She's been so used to having Cassidy's hand in hers that her fingers are restless now, itching for another set to intertwine with. Her hand feels naked now, vulnerable and defenceless, and she wears only clothes with pockets in them for a week so she has somewhere to put her hands to keep them safe.

When Veronica takes her hand – actually, pulls on it, tugging her out of solitude and hiding out and back to the real world – it's surprising how alike and yet different it is, the way her hand is small like Cassidy's but stronger and tougher, as though she could fight the whole world if she needed to. It's like a security blanket and Mac doesn't want to let go.

They sit together at lunch and Veronica checks up on her and asks how she's doing, and when Mac's lower lip wobbles just a little, Veronica's fingers reach out and cover Mac's, and Mac watches the two hands together on the table, quiet and calm, distracting her from not knowing quite how wanting to move things along a bit faster, which guys are supposed to want, ended things all of a sudden.

Every time Veronica stops to talk to Mac at her locker, she squeezes Mac's fingers and smiles sadly, and Mac realises that at least her boyfriend is still around and not on the run with his illegitimate child.

One night she's sleeping over at Veronica's, or rather staying the night after helping her out with a case, because Veronica isn't really the traditional slumber party type, despite having just made popcorn and put on a DVD, and Veronica's fingers stretch out and touch her hair.

Mac is focussed entirely on the screen. If she looks at Veronica it will stop. She's certain of this.

There are fingers pushing the hair behind her left ear, then on her cheek, then tracing her jawline, and she's finding it harder and harder to breathe like a normal person.

She knows what comes next, but the patterns just keep repeating over and over, and when she listens she can hear Veronica's breathing, too.

"You're nervous," Mac says in wonder, the idea so surprising that she can't maintain the silence any longer. She turns to look.

Veronica half-smiles, half-grimaces. "I've never done this before."

"Never what?" Mac's teasing her now, feigning innocence, and somehow it's not so impossible for her to move in just a little, and to have Veronica mimic her actions, and for them to be kissing. For her to have Veronica's tongue in her mouth, and to have a hand sliding underneath her bra, and it makes sense, and she knows now that this, this is what hands are for.

- end -