X/Story: 7 July 1998
Archive/X: 12 July 1998
"May I Take Your Order?"
RATING: R. If m/m interaction bothers you, you don't know what you're missing.
SUMMARY: Mulder and Krycek get the munchies and head out for burgers, plunging a fast food cashier into a world of unexplained firefights and public displays of lust. Another bystander POV fic.
DISCLAIMERS: All things X-Files belong to Chris Carter, Ten-Thirteen, and Fox. I think Wendy's belongs to Dave Thomas, but who knows for sure? I'm just sharing and not making a cent off any of this, I swear! No infringement intended. Suing me would be a waste of time and a mean thing to do. I have no money. At all.
DISTRIBUTION: Anywhere, as long as you ask me first.
FEEDBACK: Would you? That would be great. All feedback can be sent to Viridian5@aol.com or Viridian5@altavista.net.
NOTES: Thanks to Alicia for help with glass, glass, and more glass. Thanks to Te, my prime beta and ruler of the world. Every time you look at fast food employees from now on--especially one of the ones with the pleasant, may-I-help-you? expression--I want you to realize this: 1] they hate their lives, 2] they hate the world, and 3] right now they hate you. Any questions?
"May I Take Your Order?"
I taped the silver tinsel garland back on the railing for the third time today and tried to block out the strains of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." Wendy's started playing Christmas songs in late November and didn't stop until December 26th. I had two more weeks of hell to go. It doesn't surprise me that the suicide rate skyrockets this time of year, just that the homicide rate doesn't jump with it. If *I* had a gun...
I picked my wash towel up and rubbed at a stubborn dried ketchup stain on a nearby table. After almost seven hours of working--during the Christmas shopping season near the mall, no less--my whole body hurt, but I had only fifteen minutes till closing. Soon I would take off the ridiculous uniform and crawl into the shower to wash the stench of grease, coffee, dishwater, and ketchup off. I never had anything against the condiment till I started working in fast food as a sandwich maker, standing over vats of the stuff, but now even a whiff of it turns my stomach. Just taking my hair out of the ponytail would be a sensual pleasure. My, how our expectations plummet.
A nearby table of high school kids giggled and pointed at me occasionally. I couldn't wait until *they* had to humiliate themselves for a job. Maybe they would have to work through college, too.
Over the drive-thru headset's internal line I heard my manager getting back to his "seduction" of Ray, one of our line people. #"I could make it so good for you, Ray,"# Dennis said in what I hoped was a parody of a seductive tone. Otherwise, I pitied his fiancee.
Ray looked like a faded, bespectacled version of Opie and usually said very little. If you didn't know him well, you'd think he was a mouse. But like many mice, he hid a tiger under the shyness. #"I don't think you could handle me,"# Ray answered in a voice that made me squidge.
#"Go get 'im, Ray!"# Debbie said.
I had to put my two cents in. Over the air, I asked, #"Hey, Dennis, how much will you pay to stop me from revealing your mad passion for Ray to your fiancee?"#
The high schoolers looked at me funny. If they didn't notice the headset or beltpack, though I didn't see why they wouldn't, they would think I was talking to myself. The whole night crew wore headsets to help on drive-thru but mostly to carry on conversations from all over the building. Sometimes comments meant for the internal line got broadcast through the outdoor box, but we were usually more careful than that.
I saw two men come in and head for the front counter. They soon disappeared behind the menu wall. As I put the towel down and walked to the behind-the-line area and my register, I said, #"Heads up, people. Customers on the line. I may need a grill guy."#
When I reached the register I pivoted to face the customers with my professional smile and asked, "Have you decided what--" My eyebrow raised and stayed there. Yeah, it appeared that they knew what they wanted. The menu just had nothing to do with it.
The guy dressed in black leather and denim, with a green scarf for color, had a man dressed in a beautiful blue trench coat with what could be a suit under it pinned against the wall. They kissed ravenously, with their eyes closed and their gloved hands roaming wildly over one another.
