Book 2, Chapter 5

Indigo Tonic was a techno club that's reputation was well know to anyone who ventured onto the streets past dark in the sector where Julian lived. Its heavy beats could be felt more than heard from blocks away and the line of hopefuls waiting by the large black doors to be let in were a pathetic parade of deviants and poseurs. In all his life, Julian had never seen quite so many bulging, bouncing, about-to-be-exposed-breasts in a single place. He couldn't help but be a little embarrassed for these women; at least a dozen would get taken advantage of and wonder why it happened to them. They would completely forget the blatant advertisement they were serving up telling predators that they were easy targets with low self-esteem. It served as yet another reminder of why he would never sleep with one. Not only were they carbon copies of each other, full of insecurity and malice, but were he to ever help conceive a daughter with one, he might actually have to kill himself. It wasn't that he was a misogynist; he just hated it when people made themselves into victims, but failed to recognize that they were responsible for their own victimization.

The fact that this image of women accurately described most of the ones he ever had the misfortune of knowing beyond casual acquaintance was just a coincidence, of course.

Despite all their flaws, though, men drooled and enslaved themselves to them. It was the greatest of mysteries. For every one woman in the line outside the club, there were at least three men experiencing tunnel vision towards her exposed cleavage. Julian seriously didn’t understand what the appeal of breasts was. They didn't do anything unless they had a kid sucking on them and that was far from sexy. It was like worshiping an empty liquor bottle you never got a sip from. No, straight men and women would just have to remain a mystery for all time to Julian Vaughn. The appeal of clubbing, however, was something he understood very well.

With very little effort, Julian got in ahead of the queue of sluts and desperate boys and entered the booming womb that was Indigo Tonic. Taking a cue from its name, the interior was decorated in various shades of purple that looked dark and lustrous in the technicolored strobe lights that flashed to the industrial beat. It was like the heartbeat of a living entity; all the people on the dance floor moved to its instinctual rhythm. They might not have consciously known the reason behind the strange attraction to the custom of crushing together and dancing, but Julian did and reveled in the strong desire to join them in the heated mob of flesh and perfume.

He knew because he had heard the beat of the human body beyond the sound of the pulse--the way everything worked together, yet separately, like the bouncing dancers on the floor who moved differently but kept the same rhythm. Together they were an organism, a consciousness with only pleasure and self-fulfillment on the mind as they ground together in an almost obscene pantomime of the darker side of human nature. Julian longed to join them, but not yet. His mind was still too stuck on certain issues that would not leave him alone, even when seeking immersion in this carnal masquerade. Instead he headed to the bar, finding a plush purple stool to perch on while he numbed the confusion named Rabbit that pained him.

The bartender was a handsome young man who appeared to be in his twenties, his hair, white as could be, spiked and the tips blackened. His eyes were nearly black as well--frighteningly hollow orbs that were quite magnetic--set in a pale, attractive face. Though he knew he was staring, Julian took him in slowly. He was about his height, dressed rather punk with checkerboard accents to his black and purple attire that was probably a uniform or required color tie in. If he took offense to being stared at, he had an interesting way of showing it as he flashed Julian a charmingly wide smile and walked closer to him.

"Can I interest you in a drink or just some more of me? I look even better up close."

"What a coincidence, I look better in bed." Julian smirked back at him, more than willing to join in the flirty banter. He needed an ego boost and an attractive man fishing for tips was sure to be a well of compliments.

He certainly didn't disappoint. "That's a little hard to believe from where I'm standing." He leaned in closer over the bar. "So, what'll it be?"

"Something nice and hard."

"I meant to drink, sweetheart." The bartender winked at him and pulled up a short glass from under the counter. He selected a brandy colored liquor, a clear one, and then slid out from the beer cooler an energy drink shot. He poured all three into a metal shaker along with a few ice cubes. When he poured it out it glowed green in the glass, much to Julian's surprise. The bartender looked quite pleased and slid it across to him. "I call it a Spindle. Trust me, you'll like it."

Whether he trusted him or not, it was alcohol and Julian was eager for a drink. He took a tentative sip, still a little wary of the way it glowed, but took a hard gulp once the tangy flavor enticed his taste buds. It almost felt like rock candy bursting in his mouth, leaving a tingling sensation in its wake. "Not bad," he admitted, setting the glass back down. "Thanks."

"No prob. It's got enough caffeine in it to keep you going all night and a high enough alcohol content to get you seriously buzzed," he told him with pride. The bartender leaned against the bar again. "I'm Sasha by the way. You got a name other than Sexy?"

Oh, this one was a pro. Julian smirked. "Sexy works. Most people call me Julian, though.

"I should have known it would be something like that. It suits you." Sasha pretended to wipe the bar down, mostly polishing the clean counter with his dark rag as other men and women behind the bar continued to help the other patrons. "So, Julian, what brings you to this fair establishment of nighttime delights? Just cruising the scene? Looking for anything?"

Julian took another tingling sip of his drink before replying. "Looking to forget, really."

