(and in solemn honor of lomer's brand spankin' new dark angel S2 DVDs...♥)
Rating: PG - Gen - Alec & Cindy
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: DA & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Eating out with a transgenic is more than a job, its an adventure!
“What’s wrong with a nice normal boring diner?" Alec asked for the hundredth time. “They have meatloaf.”
“Precisely.” Cindy answered.
The tiny restaurant was empty.
Walking through the cramped space between tables, Cindy soaked in the ambience made by broken Christmas lights and off season Easter decorations. The hypnotic blink of the stringed bulbs was as lulling as the smell of cheap tequila, but the Mariachi guitar on the speakers was meant to keep any potential patrons wide awake. She was a fan of foreign foods in all its authentic forms but she didn’t quite get how Mexico was still considered an alien culture. Greasy taco joints these days were as much of an American icon as apple pie cooling on a country window sill.
“What’s wrong with a nice normal boring diner?” Alec asked for the hundredth time. “They have meatloaf.”
“Precisely.” Cindy answered.
As much as she liked the buzz of a mob she liked to sit at her favorite table under the bay window even more. The vantage overlooking Broadway wasn't that great but she enjoyed the view despite the dented garbage cans that cluttered the curb. Alec reluctantly took the seat opposite her as she waited for the bartender to figure out he was the only person around to take an order. The man yawned twice before sliding off his stool and leaving the small television propped up beside the digital register.
There was only one beverage to be found in here and it only came two ways.
“Would you like that frozen, or on the rocks?”
It was truly a beautiful question to hear at the end of a long day of pedaling for Jam Pony. Cindy deliberated for a few moments before deciding that her first margarita should arrive as a simple but delectable liquid amongst rarely seen ice cubes.
“On the rocks.” She announced. “With extra salt and extra lime.”
When Alec didn’t reply right away the guy’s boredom rapidly shifted into irritation.
“How ‘bout you, pal?” The man prompted. “Rocks or frozen?”
“It comes frozen?” Alec ventured doubtfully.
Cindy sighed at the transgenic’s visible frustration with sound logic. She could already hear his argument about the technology it would require to convert pure alcohol into a solid state. Glancing up at the annoyed waiter, she picked a homemade nacho out from the wooden bowl between them.
“Frozen just means it’s a slushy, honey. Just like at the 7-Eleven.”
Alec relaxed slightly with covert relief.
The waiter cleared his throat.
Cindy wondered if all those Manticore geniuses would ever figure out that all they really needed to do to find the rogue X5s was perform some simple reconnaissance. If they dropped all the expertise and just started interviewing the disgruntled members of the service industry they’d have their soldiers back in no time.
“Rocks sound good. I’ll take those.” Alec decided. “Please.”
The task of securing drinks completed, Cindy let her attention wander to the basket of hot sauces sitting in the corner by the napkins. All the jaunty and colorful labels had names like bad heavy metal cover bands: Texas Fire. Devil Juice. Little Red Death. The tangy scent of cayenne and vinegar made her glance over impatiently at man pouring their margaritas from a pitcher.
She sat back to watch Alec carefully study the laminated menu.
“So.” He flipped it onto its other side. “Anything here that doesn’t include an intestinal parasite?”
“Nope.” Cindy took another chip and tested the soggy salsa. “’Cept the booze.”
She almost burst into applause when the novelty glasses were set down on the table. The stems had been fashioned into exotic green cactus, the chipping paint poorly made to resemble actual hand crafted ceramics from south of the border.
“You guys ready to order?”
“Keep these comin'.” Cindy tapped the glass. “And I’d like The Special.”
Alec shifted uncertainly in his seat.
Although it wasn’t mentioned on the official menu, ‘the special’ was why anyone ever came here at all. The mysterious platter sometimes included a gigantic yet flimsy burrito. On other occasions it was a heap of mushy tacos. Every now and then the chef would get inspired and toss it all into the deep fryer. But regardless of the variation that appeared on the plate, the most important detail was that it only cost the spare change found amongst the break room sofa cushions at Jam Pony. When the lone staff member got ready to leave, Alec calculated his options for another few seconds before changing whatever had been on his mind.
“I’ll have what she’s having,” he said. “The special sounds um, special.”
“Oh and make mine caliente.” Cindy eagerly added. “Extra caliente.”
She always forgot that part. They never made it caliente unless you specifically asked for it with emphasis on the extra. The man didn’t bother writing down the request considering they were the only people in the place. Alec quickly noticed that the waiter was waiting once again for him to respond in a timely manner.
“You too?” The guy guessed.
Cindy eyed the identical drink opposite hers and raised the glass to her lips again. The ring of salt on its rim stung her lower lip nicely. Small talk wasn’t really her thing but neither were silences over perfectly good alcohol.
“I had ta go all the way to sector 23 today.” She offered. “The guy stiffed me on the tip ‘cause his shit got a little damp on the trip.”
Alec gazed in distraction at the pouring rain streaming down the windows. The water threw the flickering sign of the pawn shop across the street into flecks of neon and lit the place with serene patches of pale blue light.
“That’s nothin’.” He crunched an ice cube between his teeth. “I got stuck behind a police blockade because some lady went and got stabbed.”
“Probably.” Alec shrugged. “Got to my drop late and the doorman wouldn’t even let me in.”
Cindy nodded in commiseration over the injustice of unfair circumstance. “Hey, you seen those new cameras over on—”
“45th and Brooklyn?”
She nodded again.
“Those suckers have been up for a week.” He rolled his eyes. “The one pointing south is broken.”
They both dropped the conversation like a bag of rocks when the food arrived.
Cindy knew it was going to be good when the steam wafting off the metal plate made her eyes burn and the back of her throat itch. The only way to eat this kind of cuisine was as spicy as it could get before a doctor was required.
“Huh.” Alec poked the ambiguous pile of gooey cheese. “It smells like ortho-chlorobenzylidene-malononitrile.”
Cautiously tasting the lava like consistency of refried beans, her mouth was instantly and gloriously set ablaze with the exquisite fire of thinly sliced habaneros. Reminded that the entire work day hadn’t included a lunch break, Cindy put away a row of what might have been pork tamales before she stopped long enough to come up for air. The transgenic was eating a great deal more slowly than she was. In fact, he wasn’t doing much eating at all.
Alec was staring down at his fork like it had just bit him.
She paused over the toxically hot food.
“I-I’m okay.” Stifling a cough, he groped for one of the empty margarita glasses. “I’m fine.”
Cindy felt a guilty flush over her cheeks as she scooped up another heap of jalapeños. The transgenic hastily swallowed another forkful without chewing and took in a deep breath.
“I can do it.” He said resolutely. “I can eat this.”
She raised an eyebrow.
“But… is it good?”
Eyes watering, Alec gave up on trying not to pant although he still looked like he wanted to scrub a napkin over his tongue.
“D-Dunno.” His hesitant answer was muffled around a mouthful of melted ice. “It kind of hurts.”
Cindy grinned as she dug into another identifiable lump smothered in peppers.
“Sugar, that means it’s perfect.”
cross posted to jam_pony_fic