Ugh. What is writing? Wut are grammar? Writing this makes me really want to have some pie and coffee now.


Night Shift

(Suggested by Black-footed)

Her feet felt like elephants. Big, heavy elephants crammed into obscenely tight shoes.

It was nearly 2 am. Sakura sighed tiredly as she sagged against the counter for a moment. The only customers in the diner were a couple students from the nearby university. She flipped open her text book and skimmed through it for a moment. But the names of molecular structures flew straight out of her head and into the air. She slipped off her shoes and rested her aching soles against the cold tile floor as she thumbed through the glossy pages.

"Slow night, huh?" Sai commented as he slipped behind the counter to refill his pot of coffee. His usual cheerful smile was a bit less convincing than usual. Sakura made a noise of assent in the back of her throat as she looked down at her aching feet. Sai heaved a sigh as he pressed his hip against the edge of the counter.

"Pretty shitty night for tips too," Sai added almost under his breath. Sakura laughed a little as she shook her apron pouch where she stored her tips. A few stray coins clicked together inside. She shut the heavy book and wedged it back into its placed between the coffee machine and cash register.

"Pretty shitty night in general, Sai. Oh, your table's calling," Sakura said noticing one of the college students waving in their direction. There were textbooks and notebooks spread across their table. She grimaced sympathetically when she recognized the diagram of the Krebs Cycle on one of the pages. It was understandable that they were camping out here since the library closed at 10 pm. Since the diner was open 24 hours a day, it made sense to study where there were tables and coffee. Sai put on his best smile as he ducked under the counter and headed in their direction. Sakura exhaled heavily through her nose as she glanced up at the old clock hanging above the cash register. She still had two hours until her shift ended.

As she stifled a huge yawn, the cursed bell rang and she turned just in time to see the glass door opening. A tall man with dark hair entered with the collar of his rain coat pulled high against the rain outside. It was her Tuesday night regular. Sakura watched with a strange sense of satisfaction as he walked with brisk, measured steps until he sat at a booth. One of hers, as always. She grabbed her notepad off the table along with a pencil before she ducked under the counter and approached the table. The usual polite "hello, what can I get you?" froze in the back of her throat when she caught sight of the dark circles under the man's dark eyes.

"Rough night?" Sakura asked instead. He looked up at her before he wearily nodded his head.

"Coffee then?" she guessed and he nodded again. Sakura tucked her blank notepad into her apron before she leaned over the counter to retrieve a pot of hot coffee along with a clean cup and saucer. When she returned to the table, he was shrugging off his coat and tossing it over the back of his seat. Her eyes lingered over his rumpled shirt and how his tie hung limply against his chest. But it wasn't her job to comment. Instead, she neatly set the cup in front of him and filled it with hot coffee.

"Thank you," he quietly said in a deep, smooth voice that somehow fit him very well. Sakura smiled politely before she left her coffee pot on the warmer and sat at one of the padded stools lined up along the counter. As she stretched her arms over her head, Sai collapsed heavily in the seat beside her and let his head full gracelessly onto the countertop.

"Stop that, Sai. You know Gai would be giving you a lecture on your lack of 'the springtime of youth' if he saw you like that," Sakura half-heartedly chided, nudging him with her arm. Grumbling, Sai reluctantly sat up, only to collapse to the side and rest his head against her shoulder.

"Knock it off. Go refill the napkin dispensers or something," she sighed, rubbing at the back of her neck. She moved her shoulder, jolting Sai's head off her. Sai rubbed at his eyes as he surveyed the mostly empty tables. From the way that his head was drooping, Sakura wasn't sure if he was going to make it for another two hours. To her relief, he slid off the stool and grabbed a packet of napkins from behind the coffee maker before shuffling over to the far end of the diner. When she glanced over at her one customer, she couldn't help but notice that Sai wasn't the only one on the verge of sleep. Her regular's chin was propped up in his hand and the slump of his shoulders seemed heavier than usual. After a little thinking, she ducked under the counter and grabbed the slice of key lime pie she had been saving in the refrigerated dessert display. She slid into the seat across from her lone customer, setting the pie and a fork in front of his hand.

