|martyr your insecurities and play by the rules
Author: Caseus PM
Mel usually doesn't value first impressions, even if it's with the cute junior who smokes and decides to work with him. Luckily, it doesn't matter anyways. Slash, oneshot.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Humor - Words: 5,137 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 13 - Published: 10-05-10 - Status: Complete - id: 2853254
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The secondhand clock ticked slowly behind me as I stood behind the counter, counting the bills in the cash register. Not because I wanted to, or because I was assigned to—I mean, what kind of boss would make one of his workers count the money in a cash register? Either a very boring one, or a very stupid one. But I wasn't really in the place for stealing money, or doing this because it was part of the job description. Plus, Angie's actually pretty cool.
I sighed and dropped all the dimes in their respective slot, before turning around to look at the clock again. Three-thirty pm. A half an hour to go. On Saturdays, business was usually very slow anyways. People usually came to convenient stores right before work or right after work, because of procrastination. Around here, anyways.
The bell to the door rang suddenly, breaking me out of my thoughts. I looked up and saw that it was my friend Dalton, with a bag in one hand and a bright smile on his face. I scowled at him.
"Why so serious, Mel?" Dalton asked cheerfully, clapping me on the back and resting the bag on the counter I was standing behind. I glared at that too. The bag, I mean.
"You're not allowed to dirty the counter," I told him, annoyance threaded in my voice.
Dalton rolled his eyes. "Oh come on, Mel, where do you think this bag has been? It doesn't even look that dirty." He side-eyed it warily.
"You never know," I told him, almost snarling. "Off."
"Fine, fine." Dalton gave me a look, but put the bag back in his hands. "You're so uptight."
"And I got it from my mother." I glanced down at his bag. "What's in that, anyways?"
"You snapped at me. I'm not telling." He folded his arms, but after a moment of immature of silence where I just eyed him, he stopped and went to open his bag up.
"So dude, dude, you'll never guess what happened," he started excitedly. I raised my eyebrows at his change of mood.
It was then when the store doors opened again, and a brown-haired boy came in. His hair was disheveled and fell to his forehead, almost covering his dark grey eyes. He wore a dark green jacket that looked too big on him, and seemed rather young. Between his lips was a cigarette.
I wasn't the type to randomly hit on guys, even though I was out already (but really, no one cares here). Besides, he looked rather… well, significantly young for me. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't attracted to those tired eyes and pale face. Plus, though I thought smoking was disgusting… it was kind of sexy on the kid.
Dalton stopped talking when the guy came in, the same way my attention had completely shifted as well. I stared at the kid.
"Who's that?" I asked Dalton in a hushed undertone so the kid couldn't hear me. Even though I was looking at him and pointing to him from the side.
Dalton furrowed his eyebrows. "He looks familiar. I think he's a junior in our school."
"Oh." So he was younger than me. It didn't seem right to take an interest in him, but… I looked at him a little bit longer. The smoke rings flew out between his thin, chapped lips, into the dim light of the afternoon sunrays through the glass windows.
"Hey," I said to him suddenly, perhaps with a little more intensity than I meant to let out. "No smoking in here."
The boy turned around to me. His grey eyes pierced into my own brown ones. "I'll do whatever the fuck I want in here, thanks," he snarled at me.
"Well if you're going to stay in this store, you better not smoke or else I can kick you out," I told him. "I can't afford to have your smog to stink up this shop."
He eyed me carefully, before darting his eyes at Dalton as well. Then he looked at the bag that was in Dalton's hand. "It's better than the smell than whatever shit's in there," he spat, bringing his cigarette out of his mouth with his fingers and crinkling his nose.
"Yeah, well, at least it's not laced with toxins that are probably illegal for someone your age," I pointed out. "Now either throw your cigarette somewhere outside of this shop, or leave."
