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A Different Beginning

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He should have left.

Michael stared into the glass empty of his beer bottle and tried not to look up into the corner of the pub where the long-haired man sat, half-empty bottle of bourbon sitting in front of him. It had been almost an hour since he had entered the pub, his gravely voice calling to the bartender for his "usual" before slinking into the shadowed corner table. Since then, the man hadn't moved, said or did anything to draw attention to himself but Michael was aware of him. Acutely aware of him.

He really should have left. In fact, he shouldn't have even come here. Not with the chance that he would be there. Not that Michael thought that he would be. He didn't even know the man, not really.

The first time Michael had seen him was on the way to the cross-town subway at Grand and Parkway. He'd been leaning against a pillar, cigarette sticking out limply from his lips as he struck a match and brought it delicately up to lit it, his dirt smudged fingers curling around the flame. There had been nothing extraordinary about that simple act.

Michael had seen it done a thousand times or more. Especially during his midnight "lunch" breaks as a lowly orderly at the hospital. Half a dozen doctors, nurses and, on occasion, orderlies would stand outside the hospital in small groups, puffing on those cancer-sticks that they said were "extremely bad for your health". So, he didn't really know why his eyes had, almost on their own, sought him out in the crowd.

But, they had. And, since that moment, Michael had been -- struck. That was really the only word for it. It was like getting hit by a cross-town train or bolt of lightening.

Everything about the man fascinated him.

The way his long hair fell stringy and limp but yet impeccably soft around his face, two strands holding it back with a tied knot. Or, the way he wore clothes that fit but just didn't fit with the populous. The way, when he walked, he didn't stride but actually prowled; like a caged animal waiting for it's moment of escape. It was fascinating to watch.

But, all that wasn't what had caught Michael. It had been the look in the man's eyes. The predatory gleam and knowing glitter as they flickered from person to person, from a tall brunette woman to Michael to a lost tourist then--back to Michael.

He really should have just left.

Michael sighed, shifting uncomfortably in his chair as he rolled his glass empty between his hands. He could feel those eyes on him, burning into his back like twin flames of heat. He shifted again. God, why had he decided to come in here?

Michael cringed.

He knew why. He'd come into this out-of-the-way-from-the-subway pub because one time, when he'd been trudging his way to the sub-station in the rain, he'd seen the man prowl into this place. At the time, he'd almost followed the man. Which a part of him thought the man wanted him to do, what with the way he'd gotten a strange sort of smile on his face when he'd seen Michael and then slinked inside.

But, Michael hadn't followed. He hadn't followed because he wasn't completely positive that that was what the man had done -- gotten Michael to follow him -- and he was soaked to the bone and he just wasn't sure if he should follow because he didn't know the guy and god, he'd wanted to so bad but what if he was misreading all the signals?

Michael sighed. That was ridiculous. There was no way he could be misreading the signals, with himself or the man. Not with the two pin-points of heat burning into his back and the raging hard-on between his thighs.

He should have left. He should have--

"What's this?" Michael asked, startling slightly when the bartender set a fresh ice-cold bottle of beer in front of him on the bar.

"Compliments." The bartender grunted, jerking his chin towards the corner of the bar even as he ran a dirty dish towel over the bar top before moving away.

Michael swallowed, heart beginning to thump in his chest. There was only one person sitting in that corner of the bar. Only one person who would have noticed him…

The short-haired blonde swallowed again, curling his fingers around the neck of the bottle before lifting it to his lips. The beer was cold and sharp but Michael barely tasted it. He could feel those eyes on him. Jesus.

"Hello, Michael."

Michael froze. He hadn't even realized that man had moved. He hadn't even 'felt' him move. In fact…

"You know my name?" He blurted in surprise, turning his head slightly to look at the man who was leaning casually against the bar, his cheeks burning. He should have left when he had the chance.

Thin pale lips curled into a condescending smile. "I know many things about you…Michael."

Michael swallowed again, bringing his beer to his lips. "H-how…uh…"

The man laughed, leaning forward further into Michael's personal space as his bourbon warmed breath curled against his cheek. "Michael."

Michael shifted. "Who are--"

The man leaned in further, his chest a line of heat down Michael's side that went straight to his already tightening groin.

"My name is Lucian." The man murmured, lifting a hand to tuck a lock of Michael's hair behind his ear.

Lucian. Michael shifted. He was suddenly glad he hadn't left.