Maybe they thought the menu wall shielded them from view. Maybe they didn't care. Whatever, but I don't think they would notice a bomb going off next to them.
I boosted myself onto the back counter and sighed as I stretched my aching legs. I wasn't even supposed to *lean* on anything, let alone sit, but Dennis couldn't see me now. I swung my legs and waited for my customers to finish what they were doing. And waited. And waited. I bit back the temptation to ask them if they wanted to get a room.
I doubt they realized they had an audience. Thus, the universe reminds me of my insignificance again. Thank you, universe.
As I watched them kiss and writhe against one another, I started to get really depressed. Yeah, it was hot to watch, and they made some really interesting noises, but it reminded me of what I wasn't getting.
"Hey, have they ordered yet?" Ray asked as he walked up front. He hadn't seen yet.
"No, they're still making up their minds," I said in a tone that could rival the Sahara Desert for dryness.
The man in the trench coat broke away and turned to face me a little. He looked flushed, and his lips were damp and swollen and... Oh, stop it. Leatherboy still clung to him and, I swear, tongued his ear. "Oh, hi." Trench Coat Man sounded really embarrassed. Maybe he didn't do this every day. The other one, though... "Stop that, Alex! You were the one who got hungry. And I know what you're going to say next, so you don't have to."
"Am I getting predictable?"
Oh, I didn't want to hear this. "For here or to go?" I asked. I prayed they would leave. I had ten minutes to go.
"Alex" finally noticed me. "To stay," he said with a big grin turned in my direction.
I probably would have melted into a puddle of goo from that look usually, but... Not when they would be eating here.
"We're staying," the trench coat guy said with a resigned air.
Oh, shit. They were going to hold me up. Maybe they would eat while they weren't snogging one another, but it would take forever. Forever before we could close and I could go home. I could see my shower receding further and further into the distance.
I maintained my professional pleasant face and asked for their order. Alex leaned across the counter to stare at the menu behind me. And stare. And stare. Just before I lost it, he said, "Two quarter pounders."
"What would you like on them?" Like pulling teeth. Why do people do this?
"Everything with extra pickle."
I called out the burgers over the speaker so Ray could get them started, then asked, "Anything else?"
Alex's smile turned wider and nastier. "Oh, I have to get one of those. Hey, Mulder, they have a *great biggie* size."
Trench Coat Man, "Mulder," squirmed. "That's nice, Alex," he answered in a monotone.
"A *great* biggie fry, a medium Coke, and a medium frosty. What are you having, Mulder?"
Mulder had stiffened and seemed to have been struck speechless. Stage fright? Then I saw Alex's arm moving. I couldn't see where his hand had gone, but I can guess.
I'm never getting out of here!
While I waited for my customer to regain the power of speech, I saw a group of five walking up to the building. If they came in before the doors closed, we would have to serve them.
This is Susan. This is Susan's register. Watch Susan bang her head against the register. Bang, Susan, bang!
But then I saw them take something out from under their trench coats. Guns. Big guns. They walked toward the doors. Oh, God.
My face must have shown my horror, because Leatherboy turned to look and shouted, "Everybody get down!"
I dropped to the floor and heard guns firing. Ray ran to the back. #"Dennis, call 911 now! We have a situation!"# I shouted over the internal line and left it on a bit so Dennis could hear the guns.
I could just make out the sound of a shattering window over the roar. One shot hit the coffee machine, sending a wave of scalding hot coffee, liberally mixed with splinters of carafe, at me. I dodged most of the liquid but felt some of the shards penetrate my skin. I could hear myself making some sort of pathetic squeaking sound under my breath.
I stiffened at the sudden buzzing and crackling over my headset. Someone had stopped on the drive-thru plate. #"Get that, Susan,"# Dennis said on the internal line.
#"I'm sort of in the middle of something here!"#
#"Welcome to Wendy's. May I take your order?# Ray asked, which had me laughing as well as squeaking.
The drive-thru customers just wanted frosties, so I stayed low and poured them while another window broke somewhere in the distance. Once Ray collected the money and passed the frosties out to the car, the dining room finally went silent.
