James had settled in well to Uni over the last three terms, and in typical insane school leaver fashion found himself sitting on National Rail with his mates on the trek down to London. Exams finished the day before, turning them loose on the last day of Summer Term with vague ideas of storming London and partying in clubs that would never be found up North. James' vote for a much closer Manchester was laughed at; far too practical and simple for the wide eyed conservatory students who thought they owned the world.
James had been to London a few times, once to check out a Uni and once as a child to visit someone's great Aunt twice removed as she lay dying in hospital. This was the first time going as an adult without having Mum over his shoulder making sure he behaved.
Keith had been the one who started it, the brass players always mucking about and causing shit, dragging the rest of the orchestra along with them. He was always bragging about being from London (Muswell Hill when you actually got a proper answer from him, far from the glitz of Central London) and how hip and cool everything was there. Not like Lancaster, where the most exciting thing to happen was some drunk falling into Lake Carter.
Like nobs they were all dressed in their grey and red except for James who stuck to a more blendable basic brown wardrobe. No sense in standing out in the middle of London, was there? He also clung to a few of his closer mates from Pendle, more wary and cautious of the things that could happen in London than most seventeen year olds.
Wide eyed with ID firmly in his back pocket, they'd switched to the much storied Tube and found their exit, wandering around in a pack until someone decided to make an unwarranted turn, hoping to find this mysterious club that Keith had gone one about at length.
When asked where it was, Keith only scratched his head and shrugged. Not like anyone had a map on them or had bothered to call ahead and get directions. They visited a few pubs as the night waned on, grand plans to get a night bus and somehow get on a northerly line before they fell asleep, trading a night at a hotel for a night in a coach seat. James was less than impressed at the planning. They could have rented a bus on their own, and at least had a guaranteed place to sleep even if none of them were up to driving. He abhorred National Rail and the Tube hadn't been much better. He'd always loved cars and figured that shaded any argument he might have presented, opting to sit on his counterarguments for once just go with the flow.
He looked in the large windows of the next pub the boys wanted to stop in. It was loud and dark and thumping to a largely robotic disco beat that neither moved him nor entertained. The lads queued up and James hung back, already separated from the pack. He could sit on the curb for an hour while they danced and drank, but that would be an hour without beer and that wouldn't do.
Not a single one looked back to make sure he'd followed the crowd into the discotheque, and after cursing his musical snobbery and flighty choice in mates he wandered off down the road. He could have his own fun in London, have a better time then some stupid cider fueled disco crap, and take care of himself. He always ended up alone as an outsider. Uni hadn't revealed any major social upheavals or personality changes, so feeling a bit like Ringo walking down that canal, he headed somewhere in Soho for a quiet beverage. He knew his sense of direction was horrible, but as long as he stuck to this main road he figured things couldn't go to horribly wrong.
Until it did. Somehow he found himself taking a wrong turn at the Marks and Spencer and getting off the main road. He'd made one turn or two or three and got lost in the dark, unfamiliar streets. Recognizing he was lost, he stopped and looked around. All the streets looked crowded, and small, and the same and not like the dual lane high street he'd been on. He stumbled across the Charning Cross station and went to find their timetable and a map, only to get distracted by a pub inside the tube station. Well, that suited him just fine. He could sit and have a beer and head back to the Tottenham Station later after the idiots got the disco out of their systems.
He nodded to a few of the blokes hanging around the front door and gave a quick glance to the name. Heaven. Well, it was certainly going to be heaven if they had a real beer with his name on it. He might even settle for a Stella or a Boddington's after all that walking about. Just this small slice of London was much bigger than Lancaster or Bristol and it made him thirsty. There was a large dancefloor in in the center that he patently ignored and managed to squeeze himself into the nearly full bar, getting a draft for his efforts before backing away into the edges of the club.
Looking at the patrons he noticed there weren't many women, and there was a whole lot of skin and leather. He gulped at his beer as a scantily clad gent walked past him. His eyes ran the length of the man, all skin and muscle and just enough black leather to be legal. He looked around again in panic and tried to stay calm about it. He'd wandered into the wrong bar, that's all. He could finish his drink quickly and leave quietly, none of his mates being ever the wiser. He felt as out of place here as he would have at the disco. The brown corduroy trousers and sensible shoes making him stick out like a sore thumb. Plus the ruddy haircut he'd gotten looked much more Welsh than London suave but he was stuck with the fringe until it grew out.
