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The Fen's were known for many things, violence, poverty, crime, and much more.  However, one bright spot in an otherwise bleak spot of the city was Joe's Diner.  Established shortly after the Fen's became associated with the theater district, it's combination of cheap mostly decent fare attracted an eclectic crowd especially after a show.  It was then that the artsy types looking for authentic diner fare mingled with those looking to get something to line their stomach for a fraction of what they'd spend at some of the more well to do establishments.  For most of the people in the Fens, Joe's was fine dining and had a steady but sparse set of clientele.

 

Frank Constanzio, know to the regulars as Frankie stood behind the counter with a scowl on his face, his meaty hand resting next to a sign that read, 'I ain't Joe'.  Tonight was going to be that kind of night, one of those Broadway shows was letting out and pretty soon they'd be swamped with every manner of patron imaginable.  If they didn't count on the business, he'd have closed every theater night as he didn't need the trouble and aggravation that it brought.  He wondered how many times he'd have to let people know that they didn't have tofu anything and sighed while flipping a leathery looking rib-eye that would go in their signature steak sandwich.  Well, it was as close to a signature dish as this place would have.  Really, fast and cheap was the motto and he'd be damned if he was going to up sell, upscale, or whatever else those cooking shows said restaurants needed to do.

 

With a shake of his head, he slapped the semi tough, but flavorful piece of meat onto some bread next to the bed of greasy looking fries and slid the plate across the counter, "Moe!  Order up!  One roast on toast!"  Of course, it was hard to hear him as a FCPB car came blazing down the street sirens blaring as it descended into the chaos that was the fens.  When it had finally passed he shouted again, "Roast on toast is up!  Moe!" 

 

 

Edited by BlazingCoconut

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Moe had learned to deal with her superior's mispronunciation on her name. She was glad when he didn't call her Shorty. "Coming right up," she said dashing away from a table where people had just got their coffee. Theatre nights were the best for tips. Worst for customers. Pretentious artsy types gawking at the 'urban life'. Still they paid well when they paid. She was nice to them and endured their barbs about her height.

 

Picking up the order she looked at the massive hunk of meat and then the ticket. Table was over there. Big guy. She wasn't fretting it. "Steak sandwich, sir. Can I get you anything else?" He was quiet, nodded to her, and started eating his food. Guess that's a no. Well, other hungry customers. And refills. Oh the refills on theatre night.

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Casey Blankenship, Darlene Lampwick, Lola Carbone and Stephanie Kowalski, four Pi Episoln Delta sisters from FCU, were flying down Broadway; they had just gotten out of the Friday night show of Wicked at the Imperial, which meant they were running around like idiots, arms outstretched and singing as loud as they could. The locals had seen it a thousand times before, and knew to drive with caution.

 

"Sorry," Casey called out apologetically as she narrowly jumped out of the way of a car. Of course if it had hit her, it was much more likely to have totalled the car than do any more than scratch her, but she still felt bad for not being more careful. Then she turned to her sorority sisters. "So, what now? The night's still young."

 

Lola scratched the back of her head and grimmaced. "Well, I gotta tell ya, I could eat." The likable athlete from Boston was the most informally dressed of all the girls, basically just wearing her cleanest sweats.

 

"You're always hungry," chuckled Steph as she wiped her glasses on her black peacoat; she was a bit aloof, but once you got to know her, there was a generous heart behind her dry wit.

 

"Well, I wouldn't say 'no' to a nice grilled cheese and a coke," admitted Darlene, who by far put the most thought into picking out her wardrobe tonight. Her father was the one who got them the tickets, and she was always well turned out. The wealthy blonde turned to Casey and shrugged. "What about you, darlin', what do you want to do?"

 

Casey smiled as she sheepishly adjusted her glasses; she wasn't one for dresses, but she'd picked out her nicest jeans and sweater. "I...could eat."

 

- - -

 

The girls were laughing loudly as they entered Joe's; on the walk over, they'd all taken an online 'Which Wicked Character Are You?' quiz on their phones, with mixed reactions to the results.

 

"How come it says I'm Galinda," Darlene protested. "Just 'cause I'm blonde? Hell, Casey's blonde, too, and she didn't get Galinda!"

