The Idea Of An Island
© 2007 gekizetsu
Carrie Tidwell liked working at her little hole-in-the-wall Starbucks. It wasn ' t attached to a crummy supermarket or stuck in a strip mall. It was off on its own, as coffee shops should be. She also didn ' t mind working the closing shift on her own, for two reasons. One was the gun under the counter, and the other was the ability to reorganize the place to her liking and do her homework. The day shift spent way too much time chatting on their cells between customers and not keeping things just so . It was her sacred space that smelled of ground coffee and that damn caramel syrup that Mikey had spilled a whole jug of three weeks earlier. Damn dayshifter.
Not a lot of people came in between seven and nine unless it was the holiday season or the middle of summer. The people who did - and stayed - were interesting to eavesdrop on. They talked about work or their significant others or gossiped about celebs, or they outright philosophized about the state of the world. It was often like going to a play. There ' d been one guy a week earlier who had been trying to impress a date (or so she thought) by asking the poor girl if she ' d seen Zorba The Greek. Then he ' d regaled her with a one sentence synopsis: well, it ' s about the idea of an island as a metaphor for our own loneliness; and the two guys wanted to fuck the widow.
When Carrie didn ' t want to get involved by throwing something at someone or laughing at them, she went in the back to ' stock ' .
Probably the most memorable time that customers came to sit and stay, though, was the time the two really big guys walked in just after eight looking grim. Not the kind of pissed off grim she saw on other people; the kind that looked like a default setting. The lighter-haired guy in the leather jacket flung the door open and held it automatically with a hand behind for the other guy, the taller one with floppy hair and a manilla folder under one arm. The motion said he ' d been doing it for years. The taller guy grabbed the door by the top - he was that tall - and checked behind himself to make sure he wouldn ' t be closing it on someone else. It was something that people too wrapped in themselves and their problems forgot to do.
She liked him immediately.
The other one - shorter but not by much - swaggered to the counter. It was an honest to God bowlegged swagger, like he had a pair of six guns on his belt and a horse waiting for him outside. She decided he looked like a Gary . Cowboy Gary. The taller one went for a table in the far corner away from the window after smiling at her. Actually, he flung his dimples at her, and she decided he looked like an Owen . Gary said hi in a voice pitched for telling people they were going to be buying encyclopedias from him and then tying him to a bed. He was brutally gorgeous, with dark blond hair that was almost too short, large green eyes that stared way too hard, and a mouth that was obviously used to smirking. He was too masculine-pretty to be more than a catalogue model, but the fresh cuts across his knuckles as he braced his hands on the counter said otherwise. And the faint scar on his forehead. And the scratch across his neck.
She wasn ' t staring at him or anything.
He ordered a house blend, then leaned on the counter to look over his shoulder. Owen had folded his long legs into one of the standard human-sized wooden chairs and was slouching in it like it was comfortable all the same. He shrugged a little and grinned, and it was shy and huge and like slamming all the lights on in a dark room when no one was ready.
No way did two hot guys come in together and have wordless conversations without being gay.
Cowboy Gary turned back around and had one eyebrow raised. She ' d seen it on dozens of parents when the kids were getting away with something and they didn ' t want the kids to know it. Look at what I gotta put up with, the eyebrow said. " Double tall vanilla latte, " Cowboy Gary said in a monotone. " And a peanut butter cookie, please. "
He paid in cash. When he dug in the front pocket of his jeans, the butt of a gun was briefly visible in the waistband just inside the shadow of his jacket. She got him the cookie and his drip and watched him wrap his hands around the latter like it was the only warm thing he ' d felt in awhile. She watched Owen over the top of the espresso machine while she made the latte. He had the contents of the folder spread out a little over the small round table he was sitting at, frowning in thought. His hair looked like the kind people ran their hands through just to see how soft it was. She glanced at Gary. He was staring at Owen too, with his eyes narrowed, considering him, watching his hands. Yeah, totally in love.
She steamed the milk and tried to guess what was more likely: drug dealers on the lam or cops. She ' d believe almost anything about the cowboy, but Owen was too conspicuous to be a mule. Hit men, maybe. Or some of those crazy militia guys that Idaho was famous for. It didn ' t really matter, it was just fun to try and figure it out.
She added just the right amount of foam to the top of the latte and handed it over. She got one of those quick, polite smiles she saw a lot, the knee jerk acceptable public reaction to almost anything that didn ' t mean anything. Then Cowboy Gary ambled over to the table and set the drinks and cookie down before lowering himself into the opposite chair with a sigh.
" What, I can ' t have my own cookie? " Owen said.
" Shut up, bitch, " Gary said, thumbing the top off his coffee. " What ' ve you got? "
Their voices were low but the place was so quiet that she could pick up most of it.
" He was only there from 1986 to 1991, " Owen said, using a forefinger to point at the top of one page. Hunched like they were over the table, heads almost touching, they looked like kids conspiring to build a fort. " No spike in deaths or anything. But if you look at how people died.... " He shuffled papers and spun one around toward Gary.
There was a moment of silence while Gary perused something. Carrie busily stocked straws. She figured if she moved around a lot like she was supposed to be working, they ' d ignore her and she could eavesdrop and stare.
