Percie walked into the coffee shop and ordered her usual. It was packed all the way to the door. For some reason, whenever it was cold outside, people felt the need to populate every place that served warm drinks in the city, as if his wasn’t cold. Every. Freaking. Day. of. the. Winter. Seriously, it was New York. She just wanted a stupid blueberry muffin.
Scanning the small, dark inside of the shop, Percie only saw one table that wasn’t occupied by overly-pretentious looking scholars, soccer-moms having book club meetings, or teenage girls taking pictures of their drinks with their cell phones.
A boy sat at the table in the back by himself. All Percy could see of him was a full head of curly blonde hair. His nose was shoved in a book, and he was wearing headphones.
"This seat taken?" Percie asked, gesturing to the chair across from him. Sensing a presence, the boy looked up with a frown. Percie waved her free hand randomly, mouthing words. "Just kidding. I don’t even know sign language. I was just asking if I could sit here. Everywhere else is pretty full."
The boy shrugged and took out one of his headphones. “All yours,” he said dismissively. His eyes were a striking grey.
"Thanks." Percie sat down. She stared at the boy for a little while. "God, that book is thicker than my skull. What’s it about?”
"Architecture," he answered dryly, taking a sip of coffee.
Percie frowned. How boring. “Is that for school, or just for funsies?” She questioned.
"I’m pretty sure funsies isn’t a word," the boy said back, rolling his eyes.
"I’m pretty sure it is," Percie protested.
"You know, I said you could sit here. I didn’t say anything about you being allowed to talk to me.”
"I know. It’s like a two-for-one deal," Percie shrugged happily. "So, what’s your name?"
The boy groaned. “You can’t be serious.”
"Look at this face. It’s a pretty serious face," Percie said.
"I beg to differ."
Percie frowned again. “That’s a strange name. But who am I to judge? I’m trying to get better about that.”
"It’s Andrew-Bryan," he said finally, looking back down at his book.
Percie pulled of her beanie, showing off her messy, unbrushed, black hair that was cut just below her chin. She put her hat in her hoodie pocket. “Parents couldn’t decide on one name?” she joked. Andrew-Bryan didn’t look impressed. “No? Okay. Sorry. I know how you feel.”
"What?" Andrew-Bryan asked.
"My name kind of sucks, too," Percie admitted.
Andrew-Bryan looked offended, and Percie wondered why. “Well, what’s your name?”
"Percie… well, it’s Persephone. Don’t ask. My mom’s sort of a mythology nut," Percie explained dumbly, taking a bite of her muffin. "Imagine when substitute teachers read that name.
"I’ve heard worse names," Andrew-Bryan shrugged. "So, I guess I’m not going to get any reading done?"
Percie smiled. “Depends on how well you can tune me out.”
"I have ADHD," Andrew-Bryan said dismally. He pulled out his headphones, closed his book, and stuffed it in his bag. He took a dejected sip of coffee. "So much for that."
Almost choking on her muffin, Percie’s eyes lit up. “No way! Me too!” She said, talking excitedly with her mouth full.
"I’ve never exactly met someone who was proud of that," Andrew-Bryan said, confused.
"Yeah, well, might as well. ," Percie said simply. I’m stuck with it either way. So, are you a student, or…"
Andrew-Bryan nodded. “I go to the University down the block, but I’m on winter break,” he explained. His eyes were downcast, as if being out of school was somehow a bad thing.
"I’m getting the sense you don’t like having to not go to school. Which is weird- really weird, but I’m trying not to judge. Not to be nosy or anything, but why do you not seem happy? I’ve never met anyone who-“
"You’re terrible at not judging," Andrew-Bryan said in a low voice. He glanced out of the window.
"Admitted, but I’m a pretty darn good listener," Percie said convincingly."Especially to unnecessarily-long-name-buddies…”
Andrew-Bryan sighed. “We’re not buddies. I don’t even know you.” There was no quitting with this girl, but for some reason, it didn’t annoy him as much as he thought it should have.
"My dad and step-mom sort of took my brothers to the Bahamas without me," he said, not looking at Percie. "We’re not exactly close."
"So?" Percie said. "Sucks for them."
Andrew-Bryan frowned. “Did you just hear what I said?”
"Yeah," Percy nodded. "Sucks for them, because they don’t get to spend Christmas at my house now like you do."
"But we just met-"
"So? No one should spend Christmas on their own,” Percie said. She stood up and gestured for Andrew-Bryan to follow her. “Let’s go. I don’t know how we’ll both fit on my skateboard, but we’ll figure something out.”
Andrew-Bryan smiled to himself. Maybe he did need an unnecessarily-long-name-buddy. “Fine,” he agreed.