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fic: UNTITLED JOHN

title:
author: thepansythug
rating: PG for mild cussing
summary: Control freaks don't like it when you touch their stuff

John didn't bother to look up as the gangly kid approached his table. He was bent over his journal, carefully detailing the feathers of a harpy with tiny Icelandic runes, and if he screwed up the sequence he'd have to burn through the page and start over. But when the kid put a hand on the chair opposite his and made as if to wander away with it, he dropped the pen and straightened.

"What do you think you're doing?" John asked, with the kind of calm, reasonable tone which implies that if the answer is unsatisfactory there will be further, more pointed questions.

"I just -- needed the chair, man," the kid said, confused and ready to be indignant.

There was a time John wouldn't have seen the humor in the moment. He would have responded with too much force, forgetting yet again that in the real world it's not necessary to obliterate every challenge. It's okay to win little, Jim had said once, and added: Or not to win at all.

This, John knew, was bullshit. Losing was never acceptable. It was sometimes inevitable, but if a man was prepared, he'd have avoided the losing situation to begin with. Tussling with skinny adolescents in backwoods taverns over their bad manners was one of those inevitable failure moments, and after years of living on his own short fuse, John was able recognize it.

Though that didn't mean he could just walk away from it. "Well, you can't have it," he said with finality, and returned to his journal.

"Are you waiting for somebody?" Now the kid had questions too. John ignored it, counting under his breath: ein, tvær, Þrjár...

"You've been here for hours, man..." young mister observant started to point out. John looked up slowly, and his voice trailed off.

"Sorry, man," John said without a trace of sympathy. "You can't have the chair. If you bother me again, I'll take your fake ID away."

That did it. Finally the moron vanished. For another fifty minute he sat there, scratching away with his pen. The chair remained unoccupied. His tequila sunrise was neatly replaced at some point, but he never saw the waiter. Probably the kid looked knives at him, but he didn't notice that either. Finally, the unmistakable smell of too much perfume approached, and he was done with the goddamn harpies anyhow so he shut the book and looked up.

"Excuse me, sir." The girl had poofy brown hair, and she would be prettier without all the makeup, John thought. "Sorry to bother you, but would you mind if I took this chair?"

He smiled.

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