The Right Reasons
"Anyone miss me?" Priestly asked, smirking as he tied on his apron. He was wearing his favorite Orgasm Donor t-shirt, his black combat pants and boots. His hair was spiked up and dyed a lurid purple color. His piercings were back in place and his nails painted a very fetching black. On anyone else, it would have been intimidating but on Priestly, it was just kinda cute.
Trucker smiled slowly, leaned across the counter and nodded reflectively. "Of course we missed you, Priestly."
"Can we call you Boaz now?" Piper said, her voice twisted as she tried not to laugh.
Priestly flicked her with the end of the dish towel he'd picked up. "Not if you wanna live," he growled, but there was no anger in his words. It actually felt kinda good to be back at work.
He'd called Trucker at the beginning of his week off and told him what was happening, and Trucker being Trucker had told Priestly to take all the time he needed.
But a week was all that was needed to erase everything Tish from his life…from the STD she had given him (okay, the meds said longer, but the worst of it was gone), to the crap shit he'd gotten from Banana Republic in a bid to impress her. The only thing that lingered was the abiding memory of how long he'd wanted her.
Thing about Tish was, it was all about the packaging when it came down to it. And it turned out that even when Priestly became what she wanted, she didn't want it after all. She left town with some guy in an Aston Martin, and whose trust fund could buy her whatever she wanted.
"I think I prefer Priestly anyway. It suits him better," Jen shrugged. She was sat in her usual place at the counter, laptop in front of her, making notes of the incoming orders for that days lunches.
"Me too," Trucker smiled. His eye was caught by a flicker of bright blue across the road. Zo turned, raised her hand to wave – silver wedding ring glinting in the sunlight – and gave Trucker a huge happy smile.
"So?" Piper started, chewing the inside of her cheek hesitantly. She glanced at Jen, who shook her head, eyes wide. "Are we gonna talk about what happened between you and Tish… or are we just going to ignore it all like it never happened? Have a nice big pink elephant in the corner?"
Jen groaned and dropped her head onto the laptop's keyboard.
Trucker scrubbed his hand over his face and mentally told himself off for not having made his point that they weren't to bring up Tish unless Priestly did any clearer. Instead of saying anything, he gave Piper a pointed look and rolled his eyes.
"No. No, that's fine. I'm a mature man. I can talk about this without breaking down into a glob of something gross. What do you want to know?" Priestly nodded, once. The second time he nodded was less sure. "Go on. Ask away."
"What happened?" Piper said quietly. "It's not really that I'm prying. It's just, you know, we all really care about you. What you did to win her was so… well, anyway… she's bitch and she didn't deserve you…"
"Too true," Jen seconded Piper, finally lifting her head up off the keyboard and smiling softly at Priestly.
"It just turned out that even Banana Republic wasn't enough for… for… her. First rich guy that walked by and she was off like a shot. Didn't even look back. Just got up one morning and she was gone. Left me a nice little parting gift though," he dropped his gaze down to his crotch.
"Ewww," Piper screwed up her face.
"That's kinda gross… and yet it doesn't shock me," Jen said, forcing her eyes away from Priestly's crotch.
Priestly rolled his eyes. "Don't worry. I've been to the docs and I'm good now."
"That's good to know, Priestly," Trucker said in a fatherly fashion, patting him on the shoulder as he walked by.
"Hey, you know when you were teasing Ti… her, about being high maintenance and how guys like us should lower our standards… you kinda meant it, didn't you?" Priestly asked, meeting Trucker direct look.
"Yeah, I kinda did. Pretty packaging is all well and good, but it's what's underneath that counts," Trucker answered, leaning on the counter next to Jen.
"So, why didn't you stop me? Before I got something icky in my pants?" Priestly said quietly.
Trucker stood up slowly, turned and dropped a hand on Priestly's shoulder. He gave a gentle squeeze before he explained. "If we'd've stopped you, you'd still be liking her now, and she'd still be treating you like shit. She knew from day one how you felt about her and yet she still flaunted herself in front of you with all those other men. And no matter what any of us would've said to you, you'd still have liked her. You just had to see her for what she really was… how the rest of us saw her. Nice girl, just couldn't keep her legs shut for a minute."
"Oh, well, gee thanks guys. You know, I feel so much better now," Priestly flapped his hands in the air and pouted.
"And if we'd have known about the crabs, we definitely would've have stopped you," Piper told him, sincerely, meaning every word.
"Awww man. You told them? I didn't tell them what she gave me… I can't believe you told them…" Priestly stalked off into the kitchen out back and started throwing the silver pans into the sink and scrubbing them.
"There's no secrets between us, you know that Priestly. We're one big happy family here," Trucker said quietly from the doorway. Jen pushed by on one side, and Piper on the other. "And it was Zo who kinda let it slip out… when she brought that cream round for you. For the itching."
"Urgh," Priestly dropped the scrubber into the soapy water. "I just feel like such a damned fool, you know. I thought the clothes, the hair – it would be enough."
"Never works to pretend to be someone you're not," Trucker said knowingly. "Just gotta be yourself and the right person will come along."
