"Tangerine"
by Rachelpi






My first attempt at NR fanfic. Takes place in February 1999.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters.


Beth smacked her Wrigley's Spearmint and stared at the screen of her Bondi blue iMac.  She tried tapping on the keyboard, but it was no use.  It had frozen up again, and right in the middle of a heated debate in the "Psychic Amigos Network" Chatroom.
"Daaaaaave!" she hollered, propping her black-spike-heel clad feet up on the desk, and smoothing the layers of her green chiffon skirt.  Within seconds her boss was at the door, looking stressed as usual and holding a bright yellow coffee mug featuring the call letters of the station they worked at, WNYX. 
"What is it, Beth?"  Dave asked, taking a quick drink from the mug. 
"Well, see, Sheila is frozen up again and I—" Dave raised his eyebrows at her quizzically.  
"Sheila?" 
"Yeah, um, I named her Sheila," Beth said, petting the top of the computer, "Because it's important to really establish a *connection* with your technological devices if you want them to…Dave, come back!"  Beth glared at her boss, who had wandered over to the coffee machine.  "So you see I'm really going to miss Sheila, but I neeeeeed a new computer!"
His mug refilled, Dave returned to his secretary's desk.
"Beth, this need for a new computer, this wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that Apple just unveiled their new fruity colored iMacs, would it?" he asked, in typically detatched fashion.
"Dave," Beth began slowly and patiently, "They are *flavors*, and anyway I really do need a new computer!  I mean look at this!"
"Can't you have Joe take a look at it?" Dave asked, hoping to resolve the issue without another expenditure.
"Joe's gone today.  And anyway, you let Matthew get a new computer!"  Beth whined.
"That was because Matthew got his finger caught in the disk drive and we had to destroy his entire computer in the process of freeing him," Dave reminded her.  "So why don't you just call someone from the tech support place downstairs, maybe they can figure it out."
"Dave, can I talk to you for a minute?"  Dave turned around to see his ex-girlfriend, Lisa, standing behind him. 
"Yes, Lisa, what is it?" Dave asked. 
"So if they can't fix it can I get a new computer?  A pink one?" Beth asked, her hand on the phone, fingers poised to dial.
"We'll see, Beth.  Now Lisa, what did you need to talk about?" Dave turned his attention once again to Lisa, hoping she didn't have some new reason why *she* should be going to New Hampshire to cover the primaries and not Craig, one of the new reporters the station had just hired.
"Dave, can we go into your office please?" Lisa began.  Beth snorted loudly, insinuating that the activities in Dave's office would perhaps end up with someone's clothes on inside out, as they had in the past.  Lisa shot the redhead a withering look, and retreated into the office with Dave, shutting the door behind her.
She plopped down on the green fuzzy couch, and Dave perched on the edge of his desk, placing his wingtips on the coffee table. 
"Now, what did you need to talk about, Lisa?" Dave looked into her brown eyes for any clues as to what this conversation might be about. 
"Well, Dave, I've been thinking and—"
"No good can come of this," Dave thought.  None of their conversations that started with that phrase had ever ended up well for him.  At that moment, the station's owner, Jimmy James, burst into the office. 
"Hey, kids, what's the hub-bub?" he asked, in a delighted voice.
"Oh, nothing, sir," Dave said.  Mr. James sat down on the couch and Lisa had to scootch over to make room for the man.  "What are you up to today?
"Well, I was just down at one of the hardware stores I own, you know, Jimmy James Building Supply?  Whole chain of 'em along the eastern seabord?" Mr. James loved to talk about his business empire.  "Anyway those guys don't know a fun time when they see one."
"What do you mean, sir?" Lisa asked.
"Let's just say I'm not allowed anywhere *near* that paint shaker again," Mr. James explained, a little humiliation in his voice.
"Ah, well, I'm sure they'll think twice before leaving that unsupervised again, won't they?" Dave said.
