Mack was by no means a domestic woman. Unfortunately, due to some strange and unwelcome female disorder she did occasionally have periodic urges to do something... domestic. So when these rare and admittedly irritating moments came upon her, she did what any self-respecting bachelorette did. She made chocolate chip cookie bars, and kept the whole pan for herself. If there was one thing she had learned from her mother, it was the fundamental rule of baking. If a man found out that you could cook- and it didn't matter whether you made turkey ala king or a grilled cheese sandwich- you were doomed to spend the rest of your life fulfilling all sorts of odd requests for baked goods.
So whenever she made a pan of cookie bars, she was very careful to bring them to work and leave them carefully stashed away in the back office. If no one saw them nestled in the dish, obviously straight from the oven, then she could dismiss them as coming from a friend or the occasional bake sale. Besides, she spent all her time at her bar. It was only fair she should be able to drown her sorrows in warm chocolaty goodness while serving the drunken masses.
What Mack hadn't counted on was the keen observation skills, or as a less kind person would say nosiness, of Harv 'the super villain of the highest caliber.' It had only been a few days since their recent truce, and in truth, she hadn't quite gotten used to having someone occupying the back room. Normally this wasn't too inconvenient, but her office was on the other side of said room. Given the presence of the cookie bars, she was spending far more time going to and from her office than usual.
Harv looked up from the pool table where he had just sunk the five ball in the corner pocket. "That is the fourth time this evening she has gone back to that office of hers. What on earth is so damn interesting back there?"
Kevin leaned back against his chair, cigarette in one hand. "She normally avoids this end of the building like the plague unless she's bringing us refills. I'm starting to think she's up to something." He smirked, "Maybe someone should...investigate."
Brian turned from his conversation with John to add, "You know, I was up at the bar earlier this evening, and she had some sort of cookie bar off to one side. Naturally I assumed she made them, but she was adamant that she would, and I quote, 'burn water.'" He gave his cohorts in crime a sly grin. "You don't suppose she'd lie to me...do you?"
Mark perked up, "You don't suppose she has food back there do you?" His tone was slightly wistful, "Cause I am starving."
Harv rubbed his jaw with one hand. "Gents, I believe this calls for some reconnaissance. It would be just like the little wench to sit up at the bar, eating homemade food, and smirking because she's pulling the wool over everybody's eyes."
John downed the rest of his drink. "You know she has been unusually smug this evening." The men shared a knowing glance.
"Definitely the actions of a woman getting away with something. This really can't be allowed to continue… for her own good, naturally." Mark leaned one arm on the back of his chair.
Brian gave him a conspiring glance, "Of course it's for her own good. First a few little white lies, next thing you know she'll be lifting wallets. Then, it's a quick slide downhill to robbing banks and armored vehicles with an Uzi in one hand. I think a little prevention is order, here."
Kevin leaned crossed his arms and added, "Besides, if she gives me that self- satisfied smirk one more time I think I'll be forced to shoot something."
"Well... there's that, too." Brian trailed off ruefully.
Harv gave a considering look towards the doorway. "If we send someone up to the bar to keep her busy, she'll get suspicious. Guilty parties are always suspicious... we should know." There was a brief round of sinister laughter, as they briefly remembered various crime sprees.
"We're due for a refill in the very near future. Ten to one she'll head back to her office before she returns to the bar. There should be at least a ten to fifteen minute window before she would need to come back this way." Harvey cocked his head to one side. "Besides, by now she'd probably starting to wonder if she's being too obvious, drawing to much attention to herself. I'd imagine she's currently telling herself that she'll stop at her office one more time, and then she'll wait a while to make sure anybody who might have been watching has a few more beers and forgets ALL about it."
Harv chuckled darkly. "I love destroying the well-laid plans of other people. I think it's the way they look when they realized they been hopelessly out-smarted."
Mack grabbed five glasses from the rack above her head and starting making the next round for Harv and the boys. The recently snatched cookie bar had been quickly devoured and she couldn't wait to have another one. She LOVED those damn things. Still, she couldn't help but wonder if she was being too obvious. The last thing she wanted to do was draw attention to herself. Perhaps it would be better to wait until her customers had a few more beers, then no one would even remember seeing her head back there in the first place. Yes... that was definitely the thing to do. She'd drop off Harv's next round, grab one more from the office and then make sure to stay out front for AT LEAST a good twenty minutes.
