“Well Mr Kelly, I must say that you lived up to your resume expectation,” Elaine said as she cleaned up a few things on her desk. Jack smiled, relieved that this interview was finally over. He felt like he aced it- and that he left a good impression, so he just hoped that maybe he would actually get the job.
This was his second interview over the past three days, and he had one more in a few hours. However, of the three jobs, Jack probably would enjoy working at Bumble Bees Books the most. Partly because Elaine seemed like a good boss, partly because a very cute boy worked here.
He wasn’t going to lie- he couldn’t remember his name. He wanted to say David, but that didn’t sound right in his head. However, he was cute and Jack wanted to get to know him more. He didn’t even know if he wa going to work with him at any point, but that was his main motivation.
“Well I’m glad,” Jack said as they both stood up. Elaine reached over the desk and shook his hand. Jack smiled and gave a small nod. “Thank you again ma’am for the opportunity.”
“Please, Elaine is just fine,” she dismissed absently. “You’ll be hearing from me in a few days I think.”
“I’ll be keeping an eye out,” Jack said. She nodded, before she walked Jack back out to the bookstore.
They exchanged goodbyes again just as the same guy entered through the back, greeting Elaine with the name Buttons instead. Considering his brother’s names, Jack didn’t think much of it- just that the cute guy who worked here was currently getting ready to start a shift.
His name was Davey, Jack finally remembered, as the two smiled at each other. Jack kept his gaze lingering on him, before he forced himself out of the front door. Hopefully he would have another chance to talk to him… and maybe even get his number.
Jack hummed contently as the warm September air hit his face. The sun was already setting at six pm, but it casted a nice warm glow across the city, and it just seemed like the perfect lighting for a painting.
He had bussed down to Bumble Bees for his interview, thanks to his brother taking his car because “Spot left mine at the nightclub!” and when the two went to go pick it up, neither of them had came back in either of the cars.
He could only hope that if they did go somewhere, it was in the back of Race car. They had taken his car a few times before, and each time Jack found a used condom in the back.
Jack decided to take a few photos of the landscape for future references before he continued on his way to the bus stop two blocks over.
Getting home was easy, first just take the 104 and then transfer to the 37 , ride for two stops and then walk three blocks down to his apartment building. He and his brothers lived on the fifth floor in a three bedroom apartment, which realistically none of them could afford on their own, but their mother helped out a little bit with rent.
As he unlocked the front door, he could already hear shouting. With a small roll of his eyes, he stepped inside and locked the door again.
His brothers, Crutchie and Race were sitting on the couch, screaming at each other as they raced around on Mario Kart. Spot, Race’s boyfriend who technically didn’t live with them but was over almost every night anyways was sitting in the recliner chair with his headphones in and a textbook in his lap.
“Wanna join Jack?” Race asked, glancing back briefly at him as his character flew off the map. Jack considered it for a second, before jumping over the back of the couch and sitting next to Crutchie, grabbing the third remote already on the table.
“Long as I get ta kick your ass,” he grinned.
Race ended the game, and Jack set up his character as they got comfortable on the couch.
“Don’tcha have a night class today?” Jack asked absently, all three of them focused more on the game than anything else.
“I do, but that don’t mean I’m going,” Race said as he hunched over himself, leaning with his kart around a sharp corner of the map.
“He hasn’t been going for the past two weeks, decided just to read the textbook and hope for the best,” Crutchie said with a laugh. Race rolled his eyes and scoffed.
“Least I have luck when it comes to that,” he remarked.
“Now what’s that supposed to mean?” Crutchie asked.
“Nothin’ just sayin’ I’ve got good luck,” Race said casually. Crutchie rolled his eyes playfully. Race suddenly jumped up on the couch as he completed the race in first place, screaming and hollering as he threw his remote down on the ground.
“Guess who’s paying to go out tonight!” He celebrated. Jack laughed and rolled his eyes, setting down his remote as he sat up from the table.
“Now I wouldn’t have participated in this if I had known yous two had a bet over who won,” Jack said, grabbed his jacket from the floor as he slipped it back on again, only to push his sleeves up to his elbows. Both Race and Crutchie shrugged as they looked to each other, before they looked to Jack.
“Ya still came in last place,” Race pointed out.
“So yous gotta pay,” Crutchie added, grabbing his crutch next to him as he stood up, stretching out just a bit.
“I wasn’t plannin’ on going out!” Jack said.
