Chapter 1: The Devil Wears Givenchy
“Welcome to East Ladle’s last standing Burger King, how may I assist your hunger on this fine Thursday afternoon?” I grinned far too brightly at the tired couple.
The man glanced at the menu – he smelled of old cigarette smoke and gas station coffee – his eye twitched and he sighed deeply. His, what I assumed was a partner of some kind, tried to quiet down the children who were ready to get out of her grasp and run around our sticky tables. Her glasses were askew and her hair was frazzled, and just like her potential partner, looked like she was one inconvenience away from insanity.
I smiled impossibly wider, showing more teeth than a half-vampire should in public.
“How about uhm, Texas double whooper, a crispy chicken salad for the missus, and what do they kids say they like – “
“The chicken fries,” the woman responded with way too much frustration in her voice.
“– The chicken fries”
I stood there without moving or responding, just long enough to make them uncomfortable.
“I’m sorry, we are currently all out of chicken products. There was a salmonella incident – total recall. Would you like to order something else?” Cigarette Smoke looked deeply frustrated and his wife took a deep breath.
“What about the…seriously? No chicken products at all?” I nodded gravely.
“Then, we’ll all have the Texas double whooper,” his wife looked pissed.
“Seriously, Jared? You know how I feel about the kids having that much meat,” Cigarette Smoke’s eye started twitching more aggressively.
“You heard what she said! No chicken!” I nodded and confirmed. No chicken.
“You do fish ones – “I kept nodding. Cigarette smoke looked disgusted. “– give us those instead”
“I would love to do that for you, unfortunately, the big fish is wildly popular at this location and we sold out our last one just before you guys got here,” they both muttered curses and glared at each other. Glasses spoke.
“Fine. We’ll take the Texas ones,” Cigarette Smoke looked way too pleased with this development.
“Okie-doke! But before I push in your order, I am legally required to let you know we’ve recently had a rat infestation – “Cigarette Smoke shrugged but Glasses looked queasy “– and I also have to hand you this pamphlet that details exactly how bad the infestation was, and let me tell you, it was capital B Bad,” I passed the pamphlet but it took Cigarette Smoke a second to grab it. The pamphlet was comically thick.
“I have to see you read the whole thing before I can serve you”
We all stared at each other in silence, almost like a standoff. The children got rowdier and my sadism was being sated.
The camel’s back finally broke. The man roughly shoved the pamphlet back and slammed his hand on the counter.
“Forget it,” his impatience loud and clear. Glasses looked both pleased and annoyed at her husband’s decision; probably because their two kids started whining about it.
“There was a Dairy Queen two miles back, just hold on a god damn second,” she hit the man upside the head and he glared back.
“Don’t swear at them!” The family continued fighting as they left the restaurant, leaving it once again empty. Mission accomplished.
After a beat, None of Your Fucking Business Kevin spoke.
“I admire the work you put into whatever the hell this is,” he pointed to my pamphlet, “but I doubt the boss is gonna be happy about it”
I took a sip from my water and leaned on the counter.
“If Mr. Assistant Manager didn’t want me to do this, he would have said so already,” he scoffed and shook his head.
“Right…right. Let’s see how he takes it when he’s actually in the building”
“You know what they say, be there or be square. ‘sides, we don’t wanna encourage this sort of behaviour! An assistant manager playing hooky? For shame”
“I swear you’re gonna give the poor kid an aneurysm,” he glanced around the room; there were no customers and no Jeremiah – the man wisely staying away until he knew the rats were gone for sure – so it was as far from busy as it could possibly be. “Ok, I’m taking out the trash. Think you can hold down the fort while I’m gone?”
I rolled my eyes and flicked some crumbs at him.
“I don’t need a babysitter, gramps”
He swore but he also left, which I counted as a win.
The novelty of being left alone wore out after a minute and I sighed out of boredom. I couldn’t even take out my phone to entertain myself, since my old one got deep fried and my brand new one wouldn’t arrive until next week. This job could get so fucking tedious sometimes.
