It had become a ritual to the two of you. On Saturday night, Ivan would come and request a seat in your section of the restaurant-but after a few weeks all the staff knew of Ivan and would automatically put him in a table for two in your area. You would come and take his order, and when you asked what he wanted to drink, the same conversation always occurred.
“Hello sir, I’m ______ and I will be your server for the evening!” You would cheerfully announced to an amused Ivan (to anyone who didn’t know him that well, they would have thought he was extremely annoyed), “What can I get you to drink this fine Saturday evening?”
“A shot of vodka, if you will,” he always responded, not looking up from his menu. You would roll your eyes and sigh with mocking disapproval.
“I’m sorry sir, we don’t serve alcohol here. Can I interest you in some water?”
Your boss would let you out a half an hour early, and you would join Ivan and the two of you would talk until closing. You had found out he was the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, that he had an older and a younger sister that he didn’t get to see very often because of his job, and that he was very, very lonely. Simply because of the fact that he was a Russian in America, never mind his job, people just tended to shy away from him, and that broke your heart.
Currently, you were waiting for a meal to serve to a young teenager when you overheard Kensi and Rick (one of the waiters) talking quietly.
“Do you want in on the betting pool?” Kensi whispered.
“What are you talking about Kensi?” Rick replied, looking more than a little confused, but that wasn’t an uncommon occurrence. Rick wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.
“The pool on how long it will take for ______ and that Russian hunk to get together!” Kensi mock-whispered. Oh. Hell. No. Your coworkers had bets on how long it would take you and Ivan to get together?! You didn’t even like each other like that! …Did you?
“There’s a betting pool? Who started it?” That was Rick again.
“Mr. Jameson, of course! He could see it from day one. Are you in?”
“Of course! I’ll put my money on sometime next month.”
“All right, you’re in. Don’t tell ______, she’ll flip out.”
The one thing you wanted to do most right now was to march over there and say “Hell right I would!”, but you restrained yourself. Let them have their fun.
The bell attached to the front entrance chimed, and you eagerly looked over. Ivan stood at the front of the restaurant, but beside him stood a man you had never seen before. One tuft of his golden-yellow hair defied gravity and stood on its own, cerulean eyes only enhanced by a small pair of glasses, and the most defining piece of clothing he wore seemed to be an authentic World War Two bomber jacket. This was new. Ivan never brought anyone along on Saturday night, or any night for that matter, and you felt a stab of resentment towards the large man for breaking tradition before mentally scolding yourself. Ivan was his own person; he could do what he wanted.
You watched them follow a staff member to the table for two that you had shared for so many identical nights before. You stiffly walked to the table and pulled out your notepad, and tried to ignore how Ivan’s guest practically drooled over you.
“Hello, I’m _____, and I’ll be-“you had begun your usual greetings, but the words were cut off by the blond man jumping to his feet and smiling energetically.
“Hi! I’m Alfred F. Jones, nice to meet you!” he said, thrusting out a hand for you to shake, which you awkwardly accepted. “What’s a girl like you doing in a place like this? I mean, you could be a model if you wanted, not a waitress!”
A chill began to spread through the room as Ivan harshly glared at Alfred. “She works here because she likes to, da?”
“Oh, sure thing big guy!” Alfred chirped before sitting back down in his chair and smiling up at you. Being the good waitress you were, you smiled back through tight lips, the falseness of the expression lost in translation.
“What can I get you to drink tonight?” you asked politely, the stiffness in your voice going unnoticed by Alfred but caused a glimpse of hurt to flash through Ivan’s eyes.
“I’ll have a Coke!” Alfred stated, and you turned expectantly to Ivan, ready to resume your normal banter as if one Alfred F. Jones wasn’t here.
Ivan cleared his throat and did not look up. “Water please.” Disappointed, you walked away, but not before hearing a clip of a conversation.
“Dude, she’s totally into me!”
You rolled your eyes before walking over to Rick and tapping him on the shoulder. The poor man nearly hit the ceiling because you surprised him so badly.
“O-oh, hi ______!” he said, guilt dripping off of the words like a kid caught stealing from the candy jar. “What can I help you with?”
“I was just wondering if you could help me out. My section is absolutely swamped, could you take the table with the two new arrivals? It would be a big help!” you smiles your absolute sweetest smile, trying to ignore the stabs of guilt over brushing Ivan off like this.
“Sure thing! Anything to help out!” Rick took the drinks out of your hands and walked over to Ivan’s table while you pretended to be busy doing something else, but you could feel Ivan’s eyes drilling holes into your back for the rest of the night.
You locked the door behind you as you exited the restaurant, bidding farewell to a few of the chefs, and began your walk home. It made you nervous, walking through the shady streets, but you only lived a few blocks away and it would only take a few minutes if you walked fast.
“Hey baby, what are you doing out at a time like this?” one man called from behind you.
Another voice chimed in, “Yeah, don’t you know there are people who could hurt you?” A chorus of masculine laughs swirled through the night air, and you didn’t dare look behind you. A hand came out of nowhere and grasped your forearm, another one tearing your purse from your grip.
“Hey, give that back!” you cried, but more hands were pushing and pulling you into a dark alley, and your stomach hit the floor, worked its way through a crack in the ground, and ended up somewhere in China. This was the worst possible situation you could have dreamed. Your eyes instinctively shut as you tried to block out the from-bad-to-worse situation you found yourself in.
“I believe she said to give the purse back, da?” the distinctive accent made you want to sob with relief.
“Yo Russki, no one asked you,” one of the voices spoke up. One by one, you heard the men drop like flies with screams of pain or simply no sound at all. Hesitantly, you cracked one eye open to see Ivan standing at the center of the chaos that had reduced a good dozen gang members to whimpering masses of flesh, not a scratch on him, but a fearsome scowl aimed at the final man, who had you pinned to a wall, glinting metal pressed against your neck. The prickling sensation blossomed into full-blown pain as the knife cut into the sensitive skin under your neck.
“Look man, we don’t want no trouble, just turn ‘round and walk away, cuz this is none of your business.” Your captor said, trying to sound brave and reasonable, and ultimately failing.
A low chuckle that sounded more like ‘kolkolkol’ then a real laugh drifted through the air, and with two powerful strides, Ivan was standing next to you, gripping the arm that held the knife and forcing the dangerous weapon away from your neck. “Nyet, you made this my business when you threatened ______.”
And he snapped the man’s arm.
Your captor collapsed on the ground, and your legs turned to Jello at that very instant, causing you to fall forward only to be caught by the man who saved you.
“T-t-thank you so much!” you sobbed, burying your face in Ivan’s coat. Strong arms wrapped around you, ensuring that you wouldn’t fall.
“It is no problem. You do not understand how afraid I was, seeing you in that situation.” Ivan’s voice was dark, darker then you had ever heard, but you could see no reason to be afraid of him. Instead, once you regained some control over your legs, you stood up on your toes and pressed a quick kiss onto Ivan’s lips before blushing madly and avoiding his gaze.
Ivan smiled before leaning down and rewarded you a kiss of your own before pulling back and taking your hand, guiding you to your apartment to notify the police of what happened.
One week later, you made it official that you and Ivan were officially a couple at work.
“HA! Pay up people!” Kensi cackled as the entirety of the staff groaned and took out their wallets to pay up.