A/N: So this just popped into my head: silly, cute, fluffy, HS AU Springles fanfic. Yeah. This is just the prologue, so no interaction just yet, but bear with me! I'd still appreciate some constructive criticism. :)
"Waitress - uh, waitress! Can we get the - ugh...bill?"
Sasha Braus was a brand of individual that preferred not to socialize with other members of her species. She always displaced herself from the rest of the world; raised in the rural outbacks by her single father and extended family of farmers and hunters, always secluded to normally herself as well as the natural realm that always held a warm embrace just for her. Sasha was a girl of the wild, who could communicate better with her bow and arrow and an unsuspecting rabbit or deer. Life was all too simple for her, but she enjoyed it to the fullest that way.
One would consider her a naive fool for being so decidedly ignorant to the modern age, but if Sasha was anything, she was obstinate, which meant that she would withstand these types of comments because she was also a person of tradition. To her, civilization was more bizarre and cruel the denser it grew, the people inhabiting it being the ones that were obtuse. They were the crude fools, for they often disregarded the beautiful environment she had been raised to cherish. They imposed on it, trashing it, all due to their greed and materialistic dispositions, and made the whole earth to be contaminated or artificial. Sasha thought that that, above all else, was what was truly ignorant.
And this was why when her father had insisted they depart their lovely country abode in favor of a fresh start in the city, the teenaged Braus had felt personally offended.
"There ain't no place for us 'ere no more, little girl," he'd informed her. "They'll be upgradin' the farms, puttin' up chicken factories and replacin' us with them tractors. In a couple years, this land'll be spoiled 'cause o' them spraying them pesticides all o'er here, and it'll smell like hell 'cause o' what they do to them poor chickens in those damned factories. We want no part in that, am I right, now? So, it's time we best be movin' on."
"But why do we 'ave to move to the city?" Sasha demanded of him then, voice raised incredulously at his words. "Can't we find some other farm to grow crops and some other woods to do our huntin'? This place ain't the only one where we can do the usual."
Her father had grown quiet, and his daughter sensed that when he gave her his explanation, her already twisting stomach would only gain another churn of anxiety.
"Sasha, the standard for farms just ain't the same as it used to be. No matter where we go, they'll be usin' them machines for us to do our work and make us kill weeds with them gosh-awful chemicals. There just itn't no room for us to live like the old days. 'Time that you realize that you just can't 'ide from the present forever. You'll be goin' to a new 'igh school with the other city folk kids, we'll live in a lil' apartment on a nice street, and I'll be tryin'a find a new job to get us by."
"But I don't wanna go to 'igh school with them weird city kids!" Sasha shouted at him, her nails biting viciously into the palms of her hands. "Why should I 'ave to change n' fit their ways? I want no part in the city! I wanna hunt n' pick weeds n' go horseback riding like we always do. Why does that 'ave to end?" Placing a steady hand on her shoulder, her father had narrowed his eyes at her.
"Sasha, now you just listen t' me. You'll 'ave to face reality at some point in your life, so it's best that you be doin' that sooner rather than later. The world itn't nothing like the wild. You can't live in a bubble forever; it's hard to live as a deviant. Sometimes you'll have to adjust to the ways of society, n' it's better that you get more knowledgeable about it. It just ain't possible for you to be isolated like this as long as you live. One day you'll realize you need the support of another 'uman being, and I won't be there for you no more, and what'll you do?"
Sasha took a step back from her father, roughly pulling his hand from her shoulder and stamping her foot in dismay.
"I'll face it on my own, just like I do to an animal in the forest." And to this, her father had sighed, dragging a hand over his face. Sasha never wanted him to be the victor of this argument, but in the end he was her dad, who knew her better than anyone else. Because of that factor, he'd managed to conclude their quarrel with words that she knew she could not refute.
"Cool of you to try an' act all tough an' independent, but tryin'a avoid other people at all costs just makes you a different kinda coward."
Sasha still recalled the end of that fateful discussion, where she'd frozen in her place and uncurled her fists, speech dry and forgotten in her shock. She remembered storming up to her room in defeated anger, throwing her weight onto her bed and burying her furious face into the pillow. In truth, her father's words had rung true much more than she cared to admit.