 

"We can't have two Elphebas," Steph stated matter-of-fact. "Casey, you and I have to retake this and change our answers a bit."

 

The four girls stood near the front counter, waiting to be seated; both Casey and Lola were clearly wearing 'Greek gear'.

Edited by Heritage

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Frankie looked over the four girls who came in laughing like some kind of gaggle of geese.  Well, maybe the metaphor wasn't that good, but literary exploits were not really his forte.  At least they likely had money, well a few of them did by the looks of it.  Shaking his head he turned back to the sizzling grill and the three semi frozen hockey pucks of beef that were attempting to impersonate a burger as they thawed and cooked with the heat.  He had just dumped enough salt on them to let them give twinkies a go for the length of time they'd be preserved before looking back up and seeing the four theater goers still standing there.  

 

He called out, "Moe.  We got a log jam up here!  Get these four seated..." then muttering under his breath, "before they get scared off."

 

Darlene, looking around at the decor, which despite being tiled, still managed to appear faded; a definite throwback to the classic 50s diner, quietly said to the others, "tell me again why we came here?" 

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Smile for the nice girls, Moe. She could be her own harsh critic, but she'd been burned before. And these were part of the sorority. She didn't know Greek lettering but knew Greek lettering meant sorority. "Evening ladies," she said while getting four menus. "walk with me. As you've heard my name is Moe," she pronounced it the correct way. Coming a clean booth - the bus boy was sure dragging ass tonight - big enough for the four women, she ushered them as she put the menus down. Her eyes were a bright blue type of hopeful mixed with a darker dash of doubt. "What can I start you off with. Coffee's hot. Tis the season, we have peppermint and pumpkin spice flavors. Also egg nog." She leaned in close, "just between me and you the egg nog is the best if you know what to ask for." And hopefully they would be graceful with their tips with their tongues loosened.

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"We came here," Lola replied as the waitress came over, "because some of us are not living large on our parents money."

 

Stephanie snorted even as they were walked back to a booth that looked like it had seen better days.  The four girls were given menus and a little advice from the waitress as they listened to what she had to say.  Spirits were still high, and the girls were giddy from the excellent production.  The diner seemed to be pretty sparsely populated, but the smells from the grill seemed good enough even if the menu was a throwback to classic diner fare.

 

Lola propped her arms on the table and looked into Moe's eyes, "I know I'm going to have some of that, with a kicker if you know what I mean."  However before anyone else could order, the irrepressible girl put her hand on Moe's, "...and I don't know if anyone has told you this, but you have the most amazing eyes."

 

Which immediately elicited an elbow from Darlene who was sitting next to her, "Lola!  Put the brakes on girl or at least let us order too!"

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The place was definitely a 'dive', as Casey's dad would say, but she really didn't care; she was hanging out with her fellow Pis, and nothing could dim her mood. Back at Claremont, she really only had Sakuraku as a friend, because most of the other students didn't share her values, but at Pi Epsilon Delta, all the girls got excited about volunteering. Sure, they all had different motivations for doing so, but all the sisters were excited to pitch in. At PED, she finally felt like she fit in, and she couldn't be more excited.

 

Like Lola, she couldn't help but notice their waitress's amazing eyes, though her thoughts were less focused on the bedroom (Lola was an incorrigible flirt) and more on what powers she might have. With eyes like that, she might have have special vision like she did, but you never know! Hearing the East Asian girl pronounce her name in proper Japanese, she attempted to use a bit of her own knowledge of that wonderful language, on the off-chance she spoke it, too.

 

"Hi! Konbanwa." She bowed slightly in the booth, like the huge dork she was, but her pronunciation was actually pretty good. "I will have....the three by three by three? Eggs scrambled, with American cheese, with the pancakes and wheat toast...aaaand a side of grits! Oh, and a coffee and a large OJ, please. Thank you! Domo arigato!" Her smile as she handed back her menu was a wonder to behold.

 

"Damn, girl," cried Lola as she looked Casey up and down appreciatively. "Why don't you order some more food?"

 

"Well, I'm not that hungry," Casey protested, comically missing the point. "Just a late night snack."

