“Hey,” Olli called over his shoulder as he dumped his bag and keys on the dining room table.
“Hey, yourself,” Christian managed to mumble happily through a mouthful of potato chips. He had been engrossed in a boxing match on the television, but when Olli walked over behind the couch and put his hands on Christian’s shoulders, Christian automatically tilted his head back to receive an upside-down kiss.
“Blrrg,” Olli straightened up, scrunching up his nose. “You taste like barbeque.”
Christian just gave Olli an obnoxious grin and sucked the flavored powder off the tips of his fingers noisily. “Mmmm.”
“Gross,” Olli said, shaking his head as he walked towards the kitchen. “You wouldn’t happen to want a REAL meal, would you?”
“I love real meals.” Christian said absent-mindedly, his eyes back on the action on the television screen. “What are you making?”
Olli stopped pulling pans out from the cupboards. “Steak.”
Christian’s eyes lit up. “Woohoo!”
“But,” Olli continued, leaning on the counter, “I want you to go out with me tonight.”
“Where?” Christian asked hesitantly, realizing there was a catch.
“I want to go dancing.” Olli grinned devilishly.
Christian looked skeptical. “I’m not really big on dancing.”
“Yeah, I noticed,” Olli laughed. “Come on, it’ll be fun.” Christian made a face. “You used to go with Coco,” Olli whined.
“Yeah but that’s because she was a girl,” Christian said.
“What??” Olli looked as if he had just been slapped.
“Uh...” Christian paused and his face turned red. “Sorry. I don’t even…That was stupid of me to say.” Olli crossed his arms and nodded. Christian shrugged confusedly and tried to smooth things over. “Can’t we go dancing here in Düsseldorf?”
Olli smiled, realizing he had a foothold. “There’s a club I read about in a magazine, it sounded really cool and it had some awesome reviews – it’s got like two levels and a great DJ and go-go dancers and really stiff drinks.”
“Is it a gay bar?” Christian asked.
“Yeeesss.” Olli said slowly. “Is that okay?”
Christian thought for a moment. “I guess it’s just as well.”
“Why’s that?” Olli asked.
“Less chance of someone I know seeing me dance.”
Olli snickered. “You’re not THAT bad.”
“But I’m not that good either.” Christian looked dubiously over his shoulder at Olli, “Admit it.”
Olli just grinned. “I still don’t understand it actually.”
“What?” Christian asked curiously, looking up from his delicate work of extracting the last bits of potato chip from the bottom of the bag.
“How you can be such a good boxer and such a mediocre dancer.”
Christian gave Olli a sardonic glare.
“I mean, boxing is basically a violent dance – there are moves, there’s rhythm, there’s a partner…”
Christian turned back to study the men fighting on the television, and Olli came over and stood next to the couch to watch as well.
“Look at them…,” Olli said matter-of-factly. “ONE two three four ONE two three four…” Olli counted aloud the rhythm of the jabs and quick dodging of the men as they shifted nimbly from foot to foot.
“Huh,” Christian frowned thoughtfully. “I never really thought about it that way before.”
“We can work on it tonight at the club,” Olli grinned over his shoulder as he moved back to the kitchen. “Just don't punch me in the face accidentally.”
Christian grinned at the thought of it. “Sorry in advance!” he teased.
The taxi pulled up in front of a big old warehouse building off of a small side street a little before midnight. There were people, mostly men, milling around outside, moving in and out of the shadows, smoking cigarettes, laughing loudly in groups. Christian saw a large lit sign going up the side of the building. “Babylon,” he read.
“Babylon,” Olli repeated affirmatively. “Alright, let’s go.” He nudged Christian out of the cab and paid the driver. Olli started to walk towards the dimly-lit doorway, but Christian hung back. Olli turned around.
”Are you okay?” he asked.
Christian cleared his throat nervously. The dull thudding beat of the music coming from inside the club pulsed in the pit of his stomach. “I’ve never been to a gay bar before.”
“Don’t be nervous or anything,” Olli smiled reassuringly. “It’s not any scarier than a regular dance club. But people dress better,” he grinned. He saw Christian staring, with a mildly awestruck expression, over his shoulder towards the door. “…What?” Olli spun around and saw that Christian was staring a drag queen in 6 inch heels, a tiny mini-dress, loads of sparkly make-up and a huge wig. “Ohhh,” Olli said. He turned back towards Christian and patted him sympathetically on the shoulder. ”I keep forgetting that you’re new to all this ‘gay’ stuff.” Olli laughed. “In bed you’re such a pro!”
Christian smirked and punched Olli softly on the shoulder, his eyes following the drag queen again.