After cleaning the tables for the third time this shift, I decided to try changing the music playing on the speakers. Usually, Gay Kevin was the one in charge of that, but since he was currently MIA, None of Your Fucking Business Kevin had full control of our radio and he was a fucking tyrant, drunk with power. He would only play old man music and he was so annoying about it too; it was as if he thought listening to anything past the 90’s would kill him – I once played WAP in his vicinity for the fun of it and he almost had a seizure.
I had just managed to change the station to something playing Ariana’s new single, when a customer walked in.
He had a backpack and a very ambiguous age about him; he could easily be in his late teens or his twenties – hell, he could be 30 for all I knew. I didn’t recall seeing him at the high school, so it was likely he was a college student. His smile unsettled me.
“Hello!” he said with genuine cheer – unlike me – and he raised his hand in greeting. “I would like to order some food, please”
“I would love to take your order of some food,” I said with my customer service voice and a cruel smile.
He looked unphased, to my chagrin. He scanned the menu until he read something that made his eyes widen.
“I’ll take the Chocolate shake. With Oreos”
“Sorry, bud. All out of Oreos,” he didn’t seem too bothered by that.
“Then I’ll take the shake without them”
“All out of chocolate shakes too,” this time he seemed way too distraught about it. Almost felt bad. Almost.
“Strawberry?” he asked tentatively, voice full of hope and eyes way too wide.
“Great! I’ll take it, thank you” he was back to giving me that unsettling smile.
“Anything else with that?” he shook his head.
“Well, I legally have to tell you that we were infested with rats. And you got to read this before I can make your order,” I passed him the pamphlet and he tilted his head. He took it, and the mad lad actually started reading it – like he was actually taking in the info, his brow furrowed in concentration. Honestly, didn’t expect anyone to even bother.
And this was when Alice fucking Cullen walked in.
Not only did she walk in wearing a $1.6k Givenchy floral pleated skirt, a $2.5k black Balenciaga Pagoda turtleneck, and a pair of $1.5k Saint Laurent Jodie platforms to fucking Burger King. She also dragged along her favourite accessory of them all – her emotional support Confederate.
She glided into the restaurant – because none of the Cullen’s could act fucking human – while her boy toy brooded by the door.
I openly scowled at them.
“I’m so sorry, I think you might be in the wrong place! Paris Fashion week is not occurring at this location – this is actually a Burger King. Common mistake though, people confuse Minnesota and France all the time”
“Nessie! Still very funny the second time around,” I scowled some more and crossed my arms. Fucking psychics.
“I go by Resentment,” we both said at the exact same time to my endless irritation.
“Oh, don’t look at me like that, you don’t need to be able to see the future to know that you’re predictable,” though her voice was light, I could see the slight annoyance on her face when she glanced at milkshake boy. I smirked, that was her patented “This Was Not in My Visions!” face; it was always a good time when my condition messed up her powers.
“Besides Nessie, I’m here on very important business. You promised after all,” I hated that she was right. The stupid party I promised her. Stupid family meeting. Stupid democracy.
The back door opened and then slammed shut, because it was just my luck. Alice’s eyes twinkled and her smile got sharper.
“Res, the racoons have taken over the dump – wait, what did you do to my music? You know how I feel about Doja Cat!”
I let out a breath when I heard the footsteps abruptly stop, Alice sucked. She sucked so much.
“Jack? What are you doing here?” Wait, what?
Milkshake boy didn’t look up from my pamphlet but he did speak.
“Reading about the rat infestation so I can get my milkshake,” I could feel None of Your Fucking Business Kevin glaring at the back of my head. He made his way to my right and leaned over the counter to grab the pamphlet from Milkshake boy’s hands.
