The night was unlike San Francisco – the air was soft and slightly warm even after the sun had gone down and it brought everyone out into the streets and the clubs. The Castro was a scene – people watching and being watched. The Cafe was packed, the line at the bar five deep. Michael and Anthony took turns getting drinks, always from the dark haired lesbian in the cowgirl hat – she mixed them strongest. It only took a couple for Michael to forget any hesitation he might have had about being here. This was what he needed. The music so loud he couldn't think, the drinks strong enough to set up a buzzing in his brain, the press of bodies against him as they danced.
Even though there was barely room to move, Anthony danced like a man possessed, with others or alone, it didn’t matter. He danced until his shirt stuck to his body and his hair was damp with sweat. He glistened with it. He danced for hours, as the crowd swelled and shrank around him. He glowed, incandescent. Michael could not tear his eyes away, no matter whether he was dancing himself, or drinking and watching, it was Anthony who drew him. Finally Anthony looked up and caught his gaze from across the crowd. A wolfish grin crossed his lips and he tossed his hair out of his face. He made his way through the crowd to Michael’s side.
“Hey Red. What are you doing here all by yourself, clinging to the wall like this? You should be out making yourself available. You’re far better looking then anyone else here,” Anthony waved his hand, dismissing the whole club with the gesture. He tapped a cigarette from the pack in his pocket and offered it to Michael, who shook his head. Anthony shrugged, lit his own and took a deep drag. “Much better,” he said, tipping his head back exhaling the smoke in a huge cloud. “Now, what’s your deal, Michael-man? Why aren’t you dancing?”
“I’m tired,” Michael said, all that he would admit. He wasn't sure what might happen if he were to spend too much time dancing with Anthony.
Anthony reached out and grabbed Michael’s wrist, turning it over and glancing at his watch. He shook his head in disgust. “Tired already? It’s only 12:30. It’s far to early to be turning into a pumpkin.” He cocked his head and studied Michael carefully, considering. “Though your skin does seem to be taking on a rather orange tint. That’s never a good sign. Come with me, I have something that might help you,” he suggested. Taking Michael by the shoulder, he guided him through the crowd and into the bathroom.
The moment Anthony reached into his pocket, Michael knew what he was going to bring out. He had known it the minute he laid eyes on him that afternoon. Ant was on something. But for the first time curiosity outweighed dread. He wanted a vacation, from his life, from the sameness of it, from the loss of Peter, from himself. He wanted the freedom Anthony believed he had. He glanced up at Anthony, at the glow that seemed to surround him… and he wanted that. He wanted the energy bordering on madness. He was intrigued as Anthony pulled out a small ziplock baggie and opened it carefully, almost reverently. As though it held great treasure instead of plain white powder. It looked like sugar. Anthony poured out a bit and began making lines.
For the first time since they had reached the bathroom, maybe since he arrived in San Francisco, Anthony met Michael’s gaze. “This is for you.” His eyes glittered strangely and his face seemed too flushed. But in that second, Michael didn't care. Pushing aside the small voice that nagged at him to walk away right now, he closed his eyes and ducked his head. He didn't ask what it was. He didn't care. Even before he slipped the piece of straw into his right nostril, before he inhaled in one sniff, before his nose began to burn, Michael’s heart beat frantically against the cage of his ribs. He ignored it too, the fear. Because he would let go, drop down… join Anthony in his dance on the edge of the blade. What did it matter if they got cut, their blood would flow together. And maybe, if they were both lucky – they would emerge on the other side, stronger in their broken places.
At this thought a grin rose in him, he could feel it in his body. The warmth started in his stomach, spread through his chest and out to his lips. It felt good… right. It felt like nothing he'd experienced before. His heart was still pounding, but not in fear anymore. There wasn't anything to be afraid of; he could do anything.
Anthony caught his expression and mirrored it. “How you feeling?”
A rush of lightheadedness made Michael sway for a brief moment, but then the flush rolled through him like thunder and everything became ten times brighter. “Tired of doing the right thing all the time,” Michael said. “Tired of doing nothing because I’m afraid of making a mistake. I need experience.”
Anthony laughed. “Better to regret something you did, than something you didn’t do. Or so they say. Whoever ‘they’ are.” Anthony ran his hand over Michael’s bare head, sending sparks of energy through him, as though transmitted through their skin. “Well, my friend, you’ve come to the right place. Experience it is.”
When Anthony led Michael back from the bathroom and into the crowd, Michael was very nearly overwhelmed. The edges of everything were so clear, so sharp he felt as though he would cut himself if he touched anyone. The noise of the crowd, of the music washed over him, tugging at him. Anthony’s presence was a slight buffer, a comfort, a point of focus in the swirl of motion. And then they were in the midst of it and the music was flowing through him, bass thudding deep in his body, in his blood, in his heart and he moved with it, expressed it, sent it from him and into those around him and they took it in and sent it back to him, energy expanding and contracting until they were one throbbing organism moving in synch. And Anthony; over and above it all, Anthony. Flickering like a flame as he moved.
Tiredness had vanished, replaced with an endless supply of energy. Michael knew he could dance all night, dance until dawn and on through the day. The blood flowing through his veins beat in his ears, lust pooling in his groin, setting him on fire until he was certain he burned as brightly as Anthony. The rest of the crowd in the club faded, leaving only himself and Anthony together, yet separate, dancing fiercely. Bodies pressed against him and he moved with them, flowed into and around them, and still he only focused on Anthony. Hands moved over him, lips, legs and he responded though they were not Anthony’s hands, not Anthony’s lips, not Anthony’s legs. Anthony swayed before him, just out of reach, gaze glittering, smoldering, setting Michael to a slow burn. His eyes were darker than Michael had ever seen them, iris nearly swallowed by pupil. Black, they were, those eyes, deep and fathomless and he could lean forward, lean close, dive in and drown. Drown in the depths of those eyes that called him even through the noise of the club.
Still he moved, watching Anthony, suddenly finding himself mirroring his movements. They moved in tandem, gazes locked. Sweat poured down Michael’s face, dripping into his eyes and making them burn. Anthony tossed back his head, shaking his hair away from his face. The sweat shimmered on his skin, reflecting the light. Even from a distance, Michael could feel the heat radiating from Anthony’s body, bridging the gap between them. His own heat reached out to it, touched, became one as the energy flowed between them.