Mack nodded her head in a resolute sort of way and made her way towards the last thing standing between her and chocolaty goodness.
Mark, she observed, was busy setting up the table for another game of eight ball, and the rest were sprawled in various chairs, nonchalantly shooting the shit. It was the first time since they'd started dropping in that she felt relaxed in their presence. Her 'spidey' sense promptly proceeded to go haywire. They were being casual... TOO casual. She absently switched their old drinks for new and responded with the appropriate pleasantries. Making her excuses, she heading back out the door and felt five pairs of eyes follow her out the door.
Mack bit her lip and turned the corner to her office. She was perhaps halfway there when it hit her... THEY KNEW! She had completely forgotten that she had to walk past them EVERY time she went to her office. They were crooks for god sakes! They could probably smell a scheme, no matter how small, from a mile away. Those sorry bastards were forming some sort of nefarious plot to steal her cookies...
Mack entered her office and shut the door. Okay... she was probably overreacting. NO ONE plots to steal cookie bars... well she would, but that's not the point. Still, they had been acting incredibly strange. They had been quiet and pleasant. Oh, they weren't normally rude, or anything, but they never gave such an overwhelming impression of friendliness. Besides, earlier this evening Brian HAD made some remark about whether or not she had made the damn bars when he came up front for a new deck of cards.
Obviously they were up to something. They would be coming back here to investigate at least, and they probably expected her to stop off at the office and head back to the bar. Well that's what she'd do, sans cookie bar. Then she'd just keep an eye out. Sooner or later they'd get nosy and then she'd...
Well...she'd do SOMEthing. NO ONE... not God himself, was gonna steal the food that SHE had cooked. "Commie bastards…" she muttered darkly.
Opening the door to her office, she walked back down the hallway towards the bar, not sparing them a second glance.
Exactly five minutes had passed before she heard the standard ominous silence that generally meant someone was up to no good. To give them credit, it was a very brief silence and then it was business as usual. Pool balls were being smacked into each other and conversation had picked up right where it had left off. In fact, if she hadn't known better, she'd think she'd been overreacting.
She waited just around the corner, hidden behind the bar and peered very slowly around the wall. Yep! She knew it! Harv was entering her office at this very moment and he was going to pilfer her food! Her eyes narrowed and she swung her head back around to face the bar. Well she'd just wait him out. She'd give him three minutes max and then she'd peek again. After all, it wasn't THAT far from their room to her office. Besides wasn't 'get in and get out' the first rule of breaking and entering?
She strained her ears and continued to hear nothing but normal bar sounds. If she hadn't seen him with her own eyes she would never have even thought anything was amiss until she'd gone back to her office and realized the pan was gone. Her eyes narrowed. This was unacceptable- no man should steal chocolate from a woman! Mack was filled with righteous indignation…
She looked around to make sure the regular customers in the front room were doing okay, then peered around the corner into the hallway. It was deserted. Mack stepped cautiously into the hallway and made her way down to the edge of the back room, making damn sure she avoided any board that squeaked.
Mack pressed her back against the wall and edged along until she was inches from the door jab. She moved her head slightly and listened.
"Oh… these… are awesome." Someone, she suspected it was Brian, was making little noises of delight.
"I think we're gonna need another pan of these, Harv. Make her cook more." That was DEFINITELY Kevin. The voice was too deep to be anyone else's.
There was a brief sound that she was positive was a chair being pushed back, and then… a slight creak, probably Harv sitting down.
"Christ Mark, leave some for the rest of us!" Brian sounded slightly indignant.
"Relax Brian… the wench can always make more… that's what women are for." Harv's gravelly chuckle filled the room. His cohorts chuckled, a very male sound that suggested they were WAY too satisfied with themselves.
That was the last straw. They were eating HER cookie bars, they EXPECTED her to make MORE, and they were MOCKING her.
Mack swung around the corner so fast a wisp of hair fell from her bun. She whipped a finger out and pointed it at the smug bastards. "I knew it! You hand over my food RIGHT this instant!" To her credit, they were startled enough to jerk back before they remembered that they were supposed to be tough mob guys.
