Lantern light streamed into the diner. Miss Birdwell was all alone in the main room, sitting at a table, proofreading the menus for tomorrow; grammar had never been Kronk's strong point. Laughed as she, red pencil in hand,crossed out the extra two "t"s in "spaghetti" he'd inadvertantly added.
Rhoda had gone home at Kronk's insistance, since apparently she was coming down with a cold. "Last thing we need is a board of health sign hanging on the door, after all," she had said, agreeing finally after Kronk practically carried her outside.
It was night shift, and, strangely enough, nobody had stopped in in 3 hours. Usually there was at least a crowd of midnight snackers craving bug guts or something equally revolting to her at the moment. Usually. She could say usually because it had been three- no, four months now, and her rhythms had bent to conform to Kronk's schedule. Four months! What a milestone! And already……
"Dear? Are you still out there?" His familiar grin stuck out a mile from the kitchen door.
"Yes, dear," she said. Looking up from her work, she sighed. "I should think you'd know how to spell "spinach" by now."
"You're kidding! You mean it really doesn't have an "x" in it?"
"Of course not, silly!" She sidled on up to him, her blue sun dress hugging her legs. "Besides, we all know why you make all these mistakes."
I give up. Why?"
"Because you want me around you at all times."
"Well, it is nice to see your face often around here." He took off his oven mitts and placed his hands on each side of her waist. "The girls are always monopolizing you at the meetings."
"Is it a crime to teach needlepoint?" She laughed. "And like the boys aren't always asking you to show them how to wrestle like a jaguar!"
"Well, I have to admit, the Claw of Death is rather popular with our - ,uh, wee ones." He walked her over to the window. "What's the matter? Would you rather go home? Because I can call an escort – Kuzco's always got some sentries stationed out in the forest – I'm sure they wouldn't mind letting go of one for a little while-"
"No, it's perfectly fine with me. I am a little tired, though." She yawned like a bear roar.
"Goodness me!" They both started laughing.
"Seriously. I'm sure Papi would agree with me on this one. Do you want to go home?"
"No, it's okay." Just then, they heard llama footsteps.
"A customer! Finally!" Kronk shoved his mitts on his hands and ran out to the front door to see who it was. Miss B. sighed, then sat down. Removing something from the basket at the table, she started working on it.
A sleepy looking peasant stumbled in. He was very thin, and appeared stoop shouldered. Kronk stopped in his tracks, and Miss B could see that he was going from Hyper Cook Mode to Hospitable Kronk Mode.
"Hey, there, pal, what can I get ya?"
"Fish sandwich, and milk."
"Moo juice and shark bait, coming up!" He zipped through the doors.
20 minutes later, the peasant was gone. Miss B had nearly finished her task. They were coming along well.
Kronk's voice came from behind her."Whatcha doing?"
She jumped. "Don't do that, ever again!" At least not for a few months, anyway. "You scared me silly, do you know that?"
Kronk's face was full of remorse. "Sorry."
She eyed him.
"You've- you've never- you don't usually react like that. Or- or at least you didn't last time."
"Last time, I didn't have a reason to." She smoothed out the folds of her dress.
"So,……what are you doing?" He looked down at her hands, which were under the table. "Come on, you can tell me. Unless it's a secret."
"Maybe, it is-Ow!" She jumped up. On her seat, there lay the objects she had been trying to hide from him. Running off into the corner of the room, she started crying.
Kronk picked up the objects. A pile of golden yarn, a pair of knitting needles, and…two tiny mittens.
"Are these for me?" he asked. " Because I have to tell you, they aren't my size." He could only get his thumb into the hand part of the mitt.
"They might be." Miss B stood facing the wall, in a pout, arms crossed, tears streaming down her face.
"But,Miss Birdy-poo, this is good news. Why would you want to hide it from me? " He walked over and put his hands on her shoulders.
"I wanted to tell you another way. More,…special, I guess." She wiped her nose with her sleeve.
"It's good enough for me." Wrapping his arms around her shoulders, he wiped away her tears with the edge of his apron. They shared an embrace for what seemed like forever.
Kronk spoke up. "Are they oven mitts?"
"Perhaps." She smiled through her tears.
"You really want to start the kid off early, don't you?"
"It's never too early. Maybe I'll make him or her a "Junior-Chipmunk-to-be" shirt next."
Kronk left the embrace, and went behind the counter.He returned with a piece of paper and a pen. "You want to tell him, or should I?"
"He's your father-"
"Scratch that. Let's both tell him." Kronk ran over to a table, and Miss B followed. They sat down beside each other, Miss B, grinning, with her arms around Kronk, who began to write.
"Dear Papi,…….How would you like to be a grand-Papi?….."