AN Sorry it's been so long since my last chapter. I had to move pretty suddenly, and what with the packing, unpacking, getting to know new roommates, I kinda lost track of where I was in the story. I hope you guys like the new chapter!
AN2 It's finally letting me update on my old account, so I thought I would repost this in the correct place. Chapter 6 will be up soon.
"So did you guys end up deep-frying a turkey?" Mac asked.
"What?" Dick jabbed his thumb against the button, trying to roll out of the way of her attack.
"I was just wondering what you and Logan did for Thanksgiving," she said innocently. "Did you go out?" She bit back a grin as Dick's character jerked off the platform.
"Uh, no, not…not really," he muttered, his leg jiggling as he waited for his character to reappear on screen. "What'd you do?"
She smirked a bit at the eagerness in his voice. "Nothing. Worked."
Now lull him into a false sense of security, she coached herself, allowing the room to fall silent. She could feel the tension radiating off of him and across the three feet between them, but he didn't say anything and she calmly continued to dominate the fight on screen. That alone would have tipped her off that something was wrong if she hadn't already known.
A couple minutes passed and then Dick set his controller on the table, standing suddenly. She pressed pause and waited while he wandered towards the kitchen. When he came back, he was carrying two brown bottles. He handed her one and resumed his seat on the couch. Glancing down, she blinked at the label.
Virgil's root beer.
Biting her lip to tamp down the odd urge to giggle, she set down her own controller and tried to twist off the top.
"Here," Dick said, holding out his hand for her bottle as he set his on the coffee table.
Bet that's not root beer, she thought, relinquishing the bottle and turning back to the game. He twisted off the cap and set her soda on the table in front of her. "Thanks," she said absently.
She saw him shrug out of the corner of her eye and take a swig of his beer. Her eyes landed on the root beer bottle and she smiled softly. Apparently he and Logan had at least gone out to go shopping during break. Biting her lip, she looked back at him and saw the anxiety tightening his features. She suppressed a sigh and took pity on him, deciding not to dig anymore about the strip club.
He picked his controller back up and they started to fight again. Mac could tell he was starting to relax because his playing improved tenfold. It was annoying really.
When he scored the winning hit, making Mac's player fly off screen, he muttered, "Boo-yaw."
She blinked at the screen for a moment, then smiled evilly.
"You know, I hear flying thongs are a real danger in Neptune," she said abruptly, laughing as beer sprayed out of Dick's mouth. Oh well, resolutions were made to be broken.
Mac sighed and glared at Logan and Wallace as they elbowed each other on the couch. "Chill, Echolls."
Logan didn't spare him a glance. "Pot, meet Kettle," he muttered, jabbing Wallace a little harder.
Rolling her eyes, Mac highlighted part of her code and compared it to the sample in the book. Hers was better: concise and more elegant. But she knew from experience that the professor wouldn't appreciate it if she tried to "grand stand" in her homework.
Mumbling to herself, she switched the code around before going back to check that it would still function properly. She executed a trail run and blinked when an error message appeared.
"What?" She stared blankly at the screen. "Damn."
With a sigh, she hunched over the computer and went over the code line by line. The crink in her neck was starting to ache again from her uninterrupted position hunched over the keyboard. Stupid professor wanting it one stupid way.
"Work, damn you," she muttered, jabbing at a key with too much force.
Veronica looked up from her own computer. "Problems?"
"Bad code," Mac replied absently, eyes moving carefully over the symbols.
At the fourteenth line, she stopped to rub her eyes, positive that they were permanently crossed. When she opened them again, a brown bottle filled her field of vision. She wrapped her fingers around the neck and glanced up at Dick gratefully, but he wasn't even looking at her.
"Thanks," she said, watching him drop onto the sofa next to her.
He cracked his own lid off and tossed it on the coffee table. "Whatever."
Taking a swig of the root beer, she closed her eyes for a moment to let the bubbles burst on her tongue. Fortified, she turned back to the computer and focused once again on the code.
