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Lucas went to his night shift knowing full well that this would be his last daybreak spent with Nathan. He was relieved, as any doctor should be, that Nathan had recovered so well. He was a man in his prime after all, Lucas was glad his worst case scenario hadn't become a reality. He blew puffs of warm air onto his glove-clad fingers, walking briskly towards the beautiful large entrance of the hospital. As quickly as he could, he made his way to the staff locker room. He changed into his work attire, deposited his grungy old messenger bag, and left, slipping the pack of cards into his pants pocket. As he waved and greeted the doctors and nurses he passed on his way, he thought of ways he could maybe beat Nathan at cards tonight.

Something felt wrong in his gut as he approached the room he often frequented though. Peeking past the door, he was surprised to see that Nathan was no longer there. No, instead of that it was a thin-looking teenage girl, all hooked up and draped in hospital equipment and tubes. He froze, making sure he really had the right room.

"Are you my doctor?", a small voice drew his attention. It was the girl. Who definitely was not Nathan. She had limp blonde hair and donned a pink hospital gown. Nope, definitely not Nathan.

"I— uh no. No, I'm not. Sorry about that", he flashed a smile that resembled more of a muscle spasm, and left. 

Nathan, that dick, he thought as he inserted his quarters into the vending machine (a little more forcefully than was necessary, to be honest). He sighed at the comforting clank of the soda can hit the metal floor of the machine. Cracking it open, he took a big gulp, feeling the carbonation fizzle up his nose. He sniffed. He had checked, and he had not gotten his days mixed up (which he was prone to doing). Lucas supposed Nathan had just got discharged a day earlier. He had nobody to blame for that, really. He couldn't help feeling just a little bit cheated though. Damn. Guess that was goodbye. How boring. 

Lucas finished his evening shift uneventfully, distracting himself with organs and fluids and stitches. Like everything else, Lucas forced himself not to dwell too much on Nathan's leave. Over the years he had found it was much more productive to just shove useless feelings to the side, and absorb himself in work. This was no different. 

At seven, Lucas is off his night shift. With a little less spark in him than when he arrived, he greeted the metal door of his locker once again. He let the white coat slip off his shoulders, pulling his bag off the little hook in the locker. Something fluttered to his feet. It was a handwritten note, on a thick piece of card paper. It was Nathan. Just for good measure, he flipped the card, fingers tracing over the embossed type. Fischer Ignis. Nathan Fischer. Lucas couldn't stop the small grin that was now pinching at his cheeks. Well, guess he wasn't as much of a jerk after all.

--- 

Lucas is up on stage again. This time in a pair of shiny white shorts that hug his ass, and a mesh shirt. The bass is so loud he thinks the beating of his heart is trying to get in sync with it. He is up on stage with another boy, younger than he is and definitely more lively. The kid's raking in the money, even if it is a Thursday night. He had been right earlier about his boss, the old bastard had subjected him to a month of exclusively weekday shifts. Not that he minded too much, but weekends did bring in the most tips. The song changes smoothly, and Lucas is supposed to be performing a new routine they had cooked up. His focus on the dance doesn't last long though. 

Even over the music from the bar, he can hear husky laughter filter through the entrance door. It's a group of well-built guys, maybe late twenties, all testosterone and alcohol. They get the occasional gaggle of straight men here once in a while. Guys who are here for shits and giggles, guys who are too piss drunk to differentiate one dance joint from the next. This particular group is different though. Lucas recognizes that face, and not too long he is held in a locked gaze with one of the guys. He is tall, with a kind eyes but chiseled jawline. He's starting to grow a little stubble.

Lucas would recognize that face anywhere. A tidal wave of bad memories flood his mind. He inconspicuously motions for one of the newbies to take over his spot on stage. The boy flusters but climbs on as he slips off. Lucas' heart is racing and he could really use a smoke and some fresh air. His fingers are shaking when he tries to get his zippo to cooperate outside, just his trust trench coat over his stage outfit. He feels his ears plug up, like they do when he is anxious. He's jittery. God, so jittery that he doesn't register the graceless footsteps getting closer and closer to him. 

