A/N: What we have here is the very first thing I have been inspired to write in MONTHS! So, I figured I'd share it with you. What do you think? How do you like River? What sort of guy do you think he needs?


Chapter One

River sighed as he wondered, not for the first time, why people who complained about a store repeatedly came into it. He knew they did this because he waited on the same loudmouthed, whiny people every single day. They came, as they always did, purchased the same exact items before promptly complaining about the same things. For some it was the slow gas pumps or the fact that the pumps sponged off ancient dial-up internet which took their credit cards forever to go through. Never mind the fact that the gas itself was always a good three cents cheaper than the gas town offered a good seven miles away. They complained because the cups were cheap, un-designed Styrofoam and the fact that ethanol-free gas was not available to fuel their boats. This was, after all, a river community.

This was, of course, usually the part where River - who thankfully was not forced to wear a nametag that would no doubt bring assumingly witty jokes out of very funny women of whom River had no interest in. His name was, of course, a tribute to the community that his mother so adored along with the rest of his immensely large extended family. But if you asked him, Essex county, Virginia was nothing special. The water was murky at best and more often than not a shitty brown color. The town that resided within Essex was barely three miles long and rather annoyingly named Tappahannock. Oh, he loved the native name just hated the false advertising. In a town named for the river it resided on by American Indians one would think they would have more Natives. As far as River knew the only Native Americans in the area were those that he was kin to. Then again, he was kin to everyone so what did he know.

"Are you serious? What are you people good for? The top wont even fit on my cup!"

"Sorry. Another new owner," he said reflexively, smothering a yawn as he did so.

"This is such bullshit," the middle aged customer threw his hands up in the air. But, as River knew he would, and as he always did, he brought the cup up to the counter and paid before heading back down the road to his beach house.

Lazy fuck, River mused. They all were, really. With a town five minutes away it really didn't make sense for people to pay the same price for a small foam cup when they could have a Big Gulp or something. He didn't get the whole deli thing either. True, he might cook breakfast or lunch any given day for the deli hotbox but no way in hell would he ever eat it. Anyone who saw the backroom would be wary. Then again, they often left the door open and no doubt the customers had seen in. They probably just bitched and overlooked the end result as they always did. Personally, River wanted to die of something cooler than food poisoning.

Yep, he was used to surly customers. He reasoned with them and, every now and again, got shitty with them when they deserved it until they just shut up, paid, and stepped out just as they always did. Well, all of them except one. Except him.

River's face actually fell into a sneer when the man came in. He didn't bother to wave or greet the man and got the same courtesy in return as the man walked over to the fountain drinks, huffed loudly at the sight of the same cheap ass cups before heading to the back of the store to get his signature Mountain Dew. He grabbed the same kind of chips he always did before coming to stand before the deli.

When River didn't say anything, he huffed again. "Did you make breakfast this morning?"

"Uh huh."

Another huff. River was beginning to wonder if the man had asthma or something.

"Just give me the Breakfast Monster and ring me up already."

River did as he was told, halfway holding his breath the entire time as he waited for the man to start. Once the transaction was done, he hated to admit it, but he gave a sigh of relief and watched as the man walked out the door. That certainly changed exactly two minutes later when the man came barreling back in. He knew it was too good to be true. To have just one day where dickhead didn't come in and ruin his day.

"Maybe you could answer a question for me," he started, tossing the giant breakfast sandwich on the counter, mouth set in a frown.

River rolled his eyes heavenward and asked in a blatantly annoyed tone. "And what would that be?"

"What comes on the Breakfast Monster? You know, the sandwich I just purchased. The one I buy every single day?"

Giving the man a look as if to ask 'Are you serious?', he finally just sighed and listed the ingredients. "Double ham, double sausage, double cheese-"

"That's right. Double cheese. So how do you suppose mine ended up with only one?" the fellow said in faux politeness.

"Just to clarify something here- Are you seriously bitching me out over a piece of cheese?"

"No, I'm 'complaining' because you messed up my sandwich order."

"They're made to order so you didn't order anything."

"What's that supposed to mean."

"It means," he smiled sweetly. "That I make it anyway I want it and you get what you pay for."

"I paid for cheese," the man scowled.

"No, you paid for a Breakfast Monster with one slice of cheese. Enjoy."

The man stood there staring for a good minute before snatching his sandwich up. "Unbelievable!" but he took his sandwich and walked out.

Just as River knew he would.

Fucking dick. River knew for a fact he had made that ridiculously large sandwich perfectly. The guy just wanted to complain. Like he always did. Like everyone always did.

