Maggie had come to learn that when you worked in hospitality, you never really knew what to expect. She’d worked in the industry for years, with twenty years spent in this exact establishment, and she figured that gave her enough experience to speak with confidence. After all, who knew what manner of crazy you’d find walking through those doors on any typical, unsuspecting day.
That didn’t mean she wasn’t stuck between the urge to gawk and watch the train wreck happening in front of her when it struck. It was better when she wasn’t directly dealing with those people, of course, but apparently today wasn’t her lucky day.
It started when the kid walked through the door. Short, around twelve or thirteen by the looks of it, and dressed in a school uniform, which was odd since it was a Saturday. She could hear him muttering to himself about hoping that they served a decent cup of coffee. She couldn’t help the disapproving look that appeared on her face; really, kids were starting far too early these days. Sure, there were things he could be doing that were a lot worse — Lord, the kids of her day weren’t nearly as wild as the youth of more modern times — but she’d heard that drinking too much coffee at a young age could stunt your growth.
The doorbell chimed as it opened, and a man walked in and came to stand beside the scowling youth. His dad, she guessed, although his outfit looked outrageous — a long black feathery coat, thick eyeliner, and Lord, were those leather pants?
‘To each their own,’ she reminded herself. Times were changing. Still, she couldn’t help but shoot his outfit yet another cursory glance. Did he have to dress so outlandishly when out with his son?
And speaking of the child…God, how had she missed that? She’d been so focused on the strange duo, that she’d completely missed the fact that on the floor beside the boy was the top half of a mannequin.
“The Hell?” she heard Chris muttering from beside her, eyeing the thing with a slight shudder. “Shit, that’s something out of a horror movie.”
Maggie hummed in agreement, too busy staring to grimace at his language like she usually would have done.
The boy walked over, while the man stood back, staring at an empty spot beside him.
“Table for four, please,” the boy said.
Maggie nodded, smiling. “Of course. Right this way.” She picked up four menus, and gestured for them to follow her. She heard a soft, “Oh my god,” from Chris, and turned to see that the boy had picked up the mannequin, and was carrying it with him.
The man didn’t seem bothered by his son’s strange behaviour, and she wondered if he’d bought the thing for him. Maggie grimaced slightly. She didn’t know what was going on with parent’s these days. The kinds of things that they indulged their children…
She placed the menus on the table, and waited for them to sit down. The boy plonked the mannequin on the empty seat beside him. The man pulled out the chair beside him, smiling fondly at the empty spot beside him, and then sat down on the other chair.
Maggie realised that she’d been staring for too long, and quickly looked away. “Uh,” she said, her mind scrambling, “Can I take or order? Or — well, would you like to wait for the rest of your group to arrive?”
The man glanced at her, and Maggie thought she saw a knowing glint in his eyes and the hint of a smirk, before he shrugged casually. “Nope, it’s just me, Dolores, Dave and little Five.” He reached over to pat the boy on his head, who in turn stared at him venomously and inched his hand towards the butter knife.
‘What?’ Maggie stared at them, bewildered, but neither seemed willing to offer up anymore information. Well, this seemed to be shaping up into one of those situations that she wanted nothing to do with, so she grabbed her notepad and pen, and forced a smile onto her face.
“And what will you be having?”
“Two cups of coffee,” the boy said briskly.
The man hummed, flipping through the menu. “What do you think?” he asked, and Maggie realised that yes, he actually was talking to the empty air beside him.
She shot a glance at the kid, who didn’t even seemed surprised by the older man’s behaviour. Oh God, should she be concerned? She shot a glance at her co-workers, but both Chris and Ashley were simply watching from behind the counter, eyes wide and glued to the scene in front of them.
“Two slices of chocolate cake,” the man finally settled on, beaming widely. Maggie gave him an awkward smile back, snatched up the menu, and hurried away. She heard a loud snickering, and then a yelp.
“Why are you so mean to me?” the man whined.
“Shut up, I’m trying to talk to Dolores!”
“Oh my God,” Chris said, once she’d reached the counter.
“I think he’s talking to himself again,” Ashley said, leaning forward. “Okay yeah he is — oh my god, is that kid talking to the mannequin?”
Maggie shot a glance behind her. Yes, the boy was talking to the top half of a mannequin.
“I love working here,” Ashley breathed.
Maggie turned around again. The man was still conversing with the empty seat beside him, talking animatedly with both hands. The boy on the other hand seemed engrossed with the mannequin, his arm casually slung around it’s shoulder.