"It's true," Jen nodded, agreeing.
"Trust in Trucker," Piper piped up.
The bell chimed to let them know they had a customer and they all dispersed back to what they were doing before Priestly's little outburst.
Jen went back to sorting through the internet orders. Trucker wiped the tables down before the lunchtime customers. Piper served the young woman and her daughter with their mid-morning snacks.
And Priestly? He tried not to think about Tish while he worked.
~ O ~
After an uneventful but busy afternoon, Trucker left early to walk home with Zo, leaving Piper and Jen with Priestly. Until Fuzzy turned up to meet Jen.
"Oh, hey, you're back," Fuzzy said when Priestly grinned at him.
"He's back. Back here, and back to normal," Jen grinned. "Just the way we like him." She gave a playful punch to Priestly's shoulder.
Priestly chuckled. He shouldn't have worried about coming back to work. These were his family – as mixed up as they were, and though he'd never admit it, he was kinda fond of them all.
"So, Fuzzy… you got a real name or do we get to call you Fuzzy forever?" Priestly asked as Jen went to fetch her purse and jacket out of the staff room.
"Jeff. My real name is Jeff," Fuzzy smiled, holding his hand out. "Nice to meet you Boaz."
"Ha ha," Priestly rolled his eyes but laughed all the same, shaking the proffered hand. "You know I have to kill anyone who uses that, don't ya, Jeff?"
"Now, now, Boaz. Leave Jeff alone," Piper called out. "I'm off too. Meeting Noah and Julia at the beach for a late picnic."
"Can everyone forget that my name is Boaz, please?" he pleaded. "I hate it."
But they all shouted 'bye Boaz' as they left, leaving him alone in the Grill.
"Oh yeah, that's right. Just leave me here to clean up by myself. Go on, go have fun all of you. I'll just be here. By myself. All alone…" he mumbled, smiling.
"Except I'm still here," a male voice appeared from one of the booths, followed by a dark mop of floppy hair.
"We're kinda closed," Priestly told him.
"I know. I figured that out by myself… but Trucker's been letting me hang around while I finish up whatever I'm doing. It hasn't been a problem. Is it a problem for you?" The boy – well, man really – dragged himself out of the booth and turned to face him. He had a book bag along with a laptop bag, and both looked as heavy as each other.
"If it's okay with Trucker, then I guess its okay with me. I'm Priestly," he told him, looking the newbie up and down. He looked younger - a good deal younger than Priestly – but when he stood, he had at least three inches on Priestly, so he couldn't have been that young.
"Yeah, I know. Heard all about you," he smiled and drifted towards the door. "Probably heard more than you'd like me to know… if you knew me, that is."
"And you are?" Priestly followed him to the door, holding it for him.
"Going to be very late if I don't get a move on. Bye Priestly," he gave him a smile as he ducked under Priestly's outstretched arm. "See you around."
"Hey, you have a name?" he called after the man.
"I do," he called back and disappeared into the early dusk.
Priestly stared out into the evening, mouth open and fingers curled tightly around the cleaning cloth.
~ O ~
"So, okay, after you guys left last night, something funny happened," Priestly said by way of a 'good morning' when he arrived at the grill.
"Define funny," Trucker responded first.
"Well, see, after everyone deserted me and left me to clean up all by myself – or I thought I was by myself, except I wasn't. Some guy… in one of the booths…" he paused, looking from the girls to Trucker. "Any idea who he is?"
"Well, from that amazing description…" Piper started
"Long hair… looks like a twinky student?" Jen countered.
"That describes him perfectly, yeah," Priestly nodded. The pink spikes of his hair bobbed with the movement.
"Well, now, of course we know who he is," Lucille butted in from her usual spot.
"Anyone going to clue me in, then? Or is it like some secret, because he sure as hell made himself at home," Priestly ranted in his usual fashion.
"He's a college student here on a break. No secret. He's staying with Zo for a bit while he 'finds himself'. He kinda went through some stuff back home, and his mom was an old buddy of Zo's, so when Zo found what had happened, she offered him a place to stay for the summer," Piper explained.
"He only arrived about three days ago," Jen told him.
"I think it'll take more than three days to find himself," Priestly snorted. "So, does this guy have a name then?"
"Why so much interest, Priestly? I know he's pretty and all, but I thought you were a girl's only kinda guy?" Piper asked, narrowing her eyes at him.
"Ahh, no," Trucker grinned. "Our Priestly here has been known to play both sides of the fence occasionally."
Jen, Piper and Lucille all perked up at that information.
Priestly rolled his eyes and threw the wet wash cloth he was holding at Trucker. "Thanks," he nodded. "Thanks a lot."
"Crap. Was that meant to be a secret?" Trucker sniggered.
"His name's Tom, by the way," Lucille said with a wink. "And he's a homosexual, too. Though I have to admit, I'd never have put you down as one, young man."
"Oh God," Priestly groaned. "Kill me. Kill me now."
Trucker laughed, along with Piper and Jen. They were still laughing when the doorbell tinkled a moment later and six foot four inches of hot student by the name of Tom walked in.