 

The other girls laughed uproariously, to the tall blonde's bemusement; they all knew she was hopelessly square, and they loved her for it. The rest of the party placed their orders as well: grilled cheese with fries and a Sprite for Darlene, a double cheeseburger with everything, fries and a Coke for Lola, and a tuna melt with fries and a hot tea for Stephanie.

 

"Oh, and we'll start with four egg nogs, per your suggestion," chimed in Lola with a wink and a cheeky smile for Moe. 

 

"Oh, yes, please, I almost forgot! 'Tis the season!"

Edited by Heritage

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Lola's flirtations did not go unnoticed. Moe was straight but not narrow. Still, professionalism. She nodded as the college sister spatted. Taking her hand back when Lola flinched. "Thank you," she said appreciative of the comment about her eye, "around Freedom here, you see a lot of things. You know? The whole hero thing isn't for everyone," she lied. Just earlier today she was skulking around, making criminals regret their decisions. "You just learn to live with what you have." They weren't here to hear her life story.

 

The last one tried to speak Moe's second language. Not that she wasn't fluent in her mother's tongue. But she was born in California, the first ten years of her life travelling across the states picking up English from all parts until she settled in Freedom ten years later. But the girl was nice, and pretty - who wasn't around here? Freedom must have good genes in the water or something - so Moe bobbed along, writing everything down, looking at Casey as she kept adding thing. 

 

"Alright, I'll be right back with those egg nogs, girls," her eyes turning a golden yellow, happiness, looking at Lola. Turning to Casey, she spoke in Japanese, "you have very good diction. Please, learn more."  She walked away from the table, "Frank, four golden nogs, Get the kitchen ready, we got a hungry crew!"

Edited by Cool Homosapien

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Frank grunted in response which was about as good as Moe was ever going to get.  He busied himself in getting the drinks ready, splashing the sweet golden liquid with a little bourbon and cognac grumbling all the way as he did.  That no one bothered to check for ID was perhaps another of the endearing factors for kids coming here.  They wouldn't serve them alcohol straight up, but there was no checking when it came to things like this.  Certainly the folks checking on such adherence to the law didn't often make it into the Fen's and when they did, it was never for too long.

 

As he worked he was also cracking eggs, pouring pancakes and multitasking the rest of the orders.  While he was a but of a grouch, he was also a fantastic short order cook, able to balance multiple orders and dishes at the same time.  He was just sprinkling some nutmeg on top of the last eggnog as he was flipping a pancake, "Moe!  Nogs up!"

 

He was finishing the order as the next group of customers entered, a pretty rough group of youths from down the way in the Fens.  There were five of them, and the colors they wore weren't for the holidays, but more to indicate which of the many gangs that they owed their allegiance too.  They were loud and boisterous as only a group of brash young men can be.  However, Frank was not inclined to turn away business and a lot of nights, these were the people that kept his lights on.  Still, he kept a wary eye on the group as he grunted to them, "seat yourselves."  His head nodded to a booth as far away from the college girls as possible.

 

Despite the cool weather, their clothes made them look like rejects from a punk rave, leather and chrome bits casually splashed across their bodies.  Even their hair was loud, colored, tall and aggressive and the moved with the confident swagger of alpha predators.  "Hey Joey!" one of the youths with a pierced nose called out, "we hear you got some decent swill here."

 

"I ain't Joe," Frank replied automatically.  "Yeah, we do.  So sit down and someone'll be there."

 

Conversation at the girls table subsided briefly as the girls looked over at the natives from the Fens.  Lola was the first to speak after checking them out, "and that is why I play for the other team."

 

Darlene tossed her hair back, striking a pose for the others, "girl, let me tell you, there are some things that y'all are definitely missing.  I think the one with the short red hair has got it in spades."

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Casey came to the conclusion that Moe was an excellent waitress, and looked foward to giving her a very good tip; she was also excited to show her that she knew more than just 'good evening' and 'thank you' once she came back with their nogs.

