Dylan sat uncomfortably on his couch, petting Apple who was as carefree as ever. God, he loved that cat. He wished he could be a cat too. Life would be easier like that. Just roaming around the house, doing nothing all day, and not having a care in the world.
Yeah, well actually, that wouldn’t suit Dylan at all.
He was restless. He had hoped that experiencing some actual pain would’ve helped him access some emotion, but it hadn’t. It had just hurt. All the while he had even been feeling sorry for the poor dom that had probably tried everything to get him off. He would have succeeded in the end, but he hadn’t wanted that at all.
He shouldn’t have gone. It had been a bad idea. But Dylan didn’t have any other idea’s left. He just wanted to feel something, anything. It felt wrong to be so empty.
He had already called his mother to vent, describing Jeffrey as just a customer, instead of coming clean about what had really happened between them. She had been supportive, even without the full story and it had been nice to hear her voice. He had also texted his friend Daniel. Inviting him and the guys to come to Amsterdam. Daniel had said they might come over on Saturday, but he’d have to check. They didn’t mind if Dylan had to work in the evening, they were dying to see him work as a bartender.
Dylan should’ve been happy about this, but there was still so much unrest in his head. It buzzed with guilt and worry and snippets of conversation he had had with Senna, things that Jeffrey had said. But no feelings besides that dreading guilt. Towards Jeffrey and towards Sean. He had let them both down.
He started cleaning up, unpacking boxes. He tried looking over his old photos, the ones in which he and Sean had looked happy. Their first vacation together, the wedding, the honeymoon in Bali… He tried to remember the happiness they had shared, and feel the hole that sat there in his chest now he was gone. But still nothing. Then the doorbell rang.
What time was it anyway? It must be about midnight, so who would ring the bell at this hour?
He opened the door ajar, carefully using the chain. There had been an attempted burglary only last week, better safe than sorry. When he spotted Ian’s face in the opening, he smiled, closed the door again, took the chain off and opened it fully.
“Hey Ian, what are you doing here?”
“I come to apologise again, and I’ve brought a gift.” The blonde man said with a conflicted expression on his face.
“Come in.” Dylan said. Maybe having some company over was a good thing. Even if it was Ian. Maybe talking about him would get his mind off everything else.
Ian came in and held out a bag in his hand. “Sorry, I wanted to so it properly, but I felt I shouldn’t let any more time pass, this is just what they had at the night-shop. So yeah… This is for saving me this morning, and cleaning my apartment, and being a great neighbour and… you know…”
“… your muse?” Dylan teased, and Ian’s face turned bright red.
“Oh god, I really said that… Fuck Dylan, I’m so sorry. AGAIN! I’m so sorry again. I honestly don’t know why you aren’t yelling at me right now.”
Dylan wasn't sure himself, but decided that the guy probably had learned his lesson, ergo the gift. Dylan looked inside the bag, smiled and put a hand on Ian’s shoulder. “Because you’ve brought me beer, obviously. It’s even chilled. Why scold a man that brings you beer? I’m a bartender, so I should know.”
Ian was still fidgety, so Dylan beckoned him to take a seat. “Were you just coming to say sorry, or do you want to have a drink together?”
“Um. Really? You’re not pissed at me?” Ian said, looking completely frazzled.
“Hell no. I just think you’ve been a little irresponsible, but hey. It turned out all right didn’t it? So, which one would you like?” Dylan presented the contents of the bag.
“Um… I don’t drink beer. It’s all for you.”
“Right. I may have some wine in the fridge. Do you drink white?”
“Yeah, sure. Thank you.” Ian replied. He was still a little fidgety.
Dylan walked over to the refrigerator, put the beers in and poured Ian a glass of chardonnay. Then he selected an IPA and looked to see if he had an appropriate glass to drink it from. He didn’t really so he settled for drinking straight out of the bottle. It was glass too, right?
He handed Ian his wine and sat down on the other side of the couch, then clinked their drinks together. “To less drug-infused inspiration.” He said. And Ian finally laughed.
“You really helped me out with that song though.” Ian said. “I don’t know, but I was inspired by your story and thought, there’s something there.”
“Thank you. You really hit the nail on the head too.”
“What do you mean.” Ian looked confused for a moment, then his eyes went wide. “Oh shit, you read it!”
“Yep. It was good. Still don’t know what cerulean is though.”
Ian almost choked on his wine, the look in his eyes was priceless. He even blushed. So cute. Wait. No, not cute, um. Yeah maybe cute, like a kid. Right? Kids are cute.
“It’s um… a shade of blue?” Ian said, when he finally wasn’t in danger anymore of getting wine up his nose.
“Right. I didn’t know that. I mean, you told me it was on my face, but you told me there was green as well and shadows coming out of my nose or something.” Dylan teased.
Ian put his face in his hands. “Oh god, I cannot ever face you…”
“You can, it’s okay. What kind of people would we be if we couldn’t laugh at our embarrassing moments?”
“Well, that’s easy for you to say, you don’t have any.”
“Oh, I do. I think I told you yesterday that I fled my own bar.” Dylan said with a knowing smile. The example was nothing compared to how embarrassed he would be if someone found out what he had been up to this evening, but Ian really didn’t need to know that.
