Bars Help Build Friendships Who: Brad and Roman What: First Meetings Where: Rabbit Hole When: October 2018 Ratings/Warnings: Language, innuendo
It had been a few years since Brad had moved from the Windy City to Sin City, and honestly, the place was living up to his name. Finding strangers to feed from was easy enough, especially those who were a bit drunk from partying were easy to trigger into a happy mood, though people who had just won in a casino were also ripe for the picking - offer to buy them a drink and a friendly arm around the shoulder as they were guided to the nearest bar often gave him enough that he was able to keep up the small touch and feed until he had his fill before he left the stranger a bit drained but still with the money in their pocket and a smile on their face.
He had also discovered a number of clubs and bars scattered around the city that catered for those ‘not quite humans’, and strangely he felt more at home in these places than all the bars he had ever visited in Chicago. One of those was the Rabbit Hole, he wasn’t sure about the whole logistics of how it worked once entering the theatre façade but it reminded him a bit of the tales of the old Speakeasies that operated back during Prohibition, or at least what he had heard of them. The beer wasn’t too bad and the company was a tad darker than other places but here Brad could sit and relax and if he felt like it - share that he was an Etheric - it was rare that someone offered to let him feed from them but it had happened and who was he to turn down a free meal? Hooking up with someone for an anonymous night was more likely though and he wasn’t about to refuse Mr Tall, Dark and Right-Now either.
This particular night he had just entered after finishing a show at one of the clubs, a bit of a shimmer still visible on his skin. He had gotten lucky enough that someone had wanted a ‘private dance’ from him which allowed him to get his fill, so right now he was pretty satisfied but a beer wouldn’t go astray either, it never went astray after a long evening. While he was at the bar waiting to get the bartender’s attention he heard someone near him whisper ’Oh look, the lawyers are back which made him raise his head. Brad wasn’t sure what exactly lawyers were doing there or why, if he was just there for a drink or to drum up business, but having a conversation with them might come in handy, find out how much they knew before he divulged any of his secrets or if they could help him with his situation.
There was a particular swagger in the lawyer's cadence, nearly a strut to match the most confident of peacocks, as he entered the Rabbit Hole. Roman had heard of the place and after indulging his curiosity he had come to find that he liked it. Not only was the atmosphere inviting, he could prospect and dig into the deeper parts of the clientele without much concern. The rumor was that confrontation was not allowed inside. He could play by those rules.
At his heels was his colleague, John Schram. Roman didn’t care much for his wolf partner - while John was a decent man, he could be mouthy and could put himself into situations that could make or break a case outside of the courtroom. That was a waste of talent, in Roman’s opinion, but the man had taken somewhat of a shine to him and insisted on following. Was it for the adventure? The risk? John was more straight-laced so Roman figured that the interest was skirting a few broad lines.
The pair sidled up to the bar in the middle of a conversation. “...so, I asked him about the property,” Roman explained. John only listened with bright eyes and the intent of a small child drowning in a wondrous tale. “And as it turned out, that was what tripped him up. He didn’t realize I knew about it. I had him right then exactly where I wanted him.” John laughed. It was a harsh sound that grated the ears, similar to the cry of a dying cat commingled with the bray of a mule. Roman only smiled, though his eyes would drift, wander and search for anything more interesting.
All the while a fresh glass of his usual drink - Old Fashioned - would be placed at his elbow.
Brad had yet to get kicked out of the Rabbit Hole, or most of the other places in Vegas. He was a lover and not a fighter, though he’d step up and lay someone on their ass if the situation arose, he had learned long ago to take those kinds of confrontations outside. Though Vegas was full of places to drink he still had taste and some stinking little biker bar just wasn’t his style.
It wasn’t until the two new arrivals had gotten their drinks that Brad finally got the beer he had been waiting ages for, giving a nod of thanks to the bartender, his attention turned to the two men standing a few people away. Normally the sound of laughter drew his attention, after all it was easier to draw happiness out of someone already in the mood than it was someone feeling a bit melancholic but the laugh that he heard had him wincing, it was like fingernails down a chalkboard. Turning his head towards the pair he caught the eye of the darker of the two and gave a little smile, really hoping that the other man wouldn’t laugh again.
Hiding his visible wince at the audible echo of sound, Roman twisted to let his eyes wander. John was saying something - perhaps complimenting Roman’s style in the courtroom - and was mid sentence when the lawyer caught sight of the blond a few warm bodies down from where he stood.
Without much more than a single raised finger to his partner, Roman swept up his drink and slid around John as if on the prowl, leaving the man in the dust of the rest of his lost words. John blinked, scowled and scolded himself silently, before he turned to order a seltzer water with a squeeze of lime.
A grin, charming and confident, spread across his face as he closed distance. An elbow would slide between a woman on the stranger’s left and the stranger himself, making himself room aplenty. He ignored the look of shocked displacement of the woman he’d so rudely uprooted. “You seem like much more interesting company than my business partner,” Roman began. No hello, no introduction, just straight to the point.
