Title: Cafe on the Corner (15/?)
Author: Amre ([livejournal.com profile] dazzamre)
Pairing: Viggorli (brief mention of others)
Rating: This chapter PG-13, overall R/NC-17
Summary: AU. A local coffee shop. An Open Mic Night. Anything could happen.
Feedback: It would be most welcome. :)
Disclaimer: Lies, lies! It’s all lies, I tell you!
Thanks to: [livejournal.com profile] dreamerren for the beta. This chapter is dedicated to [livejournal.com profile] torielle who promised chocolate and shiny things if I continued. ;P



Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13
Part 14



Chapter 15

The next morning found Orlando in the storeroom of the cafe, waiting for everyone else to show up for the staff meeting. Dom was leaning against the wall beside him, throwing around possible reasons for the meeting, ranging from the obvious, and accurate, ("This is it, he's finally going to retire.") to the absolutely absurd ("He's come to the conclusion that he's actually straight and wants us to hear it first."). Orlando gave the same noncommittal shrug to all of his theories, except the last one, which earned Dom a snort and raised eyebrow.

Ian was in his office, avoiding them for as long as he could until everyone was there. Orlando had seen him briefly and could tell he was worried about how his news was going to go over. Ian didn't call huge meetings like this often, so when he did, it tended to make everyone anxious. Amy slipped in from the front, staying close to the door in case anyone entered the café. Orlando did a quick headcount, and then stepped down the hall to tell Ian that everyone was there.

He knocked lightly on the door, pausing a second before pushing it open. Ian was seated at his desk and looked up as Orlando entered. "So the dreaded moment has finally arrived," he said simply. He sighed and gave Orlando a weak smile. "Well, no sense in putting off the inevitable." He stood slowly, and Orlando had a sudden rush of sympathy for him. It was obvious Ian wouldn't be doing this if he had any other choice.

"Ian," Orlando said haltingly, stopping him with a hand on his arm. "I just want you to know that whatever happens, we'll be okay. All of us, and the coffee shop. I promise." Orlando wasn't entirely sure where this confidence was coming from, but he felt like it was the right thing to say; something Ian needed to hear.

"Thank you, Orlando," Ian smiled. "As long as you're here, I know I'm leaving it in good hands."

Orlando nodded quickly and turned away, knowing that if he got emotional now they'd both be doomed. They made their way to the storeroom in silence, and the anxious chattering subsided as they entered the room. Orlando reclaimed his spot by the wall while Ian moved to the center of the room. Dom looked expectantly over at him, but Orlando ignored him as Ian launched into his speech. He'd heard all of this before, though, so as the words came from Ian, deliberate and calm, Orlando tuned him out and watched the expressions of everyone else in the room. A couple of people looked on the verge of tears, and there were nervous expressions all around, but for the most part everyone was trying to be happy for Ian. When he finished speaking, his employees, hugging him and wishing him and Alan the best, instantly surrounded Ian.

Despite the commotion, Orli didn't miss Dom slipping out of the room. Following him, Orlando made his way through the café and pushed open the door leading outside, the bell overhead jingling as he stepped out into the cold. He glanced up and down the sidewalk before spotting Dom and calling to him. "Dom, wait up!"

Dom didn't look very happy as he turned around to face him. "What?"

"Are you okay?" Orlando asked, peering worriedly at Dom, realizing this is how Liv must have felt yesterday.

Dom sighed and sank down onto the bench by the building. "Yeah," he answered as Orlando sat down beside him. "I guess I just wasn't really expecting this. It's Ian, Orli. How can he be leaving?"

Orlando didn't think he really wanted an answer to that, so he stayed silent. Dom glanced over at him and frowned. "You don't seem very surprised. How long have you known?" he asked accusatorily.

"Since yesterday," Orli admitted reluctantly. Dom didn't look angry, but rather hurt that Orlando had kept it a secret from him, especially when they had both been at the gallery last night. He felt as though he needed to explain himself. "Look, it wasn't my place to tell anyone...even you. I wanted to, but I just couldn't."

"So you didn't tell anyone?" Dom asked skeptically, crossing his arms and turning on the bench so that Orli could feel the full brunt of his stare.

Orli hesitated and considered lying, but Dom knew him too well. Plus, he was a horrible liar. Dom would know immediately if he wasn't telling the truth. Dom read his expression easily without him having to say a word. "That's what I thought," Dom muttered. "So it wasn't that you couldn't tell anyone, it was just that you couldn't be bothered to tell me."

