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He needs the money. It’s the only reason he’s here. Marcus stares at the piece of paper in his hand. The place looks like a normal bar. He really really hopes it’s not terribly skeezy, but there’s nothing he can do about it at this point.

He can do this. Sure he can. He takes a deep breath and goes inside at the side door, as the advert had instructed.

A strip club is a weird place in the early afternoon. It’s deserted, half dark, and completely devoid of any purpose. It’s cleaner than some of the places Marcus has been in, and the stage is a good size. That’s a good thing, right? There’s a half cat walk curving around the side of it, and he studies it, trying to imagine himself up there. People watching…

“We’re closed.”

Marcus turns, squinting the gloom. There’s a young man in dress pants, a nice shirt and suspenders hanging down his hips, standing beside the bar with a newspaper spread out before him. Bartender, Marcus concludes. The guy is pretty cute for a bartender, though a little on the short side.

“Hey, can you tell me where I can find a,” He glances at the paper again. “Mr. Cunoval?”

“What for?” The guy looks bored, as he turns a page. Apparently, he’s a got a million better things to do than help Marcus get a job. Fair enough.

“This.” Marcus holds up the advert. “Says they need dancers.”

“Dancers, not footballers. Can’t you fucking read?” There’s something off about his accent. It takes Marcus a moment to place it. The guy’s British. Right, so that’s why he’s a prick.

“I can read and I can dance.” Jesus, this guy is annoying. “Is your boss around?"

“Why?”

“I’d like to talk to him.” Marcus manages to keep the “obviously,” inside his head.

“No, why are you here?”

Because I’m fucking broke and if I don’t do this, I’ll have to go crawling to my uncle for money and if there’s one thing I was raised not to do…it’s crawl.

Marcus shrugs. “I like dancing.” He really doesn’t want to explain himself to this guy.

“You like dancing…” The guy snorts in derision. “What, like at the frat house? Getting drunk girls to grind on you so you can fuck them and brag about it later?”

“Screw you.” Marcus says irritably. “I mean I like dancing.” He’s been dancing since he was little and his dad first put on a David Bowie record. Not that his dad ever intended him to dance for cash, but what the dead don't know...can't hurt them.

“Right.” The guy goes back to his paper.

“Look, are you gonna get your boss or not?” Marcus asks. He’s annoyed now, frustration building as the guy just keeps reading. He needs this fucking job.

The guy looks up. “Impatient, are we? You’ll never get customers that way.”

“What?” Marcus just stares at him.

“If there’s one thing a stripper needs to be able to do, it’s be patient.” The guy finally lowers his paper and walks over to Marcus. He may be short, but he’s built. Under that shirt Marcus can tell he’s muscle. And then there's his eyes...

“Thought the ad said ‘dancers,’” Marcus mutters, telling himself not to stare at the bartender's eyes, no matter how pretty they are.

“Oh come on, you’re not that naive, are you?” The guy shakes his head. “If you’re not willing to get your kit off, you can turn around and walk right back out that door.”

“Says who?” Marcus looks over his shoulder, looking for anyone else to talk to, since clearly this guy is gonna be no help whatsoever.

The Brit laughs, and Marcus finally looks at him. “Esca.” He holds out his hand. “Esca Cunoval.”

“Fuck.” Marcus says, and this time, unfortunately, he does say it out loud.

* * *

“Look, man, I’m sorry, I just really need this job.” Marcus is babbling. He needs to shut up, but it's hard.

“Save it.” Cunoval goes back over to the bar where his suit coat is slung over the polished wood. He dips into the pocket and comes up with a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. He lights one, and Marcus wonders if it’s obvious that he was staring earlier, cause that could be awkward.

“Well?” Cunoval raises an eyebrow at him. “Get on with it then?”

“What?”

“Christ.” Cunoval mutters something about "fucking footballers", and then jerks his head at the stage. “You, up there. I want to see how you move.”

“Uh. Right now?”

“Yeah, right now.”

“I don’t have any music.” He doesn’t have any anything. He’s lucky he’s wearing clean underwear. At least he thinks he is.

Cunoval just sighs slightly. “I think we can work that out.” He goes around behind the bar and brings out a ipod stand. Scrolling through it, he comes up with something that’s not too fast, just right.

“Get on with it.” He leans back against the bar.

Marcus shrugs off his jacket and drapes it over a chair. He’s not sure what to do about his shoes, so he goes ahead and takes them off too, and his socks. He can feel Cunoval just watching him. Finally, just wearing his t-shirt and jeans, he gets up on the stage.

“You have three minutes to impress me.” Cunvoal’s eyes are starting to drift toward his newspaper.

Marcus grits his teeth and lets it go. He listens to the music and then he just starts moving, slow, sure, swaying his hips, the way he does when he wants to get noticed at a club.

He runs his hands over his chest, teasing his nipples. He tries to pretend he’s doing this for someone special, someone he wants to take home and fuck into next week. It’s not a tactic he should use, he knows, but just to get the job, right?

“You still have your clothes on.” Cunoval sounds bored out of his mind.

Marcus turns his back and grinds his ass slowly against an imaginary guy, someone hot, somebody who's completely fucking desperate for him. He undoes his belt and slides it out slowly, before dropping it on the floor. Next he goes for his jeans, unzipping them, easing them down his thighs, before he steps out of them. Plain white boxers, thank fuck. For a moment he hadn’t been able to remember.

He turns around so he can see Cunoval’s face when he takes his shirt off. Marcus knows he has a nice body, and normally he doesn't flaunt it...but if there was ever a time for flaunting. He pulls his t-shirt up slowly, revealing an inch of skin at a time, before finally pulling it over his head. Marcus does the move easily, thrusting slightly, and then he’s there, clad only in his boxers, dancing alone on the stage.

The half gloom works for his imaginary setup. It’d be like this. He’d be dancing, and the other guy would sink to his knees and just mouth against his boxers until Marcus is dripping straight through and Marcus would fuck his mouth right there on the stage. Then…

“Is that going to be a problem for you?” Cunoval drawls.

Marcus glances down. Fuck. He’s got an erection the size of the Empire State building. He has two choices. He can give up, leave and go jerk off in the grungy gas station bathroom halfway down the block…or he can keep going.

He looks Cunoval straight in the eye. “It’s not a problem.”

“Really? It looks a bit…uncomfortable.”

Marcus shrugs. He rolls his shoulders, letting his muscles ripple, and dips into a low squatting thrust that has never failed to get a good response, especially with a hard-on like this. Cunoval doesn’t look particularly impressed, but at least he doesn’t look bored any more. He’s waiting for something, and Marcus tries to figure it out as he moves.

* * *

And then…fuck, the man can’t be serious. He can’t really expect Marcus to just shuck his shorts right here, can he?

Cunoval takes a drag on his cigarette. “Your three minutes are almost up.”

Marcus takes a deep breath and shimmies out of his shorts, kicking them off. That’s it. He has no pride left. He’s completely naked in front of a complete stranger, with the kind of erection you only get when you really don’t want one. There are moments when Marcus wonders what he's done to deserve this life, and this moment, right here, is definitely one of them. He resists the urge to cover his dick.

Cunoval walks over to the stage and just stands there, looking at him. Marcus's sweating, from the dancing, and from the ache in his groin. His dick throbs and he wonders what Cunoval would do if he just started getting himself off then and there. Maybe the prick wouldn’t be so smug when Marcus shot all over his face. Maybe…

“Get your clothes and come up to the office.” Cunoval turns and heads for the stairs.

“That’s it?” Marcus says incredulously.

“If you need a few minutes to take care of your non-problem, go ahead. There's no job in it for you though, if you do."

* * *

Which is why Marcus is now standing in Cunoval’s office wearing only his boxers, and clutching his jeans and t-shirt like a life-preserver. They were the only thing he had time to pull on before Cunoval poked his head out of his office and barked, "Now."

“So…” Marcus swallows and tries not to look so hopeful. “Do I have the job then?”

Cunoval ignores him. He‘s at his desk, with an open folder of paperwork spread before him. Just when Marcus is about to give up on the man ever talking again, he looks up.

“So, what’re you studying?” Cunoval asks conversationally, like it’s totally normal for him to have young men just standing around in their boxers.

With a leftover hard-on, even, Marcus thinks miserably. Maybe it is. How would he know? Cunoval’s just waiting, and Marcus remembers the man asked him a question. “Uh, what?”

“You need money for school, right? That’s why you’re doing this.” Cunoval smirks a little. Like it’s only smart boys desperate for tuition money that end up half naked on a stage, shaking their ass. Maybe he’s right about that too.

“Uh, history.” Marcus shifts his stance slightly. Trying not to let it get to him that he’s standing in the man’s office and he‘s still hard.

“History. Really?” Cunoval sounds skeptical.

“Yeah, why?”

“Sure it’s not…” Cunoval’s gaze travels down his body, examining it critically. Marcus’s face heats up like he’s on fire. “…sport?”

Cunoval’s goddamn mocking him and Marcus would like nothing better than to slam the skinny little prick up against the wall and then leave. But he does need the money, so he grits his teeth and just shakes his head.

“Well then. I’ll give you a trial period for a week. You do well, and we’ll talk full time. Drop them."

“What?“ Marcus says again.

Cunoval points at the pile of clothing in his hands. “Those.“

Marcus does, wondering whether it’s policy to treat all potential employees like this, or if he’s just lucky. Cunoval clasps his hands on his desk and studies him like he’s a store mannequin.

“Where’d you get the scar?”

Marcus stiffens at that. “Does it matter?”

Cunoval tilts his head, considering this. “You want to work in my establishment. You play by my rules. You do what I say. What do you think?”

“It was an accident.” That’s all he can manage, and if that’s not enough, he’ll flip the little shit off and walk out of here with his head high.

Apparently that’s enough for Cunoval at the moment. He nods. “Right. We have rules here and they are enforced. There are bouncers at the doors and at the VIP Room. When can you start?”

“Uh, whenever.”

