DISCLAIMER: Don't own anything associated with the show… I just like playing with the characters in it from time to time. Dance Monkeys! Dance!
RATING: T for Teen
PAIRING: N&M's/JAR (Nick/Mandy & Judy/Archie)
SUMMARY: Archie goes to the only successful nerd in the Lab Rats for advice about his love life.
A/N: Happy Birthday, Brandie! Your present? My first JAR Fic! With much love to the Guerilla!Beta for cheering me to the finish line on this story. I still have hopes of finishing all 3 chapters before Brandie's birthday, so keep your fingers crossed!
REVIEWS: Reviews are the way I know if people are enjoying the work or not. So, if you leave one, THANKS! And if not, I hope you found at least a little something to brighten your day, and thanks for taking the time to read.
Looking out of the corner of her eye, Mandy watched as Archie made his fourth circuit past her door. She had no idea what he needed to talk about, but she was done waiting to find out.
She called out from behind the AFIS computer, "Did you need something, Arch?"
He sputtered for a bit and looked like he was about to come out of his skin. Before Archie could chicken out and run away, Mandy peeked out from behind her monitor and waved him into her lab. "Quit stalling and get in here. I have to go in thirty minutes and you don't have enough time for another pass to finish working up your nerve."
Archie walked into the print lab displaying equal parts dread and paranoia, immediately turning to close the door behind him. Mandy grinned in an attempt to put him at ease, but Archie still looked like he was only holding it together with the thinnest of threads. "Geez, Arch, what's got you so freaked out?"
"I-I-I'm not freaked." She watched as he tried, badly, to convince her he was fine. When he saw the look on her face, he slumped to show his defeat. "Okay, well, maybe I'm a little freaked." With the roll of her eyes, he finally came clean. "Fine… I'm totally freaked and I've got no idea what to do."
It was time for Mandy to be confused. She furrowed her brow and asked, "So, what can I do to help?"
Archie quickly grabbed the spare stool and pulled it up beside her. "Tell me how to make her fall for me?"
Mandy reared back in shock. "Whoa!" Shaking her head, she tried to figure just how far ahead Archie had just leapt in the conversation. "Who, why me and how the hell would I know?!"
Taking a deep breath, Archie hurriedly launched into his explanation. "Well, Hodges told Henry that you totally helped him with the whole Wendy thing and you know, getting out of his Mom's place. And you totally saved Henry with that new girl in property, plus you got him out of that mess with that chick in HR. Not to mention what you did for Leah before she married the lawyer dude. So, can you help me?"
The volume of words pouring out of Archie's mouth was dizzying, but Mandy worked to put it all together quickly enough to ask, "Um, well, so, who are you freaking out about?"
"Promise you won't laugh?" Archie's face filled with red and Mandy was almost afraid she wouldn't be able to help herself if he was that embarrassed.
"I mean, geez, Archie… It would depend on who it is." She could see that he truly was on the edge of completely losing it, so she cut him some slack. "Like, if you said you had the hots for Hodges…I don't think I could help myself."
His face showed the intensity of his mental state and Mandy immediately backed down. "This is serious, Mandy… No jokes."
She shook her head reluctantly and answered, "Okay, okay… I'm not good with those rules, but okay. Who is it?"
Before he could answer, a head poked its way into her lab and spoke, "Hey, Mandy. HR left a packet of forms for you to fill out before your leave. Just stop by the front desk and grab them on your way out. Beth knows where they are."
Mandy watched as Archie tried to blend into the equipment the moment Judy's pixyish voice interrupted their conversation. "Oh, okay. Thanks, Judy." She looked down at her watch, wondering if it was later than she thought. "Are you cutting out early?"
"Oh! Yeah. I'm trying that morning yoga class you recommended." Judy fired through her explanation in an excited rush. "We all moved our schedules up an hour, because Beth needs to be home for her son in the afternoon and Marlene's husband changed shifts at the Pike, so she wanted to be home earlier anyway."
"Um, yeah, okay." Mandy liked the woman, but it always took her an extra moment or two to catch up after one of her machine gun fire deliveries of information. "Well, I hope you like the class."
"Thanks!" And like a flash of light, she was gone.
Turning to find Archie wedging himself between the shelves in her lab, Mandy could only shake her head in total disbelief. "Okay, so I guess that answers that question."
Archie nervously stepped forward and asked, "What question?"
