It's kind of ironic, Buster thinks as they pull up in front of the Bay Cafe in Bolinas, how they feel safer being seen together in this little cafe in a ridiculously tiny town than in one of San Francisco's thousand or so restaurants. It's impossible that Katie and Jerry, the couple who run the place, haven't figured it out, but they've never said anything and most of the surfer usuals don't seem to care.
Still, Buster thinks as he opens the door for Addy, this feels kind of like a Thing.
"I need to pee," Addy announces loudly.
"Okay," Buster says. "But maybe you don't need to tell everyone in California."
"That's silly," Addy says, her voice slightly lower. "They can't all hear me."
Buster shakes his head and closes the door as Tim comes around the car with Lee. "It's a losing battle," he says and Tim grins.
"Isn't that parenting in general?"
"Yeah," Buster says with a laugh. "Hey buddy," he says to Lee. "Can you even see?" It's getting dark outside, but Lee's still wearing the cheap pair of purple sunglasses Tim bought him last week when they were wasting time in the Denver airport. Talk about a losing battle, Buster thinks as Lee reaches up and adjusts the glasses. Half the time, Lee wears the things to bed.
"I'm fine, Daddy."
"All present and accounted for," Tim says with a smile. It fades a little as he looks at Buster. "You okay?"
"Yeah," Buster says taking a deep breath. "I'm just being...."
"Sorry, Addy," Buster says. "C'mon."
"Wow," Katie says as they all come through the door. "You brought us some new customers."
"Was this a house before?" Lee asks as Tim leads him toward a table near the window.
"It was," Katie says. She starts talking about the house with Lee in a tone of voice that suggests she's spent plenty of time around kids.
"You need me to come in with you?" Buster asks once he's shown Addy where the bathroom is.
"I um...." Addy stares at the ground. "Yeah? I got sand in my pants."
"I've got," Buster says, leading her into the bathroom.
By the time they're done, there's fair amount of sand on the bathroom floor. "That's better," Addy says. "But I made a mess."
"I've seen grownups leave sand in this bathroom."
"Yeah, people come in here to change after they've been surfing."
"I wanna surf," Addy says as they leave the bathroom.
"Yeah?" Buster says. "Maybe next year we can go somewhere where the water's warm in winter."
Lee's bouncing in his chair when they get to the table. "They have grilled cheese here," he tells Addy. "And this used to be Katie's living room."
"That's weird," Addy says, looking around.
"Why?" Tim asks.
"Because houses are for people to live in."
"But it's not her house any more, it's her restaurant."
"I guess," Addy says, but she looks unconvinced.
"Can I have white sauce for my fries?" Lee asks when Katie drops off their food.
"White sauce is...." Tim begins to say.
"Ranch," Katie says with a smile. "I'll bring you some."
"You know it's ranch dressing," Addy says to Lee. "It's stupid to call it...."
"Oh hey no, we don't call people stupid," Buster says. "Addison Sara Posey, you apologize to Lee right now."
"Sorry, Lee," Addy says with a big sigh.
"Anyways, I know it's ranch," Lee says.
"Good," Buster says. "Now that we've got that settled, how about eating?"
He's half way through his sandwich when he happens to look at Tim. Tim's dipping his fries in Lee's ranch dressing and eating them almost absentmindedly while he checks his phone. Lee and Addy are talking about some show they both like and this was never what Buster intended, but here they all are.
"Buster?" Tim says. He's still holding his phone, but he's looking at Buster and smiling just a little.
"I just...." Buster reaches across the table and slides his fingers through Tim's. "I just," he says again because it's all he has.
"Yeah, I know," Tim says, because apparently somewhere along the line he learned how to speak Buster.
"You're not gonna kiss, are you?" Addy says. Loudly.
"Ew," Lee says. "Kissing."
Buster's face feels like it's on fire, but he takes a deep breath and doesn't let go of Tim's hand. "No," he says. "That's something we do in private."
"Ew," Lee says again. "I want dessert," he adds without skipping a beat. "Do they have ice cream?"
"What about pie?" Addy says.
"Oh they have pie," Tim says, grinning at Buster as Buster finally lets go of his hand. "Your dad wouldn't like this place so much if they didn't have apple pie."
"That's my favorite too, Daddy," Lee says.
"I like peach pie," Addy says. "What's your favorite pie, Uncle Timmy?"
"Pumpkin," Tim says. "It sucks because you can't get it most of the year."
"It's stupid," Lee says. "Why can't there be pumpkin pie all year?"
"I have no idea," Tim says.
They all settle for apple pie and it's still some of the best apple pie Buster's ever had.
"I want to come here again," Lee says as they leave.
"How about this," Buster says. "We'll come here at least once every time you visit."
"Yes!" Addy yells. Before anyone can say anything, she looks up at Buster. "Sorry, Daddy. It's hard to be quiet."
"I know," Buster says. "You just keep working on it, okay?"
"So," Tim says once they've got the kids settled into the back seat. "This is like...what, a tradition now?"
"Yeah," Buster says. "I think it is."