“Be here tonight at nine. Back door. Don’t be late.” He jerks his head at the door and Marcus nods, reaching for his discarded clothing.

“Out of curiosity.” Cunoval’s tone makes Marcus stop at the door and he turns back.

“Yeah?”

“If you can’t take just a look, what’ll you do the first time someone palms that nicely curved ass of yours? Or sticks their hands down your shorts? What then?”

Marcus swallows tightly. “I thought there was a no-touching rule.“

“Not all clubs have that rule. I own one of the ones that doesn’t.” Cunoval smirks slightly, showing his teeth. It makes him look oddly predatory and Marcus shifts his clothing slightly over his groin. Cunoval's waiting for Marcus to back down.

Marcus lifts his chin. “I guess we’ll see, won’t we?”

“I guess so.” Cunoval turns back to his paperwork, "Take a shower before you show up back here. I run a clean establishment."

Marcus stares at him open-mouthed, and then mutters, "Yes, sir," as sarcastically as he can without getting fired on the spot. With that, he leaves.

Chapter Text

He’s fucking pissed as he walks to the bus stop. He’s pissed all the way back to his crummy apartment in his crummy apartment building in Central City East, or as his roommate affectionately calls it, “Skid Row.”

At least he won’t have too long of a commute to get to work, right?

The apartment’s empty at the moment for which Marcus is absurdly thankful. He can’t deal with Paulo’s shit at the moment, and he really can’t handle the thought of telling him where he’s been all afternoon. Not that Marcus is ashamed of it.

Okay, he totally is, but he’s going to do it all the same.

At least his erection has finally given up and fucked off. He’d gotten some weird looks on the bus. Marcus sighs and goes to take a shower. Not because of what Cunoval said, but because he’s tired and sweaty and he wants to take a fucking shower. Still, he takes extra care while he’s in there all the same. He washes himself all over, getting the sweat off of his skin.

If you can’t take just a look, what’ll you do the first time someone palms that nicely curved ass of yours? Or sticks their hands down your shorts? What then?

And just like that, his hard-on is back.

“Fuck you,” Marcus tells his dick, but it’s really not his dick’s fault. Or is it... He stares accusingly at his penis, until he can’t take it any more and finally, finally, fucking hell finally, starts jerking himself off.

…that nicely curved ass of yours.

Marcus shoots over his fist to the sound of Cunoval’s voice in his head.

…nicely curved.

He groans and sticks his head under the shower. This is the last thing he needs.

* * *

He gets out of the shower, wraps a towel around his hips and pads into the kitchen. There’s a beer with his name on it and he drinks, savoring the cold on his tongue. He checks his messages, but there’s nothing new. It’s a relief for the most part, at least that’s what he tells himself. There’s nothing from his landlord bugging him about the rent. Nothing from his mom bugging him to come home. It’s all good.

Marcus takes his beer into his room and flops on his bed. It’s four in the afternoon now. He should probably... He’s asleep before he even finishes his thought.

* * *

Marcus wakes up, disoriented and wondering if he’d pissed himself while he slept…but the last time he noticed, he didn't piss beer, so it’s probably not that. With a groan, he rolls out of the soggy beer-soaked towel and slides naked off the bed to crawl across the floor to where his phone is charging by the outlet.

It’s 8:30. He has half an hour to get his ass over to the club.

Marcus stumbles into the bathroom, grabs a washcloth and rinses himself off. He meant to ask Cunoval whether he was supposed to wear anything...well, special, but he’d forgotten and now he’s stuck, wondering what the hell you wear to a strip club. He settles on sweats and a black t-shirt. Underneath that plain black boxers. Combs his hair, brushes his teeth, grabs his phone, yanks on his socks and shoes and is out the door.

The city’s waking up. The street’s crawling with all manner of charming people and Marcus carefully avoids stepping in a pile of dog shit while he texts Paulo that they’re out of beer.

The bus is late.

He hates his life.

He switches that to hating Cunoval, because normally it wouldn’t be a problem if he were a little late, because most of Marcus’s previous bosses have been easy to charm with just a smile. Cunoval’s different. It sucks.

There’s a tall, scarily built ebony-skinned man standing at the back door of the club when he finally gets there. Marcus approaches him cautiously.

“Uh, Mr. Cunoval told me to be here at 9.” It only occurs to him then that he never gave the man his name, and Cunoval had certainly never asked.

The bouncer pulls out a small notebook and scans a page. “You would be…” He looks at Marcus, then back at his list. “Sweet Cheeks then.”

Marcus flushes. “It’s Marcus, actually.”

“You’re late.” The bouncer says, flipping the notebook shut and returning it to his pocket. “What do you say, boss? Do I let him in?”

For a moment Marcus thinks the man is talking to him, or himself, which would be disturbing…but then he realizes the bouncer has an mic attached to his lapel. And then he realizes that Cunoval is probably watching him right now, via the camera over the door. He resists the urge to flip him off.

Finally the bouncer says, “You got it, boss.” He looks at Marcus. “First door on your left and make it snappy.” He pulls the door open and holds it.

“Right, thanks.”

* * *

The music is loud; Marcus can hear it through the walls. The first door on the left leads to a changing room. There’s a slim brunette in a g-string and a lacy black sheath fixing her makeup. Marcus stops dead.

“Uh, sorry. They told me to come…in…here.” That sounds wrong no matter how he says it.

“Shut the door,” She says without looking up. “Don’t worry, you’re in the right place.”

“Oh. Good.” Marcus closes the door and waits, trying not to stare at her.

“Right.” The young woman turns and looks at him. “What do you think?”

“Uh…very nice.”

She laughs. “That’s very respectful. What’s your name, then?”

“Marcus.” He sticks out a hand and she takes it.

“Pleasure. I’m Cottia. Esca told me to show you the ropes.”

“Esca?”

“The boss.”

“Oh. Right.” Esca.

“So here are the ropes.” She cracks her knuckles and looks at her reflection again. “You start off as a walk-on. Basically all you do is dance in hour shifts. That’s all, just dance. You get a ten minute break and then you’re back on.”

“Okay.” That doesn’t sound too hard.

“Then, once you generate a little interest, you might get promoted to solos, in which case you’ll have to come up with some sort of routine. You’ll probably get stuck doing doubles before that though, I think.”

“Doubles?”

“Stripping with a partner, working both sides of the stage. It can work, if you’ve got the right combo.” She takes one last look in the mirror. “Right, you’re on 9:30 with Charlie, Danny and Nicki. Be backstage five minutes beforehand, alright?”

“Sure.” Marcus nods. “Where do I put my stuff, or…”

“Here.” She shows him a locker. “Anything you want to dump, just stick in there. Oh, and here.” She scoops up a piece of material and tosses it at him. “Esca wants to see you before you go on, so you better get changed.”

Marcus looks at the item she tossed him. It’s a tiny pair of black shorts that aren’t going to leave anything to the imagination. “He wants me to go up and see him, wearing these?”

“Yeah, he has to see how you look.” She pats his cheek. “Don’t worry about it, Sweet Cheeks. I’m sure you’ll do just fine.”

“Sure. Just fine.”

Marcus wonders if it’s too late to become a lifeguard instead.

Chapter Text

Marcus takes a deep breath before knocking on the office door. If he admits it, he’s really uncomfortable. At least he didn’t have to walk through the club. There’s a back staircase leads up to the office landing, and he can look over the railing and see the club laid out before him. But right now he’s more preoccupied with the fact that he’s wearing something he wouldn’t even wear to the beach. He adjusts himself once more, but there’s really no way this is ever going to feel natural.

“Come in.” Cunoval says and Marcus pushes the door open.

Cunoval’s added a tie, and his suspenders are up, thin lines against his crisp white shirt. He looks like a gangster and Marcus wonders whether the strip club is just a cover. He can see it all too clearly.

Cunoval eyes him. “Turn around.”

Marcus obeys, letting the man examine his ass.

“They fit all right?”

“Yeah.” Marcus nods. Strangely enough they were just in his size.

“I’m usually a good guesser.” Cunoval’s voice comes from right behind him.

Marcus would have jumped, but he’s frozen in place as a finger slides down the crack of his shorts, testing the fit. It traces all the way down to his balls, and then stops, just resting there for a moment. Marcus swallows.

“Turn around.” Cunoval says.

Marcus does. For the briefest second, he thinks the man is just going to cup him, and then Cunoval moves his hand away, just studying Marcus's dick.

“Yeah, that should work.” He looks up at Marcus. “You smell like beer.”

“Yeah, sorry, I.”

“Did you not hear what I said earlier?” Cunoval’s voice is still pleasant, but there’s the faintest hint of steel underneath the pleasantry.

“I did shower.” Marcus grinds out.

“Maybe you don’t really understand how it works. The point is you’re supposed to smell better afterward, not worse.” He turns and goes back to his desk.

“Look, I’m sorry.” Marcus says, “I spilled a beer on myself right when I was leaving. I didn’t have time to shower again. I didn’t want to be late.”

“You were late anyway.” Cunoval points out, leaning against his desk.

“What the fuck do you want me to say?” The words tear themselves from Marcus’s tongue, sounding more angry and forceful then he’s allowed himself to sound in a long long time. For a second, Cunoval just stares at him, and then he smiles slightly.

“It’s 9:23. Shouldn’t you be backstage?”

“Shit, yeah,” Marcus heads for the door. He half expects Cunoval to call him back, but this time the man lets him go.

* * *

Charlie, Danny and Nicki turn out to be two girls and a guy who all eye Marcus thoughtfully.

“You ever done this before?” Charlie, a tiny redhead in a sports bra and tiny shorts similar to Marcus's asks him.

“Nope.”

“Right. Just stick to your side of the stage, don’t get in our space. It’ll be good.”

Danny comes over to him and claps him on the back. “If anyone motions you over to their table, check the nod first.”

“Do the what?”

“Head bouncer by the foot of the stairs. If he nods back at you, you can leave the stage and go to the table. If he doesn’t, stay where you are.”

