The man was in his early twenties, smelled fairly bad and had greasy hair. But what really filled Paul with disgust was the way that he was drooling over Paul's breasts.
Paul wanted to just pummel the man's face in. Instead he just smiled and said, "Would you like fries with that?"
The man smiled. "Yeah. Say, what are you doing when you finish work? Perhaps I could take you out for a drink?"
Paul glared at him and the man visibly paled. "Or maybe not." He paid for his burger and fries and retreated to one of the bolted-down tables.
"I hate that the most about working here. When the lowlifes try to pick you up. Why do they try?" Mandy asked in an annoyed tone.
Paul looked over at Mandy at the other cash register. "Maybe they get turned on by the uniform."
Mandy flashed one of her broad smiles. She was one of the bright spots of Paul's day so far. Mandy was shorter than Paul, barely reaching five feet in height. She had a mop of brown hair in a pageboy cut and a slim athletic looking body. Her breasts were small, but seemed the perfect size to Paul. Anything bigger would have left her body looking unbalanced. She looked a little like an elf would, and the first time Paul had met her he had almost checked her for pointed ears.
Paul loathed the job itself. It was utterly menial and needed no mental effort whatsoever. All he had to do was listen to the moronic customers telling him what they wanted. Then he had to push the buttons on the till, each marked with pictures of the various pieces of food on offer. And then shout the order back to the kitchen. He had always looked down on the people who worked here as lazy idiots who couldn't be bothered to work for a good job like his.
It had quickly become apparent when he had started looking for work that he was qualified for only two jobs. Serving burgers was infinitely preferable to a night-club or strip joint. So here he was, in a dayglow yellow-and-green uniform, bored out of his skull.
He had been sleeping in Michael's apartment for over a week and had rarely left it. Michael had become insistent that he find a job and moved out. He said his stretched resources couldn't cover Paul as well. Paul had suggested asking Quince for a loan, but Michael had refused point blank to do anything like that.
With the meagre salary from the burger bar he would just be able to afford a dingy one room apartment. This isn't forever, he kept telling himself. Just until Michael could come up with a cure. To give him his due, Michael was working flat-out on the virus. Paul didn't really see why he had to move out. Surely the cure wouldn't take the several months Michael had said it would?
He had blown about half his money buying some more underwear, which he had needed. In the lingerie section he had felt like an invader, as if at any moment his true gender would be revealed. If any of the assistants thought he was anything other than a shy girl, they hadn't let on. He had made his purchases with the minimum of embarrassment and left.
Paul realised Mandy was talking to him. "Sorry?"
"I said it's time for our lunch break. Unless you're enjoying yourself too much."
Paul gladly followed her upstairs to a small room with a coffee machine and some chairs. He kicked off his shoes and sat down. Mandy started making some coffee as Paul flicked through some of the papers lying around.
"What are you looking for?" asked Mandy.
"Somewhere to live. But there's no place cheap enough for me to afford."
Mandy sighed and sat down beside Paul. "Yeah, I know what you mean. I'm probably going to have to move out of my apartment because I can't keep up with the rent. It's a great place considering the money I pay for it, but since the girl I shared it with moved back home I'm struggling to meet the rent all the time." She paused and then added, "So how about it, Paula?"
"How about what?" Paul asked.
"Share the rent with me, silly. The spare bedroom is very nice."
Paul looked at Mandy. He belatedly realised she was serious. When Mandy looked at Paul she didn't see a forty-year-old involuntary transsexual. Instead she saw a pretty girl, around her own age, down on her luck. Why not, thought Paul. It was better than any other options he had, and he had gotten along well with Mandy since he had met her the day before. "Thanks, Mandy. I owe you for this."
"Nonsense. It's us girls against the world, isn't it?"
"Uh... yeah." She is very cute, thought Paul. He clamped down on that feeling. He knew it could only bring him trouble.
"So when can you move in? Do you need a hand with your stuff?"
Paul laughed. "Slow down. I can move in now if you like, and all my stuff will fit in one bag."
Mandy looked concerned. "You've had some bad luck recently, haven't you?" Paul nodded. "Do you want to talk about it?"
"Uhh... no, not really."
"Okay, no problem. If you do want to talk about it, I'll be there for you."
Paul thanked her, glad that she hadn't pressed the issue. He was going to have to come up with a cover story at some point.