"Nasty break up?"

"No. We hardly knew each other. He never really gave me a chance."

Sasha cocked his head at him. "So this is a 'the one who got away' kinda thing?"

"I guess." Julian shrugged and drank again. "I mean, if he just didn't like me, that'd be one thing, but like I said, we didn't exactly spend all that much time talking about ourselves before he started ignoring me. And now the more I try to get him to talk to me, the more I feel like some kind of crazy stalker. I know things are kind of messed up between us in some ways, but if he just stopped avoiding me and talked to me, I really think we'd hit it off."

Sasha listened, nodding along as he spoke. "You know, same thing happened to me once."

"I doubt it was the same thing," Julian mused, though he was not in the mood to describe just how wrong the things he and Rabbit had managed to be mixed up in together had been; meeting in a child auction, finding a mutilated boy's corpse together, discovering Rabbit was dead and the fiasco with his father.

"No, but it's not like you're the only one who's ever felt unrequited affection," Sasha explained. "See, this one chick who came in here was like...ohmygod hot, you know? She had the 'pow' and the 'bam' and the 'thank you Jesus'. I mean, she was Ultra Mega Woman. But she didn't see me as anything but a bartender. So I'd flirt and she'd pay attention to me for a bit, but in the end, she always left with some other guy. I started taking my breaks on the dance floor to try and get her attention but she avoided me like the plague when I wasn't behind the bar. Fucking bitch. But yeah, I mean, totally in lust with this girl and the more I tried to get her, the more she left with total douches. So know what I did? I ignored her. Gave her a taste of her own medicine. After a while of that, she was all over me."

Julian looked up at him from his empty glass. "So you got the girl you wanted, huh? Still with her?"

"Hell no, she was a total cunt. I got to bang her though, so I'm happy." Sasha smiled at him. "Why don't you take a time out from the guy, though, and see what happens. Maybe he'll come 'round on his own sometime. If not, what a douche, yeah? I mean, you're got a lot going for you. Guy's obviously crazy."

Though the tale the bartender told was hardly encouraging, Julian couldn't help but smile at the slightly eccentric storyteller. "Yeah, maybe."

"You know what the moral of the story is?"

"That what you think you want isn't always what you get?"

"Nope." Sasha winked at him. "It's don't ignore the awesome, sexy bartender."

Julian couldn't help but laugh. Whoever had hired Sasha had certainly done well. His personality was ideal for the job and his demeanor the perfect offset to any bad day. "Sasha, you are a treasure." Julian handed him his cred card. "Go ahead and start a tab for me and put down an initial fifty creds for your tip."

Sasha's dark eyes seemed to brighten. "Wow, thanks. Don't be too nice, though. You know what happens when you're nice to strays. They follow you home."

"It's an acceptable risk." Julian smiled at him then turned towards the forgotten dance floor, ready to join the sweaty masses. He slid gracefully off the stool, not nearly drunk enough for the alcohol to impair his motions, and walked into the pulsating heart of the club.

On one hand, it smelled absolutely terrible in the throng. On the other, smell was hardly the allure in the first place. It was touch--bumping into people and hooking up with a stranger who happened to match your rhythm--that mattered. Everyone's hands and no one’s hands reached and caressed and felt like snakes, drawn to the heat of the bodies around them. It was almost more intoxicating than the liquor, a different kind of fire running through his veins. Julian felt the hand at his waist, the press of another's body against his back and bent against it, arching away and towards as they dipped and danced as strangers. The white hair against his cheek, pressing into his line of vision broke the erratic spell of mystery the flashing lights and tumbling bass wove through the room, but Julian hardly cared. He liked that it was Sasha matching his every move, following his lead as he choreographed the next stage of their playful encounter. For his part, Sasha was silent, submitting to the music and Julian with fluid precision, his hands roaming over the flat plain of his partner’s stomach. His hands were white as milk, Julian noted. When he turned to face Sasha, he could make out the mascara tinting his lashes black and just how incredibly dark the whole of his irises really were. He was an albino, Julian noted with some excitement. He was different and unique and that on top of everything else made him incredibly sexy.

Julian kissed him, perhaps a little more affected by the alcohol than he’d though. He let his mind wander into him, listening to the distinctive songs his body sang, drunk on the newness of someone so different. Sasha kissed him back, unaware of the violation. The dance continued.

"My break’s over. I gatta head back," Sasha told him minutes later, pulling himself from the crushing bodies around them. "Don't forget to pick your card up before you go home, okay. Not only that, but you have to say goodbye to me."

Julian followed him for a few steps in the direction of the bar. "When's your shift over?"

"I close. Why, thinking about sticking around?"

"Maybe. Or you could just bring my cred card to my place later. My address is on the back."

Sasha smirked at him and gave him another wink. "Well, we'll see, won't we."

Julian nodded and watched him head back before allowing himself to be swallowed again by the crowd of busty women and their flesh slaves, bouncing to the shared beat of the mechanical heart that was Indigo Tonic.

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