“You don’t need this, she’s just a fucking menace,” Milkshake boy frowned, and I had to admit it was nice that someone else was having personal drama at work for once. Specially if it meant we were all ignoring Alice.
“That’s not a very nice thing to say”
“Well, she’s not very nice,” he turned to look at me – very serious like – and continued, “Here’s what’s going to happen, I’m making Jack his milkshake and you’re going to be nice to our other customers”
He tilted his head very unsubtly towards Alice. I rolled my eyes.
“She’s not a customer”
“I’m not here for food, Jasper? Can you come here, please?” my co-worker looked nothing short of confused as the emo vampire walked toward the register. He was holding bright pink envelopes. He also looked incredibly constipated, he was a ticking time bomb and it was unbelievable we still let him near humans.
“Thank you!” I didn’t know what I hated more, her sing song-y voice or seeing her kiss J-ass-per. “Now, which one of the Kevins are you? I’d hate to assume”
“His name isn’t Kevin,” Milkshake boy squinted while None of Your Fucking Business Kevin glowered at me.
“It is while he works at this Burger King”
Not Kevin threw his hands up in exasperation.
“Don’t listen to anything she says, Jack. She likes to cause problems on purpose,” I shrugged.
“Anyway, I’m Alice Cullen, her sister” Alice interrupted loudly, “and the Cullen-Hale-Masen household would love to personally invite you to Nessie’s First Job Party!” Not Kevin looked at her dubiously.
“You’re throwing a party because she got a job at Burger King?”
“Truthfully, it’s more like a very tasteful dinner black tie event. We’re hiring a string quartet, too”
“Because of Burger King??” Alice nodded enthusiastically and I looked helplessly back at Not Kevin.
“Wow, that’s cool. Can I be your plus one?” Milkshake boy spoke and both me and Not Kevin groaned.
“You are not going. I’m not going!” Alice pouted and gave Jasper a look.
“It would really mean a lot to us…and Nessie…if you could come,” I wanted nothing more than to be annoyed but Jasper was pumping out agreeableness vibes as if his life depended on it. In a way I guess it was, Alice didn’t like when things did not go her way, so.
Not Kevin looked conflicted, which I appreciated greatly.
What I did not appreciate was the arrival of the actual Kevins. Of course, Alice would be here when all of my coworkers were at the store, what’s the point of being a fucking psychic if you didn’t use visions to your advantage.
Alice’s gaze met mine, she looked serene and her eyes fucking sparkled. Everything was going according to her visions then.
Fuck my life.
Chapter 2: The Serpent at Burger King: A Seduction of Kevins
The Devil comes disguised as everything you want, Alice Cullen comes with fondue fountains and Bugattis.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
There was one simple lesson I learned from a young age and quickly internalized while living as a Cullen.
Never play chess with a psychic.
You think a mind reader is a problem? No, you just have to add on geographical distance and then you’re back on an equal playing field; as long as you keep apart, you can use your best strategies and winning is still possible. A psychic though, there is no distance you can go to be hidden from their sight. Once they get their teeth in you, your odds at winning are – for a lack of a better word – shit. So, as I held Alice’s gaze at our local Burger King, I reminded myself this one very important rule.
Never play chess with a psychic.
If you did find yourself playing chess with a psychic, the best course of action would be to become irrational and flip the board. You might not win, but neither would they and you’d save yourself the effort. I took a deep breath and assessed the situation. There were currently five humans with ten pairs of working human eyes at the restaurant; flipping the board would be disastrous, either people would die or they’d bear witness to vampiric activity. So that’s out of the question, next strat.
Though Alice had gotten used to reading around the blind spots caused by me, she hadn’t totally mastered it yet. My best choice was to act without thinking and take over the conversation as much as possible. That, well, that I could manage no problem.
“Well, well, well. What do you have to say for yourself, Mr. Assistant Manager?” I addressed Gay Kevin, hoping to also neutralize Jasper. Mr. Emotional Roofie was another obstacle here, trying to goad my coworkers so that they emotionally overwhelm him was my best shot. “Showing up two hours late to your shift with no warning?”
