**This chapter has been edited with Grammarly.
Disclaimer: Amelia, Tom, and characters from bar are all mine.
It's been two weeks since Amelia started working at The Billy Goat. She took the initiative to clean the bar and revamp the darkness.
When Amelia initially wiped the first layer of grime off, she discovered the walls were a light forest green color. She noticed the color was still a little dingy and decided a fresh coat of paint would help brighten the place up. Amelia ran to the local hardware store to pick up some necessities. While she was picking up the paint cans, she noticed the store had some light bulbs and wood polish among some cleaning supplies. Amelia picked up some rags, rollers, brushes, and paint trays. She fluttered around the store, making sure she had everything that was needed before she headed back to the bar.
Amelia had been enjoying her day walking down the small shopping strip and was called for one last stop as she passed a small bakery. She walked in and took a deep breath of all the homemade goods. Amelia decidedly picked up some apple turnovers and a little pie. When Amelia walked out of the bakery, she heard alarms.
The sudden blaring of the loud, obnoxious noise turned the blood in her veins cold. Those alarms only meant one thing.
She ran to the bar and burst through the doors calling out for her boss. The large man came running out from the backroom, wondering why the girl was so panicked.
"Mr. T! We have to go! Those are Kaiju alarms!"
Tom looked relieved. He took a deep breath and shook his head. "Girl, that ain't for us! They're sendin' out the Jaeger to go battle one of those alien bastards! Trust me, if we were in some type of trouble, you'd know!"
Amelia tried to relax and looked out the dusty windows for any sign of attack. When the alarms stopped, she decided to calm herself. She looked at Tom only to find he returned to the back room. Amelia discovered Tom had a small space with a television and an old sofa chair that looked older than her. He tucked away most of the day, and she usually left him sleeping there when she closed the bar down. She followed him to his little tucked away chair and put down the baked goods on the small table next to his chair.
"Grabbed some snacks for ya." She told him as she made a fresh pot of coffee.
"You're the best, Lia." Amelia gave a small smile and turned to continue her clean up of the bar. Even though it's only been two weeks, the man has grown on her. Tom even let her rent out the space above the bar, so she didn't have to rent that dirty hotel room.
Amelia quickly learned that not many regular patrons came to the bar. There was Bob, who usually slept on the counter. He went after a shift from working on the Jaegers. She kept a small conversation with him, learning that his wife cheated on him, took the house, and everything he owned. He had a small one-room studio he avoided. He came to the bar to have his beer and shot of whatever his change can afford until he passed out. Then there was Eddy- he occasionally came in for whiskey on the rocks after working at the restaurant. He kept to himself and didn't speak much outside of a small thank you before he left. Mike was a young man around her age. He always had the latest neighborhood gossip and quickly made friends with Amelia. Mike was Tom's nephew. Mike lost both parents from a Kaiju attack when he was a young boy. Tom took him in, and he would occasionally work the bar in the evenings after his shift programming the Jaegers.
Outside of the few regulars, the constant flow of Jaeger pilots kept the bar going. Amelia had wondered how such a place would still stay in business—Then 6 pm arrived. Exactly fifteen minutes after six, the door would burst open, and a wave of Jaeger pilots and workers would come bustling through. People would fill the booths once they got their drinks at the bar and would sit and relax. By 10:45 pm, the bar would slowly empty, and everyone slowly left to return to their bunkers in time for curfew.
The amount of money the few hours brought in had eliminated any doubt or question on why the bar was still open. After two weeks, Amelia had been working. The bar looked different.
"Amazing what a little paint and elbow grease can do. Looks good, kid." Tom placed his hand on Amelia's shoulder, giving it a light squeeze. He walked around, collecting empty beer bottles and glasses from the now empty tables. "I'm gonna head home now. You okay to lock up?"
"Yeah, no worries, Mr. T. I got it."
"Just remember to lock up behind me," Tom gave Amelia a pointed look.
