Title: Window Side
Category: Gen oneshot
Word Count: 1411
Characters: OC, Dean and Sam (Outsider's point of view)
Spoilers: S2: "Born Under a Bad Sign"
Summary: He always comes on a Sunday because it's the holy day of the week.
Author's Notes: Thanks to my regular beta for the usual treatment, which always means so much. Thank you also to mellaithwen for reading it over and assuring me that, yes, she did know what I was trying to say. Any remaining mistakes are mine alone.
Disclaimer: The following characters and situations are used without permission of the creators, owners, and further affiliates of the television show, Supernatural, to whom they rightly belong. I claim only what is mine, and I make no money off what is theirs.
He ordered the same thing every time he came. One regular black coffee with an extra cup on the side. Then, he went and sat by the window, watched the parking lot with eyes distant and avoiding the rest of the world. If his usual place was taken, he never complained. Just found another, but always the window, always the parking lot. That much about his seat remained the same.
She had been there for one year, three months and an odd number of days that she refused to count, and out of all her regular customers, he was one of her favorites. Probably the favorite if she would ever decide to admit it to herself. But he was definitely better than the elderly couple who always found something wrong with their food even though they ordered the same thing day after day. Better, too, than the mom and her two squirming brats who threw food, crayons, and dirty napkins on the floor. Better even than the cute jock and his football friends who came in after Friday night games and winked at her when she delivered their food. No, he, one regular black coffee with an extra cup, never said much, but he tipped well and cleaned off his table after he was done.
It was always Sunday that he came, and she felt like she practically knew him when really, she knew nothing more than how he liked his coffee and that he drove some kind of old car that still looked pretty good. Her coworkers knew that he was her favorite, that he was her customer. The minute he walked through the door with the little silver bell, she was ready to greet him. Every waitress had her customers. He was one of hers on that unseen claims list.
One day, she gathered enough courage to try conversation. Maybe because he had looked at her nametag and called her by name when she poured his first cup of coffee for the only time she could remember. Maybe because it had been a slow day and boredom led to such daring things. Maybe because the Friday football jock had asked her if she would want to see a movie and even though she refused, she was still filled with flirtatious vibes.
She wasn't sure the reason, but she approached his table anyway. "Can I get you a refill?" she asked, holding the coffee pot up. She knew her ponytail was sagging and her hair frizzy, and her make-up was probably melted right on off by then, but she gave him her friendliest smile anyway. Real, of course, not just the fake one that she kept for the other hundred customers she saw during her shift.
He looked up, away from the parking lot. "Oh, no thanks, sweetheart," he told her with a small and appreciative but sad smile of his own. It was the first time she had ever really looked at him like that. Normally, he stared at the table when he came in and mumbled his order to his feet. Never before had he looked at her face on. He appeared tired, she noticed, old with exhaustion and stress, but he was definitely not bad looking. If he were a bit younger and she a bit ballsier, she would have considered asking him out.
"If you don't mind me asking," she said because she had been wondering for quite some time now, and she figured she had nothing to lose, "who is the extra cup for?"
"Oh," he responded, reached out to touch it, being reminded of its presence. He withdrew his hand and played with a silver ring on his finger instead. "My brother."
"Is he okay?" she found herself asking before she could stop. Of course his brother wasn't okay. If he were, he would have been there too.
"To be honest, I really don't know. I haven't seen him in a long time. Years, I guess." He looked away from her, and she knew that she should have been getting back to work. She could see a family sitting down in another booth and pulling off their coats, no doubt preparing for a long meal with a low tip at the end. But, this was the most he had ever said in all the time he had been coming to the diner. She couldn't just walk away now.
"Are you expecting him? I could get you—him—something or—"
"Oh no, that's okay…This town was the last place I saw him is all, and he said he'd be back on a Sunday. Because it's the holy day of the week, y'know, and he'd be okay then." He gazed down into his half-empty cup and bit his lower lip. For a moment, she just watched him. She had never seen anyone so worn before, and his words confused her, but then he said, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean—" He lifted his eyes, glancing past her to where another group of customers was entering. "You should get back to work."
She nodded and started to walk away, then stopped and went back to him. "I hope he—your brother—I hope he's okay."
He smiled again, that forlorn and tight-lipped smile, and said, "Me too."
He didn't come back the next Sunday. Or the one after. She didn't see him for two more months, and she assumed that he finally found his brother again. After all, she had seen enough customers come and go. Even a regular stopped being regular after a certain point. He wasn't any different. Well. Not really.
Then one morning as she was wiping off a table following the early morning rush, she heard a familiar voice say, "I'll take that extra cup of coffee now."
She turned around, dirty rag still in her chapped hands, and he was standing there with a man next to him. The sun slanting through the window beside her made her squint as she looked at them. Next to her one regular coffee with an extra cup customer, the other man was taller with dark hair falling in his eyes. She tried not to stare at the oddly formed burn marks on his forearms and hands. Like destroyed circles with slashes through them. Like alien crop circles on the skin. The tall man noticed her watching, and he shoved his hands in his pockets self-consciously.
But, him, her regular customer, he appeared happier than before, so the burn marks on what she assumed was his brother's arms must not have been that big of a deal. There was a spark in his eyes instead of that misty haze he always had when he used to stare at the parking lot for those endless mornings.
"It's not Sunday," she said after she had returned with two cups and a pot of coffee, and they had sat down.
"No, it's not," he noted.
"I thought you said he'd only be back on a Sunday. Because it was holy?"
"Yeah, well," he replied, taking the mug from her after she had filled it, "he decided to come back anyway. I don't think he has to worry about holy days anymore though." He exchanged a private smile with his brother. His brother just blushed and looked down at the table where he was twisting his hands nervously, one over burned other.
"Well," she said, "that's good to hear. Now, you just let me know if there's anything else I can get you."
But the two brothers were already talking. Their conversation was easy and free. Happy.
Behind the counter, she set the coffee pot back on the burner and sighed before pulling out the can of coffee grounds and measuring out a scoopful for a fresh pot. She had a feeling the brothers would be there a while.
"He came back," one of her coworkers remarked as she loaded plates of scrambled eggs and sausage links onto her tray. Hot and wispy steam rolled off the food and into the air. It smelled good and reminded her of her hunger.
"No," she replied, "his brother came back. That's who should've been here the whole time."
"He was the empty cup, then?" the lady asked before she headed out to the main floor with her tray.
"Yeah," she said, smiling to herself and watching the two men by the window under the morning sunlight, "he was the empty cup."