Gay Kevin looked exhausted.
“Please, not in front of the customers,” he sounded embarrassed. Not Kevin snorted and took the interruption as an opportunity to make Milkshake boy his drink and get away from Alice. Meanwhile, Straight Kevin hopped over the counter and directly headed towards the old fries – if we didn’t do our duty to eat them, they would be thrown out.
I also took notice of the guy that came in with the Kevins; he was shorter than Gay Kevin but slightly taller than Straight Kevin, he had thick black hair, but more importantly, he carried a video camera with him. He observed us, brown eyes full of amusement, and I sincerely hoped he was a vlogger.
“They aren’t customers,” I chirped with a predatory smile.
“I am a one though,” Milkshake boy frowned. I waved him off.
“You’re Not Kevin adjacent. You don’t count,” Gay Kevin looked increasingly irritated despite Jasper’s attempt at giving chill vibes. He crossed his arms.
“So, what’s this? You decide to throw a party while I was gone?”
I was about to retort when Alice interrupted me. I glared.
“There IS a party involved, but not here and not right now. Alice Cullen, nice to meet you, I’m –”
“Resentment’s sister,” Alice scrunched up her nose but nodded.
“Yup! And I came here to personally invite you, other Kevin, and Not Kevin to Nessie’s party”
“You said you were born on 9/11,” Straight Kevin’s said accusingly with a mouth full of fries.
“It’s not a birthday party,” Alice tried to clarify, only to be drowned out by Not Kevin.
“You were born on 9/11???” I turned to address him and realized he was making Milkshake boy a chocolate shake, ruining all the hard work I put into my performance. Today was definitely not my day.
“I mean, yeah, but not like 9/11 9/11. I’m only 16,” Not Kevin nodded but then his eyes widened as a realization seemed to hit him.
“Oh fuck. I forgot that was 20 years ago…”
“I wasn’t even born 20 years ago,” Straight Kevin added and it seemed to act as a punch to Not Kevin’s gut.
“God, you guys are babies. I remember my parents picking me up from kindergarten early and being glued to the news for the rest of the day,” Gay Kevin’s statement also appeared to have a negative effect on Not Kevin, making him look even more miserable. Camera man looked like there was no place he rather be. Alice, well, she looked endlessly irritated.
“I feel so old” Not Kevin whispered, shell-shocked.
“You are old. What are you, like 50?” Not Kevin glared at me.
I blinked. Everyone went quiet and stared at Milkshake boy, who looked very confused. No one spoke for a full beat.
“Jack’s 19 and, uh, Canadian,” Not Kevin shrugged helplessly and said as if that explained everything. He handed the kid his milkshake.
“Hey, I thought there weren’t any Oreos –”
“ANYWAY,” Alice said loudly and we all looked at her, “it’s not a birthday party. It’s more like a celebration of Nessie’s first job. Our family would love to have all of you for dinner”
“She means that we’d love to have you at the event. Not that we want to eat you for dinner,” Jasper added unnecessarily and made me want to face palm. So, I did.
“I wasn’t worried about possible cannibalism when she said it, but now I am,” Straight Kevin took a wary step away from Jasper. Alice rolled her eyes.
“There will be plenty of free food and you can take as many leftovers as you want with you,” Straight Kevin seemed to seriously consider this.
“I’m in,” Alice handed him a pink envelope and smiled. Fuck.
“Speaking of customers. We have one right now,” I pointed at Camera man, “so we can’t deal with you right now,” I tried to push Alice out the store but she held her ground.
“I’m also not a customer,” he shrugged, “I came for the rats”
“Tài…don’t do this” Gay Kevin pleaded.
“My hands are tied. I promised my audience,” so he was some sort of vlogger. This was admittedly the only good thing that has happened today.