“Hokay.”

“Relax.” Nicki the blonde smiles at him. “You’ll do fine. Just dance your ass off.”

The music switches and they go out, Marcus at the end of the line. The stage doesn’t feel as big from here, and there are way too many people looking at him expectantly. Businessmen, ladies with cocktails, young and old men, young and old women. He feels a little queasy. And then the music gets louder. It’s the Rolling Stones, ‘Play With Fire’ and he knows this. He starts moving, swaying his hips slowly. Nicki is doing a slow sexy strut to his left, while Charlie is grinding right in front of some patron. Marcus moves a little more, grinding slightly, and then he happens to look up at the balcony.

Cunoval is watching him.

And somehow that relaxes him. Marcus isn’t worried any more. He just wants to show the guy how good he can dance. He slips into a low crouch, palming himself and he hears an appreciative murmur. There are more people watching him than Danny now.

Marcus turns his back to the crowd and moves his ass like he wants to get fucked, like it’s the only thing on his mind tonight and if he doesn’t get some dick in him, he’ll probably die.

It seems to work.

The song ends and another, faster one starts up. He can work with that. He’s grinding and sweating. From time to time he looks up and meets Cunoval’s gaze, but the man’s expression is always the same. Completely and utterly unreadable.

Halfway through the second song, Marcus’s dick joins the act. He can’t help it. One minute he’s fine, and then the next, he sees Cunoval watching him and all the blood rushes straight to his dick. Shit. Might as well make the most of it. Marcus rubs his hands over his ass, then slides them over his crotch, stroking his erection, then up to touch his chest. There’s a lady right by the stage who’s practically drooling on him. He smiles at her and grinds a little more.

As the song ends, he hears somebody calling at him. “Hey, you, yeah, you.”

There’s a table of frat boys sitting off to the side waving at him. Marcus glances at the bouncer, who, instead of responding, looks up Cunoval. For a second Cunoval doesn’t move, and then he gives a quick, tight nod to the bouncer who relays it to Marcus.

Marcus slips off the stage, smiling politely at the people trying to talk to him. He feels more than one hand on his ass, but he ignores them as he saunters over to the frat boys.

“What’s up?”

One of them pounds another one’s chest. “It’s my boy here’s birthday tonight. Thought we’d buy him a lap dance.”

“Alright.” Marcus isn’t sure how much he’s supposed to charge for that, but the frat guy spreads his legs and he eases himself onto his lap teasingly.

“So, this your first time?”

“Nope.” The guy just leans back. “So you better make it good.”

Marcus wants to punch the guy and walk, but instead he grins. “Oh, I will.”

He grinds against the guy’s crotch teasingly, his hands on the guy’s shoulders. There’s another hand on his ass, feeling him up.

“What, is it everybody’s birthday?” Marcus makes it sound joking at least.

“Maybe.” The guy reaches down to squeeze him through his shorts. “Fuck, you are hard already, aren’t you, you little slut? You must like it up there.”

Marcus shrugs. He moves to shift positions, but the guy’s hands are on his hips, and now he’s just thrusting between Marcus’s cheeks.

“Hey.” Marcus looks at him warningly.

“Hold still and be glad I don’t take these down and fuck you right on the table.” The frat guy warns, grinding against him. Marcus tries to move without making it look like he’s struggling. The last thing he needs is to get fired over something stupid like this.

The guy’s got an iron hold on his hips though as he thrusts and thrusts, and then there’s come soaking the underside of Marcus’s shorts and he looks at the guy in disgust.

“Thanks for nothing.” He slides off the guy, feeling absolutely disgusting.

“Don’t you want your money?” The guy holds up a five-hundred dollar bill, and fuck if Marcus isn’t desperate enough to take it. He reaches for it and the guy grins at him.

“You have a little something on your shorts.” One of the other guys remarks. “Here, this should take care of it.” He picks up a half-full pitcher of beer and dumps it on Marcus.

Marcus shakes the beer out of his hair and tells himself that it’s not worth going to jail, it’s not worth getting fired. It’s not worth anything.

“Alright, that’s enough.” A bouncer is there beside him like magic. “I think it’s time for you gentlemen to leave.” He looks at Marcus. “Mr. Cunoval wants to see you upstairs.”

Marcus nods and walks through the club, ignoring the looks everyone’s giving him. He’s aware that the full outline of his cock is visible through his soaked shorts. He’s aware that a frat boy just fucking jizzed on him. He’s also aware that he scrunched up the bill just in time to keep it from getting wet. And that bothers him most of all.

Cunoval is waiting at the top of the stairs.

Chapter Text

He opens the door to his office and holds it. Marcus slinks by him.

“Guess I really stink like beer now, huh?” He’s dripping beer on Cunoval’s carpet, but the man told him to come in here.

“That was my fault.” Cunoval says abruptly. “I misjudged the situation and for that, I apologize.”

“Oh.” Marcus just stares at him. “Okay.” He’s cold, shivering slightly in the air conditioning.

“Come on.” Cunoval opens a side door that leads to a private bathroom. “Take a shower, get cleaned up.”

“What about the rest of my shift?”

“I’ll work it out. It’s all right, Marcus.”

“How did you,” Marcus starts to ask, and then blushes.

“Cottia checked in with me.” Cunoval half smiles. “It suits you. Right, shower.” He turns to shut the door.

“Wait.” Marcus unclenches his hand and holds up the bill. “What do I do with this?”

Cunoval stares at him incredulously. “You earned it. You keep it.”

“Seriously?” Marcus had thought, half maybe. If he was lucky…but all of it? He can pay his rent. He can pay for the textbook he needs. He feels a little weak at the thought of much this money means to him.

“Seriously.” Cunoval chuckles. “Tell you what, I’ll put it in my desk until you’re dry. Come and get me when you want it.” He takes the bill from Marcus's hand and closes the door.

Marcus sighs with relief as he finally gets to peel off the wet, stinking shorts. The hot shower makes everything better, though his hips hurt slightly from where the frat boy held him, and his thighs ache from the rough way the dude just thrust between him. He’ll live.

He showers as long as the hot water lasts and then finally gets out. There’s a towel, so he wraps it around himself. He rinses the shorts out in the sink and hangs them up to dry. His own clothes are down in the dressing room. Is he supposed to go get them or wait here or what…? He doesn't know.

When he goes back into the office, Cunoval isn’t there. Marcus wanders around the office looking at things, but he’s kinda bored and more than a little hungry. His stomach rumbling reminds him of the money. After textbook, after the rent, he'll have some money left over for food. He looks at the desk. Right hand drawer is the most logical place, so he opens that and freezes.

There’s a small dangerous looking gun just lying there on top of some papers. Marcus is so busy staring at it that he doesn’t notice the door opening.

“I’ve fired people for doing that.”

Marcus slams the drawer shut and looks up at him. “I’m sorry, I was just looking.”

He tugs slightly on his towel, hoping it’ll stay on. Cunoval has his hands in his pockets. He looks casual enough, but Marcus gets the impression of a panther, ready to spring at any second.

“You were looking for this.” Cunoval holds up the bill.

“Yeah. You said.”

“I had it in my pocket.” Cunoval offers it and Marcus goes forward to take it. Only Cunoval doesn’t let go that easily, instead he pulls slightly so Marcus is forced to lower his head slightly.

“You touch my desk again and I will fire you. Understood?”

“Yes, sir.” Marcus says very quietly.

“Good boy.” Cunoval lets go of the bill and Marcus almost stumbles backward. “Now…over by the desk.”

“I thought you said…” Marcus is horribly confused now.

Cunoval pinches the bridge of his nose. “Put your hands on the desk and bend over.”

“Why?” Marcus asks. This has got to be one of the weirdest nights of his life. He has an eight o’clock class in the morning and a paper due on Thursday. He does not need this shit. But he needs the money. That’s what he tells himself.

“Because I told you to.” Cunoval’s voice is dangerously soft.

Marcus doesn’t argue any more. He walks over to the desk and places his hands flat on the top. He can’t help looking over his shoulder at Cunoval as he bends over.

Cunoval moves to stand beside him, and then, with one flick of his fingers, he pulls Marcus’s towel off. Marcus shivers, but keeps his eyes straight ahead.

Cunoval’s fingertips brush his hips lightly. The man is examining him, Marcus realizes, assessing what the frat boy did.

“It doesn’t hurt.” Marcus mutters.

Cunoval’s hand stills. “Did I ask you?”

“No.”

“Then don’t.” He moves to the other side and repeats the process. Only on this side there’s a bruise already forming and Marcus can’t help hissing slightly when Cunoval presses on it. The man doesn’t make any comment however, and moves to stand behind Marcus.

“Spread your legs.”

Is this really fucking necessary? Marcus wonders, but does as Cunoval says. He feels light fingertips tracing the insides of his thighs very very carefully. Then the touch is gone and Cunoval’s moved away to pour himself a drink.

“You can straighten up.” He adds whiskey to a glass of ice and take a small sip.

Marcus straightens. Cunoval has his towel hanging over his shoulder. He looks like a bartender again. A really fancy gangster bartender. Marcus had no idea that was even a thing.

“Why didn’t you punch him?”

“I was pretty sure that that was against policy.” Marcus shrugs.

That earns him a slight smile. “All the same…why didn’t you?”

Because violence never solves anything. Because if I start hitting something, I might never stop. Because I can’t risk losing this fucking job.

Marcus settles on the last one. It’s just as true as the others. “I need this job.” There. He’s said it.

“That badly?”

“Yes.” Marcus admits.

Cunoval takes another sip of whiskey. “So if I told you to bend back over that desk and offer your ass to me…you would.”

Marcus can hardly breathe. He’s choking on anger and lust, yeah, lust because he does want that. He’s wanted Cunoval since he first saw him, and he wants to toss this fucking job in the man’s face and walk out. But if he does that, he’ll be screwed in an a whole other way. So he looks at the floor and says, “Yes.”

