It took Judas some time to gather the courage to walk up to the church’s doorway; for minutes that dragged on he stood on the sidewalk and merely looked at the white stone building and its painted-black door. Once there, between a pair of discreet square pillars that flanked the entrance, it took him another few minutes to raise his left hand to the door handle. He still clutched his undershirt to his bloodied nose with the other hand, not knowing whether the bleeding had stopped or not during his walk, or when he’d stood hesitating.
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“My name is James; I’m a friend of Mortimer’s.” A pause, not long enough for Judas to respond even if he could place that man just from a first name. “Grouse with a paunch, you, ah, met with him a couple of times.”
Oh. Judas did remember Mortimer. The man had wined and dined him considerably better than he would’ve dared to ask if he’d had a license, much less without, and had insisted on Judas bringing home both their leftovers. He was almost as old as Judas’s father, divorced with two children half Judas’s age if that, and he’d almost, almost, managed to get the polecat to feel like an equal. A good man. One of very few he would’ve even entertained the notion of giving his blessing when asked if he could share his number. So this was the friend he’d had in mind?
Things were no different than any other night, not perceptibly. Judas, as always, could use money or a free meal. The club, as always, had more than enough potential sources of either, if he wasn’t too picky about how he’d come by it. The same way as always; it was a calculated risk every time he went looking to expand his client base. A risk of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person, a risk of being asked for a license he didn’t have and couldn’t afford.
Judas closed the textbook he’d been poring over when his phone rang, with barely a glance at the display – he wouldn’t recognize the number anyway – before pressing the button to take the call and lifting it to his ear. He was acutely aware of Ian bent over a sheaf of sheet music a little further over in their shared dorm room, and wasn’t entirely comfortable with the bear’s presence. Not during a call like this. But it wasn’t the first time and if it became the last his time at the university would soon be over, anyway, so he only took care to make sure his side of the conversation was as innocuous as humanly possible.
Judas was well camoflaged. There was no other word for it; he was very nearly as out of place as could be, but he’d managed to hide it. Not just that the club wasn’t really his kind of scene, though that certainly was part of it. Judging by the fact that the woman next to him, a blue tiger with quite captivating amber eyes, was offering to buy him a second drink, he was pretty sure it wasn’t just his discomfort with the environment that he’d managed to cover up.
The polecat adjusted his desk chair, pulled over to Ian’s desk for the occassion, then reached up and tilted the camera perched on top of the monitor a little more. The preview on the screen didn’t show his face, but from collarbones to mid-thighs, the image seemed clearly enough in focus. Enough so that he could make out a hint of ribs through his fur if he brought the preview up larger.
Judas cracked his eyes open and glanced over in the direction of the glowing screen in the other end of the room. His roommate was still sitting there, studio earphones covering the bear’s ears, and he appeared to be nodding in time with the music, ocassionally humming along. Now and then he paused, cocking his head a fraction, and typed a few words’ worth or clicked the mouse; probably adjusting something about the piece he was working on.
Judas picked the farthest stall, hanging his towel on the peg across from it and slinking, tail low, behind the partition. His heart was beating against his ribcage as he fumbled with the taps, biting back a cry as ice-cold water rushed down over him. At least it didn’t take long to heat up, and once the water soaking into his fur wasn’t freezing, it wasn’t long until he stopped shivering. With a sigh, he planted his palms on the wall, tile on one side of him and the plastic-or-whatever-it-was partition on the other, and leaned.
People don’t know me, they assume I’m some don’t-give-a-damn punk. It’s the hair, the piercings, and maybe a little bit the clothes. I don’t dress in ripped band shirts and jeans full of safety pins, but it is enough I have to change when I get to school. I don’t really mind; in high school it kept people off my back. Certainly wasn’t my impressive physique; I’m a scrawny son-of-a-bitch and daylight isn’t too kind on rat fur at the best of times.
It was the sort of thing that happened.
Not to him, oh no, it was most definitely not the sort of thing that happened to him. But to other people. It was the sort of thing that happened, now and again. No big deal. Not even the sort of thing one planned on — especially not the sort of thing he planned on, God forbid! — but just the sort of thing that happened. One thing leading to another, and, well… that sort of thing. Exactly that sort of thing. With other people, of course. Not him.