Philadelphia, 10:30 am on a Wednesday
Dee sighed in irritation as she wiped down the bar in Paddy's Pub. Her idiot brother and his moron friends were standing at the pool table arguing loudly about rat catching while they chugged down free beers. Ten thirty in the morning and they were already half-drunk while she was the only one doing any work! Dee was sick of it.
She rolled her eyes as Dennis ripped off his shirt to display his scrawny chest, boasting proudly that he was the perfect rat-catching specimen. Mac and Charlie laughed in derision and Charlie tore off his ripped brown hoody in challenge. Shirtless Charlie looked like a bony child. Dee smiled as he hopped around, throwing the occasional high kick at Dennis. She found herself wiping the same square foot of bar as she watched the jerks and their ridiculous chest-off. Mac caught her eye and grinned briefly. Dee flushed when his eyes met hers and she felt a thrill of electricity course through her chest. She broke the eye contact and hurried away to restock the bar.
Philadelphia 3:30pm on a Friday
Mac cheered loudly in her ear as they watched Frank and Charlie swim in the fountain. It was a blistering hot day during Philadelphia's hottest Summer on record. The two idiots had insisted that it was too hot to work and had decided to head off to the fountain. Mac and Dee had refused to be left behind to run the bar and so had packed up a cooler with beers and followed them. Now Frank and Charlie were splashing joyously in the water as bemused Japanese tourists watched.
Maybe it was the combination of the heat and the beers but Dee found herself enjoying both the spectacle created by her ex-father and his zany son, and the company of Mac, who was sitting next to her under a tree. Maybe it was better because Dennis wasn't there, Dee mused inwardly. He was off auditioning for some reality TV show. Come to think of it she and Mac always got along better when Dennis wasn't around. Raising Dumpster Baby was a case in point. For five days they had gotten along pretty well and had kept DB safe at least. She chuckled as she thought of Dumpster Baby.
'I wonder how DB is doing now?' she mused aloud, stretching back so she could see Mac's face. He was wearing sunglasses and a sleeveless 'Riot' t-shirt. He smiled as he thought of the baby. 'He's probably a total badass by now' he answered. Dee smiled and laughed. 'To DB' Mac announced tilting his beer bottle toward her in toast. She complied, clinking her bottle of beer against his lightly. She couldn't see his eyes, but she could tell he was smiling. Dee decided she liked when Mac smiled at her only, away from the high jinks of their friends.
Later, when Mac and Dennis were telling her that she looked like a giant bird, she would insist to herself that it was heat stroke that made her think that and that she hated Mac's smile.
Philadelphia 12:05 am New Year's Eve
Dee grabbed a bottle of tequila and headed for the stairs to the roof. The bar was crowded for once and they had just rung in the New Year. She was off the clock now and was planning to get drunk away from all of the noise in order to drown her sorrows. She always hated the New Year. There was always such optimism in the air and the bar patrons were always so happy on this one night a year. 'False hope and false promises' she muttered bitterly under her breath as she pushed open the rarely used door to the roof and climbed the stairs.
The night was clear and crisp. Dee wandered over to the edge of the roof and looked out over the city. There were fireworks erupting in the sky and she could hear cheering coming from down the street. She sighed and slumped against the old parapet. The burn of tequila in her throat did more to ease her feelings than the beautiful fireworks and so she chugged more of it down.
Then Mac was there beside her, eyes squinted quizzically as he looked at her. 'What are you doing up here Dee?' he asked curiously. She was surprised, wondering what he was doing up there too, but she simply raised the tequila bottle in answer. He nodded and accepted the bottle when she held it out to him. He took a long swig of the liquid and then passed the bottle back to her. They were silent for a couple of minutes, both staring at the fireworks.
'Well it can't be worse than the last year right?' Mac said, breaking the silence. Dee snorted. 'I hope not' she answered, 'this year I got water-boarded repeatedly by the man who raised me, my mother died and left me nothing, you drove my car into a wall and don't even get me started on all of the things Dennis did to me' she vented, angry suddenly. Mac turned to look at her, 'You did stuff to us too!' he reminded her. She nodded in agreement.