He sounded angry now, and despite himself, Orli felt himself getting defensive. He hadn't asked Ian to tell him before the others. He'd never wanted to be put in that position, and even though he understood why Ian had done it, he was wishing more and more that he hadn't. He tried to remind himself that Dom was just as upset over Ian leaving as he was and that he was just taking his anger out on him because he was an easy target.

"It wasn't like that," Orlando insisted, getting a little angry himself. "It's not like I went around telling everyone except you."

"Whatever," Dom shrugged. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised that you told Viggo." The words were simple enough, and if Orli didn't know Dom so well, he'd almost take it for an apology. But he did know Dom, and while the words were harmless, the tone wasn't.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Orlando demanded, standing up. "You know what? I'm sorry you think I should have told you, and maybe I should have, but I'm not going to apologize for telling Viggo. He was worried. He had a right to know what was going on."

"Unlike me?" Dom said loudly, standing up, too, and staring at Orlando incredulously. "This only affects my entire life, it's not like it's important to me or anything. Why should you tell me?"

"You're being completely unreasonable," Orli accused. "So I found out a few hours before you. What's the big deal? I got to be miserable last night while you and Lij had a great time. I've had this hanging over my head, and I couldn't talk to anyone else because no one else knew!"

"It's the principle," Dom threw back. "I thought I was your friend. I've known you a hell of a lot longer than Viggo. I know how much Ian means to all of us, but instead of trusting me…" He stopped suddenly, shaking his head. "It doesn't matter."

"Yes, it does," Orli said quietly. "Dom, you're one of my best friends." Dom scoffed, but Orli continued anyway. "I do trust you, and I wanted to tell you. I did. I just…I didn't know what to do. I was upset. I didn't expect this anymore than you did, and I don't want Ian to leave."

Dom looked defeated as he sighed and sat back down. "I don't want him to either."

Cautiously, Orlando eased onto the bench beside him. "So...are we okay?"

Dom looked over at him and shrugged. "Yeah, I guess. I still wish you'd told me, but…I get it. I probably would have done the same thing if the situation were reversed. But I think the bigger question now is 'what do we do?' Orli, this could be bad, really bad."

Dom wasn't telling him anything that he hadn't already thought himself, but he didn't have any more answers now than he had yesterday when Ian had first broke the news to him. "I think the only thing we can do is be there for Ian and do whatever we can to make whatever happens work. This wasn't an easy decision for him to make, Dom, you know that."

"Would you do it?" Dom asked suddenly.

"Would I do what?" Orlando asked thoroughly confused by his question.

"If Viggo wanted to move halfway around the world, suppose he got some job like Alan, would you go with him?"

"We haven't been together as long as Ian and Alan," Orli started, but Dom was giving him a don't-bullshit-me look now. "I don't know," he answered honestly. "I think that I would, but…I'd have to think about it. Uprooting your entire life and starting over somewhere else...that's asking a lot."

"Yes or no," Dom said firmly, raising an eyebrow at him and waiting for his answer. "Come on, Orli," he prodded when he still didn't reply.

"Yes," Orlando said at last, a small smile creeping onto his face. "Yes, I would. I wouldn't think twice about it."

"That's what I thought," Dom said quietly. "You know I'm happy for you, right? You and Viggo?" Dom's sudden serious turn caught Orlando off guard. Dom was looking at him strangely, and it made him feel a little uncomfortable.

"Of course, I know," Orlando said, shrugging off his unease. Maybe their argument had just unsettled him a little more than he'd thought. He had to be imagining the way Dom looked away suddenly as if somehow aware of his discomfort.

"Okay, then. One more question," Dom said, his tone much lighter and bright now. "It's fucking freezing out here. What on earth are we doing sitting out here chatting? Let's go inside. We have a lot to do."

"Like what?" Orlando laughed, following Dom's lead and heading for the door.

"Well, we're not letting Ian get away with out having some big farewell bash. I was thinking we could have it on open-mic night and all write haikus or something for him. He'd like that, don't you think? Well, maybe not haikus, he'd probably like limericks more, but you get the drift."

Orlando grinned as Dom spouted out an impromptu limerick that, if he wasn't so cold, might have made him blush. "Save it for the party," Orli told him, pulling the door to the café open and pushing Dom inside.

The day hadn't been a complete disaster, Orli thought as he settled into a booth while Dom went to round them up two cups of coffee. Ian was still leaving, and he was worried about that, but at least it wasn't just his burden to bear anymore. And he and Dom had gotten through their fight relatively unscathed. Viggo's parents would be here in a few days, and if he could survive them and Henry, he could survive anything. Things weren't perfect by any means, but for right now, Orli could live with that. If things got worse before they got better, which they were likely to do, he'd deal with that then.

TBC
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