Clubs were godless places, or at least that’s what Andrew thought to himself as he changed his shirt for the second time in one night because apparently everyone had decided to lose control of their hand–eye coordination. He was in, well basically a cupboard, out the back of Eden’s twilight and took a minute to regain his composure. Remaining emotionless in the face of an onslaught of drunk idiots was harder than usual today, his hand still ached slightly from where he had punched some idiot earlier who thought it was a good idea to try to kiss him while he was clearing tables and he was tired. College was hard enough to deal with without having Aaron staying up all hours of the night in a panicked attempt at memorising 3 medical textbooks. All that on top of working 5 nights a week to help keep his family on their feet so that Aaron could focus fully on his studies was exhausting. It really truly was.
Of course, it wasn’t all bad he thought to himself as he made his way around the bar to start serving the seemingly thousands of people desperate for a drink right at this exact moment or else. There were the amusing customers: the regulars who he would even deign to speak to every once in a while, the idiots trying to impress whatever girl they’d brought out with them and failing miserably, and of course, there were the good looking guys that he could subtly check out whilst serving them. Never anything more, not these days, he had worked hard with Bee to wean himself off of bad habits and terrible coping mechanisms such as meaningless one-night stands. His only vice these days were cigarettes and the odd drink when he went out with Aaron and Nicky. Of course, there were definitely bad sides to his job he thought as someone took five minutes to choose what they were ordering. You were standing in line for literally 10 minutes how do you not know what you want.
Once he had finally dealt with that idiot, he piled up some glasses and turned to see a man standing at the bar. He couldn’t have been much taller than Andrew, although a lot less broad, immediately capturing Andrew’s attention with the way he cringed away from the people around him clearly trying to disappear, which was honestly impossible, his auburn hair and ice blue eyes were far too noticeable, not to mention the clothes he was wearing were tight enough to leave nothing to the imagination as he pulled at them uncomfortably, clearly not used to wearing something so tight. Andrew looked at his hand briefly and that’s when he noticed the scars. Even in the dim light, he could see that the mands hands and arms and as he looked up even his face were mangled with burns and criss-crossed scars, nothing like Andrews own. These were not self-inflicted. He shook himself from his thoughts realising that he had been staring and made his way over to the customer, his eyes were cold and his face hard as he watched Andrew, clearly having noticed him staring so Andrew stood in front of him with a straight face.
“What do you want?” he said after a couple seconds where it was clear the man wasn’t going to order. The man did a double take and cleared his throat, his eyes less like ice but still giving nothing away.
“Uh, my friends want two vodka cranberries and one of those… pink pussy shots?” His voice squeaked a little on the name of the shot and Andrew almost smirked at the blush crawling its way up the man’s face.
“And for you?” he said already going about making the drinks.
“Ah hm, I would like…” the man trailed off looking up at the board, Andrew almost rolled his eyes already losing interest. “A rum and coke with ice, without the rum.” Andrew stared at him before very slowly saying.
“A rum and coke with ice and without the rum. So, a coke with ice.” The grin he received was evil and he already could tell the customer was doing this on purpose. He sighed to himself
“Yep, oh actually you know what? Can I just get a rum and coke but without the rum or the ice, oh actually yeah can I get that – but instead of a glass can I get a can?” he said completely straight faced.
“A… can of coke?”
“Yep!” the man said with a shit eating grin growing on his face. Andrew stared at him for a second before getting a can out without opening it, adding it to the tray before holding his hand out for the cash. The man handed it over before grabbing the tray and walking away without looking back. Andrew stared after him in disbelief at just how stupid that order was and what kind of person would order a non-alcoholic drink in that way at a club.
“Someone you know?” Roland said coming up from behind him. “He’s cute”
“No just an idiot.” Andrew responded, going on to the next clamouring customer and not thinking any more on the matter. He wouldn’t see the man again.
The man was back.
Andrew had seen him walk in surrounded by a group of giants and he closed his eyes in annoyance, how was he still attractive even though Andrew knew what an idiot he was. He had seen many attractive customers, even some of the locals were attractive but although he had appreciated briefly, he always got over it after speaking to them. Nobody was interesting enough to hold his attention. He sighed to himself, continuing to clean up the table he was currently at. Drunk people were terrible at not spilling drinks, it was annoying he could feel that niggling something in the back of his brain that he had spent so long trying to shut out, the feeling of annoyance was more than he felt most of the time and slowly he let it wash over himself, actually feeling it rather than locking it away, breathing out before going back to work.
Later in the night when things really got busy, the man came up to the bar again and Andrew tried not to make it seem like he had been waiting for him. Maybe he was in a less annoying mood and would order something normally.
One look at the man showed that it would not be the case, there as a mischievous glint in his eye as he listed off the drinks that he wanted for his... friends? Andrew hated how curious he was about this man.
“And for you?” he said, knowing it was exactly what he had said the last time. The man smirked, actually smirked, Andrew wanted to be disgusted but it was annoyingly attractive.
