Brian glanced up nervously. "Ah… beer, please."
The guy smiled. "Need more info than that. Domestic? Imported? Microbrew? What?"
"Bud, please. Light."
The guy nodded, turned to the cooler pulling out the bottle and placing it - and a glass - in front of Brian. "Tab?"
Brian nodded and the guy put a note on his pad and then wandered down to the far end of the bar to perch on a chair and pick up the novel he had put aside.
Brian took a deep gulp from the bottle, pushing the glass aside. He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath, and wondered what the hell he was doing here. He'd kept such a tight hold on things for so long that just being here wasn't going to make him crack… would it?
He glanced up at the mirror over the bar looking at the room behind him. There weren't many people there. A few couples deep in conversation, some solitary souls reading or eating lunch. Nothing untoward. Well, not unless you considered that the couples were men. In fact, the bar was so damn normal that if you didn't know it was a gay bar you wouldn't even think about it.
But it was. A gay bar. And he was there.
Who was he kidding?
In a way it was funny, ludicrous. He was in an industry that had lots of gays in it. He hadn't ever paid it much mind. But, if you think about it, if he was going to finally give in and 'experiment' would it make sense for him to do it with someone in the 'biz? Someone who wouldn't tell. Heck, someone who probably had as much to lose as he did if word ever got out. He could pick someone up at an industry party and then, in the morning, feign shock over his 'drunken' mistake and take off. Or even just find someone who was as curious as he was and see what happened.
But instead he was in a not-so-anonymous bar where he knew no one and ran the risk of having this all blow up in his face.
He took another guzzle from his bottle. Maybe he should just get out of here.
"So… haven't seen you in here before…" a voice purred from behind him. He turned and came face to face with a tall dark-haired man. Or rather face to chest. He'd had to tilt his head up to see the man's face - and to know his hair was dark. He was ruggedly handsome, with a triangular face, a well-kept mustache and green eyes, which were slightly hidden behind fashionable horn-rimmed glasses. The man leaned back against the bar next to Brian… a practiced pose. It didn't take a trained performer to see that.
"Ah… No. Haven't been here before," Brian mumbled with a slight blush.
"In from out of town, hunh?" The man turned towards him, one hand casually stoking the back of Brian's hand. "A quickie between meetings?"
That was clearly what this guy was interested in, judging from his business suit. Brian swallowed nervously. He wasn't sure what he was after but a 'quickie' wasn't it. And certainly not with someone who reminded him vaguely of his cousin.
"No," he replied, voice cracking a little. He took a deep breath. "Just stopped in for a beer."
The man chuckled huskily. "Sorry, sweet thing, but no one stops in here 'for a beer.' They come for a different type of head."
Brian blushed beet red.
"So what you do say? We head to the back for a little 'get to know you'? I don't have all day."
"I… uh…" Brian shook his head. "No. No thanks. I'm fine here."
"Your drink'll keep." The man's hand curled around Brian's wrist, pulled him slightly. "I'll get you another one if you are that worried."
"Really not interested. Thanks, anyway."
"I think the man said not interested, Andrew," a voice interrupted. Brian turned to see the bartender standing there with a less than pleased look on his face. "Maybe you oughta back off."
"Come on, Corey. He ain't here for the food," Andrew replied with a curl to his lip.
"He's not here for your company either."
"What? You got first dibs?" the man snarled.
"Fuck off, Andrew." Corey replied calmly. "I've told you about this before. I don't give a shit what kind of day you're having; you can't come in here expecting a blow. And trying to pick up the first cute piece of ass you see. I told you I'd ban you and I will."
"You don't have the balls."
"Actually, I heard it's you who has no balls," Corey retorted. "Got out, Andrew. And don't come back here unless it's after sundown."
The man snarled but pushed himself off the bar, pushing past Brian roughly before leaving.
Brian took a deep breath, releasing it slowly. "Yeah. He always like that?"