The boy stared at me. He seemed like he didn't know if he actually wanted to stay or leave—personally, if I was him, I wouldn't have wanted to stay. Because really, what kind of teenager in his right mind would want to stay at a pharmacy, doing absolutely nothing? But to my surprise, he put the cigarette back in his hand, opened one of the glass doors by a few feet, tossed his cigarette into a nearby trashcan, and then came back in, glowering at me and saying to me, "Happy now?"
My gaze followed him as he walked around the counter. "What are you doing here, anyways?"
"I was looking for a job," the boy replied to me, though he was looking around as if seeing if there was anyone else he could talk to. Which was highly unlikely, because Angie honestly takes four-hour lunch breaks. "But clearly, I didn't know that the guy I would be working with was going to be such a bitch."
"Well there's other shifts, if you really don't like me that much." I raised my eyebrows at him. "But there's no use in working here if all you're going to do is waste your money on marijuana or whatever the hell it was you were smoking."
"Ha-ha." He turned around and fingered with a nearby rack of random convenient items, observing them. "For your information, I'm only interested in getting a job because I need money to help support my family."
"That's nice." I waved his comment aside. "So are you going to apply to work here or not?"
He looked like he was going to have second thoughts, but something evidently kept him here. Instead, he just gave me a reproachful look and said, "Where can I get the application?"
"They're in the back." I jerked my thumb to a storeroom behind me and the counter. "Don't bother trying to steal anything there, anyways. There's nothing worth sealing."
The boy almost looked offended that I'd consider him of stealing, but scoffed it off and left to the back. I noticed that Dalton's eyes followed him as he left, and I resisted to do the same. The strong scent of his smoke whipped past me as he passed behind me, even though he was no longer smoking.
When the boy was fully out of earshot, Dalton turned to me, a knowing smirk on his face. I frowned at him.
"You are so interested in him," he stated.
I prevented a sudden red tinge from appearing on my cheeks. "What makes you say that?" I shot back at him.
Dalton rolled his eyes. "Oh please. You've always been so obvious, Mel. Though he's not really your type. But still. You always pick on guys you like and for some reason, this makes other guys like you. Which I don't really understand."
"I have no idea what you're talking about." I stared at Dalton and tried to cloud the image of Cody smirking at me with a cigarette sticking out of his lips. I didn't succeed.
Dalton just tapped his fingers on the counter beneath him. "Sure," he said sarcastically.
Attempting to change the subject, I glanced at the paper bag in his hands. "What's in there, anyways?" I asked him.
"Oh oh oh!" Dalton lifted it up excitedly and poured its contents onto the counter top. "Look what I got us!"
Out of the brown bag came out two oily paper-covered burgers, alongside with a cardboard box of suspicious-looking fries. They smelled highly of grease and fat. If fat had a smell.
I crinkled my nose in disgust.
"I'd rather take the smoke."
That afternoon, after Cody—that was the boy's name, I saw when I had glimpsed at his job application form when he gave it to me (his birthday was also in a few weeks, and he was allergic to shrimp)—left the convenience store, Angie came back at four. I had told her that Cody had come in, looking for a job, and Angie looked absolutely delighted (yes, she was delighted. That was the only word that described her).
"What did you think of him?" she asked me. I didn't know if she meant that in a suggestive way or as a coworker.
I shrugged and took my uniform off, before going back to the bottom of the counter and getting my shirt. When I came back up, she was still staring at me, waiting for an answer.
"He's all right," I said to her.
Angie rolled her eyes and slapped her hand on the counter. Really. I wasn't supposed to get it dirty. The counter, I mean.
"Mel, you know I want a decent review," she said. "What did you think of him?"
"He's…" I thought back to his cynical grey eyes, his tousled brown hair, the way he smirked at me every time he spoke to me. "… nice."
"Just nice?" Angie raised an eyebrow.
"He's good, okay Angie?" I said exasperatedly. "Just hire him."
"Melvin, this is Cody. Cody, this is Melvin. You guys are going to be coworkers," Angie said to us two Saturdays later. "I have my lunch break now, so I have to go. Bye." She left, the bell ringing behind her.