"Damn right," answered Mr. James.  "So anyway, I got to thinking.  What is the one thing that people hate more than anything?"
"High taxes?" Dave guessed.
"The growing influence in government by big business—" Lisa could feel Dave glaring at her, so she continued, "I mean, uh, high taxes, yeah, is that it?"  Neither one of them wanted another "Sesame Street"-based tirade on the glory of Corporate America from their boss.
"Nope, wrong-o, buckaroos.  People hate being told what to do!"  Mr. James said joyously.  Dave and Lisa looked at each other, not quite knowing where he was going with this.
"People hate being…being told what to do?" Dave repeated cautiously.
"Well, sure!" Mr. James replied.  "So what I was thinking is, we need a day where nobody can tell anybody else what to do!  Wouldn't that be great?"
"Well, sir, correct me if I'm wrong but wouldn't there be massive looting and rioting?" Lisa asked, her sensible mind still trying to wrap itself around what Mr. James was proposing.
"Not to mention all the kids who wouldn't brush their teeth," Dave chimed in.
"Ok, so there might be a few things that need to be, oh, I don't know, ironed out, or something," Mr. James conceded.  "But I'm sure we'll figure all that legal mumbo-jumbo out by Thursday."
"Thursday?  You want to have this…Nobody Can Tell You What To Do Day on Thursday?  But that's only 3 days from now!" Lisa pointed out.
"Nobody Can Tell You What To Do Day, I like it.  I was gonna call it Get Off My Back Day, but I like that too.  Well, like I say we can work on it.  I'm gonna go have some crackers; I'll let you two get back to whatever you were working on."  Mr. James stood up and wandered out of Dave's office.  Dave and Lisa watched him walk out, then turned to look at each other.
"Do you think he really—"
"No," Dave sighed, "I'm betting he'll forget about it when he sees we got new bacon-flavored crackers in the break room for crackertime."
"That man does love his crackertime," Lisa agreed.  "Oh, is it crackertime already, that means I have to be on the air in four minutes!"  Lisa got off the couch and hurried out the door to her desk.  Dave followed.
"But wait, what did you need to talk about?" he asked, trying to ignore Matthew seated at the conference table, engaged in some sort of craft project.
"Oh, right, that," Lisa said as she grabbed the news copy off her desk.  "I'll come find you later, okay?"  She crossed the office and climbed the spiral stairs to the broadcast booth.
"Sure, Lisa."  Dave replied.  He closed his eyes, gathering what little patience he had left, in order to deal with his always-eccentric reporter Matthew Brock.  "Matthew…"
"Yeah, David?" Matthew asked, wrinkling his nose and concentrating on the tangled green yarn and long shiny blue knitting needles in his hands.
"Did you get into your mom's sewing basket again?" Dave asked sarcastically.
"No, David, see this isn't sewing, it's knitting.  My girlfriend Irene is teaching me how to knit.  Isn't it cool?" Matthew asked, holding up his handiwork.
"Well, that's, uh, quite the…sweater….pot-holder…scarf….let me know when I'm getting close here, Matthew." Dave said, trying to determine just exactly what the freak was working on.
"It's a tea cozy.  Yup, my very own tea cozy.  Just as soon as I figure out this pattern…" he said, shuffling a few blurry photocopies. 
"Matthew!"  Dave said sharply, startling the young man.  "You need to get back to cataloging those tapes, like I asked."
"Sure thing, boss," Matthew said absently.  "I'll get riiiiight on that."
Annoyed, Dave snatched the knitting away.  "Please go do it now.  Or I start unraveling," he threatened.
"Oh, no, don't unravel my tea cozy!"  Matthew cried.  He looked at Dave with panic in his eyes, then scurried back to his desk. 
Dave twirled the hideous green mass of yarn in his hands.  The color reminded him of the old refrigerator in his apartment.  He turned around and saw Beth once again staring at her computer screen.
"Beth, I thought I told you to call that tech support guy," Dave said.
