Sebastian and his friends had their own inside joke about their Thursday night routine. If one of them didn’t show up at their favorite bar on Thursday night, the others should assume the worst. The missing friend was either at the hospital or even worse, had found a girlfriend. He had to admit that it did get a little boring going to the same place and seeing the same people every week. But on the few occasions that he did skip a night, he felt like he was missing out on something. And the closer he got to finishing school and going out into the real world, the more he cherished these nights with his buddies.
He also hoped that his new friend from last week was going to be there. Sebastian considered himself an old soul and took some ribbing from his friends when he would socialize with his professors and other people from that generation. Alex seemed like a very interesting guy. Like he told him that night, he had a fascination with archaeology, and the fact that Dr. Jamison was so well regarded at the school made Sebastian eager to talk to him again. And he wanted the chance to buy Alex a drink to make up for the round he bought Sebastian and the guys last week.
So as he walked in the bar that night with his friends, he glanced over at the bar looking for Alex. He was right there, sitting in the same spot as last week. Alex told him that he was a semi-regular there even though Sebastian couldn’t remember seeing him there before. He made his way to their usual booth and made a mental note to go and talk to the professor later.
As for Alex, he was sitting with his back to the front door on the same barstool as the week before. He could see Sebastian and his friends walk in the front door with the help of the large mirror at the back of the bar, but made no move to look their way. As he discussed with Stephen the night before, it would be better if Sebastian made contact again. If it didn’t look like that would happen, then he would make the approach. As he was going over how to make that approach, he felt a tap on his shoulder.
“Dr. Jamison! Glad you made it back tonight. How’s the world of archaeology?”
Alex was so relieved that he didn’t have to approach Sebastian in front of his friends, that a wide grin broke out across his face.
“Sebastian. Good to see you again too. You and the gang back to shut down the place again?”
Both men laughed as Sebastian pulled up a barstool.
“Mind if I sit? Don’t tell the guys, but I’ve heard all of their stories and jokes before. I figured you would have a lot more to offer as far as conversations go anyway.”
Alex was trying to hide his excitement. Despite his and Stephen’s concerns about establishing a trusting relationship with the kid, he could tell that a bond was forming. He still wasn’t convinced that they would be successful, but he was liking their odds more than ever.
“Of course, sit. It’s not every day that someone under the age of 30 voluntarily wants to converse with me. Most nights I have to listen to bitter, drunken professors complain about their students, the administration, their wives, you name it.”
“Sounds painful. Anyway, I owe you a drink from last week. What will it be?”
Alex was touched by the gesture and normally wouldn’t have taken anything from a young college student, but something in the moment told him to take the kid up on the offer. He probably didn’t have much money, but to a proud young man like Sebastian, it would mean a lot to buy a round of drinks for someone he admired.
“If you insist. I’m just drinking draft beer tonight.”
As Sebastian flagged down the bartender, Alex was going over the rehearsed plan in his head, just waiting for the right time to turn a pleasant conversation into a very awkward one. One that hopefully didn’t send Sebastian running away.
It didn’t take long for the drinks to start flowing. It was apparent to Alex that he would have to pace himself if he wanted to keep a somewhat level head tonight. Sebastian invited him to join him and his friend’s at their booth, which Alex readily accepted. He knew it probably wasn’t a good idea to imbibe that much alcohol before having his private conversation with Sebastian, but he knew that joining his friends would go a long way towards building trust.
Just when Alex thought that he might not get a chance to speak with Sebastian alone, a group of girls that the guys apparently knew came to the booth and dragged his friends to the stage to hear the band. They begged Sebastian to join them as well, but he turned them down. Alex didn’t know if that was because of him, but he wasn’t complaining. He knew this was his moment.
“Sebastian, I remember you saying that you had a fascination with archaeology that first night we met. Am I remembering that right?”
“Absolutely. I mean, I’m not an expert or anything, but who wouldn’t be fascinated with studying artifacts and the history of human civilization? I didn’t tell you this that first night, but I actually read your book.”
Alex tried not to react to this news, but it was tough. If Sebastian had gone out of his way to read his book, then what he would have to tell him wouldn’t come as that big of a shock. There were theories of lost, unknown civilizations throughout the book, though obviously no mentions of ‘The Keepers’.
“Well, the reason I ask is, I’m going to be giving a lecture to a small group of people tomorrow night. I’m not sure how many will show up, but I think you’ll find the topic interesting. I know it’s a Friday night, but I really think you would enjoy it. At least I hope you would. I go more in depth on topics covered in the book. What do you think?”
“Sure. I usually just take it easy on Friday nights anyway. That sounds like fun.”
Alex couldn’t help but laugh at that. Not many kids Sebastian’s age would ever consider an archaeology lecture at a professor’s house to be fun. On a Friday night no less. He was more sure than ever that they had found the right guy.