Getting to Me

Chapter Ten

The six and a half hour drive to Fargo took a lot longer than Mandy had been thinking that it would. Zacky fell asleep only three and a half hours in, at Bismarck, and he stayed asleep for the rest of the time. Michelle and Brian were too busy talking in the front seat, leaving her to herself. The soft country music that was crooning through the Suburban's speakers were only proving to make Mandy feel even more bored than she already was, and she had seriously contemplated breaking the speakers at least once since they'd started the journey. She was all too aware of how Zacky's head was leaned against the cool glass window of the door, his mouth slightly open as he laid there, a small trail of drool sliding out of his mouth and wetting the front of his black down parka.

"Are you getting hungry back there?" Brian asked, looking in the rearview mirror at his younger sister with his dark brown eyes, frowning when he saw her watching Zacky, but saying nothing. She snapped to attention immediately, blushing because he'd caught her, but didn't say anything as she sighed and nodded, looking out the other window and seeing that they were approaching Jamestown.

"Yeah," she told her older brother, who nodded and got into the lane of the highway that would allow him to get off at the exit. They drove to the nearest McDonalds, and Brian ordered everyone some cheeseburgers and fries with some drinks. Mandy didn't want to wake Zacky up, but she knew that if she and the other two were hungry, he was going to be as well, and no one liked a cold cheeseburger or fries. She shook his shoulder softly and he snorted once loudly as he awoke before giving her a small smile.

"Where are we?" He asked her quietly, blinking as he tried to gather his bearings, looking out the window, trying to figure out if they were in Fargo yet. She chuckled softly at his confused state of mind as she handed him the cheeseburger and fries that he would eat, making sure to take a small sip out of his soda before handing that to him as well.

"Jamestown," she told him with a small yawn of her own. "We've still got a long drive from what Brian told me," she growled. Mandy had never been one of the types of girls who liked long drives. She liked staying close to her house, and oftentimes, she avoided leaving unless she absolutely had to, such as for college and to pick up new horses or shipments of cattle.

"Eh, it's only another hour," he shrugged, taking one of the fries and popping it into his mouth, frowning when he realized how much salt the restaurant employees had doused the food in before shrugging, downing it with a loud slurp of his soda before Brian began driving again, heading back to the Interstate.

"So, uh, where are we staying?" Mandy asked, breaking the silence as she met Brian's gaze in the rearview mirror again. She could tell immediately that he wasn't happy about where she would be staying, because Michelle was the next to speak, putting her hand on Brian's shoulder in an attempt to stop him from yelling, like he looked like he was about to.

"Bri's staying with me in my apartment," she said quietly, turning around to look at Mandy and Zacky through amused eyes. "There's only enough room for him, since I don't have a guest room. So that means you'll have to stay with Zacky at his place."

Both Zacky and Mandy looked at each other before Brian finally lost his cool, his eyes darker than Mandy had seen them in a long time as he glared furiously at Zacky, who rolled his eyes in response. "If you even think about fucking touching my little sister, Baker, I have a really big back yard. No one would find you," he hissed angrily in a low threat before turning his full attention back to the road.

"Chill, Brian," Mandy rolled her eyes, giving Zacky a reassuring smile. She recalled the kiss they'd shared and blushed, but not wanting her older brother or Michelle to see the blush, she quickly leaned her head against the window of her own door, watching the boring, flat white scenery pass through her window. She wanted to ask, "are we there yet," just to annoy her older brother, but she decided not to press her luck. She could tell he was already fuming mad because of how tightly he was gripping the steering wheel with his hands, and everyone knew that if you pissed Brian off, bad things were most likely to follow.

She looked up when Zacky reached into her hands, grabbing for her phone discreetly. Michelle saw this as well, but just smirked at Mandy as she turned her attention back to the road as well, letting the two of them know that their 'secret' was safe with her. Zacky smiled as he typed something in to the black phone before handing it back to Mandy slowly, so that Brian wouldn't see. She gave him a confused look before smiling as she looked down at her contacts list--he'd added in his name.

