Getting to Me

Chapter Twelve

"Mandy, what are you doing?" Brian asked as Mandy hummed quietly along to a song that was playing on the radio. He was driving them to a nearby McDonald's to get some food before they would drop him off at Michelle's, and then they would return back to Zacky's to get some more clothes for him. He had decided that he'd stay at the ranch for the winter, because Brian Sr. had offered him a low-paying job as a ranch hand to take Brian's place while he was in Fargo taking care of Michelle while she was pregnant. Zacky had decided to take him up on it, despite Brian's telling him not to, and it was settled.

"What does it sound like I'm doing? I'm humming, duh." She told her older brother, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. Both Matt and Zacky, who were in the truck with them, giggled, while Mandy continued humming. She didn't recognize the song that was softly singing from the radio, but it did sound like something she wouldn't mind listening to on a regular basis. It was country, like most things that Brian listened to, but that didn't take away from the fact that it had a good tempo, good guitar parts, and lyrics about some cheesy romance.

"Yeah, well, you obviously didn't inherit the musical genes in the family," Brian snickered at his younger sister, causing her to roll her eyes. She wasn't going to be immature and argue with a remark like that. Well...Maybe just a little, she thought to herself with a smile. After all, she wasn't the younger sister for nothing.

"Yeah, well, at least I don't need Daddy dearest to teach me for a year and a half how to properly hold the damn guitar," she giggled back. Brian's face flushed beet red as he turned to glare at his sister from the driver's side.

"It did not take Dad a year and a half, Mandy," he rolled his eyes. "More like nine or ten months."

"Yeah, well, I learned by myself. Upside down on a right-handed guitar," Zacky told Brian, making him glare at him through the rearview mirror. He obviously didn't like being shown that he wasn't the best guitar player in the vehicle by a long shot, even though he was an amazingly talented guitar player in Mandy's opinion. However, she didn't think he was as talented as their father, and she doubted she ever would. Brian was good, but her Dad...he was amazing. She turned to look at Zacky with curiosity. He played guitar. Kasey had called it spot-on earlier. She wondered how her friend had figured out that he played an instrument, but she decided not to say anything as she continued softly humming, stopping the song only to tell Brian what to order her when he pulled up in the drive thu.

It took another fifteen minutes after they had gotten out of the McDonald's parking lot to reach Michelle's house, and when they did, everyone suddenly backed off of Brian, Zacky, and Mandy, knowing that the three of them would need a bit of time together before Zacky and Mandy began the drive back to Golden Valley. Brian sighed as he looked at his younger sister, suddenly realizing that she wasn't so little anymore. He had no idea when she'd grown taller, or when she'd filled out the lanky frame she used to have with curves that men would take double looks at in the street. She was drop dead gorgeous, and not just with inner beauty. Brian hated to admit it, but while he'd been away, his baby sister had grown up on him.

"What are you looking at me like that for?" Mandy asked him, a confused, though amused, look on her face as she watched her older brother. "It's kinda creepy, dude."

Brian chuckled at her word usage, but instead of giving her a vocal response, he just pulled her in for a tight hug and wrapped his arms around her back warmly, kissing the top of her head once she'd returned the hug. He held his little sister like that for a few minutes before he held her back at a distance to look at her, a small smile on his face. "I ain't gonna say goodbye or shit, because...well, it's kinda bullshit. No goodbye is good, right?" He asked her, chuckling as he saw her begin building up tears in her eyes, and he groaned. "Oh, don't you even think about it, Mandy. C'mon, it's only for a few months. Just until 'Chelle pops and winter's done, and then we can come back to the ranch. It's not goodbye, it's just 'see you later.'"

"I haven't seen you in almost six months, you're home for barely three weeks, and then you tell us that you're coming back to Fargo for the rest of the winter. That's a hell of a lot more than just 'see you later,' Brian!" Mandy said, her voice breaking as she went to hug her older brother again. They might argue a lot, and most of the time they might not get along, but just like any siblings, they loved each other, and it was hard for her to have to say goodbye to him after he'd only just come home.

"I know, kiddo, I know," Brian sighed, letting her hug him again. Zacky was watching from his spot leaned up against the Suburban, but he decided not to say anything to ruin the moment, knowing that they needed to say goodbye properly to one another.

"Tell me you'll at least call," she asked him, sniffling as she looked at him. "Last time you only called once a week. I want you to promise you'll call more than that."

"I will," Brian promised her, a small smirk on his face as he nodded at her request, sticking his hands into his pockets in an attempt to block out the freezing cold temperature that was beginning to set in as it became later in the day. "Don't waste any more time on me though, alright? You and Zacky have to get back to his place so he can pack some clothes. Why don't you go inside and get a thermos? Michelle said she was gonna make you some cocoa for the road."

Mandy nodded, having a small idea of why Brian wanted her to go into the house. She walked up to the doorway, closing the door behind her as she tried to find the kitchen to talk to Michelle, leaving Brian and Zacky alone outside by the car. Zacky sighed as Brian waited for Mandy to get inside the house and close the door before he looked at his friend.