Sasha wasn't afraid of too many things that belonged to the norm, like thunder, the dark, or bugs. She thrived off of those things; they weren't alien or off-putting to her whatsoever - quite the contrary, they made her feel at home. No, she was scared of things that most others were accustomed to, like people, large crowds, and the streets.
Life was more complicated in urban areas. They had to deal with circumstances that included robbery, violence, murder, and drugs (and probably more, which frightened Sasha to add to the list). In the country, she could take midnight strolls to clear her head, without fretting over the possibility of getting jumped. But in the city, she would have to dismiss that nightly routine.
The manufactured world was far from her element. In place of rustling leaves and chirping crickets would be honking cars and obnoxious sounds of construction; instead of fresh, tree-filtered air and clear blue skies - the intoxication of carbon emissions and haze of obstructive smog. And most if not worst of all, the critical, spiteful hearts of teenaged city dwellers would run amok, as opposed to the kind, modest country folk one would only meet sparingly along the road. Also, Sasha was isolated, as her father had put it. She wasn't attuned to the colloquial banter of even her hometown's minuscule population, let alone the various slangs and personalities of a large city.
It was overall a cultural switch for the teenaged girl that she wasn't at all prepared to flip.
"Waitress, can I get a...?"
"Waitress, we've been waiting fifteen minutes for our drinks!"
"Where did that waitress go?"
In all honesty, if there was one thing Sasha could agree with about the city was that it was a cornucopia of utterly delicious food.
Around every corner and clustered in every plaza, there would be a place where she could buy good, affordable rations for several days. They quickly became lifesavers during Sasha and her father's first few weeks of settling into the big city of Rose. The two had established a limited budget until he could find a job; they paid little rent for a dingy old apartment, Sasha had enrolled herself in a public high school for when autumn rolled around (it was currently mid-July), and the girl agreed to make the food runs with the strict allowance her dad could offer. She never ran at risk of overspending; she was given only the maximum of cash permitted (though she usually returned without any change to spare).
Having lived on a farm, food was never scarce before, even during winter when they kept it stored and frozen. But there was rarely ever the same variety as in the city. In the past, her dad would take trips here on special occasions, to get some imported goods as a treat. Now those treats were available to Sasha at-the-ready; she just had to pedal her bike out and get them.
Even so, it felt disorienting, not being forced to perform labor for food. Whenever Sasha needed vegetables or grains, she used to just go out and tug them out of the soil. When she needed milk, cheese, or butter, she'd milk their family cow and either bottle or churn it When she required meat, she'd wait until Saturdays, upon which she would go out on hunting expeditions with her dad and a handful of relatives. But since now she resided in the city, all she had to do was wait for her papa to give her a couple tens of dollars, then venture off to the supermarket, where she could simply take all of those things in a basket, throw in a chocolate bar or two and pay for them. It became a much duller process; Sasha often felt melancholic thinking back to the thrill of a week's kill.
There wasn't much else for her to do in the city in the summer. On an ordinary day, it was too scorching to go outside (although once, from sheer boredom, Sasha managed to fry an egg on the baked sidewalk, until her father scolded her for wasting food and how they couldn't eat something cooked on pavement that other citizens treated like an ash tray). Sasha tried reading books from the public library, however she would get distracted far too easily, and sometimes even found herself openly mocking the characters in the text. So, most of the time she'd laze around, listening to their old radio or watching the select few channels on their outdated television.
"What kind of place is the owner running here?"
"The waitress can't even do her damn job!"
"I'll remember this for her tip!"
Eventually, Mr. Braus had landed a job at a gas station, but their apartment rent had increased in price since the building owners decided to make renovations, so money became a bit tight.
"Sasha," he called brightly to her one particularly mundane summer morning.
He discovered his daughter slouched heavily on their torn, dusty couch, donning a dark gray sweater that was ten sizes too large for her, matched with her pair of red plaid pajama bottoms and off-white bunny slippers. The folds in her casual attire were littered with potato chip crumbs, her auburn hair shining with grease and matted with grains of the cookies she'd taken to bed the previous night. Sasha's sloppy appearance triggered a grimace across her father's face. The girl boredly rolled her eyes up to glance at him, seemingly ignoring or oblivious to his mild disgust. Mr. Braus sighed.