"I did, Dave," Beth said witheringly.  "We've got some fixing program running on Sheila.  Newton something….Newton Utilizer-ing-ish-thing…"
"Actually, it's Norton Utilities," said a soft female voice. 
"Excuse me?" Dave asked.
"The program that I'm running on Beth's machine.  It's called Norton Utilities.  It's got some great troubleshooting software for the Macintosh."
"That's what I was going to say, Dave," Beth commented.
"Oh, you must be the—" Dave said, his face brightening.
"The girl from tech support.  I'm new.  Helen," she said nervously, brushing a long strand of dark brown hair from her face.
"Hello, Helen.  I'm Dave Nelson.  How are things with little 'Sheila?'" Dave asked, shaking the young woman's hand. 
Helen laughed.  "Sheila's a fine little iMac, she's just a little sick right now, aren't you?"
"So you refer to it as Sheila too, huh?" he asked, a little uneasy, now that Beth had a possible ally in the computer world.
"Oh sure," Helen said.  "My Mac at home is named Benny."  She noticed Dave smirking, then continued.  "What, you a PC guy or something?"
"No," Dave answered, "As a matter of fact, I have my own PowerBook, I just never thought of naming it is all."  Dave looked at the screen, trying to make sense of the little blue progress bars making their way across.  The last one reached the end, and the program let out a loud ding. 
Beth looked up at the technician hopefully.  "So do I get my new computer or what?"
Dave and Beth watched Helen's expression as she studied the results of Norton. 
"Nah, these are all repairable.  Just remember, always back up your files, and if a program freezes, try using Apple-Option-Escape to force quit it BEFORE you unplug the computer." 
"Thank you, Helen," Beth said, looking sheepishly at Dave.
"Yes, Helen, and if my PowerBook ever gives me trouble, I know who to call.  Joe's always trying to 'tinker' with it and load something about a new beta-OS." Dave said.  "He considers himself somewhat of a hacker."
"Yeah, I know guys like that.  Always gotta have the cutting-edge underground OS release, even if it contains bugs that won't let their computer run anything other than the calculator." Helen commented.  "Tell me, is your entire office a Macintosh environment?"
"Well, all except Matthew," Dave said.  "He claims he only understands PCs."
"Uh, Dave, the only reason he wants a PC is so he can play solitaire, duh," Beth said condescendingly.  The three looked over at Matthew's desk, where he appeared to be engaged in just that pursuit. 
"Ah, a solitaire addict.  'Tis a sad thing," Helen said knowingly.  "And while Macs don't have that *exact* solitaire game there are some similar ones—" Dave noticed Beth perking up at the mention of another possible time-waster for her Mac, so he hurried the computer girl away.
"Ok, thanks Helen, you've been more than helpful," he said, starting to walk her out of the office. 
"What were you saying about Mac solitaire?" Beth called. Dave didn't give her a chance to answer, though, suddenly coming up with all sorts of questions about his PowerBook.
After Helen was safely out of the WNYX newsroom, and back on her way to the tech support firm four floors below, Dave returned to his office.  He was still puzzling over what Lisa wanted to talk about, but was ready to get back to work.  To his dismay, he found Mr. James sitting behind his desk, going through the drawers.
"Mr. James, I thought I told you not to look through my desk," Dave said, a little irate.
"Aw, Dave, don't be such a hard-ass, I was just looking for that picture of your mom," Mr. James replied.  "How is the lovely lady doing these days, anyway?"
"Oh, Mom's doing fine, sir.  She bowled a 213 last week in her bowling league…" Dave said, walking around to the back of the desk, and pushing all the drawers closed. 
"That's great, Dave," said Mr. James, who had obviously tuned out Dave's previous statement.  "What I want to know is, how are we coming on this Don't Tell Me What To Do Day thing, are we going to get it off the ground or what? See what I was thinking is we could have Joe record some promos, see he's got that tough guy thing goin' for him, this might actually catch on!  It could be a great thing!  Everybody gettin' to do what they want."