"She has lunch break at nine in the morning?" Cody snorted. He had lost his cigarette once Angie—who loved him, by the way. I didn't see why. He was only attractive—had told him that smoking wasn't allowed in the store. I kind of missed it.
I nodded. "She's usually out all day," I explained.
A silence drifted between us. All I could hear was the clack-clacking of Cody's dirty fingernails tapping on the counter top. Then, I asked,
"Why do you want to work with me?"
"Who said I wanted to work with you?" Cody asked with unnecessary venom in his voice, quick as lightning.
I glanced at him. "On your application, you signed up to work on Saturdays from nine to four. I'll be damned if it's a coincidence that you decided to sign up to work the same time you applied."
Cody didn't say anything to this. I just sighed then, and then returned to my work. You know, if I had something to work on, anyways.
He broke the silence this time. "So… your name is Melvin," he said to me.
I flushed a bright pink. "Don't call me that. Angie just said that to piss me off."
Cody snorted again. "Melvin." He chuckled quietly under his breath.
"Call me Mel," I told him hastily. "I hate that name. Don't call me Melvin."
"Okay, whatever." Cody folded his arms and rolled his eyes, twitching his lips at the absence of a cigarette. "Melvin."
Truth be told, it actually didn't sound that bad coming out of his mouth.
When I came back from lunch at twelve, Cody was already there, standing behind the counter where I had first met him. He didn't seem to notice me at first, until I asked him,
"Make any progress?"
He nearly jumped and I snickered. A glare came through his clear grey eyes, shining under the fluorescent lights.
"Kinda. Two people came in while you were gone," he said.
"That's good." I joined him in the back. "Getting used to the job already?"
Cody shrugged, as if regarding my question irrelevant. "I heard you gave me a good review," He said to me.
I briefly glanced up from the candy bar I had been eying. Why was I so hungry when I just ate? "What are you talking about?"
"When you were talking with, um, Angie." His gaze was now curious. "Why did you say that I was nice, or something?"
"Oh." I realized what he was saying now suddenly, and turned away. Why did Angie tell him that? I didn't want him to think that I—liked—him, or something.
Coy continued staring at me questioningly. "Well?"
"I didn't say that," I snapped, still not looking at him. Again, my words didn't come out quite the way I wanted them to. "I just said—I just said you weren't bad."
Cody didn't say anything to this. I heard him sigh, and could smell the slightly musky breath that came out from several feet away from me.
The next Saturday was as exciting as the previous one. As in, not exciting at all. I best to myself that Cody'd switch shifts the week after. The only reason I didn't was because I was busy with schoolwork every other day of the week.
I didn't bring this up to him, though. Surprisingly, he was here before me. He barely lifted up a hand in greeting when I arrived.
"Happy early birthday," I told him as I joined him behind the counter.
Cody looked surprised and glanced over at me while I changed behind the counter, though he glanced away quickly when he saw that I had taken off my shirt. I quietly grinned to myself. It finally got around to the juniors that I was gay already? Instead, he turned away and looked back over to the front of the store.
"How'd you know it's my birthday tomorrow?" he asked.
"Your application." I shimmied the red uniform shirt on." I read it."
"You read it?"
"Hey, I should get to know the guy I'm working with, shouldn't I?" Though I doubted he'd want to work with me for much longer. I ignored the fact that a small twinge pinched at my stomach at this thought.
Cody continued staring at me. "But you remembered."
"I did." I turned to him and rolled my eyes. "Quite obviously."
Cody looked at me a bit longer, but eventually averted his gaze. He stared at the glass beneath his fingertips instead.
"How does it feel?" he asked me.
I glimpsed over at him. "Way to change the subject."
Cody gave me a look, and I just rolled my eyes at him. "Oh, you'll have to be more specific than that. How does it feel to be bored here every Saturday for the past two years? How does it feel to be working with someone like you?"
