Bastian was taking an order from a table when Revie entered the pub. When their eyes met, the bartender seemed to petrify for a moment. He waited for him sitting on a stool near the cash register. He looked around, noting the presence of a few people and a background of not-so-recent rock music. It was pretty relaxing.
The blond walked to him a minute later, unable to avoid it, to prepare a couple of drinks behind the counter.
"Do you wish to order?" he asked, not taking his eyes off the glasses. Something in his body language suggested Revie how uncomfortable he felt; perhaps the stiff posture, or the way he looked everywhere but in his direction.
"I think I'll just have a glass of water," Asa smiled, resting his elbows on the counter, as he was trying to put less distance between them.
"Sure," Bastian murmured.
When the waiter placed the glass of water in front of him, their eyes met again and Revie noticed how tired Bastian's hazel ones were.
"Are you waiting for someone?", the bartender asked, in a firm tone.
"No. I was with someone earlier. I'm not waiting for anyone." He took a quick sip, then cleared his throat. "Unless you want to spend the rest of the evening in great company."
Bastian coughed a half laugh. "I knew you were here for this." He shook his head. "No, thanks."
"Come on, man, how often do you get to-"
"Hey." Bastian's eyes glared at him. "Maybe you didn't understand. I'm here to work. And you are a customer. And if you're not going to act like one, but you think you have the right to spend the rest of the evening bothering me, you can leave right now."
Revie showed him a little smile, then stretched it into a teasing one.
"Did you like it when we kissed?" he asked, as the words Bastian had just spoken had never reached his ears. He saw the waiter flinch, staring at him shocked, then looking around nervously.
"Fuck, not here," he whispered aggressively, "do you want to get me fired?"
"They didn't hear," Revie laughed, not even checking that no one was actually listening to them from the tables in the club. "I think you enjoyed it."
Bastian leaned over the counter and spoke in a tone so low that Revie struggled to decipher the words. "The kiss, maybe. Not you for sure."
"When's your next break?"
Bastian smiled bitterly, gripping his nose bone between his index finger and thumb. He let go a long sigh before answering. "No breaks. I have a shift change with a colleague at midnight, and then I’ll go home."
"I could wait for you." He rested his chin on the palm of his own hand.
"I will. Go home," he stressed, exhausted. "I'm tired. I don't know what you do in life, but I’m studying and working most of my fucking time, I don't have time for your bullshit."
"Sure. Do you want a ride?"
Bastian looked at him like he was about to punch him. "It's not raining. I'll walk. Thanks."
For a few minutes, Revie seemed to give up. He continued to take small sips of water while Bastian was wiping glasses behind the counter. The music and light chatter in the background saved them from the awkwardness of mutual silence.
"At midnight...," whispered Asa, letting the now empty glass slide onto the counter, "I might go to the bathroom. That's all."
Bastian stared at him for a few seconds, then looked at the glass and back at Revie, saying nothing.
"I would like some more water, please."
He waited for a few minutes in the bathroom, casually sitting on a toilet seat, phone in his hand to pass the time. He had left the door slightly open, by a couple of inches. He hadn't expected Bastian to actually show up, but he'd had a terrible night, and he didn't want to give up on the little hope he had.
At twelve minutes past midnight, he was about to get up and leave, when he heard the bathroom door opening and footsteps getting closer. Through the empty space under the door, he saw Bastian's shoes stop timidly. It took the guy a few seconds to place his hand on the door and open it wide.
Bastian entered without saying a word, closing the door behind him and leaning his back against it, sighing. He closed his eyes, to refuse any eye contact, and let a leather bag slide from his own shoulder to the floor, where it fell with a thud. He was no longer wearing an apron, only the white shirt underneath it, and his hair was still roughly tied on the back of his neck.
"Hey," Revie tried to break the silence. In sitting position, with Bastian standing in front of him, it was hard to ignore how tall the blond was, probably over a hundred ninety centimeters.
"I don't know why I'm here," he murmured, speaking more to himself than to Asa.
"Heavy night? You look very tried."
The blond seemed to think about it for a moment. "A bit," he replied, "I’m sorry for the way I spoke to you earlier, that wasn't very kind."
"It's all right, Bastian. I know I'm annoying." The other didn’t say it wasn’t true; in fact, he nodded.
"You seem to be the one who had a rough night today," he commented in a low voice, raising his eyebrows.
"Why?" chuckled Revie, hiding his embarrassment.
"I don't know, your hands are shaking. You're always very composed. Now it looks like, I don't know. You look a little like me when I look in the mirror at night before I go to bed. And that's not a good thing."
For some reason, the comparison made him smile.
"It's nothing," he said softly and finally got up from the toilet, adjusting his coat. He took a step toward Bastian, without attempting any physical contact. She heard him take a long, deep breath.
"Should we keep talking or we just kiss?"
It was Bastian who stepped forward looking for his lips, wasting no time in an answer. After an initial shy contact, he took his face in his hands and the distance between them became minimal, almost intimate. It didn’t last long, because after a few seconds Bastian seemed to remember that he was in a public restroom, in the place in which he worked as a waiter, and he pulled away, visibly agitated, finding himself again with his back against the door. He covered his mouth with one hand.
"I can't stay here for long," he shook his head.
"Come home with me, Bastian."
“Asa...I thought I made it clear. I don't want to go out with you or date, or-"
"We don't have to date," he insisted. "We can just continue what we started. We can also do it here if you prefer. Or in the car, my car is in the parking lot."
"I don't want to continue anything," Bastian interrupted him. Then, realizing he had raised his voice, he opened the restroom door a few inches to check if anyone was present besides them.
He closed the door again, resting one arm and his head against it, showing his back to Asa.
"What are we doing?" he whispered against his own sleeve.
"I don't know," he shrugged and sat back down on the toilet seat, crossing his arms. "I mean, I am trying to get to sleep with you, honestly, and you're avoiding anything that happens to more than a kiss."
Bastian looked back at him.
"Why do you want ... I mean," a bitter laugh escaped from his throat, "what do you like about me? We don't even know each other, we've talked, how many times? Two, three? And let me tell you, you're just one of those people who realized I existed only after I tried to kill myself."
"You're wrong. I had already noticed you earlier."
"Then why didn't you talk to me?" she smiled darkly, and Revie noticed some kind of desperation in his tone.
He realized that 'before having recurring sexual fantasies in which you are covered in blood, I didn't care about you' would have been an inappropriate response.
"Because I didn't I know there was an expiration date?”
Bastian stared at him impassively for almost ten seconds.
"You didn't say that."
"I thought it was kind of funny."
"You should see a therapist, Asa", he said, with a voice much calmer than he expected.
"On Friday", Revie replied smiling, and Bastian seemed confused. "I go every week, to therapy."
"Well, maybe you should look for a new one, shouldn’t you?"
For some reason, they both laughed. They looked at each other in silence, then Bastian spoke again.
“I have to go home”, he said, in a chill tone. “I have to go to the university in the morning, and I have to get up early."
"Is that an excuse?"
"No", he shook his head, and looked sincere.
"Okay." He looked at Bastian taking back his bag from the floor and opening the door. He stopped him, before he could walk away. “Bastian.”
The guy didn’t reply, but stopped at the entrance, waiting for him to keep talking.
"Why did you try to kill yourself that night?"