He was planning on painting. Probably finishing up one or two of his projects, so he’d be able to work on her personal stuff. He only really liked painting landscapes. Faces weren’t fun to draw, and there was nothing more that Jack hated than still life. Of course, those were both the projects he had to do. A self portrait in an abstract style to represent him, and then a stupid still life of his choosing. Sometimes he questioned whether or not he should just jump ship and not finish his degree.
And now instead of painting, he’d have to go out and buy his brothers and his brother’s stupid boyfriend drinks because he was tricked into playing a game of Mario Kart that had a bet attracted to it, both Crutch and Race knowing fully well that Jack sucked at playing Mario Kart. Spot didn’t even try to warn him about it! He probably knew fully well what was going on.
“Well you are now,” Spot said, glancing up from his book before he put it away. Jack huffed, rolled his eyes, before he smiled. He liked the idea of going out anyways. After that stressful interview he had, he kind of deserved it if he did say so himself.
None of them had money to go out- they had to pay rent on Sunday, and they would for sure come up short if they went out, but none of them really cared. Medda would give them the last little bit of money if they came up short. She always did- a wonderful mother she was.
“Let’s get going then!” he said happily.
The next morning, which was a Monday, mind you, Jack was practically a ball of energy. He woke up feeling like shit, but that quickly changed as he had gotten a call from Elaine about wanting to hire him at Bumble Bees . Obviously he had accepted it, and that just cured his hangover right there.
He started on Friday. Friday night, to be specific, meaning that maybe he’d be working that shift that Davey had. Unless he had taken over Davey’s shift, which he doubted. Or at least hoped that was the case.
He was painting, still in the sweats he slept in (with two immature brothers in the house, you never slept nude), and had tossed on an old shirt. He was standing at the easel in the corner of his room, paints spread out on the little table next to him as he struggled to finish this damn still life.
He hated still lifes, and he hated acrylic paints. They dried faster and details were harder to get into place. The colours never matched the colours when they dry, and the texture was barely there.
He liked oils more- sure he needed the solvent to thin the paint and clean them, but they just flowed better on the canvases. They took longer too dry too, so he could work on details as long as he wanted to without any rush at all. The colours didn’t darken at all when they dried, and the texture was just so much nicer.
He liked paints like he liked the people he surrounded himself with. You get what you see- there’s no sudden change of colours after you started getting used to them. Their relationship didn’t seize up quickly and stop changing. He liked when they could change things, even if they had sat out for a while, so they can nudge colours around just a bit and adjust them if something isn’t quite up to their happiness level. He liked them bright and vibrant and happy, but maybe just a bit more complicated than a cut and paste relationship. There was a bit of extra work they needed to do, but that was okay, but the result would always be better.
Jack hummed as he painted, having given up on the reference photo he had taken long ago. He had the sketch and the basic colours and he knew where the light source was, so what was the point?
God he hated art school. Grading you on how well you can paint, of course entirely based on whatever stuck up professor you had opinions was of good. There was specific projects and due dates and all Jack wanted to do was paint . Then again, he didn’t want to be doing anything else. So, he’d get his way through art school and would never think of anything he learned in school again.
“Jack you coming or what?” Race called from the kitchen. Jack hesitated, before he turned down his music and wandered out into the hallway.
“ What? ” he asked. Race rolled his eyes as he came around the corner.
“We’re carpoolin’ to classes right?” Race said. Jack hesitated.
“Well yeah but… we don’t have any classes today?” he said. Race laughed.
“Yeah wes do- you have your uh, art history class today, or whateva it is,” Race said with a small wave of the hand. Jack laughed lightly.
“That’s a Monday class,” Jack said bluntly. Race raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah,” he said, dragging out the word. “It’s Monday.”
“Well shit,” Jack said with a laugh and a shake of the head. He didn’t even realize.
“Ight gimme ten minutes,” Jack said as he turned around, heading back towards his room.
“You have five!” Race called out as Jack shut his bedroom door.
He rushed to get ready, though he didn’t put much effort into her appearance at all. It was one lecture, after all, and he doubted he’d go out to eat or anything like that after his class. He hadn’t even left yet, and all he wanted to do was get back home so he could keep working on that stupid still life painting of a tower of objects.
Two minutes later, with coffee in a cheap to go mug and missing a textbook, Jack and Race were in Race’s car, heading off towards the classes. At least on Mondays the two had their lectures in the same building, so there was no dropping one person off first and then heading off. The Larkins brothers ( they had all been adopted by Medda Larkins, though they were all at an age where they decided to keep their last names. So while they were brothers, they all had completely different last names. Still, they were the Larkins brothers ) sucked at carpooling or coordinating anything.
