So what happened? You wrote your letter, you got your bike? Or did Santa disappoint little Mac Taylor?"
Mac replaced the paperweight carefully so it aligned with her papers. "In fact, he didn't, I got exactly the bike I wanted, right down to the colour..."
"But?" Stella asked, as always knowing when there was more to say.
A half-rueful smile curled his lips. "I started wondering how Santa had been able to get the bike I'd seen in the store in town. I knew it was the same one, because it had a splash of paint on the back wheel."
"You spotted that?" Sitting back in her chair, her legs crossed with one foot just touching his calf, Stella looked both amused and impressed.
Despite his sudden pensiveness at the memory of how he had lost that special childhood belief, Mac answered her with a smirk hovering on his lips. "Of course. I developed my detective skills at an early age."
"Of course," she echoed and nudged his leg gently with the toe of her shoe.
He continued, ruminating on the recollection. "After that, it was easy to figure out that it was my parents who'd gotten the bike for me, which I confirmed a little while later when I found all the letters I'd ever sent to Santa that Mom had kept..."
"You found or you searched for?" Stella gave him a pointed look and he responded with a slightly shame-faced frown.
"Searched for... in the cause of discovering the truth," he defended himself and she pursed her lips, shaking her head minutely although the amusement was still very much present in her eyes.
"Does your Mom still have them?" she asked and he grinned.
"Considering she's still got all the drawings I ever did when I was a kid, all my trophies and all my baby teeth, it's a pretty safe bet she still does."
Stella smiled, though a wistful expression fleeted across her features. "We always wrote a letter at Christmas and somehow, I always got at least one thing on my list. Even if it was never quite the Barbie Dream House."
"And to this day you're still writing and hoping?" Mac raised a quizzical eyebrow, his face remaining deadpan and Stella's eyes grew large.
"I've been pretty good this year, so this might be the letter that does the trick." She lifted her shoulders, her head tipping a little to the side, unable to keep her mouth from turning up at the corners despite her best efforts.
Folding his arms, Mac regarded her seriously. "So what happens if you wake up tomorrow morning and there's no Dream House beneath your tree?"
"Then I'll just try a little harder next year." Stella smiled brightly, picking up her pen again and twiddling with it. "Like always."
Mac shook his head at her winsome expression. "Your dedication is admirable," he said and she smirked.
"And your modesty is breathtaking," he added dryly.
Again, she shrugged, before leaning back in her chair and crossing her legs, the tip of her foot still in contact with his leg. "I'm a dedicated, and modest, kind of girl."
"That you are," he said, holding her gaze and a tint of colour suffused her face.
"So..." She swept her hand through her hair and attempted a breezy, light-hearted smile even though there was a breathlessness in the room which hadn't been there before. "How about you write a letter to Santa this year for old times' sake? Or have you not been well-behaved enough?"
Her eyebrows arched, her eyelids lowering a fraction. Mac stared. Slowly, his eyes not leaving her, he picked up the paperweight again, rubbing his thumb over the surface.
"I'm probably a little too old for a new bike," he said and she frowned thoughtfully, the glint of humour bright in her eyes.
"I don't know, Mac. Some things you're never too old for."
"I might get some strange looks turning up to a crime scene on a bike, rather than in the Avalanche," he countered and she gave a dismissive wave of her hand.
"They'd only be jealous. Who wants an Avalanche when you could have a brand new bicycle?" The way she was biting her lips told him she was struggling to contain her laughter and he simply stared at her, straight-faced.
"I'll stick with the Avalanche," he said and she shrugged, still smirking. "But I could ask for a GI Joe doll so I could bring him round to visit your Dream House..." Stella laughed out loud and his lips twitched. "Or," he continued when a thought struck him, "I could take advantage of all the years of good behaviour I've got saved up and ask him for a Dream House on your behalf."
Stella's face beamed in a sunburst of a smile and she got up from her chair and kissed him.
"What did I do to deserve that?" he asked, not unhappy at being kissed by Stella, especially as her lips had grazed his on their way to his cheek.
"Because you're adorable," she declared. "Anyhow, does there need to be a reason?" she asked, head cocked to one side her hands on his upper arms, smiling softly at him.
A slow grin spread across his face. "I guess not."
"Good." She nodded once, decisively before her hands slid down his arms to rest on his, her fingers then wrapping round them. Mac slid off the desk and they stood in front of each other, the two of them toe to toe, the faint scent of Stella's perfume fascinating him. She smiled, repeating in a murmur, "Good..."
His lips meeting hers silenced both of them. They met and melded, mouths brushing against each other's before exploring further, drawing closer, touching, hands caressing until naturally the kiss reached its end and they drew apart, staring at each other, shy, smiling, Stella's fingers tracing along his jaw, his stroking the sliver of skin between her shirt and jeans.
"I guess sometimes there really doesn't need to be a reason," he said as their gazes held, her eyes jewel-bright.
She shook her head. "Sometimes it just happens..."
They were silent again, gazing at each other, seeing something new there in them, around them, between them.
"Might this make up for any disappointment if you don't get your Dream House?" Mac asked, a sly smile slanting across his mouth. Stella swatted him.
"And you were saying something about modesty a few minutes ago? But actually..." Her smile was coy as her fingers slid round to the nape of his neck, "A kiss was second on my list."
"Only second?" His eyebrows rose and Stella grinned and kissed him again.
"Third, if you want to know, was dinner."
"Third?" His eyebrows rose further and he decided not to ask at that moment whether there was a fourth or even fifth item on her list.
Stella only smiled against his lips.
"You have quite the Christmas wish list..." he mumbled, becoming entangled with her again and anything else he might have been about to say was forgotten.
When they drew apart, eyes glowing and skin flushed, Mac trailed his fingers down her arm, asking, "So, dinner then?"
"Sounds good to me," she said softly. "Come on, let's get your jacket."
As they prepared to leave her office, Mac entwined his fingers with hers and gave a tug to her hand. "Out of curiosity and because I am a detective," he asked. "What were you really writing?"
Stella blinked at him with wide eyes, as if baffled he was even asking her such a question. "My Christmas list."
He regarded her with further scepticism, but she simply smirked as she turned and adjusted his collar with her free hand. "After dinner, maybe you could help me check off a few more items from it."
"You have more items?" He raised his eyebrows and she smiled coyly at him.
Filled with a pleasant anticipation, Mac grinned as he leaned forward to kiss her again. "I'd be delighted to."
Thank you for reading! The prompt was: Stella, a Christmas list, and a Dream House :D Christmas was a little while ago, I know, but I hope you still enjoyed this, and reviews are very welcome! Thanks, Lily x