She flipped the phone open so that she could text him, wanting to know why he'd wanted to put his number into her phone, and smiled as she typed the text out. What's that for? she texted before closing her phone, her heart beating somewhat faster as she waited for his answer. She heard Zacky chuckle a few moments later when his own phone went off, and only thirty seconds later, his response came.

I wanted to talk to you and your bodyguard would get mad.

She chuckled at his response, rolling her eyes, and they continued texting back and forth before they reached Fargo an hour and a half later. Mandy was completely overwhelmed by the city, like she always was when she saw it. The snow seemed to set everything alight with sparkles, and the amount of cars surprised her. The stoplights that were positioned every so often cast beautiful glows on the snow, lighting it up as if it were the floor of a disco ballroom, and the sounds of the horns honking and car stereos blasting through cracked windows seemed to send her brain into overdrive.

"Welcome to Fargo, kid," Brian smirked at his little sister's reaction from the front seat, turning the radio up a little louder so that it would block out some of the outside noise for her.

"It's a lot different than the ranch," she noted, watching as people waited to cross the streets in the crosswalks, bundled up against the frigid cold temperatures, their faces covered by scarves and their legs covered by long trench coats. Out in Golden Valley, no one wore clothes like that, they just wore heavy farmers' overalls and thick hiking boots.

-x-

"So, uh...You can sleep in the bedroom, and I'll take the couch," Zacky said quietly to Mandy later that night as they walked up the three flights of stairs into his apartment. She smiled as he grabbed her hand in his. The coast was clear, and neither of them needed to worry that Brian was going to see that they were now holding hands or mildly flirting, because he and Michelle had already headed to her apartment for the night. Brian had promised to be there bright and early in the morning; a warning that he still didn't trust that Zacky wasn't going to have sex with his sister, or at the very least put moves on her.

"It's no problem," she gave him a small smile, turning to face him. "I'll sleep on the couch. It's your apartment. You sleep on the bed," she teased lightly, shoving his shoulder just enough to make him sway into the creme-colored wall. He chuckled at her words before they turned the corner to go down the hallway that would lead them to his apartment, and he blushed when he realized that he didn't live in exactly the best apartment complex that Fargo had to offer. Mandy saw his blush and smiled softly as she reached up to touch his cheek softly, shaking her head. "Don't worry about it, Zack. I've slept in a barn; this isn't that bad."

"Yeah, well, your barn is pretty damn comfortable," he chuckled as they stopped outside of the door. He pulled a keyring out of his back pocket and shuffled around for the right key, smiling when he found it before he inserted it into the lock, twisting it and then hearing the door unlock for them as they stepped into the apartment, Zacky flipping the lightswitch on so that the room wouldn't be filled with darkness as he closed the door behind them.

Mandy took a few moments to look around the apartment. It was a typical bachelor pad, with boring-colored walls that didn't have anything on them besides an old-school poster of Marilyn Monroe and some Playboy centerfolds, which made her chuckle. There were some random pieces of garbage thrown about the floor that were near the garbage can, and there were a couple of pop bottles that were sitting on the wooden coffee table positioned in front of Zacky's TV.

"Sorry for the mess," he said in a quiet voice, embarassed that she had to walk into his apartment and see it in this condition. She rolled her eyes at his apology as she turned around to give him a bright smile, shaking her head as she grabbed both of his large, callused hands in hers as she leaned in to peck his lips softly, biting her bottom lip once she backed away and blushing while she looked at the floor.

"I live with two brothers and a ten year old, Zacky," she smirked at him, reaching up to push some of the coal black hair that had fallen in his green eyes out of the way so that she could meet his gaze without anything obstructing his view. "I don't mind a few pizza boxes or soda cans."

He smirked softly and licked over his bottom lip, the taste of her raspberry chapstick still in his mouth as she turned away from him to sit on the couch, grabbing the remote as she shot him a playful smirk, pushing some of the cans on the coffee table out of the way and pushing the little red on button on the remote so that the TV would come to life.

