who i am

a/n: I've never been really fond of stories that turn Macy into an abstract, all-knowing character… but I felt like someone needed to do a songfic for this, and I just knew that it would be Macy who had all of this profound insight.

And just so you know, I couldn't figure out if he was Kevin or Nick the entire time. I automatically started out with Nick, but then Kevin started to leak in because I couldn't figure out how to write Nick in a clueless way. Anyway, his name just came out by accident sometime in the 'madness' scene, so I guess that's that. xD

QUESTION: Does this count as a songfic? I'm basically just using the first chorus and a single lyric from the first verse. (Mostly because this is taking me far too long to write and I don't want to re-write the relationship progression to last through the other lyrics in the song.) :/ Hum. This is something to be pondered.

Dedication—For Sweetgalsab, our Reenie and mine and Hayley's personal Macy. We love you, Sabbie. We really, really do.

i want someone to love me
for who i am.

They were sitting on a park bench when she said it. He couldn't remember for the life of him when it was—it must have been January or February, though, because it was after the New Year but before Valentine's Day. There had been snow on the ground and, for some reason unknown to him, she'd had a craving for a slushie.

But he remembered the way she looked, exactly. She was wearing that sweater that Stella had given her for her birthday, the one that was the exact color and texture of extremely bland and runny oatmeal that she loved for no reason whatsoever. It was once Stella's own sweater, so of course the sleeves were rolled up practically to the elbows. She'd taken her gloves off, although he hadn't a clue why. It was probably twenty degrees outside and she was holding an icy drink in her hands, yet she insisted on taking off the brown leather gloves.

"If someone's going to tell me they love me," she said, putting down her blue-raspberry slushie. She paused and then smirked, starting over, "I want someone to love me for who I am."

He cocked his head at her and asked, "Wouldn't they already love you for who you are?"

That was when she drew her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. She fiddled with the tassel that hung off of one of her boots, smiling faintly down at her bare hand, her lips a purplish-blue from her drink. After a while she said, "I'm going to tell you a story about a girl in middle school. This was before she fell in love with the three most awesome guys on the planet and right about the time she fell in love with the star of a rival school's basketball team."

"You were in love with the rival school's basketball star?" he asked, smirking in that way he was wont to do. "How Romeo and Juliet."

"Hush," she said, smiling herself and smacking him on the shoulder. "It's a story and you're not allowed to interrupt. In any case, this girl fell in love with this boy and he seemed to love her back. But then he started to ask questions. Questions like, how involved are you with your basketball team? And, have you been working on any special plays lately?"

"He didn't," the boy groaned.

She scrunched up her nose and took another sip of her slushie. "But he did. Needless to say, she immediately realized what was going on and ended the relationship. She learned a valuable lesson."

"Never trust a jock?"

"No," said the girl, elbowing him with a grin that faded after a moment. "When someone tells you that they love you, they don't always mean it the way you think they do." She looked into his eyes then with an emotion that made him vastly uncomfortable before she finally smiled and grabbed his hand. "Come on, my mom made pot roast for dinner and we don't want to be late."

For some reason, the conversation stayed with him for weeks and months and years, although he forgot about it almost immediately at the time. He couldn't get over the expression on her face when she said what she did, couldn't stop thinking about the implications. Most of all, he remembered the lost look in her eyes when he said goodbye outside her mother's home. It would come to haunt him at night, just after he lost control of where his thoughts wandered and just before he slipped into his dreams.

"Night," he said, giving her a brief hug. He called over his shoulder as he walked away, "Love ya!"

She stared back at him, hugging herself tightly as though to ward off the cold. She smiled faintly and murmured, "I love you, too."

i want someone to need me;
is that so bad?

They were sitting in her room when he asked the question that he wished he could regret. It must have been near Valentine's Day—as a matter of fact, it was the day of. He remembered it because Joe and Stella had been arguing even more than usual and he'd left the house to escape the insanity. Unfortunately, she was in the middle of it as well, getting calls and texts every few minutes.

"Why do you put up with this?" he asked after the millionth text message. Before she could respond, he took her phone and tossed it across the room. "I don't understand why you let her control your life."

She rolled her eyes and leaned back against the bed. She crossed her legs and grabbed a softball that was resting on the ground next to her, a thoughtful look on her face. Eventually, she said, "It's like this: everyone has their own secret little quirks. Joe likes to be coddled and complimented. Stella likes to have her one-on-one time with people. I like to feel needed."

"I'm not sure I follow." He raised a hand to scratch at his curls and she intercepted it, bringing it down so that she could study his fingers. She ran her thumb over the calluses and for the first time that he could remember, he felt self-conscious about them.

