Jack could hear the thrum of guitar, bass, and drums as he opened the door of The Flowing Tap. He often spent his weekends avoiding schoolwork and doing one of three things; working on his truck, dating, or here. The last two he never mixed; in part because he could always hear David’s mother claiming ‘nothing good came out of a bar’ and in his experience she was almost always right regardless of the subject. He didn’t go to pick up men and it wasn’t to drink – his father had shown him how easy it was for alcohol to consume you. He went because he liked to play pool and for the music. It had taken him a while to find a place that took the time to audition their bands (and with a manager that had known what he was listening for) but it had been worth the search. There was nothing like good live music – he wasn’t even too particular on the genre as long as he could enjoy the lyrics.
There were no words to greet him as he entered, yet even so he didn’t have to look to know that the musicians were not the one of the regulars he had heard countless times before. The song was rock with a hint of pop; pleasant enough but he would reserve judgment until a voice joined the instrumental.
He scanned the room for an available table or familiar face, but his goal seemed forgotten when the song’s intro ended and their vocalist stepped up to the mic. It was easy enough for him to draw someone in; his voice called to you, demanding its full attention and rewarding the listener by containing that all too rare quality that allowed you to feel emotions through song.
Even if it hadn’t been his voice the vocalist had the power to distract with his body alone. He was a few years older than Jack; tall and lean, feminine, yet the arms beneath a tight tee revealed muscles that had to have been earned. Long black hair was pulled back loosely away from his face, and rich violet eyes that could not have been natural boldly caught Jack’s gaze and he grinned. He moved with the grace of a dancer – and yet that description felt wrong, even if it was the only one Jack’s mind could seem to process.
His search for an empty table was subsequently forgotten and instead of finding one he took an available stool at the end of the bar; content to enjoy the music – and the continued gaze. By the time he had reached the chorus Jack reflected it was time to revaluate what came out of a bar.
The band stepped down at one, disappearing into the back. Most of the customers had gone home and on most nights Jack would have joined. He almost always had either class or work the following morning but there was still some coke left in his glass and he was content to wait a bit longer to see if the vocalist reappeared.
The wait was only ten minutes. He returned alone, pulled up the empty stool next to Jack without comment and casually ordered a beer. When it arrived he swallowed half the bottle before turning to Jack
“Gods, I needed a drink,” he said. His words were spiced with an accent, one Jack was certain he’d never heard before and had been absent while he sang.
“I’d say you earned it,” he held out his hand. “Jack Dempsey.”
The man reached out to take it and for the briefest second his fingers brushed Jack’s wrist, as if he had meant to grab it instead of his hand. Then, as if realizing a mistake they slipped back towards his palm, accepting his handshake firmly.
It was unusual, peaking his curiosity that much more, “I can’t seem to place your accent. Where’re you from?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” he said, grinning. “But I am here and it seems as if I will remain to be for a while, so I wait and I live. Right now I would like nothing more than to continue our conversation, but I’m famished. There is a place just down the road that will serve food even now, would you like to accompany me?”
It was Friday, or Saturday by now, and he did have work in the morning. Perhaps what should have been more worrying was that he had just met this man and that he wouldn’t even tell him where he was from. Jack found he didn’t care, on either accounts. It was only dinner, or breakfast, and if it became more he would worry over that when they got there.
“Sure, mind if I drive?”
Kennan finished off his beer before answering, “It is either that, or we’ll have to walk.” He passed the bartender a ten and Jack led him out to the parking lot and towards a worn blue Chevy.
“That one’s mine,” he told him.
He laughed, “Well she runs, and that’s enough. Sometimes the passenger door sticks a little though,” he said, reaching out to jostle the handle. David was the only other person that could get the latch to release and on most days he could do it faster. Eventually Jack heard the click and the door swung open.
