CEREAL BOX SYMPATHY
No-one in the coffee shop will meet her eyes. He knows they all know who she is; he met her months ago, but he never expected the rest of the world to really give a damn about her. He guesses he liked that, she was cool, quirky, she kind of hated him but he was sure that could change. He wasn't expecting that just after graduation she'd be borderline famous as the murderer's girlfriend, that she'd be sitting on her own in a coffee shop, trying to pour herself into the screen of her laptop as her fellow patrons swerved to look at her and avoid looking at her, and that he'd be sitting three feet away slowly weighing up why he should and shouldn't go talk to her.
There is, of course, the fact she doesn't like him and finds him weird and creepy, and is still pissed about the Alterna-Prom thing. He thinks that suddenly being approached by the guy with a weird crush on you, about a week after your boyfriend went psycho and tried to kill your best friend and threw himself off the roof of the tallest building in town, might not be great experience. Besides, he doesn't really know her that well – cool and quirky and geeky, and kind of weird – and he has no idea what to say to her. He's scared that if he goes, if he talks about it, whatever he says, he's just going to hurt her and she'll bawl at him and he's never been good with crying chicks.
The debate goes on for a while in his head and out of the corner of his eye, he sees her fighting to keep looking at her computer screen, not to check for someone looking at her. He sees what must be the fifth waitress swerve to avoid asking her if she wants a refill, and he officially calls an end to the debate in his head. No thinking; she needs someone to talk to her.
She doesn't see him approach, and only looks up when he pulls out the chair. "Hey Mac," he tells her, and he vaguely contemplates adding "how are you?" but even he's smart enough to realize that the answer will not be "I'm fine, thanks."
"Butters?" she asks, and he beats down his initial impulse to tell her to call him "Vincent" - she's refused to do it ever since they met, and it reminds him too much of the "My name is Cassidy!" he's heard about all over the tabloids. He gets creeped out whenever he finds that he's comparing himself to Cassidy Casablancas, what with the dumbass nicknames starting with B (even he got one better than freaking Beaver), plus Mac and Marcos (he'll never admit that it's still a little painful when he thinks about his old radio buddy, the murdered-molested-gay-camp one.)
"Yeah, that's me," the pause is unbearably awkward, and her eyes flicker back down to her computer, as if she wants him to go away but just doesn't have the energy to tell him to piss off. "So..." he says after a few seconds that stretch for days, "Are you, y'know... okay?"
Yes, it's a lot like the "how are you?" from before. Shut up.
She shrugs and scoffs. "Relatively, I guess," her tone is bitter and he feels really bad for her. "Butters, why are you here? Talking to me?"
He considers it for a few seconds, wonders how best not to sound like a freak, and he decides telling her the truth would probably be his best option. "Honestly? The entire world is avoiding you after that mess with Cassidy, everyone in this place wouldn't look you in the eyes, it was just kind of pissing me off. So, I came to talk to you."
She leans back in her chair, eyes going glassy. "Cassidy," she pauses and bites her lip, and he waits for however bad this is going to go. "You know, I never actually called him that when I was talking to someone else? I mean, I knew he hated the nickname, so I'd avoid it to his face, but really? I only ever thought of him as Beaver. Weak little Beaver Casablancas, cute and helpless and young, my boyfriend," she snorts, and he winces. Maybe this wasn't a good idea.
"Yeah... Uh, I'm sorry," he tells her obviously, still not finding any words in his brain that are going to make it any better. She shrugs, and the conversation stills yet again.
"I didn't know about Marcos."
I figures it was a bad thing to say approximately a second and a third after he blurts it out. She shivers at the words, and he guesses he really has no choice but to go on with the train of thought. "He never said about anything like that. And I couldn't just figure it out. So, when I heard? Total "what the fuck" moment."
"Let me guess, you can't believe it?"
He shakes his head, because he does believe it. "Actually, in retrospect, it explains a lot. Like the massive authority issues, or crazy bitterness, or sports hatred, or perma-horniness, or..." he sees her face harden and crumple all at the same time, and he realizes he's being crazy insensitive. "Yeah, shutting up now."
She's shaking and fighting back sobs, and shit, because he really does suck with crying chicks. "Tell me about him," her voice is broken and it's practically a whimper, and he blinks a couple of times when she says it.
"Marcos?" she nods and he pauses, still refusing to admit that this hurts to think about. "I don't know. Dude was... intense. Like, something pissed him off big time and he never let go," neither of them vocally acknowledges that something did, but they both know the other is thinking it. "And he'd rip into everything. I mean, you heard the show, you so would have heard how nuts he was. But he was hilarious about it. I seriously thought the show would be screwed without him, he did all the real comedy shit."
She nods. "Yeah, I got that just listening to it," and he both laughs at, and feels a little offended by her insults. She sighs. "You sound like you miss him."
He shrugs uneasily, and he wonders why he didn't think about this before he came over here – her prodding at his issues. "I guess. I mean, the dude was cool."
"So, do you hate B- Cassidy?" the switch is quite conspicuous, but he doesn't mind. He takes a little while to consider her question, as he hasn't quite thought about it it those terms yet.
"I don't know. I don't think so. I mean, I didn't even know the guy, so hating him seems weird. So yeah, he killed a friend of mine and a whole bunch of other people, but then again, dude had issues," he paused in his vocalized thought process. "Can I get back to you on that, really?"
"What makes you think that I'll talk to you again?"
Oh, yeah, she kind of hates him. He forgot that. "Well, you're talking to me now..."
They both pause, before he decides he has a question too. "Do you hate him?"
She frowns. "When did this turn into group therapy?"
"Does it count as a group if there's only two of us?" she just shrugs at that, and he continues. "You... do you wanna answer?"
She purses her lips. "I don't know," she whispers her answer. "Should I know?"
He's really not sure how he got into this weird and complex talk with Mac about dead friends and her boyfriend and how fucked up everything is, but he guesses he's now stuck in it. "Uh, really not up to me to decide. It's like, your thing."
She shrugs, and her eyes are still all glassy. "It's not up to you to decide, like, what the hell I'm meant to do either, right?"
He slowly shakes his head. "Not so much," he tells her, and she nods. He looks into her glassy eyes, and he really wants to make sure she doesn't cry. "Hey. You'll be okay. I... kind of know you, you're cool, you're strong. You can deal with this shit, figure it out, eventually get a not-nuts guy, whatever," he doesn't think it's coming out very well, but he's trying and she looks appreciative.
He smiles at her and she weakly returns it, tears still brimming at her eyes. He stands, telling her: "I... kind of have to get home, right now. Sorry."
She nods, that small smile still curling her lips, crooked and wobbly, but unashamedly genuine. He turns back to look at her as her walks out the door, and sees that smile turned toward the computer screen. The whole world is still refusing to look at her, the waitress swerving to avoid her, but she looks marginally more okay than she did before he went over.