“Right, you did. That IS actually a little embarrassing.” Ian had removed his hands from his face and propped his feet up onto the couch. Dylan was alright with that. It the cat could be on the couch, then so could Ian’s socks.
“Yeah and I was sober. You’re probably only embarrassing when you’re drunk or tripping.”
“No, I’m embarrassing myself all the time. Actually, it’s a miracle I still have any shame.” Ian chuckled.
“Then don’t. Shame doesn’t help you. Just… take better care of yourself okay? You did worry me this morning. Do you often do things like that?”
Ian shrugged and downed his wine. “Sometimes. But I never got saved from my own hallucinations before.”
“It’s a nasty job but someone’s got to do it.” Dylan replied, getting up to fix his neighbour a refill. He had almost emptied his IPA, and was wondering about what to pick next.
“Does that apply to cleaning up my apartment as well?” Ian was looking at him with eyes like puss in boots, while sucking at his lip piercing. It looked like a very sexy pout. People under the age of thirty should be forbidden to do things like that, Dylan thought. Or maybe people above thirty shouldn’t be allowed to find it sexy… Probably the last one.
How on earth could he be thinking these things in a time like this? He really was a disgusting old man.
“I was kinda hoping that both of these things were one-time only.” Dylan said, turning his gaze to the kitchen.
“Aw, too bad… I could use a maid.” Ian laughed. “But hey, I was wondering… I’ve got this gig on Thursday. It’s a warm-up show for some rock bands in a rock café nearby. I’ll be opening at eight. I thought maybe you’d like to come and watch? I can put you on the guest list.”
Dylan hadn’t been to a concert in ages, and he was kind of interested in hearing Ian play. But he obviously had to work. “I’ve got work on Thursday, but I can check… Don’t put me on the guest list though, I don’t want to be the person that gets in for free and then doesn’t show.”
“Nevermind. I don’t want to bother you.” Ian immediately replied. He was obviously taking this as a subtle way of saying no. Dylan felt the urge to protest, since he was really going to try to attend, but didn’t want to get Ian’s hopes up for nothing.
“It’s not a bother. I’d like to see you play sometime. I’m just still getting used to not having a day-job.”
“Ha! Yes! But fuck normal people and their normal nine to five jobs. Hey, I’ve got an idea. Wait a second.” Ian was suddenly very excited and jumped up. He ran out the door, then came back to grab his keys out of the leather jacket he had dumped on the floor and ran off again.
I need a coat rack. Dylan thought. Then realised he DID have a very conspicuous coat rack, only Ian wasn’t using it. He chuckled. Why was he not surprised?
Ian came back with an acoustic guitar and sat back down on the couch. He took a sip of his wine and started strumming. Dylan vaguely recognised the music and when Ian started singing everything clicked into place. It was an old song, nine to five, by Dolly Parton. Dylan sure as hell wasn’t a connoisseur, but everyone knows that song.
He laughed and was pleasantly surprised by Ian’s voice. It was raw and a little hoarse, but he reached the higher notes with ease. He wasn’t just singing the song. He was feeling it. On top of the cheerfulness Dylan knew from the original, you could hear the frustration in his voice when he sang about making money for your boss without getting any credits. Dylan knew what that felt like, and it seemed Ian did too. How could he make it sound so genuine if he didn’t?
Dylan clapped as Ian finished. He smiled receiving the praise, but it seemed a little awkward. Was he shy? “So, you’ve had day jobs as well before you became a musician?”
“Not really.” Ian answered, which surprised Dylan. “No, this is more my thing. And yours now too, right?” He said and immediately started strumming. It was a song Dylan had never heard before. Was this Ian’s own work?
“Gonna be some sweet sounds., coming down on the nightshift. I bet you''re singing proud, I bet you'll pull a crowd. Gonna be a long night, It's gonna be all right on the nightshift. You've found another home, and hey, you're not alone, on the nightshift.”
Hey, Dylan knew that lyrics. But this version was different. He had never paid any attention to the lyrics, but they were quite fitting.
“I've never heard that version before, did you re-arrange it?” Dylan said, after showering Ian with applause at the final chord.
“Yeah. It’s a good song, right?”
“Yes, and you’re a very good singer. You really radiate the song’s meaning. It’s like I can almost feel it.” Dylan said, receiving a beaming smile from Ian, he even blushed a little, or was that his imagination?
Ian seemed to be thinking for a bit. He had his head tilted a little to the side and was looking up and to the right. His long eyelashes fluttered as his eyebrows knotted a little in thought. “If you make it to the show, I’ll play something for you.” He finally said.
“I hope I’ll make it then.” Dylan said and meant it. He could open-up a little early, leave the bar in the capable hands of Tim and Danny for an hour or so. If he rode his bike instead of walking, he could leave at eight, and be back at nine. Tim and Danny could work the first hour by themselves, probably. But he still would have to check with Brett.
Normally, Dylan wouldn’t pull a stunt like this in his first month, especially not after leaving early yesterday. And maybe he shouldn’t. But for some reason he really wanted to hear Ian play.