Bren, happy and relaxed, found me probably two hours later. His bear had showed up with the same idea he’d had and they were going to spend the night dancing and making up. Or something. At least I wouldn’t have to pull Bren out of any more bar fights.
I reminded Bren that he had a fight in two days and needed to stay in shape, but he didn’t really give a shit about things like weights. He made the lowest weight class by five pounds, easy. A few cocktails meant nothing to him.
Bren, man. Most guys in the lower weight classes were just skimming the limits, and doing it for a better chance at winning. Bren was different. He didn’t fight to win. He fought because he had to.
I was anything but happy and relaxed. I’d lost track of my guy - shit, when had he become my guy, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to call him John- about twenty minutes ago. I sighed and called the bartender over. I knew he’d know. I knew he always knew where everyone was, with those quick eyes and quicker smiles. I also knew I’d been kind of a dick to him earlier. He wasn’t a bad guy, not really, just had been here for too long. Or operated by a different set of rules, bartender rules.
He’d been avoiding me, probably frustrated by my words earlier. “More beer?” he asked, that smile in place.
“Where is he?”
“Where is who?” I shot him a look at his feigned ignorance and he gave up. “I’m not his keeper either, you know.”
“I know,” I said, trying to show that I was properly chagrined by my comments earlier. “So where is he?”
The bartender shrugged. “Never saw him come out of the bathroom after he went in with Henry. He’s drunk as a skunk, you know.” He smiled at me, and his expression was not amusement so much as vindictiveness. “Put all his drinks on your tab.”
I got up and headed to the bathroom.
It looked empty when I first got in there, dingy and gross and everything I’d expected but worse. If he wasn’t here, good for him. I made a quick scan and was about to leave when I heard a groan from one of the stalls.
The man inside jumped when I ripped open the door. I looked down at him, his cock hard and exposed and pointed at the clearly unconscious, half naked man draped over the toilet. Dark hair covered the man's eyes. A single braid fell across his lips.
“I hope,” I said slowly, quietly, trying to hold tight to all the things in my chest that didn’t want to stay, “that you were not about to do what it looks like you were about to do.”
“Shit, man.” He was shoving his rapidly deflating cock away. “No big deal, right?”
No big deal. My chest was not a container meant to hold this much shit.
“I mean,” he said, flashing me a nervous smile, “it’s just John.”
I had him up against the wall, my arm to his throat, before he knew what hit him. I was trying to decide exactly how much of what shit this fucker was going to go through when the door swung open behind me, letting in the noise of the club.
I turned to see Bren’s bear making his way into the small space. He took me in, then peeked into the stall and saw the man’s unconscious form. He crossed his arms.
“He’s not worth it, love,” he said, jerking his chin towards the stall. I felt my chest about to burst.
“Everyone,” I stated clearly, slowly, in simple fucking terms because somehow these people weren’t fucking getting this, “is worth more than being fucked like that.”
I watched the bear’s eyebrows go up as he suddenly put the pieces together. His eyes flicked from the stall to the man I was holding, shaking, back to the stall, to finally land back on the man in my hands, and I was glad to see that his eyes were dark and angry and holding some of the things I had been struggling with. He made his way towards me, and the man whimpered. I cut off his air before he could make any more noises.
“Leave him to me,” the bear said quietly. “You go take care of Teddy.”
Teddy, I thought as I let go of the man, hearing his body hit the tile and watching the bear grab him back up. From Theodore. I bet he used that nickname special for the bears. Fuck, I think I hated that even more than John.
I tried not to touch his skin too much as I pulled his pants up over his ass, hoping that they would stay. They didn’t seem to have much support past just being tight. His body clothed, I propped him up against the stall wall and started to pay attention to just how far gone he was, lightly tapping on his cheek and calling to him. He was responsive enough that I didn’t think he was dying, but not responsive enough that I wasn’t worried.
Definitely, I thought as I heard another punch land, not responsive enough to consent.
It was probably the alcohol and not K that had done him in, at least, which had me on comfortable territory. I started in on a quick check for any damage.
“He okay?” I looked up to see Bren’s bear hovering in the stall entryway and shrugged.
“As okay as he can be.” There had been nothing but a few bruises over the man’s body, bruises that made me angry and hurt but they weren’t my business, it wasn’t my body, and it wasn’t like I didn’t beat my own flesh to shit for a living. And, they looked old. A few days at least. I noticed the blood on the big man’s knuckles and let out some of the things I hadn’t allowed from my body before. “Thanks.”
“Orin,” he offered, and put out his hand.
I shook it. “Coop.”
“You’re a friend of Adam’s, right?”
Adam was Bren’s first name. Adam Brendle. It always took me a minute to register him as an Adam. “Yeah,” I finally said, my brain catching up to me. I looked down the the man splayed at my feet. “I’m gonna get him out of here. Can you watch him while I settle up?”
He nodded and I sighed in something that almost felt like relief, if I hadn’t been so damn wound up.
The bartender met me at my half-drunk beer. “No luck?”
“The next time you see someone go into your bathroom so drunk they can’t stand,” I said, low and angry and so fucking over this place, “maybe send someone in to check to make sure they’re not being raped.”
But he just rolled his eyes. “Please. It’s John. It’s not like he’d care. Besides, what could I -”
I hissed and grabbed his shirt, dragging him across the bar, but even as I did it I realized that he was nothing to me, that I didn’t give a shit about him and I released him, pushing him back against the bottles. “Jaded fuck,” I spat. I threw down a few twenties and left.
He shouted something after me, I think, but I was already bursting into the bathroom, causing Orin to jump. “Tell Bren I’m headed home,” I told him, not really giving a shit about how he would make his way back to the apartment.
Orin took in the lines of my body and frowned. “Chad give you trouble?”
“That the bartender?” He nodded. “No.” Orin raised a brow at my curt tone, but I didn’t want to talk about it. I hoisted the man over my shoulder, feeling again how light he was, how easy he was to carry, and really hated that I wasn’t hating that I was doing this.
Orin walked me out, which helped some with the stares that were inevitable as I carried an unconscious man out of the bathroom. I was shocked when the bouncers outside the bar didn’t make any attempt to stop me, but Orin just spat. “Statues,” he said quietly. “Nothing but statues.”
We got the guy - fuck, I was going to have to find a name for him if I was going to keep doing this, not, I reminded myself, that I had any plans whatsoever to keep doing this - into Bren’s backseat. Orin frowned. “You gonna need any help getting him home?”
I shook my head. I knew from experience that I could handle that. “Thanks again, Orin.” I glanced back at the bar. “You’d better get back inside before Bren starts getting antsy.”
He smiled at me, a little sloppy and very pleased, and I knew he had it bad for my friend. Good. Bren deserved it.
I got the kid in my car and we headed on home.