"You 'ave nothin' to do all this season n' we're gonna have a lil' less money to spare," he stated. His daughter blinked at him slowly.
"Don't beat 'round the bush, Papa," she slurred out, scraping the bottom of her chip bag for the last crushed pieces of her new favourite snack. She shoved them into her mouth and munched on them noisily, her mouth parted enough with each chew to show her father its contents. He gave another long sigh, using a middle finger and thumb on one hand to massage his temples. Sasha burped upon swallowing. "Jus' lay it on me."
The man coughed. "You...might 'ave to get a part-time job."
The teenager almost didn't hear him, still happily eating the remnants of her chips, eyes droopy and carefree. But then they widened ever-so slightly, until they turned into saucers, her jaws halting in their motion. She carefully turned her head to look at her dad in bewilderment. He stared at her, eyebrows lowered in a stern expression, and she stared back, the gears in her brain attempting to click themselves together after their initial derailment. Then the proverbial light bulb of realization lit up over her head.
"O-oh," she choked. "Y-ya mean, like...soon?" She seemed to dread his impending response. Her father shook his head.
"I mean, start lookin' in the classifieds, or we're goin' to 'ave to cut down on food this month."
"Y-yessir - Papa!" Sasha screeched, leaping off of the couch and jogging over to the kitchen table where they kept most of the newspapers, her footsteps weighted and loud.
And several days following this is where Sasha's urban journey takes flight (and the loose fragments of her introduction are finally pieced together).
"Sasha, where on earth are you? The customers have been complaining at my back for half an hour. I swear, if you're slacking off again..."
The girl whirled around in her spot, a strong thud and the sound of shattering glass clammering down at her shoes. She cussed at her dilemma through gritted teeth, her feet indecisively shifting her position as she debated: quickly fix up the destruction she'd created, or complete the hit-and-run tactic. Sasha never played a hand in the final outcome; at the foreboding clicks of her manager's heeled dress shoes approaching steadfast, she sprang out of the chilled room into the open hallway, the door slammed and locked behind her.
And she came face-to-face with said-manager, her green eyes wide and startled. She was panting in heaved gasps, blood flooding from her cheeks to her ears due to the sudden effort. She offered the man a lopsided, deceitful grin in return to his look of bemusement, whilst sweat trickled dangerously over her temple.
"H-h-hey," she coughed out, voice stretching out the 'y' as her pitch heightened an octave. "Wh-what're you doing here, Manager-Sir?" Her boss raised an eyebrow.
"I could ask you the same thing, Miss Braus. What are you doing, loitering around in the back while everyone is waiting for you to do your job?" Sasha bit her lip. "You know this is a new restaurant, and we have very few waiters and waitresses to go around as it is. We can't afford you to be slacking off. I'm being generous because this is your first job, and I can't fire anyone anyway when we're so under-staffed. You understand that, don't you? No more unscheduled breaks."
"Yes sir, thank you, sir," the auburn-headed teenager replied with careful, orchestrated politeness. "I promise it won't happen again." She bobbed her head in acceptance, then side-stepped to walk past the man and back to her post. Sasha was given pause, however, for her employer cleared his throat.
"And what, may I ask, is that on your chin?"
"N-noth...ing..." she stammered.
"Turn towards me, Miss Braus." And she did so with much hesitancy, spinning slowly on her heels. She could feel her veins pulsating nervously on her forehead, accompanied by the small, thin weight clinging just below her bottom lip.
"Is that..." - her boss squinted his eyes at her - "...a potato skin?" They both blinked. "Wait - Sasha!" The man darted away in the direction of the room from which she'd emerged, and the young waitress desperately raced after him, cringing.
Stunned silence welcomed her back into the walk-in freezer. She stepped in just behind her boss, and it didn't take her long to register that he'd already begun sorting through the containers on the shelves, finding quite a number of them squandered. He was speechless, jaws agape as he stared at her, the most disbelieving expression wrinkling his face. Sasha brought up a hand to scratch her neck, her head hung in a premature apology.
