Floats Your Boat

Author: Doyle

Pairing: Devon/Holden

Rating: PG-13

Summary: A strip club. A year before Spike turns Holden. One psych grad student, one ex-lead singer.

Disclaimer: all belongs to Joss


It’s four in the morning and for once the strip bar is quiet. The girls have covered up and gone home, and the bouncers have gone to fuck their wives while dreaming of the girls, and the stage is a fucking mess because Devon hasn’t cleaned up. And Devon hasn’t cleaned up because he’s smoking a joint and talking Jean Paul Sartre with a guy who doesn’t know the words to the theme from Cheers.

At first this is something Devon can’t get over – and Jesus, he doesn’t know Happy Days either? That’s like, sacrilege, like pissing on Mother Teresa – but some drinks and a smoke and he mellows. Fuck, it’s not as if Devon even knows what band Jean Paul Sartre plays for.

Devon thinks the guy might be either a fag or a serial killer, because he spent all night watching the show and writing in this big binder of notes and never got a boner once. Devon knows this because he kept a close eye on him right through his shift. After a couple months, watching bored chicks shove their titties against poles and customers’ faces gets old, and the hot, familiar guy at table eight starts to look interesting.

Devon isn’t gay. He’s had sex with men, yeah, but that doesn’t qualify him for the pride march and the rainbow badge. He just has a short attention span.

“Like that movie,” he says, inhaling deep and holding it in his lungs. Looks pretty when he breathes it out, foggy against the single light he’s left on. “Y’know, that kids’ flick with the munchkins.”

“Wizard of Oz,” his new pal – whatthefuck kind of name is Holden, anyway? – says.

“Maybe. Anyway, you work in a chocolate factory every day, last thing you want to eat is a fuckin’ candy bar, right?”

Holden takes the joint from his hand. Devon’s not so high he doesn’t notice how their fingers brush, skin on skin for too long to be an accident. He looks at the guy’s long fingers and pretty mouth around the cigarette and he thinks – yeah. Maybe.

He scoots closer, drawing his legs up beneath him so he’s sitting on the stage. Holden’s bigger than he is, longer legs, but he rearranges himself too.

“Body language,” he says. “When we consciously or subconsciously mirror the movements of the person we’re talking to, we establish a connection with them. Makes them more willing to listen, to open up.”

“Man, you should be on Oprah,” Devon says.

He laughs. “Sorry. I’m a psychology grad student. Which is actually why I’m, uh,” he sweeps his hand in the air, spanning the darkened bar, the empty seats, the poles Devon’s going to have to clean. “My thesis is on human sexuality.”

Devon nearly thinks that if this is homework, he should’ve gone to college. Then he remembers he gets paid to be here and he doesn’t have to write a term paper, and figures he got the better deal.

Holden’s looking hard at him, head tilted. “Sunnydale High,” he says, breaking out in that big grin that makes him look like somebody you’d want to be best friends with, just to make him smile like that. “Class of ’99, right? Uh, we didn’t have any classes together, but I remember seeing you in the play.”

He frowns for a second, trying to remember if he was ever in a play. Most of high school’s a faraway blur, like one of those stupid pictures of dots that turn into a boat if you look at them the right way. Yeah, he remembers. He got the lead in Oklahoma, because they needed somebody who could sing and because rehearsals got him excused from Civics two times a week.

“Shitting me, you’re from Sunnydale?” Small world. That’s funny. Funny strange and funny makes-him-laugh, and now he has that song from the Disneyland ride stuck in his head.

“I know, how crazy is this?”

Devon smiles with him. Couldn’t stop himself if he wanted to. The guy’s like a puppy if you gave it wavy hair and dressed it in a nice shirt. “Hey, you’re the brain-doctor.” His fingers have wandered all by themselves onto Holden’s leg, just below the knee. He thinks about moving them, but they look happy there. He bounces them lightly, tapping out the lead line of one of the Dingoes songs. Shit, he needs to get the band back together. “Human sexuality,” he says. “What’s that mean? Gays and stuff?”

Another drag. The toke’s nearly burned down. “Straight, gay, bi, swingers, sadists, masochists, prostitutes…”

“Strippers,” Devon suggests, getting the feel for it.

