The boy at table seven was a cute little thing, tussled brown hair lying haphazardly across his forehead in messy bangs, overshadowing wide hazel eyes. A pair of blue overalls, slightly too big, surrounded a dark green shirt that, Marie had noticed when she got their drink order, just so happened to match his older brother's eyes. Said older brother had glared at her when she commented, as if recognizing the similarity was his right, his privilege, and solely his. The older man with them, who she suspected to be their father, had given her a slightly apologetic smile while simultaneously ruffling the blond hair of the boy on his right, "It's a compliment, Dean-o," leaving his lips in a deep voice that matched his dark stubble and the slightly haunted look in his eyes even as Dean-o attempted to squirm away.
The look had sharpened when she introduced herself with the customary greeting of "Hi, I'm Marie, and I'll be your server today." She had wondered if maybe Marie was the name of the absent wife, or perhaps a mother, aunt, sister, daughter even, and bit back the question that had risen to her tongue. Instead she pretended that his eyes were normal, just like the other father who had sat in this same booth two hours ago, brown eyes laughing as his teenage son stuttered and blushed his way through his order.
Marie snuck another peek at the little brother, who couldn't have been more than three or four, as she approached the table again, this time with drinks balanced atop a tray. She carefully set the beer in front of the father, schooling her expression to not show her disdain at him drinking when it was only eleven in the morning. A sprite made its way beside the beer, but she took care to push it a little further so that it couldn't even come close to the other drink, and she did the same with the paper-wrapped straw. Next came the apple juice, already capped with a curly straw stuck through the top. Like the sprite, she set it a good distance away from the beer, and a little closer to the little boy who she still didn't know the name of. The father - it didn't seem right to call him "the dad", like it was too informal - moved it even closer to the boy, who had curled up against his father's leather jacket with his sneaker-covered feet tucked under him. He peered out at her from beneath his bangs, and she smiled at him, wondering if his older brother would scowl even more at her if he knew that she'd switched out the red straw for a green one.
The boy smiled a little hesitantly back at her, dimples settling into his skin as if they had waited hundreds of years just to be placed on this one child.
"Are you ready to order?" Marie asked, pulling her pad out from her pocket along with a pen.
The father nodded, "Yeah, just give me a minute," and again Marie resisted the urge to talk, this time to point out that no, if he needed a minute, then he clearly wasn't ready, but she had a feeling he wouldn't find it as funny as one of her college friends had a week ago. Instead she nodded, brunette curls bouncing on her red t-shirt, and she stifled another smile as she watched the little one's head move up and down with her hair. The elder brother glared at her again, though, and she knew that she'd been caught.
"I'll have the pancakes," Dean-o announced just as his father was opening his mouth. "The ones with the chocolate chips and bacon. No banana," and Marie nodded, jotting the order down.
"Dean," the father said, and Marie mentally adjusted the boy's name, "You just said that you wanted the Diner Special."
Dean shook his head, jaw set, his eyes burning into Marie's as if she had personally done him wrong. "It's too big," he said, and Marie got the feeling he was being difficult because of her. She sighed, telling herself that if she was ever going to have kids, she may as well get used to the fits that they threw now before they were actually her kids.
The father stared at Dean, brown versus green, before he finally turned back to Marie. "The chocolate chip pancakes," he agreed, "With bacon, and keep the banana."
The blonde boy opened his mouth again, obviously about to protest, but he quieted at his father's look.
"I'll have the omelet," the eldest man said, "with green peppers, tomatoes, the works." He turned to his youngest, "Sam, buddy, what do you want?"
Marie mentally checked Sam in as the little boy's name, waiting for him to speak.
He stared at her, peered around his father to look at Dean, and then turned back to her. "Chocolate chip pancakes," he said, "With bacon. No banana."
She could tell his nose was trying to keep from wrinkling, and so wasn't very surprised when the boys' father said, "Sammy, you don't even like bacon. And you love bananas."
Sam stared up at him from his curled position, big eyes widening even more and his lower lip sticking out in a perfect pout. As soon as she saw it, Marie wondered how his father and brother ever denied the kid anything. Still, the older man looked at her and said, "Keep the banana…"
Marie nodded, scribbling out the '1' that she had next to Dean's order and replacing it with a '2'. She gave all three a smile, "Do you want anything else?"
The father shook his head, one callused hand moving in an attempt to smooth down Sam's wild hair and showing that he had already practically forgotten that she was there, and she turned to deliver the order to the kitchen.
The arrival of their food, Marie had hoped, would go without incident, but the small family was already proving that they were exceedingly talented at making her life difficult, and instead she bit back a curse that she doubted would be appreciated by the father, older brother, and surrounding tables as Sam knocked down his juice while turning his plate around.
"Shit," the father exclaimed as the amber liquid dropped into his lap, "Fuck, that's cold. Shit, Sammy," and again the brunette was forced to reevaluate the family. Obviously they had no boundaries considering their extensive language, and she watched as Dean opened his mouth, his lips shaping up to doubtlessly echo his father, before the older brother caught a glimpse of Sam's face.