'I am sorry about your car though' he said, turning to meet her eyes sheepishly. Dee was shocked. Mac had never given her a genuine apology before. 'It's okay. I guess I'm glad your father didn't murder you' she admitted. A surprised smile broke out over Mac's face. 'For real?' he asked happily. She laughed at the situation. Only in her life would one of her best (only) friends be surprised that she preferred him alive. 'Yes, really' she answered. They were standing shoulder to shoulder now, looking out over the city.
Mac put one arm around her shoulder and pulled her closer to him. 'Happy New Year Sweet Dee' he said. 'Happy New Year Mac' she replied softly. They stayed like that for a few more minutes until Mac's phone rang. He was needed down in the bar. He gave her that special smile that she only ever saw when they were alone and headed off.
Dee stayed for a while longer, remembering how right it felt to be close to Mac. She suddenly felt much better about the beginning of a new year. She fell asleep that night sober and with a smile on her face.
Philadelphia 3 a.m. on a Friday
Dee groaned sleepily as her phone ring-tone blared out under her pillow. She grabbed the phone and squinted at that the caller ID. 'Mac Attack' was calling. He had written in his own details in her phone, hence the lame nickname. She sighed in irritation and answered.
'Hello?' she said. 'Dee?' Mac yelled into the phone. Dee winced at the volume and held the phone away from her ear. 'Yes Mac, what do you want?' she asked snappily. 'Dee, we're stranded fifty miles from town and we need you to pick us up' he yelled again. 'What? Wait, why are you yelling?' she asked in confusion. Mac sighed loudly. 'I'm about to lose coverage okay, we're stranded out in the sticks and you have to rescue us! There might be bears or something' he shouted again. Dee groaned unhappily but climbed out of bed as she did so. 'Fine I'll come get you guys. Just text me the GPS details from your phone' she told Mac. She heard him whoop in celebration, 'She's going to come' she heard him tell the other guys. Then he was back, 'Thanks Dee' he roared into the phone. She smiled and hung up.
Forty minutes later Dee found herself navigating a small, dark back road somewhere outside Philadelphia. She locked her car doors and kept her eyes peeled for her particular gang of misfits at the side of the road. She drove another couple of miles before she saw them; Mac, Charlie, Dennis and Frank. Frank and Charlie were sitting huddled up together under a coat. Dennis and Mac were standing, propping each other up as they peered intently for her car in the wrong direction. Just as she had suspected they were drunk. She blasted the horn to get their attention. Four faces filled with relief when they saw her. Mac ran over fastest and tumbled messily into the front seat. The others climbed into the back, all talking loudly at once as they explained the situation.
Dee crinkled her brow in confusion as she tried to decipher what had happened. There was simply too much noise. 'Silence!' she shouted finally. They fell into a shocked silence for a moment. Dee turned to Mac, 'Tell me what happened' she said. Mac launched into a tale of how the McPoyles had tricked the guys into getting drunk in their camper van and had then ditched them in the countryside. Dee fought the urge to smile. If she hadn't been roused from her much-needed sleep she would have found the trick funny. As it was she agreed with the guys and muttered 'those sick weirdos' about the unusual family.
As she drove back to town she had to listen to the drunken revenge plans being plotted by the guys. Charlie's favourite was to plant a large bomb on their camper van but luckily Dennis talked him out of it. She dropped off Charlie and Frank first and then drove to Dennis and Mac's apartment. It was already five a.m. and she was working at nine. 'I'm going to crash at your place' she told Mac. He and Dennis lived closest to the bar and at this point she needed all the sleep she could get. Mac had sobered up slightly by this point whereas Dennis was sleeping in the back seat of her car.
Mac nodded in agreement. Dee parked the car and they woke Dennis. The three of them headed inside, all tired now. Once in the apartment Dennis headed straight for his own room and closed the door. Dee rolled her eyes at his rudeness. 'Not even a thank you' she muttered as he disappeared. Mac watched Dennis leave then grabbed Dee's hand and led her into his room. 'He's an ass' he said as they walked. When they got inside Mac's room he closed the door and turned to face Dee who was standing behind him. Mac met her eyes and said 'Thank you Dee for coming to get us'. She smiled, blushing under his intense stare. 'It's okay' she answered.