 

But then a bunch of ruffians came in, and began acting somewhat distruptively; her first instinct was to think of them as criminals, but then she checked herself. It is not a crime to be loud and obnoxious; well, technically it is, but they were nowhere near that level yet, so for the moment, she just kept them within her peripheral awareness and focused on her friends.

 

Stephanie shook her head at Darlene's observation. "I don't know, Dar; he seems a little sketchy even by your standards. Besides, what would 'daddy' say?"

 

"Oh, what he don't know won't hurt 'im," the lovely Georgian said with a dismissive wave of her hand. She then attempted to make eye contact with 'Red'.

 

Just then, their waitress reappeared, and Casey beamed as she took the opportunity to display more of her Japanese fluency. "Hello again, Moe," she began cheerfully as she did her little half-bow. "And thank you! My roommate in high school was Japanese, and she got me started. I try to use it whenever I can to stay fluent."

 

"Here, let's have a toast," offered Lola, and all four girls picked up up their cups. "To my fellow Pis; the best sisters a girl could have!"

 

"Salud!"

 

"Amen!"

 

"Kampai!"

 

They all took big swigs of nog, except for Lola, who drained hers. Casey, however, paused to lick her lips, then sniff her cup, brow furrowed with concern. "Hey, guys? I think there's booze in this."

 

The other three all loudly shushed her. "Would you keep your voice down," hissed Darlene. "Yeah, we noticed, and it's amazin'."

 

"But...I don't think he has a liquor licence," she continued in a hoarse whisper, still not getting it. "And we're all underage!"

 

Lola reached out and placed both her hands on those of the straight-laced blonde. "Casey, I know you used to be a Girl Scout-"

 

"No, you're always a Scout," Casey corrected her. "It's like being a Marine."

 

"Whatever. The point is, we're in college now; this is when you're supposed to take chances, right? To spread your wings and fly! You wanna fly, doncha?"

 

"Well, technically, um..." She looked from face to face, not wanting to disappoint her sisters. Besides, it wasn't like this much alcohol was going to affect her. And that way, she could an eye on her friends, right? "Okay, fine; I'm in!" She raised her cup again. "Kampai!"

 

"Kampai!"

 

"Kampai!"

 

"Kampai!"

 

You know, the booze really did make the nog taste better...

Edited by Heritage

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Great, the 'perks' of working this area of town. She could count on her hands how many times these strange groups came through here. They were mostly 'harmless'. But every so often Frank would have to go through the insurance and then, well, he had to call his benefactors. Though these punks would have more to deal with than the police if they messed with Joe's. Namely her. Their emotions read as hyped up. She wondered how spiked they were. Maybe they'd just wear off and then go home.

 

The college girl, Casey, was more fluent than Moe thought. "Well then, your teacher was very good," she replied, "and you learn very well." She looked over to the table of rowdies, her eyes showing a green flecked with red. She spoke to the sorority group while looking at the table across the way, "you ladies need anything, let me know.

 

Moe stepped forward and then power walked over to the group of smack heads. "Hows it going, guys," she said loud enough to talk over them saying different things to each other. Five people, five different conversations. They seemed to know what each other was talking about as none of them would stop talking until she cut through the madness. They all centered on her. One of them stood up on a chair, a guy with eye contacts(?) that made him look blue-ish white like his hair. Theme was going on. "Lady, we called for the stuff. The madness in a cup. Only then will our thirst be quenched, Asian Smurfette." Another one in black nodded, "you can get me one of those chick's numbers over there." They all looked over. Moe pinched between her eyes, this was going to be a long night. "You guys just looking for drinks or can I get you something to chow down on?" The one in black smiled with sharpened teeth, "meat. dripping meat" Moe wrote down 'cow' and made note to watch the one in black. "Time to put down Bessie, Frank. Also five goldens."

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Frank snorted, there was no way he was giving five punks from the Fen's eggnog, and frankly he didn't give a rip what they ordered.  They were getting Coke's and burgers and that was that.  Ten frozen pucks of mead clinked onto the grill with a satisfying sizzle as they hit the heated surface.  His mother was right, he should have opened in his hometown of Pottersville.  Business might have been slower, but it was unlikely he'd have to deal with all the problems that seemed to plague Joe's.  He pressed down on the first of the burgers looking at the five.  Yeah, they were going to be trouble, but what group of young men from the Fens wasn't?

