Title: "Makeshift" (1/?)
Author: Marie-Claude Danis
e-mail: mc@verticalcrawl.com
Site: http://verticalcrawl.com/
Feedback: please!!
Distribution: List archive; anyone else, just let me know.
Rating: PG
Pairing: L/*
Summary: a chance meeting.
Note: This is absurdly un-beta'ed. Just for the record.

For Chrissy!

"I feel like Wallace Hartley when the water came
rushing in"
-- Danny Michel


I am not one to usually come out and say this stuff. I've been known throughout my life as a quiet girl, and everyone expects my inconspicuousness. I've lead an average life, and I don't consider myself to be that important in the grand scheme of things. But, that's okay. I enjoy what I do, and I enjoy the company of the people who do take to noticing me. I live a small-town life in a metropolis. Tonight I'm working the graveyard shift, and the diner is mostly empty.

Mostly, save for four men crammed in a booth in the far corner, as far away from the door as possible. If they could, I get the feeling they'd stay away from the windows too. They come here every other night, and spend hours bent over papers and clipping and notebooks. They order greasy food and eat half of it. Lots of coffee. They go out of their way to come here when there are no other patrons, and usually there are just three of them. Their occasional fourth is different. The classic 'tall, dark and handsome' type, with messed up hair and a wrinkled $800 suit. He always says hi to me, then joins his friends and becomes just as obscure and secretive. A couple of times I've seen a woman with them too, looking very much out of place and like she'd just been pulled out of bed unwillingly. But I rarely see her.

The others, well they're walking clichés. One favours obsolete brown suits and a trimmed goatee, all clean and proper like I'm sure his mother has always taught him to be. Another one, the short stubby one, is a fashion accident in himself; generic slacks, ratty vests over ugly shirts, big glasses and smoker's gloves. He seems nice, though. He's got an easy smile, and he tips obscenely well.

But my main concern, what I'm having such a hard time dealing with, is the third one. Two nights ago, Wednesday, something occurred to me. I wait for him. I expect him. If he's late, it upsets me strangely. And dammit, I don't know why. The man is tall, skinny, with stringy blonde hair and glasses. He wears jeans, and seems to have an endless supply of vintage rock band t-shirts. What's bothering me is that I don't know why I'm so hung up on him. He's not my type (one could argue that I don't *have* a type, and one would be right), and he's graced me with barely a handful of quick glances, most random.

But something about his presence stirs something in me, and my coworkers have noticed.

"Ainsley. Girl. You gonna do this or not?"

I jump at Shelley's voice and look at her, then down at my hands. Sometimes in my musings I stopped mid-movement, and spilled sugar all over the arborite counter. Embarrassed, I finish filling the dispensers and wipe my hands on my apron, risking another glance at the only occupied table. But my timing is all wrong and I meet three pairs of eyes, all looking at me.

I turn my back to them and blush. "Shit!" I mutter under my breath, feeling two inches tall and still too noticeable. The bathroom doors opens and the object of my fixation walks passed me and back to the table, and the talking resumes.

Dammit. What the hell.

To be continued...