Mac held out his arms toward his bed and announced 'You can sleep in my bed'. Dee was surprised at how chivalrous Mac was being but chalked it up to the alcohol. Regardless, she was exhausted and the bed did look inviting. 'Thanks Mac' she said as she climbed into the bed, still wearing her track pants and hoody from the drive. What she didn't expect was for Mac to turn off the light and climb into the opposite side of the bed with her. They lay side by side but not touching. Dee fought the urge to cuddle into him and turned around, her back facing Mac. 'Goodnight Dee' he mumbled softly. 'Goodnight Mac' she answered. Dee fell asleep quickly.
At eight thirty she woke up feeling warm and cosy. Mac's arm was wrapped around her waist and her legs were tangled with his. Mac was still asleep and she took a moment to savour how nice this felt. Mac looked young and peaceful as he slept with a small smile on his face. Not for the first time Dee thought again how good-looking he was and how much she treasured time alone with him. Then she pushed those thoughts out of her mind. There was nothing between them, she told herself.
She managed to slip out of the bed without waking Mac and left the apartment. When she saw Mac at work later neither would mention the impromptu sleep-over and their bickering continued as normal.
Philadelphia 10 pm on a Saturday
Dee smiled brightly as she walked into the bar with Paul. She wasn't working tonight and was on a date. They had just had dinner and so far the date was going well. She and Paul had really clicked and when he expressed interest in seeing where she worked she decided to take him to the bar.
The bar was characteristically quiet and she spotted Charlie and Mac at the pool table. Dennis was bar-tending in a bored manner. Despite this, Paul looked around appreciatively as Dee led him to the bar. She ordered two drinks from Dennis and she and Paul sat at the bar. The conversation between them flowed and she discovered that Paul loved her impressions. As the night wound down Dennis joined them and then Charlie and Mac. Paul was funny and polite to the entire gang. Dee was thrilled.
Mac was being oddly quiet, she thought. He barely spoke and answered Paul's questions with short one-word answers. When he finished his drink he stood up and left the bar without saying goodnight to anyone. Dee found his behaviour very strange, though the ever self-obsessed Dennis didn't seem to notice and Charlie was high on glue. Paul did notice though. Later that night when he walked her home Paul said that Mac clearly had some romantic interest in her, and asked if they had a history. Dee laughed hysterically at the idea and explained that there was nothing between them.
Even so though, she didn't invite Paul in that night despite her earlier intentions to do so. And it was Mac and his strange behaviour that filled her thoughts that night rather than her fantastic first date with Paul. Dee began to wonder if their rare, disjointed moments together would count as a romantic history. She laughed at herself for clutching at straws and went to sleep.
Two days later Paul rang her while she was in the bar and asked her on a second date. She turned him down gently and hung up. Charlie had been listening in and ran off to tell the others that she had taken Paul away from them.
Mac seemed cheerful again for the first time in two days.
Philadelphia 2pm on a Thursday
Dee and the guys had decided to go to the park. It was a sunny day and the bar was quiet enough to leave just Frank in charge. Dee had packed a large picnic basket of food and the guys each carried a cooler of beer, except for Charlie who carried a patchwork quilt he had stolen off a clothes-line.
They argued over the perfect picnic spot for a while but eventually settled on a nice bright spot in the shade. Soon they were eating chicken sandwiches and gulping beer in the sun. Dee was wearing a nice yellow sun-dress and sun-glasses. She had a nice natural tan which she mercilessly flaunted in front of pale Dennis who couldn't tan naturally at all. Mac grinned at her antics as he sipped his beer.
After a while, as so often happened lately, Dee found that she and Mac were left alone. Dennis had stalked off to hit on women and Charlie to find treasure. She and Mac spent the afternoon together laughing and talking and getting drunk. Their connection was almost palpable. Dee had never felt such a magnetic pull to any other man. She wondered if Mac felt it too or whether he simply saw this as a fun day with Sweet Dee.
'I really enjoy spending time with you' Dee announced suddenly, the alcohol fuelling her courage. Mac's face lit up and he reached over to hold her hand. 'I enjoy it too' he said. Their eyes met and Dee got lost in his brown gaze.
