We’re left alone and I’ve got nowhere left to go, with my grades flopped and my parents keep choosing my job until I can get back. I don’t have someone to hide in and a pub on the other side of the city is tempting. So I keep sitting here.
I see the bartender rub his lips with his sleeve as he jumps over the counter, the counter resembling something like crossed arms, some protection between me and him.
“How old are you?” He asks me, pouring himself a glass, as the place is empty, it’s after three yet he doesn’t kick me out. He looks up at the football posters hanging on the ceiling and maybe checking when is the nearest match and how to avoid specific football colours inside the pub. “I won’t kick you out, I’ve...”
“I’ve served you already. There’s no one here.” He stretches his arms and I see that he himself is a bit tipsy.
“Fifteen.” I reply, sipping my coke with no ad-ons. I hear a laugh coming out of his throat and he closes his eyes with his hand.
“Ok, too much, get the fuck out.” He sighs, jumping back from the counter and his hands are in his jeans pockets. I notice that they are new and it seems too bizarre to see him walking on the high street and counting money in his head like the rest of us or waiting for a sale or wishing he had a student discount.
“Oi, you told me I can stay.” I say and I start biting the skin near my fingernail, worriedly, I actually felt ok and I didn’t hate Edinburgh and everything I could hate, I was actually sitting here quietly with no one reminding me of what kind of failure I am. “C’mon, man, I’ll even sip pepsi or whatever. No one notices me.”
“Yeah, until some bloke decides that you’re a fine lass to fuck, c’mon.” And he signals towards the door. “After me, miss.”
The bartender opens the door and signals for me to get the fuck out, just like he wanted. I hesitate and I don’t want to go out into the outside world, so I just stand there as he signals me again to get the fuck out.
“I really thought you’d be at least sixteen and then I’d hesitate, seventeen, fuck, I’d be passed out under the table-”
“Exactly!” I interrupt him. “Pub culture!”
“Yes, but not in my damned pub.” He rolls his eyes, putting his hair behind his ear. “Do me a favor and please please get the fuck out, it’s one thing when you owe the place and another thing is when you sneak in into another one. You’re becoming a bloody regular. I don’t want my license taken away. C’mon, sneak into another pub, down the road or whatever, walk further to Water of Leith, just yeah.”
I don’t really have anything to say, besides liking the stools and how he’d serve me.
“Please?” I ask again, shuffling.
“No. Fuck off. Ok, fine, just please go, is that fucking polite enough? C’mon, I’m not calling the damn police on you.” The bartender now owner says. “Why the fuck do you need the pub anyway? Go scrap off some money and go see Harry Styles or whatever his crew is.”
He tries to open the door even wider, until he sees a police officer on the other side of the street and closes the door.
“Fuck, fine, stay. I’m not giving you alcohol though and pay for your own damn meal.Then we won’t get in trouble.” He taps me on the shoulder and goes back behind the bar. I just stare at him. “What? I know you won’t be leaving any damn time soon, so, yeah, drink up your soft drink.”
He pours me some coke.
I just stare at him.
“What?” He asks. I just shrug and sit next to him on the stool as he pours himself some beer. “So, fifteen year old, what’s your name?”
“Alison.” I say and he eases up.
“Alex.” He starts drinking his beer, standing up on his stool to fix a poster on the ceiling.
“How old are you?” I ask him, seeing his exposed skin from his shirt getting lifted up, I’m still fifteen and I don’t have the confidence to sneak into Anne Summers like the other girls do or ask their sisters, my brother would smirk about it for a week and I don’t think it’s worth it. So I just look away, feeling uncomfortable from attraction.
“Um, older than you. Let’s put it that way.” He nods towards a few posters lying near the cashier. “You mind passing those to me?”
I look at all the dates and wonder if I want to be here on a football night and I pass them on.
“Cheers.” He says.
“So, how old are you?” I ask again, making sure I grabbed all of them.
“Older. But that doesn’t mean I’ll fucking abuse you or anything, I’m just earning money here, you still cash out from your parents, so why not? Plus I don’t sleep... I mean, I don’t sleep a lot and I’ve got pretty bad insomnia. So yeah.” I look at Alex, but he ignores me. “I won’t ask you about why the fuck are you in a pub looking all miserable and you won’t ask anything personal, deal? Fuck your curiosity, I can still kick you out.”
He says it more harshly and he finally sits down, facing me and I see how handsome he is for a difference and I notice that I’ve held the silence too long, so he turns on the television. I still continue staring and I see that I make him feel a bit uncomfortable, but he just sighs flicking through channels which are off or women who are selling themselves labelled as “babes”.
We stop on some music channel and he eventually takes a pack of cigarettes and lights one, I don’t say anything and I only see one fire detector and he could’ve switched it off, somehow and he passes me the cigarette. His eyes soften up and I feel even more flushed and I feel numbness take over my body. I feel heated up all of a sudden as well.
I feel that grabbing the cigarette might be something too sexual and I just keep staring at it and I get scared if he does want to make a move on me, but I feel too attracted so I grab the cigarette and I quickly inhale and give it back to him as soon as I can and he just continues smoking, as we watch some old David Bowie video, none of his new crap.
Bar Eyes was kind of left abandoned for a long while, as it didn't seem to catch people's interest and it wasn't requested then all of a sudden, once I got into AM and Alex Turner heavily I found myself shipping him with pretty much everyone and Used Lighter was getting attention again and the Used Lighter two-story thing wasn't finished and frankly I loved the idea and much was thought of it.
I was depressed when I was writing this and it had pretty much been cheering me up and in general the monkeys pretty much revived me in August after everything had started collapsing.
I really love Alex and Alison in the UL/BE universe and I guess I even openly ship them over Alison/Jamie which is the main couple in UL. It's funny because when I was writing UL I had honestly no idea that Alex used to be a bartender, so it's really me getting lucky.
There's not much backstory besides Alison's flopped grades so you can clearly see that I was writing it pretty much bewildered with the whole situation and I did stick in my situation in pretty much everything I'd be writing then, so yeah, you get a bunch of unfairly dropped out characters unfortunately. But it happens and I guess even for myself, it's a way to tell that all will be ok, you've got your beloved or yourself in some cases of course. I had my beloved so naturally all my characters or most of them are going hand in hand, so yeah.
Also I haven't really used Humbug hair Alex in any other story as I kind of have him fixed here and pretty much with a bat in hand, like in the last chapters of Used Lighter. You can pretty much read either or not read UL or vice versa, it's just both of them complete each other, really. And BE will have the full explanation and it pretty much overlaps and explains the ending and Alison's fate in the end and Alex's.
I hope you enjoyed it and it is bizarre knowing the ending, no?
Thank you and I hope you love them and ship them as much as I do and they're a lovely couple