Race was a reckless driver. If Jack had to rate his driving skills, it would probably be a four, and it was only so high because he was his brother and he felt like he had to do that. If that wasn’t the case, Race was easily a one point five. Jack wasn’t any better than him- he’d admit that, but at least he didn’t run through red lights.
“You’re gonna get a ticket for that,” Jack said, unimpressed at Race’s stupid decisions. Race laughed lightly and shrugged.
“Who cares? I didn’t wanta wait for it,” Race said with a laugh, before turning up the music on the radio, washing out Jack’s talking.
It wasn’t like he was going to lecture him or anything. He wasn’t his mother, and he knew that Race would have to pay for the ticket, not Jack. So he didn’t care. He just cared that the idiot got both of him safely to their classes.
“You’re good on finding your own way home?” Race asked as he shut down the car. He tossed the keys in his pocket as he started getting out.
“Yeah yeah, I’ll take the bus or something,” he said as he got out and walked to the front of the car.
“I can wait the extra hour,” Race said. The car beeped and locked. Jack shrugged.
“Nah, I know you wanna go and fuck your boyfriend in the empty house,” Jack teased. Race slapped his arm hard.
“I don’t wants to go fuck my boyfriend,” he shot back. Jack snorted.
“Yeah you do,” he said. “So you two can be as loud as ya want, instead of having to worry about me hearing over the wall.”
“Oh my god Cowboy just shut up,” Race said as he nudged him.
“Just use protection,” Jack teased. “Don’t need any babies running around.”
“Neither of us can get pregnant!” Race exclaimed. Jack laughed and shrugged.
“Have fun fuckin your man!” Jack said, before he turned off into a different direction.
Jack turned back just in time to see Race flipping him off. He laughed and repeated the action, before turning away and heading off towards his class.
He sat down in the back of the large hall, humming to himself as he doodled in his notebook. Chances were he was going to fall asleep halfway through or just not pay attention. He knew that from experience. He could just read the textbook afterwards. He wasn’t entirely sure, but Jack was almost certain that the teacher just sat there for a solid three hours and spoke right out of the textbook with some mediocre powerpoint behind her.
He ended up ducking out early too, deciding that the last twenty minutes weren’t anything of interest for him. Not enough to stick around, anyways. His grade would be fine. It was only twenty minutes, after all. If he had any homework to do, he would just get the information from one of his classmates after.
Jack hummed as he headed down the street, enjoying the nice leisurely walk towards his bus stop. He didn’t like the idea of going home, not wanting to walk in on anything explicit, but he would rather be there painting, while enduring the loud moaning on the other side of the wall than wandering the streets with absolutely nothing to do.
The bus still was going to take a while, however, so he happily took his time to get home, kicking a small stone beneath his feet.
He plugged in his headphones at one point, blocking out the world as he waited at the bus stop. Jack wasn’t the keenest on talking the bus- it was more or less just a pain. Realistically, he didn’t know if it was worth it to carpool with Race, despite them being in the same building for their lectures, just because Race finished so much earlier than him. Sometimes he’d wait, but most times he wouldn’t.
He’d save a bit of money too, if he just took his car.
There was no use in complaining now though. He was already waiting and the bus was just coming up the road. All it meant was that he’d be getting home a bit later than he would have if he had just driven himself.
The bus ride was uneventful, of course. Not that Jack was expecting anything epic or exciting to happen. He had hoped that maybe at least he’d see a dog walking down the street but nothing.
Back up to his apartment and into his room, where he immediately started painting again. Luckily, the house seemed pretty quiet, so Jack assumed that Race had taken Spot elsewhere, or they had gotten all their horny problems out of the way already.
He tried to pretend to be interested in the work he was doing, even just to make it seem a bit faster, but it just didn’t work. Everything on this painting was stupid, and he hated the colours in it. So much.
Jack glanced at the time, before double checking the dates. This painting was due on Wednesday. He still had two days to do it, so if he just took a break, maybe finished doing it tomorrow, he’d probably be fine.
So, he switched his paintings over to one of his own, cleaned off his palette in the kitchen and started pouring out different colours of oil paints on the same palette. He grabbed an unfinished painting, the one he had been working on yesterday and started absently mixing his paints, not thinking much about it as he worked.
“That ain’t the still life painting you’ve been complaining about,” Crutchie’s humoured voice came from behind Jack. He grinned, before looking over his shoulder as Crutchie made his way to the bed. He sat down in the middle of Jack’s bed, before putting his blanket over his lap.