The moment was broken when a Frisbee hit Dee's shoulder. Mac chuckled and stood up to throw it back to its owners. He leaned down and offered his hand to Dee to help her up too. 'We should find the others and get back to the bar' Mac stated. Dee agreed and they set off together. Mac reached out and grabbed her hand again. He didn't drop it until they found Dennis hanging out by the ice-cream stand.
Dee decided that in addition to Mac's smile she also loves his hands.
Philadelphia 11pm on a Wednesday
The girl smiles suggestively in Mac's direction and Dee's blood boils. Jealousy tears through her and she knows suddenly what she has been trying to repress for years. She likes Mac. More than likes him probably. Dee grits her teeth furiously and continues serving drinks. She's at the bar working and Mac is leaning against the juke-box wearing his duster. He's working as head of security tonight and clearly the slutty (hot) girl likes what she sees.
Mac moves in to break up a bar-fight and drags a man out the back door. The girl pouts as Mac disappears and Dee hopes the fight keeps him outside for a while. It does. The girl's friends are getting ready to leave so the girl approaches Dee and thrusts a piece of pink paper into Dee's hands and tells her to give it to the 'hot security guy'. Dee smiles falsely and assures the girl that she will. As soon as they leave the bar Dee throws the paper in the bin. She may never have Mac herself, but she's determined that that slut never will.
All's fair in love and war after all.
Philadelphia 1pm on a Tuesday
Mac hasn't shown up for work. Dee is concerned but doesn't want to show it in front of the other guys. After a while Dennis mentions that Mac is sick and that he, Dennis, will be coming to stay with her until Mac recovers. Dennis claims that he can't risk getting sick because he's too important to the bar. Dee scoffs at his arrogance but agrees to let him stay.
After work she drops by the pharmacy and picks up some flu medication for Mac and then drives to his apartment. She uses Dennis's key to enter and makes her way to Mac's room. He's awake and looks confused when she walks in. 'Dee?' he croaks, pulling himself upright against the headboard. Dee thinks he looks terrible. His face is pale and his hair is moist with sweat.
'Hi Mac. I brought you some medicine' Dee explains softly. She approaches the bed and sits on the edge beside Mac. She reaches out her hand to feel his forehead. Mac's eyes widen in surprise but he stays silent and allows her to play nurse. 'You're really hot. You must have a fever' Dee decides, drawing her hand away. She reaches into the bag and takes out some paracetamol. She hands Mac two pills which he swallows. She also gives him some cough syrup. 'Thanks Sweet Dee' Mac mutters weakly. Dee makes him lie down and tells him to sleep for a while.
Dee watches TV in their sitting room for a couple of hours until Mac wakes up again. He already feels a little better. She gives him more medicine and leaves for the night, promising to come back tomorrow.
For the next two days Dee checks in on Mac twice a day and nurses him back to health. On the last day before Mac returns to work he's feeling much better and they spend the day watching old re-runs of 'Friends' together on the couch. Mac lies with his head on a pillow on Dee's lap. Both assert it's because he's still sick and too weak to sit up all day. That evening they order pizza and watch three romantic comedies in a row. They make fun of the soppy characters and laugh until Dee can barely breathe.
Dee realizes that it's the first time they've spent this long together without an ounce of alcohol being ingested. She had wondered if their connection in the past was forged by alcohol. Now she was forced to admit that it was all down to them.
Later Dee watches Mac who is fast asleep with his head in her lap and his arm around her waist, and she wonders how long they can continue like this, and whether they'll ever become something more.
Philadelphia 9pm on a Saturday
The gang are at a wedding. Artemis is marrying a wealthy older man she met at the theater one night just months ago. She seems genuinely happy. Dee is one of the bridesmaids and she actually likes her dress. It's pale blue and fitted with a slight mermaid style to the bottom of the skirt. The guys have all made an effort and are dressed in rented tuxedos. She has to admit that they all look good, even Charlie.
The reception is just about to start. Artemis and Bill, her new husband, are opening with their first dance and will be joined on the dance-floor by the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Dee has been paired with Scott, the younger brother of Bill and they've been getting along well all day. They twirl around the floor laughing and talking and the song ends to applause. Dee is about to say goodbye to Scott and go find the guys when she feels a tap on her shoulder. She turns around and Mac is there, smiling at her. 'Would you like to dance?' he asks her. She tries to play it cool but can't help the huge smile that erupts. 'Yeah sure' she answers. The song is slow and Mac puts his arms around her waist.
