My Giraffe (Zebra) Call is open!
Written to Inspector Caracal‘s prompt.
Set after Addergoole Year 10 but before the 2011 apocalypse.
There were tourists in the bar again, the sort of people that made what was normally a pleasant place feel like the back of the locker room. Nathan felt his shoulders tensing, felt his grip on his drink getting tighter. “Another?” he asked Patti.
The bartender shook her head. “Not yet, son. Nurse that ice a little longer, and then I’ll pour you another.” Then she was gone, tending to the New People at the other end and the other regulars in between.
“Shit.” How Patti did that and kept in business, he never knew. He turned slowly on his stool, taking in the tourists at the pool table, the regulars at tables further and further away from the tourists, Liza the bouncer at the front door…
He turned back around in time to see Leo strutting up to the tourists and getting in the tallest one’s face. Nathan’s heart did a little twist. Leo. That blonde hair, that arrogant, playful smirk, that – that body. It wasn’t just Nathan’s heart that was twisting.
The tourist took a step back. His friends were jeering. Leo didn’t seem to notice, stepping back in to the tourist’s personal space, running a hand over the man’s cheek. Nathan felt a stab of jealousy. My cheek is right here!
“There’s a reason they call him Lightning, you know.”
He hasn’t heard anyone sit down next to him, but now there was someone there, sipping a drink and watching the same scene Nathan was. “I’ve never heard anyone call him that.”
“Yeah?” The guy was, unfortunately, undeterred. “They call him Lightning because he never strikes the same place – or the same person – twice.”
“I’m not the same person.” Nathan chewed on his ice and watched Leo work. He was louder than he normally was, and he seemed to be – from the words that wafted over the music and the conversation – suggesting that the tourist ought to come back to his place and show him exactly what his sort was worth.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve changed,” the peanut gallery continued. “He doesn’t care. He just hits once and he’s gone.”
Nathan glanced over. His helpful new friend looked, in a general sense, kind of similar to Nathan: dark hair, dark eyes, not all that tall. “Not what I meant – ooooh!” Leo had somehow ducked a punch the now-beset tourist had thrown and instead tossed the tourist on to the floor. “You saw it, Patti, you saw it! The asshole threw the first punch!”
“That’s not gonna save my furniture, now is it? Liza!”
The fight was in full swing, as it were, when Liza waded in and hauled the tourist out of it, and then hauled his friends out. “Parking lot! All of you! You, too!” She glared at Leo. It might have been Nathan’s imagination, but he thought Leo looked a little sheepish for a moment.
They allowed themselves to be herded – tourists, Leo, two other regulars who had gotten involved – out past the pile of broken furniture they’d left in their wake and through the side door, but the swinging door showed the tourist spinning around with a punch the minute his feet hit the asphalt.
“Looks like he’s going to hit someone more than once,” Nathan muttered, not particularly generously.
“Ha. Good one. Yeah, he’s plenty violent, isn’t he? But he don’t come back, kid. Like I said. Never the same person twice.”
“But I’m not the -” Nathan gave up. He didn’t want to explain to this stranger. Hell, he didn’t even want to explain to Leo, who would probably scoff and walk away, no matter how different this could be, Nathan could be.
The front door swung again and a redheaded woman walked in. Another tourist, Nathan thought, noting the dyed-crimson of her hair and the clothes that wouldn’t have fit in here even if she were male. Then she kissed Liza with an intensity that suggested comfortable familiarity and an intimacy that said maybe she wasn’t all that out of place in a gay bar after all and plopped herself down at the bar next to Nathan’s new buddy.
“Telling the same old lies, Trev?” she teased. “Don’t listen to him, kid, whatever he says. Patti, my love. The usual and one of whatever these nice boys are having for them, too.”
Maybe that was supposed to cover exactly HOW big the wad of money she was passing over the counter was, or how two of those top bills would probably cover the furniture damages.
“They’re not lies, and anyway, how would you know? You’re not exactly his type!” Trev – if that was New Friend’s name – looked put out. The woman just laughed.
“I know because I know Leo. And I know you. Like I know I’m not your type but I might… sometimes… be this guy’s type.” She sipped her whisky – neat – and grinned at them, a grin that looked more hungry than cheerful and, Nathan had a feeling, was covering over a seething kettle of pain.
She saw through him, he knew that much. “Doesn’t matter. Lightning never strikes the same place twice.” He finished the drink Patti passed him in one gulp and laid his money on the counter. “I gotta go.”
The redhead’s voice followed him out the door. “Don’t believe that old lie, kid. Lightning strikes wherever he damn well pleases.”
See stories about Leofric/Leo (that have been migrated) here.
See stories about Cya(the redheaded woman) here.