Actions

Work Header

Airbag

Work Text:

Working at a donut shop, you quickly discover one thing: those tv shows didn't lie about policemen liking donuts. While there are a good many of your average non-law enforcing Los Angeles denizens whom make their way into the donut shop where I work, there are a startling amount of policemen; enough to make me believe that "Twin Peaks" didn't lie to me about that one fact.

I greet them all with the same amount of friendly politeness but I am incredibly shy and it is only after seeing any one particular patron repeatedly that I start to lose my timidity in gradual degrees.

One such client is making me more nervous than all of the others; he has close cut dark brown hair and almond shaped eyes of brown also. His arms are amazingly the same size as my own, but whereas mine are pure pudge his, I know, are all muscle. He is darn cute. That's what is making me even more anxious around him.

Only after a few seconds and when he asks if there are any honey dips left do I realize that he is Jack Traven. 

Traven is an LAPD SWAT Officer that had first rescued a bunch of people trapped inside of an explosive elevator. As if that wasn't impressive enough, he followed it up by saving a bus full of passengers that was rigged to explode if it went below 50 miles per hour. He had been in every paper and on every 6:00 news program for a solid month.

So had his girlfriend Annie Porter. The fact that she had been the one forced to ride the bus after the driver had been shot had probably had something to do with it. Has had the fact that that was when they had first met and fallen in love. It was the type of love story that you only ever saw on the big screen presented to you with a gorgeous pair of lead actors.

Not overweight donut shop workers like myself.

Still it gave you hope that true love did exist and not just in the fairy tales that filled up your mind and bookshelf when you were young.

Today Traven isn't rescuing anything, however. Today he is looking for a certain type of donut and about to be sadly disappointed.

"We-we're all out," I mumble the bad news to a hero.

"None in the oven?" he asks, both hands on the counter. "I can wait."

I cast a look behind me at the cooking station of the store and bite my bottom lip. "Can you give me a moment?" I ask.

He smiles and it is a beautiful thing because seeing it makes you feel warm inside of your heart. It's boyish and sweeter than all the honey dips I am praying to God to find in the oven. "Sure."

I bustle out of there. Jack Traven has too nice of a smile. I am also very well aware that he has too nice of a girlfriend.

When I come back, I am happy to be holding a fresh tray filled with the Officer's requested donut flavor.

He smiles, wide and bright and gets his wallet ready.

"How many?" I ask.

"Six," he replies. "Two for my partner, two for Annie and two for myself."

"Annie, the lucky girl," I think to myself.

I prepare them and hand him the box.

"Thanks Erin," he says.

I'm startled. "How did you..."

I stop as i watch him pointing at my name tag. "I think that's supposed to help me know the name of the pretty girl that served me."

I blush. Being called pretty is something I'm not used to. "It's also to help you tell the boss who goofed up on your service," I say, feeling my heart beat as I try to string together more than a few simple words. "It helps inform him of whom to fire. So how did I do today?"

"Perfect," Jack states. "You got me my honey dipped donuts. What more could a man ask for?"

Watching as he leaves, watching his cute rear end exit and thinking about his genuine kindness it seems hard to believe that a woman could ask for more than Jack Traven, himself.

* * *

"Over here!" I hear a voice call out and turn to see Jack sitting at a table with the last remaining free chair.

The shop is unnaturally crowded and I had intended to take my break outside before I heard my friend calling out my name, obviously offering me a place to sit with him. By this time, Jack Traven has been coming to the shop for months, we've gotten to know one another a fair bit and I consider him a friend and as nice of a guy as I initially thought. This is one of the primary reasons I rush over to the table and sit with him. I am grateful I don't have to face the other patrons but have a good view of the parking lot outside. Hey, it might not be scenic but it beats a whole bunch of faces when you are as shy as I am.

"Why is it so busy today?" he asks, taking a bite of his BLT.

"I don't know," I state honestly. "It will be mind-numbingly slow and then all of a sudden it gets crazy. I feel bad for Stacey. She's filling in while I'm off for an hour."

I quickly take a drink of soda and then break off a piece of a maple cream. I watch as the custard inside leaks out and on to the napkin that I placed it on. Cheekily, Jack dips his finger into it, stealing some of the filling.

"Have some icing too," I retaliate.

He does, asking me a question once he's finished. "What do you do to amuse yourself when it gets boring."

I lean forward conspiratorially and whisper so nobody will overhear me. "I picture which combinations of donuts would be suggestive."

Jack Traven almost spits out the coffee in his mouth. I'm glad he manages to keep it in because, in all odds, if it had flown out it would have gotten all over my uniform and face.

"You do what?" he asks for clarification.

"Well donuts naturally look lewd. I have fun mixing and matching them to make crude images. If I ever get fired I'll make a few before I go and leave them on display."

Adorning a pensive expression which is entirely fake, the SWAT Officer states, "If you do I might have to arrest you."

