Marcus sat comfortably underneath the awning outside the mall. He didn't like to think of himself as "emo," but he did like rainy days. They were perfect for staying inside and playing DDR. He knew that he wasn't the stereotypical DDR fanatic—he wasn't a video game geek, he didn't particularly like techno that much either. He just loved the moving, and the skill required to get a good score. It wasn't about the dancing to him. In fact, he didn't even consider it "dancing." To him, it was a form of art, not completely unlike dancing, but really not the same thing. It was physically challenging, required mental skill, and it was fun. It also kept his mind from all the bad things in life. Whenever something bad happened to him (and he admitted, even to himself, that this sounded lame, but true) the happy techno music made him feel better, as did the good feeling he got whenever he got a good score.

Marcus had been playing DDR ever since he discovered it back when he was in the sixth grade. It was the beginning of the year and his mother had just passed away from cancer. It had been a long battle, and the whole family saw it coming, but Marcus, the youngest of three, had missed his mother the most when she died. For his birthday, she had bought him a version for Playstation 1. He had never been interested in it until after she died. After that, he spent all his available time in his room, practicing and perfecting each step.

Marcus looked up from his reverie to see Adrienne walking toward him. He immediately stiffened. What did she want? Certainly she did not to talk to him. After witnessing the conversation she had in the café, Marcus was a little embarrassed to talk to her. Well, he saw only one solution to that problem: pretend the nothing happened. He looked over at her. She was sitting about ten feet to his left, gazing at a patch of trees on the other side of the parking lot. At least she wasn't trying to come over and talk to him or something.

Marcus glanced at his watch. He debated with himself over whether or not to go home. There wasn't really anything to do there. Of course, he had grown bored of hanging out at the mall too. The last thing he wanted to become was some kind of mall rat. He could go hang out with the guys at The Bean Scene. He usually hung out with his friends there. It was a small café on the other side of town. Every Tuesday there were concerts that local bands put on there for extra cash. Marcus' own band, Addicts of Affliction, sometimes played there. They made decent cash, but they all knew that this band was nothing more than a high school hobby. Now that the summer was here, however, it had become somewhat of a part-time job for most of the members. They relied on the small gigs they got to bring in some cash, and now that school was out there was more time to devote to the band.

Marcus rested his head against the gray stone wall behind him and thought, idly half-focusing his eyes on Adrienne, who just happened to be sitting in his line of vision.

OXO

Adrienne glared at each passing raindrop, silently hoping to vaporize them all. There was no way in Hell she was going to walk ten miles to her house in the rain. It wasn't just rain; this was more like Monsoon. Suddenly a bright flash of lightning, followed by an obscenely loud crack of thunder caused Adrienne to jump in the air and shriek. Mortified by her behavior, she cautiously glanced around to see if anyone had seen.

Oops. Marcus was sitting there, watching her. And worse, he had an amused look on his face. Great, not only does he humiliate me in the arcade, but also out here in nature, I can't escape the embarrassment. Sighing, she hung her head in shame.

OXO

Marcus didn't know what made him do it, but after he saw her jump and scream at the thunder, he had to go over to her. What he would say, he didn't know. All he knew was that he had to say something to her. Why he felt this way was anyone's guess.

He sauntered over to her, but she didn't see him. She had her elbows on her knees and her face pressed into her palms. He knew that she had seen him looking.

"Hey," he said. She jerked her head up quickly and replied curtly, "Hi."

"Um…listen, I don't know what I did in there to make you so mad at me, but I'm sorry."

She seemed a little more than confused. "What do you mean?"

"It seemed like you were mad at me in there. You kept glaring at me and stuff. I just wanted to apologize for pissing you off."

"Oh." Adrienne wasn't too sure of what to say. The only thing about him that pissed her off was his egotistical attitude and smugness. "Uh…it's ok, I guess. It wasn't all you. I had a bad day. I'm sorry." She didn't know why she was making excuses for herself. She knew she had acted petty in there, but she couldn't bring herself to admit it.

"So, we cool?" Marcus looked at her and held out his hand. She shook it.

"Sure," she answered, "cool."

"So…uh…I couldn't help but overhear that you needed a ride."

Adrienne had never blushed so hard in her life.

