log: ren & beckett WHO: Ren & Beckett WHEN: An evening at the end of June. WHERE: The Good Diner. SUMMARY: Beckett is putting in applications, Ren is avoiding microwave dinners. They have a conversation about sweet potatoes. WARNINGS: There might be language, but I think it's pretty mild otherwise.
It was one of those days Ren didn't want a microwave-anything. And while the diner wasn't exactly what he'd like to call great food, it also wasn't terrible food, and it didn't come from a microwave. Well, probably it didn't come from a microwave and he was going to the better of the two diners in town, so hopefully it was at least cooked on a stove or an oven, and if it wasn't, then at least he wouldn't know about it, which was a vast improvement over what he would eat if he went home.
He took a seat at the counter as he reached for a menu to look at it, as if under some pretense that he wasn't going to get the chicken fingers or bacon cheeseburger that he always got when he came in here. Ren sniffed when he saw the note on the menu saying they were out of sweet potato fries. "Like, what is the point," he muttered, irritably.
Filling out applications was starting to get not only tedious but frustrating. The amount of times he’d seen the strange odd looks on people’s faces when he tried to explain that he was new in town, he didn’t have an email address, or even a phone number-- well, he’d lost count already and he and Dinah hadn’t even been in Repose that long. They looked at him like he was suddenly speaking another language, or like they didn’t believe him, and the lack of enthusiasm bordering on disinterest only increased when they looked at the sections for skills and experience and saw not much of anything at all.
Beckett couldn’t really blame them for not being intrigued, obviously, but it would have been easier to go through the process time and time again if they were all a little better at hiding how they really felt about some scruffy kid (their word, not his) who walked in off the street wearing mismatched clothes that looked like they’d come out of a thrift store.
He was holding the application in his hand, sighing a sigh that made his ribs ache after their recent battering, wondering whether or not it was really worth it trying to explain the gaps this time or whether he should just leave it on the counter and walk out without a word. He was still thinking that over when he heard the voice to his right which derailed those thoughts completely and distracted him enough that he looked up. The other man was taller than him, with black hair and a serious looking face. “The point?” Beckett hadn’t meant to speak, as it happened, but the words were out of his mouth before he could catch himself and think better of it.
Ren turned his head towards the voice and took in the man next to him. There were times in his life where the shifts and changes he’d made hit him very poignantly on the nose reminding him that he had finished exclusive boarding school in England, had parents who had a mansion on the lake and were a politician and a shipping company owner, respectively, and then he was eating lunch in a diner next to someone who looked like… Well, he had lived a year in the motel with a hole in the wall behind the TV, so what were his own choices if he were being honest?
He raised the menu towards the newcomer so he could see the post-it stuck over the sweet potato fries that said “out”. “Why even be open if you’re out of sweet potato fries?” He asked in a tone that made it impossible to tell if he was joking or serious. His glance at the papers in the man’s hand suggested work applications and Ren nodded at it. “If you get the job you’ll have to set them to rights.”
A motel would probably have been a step up on what he and Dinah were currently calling home. Or at least a house. They didn’t even have a TV, though there were a few holes in the walls here and there. But a motel also came with the distinct downside of expenses, which were something that Beckett and Dinah wouldn’t have been able to afford. As it was they could barely afford the necessities right now, such as food (not just for themselves anymore, but also for a kitten now as well). With that in mind a motel would have been nothing short of a luxury.
“Sweet potato?” It was only after he’d said that that he realised the other man had said something else to him, specifically about the form in his hand. “Oh.” Beckett took a moment and then looked up to the other man again. “I didn’t realise there was that much of a difference,” he said, giving the beginnings of a shrug, but only with one shoulder.
Ren looked at the menu, then looked at the man. "If they weren't out of sweet potato fries, I would order some to show you that the difference is… significant. But they are, so we're stuck I guess."
