"This was a bad idea." Bernard stood outside the club, looking up at the sign, trying to talk himself out of going inside. He had his (admittedly rather cold hands) tucked into a heavy, ankle-length duster coat. No one would have any idea what he was wearing, he could go home right now, and they would never know. Yes. "Yep. Bad idea." Badbadbadbad...
He turned around three times, pacing backwards and forwards, then turned on his heel one more time, nodded to the man at the door, who (unfortunately) knew him by name, and walked on into the noise.
"Nice to have you back, Bernie." said the door man as he held the door open for him.
As soon as Bernard walked into the bar he was greeted by the noise and heat that normally came coupled with this place. There were men everywhere talking, drinking, dancing, and the din of the music and their voices could be deafening on a good night. Tonight the song of choice appeared to be Smooth Criminal, and that seemed to be a suitable song for the crowd. If it wasn't, the guys weren't afraid to voice their opinions.
Then again, how could any of them argue with this DJ?
It was the first thing he checked. He had been sure that the DJ would have moved on by now, DJs never lasted long, they always moved on... yet. He'd been hoping. And... It looked like there was some point in hoping.
Courage, first. That was essential. He made a gangway straight for the bar.
Despite how crowded and busy this bar could get, like the door man outside, the tattooed and pierced bar man knew Bernard by name too. The last time Bernard saw him, his hair had been bright red. Now, however, it was bleached blond and far shorter than last time. He grinned at Bernard on sight and leaned forward, grabbing a glass as he did.
"The usual?" he asked toothily.
"Better make it a double." This was a very bad idea yes. Bernard suddenly didn't want to even slightly go through with it. No. He held onto the bar.
The bar man brought his drink to him with ice cubes and set it down in front of him. "Leave it on your tab?" he asked.
"Sure." Bernard clung to the glass, which made his hand even colder.
"We were beginning to wonder if you turned straight on us, you've been gone for ages." the man behind the bar grinned as he began to work a towel along the bench, cleaning up spilled drinks whilst pausing to collect abandoned glasses in need of a wash.
"Not likely. I've been... caught up."
"That business with Megamind?"
"I'm... sort of. Yes. I guess you could say that."
"Ooh you got me curious now."
"Nothing so exciting. I spent the whole thing being immensely boring." As boring as a little blue cube can be. "I get the idea that I was entirely the wrong end of a stupid joke."
The bar man made a sad face that could make a kicked puppy look like a monster. "That sucks. Still!" he brightened up straight away as he began pouring a new drink for another customer who had just held a finger up at him. "You're here now, so once you get that in you, you can go and dance your cares away."
To help hit this idea home the music swiftly shifted from Michael Jackson into ABBA, and the song Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie (a man after midnight) filled the air. The men already dancing voiced their approval with cheers and applause, before dancing to the classic song.
Bernard tried to bury his woes in his drink, whilst desperately taking as sidelong a look as possible at the DJ at the far end of the room.
There were definitely some changes. It was the same man, but he appeared to have... A beard? And his hair was a lot longer. A LOT longer. Hmmm. He appeared to have it tied back in a very small pony tail, but it was hard to tell since his large headphones got in the way. He was wearing a short sleeved, and open, grey shirt with a black muscle shirt under that. Living up to its name the shirt most certainly showed off the muscles of the DJ, so much so that Bernard felt a shiver rush over him.
This DJ had been coming to the bar for longer than he had first thought. He still remembered the first night he'd arrived to find the new DJ who had taken up the position from their last one who had left after only a few weeks. The man had a great smile, and seemed to know all the right music to pick.
Of course, Bernard hadn't said a word to him.
Not enough alcohol in all the world he admitted to himself, and started redirecting his gaze to the... Competition.
The dance floor was full of people who were far more forward than him in regards to a DJ. No wonder the guy was fenced off like that. Still, there was a low point in the screen through which men could approach to make a request for a song, and throughout most nights Bernard would see men rush up to shout a song to be heard above the noise (and those huge headphones).
Amateurs. The whole point of dancing was to respond to the music, not force the music to respond to you.
There were a remarkable number of quality dancers here tonight.