He looks so handsome in his tuxedo with his dark hair slicked back. They talk as they dance about the wedding and the dinner. Mac fills her in on his escapades for the day. He had opened a betting pool for the wedding and had made a killing on the bored guests. 'I got the idea from that movie we watched, remember when I was sick?' he tells her gleefully. She laughs. 'Wedding Crashers?' she prompts. 'Exactly' Mac agrees. Dee smiles and says jokingly 'I want a cut of the takings then. That was my DVD'. Mac laughs and bargains her down to 10%. They don't realize the song has changed several times as they continue dancing.
Soon the deejay plays a fast song and Mac holds her hand and leads her off the dance-floor. They spot Frank and Charlie sitting at a table and go join them. Dee gratefully grabs a glass of wine from a waiter on their way. She is parched from the busy day and from the dancing. Charlie gives them a wide-eyed stare when they sit down side by side. Dee ignores him, hoping he won't comment on the dancing which is extremely out of character for her and Mac in public.
Dee is shocked that Mac actually asked her to dance in such a public setting with all of the guys there. Normally they act like they hate each other in front of the others. She fully expects Mac to go drink with Charlie and Dennis now and to spend the night hitting on girls. That was the plan Dennis outlined earlier and Mac hadn't contradicted him.
However, Mac is still sitting beside her. Dee decides to just go with it and see what happens. She and Mac spend the evening drinking and laughing and taking bets from the other guests who seem to have been bitten by the gambling bug. One man places one hundred dollars on what time the cake will be brought out. Another bets that Dee will catch Artemis's bouquet.
Dee is having an amazing time, and she thinks Mac is too. They're joined at their table by a young couple who clearly assume that Dee and Mac are together. Neither one corrects the assumption. They have a great time drinking with the couple and they all go out dancing to Lady GaGa's 'Poker Face'. Mac does his strange elbow dance and Dee laughs so much she gets a stitch in her side.
Overall, Dee is having such a great time that she has forgotten that Dennis is also at the wedding until he marches over to her and Mac. She and Mac had just come back from the dance-floor and her seat had been taken by a sleepy old man. Mac had sat down and pulled her easily onto his lap, so now she was sitting perched on his lap as they rested. She was saying something to Mac as Dennis approached and Mac was leaning in, his forehead touching hers lightly. They were entirely wrapped up in each other.
Dennis looked at them in disgust and confusion. He had no idea what was going on. 'Hey guys' he said awkwardly. Mac and Dee looked up simultaneously. Dee looked irritated when she saw him, Mac looked a little worried. 'Mac, I just hooked us up with two hot chicks. Come on, they're waiting for us' he announced. Mac's brow creased in confusion. Dee's face was still, waiting for his reaction. Dennis gestured with his hands towards two girls who were hovering a few feet away. 'Come on dude, I totally hooked you up' Dennis repeated.
Mac tightened his hands around Dee's waist and replied, 'Thanks man, but I'll pass. I'm having a good time here'. Dennis looked outraged and stormed off, taking both girls with him. Dee felt awkward. 'If you want to go…' she began before trailing off. Mac tightened his hold on her, 'I don't want to go. Now come on. I think we can shake down that old couple over there for a few bets' he said, defusing the tension. Dee laughed and agreed to try.
It's when they're all standing on the dance-floor laughing and cheering for Charlie who has commandeered the microphone to sing 'Day Man' that Mac leans in, cups her cheek gently and kisses her. Dee is surprised for a moment, and then she leans into the kiss too. They both pull back at the same time and their eyes meet. Dee reads her entire future in his dark eyes as he gives her that special smile she usually sees only when they're alone. This time Dee smiles back.
By the end of the night, they had made five hundred dollars on bets. Dee did catch the bouquet, and she and Mac kissed many more times.
Philadelphia 1pm on a Sunday
It's the day after the wedding and Dee has to go into the bar for an afternoon shift. She stalls as much as possible, not wanting to face the inevitable questioning from the gang about her and Mac. Mac had walked her home last night. They had kissed for an eternity on her door-step, and then he had left. She hoped he'd be at the bar too so she wouldn't have to face the guys alone.
