A/N: I apologize for the super long wait between updates. The semester started up again, and I'm just now figuring out how to get time to write between grading papers, doing lesson plans, and teaching online. I appreciate the patience! Here's the next part - please enjoy and let me know your thoughts!

Moments with Mac

Part Three: The Coach

"So," said Coach.

"So..." agreed Mac.

It had been decided by the other two that it was going to be Coach's job to "take care of" Mac while he was there. Nick and Schmidt claimed no responsibility whatsoever for showing him to his room, putting themselves into any avoidable awkward conversations, giving him a tour of the loft, or - and NIck was very insistent about this - letting him know where the towels and washcloths lived. "It's just not right," he'd insisted, "a strange man using another man's towels. I want no part in it. It's an abomination." Coach had known there was no use in arguing the point, but he had anyway, and it had gotten him absolutely nowhere.

So now here he was, standing in their extra bedroom with a tiny little white dude he didn't know at all at the request of a scary family friend who he barely knew. At least he could take a little comfort in the fact that Mac seemed just as awkward as Coach himself did.

"Okay so-"

"Look man-"

They both started talking at the exact same time. Mac ducked his head and grinned and motioned for Coach to go first.

"I was just going to apologize for Nick. He can be…"

"Loud?" Mac supplied when Coach hesitated.

"And he has no filter. Obviously."

Mac laughed, and it sounded genuine. Coach found himself thinking that maybe this kid might not be too much of a hassle to have around after all. He seemed pretty easy going, especially for someone who'd just gotten out of the army. But still, there was something in his eyes, a flicker of something he'd seen in his dad's eyes a couple of times as a kid… He pushed that aside as Mac rebutted, "I spend most of my time with Jack, remember? You look up 'loud' and 'no filter' in the dictionary, and you'll find a picture of Jack!"

Sniggering, Coach agreed, "I don't know him that well, but I do think I remember that about him from when he and my dad cooked out every other weekend back in Texas. I think that's what Dad likes about him. He speaks his mind."

"Sometimes too much," Mac agreed. Coach noticed with relief that picking on Jack and Nick had lessened the tension in the room considerably.

"Hey, uh, Coach?" Mac asked, his voice turning serious. "Speaking of Jack, I just wanted to thank you for what you're doing. He had no right to ask you to let me stay with you; he did it without me even knowing about it. I tried to back out when he told me, but he insisted that you all were looking for someone to help pay rent while your normal roommate is in Latvia."

"Yeah, you'd like Winston," said Coach, then made a face and retracted, "Eeeh, maybe not. Not a lot of people like Winston. He's an acquired taste."

"I'm sure he's great."

More awkward silence.

"Well," said Coach. "I should go, 'cuz this is getting awkward as hell and I've got a training session with a hot client." His eyes glazed over momentarily. "Vanessa."

Mac cleared his throat. Coach shook himself out of his reverie before backing slowly toward the door. "On that note, I'ma bounce now…"

Mac watched him go, amusement and uncertainty warring for dominance in his mind. They seemed nice enough… if a bit - a lot - weird, but still. Mac knew that nightmares were no respecter of people or places; they would come wherever he was, and they were usually much worse after moving to a new place. He sure hoped this job Jack had picked up on was worth it, because Mac had the nasty feeling that he'd wear out his welcome (whatever welcome he had, that is) very quickly once the nightmares started up again.

He sighed and started to unpack his things.

"One more thing!" Mac jolted in surprise, spinning around and grabbing the closest thing to his right hand to use as a weapon - an alarm clock. Coach's eyes widened, his hands held up in surrender. "Sorry, sorry, dude. Didn't mean to startle you there." His eyes held a softness that Mac hadn't expected as he regarded the younger man. "You okay?"

Mac felt the embarrassment wash down his body like an icy rain. He felt his face burn and set the alarm clock gently on the side table. "Yeah, I'm fine. Sorry. I just-"

"Hey, say no more, man," Coach cut in. "Army brat, remember? This ain't my first rodeo." Despite Coach sounding nothing like Jack in the slightest, his words reminded Mac of exactly something his best friend would say and he gave a half smile.

"Thanks." Coach stood in the doorway, and awkward was still the word of the hour.

"Uhh… did you need something?"

"Oh, right. I forgot I was supposed to remind you of the loft rules. Don't touch the fancy shampoo in the shower, the half a pastrami sandwich in the fridge is off-limits, even if it is a week old, make sure you buy your own towels because sharing towels with a stranger is an abomination, apparently."

Mac nodded slowly. "...Noted."

"The first rule is Schmidt's," Coach clarified, fingers tapping nervously on the doorframe. He wasn't good at this hosting stuff, especially when everything was so.. Awkward. "And the last is Nick's. The second is mine."

"Good to know. I'll make sure to follow them."

Coach grinned. "Right. The pastrami sandwich is mine," he clarified once more. "And I'm really looking forward to it when I get home."

Furrowing his brow, Mac assured the taller man, "I promise, I have no intention of eating your week-old pastrami sandwich. Scout's honor."

Of course he'd be a boy scout, Coach thought. "Thanks, little man!" Coach threw over his shoulder as he turned to leave once more. "Welcome to the Loft!"

Running a hand through his hair, Mac half-grinned and spoke to the empty room. "Thanks." Recalling his roller coaster of an adventure just since breaching the doorway, he added a wry, "I think."

Next Time, "The Businessman": Schmidt tries to connect with "the youth" in their loft. He is very bad at it.

A/N: Thanks for joining in for another snippet! This one had more serious notes than the others so far, but don't worry, humor is still the focus of the fic (well, humor and some hurt/comfort later on hehe). Please let me know your thoughts! I plan to update soon!

~Emachinescat ^..^