“Name and ID, please,” the buff bouncer barks, his hand snapping out in expectation.
“Uh, Nikhil. Here,” Nik says, fumbling through his pocket to grab his wallet. He presents the form of identification he had only just gotten today, handing it over as gently as he could. His stomach drops at the look the bouncer gives the small card, but he hands it back and ushers Nik in.
Long Feng’s was a club stuck right in the middle of Brooklyn; he’s heard more than one passing comment about it on the streets, and it’s not like he was picky. Alcohol and dancing was something he needed desperately right now: a way to let go and have fun.
He had finally been given his citizenship, after attending a New York University in the US on a study visa for four years. Now he has an engineering degree, a boat load of debt, and no job.
Well, he had a job. Emphasis on “had”. It had been another dead end job that barely paid anything and ended up falling through, getting him laid off for the fourth time in 9 months. What a joke.
Nik quickly made his way into the nightclub; it was relatively early, only about 5 in the afternoon, though he knows people will come in droves once the sun starts to set. He’s never been inside a place like this, but being in a completely new country meant he was finally able to have fun and live a little.
“What can I get ya?” a question brings Nik out of his head as he looks to see who asked it.
A tall, built Chinese man stands behind the bar. Nik’s eyes are immediately drawn to the man’s bright blue hair that stuck to his forehead and was swept back with hair gel. Nik feels his mouth go dry as he watches the bartender’s muscles flex under his white button down as he moves the shaker back and forth between his hands.
“Hello? Can I get ya something, cutie?” the man asks again, setting the shaker down and leaning on the bar. Nik finally snaps out of it and connects eyes.
“Ah- um, whatever you recommend,” Nik says, using his rehearsed script. It’s not much, but he’s never been somewhere like this before, and never ended up studying the English words for various types of alcohol; this seemed like the next best option.
“You got it boss, if you got money to spend,” the bartender moves to finish the drink he set down moments prior, skillfully straining it into a thin glass and adding an olive to the top before making his way to the other end of the bar.
Money. Nik has that, sure, just... not a whole lot of it.
But he doesn’t have time to object as a fancy glass is set in front of him by another bartender, this one female. Her short stature and wide frame, accompanied by her friendly smile, made Nik think that he’d like to be friends with her. Or, friends with anyone, really.
He grabs the glass and takes a sip, drinking in the strong taste. It’s good, really good, something he supposes should worry him but he doesn’t think about that as he looks over the rest of the club.
It’s not too busy, with small groups sat at the various couches that adorn the space. They all look natural there, like they fit in and know what they’re doing; meanwhile, Nik’s nerves are on edge as he scans the space. He’d never been one for clubbing, or drinking, or dancing. He’d been too focused on getting his degree.
The alcohol helps take the edge off a bit as he feels it softening his nerves. He finishes the drink slowly, savoring the bitter burn in his throat.
When he turns towards the bar again, there’s already another drink waiting for him, this one in a shorter glass filled with an amber liquid, almost the same color as his skin. He looks up and sees the same male bartender that greeted him before. His mouth goes dry again.
The man holds out his hand and with a jolt, Nik realizes he’s supposed to shake it. He quickly wipes the sweat off his hand onto his pants and reaches over the bar, grasping the extended hand.
“Name’s Feng,” the man says, and he gently takes back the hand Nik now realizes he’s been shaking for way too long. Dammit.
“I-I’m Nikhil,” he squeezes out. He cringes at how high his voice sounds, but the smile that Feng gives him both calms him immensely and makes him twice as nervous.
“Nice to meet you,” Feng says, his voice silky smooth. Nik shudders. “I don’t know if you could tell, but I run this place. I like to get to know my patrons and make them feel welcome.”
“Oh that’s... very sweet. Thank you,” Nik’s voice is relatively back to normal when he responds. He wraps his hands around the glass in front of him and looks down into it. It’s cold, and the biting in his palms helps him focus
“That’s scotch,” Feng says, tapping a nail against the rim of the glass. “I take it you’re new here?”
Nik laughs. “That obvious?”
“You just have that vibe about you. Don’t worry, I was in your shoes once too. Tonight’s on the house.”
Nik stopped laughing at that.
“You can’t be serious,” he gasps, already shaking his head in protest.
“I insist! Maybe you can take me to dinner sometime,” Feng smiles and ignores Nik’s pleas as he makes his way to the other end of the bar yet again. Nik looks down at his drink as he feels his cheeks heating up. One night couldn’t hurt...
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