 

As if he was mirroring Frank's thoughts, the tough with the red hair got up and puffed his chest out.  Blue hair slapped him on the back, "no way you gunna get with that!"

 

Red shook him off, his compact muscular frame practically oozing testosterone as he strutted across the diner over to the table of girls.  He had just about made it over when an older guy in a tattered trench coat walked in.  The old guy, with his wizened white hair and skeletal frame nearly ran into the punk strutting his stuff.

 

"Hey!" the rooster shouted and spewed curses at the old man, pushing him hard, "watch where you are going!"

 

The old man stumbled and staggered over to the counter muttering apologies and trying to catch a hat that didn't appear to have ever been on his head.

 

Rooster shook his head, raising a fist towards the old man, spewed a few more curses before dropping it, "eh, you ain't worth nothin!"  With a last couple of insults hurled at the old man, he continued on towards the table of girls.

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The alcohol was starting to have it effect on three of the four girls; they became a bit louder and more animated as their inhibitions loosened. But not Casey; she was stone cold sober, and she heard every part of the boys' conversation as her hands squeezed into tight fists under the table. She wasn't worried on Moe's account; no girl that tiny walked with that much confidence unless she had powers, so she was sure she could take care of herself. No, she was worried for everyone else in the diner, including her friends. And here came one of the slimeballs right now...

 

The girls all leaned forward and whispered and giggled rather loudly; Lola rolled her eyes, Stephanie shook her head in disbelief, and Darlene leaned back in her seat and adopted a somewhat more provactive pose. Casey was the only one who sat perfectly still, eyeing the punk. A quick scan in the infrared confirmed his body temperature was elevated and his heart was racing; clearly he was on some kind of stimulant. 

 

"Well, hel-lo there," Darlene murmured as she played with her necklace, her accent now much heavier (it was her secret weapon). "What are you fine young gentleman up to this evenin'?"

 

The blonde heroine said nothing, her gaze behind her glasses flicking between her intoxicated friend and the hopped-up punk, ready to come to her defense the very nanosecond he tried something inappropriate.

 

Don't do it...dooon't do it...

Edited by Heritage

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Rooster stepped up to the table, this spikey red hair a defiant nod to social conventions.  He made a show of pulling his jacket around his muscular frame as if he needed to adjust the lie of the coat.  Cracking his neck by indolently stretching his neck from one side to the other he gave off a cocky grin and a wink to the girls.

 

"Yeah, ain't 'spectin to see no women like you down in the Fens."  His comment was punctuated by a whistle from the table where the remaining four were joking with each other and obviously watching what was going on.  "Thought to me, Blade, why is it that four sexy ladies are down in this grease pit?"

 

Lola rolled her eyes and snorted her thoughts on this proposal, "we're not here for the smell, that's for sure."

 

Darlene continued to preen and egged him on, whether it was booze or her  innate desire to flirt with any male was an academic point.

 

Rooster glared at Lola, but plowed ahead at the encouragement, "so I think to myself.  Blade, walk over and take one of those fine women so they know what it's like to be with a real man.  I think, you'll do fine sweetness!"

 

Frank had stopped cooking and was watching with a smouldering glare.  The old man, who had managed to get his act together and straighten the spectacles on his face turned and seemed, however unlikely, to be heading towards their table.  His antiquated heroics were cut short as Blue sauntered over to the old man and planted a leather finger into his chest, "don't think you're the hero type Grandpa.  Sit your tail down!"

Edited by BlazingCoconut

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The situation just got a bit more tense. She didn't want to reveal herself, but these lunatics were disrupting business. Something she saw Frank was none to happy about. But these guys? Nutters who wanted a squirrel. Unfortunately, it looked like the belle was playing into their madness.

 

Moe tried to play it cool, walking over to the table the thugs were at. She poked Rooster with a sleight touch. If successful he wouldn't even notice her as his emotions went haywire. "Hey, guys, your drinks are at your table," she said trying to get them to focus on her, "drink be merry, tis the season!"

