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The dough smacked against the counter, rattling the spice rack, and Timms swore, “You don’t have to be so harsh with it, Chris. It’s dough, not Felix.”

“Sure feels like it with how much it’s fucking up my day,” he muttered, apparently unaware of the streak of flour across his forehead. “Cinnamon buns,” he muttered darkly, “And I don’t even bake.”

Dakin burst through the beads separating the kitchen from behind the bar. Crowther smacked the dough against the counter again, just in time to interrupt him mid sentence.

“Tom is-“ wham! “Fucks sake, Crowther. Tom is in the restaurant!Don’t fucking do that!”

Crowther stopped, scowling like he was trying to remove Dakin’s ribs with his mind alone. “How about,” he said, slowly, like he was chewing on the words before spitting them out, “you give it a go? I mean, it’s not as if I’m tryingto make a fucking racket, but if you think you’re suddenly the expert in baking, by all means.” He indicated to it, and then looked at him expectantly.

Dakin soured, “I’m a waiter,” he said, “Not a fucking baker. But what I do know about baking is that when Akthar does it you can't hear it in the restaurant.”

“I’m not Akthar.”

“No but you're capable enough to fill his shoes. Be fucking quiet.” And with that Dakin went back through the beads like smoke.

“What crawled up his arse and died then?” Rudge asked, his voice muffled from being under the sink.

“It’s Dakin. Could be anything from a dick to a scorpion. Wide enough for both, I’d say.”

“And you would know Timms?”

“Most of us that aren’t inside a sink all day would know.”

//

“What can I get you today then, sir?” Dakin asked, leaning over slightly to fake intriguement in what Tom might order, rather than his actual interest in Tom’s trousers. Scripps watched from the bar, holding his head in his hands.

“You look like you’re in pain there, Scripps. What’s up?” Posner asked as he meandered past, arms laden with dishes heading to the kitchen.

Scripps gestured vaguely at the restaurant, the sighed, “Oh, you know. Dakin.”

Posner looked at the way Dakin laughed just a bit too loudly at one of Mr. Irwin’s almost-jokes, all jovial and unnatural, and then back to Scripps. “Are you…?” He asked, tentatively drawing closer on the meaning behind Scripps’ actions.

“God no. Just embarrassed for him.”

“Embarrassed? For Dakin or Tom?”

“Might as well be both,” and at that point Dakin swaggered away from Tom’s table and breezed through the beads to the kitchen. Tom readjusted himself in his seat, far more awkward now that his attention wasn’t being held. Scripps sighed, “I’m glad he’s facing away though, or else he might look at me as I work. Always a bit weird, him looking at me. It’s like he wants information about Dakin through me, but honestly Dakin wears all the points he wants you to know about him on his sleeve. Everything else is much harder to decipher.”

Posner looked at him for a moment and then turned his head to look at Tom in the corner. “Do you know how to decipher them? You two seem close.”

“I do, but I don't want to fuck around with Dakin more than I already have to.”

“You’ve known each other for a while then,” It wasn't a question, but Posner still had to say it aloud.

“Yes. Since we were kids. Feels like he’s always been like this though.”

“And how long has Dakin been pestering him then?”

“Since he came in a couple of months ago. At first Dakin couldn’t stand him and I refused to serve him just to see how Dakin would act. Now I can’t serve him even if I wanted to.”

“Do you want to?”

“No.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

In a sudden flurry of activity Dakin came out the kitchen and meandered over to the bar, putting his hand somewhat suggestively on Posner’s shoulder as he passed. He did the same with Scripps, but further down. Muchfurther down. Scripps kicked his leg out in retaliation and missed.

“What’s your plan for today then?” Scripps asked, voice obviously interested despite his body language. Posner said nothing as he watched the exchange, still not close enough to either of them to feel included in the conversation. Scripps continued, either unaware or ignoring Posner, “Are you going to torment him? Light a candle and put it on the table? Give him cake on the house?”

“I’m better than that, Scrippsy. I’m not trying to get into his trousers, at this point I just want his attention.”

“And how will you go about that?” Posner asked, feeling sick at the idea of what Dakin might do, but still listening in.

“That,” Dakin said, pointing his finger at Pos, “It what I just came over here to find out.”