"Don't do tha--" He started, blushing when he was too late, turning away. Mandy's face turned beet red when she realized that the last thing he'd watched on the TV had apparently been a softcore porn, with no real action going on. She immediately fumbled to turn the TV off before she let out a humored laugh, causing Zacky to chuckle as well.

"Well that was interesting," she chuckled as she set the remote back down, turning to look at Zacky, who was still blushing a furious beet red. It was obvious that it was weird for the two of them to be sharing his apartment alone for the night, but she decided that they'd just have to get over it. It wasn't as if she could go anywhere else to stay, and besides, she liked spending this extra time with Zacky. There was just something about him that made her feel...like she was a little girl again, with that fluttering in her chest that seemed to be unexplainable, and the breathlessness she had felt when he'd kissed her for the first time in the horse barn the other day.

"I so didn't mean for you to see that, Mandy," he groaned, covering his face with his hands before peeking at her thorugh the narrow spaces between his fingers. "For the record, it was probably Matt. I...don't watch that kind of stuff," he trailed off as he looked at the floor. Mandy let out an airy laugh and shook her head as she stood up again, crossing the space that separated them as she put her hands on his shoulders, causing him to look up at her.

"It's fine," she rolled her eyes with a small smile. She supposed that some girls might have been a little put off by the movie that had been in the TV, possibly even disgusted, but he was just a guy. Guys did that kind of thing, just the same as they sometimes drank too much or smoked too much. It was part of the gender, and Mandy wasn't going to hold it against him. Especially when she thought she might possibly have started developing feelings for him. No, scratch that, she thought to herself. She had definitely developed at least minimal feelings for him. The way she felt around him was a little more than friendship, even if she wasn't sure exactly what one could call it.

"You're...Never mind," he cut himself off quickly as he took a deep breath. Mandy was curious as to what he'd been about to say but she decided not to ask him about it, and stepped back from him with a friendly smile on her face.

"It's late," she smiled at him. "And it's cold outside. I'm thinking it's the perfect night for a movie," she chuckled at his horrified expression. "I'll go see what you have around your kitchen, and you can get a different movie out for us to watch, yeah?"

"I'm not sure if I have any chick flicks," he said, licking over his bottom lip. "I'm more of a horror movie kind of guy."

"Perfect," she smirked at him as she turned around to face him. "Gives me the perfect opportunity to fake scared and cuddle with you."

Mandy didn't say anything else as she walked into the kitchen. She heard Zacky shuffling around with the DVD player and trying to find a different movie, but she pulled her focus away from him so that she could concentrate on finding the ingredients for a bowl of popcorn and some hot cocoa. Finally, she found two packets of Nestle hidden away in a corner cabinet, no doubt stashed there by some girl he'd let stay there before, and she found a popcorn packet as well. She read the instructions on it carefully and inserted it into his microwave, pushing the time that it had told her to, before she began heating some water on his range for the cocoa. Ten minutes later, everything was prepared, and she walked back into the living room with the bowl of popcorn and one of the mugs of cocoa.

"I found a zombie movie, if you're in to that," he gave her a small smile. Most chicks he knew wouldn't be willing to watch it, but from what he'd gotten to know about Mandy, he had a feeling she might just be up to it. She nodded, a small smile on her face as she set the mug of cocoa down on the coffee table with the popcorn.

"I'll just go grab the other mug of cocoa, and I'll be back," she said with a cheeky grin as she leaned up on her tiptoes to press a barely-there kiss to his cheek. He grinned madly as she did that, and when she returned, he already had the movie started, the porn safely hidden away somewhere, and he grabbed a blanket that was on the arm of the couch before covering the both of them with it. He'd dimmed the lights already, and now all they had to do was push play on the remote to let the movie start.

