Fandom: Dark Angel/Veronica Mars
Pairing: Original Cindy/Cindy Mackenzie
Summary: It's come time for Mac to give up her cushy desk job, and she's not sure she can do it.
A/N: Tia Nuestra is from "glum olitory obfuscate gazebo" by soundingsea.
The Trials of a Hacker
There were two types of hackers after the Pulse. Well, only one if you asked Mac, because she didn't think the first group counted. They were the stooges, the ones who the second the network was down, set about trying to get it back up again, to restore the status quo, and once it became clear that the data was lost irretrievably, had set about building a system that was even more oppressive, even more totalitarian, than the first one had been. The people who control the information, control the world.
And then there were the true hackers, the ones who began tearing that system down just as soon as the others began building it up, with the driving conviction that both information and people deserve to be free.
Only problem was, the fake hackers got paid a whole lot better than the real ones did. So when Eyes Only's people contacted her in 2011, it was a godsend. Not that the money they could offer her was in any way competitive with the real value of her skills, but at least this way Mac could satisfy her principles and her stomach.
When Eyes Only suggested she land a job with Tia Nuestra Industries as a spy, and she began pulling in two salaries--well, that was even better. So she packed up her stuff and moved to Seattle.
She can't say when it was, exactly, that she figured out Logan Cale was Eyes Only. It was a bunch of little things, all added up to come to a single conclusion--after all, she had been trained in the art of deduction by a master, after all. And there were a bunch of things, just as little, that indicated to her that he knew that she knew, that perhaps he even had an intended her to figure it out. It was a show of trust, which meant a whole lot in the world they lived in since '09.
So when she came across a few lines of code she was fairly certain she wasn't actually supposed to see, Logan's apartment was her first stop. He had been having some type of dinner with his girlfriend, apparently. She tries to apologize, but he waved her off once she had explained what she had seen.
"That's it," he said, almost giddy. He smiled. "You ready to lose your cushy desk job?"
"I always knew the dot-com burst would catch up with me eventually," Mac said, trying to sound more flippant than she felt. It would be a sacrifice, all right. As much as she had tried not to, it had been hard not to get used to living a life of luxury relative to the way the majority of Seattle lived.
"She's going to be a target, after they know they've been compromised," Logan said, looking to Max. "Just until we can put the right people behind bars, but--"
"I'll look after her," Max promised.
They stopped at Mac's apartment first. It wouldn't be safe to come back there once the job was done, so Mac packed all of her prized posessions into a canvas duffel. Hardware, mostly, and drives filled with terabytes and terabytes of information. Things weren't nearly as important to keep as tools, tools which she hoped might still be able to provide her with a livelihood even once she was done working for the men on top.
She watched Max looking around the place while she packed, silently judging Mac based on her what she kept in her apartment. Not as impressive as Logan's of course--she wasn't rich--but nonetheless undeniable evidence that she'd been well off, that she had become accustomed to a style of living much more comfortable than anything she would have to look forward to anything soon.
Max didn't say anything, though, even if her expression spoke volumes, giving Mac the courtesy of assuming that if Mac told Logan she'd decided she was ready to give this up, then she could be trusted to deal with the consequences. Mac was grateful.
The heist went off without a hitch: break into Tia, download the relevant code onto a flash drive, get the hell out of there.
Turns out Max squatted with one of her friends, "Well, look at what you brought home," the woman said approvingly as she examined Mac.
"This is Mac, one of Logan's friends," Max introduced her. "Mac, this is Original Cindy."
"Pleased to make your acquaintence," Mac said, then winced. It was the sort of thing that the stooges said, or the bosses, or someone who wanted to convince the stooges and the bosses that she was one of them, playing on their team. She was going to have to train herself to talk like a real hacker again, and the fact that acting like her true self was going to require training had implications which told Mac things about herself that she really hadn't wanted to learn.
It was another ten minutes before Mac pulled out her laptop.
Not that she could get ping in Max and Original Cindy's apartment, but it just made her more comfortable, more at home, less in a strange and foreign country, to have it out and open, to be able to feel the plastic keys beneath her fingers.
"Nice gadget you got there."
Mac looks up at Original Cindy, and blushes. She can only imagine what she must look like to Original Cindy: some pampered rich girl used to a life of luxury. She wants to protest that it's not so, but for one she isn't as certain as she used to be that it isn't, and for two she suspects that there isn't anything she could say to change the other woman's mind.
She's not sure why it bothers her so much, why she's so desperate for Original Cindy's approval, why she even cares what Original Cindy thinks at all.
"Thanks," she says, because she's not sure what else she can say.
"What's it do?"
"Not much without an internet connection," she admits. "Right now it's pretty much a glorified typerwriter."
"Still," Original Cindy offers, "it's shiny."
Mac sighs. Yeah, it's shiny, it's out of place, it's just like her. "I know I don't really fit in here," she says. "But I'm trying, okay?"
But Original Cindy's expression is more bemused than anything else. "Look, I get told a hot girl's gonna stay at my digs, I don't look a gift horse in the mouth, y'know?"
Mac looks at Original Cindy in dumbfounded shock. "Oh."
Maybe her new life won't be so bad after all.