“Right, strippers, fetishists…” He looks around, maybe for an ashtray, and then stubs the joint out on the fake wood of the stage. “If it gets people off, I want to study it.”

Devon’s fingers, all by themselves, have started playing Blondie’s Denis on Holden’s leg. “What gets you off?” Not flirting or coy, if he even knew that word. He wants to know, and he sits back a little. Mirroring body language to show he’s listening.

He grins, dorky or shy or both of them. Cute as fuck. “Well. Women, I guess. If they’re interesting. My girlfriend.”

“Interesting?” Devon asks, zeroing in on that and not ‘girlfriend’. It’s not cheating if it’s a guy, that’s in the rules. “Interesting. You mean, like, hot.”

Holden shifts into a different position, hands palm down against the stage, and Devon does the same. Still listening.

“A girl can be the hottest thing on Earth and still be,” he shrugs, “this vapid, boring façade. There has to be something else there. Some spark.”

This could be the part where he rips off his mask and he’s really Oz, and he would’ve gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids. “I don’t get that,” he admits. Because he doesn’t see it. Willow was nice and all, but the way Oz looked at her anybody would’ve thought she was the end of the world with sprinkles on top. “You guys are too choosy. How do you even get if somebody’s interesting, anyways?”

“It depends,” he says thoughtfully. “Sometimes they call you a cocksucking motherfucker because you don’t know the words to the Cheers theme song.”

“Motherfucking cocksucker son of a bitch,” he points out, mostly so he can say ‘cock’, a word that sends nice signals to his own. “Getting light. You wanna go do something?” Breakfast, screw each other, any combination’s sounding good.

“Don’t you still have to clean up?” Not a yes, but not a no.

“Fuck,” he says, “been here three weeks, I was gonna quit this month anyway.”

He unfolds and stretches, and climbs to his feet. Holden does the same. Devon watches him and sees it, the hard-on he didn’t get all night. Steps forward till they’re toe to toe and tries a hand on the guy’s hip. Up close, he’s tight under the shirt, muscular. Devon pictures Holden’s life, classes and smart girlfriend and gym four times a week and maybe never doing anything really fucking stupid.

And nobody should have to live like that, it’s probably against that amendment about cruel and unusual stuff, so Devon leans up – much weirdness – and presses his lips hard against the other man’s. Brings his free hand to the back of his neck, stroking softly till Holden’s mouth opens and his tongue can slip inside. Holden’s hands go to his waist, then his hips, and Devon realizes he’s kissing somebody who’s never kissed a guy before.

He’s kissing somebody who’s laughing. Devon pulls back, too horny to be offended. #147;What?”

“It’s just…” That works, being kissed by Holden as well as kissing Holden. “Just wondering if this qualifies as research.”

They back up, till Devon has the slick coldness of one of the poles behind him and the more interesting hardness of Holden pressing into his front. Research. Yeah, that works.

A minute later Holden’s hand is inside his jeans, and Devon’s more than happy to be doing his part for the advancement of psychology.


How strange is it to be back in the Bronze again? Okay, Holden didn’t spend a lot of time here in high school, but it’s part of his memories, like holding a crossbow at graduation or the food in the cafeteria.

After high school he always thought he’d never come back to Sunnydale again. Only, life doesn’t work that way, and he still has to see his mom and dad, and a few days in town can’t hurt. He’s all growed up now. College graduate, black belt in tae kwon do. Even thinking about getting married next year.

He’s ready to leave, all nostalgia’d out, when a guy at the bar catches his eye. Older than him - thirty, maybe - with hair peroxided to within an inch of its life. It’s the body language that catches Holden’s attention, the way the man’s slumped over his drink in such a way that he’s closing out the whole world.

He looks interesting.

Holden suddenly thinks of the singer he had a fun, hot fling with a year ago. And he’s not looking for that. Not necessarily. But the thing with Devon taught him not to be close-minded about that possibility, should it, ah, arise.

He’s right by the door. In or out? Too many layers to that question, and he asks himself what Devon would do. He grins. Devon would bum a cigarette and start a conversation about nothing. And it’d work.

Decision made.


The man, when he finally talks, introduces himself as Spike. And then it becomes something of a blur, because Holden remembers some drinks and he’s in an alley and they’re necking but it hurts, fuck, stop, and then he isn’t thinking anything at all.


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