It wasn’t that I hated bars. I just hated this one.
I pulled the beer to my lips and almost grimaced at the taste, or lack thereof. Whatever Bren had ordered me, it was little more than flavored water. This club was killing me with its 10$ cocktails and pulsing music, the press of bodies that I had no idea how to interact with. I wanted to be at home. I wanted to be reading. I wanted twelve aspirin and some fucking ear protection.
“Isn’t this great?”
I looked down at Bren, taking in his small frame and flushed face. He really did love this shit. “No,” I answered honestly, earning me a swift slap across my shoulder. I winced - the slap might have been playful, and Bren might be small, but he was also fucking strong and it hurt.
“Just go dance,” he shouted, as if it were an obvious solution. As if that would fix anything. “You’re so good at people. Go be good at people with your body.”
“No,” I said again, taking another drag of beer-water. I was perfectly happy here.
No. I wasn’t happy. I had my bookshelf full of old friends waiting for me at home, and they were a thousand times more interesting and a million times more understanding than this sea of strangers. No matter how good Bren thought I was at people, I was never going to be good at crowds.
Bren just sighed and reached around me to grab my beer. “Hey,” I protested weakly as he sucked half of it down.
“Sorry,” he panted, “thirsty.”
I let it slide. It wasn’t like I liked it anyway, and besides, he’d paid. I let him get back to his dancing and drifted off into my own world. It was better that way, existing in your own mind. I liked it there, much better than here. I let myself haze out, pushing the bar from my thoughts and falling back into better things.
As I did, the music swung up into some peppy piece and I heard Bren give a whoop. I hate this bar I thought before tuning it all out and creating some place infinitely more interesting for myself.
It wasn’t that I hated bars, it was that bars hated me. And tonight was shaping up to be no exception.
The club tonight wasn’t dead so much as rotting, all the same meat I was used to swinging useless on the floor. I knew exactly which ones I could get to fuck me in the bathroom, which would never fuck me but would let me suck their dicks, which would suck mine and then act like they’d done me some huge fucking favor. The puppy dogs. The assholes. That guy over there had once spat on my face in the middle of a blowjob and tried to get me to drink his piss.
I squinted. Was that the same guy? Whatever. If it wasn’t, he was the same type. Old news. They all hated me anyway. This whole fucking bar hated me.
I wasn't really sure why, to be honest. It wasn't the barfights that had done it, I don’t think. Bar fights are just fights that happen to be inside of a bar, and it wasn’t like people didn’t like fights. People fucking paid to watch that shit on TV, you know? If I happened to get into more fights in bars than outside of them, and if I happened to instigate most of those fights. Well. That’s just the way life works sometimes. I’ve got one of those punchable faces, and who was I to deny the world what it wanted? And the world wanted it, and the people in the bar wanted it, so I don’t think they hated me for giving them what they wanted in the form of flying fists and elbows. And it couldn’t be the sex, or the things I could do with my body. After all, they wanted that too. They really wanted that - that had been made very clear to me, again and again. No matter how much they hated me, no matter what they thought of me, they still wanted the sex.
So maybe it was the barfights.
Whatever. So what if they hated me. What was new? The whole fucking world hated me. Let it. Bring it on. I did the only thing I could think of, and went out and hate-fucked the world.
I didn’t see the world complaining.
I scowled down at the the drink in my hand. I needed a refill, and soon. I wasn’t nearly drunk enough for this shit to be worth my time. But looking out onto the dance floor I didn’t see anybody likely to buy me a drink; most of them knew that they didn’t need to do that for me, and wouldn’t even bother.
Fuck. I chewed on an icecube, trying to get the last of the vodka from the glass. This drink had been courtesy of a stupid twink who I’d promised to teach the “secrets of a perfect blowjob” then left hanging in the bathroom. He wasn’t my type, and I wanted something more tonight. Someone a bit more...
My eyes landed on a guy at the bar. Dangerous, I thought with a little irony, because he was anything but. Big, yeah, and muscled, but something about the way he was just hazing out there at the bar told me he was no threat. Not to me, anyway. Not in the way I was looking for.
He was sitting there with this expression on his face, like he was a million miles away, and that pissed me off and made me want to get him here, with me. I thought I knew how to do it. He looked like he might be the protector type, some otter maybe looking for a cub. Sad and lonely, I know how much the world has sucked, I’m here to protect you. The let me save you from yourself kind of guy. And while I hated that shit, hated it more than anything in the world, those types of guys were almost always good for at least one pity drink. Maybe even a pity fuck, but I wasn’t cruising for that tonight. Not the way all the things in my body were screaming.
Just then the music swung into some peppy shit song and I wasn’t remotely ready for it. I looked down at the glass in my hand and scowled. I really fucking needed that drink. Fuck it, I thought, and headed over.
“Buy me a drink.”
I started, pulled from the softness of my own reality back to this painful, pulsing one. To this fucking bar, and everything it contained. The music, the dancers. The lights. The smell of booze and sweat and sourness, all wrapped up tight and confusing people into thinking it was the smell of sex.