While Brad did enjoy hunting his prey, trying to find that difficult one that added a bit of a thrill to it all, he didn’t mind it at all when one seemed to just jump right out at him. It seemed like tonight he might be in luck, if he played his cards right.
The tiny smile remained on his face as the brunette man left the other behind to move closer, keen eyes watching as he made a spot for himself on the stool next to Brad. So far so good, he had one on the line, now to just make sure it didn’t get away.
“Is that right? I guess that all depends on what kind of company you’re interested in.” A smirk as he brought the beer bottle to his lips and took a sip, eyes never leaving the man in front of him.
“Anything with a proper laugh and common sense,” Roman retorted, snorting. He sipped from the glass of whiskey. That braying had not yet quite left his ears but it was beginning to fade. “Imagine being trapped with that sound in a courtroom or an office.” It wasn’t a good picture.
Roman wasn’t shy about sizing up the man sitting on the stool in front of him; the way those lips puckered around the neck of the bottle, the posh, dim lights reflecting in the stranger’s eyes.
Another sip from his drink. “Alright, we are going to play a game,” he began, thoughtfully. His grin gave way to a bit of slyness. “I will ask you a question and before you have a chance to think you have to tell me what pops into your mind, alright?” It wouldn’t be anything too personal, at least not right away.
“Was this your first place to look for entertainment?” Rabbit Hole wasn’t the place to seek excitement so why people came made him curious.
There was a visible wince at the idea of being trapped in an office or courtroom with that laugh, although Brad hoped that laughter was something not often heard when it came down to the seriousness of a trial. He had thankfully not yet had the displeasure of having to set foot in front of a judge for whatever reasons.
Brad could also tell when he was getting looked over and sized up, if anything his posture became a bit more rigid, back a bit straighter as the stranger’s eyes seemed to roam all over him.
Then came the challenge of a game - word association - and let’s face it, Brad knew immediately what the man was trying to do, but for now he’d play dumb. Maybe that’s what they liked - pretty and dumb. “Okay.”
At the question Brad replied, “Iris” without a second thought. While it was one of his work places he also liked watching the other performers.
He was still newer to the city limit sign, so Iris wasn’t yet on his radar. Roman decided to make a mental note to look it up. “Iris,” he repeated, nodding. “It sounds much more interesting than a place called the Rabbit Hole, for sure.” Oh but what was the draw here? This was a speakeasy which was spread by word of mouth. How interesting.
“I believe it’s your turn to inquire,” Roman offered. Whether or not the stranger indulged him didn’t matter, and he could care less as to whether or not the stranger could see right through him. What mattered was the conversation.
“Really lights up around 10 on a Friday night.” Brad added when the stranger stated it sounded more interesting than the Rabbit Hole, what he didn’t need to know was 10pm was when Brad started his show there, if the other man ever showed up he’d be in for one hell of a surprise.
“Oh… I thought you just wanted to ask me a bunch of questions, but I’ll play.” Again, playing dumb - a hand playing with the beer bottle a bit. “What do you like doing after a long day in the office?”
Another mental note taken. The description alluded to the place being more align with a nightclub, which wasn’t just scene in particular, but he could be coaxed out of the box for a good time. God knew he had enough money to purchase that sort of real estate, but it never felt like the right move.
“Well, I suppose I could but then where would I fit in talking about me?” He teased.
That was a fair question. Before he could break the rules of the game, Roman answered: “Going out to find interesting things.” Whether that was here, a small diner on the edge of town, or settling in with Froufrou for a night of binge watching Netflix, it all amounted to the same thing.
“What would you say would be your ideal vacation item?”
Brad had pegged the stranger as the narcissistic type and the retort of wanting to talk about himself said enough that his assumption was pretty close. This man loved himself above anything else in the world, he could tell that much already.
But still he played the game, listening to the response about finding interesting things to do, of course Vegas was full of them.
“Hmm… skimpy swimwear for the beach.” Although it wasn’t true, Brad always took his Kindle everywhere he went, it was fitting to the persona he was currently playing for the stranger. “Finding nude beaches isn’t easy.”
That was not an answer he had been expecting considering the conversation but then lately he had been finding himself experiencing that more often. “Nude beaches, hm?” Those weren’t really his thing. While he wasn’t afraid to show off, he liked the luxury of being finely dressed and elaborate.
He took his dog almost everywhere. Bars and places to eat were the rare exceptions, but even then he bent the rules a bit.
Before he could get another word out, his colleague appeared by his side. “Roman?” John tugged at the elbow of Roman’s expensive, tailored suit, and his attention would snap to John in a second. “Roman, I think I’m going to go…”
“John, have you gone blind? Can't you see that I am having a conversation.” His glass would lift gently toward the stranger. John looked at the man with a friendly smile and lifted a hand in a wave. “Hi. John Schram.” Roman rolled his eyes and huffed a breath.
