(2018-12-29) Low Affect
Coffee philosophy, shared cherry pie, super cold weather.

Maude's 24/7 Diner

Chrome trim, red vinyl, and black-and-white checkered floors; the aesthetic of Maude's is classic, All-American and very 1950's. The walls are covered in a scattered mess of Hollywood memorabilia and vintage ads. One advertises 5 cent 'malts', and there's a few classic Coca-Cola signs. A polished dining counter makes up the left half of the well-lit eatery, lined with shiny swiveling stools, while the other portion is all booths. In the back, near the bathroom hallway, is an old school jukebox, looking like it's really from the 50's or 60's. And that's Maude's for you: While the look of the place is pretty traditional and gimmicky, it's also completely genuine: This burger joint has been standing since the 1950's. A Calaveras classic!

Rockin' around the Christmas tree~ pours out of the jukebox on this hellaciously cold brunchtime. It's Saturday, so the place is hopping, toasty against the bitter chill and full of the smells of burgers and pancakes overlapping one another. The counter boasts a rotating cast of characters that claim a stool, eat a meal, and slide on out - except Oliver. Who is probably at least vaguely familiar to a fellow hospital employee? If nothing else, a passing acquaintance at a coffee pot, a handshake introduction, the vague exchange of information: he works in the emergency department, she's an M.E., it's just likely paths have crossed.

But back to the here and now. Oliver's got the stool closest to the far wall, the remnants of a club sandwich and some wilted fries on his plate, and he's tweaking on his phone right now. 'Cause of course Maude's is a Pokestop, and there's some Santa-hat-wearing Pikachu that keeps popping out of balls. "Gotcha," he breathes at his phone, relaxing his tense posture, slacking into a job well done. Scruff-faced and shadow-eyed, he has twelve-hour-shift written all over him.

The door opens, as doors do, and in walks on Sullivan Tremble, her clothing some combo of business casual and tailored leather. Really just the jacket and motorcycle boot say weekend. The rest of her attire is fairly standard: black slacks, white silk blouse. In concession to the weather, she'd added a scarf, but generally seems mildly displeased with the frigid temperatures outside. Or this could be the phone conversation she's having as she steps inside, keys in one hand.

"I don't think you understand me. If you don't pony up the results before tonight, a surly lady fed is going to ride her butt up there and take it out of you." There's a lengthy pause in which Sully hesitates on the threshold. And then she says, "What's it going to take." Another pause. Her eyes narrow slightly. "Really."

"Two. No, only two. Are you joking? I will come down there myself—" And there's a smile. It's slight. "Deal. By Three. Yes." Click. She hangs up and jams her phone into her back pocket, reaching up to unwrap the scarf from her neck. And she glances around, finally, to spot Oliver fiddling with his phone. She eyes him briefly, then makes her way to the counter.

Sure, Oliver passes for a guy that's using his phone for real stuff, not just catching pocket monsters. He lets that lie persist, clicking the side-button to kill the screen so no one has to know! And sets the now dormant phone on the counter next to his plate, lifting those bloodshot eyes to the interior of the diner like he forgot it even existed. Pokemon is serious business. In the process of this once over for the surroundings, he of course notices Sully there, but doesn't rush to greet her or anything - between her being on the phone and him being a heartbeat away from unconsciousness.

It's only when she's counter-side that he chips in a subdued, "What's up, doc," like that joke hasn't been made a BILLION FUCKING TIMES. Probably that's why he doesn't even crack a smile.

"I'm sure you know that statistics show that an alarming number of psychopaths enter fields like medicine and law enforcement." Sullivan murmurs, obviously to Oliver, as the man's just Bugs Bunnied her. This happens at least three times a day, whenever she walks into one of the LEO offices around town. Sully takes a seat two down man in question. "You look like hell." Sully's only been in town about two weeks, but she's been through the hospital a few times. She may have seen Oliver there, particularly if he's got an affection for pastry carts and/or coffee stands. She glances over at his plate, and the food pointedly not eaten. "You have to ask for the fries extra crispy here or they're just sad tubers." She nods to the waitress and raises her hand in the universal coffee, now, thanks gesture.

