STRANGER

JC Chasez slid into the small booth in the far corner of Dave’s 24 Hour Diner. He looked down at the tattered leather seat, its tears and scuffmarks bearing its age. He wasn’t sure exactly why he’d come to this place. He couldn’t sleep and it was only a few blocks from the hotel, plus it looked like it served pretty decent food. Not that he was hungry. He mostly just wanted to be alone. He didn’t figure anyone would notice him here, so it seemed like an okay place to "hide-out". The place was pretty quiet too, despite the softly clanging of pots and pans coming from the kitchen area. He looked around a bit more until he was interrupted by a woman in a like pink dress and light blue apron, with a nametag that read: sasha. She looked fairly young, no more than 25, and she was noticeably pregnant. But if he’d been judging by her eyes alone, he would have guessed her to be in her forties. Her eyes were a deep brown, and held a friendly but exhausting gaze, making her look much older. Strands of auburn hair that had fallen from her long ponytail framed her face, and her feet shifted uncomfortably in her worn out shoes. "Can I help you?" She asked softly, pulling out a square tablet of paper. "Umm," JC said finding his voice," I’ll just have a cup of coffee please." "Coming right up," she said scrawling something down on the tablet and headed back to place his order. He noticed how uncomfortable she seemed to be when she walked, pressing a hand to the small of her back. He wondered why she was working at all in her condition. She had to be at least seven months pregnant, and shouldn’t be on her feet so much. Before he realized it she was back, placing a steaming cup of coffee in front of him, "Can I get you anything else?" "No, I’m fine thanks," he paused, "Would you, would you like to join me?" She smiled as she looked down at her watch," Actually, I do go on my break in a few minutes, I’d love to join you, if you don’t mind." "Of course not," JC said gesturing to the empty seat. He smiled back at her as he watched her slid in across from him. She sighed slowly, "My back is killing me." "Oh, I’m sorry, where are my manners? I’m Sasha," she introduced herself. "Nice to meet you Sasha, I’m JC." "What’s that short for?" she asked curiously. "Well actually it’s kind of a nickname. My name’s Joshua Scott Chasez. I went by my initials once and it just sorta stuck I guess," he explained. "Scott?" she repeated, "That’s my son’s name, would you like to see a picture of him?" "Sure." Sasha rummaged in the front pocket of her apron for a moment. Finally, she pulled out a small square photo, smiling proudly as she held it out to him. "He’s cute," JC smiled, "How old is he?" "He turned two about a month ago," she informed. "So…how come you’re here instead of at home with him? You look like you could use a rest?" JC asked thoughtfully. "He’s at home with the babysitter. I have to get all the hours I can get, my husband was killed in a car accident a few months ago, so I’m on my own to support them," she explained glancing at her stomach. JC’s heart squeezed as he noticed her eyes fill with tears. He reached across the table and placed a hand on hers. "I’m sorry to hear that. Is there anything I can do?" She managed to smile as she shook her head. "Oh no, you’ve done enough, just having someone to talk to makes it a lot easier. Plus, I did need the break." JC tried to smile back at her, but he couldn’t help wishing there was something he could do. JC was startled by a loud grumble, "SASHA! You do realize that breaks are only TEN minutes long. You’ve got TWO minutes to get back to work!" JC looked over to see a round man who wasn’t much taller than five foot, with a greasy scalp and unshaven face glaring at Sasha. When he finally waddled away Sasha whispered, "I’m sorry, I better get back to work, I didn’t realize I’d been sitting here so long. Thank you so much, it was nice meeting you." She quickly slid to the edge of the seat and eased her way out. "It was nice meeting you too!" JC called after her wishing he’d had time to say more. He looked down at the napkin next to his cup of coffee, and instantly he’d had an idea. He searched his coat pockets quickly trying to find a pen. Finally, he came up with a black one and began to scrawl a note on the napkin.

 

Sasha-

It was a pleasure meeting you. I wish there was something more I could do to help. I’m sorry this isn’t much, but it’s all I had with me. If you ever need anything please ask. My cell number is 555-6789. You can reach me anytime. Tell Scott I said hi!

JC Chasez

JC searched his coat pockets a second time. He finally located his wallet and flipped it open. He slid out four one hundred dollar bills, all he had with him, slipped them inside the napkin, and placed it under his empty coffee cup. He then stood up, smiled and waved at Sasha and left the restaurant.

Minutes later Sasha began clearing the table JC was sitting at. She lifted up the coffee cup, about to throw the napkin away when she noticed the black ink scrawled on it. She quickly read the note, smiling at his kind words. She went to put the napkin in her apron pocket but noticed a slip of green peeking out over the white edge. She opened slowly and her eyes filled with tears as she took out the four bills. She didn’t know what she’d done to receive the kindness of this unforgettable stranger, but she wished she would see him again, so she could thank him for being a wonderful person. This money would help her more then he knew. It gave her hope. It also gave her name for her son, who was due in just a couple months. She would name him JC, after an angel without wings.

 

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