He is slammed into a brick wall before he knows it. 

"We haven't seen each other for a while, have we, Luke?", the voice is handsome even when slurred. Lucas is being held in a vice grip by the scruff of his coat, eye level with the other man.

"Jason", he breathes, cigarette already long forgotten, probably ashing away on the asphalt somewhere. 

"You've grown up so much. Look just like your fucking sister now, fucking fag", the voice turns gruff with the insult. Lucas winces as the rancid breath hits hit face. Jason might now be shorter than Lucas, but he easily overpowers him in muscle mass. Lucas is being shaken against the cold surface, neck whipping and head banging against it. 

"You just had to fuck up everything didn't you? Never thought I'd see you here", the man continues, ending with a disgusted scoff. The look on Jason's face is so hateful. So hateful. He throws Lucas to the ground, and Lucas thinks he can hear a rib crack maybe. Maybe it's not his ribs though. Maybe he's just imagining things.  One thing he is sure of though, he feels like shit. Jason reminds him that he is shit, and will probably never let him forget it. Just because he spoke his mind once so many years ago. Ever since then he had always felt wrong.

Lucas coughs into the sleeve of his coat, and that apparently sets the intoxicated man off. He's completely enraged now, his voice even cracks with emotion as he hurls more insults at Lucas.

"I was going to marry that girl", Jason says through labored breath. 

"What is it with you fucking queers! Can't be nice to you for one fucking second without you getting all over my dick. Jesus, you're disgusting", Jason spits. Lucas wants to die. Even more, he wants to let the tears out. He doesn't though, he just stands up and rushes back into the back exit of the bar, slamming the door behind him. The doorknob rattles for a second and his heart leaps. Quickly stuffing his things into his bag, he gasps sharply, trying not to cry. On his way out, he begs the bartender for a few bottles of whatever isn't popular. He just needs to get smashed right now. The bartender, Alex, gives him two bottles of their finest wine and an expensive whiskey. Lucas figures the other man must have felt sorry for him, showing up looking so wrecked. 

Lucas shoves the wine into his bag, opening the whiskey as he makes his way to the bus stop. Taking two swigs from the bottle, he shivers. He knows alcohol doesn't warm you up, he's been to med school after all, but right now he would really like to believe it. He's absolutely freezing, one layer of clothing separating him and his skimpy outfit from the cold winter air. Every single thing is making him so hyper conscious of himself, from the fact that he isn't wearing proper pants right now, to the fact that his hair makes him look so roughed up. He feels dirty. 

He gets on the first bus that shows up and takes the seat furthest from the front. He rides the bus for almost an hour, nursing the bottle of alcohol, before he starts feeling buzzed and lonely. Instinctively, his shaking hand reaches for the slip of paper in his pocket. He reads the words, savors them, smiles a little. 

--- 

143 West Street is located in a swanky section of New York. Not like he's surprised. It takes a bit of stealth and discretion to slip his way into the building unnoticed. It's harder than it looks, as he's completely shitfaced and definitely not looking like new money (old money or any money, in fact). He pushes the button that will take him to the highest floor. He giggles. A penthouse suite. He had always wondered what it would be like to live in one of those. Living at the top of the world.  It must be magical, he thinks as the bell dings and the elevator doors part for him. 

He lets his index finger slam down on the buzzer a few times, smiling to himself. The door opens unexpectedly fast, given that it is in the middle of the night and all. And that Nathan probably wasn't expecting guests. Lucas feels something warm meet his face upon that. Must be the heating coming from the condo. 

"Hi. Red or white?", Lucas says, lifting up his two bottles of vintage Chateau Margaux like trophies in his hands. His eyes are crinkled and red, and he is staggering. He hopes Nathan doesn't mind too much. 


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Lucas Odierno