"I lost some time once. It's always in the last place you look for it." – Sandman, Neil Gaiman
Sara spent a moment staring at her hand, her eyes widening as she frowned at the lines permanently etched into her palm.
"Sara, are you gonna order?"
Joe glanced towards the boy, a brief frown flitting across his features. Despite having hardly known his own mother he had still called her 'mom'.
The boy in front of him was not affording the woman this courtesy, Joe wondered if Sara liked her child.
"Yeah, right..." Sara jumped where she sat as she quickly snatched her hand back under the table. "How about pancakes?"
Sara glanced back at the menu, "You like pancakes right?" her voice skipping across the words as she attempted to rearrange her features into a smile.
"Whatever." Sid brushed his mother off impatiently, his eyes sliding past her to land firmly on Joe.
"What are you having?" The boy demanded, his eyes staring intently, there was something unnerving about Sid's apparent familiarity with Joe that the looper folded his arm protectively across his chest.
"Same as what I always have..." Joe muttered, grateful that Beatrix had arrived carrying a plate.
Sid's eyes widened, "You're eating that for breakfast?"
"I don't exactly have to worry about mid life heart attacks." Joe shrugged as he cut into his steak, his blue eyes focused on the thin strip of meat as he cut into the slightly pink flesh.
Sara's eyes narrowed, she knew his type. "What work are you in? If you don't mind me asking."
Joe snorted, "Look lady, I didn't ask you out or anything, you sat at my table. I don't think we need to read my résumé out."
Sara opened her mouth to say something but promptly shut it, glancing towards Beatrix who was currently pouring cups of burnt coffee; she hoped the girl would come over.
Smiling the waitress put down the coffee jug before pulling out her pad, "What can I do for you?"
"Pancakes and bacon for the both of us," Sara pulled her mouth into something she hoped looked like a smile.
Beatrix nodded, her curious gaze drifting towards Joe; he didn't look like a father. The waitress gave a mental shrug, he came in for the coffee and to try out his French, they didn't do problems. The waitress smiled once more and quickly sped to the hatch giving access to the kitchen. Fixing the order onto the metal strip she winked at the chef, there were times when she was glad she worked here. Away from the city and the people in it, but every so often she caught flashes of it and usually it had something to do with Joe.
"I didn't mean..." Sara offered weakly as she desperately fought the urge to grab Sid and run as far from the diner as she could.
"It's fine," Joe offered tersely, only just mustering a smile for the sake of the kid. There was something about him, something about his presence that threw Joe, like an irregular beat. Glancing towards Sid the man bit back a curse, blinding pain shot across his forehead. For a second he thought it was the particularly violent come down rearing its ugly head, but then through the haze he saw Sara grip the Formica tabletop, her nails virtually scoring five deep grooves across the surface.
Joe gasped as an image forced its way into his head, it was like someone had cracked open his skull and shoved in a half lived memory. The diner blurred and instead a farmhouse flitted into his vision, the boy, Sid, the only thing in focus, everything else drifting and melting around him. Curling his hand into a fist Joe felt his nails dig into the calloused skin, biting back a hiss of discomfort he tried to concentrate on the tangible reality he had been sent hurtling out of.
A brief second of something pleasurable flashed through his brain, Sara pressed up against an old dresser and then he was back in the diner. Sara was sitting opposite him, her cheeks devoid of colour. Grappling for a nearby glass of water the woman took a gulp, meeting Joe's eye over the thick rim she forced herself to keep her breathing steady.
But she couldn't, her eyes flicked away, and for an instant Joe could have sworn she'd seen it to, the feel of her skin beneath his hands was suddenly overwhelming and the man felt a startling urge to sit on them. Quickly dragging the offending appendages under the table top Joe gripped the fake leather seat, trying his best to ignore the feel of Sara's arched back under his finger tips.
The woman shifted in her seat, she could feel his breath against her neck despite the fact he was clearly sitting across from her. His rough hands scrunching up her nightgown as he pushed himself against her. Sara took another sip of water; it was like a memory and the present tumbling into one visceral experience and for the life of her she had no idea what was going on.
Her head was spinning, her senses conflicted and it seemed that she was unable to trust her own memories; they were swimming around her, more fluid that she had ever thought possible.
It was only Sid that seemed relatively calm about the situation, the boy just sat next to his mother, quickly taking a bite of syrup-drenched pancake as Beatrix placed a plate in front of him. The waitress bit back a laugh, both Joe and the woman were looking at anything but each other, Joe might not have been the fatherly type but he certainly was the blonde's.