"Really? You and Judy?" She still couldn't believe it at all.
"What's wrong with that? And it's not me and Judy, because it's not like she ever even notices me." The slump of his shoulders and the pitiful look on his face had Mandy about to bust up laughing, but she knew Archie would be devastated, so she managed to control the impulse.
"There's nothing wrong with it, Arch. Seriously. And you know, she might notice you more if you didn't practice your Ninja Vanish act whenever she walks in a room." Mandy started shutting down her computers as she talked to Archie.
"I can't help it. I just don't want to say anything stupid, and she makes me nervous." That part really shocked Mandy. Archie was nothing, if not the coolest and the smoothest of the Lab Rats. She could not fathom the notion that he was intimated by anyone, let alone Judy.
"We are talking about the same woman, right? Judy, the one who bakes cookies for every freakin' occasion? Judy, the girl who wear pink fuzzy cardigans to work in a crime lab? Judy, the receptionist who answers the phone with that insanely bubbly voice no matter what time of day or night it is, and has never even considered saying a cuss word when those jerks give her crap up front… THAT Judy?" Mandy wanted to be absolutely sure they were talking about the same woman.
"Yeah… The one who knows everyone and everything that goes on in this department. The girl who can stare down a three hundred-fifty pound felon and make him blink every time. The woman who scored more runs than any other on the lab's softball team for the last seven years running. And the one who gets that evil glint in her eye whenever they use her in some size comparison experiment where she gets to beat something." Archie visibly gulped as he rattled off the last one. "Yeah... THAT Judy."
Mandy shrugged and rolled her eyes at Archie's fear. "Whatever, Dude. She's still just that little woman who uses a step stool to sit on her chair behind the reception desk to me." When Archie shot her a dangerous look she acquiesced. "But I can see that you feel differently."
They were interrupted once more when Nick popped his head in through the door. "Hey, are you ready to go yet?" He suddenly noticed Archie in the room and nodded in his direction. "Hey, Arch. I dropped off some video from that convenience store shooting last night. It's in your box, when you get a chance."
Nervously, Archie said, "Yeah, Man. I'll get to it tonight, if that's okay."
Stepping in, Nick shrugged and nodded. "That's cool." He turned again to Mandy and pointed at his watch. "C'mon, Babe. We need to put a move on or we're gonna be late."
Smiling, she waved him out the door. "Go get the car and meet me at the door. I'll just be another minute."
Nick smiled back. "Roger that. See ya out front." He nodded again at Archie before heading out the door.
"Oh, Nick!" Mandy hollered before he was out of earshot. He poked his head back through the doorway and waited for her to continue. "Um, stop at the front desk and grab the maternity leave forms from Beth, okay?"
"Is my stuff in there, too?"
Lifting her shoulders to show her lack of knowledge, she said, "I guess you'll find out when you look inside. If not, I'll just ask Judy for it tonight."
"Gotcha." He looked down at his watch again. "Five minutes; no more. I don't want to be late."
"Okay, okay! Now get out of here!" She shooed him off with a smile that he quickly returned.
As Mandy slid down off of the stool behind her counter, Archie asked, "What are you guys gonna be late for?"
With her enlarged belly leading the way, Mandy finally found the floor and righted herself on her feet. "Oh, we're taking a tour of the hospital's birthing rooms this morning. There really isn't a set time, but as we get closer to the date, he's getting more and more anxious. Everything is about beating the clock right now, and the man is making me crazy."
Archie helped her into her jacket and chuckled. "Yeah, he's definitely got that nervous papa-to-be thing going on." As she tied the belt over the top of her belly, leaving the coat open around it, Archie laughed outright. "But it would be hard to forget what's going on with that thing in your face all the time."
She swatted at his arm as she turned around. "Don't you know you aren't supposed to make those comments around a pregnant chick?"
"And that's why I need your help." He looked absolutely desperate as he pleaded with her. "Please, Mandy. I don't want to screw this up, and you're the only one of us that's ever done this thing right."
Seeing the sincerity in his eyes, Mandy finally gave in. "Okay, but I need some time to think." She looked down at her watch and frowned. "And I've gotta run right now. Talk to me after next shift. Maybe I'll have some ideas by then, okay?"
"Anything." He called to her as she waddled down the hall. "And breakfast is on me!"
"Remember you said that when you get the check!"