"I'll lock the door as soon as I get the garbage." She tried to wave him off and put his worries at ease.
Amelia got a bucket of water and cleaning solution and began to wipe down the bar and tables. She almost finished sweeping the small debris from the floor when the familiar bells of the front door caught her attention.
A hooded figure came in, dusted the snow off the jacket they were wearing, and wiped their feet at the door before sauntering to the bar.
"Can I get ya something? We're about closed." Amelia put a napkin on the table and tried to get a better view under the hood.
He finally looked up and took his hood down.
"Hey stranger, yeah, I'll take whatever you have on tap" It was him, the guy she tackled when she got the job. She was surprised to see him again.
"Sure," She grabbed a frosted glass and tipped it under the spout. She was feeling at a loss for any type of conversation with the man behind her. She turned to give him his drink only to find him trying to turn on the broken television hanging in the corner.
"It doesn't work. I've tried new cables and outlets. I think the antenna is fried." She walked over to the table next to the broken contraption. Amelia placed his beer on the table and sat down-finally, relieving her aching feet of the day's stress.
"I can fix that," With ease, he brought the small television down. "Got any tools by chance?"
Amelia looked hesitantly at Raleigh-not, believing he could fix it.
"Yeah, I think I have some in the back," Amelia turned and left Raleigh fiddling with the dusty broken tv. She went into the back room and started shuffling around some boxes on the shelves. She's been so busy with the front of the house that there wasn't a chance to organize the back room. She was able to work the new beer and liquor out, but the broken boxes covered in dust and papers fell to the bottom of her To-Do list.
She started shuffling through some boxes when a tower of papers knocked over into a cup of screws. The unstable stack sent all the screws and the hammer to the floor. Amelia sighed deeply at the loud, obnoxious noise. Raleigh came running to the back.
"Are you okay?!" Looking frantically around for the source of the sound.
"Yeeeeeahhh, this place is a mess. I sometimes feel like I don't have enough time in the day." Amelia walked over to the mess and began to scoop up all the scattered screws. Raleigh walked over with a broom and pushed whatever he could into a pile.
"Well, instead of going crazy tonight, I can come back early tomorrow to fix that tv." He glanced at her to see her reaction.
"You don't have to; I'm sure you're busy working." She tried to decline, unsure of what was happening. She walked to the garbage can she had in front of the bar. Raleigh followed her and picked up his abandoned beer.
"My schedule is more than clear. I'll bring the tools. No need to worry." He downed his beer and reached into his pocket to pull out a few dollars. He put the currency on the bar and gave Amelia a quick wink before picking his coat up.
"What time will you be in tomorrow?" He asked as he put his arms through the sleeves.
"I kinda won't leave, I'm staying in the rooms upstairs." He gave her a quick look, and Amelia couldn't quite put her fingers on what was going through his mind.
"Really? Old Tommy finally gave up that space?" He looked shocked.
"I must have something about me he couldn't deny" Amelia tried laughing it off and gave Raleigh a smile showing dimples in her cheeks.
"Yeah, must be something." He looked at her, and an awkward silence fell over the two, and Amelia couldn't take it. "So I'll see you tomorrow?"
Raleigh seemed to snap out of his little daze. "Bright and early. I'll ring your bell."
"Sounds like a plan." With that, he disappeared through the door.
Amelia was skeptical of the small interactions she's been having with him. She wasn't sure what his intentions were but definitely will keep at arm's length.
Grabbing the few garbage bags and throwing them out on the curb, Amelia finally locked the door and shut all the lights off. She made her way to the back room, where the stairs to her apartment sat. She shut the last lights off and made her way to a warm shower and her soft bed.
Tomorrow is going to be a long day.
It was early morning when Amelia woke to a banging sound. She couldn't understand where the noise started. Amelia finally got out of bed when light thumping padded on her window. She went over to find small sugar packs sitting on the window ledge. Amelia opened the window and picked one up, confused. She looked out to see her late-night visitor holding a couple of cups of coffee.