There’s a long stretch of silence, during which Marcus memorizes the carpet pattern (three diamonds with a circle-y spiral-y design around them) and noticed a stain near the leather couch that could be red wine. Or it could be blood. He thinks again about the gun in the man’s drawer. Is he a complete idiot for even staying in the building?

Finally, when he can’t take it any longer, Marcus looks up. Cunoval’s just standing there, whiskey in hand, watching him. He half blinks when he sees Marcus is actually looking at him.

“Go get dressed.” He tosses Marcus the towel. “Go home. Get some rest. Come back tomorrow night, same time.”

He doesn’t say anything more about Marcus’s ass.

Chapter Text

Marcus is dead fucking tired. He almost falls asleep twice on the bus ride home. The bus driver glares at him when he gets off at his stop.

It takes him forever to climb the stairs. He feels more exhausted with each step. When he gets to his apartment, he goes into the kitchen and stares at the empty fridge. He feels like it's saying something significant about his life, but he's too tired to figure out. Probably that he needs to put more beer inside him.

There’s something he needs to do, but Marcus can barely remember the last time he ate, so everything’s a little fuzzy. He finds a box of stale crackers in a cupboard and eats a handful of them with a glass of water. His stomach rumbles at him.

Tomorrow he’ll get the five hundred changed and then he’ll buy a cheeseburger, no, he’ll buy two. Maybe three. And fries, and a milkshake. And then another cheeseburger.

He finishes the crackers and then goes into the bedroom. There’s a message from his mom on his phone. She wants him to come home for a weekend. And to call his uncle. Nothing new. Marcus erases the message and shrugs off his jacket. He strips off everything and crawls into bed, pulling the sheet over him.

* * *

In the morning he goes to his class and convinces his professor to give him an extension on his paper that’s due. At least his smile still works on somebody.

After he gets the five hundred changed into smaller bills, he pays his share of the rent, and fends off questions about when Paulo will pay his. He buys his textbook and settles for a carton of Ramen packets, some frozen dinners and orange juice. It’ll have to do for now.

He spends two hours working on his essay at the library. There’s not enough books at the branch. He has to order them in, which will take more time. He gets an outline down though and a few pages written. That's something at least.

On his way to the bus stop, he buys a taco from a stand and gulps it down in two bites.

Marcus makes it to the club twenty minutes early and feels overly pleased about this.

The shorts are back. At least they’re clean. This time Marcus’s shift goes smoothly. The crowd likes him. He gives a lap dance to a young woman in her twenties. She giggles too much, but she doesn’t so much as touch him. Her friend slips a hundred into the side of his shorts and tells him to call her. Her number is on the bill.

Marcus looks up at the balcony once. Cunoval’s not there this time. He tries to ignore the stab of disappointment.

* * *

The rest of the week goes just as smoothly. Marcus dances five out of seven nights, and goes to class in the morning and he almost feels like this is the start of a normal existence for him. The hard part is staying awake in class now. Coffee’s not working any more, so now he’s switched to energy drinks. He needs to eat more. He knows this, but it’s hard to spend money on food when he needs a new battery for his laptop, and another textbook. He eats a lot of Ramen.

He’d work out, but he doesn’t have the time so he runs in the back parking lot behind the club after his shifts have ended. Then he has to walk home because the buses have all gone. He almost gets mugged twice. They always back off once they see the look in his eyes.

* * *

Cottia invites him out for a drink, but Marcus takes a rain check. Drinking is another thing he doesn’t have the money for, no matter how much he’s dying to just drown everything in a bottle of whiskey.

Marcus is only summoned to Cunoval’s office once at the end of the week. His shift has ended. He’s already changed back into his jeans and t-shirt, so for once he doesn’t feel completely at a disadvantage.

Cunoval’s standing by the window when Marcus enters. He puts a finger to his lips, and Marcus notices the speaker phone is on. Somebody’s rattling away in a language he doesn’t understand. Cunoval’s jacket-less again. His suspenders are also down as well, hitting the back of his thighs as he walks. He's eating from a carton of Thai as he converses. His shirt is undone to the third button and Marcus can see the curve of his throat as he swallows.

Marcus just stands there, and waits. He’s good at waiting when he has to be. He’s sore from tonight’s gyrations, but it’s a good soreness, like after really good sex.

Fuck. That’s the last thing Marcus needs to think about right now. He has got to learn to not to think about sex when he’s within twenty feet of Cunoval. It just doesn’t pay off. He can feel the familiar stirring in his groin. Desperately, he hopes that for once his dick will decide to cooperate and just wait five minutes till he's out of the office. Is that really so much to ask?

At last Cunoval ends the call and turns to him.

“Cottia thinks you’re ready for doubles.”

“Really?” Marcus can’t keep the surprise out of his voice. “She didn’t mention it to me.”

“She wouldn’t.” Cunoval dangles a noodle over his mouth, before dropping it neatly on his tongue.

Marcus tries not to drool. “Okay, so what does that mean?”

“It means come in an hour early tomorrow night so she can go over some routines with you. Once we see how you do, we'll go from there.”

Marcus nods. “Thank you.”

“Here.” Cunoval holds out an envelope. “This week’s pay.”

Marcus moves to take it. His stomach rumbles loudly as he gets closer to the tantalizing smell of the open carton. Cunoval raises an eyebrow.

“Hungry, are we?”

Marcus ducks his head, embarrassed. “Yeah.” He takes the envelope and shoves it into his pocket.

“Right. Eight o’clock tomorrow.” Cunoval stand, licking sauce from his fingers. Marcus just nods wordlessly. He watches as Cunoval pulls up his suspenders and reaches for his coat. Cunoval does up the buttons swiftly and then looks at him.

“You can go.”

“Sorry. Uh, goodnight.” Marcus leaves before he can say something stupid.

* * *

He gets all the way down the stairs and out the door before he remembers what Cunoval had said last week. Does this mean he’s got the job for good, or what? He stands there on the pavement, undecided as to whether he should go back in and ask or...

Cunoval told him to come in and work on routines. That has to mean he’s got it, right? Unless he just wants to fire him in front of everyone. Marcus wouldn’t put it past him. He cracks his shoulders and looks back at the door.

Which opens right then, and Cunoval steps out. He glances at Marcus as he locks the door behind him. “Something wrong, Marcus?”

“No.” Marcus checks his watch and shoves his hands in his pockets. He’s missed the last bus. Again. He’ll just have to walk it. Again. Story of his life.

“You’ve missed the last bus.” Cunoval points out right then.

“Thanks.” Marcus mutters. He turns and heads for the alley.

“Marcus.” He turns to look over his shoulder. Cunoval is standing with the passenger door to his car open. “Get in.”

He could say no. Sure he could. But wouldn’t it nice not to be exhausted by the time he gets home? He could actually get some work done.

“It’s only a few blocks.” He mumbles.

“I don’t even want to think about how many blocks you consider a few. Get in.”

Marcus gets in. They drive for a few minutes in silence before Marcus’s stomach rumbles again. Cunoval eyes him.

“When was the last time you ate?”

“This morning.” He’s pretty sure about this.

Cunoval throws him a look Marcus can’t even begin to interpret. “What are you, sixteen?”

He drives them through the Wendy’s drive-thru and orders a two cheeseburgers, a large fries and a vanilla milkshake, plus a small coffee. When the order arrives, he deposits it all in Marcus’s lap with the exception of the coffee.

“How did you know?” Marcus can’t tear his eyes from the feast in his lap.

“You seemed the cheeseburger type.” Cunoval blows on his coffee. “Go ahead.” He pulls into a parking space to add cream to his coffee.

Marcus doesn’t need to be told twice. He devours the food in record time, savoring every single mouthful. Afterward, he wipes his fingers on the napkins and tosses them in the bag. When he looks up, Cunoval’s eyes are on him.

Chapter Text

“Uh. Thank you.”

“My pleasure.” Cunoval takes a sip of coffee. “Now, where do you live?”

Marcus tells him and Cunoval reaches to turn the car back on. His phone buzzes and he holds up a finger to Marcus. “This will only take a sec.”

Marcus doesn’t care. The food is settling comfortably in his stomach. His fingers still feel slightly greasy, so he licks them as he listens to the conversation. He can’t help it.

“Yes. No. tell her if this happens again, she’ll be fired. No. Just that.” Cunoval hangs up.

“Do I have the job?” Marcus asks suddenly. He can’t bear not knowing any longer. “It’s just, you said after a week. And it’s been a week, and I wondered.” He’s rambling. He needs to shut up.

“I might need to observe you a little more.” Cunoval takes another sip of coffee.

“Oh,” Marcus considers that. He knows he should keep his mouth shut, but he just can’t help it. “Is that something you have to do with all your dancers?“

“Pardon?“

“Do you have to observe all your dancers as closely as you watch me?”

Esca glances at him. “You think I watch you?” His eyes are curious, and amused.

“Yeah, when you’re up on the balcony.” Marcus shrugs. Maybe he was wrong. It sure looked that way to him.

“I keep an eye on the club. I prefer to know what’s happening in my establishment. I like to keep an eye on the things I own.”

Marcus snorts. “You don’t own me.”

Esca looks at him with open amusement. “If you say so, Marcus.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Marcus demands.

“Marcus, we’ve already established that you’re willing to get fucked to keep this job. If that’s not ownership, what is?” He sips at his coffee.

Marcus stares out the front windshield. His hands are balled into fists at his sides. “Thanks for the burgers.” He reaches for the door handle.

“Stay where you are.” Cunoval says, unperturbed.

“Why?” Marcus demands. “All you want to do is show that you can control me, Cottia, everyone who fucking works for you. If you want to fuck me so bad, go ahead and fucking do it.”

Cunoval’s eyes narrow. “All right.”

“What?” Marcus’s hand tightens on the door.

“Unzip your trousers and take your cock out.”

He must be joking. He must be. There’s no way. I fucking asked for this, Marcus thinks glumly.

