(2018-09-12) Catching up.
Ethan and Luke snag a quick cup of coffee and catch-up.

Java Junction

With copper light hangings, it leaves a rustic feel to the entire room. A long bar with a cash register below a sign that says Order Here boasts a display of pastries, bagels, croissants and other foods for breakfast. Sandwiches and soups and salads for lunch and dinner. On a chalk bard in colorful writing is a list of the different beverages offered as well as the prices. Numbers are given on the receipts so when called, patrons can get their order at the opposite end of the bar from the register.

Tables dot the room, wooden with simple center pieces and wooden chairs around them. Also built into one leg of each table is an electrical outlet for laptops or phone chargers. In one corner is a bean bag area with several magazines and a small book swap shelf.

While music plays softly from surround sound speakers, it is usually tuned into one of the two radio stations in the town. The country or rock, depending on what the barista selects at the time.

It was starting to get a little chilly outside. The storm wasn't supposed to fall until over the weekend, but the prep had begun - people all over town were buying all the milk, bread and water they could carry to last them into next week. It meant that the coffee shop was busy with people grabbing hot drinks to warm them up and carry them through all the shopping madness. It resulted in longer lines but empty tables, since most people were taking their drinks to-go.
It was at one of these empty tables that Luke was standing guard, a couple cups of coffee (black) already on the table. He'd made arrangements earlier in the week to meet with Ethan today, a little late in the afternoon, but he'd gotten here earlier since it was a close walk from the clinic. At least it meant neither of them would have to stand in the line to get their drinks, so bonus.

Dressed against worse weather than is currently underway, Ethan comes in along with a swift push of cold air, shoving the door closed behind him. He must have been one of the ones out stocking up for the stormpocalypse, 'cause he's carrying a grocery bag that dangles from one hand, its contents visible through the thin plastic: some bananas, a package of Bic lighters, a carton of cigarettes, a box of Nestle Quik, and a box of crackers. Armed with this, he surveys the interior and picks out Luke from among the cafe's occupants, making a bee-line. "You're a damn good friend," he says on sight of those coffee cups, offering out a handshake (with a hand that has only one band-aid left across the palm by now).

Luke had his phone out and was tapping out a message when the opened door brought a sudden chill along with it, it made him glance up to see Ethan coming through. He sets his phone down on the table as he stretches to his feet, a broad grin lighting up his features once Ethan's close and offering a hand. It's taken, but Luke's generally firm grip was lighter, mindful of the bandages. "I thought about making you stand in the line, but it'd probably take you an hour to get a damn cup of coffee at this point," he chuckles, looking over his shoulder to the growing line of people, before he flops back down into his chair. A glance is given to the plastic bag in Ethan's grip, a brow slowly lifting. "You gonna be ready for the weekend? Assuming the storm hits. Weather people are always wrong."

"It took me forty-five minutes at the store, and that was after I decided not to fight any little old ladies for cartons of milk." Ethan plunks his grocery bag down on the floor next to his chair and sits down, immediately drawing the coffee cup toward himself. "Yeah, these're just the last minute supplies. Took my mom to the grocery store at the crack of dawn to stock the pantry. You'd think we never saw a September storm in this town the way people're acting." A sip later, he adds, "You in good shape if it turns out to be real weather?"

"Yeah, I spent the morning at the store myself," Luke reaches for his own coffee cup before he slouches back into his chair, flashing an understanding look towards Ethan. "There was already a line before the store opened up. But I didn't have to fight any grannies for my milk," he grins, though it's short-lived. "Then I spent the afternoon prepping the clinic, making sure the generators were in good condition, all that fun bullshit. Tomorrow I go up to mom's," that latter part of his plans brings a small frown to his face. "She's refusing to leave, of course, so I've got a box of supplies for her. Thankfully, her neighbor's daughter agreed to stay there if the storm gets real bad. Nice college kid, so that works out." There's a glance to Ethan's hands as Luke takes a sip of his coffee. "How're you holding up since the pharmacy thing? Did you end up needing stitches?"

When Luke mentions his own mom, Ethan laughs, a little drily but not full-on dark. "Never thought I'd be having a conversation about taking care of our moms, man." His laughter trails off while he shakes his head to clear the wry amusement that prompted it. Putting down the coffee, he turns over his hands and says, "Nah, I went to see the old man, and a nurse looked at them and said they were fine. Righty doesn't even need the band-aids anymore." He flexes the fingers of his right hand. "I couldn't help but notice," with a new amusement, "that it was not your old friend from high school that you jumped on top of in that hubbub."

"Dude, you're telling me. I thought I'd get at least another twenty years before I had to take care of this shit," Luke says of his own mom, a dry chuckle punctuating his words. He takes another gulp of his coffee, nodding his head a little. "That's good that you went to go see that old guy, Abby said she left you a note," he mentions sort of off-handedly, before he tilts his head slightly to the left. The amusement from Ethan brings another laugh from Luke, and he waves a hand in the air. "I figured you could take care of yourself," he smirks, leaving it at that.

Shrugging, Ethan says of Mr. Jenkins, "I figured - the old guy can't have many more shoot-outs in him. Might as well go say hi before he kicks it." A good sip of coffee, which has now reached the perfect temperature - right below too hot, right above too cold - and he cradles the cup comfortably with both hands. "Yeah? That might be a pretty big assumption to make, but okay. If that's the story." He smiles amiably, like he's totally buying it. "How long've you been back in town, anyway?"