“No it ain’t,” Jack replied as he turned back to the painting, continuing to mix colours before he started painting in clouds.
“You ever gonna finish it?” Crutchie asked.
“Maybe someday,” Jack said, smiling back at him once more. Crutchie laughed and shook his head lightly, before he laid down on his bed.
“There a problem with your room?” Jack asked curiously.
“Ya can’t hear the shower sex from here,” Crutchie said simply. Suddenly Jack understood and just nodded, before turning back to his painting. Really, he should have guessed that was what was going on.
Jack hadn’t finished that still life for Wednesday. Instead, it was Friday afternoon, and all Jack had been doing for the past two hours had been that still life. That stupid still life that was probably slowly killing him.
He was keeping an eye on the time. Usually, Jack wouldn’t, since if he ended up being a few minutes late for a class, or to meet up with his friends, it wouldn’t matter. However, now he had a job he needed to get to. The last thing he wanted was to show up for his first shift late.
Jack stretched his painting time as much as he could, before finally cleaning up once he decided that he couldn’t stretch his time anymore.
He made himself a sandwich quickly, since he’d be working through supper, and then headed out the front door.
It wasn’t until he had actually gotten close to the store that he realized that there was no parking out front, and he had to go up and down the street a few times before he found a place to park. It was a block away from the store, but it was better than nothing. He’d assume that there wa employee parking in the back, but he wasn’t told about it when Elaine had hired him, so he really had no clue about it.
When he opened the front door, Elaine was standing behind the check out counter, and Davey was sitting on the counter itself, his back facing the store. The two seized their conversation, Elaine smiling and patting his thigh before Davey jumped down from the counter and turned to face him.
A quick flash of recognition crossed over Davey’s face, before he smiled and greeted Jack. Then, he muttered something about using the restroom before disappearing into the back of the store.
Jack smiled awkwardly at Elaine, before he approached the front counter.
“My first shift was today, right?” He asked, feeling very very out of his element suddenly.
“Yes, come with me- actually let’s not do that till Dave gets back,” she said with a small laugh, before settling in on the chair behind the counter. Jack just nodded, and then began to gaze around.
Once Davey returned from the back, she and him switched places, and then Elaine was bringing him back into the employees only area.
She gave him a name tag with his name freshly printed on it, before reminding him of the dress code (which he had already known from the little package of stuff he had picked up a few days before that he needed to read before his first shift ( he only read a bit of it, but he wasn’t going to admit that .).) Then, she just drove head first into training.
It was all one fast blur, and he really didn’t understand any of it, but he just nodded. He figured she might just hang around the store for his first shift.
Apparently though, that wasn’t the case, since as soon as she asked if he had any questions, and he stupidly said no, she was back in the back of the store, leaving Jack alone up front with Davey.
Not that he was complaining at all.
A customer came in and beelined it for a specific shelf, before picking up a few books and heading back to the counter.
Jack was hoping that Davey would take the transaction, since he knew what he was doing, but instead he leaned against the back wall and waited for Jack to do it. He hesitated, before looking at the books blankly.
“You’re completely lost, aren’t you?” Davey said as he walked up next to him. Jack laughed and looked at him.
“That obvious?” Jack asked.
“Oh yeah,” Davey said with a grin.
“Do you wanna do it?” Jack asked. Davey shrugged, before he shook his head. “Ain’t it your job to do these things though?”
“Ain’t it yours too?” Davey teased, mimicking his tone. The girl waiting on her books chuckled. “I can’t do it for you, since you’re logged onto the register, but I can walk you through it.”
“Please,” Jack said.
Davey laughed, before he started telling him what to do. This time, Jack made a mental note to remember what Davey was saying. First, he needed to manually put the prices into the machine, then hit tax then… do something he couldn’t remember to do. Ask for a stamp card? Was that it? Then he gave her her total and asked how she would pay, then had to figure out how to work the debit machine, which apparently was “a quickly easy click of three buttons” but Jack just didn’t believe that, since he was still as confused as ever.
“Have you never worked a job in your life before?” Davey asked once the girl had left, leaving the two of them in the store alone. Jack shrugged as he sat down on the chair, mindlessly turning it back and forth.
“Not any that dealt with money,” Jack admitted. “ But I’ve worked , of course. I didn’t just lounge around the first twenty three years of my life.”
The last thing he wanted was for his new co worker to think he was a lazy kid who got everything handed to him until now. Davey looked like an experienced worker- someone who worked hard, if the dark circles under his eyes were any assumption. Then again, all three times he had seen Davey now, he didn’t seem like he was a very put together person. Maybe he was though, Jack really didn’t know. He wanted to know though.