I try to look innocent. "You will?"

He nods still in pretend professional mode. I wait until he takes another sip of his coffee before I say, "Oh good. I've always thought handcuffs seem like fun."

This time Jack Traven doesn't make it in time. He spits out his mouthful of black roasted Colombian. Expecting it I duck right in time.

I'm a big girl but I can be fast when I need to be.

* * *

When you see somebody at least three times a week you can tell their moods by what they order. I can tell when Jack is having a good time or a bad time by what he orders on any given day. Croissants are good; danishes, donuts and any other type of pastry tells me that everything is all right. Cookies are bad. It's not that Jack hates them. On the contrary, he reserves a soft and fresh chocolate chip for days where he needs something extra. We've all had days like those; the ones where it feels as if life is only ever going to get worse and the best part of it lies so far back in the past that it makes memories into a curse and a comfort.

I always make sure I save Jack a cookie just incase he needs one. I pay for it myself and put it on hold. What's the worst that can happen? I have to eat it myself? It would be fine just to know that my friend is okay.

I can also tell when things are going well with Annie and when they are not. He'll use her name when it's smooth sailing and roses; when it's speed bumps and thorns he refers to her as his "girlfriend."

More and more recently he has been using that name.

"I really goofed up," he confesses one day after requesting a bad day giveaway.

"How?" I ask handing over a cookie.

He sighs and looks incredibly sheepish. "It was our anniversary. I gave my girlfriend pepper spray. She thought it was perfume. She had to be rushed to the hospital."

I'm not sure what to say but then I find something good about the whole mess. "Well all it shows is that you care more for her safety than about how she smells. I would have been flattered. I can't wear perfume anyway."

"I should have given it to you," he says.

Our eyes meet, his dark ones and my light ones, over the counter with an emptying display of donuts behind me and we both turn scarlet at the same time.

"Thanks," Jack mumbles throwing the payment on the counter.

I start to get his change but he's halfway out the door, the chocolate chip treat in his mouth. "Your change!" I shout out to him.

He backs out the door, the cookie looking like an odd polka dotted tongue sticking out of his mouth, and holds his two hands up in the air in silent protest.

When he is gone and it is just me behind the counter, a dwindled army of donuts and the like and a chef named Mike by himself baking up more goods, I look at the money Jack Traven has given to me and I whisper, "I wish you would have given it to me too."

But then again, if I had been on that speeding bus Jack and everybody on board would have been dead:

I don't know how to drive.

* * *

Not all of the customers are as nice as Jack. I've had quite a few insult me. The worst is when they center on my weight. I received enough of that while I was a child and teenager so those moments when it happens again I'm back to being that insecure and wounded little girl that felt ugly and unwanted.

It happened today and I'm on the park bench outside crying when Jack Traven walks by me on his way inside. It's dark outside and I let my hair down, hoping to hide the fact that I'm weeping. I don't think Jack recognizes me at first but his basic decent nature knows that the woman on the bench is sad and he wants to help. Only after he's gotten closer does he realize who the chubby, sniffling figure is.

"Erin?" he says in concern.

I look up at him with eyes I can only assume are red. "Hi."

He parks his beautiful self next to me. "What's the matter?"

I decide to be honest, not liking the awkward embarrassment I know that will follow but not wanting to hide it. I start to play with my hands resting on my thighs before I explain.

"A couple of customers came in. They were saying things under their breath about my weight...like if the store wanted to cut down in fat all they had to do was fire me."

Jack looks at me sympathetically. "I could have fined them if I was there," he comments. "Don't listen to them. Speaking of fines...you look mighty fine to me. I like your hair like this."

I can't tell if he's being truthful or trying to cheer me up but he plays with a few strands and then brushes it behind my shoulder gently.

I'm suddenly shy again in his presence like when we first met so I try to focus on something funny instead of how close he is sitting by my side.

"Maybe us big people we should have a parade like the Pride ones," I stated, twiddling my thumbs. "Fat Pride. Except we'd have to make sure that there was enough space reserved because you couldn't fit as many of us in the same area...and the bridges would have to be reinforced to handle all that extra weight if we needed to cross them."

It takes Jack Traven a second or two to realize that I am not taking myself too seriously and am trying to be funny. When he knows that it's okay he laughs and his smile remains just as glorious as the day when I first saw it. He places one of his heavily biceped arms around the heavily weighted me and offers a warm and affectionate hug. As my face is buried halfway between his chest and his armpit, I smell sweat and the deodorant which has failed in its job.

It's okay though. It smells like Jack and I love it for that very reason.

* * *

A few weeks later Jack comes in and he orders a cookie. He looks beaten down. Now it is my turn to ask him what's wrong.

"I wake up and I have to face a relationship that is falling apart...I go to work and my boss likes to yell at me when he's the one that goofed up...everybody sees me as a hero but I can't save every single person. I wish to God that I fucking could."