"I hope you have more sugar because used all the packs trying to wake you up." Raleigh stood there, looking up at her with a cheeky grin on his face.
"Hold on! Stay right there!" Amelia ran to find pants and her sweater before grabbing her keys. She ran down the stairs giving herself a glance in the mirror behind the bar. With a quick comb of her hands through her hair and a few pinches of her cheeks, she steadied her breath to open the door finally.
"I'll be honest; I thought you were bullshitting me when you said bright and early."
Raleigh laughed and passed her a cup of coffee. "I'm true to my word. I at least bring some pick-me-ups."
"That you do. Much appreciated," Amelia responded while she took a sip. "So, what kind of operation are you performing on my retro-television?"
Amelia watched Raleigh unscrew the back of the television. She got up to move closer to see him pull out a motherboard. He tinkered around with a skinny screwdriver. He noticed she moved closer to him, and he tilted his hands so she can see.
"Sometimes, the old stuff just needs a little pick-me-up too." He picked up a small fuse and snapped it into the board. He popped the back into place and screwed the board back into the tv.
"Would you like the honors?" He gestured to her to turned on the tv. She looked at him and pressed the old button. Much to her shock, it came alive. The static was no longer there, and clear images of the news rolled across the screen. Floored he got the thing to work, she jumped in excitement and wrapped her arms in a hug around Raleigh. Surprised by the reaction, he laughed softly and returned the hug. Once Amelia realized what she was doing, she jumped back and muttered a quick apology.
"Sorry, I'm just overly excited. It gets boring here when there's no company around. Now I have some entertainment. Although it's looking like I have a total of only three channels," Amelia fiddles with the old tv trying to get a little more service. Raleigh looked at her and felt something click when she said how bored she was around the bar.
Raleigh put the tv back up on the mounts. "You know, I can come by more often if you'd like. Help you fix the place up, maybe show you around town some. I can even get you into the shatterdome and show you some fancy stuff."
"I'd like that a lot. It's been quite a rough transition to come up here." Amelia turned back to grab her forgotten coffee. She sat down, trying to absorb whatever heat remained in the plastic cup.
"You never told me where you were from and how you got here." Raleigh sat down across from her.
"That's quite a long story. I don't want to bore you with the details." She quietly responded while sipping the coffee.
"Somehow, I don't think I can ever be bored with you." he looked at Amelia with a face voided of any amusement. She looked at his face reading the seriousness he had placed on it. She was taken back by his forward attitude.
"Well, might as well go get comfortable. Come on, follow me." Amelia got up and grabbed her keys. Raleigh collected the coffee cups and made to follow her. They walked through the dark backroom to a narrow wooden staircase in the corner.
"This isn't where you kill me, is it?" Raleigh tried to make small talk while carefully stopping on the creaking stairs.
"You know, that's the exact reaction I had the first time I came back here." she glanced back at him. He finally looked up from the wood beneath his feet and met her eyes. He saw the humor in her face as she continued up the stairs.
He couldn't help but look directly along her body. Since she was in front of him going up the stairs first, his face leveled with her backside, and Raleigh realized he felt instantly hypnotized. She suddenly stopped and played with her keys. The door opened to a loft with rays of sunshine coming through the many windows. She had a large bed and a dresser on one side of the room. There was a small privacy panel and then a small couch and coffee table. Next to the sitting area was a small kitchen table with two chairs. The kitchen area had a small countertop for a toaster and coffee pot and an average-sized fridge next to a small stove and an over-the-range microwave.
Raleigh looked around and noticed the walls were a soft pastel yellow, and the many windows had a sheer white curtain layered under a heavy black curtain. Her space was warm and homey.
"I never would've thought something like this was above the bar." Raleigh continued to look around with amazement. "How long have you been here?"