Corey could hear the true question underneath the blonde's question. "Him, yes. The rest of 'em, no."
"He seems to think that being a top means being an aggressive asshole," Corey's brown eyes twinkled. "Which is kind of funny, considering. Anyway, I think his parents just dropped him on his head a lot."
Brian chuckled weakly. "That would explain a lot."
"At the risk of making you feel more uncomfortable… I haven't seen you in here before either."
"First time. I'm just…" Brian nervously started to peel strips of label from his beer bottle.
"Just figuring out who you are and what you want," the man finished for him. "That's cool. Take your time. Don't let a jerk like that push you along too fast. But if you want I could…"
Brian' s eyes went a little wide.
"…get you another beer." Corey chuckled. "Ha! Got you. Thought you were gonna get hit on again, didncha?"
Brian started to laugh. Finally starting to feel a bit more comfortable. "Scared me there."
"I'm not just the bartender, I'm also the comic," he grinned. "Bud Light?" Brian nodded and Corey turned to the fridge. Brian took that time to appraise the other man. Medium height, brown eyes, sandy-blonde hair. His face was roundish, a little chubby looking, which didn't fully match with his muscular body.
"Stop checking out my ass."
"Was too," Corey laughed. He held out his hand. "Corey. Though I think you already got that."
Corey arched an eyebrow, indicating he knew it was a fake name, but smiled. "Nice to meet you, Brandon." He put the bottle on the bar and headed back over to his perch and novel, leaving Brian alone.
Another beer later, and after a conversation with a pair of very over-the-top queens and a fidgety man (who was more interested in getting Brian to buy insurance from him than anything else), Brian was finally relaxed. His run-in with the jerk aside, this had been a good experiment. The place had filled up as the afternoon progressed and there was now a steady buzz of chatter from all around.
He was busy wistfully watching a pair of men slow dancing in the corner and didn't hear Corey calling him by the made-up name he'd given him until the man tugged on his sleeve.
"I'm out of here. Can you clear your bill for now? I'll get Morris to start you a new tab if you want." He nodded to a thin black man who was chatting animatedly with another man at the far end of the bar.
"Nah, it's cool. I should probably head out too." Brian pulled his wallet from his pocket, hesitated about pulling a credit card out and then gave the man some cash. Corey nodded and got him his change.
"You good to drive?"
Brian smiled. "Yeah. I think three beers over," he glanced at his watch, "two and a half hours is fine."
Corey nodded and turned back to his colleague who had wandered over to consult with him over a bill.
Grabbing his jacket, Brian wandered to the door. Outside it was still warm, though it had cooled off considerable from when he'd first entered the bar. He took a deep breath to clear his head and smiled softly. He wasn't sure what he was going to do about his problem from now on, but at least it wasn't the 'great unknown' anymore. He'd conquered his first curiousity and lived to tell the tale.
He turned to see Corey grinning at him. "I figured you for a first timer, so don't be surprised. Like I said earlier, go at your own pace. I just thought, from your smile, that you thought it hadn't gonna as bad as it could have."
"Thanks to you."
Corey gave him a slight bow. "Corey to the rescue. Keep an eye out for the bloodsuckers like Andrew and you'll be fine."
"He sucks blood?" Brian replied with a comical grin.
Corey laughed. "Not really what he sucks. Good one. You'll make it yet."
Brian chuckled. "Do you have to be anywhere? Want to go for a coffee?"
"Oh, you are so the fast mover," Corey grinned. Then laughed outright at Brian's fiery blush. "Don't worry, I get that you're just looking for a sympathetic ear. Actually, I gotta head home."
"You're welcome to come with, though. I have to let the dog out so I can't do anything until after that. Not interested in cleaning puddles, you know?"
"Tell me about it! My mutts have me on a tight leash that way."
"Leash? My, my. What a visual," Corey smiled. "Come on, then. I just live round the corner."