Dimitri just wanted to love.
He’d spent years hiding in shadows and alleys, finding small secret dens of acceptance where he could. Dodging crowds and public places, dating men only to lose them to wives or other facades. He’d suffered heartache after heartache, yet he couldn’t give up. His heart kept leading him out, every weekend at every club, eyes scanning for telltale signs.
His current squeeze had no other attachments, except to music - the kind played at popular clubs, where Dimitri couldn’t safely show his affection. He wanted to, and his date often encouraged it, but he had been on the other end of too many altercations - his face swollen and his gut heaving as he pondered if he might die. The pain one day might outweigh the comfort of the arms he held afterwards.
Anna just wanted a break.
She worked so hard everyday, putting in long hours at a job that felt like it went nowhere, her efforts fading into the emergencies of the next day. Yet it kept her supported, with enough for a small, Soviet style apartment in the city as well as extra to send home to her family in the countryside. She reminded herself everyday that things could be worse.
Her family wanted her to marry, but Anna felt like she already had too many mouths to feed. She preferred to spend her free time relaxing, spending any wages leftover on a few nights out a month to treat herself. At night she curled up under the blanket her grandmother had quilted, and read a good book. Sometimes she poured a packet of instant coffee or cocoa, letting the heat seep into her as the radiator steamed in the corner.
A new band was playing at the club that weekend.
Dimitri’s partner really, really wanted to go, but he knew how crowded it could get when new talent came to town. Yet when his lover gave him those puppy eyes, how could Dimitri refuse him? They made plans for six.
Anna needed to get out, she knew it.
She’d spent nearly three weeks working overtime on a project that had finally ended, giving her time and extra money to go and celebrate. Usually Anna hated going out, though; too many chances for a single lady to get hit on - or worse - in the city. Yet her coworker was going, so Anna decided maybe she’d let loose a little.
Dimitri looked good. He knew it, even before his boyfriend complimented his crisp shirt and slacks. They’d agreed to meet up at his apartment beforehand to get a cheap buzz before taking a taxi out. Dimitri didn’t get too buzzed, making sure to keep his wits about him.
Anna wore a cute dress.
Usually she dressed down to discourage suitors, but tonight she really wanted to celebrate. Her coworkers had said they’d accompany her, so she thought for once she’d doll it up. She didn’t spend money on expensive cosmetics, but she had some lipstick and eyeliner she kept for special occassions.
The club was packed. Bodies jumping, shifting, sitting, drinking, moving about. It would be easy to get lost in the sea of people floating on alcohol and synthesizer beats.
Holding hands, they navigated past the bar to grab shots before heading over towards an empty bench in the back. The small bench barely fit them, squeezing in together like so many sardines. Dimitri loved the tight space and the dim, unlit corner; he relaxed a little.
The club was loud. Blasting speakers filled the cracks between an endlessly chattering crowd, people laughing, talking and whooping to the beat. You could barely hear the person next to you, so they used hand signals to motion for drinks first, then to point at an empty spot in the back.
Anna took the middle of the seat, bodies crowding in on either side of her. Normally she disliked this much physical contact, yet tonight it felt like living body armor buffeting the noise and swarm around her.
Dimitri couldn’t keep his hands off his partner. In the shadows of the tiny corner they had crammed themselves in, after he had poured more inhibition lowering alcohol down his throat, his hands got greedy. He kept reaching out to touch, stroke, and hold, his lover smiling and reaching back.
Anna giggled as they kept plying her with alcohol. Ordinarily she’d never let her guard down this much, yet the constant hands moving around her - hugging, stroking, and petting - made her feel safe. Especially since there was no meaning or intent behind it; just innocent love, shielding her from otherwise lustful glances from the single wolves prowling the club.
When they wanted to dance, Dimitri pulled his love by the hand and dragged them all to the dance floor, taking up a small space under the flashing lights. His hips moved to the rhythm, gyrating and shaking as his cares and worries melted to the tips of his shoes. His lover danced around him, moving the same. They formed a circle that kept the vibes flowing, effortless and easy, impenetrable to outsiders.
Anna’s eyes closed as she absorbed the raw sound, the dance floor solid under her suddenly liquid body. This was what she had needed. She left it all there, her stress and worries, her responsibilities and fears. Her dress swished and flared, tickling her partners as she spun around and around, pulling in the energy like a restless gravity well in a blacklight star system.
After their legs gave out, Dimitri pulled them back towards the bench again. They sank altogether, a jumble of limbs and libations, laughing and cuddling despite the sweat standing on their dance-weary bodies. They laid still for awhile, taking turns to refill their glasses and letting the music fill their pounding heads while the alcohol filled their veins.
Anna could have fallen asleep, yet she held out. As the drinks came, her gracious friends made sure to keep someone by her side at all times. The constant company gave her more comfort than they realized. Not once that night had she ever felt targeted, or vulnerable; instead she had felt more alive than ever.
As she glanced at the time on her phone, she realized the night had turned to dawn already. Her friends would want to get home. Tapping a shoulder, she held up her screen to reflect the late hour, and they nodded in turn.
The taxi drove up towards the apartment building, the street lights dim and broken in some places. Yet Dimitri didn’t care; right now he felt amazing, and in a few more minutes he would finally have his lover in his arms.
The entire night had felt like a teasing foreplay of touches and passes, always in contact yet not fully together, their body pillow of a bodyguard keeping them covertly together yet technically apart. The distance had only made him hungrier for the main act, and finally he would shower his love with the pent up affection growing inside.
They exited, giving a quick hug and kiss to his coworker sharing the taxi with them. She smiled sleepily before reassuring them they needn’t worry about her getting home alone.
With a smile, Anna watched her coworker and his partner clumsily climb the stairs into his apartment building, the lights dark in all the windows above with heavy curtains and newspapers covering them. She waved through the taxi window, but knew they hardly cared. They had each other.
And Anna, at last, had her quiet little apartment with her radiator and blanket. Her muscles still sang with the happy buzz that filled her system; she had sobered enough to ensure she could make it home alright. The worst dangers of the night lay behind her, and her steps up to her doorway felt lighter than ever.
This is bliss, thought Anna, as she fell asleep in the warmth of her own bed.
This is bliss, thought Dimitri, as he fell asleep in the arms of his love.