If he were anyone else, Magnus might have missed the hand slipping into his jacket pocket, so careful and quick were its light fingers. It strikes at a timely moment, too — Magnus is three deep in bourbon and despairing of the changes that have come over the New York club scene in the last two decades. Where is the style, the chaos?
Reaching into his pocket, apparently.
He catches the interloper by the wrist but swallows what’s left in his glass before turning around. “If you’re looking for a wallet, you’ll be disappointed. And if you’re looking for anything else, then you’re very fresh.”
Awaiting him is a spindly little moppet, all long limbs and exhausted eyeliner, in lace-up leather pants and a crochet crop top. Magnus sighs, says, “Klaus.”
Klaus is cheerful, grinning. “Can’t blame a guy for trying. How about a drink instead?”
Magnus parts his lips, a thousand answers on the tip of his tongue, and settles on, “Don’t threaten me with a good time.”
Klaus foists himself onto a bar stool that someone is already sitting on, chirping, “Excusez-moi!” without bothering to look at them. Instead he looks at Magnus, chin in the cradle of his hand and elbow on the bar. He has big green eyes like a Keane painting, but without any of the innocence. His are facetious, sparkling, ready to start trouble. Magnus can’t help himself.
“I know, I know,” Klaus says. “Of all the bars in all the —”
“What’s a boy like you doing in a —”
“Bar like this.” He finishes with a bright smile. “You gonna buy me a drink?”
“I assume you didn’t start your Artful Dodger act with me.” Magnus finishes his martini and pushes it aside, picking up the skewer so he can slide the olive off with his teeth. “Buy me one.”
That earns a laugh, spiky and strange. He puts his palms together like a prayer. “Your wish is my, you know.”
“Nothing gets past you, huh?”
“Honestly, I don’t think you’re trying very hard.”
“Story of my life, babe.” Klaus rubs his hands together like he’s preparing for a major feat, shifting in his seat so he and Magnus are facing one another, parallel to the bar. Their knees knock, leather to brocade; Magnus lets his foot rest on the bottom rung of Klaus’ stool so that that their calves can casually press together. His leg between both of Klaus’, an appealing tangle. “Okay. Let’s try again. Shake hands.”
Their fingers meet, slide together. Klaus strokes the inside of Magnus’ wrist and it would be entirely effective, delightfully distracting, if Magnus were anyone except himself. Before Klaus can pull back, Magnus tightens his grip; his ring, which had been deftly plucked from his finger, is trapped between their palms. He raises an eyebrow. “I’m so sorry. I’m usually much more accommodating to people who are stealing from me.”
“You fucker!” Klaus crows, laughter in it. “You know how many times that’s worked on people? You’re something else.”
Magnus allows himself a little bow. “An accusation I’m happy to accept.”
“I can’t believe you didn’t hear about the moon!” Klaus exclaims. “Don’t you watch the news?”
“I saw Allison’s last movie. I was very impressed, and absolutely green with jealousy over the latex ensemble.”
Klaus purrs like a cat, or like a perverse cartoon’s interpretation of a cat. “Now that’s something I’d like to see.”
Magnus leans in towards the glass Klaus is holding, touching the base so he can tilt it towards his mouth and finish every drop. “The night is young. Let’s not count anything out.”
Klaus is almost irresistibly obnoxious and not at all Magnus’ type. That has always been the case. They first met under similar circumstances: a night out at a club, too many drinks, heavy looks exchanged, Klaus on the edge of the bathroom sink, their reflection growing knotty in the mirror behind them. Dopamine is a blunt impact, dizzying and sweeter than champagne.
Magnus knew then. Not exactly, of course; he’d never been a reader of comic books, and he’d had other things to deal with when all of that was going on. But from the jump there was something about Klaus that was decidedly not mundane. He was too warm to be a vampire, and there was no sign of claws on his exposed skin. He would know if Klaus was magic, but his energy — contained yet so frenetic — had Magnus looking for warlock marks anyway.
He never found any — not with his fingertips or his tongue or his teeth.
