A/N: So I'm mixing up events. I really don't care. Brennon is from Ted Koppel's Night Out, Lane gets hired in The Nanny and the Professor, and Luke moves in with Nicole and Lane gets kicked out in, In the Clamor and the Clangor.

A/N #2: I apologize if this sucks. This is my first foray into Pen Lender land. Forgive me.

You know what?

Mix it up, kids. Here ya go.

Rating: PG-13 for stuff

Summary: s4... Pen Lenders style.

Disclaimer: As much as I'd love to own Jess and use him as my love slave, he nor anyone else is mine.

Never Trust a Table Dancer
Chapter 1: Old Debts

It all looked the same from the outside, even the inside looked alright.

Well... sans the kid dancing and singing on a table.

Jess Mariano blinked, obviously confused as he entered the diner, duffle bag over his shoulder.

The diner, for its part was empty, which was a very, very strange thing for the middle of the day; the lunch rush to be exact.

Jess unzipped his leather jacket and walked slowly behind the counter to stand next to Lane.

She turned a very confused eye on him. "Jess?"

He nodded, keeping his eyes on the table dancer. "Lane." His stare became more pensive. "Why is Brennon Lewis singing and dancing on a table?"

Lane blinked at him. "You remember the difference between bagels and doughnuts, right?"

He gave another slow nod. "I do."

Lane promptly threw her arms around him. "Thank god! Competence!"

Jess awkwardly patted the top of her head. "Uh... it's nice to see you, too... I guess..."

"He's a moron!" Lane cried, letting go of Jess and pointing to Brennon. "He doesn't write down orders, he doesn't care about the difference between bagels and doughnuts, and he gives people dirty napkins! Not to mention the whole... 'let's slap Lane on the butt' game he likes to play."

Jess rolled his eyes and walked out from behind the counter, grabbing Brennon by the arm and dragging him off the table and out of the diner, only to be met by Luke.

Luke stared in shock. "Jess?"

Jess shoved Brennon into Luke. "Table dancer. Never trust a table dancer."

"What the hell are you doing here?" Luke asked.

Jess sighed heavily and looked down. "Liz told me that you wanted to see me...but... I guess she lied, so-"

"You're fired," Luke said to Brennon. He looked at Jess. "You're hired."

Jess blinked. "What? I never said-"

"You owe me," Luke cut him off. "I need the help, and you owe me."

"I-"

"You're shift starts now," Luke cu him off again. "Go."

"Luke-"

"GO!"

Jess glared and stormed into the diner, setting his bag down behind the counter. "Where am I gonna live?"

"Here," Luke replied, walking in after him.

"With you?"

"I don't live here anymore," Luke replied. "Sort of. I live with Nicole."

Jess squinted. "Nicole? You're living with Nicole?"

"He married Nicole," Lane cut in, walking out from the storeroom.

"You married Nicole?!" Jess cried. "What the hell would you do that for?!"

"Hey!" Luke growled. "At least I can make a commitment!"

Jess glared, and snatched up his bag. "I'm not staying here; I'm not working for you; not again. Not with you breathing down my neck, and you criticizing everything I do or have done. I just came here to get my car."

"You owe me."

"I'll pay you back the money!" Jess yelled. "Just give me some time!"

Lane groaned. "Jess, is it so bad working here?!"

Jess glared at her. "Stay out of this."

"No, seriously," Lane went on. "You seemed pretty happy here last year. You dated Rory, you went to school, you worked here, and at Wal-Mart..."

Jess's glare grew harsher.

"None of which ended well," Lane went on quickly. "But if you got them back... I don't know how willing Rory is going to be to take you back, but... if you had Luke back..."

Both men looked down.

Lane smiled, knowing she was winning Jess over. "Come on. What have you got to lose?"


Jess sighed deeply as he put in his orders to Caesar the next day. He glared at Lane as she walked in to start her shift. "I hate you."

She smiled. "Good morning."

He didn't reply.

Lane sighed as she walked behind the counter and picked up an order pad. "You could stand to be a little nicer, you know. Maybe Luke should get you some sensitivity training."

"Do you ever stop talking?" Jess asked.

"It couldn't hurt," she went on. "I mean... maybe all you need is a hug... or hippy music. Maybe your listening has become to angry."

"I guess not," Jess muttered. "Table four needs their order taken. Can you get it? I'm already loaded."

Lane nodded. "Okay... Oh! Did Luke talk to you?"

Jess blinked. "About what?"

"About... me."

"No, he neglected to tell me you have no sanity," Jess replied.

"I mean..."

Jess rolled his eyes. "What?"

"IgotinafightwithmymomandshekickedmeoutandIhavenoplacetogoandLukesaidIcouldstayhere."

Jess stared.

Lane blushed. "Yeah."

"You're staying here."

She nodded.

"Here," Jess repeated. "The diner, here?"

"The apartment, here."

"I'm staying in the apartment."

Lane nodded. "Yeah. Me, too."

Jess gave this a moment's thought, and then rushed into the storeroom. "LUKE!"