Harry starred at the shut door and muttered a curse, running a hand through his hair. He shut down the terminal and grabbed a jacket. He grabbed his hand-held com-unit and sent his only friend at the college a message saying he was headed into college today. He didn't have any classes, but Justin was right. Hanging around would be a bad idea. James would know he was stuck on his own for a couple hours at least – if Justin actually came back. Harry shuddered and pushed the thought aside. He refused to work out how low the probability of that outcome was. He remembered to lock the door before going. Outside the heavy rainfall had quietened to a drizzle. He could see Sebastian and Justin walking fast, almost out of sight. Harry hesitated, wondering if he should follow, try to reason with Justin again; but he knew it'd be pointless. He walked towards the better part of this area. Not that better was a huge improvement. The concrete was still uneven and strung with cracks. The buildings still looked ready to collapse at any time. At least the bus stop had a plastic roof, offering shelter from the light rain. He had another ten minutes until the next bus into the city centre arrived. As the minutes dragged he tapped his foot impatiently, feeling his paranoia playing up.
“Harry,” a familiar deep voice said. Harry froze, his body tensing. “Nice to see you again,” James continued, stepping under the shelter. He was wearing plain jeans, a white shirt and black blazer jacket. His dark brown hair was gelled down neatly. He was clean shaven with dark eyes and a healthy tan. Those eyes were studying Harry so intently he felt his skin crawl.
“Same,” Harry said, the lie leaving a sour taste in his mouth. James gave a wide smile that said Harry hadn't fooled him, or even offended.
“How's the whole college thing going?” James asked, leaning against the grimy wall of the shelter.
“Good,” Harry replied stiffly. His eyes moving to the scrawling bus times above his head. Four more minutes to go. Another guy waiting at the stop glanced their way and froze. He shuffled further away, recognising James.
“Can't be that challenging for you,” James remarked, lifting an eye to follow Harry's line of sight. Harry shrugged, trying to act relaxed.
“Some of it is,” he said.
“I'm sure you'll do fine,” James said. “Though it can't be easy keeping it up with just government funding,” he added. Harry felt the hands he'd stuffed into his jacket pockets curl.
“I get by,” Harry replied, his jaw locking.
“I actually have a project of sorts. None of my guys are smart enough to help of course. But you on the other hand-,” James said.
“Not interested,” Harry interrupted, keeping his gaze straight ahead. James had tried things like this before. Ever since he'd first met him and Justin when they were just eleven and fourteen respectively. Justin was already part of the gang life, but never someone James had been watching. Justin had been the one who'd found Harry struggling to survive when he was just ten. He'd run away from the orphanage after another kid had made it clear he was going to kill him. Looking back it had just been school-yard threats, but at the time it'd felt real enough. They'd been like brothers ever since. People realised quickly that Harry was above average when it came to learning and putting pieces together. Once James heard about him, that was it. Justin had to work for him, doing whatever insane thing he asked. In exchange, he stayed away from Harry. That didn't stop him trying to approach Harry and change his mind directly. James tutted, shaking his head.
“I can make the call and someone else can go to crater point,” James said. Harry hesitated, glancing across at James. His smile grew as he saw the thoughts flashing across Harry's eyes.
“You should give Justin more credit,” Harry said, looking away. Two minutes left. James sniffed, the smile still in place.
“You should really take up my offer soon kid,” James said, pushing away from the wall. His movement laced with grace as always. “There are a lot of people out there who have a real issue with type C's,” he added. Harry stiffened at the words and narrowed his eyes.
“Is that a threat?” Harry asked.
“Why would I threaten you Harry?” James asked, his voice smooth and sincere. Harry almost believed the hurt tone. “I'd just hate to see someone with your potential get hurt,” he finished, his eyes holding Harry's.
“I can look after myself. So thanks, but no thanks,” Harry said. James sighed, like a adult losing patience with a petulant child. The bus arrived and Harry got on fast. “Bye James,” he said, not waiting for whatever else he was going to say.
“See you soon,” James said, a knowing smile on his face. Harry waited till he was sat and at least half-way to the city centre before muttering a 'hope not' under his breath.