The thud from the bass makes the bar shake. Caspian takes his drink in his hand again and takes a swig of it, feeling the alcohol burn the back of his throat for a moment before swallowing. The aftertaste is bitter and a little bit hollow, 'kinda like life,' he thinks, wincing. He's gotten used to the burning and the buzz, likes how it makes him loosen up and forget his worries, even for a little bit. He takes what he can get.
One of the bartenders walks over to him, glass and towel in his hands. His short ginger hair glows faintly in the backlight, and his t-shirt stretches over a muscular chest. Caspian looks at his drink as the bartender puts the glass away and comes to stand in front of him.
"You alright there, mate? Need another one?" he asks. He has a faint Scottish vibe to his accent, something Caspian has always found attractive. He looks up, and finds himself staring into washed out green eyes, so bright they look like the waters in Madagascar beaches.
"No," he says, shaking his head. "I probably shouldn't."
"Come on," the bartender jokes, reaching for a bottle of scotch, "the night is young."
Caspian glances at his watch and realises that indeed, it's too early to go home. There's no one waiting for him; just a heap of unopened mail and an empty bed that hasn't been made in days. If anything, he dreads going back. "Sure," he tells the bartender with a sigh, holding his glass out toward him. "Fill 'er up."
The bartender does so, giving Caspian a wink as he pours in three fingers of scotch. "What's your name?" he asks. "I'm Danny."
"Caspian." He raises his glass in a mock toast, which Danny reciprocates with a playful nod.
"That's a nice name."
Caspian can barely hold back an eyeroll. "Thanks," he says, and downs half his drink in one big gulp.
"Trouble at home?" Danny asks, crossing his arms.
"Something like that."
"This won't make it go away," Danny says, gesturing to his drink.
Caspian scowls. "Well, it helps for now."
Danny shakes his head and takes a couple steps closer, as far as the limited space behind the bar allows, and leans on the bar in front of Caspian. "I know what can make it go away."
"What's that?" Caspian says, looking up to meet Danny's eyes. There's no mistaking the mischievous, almost lecherous once-over Danny gives him, complete with a sexy lip-bite that gets Caspian all worked up. He lets out a chuckle, and downs the rest of his drink. "Maybe later," he says as he puts the glass down. "For now, just get me another one."
Danny obliges him, full-on smiling now. "I finish in a couple of hours."
"Like you said, the night is young."
Two drinks later, Danny has disappeared somewhere around the back to fetch more drinks. His replacement doesn't talk much, so Caspian has taken to thinking, playing with his glass atop the bar surface. He is a million miles away, contemplating bonds and shares and how the hell he can survive the oncoming family slaughter, when someone squeezes in between him and the guy who sits next to him, trying to get the bartender's attention. "Excuse me," he hears a boy's voice say, "can I have a Corona, please?"
Caspian glances over to his left. The boy is short and lanky, with thick short black hair, a tight white t-shirt, jeans. He is thin, still growing. Eighteen, nineteen maybe. Caspian catches himself leaning towards the boy, his eyes following a downward trail along his back, where the t-shirt ends and the jeans begin, and where the jeans cover a rather shapely backside and slender thighs. Caspian can see those thighs wrapped around him, thin boyish arms stretched on his bed and thick black hair bunched up in his fist, and he can almost hear the soft grunting and sighing amidst the booming music and clinking of glasses.
'That's it, I'm going to Hell,' Caspian thinks, suddenly feeling very old. He looks away from the boy's bum and focuses on the array of bottles lined on the back wall of the bar, arranged by colour and kind. Tequilas, rums, vodkas... He deliberately thinks about fucking Danny later, who's closer to his age, and therefore more appropriate to shag on a lonely Thursday night--
He looks left again; the boy has turned towards him now and is staring at his face incredulously. "It's you!" he says in recognition.
Caspian doesn't know what to say. He blushes as he tries to recognise the boy, but there's no one in his circle so young, so boyish, so criminally beautiful. His face does look familiar though, and Caspian tries to place him as he turns around on his stool to get a better look. "Uh..."
"Edmund!" says the boy. "Pevensie!"
Caspian remembers. Pevensie. Peter's brother. Of course.
"I haven't seen you in years, how have you been?" Edmund asks, reaching out to bump Caspian's shoulder in a gesture of camaraderie that they never really shared.
"Edmund, right. Wow, you've grown." Caspian tries to contain his embarrassment, looking away, clearing his throat. "I've been alright. You know... working."
"Still at your uncle's company?"
He seems to remember a lot about Caspian, and that unnerves him. "Yes," Caspian says. "Not much has changed." Except everything has changed, but he doesn't tell Edmund that.