"I don't want to hear that you broke her heart, Zacky," Brian said, looking at his friend with a dead serious expression. "I can see that she likes you, and it's pretty fucking obvious that you might like her too. Just...Don't you dare fucking hurt her, alright? She's my little sister. She's my family, and if you fuck with her, you fuck with me. You got that?" Brian asked his friend, glaring at him. He didn't like the idea of Zacky and Mandy being together, but he knew there wasn't a whole lot he could do to change the situation if it happened. The conversation he'd had with his mother had made him think about it, and he had decided that she was right. He had dated one of Mandy's friends a couple of years ago, and even though he knew Mandy hadn't liked it, she hadn't said anything or tried to sabotage the relationship. And while Mandy and Zacky weren't exactly in a relationship like he had been, he knew it was likely to happen while he was in Fargo for the winter.

"I know, man," Zacky told Brian nodding. "I'm not...saying that we're gonna get to that point or anything. I don't know if we will or not. But if we do, and she decides that she wants to see me or whatever it is it's called now...I won't hurt her."

"You know why I'm telling you this, Zacky. Don't take that defensive fucking tone," Brian snapped at his friend when he heard the edgy tone in Zacky's voice. Zacky rolled his eyes, his breath visible as he huffed. Brian was right; he did know why Brian was having this little 'talk' with him. In Zacky's opinion, it was complete bullshit.

"I don't treat every girl that walks across my path like shit, Brian. I know I have a track record but Jesus Christ, it's not like I walk all over their hearts intentionally."

"I know that," Brian told his friend, nodding. "But I also know that you used to be proud of how many girls you could go through, and I don't want my little sister to be a notch on someone's belts. I don't know if she's ever really had a real, loving relationship, but I like to think that if she has, it was a good experience. And I know she has to experience heartbreak at some point in her life, if she hasn't already with Roy what’s-his-face-, but I don't want you to be that heartbreak. That's all I'm saying, Zack."

Zacky's face softened as he looked at his friend, nodding at Brian and then extending his hand to shake. Brian took it firmly in his hand as he pulled it out of his pocket before he looked towards the door, where Mandy was beginning to walk back out to the car from. "I'll take care of her, Bri. I promise," Zacky said quietly to his friend, who nodded.

"What'd I miss?" Mandy asked with a bright grin as she walked over to both of them, though Brian could still see the sadness that lingered in her chocolate brown eyes. He hated that she was so torn up about his decision to stay with Michelle for the winter months, but it wasn't like he had another choice. Michelle was obviously very pregnant, and he had that litltle feeling that it was indeed his. And while he had never planned on having a kid at twenty-four, he couldn't just walk out on it.

"Nothing much," Zacky chuckled, his eyes still watching Brian, who cleared his throat.

"Mandy, if this fuckface messes with you, I give you full permission to abuse his package," he smirked at his little sister, breaking the tender moment and making Zacky's eyes widen, Mandy's face contort into confusion and laughter, and Michelle roll her eyes.

"It's nice to see that you value your friends, Bri," Mandy said as she gave him one last hug. "I'll call you when we get home, alright?"

Brian nodded at her and watched as she climbed into the Suburban, closing the door behind her before reaching across the driver's seat to turn the key in the ignition so the heater would start warming the vehicle again. Michelle grabbed Brian's arm, looking at him. "C'mon, babe. We've gotta let them get on the road," she told her...whatever he was, Zacky thought, smirking as Brian nodded and looked back over at Zacky.

"See you in the spring, man," Brian said, giving him a man-hug before Zacky climbed into the driver's seat of the Suburban. He waited to start driving until Michelle and Brian had walked into the house, and then turned to smile softly at Mandy, who was watching him.

"Okay, so what'd he really say when I went in the house?" She asked him, inching her fingers towards his to grab her hand in his. Zacky was surprised by the motion, but he didn't say anything as she wrapped her smaller fingers around his. He smiled, keeping his eyes on the road as he came to a stop before turning right to head towards his apartment complex across town. He wasn't planning on telling Mandy about what he and Brian had discussed. It was a guys' conversation, between an older brother who loved his sister more than he was willing to admit and a guy who could grow to love her. That wasn't something that he needed to let her know about just now.

"Seriously, nothing," Zacky chuckled, turning to see a dubious look cross her face. "We just discussed making sure that I take over his chores so that you don't have to do it all and get over-exhausted."

"I'm sure that's all he had to say," Mandy murmured, not taking her hand away from Zacky as she looked out the passenger side door. He came to a stop outside of his apartment complex ten minutes later, and he told Mandy to wait in the vehicle for him. He was only planning on bringing a couple of boxes of clothes with him that he already had packed up and some movies. Other than that, everything else could stay there.

When he got back to the car, he smiled softly when he saw Mandy curled up on the passenger seat, knees pulled up to her chest over her seatbelt and her head leaned against the cool glass, definitely sleeping. He closed the door quietly, and then turned the ignition on before he started driving his way towards the exit that would take him to the Interstate so that he could begin the long, exhausting drive back to Golden Valley.
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This is update two of two today. I posted twice to make up for missing Wednesday's update. My apologies. ^_^ Hope you like the updates, and the next one will be up tomorrow afternoon. =)
Thank you to Jess for telling me the paragraphs got mixed up.