And course, this man.
He was sex fucking incarnate, a mess of tight fabric and long dark curls, his shoulder length hair the only thing about him that wasn’t a sharp line or plastered to his skin looking like you’d have to peel it off. As he flipped it I caught sight of a single braid hidden within the locks and I liked it immediately, liked how it made him look soft and hard all at once.
My brain, snapped out of a world where I was alone and gardening, sunlight warm on my back and my only company a light smattering of birds and the occasional bee, was already going a mile a minute figuring this guy out. I didn’t tell it to; that’s just what I do, sometimes. People are easy, or at least they aren’t hard if you know what to look for. And for some reason I didn’t think he’d be hard, not the way he was leaned up there next to me, his eyes easy on the spaces in front of us like he was at home.
I felt like I knew him, so instantly, felt like he fit inside my brain like some missing piece even as I tingled at being so close to something, someone, so unfamiliar. So different. How could one person be at the same time so similar and so distinct?
I didn’t know. But holy fuck, I wanted to.
He was leaning on the bar like he owned the place - nah, not like he owned the bar, more like he didn’t care who did. Like he didn’t have a single goddamn concern in the world. Or maybe like he had so many of them he’d just given up.
Yeah. That looked more like it. He had that “fuck it” kind of attitude written all over him, the one that makes you jump from high places when you don’t know what’s below. That was part of it, I thought, part of the things that made him feel so familiar. Because I knew that attitude, knew it maybe a little too well. Fuck, how many times had I gone splat before I learned that falling isn’t the same as flight?
But somehow I didn’t think he had that same confusion of acceleration and freedom. He more looked like he liked the impact.
Shit, I found myself thinking, my eyes tracing the V his hipbones made, watching it disappear into dark jeans that were tight, that looked good, way too good it to be fair. And he does make an impact.
I let my eyes track back up that tight shirt to his neck, long and begging to be bitten and teased. Fuck, this guy looked like wouldn’t be able to handle being teased, not the way he was dressed for instant gratification. Maybe that was just my internal prejudice. Maybe it was wishful thinking. I tilted my head and thought about that for a moment, imagined making him wait, shivering beneath me. Begging. Holding his gravity, his resolution, in the palm of my hand and making him understand fully, completely, that it was my decision if he went over the edge or not.
“Vodka, soda,” he was telling the man behind the bar. “He’s paying.”
The bartender shot me a look and I just shrugged, trying to blink the images that I had from my eyes. Fuck, what had that been? I shouldn’t be thinking like that so flippantly, not about a stranger and most certainly not about him. The bartender must have interpreted the movement as one of consent because he was heading to go get the guy and drink and fuck, I guess that meant the guy was staying.
I put in my order in and went back to scanning the bar. Got a drink from him, but he wasn’t exactly what I was looking for in a fuck. Now when he was so...
I looked over to him and actually jumped. There was this insane hunger practically dripping off of his face, his eyes burning and this little smile on his lips. Fuck, I thought, totally caught by surprise. Where did that come from?
I mean, I knew I was dressed to kill. My clubbing clothes aren’t standard issue; they’re lethal. And I might not have been having a good night, but that didn’t mean I didn’t look good. And he was looking. Like, really looking.
Now, people who want you, they’re gonna look at the parts of you that they want. You can figure out which buttons to press pretty easy that way; which guys are ass guys, which ones like shoulder muscles, which want nothing more than to play with your collarbones, or your hair, or wrap a hand around your neck. You can figure out which ones to avoid, on days you don’t want it rough. You know which ones to seek out one nights you do.
Trust me on this one. I have a lot of experience with people who want me, or at least some part of me. I’m good at being what people want.
But this guy? It didn’t seem like he was looking at me. Not at my body, not really, not like all those other men always did. Not at my neck, or my carefully exposed midriff and hipbones, not the curve of my ass. He was just dreamily gazing into my eyes, like he was in love, except people in love don’t look like they want to devour you whole and use your bones to make stock. He didn’t… he wasn’t… It was kinda like, and this is going to sound nuts, but it almost felt like he was looking into me, somehow, like he was getting into my head and watching things unfold. Things that hadn’t happened yet. Like I had a fucking movie, a porno, projected on my soul and he was just taking in the view.
I didn’t like it.
And yet. And yet. There was something about the hunger, the sharpness that it lent him that I did like. In fact, I liked it a lot. Some part of me nudged my body closer to him, happy to see those green eyes sharpen when I moved even the slightest bit. So what if I didn’t know what was doing it for him, if I had no idea what he was reacting to? Hey, if he was reacting, that was all that mattered, right?
Looking into those eyes, watching them watch me. I just wasn’t sure.
I narrowed my eyes and met his gaze head on. A part of me tingled and I usually would have jumped on that immediately, would have let him have me just like that but there was something, something about the way he was watching me…
“So,” I said carefully. Who the hell was this guy?