Just God Damned Coffee
Disclaimer: Copyrighted characters are copyrighted. Property o' Joss Whedon and Denis Leary.
Warning (if any): Strong language, adult situations, violence, graphic descriptions of burn victims, and gender, religious and racial epithets. The talk used in this show is Not Nice. Many firefighters talk and act in wide variety of ways as a defense mechanism for the terrible things they see. The opinions expressed by the characters do not reflect the opinions of the author or the creators; I'm just trying to portray them as faithfully as possible. (No pun intended.)
Author's notes: Ahoy! Yeah, I'm a horrible person for not posting on my existing stories. La Casa
has a scene that's giving me fits once again, and Independent Consultant
seems to be stuck staring at Dawn's legs. So, to once again try and wake myself out of my writer's torpor, I decided to hop on this Fic A Day wagon, see if it shakes something loose.
I don't know for sure if the role I've put Xander in, is feasible in an actual NY fire station, so I claim creative license for his volunteer duties.-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-
Tommy Gavin was having a pisser of a week. When you go from thinking your daughter needs to take a pregnancy test, to finding out that it was really for your soon-to-be ex-wife after an ill-advised romp with you, it tends to ruin your day. Coupled with all the other headaches that he had afoot, he was not inclined to be accommodating to anyone for the foreseeable future. Not that he was exactly warm and cuddly to begin with. His fellow firefighters would best be able to politely describe him as 'prickly'. Sometimes, they left off the 'ly' if he was being especially difficult.
Tommy parked his truck outside of the firehouse he worked at, slammed the door and immediately fished a cigarette out of his jacket to light up. Word was they were going to ban smoking in the firehouse sometime soon, and he figured he might as well enjoy while he could. As his tall, lanky form stalked through the garage doors of the firehouse, he saw a new person working busily in there, exchanging out the air tanks for each of the trucks. He was dressed in the standard 'off duty' wear of a firefighter, department t-shirt, work pants and boots, except he also had a black eyepatch on. But he was performing the job he was doing quickly and efficiently, so he couldn't exactly snap the kid's head off directly.
Instead, Tommy made his way into the kitchen area where his fellow firefighters Franco, Garrity and Lou were lounging around having an early lunch. Tommy jabbed his thumb over his shoulder, pointing back at the garage. "Who the hell is that?" he asked without preamble.
"Volunteer," Lou replied absently, clearly more interested in the sandwich he was eating and the newspaper he was reading. "Here to help us out during the busy hours when we don't have time to prep gear ourselves. Name's Harris."
Tommy blinked and looked over his shoulder quickly before looking back in the kitchen again. "Really? We got a volunteer helper without having to scream about it first?" While he was saying this, Chief Jerry Riley came padding into the room and Tommy fixed his attention on his boss. "Chief, who'd you have to bribe, fuck or kill to get us a volunteer?"
The Chief shrugged, "Nobody. He specifically requested to come here."
neighborhood? Is he crazy, stupid or something worse? I thought only the houses in the suburbs got a helper monkey." Tommy scratched his head in confusion, briefly forgetting about his current state of personal affairs. Their neighborhood had occasional issues with things such as spontaneous redecoration of the buildings and parked vehicles.
"Nah, I checked him out." Chief Riley shook his head as he began picking through the sandwiches available. "His volunteer paperwork says he used to be in construction 'till he had the accident that lost him his eye. He was working for a women's shelter before he moved to New York, said he likes helping out, even if he can't do any of the dangerous work anymore."
"God damn." Franco took his ever present toothpick from his mouth in disbelief. "Headquarters did something right for a change."
"Did what right?" Silletti, better known as the Probie, came in at the end of the conversation after taking a shower.
"Sent us a helper without us bitchin' and cryin' about it for months on end." Garrity provided.
"Does this mean I don't have to wash the rig every day? Cool." The Probie seemed pleased with this turn of events.
"Oh, no, no, no." Tommy shook his head. "He can't wash the rig, not with that eye of his."
Silletti looked like someone just told him there was no Santa Claus, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. "What? Why not?"
"Safety regulations," Lou explained. "He might get vertigo while washing the top of the truck, sue the department."
"Then we wouldn't have our helper anymore, and headquarters wouldn't want to send us a new one." Chief Riley added.
"So, you're going to continue to wash the rig and any other shit job we can come up with," Tommy concluded with relish. "And if you really piss us off, you'll be doing all his work as well, and we'll let him just kick back, drink coffee and read the god damn sports page."
"Only if it's to read about the Yankees losing." A new voice came from the doorway to the kitchen. Harris was wearing a teasing grin, an expression that seemed to be his default mood. His announcement was met with a mix of boos, support and a few thrown napkins. Harris chuckled in satisfaction. "Yankee fans are so easy."