"You never know, that old dude could outlive us both," Luke points out with a smirk. "But for what it's worth, I kinda got tunnel vision when I figured out what was going on. Training kicked in, she was a straight shot from that window," he frowns, though he chases away the thought with a shake of his head and another sip from his coffee. "It all worked out though. Old man's good, you're good. She's good. And Kyrie texted me the other day and said her ankle was all healed. Couldn't ask for a better outcome from a super shitty situation," he shrugs his shoulders. "Been back a little over eight months now. Took a bit to work through the transition into the reserves and get housing all situated, I was stationed down in Texas."

Again, "Yeah?" That's Ethan-speak for skepticism. "Training kicked in? Right on." Again, he nods like he's buying it, squinting off into the middle distance for a second as if trying to reimagine the whole chaotic scenario in his mind's eye. "I even got my mom's car back a day early," he adds re: everything worked out. He's surprised by the length of time that Luke answers, evidenced by the way he pulls back a touch, frowning before he settles into a slow nod. "Mom talked about it like you were still overseas. Which is why I was surprised as shit to see you in the bar. It must be a load-off for your mom that you're back?"

Luke rolls his eyes, perhaps detecting the skepticism. "I'm serious," he insists, "There was nothing more behind it. And it had nothing to do with her being cuter than you," he wags his brows comically in his friend's direction, finding a healthy dose of humour to the darkness of their conversation. It fades quick though, Luke sobering at the talk of him being overseas. "Yeah, I think she was relieved. But then we were dealing with her diagnosis and all of that, and it was out of the frying pan and into a brand new fire," he puffs out a sigh, glancing out the window for a moment. "It's good to be back home though. I'd much rather be here than over there, that's for damn sure. What about you though?" he looks back, quirking a brow. "Where'd you run off to?"

Ethan's, "Uh-huh," is totally unconvinced. Though whether that's unconvinced about the supposed reason or unconvinced that Abby's cuter than him… enh, he doesn't deign to clarify. "I was really sorry to hear about the cancer. That sucks." Genuinely. "If you ever need a break, say the word. I'm not sure your mom'd even remember me? But I wouldn't mind saying hi sometime." Whatever he might've said regarding the goodness of being home gets clipped, since he has to agree with the latter half of that sentiment - better here than there. And then he laughs and answers, "Everywhere, man. The only continent I missed is Antarctica, but it's still on my bucket list."

The 'uh-huh' is just scoffed at, Luke rolling his shoulders back into the chair. He doesn't continue that line of conversation though. "It sucks about your mom, too," he instead replies, genuinely sympathetic. "So the same goes for you. I've always got beers in the fridge if you want to come over. I'm not even that far of a walk from the Boardroom," he points out. "And my mom remembers you just fine, actually. I told her I ran into you, she was glad to hear you were back in town. I bet she'd like to say hi sometime, I'll try and get her to go out for a cup of coffee one of these days. Might help her feel, yanno.. more human or whatever," he shrugs. "And Antartica, huh? I haven't made it there yet, either, but I heard getting there's a bitch and a half," he chuckles. "How're you settling in? Enjoying being a big time bar owner?"

Truly, Ethan says, "I will come by. If nothing else, it'd just be one more step down memory lane. Don't drag her out here, sure as hell not if the weather's bad." Speaking of coffee, he finishes his about then, spinning the empty cup idly a time or two with an eye-roll for that latter question. "More like dealing with all the shit my dad let slide for the last ten years. His ghost's laughing his ass off at me, pretty sure. But." Shrug. "It beats taking pictures of anorexic models for a living."

"All right. Let me know and we'll go up together. Maybe after this whole storm thing passes," Luke glances out the window again, his lips bowing into a frown. But he shakes off whatever thought has crossed his mind, draining the last of his cup, too. "I understand all about dealing with ghosts. I feel for you," he says sincerely, "It's a good place, at least. And no one's getting shot there so you've got a leg up on the other bar in town," it was a dark comment, but he laughs anyway, a dry sort of chuckle. "Plus, bars are great places to pick up chicks," he points out, lifting his brows. "You pick up any yet?"

"I should hang that in the window. 'No one gets shot here.'" Ethan snickers, glancing toward the cafe's window to see if they already beat him to the punch. As for picking up girls… "And what? Bring them home to my mom's house? I can't date anyone till I get my shit sorted out. 'Thirty-two year old guy that lives with his mom' is just not a good look." He stands about then, fishing a buck out of his wallet to lay down on the table as a tip - not that anyone came and warmed up their coffee, but whatever; it seems like tipping is mandatory these days. "I better get these bananas home. I'll call you on the weekend, assuming we're not buried in snow. We can get stoned and watch Friday."

"It could be worse. You could be fat, too," Luke chuckles as he gets to his feet, grabbing a dollar from his wallet too to add it to Ethan's cash on the table. He flashes a big grin to Ethan. "It was good hanging out with you, man. And I'm definitely down for getting stoned and watching Friday. I stocked up on edibles to get me through the weekend," he chuckles. "Be safe out there."

Gathering his bag of bananas&misc, Ethan assures, "I'll do my damnedest. Good to see you too." And, buttoning up his coat, he braves the weather. Like a champ.

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