"Mmmm, hellllo..." Someone purred next to him. James startled, lost in his own thoughts and certainly not looking at those two men out on the dancefloor doing... things. With each other.
"Hello," he said politely, unable to tear his eyes away from where one man had put his mouth.
"Like what you see?" He finally forced himself to look at the bloke next to him and away from the show on the floor. The man was shorter than him, but definitely not from any place backwater like James. He was shirtless and his light blue jeans fit him perfectly, black leather belt fit snugly around his trim waist.
"I dunno," he stuttered nervously and licked his lips. You just didn't see those sorts of things in Bristol.
The man's eyes quickly flickered to his lips, watching his tongue peek out. "Not from London, are you?" The man eyed him up quickly, taking in the less than stylish fashions.
"No, ahhh, I'm at Uni up in Lancaster." He sipped at his beer again, not sure how to make a sociable exit and run out the front door.
The man purred again. "Oh, I do love Northerners." His hand landed on James' bicep and squeezed. "Was on my way to get a drink, would you like one?"
James held up his glass, still half full of ale. The man shook his head with lips forming a 'no' after pulling a face. "Stay put, darling. I'll be right back." He twirled off into the crowd towards the bar, moving more like a dancer than, well, James could only guess he was queer. If queers could dance. James guessed they could and that's why there was disco, so he sipped his beer and turned back to the dancefloor where his jaw dropped again. Surely that was not sanitary. He flushed and tried to hide behind his hair that had been lopped off, vowing to never have his hair short again ever.
"A real drink," the man proclaimed, pushing a cold glass into his hand. James smelled the gin before he could taste it, clearly someone at the bar had a heavy pour. "What's your name?"
He could hear it better in the slight pause between songs. The man had a slight lisp, no doubt from the teeth he kept trying to hide, but also had a bit of an accent as well. "James," he said with a nod, trying to figure out both a mysterious accent, how to function with both hands full, and also how he'd gotten himself into a gay bar with a half naked man buying him drinks.
"My name is Freddie. Charmed to meet you James." Freddie tipped his drink to James' and clinked them together. He seemed to be taking a break from the blur of activity in the club, occasionally watching people who passed and enjoying the quietness of James' uncertainty. "Been here before?" He almost certainly knew the answer, but was making conversation.
"No, umm," James stumbled. "Came down with some mates and I got lost." Freddie only smirked. "Can't drink cider and abhor disco."
"Oooh, abhor, such a good word." Freddie looked at him again, studying his face. "What do you study at Uni, James?"
Dark eyes held his and waited for an answer. "Music, but I like to write too and love cars and mechanical stuff," he added to sound less poncey lest Freddie get the wrong impression. Saying he majored in harpsichord would land him solidly in the poofter category.
"Oh, now, I'm a musician too after I got my arts degree." So he was at least a few years older, James could tell that despite the poor lighting. "Bit of piano, you know."
Another man appeared out of the crowd, dressed similar to Freddie with the same moustache and haircut but with a vest on. He looked at Freddie with raised eyebrows and an incredulous expression on his face, drink sloshing as he threw his arms wide.
James stood stock still, not sure what was going on as Freddie lifted his chin and waived the man away as the tension crackled.
"D'you know him?" James asked, still useless as the ice melted in one hand and his beer warmed in the other.
Both watched as the other man melted back into the crowd, grabbing onto someone who looked like they all seemed to look. Freddie rolled his eyes exaggeratedly. "UUgh," was all he said before grabbing James by the bicep again, forcing him down the wall away from his one spot he'd been rooted to. Freddie grabbed what was left of his beer and downed it in a large swig, leaving the glass on a passing table. "I'll buy you another one," he whispered, pressed up against James' back in the crowd. "On the right up here," Freddie used his arm as a rudder, steering them to a shadowed corner.
It looked like a coat closet and James bumped his head against some metal hangers with coat tags still attached. "I thought..." Freddie paused and pursed his lips. "You looked..." He swung sideways so they both fit into the door-less alcove.
"My local back home is much quieter." He looked into his melted drink, not able to meet Freddie's gaze. "We throw darts and eat pickled onions, not..." He waived his drink nonspecifically but Freddie seemed to understand.