"That's cool." Edmund casts a backward glance at the crowd, spotting someone, nodding in response to some gesture lost in the noise. He looks at Caspian again.
"I'm at uni now," he says. "Those are my uni friends over there." He points toward the back. Caspian turns around; three boys around Edmund's age, all slim and pretty with drinks in their hands, staring right at him from across the crowded room. Just what he needs, a bunch of kids up in his business at the end of a very stressful day.
"Which uni?" he asks, turning forward pointedly.
"Kingston," Edmund replies. "English and Drama."
Caspian finds it amusing that the brother of Peter Pevensie, doctor extraordinaire, has ended up in the arts. He wonders what Peter had to say about that.
"Interesting. Good luck with it," he says, playing nice.
"Thanks," says Edmund with a coy smile, fidgeting with his hands awkwardly. Caspian feels a swelling in his trousers, and has to look away again.
Danny emerges from the back with beers stacked neatly between his fingers. He leaves one in front of Edmund, putting the rest in the fridge underneath the lined up bottles. Edmund holds out a fiver and Danny takes it from his hands with a playful "cheers". Edmund smiles at him, eyeing him up and down with a wink before turning his attention back to Caspian, who snaps his mouth shut and averts his eyes. The image of the dark-haired boy underneath him returns to his mind, only now he has Edmund's face.
'Hell, definitely,' he reminds himself. He can't believe how much Edmund's grown—and how boldly he just flirted with Danny. So unlike his brother, again.
The comparison is inevitable, but it still hurts to make it. It hurts to even remember Peter right now, with everything else that is happening. Caspian gestures for another drink; Danny acknowledges him, and walks over to him, grabbing the scotch bottle on his way.
"Have you lost count yet, Caspian?" he says, unstopping the bottle and pouring the drink in Caspian's glass. He looks up at him intently as he does this, and Caspian is thankful for that for more reasons than one.
"Not yet, but hopefully soon," he replies with a wink. "Thanks, Danny." He takes care to graze Danny's fingers with his own as he takes the glass in his hand, drawing out the contact and feeling the electricity between them as their hands touch for a moment. He hopes Edmund noticed. Danny licks his lips, and when he's called away further down the bar, he looks at Caspian long and hard before walking away.
When Caspian's gaze returns to Edmund, he finds the boy looking embarrassed, lost for words. Caspian's made his point; though at what cost, he cannot say.
"Listen," Edmund says, playing with his beer bottle between his fingers. "I should probably get back to my friends, but we should catch up sometime."
Classic blow-off line. Caspian-Edmund, 1-0.
"We should, definitely," Caspian blurts out without thinking. He curses himself for saying that, but he can't take it back now.
Edmund takes his phone out of his pocket, unlocks it and passes it to Caspian. "Here, gimme your number."
Caspian does. Why, he can't say. He types it in and hands it over, and Edmund saves it in his contacts and pockets the phone again. "Thanks," he says, and his expression is inscrutable, like he's trying to figure something out. "I'll drop you a text or something when I have signal." He steps away from the bar. "It was really nice seeing you. Take care."
"You too," Caspian says. 'And say hi to your brother,' he wants to say, but doesn't.
Edmund walks back to his friends, who welcome him back with hoots of laughter. Caspian sits up in his stool, and returns to his drink. His thoughts are no longer of company affidavits and loan payments, but of one Pevensie he once did have in his bed, a long time ago. Something hitches in his throat, and he takes a quick gulp of scotch to loosen the knot, distract the stinging of his eyes with the stinging inside his mouth. It's not long before he finds his glass is empty, and he feels like smashing it down and swallowing the pieces.
Danny walks over to him as he's dangling the glass between thumb and forefinger, letting a corner of it touch the bar before picking it up again. "Let me take that. Something tells me it's time for something livelier," Danny says as he snatches the glass from Caspian's hand; Caspian can't help but stare at the effortlessly graceful way Danny's feet move, feeling envious of the carefree hip swing and the glint in Danny's eyes. He is left alone for a moment, his fingers buzzing with the vibration of the music on the bar's slick surface. He starts to tap a rhythm, but before he can settle into it two shot glasses are placed in front of him, and he is forced to look up.
Caspian lets out a hearty laugh at the sight of the tequila bottle in Danny's hands. "Really?" he asks, taking one of the glasses and dragging it towards him. "Shots?"
"What better way to get a party going?" Danny says, pouring the tequila with skill. There is a moment during which the music seems to slow down, and Danny is staring into Caspian's eyes, green and brown meshing together like the view from a train that passes through a forest. "Forget about the boy," Danny says, "and drink with me."