I kept close to the wall before slowly looking out. Bullet holes pockmarked almost everything I saw. Five dining room windows had exploded into shards, letting the night air in. Winter introduced itself to the dining room. I saw a corpse or two and shivered.
My two customers, who had used the menu wall as cover, looked okay aside from what looked like a shallow bullet wound on Alex's arm. "You should have left one alive!" Mulder said.
"Why? You wouldn't let me question him here, and he would die mysteriously before we got at him through official channels, so why bother?"
"There was no other way."
"When did you get shot?"
"When do you think? God, Mulder." Then Alex smirked. "Wanna kiss it and make it better?"
"*If* I kissed you, that's not where I'd do it."
This exchange led to another deep kiss. While I waited for them to finish climbing all over each other, I heard someone whimpering from the far end of the dining room. Maybe the high schoolers had escaped harm, or at least death, after all.
#"Ray, could you go out to the dining room and check on our other customers? The gunmen are all dead. Well, the last five, at least,"# I said.
#"Sure, but what will you be doing?"#
#"Making sure the two guys with guns left standing don't wig out."#
#"Susan, are we forgetting who's manager here?"# Dennis asked.
#"No, I'm just helping you manage."# I gave Ray the thumb's up sign as he slunk out into the dining room. You could always count on Ray.
When I turned back, I had Alex standing near me looking into my face. "We never finished our order. And we want it to go after all. What are you having, Mulder?"
"I don't want anything now."
"You don't eat enough."
"Is it so wrong for me to want you to take care of yourself?"
I think I'm going to hurl. That, or I'm already getting sick from the freezing cold air coming through what remained of our windows.
"Look, if I change my mind, I'll graze from some of your stuff."
"But then we'll have to stop again."
Mentally, I was slamming my head against the counter. Physically, I kept my professional face on and said, "This shouldn't take long at all." Tiny clouds of steam came out of my mouth as I spoke. I need a coat.
No one came out to help me, so I finished cooking the burgers, fried the fries, and put the sandwiches and drinks together myself. When I had a hand free I pressed the button on my beltpack and muttered things about cowardice and vengeance over the internal line. Occasionally Ray said something over the line about the high schoolers, who were shaken but okay.
I threw a second great biggie fry into the bag. I might as well. I had to stifle a hysterical laugh at the sudden image of the two of them coming back here just because I was so nice to them.
Alex paid me while Mulder apologized over and over again. Finally, he flipped open a badge and said, "I'm Special Agent Fox Mulder with the FBI. I can't stay to talk to the cops myself, as much as I wish I could. This man with me is a witness who needs to be protected and kept anonymous." I noticed the look of surprise and pleasure that crossed Leatherboy's face. Hmm. "So don't describe him to the police."
"Let me take down your badge number," I said. I knew Mulder was lying, at least partially, about Alex. Why should I trust him on anything else?
"I need something substantial to give to the police. I need your badge number to identify you." TV has its uses.
After I took the number down, copying it myself from Agent Mulder's badge, Alex lightly touched my face with one gloved hand. I saw blood on the leather. "Take care of yourself... Susan." I had to look away from his too-intense eyes. How did Mulder stand them?
"I am sorry about this," Agent Mulder said as Alex dragged him off into the night.
I put a finger to my face and wiped the blood away. When I put it to my mouth, I tasted coffee along with the iron tang. I could feel glass under the skin. I had some bleeding shrapnel marks on my bare arms as well. My bulky uniform had protected most of the rest of me.
I stood staring silently at the carnage in the dining room until Dennis finally came out and went into a fit of anger. I expected him to start convulsing. Debbie laughed nervously, and Tim just shook his head.
#"The kids will be fine. I'm trying to keep them here until the cops arrive. They probably saw more than Susan did,"# Ray said.
Till the cops arrive? I looked at my watch. 11:10 pm. I had to stick around to talk with the cops.
No one protested when I started to viciously kick the wall.