“Do it, or get out of the car.” Cunoval’s voice reveals nothing.

Marcus wants more time. He can’t think straight in this tiny space of a car. He’s sweating and…his hand moves to his zipper without his mind consenting. Slowly, it draws the zipper down, pushing the flaps apart. Then, even more slowly, his hand inches into his shorts and draws out his cock, as Cunoval calls it.

There’s silence in the car. Marcus is sweating harder as he just sits there with his dick sticking out like a fucking overripe banana. Cunoval doesn’t do anything for the longest time, and then he reaches over to stroke one slender forefinger down the length of Marcus’s dick.

He’s wearing leather gloves. How the fuck did Marcus not notice that the moment he got into the car. Fucking food
deprivation, probably. He shivers as the leather traces his dick.

“You are too outspoken.” Cunoval tells him gently. “But you respond well.” His fingers stroke Marcus lightly, teasingly. “I like that.”

“Do you?” Marcus murmurs vaguely. He can barely think.

“For the most part.” Cunoval slides his fist up and down Marcus’s length. It’s ecstasy, and it aches, and he can’t help thrusting a little into the man’s fist. Cunoval’s thumb strokes across the slit and Marcus whimpers.

“Do you want this job, Marcus?” Cunoval asks.

“Yes.” The man’s touch is killing him. Any second he’s going to come all over Cunoval’s nice leather seats and then…well, it’ll all be a bit awkward.

“Yes, what?”

“Yes, sir.” Marcus says automatically.

“Well then,” Cunoval sits back, resting his hand on the steering wheel, his hand which is no longer teasing Marcus to glorious distraction. What a waste of a hand. “Put your cock away.”

“You’re kidding.” Marcus blurts out.

“I never kid.” Cunoval says flatly. “You want this job? Then do as I say.”

Sullenly, Marcus eases his dick back in his shorts. It’s fucking kill him, and he can’t believe the man just did that. What the hell was that all about?

Cunoval drives him the remaining four blocks and nods at the door. “See you tomorrow at eight.”

Marcus stands on the pavement, staring after him as he drives away. “What the fuck, man?” He says to no one in particular and walks upstairs as quickly as possible in his condition.

* * *

Marcus is halfway up the stairs when his phone buzzes.

“Oh jesus christ, what now?” He stares at the number, doesn’t recognize it. “Look, I’m kinda in the middle of something.”

“I’m well aware of that.” Cunoval says into his ear.

“What do you want?” Marcus growls. He can’t help looking out the next window he passes, in an effort to see if the man is still parked somewhere below. No dice.

“You have the job, Marcus. I just thought I’d tell you that.”

“Thanks.” Marcus fumbles with the key to his apartment and gets the door open. As soon as he closes it, he sticks his hand down his jeans.

“Oh, and Marcus.”

“Yeah?” His fingers close around his dick and he tries not to moan right into the phone. This isn’t going to take long at all.

“I’ll give you an audition for a solo within the month if you can keep from coming until after tomorrow’s shift.”

Marcus’s hand freezes. “Are you, do you mean that?”

“I never say anything I don’t mean, Marcus. Well? Do we have a deal?”

His dick wants his hand more than it’s ever wanted anything else. His stomach wants more food. His brain wants to graduate and get the job he wants, and shove it in his uncle’s face once and for all. As for Marcus, well, he thinks about Cunoval watching him while he's onstage...and he wonders if he’ll be able to do it.

“Marcus?”

“Yeah,” He clears his throat. “We have a deal.” He pulls his hand out of his pants and sighs.

“Good. See you tomorrow night.” Cunoval hangs up.

Marcus looks at his crotch sadly. “You’re just gonna have to hang on a little bit longer, okay?”

He swears his dick is yelling at him. He takes a cold shower to shut it up

Chapter Text

He’s late again. When he gets there, Cunoval doesn’t even look at him, just points at the desk. Marcus obeys silently, placing his hands on top like he did before. He’s naked and for a moment he can’t remember where his clothes went. Then it doesn't matter because Esca, somehow it’s simply Esca in his dreams, is standing right behind him, squeezing Marcus's cheeks with his slender fingers.

“You just beg for it, don’t you.” The hands palm him, caressing his ass and Marcus bites on his lip to keep from begging. “You’re a walking advertisement for debasement. Please fuck me. To every single person that sees you. All you want is a cock, anybody's. It hardly matters who owns it.”

“That’s not true.” Marcus blurts. It’s not. He just wants Esca.

“Isn’t it?” Esca’s fingers dip between his cheeks, teasing him. “You might as well admit it, Marcus.”

“No, just you.” Marcus groans as the tip of Esca’s finger strokes across his hole. “Just you, Esca. God, please.”

* * *

Marcus blinks. Shit. That was one of the worst dreams he’s ever had, leaving him with morning wood that is definitely not going away any time soon. He takes a very cold shower, eats a bagel, and goes to class.

He almost forgets about the deal while he’s listening to his professor talk about the new reports from the dig. Almost.

After class, Marcus runs laps around the track, listening to songs he’s considering suggesting to whoever they pair him up with. He hopes it's Cottia.

For once he actually eats lunch. A sandwich, a glass of milk and a peach. He feels he should report to somebody so that they can tell him they’re proud of him.

In the afternoon he has enough time to tidy his room (not that there’s much in it) and do some laundry. Paulo’s stretched out on the couch, watching TV when he goes out to make some coffee.

“Your rent is due.”

“Paid it yesterday.” Paulo doesn't look up.

Marcus would really like to believe him; but he’s not stupid. “Then how come our landlord keeps giving me shit?”

“Because it’s easy?” Paulo shrugs.

Marcus sighs and goes back to his room. He goes over his list of songs one more time, and then, because he can’t resist, a list for solo routines as well. Hell, that’s why he’s doing this, isn’t it?

* * *

The closer he gets to the club, the more nervous he is. He feels jittery all over, like somebody’s drawing thin lines of lightning over his skin and making them dance along his nerve endings.

Jo-Jo, the bouncer, greets him with a high-five, and then a slap on the ass. Marcus puts up with it, because Jo-Jo is really nice underneath his scary exterior, and Marcus appreciates nice guys who are actually bigger than him. They're pretty rare.

Cottia is in the dressing room. She’s already ready to practice, dressed in a skimpy skirt, a small tank top and gloves. “You ready?”

“Yeah. Uh, I brought some music?”

“Really?” She looks at him curiously. “Let’s see what you’ve got.”

Marcus hands over the CD. She peruses the track-listing while he changes into his sweats and a t-shirt.

“You really have a thing for Lady Gaga, don’t you?” Cottia observes.

“What? She’s fun to dance to.” Marcus sounds more defensive than he means to.

“It’s okay. I like it. Let’s start out with 'Love Game’."

“Okay.”

Marcus has watched a couple of the double shows. The dancers dance to each other at first, and then strip to the audience. Cottia’s a good dancer. He’s seen her do doubles and solo routines and she’s good. He really hopes he’ll get to dance with her. Not that the other girls aren’t as good, but he feels comfortable with Cottia.

* * *

“Okay.” Cottia faces him on the stage. “You ready?”

Marcus nods. She hits the music and they begin, moving toward each other. When it reaches the first line about disco stick, Cottia makes a jacking off gesture and Marcus laughs.

It’s fun. It’s easy. Cottia makes everything look easy, but she's in perfect control, timing everything just right. On the second chorus as she removes her gloves, Marcus goes for her on instinct, lifting her by the hips. Cottia’s surprised, but goes with it, wrapping her legs around his waist and bending backward.

Heavy touching, oh yeah, Marcus presses his mouth to her belly and swings her under his legs.

“Whoa.” Cottia grins at him as she skims his dick. “You okay there?”

“I’m fine.” Marcus says, trying to keep his tone light. He’s been half hard all day. This workout isn’t doing him any favors. “You?”

“Yeah, just keep going.” She teases her t-shirt off, and Marcus follows with a grinding thrust, sliding between her spread legs. He’s having more fun then he’s had in a long time. He tosses his shirt, and Cottia loses her skirt. They dance and strip, and crack up.

They end with Marcus sliding under her again, and Cottia pressing her heel to his chest as Marcus arches up toward her.

“You are something else.” Cottia smiles down at him. “You should go pro.”

“Thanks.” Marcus gets up. “So you think he'll like it?” He doesn't even have to glance at the office for Cottia to know who he means.

"Oh, I think so." Cottia smirks at him and Marcus just blushes.

They go over a few other songs, and moves, working out a routine that will please the crowd.

“That’s what’s important, remember.” Cottia reminds him as they take a break. “We’re not doing this just because we like doing it. We’re doing it because they want to see something sexy. Sometimes they want to see a couple. Sometimes they just want to see one of us. That’s what the breaks are for. We want to make them aroused, not jealous.”

Marcus takes a swig of water. “You like doing this?”

“Hell, yeah.” She wipes the sweat form her neck. “I don’t have the talent for classical dance, which is what I wanted when I was little. But between this and my job as a paralegal,” She shrugs.

“You’re a paralegal.”

“What did you think I was, a waitress?” She raises an eyebrow.

“Hey,” Marcus raises his hands defensively. “I didn’t really think about it.”

“It’s okay. My mom thinks I’m a paralegal and a waitress.” She sighs. “Okay, go get something to eat, and I’ll meet you back here at 9:30.”

“Okay.”

Marcus pulls his sweaty t-shirt back on and his sneakers and goes out to find some dinner. There’s a diner across the street that he’s frequented once or twice since he started working at the club. It’s greasy, but cheap. Marcus likes cheap. He gets a bowl of chili and a piece of pie and doesn’t even have to flirt with the waitress to get her to add extra whipped cream.

The nervous feeling has been joined by excitement. He likes working with Cottia. He wants to see how the crowd responds, and if he’s totally honest, he wants to see Cunoval’s response as well.

Just the thought of Cunoval watching him and Cottia together makes the blood rush south. Not to mention that fucking dream he had this morning. Marcus pays for his meal and goes back across the street.