“What’ve you done then?” Davey asked, leaning against the back wall. Jack shrugged.
“I painted a lot of the backdrops at my mother's theater during high school,” Jack said, and suddenly that felt really pathetic. “And uh, I also was one of those ticket scanner people at the movies. When I was twelve, I had a paper route.”
Davey cracked a smile and raised an eyebrow, before shaking his head lightly and laughing.
“Well you sound mighty proud about that,” Davey said playfully, before he pushed off the wall and stood on the opposite side of the counter.
“I’m proud of a lot of things,” Jack said casually. Davey leaned forward on the counter.
“Like what? Your cocky personality?” Davey asked, still smiling that same grin he started doing a few seconds ago. Jack scoffed in fake offense.
“Well maybe if you just take the personality part off of that,” he said slowly, gnawing on the edge of his lip. Davey blushed and looked down, but brought his gaze back up when he spoke again.
“You implying you’re proud of your dick?” Davey asked, shrinking in on himself just a little bit. Jack smiled and shrugged, before he turned a full circle on the chair.
“You wanna find out?” he asked, leaning against the counter as he turned back around. The two held eye contact, before Davey’s face went even redder and he looked away.
“I don’t sleep around,” he said simply, standing up straight and crossing his arms over his chest.
“How about a date then?” Jack asked. Davey considered it for a minute, before he shrugged.
“Maybe someday,” he said playfully.
“What’s it gonna take for me to get you to go out with me then?” Jack asked. Davey shrugged again as he wandered over towards one of the closer bookshelves. Jack was about to walk around to stand by him, but Davey cleared his throat and nodded to the cashier, reminding him that he had to stay behind there. Jack huffed, before he sat back down at the counter.
“Get to know me, maybe?” Davey asked as he looked back over to Jack, before he picked up a seemingly random book.
“How am I supposed to know that if I can’t take you out?” Jack asked. Davey was silent for a minute, as he was reading the back of the book he was holding. Then he made a small hmm sound and put the book back. He glanced at Jack, before picking up another book.
“We have a shift together every Friday night- get to know me here,” he said with a smile. Jack huffed, before he spun around on the chair again.
“That’s like, five hours though,” Jack said, whining just a bit.
“Twenty hours a month,” Davey said with a small shrug.
“You’re really cute,” Jack said. Davey laughed and looked back at him again, only to go back to his book again. Jack hated that- the way Davey was purposely avoiding eye contact. He was expecting Davey to say something, but he didn’t. Instead he kept looking down, smiling at the cover of the book in his hands, even though he wasn’t reading the back of it.
After that, until closing, they had a somewhat constant stream of people in and out of the store, so neither of them really had to time to talk anymore after that. Jack figured that they could talk for a bit after they closed. Instead though, Davey disappeared into the back room while Jack was left out front to sweep up.
He hummed to himself as he brought the broom and the dustpan back to the back room. He paused outside the office, where the door was open just a crack.
“You sure it’s okay?” Davey asked.
“Course. Not like I’m in desperate need of a shower,” Elaine said casually. There was shifting of something in the room, Jack took a hesitant step back away from the door.
“It’s just… I don’t want to be a bother,” he said.
“You won’t be, like you said you only have two hours before you need to head to Bucks,” Elaine said. “I’ll just text Jojo and let her know, so don’t worry.”
“Thank you Buttons.”
Jack looked through the crack of door again to see the two hugging. He was curious- he couldn’t help it. Why’d Davey need to use Elaine (he called her Buttons ?) shower? Didn’t he have his own? That was just…
Suddenly, the door was opened and Davey was standing in front of Jack, staring at him blankly. He opened his mouth to speak, but Jack spoke before he had a chance to.
“I don’t know where these go,” he said. A wave of relief washed over Davey’s face, and Jack decided that, while he wanted to know what was going on, he would let Davey think he didn’t hear anything.
“Uh, just in the cupboard there,” he said, pointing to the door behind them.
“Oh right of course… Hey! I’ll see you next Friday?” Jack said hopefully, as if Davey wouldn’t be showing up to his shift next week.
“Yeah, see you,” Davey said, and then he smiled at him again, before he turned on his heels and left through the back door exit. Jack bit his lip as he watched him leave, before glancing back to the office, and then putting the broom back in the cupboard. He wanted to know what was going on with Davey and his shower. Curiosity was going to kill him.