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Beneath the Surface

Chapter Text

It had been my dream forever. To open my own business. To be my own boss. To bake, make people happy, and get paid for it. So when I opened up my own bakery, it was an amazing feeling. I turned on all the lights, unlocked the door, and was ready to make some sales.

I made seven.

Absolutely crushed and panicked after a rough first day of being open, I began closing up the display cases an hour before closing time. I sighed as I put the keys in my apron pocket, taking the temperatures of the coolers. I sat down at one of the bistro chairs throughout the lobby of the bakery and felt tears build up in my eyes. Seven sales…

I heard the bell on the door ding open and quickly jumped up to wipe my eyes. I looked over to see a hooded man coming towards me. I felt a slight unease as he walked directly up to me and pulled a gun.
“Open the register” He said, gesturing with the gun towards the counter. My breath stopped and I quickly scurried behind the counter. He followed me, shifting uneasily. I pushed the security button I had installed under the counter, and it automatically called the company and told them to send police. I opened the register and slowly started to put the money on the counter, the man quickly taking it. He looked over his shoulder and nodded. Another man came through the front door, hands outstretched to take the money and throw it in a bag.
“Hurry up!” The first guy yelled. I felt tears stream down my face. It was then that I heard the door open again, expecting a third man to enter. Instead I saw no one, but the two men both dropped to their knees, shouting. I noticed knives stuck in the back of their knees, they were both grasping to put them out. That’s when a third man walked around the corner and kicked both of the men in their sides before they could get up. The two robbers were now coughing and spluttering, and I collapsed behind the counter. I tried to control my breathing as I faintly heard sirens in the distance. I heard the boots of the third man walk around the counter and I started to fully panic. I lost control of my breathing and my tears, fully expecting to die. The third man crouched down next to me and put a hand on my shoulder, a gentle ‘sshh’ coming from his mouth. The police sirens grew louder and I heard the police come through the front door. The third man was still crouched next to me, I refused to look over at him while he rubbed my shoulder, trying to get me to calm down.
“Hey, the police are here now, you’re safe. They have those two scumbags in cuffs. You’re okay.” I finally looked over at the scarred face of the third man. When I made eye contact, he smiled gently, still rubbing my shoulder. He had kind, dark eyes, short dark hair and wore all black. I noticed that he was wearing a leather harness that had knives strapped to it. I wiped the tears from my eyes.
“Are you a cop?” I asked weakly. He chuckled a little.
“Nah. I move too fast to be a cop.” He smiled, looking up at the officer who walked over to question me. “You may want to start driving faster, you’re late.” He said to the cop, standing up and patting his arm.
“Thanks, Diego.” The cop rolled his eyes.

I answered all of the questions the cops had, and they packed up the two men and left. Diego, however, remained.
“Are you going to be okay?” He asked. I was putting the money into a deposit box, counting and writing numbers.
“I hope so. This wasn’t the grand opening day I envisioned.” I said, feeling the sadness in my voice.
“Can I try something?” Diego asked. “I mean, I’ll pay for it.”
“I think you’ve earned a free cookie, Diego. Thank you again for saving me. I...I don’t know what I would have done without you. Do you like chocolate chip or peanut butter?” I asked, grabbing some wax paper and waiting anxiously for his answer.
“Chocolate chip.” He said, pulling a chair up to the closest bistro table and smiling. He had a warm smile. I pulled one from the case and handed it to him.
“Why did you help me?” I asked softly, sitting down behind the counter.
“I heard over the radio there was a security emergency at this place. I know the cops are too slow, and I like to help people.” He said, slowly taking a piece of the cookie. “Besides, I like cookies.”
“Why are you still here? Why didn’t you leave when the cops left?” I asked. I also began to feel uneasy.
“I lost someone very special to me about a year ago. She was the kind of person who wanted to take care of people. I want to be more like her, to honor her memory.” He said. “This is the second best chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever had. No one beats my mom’s.” He said, looking up at me.
“Thank you Diego.” I said, slightly blushing. “I wish other people thought that. I only made seven sales today.”
“You’re kidding.” He said, standing up. I flinched, not thinking anything of it. I was still on edge. “Are you sure you’re going to be okay?”
“I should be. I think.” I said.
“Keep your chin up, things will get better.” Diego said. “Have a good night.” He said as he walked out the door.
“Thanks again, Diego.” I said. I shut the lights off, locked the door and hurried to my car.