The bell above the door jingled as he pushed it open, stepping inside the familiar little coffee joint he had walked by so many times. He scanned the room, looking amongst the various troglodytes sipping their sludge, until he recognised the gangly form of Leon Fox O'Brien waving to him from the window.
Leon stood as he strode to the booth and, before he could say a word, Ciarán engulfed him in a hug. "Hi," Ciarán drawled sympathetically. He was quickly regretting the hug: he had forgotten the smell.
"Uh, hi," Leon muttered as he pulled away, and both sat on opposite sides of the booth. Ciarán pulled off his sunglasses and placed his Starbucks on the table.
"Why do you already have coffee?" Leon asked. "We're in a coffee shop."
"Huh? Oh, no, there's nothing in there. That's just how we walk in New York. Coffee in one hand, keys in the other. I didn't have a car for six months, but I had keys," he explained, jingling them high before putting them in his pocket. "How are you holding up? I am SO sorry."
Leon looked perplexed. "Why?"
Ciarán raiser his eyebrows. "Your Grandmother. I can't believe she's gone."
Leon waved him off. "Oh no, don't worry, I lied about that."
All of a sudden, the familiar urge to punch Leon came flooding back.
"I just said that to get you here."
Ciarán cradled his head in his hand. "Are you telling me that I just flew from New York to Dublin because you lied about a dead grandmother?! Why aren't you in Japan?"
"I'm not going back to Japan."
Ciarán's brow furrowed. "Why? I thought you had that internship at Nintendo."
Leon nodded. "Exacty. I HAD that internship. But I MAY have accidentally attacked a guy thinking he worked for Sega - you know, as payback for Sonic Boom?"
"Yeah, of course."
"Yeah, well, turns out he DIDN'T work for Sega. He was, like, Supreme Chancellor of Some Weapony-Thing and then I was under suspicion of being a terrorist for awhile, but then I just got deported. Now I'm here!"
"Okay, before I ask why I'm here, one question: why is there a guy filming us?"
Ciarán indicated the table a few feet away, where a handsome young Asian man in a Wonder Woman T-Shirt was holding a giant television camera on his shoulder, pointed at the duo.
"That's Dwight," Leon whispered into Ciarán's ear. "I got him cheapest because he's Asian."
"I'm kidding! I hired him because he's alright with my racist jokes, right Dwight?!"
Dwight's face didn't change from blankness.
Ciarán sat back in his seat. "Why do you have a cameraman filming you?"
"Because I'm making a documentary!"
"On us!" Leon beamed. "Our new project! We can get the gang back together and go back to the good ol' LA!LA! days! I was thinking The Mommy Show: The Movie!"
Ciarán blinked slowly. "Dwight," Ciarán asked, "Am I being Punk'd right now?"
"What?" Leon asked defensively.
Ciarán sighed. "Leon, we've all moved on."
"How? It's not like you're doing anything," Leon said, playing with a pack of sugar.
"Um, I'm splitting my time between LA and New York. I was a staff writer on Kimmy's Got A Gun?"
"Yeah, exactly, the writing career's not going great..."
"I won the Disney Writing Fellowship out of 20,000 applicants, I have a 2-year contract--"
"I hear you, it's tough out there, living the life of a struggling artist--"
"I get paid $52,000 a year--"
"But this could change your bad luck!"
"Leon, do you seriously think you can get everyone in the same room again? A lot of us hate each other."
Leon shrugged. "So? This is a chance to make amends. And money!"
Ciarán groaned and put his head in his hands. "Okay, fine..."
"But you have to promise me something," Ciarán said, his head whipping back up, pointing a finger between Leon's eyes. "You will NOT involve HIM."
Leon's smile faded. "Have you two seriously not made up?"
"I will NEVER speak to that boy again. If he's there, I walk."
"Okay, fine, you have a deal."
"I'll call you tonight," Ciarán said, standing up and putting his sunglasses back on. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a hearse to cancel..."
Ciarán exited the shop and walked the short distance to his car. "Hey Ciarán," he heard a voice say, turning to see Dwight shoving the camera in his face. "Why'd you decide to do it?"
Ciarán shrugged. "I love Leon like a brother. And there's no way in Hell he'll get everyone on board for this, so I might as well let him have his fun-- can you not lean on my car, please?" he added sharply, and Dwight shifted his hip from the paintwork. Ciarán threw open the door and ducked into the car, setting off down the street, thinking about how many near-death experiences were to come.
Angela pulled open the front door to see Leon, arms open wide, smiling manically. "Hi Mum!"
Angela's eyes widened slightly. "Can I help you?"
"Mum, it's me."
Angela blinked. "OOOOOHHHHH!" Angela said loudly. "LEE-on! Yeah, I remember you now. Why are you here?"
"Mum, what's going on?"
"Hi Leon!" a third voice called, and Leon felt his stomach churn as the smiling face of Cian Nolan appeared over his mother's shoulder.
"CIAN? What are you doing in my house?"
"Go back upstairs, honey," Angela requested, patting Cian's head. "I'll run you a bath."
"Bye Old Leon," Cian said, waving slightly, before shooting up the stairs.
Angela turned back to Leon in the doorway. "I'm sorry, what did you need?"
"Mum, what is going on?!"
"We replaced you, dear," Angela explained brightly. "You were in Japan, and New Leon--"
"You replaced me WITH CIAN?!?!?!"
"He gave a wonderful audition."
"But I'm your son!!!"
"We have a wonderful severance package. Now why don't you go make one of those animations you liked?"
"They're called video games," Leon muttered, deflated.
"Of course they are, dear," Angela said, before closing the door in his face a little too quickly.
NEXT TIME ON THE LFOB CHRONICLES: Leon makes contact with Jack and Nick as the project begins to take shape!
Donna: What happened? Do you want to talk about it? I have ice cream!
Harvey: It's 8.A.M.
Donna: Which is why God made Chunky Monkey. It has chocolate and bananas. Bananas are part of a healthy breakfast. And who cares about bananas? It has chocolate!...Okay, you caught me: I don't even eat the bananas.
--Donna and Harvey, "Suits".
Ciarán Graham stepped out of the car out onto the footpath, car keys in one hand and Starbucks cup in the other. His designer sunglasses blocked the sun from his eyes as he glanced at the sign above: Ugly Joe's Coffee and Shit. He smiled slightly to himself, but quickly dropped it: today was not a day for happiness.