He recognised the regulars, of course, then started cataloguing the unknowns. With a librarians' mind, he was soon able to classify the lot of them. He could do this. The drink was beginning to warm him up, instead of cool him down.
It looked as though one of the amateurs was going to make a request right now. Some young guy (he looked no older than twenty) went rushing up to the screen. He was wearing little else than a tight shirt and shorts that were so short it looked like he was wearing underwear with pockets, and leaned up against the screen and made his request.
The DJ tilted his head in a curious manner before leaning forward, obviously asking for a repeat. The young man seemed to grin, almost triumphantly, as he leaned closer still and echoed the request again. Hearing him this time the DJ grinned and nodded, even went so far to give him a thumbs up before the young man went rushing back to his group of friends looking as though he'd just won an award.
This should be interesting. The whole group of friends were in the same ridiculous outfit, and Bernard half expected them to dance as a team. When did they start dancing in packs? He contemplated another drink. Yes, yes, this was a bad idea, oh yes.
It wasn't long until the requested song began to play and the recognizable intro made it all but impossible to mistaken this song for anything else. The Pet Shop Boy's Go West's melody and Russian-sounding vocals filled the bar, causing the group of young men to enthusiastically cheer.
Oh god, they aren't even going to dance to it? Bernard thought, but too soon. The whole pack joined the dance floor, abandoning drinks. He held tightly onto his cup and tried not to watch. Knees... He firmly informed himself that knees (and thighs) were NOT his kink. Got to get out there eventually, can't sit here in this coat all night nursing an empty cup of ice and looking like a depressed paedophile.
He happened to side glance towards the DJ for the umpteenth time since he arrived here, and was startled to see that the man appeared to be looking at him. No. He fought a remarkably difficult battle to not look again, and eventually gave in, staring the DJ bravely straight in the face.
And then he received a smile. That dazzlingly bright smile, and he saw the man's eyebrows raise behind those black sunglasses he wore. It was like a bolt of lightning straight through him, a laser beam. Argh. I've got to find a club where everyone doesn't KNOW me. But he'd never even spoken to the DJ, so how could he know him? Oh God. Had he been watching Bernard? For how long? Why? Too many questions.
This was not making him feel any braver about going out on that extremely exposed dance floor. WHY did I not wear something a little less eye catching?
The song continued and the DJ returned to his job, bobbing his head now and then as he worked the controls in front of him, like the professional he was. It wasn't long that The Pet Shop Boys were replaced by a ticking clock and the highly recognizable voice of Gwen Stefani.
What you waiting, what you waiting, what you waiting for? He definitely was looking at me.
He definitely was looking at me.Yep. Bernard felt put upon. With one last horrible blast of butterflies in the stomach, he dropped the glass on the bench, checked his coat, and marched straight up towards the dance floor.
For some reason everyone picked up on his mood, and the crowd parted and the coat flapped out behind me as he practically took a running jump onto the stage, leaving the coat behind.
Well, they seem to like the sequins. This wasn't the right night for him to be doing acrobatics in something this shiny. It was the wrong crowd. And as the music picked him up, he suddenly just didn't care. He was where he was meant to be.
The centre of attention.
The music suddenly sounded a lot louder, and the lights felt brighter. Lucky for Bernard this song was easy to dance to, if you knew what you were doing. And he knew what he was doing.
The night passed by in a whirl of sequins. Eventually it seemed like it had been a good idea, the best idea he had ever had, to come here dressed like a psychedelic Dr Who, bow tie and all, and dance the night away. Song after song. He danced alone, he danced with other people, and he even danced with the ridiculous kid in the short shorts.
Time slowed to a universal now. He danced the night away.
Eventually, towards the end of a very energetic night, he was sitting rocking on a barstool in the far corner of the bar. The music had deteriorated. Finish his drink, and he'd go home.
It was then somebody pulled one of the chairs besides Bernard out, as if they were about to sit down at the end of the bar that he had claimed as his own. Bernard turned his head to glare at whoever it was who was trying to join him but found the expression flee his face when he saw the DJ standing there besides him, still holding the stool in his hand.
"S'all right if I sit?" he asked, the first words this man had ever said to him in his life.