He didn't really know how he'd ended up here mumbling about sweet potato fries - oh right, microwave dinners and his utter weariness of them. He'd just get a salad, he guessed.
"New in town, or just looking for work?"
Beckett couldn’t deny his curiosity about the difference now that the other man had told him that there was one, and there was a part of him, no matter how small, that was sorry that the diner was out of them so he couldn’t see it with his own eyes. Just one more thing to find out about later, he supposed.
“Uh.” He shifted his weight a little. “Both,” he said, deciding in a very short amount of time that there was no harm in admitting to that. Paranoia had become a very familiar (and constant) companion over the time in which he and Dinah had been out on their own but even Beckett knew there had to be a limit. He had been the one to initiate conversation, after all, so there was probably very little in the way of danger here. “I--” he managed to stop himself saying uh again, “--I haven’t really worked anywhere before, so--” You know. That was what that abrupt end to that sentence said.
"I'm Ren. I work at the bookshop and the coffee shop down," he waved in the general direction of the shop. "If you know anything about books or coffee you can bring me one of those if you want. I don't do the hiring, mind, but I'll give it to the owner to look at. One of our other employees ... " he paused not really sure what to say about Audrey, but she wasn't back to normal, and Ren didn't know when she would be. He shrugged. "Well, they're not able to do stuff as much right now."
He glanced over at him, hesitated a beat and then sat the menu down in front of him. "So, I'm not gonna um, I mean, you said you've never really worked anywhere before, and I'm just gonna say you'll probably have better luck if your clothes fit and they match and stuff." Maybe it was rude to say it, but it seemed maybe ruder not to consider Ren didn't know if he'd get hired looking like that, and maybe it was necessity? But also, the point still stood.
If it was rude then Beckett wasn’t the sort to pick up on it, at least not to the point where he would get offended, and certainly not to the point where he would show it. But as it was he just glanced down at himself, instantly self-conscious about it, and mumbled a very vague and awkward acknowledgement that the other man (Ren) was probably right. Because of course he was. Who would hire someone who looked like they had been living rough for several weeks? That was essentially what he and Dinah had been doing, of course, and he was obviously doing a worse job of covering that than his sister was.
There wasn’t really much else to say on that so he backtracked a little as best as he could, tripping over himself mentally in the process and ending up saying, rather lamely, “I can read.” And he instantly regretted it, wished he could take it back, but knowing that he couldn’t he cleared his throat swiftly and tried to recover. “I mean—” What had he meant? He sighed, as quietly and discreetly as he could. “I’m Beckett,” he ended up offering instead, abandoning his attempt to recover from that spectacularly stupid comment. “And I could learn?” He hadn’t intended to make that a question. “Thanks,” he went on, knowing that this was going terribly and hating that Dinah wasn’t there to help get him back on track. “I’ll do that.” And then he frowned, but it was a thoughtful expression more than anything else. “Is the food here any good?” Not that he was particularly fussy, and not that he could afford to buy any right now, but maybe he could still recover from this absolutely wretched first impression somehow. Maybe.
Ren glanced over, gaze flickering a little guiltily. "Yeah, I mean, I assumed you could read or I wouldn't have -" he stopped, waved a hand, and fell quiet. The clothing hadn't made him assume the guy, Beckett, was dumb, just maybe inexperienced, and also he supposed maybe he didn't have a lot else. "Come by, anyway. We can figure um… we can look anyway."
He looked at the menu and looked at Beckett and shrugged. "It's not incredible, but it's better than the other diner and better than a microwave dinner," Ren cracked a grin. "So I was kinda planning on sweet potato fries, but it's not worth going home to have yet another terrible pot roast wannabe from the freezer. So yeah, it's good enough."
