AJAX BELL

Author of the Queen City Boys books

(Deleted scene) Shane’s first gay bar – Bad Reputation

This is from a very early draft, nearly all of which was cut. Shane met John in the first couple chapters and John guided him through with out the conflict (and misery) Shane suffers in Bad Reputation. I preserved it because I love the idea of an alternate universe where after the pain of leaving Port Angeles Shane just gets a really nice life where everything works out. LOL.  Here John and Gabriel take Shane dancing, his first trip to a gay disco.


After a whole day of worrying about it, Shane had to admit he had no idea what to expect as they walked into Twenty-Twenty Four. It was busy but not yet crowded. John shepherded Shane through, with a hand on the small of his back until he found an empty table where he deposited Shane and went to get drinks.

The walls seemed nearly hidden, the swirling bright lights dazzling at the center but masking the edges of the room, the shadows appearing to go on forever outside the bright glow of the dance floor. It afforded a clear view of the dancers and of the bar, if you turned your head. Shane was conspicuously in the middle of it, alone at a table that could seat four, when John finally returned and slid a beer to him. Shane accepted it gratefully and downed half of it.

“Alright?” John asked, one eyebrow cocked in amusement as Shane set down the half empty bottle and wiped his mouth.

“Fine now.”

“Just remember this is your night. If you want to leave, just tell me and I’ll take you home. You don’t have to talk to anyone you don’t want to, if you start to feel uncomfortable. My friends will be around, but you don’t have to tell them anything if you don’t want too.”

“It’s fine,” Shane laughed at John’s mother-henning. He appreciated it, but it wasn’t necessary. “Really, don’t worry so much. I’ll have beer, we’ll talk to people, it’ll be fine.” It was more confident than Shane felt, but better than having John checking up on his comfort level constantly.

John smiled indulgently, like he didn’t quite believe Shane, and sipped his own drink, turning to watch the dance floor.

There was anything Shane could want spread across the room. Young, old, beautiful, plain, drag queens, and men in leather. It was a little like a ‘before’ picture of the Baths. Surely all these men would end up naked somewhere with someone looking, but for now each was an unwrapped packed, a mystery of personality. Clothes made a difference. At the Baths it was all bodies, choose one, have fun, go home. But here the clothes invited speculation, invited conversation and the sharing of names, just the thing Shane had always avoided. Yet, maybe because John was here, or because it was planned tonight it didn’t seem so bad.  Shane watched as men paired up on the dance floor and left together, or matched up at the bar and moved on to the dance floor together. He couldn’t quite imagine himself dancing but the idea of choosing someone, or better yet, being chosen, and moving off somewhere to talk, maybe to kiss, definitely appealed tonight.

“Well here I was, coming over to find out who had finally captured your heart and it’s our own Shane. Imagine my surprise.” Gabriel plunked down next to Shane, eyebrows raised like Shane’s Grandma when she wanted an explanation. “Does anyone need anything from the bar? I think I need while I hear this.”

Shane raised his now empty bottle and John shook his head. Shane watched Gabriel head to the bar. He was wearing tight jeans, faded and a little ripped, with black high tops and a purple sweatshirt that didn’t have much left of it. The bottom hem was gone, revealing a little of Gabriel’s stomach. There was barely an inch left of the sleeves and the neck was cut wide, collar band removed, so it slid and exposed Gabriel’s collar bones, shoulders and upper back as he moved. His hair was still slick, wet looking curls but shorter on the sides and back than last Shane had seen him. He had a light blue bandanna folded over and tied like a head band over his hair.  Shane glanced at John who looked like Gabriel’s polar opposite, his pale hair and skin highlighted by his black silk shirt. His sleeves were rolled up and watch sparkled at one wrist, though Shane was certain that most men here were only paying attention to how low John’s shirt was unbuttoned in the front, revealing firm muscle and a little twist of light hair curling over his chest.

Assessing John like a possible sexual partner made Shane a little uncomfortable, like the realization he’d had at about fourteen that his grandparents had sex at least twice and possibly more. Gabriel, on the other hand, who was returning now with two beers, just looked sexy. Shane wondered if the difference in his assessment of his companions was because he knew John better, or because John was his boss. Objectively John was certainly one of the best looking men in the room but nothing drew Shane to him sexually. Though looking at them next to each other now, he imagined watching John and Gabriel together would be very hot, despite how strange it still was that they had ever been together. They were just so different.

“So, is there a story here?”

Shane grinned at Gabriel. “I’m gay.”

“Well darling,” Gabriel looked delighted. “I always suspected as much, and now you’re here with our John. Did he turn you suddenly, or has this been a slow build up to a great romance?”

“Gabriel.” John sounded exasperated as he spoke, “Shane and I are here so he can meet people. Be kind. This is an experiment of sorts.”

“Well, honey, I am open as test subject if you’re experimenting.” Gabriel winked at Shane. “John, no need to be so stern about it. How nice of you bring our friend out to find love—or is it just for a once night stand?—but I’m glad you’re out too. You know, you also should socialize more. Even if, I confess, I’m a little relieved you aren’t together. That doesn’t seem like a good idea. No offense,” he added, to Shane.

Shane laughed. “It doesn’t seem like a good idea, does it? I don’t even know why exactly but, yeah,” Shane faltered as John cut his eyes at him. But then John’s smile shone through.

“I think I’ll dance. Shane do you feel safe here with Gabriel, or do you want to come dance?”

“I’m fine.”

“Yes, you are,” Gabriel drawled as John moved to the dance floor. He got up and moved to the other side of Shane, giving him a better view of the men dancing.

“First night out?” He said kindly to Shane as they watched a handsome, dark haired man approach John, say something in his ear and then stat moving against him in time with the music.

“Sort of. I mean, uh, the one time I tried to go out like this by myself it didn’t really work out.”

“Always better to go with friends if you can. I’m glad you’re here.” Gabriel sipped his beer and indicated to John with his bottle. “Don’t let him be your role model though. He makes it look easier than it is.” John was still moving with the dark haired man, but a slightly older man, with brown curly hair approached and said something in John’s ear, moving away when John nodded. “He is honey to these boy bees,” Gabriel said. “And he barely seems to notice that they flock to him like no one else. I don’t know what it is.”

“I thought you and he used to be a couple?”

Gabriel looked over at Shane in surprise. “He told you that? Hmm, well, you’re closer than I thought. I guess I better be on my best behavior lest I get scolded for hitting on one of our own. You already were family, since Christmas at least, but you’re one of us now, so I guess I better give the low down on your choices in this room, since I’m not going to be one. Too bad for you.”

Shane laughed again, happy to hear it as Gabriel started pointing out men giving what detail he knew about each of them.

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