" Blood poisoning, " Gary said. " That ' s it? Every single one? "
They were FBI. Hot undercover gay FBI guys looking for serial killers. Wow. This was definitely going in her LJ.
" I think it ' s like a mosquito, " Owen said.
" Aw, Sam, " Gary said. " C ' mon. "
" No, listen, " Owen-Sam said, hands out a little like he might have to smack sense into the guy across the table.
Hot undercover gay Environmental Protection Agency guys looking for rogue bugs? She shrugged and rattled the straws just enough to sound busy but not to get their attention.
Sam lowered his voice further and she had to strain to hear any of it. It sounded something like the spit leaves something behind after it bites them but that was nuts.
Gary said, " Backwash sucks. "
" No one ' s asking you to share a Coke with it, " Sam said.
" Man, I hated sharing pop with you when we were kids, " Gary said. " It ' s like you were made of spit. If we didn ' t already have the same DNA, we sure as hell would have after sharing a pop. "
Whoops. When she was wrong, she was so wrong. She thought back over the things she ' d thought were tells and adjusted them slightly. Aw. They were cute.
" The question is, what ' s he doing here now, and why ' d he wait so long before popping up again, " Sam said.
" Maybe he hibernates, " Gary said, reaching into the bag and breaking a piece off the cookie. " Maybe he ' s got cycles like a cicada. "
" We gotta figure out an antidote for it, " Sam said. " Just in case we don ' t catch him before he feeds again. "
" I still don ' t have a lab in the trunk, " Gary said. " Unless one of your geek college buddies feels like going for science project of the fuckin ' year. What ' re you gonna tell ' em? "
" That you picked up a really weird STD, " Sam said.
They stared at each other over the table for a long moment, unblinking. Carrie took a step behind the espresso machine just in case a chair was thrown.
"' kay, " Gary said, chewing on a mouthful of cookie. " Whatever. "
She wiped the counter down for the fourth time.
" Mostly, let ' s figure out where he ' s going and just catch him, " Gary said.
" He ' s not killing anybody by feeding, " Sam said. " It ' s just a bad reaction to whatever he leaves behind. "
" Doesn ' t matter, " Gary said. " You can ' t tell me he doesn ' t know. He knows. All those years in one place, playing doctor? He knows. I miss the days when vampires were just...normal, and not poisonous. "
" Dean, " Sam said. " It ' s not... " He glanced quickly toward the counter. Carrie pretended to be checking for ceiling lights that had burned out. She barely heard Sam respond. " ...a vampire. "
" It ' s a giant leech, then, who dresses like an intern, " Gary-Dean said. " Sucks the hemoglobin out, moves on, everybody dies. That ' s a parasite. Vampires are parasites. It ' s a kind of vampire. "
" This isn ' t Wild Kingdom, " Sam said. " You wanna catalogue it by genus and species and get it named after you, fine, but nobody cares what it is right now. "
" If it was, I ' d dress in khaki shorts and shoot myself full of antidote and wait for it to take a crack at me, " Dean said. " Poke it with a stick, too. "
She watched Sam lean back in his chair and tilt his face to the ceiling, and watched Dean brace his elbows on the table. It looked like he ' d started to smirk, from what she could see of his face, but the half-smile was so fond and the half-raised brows that went with it made it look wistful and adoring. He pulled a couple of sheets of paper closer to himself and bent his head over them. Sam looked at the top of Dean ' s head for a moment, then made a rueful face and moved one hand forward far enough to begin pointing at certain areas of the paper. She saw Dean nod and glance up.
They did it again - they said something to each other without making any sound. Then Sam shrugged a little and raised his eyebrows.
She imagined that trying to date one of them would be a goddamn nightmare. Third wheel for all of eternity.
Dean sipped his coffee with his eyes still on Sam, the fingers of his free hand drumming a little on the table. He put his coffee down and said, " Okay. It ' s my turn, though. "
Sam shook his head.
Dean scratched his forehead and hummed.
They sat and sipped coffee for a little while without saying anything else. Aloud, anyway. So Carrie started wrapping up the stuff in the case and cleaning it, then wiping down the espresso machine like she meant it.
They got up from the table at exactly the same time like there was some hidden signal or they were strung together and didn ' t have any choice. Sam gathered the papers back into the manilla folder with care, shuffling them like he was putting things back in a particular order. Dean stretched and yawned before pushing his chair back in against the table and grabbing his coffee. He took a step for the door at the same moment Sam did, taking the lead, looking toward the counter.
" G ' night, " he said. " You be careful walking out to your car. You want us to hang around? "
She stared at him for a moment. She really, really wanted to say yes.
" We ' re not in any hurry, " Sam said, looking too earnest to turn down. For anything.
" Nah, I ' m fine, " she said. " Thanks, though. "
They kept moving toward the door but they were both focused on her, and it was the kind of attention she could feel. Not like it was threatening or anything, not like they were ogling her, but like they didn ' t know how else to look at things without looking really hard.
" You guys take it easy, " she said.
Dean smirked. " Sure. "
Sam smiled a little and grabbed the top of the door again. Then they were gone.
She leaned around to watch them cross the parking lot to an older model black car, and get in it.
They closed their doors at exactly the same time.
She looked at the clock and decided to close a little early, just that once. Whatever had just happened had left some kind of feeling in the store and she didn ' t want regular people messing it up.
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