He risks taking a bite of his soggy sandwich about then, chewing behind his fist and nodding at the statistics while he noms. Oliver's still tongue-pushing a nugget out of his back teeth when he answers, "Yep," about the statistics, nodding some. She's free to decide if that 'yep' was about his knowledge of the statistics or his looking like hell, since they seem to be equally true. "Yep," again about the fries, and he sticks one with the toothpick that had been holding his sammich together, lifting its limp corpse off the plate with one hand. With the other hand, he helpfully passes the sugar-shaker down the counter to Sully, since she's done ordered coffee. Bowl of creamers, too, he puts that down next to the sugar. And shares a pro-tip of his own: "She's gonna spit in that coffee cup if you don't say 'please.'"

Sullivan picks up a menu while she waits for her coffee, skimming it briefly before she stops pretending, and just flicks it over to the desserts part. "I'm inoculated up to my eyebrows. It's unlikely anything she'd spit in there would be tenacious enough to make an impression." She glances over as sugar and creamer are slid over, and smiles a bit at that. "Thanks, but I like it dark and bitter." Probably because as soon as the waitress wanders over, she orders, "Cherry pie a la mode, hot." Yeah, there's the sugar and dairy. "Does she spit in your coffee often?" No, she doesn't bother lowering her voice to be sure the waitress is unawares of their conversation.

Oliver catches the waitress's eye and holds up two fingers at her after Sully's order, wiggling them to be sure the gist came across: HE ALSO WANTS PIE PLZ. "Nope. I say please." Which is why he's comfortable taking a drink right then, snickering into his mug at the dark-and-bitter comment, getting down a swallow before he even tries to contribute. "Which is it? Dark and bitter or cherry pie?" he has to ask, trying to look at her skeptically… but really it just winds up coming across as lukewarm confusion.

Set-things! It's brunch-time, so the diner's a-hopping, slinging out french fries and hash browns aplenty. At the far end of the counter, there's a 'rode hard and put up wet' looking guy (Oliver) with a half-finished club sandwich, sad fries, and a coffee cup; next stool over is a much less dilapidated woman (Sully) who's just getting a cup of coffee delivered.

Sully finishes unwinding her scarf and folds it over her lap. She reaches for her coffee cup as it's delivered, almost no still time on the counter. Having just placed an order for pie, she seems to be fairly content with the state of things, if a little chilly. But that's because she's wearing a leather moto jacket, not a proper coat. "Cherry pie always tastes better if you're dark and bitter." The woman's reply is fairly dry, though she follows it with, "Coffee just doesn't taste right unless it hurts a little to drink it." That's how you know she spends a lot of time down at the PD. "You work at the hospital." Not a question.

Speaking of rode hard and put up wet, an older gentleman eases his way into the diner about fifteen minutes before brunch is due to be wrapped up. He looks a little on the bedraggled side: his hair and battered bomber are jacket damp from melting snow, and he looks like had a late night or three. "Brunch, or you need a menu?" asks the perky server who greets him near the door. "Ah.." His gaze scans the place, happens to spot Sully. "Brunch is fine." The girl smiles brightly. "Have a seat whereever you like. Plates are over there." And then she's gone, leaving him to forage for a free table.

Listless eyes drop to his cup for a second, and Oliver serenely picks up the sugar shaker that Sully never wanted and dumps some more calories into his coffee. His spoon clink-clink-clinks for a couple seconds, far more audibly animated than its wielder, and he tests the newly sweetened beverage with a satisfied, "Ahhh." One that, coupled with raised eyebrows, kinda begs to differ with Sully about her coffee philosophy. And maybe it wasn't a question, but he still supplies, "Yep. You play with dead bodies."

