Title: Better Left to the Imagination
Rating: PG (for a bad word)
Word count: 2200
Spoilers: Anytime between The Truth and IWTB
Summary: M&S through the eyes of a casual observer.
Disclaimer: I don't own them. If I did, they'd have been brought back out to play years ago. If you want to sue,go for it, I'll gladly give up my school loans.
Authors notes: This isn't my first fan fic,
just my first X Files fic. I was inspired by IWTB and the blanks left to be filled in, that I had to do it. Thanks to my betas, they know who they are. You girls are the butter to my bread and this wouldn't be what it was without the input and feedback all of you gave.
Normally, the dinging of the front door bell doesn't phase me; after all dinner time is when the day really begins. I always let my wife handle things in the front while my Head Chef and I talk football over the burgers we're tending. Most days I don't have a clue who's coming or going, that's Estelle's forte. So it catches me off guard, when she runs into the kitchen yammering about the couple that's heading up the walk.
God, I wish she'd leave those poor people alone.
Her hand squeezes around my wrist a second later as she attempts to drag me away from the burgers and toward the front of the diner, where she's sure I can see the front door.
I wonder why the women in this town have nothing better to do then gawk at others. Okay, so I'll give them that this couple is different. Enigmatic and mysterious. I'll even give them the fact that they're pretty and it's hard not to look at them, especially the woman. But that still doesn't give anyone the right to wrap people they don't know up in some twisted storyline that's more bawdy and tawdry then those ridiculous soap operas that they waste their days on.
What business is it of mine what they did or who they are? They're hungry, they eat and they pay. As far as I'm concerned, they're good people.
Estelle lets out a noise that resembles a squeal and promptly leaves me standing at the pass between the counter and kitchen, so she can go tend to her current favorite customers.
Steve and Edie, if I remember correctly. At least those were the names they gave, what, five years earlier? Back when she was still a redhead and he was still clean shaven and both still smiled at more then just each other. Estelle is convinced their names are just a cover, and uses them to justify her current theory that they're a modern day Bonnie and Clyde. Bank robbers, or is it murderers, no arsonists…on the lam from the police or the Feds, and currently held up in the last of the small wooden pre- Civil War homes on the edge of Hanover Courthouse.
Estelle is practically jumping out of her skin as she watches them in the doorway, waiting impatiently for them to head inside so she can pry for information.
They're still in the doorway, her hand in his as they shake the last flakes of snow off their jackets. He helps her out of her jacket, and then slips his off, his hand searching out hers as soon as it's free of the sleeve.
Estelle babbles to them, probably telling them to pick whatever table they like. That's merely an excuse to talk to them, because everyone in the diner knows where they'll sit. At a table near the back; the only one that offers him an eagle eye view of the backdoor, and her of the front door.
They're clearly waiting for someone or something to catch up to them, to pull them apart and away from whatever peace they've managed to find.
I just hope whatever or whoever it is they're running from doesn't catch up with them in my establishment.
They offer Estelle quick nods and soft smiles and start toward their table.
I follow them out of the corner of my eye, trying to figure out how long it's been since they were last here. Five or six months, perhaps. Long enough for him to grow a full beard and for her to grow her hair out and go back to some shade of red. It looks much better then the year she was a blond, and even more so then the year she was a brunette. The unkempt and shaggy Ted Kaczynski look he's sporting is new, but not inherently bad.
They seem more relaxed this time, as they slide into their booth, facing each other.
Austin, our young new hire hands them menus. Not that they need them. They'll both order the same thing they always do.
He'll order the number two cheeseburger with the works and a side of onion rings with an iced tea. And she'll order a salad or a chicken sandwich with a water and a twist of lemon.
Estelle watches them like a hawk, entranced by the way they're looking at each other even as they fire off their orders. They've been together a long time and they'll be together forever, even though neither wears a ring. Estelle didn't have to include that in her summary of their storyline, anyone can see it in how they look at each other. She keeps him breathing and he her, and whoever they really are, it seems like the perfect fit.
Austin scampers off to put their orders in, and they fall into a quiet conversation while he leans over to flip through the songs on the mini jukebox at the table.
Those are new. A fancy little feature they have in the big diners in Richmond. The customers seem to enjoy it and these two aren't any different.
She laughs and shakes her head as he fishes in his pocket for a nickel to put in the jukebox. She thinks he's crazy, and he thinks she's wonderful, and they laugh when he drops the nickel into the slot and pushes the number for a song.
Estelle pries Austin for information when he hands over their order and I shake my head, wondering why she can't just leave them to their dinner. And worse yet, why I can't either.
They're still talking at the table, laughing and from their body language, flirting. If their respective eyes didn't steal to the doorways every few seconds, one might think they were just like every other normal couple in town.
Austin brings their drinks, and they hardly stop to acknowledge him, or at least he doesn't. He doesn't seem to want to focus on anything other then her. And she, she seems to crave whatever other human conversation she can get.
