Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and mature content.
The dinner rush at the diner was always crazy. Luke flew around the restaurant, taking orders, dropping them off to Cesar in the kitchen, and sending the plates to their table. This went on for about an hour until things finally died down and Luke could take a moment to catch his breath and refill the salt shakers that everyone kept complaining had emptied.
Once the shakers were filled and placed back on the tables Luke got around to do the rest of the cleaning while the diner was still quiet. He whipped tables down, wash dishes and brought the trash out back to the dumpsters. The sun had set by this time, but he caught a figure moving in the alleyway. Someone was crouched by the door.
“Someone back here?” Luke asked.
The person stood up and their impossibly blue eyes shone at him. He recognized those eyes.
“You’re Lorelai’s friend, right? What are you doing back here?”
Rory looked like a deer and headlights and went skittering off in the other direction just as one would imagine.
Strange. That girl always look a bit jumpy but that was more than usual. Luke would have to remember to tell Lorelai about this later. He hoped everything was alright with the girl. He went back inside and back to managing the diner.
A little while later Jess came into the diner. He looked pale and ragged. “You okay?” Luke asked. He looked much worse than the last time he came in.
Jess sat down at the counter and smell of nicotine waffled off of him. It made Luke’s blood boil. Who gave that kid cigarettes?!
“Burger and a—”
“Upstairs now!” Luke screamed at Jess. The whole diner turned and looked and Jess went even whiter. When was the last time Luke had raised his voice to Jess? Had he ever? It just scared him to see that someone he cared about so much doing something so harmful. This wasn’t junk food or red meat unhealthy, this was seriously dangerous.
Jess blinked. “But—”
Luke pointed at the stairs and waited for Jess to compile. Jess did so with his shoulders slump and his looking at the ground. Good. Jess was in a lot of trouble and he should know it. This was no acceptable behavior.
Luke made sure the rest of his customers downstairs were all set then went back up to see Jess. Jess was sitting at the kitchen table, his fingers table against it. “Well?” Jess said with way too much attitude. Luke’s own father would have slapped him if he ever dared speak like that. Luke knew he didn’t have the right to do that, though. Maybe even just lecture him was crossing a boundary, but Luke just couldn’t stand to see Jess acting this way.
Luke held out his hands. “Cigarettes.”
Jess let out a chuck. “That’s what this is about?” he asked.
“I’m sixteen in two weeks—”
“You can’t smoke.”
“So if I was eighteen you’d be cool with this?” Jess shot back.
“Well there wouldn’t be anything I could do about it.”
“There’s nothing you can do now,” Jess said, standing up. “You’re not my father.”
That stung. He knew he wasn’t Jess’s father. He didn’t even come close to a replacement. But still he cared about Jess deeply and it hurt to be so rejected.
Jess crossed his arms. “Chris wouldn’t care.”
“Yeah, well, that father of the year isn’t exactly around, is he? Since when was he your role model?”
Jess continued to cross his arms but didn’t say another word.
Luke cross the room and picked up his phone. “I’m calling your mom to pick you up.”
“Don’t bother. Quicker to walk home and I’m already late for dinner…with my grandparents, who also don’t give a fucking damn about me, so stop pretending you do.” He stormed past Luke.
Luke stood there flabbergasted. Did Jess think Luke didn’t care for him? Had all the years of bonding and hanging out proved otherwise? Had all the interest Luke had taken in Jess’s life showed him how untrue that statement was?