He has no particular reason to have noticed the newest entrant, but Oliver tosses a glance beyond Sully to Sevin - maybe it's the jacket? 'Cause he absently zips up the hoodie he's still wearing, his own thick coat stuffed into the corner of the counter next to him. Cold just lookin' at the two of 'em! Also prolly there's a stool at the bar available. For the sake of ease.

Sullivan raises her ceramic mug of black coffee to her lips, taking a test-sip before she commits: temperature, roast, brew, age. She thinks about that for a moment, then sips again. Whatever alchemical formula there is in her head, this seems to suit just fine. She turns from the counter at a hard-to-miss accent she's certainly heard before. "Sevin." The greeting is simple. Just his name, pronounced properly, of course, inflection being everything. "Sabah el kheer. Please join us."

And then her hazel eyes are swinging to Oliver again. She smirks faintly, behind her cup. "We don't usually talk about that in mixed company." Sip. "Surgery?"

Sevin looks like he's going to peel off for the two person table by the window that a waitress just finished wiping down, but pauses at the suggestion from Sully. He takes brief stock of her hoodie wearing counter-mate, tosses the woman a small smile for her her greeting. "Assalam alaikum, Ms. Tremble." The foreign words roll off his tongue easily, throaty and coarsely enunciated, threaded with the same weariness that's in his eyes and the faint slouch of his shoulders. A stool is slid on to, his jacket unzipped. A glance and a nod for Oliver but he doesn't interrupt the man's eating with conversation just yet.

Surprise is written all over Oliver's face when other languages intrude on his club sandwich and coffee, the juxtaposition jarring the shit out of him if the bug-eyed blinks are any indicator. So much so that he completely fails to answer Sully's question - or maybe he just never intended to in the first place, and this is a convenient excuse. Regardless, once they've exchanged words and Sevin is taking the next stool down, he does the only reasonable thing and, after scrubbing his hand on the front of his sweater, offers it across the counter, leaning far thataway. "What's up, man. Oliver." IN ENGLISH, GUYS.

Sullivan's gaze flicks to Sevin when he returns her greeting, and she nods in acknowledgement of it. She takes a larger drink of her coffee, once it's had a few beats to come down from damn, that's hot. Assuming it ever gets there in this diner. It's not long before her cherry pie arrives, crust looking delectable, vanilla bean ice cream gently beginning to melt on top. She unrolls her silver and selects the spoon, using that to scoop up a sliver of ice cream to go with a bite of gooey fruit pie. "Sullivan." She lets Sevin introduce himself or not. She did say his name a moment ago, but maybe that was more non-English patter. Hard to say when people get all international and worldly.

Sevin has on what looks like - and very possibly is - the ugliest sweater you ever did see, under his jacket. It's a mishmash of red and green and white, studded with sequin'd christmas trees and a red-nosed reindeer. The collar of a white shirt is visible underneath, as are the cuffs; on top of everything, the sweater fits him a little small. A gift, perhaps, from a well (or ill) meaning relative. "What's up?" Is he confused? He sounds confused. Maybe he doesn't speak English. "How's the pie?" is tipped Sully's way. Which would seem to banish that supposition.

Oliver got pie, too! His shows up at the same time, and he even tells the waitress, "Thanks." She accepts it with bubbly grace and vanishes back to the realm where NPCs wait until we need them again, leaving him free to check out Sevin's bitchin' sweater. He does so, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands afterward, in case that makes it make more sense; nope, so he looks away, aiming his attention down at his plate. "What's up. Like, uh, how are you. Nice to meet you. No? Nothin'?" Oh well, at least he has pie, and cuts himself off a spoonful, leaning low over his plate so the piece that inevitably falls off the spoon lands back in the pie, not on his lap. He knows what you're up to, Gravity.