Caspian breaks eye contact, his fingers prickling with self-consciousness as he feels Danny's hand creep towards his on the bar surface. "It's not the boy that's upset me."
"Bollocks," Danny says, and his hand stops moving.
Caspian looks back at him. "It really isn't."
"Well, whatever it is, forget it. Tonight is your night."
Caspian breaks out a smile. "That it is," he says, and takes the glass in his hand. "To memories," he toasts, and Danny's eyebrows furrow momentarily.
"To forgetting," Danny says, and they down the shot in one go, slamming it hard back on the bar.
Half a bottle later, Caspian has forgotten about everything. He can't remember the last time he laughed so hard, or even enjoyed himself in someone else's company; someone who doesn't know who he is or how much money he makes. He can't remember who he spoke to tonight, and he can't remember the Pevensies, the doctor or the actor.
Danny caps the bottle and scoops the glasses up with his fingertips. "Alright, my shift is over," he says. "I'll go get my coat and meet you outside."
Caspian nods, his tongue feeling a little numb. He leaves a fifty quid note on the bar, which Danny's colleague picks up as Caspian slides—no, slips—off his stool. He drags his feet all the way to the door, rubbing his tired eyes that can't seem to stay open.
The air outside is frozen, crisp, smelling of car fumes and spilled beer on the pavement. Caspian realises how drunk he is when he walks right into someone, barely noticing the small swarm hanging out by the door, cigarettes between fingers. He finds his way to a space where no one seems to loiter and leans his back against the brick wall, taking deep breaths with his eyes closed. He only snaps them open again when he feels a hand on his shoulder.
He's surprised to be looking at Edmund's face again. He stares at him confusedly, eyes slightly squinting. "What are you doing here?" he manages with a slur. Edmund is wearing just a leather jacket over his t-shirt, and Caspian can tell that he is freezing.
Edmund ruffles his hair and shrugs. "I wanted to see you again," he says, ending the sentence with a grin and a sigh just short of laughter. He shifts his weight from one foot to the other awkwardly, his breath coming out in little white puffs, and looks at Caspian sheepishly.
"Where are your friends?" Caspian asks.
Edmund shrugs. "They had a train to catch."
"Back to Kingston?"
Caspian sighs, and looks at his feet as he tries to find the words that will send Edmund home without hurting his feelings. "Edmund, I—"
He is cut off by a hand grazing his thigh, and when he looks up Edmund is dangerously close, close enough for Caspian to see his shoulders shivering, his lower lip trembling just a tiny bit. A harsh light down the street is hitting Edmund's back and coming straight into Caspian's eyes, blinding him. Edmund stands directly in front of him, blocking the light, his hand not leaving Caspian's thigh.
"You what?" Edmund says slowly, his open mouth quirking up in a satisfied spasm of a smile.
Caspian feels lost in the sensation of Edmund's hand rubbing up and down his leg, consciously edging closer and closer to his crotch in a slow and very methodical caress. Edmund inches his face closer, and Caspian can smell the beer on his breath, feel the warmth of his exhalation against his face. "I..." he begins, stuttering, his eyelids involuntarily fluttering closed, a small sigh taking the place of his words. Edmund makes his touch more aggressive, pushing down on Caspian's trousered leg, almost making him moan.
"I don't think it's a good idea," Caspian manages, opening his eyes and staring Edmund down. The boy doesn't back down; instead, he moves forward, and touches his mouth to Caspian's, softly sucking on the older man's lower lip. He sucks a little bit harder when he feels Caspian respond, and they both close their eyes and let the kiss take them over.
Caspian's head is buzzing, his ears are ringing, and this feels so good. His mind mixes the images together: whiskey, tequila, Danny, Edmund, the music spilling from inside the bar. He's already forgotten where he is, and whose lips he's ravaging, and all he can think is 'yes, this is what I need, give it to me'.
Edmund is the one who pulls away, and when they look at each other there's a smile on both their faces, an odd mix of satisfaction and tomfoolery.
"Do you want to get out of here?" Edmund asks with an excited jolt, his big blue eyes like a galaxy opening up to Caspian.
"... Sure," Caspian hears himself say after a moment. "Let's go."
As they walk down the alley toward the main road, he wraps an arm around Edmund's shoulders and whispers something about taking him home. Edmund laughs, coiling his arm around Caspian's waist and pulling him closer. They don't notice at all when Danny comes out the door looking for Caspian in the crowd, or when he goes back inside, dejected but unsurprised.