She stormed across the room, one hand clenched at her side while the other waved madly in their direction. "Those are MY cookie bars. If I'd wanted to share I'd have damn well offered."
Her head whipped around to glare at Harv, "and NO… I WON'T make any more. Get your own women to cook for your sorry asses!" She reached across the table for the pan, but Harv pulled it away from her outstretched hand.
"Now Mack, be reasonable." Harv stood up and stepped away from the table, baking pan still firmly clenched in one large hand.
"Don't you dare, 'now Mack' me, Dent. You pilfered my food! Now give it back you thieving bastard!"
"Actually, possession IS nine tenths of the law…" he smirked at her and reached down into the pan for another bar.
Her eye twitched, and then to everyone's surprise, she lunged at him, "You scruffy nerf herder!" Her hand wrapped around his tie and pulled him just close enough to wrest the pan away from him. The table full of men watched the short tugging match with a mixture of disbelief and amusement.
"Hey, who are you calling scruffy?!" Harv replied indignantly. Mack saw him reach for her and she was forced to concede that there were five of them and one of her. Not to mention that his reach was twice what hers was. Eventually they would win and she would be cookie bar-less. So she did the only thing she could do. She grabbed the only two middle pieces left and thrust the pan at him.
Harv had no choice but to take the pan, or lose the rest of the contents. But when he looked down he noticed that the middle pieces, the pieces HE had wanted, were conveniently missing. His head snapped up as she headed across the room towards the door. "Hold it, princess!"
"What do you want NOW?! I gave you the bloody pan!" Mack kept walking, not bothering to turn around.
"You took the only two middle pieces. We want them back. You can have a corner, but those are OURS!" He tossed the pan across the table at Mark.
In retrospect, Mack decided that she should have kept walking, but she simply couldn't resist the chance to mock him. Paybacks were in order, after all.
Mack turned, obviously holding a cookie bar in each hand. "You know, the middle really is the best part." She gave him a vicious smile and took a bite of each one. She made a small "Mmm" noise. "No edges, and the middle always seems to have more chocolate."
Mack turned and started to head for the doorway when she stopped and pretended to examine one.
"You know, I SWEAR that one spot has AT LEAST seven chocolate chips." Mack looked over her shoulder at him and smirked.
Harv's eyes narrowed and a rumbling noise seemed to resonant in his chest, a noise that very quickly turned into a low growl. Her eyes widened and she shrieked as he moved towards her. She sprinted towards the hallway, turning the corner on one foot. She was half way back to the bar when his arms slid around her and she went sprawling back into his very solid chest.
He made the faintest, 'hmph', noise and then his teeth snapped dangerous close to her ear. A very raspy voice sounded to the left of her ear. "You have approximately ten seconds to feed us one of those or you're gonna start losing chunks out of your VERY tasty looking shoulder."
She felt the beginnings of another rumble in his chest and held up one bar for him. He moved his head towards her hand and took a bite big enough to graze her fingers.
Mack pulled her hand back in disbelief. "Christ Harv, leave my fingers out of this." She then took a large bite out of the bar in her other hand… she was damned if he was getting them both.
He ignored her comment and cleared his throat expectantly. "All right here, sorry…" she held up the rest of the bar, and feeling like his point had been made, he managed to take a normal sized bite. Well… for a large male adult anyway.
He finished his bar off in the next bite, purposely aiming for her fingers again.
"Stop that! I know you're doing it on purpose, you animal!" Mack replied indignantly.
"It serves you right. You provoked us so you can damn well suffer the consequences." There was a brief pause and then his voice took on a rather disbelieving tone.
He leaned slightly to one side and looked at her. "Scruffy nerf herder… Mack?"
She paused and started to reply when she remembered something. Tilting her head up, she responded in an amused voice, "I'm not the one who knew the corresponding response Harv… or should I say Han?"
He blinked, one corner of his mouth twitching slightly.
Mack giggled softly and stared up at him. "I've got a bad feeling about this."
His chest rumbled underneath her and she leaned her head against his chest as they both dissolved into a fit of laughter.