"About two weeks now. I've been busting my ass to get this right. Considering all the things that sat here, the walls just needed some washing, and everything else just needed some heavy dusting. I got some curtains, new sheets and I was finally able to feel at home. Tom saved me a huge headache looking for a place." Amelia walked over to the couch, and Raleigh followed sitting next to her.
They spent hours trading stories about family and how they ended up in their current situations. She learned he was 20 years old, only two years older than her. He was training with his brother in the Jaeger Pilot Program. He told Amelia of his parents and how his mother died of cancer, and his father abandoned them. She told Raleigh about the death of her family and her experience with the foster system from New York. They talked stories of their life with each other until a loud grumbling noise interrupted them. Amelia looked at the time only to realize it was well into the evening. They had spent all day talking on her couch. Thankfully, it was a Monday, and Tom kept the bar closed since there wasn't much business Monday and Tuesday.
"I can't believe we sat here all this time. You must be starving." Amelia got up and made her way to her fridge. "Can I interest you in some tacos?" she began to pull out some meat and other ingredients.
"Absolutely. I can help, it's the least I can do after you listened to me nag about my life." Raleigh looked at her, eagerly wanting to help.
"Sure, you think you can handle the stove?" she said with amusement.
"I can handle more than just a stove." Raleigh turned his back to her, putting the meat in the pan. She was floored at his response and wasn't sure how to take it. His words electrified her body. She couldn't stop staring at his back and noticed the muscles moving under his shirt as he broke up the meat. Who knew cooking involved so much muscle work? Amelia snapped out of it, quickly turning to open the cheese, sour cream, and taco mix. She tried to busy herself finely cutting to tomatoes and lettuce, but her thoughts still couldn't let his words go. This situation is not going to end well.
Amelia was rattled out of her thoughts when an arm reached around her to grab the taco mix. She was suddenly aware of how close Raleigh is behind her. Oh, God Raleigh's chest grazed her back, and Amelia realized how small her kitchen became. She quickly moved all the ingredients onto a serving platter and brought it to her little table. Raleigh found a small serving bowl and put the meat into it so it can be easily accessible on the table. They both quietly put together their food and dug in.
Raleigh closed his eyes and moaned. Amelia nearly choked on her food at the heavenly sound.
"I can't tell you the last time I ate something so good. The garbage slop served at the dome taste like paper compared to this. So good." Amelia looked at him in amusement. She not up and walked to the fridge to pull out a couple of beers. She opened them both and put one in front of him. His eyes nearly bulged out of his head.
"I think I died and went to heaven." Raleigh picked up the beer and downed it.
Amelia hasn't watched someone eat so much food in a long time. She ate a measly two tacos, and she lost count of how many Raleigh had eaten.
"Do they starve you in-between those training sessions?" She asked, sipping on her beer. "Tacos aren't exactly hard to make."
"You can tell when shit cooked in the microwave from a bag. This? This food is going to put me to sleep." He stretched over the back of his chair.
"I have a couch you're more than welcome to take advantage" Amelia began picking up the dirty dishes and washing them in the sink.
"I rather take advantage of your bed." The dish in Amelia's hands slipped and clattered in the sink. She flushed with his comment. She glanced back at him, not being able to respond. He got up and walked over to her.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mea..." He didn't get a chance to finish. He was cut off by alarms.
Alarms. The Kaiju alarms.
He looked out the windows.
"Shit. I have to go." He grabbed his jacket and made for the door. He paused and backtracked to her at the sink. He grabbed her lightly by the arm and used his other hand to pull her face to him. He kissed her softly. "Thank you for today. I'll be back tomorrow." With that, he left, leaving her breathless in her little kitchen. She grabbed the towel from beside the sink and held it to her chest. Her other hand touched her lips where they were still tingling. Undeniably, she knew there was an attraction-she just wasn't sure if he felt it too. After tonight, that was no longer a question in her mind.