Brad gave a nod, again only playing up to the persona to gauge what kind of interest the other man really had for him. Was he just after someone to chat to for the night, someone for a bit of fun or actually interested in getting to know Brad.
When the other man appeared Brad managed not to roll his eyes, although he now had the stranger's name - Roman. But his co-worker was having none of it.
"Michael Newark." He gave a smile, even though the name was one he had just made up, John didn't know the difference.
“Nice to meet you, Michael,” John chirped, offering a hand to shake. Roman glared, eyes narrowing. “John, Michael and I were just leaving. You find yourself a ride back to your car. Here’s some cash, make it worth it.” A few bills would be stuffed into John’s outstretched hand.
Roman turned back to Michael as if John didn’t exist in his sight line. “I’m sorry, where were we?”
Brad's eyes left John when Roman's attention turned back to him, well aware that the other man was still standing just there. "I believe you were going to tell me all of your favourite positions before taking me to a hotel room and fucking me six ways til Sunday." Out of the corner of his eye he saw John just blink before walking away.
"And… he's gone." Brad smiled. "Why don't we see if there's a booth, if he comes back he won't be able to find us." He suggested, a hand moving down to rest on Roman's knee.
“I doubt they will bother with allowing him back in,” Roman remarked, shrugging a shoulder casually. His smile grew. A sip from his glass and he welcomed the cool taste of the amber liquid. Would Michael find his lack of reaction or opposition odd?
“But yes, a booth would be lovely.” He motioned for the stranger to go first, always polite, and then followed after. With the hand curled around his drink Roman motioned, “That one looks comfortable.”
Brad didn't find it odd at all, everyone had co-workers like that. He was sure he could have a field day psychoanalysing the relationship between the two men but right now he wasn't in the mood for it, he still had a probable meal sitting in front of him.
He saw the same booth as Roman and nodded. "It does, a lot more… private than the bar." He shuffled himself along the seat, settling right in the middle even though the booths could seat four Brad was making it clear to anyone else that the whole booth was taken and don't even think about it.
"I believe it's my turn, so… what do you like?" The beer lifted as he took another sip.
Roman smirked at the stranger’s choice of seating and took the opportunity to set his drink down before sliding across the cushion. He paused next to Michael. “Wine,” he responded, as were the rules of the game. “But if you would like an opportunity to rephrase that more specifically, I believe that could be arranged.”
What a loaded question. “What is your real name, Michael?”
It was the rules of the game, although Brad knew he could bend the rules a bit and Roman probably wouldn't know the difference. "Do you like anything else other than wine?" While it wasn't being specific he still left it open for Roman to answer how he saw fit.
A soft chuckle around the neck of the beer bottle. "Brad."
Brad. It was a wholesome, regular name. It had a ring to it though. Roman decided he could remember it for later. “I like finding interesting people,” he began, offering a bit more specific answer. “People like yourself. What do you like, Brad?”
Roman took a small, careful sip from his drink but otherwise left his attention on his new friend.
An eyebrow quirked a bit at the reply, Roman didn't even know him but obviously the persona he was playing up was enough to keep the other man's interest. He definitely had dinner on the line, now to reel it in.
"I like a bit of everything, but yes finding interesting people is always a good way to spend your free time." A hand moved down to rest again on Roman's knee, that contact needed in order to feed. He smiled, knowing that Roman would be feeling happier as Brad fed from him. "I do like making people happy."
“Do you?” That was an odd yet refreshing statement. The hand on his knee promised more. “Would you like to take this conversation somewhere else? Somewhere where we can talk privately.” He had a place in mind but then he wasn’t forcing anyone to come along.
"Well… that depends on what kind of conversation you've got in mind." Brad replied, he wasn't new to random hook-ups, if that was what Roman was looking for, he often used the opportunity to feast himself from the happiness that he brought his lover. "But can I at least finish my beer?"
“But of course,” Roman waved a hand at the amber colored bottle. He had a while yet on his own drink but he didn’t care if it went unfinished. “Simply an exchange of words between two people that cannot be shared in a public setting.” Brad could interpret that how he pleased.
Brad wasn't one to waste alcohol, of course he didn't really need anything other than people's happiness to survive but that didn't mean he didn't enjoy the odd drink. "You could always whisper what you want to say into my ear." Another smirk. "Unless you don't think that the Rabbit Hole is an appropriate location for that kind of talk."
Roman smirked. “I’d rather surprise you with it later. This place is known for being rather extraordinary at times.” Not that he cared who was watching or listening, but he had only just begun to establish himself in the city. He had to be careful for now.
He knew enough of Vegas that he was interested to see what this extraordinary place was that Roman wanted to take him to. "I am trusting that you're not some kind of crazy serial killer masquerading as a lawyer." Brad winked, lifting his bottle and drinking down the rest of it. "Ready when you are."
The drink would be set down. Roman adjusted his tie and then slipped out of the booth. “Oh, no. That would be bad for business.” He wasn’t the type to count something out if it was necessary but he needed to be more established. Instead, he smiled and motioned for Brad to go first. “After you.”