He watches the bar through the misted plate-glass. Watches the laughter and the talk that they call lighthearted but looks too bitter, too jaded to be anything light.
He remembers a seventh grade science lesson; shadows are the result of blocked out light. There is no shadow without light. There is no light without shadow.
He is the Shadow.
The people in the bar laugh again, voices slurred and warm and liquor- smooth. The boy tips his head back, long hair falling across his face in tiger-stripes, dimples carved deep in his cheeks, and he smiles, wide and white teeth.
So beautiful, his boy is. So perfect.
He waits, waits until the conversation dies down, dims and flickers and flutters like a candle burning down to the end of its wick. He doesn't know if he wants the wait to be longer or shorter- if the anticipation will be better than the actualisation. He waits anyway.
The boy's company files out, slowly, trickling away, stomping and swaying, footsteps rough and harsh and ungainly. Not graceful like the curve of his boy's neck, or the sweep of his long long lashes, or the crease of his jeans where his legs are folded under a too low table. Not gorgeous.
His boy is gorgeous.
He waits until they're all gone- and he feels a moment of righteous fury for his boy. They are such terrible friends. Such terrible terrible friends. How could they leave him here- never mind that he's tall and strong and clever, so so clever- leave him alone and vulnerable, when anybody could stumble in and hurt him? No. No. Nobody will hurt his boy. He'll keep him safe, hold him close and protect him.
The bartender scowls at his boy, tells him to hurry up and get out of the damn bar, he needs to close up.
He watches his boy sway his way over to the door, hears the bells chime as it opens, and chime again as it closes.
So innocent, his boy is.
His boy stumbles over nothing, stretches his arm out to grasp at nothing, and he finally, finally, reaches out to hold him steady.
"Whoa there" he says, smiling at the boy, at his boy. "You've got to be careful. The ice can be dangerous this time of year."
His boy blushes, ducks his head, hides behind his long hair and his long lashes, cheeks dimpled and flushed from cold and whiskey and embarrassment. "Yeah." his boy says, voice syrup sweet and delightfully low, "Um. Sorry. I'm a bit of a klutz when I'm drunk. Thanks. For uh- you know. Catching me."
Magnificent, his boy is.
"That's alright." He says.
His boy smiles again, and he can feel his own smile growing, stretching wide and far, like his face can't accommodate his joy. "You're in no state to be driving, have you called for a taxi?"
"Ah, fuck. I don't have a car. And I forgot to call a taxi."
"Need a ride home?" He asks, and he considers praying for the first time in years.
His boy's eyes are glazed with liquor, but they are sharp and bright. Suspicious. "Sorry," he says, slowly, like he's truly sorry, "but my mother taught me not to trust strangers."
Smart, his boy is.
"Well then, I suppose that's sound advice." He says. "I'll tell you what, though. How about we stop?"
"Stop being strangers, I mean. Here, I'll go first. My name's Dean. Dean Smith. I work in HR. I live down on seventh avenue."
His boy's brow furrows for a moment before it smoothens out into a smile and a quick flash of dimples. "I'm Sam."
He smiles his best smile at his boy. "Well then, Sam, now that we've made our acquaintance, how about that ride? It's snowing awful bad out here, and I bet you'll want to get out of the cold."
His boy looks up at the dark gray skies and the flurries of snow, and pulls his scarf tighter around his neck.
"Yeah, if it's not a problem." his boys says.
He smirks. "No problem."
His car is parked two blocks down, the doors in the back only unlock from the outside, and there's a bottle of chloroform and a clean cotton rag in the glove compartment.
"Come along, then." He says.
All his to keep, his boy is.