After a moment, the unprecedented silence of the room made her glance up again. As soon as she did, Wallace and Logan's heads jerked back to the screen in unison. "Man, I'm not even going to start on the jumpsuit," Wallace said, jump-kicking Logan's vinyl clad character.
"At least I'm not sporting a cape."
Mac tried to catch Dick's eye, but he didn't seem to be paying attention, busy texting someone on his phone. Shaking off the sudden paranoia, Mac turned back to her code. But the creepy feeling that everyone was staring at her remained. She surreptitiously looked at Veronica out from under her lashes and caught her friend doing the same.
Both of them froze for a second before immediately dropping the pretense and raising their heads to stare at each other. Mac furrowed her brow and shook her head, silently questioning Veronica, whose eyes immediately locked on and widened at the root beer before returning to Mac.
Mac could feel a blush working its way up her neck and she moved a shoulder slightly to indicate her own confusion. "Root beer," she mouthed, turning her head farther towards Veronica so the boys wouldn't see.
Veronica shook her head almost violently, catching Logan's attention. She smiled sweetly at him and his eyes immediately narrowed to small slits. Hurriedly, Veronica dropped her eyes back to her computer and began typing.
In the blessed reprieve, Mac had never felt more beholden to Logan in her life. But when he turned his suspicious gaze from Veronica to Mac, her body quickly hunched back over the laptop.
"Dude, I'm ordering pizza."
Mac raised her head and watched blandly as Dick stood and walked into his bedroom, already dialing. Dick's total obliviousness was sort of endearing really.
Four pizzas arrived twenty minutes later, more than enough for four people. When the tops were flipped open and slices handed out, Veronica sent Mac another pointed look over a slice laden with vegetables and lacking any source of protein.
Mac studiously avoided her friend's gaze.
"I hate finals," Mac groaned, collapsing backwards into a corner of Logan's couch.
"Seriously," Wallace agreed, shutting the door to the apartment and dropping his jacket on a chair.
Veronica barely looked up from her textbook as Wallace settled himself next to her on the cushions. "Working here."
"You know, I really think that too much studying numbs your brain. When the final comes around, you can't think anymore. What good is that?"
"You just don't want to read The Sound and the Fury," Mac pointed out, reaching behind Veronica to poke Wallace's shoulder.
"I cannot tell a lie," Wallace said dramatically, placing a hand over his chest.
Mac tilted her head to the side. "You should have taken drama."
"Or history," he agreed as they both settled themselves against the couch arms.
"She said, with a note of desperation," Mac intoned, poking Veronica's leg with the toe of her shoe.
"It's funny how she thinks that'll actually get rid of us. Give up now, V, before you hurt yourself."
"For the love of all that is holy," Veronica cried, throwing her head back to address the ceiling.
They all froze for a moment, waiting for something to happen, then Mac shrugged. "Nope, still here."
"Argh!" Veronica dropped her head onto the textbook in her lap.
"Smash Brothers?" Wallace asked while Veronica groaned from her lap.
"I'm totally Captain Falcon," Mac said, jumping over the back of the couch and heading to the fridge. "You want a soda?"
Wallace looked at her strangely. "I'm okay, thanks."
"I'll take arsenic," Veronica called, her voice muffled by the hand she was rubbing over her face.
"Seems the boy toy is fresh out," Mac said, checking the contents of the fridge. "Will root beer do?"
An incoherent mumble came from Veronica's general vicinity and Wallace grinned at her prone form. "I think that was a yes."
"Totally a yes," Mac agreed, bringing over two bottles.
Wallace sent her another odd look before shaking his head and handing her a controller. She smiled at him and took a swig of her root beer.
Veronica sighed and closed her book before setting it aside. When she twisted the top off of her soda, Mac smiled at her and offered another controller. "Yoshi's up for grabs."
"You do realize that if I don't ace this final, I will devote my sudden excess of free time to making your lives miserable?" Her calm expression as she took the controller was actually more frightening than the words themselves.
