Disclaimer: X-Men and its characters don't belong to me, and I'm not making any profit from this fanfic.
Author's Note: This style of this fic is similar to my previous X-Men fic "Scrutiny": a snapshot of Logan and Rogue's relationship witnessed by a run-of-the-mill stranger and told from that person's perspective. I had so much fun writing "Scrutiny" that I decided to try another one like it.
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"Tall iced caramel macchiato!" I call out, glancing at the barista standing several feet to my right. She echoes the order and starts making the drink with the trademark quick efficiency our job demands.
I push the cash register drawer closed and risk a surreptitious glance at my watch, letting out what I hope is a barely audible sigh. Still two hours left in my shift.
It's not that I don't like my job—most of the time, I actually enjoy it quite a bit. But today's been a pretty slow, dragging day. (Some days it's the exact opposite: we get a never-ending stream of customers, and I feel like I'm making so many drinks my fingers are going to shrivel up and fall off. Those days aren't particularly fun either.) Plus there's the fact that I have a huge paper for my Intro to Medieval Lit class that's due next week, and I really need to get home and work on that. Procrastination's going to kill me one of these days; I just know it.
My co-worker finishes the drink I just called and gives it to the customer—one of our regulars, a college student named Mike. He takes it with a smile and a thank you, then heads towards the door.
"See you later, Mike!" I call, waving at him. I sound a bit more cheerful than I actually feel, but that's a skill you master fairly quickly when you work in customer service. "Good luck on that big drawing exam!"
He doesn't wave back, but I know he would if he didn't have his drink in one hand and his drawing supplies in the other. Instead, he nods and smiles back in my direction. "Thanks! See you later."
He disappears out the door, probably headed off to the park to do some last minute sketching before his exam. Apparently he spends hours there sometimes, just drawing whatever he sees. He's good at it, too—I've seen a few of his sketches, and boy, do they ever put my stick figures to shame. But I guess that's why I'm majoring in English and not art.
A few minutes pass and no more customers come in, so I head out to the seating area and busy myself wiping crumbs and coffee drips off the tables. I've just finished swiping the last table clean with a flourish when I hear the distinctive rumble of a Harley Davidson motorcycle zooming into the parking lot. I'm not exactly a motorcycle aficionado, but my dad has a Harley, and he's so proud of that thing that I quickly learned how to tell the difference between a Harley noise and a regular-old-motorcycle noise. I suppose, technically, it's one of those stereotypical "guy things," but what can I say. I've always been a bit of a tomboy.
I head back to the counter and position myself behind the cash register, waiting for our motorcycle-riding customer to come in and order. And…I keep waiting. After a couple of minutes have passed and the door still hasn't opened, I crane my neck a little to get a better view out the large window at the front of the store.
I can now see the Harley parked in one of the spaces, and I scoot to the side a little to get a closer look. I had assumed there was only one rider, but I see now that there are two passengers: a guy and a girl. I smile a little, automatically thinking of how my dad has tried for years to get my mom to ride his Harley with him, but she flat-out refuses every time.
These two don't appear to be in perfect accord either. The guy is still sitting on the bike, arms crossed over his chest in a manner both defiant and resolute. The girl has gotten off the motorcycle and is standing facing him. Her back is to me, so I can't see her expression, but if I were a betting woman I'd wager that he's the type that wouldn't be caught dead in a Starbucks, and she's trying to persuade him to go in with her. It's true, some of the coffee concoctions we brew aren't exactly the most masculine drinks in the world. And from what I can tell from here, Mr. Motorcycle looks pretty macho. He's probably the kind that would be perfectly at home in a bar knocking back Budweisers.
I allow myself a giggle as I make up my own little script for the dialogue taking place outside right now, but at the same time I hope the two of them aren't really having a serious argument. It can be pretty tense trying to take drink orders from customers who are in the middle of a fight, or even worse, a severe case of the Silent Treatment. The awkwardness abounds.
Fortunately, the two bike-riders seem to have reached some kind of agreement, because they're both heading in this direction now, side-by-side. I grin and quickly scoot back behind the cash register just as they open the door and walk in.