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The reaction to Moe's touch was dramatic and immediate.  Rooster's eyes flared wide as tears began to leak down his cheeks.  He let out a tortured scream and fell to the floor crying and moaning like a terrified child before going completely limp in a puddle as his eyes rolled back in his head.

 

There was a momentary pause as the patrons in the diner took in what happened.  Then, chaos ensued.

 

Blue turned to look at his fallen companion, turning away from the old man.  Seeing his comatose body, he pointed a finger at the girls and shouted, "what did you do?!"

 

His shout seemed to galvanize the rest of the toughs who started to get out of their table to see what had happened.  Although, none of them had been prepared for such an unlikely turn of events and spent most of their time stumbling over each other as they tried to get up, spilling waters and coke all over the table and themselves.

 

Lola, who was the closest looked down at him and shouted, "someone call a doctor!" even as Darlene looked like she might be ready to faint and Stephanie was getting up to render first aid.  

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Moe looked 'shocked'. If anyone looking at her eyes knew what the color in her eyes meant, they would know she had a satisfied yellowish color. "Frank," she said looking over at her boss, "we have a medkit right?" She looked to the girls, "Sorry you had to see this, ladies." She looked to Blue, "I'm sure you and your buddies know what you had before you got here, right? The paramedics will need a list." Moe stood her ground as the other toughs tried to come in close, "stand back. Give this boy some room to breathe!"

Edited by Cool Homosapien

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In a matter of seconds, Casey's demeanor shifted from tense and annoyed to deeply concerned once the punk collapsed

 

Crap! How many darn drugs was that guy taking?

 

With surprising speed and athleticism, Casey managed to leap out of the booth, do a backflip and land next to the unconcious hooligan, without so much as spilling a drop of egg nog, much to the surprise of her sorority sisters.

 

"Oh my Lord," gasped Darlene.

 

"Jesus," cried Lola.

 

Crouched next to 'Rooster', Casey quickly elevated the young man's head, checked his pupils, heartrate and breathing, and made sure his airway was clear. "Don't worry, I'm trained in CPR! Where's that medkit?" The transformation from happy-go-lucky sorority girl to razor-focused rescue worker was as drastic it was sudden.

Edited by Heritage

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As Casey started to check Rooster's vitals, Blue pushed his way past the growing crowd shouting at the girls, "get the hell away from him!  Who stuck him?"  His face was fierce as the looked between the girls and the waitress, fists clenched.  "I swear, whoever did this is gunna pay!"  With that said, he gave Casey a half hearted push, trying to get her away from his unconscious friend.

 

Stephanie, who had a lead on Casey in trying to render first aid, was still in the booth, staring at her open mouthed, "Wha..." was all she managed.

 

From somewhere, Frank had a very well loved baseball bat which he was waving in the direction of the three toughs.  "Listen to her and don't even think about it.  Not in my diner!"  They had managed to get out of the booth, standing in the aisle looking confused but with the desire to punch someone.  With no real target of their ire, Frank's warning seemed to hold them at bay, although one of them was videoing the commotion on his phone.  One of them did shout at Moe though, "shut up!  No one's calling anyone!"

 

The old man whispered, "I'm a doctor... please move... doctor.... excuse me..." as he maneuvered around Moe and Blue coughing as he knelt down beside Rooster and began checking his vitals.  Blue started to object, then just glared at the four girls suspiciously as the old man checked over Rooster.

Edited by BlazingCoconut

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When Blue attempted to shove Casey out of the way, he was surprised to feel rock-hard resistance, like he was trying to push a house! The blonde heroine swivelled her head to glare at him with a brutally intense gaze.

 

"Stay. Back."

 

She then stood up, her gaze never wavering, and stood between her sorority sisters and the boys, feet planted, clenched fists at her side, daring Blue or any of his companions to try anything.

 

"Let the doctor help your friend. Then go."

 

"Holy s###, Case," whispered Lola, stunned and a little impressed to see this side of her friend. Steph's eyes darted nervously between the punks, Casey, the doctor and Frank, while Darlene just wordlessly swallowed her gum.