“Don’t stare!” Olli whispered good-naturedly. Christian blushed and immediately looked elsewhere. “Just play it cool, don’t be shy, I’ll be right here with you to answer any questions you might have,” Olli teased. Christian rolled his eyes.
Olli grabbed Christian’s hand and tugged him towards the door.
They sat at the bar – Olli hoped that putting a couple drinks into Christian would help loosen him up. It seemed to be working, Christian was bobbing his head to the music and tapping his feet on the bar rail. Olli scanned the room – the bar was packed, and it definitely lived up to its reviews. There were giant video screens, spinning colored lights, confetti and glitter fell from the ceiling with gusto, men gathered on catwalks above the dance floor to sip drinks, go-go boys danced on raised platforms in not much more than jockstraps, and hordes of men danced, shirtless and sweating and sparkling like schools of fish. Olli had almost died laughing when he saw how wide Christian’s eyes got upon viewing all the nearly naked men. He was rather enjoying Christian’s naivety, but he hoped Christian was enjoying himself as well.
“I have to admit, this is a pretty cool club,” Christian yelled in Olli’s ear over the din. “We don’t have anything like this in Düsseldorf, do we?”
“Not that I know of!” Olli yelled back, grinning. Olli assessed Christian’s ‘situation’. He seemed drunk enough. “Can we dance now?” he pleaded.
Christian looked skeptically at the packed dance floor, but steeled his courage.
“One more drink,” he said finally. Olli laughed and ordered two more.
Later, on the dance floor, Christian was definitely holding his own. He had started off a little shaky – Olli could tell he felt self-conscious – but Olli had managed to distract Christian by rubbing up against his crotch as they danced. He could also see Christian observing the men dancing near them, taking tips from their dancing styles and he looked drop dead gorgeous doing it. Olli had noticed that a lot of men in the room were eyeing Christian, although he didn’t notice, and Olli had the sudden urge to throw his arms around Christian’s shoulders, kiss him, and stake his claim on this beautiful man for everyone to see. Christian kissed him back, pressing his warm body up against Olli’s, and laughed blithely at his sudden eagerness. Olli grinned and brushed confetti from Christian’s hair, glad that his boyfriend was finally relaxing and getting into the groove. He turned his back towards Christian and resumed grinding on him, which Christian seemed to quite enjoy. Olli scanned the crowd casually as he danced, enjoying the people watching, until he somehow made eye contact with a man who was moving towards him from across the room. The man was tall and lean and quite good-looking, dressed in all black with full lips and a chiseled jaw and brown hair falling into his eyes. His eyes were dark and moody, and heavy-lidded, as if he couldn’t be bothered to open them all the way. He sauntered easily across the room with an air of arrogance and boredom, and he had obviously earned it – heads turned and eyes trailed his movement across the floor. Olli raised his eyebrows in surprise when the man stopped in front of him. Christian snapped out of his drunken reverie at the approach of the stranger, and stopped dancing, tightening his grip on Olli’s waist. The stranger smirked and acknowledged Christian with a nod. Christian nodded back hesitantly, wondering what was going on. Were they in trouble? Were they being asked to leave? The man leaned in and spoke closely into Olli’s ear. Olli glanced back at Christian for a moment before leaning in and answering. The man spoke into Olli’s ear again, and Olli shook his head. The man shrugged, turned, and walked back through the crowd.
“What was that all about?” Christian yelled into Olli’s ear, pulling him off of the dance floor and towards a slightly quieter area of the bar. Olli laughed as he sat down on a stool. “He propositioned us.”
“What?” Christian’s mouth dropped open.
“He wanted to know if we wanted to go home with him.”
“Both of us?” Christian looked in the general direction of the stranger with a mixture of awe and disgust.
“With him and his boyfriend,” Olli relayed. Christian still looked completely shell shocked. “Relax, babe,” Olli laughed, clapping his hand onto Christian’s shoulder, “I said no.” He paused. “Unless you’d rather I said yes?” Olli teased.
“No!” Christian shouted.
“Don’t be so surprised,” Olli said grimly. “This sort of thing happens all the time. In case you haven’t noticed, there are more than a few guys who have been sizing you up all night.”
“Really?” Christian scanned the dance floor with disbelief, hoping to catch someone staring. “Who?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know!” Olli laughed. Christian looked sullen, but Olli just smiled cheekily at him. The bartender approached, Olli ordered a fresh round of drinks, and they resigned themselves to a pair of barstools.
A blonde boy sidled up to the bar next to Olli and waved down the bartender. “Pete, can I get the usual please?” The bartender nodded and walked away, the boy turned and leaned against the bar. He caught site of Olli and Christian, who were exchanging glances at the kid’s drink order.
“I’m not really a lush or anything,” the blonde said, as if reading their minds. “My boyfriend owns this bar, so I hang out here a lot. That’s all,” he explained.
