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LUKE COULDN'T BELIEVE what he was seeing.

He stared, practically slack-jawed, at Jess and Marley at the counter actually laughing with each other. Not at each other. With. They weren't fighting, they weren't yelling, and they weren't calling each other names that Luke (at times) struggled to understand. They were laughing with each other.

Luke didn't know what episode of The Twilight Zone he was in, but the plot was starting to make him feel uneasy. He didn't recognize the kids in front of him. This was different. However, he did have to admit that it hadn't just come out of nowhere.

He'd noticed the shift in tone between them ever since Jess had come back. It wasn't as hostile, it wasn't as angry. Luke couldn't see any screaming matches drawing people to the diner's windows in the near future. It was a shame. He would have charged them a price for admission.

This tone was more easy-going, milder, and dare should he say it, friendly. It had been going on for most of the summer. It had made work a whole lot easier, and he feared for his life a little less every time he opened the doors. It was a change Luke welcomed with open arms. Not that he would say anything to Marley or Jess.

"Encino Man is a cinematic masterpiece," Marley argued to Jess, pointing a finger in his direction from the other side of the counter.

"Yeah," Jess scoffed, "it's a cinematic masterpiece if you're stoned out of your mind."

"You're just a closed-minded coward who wouldn't know culture if it hit you."

"Dear God, you didn't just use the word culture while referring to Encino Man, did you?"

"Just embrace it and wheeze the ju-uice, Mariano." The deadpan way that Marley had said those words had made Jess pause, look at her in disbelief, and then lose it in a way Luke hadn't ever seen. He couldn't remember the last time Jess had really smiled, let alone laugh. Luke watched as Marley began to laugh too, the serious look on her face dropping almost immediately as she watched Jess.

Luke rolled his eyes at the two of them, turning his back and walking up to his apartment. They knew how to close. There wasn't any reason for him to be down there. It wasn't like they had even noticed him standing at the bottom of the stairs.

"Encino Man prepped Brendan Fraser for The Mummy and gave the world Pauly Shore," Marley said, sliding onto one of the chairs at the counter. Jess rolled his eyes.

"You say that like it's a good thing," he replied, a look of disgust washing over his face. "The arrival of Pauly Shore should have been the first sign of the apocalypse."

SILVER LINED DOUBT. [JESS MARIANO]Where stories live. Discover now