I can't believe I even asked myself that question.
Nathan was on his feet and between the man and the waiter mere moments after Avery was gone. Arms akimbo, he looked up at the other patron, his eyes narrowed in determination. "What gives? He apologized and is trying to do his job. He doesn't need you looming over him while he tries to make you happy!"
The waiter looked like he wanted to curl up and hide as the man's face turned a deep shade of red, the anger practically boiling inside of him. Nathan forced himself to stand firm and not cringe away, even when the man balled his hands into fists and redirected his fury towards him. "Mind your own fucking business, buddy!" he growled, the veins in his neck bulging out. "Who said you had a say in this?"
"Bruce, honey, please," his wife begged meekly, edging out of her seat. "Why don't we just leave...?"
"Betty, stay out of this!" The man whirled towards her and she promptly returned to her seat, clinging to the edge of the table while tears welled up in her eyes. Nathan was beginning to think this had been a bad idea as the man turned back to him. "So what? You want to defend this fucking chink?"
"Damn right I do!" He knew he was digging his own grave, but nothing bothered him more than a blatantly racist comment. In any case, there was no use trying to turn back now. "I'm not going to sit and watch some dolt throw his weight around because he's offended by a genuine accident!"
The punch just barely skimmed over the top of his head as Nathan ducked out of the way, stumbling into the table behind him. The restaurant had grown quite again as the quickly escalating fight drew the attention of the other patrons and Nathan dodged another swing. The waiter scrambled out of the way. The man's wife started to cry.
"Shit," Nathan swore under his breath as the man punched his fist into the table, cracking the wood and sending its contents crashing to the floor. That could have been his jaw! Striking back had briefly crossed his mind up until then, and it finally occurred to him that there was no way he could take this man on in a fight. Nathan's best option was to continue what he was doing avoiding him but a third person suddenly joined the scuffle.
The stranger, who was not in the least bit please that his table had been partially destroyed, casually stepped between Nathan and the man, catching the oncoming punch as easily as if it were a slow-thrown softball. Nathan had ducked away from the blow he had thought he would be dodging, but managed to look up just in time to catch the stranger twisting the man's arm behind his back, effectively quelling his temper.
"Leave," he said simply, waiting a few seconds longer before releasing his hold on him. The husband practically scurried back to his wife, even pulling out her chair for her as he hurried them both out of the Golden Frog. The restaurant returned to is normal activity.
Nathan had never sighed with so much relief. "Thank you..." he started, only to see that the stranger had gathered up his things, picked up his bill, and was headed towards the exit. Nathan rubbed the back of his head, not sure what had just happened. He decided he'd follow him.
"Excuse me?" The waiter that had been the focus of this whole ordeal hesitantly tapped Nathan on the shoulder, still shaken. He smiled gratefully, chewing on his lip. "Thanks for standing up for me there," he said, his accent just light enough to be easily understood. "I don't like confrontations, and I was really worried about serving him for his whole meal. You saved my butt."
"Sure, no problem," Nathan said with a smile, still keeping an eye on the stranger as he signed the receipt for his lunch. "That guy was totally out of line."
"Definitely!" the waiter agreed. "My mom will want to thank you."
"What?" Nathan had completely forgotten that his waiter had told him that this one was the owners' son, and no sooner had the realization hit did he see Avery headed back, a petite, slightly agitated Chinese woman in tow. Behind them the stranger was headed out the door.
If I don't leave now, I'm going to lose him, and I have a few questions about this whole fiasco that I'd like to get cleared up. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to just leave the waiter, especially when it looks like his mom's headed over here to talk to me herself (although with that scowl, it might be a good idea to run while I still can). I may never see this stranger again, and I just can't shake the feeling that he was more involved than that bit of heroics at the end, but I definitely don't want to offend the owner any more than she probably already is...
Damn it, who do I chose?