"Look at this," she said, holding his hand up so that he could see what she was talking about. "You've spent hours upon hours playing your guitar, right? These calluses show that, and you should be proud of them. You spend every free moment you have practicing or writing or just plain playing. Your guitar's always there when you need it to be."

Her eyes were probing deep into his and he wasn't sure he understood why she was being so intense about this.

"I want to be your guitar—I mean, I want to be there for people. I want people to depend on me. I want someone to need me," she said. "Is that so bad? To want to feel needed?"

There was some kind of desperation in her voice, something that begged him to understand. And he found himself nodding.

"Of course not, Mace," he said, voice full of reassurance. He closed his hand around her fingers.

Something about their relationship changed after that. He wasn't sure exactly what it was and he often wondered if he should regret what had happened. She was the closest friend he had besides Stella, but she was starting to scare him. Something about the way she spoke, the way she acted… it felt like he was losing her. Or like he'd already lost her and she was taking her time slipping away.

i want to break all the madness,
but it's all i have.

They were walking through the halls at HMA when she got so angry with him that she was nearly in tears. It was late March, he remembered, because spring training for several sports was about to begin and she was running around like a madman trying to get everything done. He was helping her put away the volleyball nets after school that afternoon and mentioned the circles under her eyes.

"You're working yourself way too hard, Mace," he said as they met, trading off corners before they separated to fold the nets again. "Is all of this really worth your sanity?"

She looked up at him with innocent eyes and there was something… off about the way she looked at him, something fake in the way her eyes widened and her mouth opened in a confused little 'o' and he could tell simply from the way her hands fumbled and she nearly dropped the end of the net that whatever came out of her mouth next would be a lie.

"I'm perfectly fine," she said, blowing off his concern with a little scoff. She tugged the net from his hands and finished it up herself, ignoring his attempts to help when it appeared to be giving her trouble. That had been the last net, so they left the gym shortly after that.

What bothered him more than the fact that she was overworking herself was the fact that it still felt like the Macy he knew was slipping away. She was changing before his eyes and it was honestly scaring the living hell out of him. He couldn't even pinpoint what was different about her. It was just a feeling, but it grew worse by the day and he feared that he wouldn't know who she was anymore.

And so she was rummaging in her bag and he was staring silently at the floor when he finally picked up their conversation from the gym.

"Why did you lie to me, Macy?"

She looked up from her bag, having finally found the Carmex jar she had taken to using when the weather had turned cold. "Lie to you? What are you talking about?" She was genuinely confused, obviously having forgotten what had happened in the gym.

"You're not fine," he persisted, watching with exasperation as her mouth hardened into a grim line and a film seemed to come over her eyes, blocking her emotions from reaching the surface. But he continued nonetheless, trying to make her see sense. "Mace, you're driving yourself crazy with all of this! You need a break."

"You think I don't want a break?" she hissed. She poked a finger into his chest. "You think I wouldn't love a break from all of this chaos? Well, I would. But unlike you, I can't do anything about it! I don't have anything to fall back on, Mr. I-can-do-anything!"

"What?" How had she turned this into an attack on him?

She looked ready to growl in frustration. "If you couldn't play the guitar, you could still sing, couldn't you? And if you couldn't sing, you could still play golf or something. And if you couldn't do that, you could still write songs. And if you couldn't do any of that, you'd probably be a decent artist or writer or… or… whatever. You're you. You can do anything. I, meanwhile, am stuck with this." She held up her bag, which was crammed with extra tennis balls and golf balls and hockey pucks and, well, you get the idea. "I will always be stuck with this. Because I'm not musical, I'm certainly not an artist, and I'm definitely no lyricist or writer."

"Macy, I—"

"Of course I want to break all the madness, Nick!" she yelled. She was nearly in tears by this point, still so angry that she had backed him up into the row of lockers. "But it's all I have!" She shoved the Carmex jar back in her bag with more vehemence than was really necessary and turned on her heel to storm away, but he quickly grabbed her hand.

"Look, Macy," he said, reaching and finding her cheek. He gently ran his thumb under her eye, catching the tear that had fallen. "I didn't mean that you had to give anything up. I just meant that you should be a little more assertive. Say no. There are assistants and first stringers and junior varsity members for a reason, you know?"

She laughed a little at that, and the anger seemed to drain away as he held her cheek. Her fingers curled in his hand, capturing his fingers and weaving through them. He found that he didn't mind in the least—because Macy was back and that was all that mattered.

nothing makes sense,
nothing makes sense anymore.

They were walking through the park when everything suddenly fell into place. It was probably mid-April, but he really couldn't be sure, because as long as he was with her the date didn't really matter. It was rainy and wet and he was walking her home from a particularly grueling practice and the park happened to be on the shortest route to her house, but they didn't really mind the weather all that much.