Beckett wasn’t completely clueless, at least. He noticed that he had made the other man second guess himself at the very least and he himself had his own flicker of guilt. It had been a statement of fact rather than anything else but as usual the actual point of his words had been lost in transit and left him feeling unsteadied all over again. One thing he was learning in the world beyond the Church and everything it had shaped him into was that he was unsteady a lot of the time, in a lot of situations. It didn’t do much for his mood, which wasn’t great at the best of times. Inwardly he sighed and listened to the other man, hoping for an opportunity to improve the situation somehow.
Microwave dinners. Those words almost compelled him to ask yet another question that most people here in town would have found ridiculous, or at the very least surprising, but he managed to hold his tongue and keep from making even more of an idiot of himself. “The other diner is that bad?” he asked, brows lifting a little, curious and almost disbelieving, as if he couldn’t comprehend the fact that anywhere that sold food could be selling anything that people didn’t like.
Ren snorted out a breath of a laugh. "I mean, it's palatable, but I can't say that I'm super interested in palating it," he shrugged. "I can eat kind of anything, I guess, but if I'm going to have just palatable, I'll go home and put a plastic container of frozen things in the microwave and eat palatable while I'm watching TV."
Which probably suggested that he didn't have a lot of people to eat out with, which was probably true considering he was sitting here at the diner by himself. He sighed inwardly as well. With Adrian leaving, there was Rey, he guessed, but he still wasn't at a point where he felt comfortable calling her up to be like 'come eat with me'. Maybe he should be. But he wasn't and that was that.
"Are you just dropping that off, or are you eating?"
Eating anything was something that Beckett was familiar with, but it was a matter of necessity more than anything else. Given how lean (and downright rough) living had been for Dinah and himself since leaving the only home they had ever known, they had had to get used to getting by on whatever was available. Their money hadn’t stretched very far, or lasted very long. They had had to make do. Things hadn’t really changed too much in that regard yet but things were improving at least a little sister getting a job, so at least they weren’t going hungry most of the time.
At the subject of eating and the topic of food and palatability ongoing his stomach decided it was as good a time as any to growl. Not too loudly, and hopefully not loudly enough for the other man to hear, but he definitely felt it.
“Oh.” He looked down at the form in his hands. “Dropping it off. My—” He paused, hesitant to mention his sister specifically because paranoia and protectiveness were hard habits to break. “I have palatable at home.” And he actually managed a smile, albeit a slightly reserved one.
Ren laughed at that, a short huff of a breath, but it was a laugh none-the-less. "Yeah, that's pretty much the best you can call anything I cook," he added, with a quick self deprecating grin that was straight from his father's genetics whether Ren would want it to be or not. "Join me and I'll grab you a burger, if you'll help me eat my plate of mozzarella sticks that I should definitely not eat all on my own." He hesitated. "Consider it a welcome to Repose thing, cause I guarantee you at some point the town will throw some shit to you and you won't feel welcome." He shrugged.
Dinah had been wise enough to buy non-perishables from the store with some of the money from her first wages at Mari’s store. It was simple food, and they didn’t really have much in the way of variety when it came to cooking things, but neither of them really needed anything else.
The offer caught him off guard, and obviously so, and that paranoid part of his brain that was always telling him to look over his shoulder instantly tried to search for the catch, the trap, in the other man’s invitation. But the rest of Beckett’s brain listened to the words that followed that offer and told him that it might not be so bad if he accepted and made the first steps towards building another bridge.
“Um.” One day he would stop saying that, or at the very least awkwardly prefacing all of his statements with it. “Okay, sure. Thank you.” And then, “So long as you’re sure.” And just for good measure, “Thanks.” He actually managed another smile, this one even less shy than the last.
"Yeah, I'm…" Ren hesitated, not really wanting to say that he didn't have anyone to eat with much, and beyond the fact that he really wasn't that social, he kind of was feeling disconnected a lot recently. But all of that was a lot to throw on a stranger and so he offered his own smile, quick, and stuck somewhere between charming and awkward, and he handed over his menu to him. "If you want something other than the burger, that's fine too. It's a figurative burger until we order it."