Zacky smirked as he licked over his bottom lip, pushing the button for the movie to start playing as he settled back against the couch, wrapping his arm over Mandy's shoulders and propping his legs up on the coffee table in front of him. The name of the movie flashed across the scene in big black lettering, Night of The Living Dead. It was his favorite horror movie, and he was hoping that one of two scenarios played out. He was either hoping that Mandy hated the movie, and cowered in to his side, thus pressing her firmly against him, or that she loved the movie, but would still pretend to be terrified, thus pressing her firmly against him.

"This is black and white," she said as she looked up at his green eyes, smiling when he nodded, tilting his head back in the direction of the TV, a car with two young-looking people driving in the countryside setting the scene for what he was hoping would frighten her at least a little bit. Nothing was more romantic than assuring a scared girl that you'd keep them safe, right? At least, that's what he was hoping for, anyway. He reached to take a handful of the popcorn and put some of it into his mouth, watching the movie play.

Mandy couldn't deny that she was a little creeped out by the movie. She was fine through the first character's death, and though the lead woman's screams and and fright got just a little annoying to her, she had to admit that it was a pretty good movie that Zacky had chosen out. However, as the young blonde woman began walking up the stairs and Mandy eagerly popped some of the fluffy white popcorn into her mouth, she let out a groan when she saw the bloody, disgusting head sitting at the top of the scares, eyeballs staring at both the woman in the movie and at Mandy. She turned her head into Zacky's shoulder and felt a little more relaxed as he tightened his arm around her shoulder, chuckling softly as he held her there.

"It's just a movie, Mandy," he said quietly into her ear, pushing some of her bangs out of her face while they continued watching the movie. She squirmed a little bit during other parts of the movie, especially when the little girl murdered her mother, and when the zombies were eating the burning flesh of the young couple who'd gone to see if they could get some gas into the old truck.

"That was so gross," she chuckled when the movie came to an end, swatting his shoulder lightly. The popcorn was long gone by that point, as was the cocoa, and a quick look at the clock told them that it was already eleven o'clock at night. Brian was going to be here by seven A.M., which meant that they had to get some sleep so it didn't look like they'd been up during the the night time doing things that he didn't want them doing with one another.

"Yeah, but it got you to cuddle with me," Zacky stuck his tongue out at her. She rolled her eyes but blushed at his comment, and then moved to get the blanket situated on the couch, still believing that she would be the one sleeping there that night. When Zacky saw what she was doing, he shook his head and plopped down on the cushions before she could argue. "Nope. You're the lady, you sleep in the bedroom."

She pouted, moving to sit on his lap in a brazen sign of flirting as her eyes stayed straight on his. "And what am I supposed to do if zombies start pouring in through your windows, huh?" She teased him, giggling when he softly touched her cheek with his thumb, kissing her lips very softly as she stood up again, grabbing his hands in hers.

"Just call my name, and I promise I'll save you," he smirked at her. She blushed at his words, but nodded. She knew she wasn't going to win this argument with Zacky, and so she walked towards the bedroom, grabbing her little duffel bag on the way so that she could change into her pajamas. The first thing she noticed about Zacky's bedroom when she entered the small space, making sure to leave the door open just a crack due to paranoia because of the movie, was that it was relatively clean for a guy's bedroom. The bed was half made, with a thick blue duvet thrown over the queen-sized mattress and four pillows tossed haphazardly at the top of the bed. There were only a few clothes scattered along the floor, and there was no garbage anywhere at all that she could see. Another TV was positioned on top of a tall dresser so that he could watch TV while he was laying in bed, but she didn't bother turning it on, not wanting to find out if there was a porn movie in there as well. She quickly changed into her pajamas before calling out a goodnight to Zacky, grinning when he returned the sentiment from the couch as she moved gingerly over to his mattress, sliding between the cold sheets and pulling them up to her neck before snuggling up into a tight ball, closing her eyes.

As she fell asleep that night, she fell asleep with the scent of Zacky on his pillows lingering in her nostrils. It helped her to fall asleep quickly and easily, no thoughts of zombies anywhere in her mind.