Bernard did his best not to choke on his drink. Or his tongue. Help. "Y-you can sit where you please." Okay, that sounded a bit awkward. He stared at his companion, trying not to feel like a deer in headlights. He rocked even further backward on the chair.
The DJ grinned and nodded. "Thanks." he sat down and sighed heavily as he reached up and pulled the sunglasses off of his eyes. "Crazy night, huh?" he asked.
"It... was exactly what I needed." Bernard admitted.
"Oh yeah?" he asked, turning those brilliant blue eyes to look at him. "Well, good. Everyone needs a little crazy in their life now and then." the DJ shifted in his chair and held his right hand out suddenly. "Name's Wayne."
"Bernard." Waynes grip was very firm, concrete firm. Steel. But his hand was warm, friendly. Bernard rocked his chair back to stand on all of its legs for fear of loosing his balance, and his heart gave a horrid large thump as their hands parted again. He was suddenly extremely aware that he was talking to someone in a gay club.
Wayne looked to the bar man. "Hey Alex, usual please?" he asked.
"Coming right up."
He turned his attention back to Bernard and he quickly eyed this choice of clothing for the night before looking back at to his face. "Certainly know your way around the dance floor don't you?" Wayne asked as he leaned forward on the bar and folded his muscular arms on the somewhat sticky surface.
"A lot of practice. Plus... the competition was... practically nonexistent." Oh god I sound like a librarian.
"Competition hm?" Wayne asked as Alex brought him a tall glass of something fizzy looking. He lifted it to his mouth, flexing those muscles of his again, and raised an eyebrow. "Is it always a contest?" he asked before taking a drink.
"I certainly couldn't call it that tonight." Bernard buried his face helplessly in his drink.
Setting his glass down Wayne shrugged. "Well, most guys here just come here for a good time. And a chance to check out one another."
"I tend to come for the music. And there's the drinks."
"The music here rocks. I should know." Wayne smiled proudly before scratching at his beard, shutting his eyes as he did.
"It's definitely improved. I was worried that... in the time while I was away..."
"I'd leave?" he asked, voice suddenly low.
"It crossed my mind." About a thousand times. "So it was good to see you here."
"To be honest I just got back from some time away, too. This is only my second night back." Wayne admitted as he lifted his drink again. "Had to take some time away for... myself." the expression on his face made it quite obvious there was quite probably more to it then just that.
"Mine was a more... involuntary absence. But it's good to be back." Through a fog of he's talking to me he's talking to me oh god he's talking to me Bernard realised desperately that he was running out of drink to be nonchalant with.
"It really is, isn't it?" Wayne smiled as he set his drink down and nudged the empty glass away. "Feels good to be on familiar ground. A place you can be yourself."
"You have no idea." aaaand the cup is empty. I really really should NOT get another. Nope. "Can... Could I buy you a drink?"
Wayne looked mildly surprised.
"As payment for some very good music," he tried to explain.
The DJ hummed a noise of amusement through his nose and nodded. "Sure you can."
"Great." Bernard gestured frantically at an extremely amused Alex. In no time at all, both of them had another full glass.
Wayne lifted his and held it up towards Bernard, and the two joined their glasses briefly to make a pleasant little noise. "To the return to friendly ground." Wayne said.
"May we never leave it." Okay. One glass for me to come up with some reason for us to leave this friendly ground TOGETHER. I can do this I can do this...
"Amen to that." Wayne whispered before taking a sip of his drink as the radio continued to play music from its speakers. It was tuned to some sort of commentator-free radio station so any old song would drift on and off, hardly keeping up with any kind of mood that could happen here in the bar this late at night. Or, early in the morning, if you wanted to get technical. Right now it was playing something by Aqua. Some bubble-gum catchy thing...
I can't do this I can't do this... Bernard gazed into those blue eyes and completely lost track of his previous motives.
"It's funny how you can come to take things for granted." Wayne suddenly said as he nursed the glass in his strong, warm hands. "Sitting around and talking with someone... I mean. When was the last time I did that? I can't even remember."
"Same. I don't tend to... get close enough to people..." His mind passed quickly over a bad stretch six months ago and he winced. "Well, when I do, it doesn't turn out too well."