Tommy snorted. At least this one wouldn't have to be taught the ways of ball-busting. It sounded like he already had the basics down pat.
Chief Riley waved Harris into the room. "C'mon in, kid, I'll introduce you around." He began to point out various members of the crew. "Tommy Gavin, Lieutenant Kenny Shea (call him Lou), Franco Rivera, Sean Garrity, Mike Silletti." He paused for a beat. "But you can just call him Probie."
"Or FNG," Franco added.
"Or dumbass," was Garrity's contribution.
"Pinhead," Lou chimed in.
"Jack-off," Tommy suggested.
"Or any damned thing else you can come up with," Chief Riley concluded, while Silletti sat and looked mutinous at a volunteer getting better treatment than he was.
"Think I'll stick to 'Probie'," Harris chuckled, recognizing the signs of hazing. "The rest of that is just too much to remember." He began the rounds of hand shaking, giving Silletti a reassuring nod to let him know that while there was much ball-busting to be had in the firehouse, Harris was not going to be one of the frequent contributors. "And call me 'Xander'. You know the old gag about looking around for your father when you hear your own last name."
"Xander it is," Tommy agreed. He had a pretty decent relationship with his own father, but he knew guys that didn't, so he wasn't fussed about it. The suggestion went through with general agreement among the crew.
Having gotten his identity established, Xander went over to the coffee pot and sniffed curiously before making a face. "Jesus Christ. What'd you brew this with, crushed car batteries?" He poured the offending coffee out with a look of contempt.
A round of jeers went out to Silletti. Chief Riley held a hand out greedily to Lou. "Pay up! I told you it was battery acid." Lou rolled his eyes in disgust and fished a five dollar bill out of his pocket, slapping it reluctantly into the Chief's hand. Riley beamed with avarice for a few moments until he spotted Xander prepping a new pot of coffee. "Nah, c'mon kid, let him make it over, you don't have to do that."
Xander shook his head firmly. "I only have one stomach lining, Chief. I'd hate to dissolve it before I even have a chance to develop a kidney stone." The assembled firefighters took this opportunity to give Silletti further flak for his sub-par coffee making ability.
"I tell you, kid, you're already a life saver. We were this close to having to register Probie's coffee as a weapon of mass destruction." Tommy patted Xander on the shoulder as he made his way around the table to peer at the remaining sandwiches.
"Don't get too starry eyed there, Gavin." Chief Riley stood up from his chair. "Our coffee savior comes with a price - we're gettin' a woman in the firehouse, boys. Today."
"Oh, Christ." One form or another of this sentiment went around the table, save Xander, whose reaction was not visible as he prepared the coffee with his back to the crew and did some general tidying of the kitchen. Xander waited for the coffee to brew and peered around in cabinets so he could start learning where everything was, while he listened to the crew talk about how they were going to 'freeze the new girl out' and make her feel unwelcome.
When that subject had run itself into the ground, Xander poured a cup of coffee and adulterated it to specific preference before announcing, "Coffee's ready." The crew all lined up to inspect the new guy's caffeinated offerings.
"Sweet merciful shit." Tommy took a sip with his eyes closed. "What're you doing, volunteering in a firehouse? You oughta be running a coffee joint of your own. Call it, 'Just God Damned Coffee'. Coffee, sugar, milk or cream, and that's it
Xander shrugged modestly. "I was kind of a night owl back in high school. Learning how to brew coffee was a survival technique more than anything."
"Don't forget the importance of a box of donuts," a new voice called, this one soft, husky and undeniably feminine.
The fire crew turned with varying expressions of dumbfounded on their faces as they were confronted with a brunette wearing a FDNY t-shirt, (perhaps a size too small), jeans and a leather biker's jacket. She glanced at the only person wearing a white shirt in the room. "This the house for 62 Truck?" she asked, sounding vaguely bored.
Chief Riley stood up, chin held high. "That's right. Jerry Riley. What can I do for you?"
"I'm Faith. Guess I'm stuck with you." She looked appraisingly at the room in general, and it was clear from something in her expression that she found them wanting.
Xander promptly handed her a cup of coffee. Faith took the steaming mug with a wink that only he and Tommy could see, and Xander went out to the garage to do a bit more work. Tommy frowned. What was that wink about?
"Where y'going, kid?" Chief Riley asked, shaking off his temporary shock.
"Figured I'd finish up what I was doing before." Xander shot a sly smile over his shoulder. "Besides, she doesn't need my help." With that, Xander left the unsuspecting firefighters to their fate.