“So you haven’t got a plan.”

Yet.”

“Okay,” Scripps tried again, “So you haven’t got a plan, yet.

“No.”

Posner snorted and shook his head, “This is ridiculous. If I’d’ve known this would be the kind of workplace conversations we would be having I wouldn't have been nearly as worried during the interview.”

“This is a very serious subject David,” Dakin nodded at Scripps’ words, “Dakin has to have sex at least once every week or he begins to age.”

“Like a vampire.”

“I’m not a vampire. They need blood.”

“Off-brand vampire.”

“Tesco’s Own vampire.”

“Why would Tesco own a vampire?”

“No, no. No, Dakin.” Scripps laughed. Across the restaurant Irwin’s head turned slightly towards them, almost like he was listening.

Almost.

“I shop at Sainsbury’s, I wouldn't know Tesco.”

“Sainsbury’s? You rich fuck.”

“They do the chickpea salad that I like!”

“Not exactly helping your case there, Dakin.”

“Fuck you both then,” he decided, “I have a plan without your help.”

“Oh dear god.”

“Oh no.”

Dakin looked at them, offended, “It’s not too bad.”

“Still implying that it’s bad.”

“It’s not bad.” Posner pulled a face. “No, trust me, it’s not.” Dakin poured himself a glass of water, and then scooped a few ice cubes from the ice bucket and put it into the glass as well. He then gestured to it with his other hand, making sure Scripps and Posner were both equally confused. “This, gentlemen, is my plan of attack.” And then he walked over to Irwin, a dangerous smile on his face.

“I know what he’s going to do. I can't watch this.” Posner said, backing away.

“I don't think I can either.” Scripps grabbed Posner’s arm and moved quickly into the kitchen, ducking under Crowther’s raised arms as he attempted to get down the cinnamon from the higher shelf.

“What’s up with you two?” He asked, pulling the bottle down, “If you're going to the store cupboard be warned - Lockwood’s in there counting stock.”

Scripps blushed, and Posner laughed, “We just don't want to be in the dining room while Dakin executes his ‘plan’.” He said, somewhat out of breath.

“What plan?” Timms asked, perking up at the mention of an occurrence.

“His plan to get Irwin.”

“‘Get’?”

“His words not mine. I assume he means to woo.” Scripps said, matter a factly.

“Oh really?” Rudge asked, still in the sink, “How’s he going about that?”

“Last we saw he had a glass of ice water and was heading to Irwin’s table. I assume he means to dump water into his lap as an excuse to dab at his trousers.”

Rudge’s face appeared from under the sink, Crowther’s face went white, and Timms burst into uncontrollable giggles. “I have to see this,” Timms said, moving towards the beaded curtain to the kitchen to peep through the curtain and out into the dining room, almost tripping over Rudge as he went, “If Dakin is sane he wouldn't. Couldn’t, even. He’d be insane.”

“He sure looked like he was going for it,” Scripps said, his voice becoming slightly more strained as Posner pulled them further into the kitchen, and thus further away from the commotion. “David?” Scripps asked then as he was pulled away, “What’s up?”

“Too much going on over there,” he stated. “I don't even want to see what their reaction is, let alone what Stuart is doing. Bloody maniacs, all of them.”

He stopped them just outside the walk in fridge, and turning back to Scripps he asked, “Is he usually like this? So obsessed with pretty much the only recurring customer we have?”

“Usually. He hated Irwin at first, if you can believe it.”

“Odd how he changed his mind.”

“It is, isn't it? It’s almost like Irwin impressed him or something. Weird.”

“Am I interrupting something here?” A new voice asked, and Posner jumped. “Only me.” Lockwood said then, laughing at the way Posner reacted, “No need to start there, David. You just looked like you two were up to something. With you two holding hands and all that.”

They leapt apart, and Scripps wiped his hand on his trousers. Lockwood gave them both a knowing look, his mouth curled into a slight smile, before he hauled his bag of sugar into the kitchen, whistling a happy tune as he went. Posner picked apart the floor with his eyes, struggling to resume their conversation from where it left off, but in the end he needn't have tried, as Scripps followed Lockwood’s example and walked away.

Posner let out a breath, leaning against the tiled wall, before rubbing a hand down his face and returning to the happening in the restaurant.