day six; favorite underappreciated moment // Dennis sleepily reaching out for Mac in the U-Haul
“Dennis,” Mac whispers. The U-Haul is pitch black, and there is still a lingering smell of smoke in the air. He knows Frank and Dee are asleep because Frank is snoring louder than anyone his size should be and Dee hasn’t squawked in a while. “Hey, Dennis. Are you sleeping?”
Dennis is lying next to him but Mac can’t see whether or not he has his eyes open so he reaches out to slap Dennis’ shoulder gently. “Hey, Dennis.”
“I’m trying to sleep, asshole,” Dennis groans and Mac allows himself to smile because he knows Dennis can’t see it. They have this thing going on where they pretend to hate each other but every so often, they’ll let their guard down.
“Sorry, I couldn’t sleep,” Mac whispers and if it wasn’t for Frank, he could actually believe that it was just him and Dennis. “I’m just so excited about going to Grand Canyon, man!”
“Yeah,” Dennis agrees. “Not terribly excited about getting my car fucked up though. Or having Charlie and Dee tagging along,” he adds as an afterthought. “It was supposed to be just the two of us.”
Mac lets himself hope that what he hears in Dennis’ voice is longing, a yearning for something that could’ve happened but never would.
“And Frank,” Mac corrects him and Dennis hums uncommittedly.
“Yeah, but Frank would be easy to forget at a gas station or a rest stop,” Dennis says and even though he can’t see him, Mac can almost hear the smirk in his voice. “Then, it’d be just you, me and the open road.”
Mac hates when Dennis talks like that. He hates that he’s itching for that kind of affection Dennis so rarely shows. He thinks this might be the I of the D.E.N.N.I.S. system; Inspire Hope. Mostly, Mac hates that he falls for it every single time.
“We’d drive each other crazy,” Mac argues weakly, but he wants it. He wants the kind of closeness that would procure a road trip with Dennis, without the rest of the gang’s judgment, and scrutinizing looks and “toxic co-dependency” speeches. He feels like if it were just him and Dennis, things might be different.
“No way, dude,” Dennis says sleepily and he keeps his voice low to not disturb Frank and Dee sleeping. That’s the reason why Mac shifts closer to him, he tells himself. It’s to hear Dennis better. “We’d have the time of our life.”
“Tell me,” Mac asks him and he can’t be sure but he thinks he feels Dennis moving closer as well. Or maybe his mind is just playing tricks on him. Mac like the first option best.
“We’re not bad people,” Dennis says and Mac nods because he’s right, they’re not. “We would drop Frank off somewhere just outside of Philly so he could find his way home pretty easily. Although, we would make sure to steal his credit card first.”
“Smart,” Mac comments.
“Yeah, we are,” Dennis says and Mac smiles the way he always does when Dennis refers to them as a unit. We’re the dynamic duo, he thinks. “We’d put on some sweet tunes, beginning with the masterpiece that is Steve Winwood’s Back in the High Life. Then, maybe some of your Red Hot Chili Peppers, and afterward Rick Astley and then…” Dennis trails off, and Mac thinks he must be trying to come up with something for him.
“My Creed mix?” he supplies and Dennis hums.
“Yeah, sure. Your Creed mix. We’d go back and forth like this, each picking a CD until I’d get too tired to drive. We’d stop at a resting area where we’d try to get some sleep but the range rover isn’t the best option as far as sleeping goes. When we’d wake up, we’d drive to the closest little diner. You would probably get a huge plate of pancakes. I’d simply order a horrible instant coffee.”
“No way, man,” Mac interrupts him. “You gotta eat too, you’ll be driving all day. At least get a bowl of fruit or a peanut butter toast. Protein, bro.”
Dennis sighs, but it’s not impatient or infuriating. It’s conceding and even if it’s just pretend, Mac counts it as a win. “Alright, I’ll eat some fruit and dry toast as well. You’d read the map and we’d bicker about the best route to go, but we’d also enjoy the different sights on the way there. We’d wonder what kind of scheme the gang would be planning back home. Mostly, we’d just be enjoying the trip.”
Mac thinks this sounds improbable. They’re too messed up to just enjoy a trip without ruining everything. He thinks there would be screaming and arguing. Mac would probably storm off at some point and Dennis would tell him to get his ass back in the car and then drive off when Mac refuses to. He’d come back to get him of course. They’re no good without one another.
Mac likes Dennis’ version better though, so he tells him to go on.
“We’d rent a sketchy motel room this time, tired of being holed up in the car. We’d be happy to sleep in a bed again.”
Dennis doesn’t specify him with the details of the room so Mac’s brain fills in the blanks. They’d ask for a two queens of course but they would all be full so they’d settle for a single room. They’d think they would get sick of each other after spending so much time together in the car but it would only make them crave more.
That night, Dennis would kiss Mac and Mac would be surprised, but not shocked. Most importantly, Mac would kiss him back. In between kisses and roaming hands, they would wonder why they never did that sooner. They’d fall asleep in each other’s arms, content. They’d never want to get back to Philly.
Mac thinks he likes his version better now.
“Then we’d wake up really early,” Dennis says and his voice is comforting and Mac is starting to feel sleepy. He grabs his blanket and tucks it under his chin as he listens to Dennis’ imaginary road trip tale. “We’d get to the Grand Canyon right before sunrise. We would be blown away by the sight.”
Mac closes his eyes and he sees it. He’s with Dennis, and the sun is peeking out on the horizon. He turns to Dennis and kisses him softly and when he pulls away, he’s more enthralled by the look on Dennis’ face than by one of the seven wonders of the world.
“We’d think ‘This is it. We made it,’” Dennis says and Mac isn’t sure if it’s Dream Dennis or his Dennis. It doesn’t really matter. Mac pretends it’s both.
(When they wake, Dennis will reach out for him and it’ll feel so natural, Mac will wonder if he’s still dreaming.)