"Well, sir, once again I'd like to say this sounds short-sighted and a possible liability for you and the station.  Why don't I just call the hardware store and tell them you really want to play with the paint shaker," Dave said, returning to the other side of the desk and sitting on the couch. 
"No, Dave, this is bigger than some…what did you say, paint shaker?"  Mr. James stared at him, confused.  "What I envision is a day where *the man* can't be hassling you just for wanting to, for wanting to speak your mind!"
"Fine, Sir, you just go right ahead with that.  I'll be sure to have reporters on the streets, in bulletproof vests, to cover the pillaging that will no doubt ensue," Dave said, defeated.
"Thank-you Dave, I knew I could count on your support," said Mr. James.  He tapped his fingers on the desk, and looked around the room.  A long silence followed.  "So, you wanna get some lunch, or something?"
"Well, actually, I was hoping to have lunch with Lisa," Dave replied.
"Wait, you two aren't—" Mr. James asked.
"No, of course not.  Lisa just said that she needed to talk to me about something, and because of various crises throughout the day, I haven't been able to find out what that might be."
"Oh, alright, I see," Mr. James said, visibly hurt by Dave's refusal. "I'll just get lunch with, Max, or one of those other guys.  Good luck with Lisa, by the way," he added on his way out of Dave's office. 
"Yeah, thanks," Dave said, taking his place behind the desk that was, after all, his.  He turned on the radio on the desk to catch the end of Lisa's broadcast.  He booted up his laptop to check the scores of last night's hockey games on the web.  As he saw the Mac face on the startup screen, he remembered what Helen said about naming her computers.  Could his PowerBook possibly have a name?  He looked at the icons scattered on his desktop, including his favorite: a tiny rendering Arnold the pig from Green Acres, labeled "Sounds."  On the web he had found fans of the show even more dedicated than himself, and web pages complete with sounds, and even a complete episode guide.  It was a great time to be alive, he thought, listening to a clip of Mr. Haney.
Lisa entered the office just as he was playing the Green Acres theme song.  Overhearing it, she rolled her eyes at the stupidity of sit-coms. 
"Dave, could we talk now?" she asked.
"Oh, oh sure Lisa," Dave replied, hurriedly muting his computer.  "Do you just want to go get lunch or something?"
"That would be fine.  Do you want to go now?"  Lisa said, crossing her arms.
"Alright," Dave said.  He shut down the computer, closed it, and even muttered something that sounded like "Bye, computer."
Lisa managed to overhear him.  "Did you just say goodbye to your computer, Dave?"
Dave looked at her, indignantly, as they walked over to the coat hooks.  "No," he said quietly.  Lisa stared back.  "Ok, yes.  Well, it's Beth and this girl from Tech Support, they've got me thinking that….you know what, never mind."  He knew someone as practical as Lisa would never understand, and he didn't feel like explaining it anyway.  Lisa pressed the button for the elevator, and they watched the numbers light up as the compartment neared their floor.  Dave was not looking forward to a tiresome argument with Lisa, but he still enjoyed spending time with her.  Ever since the fiasco with Johnny Johnson, what with Johnny giving Lisa neck massages and all, Dave had been feeling a little jealous.  He missed the intimacy he and Lisa had once shared.  Maybe the annoying suggestions of his co-workers were right after all. 
"Dave, would you get on the stinking elevator!"  Suddenly Dave returned to reality to see Lisa holding the elevator doors open, waiting impatiently for him to join her.  She looked more than a little irritated with his daydreaming.  Dave shrugged, and stepped on.  "Geez, it's like you're a thousand miles away," she complained. She moved her hand away to allow the door to close, and they descended to the ground floor in silence.  Dave sighed, and wondered if Lisa would let him pick where they ate.
"Dave, we're going to that Suhshi place."
Of course not. 

//Can't decide whether I want to continue this or not.
//Comments welcome!


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