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Take the A Train

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Despite being on her second cup of coffee, Toast was bleary, and the wait for the subway, the claustrophobic crush of the rush of commuters, and her heavy book bag tipped her usual morning apathy into full-blown antipathy. As she elbowed her way into the subway car, she glanced around for an empty seat. Only one, and when she looked up, it was obvious why.

The guy in the seat next to the empty one looked like he could be the lovechild of a metalhead and a professional wrestler. Not the sort of man anyone would want to run into in a darkened alley - or a decently-lit subway car, given how many people decided not to risk squeezing into the seat. But Toast was irritated instead of scared. She stared coolly at him: huge, in ragged black jeans and a concert t-shirt, with tattoos up and down his muscular arms, and piercings in his ears, eyebrow, and - and Toast had to blink to make sure her eyes weren’t lying to her - his cheeks. The silver studs gleamed in the light with each of his slow breaths. The people around him gave him a wide berth, with a couple dirty looks at his manspreading and generally inconvenient long legs. Not that he noticed. Asshole had the audacity to be asleep through it all, relaxed like he was at home and not a huge lump in the middle of a crowded train.

“Excuse me,” she said pointedly, which he either didn’t hear or just blew off. “Hey. Dude.”

Even if she’d been in a good mood, she wouldn’t have let it slide. Figuring that she’d given him enough of a warning, Toast plopped down in the seat. And then shoved her bag between them.

One eye opened and gave her a sideways glance. The guy made a low noise and -

Fell back asleep.

She nudged his leg over a little more as she made made herself comfortable. That prompted a grumble, and Toast put on her best resting bitch face, but her seat partner fell asleep again. So she stuck in her headphones and took another sip of that ambrosia known as dark-brewed coffee, and opened one of her textbooks.

Engrossed in civil law, she barely noticed the rest of her commute into the city. The guy next to her kept quiet and mostly still, only shifting his arms every once in awhile as he stirred, and he was warm against her side, which wasn’t terrible considering the subway’s inability to control the AC.

As her stop approached, she stuffed her things back into the safety of her bag. Suddenly the guy next to her jerked awake and Toast just barely held onto her coffee.

“Hey, watch it!” she said as she juggled her things.

He looked down at her - surprise, confusion, then a smirk spread across his face. “Didn’t see you there. Sorry.”

“You would’ve noticed if I spilled my coffee on your lap.”

“Hey, what stop is next?”

“110th.”

He yawned and raised his arms over his head. “Thanks. Saved my life.”

Bit of an accent there. British? No, not exactly. Australian?

Grabbing the bar above them, he pulled himself up and then smoothly swung by her. Toast watched him, allowing mild interest to spread across. Nice looking tattoos, anyway. She had a couple on her arms and was constantly plotting out another one, and although she couldn’t match his amount of piercings, the ones in her ears and the one in her nose attracted a fair amount of attention, especially in the stuffy setting of an Ivy League school. It was with a bit of envy that she watched him saunter out when the train stopped and the doors opened. And still that irritation, for being able to swagger around as easily as he did. And maybe a bit of attraction? Nah. She was just tired. Instantly his empty seat was claimed by a guy who started blasting music on his cellphone. Because of course it would be.