"How does it feel for everyone to know that you're gay?" Cody blurted.
I stopped and blinked at this statement, slightly thrown off. "Oh. Well. Um. I dunno." I shrugged. "My parents don't really mind as long as it doesn't distract me from my schoolwork. And no one really cares."
"Oh," Cody said quietly. His eyes remained focused on the clear countertop.
I attempted to lighten the tense air that had fallen between us by saying, "What, you play for my team or something?"
Cody turned to give me a smile, but it didn't seem like a smile to me. "Yes, Mel. I play for your team."
Later that afternoon, when I left to go home, I realized that that was the first time he had called me by the name I wanted him to call me.
To my great surprise, Cody had come to work the next week, and the week after. He always had a blank, expressionless look on his ace, but for some reason, in the back of my mind, I felt like he enjoyed it.
Before Angie left one day, she turned to me privately and eyed me carefully, her leather bag hanging on her shoulder.
I stared at her. "What?"
"Take Cody out to dinner. Get to know him a little bit better." She smiled at me. "I can tell you like him."
"What, for the thirty minutes you're actually here?" I asked her. But when her eyes flashed dangerously, I quickly apologized. "Sorry. But what's with everyone saying that? First Dalton, and now you."
"You mean your little straight friend? I knew there was a reason why I liked him." Angie patted my arm with purple-painted fingernails. "At least take him to lunch or something."
"He doesn't even like me," I told her.
Angie winked at me before leaving. "Take my advice."
I watched her leave through the store doors, and then turned back around to look at Cody. My eyes glanced quickly to the clock. Two hours until lunch.
"What did she say to you?" Cody asked me when I came back. I shook my head and shrugged.
"Nothing, really," I said to him.
Cody nodded, and then turned back away to the counter. He seemed rather troubled, but I waved it off.
We went along with our normal routine, which basically consisted of my staring through the glass and trying to find something to distract myself with, while Cody just watched me or back and forth through the store, looking for stuff to fix. I think he may be OCD. His mouth also kept making weird movements, as if still not sued to the absence of his cigarette. I internally admitted to myself that I wanted it there too.
When lunch time came, Cody looked like he was going to turn around and say bye to me before going to the back to get his brown bag lunch, but before he could, I grabbed him by the forearm and said, "I'm taking you to lunch with me today."
I blamed it entirely on the inner Angie in my mind.
Cody seemed stunned. "Wh-Why?" he asked me.
"Because." I tugged him along until he shook himself out of my grasp and followed me out of the store. "You said you were making money to help support your family, right? I wouldn't want you to waste your rations when I could buy you a perfectly good meal."
Cody didn't say anything as we made our way outside into the cool, overcast air. I turned around to look the place up, and then led Cody to my car. He seemed rather wary to enter it at first, but did once I was inside.
As I made way out of the parking lot, he finally spoke.
"I lied to you."
"Oh really?" I glanced in my rearview mirror to make sure I wasn't bumping into anything, but managed to catch a glimpse of his guilty expression.
Cody nodded. "Yeah. I… my family's not exactly poor. At all."
I rolled my eyes. "I figured as much. Your Doc Martens gave you away."
Cody muttered something about being "so gay", but said to me, a bit louder, "I just wanted to get out of the house, you know. Didn't really have much to do."
"No siblings?" I asked.
Hm. I could have guessed that much too. But while I certainly didn't expect this confession, it was kind of… weird, too. I mean, didn't he hate me? Or at least dislike me? I was surprised that he didn't pull out a cigarette when he got in my car.
—though I ended up jinxing myself, because once we got out of the car, he took a cigarette out from his jeans pocket, a lighter, and lit it. I admired the way the small fire at the end cast shadows onto his face.
"Why are you doing that now?" I asked him.
"What? Oh, this?" He took the cigarette out and blew into the October air. "Thought you didn't like smoking, so decided not to do it in your car. There's only so much I'd do for you, though." He smirked. His face was completely different from when he had been telling me about his family.