“I’ll take a tequila sunrise, without the tequila, or the grenadine.” It took Andrew two seconds to remember the recipe.
“So, an orange juice.” He kept his face as unimpressed as possible. The smile he got back could probably light up the entire room if he stared at it long enough. He looked down, hating how he felt his ears heat.
“Perfect thank you.” The guy said and took his drinks and left. Andrew glared after him, the man didn’t look back, but his friends gave him a weird look and said something to him. He shrugged and they disappeared into the crowd. Andrew sighed and went back to work. Why did he always get the weird customers?
It kept on happening.
Like clockwork every Saturday night, the guy would come in with his friends, and order increasingly ridiculous drinks, almost as if he was trying to trick Andrew into stumbling over what he was actually asking for, and Andrew, well Andrew was never one to turn down a challenge.
There was the Californication, which ended up just being orange juice again, the pina colada which ended up being pineapple juice (Andrew had to bite his tongue against the stupid joke he wanted to make to the stupidly pretty and stupidly annoying man). The Mint Julep which ended up being just water, and the mojito which ended up just being soda water.
Andrew found himself almost looking forward to the visits from the man every Saturday, it frustrated him to no end that he wouldn’t just order a drink like a normal person, but he found they were quickly becoming the highlight of his week, there was amusement peppered into the annoyance. Until he heard Roland take an order from the man and be asked for a “coke thanks.” Leaving him confused as to why the hell he was getting the special treatment.
It came to a head when the man came up and asked for a white Russian without vodka or coffee liqueur when Andrew finally put his foot down.
“I’m not giving you a glass of milk; this isn’t a diner and you aren’t a six-year-old.”
“I thought the customer was always right.” The man said, sounding like he was holding back a laugh.
“Yeah when the customer isn’t a fucking idiot sure but I’m not getting you a glass of fucking milk.” The man laughed quietly as Andrew silently fumed.
Roland looked over aghast at the murderous look on Andrew's face and quickly took over, making the man a glass of milk. MILK! What the fuck. The man took it with a small smile and walked off.
Andrew almost shattered the glass when he found it, still full of fucking milk on a table. The bastard was going to get it, he swore next time he’d throw the glass at him. What kind of an idiot pays for a drink just to torment their bartender?
An attractive and funny one. The voice in the back of his head said softly and he shoved it away. Sure, he enjoyed passing snarky comments back and forth with the man and it was sort of… fun? To try to work out what drink the man was talking about, but this was nothing, it was just a customer being an idiot and he was just the damn bartender, it didn’t mean anything. He was just a fucking hopeless gay idiot and he needed to stop. The man probably had a girlfriend and definitely had a life outside of the club.
He scrubbed his face and finished cleaning up, making his way home, and throwing himself into bed moodily.
He had his next Saturday off.
Yet he still somehow found himself at Eden’s. Nicky and Aaron had decided they needed a break and he was loath to say no when he knew how hard they had been working. Not that he didn’t require a lot of ice cream bribery before agreeing. He was sitting at his table as Nicky and Aaron were off dancing and staring into space, it was nice to be able to sit down if he was honest, he was exhausted.
Someone sliding into the seat next to him distracted him from his thoughts and he turned, expecting Nicky or Aaron, about to ask why they were back so soon but he was brought up short by none other than the idiot himself. All there in his stupidly pretty glory. He had a weird look on his face, almost, nervous?
“Hey.” The man said breathlessly.
“I – I’m Neil.”
“Finally, a name to put to the man who makes my life a living hell while I’m at work.” Andrew deadpans, not quite able to make himself truly glare. He told me his name! The inner, hopelessly gay part of him thinks before he realises, he should probably do the same. “Andrew.”
The man smiles like being told Andrew’s name was the best fucking part of his day. Andrew felt ears warm and willed it away.
“Andrew, I – look this is really stupid and feel free to tell me to fuck off but would you maybe, like to get a drink with me?” the man – Neil! – definitely looked nervous now and it took Andrew a couple seconds to work out what he was saying before his heart stuttered. Was he being asked out on a date?
“Are you asking me on a date?”
“I – uh yeah? Is that okay? Sorry I've never done this before I don't really know what I'm doing” he was endearingly awkward, and Andrew wanted.
“As long as you don’t order any fucking stupid drinks.” He said before realising just how stupid this whole situation was. He pushed down his negative thoughts and let himself have this. Neil laughed, a quiet think, just for Andrew and his traitorous heart skipped again.
“I think I can do that.” He smiled softly before pulling a piece of paper out of his pocket and handing it to Andrew. “I have to go back to my friends or else they’ll get annoying. Text me okay? If I don’t answer straight away it’s because I haven’t charged my phone.” A disaster, this man was a complete disaster and exactly Andrew’s type. He walked away, looking over his shoulder and smiling before disappearing into the crowd. And Andrew, well if Andrew texted him later that night and Neil responded straight away.
Well that was nobody else’s business now was it