"Scary thought," Mac muttered.
"V, you've been studying the same thing for three hours straight. You need a break."
Veronica raised an eyebrow at Wallace. "Because too much studying will render my powers of deduction useless, my dear Wallace?"
"Something like that," he agreed, obviously ignoring the sarcasm dripping from Veronica's voice. Mac hid a smile, her eyes never leaving the television screen.
"One week, four finals to go," Veronica muttered, viciously attacking Wallace's Eskimos.
"Believe me, you have it easy," Wallace scoffed. "Mac's got all four finals in a two day block."
Veronica's head whipped around. "What?"
"He speaks but the truth, unfortunately," she confirmed bitterly. "Monday, I've got lit and multi-variable calculus. Tuesday, I have my cs courses."
"I thought you had projects due for cs," she protested, seeming not to notice the imminent death of her character.
Mac nodded and jumped to avoid the twin Eskimos. "I do. But we still have a test. It's supposed to be one piece of code and we have to figure out why it won't run."
"You have to fix a program in a three hour block?"
"No, it's just a paper problem. It's basically to test whether or not we can look at a code and see what's wrong with it. It's only supposed to last an hour."
"Oh," Veronica said. "Well that doesn't sound too bad. How long does it usually take you to spot a problem?"
"Me? Depending on length half an hour, tops. But he said that he doesn't expect most of us to pass, so I'm a little nervous," Mac muttered.
"I'm kicking both your butts," Wallace pointed out smugly as the timer wound down.
"You're sure showing us who's boss." Veronica fluttered her lashes at him and he smiled sourly.
Loud whooping filled the hallway outside the door and their heads involuntarily swiveled towards the noise. They watched the door swing open and Logan appear in the doorway, expression resolutely neutral, as Dick—now in surround sound—yelled triumphantly behind him.
"Who's done with finals? Oh, that's right, the Dick is done with finals."
"A more fitting moniker has never graced my ears," Veronica muttered. A second later, she froze and slid an apologetic look towards her right that Mac immediately glanced away from.
As the door slammed shut behind them, Dick followed Logan into the room with a jovial saunter. On the way to the kitchen, Logan leaned down over the back of the couch and kissed Veronica's cheek before dropping his books on the counter and flinging open the fridge.
Wallace watched Dick's white man boogie for a moment before shaking his head as if to rid his mind of the image. "Man, how can you be done with finals already? They haven't even started yet."
Dick shrugged and caught the bottle of beer that flew at him from the kitchen one handed. "None of my classes have tests."
"What are you taking? Bowling?" Wallace asked, staring in disbelief and, Mac noted, a little envy. Veronica shared an amused smile with Logan as he dropped into an armchair with his textbook and propped his feet on the coffee table.
"Among other things," Dick said, twisting the cap off his beer and tossing it blindly at the trashcan. Mac didn't have to look to know that it had gone in. He had too much practice to miss a straight shot.
"Remind me again why we signed up for American Literature?" Wallace asked, staring at the wall in front of him. Mac smiled wanly and didn't answer, her eyes riveted to Dick as he strode across the room.
Without lifting his eyes from his book, Logan raised his hand for a high five as Dick passed him and disappeared into his bedroom. The door closed behind him and Mac stared with wide eyes at the centerfold. For the first time in months, her stomach roiled uncomfortably.
He was too bubbly, his smile too infectious. She couldn't handle it; she had to get out. Standing, she quickly shoved past Logan's legs and made a beeline for the front door. "Gotta go, guys."
"Ghost World," she heard behind her. Her eyes landed longingly on the door, but she composed her face into the semblance of normalcy everyone expected from her.
Turning, she spotted him leaning against his doorframe and met his eyes, bluer than ever and—she would have sworn—twinkling in his excitement. Carefully keeping her expression neutral, she raised her eyebrows slightly.