“See, he’s not a customer. I can stay,” I groaned at Alice’s smug tone.
“Technically, you’re both loitering. So, neither of you should stay”
“I agree with the Assistant Manager”
Alice and I stared down at each other while Camera man and Gay Kevin had a silent conversation with their eyes. For the next while, the only sounds that could be heard in the restaurant were Straight Kevin loudly chewing, Milkshake boy slurping, and Olivia Rodrigo’s drivers license playing on the speakers.
Suddenly, Not Kevin snapped his fingers, drawing our attention to him.
“You know, it occurs to me that since both Kevins are finally here, I can take my break. Come on Jack, I’m taking you home,” he quickly made his way around the counter and grabbed Milkshake boy. “I’ll make sure to call if I’m somehow two hours late,” I smirked at Alice as her eyes narrowed. I greatly encouraged any action that made her look like that.
Milkshake boy tilted his head and didn’t let himself be dragged out of the joint. I had half a mind to help Not Kevin.
“But dad said to –”
“Your dad will be ok with this as long as you don’t set the house on fire. Again” Milkshake boy frowned.
“It happened once. I said I was sorry”
“Yeah, yeah. Come on bud, time’s ticking”
Finally, that seemed to get Milkshake boy moving and heading to the door.
“Don’t forget your invite!” Alice called out.
“We’re good,” Not Kevin responded with a hand on the door and the other pulling the teen along.
“Did I mention there will be a fondue fountain?”
Not Kevin hesitated by the door and I could only feel horror as my stomach dropped. Not Kevin was weak for cheese and cheese related by-products.
“Chocolate or cheese?”
“Both,” I held my breath. It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t fucking fair.
“Shame, I’m on a diet”
“You aren’t –”
And they were both gone before Milkshake boy could finish calling out Not Kevin’s blatant lie. I fist bumped the air and stuck my tongue out at Alice, fully intending to gloat over this minor victory.
That is, until I saw Alice smiling.
“What’s got you so smug,” I snarked, hoping to get a hint of whatever vision she just had. She smirked and I could tell she could see right through me. So much for not playing chess with psychic.
“I had a sudden revelation that everything will be alright,” her eyes twinkled with mischief and, not for the first time, I was very jealous of Edward. Why the fuck did he get the mind reading powers? Tactile thought projection was so stupid and useless the majority of the time.
“You’re so fucking annoying”
“I prefer the term persistent,” I’d prefer if she was set on fire. “Which reminds me, hey boys”
Camera man and Gay Kevin stopped doing whatever the hell they were doing and paid attention to Alice, who was holding up one her dumb little pink envelopes.
“What do you say, a chance to eat fancy rich people food and see some fancy rich people cars,” Camera man turned to Gay Kevin.
“Is this like, appropriate. Professionally speaking,” Gay Kevin scrunched up his nose trying to figure out the etiquette of this weird ass situation.
“I’m more than happy to take you guys on a spin in my brand-new Bugatti”
“Why does this feel like bribery?” Gay Kevin narrowed his eyes at Alice, he seemed incredibly suspicious.
“Because it is,” I growled and attempted to set Alice on fire with my stare.
“And I fully admit it. I just want to throw a good party, and guest are a very important part,” she stretched out her hand towards Camera man, “think about it, that’s all I ask”
Camera man and Gay Kevin shared a look, and Camera man grabbed the envelope. Ugh.
“Wonderful! Remember to R.S.V.P., we’ll leave you to it,” she waved and grabbed Confederate hubby.
They walked away and I could hear Alice speak, her voice far too low for human ears, but just the right volume for me.
“There’s been a change of plans, we’re meeting up Esme”
I scowled. I knew it was bait, I knew Alice wanted me to hear her, and it was driving me insane. Why would they need to see Esme? Why would Alice want me to know this?
I fucking hated my life.
Deeply sorry at how long this took. I was doing some work for a festival so that took up most of my time.