"No, I don't mind it all that much. Though it's extremely unhealthy. And gross," I added as we entered the restaurant.
"But." Cody raised an eyebrow at me, expecting more.
But you look so sexy when you smoke. "But nothing," I told him. "I'll tolerate it, but it doesn't mean I'll accept it."
Cody shrugged. "Whatever," he said to me. "It's not like I give a fuck about what you think, anyways."
The waitress guided us to our table. After quickly flipping through my menu and deciding what I wanted, I turned to Cody, who seemed to still be looking. "So, how does it feel to be a closeted homosexual?"
He blushed visibly in the dimness of the restaurant light, but didn't look up at me. "Fine, thank you," he answered conversationally.
I played with the straw in my water. It'd be fun to psyche him out. "We probably look pretty gay right now, don't you think?" I said to him. "Two fags, sitting in a restaurant booth alone together." I eyed the cigarette poking out from between his teeth. "No pun intended."
Cody reddened even more. "Shut up," he snarled under his breath.
I smirked to him. "What, I'm not your type?"
"Hardly." Cody snapped the menu shut and glared at me, just as the waitress came over.
"Hey Mel," she greeted me. I grinned to her; all he waitresses her knew my name—though I didn't bother to memorize theirs. "Getting the usual?"
"Yeah." I nodded.
The waitress scribbled down my order on her notepad before turning to Cody. "What about you?"
"I'll have, um. The number five," Cody answered.
"Hold the shrimp," I added to her.
The waitress nodded, scribbling "no shrimp" on her paper, and then headed off.
Cody stared at me.
"How did you know I was allergic to shrimp?" he asked.
I shrugged. "It was on your application."
"But… But you remembered?" Cody looked like he didn't know if he should be creeped out or flattered.
Again, I shrugged. "Well yeah, I guess."
A silence fell between us. I took the time to gaze at the smoke falling out between his lips, and wondered what they tasted like.
A few weeks afterwards, our lunches soon became routinely. When I told this to Dalton, he teased me and told everyone I was going on dates with Cody. I smacked him on the head.
It wasn't like I was going to bother to make a move on Cody, anyways. He still didn't seem to like me too much, despite our lunches. Plus, he was a junior.
"Why don't I ever see you in school?" I asked Cody one day, before sipping out of my glass of water.
"I skip." Cody shrugged and looked around. When he glanced back at me, he seemed surprised by the look of disbelief on my face. "What? It's not like you expect me to sit in that shithole and learn stuff, do you? It's not like we learn that much, anyways."
"Yeah, but… don't you care about your future?" I continued observing Cody.
He shrugged. "Sure. My future will come. My parents have the money, anyways. They'll give it to me, and then let me leave. Hell, I' bet they'd even pay me to get out of the house."
I stared at him a little bit longer. Cody seemed to be waiting for a reaction from me. When I didn't say anything, he just laughed and flicked the ashes off from the end of his paper cigarette butt.
"Kidding," he said, voice sounding restrained. When I raised my eyebrows at him, he said more insistently, "Really! I'm kidding. My parents are pretty bad, but they all aren't that bad." He glanced over outside to the parking lot outside of the restaurant. "Plus, I hate kids who need pity all the time."
I didn't know what to say to this, so I continued picking at the food in front of me. Cody watched.
"So, what do you want to be when you grow up? Or do you plan on working in a drug store all your life." He sent me an amused look, and I retaliated with a sneer.
"Very funny," I said to him. "I've only been working here for two years. I don't really know what I want to be when I grow up… but it's definitely not going to be running a drug store."
"Yeah. You don't really seem the type to be doing something like that," Cody observed.
A smile tugged at the edges of my lips. "Oh? Then what type am I?"
"You seem the type…" Cody tapped his cigarette on his scarred lips and eyed me carefully. "You seem the type to be a teacher, but act like a complete badass outside of the classroom. You know what I'm talking about? The kind of teachers who are awesome but strict, but can act like they're actually human once in a while."
