Adrienne, feeling her heart racing, stepped up onto the platform and watched as Marcus placed the quarters in the machine-three for her and three for him. She mentally glared as he placed all six in there, why did the change machines have to break TODAY?!

"You want to pick the first song?" he asked.

Not trusting herself to speak, she nodded.

"Good,"

Oh, what had she gotten herself into? Sighing, she tried her best to clear her head.

Reading her expression like an open book and looking at her with a bored expression he said, "You know, if you really think you can't win, you can leave."

Well, THAT was a wake-up call to her. Fuming, she turned to him and said, "Go to Hell."

He snorted and said, "Suit yourself."

Stupid self-centered jerk. She thought.

She scrolled through the songs, searching for one that she played well, but not wanting to select something easy. Finally, she came to Tsugaru and selected that. They both set their difficulty on heavy.

GET READY the machine said and in a second that seemed like an hour it blared, SHOW ME YOUR MOVES!

Adrienne and Marcus were almost tied for the first half of the song, but Adrienne knew that she was struggling to do as well as she was. Marcus on the other hand, even though she couldn't see him, wasn't struggling at all. Quite the contrary actually, he was looking at the screen and moving his feet without really paying much attention, like he knew the steps by heart and didn't need the arrows at all. Adrienne was trying her best to keep up, but fell short on one arrow and thus, throwing her completely off. Her gage was in the red and almost empty, but she managed to pull herself back. She knew that she stood no chance against him, without looking at him she could tell by his stance that he wasn't struggling in the least. All that confidence she had gained when she had told him to go to Hell had vanished and even though she managed to hang on until the song was over, she knew even before then that she had lost.

The results screen came up and Adrienne almost didn't even want to look at it. Forcing her eyes up to the monitor, she saw her C shrink in cowardice next to Marcus' big flashing A. She was gasping for breath, and she could feel beads of sweat forming on the back of her neck. She reached up and wiped her neck, then told him, "Since you won this one, you pick the next song."

He smiled at her, in what might have been an attempt to be nice, but Adrienne took it as mocking and shot him a little glare which he took notice of, looked quickly back to the screen and said, "Okay." But before he could do anything, Faith jumped up on the platform next to Adrienne.

"Hey," she said. "My mom is here and wants me to come home now, my grandmother's in the hospital. Don't worry, she's okay, but mom wants me to come see her, can you find a ride home?"

"Yeah, I'll call Jason," She replied, then sighed at Faith's look of disgust.

"You know I don't like him,"

"It's fine," she said, glancing up at the door and waving at Faith's mom, whom she swore had some kind of supernatural power to be able to find her daughter in a huge mall like this. "Just go see your grandmother."

"Okay, but call my cell when you get home, okay?" She said, with a little too much motherly-like worry in her voice.

"Fine," She rolled her eyes.

When she looked back at the screen, Marcus had the cursor over the song Witch Doctor.

"This fine with you?" he asked.

"Yeah," she suddenly felt all alone with him, Faith was her support, what kept her going, but now she was gone, and the only thing left to soothe her was the Dance Dance Revolution machine, which was fast becoming her enemy and cause of the destruction of what little dignity she had.

She didn't do any better on this song than the previous one, this time getting a D while Marcus not only got an AAA but got full combo and set a new record for the machine. Being better at this than the other hundreds of people who played it must have really boosted his already overflowing ego. Adrienne thought as he selected another song. This time he picked something a little easier on her, whether he knew it or not. Final round was Cartoon Heroes, once again, both on heavy. Adrienne managed to pull through with another D, (she could play songs on heavy, granted she rarely made better than a B) while once again oh so perfect Marcus got an AA.

Adrienne was contemplating killing him and throwing his body to hungry dogs, looking at her final score of C and his of A when he said with a hint of amusement, "You want to play again?"

She wanted to play by herself, but with no change and no way of getting change, the chances that she would get to play were slim.

"I can't," she said. "I have to get home."

It was a lie and she knew it. Her mom was away on a business trip (something that she had become accustomed to; her mom worked constantly and was usually away for weeks at a time to other franchises working on big projects in other states and sometimes other countries.) and wouldn't be back until next week. Hell, even when she was home, she payed no attention to her. It wasn't like she was alone though, even though technically she was. Often, Faith would come and stay for days at a time, or sometimes her boyfriend Jason would invite himself over and stay with her, but that really made her feel even more alone.

"You sure?" she heard Marcus say as she started to turn and walk away. "I'll pay if you do."

Once again, she felt all alone without Faith there beside her. She didn't want to stay in the same room with him anymore, much less play Dance Dance Revolution with him.

"No, I really have to get home, I'm late already," she glanced at her watch just for the effect, then walked out the door, heading for the cafe to get some peace so she could call Jason to come and pick her up.


Sitting down in the cafe, Adrienne pulled out her cell and dialed Jason's number. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Marcus, in all his baggy black clothes, go up to the counter and order some fries and a large Mountain Dew.

