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Rough Sketch

by sleesor

Chapter 1

It was the third time Brian found himself walking into the bar alone. It was a beautiful sunny day outside the empty shack, and his girlfriend, Kate was out by the beach with the rest of his friends. It wasn't the first good day out' that he'd skipped out on. So much that it looked like she'd given up on trying to get him to tag along outside. It was probably a good thing, but then he could only hope that she wasn't too upset over all this. 

Was it his fault that he didn't like the beach? 

"Not a fan of the beach, are you?" The familiar voice of the bartender came, as though the man had just read his thoughts. Sitting himself on the stool directly facing the man, Brian gave a simple shrug as an answer. 

"So what brings you all the way out here, then?" the man pressed on. "Most kids come out here for the sand, the sun and the sea." 

"I just came because my girlfriend wanted to come," Brian sighed. "Seriously I'd rather have gone to any other place in Europe for the museums or galleries." 

"Well, you never know until you give this place a chance, right? But who am I to shoo away a customer? Name's Matt," the bartender introduced himself. 

"Brian," Brian answered simply. "And I dunno, guess I'm not an outdoors kind of person." It would have been stating the obvious anyway. Not that Brian looked like a frail kind of nerd, but his complexion was a little pale and his frame was a bit thinly built, a fact accentuated by the red Hawaiian shirt he was wearing. 

After ordering his drink, Brian stared out towards the open beach, sighing miserably. It wasn't just that he didn't like going out, it was also that he'd been waiting for the right time to propose to his girlfriend. The setting would've been perfect if they'd been in Europe. Now he felt like the ring in his pocket would have to wait until they were either back in college or off on their next vacation. 

"So what kind of stuff would you rather do, then?" Matt asked as he returned with Brian's order. The bartender looked the complete opposite of Brian, in a sense. The man was tall, large and slightly burly, the parts of his stone-carved biceps not covered by the sleeves of his own Hawaiian shirt covered in tattoos. His head was shaved completely bald, his wide jaw covered with a thick goatee that seemed to amplify the ‘fierce' kind of look you'd expect to see in his dark brown eyes. Although he looked nothing short of friendly at the moment, he did not look like someone anyone would want to mess with. 

"I dunno, sketch I guess," Brian admitted. 

"So you're some kind of artist?" the bartender chuckled. 

"Not professionally, no. But I do enjoy it," Brian said. 

"What kind of stuff do you sketch?" the bartender egged on. 

"Anything, really. Nothing specific. People, sometimes. Views. Buildings. If I had gone to Greece, I would've loved to sketch the statues of the Goddesses," Brian explained, a slight tone of passion in his voice. A notable change over his usual flat, uninterested tone. It was, after all, the first time anyone had asked him about his art since he'd come here. Kate had been more than supportive of it when they'd first gotten together, but lately he felt as though she was losing interest in it, offering generic praises whenever he asked for her opinion on anything he made. 

"Well what about the Gods?" 

"Pardon me?" 

"I mean, Zeus and stuff, right?" Matt offered. 

"Oh, yeah. Them too. I guess," Brian replied, taking a sip from his drink. "But I dunno, I've never drawn men before." 

Hearing this, the bartender raised an eyebrow. "Well why not? I thought you artists just appreciated art as beauty. Doesn't make you gay or anything." 

"Yeah, I guess not," Brian agreed. "But it's not like an issue or anything now. I probably won't be seeing Greece until next year at this rate." 

"Well good luck with that," Matt said. "And if you feel strongly enough about it, maybe you should go even if your girlfriend wants to go somewhere else. Just saying." 

"Yeah," Brian sighed. "Thanks." It was easier said than done, though. Brian just wasn't one of those people who was good at saying ‘no' and sticking up for his own decisions. Odds were that if Kate were to pick somewhere else again, he'd end up sticking with her. He didn't want to risk losing her, after all. 

"Hey, Brian. Want to see something cool?" 
Looking up from his drink, Brian saw that the bartender was holding up a pendant of some kind in front of him. An ornament which seemed to have been carved out of bone with a small chunk of some sort of blue crystal embedded into its core. 

"It's an amulet said to have been worn by the tribe elders who used to dwell on this island," Matt said. "It looks perfectly carved, but if you look closely enough, you'll see a flaw in the stone. See if you can find it." 

Not thinking too much of it, Brian's eyelids narrowed as he tried to find the flaw. It's not like he would've said ‘no' anyway, despite thinking that this was a colossal waste of time. It still beat going out into the hot sun. 

"Focus," Matt intoned softly, his voice dropping to slight croon as he encouraged Brian on. "It's right there in the center, just focus..." 

Seeing Brian's eyelids beginning to flutter, Matt knew that the pills he put in the man's drink were starting to take effect. The grin that appeared on his face would've been invisible to Brian anyway. "Nothing exists but the stone. Feel yourself drawn into its center..." The older man's deep voice strangely comforting, Brian began to feel himself getting sleepier and sleepier as his vision around the amulet seemed to blur out, forcing him to focus more and more on the stone. 

"Relax... take a deep breath, boy, and feel all your troubles wash away..." 
Brian was beginning to nod off now, the combined effect of the bartender's voice, the crystal and the sound of ocean waves behind him all chipping away at what little resistance he'd put up. 