The drive was short, Jack knew the place Kennan had mentioned, it was one of those twenty-four hour chains that sold breakfast all day. The restaurant was almost empty; still too early in the morning to attract the night owls, but late enough everyone else had gone home. The lack of customers gave them prompter service and it wasn’t long before Jack was drenching a stack of pancakes in extra syrup.
“I will never get used to your food,” Kennan told him. “At least I know what I’m eating.” He had ordered simple eggs and ham, and Jack didn’t bother asking where on earth they didn’t have pancakes.
“How long have you been in
“Fourteen days,” he sighed. “But eventually someone will come to fetch me.”
“And in two weeks you managed to land a spot in a band?”
“On the first day, actually. I happened to enter a bar and there they were; their singer had just walked out. They are not the type of people I would usually associate myself with but they needed a voice and I needed coin. Fortunately I have the talent to perform and I thoroughly enjoy doing so. It took a bit of convincing – our music is vastly different than yours, but I have the innate ability to remember just about anything after I’ve heard it once.”
“Oh, yes. It is a gift, if you will,” he brought one of his hand’s down to rest on Jack’s, thumb lightly brushing across his knuckles, “And what is it that you do, Jack?”
“I’m a mechanic.”
“Yeah, I know, most people think it’s weird. Gay men aren’t supposed to know anything about cars, let alone be able to repair them, but I love it. I’m taking some college classes, too, but I’ll probably spend my life working in a garage.”
“So you repair cars, you understand how they work?”
“I’d be a poor mechanic if I didn’t.”
“I confess my knowledge of them is quite limited.”
This led to an in-depth conversation that involved engines, brakes, and for quite a while, fuel. It was wonderful to not have to talk about school and classes, even if Kennan’s questions were a bit odd. Jack had never had anyone show such a fascination with cars and yet know so little about them. He was starting to wonder if Kennan had been raised in some strange place that didn’t have vehicles. For a moment he had a mental image of him dressed as an Amish man and almost laughed aloud. Kennan couldn’t be Amish or anything remotely close to it, not when those purple eyes rarely broke contact. It was quite clear how he was hoping for the evening to end.
When the bill came Kennan insisted on paying, meticulously counting out the bills twice before handing them to the cashier. Jack took his hand to lead him back outside toward the truck, feeling a rush of anticipation as they reached it. The looks and light touches had been driving him crazy and although he had been enjoying their conversation he had also been just as anxious as Kennan to leave the restaurant.
This time he didn’t attempt to fight with the door handle; instead he took Kennan’s other hand and pulled him into his body, intending to initiate more than a mere touch. He didn’t have to. Kennan came willingly, and somehow it was him that brought his lips to Jack’s with a deep, bold urgency that Jack eagerly met. He released their hands to wrap his arms around Kennan’s waist, trying to pull him closer. He wanted skin and far more than what he would allow himself to do in a parking lot standing beside his truck.
He broke the kiss, lips lingering just out of reach, “I’d say we could finish this back at my place, but I share it with five other guys – and I have a roommate.”
Kennan flashed him another grin and then kissed him a second time before answering, “Then I suppose it is a blessing that mine is empty – and close.”
Jack reached behind him to fumble with the door once more, forcing himself to turn around when it would not open. Kennan remained close one hand on his hip; then made the task infinitely more impossible when he seemed to loose patience with waiting and started moving lips and tongue across his neck. Somehow he managed to keep fighting with it and it opened just as Kennan’s tongue moved from neck to ear.
They both scrambled in on the same side, Kennan sliding in after him and not stopping until he reached the middle of the bench seat. He rested one hand on Jack’s upper thigh, which made it difficult enough to start the truck and then to watch the road. It wasn’t clear if he had chosen the close proximity because he knew he was driving Jack crazy or simply because he wanted to watch him shift and steer.
The motel was only five or six blocks from the bar, all within the same central area of downtown. It was small, seedy and their clientele likely questionable. Jack wasn’t surprised, not when Kennan only got paid for whatever gigs his band could pick up, but it did make his skin crawl. He liked to be clean, despite his own occupation and he could only hope the bed was.