They stop a short distance from the counter and stare up at the menu, and I take the opportunity to observe them a little more closely. The girl is gazing at the menu with an expression on her face that's equal parts bliss, glee and anticipation. I smile to myself, knowing the look—I've worn it myself more than a few times. This girl clearly loves her coffee.
Now that I'm getting a closer look at the girl, I recognize her; she's been in here at least one or two times before. I pride myself on my ability to remember faces, although in her case, I would say her most distinctive feature is her hair. It's dark brown with a really cool-looking streak of white running down each side of her face. Definitely an interesting fashion statement. I'm tempted to ask her where she got it done.
If my memory serves me correctly, the previous times Ms. Brown-and-White has been in here, she came with a gaggle of high-school aged friends, not Mr. Motorcycle. Sliding my gaze over to him, I feel my breath catch in my throat just a little. Nope, I'm positive he hasn't been in here before—at least, not anytime that I've been working. I would definitely have remembered him. Tall, scruffy, and rugged-looking, with a mass of thick brown hair (so dark it almost looks black) and piercing hazel eyes—or are they green? No, hazel, I decide, although I wouldn't mind getting a closer look. He looks pretty muscle-bound, too; even under his three or four layers of clothing, I can tell he must spend a lot of time at the gym, and it's paid off.
I sure wouldn't mind going on a motorcycle ride with him, I think, and feel a sudden twinge of envy towards the brown-and-white-haired girl. Realizing my thoughts are quickly heading into not-so-prudent areas, I force myself to look down at the cash register. Ogling customers isn't exactly the height of professionalism.
Once I've re-established a firm grip on my over-active hormones, I look up at him again. He's still staring up at the menu, and I have to laugh a little at his expression. It's in stark contrast to that of his female companion—where hers was eager and enthusiastic, his is a mixture of skepticism, disgust, and a little bit of bewilderment. Turning towards the girl, he mutters, "Doesn't anyone drink plain old regular coffee anymore?"
I hide my smile. Apparently my original assessment—that he's the type who's reluctant to be seen anywhere near a Starbucks—was correct.
The girl clearly doesn't share his opinion. "Regular coffee's just too boring," she retorts with a teasing grin.
He only snorts in response, but I think I can see a hint of a smile on his face.
Not deigning to dignify his snort with a further reply, Ms. Brown-and-White steps up to the counter and flashes me a cheerful smile. I can't help but grin in return—of course, I'm required to act friendly and helpful around customers at all times, but some of them are easier to smile at than others.
"Hi, how are you doing today?" I inquire politely.
Still smiling, she tells me she's doing fine and thanks me for asking, then gives me her drink order. "I'll have a grande caramel white mocha, with two-percent milk, please. Oh, and just a little whipped cream on top."
"No problem," I say, ringing it up and passing it on to my co-worker, then I turn towards the guy. He's staring at the girl with an expression of mild disbelief, one eyebrow hiked up his forehead like a climber trying to scale Mt. Everest. "What did you just order?" he asks, his tone suggesting he's not quite sure if he really wants to know.
"Oh, it's so good," she exclaims, her eyes lighting up as she looks back at him. "Really, you should try a sip."
The eyebrow inches higher. "I think I'll pass. Sounds like it has enough sugar to choke a horse."
She doesn't dispute his comment, but it's clear that if drinking sugar-loaded mochas were a crime, she'd be more than happy to plead guilty. She gives him a sweet, innocent smile. "You getting anything, Logan?"
Ooh! Now I have a name for the scruffy, motorcycle-riding customer. My insides dance a little jig. Logan. I make a mental note to look it up on a baby names website when I get home and see what it means. Yes, I have no life. Sad but true.
He gives her a Look with a capital L. "No."
"Spoilsport," she says in a tone of mock accusation. "They do sell plain, black coffee here, you know."
"If I want plain coffee, I can get it at the mansion, and it won't cost me four bucks either," he replies pointedly, jerking his head towards the menu where our prices are listed. Ever curious, I fleetingly wonder what mansion he's talking about, but I don't have much time to ponder it, as Logan takes out his wallet and hands me a five-dollar bill for the girl's drink.