"Now, you're in a safe place, boy. I'm here to watch over you while you sleep, so just close your eyes and let everything else fade away.." 

As the last of Brian's resistance faded, his head drooped down as he fell completely silent save for the sound of deep, measured breaths. Fearing that some other people might come into the empty bar at any given minute, or even notice just by passing outside the shack to get to the beach, Matt knew he had to act fast. 

"Can you hear me, Brian?" Matt asked. 

"Yess..." came the slurred reply. This was too easy. Although Matt suspected that it could be due to Brian's ‘agreeable' nature. 

"Brian, I want you to listen to me very carefully. From now on, every time I touch you, you're going to feel good. You won't understand why, but the feel of my skin in touch with yours is going to be the best thing you've ever felt. The longer I touch you, the more you'll feel the pleasure build. And the more pleasure you feel, the harder it will become for you to think. Is that clear?" 


"Good," Matt said. It wasn't much to work with for now, but perhaps he'd get more time later. Seeing a couple walking over towards the shack from a distance, Matt quickly brought Brian out of his trance after commanding him to awaken at the sound of his fingers snapping. Like clockwork, Brian woke up just in the nick of time, none the wiser to everything that had happened in the span of the few minutes he'd spent entranced. 

"Hey, I think I'm going to head back to my bedroom and catch a few Z's," Brian said as he got off from his stool. 

"Nice meeting you, Brian," Matt grinned, extending his hand out for Brian to shake it. 

Not making too much out of it as usual, Brian took it. As he felt the bartender's firm grip on his wrist, Brian's eyes widened for a bit as he felt the grip linger. Odd, he thought. It felt strangely comforting. Perhaps it was just the sense of having someone to talk to, he told himself. Matt was the first person he'd been able to talk to about his feelings since he'd arrived, after all. 

"Hey, you coming down here again tonight?" Matt asked, his hand still holding on to Brian's. 

"I..I don't know," Brian found himself stammering. God, why was he stammering? 

"Th..there's a beach party I p..promised Kate I'd go to with her..." 

‘Damn,' Matt cursed inside as he finally let go of Brian's hand. Thinking quickly, he moved that hand up in another sudden friendly gesture as he grasped Brian's shoulder. Delighting in the look of confusion on the younger man's face, Matt leaned in and whispered, "Well, just because you promised you'd go doesn't mean you'd promised you'd stay, does it? You hate the beach anyway." 

"I hate the beach anyway," Brian said, as though not noticing he'd just repeated after the bartender mindlessly. 

"Now go on ahead," Matt grinned as he let the boy go. "Wouldn't want to keep 
you from your nap." 

Later that night, Matt found himself waiting for any sign of Brian. It had only occurred to him after letting the younger man go that he had failed to specify a time for Brian to show up. Still it didn't matter since even though the bar was relatively full that night, his shift was over and once the boy did turn up, he'd have all night to play with his new toy. 

Sure enough, his patience paid off and eventually Matt found Brian walking into the bar casually as though he was here of his own accord. Walking over to Brian, Matt gave a friendly ‘hello' gesture, again shaking the boy's hand, this time without waiting for the boy to take it. Reaching out on his own accord may have seemed like coming on a bit strongly, but the slight feeling of being creeped out by Matt's overbearing ‘friendliness' quickly faded away as the boy's frown quickly melted into a friendly smile. 

"I told Kate I wasn't feeling well," Brian said. 

"How long is she going to be at the party?" Matt asked. 

"Pretty long," Brian replied, and Matt believed him. He'd seen more than his fair share of ‘city people' come here for the wild beach parties, ending up either being carried to their rooms well past midnight, or passed out on the beach soaked in alcohol. Perfect. 

"Are we going to get a drink?" Brian asked. 

"Sure. It's on me," Matt said. 

And so they sat at the bar together, talking as Matt signalled the current bartender to serve Brian more of the drug-laced drink he'd served to Brian earlier that day. Brian ended up opening up about a lot. His insecurities over his relationships with Kate, how unhappy he was studying law when what he really wanted to do was become an artist, it all came bubbling to the surface, coaxed on by the drinks and Matt's occasional pat on his shoulder. 
This went on until Matt finally got round to asking, "Do you think I could have a look at some of your sketches?" 

"Sure," Brian replied a bit eagerly. "They're in my room. You want to wait here while I go get them?" 

"Maybe I can just go up there with you," Matt replied, a sly grin forming on his face. 

"Uh...yeah, sure," Brian agreed simply. He trusted Matt. It wasn't like anything bad was going to happen anyway, as far as he was concerned. He still couldn't understand, really, what he found so endearing about the other man's company. Or why ever since early this afternoon he found his thoughts directed back to him so often. But as far as he was concerned he was leaving the island tomorrow anyway with the rest of his friends, so those concerns wouldn't last long. 

Or so he hoped. 

The room Brian took Matt too wasn't exactly one of the grandest suites in the hotel. And Matt had seen his fair share of this hotel's rooms, considering the amount of guests he'd taken the time to ‘get to know'. He guessed that being college students probably left the kids with little options, although for all intents and purposes, it was still quite fancy, having its own living room separated from the bedrooms. It was here, in the dim lighting of the room where Matt sat down while waiting for Brian to come back with his sketchbook. 
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