“Should we, uh, do something?” Chris asked hesitantly. “Like that guy doesn’t look all there, and…well neither does the kid for that matter. And — are we even sure that’s his dad?”
Maggie sighed. “I’m just going to get them their cake and coffee.”
When she made her way back with their orders, she placed one cup of coffee and cake in front of the boy, and then repeated this with the man. The boy huffed and reached out, taking one of the cups and placing it in front of the mannequin instead. He then grabbed the slice of cake and slid it over to the empty seat.
“Dolores sure loves her coffee,” the man commented, taking a big bite of cake.
“Of course she does,” the kid snapped. “So do I. So just shut up and let us drink in peace.”
‘Oh,’ Maggie thought, 'Dolores is the mannequin.’
She turned and walked away, deciding that she’d add this to the list of bizarre experiences she’d had since working here.
“She looks very confused,” Dave commented, watching as the waitress walked away.
“I have no idea why,” Klaus replied, though a mouthful of cake.
Dave watched him fondly. “Maybe it had something to do with you talking to yourself?”
“I was talking to you.”
And sure, she couldn’t exactly see that, but Klaus was used to people looking at him strangely, and it wasn’t like he really cared if he’d freaked her out a bit. Right now he was enjoying a nice date with the love of his life, who also just so happened to be a ghost, and judgemental workers weren’t going to ruin that for him.
No, what might just ruin it was Five, who was busy adding sugar to his creepy mannequin girlfriend’s coffee. Now if there was anything to stare at, that was a good option.
“Don’t know why they’re all staring.” Five said, placing down the spoon, and picking up his own cup of coffee.
Klaus nodded. “I know, right? You’d think they’d never seen an old man in a teenagers body making goo-goo eyes at an inanimate object.”
Five’s eyes narrowed. “Fuck you. And I think they were more concerned about you talking to empty air.”
“Hey, me and Dave just wanted some nice quality time together. You were the one who insisted on coming.”
Honestly, was it so hard to want some time away from his family? Klaus had lived through years of all of them — save for Ben of course — wanting nothing to do with him, and suddenly you stop one little apocalypse together, and you’re all pretty much joined at the hip.
And okay, it was kind of nice to have them actually trying — sure, their attempts often came of as awkward, and sometimes insulting — thank you, Luther — but they were trying.
He could summon Dave now. Finally, after months of trying, he’d managed to find him, to reunite with him, and it was the best feeling ever. Oh, he still had a long way to go — he was determined to find a way to make both him and Ben corporeal — but in the meantime, he wasn’t going to sit around doing nothing. He was going to show Dave everything that the future had to offer, even if it was just a decent-looking cafe with weird, judgemental staff, and amazing chocolate cake.
(Finding a way to let ghosts eat was another thing on his list of things to figure out).
Of course Five had to tag along, because apparently it was very hard to get coffee when you were in the body of a kid with no adult supervision. Apparently it made adults concerned, and Klaus didn’t know how tagging along with him of all people, and bringing along half of a mannequin he’d stolen from a department store, would make them any less likely to call the police.
Still, Klaus hadn’t been able to talk him out of it, because it was Five and once Five set his mind on something, he’d probably kill you if you tried to talk him out of it. And he’d brought along his mannequin bride because apparently he’d gone back to find her after the apocalypse — he’d‘missed her far too much to be away from her, and knew she’d felt the same way about him’ and the sentiment would have been adorable if he’d been talking about literally anyone else — and now the two of them were closer than ever, much to the disturbance of everyone else.
Well, he supposed it could have been worse. With psuedo-incest and deranged stalkers, his family had certainly done worse in terms of relationships.
Sibling bonding was great and all, but he’d sure like some alone time with Dave. Well, he was sure Five and Dolores would disappear after this, and then they could do whatever they want without annoying child assassins watching their every move.
(Which admittedly wasn’t much right now, but Klaus was working on it).
Dave sighed, looking amused. “You know, I never thought death would be like this.” His arm was slung over the back of Klaus’s chair, even though he still couldn’t touch anything. “This is strangely entertaining.”
Klaus followed Dave’s gaze, and yeah, they were still attracting a lot of stares. Well, considering how crazy his family was, what did anyone expect. He gave a cheery wave to the workers, and hoped they wouldn’t get kicked out before he finished his slice of cake.