He looks so lost that I know this moment calls for drastic measures. As Jack's head is lowered, I quickly fulfill a dream that has been inside of my head for ages now. On the counter beneath his lowered head, I place two tarts with whipped cream peaks and topped with cherries. Between them I place an eclair.

"Ta dah!" I announce.  My ode to something that rhymes with 'a kitty duck.' Except the eclair with that chocolate streak looks like it's been somewhere else first, if you get my drift."

I'm afraid Jack Traven will look at me in revulsion, like I'm the dirtiest thing this side of a pig having fun in the mud. Instead he looks at me and starts to laugh very loudly. I've brought him a bit of happiness and feel a glow all over. I take the eclair while he takes a tart. We hold them up in the air before I bite into mine, the cream partly leaking out and pooling at the corner of my mouth as he bites the cherry from off of his tart.

* * *

Jack doesn't come into the shop after that for a while and my OCD and bully of a brain starts making me fear that I upset him. Maybe I had been too lewd. When he does come in next he brings Annie. He seems his usual self and I'm happy that he's back. I'm not happy to finally meet his girlfriend though. I think when I see them together is the first time I accept that I have fallen in love with Jack Traven but that he's in love with somebody else.

Annie seems nice but she talks as fast as she drove that bus: a mile a minute.

"We've got to go, Jack," she finally says about an hour after she's practically told me her life story. "Now. Joe's expecting us. We'll just get the donuts and then get out of here. Nice meeting you, Erin. Jack has told me a lot about you."

That surprises me a bit, to be honest.

When she's gone out to the car and Jack has stayed behind to pay for the box of crullers and Boston Creams, he looks at me in a strange and apologetic way. "She insisted we come here," he says.

I don't know how to feel, wondering if that was the only way that he would return after the crude donut display.

"I understand," I say. "I was dirty with the whole donut thing...I'm sorry. I hope you don't think too badly of me."

He looks shocked about my apology. "No...that's not what I mean...I..."

Annie pops her head back inside the door. "Jack come on!" she urges. "If there was a bomb attatched to us we'd both be dead!"

She disappears again and Jack looks at me in frustration as if there are things he wants to say but can't. Instead, he leans over the counter and kisses my cheek before leaving to go and appease his girlfriend, who is no doubt having a freak out in the parking lot.

I touch the place where his lips had touched, staring at the doorway longingly.

* * *

It's about a month before I see Jack again. When he does finally come in, it is close to closing time. He orders a maple cream, looking at me very cheerfully and my heart sinks thinking that his relationship with Annie must have improved.

I am shocked then when I am heading home to find him waiting in the parking lot, resting against his car. "Can I drive you home pretty lady?" Jack shouts out to me. "Or can I take you to mine instead?"

I walk hesitantly towards him. "Won't Annie be a tad upset about that?" I ask.

"Why?" he replies. "We no longer live together; we broke up."

"I'm sorry," I say.

He looks at me wryly and walks towards me, taking my chubby upper arms in his hands. "I was kind of hoping that you wouldn't be," he remarks.

"I'm not," I confess before our lips suddenly meet and we're kissing in the parking lot.

When he let's me try to catch my breath, I have no experience in the world of lip locking, he proceeds in informing me of the reason for his absence.

"You don't know what it was like," he begins. "Knowing that I had fallen in love with you but having to stay with Annie out of responsibility."

"Is that why you really stopped coming here?"

He nodded. "It didn't feel right anymore...I was hoping I'd forget about you if I didn't see you anymore. But I couldn't. You were all I could think about!"

He kisses me quickly again, hugging me close to him afterwards. "But then today Annie and I finally admitted that it wasn't working out between us. My home is now a crummy motel room, at the moment, but when I find better, I want it to be yours too. If you want it to be, that is."

I nod enthusiastically. "But why me? You could have anyone."

"Why would I want anyone?" he asks, going an arm length of distance away from me, his hands still on my arms and looking at me intently. "Whenever my life has been spinning out of control you were the one that were there to support me. You always even have a cookie waiting for me, for crying out loud! I've been to enough donut shops in my life to know that those get sold out, Erin. How many cookies have you eaten in my honor anyway?"

"Don't worry about it," I say with a smile. "Chocolate chip is my favorite too."

He laughed and smiled again.

"Sometimes, I only wanted one because of you... here I was with one woman and in love with another," Jack says as he brushes a strand of brown hair from my face. "But whatever it was you were there to protect me"

"I guess, I'm your airbag," I say looking up into his boyish, grinning face. "I'm soft and round."

My SWAT man rolls his eyes, half disapproving but also half amused.

"And that is not a bad thing at all because if I'm going to burn you're the one I want to crash into," Jack Traven says as he finishes the circular movement of his thoughtful brown eyes and takes my head in his hands and kisses me joyfully, making me burn in another way entirely.