I wasn't quite sure if this was a compliment. I just stared at Cody. "No. I don't know what you're talking about."
"Like, you know," Cody started. "The kind of teachers who—who, you know, they just—they're—"
"How would you know different kinds of teachers if you hardly go to school anyways?" I chuckled. I ignored Cody's glare at me and just shrugged to myself. "Well, you know it's true."
"You're so mean." He glanced up at me and glared again, but it was just as teasing as my words. I rolled my eyes and smiled at him.
It happened, not on a day when we had lunch together, but rather after work, when Cody decided to stay after a little when I was closing up. Angie had already left, telling me she trusted me to close the shop. I was in the back, grabbing my stuff, and getting Cody's as well. When I turned around, I saw that he was standing behind him, and I handed his stuff to him.
Cody stared at me as I made my way out of the back of the shop. "Mel, why do you do this?"
"Why do I do what?" I faced him and patiently waited for him to make his way out. Once he was back behind the counter, I locked up the door and started to make my way outside.
"This." Cody ran up to catch up to me. "All this... nice shit. And remembering my birthday. And that I'm allergic to shrimp."
I shrugged and glanced over at him. His bright eyes glinted in the light-- until I remembered there was no light. "I just did? I dunno."
"But..." Cody continued staring at me inquisitively. "And the whole lunch thing too. You didn't have to do any of that."
I stopped at the front door of the store. He remained where he was. I furrowed my eyebrows, confused. "What's your point?" I asked.
"Well." Cody looked down to his feet. "I thought you hated me."
All of a sudden, the cigarette from between his teeth didn't give him such a douchebag demeanor anymore. Neither did the bags under his eyelids, or the way his pale skin shone brightly in the dark. And when he looked at me, the lackluster of his eyes really seemed to get to me.
"I don't hate you, Cody," I said to him quietly. "I like you." And the meaning in my words seemed to weigh heavier than just the phrase, I like you.
Cody seemed stunned at first. But then his hand dropped down from his mouth, and brushed against mine. And he replied, smoky breath on my lips,
"I like you too."
Cody's legs pressed against mine in the back room, as I felt him pull his cigarette out from between his teeth to kiss me again. This totally would have been disgusting, but I was too caught up in the lust to really care. Plus, on Cody, it was totally sexy.
"You know, I always liked the way you smoked," I said to him huskily, as his lips found my earlobe.
I could feel him smirk, and he muttered in my ear, "I figured. You were always staring at me when I did."
"I didn't always stare at you," I breathed, gasping slightly at the touch of his cool fingers slipping up my shirt.
He pulled away from me and grinned, raising his eyebrows. "Oh really? Then why couldn't you take your eyes off of me the first day I came here."
All of a sudden my phone buzzed in my pants pocket, and in surprise, I hit my leg against the table behind me, turning it on. Dalton's voice blared loudly from the speakers.
"Hey Mel, where are you having lunch? I was thinking about joining you--"
"I'm kinda busy right now," I said loudly, digging through my pockets and searching for my phone. I heard Dalton's laugh on the other end.
"Busy? Busy with what?" he asked.
"Busy with me." Cody reached in the front of my pants pockets and pulled my phone out.
Dalton laughed even louder.
"Busy with Cody? Dude, I so knew it! You totally were hitting on him from the start, of course you'd get together!"
"I'm hanging up now, Dalton," I said, grinning as I watched Cody take my phone and start to close it.
"What? Are you guys making out or something? Oh, Mel, you would, especially in the middle of your 'boring job', though I guess it's not that boring now since you have a fuck-buddy in it—"
"I'm hanging up now!" I shouted, and giggled when Cody closed the phone shut and rested it on the table behind us.
Cody leaned into me and smirked, fingers finding my beltloops. "Turn your damn phone off next time so your friend doesn't interrupt us again."
I grinned and kissed him lightly on the lips. "You're such an asshole."