He found he didn’t have time to worry about cleanliness when they entered the room because Kennan had him pressed against the door with his own body even as it was still closing, claiming his mouth in another fervent kiss. His hands moved to Jack’s chest to fumble with the buttons on the front of his shirt; after fighting with the first two he lost patience and pulled the remainder of the fabric apart – sending at least one of the buttons flying. There was an urgency to him now that they had reached the privacy of the room and one Jack would have readily admitted he shared if he needed to. His shirt slipped from his shoulders and their lips parted, giving Kennan the opportunity to roughly pull his tee over his head while Jack fought to remove his shoes by stepping on the heels with the opposite toes. Kennan reached for his belt as he finished, not to undo it, but to pull him away from the door towards the bed.
Exchanging kisses once more made the short walk a difficult one, twice Jack almost lost his balance by stumbling over their feet. Kennan released him again at the bedside, turning to face it and lifting one foot to the mattress to take off his the tall boots he wore. As he began unzipping the first one Jack saw it as a perfect opportunity for a small revenge for the earlier distraction he had been subjected to while trying to open the truck. He slipped his hands around Kennan’s waist, resting his fingers just inside his jeans and had begun to kiss his back when Kennan shifted his weight to move to the second boot.
Kennan’s hands didn’t move for the zipper this time instead he pulled something out. The lightning was minimal, a soft glow coming from a street lamp outside that was for the most part blocked by heavy blinds – but Jack could still see metal and took a step backwards.
“What the hell is that?”
“A dagger,” he answered as if carrying a weapon in your shoes was somehow normal.
“Are you crazy?”
“It’s for protection. I don’t intend to use it.” He turned to place it on the bedside table and then looked at Jack, standing there awkwardly with the second boot still on. “Does this bother you?”
The answer to that should have been ‘hell yes’ at the very least, but it wasn’t. He didn’t know this man and so many of his questions had remained unanswered, but there was an undeniable truth to him no matter how bizarre the situation seemed. He felt safe, even if he knew he shouldn’t.
“Just don’t touch it.”
Kennan reached for his belt again, pulling him close, “All I want to touch is you.”
Jack woke aching in a tangled mass of sheets on one side of a double bed. His mind slowly took in where he was, how he’d gotten there and the enigmatic man beside him. Kennan had most of the blankets and it looked like he was still sleeping. It had been a long night and Jack wondered if he had managed to get more than an hour or two of sleep. His eyes fell from Kennan to the alarm clock and as he saw the time the day also came rushing to him.
“Shit!” he scrambled from the bed, immediately searching the room for his clothes. The first pair of jeans he grabbed were the wrong ones. He dropped them back onto the floor and found his own at the foot of the bed, almost completely hidden by the hotel comforter.
“Leaving?” Kennan asked calmly as he sat up, blanket falling away from his chest.
He had managed to pull his pants on, but froze at the sight of Kennan’s naked body. The night before had been almost absent of light and now in the morning sun he wanted nothing more than to explore it a second time. Biting back a groan he shoved his shirt over his head.
“Yeah, I’m sorry. I don’t want to, it’s just –”
“You don’t have to explain, not to me.
“I do. I want to stay,” he swallowed, trying not to think of how badly he wanted to, and started fighting with his shoes, “But I was supposed to be at work over two hours ago. Not only do I need my job, but I like it and the last thing I need is to get fired. So what’d you say, can we pick this up again tonight?”
Kennan studied him for a moment and for a brief instant Jack thought he was going to deny him, “I have to sing again, but I can meet you after.”
He smiled, walked back to the bed and stole one more kiss, “I’ll be there.”
*Yeah, I tried to get away from the dagger but it wasn't going to happen. There is no way Kennan's going to walk around in unfamiliar territory without a weapon...