She walked into the bar and as expected Dennis, Charlie and Frank were all sitting at the bar waiting for her. They all began firing questions at her at once and she winced, a residual hang-over headache kicking in at the noise. 'Guys, one at a time please' she shouted over the noise. Charlie threw his hand up in the air. Dee sighed and said, 'Yes Charlie?' Charlie said 'Did I really see you and Mac making out to ''Day Man'' or was that just the glue I took?' Dee sighed again. Dennis and Frank waited expectantly for her answer.
Then Mac walked in behind her holding two coffees and a bag of muffins. 'Morning Dee', he stated cheerily planting a quick kiss on her cheek as he strode by. 'I got us some breakfast' he added, grabbing her hand and leading her toward the office and away from the guys. Dee followed him, pleasantly surprised by the display of affection. She hadn't been sure how he would act in the harsh light of Paddy's Pub. Charlie howled after her to answer the question but Mac firmly shut the office door against the noise.
He turned to Dee. 'Hi' he said. She smiled, feeling shy suddenly when she remembered last night. She picked up a coffee to break the tension. 'Thanks for the coffee' she said. Mac smiled and walked towards her. He took the coffee out of her hand and placed it carefully on the desk, and then he leaned in and kissed her again. Dee reciprocated and they made out in the office for long enough that the coffee had gone cold when they stopped.
Eventually, the babble of voices outside the door got loud enough to intrude on their thoughts. 'The guys are demanding answers.' Dee sighed, staring at the door. Mac broke a chunk off a muffin and chewed it as he thought. 'What will we tell them?' Dee asked Mac. 'Well, I really like you. I would totally like to date you' Mac answered honestly in his upfront way. Dee felt like she might explode from happiness. Mac was watching her intently, waiting for her answer. 'I would really like that too' Dee replied. 'Awesome. So we're officially dating?' Mac checked with her. Dee laughed as she answered 'Yes'. Dee leaned in and kissed him again, which led to another long make-out session on the desk.
After a while, they strode out of the office hand in hand and Mac arranged a 'press conference' at the pool table. Charlie finally got his question answered; yes they had kissed for the first time to 'Day Man'. He whooped in delight that his song had been involved, seemingly not caring that the two were now dating. Dennis raised his hand and said in a disgusted tone, 'Are you two serious with this?' Mac answered quickly, 'Yes we're very serious about this'. Dennis sighed but didn't say any more. Frank raised his hand and asked 'Are you going to expect me to pay for your wedding just because I raised you?' Mac turned and raised his eye brows quizzically at Dee. She turned to Frank and answered 'Yes, absolutely you'll be paying for it Dad'. Frank slumped defeated in his chair while Mac and Dee high-five. The press conference ended when a customer came into the bar and the day continued on as normal for the gang.
Philadelphia 8pm on a Saturday
Mac watches across the bar as Dee serves a customer. She's so beautiful, he thinks. He smiles as she grins at something Charlie says to her behind the bar. He catches her eye and gestures upwards with his head, his eyebrow raised in a question. She nods and he heads over to her. Together they make their way up to the roof. They stand looking out over the city like they once did on New Year's Eve. Mac had wanted to kiss her that night so badly. This time he can act on the impulse.
Dee laughs as she sees two McPoyles running down the street dressed in robes. Mac blows a wolf whistle at them mockingly. The strange twin brothers stop running and wave their scrawny fists furiously at the roof. This just makes Dee laugh harder.
Mac sees his future clearly in her smile. He sees them getting married, buying a nice house and having their own kids some day. He hopes she sees it too.
Mac smiles at her and decides to take the first step. It's only been two months of dating but he's known this fact for much longer than that. He stands in front of her and puts his two hands on her waist. Dee looks at him expectantly and he inhales, suddenly nervous that she won't feel the same.
'Dee. I love you' he says, biting his lip nervously as he watches her face for a reaction. A beautiful smile fills her face and her eyes are shining when she replies 'I love you too'. They kiss for what feels like an eternity until the strange McPoyles start throwing gravel at them from the street. Then they laugh and return to the bar, hand in hand.