You know, I haven't had Chinese in ages, and as tempting as that pretzel sounds, I'm really craving me some sesame chicken...
"I think I'm going to need something more filling than a coffee and pretzels," Nathan said, smiling at Alton. "Which way to Chinese?"
The other man laughed and lazily pointed out the window. "You'll want to turn right out of my shop, go straight through the next intersection, and turn right again at the corner of Midas Street and Banner Avenue. You should be able to spot the Golden Frog with no problem."
Nathan nodded, committing the directions to memory as he started towards the door. "Thanks, for letting me use the phone and the info. Uh, I guess see you later."
"Yes, see you later."
Nathan hesitated for a moment before leaving. The way he'd said that... he shook it off. Alton was a nice guy. He'd offered a complete stranger the use of his business phone, and even given him directions. Nathan knew he really needed to get past his discomfort around the bookseller. It was just an unusual eye color. Hell, he could do that himself with a pair of contact lenses.
Nathan stopped walking, took a deep breath, and shook his head. "You're thinking about this way too much," he muttered to himself. He continued on his way to the restaurant, hungrier now more than ever.
The Golden Frog was clearly one of the newer establishments in town, judging by its spiffy clean exterior and crisp, unscathed signage. Either that, or the owners were very meticulous with the upkeep. Stepping through the wooden doors, Nathan was instantly greeted by a gigantic pair of eyes, staring straight at him from the head of a large, golden, frog-shaped statue. A little velvet rope sectioned it off from the entranceway, a small sign in front reading "No Hands Off Please!" under which was written what was probably the same (albeit more grammatically correct) phrase in Chinese characters. Nathan cringed at the sign, but followed its instructions and walked through a second set of doors into the restaurant proper. He sighed in relief at the "Please, Seat Yourself" sign, getting himself a small booth by the window so he could watch the people walking outside.
While he waited for a waiter, Nathan looked around. It wasn't too busy for lunch, since there were still a few empty tables, and it looked like quite a few families were there. He could see over the take-out counter back into the kitchens and saw the chefs shouting back and forth to each other in Chinese, probably over what orders needed to be cooked up. He watched the waiters making their rounds, some speaking barely intelligible English, and he worried for a moment that ordering his lunch was going to be more complicated than he would like. Maybe he should have gone to the coffeehouse...
"Welcome to The Golden Frog." The sound of very American English startled Nathan almost as much as the waiter's sudden appearance. "My name is Avery," he continued, handing him a menu. "And I will be your server today. Can I start you off with something to drink?"
Avery really did stand out amongst the mostly Asian employees with his platinum blonde ringlets framing his round, boyish face, and he couldn't have been much older than nineteen or so. He smiled expectantly at Nathan, waiting to take his order.
"Uh, actually, I already know what I want," Nathan said, handing menu back to him. "Just a cola and whatever the lunch portion of sesame chicken is?"
The waiter stared at him, a little surprised, but nodded as he jotted down his order. "Sure thing. I'll be right back with your drink shortly."
Avery took the menu and headed back to the kitchen to place the order. As soon as he was gone, Nathan looked down at the paper placemat in front of him, emblazoned with the Chinese zodiac and all the little details that told customers what their sign was. He didn't even need to read the years to know he was a dragon; it was just one of those little factoids about himself that he had memorized, as easy for him to recall as it was for him to say his birthday was May thirteenth. He had just begun reading who his love matches were when something crashed on the floor, causing the restaurant to go silent for a few seconds.
Nathan looked up towards the source of the noise, curious as the chatter of the patrons returned to its original level. One of the waiters was apologizing profusely to a couple while he picked up the shattered remains of the dishes he'd dropped. The wife seemed perfectly fine with the accident, but her husband was looming over him, screaming obscenities at the young man for his clumsiness.
"You idiot!" he shouted, stomping his feet. "Look what you did! We've been waiting for thirty minutes, and you do this?!"
"I'm very sorry, sir," the waiter apologized again. "I didn't know the tray was broken. I'll get you a new meal right away."
"You had better! It's bad enough they let you people work in this country without you being completely inept at it!"
Nathan started to rise from his seat, but stopped. The man was out of line, but it really wasn't any of his business. He spotted Avery headed back towards his table and sat back down, but he couldn't help but keep looking over at the confrontation.
"Your soda, sir?"
"Hm? Oh, yeah, thanks..."
"Don't worry about him."
"What?" That got Nathan's attention, and he looked up at Avery as the teen nodded towards the angry man.
"He's the owners' son," he explained, although his brows were furrowed with worry. "And he's a good waiter. If things get too out of hand..."
"But shouldn't we do something?" Nathan asked, not at all comforted by Avery's words. The waiter frowned, chewing on his lip as he began to nod, then shook his head instead, mumbling something about being right back before he hurried away towards the kitchen. Nathan huffed, looking back. The man wasn't shouting anymore, but didn't look any happier. Most of the other patrons had gone back to their meals, completely ignoring the incident, except for one other man. He was staring at the husband while he continued to berate the waiter in a hushed tone, whatever he was saying clearly upsetting the youth and making him cringe away as he continued to try to clean up his mess.
A chill ran down Nathan's spine. The man was watching too intently to just be a curious onlooker, and he could have sworn that he was mouthing along to the husband's words. It didn't sit well with Nathan, and he couldn't just watch anymore.
I have to do something. I don't like where this is going, and that guy looks way too invested in what's going on. Poor kid looks terrified...
What should I do?