"Crap, Sammy, don't cry," were the words that exited Dean's mouth instead of more colorful language, and Marie found her eyes focused on the littlest boy's face. Hazel eyes distorted behind a mirage of tears, slightly chubby cheeks becoming red as small hands frantically rubbed away evidence of distress.
"'m sorwy, Dee," he said, "D-daddy, 'm sorwy," Sam sniffled, still scrubbing at his cheeks, but Marie couldn't stop to watch any more, instead yanking a hand towel from her belt and wiping up the mess.
"I'm so sorry," she apologized, "The cap should have stayed on. Would you like another apple juice? Free of charge, of course."
She yanked a bunch of napkins from their holder, handing them to the father so that he could wipe himself down. Dean stared at his father for about two seconds before he apparently got impatient, slipping beneath the table. Next thing Marie knew, he was standing before Sam, wiping tears away with the sleeve of his own leather jacket (like father, like son) and soothing his little brother.
"It's okay, Sammy," he promised, "It's just apple juice, yeah? Dad's not mad, are you, Dad?"
"Course not," the father answered before turning to Sam, "C'mere, Tiger, we can move to the other side of the table, how's that sound? You want another juice?"
Sam sniffled again, tears already slowing to a stop, as he nodded. Marie watched as John hoisted the little boy onto one hip, moving out of the booth and to the other side. One motion of his free hand had Dean sliding in before them, and Marie got the feeling it was more of a protective thing, having both of his boys on either side of him, rather than something of habit. The father followed the blonde, setting Sam beside him, now with one hand resting protectively on the boy's shoulder.
"I'll be right back," Marie said finally, hurrying away to get the apple juice she had promised.
Upon returning, she found Dean already half way through his pancakes, the father picking at his omelet, and Sam just starting on his own hotcakes with the banana nowhere in sight. Repressing a smile, she set the juice on the table, this time more than a couple of inches from Sam's plate of food, and asked how the family was doing.
"Fine, thanks," the father replied, shooting a small smile at his youngest's plate, obviously happy that he had still gotten the banana for Sam.
Once more, Marie found herself being ignored, though she would swear for the rest of the day to herself that yes, that definitely looked like a smirk from the blonde boy. Internally rolling her eyes, she headed off to another table a few feet away, a young couple attempting to catch her attention.
On her way around the diner, checking in on a few tables, she repeatedly discovered that her gaze kept on wandering to a certain booth. Dean had finished his pancakes already, and Sam had finally abandoned his own in favor of - or perhaps at the insistence of his father - the bacon.
Marie hurried behind the counter, grabbing a tall glass and pushing it under the soda dispenser, pressing the lip of the cup against the tab. As it slotted back with a click, chunks of ice rattled into the glass. She quickly moved the cup to another tab, her eyes finding the small family's table even as coca cola swished on top of the ice.
The father had dragged out a sheaf of papers and he appeared utterly focused on them, a pen that rested in his right hand tapping repeatedly against the top page. Every so often, the cap made it into the man's mouth, where he chewed it for a few minutes before seemingly realizing what he was doing and putting it back to the papers. Inevitably, the pen made its way back into his mouth, and as Marie extricated the glass of coke and delivered it to another customer, she found herself wondering if everyone had those little quirks, even the people who appeared as stoic and immovable as the older man.
The waitress took another family's order and swiftly walked back to the kitchen, intent on handing over the slip of paper with the order to the cook. As she emerged back into the dining area, her eyes darted once more to the booth before moving on. Not two seconds later, they whiplashed back, where Marie tried to make sense of the scene in front of her. Because the father was enamored with his papers, he'd slid forward so that his chest was practically touching the table's edge, his head bent as he furiously scribbled over the pages. As a result, there were several inches between the man's spine and the booth's cushioned back.
Marie finally grinned when she figured out what Dean and Sam were doing. Taking advantage of their father's high concentration and new position, the two brothers carefully switched bacon and banana pieces respectively by passing them behind their father's back. Every now and again, Sam would pause in order to break his bacon slices into bits, while Dean, who had already cut his banana into thin sections, peered over his father's shoulder at the papers. When Sam was ready, he would reach around the older man, squirming, to tap his brother on the back with a finger, and then the two performed a sequence of trade-offs.
Marie cut off her own smile when she noticed that she had stopped in her tracks, and she rushed to a table calling her name. By the time she was done, Dean and Sam's father was already packing his papers away, and she hurried over.
"Are you ready for the check?" She questioned. A nod was her only answer, and she walked away to the sound of the father telling his kids to hurry up and finish.
The next few minutes passed quickly as Marie handed over the check, took a credit card in exchange, and then delivered the card back to its owner.
The waitress watched as the small family exited the diner, Dean's arm draped over his little brother's shoulders and the father taking long strides toward an old black muscle car. As Marie looked on, the boys curled up in the back, automatically reaching for toy soldiers that she didn't doubt would one day end up stuck in the ashtray.