Edited by Heritage

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It didn't take an emotion reader to see what was blatantly happening in front of her weird little eyes. The cute blonde had a real mean streak when push came to shove. Moe just wanted to get these bad guys out of her environment. It would be too coincidental if she just started popping them all right now. So the red-haired one would happen to serve as the first warning. If they got worse, another one would go down. Don't mess with her place of work.

 

Moving out of the crowded area, she looked at the 'doctor' as he checked on the red-haired one. She focused on him, skimming his outer thoughts to check if he was on the up and up. Moe didn't want another person to deal with.

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Such was the force of will emanating from Casy that Blue paused for a moment, but his bravado and concern for his 'friend' won out and he just glared back at her.  His friends however shuffled about nervously looking at the young girl wondering exactly what they had gotten themselves into.

 

Frank broke the silence that had settled as the doctor checked over the youth, "HEY!" he yelled in a very commanding voice.  "Nobody kicks nobody out of my diner, less I say so!  That's my sales you're messin with!"  The bat waving in his hand certainly added to his shout.  "...and everyone needs to calm down!  Moe, get those kids another Coke and sit their butt's down!  You girls, get back in your booth and drink your Nog and everyone BE HAPPY!"  Apparently his command did not apply to him as his face looked anything other than happy.

 

For a moment, the three toughs looked like they were about to do something, but they shuffled dutifully back to their seats muttering and grumbling.  "Better be a good Coke..." one of them said, although it sounded more sullen than defiant.

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The combination of the punk's indifference and the owner's annoyance did much to douse the anger in Casey's belly. The former Girl Scout visibly relaxed and unclenched her fists as she let out a long slow breath before turning to Frank, looking apologetic; you could almost hear the sound of her holstering invisible weapons as she 'powered down'.

 

"I'm very sorry, sir; I didn't mean to interfere with your business. We'll be good."

 

She spared 'Blue' one more cool glance before returning to her seat, her seriously freaked-out friends giving her just a little more space in the booth.

 

"What the hell was that, Case," murmured Darlene incredulously. "You were terrifyin'!"

 

"You were awesome," replied Lola, grinning and shaking her head in disbelief. "Can you teach me that crazy death stare?"

 

"That was some serious Clint Eastwood s###," Steph said as she appraised her friend with fresh eyes. "Very impressive."

 

For her part, Casey just shrugged nonchalantly as she took a sip of water. "I don't like bullies, is all; you would've done the same for me."

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Silence, awkward awkward silence. The gang of boys back in their seats, the girls standing around, the punk she just Emotion Fried on the ground and the old man attending to him. After Frank's brandishment everything got super quiet. Moe still watched the two tables. "Don't worry," she spoke to Casey in Japanese again, "we'll take care of this. I'll take personal responsibility."

 

She went to the back where to cook was. He was minding his own business, jamming out to the tunes in his earbuds. Poking him, she waved the orders. He smiled, "quick pace?" Moe nodded, "definitely." The distracted guy got a hustle on. Walking past frank, she got the soft drinks, delivering them to the punks. While she was irritated with them she remained her table-side manner. They weren't going to pay, she knew, but hey, maybe they would leave a tip. Maybe pigs would fly.

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Frank huffed and put the bat down as things thankfully seemed to have calmed down.  Really, it wasn't all that different from a lot of nights, but he still groused at his lot in life anyway.  As Moe passed him with the Coke's he grumbled, "thanks... can count on you to not make trouble."  While he looked pissed, she could see the small signs of genuine paternal affection he seemed to have towards her.

 

"I'm still geeking out that you were going to face off with those guys," Lola was still going on about what had just happened.  "I mean.  What would you have done if they had called your bluff?"  The other two girls nodded in response, the looks on their face basically said what they assumed would have happened.

 

The old man got to his feet, looking seriously distraught, as he pushed the old spectacles back up to the bridge of his nose, "I'm sorry..." he said quietly.  "There's nothing I can do for him."

 

That got Frank's attention, "what do you mean, are you a doctor or not?  Moe... get an ambula..." 

 

He didn't finish that sentence as the old man cut him off his quiet words cutting through the diner like a knife through butter, "I am.  You need a coroner and a police officer, not a paramedic.  He's dead."

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