Thirty Steps

By @MHarper247

Thirty Steps

By @MHarper247

James Alexander is a 23-year-old wannabe marine biologist working at a coffee counter in a cinema foyer. Thirty steps away, 19-year-old amateur filmmaker Bailey Thompson works at the snacks counter adjacent to his. Six attempts at asking Bailey out and James gives up, witnessing, three days after his most recent confession, a kiss between Bailey and a young girl closer to his age. Then they meet in a bar, and James discovers the true meaning behind Bailey's new girlfriend.

Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Three days had passed since the sixth attempt at asking Thompson out, and James had essentially spent all of these three days watching him work, distracted from his customers every time the blond flicked his hair to the side or laughed at a patron’s joke. Luke would have found it cute, but customers were in fact backing up and he had a distracted employee doing no work. It was not a good day.

“James, can you please stop stalking Thompson and help me here? Sam isn’t here yet and we need to serve these nice people before our shift ends!”

James turned to him when he spoke, still looking distracted but nodding, taking a few of the customers to let Luke rest. The switch in personality was intense as he went from depressed and rejected to happy and friendly, all bright eyes and smiles as he served them. It took another twenty minutes but eventually the line of customers depleted and he sighed, sitting on the counter.

“If Sam is late I’ll slit her throat myself, bloody woman-“

“-speaking of women-“

Luke cut him off, pointing to the girl walking into the foyer, clearly younger than them both.

“She’s way too young for you.” James teased him as he cleaned the counter, amused as his friend gawked at the teenager with black hair and brown eyes, his focus no longer on working.

Continuing to clean up, he pulled off his apron and put it back on his hook, leaving the machines on so Sam and Lexi had it easier when they came in for the night shift. Lots of people were in at night for showings so they would be busy with people trying to stay awake with coffee, and those coming to buy after a meal downstairs just before they went home.

“The girl looks sixteen. You remember your age is a decade more than that, right, pervert?” The brunette laughed without looking up, wiping off the coffee maker.

“****.” James heard Luke mutter quietly and glanced up with a smirk, wondering if he had gotten aroused by the sight of the young girl.

“You okay there, pedophile?” He grinned at his friend who shook his head quickly, still staring over at where the girl was.

The brunette sighed, turning around and following his gaze to see what he was swearing about, his smile dropping when he saw. Thompson was kissing the girl. Having finished up behind the counter, the teenager was now locking lips with who could now be assumed his girlfriend, his arms around her waist lightly.

James couldn’t help but be disappointed. He never expected the blond to be straight.

“There’s no way that nerd is straight and got a girl like that.” Luke voiced some of his thoughts aloud, tilting his head at the couple in confusion.

The younger brunette, however, deflated at the sight, his heart sinking.

“Yo, who’s the bella making out with snack boy?” He was momentarily distracted by the sound of Sofia’s Italian accent as the older girl walked up to the counter with an arm around her girlfriend.

Luke flinched when James wrenched his jacket on aggressively, brushing a hand through his hair.

“We don’t know her name at the moment. Just that she came in and they just started… kissing-“

“-so you’re here now, great. Machines are cleaned off for the graveyard shift, please don’t make out in front of customers. Bye.” James barked rather abruptly at the two girls, throwing the keys at Lexi who caught them easily.

He himself walked out of the foyer then, trying not to let his bad mood show too much as he walked past his crush complete with the new girlfriend. Heading for the escalator with Luke flailing behind him to catch up, he sighed, rubbing his temples.

“So… avoiding the sore spot of what our snacks colleague will be doing in bed tonight, how’s the whole university thing going?” His friend smiled a little when he caught up to him, wanting to cheer him up somehow as he knew how much James had liked Thompson.

James, on the other hand, was not in the mood, and tried to accentuate that point with the glare he sent Luke’s way.

“How is the whole university thing going? So you mean apart from the fact that I skipped the last two years of high school, because I had nowhere to live, because my parents decided they didn’t like having a son that not only has an arm covered in scars but is gay. So I have no good qualifications and I’m trying to find experience placements and apprenticeships to help me boost my application. The university thing is going fine.” He explained stiffly as they left the entertainment complex, completely shutting the brunette up which was probably a good thing.

Luke, quietly and in a reserved manner after the outburst of his best friend, nudged his side gently.

“You still want to go to Lifted tomorrow night?”

James tried not to have another outburst, his hand twitching faintly after talking about his parents. He smiled back at Luke, nodding.

“Sure. But only if I’m not tired after my interview, got it?”

The taller man was nodding fast, grinning at him.

“You’ll rock that interview. Any company would be lucky to have you on their biological conservation team or whatever the hell it’s called. I believe in you-” James cut off his voice with a hand over his mouth before he started singing like a madman.

“How about you just drive me home and you can sing in the car, alright? We don’t need all of Glasgow hearing about how much you believe in me!” He laughed, only letting go when Luke nodded.

The two men continued to walk down the pathway to the multi-storey car park that Luke normally parked in about a quarter of a mile down the road from the centre. The taller of them was beginning to notice the twitching in James’ left arm but didn’t say anything, knowing he wouldn’t ask him for advice or help even if he needed it.

They both just sauntered quietly back to the SUV car that Luke had been gifted by his parents for acquiring his first job at the coffee counter. He still thought it was stupid and so did James, but it was comfortable as hell so who were they to complain when they could toast their asses after walking in the cold outside.

“I still don’t think he’s straight.” Luke commented as he was driving out of the car park, getting past the amber traffic light just before it turned red.

James shrugged, feeling better about the whole situation after his coffee and the warm seat underneath him. The familiar scent of Luke that enveloped the interior of the car always calmed him down, and now he had almost completely forgotten about Thompson, able to put him to the back of his mind while he relaxed in the car. He was definitely glad to be off his feet after a five hour shift too.

“I don’t think I care much at the moment.” He replied, watching the city pass by his window.

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