The club’s already busy by the time he gets there. Slipping into the bathroom, he locks himself in a stall. It’s time to have a man-to-man talk with his dick.

“Now look,” Marcus addresses it sternly. “This isn’t helping. I know things have been a little hard lately, but it’s not the end of the world. Soon as this shift is over, everything will be fine. Trust me, okay? And don’t go doing anything embarrassing, just this once?”

His dick makes no promises.

Chapter Text

They get ready to go on. Marcus’s heart is thumping crazily in his chest.

Cottia reaches over to pat his cheek. “You’re gonna do just fine.”

“I hope so.” Marcus mutters.

The current song ends, and she gives him a little push. “Come on, lover.”

Marcus takes a deep breath and walks out on stage. It’s a full house. There are people at every single table, and when he raises his eyes, Cunoval’s at the balcony. Marcus can’t help the smile that springs to his lips. The music starts and Cottia starts strutting toward him.

Marcus goes to his knees and she shimmies over him. He slides a hand up his chest to her thigh and spins into a kneeling position. Cottia sways and eases onto his lap for barely a second before returning to her side of the stage.

They play off each other beautifully and the crowd loves it. Marcus can’t resist glancing at the balcony. Cunoval’s lighting a cigarette and talking to another man, not even looking at them.

They end, Marcus on his knees in his shorts and Cottia straddling him. The applause follows them off the stage.

“That was fantastic!” Cottia hugs him and Marcus laughs, giddy with relief.

They take their break, drinking water and sitting down for a second. Marcus’s next shift is with the other dancers. Cunoval’s still up on the balcony, engrossed in his conversation.

Marcus notices a young businessman half-waving to him and he looks at the bouncer. This time the man doesn’t even check with Cunoval; he just nods. Marcus slides off the stage and goes over to the guy.

“Hey.” He smiles. Up close the guy is pretty cute, and he’s smiling at Marcus like he actually likes him. It’s rare. “This a special occasion?” The guy’s alone. That’s also kinda nice after the whole frat boy incident.

“Sort of…” The guy shrugs. “I got a promotion at work. Told myself I’d do something special if I got it.” His eyes travel over Marcus’s body appreciatively.

“And I’m something special?” Marcus grins.

The guy chuckles pleasantly. “Pretty much. Can I take you to a private room?”

“Absolutely.”

The guy leaves a bill on the table for his drink and nods at him to lead the way.

* * *

Marcus hasn’t done a private room yet, but he’s heard the other dancers talking about them. His heart is beating fast again. He can’t resist glancing up at the balcony as they pass under it. Cunoval looks down just then and their eyes meet for an instant. And then Marcus is leading the guy down the hall and into a room. The businessman sits, and looks at him speculatively.

Marcus smiles. “Anything particular you had in mind?”

“Just a dance.”

“Alright.” He can still hear the music from the main room. It’s quieter, but workable. He moves a little closer to the guy, who’s watching him with eager eyes.

“You come here a lot?” Marcus sways slightly from side to side, running his hands over his hips.

“Sometimes.” The guy looks comfortable enough. It's definitely not his first time.

Marcus spins slowly, moving his ass in just the right way. He hears an appreciative murmur and he grins to himself. When he straddles the guy, the man’s hands go automatically to his hips. Marcus was half prepared for that, but it’s surprising how good they feel, sliding along his skin.

“Can I?” The guy asks as Marcus grinds slowly against him.

“Sure.” Although he’s not sure what the guy’s asking. He sucks in his breath as the man palms his ass with both hands.

“Christ, you have a gorgeous ass.” The guy mutters.

“Thanks.” Marcus grins.

The guy squeezes him just enough, and Marcus grinds a little more. The guy is touching him, caressing his ass and it feels fucking awesome. Fuck, he needs to get laid. The man slides a hand over Marcus’s crotch and Marcus exhales heavily, but he doesn’t tell the guy to stop.

He’s half-hard now, and the guy’s just rubbing his thumb over Marcus’s crotch, while his other hand is back on Marcus’s ass. Marcus manages to not moan aloud, but it’s a near thing. He closes his eyes for a second as he rubs against the man’s hand, and then he suddenly remembers something one of the other dancers had said.

He watches sometimes. There are mirrors in all the rooms. He can watch anything he wants.

Marcus swallows tightly and looks into the mirror that’s hanging on the opposite wall. He’s fully hard now, and if the man doesn’t stop soon, he’s gonna fucking come then and there, which is not an option. He does one last teasing thrust of his hips against the man and starts to slide off him.

“That’s it?” The guy’s still got his hands on his ass, and Marcus wants to just rut against him until he comes, but he just can’t.

“Sorry.” He smiles apologetically.

The guy shrugs. “No worries. That was…” he licks his lips and nods. “Fucking sexy.”

“Thank you.”

The guy gets out his wallet and takes out a bill. “I know you probably get this a lot, but if you ever want to grab a drink and just…fuck, let me know.”

Marcus grins. “I’ll keep that mind.” He doesn’t look at the bill until the guy’s gone. It’s a thousand dollar bill. “Jesus fucking Christ.” Marcus’s knees feel a little weak. Okay, it was a nice lap dance, but it wasn’t worth that much.

“Shoulda let him make me come.” He mutters as he goes backstage to put the money away.

Chapter Text

He barely has time to use the bathroom and get another drink of water before Cottia comes over to him.

“How do you feel about improvising?”

“I guess I can handle it.”

“Good. We’re on in two minutes.” She punches him lightly on the shoulder and heads for the stage.

Marcus stares at his dick pleadingly. “Just a little longer to go.” He promises. Soon as this shift is over, he’s going straight home and he’s gonna jerk off at least three times. Maybe four. At least until his hand wears out.

He should have known his dick wouldn’t cooperate. He’s still hard when they go out and he can hear murmurs throughout the crowd. Cottia grins at him. Marcus ignores her and waits for the music to start. When it does, he can’t help glaring at Cottia. ‘You did this on purpose,' he mouths at her and she just grins.

Marcus really doesn’t care if Pink’s not here for his entertainment. He’d be fine with his hand, if he could just get a moment alone with it. He shoots a dirty look at the balcony, and is surprised to see Cunoval leaning on the railing, hands clasped together, watching him intently.

Marcus decides to make the best of it. So he uses his boner to work the crowd. Cottia strips like she’s having a fun night dancing at the club, and Marcus practically rubs himself off against her every time she gets close to him. He’s practically begging for it, and it’s working, and goddammit, he just needs to come already. Cottia throws her skirt at him, and Marcus catches it, twirling it above his head.

By the time the song ends, he’s dying. He’s so fucking hard, he’s aching with it. Technically, he has one more dancing shift with the others. Surely Cunoval wouldn’t be so cruel as to make him do it? Somehow, Marcus knows full well the man will.

Marcus thinks about calling the businessman after his shift and telling him he needs to get laid tonight. He wonders if the guy would be up for it. He bets he would. It’s not a bad thought. His dick certainly likes it. Maybe he’ll do it.

Danny tells him to get a move on, and he follows them out onstage.

This time, Marcus just dances slow and easy. He grinds like this is all he wants, and it’s fucking magic even though there’s no body pressed against his, nobody to dance with, nobody to touch. His hands stroke his ass, his nipples, his neck and through his hair. He’s panting and hungry and oh god, he’s thinking about Cunoval.

The man’s up there, just watching him. Marcus fucking knows he’s watching him and nobody else. He sways his hips and looks brazenly up at the man, basically presenting his hard-on for inspection. There’s no way Cunoval can miss it.

Cunoval tilts his head sideways, just watching him. Marcus lets his fingers dance over his crotch, teasing himself, trying to get a rise out of Cunoval. His dick hates him.

He slides to his knees and strokes himself and the music ends. Marcus jumps up and goes backstage.

“Fucking hell.” Danny says to him, “You have got some sort of exhibitionist kink, don’t you?”

“We’re strippers, Danny. I think we all have that to a certain extent.” Marcus grabs a soda from the fridge in the backroom and goes backstage to grab his stuff. He’s so tired and horny he doesn’t care if Cunoval gives him a solo or not.

He changes out of his shorts, and his dick bobs free, glaring up at him in an accusatory manner. Marcus tells it to fuck off. He can’t bear the thought of putting his boxers back on, so he just pulls his sweatpants on and reaches for his t-shirt. He’s just put on his sneakers when Nikki pokes her head into the dressing room.

“Boss wants to see you in his office.”

Marcus sighs. “Course he does. I suppose you can’t tell him I already left.”

Nikki raises her eyebrows.

“Okay, okay, I’m coming.”

I wish, grumbles his dick.

* * *

Marcus traipses up the stairs, hands in his pockets. He raps on the door and leans his forehead against it, praying softly to any gods that might be listening to a horny stripper college student. Please let me just go home and get off. That’s all I want. Just some time alone.

“Come.” Cunoval sounds distracted. Maybe he won’t keep him for ages. Marcus enters hopefully. He’s not prepared for the sight that meets him.

Cunoval is leaning back in his chair, feet up on the desk, phone cradled against his ear while he rolls up one of his cuffs. His jacket’s off again and Marcus really wishes his brain would stop fantasying about running his fingers along those fucking suspenders. He can’t though. It’s pure habit by now. He can imagine how they feel, but his fingers itch to see for themselves.

Cunoval gets his sleeve rolled up to his elbow and nods at Marcus, mouthing. ‘Just a minute.’

Fine, sure. Marcus can wait. It’s not like he’s dying of horniness right now or anything vital. He sneaks another look at Cunoval’s state of undress as the man works on his other sleeve. The rolled up sleeves reveal slim, muscular arms and Marcus is imagining all sorts of pleasant things by the time Cunoval finally hangs up.

“Christ,” He cracks his neck and stretches, and honestly, Marcus’s brain just stops right there. “Well, you’re going to have to come up with some routines.”

“Mmhm?” Marcus says, not really listening.