"No?" Wayne asked, side glancing at Bernard out of the corner of his eye.
"Bad relationship. Sort of... still recovering."
"Me too," sighed Wayne. "S'why I was away for a while." he took a sip of his drink again before setting it back down again carefully over where it had been standing before. "I been with this guy for a long time but I finally realized how bad he was for me. So... I ended it. But I'm better for it. I know I'm better for it."
Oh god don't let me be a rebound. Not again. "I know exactly what you mean."
Wayne smiled at him faintly. "I didn't even realize how much of my life he was running until I was free of him. Do you know what I did, my first day free of him?" he suddenly leaned in close and lowered his tone to a secretive whisper. "Absolutely nothing and it felt amazing."
His breath smelt of orange tic-tacs.
Bernard tried to summon up the courage to say I'd love to do nothing with you, that sounds fantastic. And all he came up with was "Liberating." His voice did NOT wobble. "Freedom really is only appreciated when it's denied."
"Exactly." Wayne whispered before pulling away from him to sit up straight on his bar stool. "That's why I started growing my hair and beard out. Felt like a total change. A chance to find myself, you know? And let me tell you, it is great. Though..." he trailed into silence and frowned slightly.
"Can I say something?" he asked.
"You are." Bernard stopped. Stopstopstop. Have to try not to be snarky. "I mean. Yes. Please. Do. Say... Anything. I'm listening?"
Wayne laughed, and shook his head in amusement. "Right. Sorry. Well. I was glad to see you tonight."
Yes. It was like having all the breath knocked out of him.
"Last week when I started up here again and didn't see you, I thought you'd just... I don't know. Stopped coming?" Wayne asked with an awkward smile. "I mean you're a regular, and I've always seen you here before so... coming back and you not being here at all was. Well. A shock, I guess you could say."
"I almost didn't." Bernard desperately tried to come up with something which didn't make him sound like some crazy DJ stalker. "I couldn't find anything saying who was here tonight, I thought you had most definitely moved on... There was some crazy name on the website..." Babbling you're babbling stop, stop! "It was a great relief to see you here, as well."
He had seen Wayne smile a lot tonight from behind the secured section in which he worked, even just now while speaking to him he had seen the man smile in many kinds of ways yet none of them truly compared to the one that was on the man's face now. Wayne was watching him carefully, and smiling in a way that nobody had ever truly done before and if they had, Bernard hadn't noticed.
"Well then... I'm glad you took a chance and came in tonight."
"So am I." He's glad to see me glad to see me he is he is. The night of dancing seemed to slip away, Bernard wanted to dance a jig right there. On the tabletop. He felt like a million dollars and shinier than his suit.
Wayne chuckled and dipped his head forward, looking a mix between relief and embarrassment. "Sorry if that sounded corny or something. Speaking my mind is a new thing I'm trying out, too." he admitted before looking at Bernard out of the corner of his eye, half hidden by his shaggy hair that had fallen loose during the night and was no longer in a neat small pony tail.
If I get to touch his hair I'll die a happy man. "It's not corny. Corny would be you asking me to dance or something." Oh no did I just say that?
"Would it now?" Wayne asked, stroking his bearded chin with a contemplative look on his face.
"I... I mean... I've been dancing all night... and and... and no one could dance to this..."
Wayne turned in his chair and looked at the radio before standing up and reached over the bar effortlessly and plucked the radio into his hands and began messing with the station. "There's a way to remedy that."
Argh! "I... I... I'm not sure... Not, not that I don't appreciate... I mean..."
He turned his head and looked at him as the radio finally settled on a decent station a song Bernard hadn't heard in many years was being introduced. Louis Armstrong's 'La Vie en Rose came on with that familiar piano and trumpet. Wayne settled the radio back down on the tabletop before turning to face Bernard entirely.
"I've wanted to ask you this for a while now, and since this past month has been about me finding my own voice amongst everyone else's I'm going to use it. So." he paused, as if he was seemingly preparing himself for something huge. "Will you dance with me?"
Bernard smirked. "We have decided to go with Corny." He jumped down off the bar stool. "Of course, the dance floor is empty. Let's help ourselves."
"Fantastic." Wayne smiled as he offered Bernard his hand.