God, he hated working in retail. All the falsities and complaints, the technical difficulties and price screw ups. He abhorred that he had to suffer through the public even more. People and River Adams did not get along. He just didn't have the patience cashiers were expected to have when a customer automatically blamed them for any and every issue. Unfortunately, living in a small town didn't help him in his endeavors to get away from the retail gig and he still had a good two and a half years before he got his bachelors through the online college he was currently attending. The fact that most of the locals knew his last name and therefore his family didn't help either when it came to getting a job. No one wanted to hire someone they knew for fear of having to get rid of them and potentially piss someone off.

Which is how he found himself working at an out of the way store down towards the vacation homes in Dunnsville for an Eastern Indian fellow who didn't know him nor care what he did in the store as long as everything was clean and the money was right. Two things River had no issue with. He was just glad he wasn't required to put up with some bullshit customer's right code that got him bitched out or fired. Plus he could play his music all day long and no one said anything which brightened his days considerably.

True, at 24 River should be far away from his childhood home just as he wished to be but being born poor and raised with such a dependant family didn't leave much room for leaving. After all, he had his mom and baby brother to worry about now that her spouse had sped away to South Carolina in search of his crack dealer/girlfriend. It was hard but he managed.

"Lord have mercy!" An elderly black lady entered the store fanning her face. "This dog gone weather is fittin' to kill me."

"Yeah, it is hot as hell. This old air conditioner in here is struggling to keep cool," River said, smiling at the lady of whom he had once known - and worked besides thanks to community service as a teen for misbehaving - as a high school lunch lady. "You playing numbers today, Mrs. Mattie?"

"Oh, yes, child," she said, pulling her cards from her lottery folder and handing them to him to run through the machine. "Play 8848, 50 cents any order for me as well."

He did as asked. Normally he'd be a dick and force customers to put every number on a lottery card but not Mrs. Mattie. She reminded him of a time in his life when he still had dreams. Before he had gone off to Job Corps and discovered what it felt like to be happy only to come back home to nothing but poverty and the knowledge that every two years he'd be forced to move. He frowned at the thought. Two years was approaching fast since they had first moved into the trailer park and if fate was going to intervene and make them move again he sincerely hoped they wouldn't be staying at the hotel once more. It sucked like hell sharing a double bed motel room with your family. He knew, he'd done it several times and had spent more time walking the town of Tappahannock than actually staying in it in an attempt to get some form of privacy.

"You alright there, boy? You look like you're off in your own little world."

River blinked and handed her the tickets and took the cash. "Yeah. I'm just living a dream." Chatting with her a few minutes, he sighed in relief when he saw the next shift come in. Thanking his lucky stars for having the short morning shift today, he quickly counted down his register and scraped the grill clean before heading out. Getting into the rusted ass Camry, he headed home to the Essex Mobile Home Park.

Pulling down the lane, he weaved past a large group of little black kids playing basketball in the middle on the street, he nodded at a few that he knew and pulled into the appropriate driveway. He almost winced when he saw his cousins car but instead groaned. "Will that bitch ever go home?" he grumbled, shoving the door open and slamming it shut childishly before marching up the stairs and into the small trailer.

"River, before you go to your room, I need cigarettes!" his mother immediately said from her position in front of the computer.

Growling, he gave a curt wave to his cousin who, as far as he could tell, had not worked her ass off all morning and had a car just outside. "Fine, give me the money." When she handed him a mere two dollars, he sighed. "Mama, you know this aint enough."

"Make it enough."

"What the fuck is this? A Friday rerun?" he snapped. "What happened to your disability check?"

"I only got a fifty and I don't want to break it," she replied.

River threw his hands up in the air and turned around. Running to the store, he came back and tossed her the cigs before heading to his room and sitting at his desk. Running a hand over his laptop, he sighed. His laptop, the only thing he had that was worth anything. His only connection to something better out there be it through school or face book or even just a halfway decent book or movie. When he was here, in front of his laptop, was the only time he even remotely had a life.


He cringed at the sound of his mother's voice. Going back into the living room he paused to grin and pick up his little godson, his cousin Red's youngest, before walking over to his mother. "What?"

"You need to figure out what we're eating for supper. I sold my foodstamps to your aunt today t pay for the cable and-"

"You sacrificed food for cable?" he asked dully.

"What was I supposed to do?" she snorted. "They were going to cut it off if I didn't come up with the money."

"Um, I don't know, maybe go buy food and watch a movie instead of daily reruns that you pay sixty dollars a month for."

Turning her sizable figure sideways to scowl at him, she said haughtily, "Like you don't watch the fucking TV. This is MY house, boy, and you had better remember that shit."

River just stared at her. Her house. Her bills. His money. "Yeah," he scoffed. "I've only got twenty dollards to my name. I guess I'll get some spaghetti noodles or something."

"I want pizza."

"But, mama, if we get pizza then we can't-"

"We'll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. Now go get dinner." That said, she turned back to the computer screen.

River clenched his jaw and turned on his heel. Going back to his room, he grabbed his keys and headed uptown once more.