The next time Sullivan's gaze makes its way back to Sevin, it drops to his sweater almost immediately. She pauses in mid-sip of her coffee, and she stares at it for perhaps three heartbeats, and then her eyes turn back to her pie. "The pie is excellent. Little on the sweet side, but the coffee balances it right out." Pie on the sweet side, with ice cream on top, you say? She clears her throat, a smile lingering on her lips while she pointedly does not look at the swarthy man's sweater again. She spoons up another bite of pie, then asks, "Split mine? I only wanted a few bites." She does have a few crumbs from what was probably once an apple fritter on her lapel.

Sully turns her attention to Oliver for a very long moment. She says nothing, but she's thinking plenty.

It's a visual nightmare, that sweater. No doubt about it. And to say it doesn't seem to suit the quiet, subdued and middle-aged man who's wearing it is.. an understatement. That nobody comments on the elephant in the room might just amuse him, were he not clearly either hung over or otherwise compromised by a rough night. "I'll have a bite," he concedes to the offer of pie. His fork is slid out of its napkin roll, and he leans over to carve off a piece. Into his mouth, and he chews slowly while his pale gaze returns to Oliver, and his rapid-fire queries. He too says nothing.

No lie, guys. Oliver has no idea why they're both looking at him. He looks down at the front of his sweater - which is all clean, so it can't be that. So he rubs the back of his hand across his mouth, checks it to see if there's a bunch of gunk, but that comes up clean, too. So, after chewing and swallowing and cleansing his mouth with a sip of his sweet coffee, he just goes ahead and asks, "What?" If it's a booger, someone just tell him. :( Now he's trying to check in his reflection in the napkin dispenser, and that's just super uncool.

There is get another lengthy pause before Sullivan murmurs, "You might want to think about some sleep." Finally she says this to Oliver, though she's still watching him, like maybe she thinks he's been hitting the caffeine pills too hard, or, alternately, not enough.

Sully spins her pie plate backwards, and carves off one more bite of ice cream, along with a huge hunk of crust, because honestly that's the best part, and takes that bite. She chews for a moment, then lifts her coffee to was it down before she's swallowed the pie. Yeah, she's one of those people. Sully turns in her seat to lean in to Sevin a bit to say, "If you'd like to finish the pie, it's yours." She pulls a few bills from her pocket and lays them out on the counter, clearly on her way to leaving, but not quite yet. She's got a little more coffee to put down against the cold.

"Thanks. But I'll pass." His coffee is delivered in a to-go cup, and despite having claimed he was here for brunch, Sevin hasn't gone for a plate, much less a pile of greasy breakfast items. Not much of an appetite, it seems. His phone buzzes then, and it's likely a message he's been waiting for, given the way the device comes out of his coat without pause. He checks the screen, murmurs an apology, and eases back to his feet. "I'll see you later, Sullivan." Oliver gets a polite nod, though he's still eyeing the man like he might have his shirt on backwards. Then off for the door, eyes still on his phone screen.

Oliver checks his teeth in the napkin dispenser, but - seriously, nothing? After a second of this, he just gives up and eats some more of his freaking pie, scooping a hearty mouthful into his face when Sevin makes noises about leaving. He lifts his clean spoon in a farewell salute to the guy whose name he never caught, the corner of his mouth pulling askew in what could reasonably be interpreted as a smile. "Weird day," he tells no one in particular, since Sully's also making leaving-noises.

Oh, she said something about sleep. "Yep." Then finishes his coffee like a boss.

Sully watches Oliver out of the corner of her eye. She spoons up one last bite of ice cream, then leaves the middle section of her pie to melt, spoon tucked in against it. She finishes most of her coffee, and puts her mug down with a thunk, blowing out a breath before her scarf comes up. She wraps it around her neck slowly, tucking in the ends. "Oliver." She rises, perhaps steeling herself for the cold weather beyond the window. "Afternoon." And with that, she's departing, phone coming out of her pocket as it chimes. She shakes her head at the caller ID and sighs. "Tremble." She answers on the go, pushing out through the door.

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