Bar Hopping

For the Week 5 prompt: “A story set in London.”

“I wasn’t sure you were going to make it.”

It was hard, but Nathan kept the growl out of his throat. He didn’t like people sneaking up behind him and he especially didn’t like him doing it. And there was no mistaking who exactly he was, with the crisp Queen’s English being thrown in his ear.

(Granted, that slight chewing of his r was music to Nathan’s ear and he would love nothing more than to point out that the asshole’s West Country was showing. Would certainly knock him down a peg or two.)

“Good to see you too, Colin,” came his reply, turning just in time to see the pale complexion twist into a condescending grimace.

(And if Nathan allowed a little more of his New Orleans heritage to show in his slow drawl than normal, well, there wasn’t anything he could do about that.)

“Well,” tall, pale, and pointy snipped before yanking open the door, “shall we?”

“Might as well get this over with.”

Surprisingly, it was easy to settle in. Nathan was grateful to be inside – the rain just enhanced the smell – and it would be a while before he could have Howling Hops IPA on draft again. It almost made up for the shitty company. Too soon, they had their beers (Colin ordered Five Points and Nathan almost snorted into his glass), found a small, secluded seat, and sat.

The silence was welcoming.

It was also necessary. They were early; most of the patrons still inside were of the innocent variety. However, last call was in twenty minutes and soon, the tavern would slowly empty. Then the rest would come out of hiding and this blasted meeting would start. Until then, no use in getting unnecessary people involved. That was a lesson they didn’t need to repeat.

It wasn’t until they were a quarter into the second round that the silence was broken.

“I wanted to offer my gratitude for your assistance the last time you were here.”

Brown eyes flicked to hazel. Nathan snorted out a soft laugh before taking another swig. “That must have hurt.”

A flash of pearly teeth. “Just a bit.”

“It sucked and I’d rather never do anything like that again, but you’re welcome.”

“Hopefully you never will.”

“I’ll drink to that.”

They met each other’s gaze for a moment before clinking glasses and taking another draft. Honestly, Nathan didn’t understand why Colin took so long to warm up to people. As soon as you got past the first ten minutes of complete jackassery and got a few beers in him, the man loosened up. A bit. If you knew how to deal with him.

In reality, after a few beers, Nathan just had a bit more patience than normal.

Last call came and went, leaving the pair with their third round as they slowly caught up with the happenings on the other side of the pond. Twenty minutes after that saw the bar beginning to shut down, slowly signaling people to leave. Before long, the two were chuckling over their fourth round, all innocents were out of the bar and off the street, and then the party started to show up.

Judging from the less than welcoming expressions directed toward Nathan, it sure was going to be a long, annoying night.

***

“I feel like all you do is go from bar to bar.” Colin sat down with his cappuccino, stirring in the sprinkling of cinnamon sitting on top of the foam.

Nathan smiled at the sight while he tested his tea. While he normally enjoyed the cup of coffee in the morning, London had great tea. Especially after a night of drinking.

“You headed back to the States today?”

“Yeah,” he answered while looking out the window of the coffee shop. It was still early with little on the street. Most innocents were either still sleeping or just waking up. “I hadn’t planned to stay more than a day. Couldn’t chance staying longer in case that meeting went to shit.”

Colin nodded, glancing at Nathan for a moment before looking back at the coffee bar. “Good. I don’t want to have to babysit you for long.”

Nathan let out a soft laugh. “You staying for a bit?”

“Just a couple days. Found a hotel to hole up in until the storms start again, then heading out.”

“Anywhere particular?” he asked after taking a sip of his tea. He watched Colin’s eyes flit around before landing in his cup. After a couple moments of silence, he checked his watch. Time to head for the tram. “Well, if you ever make it across the pond, you have my number.”

He stood, looking at the table and his long-term friend. Friend. It had taken a long time to apply that name to the pale man, but there it was. “I hear Seattle is a nice place to visit in the winter.”

Colin looked up, his hazel eyes almost completely washed out. He’ll need to feed soon and the longer Nathan stayed, the longer that was delayed. “Take care, pup.”

“You, too.”