‘Pilgrim?’ Harris said.
‘What?’ Amelia glanced over at him, confusion frowning her face.
‘Do you want to go to the Pilgrim?’
‘What’s the Pilgrim?’ James asked.
‘It’s a pub just around the corner,’ Harris said. ‘Shaun, Pilgrim?’
The balding Scouser lit up his cigarette. ‘Sure.’ He walked over to them.
James glanced at Amelia. ‘Might as well.’
‘Sorted,’ Harris said, walking ahead. ‘Let’s go.’
They followed Harris down the street before turning into Pilgrim Street and slipped into a green pub with a sign saying The Pilgrim in carnival letters. There were two middle-aged men sat at a picnic bench in the smoking area. They jogged down the small set of steps and into the warm, but dimly lit pub. Booths lines both walls with a long set of tables down the centre and a spiral staircase in the corner led upstairs. Mosaics of The Beatles covered every wall. They crowded around the bar, ordered food and drink before slipping into the booth closest to the door. James and Amelia on one side with Harris and Shaun opposite them. They chatted for a while about the class and what they were expecting from it.
‘Where’s News from Nowhere?’ James asked. Collins had told them that all their required reading was available there.
‘It’s on Bold Street,’ Harris said. ‘I love it. It’s my favourite street in the city.’
‘How long have you been here for?’ Amelia asked.
‘I moved in about a month ago. I wanted a head start on the city so I wasn’t getting lost in my first week.’ He grinned. ‘I still do, mind, but not as much as I did at the start.’
‘I only realised yesterday I’d been taking the long way around to get to Liverpool One.’ James looked away sheepishly at the admission.
‘What’s the long way around?’ Shaun asked.
‘I can’t even describe it. I got lost on my first day looking around and ended up in L1 and then just used that way. Only yesterday did I walked another way and got their in ten minutes instead of thirty.’
‘You’re a dick.’ Amelia burst out laughing and couldn’t stop for a long moment.
James’s cheeks burned with embarrassment and he was glad when the chef brought his fish and chips over.
They ate quietly for a few minutes before Harris chirped up again.
‘James, what sports are you into?’
James looked up, a frown clear on his brow. ‘Sports?’
‘Yeah. You can’t tell me that body came from just being stuck in the gym.’
Amelia couldn’t keep the smile from her lips. Shaun seemed oblivious to the comment. James’s heart thudded in his chest.
He took a slight breath. ‘Fencing.’
‘That’s awesome, man.’
‘I’ve been fencing since I was ten.’
‘Seriously James, that is crazy.’ Harris leaned back. ‘What swords do you train with?’
‘I can use all three. Foil, epee, and sabre.’ And with Harris’s confused look, ‘Sorry, they are the swords we use. They were the training weapons before the sport was developed.’
‘I thought you’d have a musketeer sword.’
‘I can use a rapier in theory because I can fence, but it’s not often I need to use that skill.’
‘So why do you only have four books on your shelf?’ Harris asked. ‘I was going to ask last week but… well, you know.’
‘Like I said in class, they’re the books that made me.’
‘Why those books though?’
Why was Amelia being so quiet? She was never that quiet.
James explained that the Book Thief was the first book to make him realize the power of words. The Sonnets were his first introduction to the idea of love. The Three Musketeers taught him about friendship and loyalty. And The Motorcycle Diaries made him want to buy a motorcycle.
‘You own a motorcycle?’ Harris couldn’t keep the grin from growing.
‘No, but I am planning on it at some point.’
‘Hey, You have to show me it when you do,’ Amelia said.
She finally joined back in.
‘Fuck, I’ll show you and Harris when I get her. I’ll bring her to your place when I buy her, Harris.’
‘Her?’ Shaun interjected.
‘Yeah, that’s what people call their motorbikes.’
‘Dude, I thought you were gay, how can you be riding a her?’ He laughed, not unkindly.
James stiffened. Fuck! Shaun must be joking but…Fuck!
Amelia and Harris roared with laughter. James couldn’t think of a response. How did…
‘I’m the gay one, Shaun.’ Harris hugged Shaun and puckered his lips. ‘Fancy a kiss?’
Shaun moved his head closer until they were almost connecting before pulling away and laughing it off.
‘You’re fine with that?’ James asked.
‘With what?’ Shaun looked baffled.
‘Harris being gay?’
Harris stared at him. Not an angry stare, but more curious. Maybe at why he’d asked that question.
‘Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?’ Shaun said. ‘People are gay. Who gives a fuck?‘
Amelia poked James’s arm. ‘Can we go? I’m tired.’
‘Sure’ He looked at Harris and Shaun. ‘We’ll see you guys later.’
They all quickly exchanged numbers, James only needing Shaun’s and he and Amelia left.