baking a cake
make me a day, make me whole again
and i wonder, what's in a day?
what's in your cake this time?
My eyes would have widened in disbelief had I not seen this coming from a mile away. Sollux and his new girl were holding hands as his lips moved, the words mutilated by his speech impediment as he told me what I'd been expecting him to tell me for the past month. The usual "it's not you, it's me" bullshit that no one ever believes.
"Are you done talking?" I said, interrupting in a voice so emotionless it almost scared me.
"Karkat, I'm - "
"Because if you are, I need to go pack my shit."
His eyes, those two-colored eyes that had first attracted me all those months ago, averted from mine, but not before I saw the guilt deep within them.
And it almost surprised me how little I cared.
I glared at the lit sign through the clouds of breath that exited my nostrils. Perfect, I thought as I read the lettering. A place to get warm and maybe get something to eat. The words "Buns and Brews" showed blue against the bright yellow of the coffee shop's sign. I lugged the single suitcase with all my things stuffed inside it behind me as I reached for the handle and hoped it wasn't -
It was locked.
I left my hand where it was on the door handle, sighing deeply, and rested my head dismally against the glass, which was slightly warmed with the heating inside. This was bullshit. My now-ex boyfriend had kicked me out without a job, without anywhere to go except this tiny shop, and it was closed; my thin jacket barely kept out the bitter cold of mid-December, and my stomach rubbed up against my pancreas painfully. It was going to be a long night, and I didn't even want to think about the next day.
I saw something move through my half-closed eyes. Looking up, I glared half-heartedly through the glass at the guy inside.
He was around my age, with buck teeth, raven hair, and thick, square glasses.
He grinned broadly and gestured for me to move away from the door; when I complied, he held the door open instead of brushing past me on his way home from work.
"Sorry!" he said apologetically. "I shouldn't have closed up so early, but it was a slow day, and - well, just come in!" His tenor voice voice had the tone of naivety embedded in it that I wished I still had.
I rolled my luggage over the metal strip where the door had been and stepped into the small shop. The smell of roasted coffee beans, chocolate, and fresh-baked biscotti hit my nose so temptingly I nearly dropped the suitcase. A row of Torani syrup bottles stood on the counter by the register, burlap sacks that had once contained coffee beans from places like Hawaii hung from the ceiling, and chalkboards displaying the shop's specialty drinks and their prices hung on the walls. I'd never been in this shop; merely glanced in the windows when I passed it by. Now I wondered in the back of my mind what else I'd been missing.
The cashier that had let me in all but skipped past me on his way back behind the counter to go back to what he was doing before I'd shown up. Dragging my suitcase around to slide it beneath one of the wooden tables, I took my wallet from my back pocket to double-check its contents. Five bucks. Well, it would get me a coffee and some hard-baked confectionery. Not enough, but it'd have to do until I could go job hunting.
Just then, my stomach grumbled audibly, and the cashier guy looked up from the dough he was kneading. He giggled. "Hungry, eh?"
"Yeah," I said, slightly embarrassed that I'd made such a loud noise, and walked to the counter. He pulled his hands free of the dough and washed them off, turning back to me.
"What can I get you?" he asked, that childish smile back in place.
"Can I get a sixteen-ounce Rocky Road and one of those chocolate biscotti?"
"Oh, come on, you're hungrier than that. What else do you want?" His eyes became sly behind those thick glasses.
"I only have five dollars."
"And it's near closing time. I don't want all the food I made today to go to waste."
"Er..." I faltered. I couldn't come up with a legitimate argument, mainly because I was too hungry to pass up free food. "Okay. Just some kind of sandwich or something."
He giggled again. "That'll work. And what name should I put on your order?"
"I'm the only one here."
"Doesn't mean I can't get your name." His expression was sly again. Maybe even flirty. I was too tired to care at the moment.
How does he do that? I though, again rendered without an excuse. "I'm Karkat."
"Great!" He wrote my order down on a scrap piece of receipt paper. I'll have that out in a bit. Thanks, Karkat!"
"...Thanks," I said, a little too late as he disappeared into the back room.
When he brought out a tray a few minutes later, I was sitting down at the table, glaring out the window. It was snowing outside. Fucking fantastic.
"Hey, Karkat! I have your order," he said, setting it down in front of me. Besides the things I'd actually ordered, the sandwich having turned out to be grilled cheese, there was an extra biscotti and a good-sized bowl of steaming tomato soup. I looked up at him suspiciously.
"What? I'm not charging you extra. You just sou - er, seemed really hungry." His ever-present grin widened.
Did he really have to be so nice?
"My name's John, by the way."
"Well, eat up. I gotta get back to work."
Why did it always turn out this way?
Why did anyone ever think I was worth the trouble?
Well, never mind. They always found out in the end that I was never worth it.
I was glad this John guy had his back turned. As my eyes clouded over, I watched two drops fall into the red liquid in front of me.