“Oh,” Christian and Olli nodded, solemnly, a little embarrassed at being called out, “Sorry.”
“It’s cool, I’d think the same thing,” he smiled. He extended his hand. “I’m Justin.”
“Oliver,” Olli said, and shook it.
Olli looked this kid over. He was young, probably around 20, baby-faced, with a slight build, an upturned nose, and a perpetual pout. He reminded Olli of an elf or a sprite, or some similarly angelic creature. His hair and skin were so porcelain pale that they caught and reflected the orange and blue and red of the spinning lights above. Justin received his drink and leaned against the bar, sipping it slowly. Olli sensed that he should say something.
“So, this place is awesome, tell your boyfriend we really like it.” This was apparently exactly the opening that Justin had been waiting for. He grinned and stirred his drink.
“You should have told him yourself. I believe you’ve already met.”
“Huh?” Olli asked, his mind searching for an explanation.
“He talked to you on the dance floor.” Justin eyed Olli and Christian meaningfully over the rim of his glass as he sucked on his straw.
“You mean the guy who...” Christian started to speak, but then looked at Justin, connecting the dots. “So you’d be…oh.” Christian’s eyes grew wide.
Justin laughed loudly.
“I told him you guys wouldn’t go for it,” Justin said cheerfully. “But he wouldn’t listen. He thought you were a hot couple. Plus, you’re new.”
“What?” Christian asked.
“You’re new,” Justin repeated. “To the club. We’ve never seen you here before,” he continued. “Are you from around here?”
“No,” Christian shook his head. “We’re from Düsseldorf.”
“Ahhh.” Justin nodded. “That explains it.”
“How did you know we’d say no?” Olli spoke up.
Justin shrugged, but answered, “Because we were watching people from up there,” he pointed to the catwalk above the dance floor, “and you guys didn’t look at anyone besides each other all night. Usually, the guys who are up for it are the ones who are checking everyone else out.” Olli and Christian looked at each other and smiled. Olli put his hand on Christian’s thigh secretively in the shadow of the bar, and Christian smiled again, shyly this time, his dimples showing. He covered Olli’s hand with his own. Justin silently observed this, and smiled.
“How long have you guys been together?” he asked.
Olli looked at Christian questioningly. “Six months, I guess?” Christian shrugged, but nodded in agreement. Justin tilted his head to the side as if he was figuring out a sum, then he nodded.
“That’s pretty good!” he said. “I would have guessed a lot less. But if you’re still this into each other after six months, that’s a good sign.”
“What about you and…”
“Brian,” Justin finished. “Four years so far. On and off.”
”Damnnn,” Christian said. “But, you…sleep…around,” he said hesitantly.
“Yeah, I guess,” Justin laughed. “We have rules. Brian’s not really a ‘relationship’ type of guy. He’s not even a ‘friendship’ type of guy, actually. He’s an enigma, really. The fact that we’ve been together this long, or at all, is kind of a fluke.”
“How old are you, anyway?” Olli asked.
“21,” Justin snickered, sensing the next question. “I was 17 when I met Brian, and he was 29.”
“Man,” Christian exclaimed, eyes wide again, looking at Olli, “And I thought we had a big age difference!”
“Guess not,” Olli teased.
“Bar’s closing guys, anything else?” Pete the bartender had come over and was addressing them suddenly.
“Is it 2 o’clock already?” Justin asked in disbelief, glancing at his wrist. Finding no watch there, he looked at the clock behind the bar.
“Yup,” Pete said. Olli couldn’t believe it either. He flipped open his phone to confirm that, yes, it was in fact a few minutes to two.
“You guys want another drink? My treat,” Justin offered.
Christian and Olli exchanged glances. “I’m good, I think,” Olli said.
“Me too,” Christian echoed.
“Okay. We’re cool, Pete, thanks.” Pete nodded and hurried off. “Hey, are you guys hungry?” Justin asked. “There’s this diner down the street that’s pretty good when you’re drunk. I used to work there, so I know most of the people.” He took the last sip from his glass and wiped his hands on his jeans. Christian and Olli exchanged glances again and Christian nodded slightly, dimples on display.
“Yeah, sure,” Olli said brightly.
“Awesome!” Justin replied, clapping his hands together. “Let’s do this!”
“Is your boyfriend coming?” Christian asked.
“Nah, he’s probably in the backroom getting a blowjob as we speak.”
Christian sort of choked. Olli let out a loud laugh at Justin’s forthright reply, and then clapped his hand over his mouth. “Sorry,” Olli mused, “it’s been a long time since I’ve been to a bar with a backroom.”
Christian looked at Olli questioningly, but Olli didn’t notice.