"You, my friend, look like you could use this," she said with a smile. He slowly looked over the brim of his cup with piercing, dark gray eyes. After he took a sip of coffee, he unhurriedly placed the cup in the matching saucer. His long, elegant fingers rested on the Formica tabletop, unmoving.

"Oh come on. I didn't poison it. Honest," Sakura insisted, pushing the plate closer to him. A suspicion-laden frown twisted his lips as he looked up at her through impossibly thick, dark eyelashes. After a silent moment, he pushed the plate back at her, turning the handle of the fork in her direction.

"….Really?" she demanded. His silence was enough of an answer. Rolling her eyes, she cut off a square, speared it on the fork and popped it in her mouth. She chewed slowly, savoring the creamy texture against her tongue. When she swallowed, she felt his eyes scanning her face intently. With a smug smile, she pushed the plate back at him along with the fork.

"Honestly. What kind of idiot would poison a paying customer?" she complained mostly under her breath as he picked up the fork. For some reason, he paused, pie and whipped cream-laden fork hovering near his lips. He looked up with a faint smile.

"I didn't think you poisoned it. I just thought it wasn't fair to eat all of your pie," he quietly explained before taking a bite. Sakura's eyes narrowed.

"How did you know it was mine?" she demanded. He stopped eating to give her a mildly exasperated look.

"Last Tuesday, you threatened to beat him with a broom if he took the last slice of blueberry pie in the fridge," he flatly said, looking in Sai's direction. Sakura pursed her lips as she felt her cheeks grow warm. She couldn't deny that she had occasionally promised Sai bodily harm if he tried to steal the treat she always kept stashed away for dreary days like this. And it wasn't like she didn't pay for it at the end of the day. But maybe she was being a bit dramatic about it. She peeked at her customer from the corner of her eye and he was watching her.

"But I like pie," she sullenly replied, pouting.

Her Tuesday night regular looked down at the half-eaten pie for a moment, the corners of his mouth pulling into a wry smile.

"I know," he quietly said as he took another bite. Sakura put her elbow on the table and tucked her palm under her chin as she turned to look out the window. The rain had been coming down in thick sheets since morning. Water gurgled steadily through the drain pipe outside, pouring out into the street below. But the steady drum of the rain was soothing in its own way, almost cathartic. She took a deep breath through her nose and watched as a car drove past, spurting water all over the sidewalk.

They sat in silence together long after he had finished the pie. When she crossed her legs, her foot accidentally bumped against his shin. Her apology died in her throat as she met his half-smile. A shiver ran up her spine when his leg not-so-subtly dragged along hers. Struggling against her blush, she stood and bustled around wiping imaginary food off the already clean tables with a burst of nervous energy. When he finally moved to get his coat, she slipped the receipt from the pocket of her apron and slid it across the table at him. She saw the disapproval flit across his face when he saw that she had only rang him up for the coffee. But she matched his look with a raised eyebrow and he didn't protest. When he pulled a pen out of his pocket, she moved away. It was never polite to hover over customers when they paid.

"Have a nice night," she greeted him as he stood, adjusting the collar of his coat. His dark eyes glanced in the direction of the windows, observing the rain still pounding the windows viciously.

"You too," he replied before he opened the glass door, setting the bells chiming merrily again. She watched him brave through the water and wind until he reached the lone car in the narrow parking lot. After he drove away, she absently sat at the table to pick up the tab and the tip tucked neatly under the saucer. Her eyes widened as she unfolded the twenty-dollar bill.

"Lucky bitch," she heard Sai mutter as he peered at the generous tip over the back of the booth. She turned around and smacked him in the face with the money, laughing.

"Shut up, Sai," Sakura retorted. But she had to fight away a large grin when she flipped over the receipt. On it were two simple sentences:

Buy yourself more pie. See you next Tuesday.

Reviews please! I still have four more prompts that some of my kind readers have suggested, but if you have any ideas or suggestions, post them in a review and I'd be happy to try.