He answered on the third ring, sounding a little groggy as he picked up the phone.

"Hello?" He snapped into the phone, making Adrienne wince.

"Hey," she said. "Are you busy?"

"I'm sleeping," he said it as if it were the most obvious thing in the world and everyone should know that he sleeps from the time he gets off of work at 4:00 until 11:00 PM, then goes to smoke pot and drink until he passes out again.

"Can you come and pick me up from the mall?" she was already sorry she had called him and maybe called someone else. Anyone else for that matter. Hell, she could have walked the ten miles from here to her house and been happier than calling her boyfriend.

"No," there was no hint of regret in his voice.

She sighed. God why does he have to be such an asshole? Adrienne thought to herself. "C'mon, please? I have no other way to get home!"

"Look, bitch, I have other things to do, I can't come and save your ass every time you get stuck at the mall!"

"God what's wrong with you?" she was practically shrieking now and she had the attention of the clerk and Marcus, whom she couldn't see anyway because he had sat down behind her, but was nearly laughing at her loud behavior. "I ask you one simple favor and you act like I'm asking you to go die for me or something!"

"I'M BUSY OKAY?!" He all but screamed at her.

"WELL THEN HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GET HOME?" She screamed back. Unbeknown to her, she now not only had the full attention of the clerk and the only other customer in the cafe (namely Marcus), but now that of some of the people in the adjoining arcade-a small group of which were going to get something to eat in there, but upon hearing the psychotic screaming, decided against it and were now backing away slowly with wide eyes.

Adrienne heard a click on the other line. He had hung up on her.

"Hello?" she said angrily into the phone. She looked at the screen. CALL DISCONNECTED was in the middle, the time of the call just underneath that. Angrily she snapped the phone closed and slammed it down on the table. She desperately wanted to call Faith, but knowing that she was in the hospital with her grandmother, she probably didn't want to be bothered with coming to pick up her friend when she was stuck at the mall.

This is just one of those times when you wish you had a car. She thought to herself. She had her license, but she was still saving to get her a car. Her mom had said when she found one she liked she would pay for half of it, but Adrienne had little money, working at a cafe on Main street, and still hadn't found a car she liked, so she was SOL in that department.

Oh, what was she to do now, stuck at the mall with no way to get home? It would take her nearly two hours to walk home, but that looked like it was going to be her only option. She sighed. Might as well eat before I leave, God knows there's probably nothing in the refrigerator. The chili-cheese fries looked good, so she went to the counter and ordered a small basket of them and refilled her drink. She was glad they had free refills because the small chili-cheese fries had taken almost all of her four dollars, which she thought was ridiculous but for the sake of her stomach got them anyway.

Eventually the taste of the fries and cheese/chili mix made her remember that she hadn't eaten anything since yesterday and forget about the price. She held up a fry, pretending it was Jason's head, and glared at it as if it were going to explode under her gaze. That was what she was hoping was to happen, but unfortunately for her, it didn't, so with a resounding sigh, she popped the fry dripping with sticky cheese and meaty chili into her mouth and ate it.

She tried to remind herself why she kept going out with Jason, even though a number of people in her life didn't like him. As a matter of fact, no one in her life liked Jason that she could recall. She wasn't even sure if Jason liked himself. Hell, she didn't even like him. But try as she might, she couldn't bring herself to leave him. It certainly wasn't love that was keeping her tied to him. She absolutely did not love him, no matter how many times she tried to convince herself that she might, somewhere deep inside, have some kind of attraction to him.

No, it was his fists and physical strength and intimidation that kept her from leaving him. She had tried before to tell him that she wanted nothing more to do with him, but he punched her in the face and said no. He didn't hit her that often, in fact rarely did he ever lay a hand on her; but that was only because she didn't dare do anything to provoke him to use physical violence with her. But that one incident where she tried to leave him and he hit her was enough to let her know that no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't bring herself to try that ever again.

Just thinking about that made her cry, and with embarrassment, she realized that in fact, she was crying, and looking into her compact mirror, she noticed that her eyes were red and puffy and her face was tear-stained. Quickly she grabbed some napkins and wiped her face as clean as she could get it, but that wasn't very helpful. Then, while still looking in her compact mirror, she noticed someone behind her, looking at her. It was Marcus. When he saw that he had been caught, he quickly averted his eyes and she noticed his face turn the slightest shade of red.

Was he watching me? She thought, a little freaked out, and yet, amused at the same time that he had been embarrassed by it. I mean, if he had just been glancing around and happened to look at the time, then he wouldn't have been embarrassed by it would he? She thought.


Marcus strode into the cafe next to the arcade. That girl had been good, no doubt, and cute too, but she was awfully quiet, and kept glaring at him when she thought he wasn't looking while they played. He thought she was being a little too ever-reactive when she lost to him. Though it was a little funny at first, he soon picked up the hint that maybe she didn't like him. That was just fine with him, he was never going to see her again anyway.

