Chapter Twenty Three: A Certain CharmMature

Silus sucked down the dregs of his scotch. It was terrible, and he'd have much preferred to be seated in his own office with his own bottle, but such was life. He nodded to the bartender, an clean-shaven young man whose attention had been caught by the hollow clink of his glass on the wooden counter. 

"Here alone, handsome?" the youth asked, approaching with the bottle.

"It would seem so." Silus hadn't intended sounding quite so despondent in his response. 

The bartender sent up an eyebrow as he artfully poured copper liquid into Silus's waiting glass. "Penny for your thoughts?"

"It'll take a lot more than a penny, I'm afraid." Silus clasped the glass before the boy had even finished pouring. He tried not to wince as the drink scorched his throat.

"Yeah, it isn't the best," the bartender admitted, holding the bottle at arm's length as though to study it from afar and find some redeemable quality in its murky appearance. "But a lot of folk think the shit drink is part of the charm of the place."

"I see." With a quick glance to his left, Silus spied a couple of men sipping the same drink, while one slipped his hand down into the trousers of the other.

"Hope it brings you luck tonight, if you know what I mean." The bartender winked and tipped the bottle towards Silus in a cheeky salute before moving down the counter to top up the couple's shared glass.

Silus sighed into his glass. Maybe if he'd flirted with the kid, just a little, he'd have produced a better bottle of scotch. Then again, maybe he wouldn't have. He would never know. Such was life.

A body slid onto the barstool next to him, shoulders tense, head cloaked by a brown hood. At first, Silus didn't recognize the shaggy, bony face which poked out from underneath the dark fabric. Then, an elbow drove itself into his side, and he turned abruptly to scold the stranger.

"Don't look at me," a husky voice said.

Silus stared, mouth moving but emitting no words for a moment. "Warren?" he hissed.

"Ssshhhh - shut your mouth, would you? And why are you dressed like.... like yourself? I told you in my message to dress inconspicuously!"

"Inconspicuously!" Silus couldn't help but laugh. "Have you seen yourself? You look like a leather tent with legs - and very nice shoes! Besides, who the hell do you think will recognize us in here?" He gestured subtly but pointedly towards the array of men which dotted the bar, each one either lightly petting another, or already shrugging their clothes off.

"Nobody can see me. Nobody can know that I'm like this. Nobody. Do you understand?"

"Warren, I believe you're overreacting," said Silus, the humour quickly wearing away, leaving worry in its place. "Will you at least let me take you to see a doctor?"

"No. Nobody can look at me. Except maybe this young man." Warren began pounding on the counter with his fist, making the soft-faced young bartender jump to attention.

"Good afternoon, sir, what might I - ?"

"Just bring me a bottle of scotch and don't look at me again until it's time to pay the bill." It was much less a sentence as it was a string of snarls and grunts.

The boy looked taken aback, and turned wide eyes towards Silus for a moment, as though asking Is this man serious? After a moment, he fetched the scotch bottle and scurried away to the other end of the bar.

"My cock is absolutely killing me. I haven't shagged in weeks, Silus."

Silus curled his lower lip. "I see. And you're thinking of trying out the other team for a change?"

Warren snarled. "I asked you to a homosexual bar because I wanted to keep a low profile."

"A low profile?" Silus smirked again. "Believe me, I know at least fifty people off the top of my head that should currently be keeping low profiles, and you are not one of them, Warren."

"I didn't ask for your opinion. Are you going to listen, or should I take this to go?"

Inhaling slowly, Silus switched to a smile which he hoped would reassure his friend. "Of course I'm going to listen, Warren. What did you wish to discuss?"

"I want her."

"Who, Zara? Get in line, my friend. Not sure you're her type. Especially not anymore."

"Go fuck yourself, Silus. I mean Molly. I want her on my doorstep, naked and unconscious. Not a scratch on her, do you hear me?"

"Jesus, Warren. Why - ?" Silus bit his own lip, not sure he truly wanted the answer to the question on his lips. "I mean, I thought you just wanted her dead? Once she is, it'll be a hop, skip and jump until we get your father's accounts written into your name -"

"I'm sorry - who is the client here, and who is the employer? You tell your people to get the metal bitch to my house, and once I've had my fun, they can do away with her however they please."

The scotch began to feel awfully cold and heavy in Silus's stomach. Murder was one thing - he had always dealt in murder. But this was something else entirely. It wasn't what he did.

"The other day, you said you were my friend," Warren whispered. "You want to help me get through all of this, right? So get it done. I'll be waiting, and I don't expect to see you again until I see her naked arse and her copper face on my doorstep."

Still clutching the scotch bottle, Warren slunk away from the bar and stormed towards the exit, throwing a disgusted look at a drunken old man who reached out and smacked his arse while it was in transit.

The young bartender wandered back to Silus, absentmindedly drying a glass. "Your friend didn't pay for his drink," he whined, though his voice lacked any anger.

"I'll take care of it," Silus muttered as he finished his own glass.

"You're a real darling, you know that? You want another?"

"Yes - but make it a white wine this time. The scotch is leaving a bad taste in my mouth."

The End

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