"So you're the one whose been eating some of the goods I stored in here?" he asked. He snatched an empty rectangular container, snapping off the lid and giving it a shake to let fall the small brown crumbs that stuck to its inside. He was still glancing at her. "The chocolate cake, the potatoes, and the strawberries? I thought it was weird that you'd duck out at random moments, but I didn't think much of it, at first. Why would you do this, Sasha? I have to pay for these ingredients on top of everybody's salaries, as well as my own living expenses. Don't you have food at home?"
Sasha's response was voiced by the moody, unpleasant growl that bubbled up from her stomach. Her boss looked surprisingly mollified by this.
"I - I do 'a...have, food at home, well..." Sasha sucked on her cheek, eyes warily looking up at her manager. She wasn't a severely proud girl, although she didn't believe it necessary to pour out a personal story to someone she didn't know well. But what she was about to consider confessing to him could save her job. I guess I have no shame, so...
"Well...smaller portions, I guess, than I would like," she blurted. The man's eyebrows lifted upward, a sign for her to elaborate. "My dad - he just got a new job and, the money is...tight, so even though I got this job to help, we're living off smaller costs since the rent got a little higher. It's a small price to pay for the landlords to patch things up around the complex, so, I don't really mind, but...I was really hungry..." She trailed off, gaze attempting to fix itself on anywhere but the restaurateur. Her nails scraped patterns across her arms, eyes widening once more at her careless statement. The manager put her under a scrutiny of pity. "But I'm really sorry for that - I wasn't thinking! Please forgive me, I really, really need this job, and I will control myself better around the food. This won't happen again, I swear! Just please, oh please give me another chance. I'll do my job and make the customers happy!"
The redhead felt nauseated with herself. Not only had she acted so strangely by stealing a bit of the restaurant's food supply, but in addition, she was forcing herself to speak in this overly-mannered dialect. She wasn't used to it - reasoning with people and having a slightly formal speech. It was something she'd picked up out of self-consciousness; when she went shopping at the grocery store, people would sometimes make off-handed comments, asking her what country she'd immigrated from and moderately teasing her. Her family was of immediate Scottish origin, and their accent had merely stuck with her growing up. She'd never felt inclined to speak 'properly' until recently, when people started shooting her odd looks whenever she said something aloud.
During her brief job interview, it had suddenly struck her to talk more like an American, to make herself appear more local and familiar. So, she decided that the only person to hear her using her regular speech would be her father. Thus, her politeness with strangers just came with her exaggeration of the word pronunciations.
She could hear the man in front of her exhale, but refused to look him in the eye. Surely, he would be repulsed by her actions and tell her to leave his premises on the dot, never to return.
"I'll...let this one slide, for now," he announced instead. Sasha finally glanced at him, shocked. "I see you've been going through a bit of a rough time, so I'll go easy on you. But we need to make sure that you don't repeat the same mistakes." Sasha nodded eagerly. "I can't be constantly watching you like a hawk - I have my own work to do, and I can't rely on the other waiters or waitresses, since they'll also be busy. So, we need an outsider..." The man ran a hand through his short hair, eyes set in deep thought. His younger employee waited patiently for him to make a decision.
He snapped his fingers.
"I have a son," he stated, as though it were the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Sasha blinked.
"O-okay...?" Her boss shook his head.
"He's about your age, and he didn't do that well in school last year, so I need to keep him somewhere that he can focus while he does his homework and I can monitor his progress. So while he does that, he can also keep tabs on you. It's brilliant."
"Um, okay," Sasha supplied awkwardly. "What's his name?"
"Connie." The redhead had to drive her fist into her own mouth to muffle her snort. Connie? Isn't that a girl's name? Her boss smiled in earnest. "Is there something wrong?"
"No, no!" the waitress insisted, throwing up her hands. She let them rest in her lap and bowed her head, bangs falling in a curtain over her eyes. "Thank you, Mr. Springer. If that's all it takes for me to keep this job, I'll take it."
"It's no problem, Sasha. I'm sure things will work out."
"Yes, thank you."
"Mooooooom, where's the lady?"
Both of them jumped at the shrill cry traveling in from the dining room. Mr. Springer was the first to recover; he clapped his hands.
"Well, sounds like duty calls." Sasha gave him a two-fingered salute.
"Oh, and get that potato off your face while you're at it."