Ordering some food from the counter, he passed Adrienne just in time to see her pull out a cell phone and dial a number. He sat down in the seat directly behind her and took a sip of his Mountain Dew. He could hear her asking someone to pick her up from the mall.

"C'mon, please? I have no other way to get home!" he heard her say. They must have said no. This must be that Jason guy she said she was going to call. Whoever it was, he was yelling so loud, that Marcus could hear him through the phone. Marcus nearly spit his Mountain Dew everywhere, he was trying so hard not to laugh.

"God what's wrong with you? I ask you one simple favor and you act like I'm asking you to go die for me or something!" That girl sure had a mouth on her. If she didn't quiet down, she was going to wake the dead. Marcus could hear the guy on the phone scream, "I'M BUSY, OKAY!" Then he saw a group of kids back away when Adrienne screamed into the phone even louder. He must have hung up on her, because her next action was to say "Hello?" angrily then proceed to throw the phone down onto the table. Apparently her boyfriend, or whatever this Jason was to her, was seriously lacking in people skills.

Marcus was about to leave himself when he saw Adrienne sit down at her table with a basket of fries. He must have missed it when she got up to get them. God, what are you, stalking her? He thought. He shook his head to clear it of the thoughts of her. She was nothing to him and he was never going to see her again and that was all there was to it.

Or is that just the way you think it should be?

He glared at the table, cursing himself for his involuntary thoughts. He wasn't ever going to see her again.

Ever.

Right?

Without thinking, he glanced up at her, only to see the reflection of her face in a compact mirror. She was crying. A pang of pity surged through his body but almost as soon as it was there, it was gone. Then he realized that she had looked up at him. Blushing, he looked away.

Blushing?! What's wrong with me?!

This could not be healthy.

Standing up, he walked over to the trash cans to throw his drink away. He walked past her table and caught a glimpse of her wiping her eyes. Pathetic cry-baby. He thought.


Stepping out into the cool twilight air, Marcus wondered why he had never seen Adrienne around before. True, it was a rather large town, but surely they should have passed somewhere before. Oh, well. He wasn't going to bother himself over it. Leaning against the wall on the side of the mall, he stared at the clouds. They were dark, meaning it was probably going to rain soon.


Back in the cafe, Adrienne was just finishing her fries. She wiped the last of the tears from her eyes, and was thankful that there weren't many people in the cafe to see her cry. She hated how her emotions could get the best of her. She glanced at the clock on the wall. It was almost five o'clock and she had no way home. It looked as if she was going to have to walk. She supposed it wouldn't be that bad, walking had always been sort of meditative for her, and with all the stress on her right now, she needed to meditate.

As she stepped into the elevator that would take her to the bottom floor, she pulled out her cell phone and dialed Faith's number. She answered on the third ring.

"Hello?"

"Hey, Faith, how's your grandmother?"

"Oh, hey Adrienne. She's doing okay, it was just a mild heart attack. They said she'll be home in a few days."

"That's good. I just wanted to check up on her."

"Is Jason going to give you a ride home?"

Adrienne paused. She didn't want to tell her that Jason said no. Most of it was out of consideration for Faith in that she didn't want to disturb the visiting time she was getting with her sick grandmother, but part of it was because she didn't want Faith to have anything more negative to say about Jason.

"Oh, yeah. He is."

"Okay, that's good. I don't want you to have to walk."

Adrienne heard another voice in the background that sounded like Faith's mom. She heard Faith say "Okay" then to Adrienne she said, "Hey I have to go. We're about to leave to go get something to eat. I'll call you later when I get home, okay?"

"Alright," Adrienne replied. She hung up her phone at the same time the elevator doors opened to let her out. She looked next to her at the thick glass doors that led outside to the parking lot. It was raining. Perfect. She thought as she glared out the doors. There was an awning(1) that she could stand underneath outside until the rain stopped. It was better than sitting around in the food court where it was loud and smelled like greasy food. She felt a headache coming on and she knew that sitting in the food court would only make it worse. She sighed as she stepped through the doors and out into the rain. Glancing over at the awning she saw none other than the DDR champ himself, Marcus. Well, life just doesn't get much better now does it? She thought wryly. Oh, well. Sitting out here with him was still better than in the food court.


AN: Oh my gosh, it has been so long since I've updated. But I have a good excuse, I promise! Writing this chapter overlapped with my semester exams so a lot of the time that was usually spent writing was spent when I was studying EXTRA EXTRA hard to pass my exams! Since today was my last day at school before Winter Break (haha all of my friends at public schools had to go three more days than I did! sticks tongue out at Cherryville High people) I should get a lot more writing in over Christmas break... who knows, I might even update some other long-lost fics such as "Elizabeth" or "The City of my Dreams". Hey, shrugs it's a possibility.