Grateful at the sudden appearance of food Sara took a mouthful, chewing mechanically she swallowed, the taste only just registering on her tongue, as once more she was consumed by the smell and feel of the man opposite her. The man Sara was sure she had never met before but she could tell you the way his hair felt as she ran her fingers through it, or the smooth skin of his torso as she wrapped him up between her thighs. The exact pressure he applied when kissing her on the mouth had left an indelible mark across her lips.
Joe for his part couldn't finish his plate fast enough, but as his fingers wrapped around the old cutlery he was struck by the sensation of not being wholly in one place. It wasn't like the drugs, this felt too sharp, too clear and all too real. Unlike an acid trip whatever was happening to him felt permanent, as if something within him was shifting, his memories fighting to realign with some unknown spirit level. Joe was discovering faces and moments he was fairly certain he had no recollection of seeing or living through. And there was Sara, a virtual stranger that was somehow, inexplicably tied to him. But Sid was something different, a lodestone that had somehow pulled two individuals together. Joe shuddered as he felt it again, the tug at his navel when he looked towards the boy. There was something about him.
"I don't want to go to the city no more." Sid said abruptly, glancing towards Sara, waiting for her reaction.
"Oh are you sure?" Sara couldn't help but feel the relief wash over her; she could take Sid back to the farm, where he belonged. Away from the lights and the noise there was a greatly diminished chance of Sid's anger seeping through, besides there wasn't a safe big enough for the rest of the world.
"I want to show Joe something," Sid paused, "on the farm."
Sara felt the fork fall from her hand and clatter onto the table. She was shocked Sid would go so far as to issue an open invitation to an unknown man. "I'm sure Joe has better things to do monkey."
The blonde hastily snatched up her fork, doing her best to cover up her obvious discomfort. She wasn't scared of Joe; she had her old shooting rifle standing up by the front door. She'd fended off vagrants for long enough; it was Sid that concerned her. As much as she tried to teach him every good thing she knew, there was the ugly reality that he might be able to rip her apart one day without so much as a straining a finger.
Sid's words were so self-assured Joe caught himself entertaining the idea that maybe the little boy knew. The looper did his best to shake off the thoughts, his thumb worrying the burnished silver of the pocket watch he still toted. The kid was just an unusual breed of serious – that was all. The headaches and nausea was thanks to a bad batch of drugs, and those 'memories' were just his mind skipping ahead, a strangely focused daydream. This wasn't happenstance, this wasn't fate conspiring against him, it was coincidence and a really strange kid.
"Look... Sid," Joe paused, trying to search out the boy's gaze, as he stumbled on the child's name. He wasn't sure why he had suddenly adopted a softer tone of voice, but it seemed appropriate. "You shouldn't go invite people round to your house, especially when you mom doesn't know who they are."
"She does know who you are though," Sid replied, his forehead creasing, as Joe's words were plainly the wrong ones.
"I dunno..." the man started, his left hand scratching the back of his neck.
"Sara and you know each other," Sid frowned. "You should come."
"Yeah, well we know each other's names but that's not the same." Joe sighed, looking to Sara for some sort of support but the woman had remained silent, her eyes suggesting she wasn't hearing the conversation, or doing her best to ignore it.
Joe bit back a curse, maybe this was some elaborate set up, it wouldn't be the first time he'd seen a kid working a con with an unscrupulous parent. But just as soon as he'd thought it, he took it back – she really didn't seem the type. The blonde's head suddenly snapped in his direction and for a moment their eyes locked, Sara's gaze was full of fear, presumably the thought of Joe setting foot anywhere near her home was enough to set her on edge.
"I really don't think your mom wants me to come," Joe tried again, wondering for the umpteenth time why he didn't just up and leave. He'd told Sara as much, they had sat at his table - he didn't owe them anything.
Rising to his feet the looper yanked the collar of his jacket straight, he didn't know why he had waited this long, he just had to leave.
"Bet you I could get your watch to work," Sid muttered, his brown eyes downcast as he sensed he was losing his audience.
"My watch?" Joe's voice wobbled and Sara hissed.
"Yeah, it's broken isn't it?" Sid scratched the top of his head; he had always liked making things work.
Joe felt himself turning back to face Sid again, maybe it was coincidence? Just a whole lot of coincidences... But then didn't people in the movies all make a point of not believing in coincidences? Joe's hand instinctively went to his pocket to retrieve the old fashioned relic.
"Stop talking about Joe's watch honey, see it's fine..." Sara used her head to gesture towards the pocket watch was gripped firmly in the looper's left hand.
"Funny he should say it's broken," Joe swallowed.
"See," Sid promptly stood up before grasping Joe by the hand and dragging the man towards the door.
Sara's eyes widened, quickly throwing some crumpled notes onto the table she grabbed her bag and scrambled out of the booth before haring after her son.
A/N: Sorry this update has taken me so long! Anyway, hope this is ok and please let me know what you think!