She had been quiet that day—actually, she had been quiet for a long time and she refused to explain why. And while it bothered him, he tried not to think about it too much. Macy wasn't going anywhere and the feeling that he was going to lose her was gone, so he just did his level best to keep her happy. And if that meant that he needed to stay out of her business and wait for her to come to him with her troubles, that was the way it was going to be.

"I've been thinking," Macy said slowly, squinting at a squirrel that had taken advantage of the lull in the rain to go out for a run.

Nick smirked. "Always a dangerous thing with you." This, of course, earned him an elbow to the ribs, but her smile fueled his.

"Well, prepare for an adventure, because I've been doing a lot of it lately," she said. There was a measure of confidence in her voice that hadn't been there before, as though she'd come to an important decision. "See, I've been thinking… about us."

"About… us," he repeated. "As in… us? Me and you?"

"Yes, Nick, us."


Now, for some reason unknown to him, his heart was pounding rapidly and that Macy-is-leaving-Macy-is-saying-goodbye-Macy-is-changing-and-I-can't-stop-it feeling was coming back with a vengeance. He was so wrapped up in this little panic party in his head that he almost missed what she said next, which, in all honesty, was probably the most important thing she would ever say to him. She sped up a bit and cut him off, standing in front of him with a determined look on her face.

"Nick," she said, squaring her shoulders. "I've been trying really hard to keep this friendship going the way it should. But I'm not sure I can anymore."

"You're not?" he said in a small-ish voice, feeling the walls of his heart about to collapse.

Macy is leaving. Macy is saying goodbye. Macy is changing and I can't stop it.

"I…" she said. She took a deep breath. "I've tried, but I just can't do this. I can't pretend that I feel the same way anymore."

"You can't?" he said, sounding even smaller. She shook her head to confirm what he'd just said and now he could feel his soul crying out.

Macy is leaving. Macy is saying goodbye. Macy is changing and I can't stop it.

"No, Nick, I…" She bit her lip before she finally met his eyes. "I'm in love with you, Nick."

"You're what?" Now he blinked, heavily, as this new information registered.

Macy isn't leaving? Macy isn't saying goodbye? Macy's already changed and I didn't stop it?

"I'm in love with you," she said again. "I know that I shouldn't be and I know that this is really sudden for you and I know that you'll probably hate me for dropping this all on your head… but I can't do this. I've been pretending for so long that I just didn't think I could go another minute without telling you. I only want you to be happy, and if—"

"You're not leaving?" he asked, moving closer. "You're not saying goodbye? You've just been… you've just been trying to tell me that you love me?"

"Leaving?" Macy scrunched up her nose. She blushed when Nick ran a finger down the bridge, as though to smooth the wrinkles. "I don't know what you're talking about, Nick. I'm not going anywhere. I never was."

Air gusted out of his lungs in a relieved sigh and a lopsided smile found its way to his mouth. Fingers wandered over the planes of her face as though exploring an instrument he couldn't wait to play—reverence and eagerness and happiness were all wrapped up in the gentle way his fingertips slid over her skin. Macy's eyes closed and she leaned in to his touch, relaxing under his tender treatment.

"I've been in love with you for a long time," Nick whispered in her ear. Her eyes popped open with shock. He smiled—a little sadly, perhaps. "I don't know when it started… but I've been so afraid… you were changing right in front of me. I didn't know what was happening. I didn't know how to stop it. I didn't know if I wanted to stop it."

"Changing?" Macy said. She reached up, emboldened by Nick's own confession, and gingerly ran her fingers down his cheek, smiling faintly. "I was changing? It was you. You were acting weird all the time and I didn't know if we were friends or more than friends or not friends at all… It was like nothing made sense anymore."

"And what about now?" the boy asked, snaking his arms around her waist. Her hands came up to brace her against his chest. She flushed a dark red and looked down before she leaned up to whisper in his ear.

Her breath tickled his skin, raising goosebumps on his neck. "I need to know if you love me… for who I am."

"You mean for the way you can still back me up to a wall when you get mad?" he asked, running fingers through her hair. "Or for how dedicated you are to your teams? Or for the way you can never say no? Or for the way you bite your lip when you're thinking? Or for the way—?"

He never finished the last one. You can probably guess why.

a/n2: Sooooo… this has been around since… January? The very end of January, I think. xD Just goes to show how long it takes me to finish things. Anyway, this was actually a lot of fun. :) Tell me what you think?

And a HUUUUUGE than-Q to angellwings. She's a fantastic beta. :)

LOVE, hugs, and more of that stuff.