"Where you going?" he asked, beer bottle dangling from his fingers as if it was just another extension of his hand. "The party's just getting started."
Conscious of the three pairs of eyes now locked on her, she forced her expression to remain bland. "Your jubilation just reminded me of how very not done with finals I am," she told him, shoving her hands into her pockets. "My laptop beckons."
Rather than answer, Dick straightened and padded into the living room barefoot. Dropping onto the couch, he took a swig from his bottle and picked up a controller.
"Smash brothers?" he asked, kicking Logan in the shin without meeting his gaze.
Logan swiftly looked away from Mac and snapped his book shut. "Uh, sure."
"I'm totally those little Eskimos," Dick informed him evenly.
Logan grabbed the other controller off the coffee table and trained his eyes on the television. Mac thought the level of concentration on his face was a bit too enthusiastic considering that Dick hadn't even started the game yet.
Realizing that she was still just standing there with her hands in her pockets, Mac spun and flung open the door. "Bye," she called over her shoulder, practically sprinting into the hall.
"Bye," she heard several voices chorus back. Dick's voice wasn't among them.
xxtisheryxx I'm glad you liked that scene. It took me a while to stop laughing in order to type it out. Just the thought…oh man. So funny. I hope you liked this chapter too!
finkpishnets I think they really needed to acknowledge that Cassidy is still very much there for both of them. That's not over, either. Sadly, they didn't really leave the room in this chapter. At least, not together. Poor Dick. (Smiles evilly)
Gunny I love damaged guys, too. They're definitely the most interesting characters, I think. I'm glad you liked the chapter and thank you for reviewing!
moustrich Hi! Thanks for reviewing! I'm glad you enjoyed the last chapter. I hope this one was just as good!
luvlogan-sara Yes! I love the possibilities for Dick.
Miss Higher Power Everybody should be happy about flying freak flags! Silly Dick. :-p
litizreal The world is so better in my head. But I did hear that LoVe will be together at the beginning of the season at least! So maybe this world is improving? I'm glad you liked the chapter!
JaysBaby I'm glad you like the story! Hopefully, I'll be channeling some more romantic Mac/Dick moments soon.
redbanker I'm really happy that you like the way the story is going. It's always good to hear that someone is enjoying my brain child. I just hope that this chapter was as good.
Beauty in my Breakdown I was glad he acknowledged his confusion and pain, too. I think Mac was as well. Hopefully the more explicitly Mac/Dick moments will start appearing soon. I'm definitely feeling it. :-p
FanFicFairy514 Hehe. I feel that the flying thong was a moment of pure genius. I don't think I'll ever experience such a gift again.
Lindsay Thank you! I agree that they needed to have the conversation. It had to occur for the story to continue unfolding. I hope you liked this chapter!
LoVe23 Yeah, we didn't seem much more opening up in this chapter. But soon, I promise!
Lhara G Hi and thanks for reviewing! I'm glad you like the story. And I'm glad you're getting into Mac/Dick. Aside from LoVe, it's my favorite pairing on the show. I hope you liked this chapter!
SatisfactoryInfluence I love LoVe (in its every connotation), but I think the drama behind them is so cemented into our minds now that it's losing some interest for me. I love them together, don't get me wrong, they will never get old. But the drama behind Mac/Dick is more of a draw for me right now. I need to see this play out, Rob Thomas. I NEED TO. That said…Thanks for reviewing:-p I'm so happy that you still like the story! I know there wasn't much Mac/Dick in this chapter, but there will be in the next one! And it won't take another month for me to post. I swear.
Brigitte I'm glad you like my take on Logan and Veronica. They are the only way to go relationship wise. I swear there will be more of them in the next chapter. Along with more Mac/Dick. Please keep reading!
shelubbsu Hi and thanks for reviewing! I'm glad you like the story. And I can't give anything away! But…(lowers voice) Dick will not become the ass he once was.
Flame31 Thanks for reviewing! I'm glad you like the story and I hope this chapter was just as good!