Cunoval snaps his fingers at him and Marcus jumps. “Get a hold of yourself there.”

Marcus glares at him, and Cunoval just smiles. “Bet that’s what you’d like to do, eh?”

Marcus shrugs like it’s no big deal.

YES, screams his dick.

“Go on then.” Cunoval leans back in his chair, folding his hands behind his head.

“Excuse me?” Marcus says very politely. Though by now, he should know the sort of games Cunoval likes to play.

“You come with up with a solo routine I like, I’ll let you use it. Not this week, but the next, perhaps. In the meantime, that doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere, so have at it.”

“You want me to jerk myself off in your office. Right now.” Right in front of you?

Cunoval reaches for his coffee sitting on his desk. “What’s the matter? Don’t think he’s up for it?” He nods at Marcus’s dick.

“Oh, it’s not that.”

“What is it then?” Cunoval sounds genuinely interested in Marcus’s answer.

“What do you get out of it? Other than the obvious.”

Cunoval swings his legs off the desk and sits up in his chair, facing him. “Whatever do you mean?”

“I mean…what, do you just like control? Do you really want to see me get off that badly? Or is it that it gets you off? Is that it? You like watching.” He stops abruptly.

Cunoval’s knuckles are tight, clenched around his coffee cup. “You’re very talkative all of a sudden. Pick up those theories all on your own, did you?”

“I’m not stupid,” Marcus says flatly. “I just…like to know what’s going on.” He shouldn’t lay his cards on the table like this. Once Cunoval knows how much he dislikes being confused, turned on and left in the dark, he’ll probably do it even more.

To his surprise, Cunoval lowers his coffee, stares at it contemplatively for a moment, before raising his gaze to look Marcus directly in the eye. “Yes. I like to watch.”

Oh.

Chapter Text

“Everyone, or just me?”

“There are many different forms of physical beauty in the world, Marcus,“ Cunoval remarks dryly, “It would be strange if yours was the very first I’d ever come across that I actually liked.”

“Yeah, but you do like mine.” Marcus isn’t sure why he’s pushing this…He just wants more. Maybe he just wants to know Cunoval wants him back, just as badly. He wants to know if the man dreams about him, or if he lies awake at night, sweating over thoughts of Marcus dancing for him. He wants to know what Cunoval thinks about when his eyes are on him. Marcus wants, and he’s afraid.

Cunoval smiles slightly. “Yes, I do rather.”

“Okay then.” Marcus reaches for the band of his sweats.

“Just like that?” Cunoval raises his eyebrows.

“Just like that.” Marcus replies. He pushes them down to his thighs and slides a hand over his dick. And that, that superb look of genuine surprise in Cunoval’s eyes…that’s worth every single fucking thing he’s put Marcus through ever since he first walked through the door. Almost.

His dick thrusts eagerly into his palm, and Marcus can’t help groaning a little at the feel. After all the waiting, it’s like coming home. He pauses long enough to spit in his palm, adding a little friction.

Cunoval’s just sitting there, chin rested on his folded hands, watching him. There’s something new in his expression, something Marcus would like to examine further. But he really doesn’t have the time at the moment because he needs to get off right fucking now. His balls are gonna fucking explode if he doesn’t, and his dick will never talk to him ever again. He speeds up as his breath hitches.

“How does it feel?” Cunoval asks softly.

“Like I’m gonna die if I don’t come.” Marcus gasps.

“How about your balls?”

Marcus groans. “They’re so fucking tight.” He touches them lightly for a second. They’re heavy and he groans louder as he touches them.

“Is this the longest you’ve ever gone without getting off?”

“Yes.” Marcus’s breath is ragged now. There’s sweat running down the back of his neck, and his chest is heaving slightly as he jerks himself off.

“Slow.” Cunoval says.

“You fucking kidding me?” Marcus pants.

“It’ll feel better.” Cunoval assures him.

There’s no way that can be true, but somehow Marcus manages to slow just a fraction of his speed. He fucking whimpers as his dick slides against his palm, hot and wanting and slow. His legs are trembling and he just can’t take it. He goes to his knees right there the middle of Cunoval’s office, his hand still wrapped around his dick.

When Marcus finally comes, there are tears at the corners of his eyes and he’s shuddering with the strain of it. He gasps helplessly as he spills over his hand, his thighs, the carpet and says,

“Esca.”

* * *

Which, in retrospect, might not have been the best thing ever. Marcus takes a deep breath, resting his hands on his knees. Fuck. Everything is sticky and oh shit, the carpet. He stares at his come which is on Cunoval’s carpet and he can feel himself blushing like crazy.

“Um.” He’s scared to look up at Cunoval. Marcus has no idea what the man is thinking. Maybe he should just go. That’s probably best. Except he’s all sticky. And there’s the carpet. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

“I’m really sorry about the carpet.” Marcus manages to say at last.

“Marcus.”

He can’t not respond to that tone, so he lifts his head. Cunoval’s expression is...Marcus blinks. It’s not angry. It’s not annoyed. There’s amusement yes, but there’s something…nice about the curve of his lips that Marcus likes.

He waits, hands clenched against his legs.

“You should probably shower before you go anywhere."

Not quite what Marcus was expecting, or hoping if he’s honest…but still good.

“Okay.” Marcus gets to his feet, pulling up his sweatpants as he does.

Cunoval hasn’t moved.

Marcus swallows the rush of disappointment and goes past him into the bathroom. He strips off his clothes and stands there for a moment, looking at himself in the mirror. He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do next. If that private show he just put on doesn’t get Cunoval, nothing well.

Marcus steps into the shower and turns it on. He’s testing the water when he hears the door opening. Cunoval enters, closing the door behind him.

“You used my name.”

The flush spreading over Marcus's cheeks is from the steam rising from the shower. That’s Marcus’s story and he’s sticking to it. He turns the water off and steps out of the shower, conscious of his nudity.

“Yeah, sorry. I…”

Cunoval steps closer until he’s only an inch or so from Marcus. Fuck, he’s a little guy. Marcus wonders what it'd be like to just slip his hands under Cunoval's ass and pick him up. And those eyes, those absolutely gorgeous eyes that don’t belong to a bartender or a gangster (he hopes) are looking up at him.

“That’s a little intimate, don’t you think?”

He looks amused, and Marcus takes a chance. “I’m jacking myself off on your carpet in front of you. I can’t use your name?”

“It meant that much to you?” Cunoval asks. He’s so close. Marcus could just lean down and kiss him if he only had the balls. His dick apparently has the balls. Literally. It’s standing straight up and, fuck... Marcus flushes beet red as his dick just reaches out and brushes against Cunoval’s thigh.

Cunoval looks down at him, grinning. “You have a good recovery period.”

“It’s been a long day.” Marcus mutters. He freezes when Cunoval just reaches out and casually takes him in hand. Marcus stares at him. The man’s just standing there, holding his dick. “So…”

“Yes?” Cunoval asks him as his fingers slide up his length teasingly.

“Can I use it again?” Marcus whispers.

Cunoval smiles. “I think that would be permissible.”

“Oh, thank fuck.” Marcus breathes. And then he breathes harder as Esca, fuck yeah, Esca, strokes him. “Esca. Esca.” His hands go to Esca’s shoulders, holding him as he thrusts into the other man’s hand.

Esca knows just how to touch him, fingers moving to cup his balls, caressing them gently. Marcus’s fingers dig into Esca’s shoulders. He can feel the muscles there underneath the man’s shirt. It would be so easy to slide Esca’s suspenders down and mouth at his neck, like he wants to. But, the look in Esca’s eyes doesn’t give permission for that, so Marcus keeps his hands on his shoulders.

Esca jerks him off slowly, even slower than Marcus managed before. Marcus is beginning to wonder if he’ll ever get to come again when he feels his balls start to tighten.

“I’m gonna,”

“Come on then,” Esca whispers, and Marcus can’t help the way he digs his fingers into Esca’s shoulders as he comes with a soft cry.

Esca strokes him until his dick is spent and has nothing left to give. Marcus blinks slowly, returning to himself. He feels lazy and content. He could sleep right here and now.

“Well.” Esca says softly.

Marcus glances down. He’s coated Esca’s hand with his come. Marcus swallows heavily. He opens his mouth to say something, anything, but the words stutter themselves to a halt on his tongue. Calmly, Esca lifts his hand to his mouth, sucking the curve between his thumb and forefinger.

He’s licking Marcus’s come from his hand. What would it be like to kiss him now? To taste his tongue, taste my come on his tongue? Marcus’s knees are still weak. He may not be able to stand much longer.

Esca licks across his palm and looks up at him. “You should have that shower now.”

Chapter Text

Esca scoops up his discarded clothing and goes out without another word. Marcus is still trembling as he showers. He feels giddy all over. Exhausted, but giddy. It's like some spark has been struck inside him and he can't stop now. The scene keeps replaying in his mind, the way Esca had looked. The way Esca had looked at him. The way Marcus had wanted to just pick him up and slam him against the shower door and strip off every inch of clothing, spread his legs and fuck Esca until he comes apart.

Marcus blinks. Fuck him. Hah, like Esca would ever let Marcus do that. If anyone gets fucked, Marcus guesses that Esca assumes it’ll be Marcus with his legs spread. Not that that thought isn’t appealing, but Marcus likes variety, both in his dancing and in his sex.

However when he gets out of the shower, the office is empty and his clothes are gone. There’s no sign of Esca. Marcus stands there, with his towel wrapped around his hips and sighs in frustration It’s like they’re dancing back and forth, and back forth, and he doesn’t quite know the steps.

So he’ll freestyle, Marcus decides. He goes downstairs the back way to the changing rooms, gets dressed in his spare set of clothes and leaves.

It’s late. There’s no one around. Marcus has the sidewalk alone to himself. He walks home, manages to drag himself up the stairs and into the apartment. Paulo is having some loud conversation on his phone in the kitchen. Marcus slinks past him and locks his bedroom door behind him. He falls into bed with a sigh of relief.