Estelle thinks he's rude, or at least that's what she whispers to Austin when he gets back to the counter. I think he's cautious, and from the way they both seem to be waiting for the shadows to come into the light, I don't blame him in the slightest.
She whispers something to him, and his smile fades a bit, but he does nod reluctantly. She slides out of the booth, and offers him a smile over her shoulder before heading for what has to be the restroom.
This is part of their dance. He'll let her go. Let her think he can sit and wait and not worry, but he'll fail, and get up to follow her, like a body guard assigned to protect his client from some shadowed man ready to jump out of the darkness and snatch her away. He'll wait just outside the hallway that leads to the restroom.
He does get up and slide out of the booth, following the path she did and I laugh a little, mostly with disgust over the fact that I know these things despite my best attempts not to know them.
He waits in the hall door frame, his back pressed against it, head tipped back, as he stares up at the ceiling. He's comfortable there. Close enough to her to fight off anyone or anything that might try to take her from him, but still far enough way to let her feel like she's got the space she needs.
The bathroom door opens and she emerges in the doorway, shaking her head when she sees him and he looks down at her sensing her presence; his most enchanting smile already on display.
She's not mad at him, she never is. But she tries to give him a talking to anyway, act like she's upset that he couldn't give her a few moments to herself, when she really adores the fact that he'd do anything to keep her safe.
When she's close enough he reaches out and grabs her hand, pulling her against his body. His arms snake around her waist and she looks up at him with a curious eyebrow and teasing smile. He whispers something to her, and she nods, eyes fluttering when he leans in to steal a kiss.
I curse myself and close my eyes, feeling like utter shit for eavesdropping on such an intimate moment. By the time my eyes open again, she's teasing him about something and he's laughing as he grabs her hand and pulls her toward their table.
I fix my eyes on Estelle rather than them, but she's got stars in her own eyes and doesn't seem to notice anything but the two of them. Someone should say something to her, probably me, but I'd rather just let it all play out and let them finish their meals before causing a scene.
Austin has their food ready as soon as they come back, sliding their plates in front of them when they're seated. They both offer him thank you's this time before he leaves them to their dinner.
The first strains of a new song pang off the jukebox just as they start to dig into their dinner, and I wonder if this is the song he picked.
"Joy to the World" is an odd selection… but I realize as I watch her roll her eyes and toss him an utterly adorable smile while he mouths the words to her- that this song means something special to them.
I wonder if Estelle has melted into a puddle of mush yet and shoot my eyes in her direction. She's predictably enamored by them and doesn't even seem to realize that she's got other tables and customers to tend to.
They eat in relative silence, only stopping to laugh or tease when he reaches across the table to steal a crouton or when she does the same to steal a fry.
I wonder why they're here, and why they seem to be carrying the weight of the world they clearly want no part of, and yet why they seem so at peace, whatever peace might be to them.
He motions Austin over, and I know he's ordering desert. chocolate cake or apple pie. She doesn't order anything, probably for the same reason that all women refrain, that whole watching their figures thing. They both know she'll eat whatever he orders, not that he minds. In fact, I think that's why he does it. Because it makes her happy. Because he'd do anything to make her smile like that.
I wonder what else he's done to ensure that smile of hers is reserved solely for him.
God, I'm as bad as Estelle. I really am. Watching these poor people like they're on parade is absolutely pathetic.
I ponder for a split second, – as I continue to watch them, and he's leaning across the table to push a strand of hair behind her ear before leaning in to whisper to her – if Estelle is so taken with them…because no matter who they really are…what she sees is what every women wants in her relationship.
Whatever he's saying to her causes her eyebrow to raise and her smile to take on a seductive tilt. She says something back to him and he nods, eyes wide and burning with life.
I'm not surprised when he slips out of the booth and slides up to the counter a knowing smile on display as he asks Estelle for the check and his pie to go.
Estelle tends to him like he's the President or royalty, bounding around to gather the bag and his check.
She gathers their coats from the seat beside her and slips out of the booth, joining him at the counter. He takes his coat and she slips hers on while Estelle hands them their change.
I wonder when we'll see them next, or if we will at all.
He takes the bag from Estelle and she offers a quick nod before they turn away. She tosses us a smile over her shoulder her as she leans into him and they start for the door.
I watch them walk towards the door, side by side, his hand coming to rest on the small of her back. They stop in the doorway long enough for him to put his jacket on and then disappear down the snowy walk.
Just like that they're gone as quickly as they'd come and still as much of a mystery as they've ever been.
Estelle sighs when she loses sight of them out the frosted over window and I shake my head, hoping that she'll snap out of it and get back to work. "You coulda' just asked them," I say to her, passing behind her on my way back to the kitchen.
"And where's the fun in that?" she answers back, eyes still fixed out the window, just as I'm about to turn the corner into the kitchen, "Some stories are more fun left to the imagination."