"You're bloody gorgeous," Freddie said breathlessly, causing James to look up and quickly away after seeing the unbridled want. "Aside from the clothes and hair, but you're absolutely fabulous and I'd love to suck you off."
James startled again, not sure he'd heard what he just heard. Freddie leaned in closer, using his drink to rub against one of James' nipples.
"If you go that way, that is, and I think you do at least a little bit."
His nipple hardened under the biting cold of the gin and tonic, wetness from the glass making the shirt cling to his chest. "I don't, I'm not..." His cock had other ideas, already hard and waiting as Freddie's other hand snaked down his stomach and cupped him through his corduroy. "Uuughhh," James moaned at the firm contact.
Freddie smiled again and casually tossed his drink aside, letting it splash against the paneling. With one hand still massaging James' cock, Freddie's other hand pulling James' belt tight before somehow undoing it, sinking to his knees as James' pulse throbbed.
"Oh bullshit! I call major bullshit!" Richard threw down part of the barmat he'd been slowly tearing to pieces.
James worked to keep his face neutral as he waited for Jeremy's verdict on the matter and see who would buy the next round. If a little bit of cockiness showed through he couldn't help it. He was finally dry from his last minute swim for the camera, warm, and full on food and beer, with a real bed waiting for him and a flight out tomorrow. The sun had gone down after a spectacular viewing and the locals left them alone, not a single one of them speaking a word of English.
"You know," Jeremy paused with a wagging finger pointed at James' chest. His eyes squinted slightly like when he was trying to figure out a puzzle and he actually seemed to be considering his next words. "He just might be telling the truth."
James just smiled to himself, waiting for Jeremy's ludicrous explanation.
"No," Richard flat out denied. "Not a chance." He held up his bottle at Jeremy, requesting a refill.
"You're right." Jeremy grabbed his beer again and leaned back in his chair. Richard's eyebrow shot up at the agreement. "It's completely improbable bordering on impossible." Richard nodded in agreement. "That's why I think he did it."
Richard blustered drunkenly and waived his hands around. James ignored him, catching the way Jeremy held the green bottle against his curled up leg, awkwardly twisted on the wooden seating. Jeremy leveled a gaze at him again and James found he couldn't hold it. "Our lives, you and me," he mimed between himself and Richard. "We work hard, achieve, occasionally get knocked back a step, but have really pushed ourselves to be where we are."
"And your point is?" James watched as the hairs on Jeremy's leg clung to the condensation on the bottle. He couldn't look Jeremy in the face, knowing that he would know, as opposed to just believing.
"Everything in your life has been an accident, hasn't it?" He finally met Jeremy's eyes at the unexpected comment, watching as something not unlike victory flared in the gray depths. "Leave school, land in an unrelated field, get fired, get a better job, get fired, land on TV, fuck around a bit, and before you know it you've got a Ferrari and an airplane."
"You sure it's not just his winning personality?" Richard laughed to himself.
"You have the best bad luck out of anyone I've met, ever, so yes, I believe you got lost, accidentally wandered into the hottest homo bar of the 80's and got blown by Freddie fucking Mercury all while having a bowl haircut and dressed in corduroy."
Richard tried to focus on both of them at the same time, Jeremy's bubbling joy at fishing another hidden truth out of James, and James' shy pride at having such a strange accomplishment. "Aye?" Richard looked between them as James started to chuckle and Jeremy's grin widened. "No... Really?" Richard smiled too, opening up to the possibility that maybe he was buying the next round.
The blush on James' face said more than any words could, and Jeremy found it charming to think that a knob job from thirty years ago could still make him blush like that. "May, sometimes..." Jeremy ended up shaking his head, not really wanting to follow the line of thought he was having.
The asthmatic donkey laugh threatened to break through and Richard shuttled off to get more of the local brew.
"I've know you what now? Ten years, and you never once thought to tell me about Freddie?" He was mostly teasing, hoping to cajole James into parting with more of his closely guarded story.
"Didn't think it was important." James tipped his empty bottle and scanned the crowd for Richard, looking back at his knees when he couldn't find him. "You know I slept on a night bus that night?"
"Didn't think..." Jeremy shook his head. "James." He chuckled again, something so utterly James still throwing them all for a loop. "Sodding Nora."
Richard returned with the beer. "And on that bombshell, who's getting the next round?"