Chapter Ten: Mal
A Midnight Breakfast
Kaden handed him the helmet, then climbed off the bike.
"Shall we?" Mal asked as he motioned to the front entrance. Kaden nodded and headed for the door. The little bell on the door jingled as they opened it and walked inside.
"Just sit where ever you like," an older woman said from behind the counter, the scent of coffee thick in the air. "I'll be with you shortly."
"No worries," Mal said as he motioned Kaden to one of the empty booths. They sat down opposite one another. Mal got a good look at Kaden and leaned forward so he could talk quietly to the other man.
"You might want to think about going to the bathroom and cleaning up a little."
Kaden furrowed his brows. "Why?"
"You have dried blood on your face, neck and arms."
Kaden lifted his arms to look, his eyes widening at the sight of the dried blood. "Excuse me," he said as he scooted out of the booth and glanced around for the toilets. The woman behind the counter must have seen him as she pointed to her right and Kaden disappeared around the corner.
Mal sat and waited. The waitress came over a minute later and left a couple of menus on the table for them, promising to be back once Kaden returned.
Kaden didn't take too long cleaning up. When he sat back down, his face and neck had been washed; Mal could still see little droplets of water where Kaden hadn't dried properly.
They didn't talk as they both studied the menus in front of them. The woman came back and stood at the end of the table.
"Do you gentlemen know what you'd like this evening?" She stood poised with her notepad and pen at the ready.
"I'll take the big breakfast thanks," Mal ordered.
"Can I have the buttermilk pancake stack, please. No fruit." Kaden ordered.
"Certainly. Can I get you anything to drink?"
It was far too late for coffee for Mal, so he went with a cold beverage. "Can I get a malted strawberry thickshake please." The little giggle from across the table had Mal staring at his companion, his cheeks heating slightly. He wouldn't apologise, though, as strawberry, although pink, was his favourite flavour. "Something wrong with that?" he asked Kaden.
"Not at all, in fact, I'll have one too. And a bottle of water for the table as well please."
Debbie, as per her name tag, nodded, collected their menus and disappeared behind the counter.
Mal leaned back, as far as the booth seating would allow him to and placed his hands on the table; fingers interlaced as he glanced at the man opposite him.
"So," he said.
"So," Kaden replied.
"You want to tell me what all that tonight was about?"
"Not really" Kaden responded quickly. "You want to tell me why you're out and about at this time of night when you're a dragon ranger? Shouldn't you have work tomorrow?"
Mal cringed at the thought of not having to go to work in the morning. He loved what he did, and hated that they'd benched him.
"I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours," Mal said.
Kaden looked uncertain for a few seconds then nodded.
"You want me to go first, or will you?" Mal asked.
Kaden sighed resignedly, ran his hand through his hair and then stared at Mal.
"It's fucking stupid," he said.
"Isn't that always the case?"
Kaden nodded. "So, I've known Johnny for years. I've been best friends with his younger sister since middle school."
Mal nodded. "Has he always been such an ass?"
"Oh hell yeah. I've no idea what the hell went wrong with him and his siblings are the nicest people you'll ever meet. Him, though, not so much."
"So what happened?" Mal asked.
"It turns out that Leena is pregnant. Johnny found her positive test today. Fucked if I know what the hell Johnny was doing digging through the trash. There's no way Leena would have just left it sitting on the top for all and sundry to see."
"Oh shit," Mal said. Then nodded his thanks as Debbie came back and placed two massive metal cups on their tables with straws sticking out the top. She then set down a cold bottle of water and two glasses.
"Your food won't be long."
"Thanks," Mal said as she walked away. He picked up his thick shake and took a sip. It took quite some times to get anything through the straw as the shake was so dense. Just the way Mal liked it.
"This is awesome. Thanks for suggesting it."
Mal nodded as he finally got to taste his drink. He had to agree with Kaden; it was one of the best he'd tasted in quite a while.
They sat in quiet for a few minutes as they both sucked down on their drink. "So why did he come after you because his sister is pregnant? It's not yours, is it?"
"Hell no," Kaden replied adamantly "I love Leena like a little sister, but she doesn't have the right parts to interest me in sleeping with her."
Mal filed that nice little piece of info away to be looked at later. "I'm not seeing the connection."
"Johnny confronted Leena, who didn't want to tell her big brother who the actual father was, so she dropped me in the shit. Everyone knows I'm gay. Hell, I've been out since high school." Kaden shrugged, and Mal nodded for him to continue, “Apparently Leena told Johnny we were both drunk, and I took advantage of her."
"Yeah, you can say that again. If I can't get Leena to change her story, then I'm basically fucked."
"Nothing you can do about it?" Mal asked.
"Not really. Johnny isn't the kind of guy who would listen to reason. The only thing I can probably do is ask for a DNA test, but that's still God knows how long away."
"You have any idea who the actual father is?" Mal asked. "You could talk with him."
"I haven’t got a fucking clue."
Debbie came back and placed their meals on the table. Mal stared at the massive plate filled to overflowing with everything you could possibly want in a cooked breakfast.
"This looks amazing," he said as he smiled at Debbie.
"Enjoy boys," Debbie said as she walked away.
Mal reached to the end of the table and grabbed the syrup for Kaden and the tomato sauce for himself.
"So, I've told you mine; now it's your turn," Kaden said as he smothered his pancakes in maple syrup.
Mal nodded, took a large bite of hash brown, eggs, mushroom and bacon, chewed and then swallowed. He then started telling Kaden about everything that had happened in the last couple of weeks as they set about devouring their food.