A is for Apology. The day Dick apologized to Mac was the day their relationship changed. Mac didn't know it then. Even after the apology Mac hadn't thought anything would really change. But apparently Dick had other intentions.

Mac thinks about that day at the beach fairly often now. The day it all changed. There were several days like that in their relationship. Days where the world shifted and nothing was the same again.

Mac had gone to the beach with Veronica, Wallace and Piz for the maiden flight of Wallace's new model plane. They had run into Dick and Logan and despite the minefields between Logan and Veronica and Piz and the separate but equally dangerous one between Mac and Dick they had ended up sitting around a fire pit drinking beers. Drinking and staring awkwardly at anything that wasn't another person.

Mac hadn't understood how they'd ended up there. Why would those two groups of people ever agree to hang out.

Maybe it was Dick's invitation. "Hey, we're blowing off a little dead-week steam if you kids want to hang," Dick said. As if they all hung out on a regular basis. Even then he sounded faintly condescending.

Mac considered Logan somewhere between an acquaintance and a friend. And she knew Veronica was trying to maintain something of a distant friendly relationship with Logan. As if those two could ever be just friends. But Dick and her? There was no friendship, only painful memories of a boy they had both loved and lost. Only blame, anger and regret.

His invitation was so unexpected it had thrown them off. Veronica had tried to decline, but Wallace ruined her excuse to run. So there they sat.

So there they sat, around a small fire at the beach. Dick and Logan on one bench, Veronica, Piz and Mac on another. All studiously not looking at each other. The awkwardness somehow gives way to laughter as Dick riffs on something Mac had said. When the laughter fades the awkwardness returns and Mac had tried to beat a hasty retreat. But Dick had followed her.

"Hey, Mac, wait up."

She didn't stop. She didn't want to see him, look him in the eyes. She didn't want to see the pain there, the same pain she still saw in her own eyes every morning. And every night.

Some days she felt good. Almost normal. Whatever that was. But always, always, Cassidy was a shadow she carried with her. And Dick carried the same shadow. Only maybe for him, the shadow of his brother was larger, darker, blotting out any light from any other source.

Mac doesn't break her stride and Dick has to run to catch up with her. Reaching her he slows down, matches pace with her. She risks a sideways glance trying to gauge his intentions. The open expression on his face confuses her and she looks away quickly. She wonders if it would be totally weird for her to just break into a run to get away from him. She considered it anyway, but knows that he could easily catch her. That and the next time she saw him would be even more awkward. If that was even possible.

"I know you and me haven't always been, like, best buds, but do you want to know why?"

She is too surprised to remember not to meet his eyes.

"Not really," she replies.

"'Cause you were both so smart, you and Beav. And-and I could tell, you know, that you thought I was an idiot..."

Mac's expression confirms that she holds the same opinion now. But deep inside she feels a bit bad. Dick had made a career out of making others feel bad. And hurting him should have rolled off her back like water. But it didn't. She felt bad. But just a bit.

"So I figured my best bet was to...you know how a best defense is a good offence? So, I thought..." His words are awkward now, apologetic but there is something else behind them, something Mac definitely can't read, and doesn't want to.

Dick drops a heavy hand on Mac's shoulder, bringing them to a stop and forcing her to look at him. She considers her "run away" plan again.

"The way I treated you and Beav was totally uncool, and I'm totally sorry for all those things I said." Mac is shocked. Dick was apologizing. Had actually said sorry.

Her surprise is so great, her response takes a moment. Dumbfounded is the best describing for how she feels at that moment. Or gobsmacked. Astonished, thunderstruck, flabbergasted, speechless.

She pulls her scattered thoughts together, realizing he was waiting for a response. "Yeah. Okay." Really eloquent, she thinks to herself. "Accepted."

Dick grins, apparently not finding anything odd in her response. " It's cool. You're so cool. I get it now what my brother saw in you."

When he leans towards her it takes her a moment to catch on. She looks confused, automatically leaning away from him, then her eyes widen. When he keeps coming, she slaps him away. With distain? Disgust? Complete bewilderment? Embarassment?

She really doesn't want to name what she's feeling, so she decides to give her "run away" plan a shot. Anything is better than this.

She turns and scrambles down the beach, away from Dick, away from whatever had just happened. The soft sand shifts under her feet, making her retreat slow and halting. But she keeps going. She considers not stopping until she reaches the border with Canada.

Before she can get too far, Dick calls after her. "Don't tell Logan, OK?"

Dick gives an embarrassed chuckle before draining the beer from the can in his hand.

Mac doesn't stop, doesn't turn back. But her mind tumbles over all the possible meanings of that last statement. It's easier than thinking about the almost kiss.

Don't tell Logan. Don't tell Logan what? That Dick apologized? That Dick had tried to kiss her? Logan cared about his friend, would be happy to know Dick was dealing, even the tiniest bit, with the death of his brother. Or don't tell Logan that Dick had tried to kiss her. Mac knew Logan's protective instincts were a mile wide. And somehow those instincts had expanded to include not only Veronica, but all Veronica's friends too. Not that there were so many of them. Don't tell Logan what?

A is for Avoidance. Mac didn't have to work that hard to avoid Dick after their almost kiss. Finals consumed her time, then the breakup with Max. And by the time summer rolled around and Mac faced the fact that she would likely run into Dick at least once or twice (Neptune was a small town) she found out that Dick would be gone the whole summer.

She was with Veronica at a café, hanging out for a few hours the day before Veronica left for her FBI internship, when they ran into Logan. Veronica and Logan always surprised Mac, so she simply stopped thinking she knew what they would do. Ever. So she watched, a casual observer, as the former couple made silted conversation, obviously laden with deeper meaning. There were awkward smiles, Logan ducked his head. Veronica averted her gaze.

When Veronica excused herself to use the bathroom (an excuse Mac was sure) Logan turned and waved at Mac. Then he walked over towards her and took a seat.

"Hey Logan."

"Mac. So what are your plans for the summer?"

"Oh, you know, hacking the Pentagon. Being forced by my parents to go camping. You know."

They smile. Theirs, at least, was an easy friendship.

"I'm, ah, heading out with Enbom and some of the guys. Surf trip. We're gonna start in Australia, end up wherever we end up."

"Sounds fun."

He smiles easily.

"We should hang out when I get back."

Mac arches one eyebrow.

"Bond over boards and babes?"

"Well we do have a business together."

She laughs. Their website, rate my ass dot com was still up and running. Their hits had gone through the roof when the entertainment news shows had picked up the story that Aaron Echolls' son had a website. They had a good laugh over it, even posting pictures of their own butts, albeit under pseudonyms.

"So what to you say, partner?"

Mac hesitates. Running into Dick on the street was one think. Seeing him for longer than that, at the place where he lived was a whole other thing.


Logan smiles knowingly. "I could use the company. Dick will be gone all summer." He glances back at her. Still smiling, still knowing. He was enjoying her discomfort. She considered working up the energy to be indignant. But he was Logan Echolls. Enjoying the discomfort of others was the least of his character faults.

She smiles brightly. "Sure."