Summary: A strip club. A year before Spike turns Holden. One psych grad student, one ex-lead singer.
Disclaimer: all belongs to Joss
Its 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 hasnt cleaned up. And Devon hasnt cleaned up because hes smoking a joint and talking Jean Paul Sartre with a guy who doesnt know the words to the theme from Cheers.
At first this is something Devon cant get over and Jesus, he doesnt know Happy Days either? Thats like, sacrilege, like pissing on Mother Teresa but some drinks and a smoke and he mellows. Fuck, its 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 isnt gay. Hes had sex with men, yeah, but that doesnt 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 hes left on. Yknow, 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. Devons not so high he doesnt notice how their fingers brush, skin on skin for too long to be an accident. He looks at the guys long fingers and pretty mouth around the cigarette and he thinks yeah. Maybe.
He scoots closer, drawing his legs up beneath him so hes sitting on the stage. Holdens 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 were 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. Im a psychology grad student. Which is actually why Im, uh, he sweeps his hand in the air, spanning the darkened bar, the empty seats, the poles Devons going to have to clean. My thesis is on human sexuality.
Devon nearly thinks that if this is homework, he shouldve gone to college. Then he remembers he gets paid to be here and he doesnt have to write a term paper, and figures he got the better deal.
Holdens looking hard at him, head tilted. Sunnydale High, he says, breaking out in that big grin that makes him look like somebody youd want to be best friends with, just to make him smile like that. Class of 99, right? Uh, we didnt 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 schools 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, youre from Sunnydale? Small world. Thats 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. Couldnt stop himself if he wanted to. The guys like a puppy if you gave it wavy hair and dressed it in a nice shirt. Hey, youre the brain-doctor. His fingers have wandered all by themselves onto Holdens 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. Whats that mean? Gays and stuff?
Another drag. The tokes 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.
Devons fingers, all by themselves, have started playing Blondies Denis on Holdens 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 hes listening.
He grins, dorky or shy or both of them. Cute as fuck. Well. Women, I guess. If theyre interesting. My girlfriend.
Interesting? Devon asks, zeroing in on that and not girlfriend. Its not cheating if its a guy, thats 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 hes really Oz, and he wouldve gotten away with it if it wasnt for those meddling kids. I dont get that, he admits. Because he doesnt see it. Willow was nice and all, but the way Oz looked at her anybody wouldve thought she was the end of the world with sprinkles on top. You guys are too choosy. How do you even get if somebodys interesting, anyways?
It depends, he says thoughtfully. Sometimes they call you a cocksucking motherfucker because you dont 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 combinations sounding good.
Dont 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 didnt get all night. Steps forward till theyre toe to toe and tries a hand on the guys hip. Up close, hes tight under the shirt, muscular. Devon pictures Holdens 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, its probably against that amendment about cruel and unusual stuff, so Devon leans up much weirdness and presses his lips hard against the other mans. Brings his free hand to the back of his neck, stroking softly till Holdens mouth opens and his tongue can slip inside. Holdens hands go to his waist, then his hips, and Devon realizes hes kissing somebody whos never kissed a guy before.
Hes kissing somebody whos laughing. Devon pulls back, too horny to be offended. #147;What?
Its 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 Holdens hand is inside his jeans, and Devons 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 didnt spend a lot of time here in high school, but its part of his memories, like holding a crossbow at graduation or the food in the cafeteria.
After high school he always thought hed never come back to Sunnydale again. Only, life doesnt work that way, and he still has to see his mom and dad, and a few days in town cant hurt. Hes all growed up now. College graduate, black belt in tae kwon do. Even thinking about getting married next year.
Hes ready to leave, all nostalgiad 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. Its the body language that catches Holdens attention, the way the mans slumped over his drink in such a way that hes 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 hes 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.
Hes 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 itd work.
The man, when he finally talks, introduces himself as Spike. And then it becomes something of a blur, because Holden remembers some drinks and hes in an alley and theyre necking but it hurts, fuck, stop, and then he isnt thinking anything at all.
Back to top
Arrive at this page from an outside link? Get back into frames.