Klaus’ hands are absently busy, picking at his bracelets or fluttering over his raised veins. He sips his drink in nervy little gulps, trades the glass from one hand to another, puts it down, moves it onto the napkin and off.
“You need money,” Magnus assumes. The second time they’d slept together, he’d woken up to find his much-beloved antique silver platter missing (and Klaus along with it), probably dropped off at a pawn shop for a tenth of its value. “Do you need money? I’m very rich.”
A slight smirk pulls at the corner of Klaus’ mouth, but his dark circles say something else. “You always did look like money.”
“Well, of course.” Magnus runs his fingers over the lapel of his silk shirt, vintage Versace. “I make it hard to miss.”
Klaus follows the path Magnus had already laid out. He plucks at the buttons, feels them over and slides them loose one by one until a sharp slash of Magnus’ chest is revealed. “Much better.”
He’s asked Magnus for money before. Sometimes he gives it, sometimes he doesn’t. They both know what it’s paying for.
Klaus breezes in and out over the years. Magnus is never quite sure when he’s going to turn up and allows himself to be mildly inconvenienced every time. Klaus is a good excuse for being bad: empty glasses have stacked up on the bar beside them, bottles are whisked away once the dregs are drunk, and even Magnus’ constitution is tested. They laugh over things he can’t remember five minutes later. They lean in and in and in towards each other. “Now where on earth did you dig this up,” Magnus murmurs, poking his fingers through the crochet shirt, and Klaus insists that he made it himself during his recent stint in rehab. He’s taken the cuff from Magnus’ ear and put it on his own, an even more brazen act of theft.
“Huh?” Klaus’ attention pulls suddenly to the side like it does sometimes. “Oh, sure, fine.” He toys with Magnus’ many necklaces, curling the hello on his palm around the charms hanging there. “Ben says hi.”
Ben likes Magnus, apparently. Magnus is not a medium, mostly, so he’ll have to take Klaus’ word for it.
“Hi, Ben.” He tilts his head to press his mouth against Klaus’, the mere suggestion of a kiss. “I hope Ben’s not going to hang around for what happens next.”
Slow and lewd and smiling, Klaus asks, “What happens next?”
Wrists pinned to red sheets by black-tipped fingers. Both of them a little unsteady, smothering laughter in each kiss. Magnus’ hair wrecked by questing hands, buttons torn off his shirt. The stretch of bare stomach and sharp hipbones as Klaus arches up into him. Klaus biting Magnus’ lip, cheeky, coy. Candles flickering. The taste of leather.
These are a few of his favorite things.
Magnus already feels hungover so he drags himself out of bed to get a bottle of champagne. He trails red silk behind him, sheets wrapped loosely around his hips. Klaus has wandered into the closet and emerged with a truly hideous shirt in his hands — one of those late-night wine purchases that Magnus wore once and then forgot all about. It’s a dark blue double-breasted ruffled confection with red piping and a faint floral motif. “I’m liberating this!” Klaus declares. “Kept her all locked up in the back, never to see the sun!” He pats the shirt soothingly, hushes it and murmurs. “It’s alright, baby. Daddy Klaus has you now.”
Magnus expresses his horror with a delicate but evocative gag. “Do you two need to be alone?”
Klaus buries his face in the shirt until he’s just two mischievous eyes peeking out of the ruffles. “Yes.”
Later. The sky has turned a rich deep blue as night turns to morning, the kind of color Magnus can recall from bolts of freshly dyed cloth in centuries gone by. Klaus is face down in the pillows, leaving smears of eyeshadow on the satin. “You ever wonder —” His voice is muffled, so he turns slightly to be heard. He looks a little plaintive, almost delicate. “Wonder why we do the stuff we do?”
Magnus plays scales on the knobs of his spine. “I’m much older than you. I know why.”
“Mmm, you’re so sexy when you’re patronizing.”
A little smile, but he’s serious when he asks, “Do you need help? Tell me.”
Klaus kisses him. “Always, babe.”
The next time Magnus wakes up, it’s almost the afternoon. The room is full of thin, watery light and Klaus is gone. So is his Ming vase.
He smiles, not surprised.