By this time, my co-worker has finished making said drink and hands it to the girl, who immediately takes a cautious but obviously long-awaited sip. As she swallows, her expression morphs from anticipation to sheer contentment. "Mmmm, this is just what I needed," she says with a happy sigh. "I really ought to come here more often."
Logan watches her intently, his expression mostly one of amusement, but I think he also looks pleased at her obvious bliss. "All right, so now that you got your fix, are you ready to head out? The smell in here is making my eyes water," he says, taking a step towards the door.
Her eyes widen to the size of golf balls, but she's unable to speak since she has a mouthful of caramel white mocha. She settles for shaking her head decisively and making spastic motions with her free hand.
He crosses his arms over his chest, watching her with an eyebrow cocked in mild bemusement. "You having a seizure or something, kid?"
She swallows, finally, and holds up her drink. "We can't leave yet. We have to sit down so I can finish this. I can't take it on the bike; it'll spill."
Logan stares at her incredulously. "It has a lid."
"Yeah, but see?" She shows him the top of the cup. "The way you drive, it'll all come spurting out this little drinking hole in the lid."
I hide my smile behind my hand, watching in growing amusement as Logan narrows his eyes and lets out a noise that honestly sounds more animal than human. He steps a bit closer to the girl and lowers his voice a little, but I can still hear him anyway. "I thought we agreed there would be no more comments about my driving," he growls, giving her a meaningful look.
She flashes him a smile so angelic I wonder if it comes naturally or if she stays up late practicing it in front of a mirror. "Oops, you're right. I forgot about that."
"Yeah, I'll bet you did," he mutters, then gives a longsuffering sigh. "All right, if you can't take your cup of poison on the bike, we won't leave just yet, but we're sitting outside. Might as well at least get a smoke out of this." He's already reaching for his pocket, and pulls out a cigar.
"Okay," she agrees, probably sensing that's as good a compromise as she's going to get. Clutching her drink, she starts to walk past him towards the door, but then stops and turns back to face him. "Logan?"
"Thanks." She smiles at him. The playful air of their conversation has dissipated suddenly, replaced by something I can't quite identify. In any case, I feel now like I'm intruding on a private moment, but I find myself rooted to my spot at the cash register. I tell myself it's because I'm afraid that if I move, she'll notice me and be distracted, and the indefinable intensity of the moment will disappear.
"I know it must be pretty traumatizing for you to be seen at a Starbucks," she continues, her smile widening a bit into a grin, "but I appreciate the sacrifice." Stepping over to him, she hoists herself up on her tiptoes, grabbing his shoulder with one hand to steady herself, and plants a kiss on his muttonchop-covered cheek. Then she turns and walks out the door.
He stares after her for a moment, an almost faraway smile on his face, like he's remembering some past time or place I can only wonder about. They make an odd pair, these two, but in spite of her teasing and his grumbling, I get the feeling they share a bond that won't easily be broken.
A few seconds pass before Logan gives himself an almost imperceptible shake, rousing himself from whatever memory he was recalling. Then he strides towards the door, following the girl out of the store. I watch through the window as they seat themselves at one of our outdoor tables—she with her coffee, he with his cigar.
Feeling a strange sort of reluctance, I tell myself I've watched them long enough, and go about my duties. But every now and then, I continue to sneak glances at them through the window. She appears to be doing most of the talking; he listens, nods, and smokes, interjecting comments at intervals.
Before too long, customer traffic picks up a little, and soon Logan and his brown-and-white-haired companion—I never did learn her name—are pushed out of my mind as I take drink orders and work the cash register. It's not until I hear the sound of a Harley being revved that I remember, and I allow myself an almost secretive smile. Funny how something as simple as a conversation between two people—who are complete strangers to me—can brighten up my slow day.
One thing's for sure: I'll never listen to the sound of a Harley in our parking lot quite the same way again.
Author's Note the second: I've never worked as a barista, so if I made any laughably heinous errors, please let me know!