"Um…Well, I could just walk. I only live a few miles from here anyway."

"But it's raining." He answered simply.

"Yeah…" she trailed off.

"So...Can I take you somewhere?"

Adrienne thought about it for a minute. She knew that if Jason knew about this he would go crazy. She knew that she should tell him no thank you, but the thought of walking ten miles in torrential rain was highly unappealing.

She answered Marcus with a hesitant, "Sure."

"So how old are you anyway?" Marcus asked on the way to his car. If there was one thing he hated, it was awkward silences. He was determined to fill every conversationless gap, even if that meant talking about complete nonsense.

"Sixteen," Adrienne answered. "You?"

"Seventeen. Do you go to Wellstone High?"

"Yeah, do you?"

"Yeah, I wonder why I've never seen you before."

"Well, it is a big school." Adrienne mused.

"Nice car." He had led her to a late eighties model Nissan sports car. "I love old sports cars."

"Yeah?" He seemed genuinely interested. He reached over the seat to unlock the passenger side door. "I love my car. My dad was worried that the insurance would be expensive because it's a sports car, but because it's older, it's not so bad."

"Hmm…" she seemed to think about this.

"So you'll have to tell me how to get to your house."

"Oh, if you hit the highway going north, take the fifth exit and turn right. After that, just take a left on Startown Street and mine is the third house on the left."

"Sounds simple enough, but were you really going to walk five exits up a highway? That's kind of dangerous."

And he cares….why? Adrienne though wryly, but she didn't actually say it. She was just glad he wasn't being a jerk anymore. She shrugged,"I've done it before. As long as you're careful, cars won't usually hit you."

"True," he answered, "but what if someone ran off the road and hit you. You wouldn't see that coming, and it does happen sometimes."

"Yeah…true…"

Sensing the start of a silence, Marcus used one hand to reach behind him and grab a large black CD folder.

"Here, you want to listen to something?"

"Sure." She browsed through his CD collection and found that most of his music was hard rock, metal and stuff. Adrienne liked rock, but heavy metal was mostly too much for her. She chose something a little lighter and put it in, fiddling with the buttons on the high-tech CD player.

"That's a nice radio." Adrienne commented.

"It was a Christmas present from my dad."

Adrienne idly tapped her foot along with the beat, and she saw Marcus drumming along on the steering wheel. Ahead of her, as she looked out the windshield, the wipers were going at full blast, moving rain aside, only to have it fall back into place less than a second later. Another flash of lightning came. Adrienne had barely a second to brace herself before the thunder came. She still jumped.

"Afraid of thunder?" Marcus teased lightly.

"No," she answered defensively. "Loud noises startle me."

"You know, it's perfectly normal to be afraid of thunderstorms. Lots of people are." He was mocking her. Slightly embarrassed, she focused her attention on the metal stud in his wristband, rather than looking in his eyes. She was afraid of thunderstorms.

"I'm not scared of them. I just hate them."

"Right," he was unconvinced. He smiled at her though, to show he was joking. Relieved that he wasn't tormenting her just for fun, she smiled back and said jokingly, "I am not afraid."

"The courage of a lion." He said.

"Damn straight," she said triumphantly.

"Is this it?" He asked. Adrienne hadn't even noticed that he'd pulled in front of her house.

"Yep. That's mine." She opened the car door." It was nice playing you today. You were good."

"You too. You know, with a little training, you could be in a tournament."

She paused, as if thinking it over, but then shook her head. "No, I wouldn't last two minutes in a real tournament. I'm not that good. I might love the game, but I'm far from an expert at it."

"You could train."

"Yeah, like a DDR coach? Do those even exist?" She laughed.

"They might." He laughed too.

"Yeah, well if you ever come across one around here, let me know."

"With pleasure." With that, he drove off. Adrienne realized she never thanked him for the ride. Maybe she could see him at school on Monday and thank him then.

She was glad he wasn't so much of a jerk after all. He had actually made her day a little bit brighter. Just a little.

OXO

A/N- How seriously late am I? Well, it's 2:30 in the morning, and I needed to update this, so here it is! I'd like to think that my writing skills have matured over the long period of time that I haven't been writing this...well, in any case, R&R people!