 

Marcus oversleeps.

Misses his class.

His overdue paper isn’t done yet.

The landlord shows up, demanding the rest of the rent that's due. Marcus tries to explain that his roommate would pay that, but the man refuses to listen. He ended up paying Paulo’s share just to make the landlord go away.

Why do bad things always follow good ones?

Marcus goes out to drown his sorrows in coffee. While he’s in line at the coffee shop his phone buzze. He pulls it out and huffs. He debates not answering, but he didn’t pick up the last three times so he might as well get it over with.

“Hello?” He pays for his coffee and goes outside.

“Oh good, you’re still alive.”

Marcus closes his eyes. “Hi, Mom.”

“It wouldn’t kill you, Marcus to pick up the phone and call once in a while, or even to simply return my calls.”

It might, Marcus thinks sourly.

“Your uncle wants you to come for dinner Wednesday night.”

“Sure he does.” Marcus takes a sip of coffee, burning his tongue.

“Don’t use that tone. Your uncle has been very good to us, Marcus. The least you could do is show some gratitude.”

“Gratitude, right.”

“He wants to help, Marcus.”

“He wants me to go into politics like him.” There’s a tiny golden glow of satisfaction at the thought that he can never do that now. There’s no way they’d let him, since he’s been a stripper.

There’s a sigh from the other end, and Marcus feels a twinge of guilt, even though he shouldn’t. “Please, Marcus. Just go to dinner. For me.”

“All right, all right.”

“Good. Seven o’clock, Wednesday.”

“Right.”

“I love you, Marcus. Try to remember that.”

“Iloveyoutoo.” Marcus mumbles and hangs up. His hand is stinging and he looks down. During the space of the conversation, he had clenched the paper cup so hard, it had crumpled between his fingers. “Crap.” Marcus dumps the cup in a trash can and sucks at his burned fingers.

It's Monday. He has two days to figure out exactly what to say to his uncle. In the meantime, there's the matter of what he will say to Esca tonight.

* * *

Apparently, Marcus shouldn’t have worried about what to say to Esca. He's kept busy doubling with Cottia in-between dancing with the other three, and Esca doesn’t send for him once. He doesn’t even come out to watch from the balcony. This break in regular routine knocks Marcus a little off his stride. He’s not on fire tonight, and he knows it. So do the other dancers.

Cottia gives him a ‘What’s wrong?’ look, but Marcus avoids it. He can’t explain what he doesn’t know.

After his shift, Marcus hangs around for a little bit, until it’s painfully obvious that Esca isn’t intending to send for him anytime soon. He rides the bus home and jerks off in the shower, imagining he has Esca on his knees in front of him, forcing his dick down the smaller man’s throat until he’s gagging from the swell of it. Marcus would fist his hair and shove his dick down even further until he comes and it’s just too much and it spills out Esca’s mouth. Then, he’d -

There’s a pounding on the door. “You gonna be in there all night?” Paulo shouts.

Marcus groans. “I’ll be out in a sec!”

He tries to think of solo routines, but what’s the point if Esca’s just going to ignore him? Money, his brain reminds him, money. That’s why you took the job in the first place. Yeah, right, money. It’s true. And he should focus on that, because of the upcoming dinner with his uncle. He has to have his story straight, because if he fucking slips up and his uncle finds out what he’s doing, well, it just doesn’t bear thinking about.

The next day he goes into his class early and begs Professor Luton for a further extension.

“I know I don’t deserve it, but please. I will have it turned in by tomorrow afternoon, I swear.”

Luton unsnaps his briefcase and looks at him over his glasses. “I shouldn’t…but you’re a good student, Marcus. I like you. I like your ideas. You usually do excellent work, and the fact that you’ve been slow on this one paper, well…” he half-smiles. “But this is your last extension, understood?”

“Yes, thank you. Thank you so so much, sir. You won’t regret it.”

“I trust that’ll be the case. Marcus, you’re doing well. Make me proud.”

“I will.” He means it.

He gets the second draft done that afternoon at the library, and then…his email pings at him and he almost shouts for joy right there in the study hall. Guern hasn’t emailed him in almost three months, but now, finally, there's news. Marcus devours it with eager eyes.

They’ve made progress, not loads, but some. There’s some new findings around the dig, but nothing Guern can really confirm yet. Marcus groans softly, biting his lip in frustration. He should be there, on site. That’s where he belongs. He should be working on it, not just writing papers that will hopefully get him there.

Marcus goes home, dumps his laptop and bag on the desk and lays down to take a brief nap before heading to the club.

When he closes his eyes, he can see the site like it was yesterday, even though he’s never been there. His father bending over him with a smile and showing him the picture. The picture and the map of the place he wants to find.

“This is it,” He says, pointing at the place on the map. “The place the Ninth Legion disappeared.”

“Is the Eagle really there?” Marcus, tow-headed, chubby-cheeked Marcus, all of seven years old and already obsessed with his father’s dream, asks.

“So the legends say.”

“And you’ll find it.” Marcus stares at the picture hungrily.

His father draws him up on his lap. “I hope so, Marcus. I hope so.”

I hope so.

Marcus starts awake. He hasn’t dreamed of his father in ages and now…he pushes it away and gets up. There’s just time for a shower before he heads out.

Chapter Text

He goes over his paper in-between shifts. The other dancers tease him, but he doesn’t care. He can’t fuck this up. He can’t. He can’t. if he fucks it up, that’s his last chance gone and there’ll be no hope for it and he’ll have to…

Marcus swallows down the rising panic and puts down his notebook. It’s all going to be okay, he tells himself. Everything. Every single thing. He gets a bottle of water and chugs half of it.

Danny raps on the doorjamb and makes him jump. “Cunoval wants you.”

“Great.” Marcus nods absentmindedly, still focused on his paper.

“Boss’s favorite, eh?” Danny smirks at him. “Does he make you dance for him?"

“What?” Marcus is pleased that his voice sounds completely calm.

“Oh, you know. He likes having dancers up there, in his office, giving him a private show. When he’s not watching them through the mirrors, obviously. Right little perv.”

“Should you be talking about your employer that way?” Marcus says coolly. He sets the bottle down and puts his notebook away in his bag.

“What, you gonna tell him?” Danny raises his eyebrows. “Blabbermouth as well, eh?”

“Just…shut it.”

“You gonna make me?” Danny takes a step forward.

He’s begging for it. Marcus can feel the punch; he knows exactly how it would hit and all he wants is to just do it. Hit Danny as hard as he can. But he doesn’t. He keeps his temper checked and brushes past the other dancer without another word.

He raps on Esca’s door and waits.

“Come.”

Marcus enters.

He’s still pissed from the conversation with Danny. Although he can’t really pinpoint why. What is it to him if Esca has other dancers up to his office? (He’s probably seen much better shows than the one you put on.) He shuts that little voice off.

For once Esca’s not on the phone. He’s staring moodily at a file open before him on the desk, while nursing a whiskey. Lagavulin, Marcus notes from the bottle. Very nice.

Marcus just stands there, hands in his pockets.

“What’s up?” Esca says at last, raising his eyes from the file to focus on Marcus.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Marcus does though, and he’s annoyed. He knows he didn’t do a good job and it’s pissing him off. He doesn’t need Esca pointing it out. He already feels like shit.

“Shitty dancing, that’s what I’m talking about. If you continue in that fashion, you can forget a solo career.”

“Thought I’d already earned that.” Marcus sneers slightly.

Esca’s lip curls at the emphasis. “So you did.” He takes a sip of whiskey. “I want a routine ready by tomorrow night.”

“I can’t.” Marcus blurts.

“Why not?”

“I…” There is no good answer. Nothing that the man will accept. “I have a paper due tomorrow. It’s…” The single most important thing of my life and if it’s not good enough, my life is over.

“You can do schoolwork anytime.” Esca dismisses his paper easily.

“Schoolwork is why I’m doing this.” Marcus reminds him.

“No.” Esca doesn’t accept that. “There’s something more.” He waits.

Marcus hesitates. He can’t tell Esca of all people. Can he? His mother disapproves. His uncle thinks it’s foolish. Esca…what would Esca think?

What the hell…

“There’s an archeological dig in Scotland. I want to join the crew." I want to be there when they find it. I want to be the one to find it.

“What are they looking for?” Esca inquires.

“The remnants of the ninth legion of Rome.” Marcus says it like he’s unfurling a banner and standing his ground. “They’re looking for anything really, just proof that they were there and…you know.” And the eagle…but he keeps the eagle to himself. The eagle is private.

“The lost Ninth?” Esca looks at him with genuine interest for the first time since Marcus walked through the club doors.

“How did you know?” Marcus is dumbfounded.

“I’m English. If there’s a thing we’re good at, it’s history.” He takes a sip. “There were stories about the legion...about the eagle.”

“My father,” Marcus’s voice cracks ever so slightly (Fuck, he must be more tired than he thought) “He told me about the eagle.”

Esca looks at him. “And you want to find it.” His voice is strangely soft, almost gentle. Marcus doesn’t know what to make of it.

“Yes.”

“That doesn’t explain why you can’t work tomorrow night.”

“I have to have dinner with my uncle.” Marcus mumbles. He knows it’s a crappy excuse.

“I see.”

“Please,” Marcus takes a deep breath, “Can I do it Thursday night? I’ll have it all ready.”

“Thursday I have a meeting.” Esca says automatically.

Marcus waits. Come on, come on, come on. You want me to solo for you. I know you do. You know you do. I know it. Just come on.

“Friday,” Esca decides. “You show me Friday. If I like it, you’ll do it Saturday night.”

“Thank you, thank you so much.” Marcus is babbling again.

Esca just drinks his whiskey and smiles at him.

Chapter Text

He’s heading to the bus stop when Esca’s car passes him. Marcus half imagines it slows for a moment, and then he knows it didn’t because it simply continues away up the street.

Marcus reaches the bus stop and waits. He goes over his notes by the dim light of his cell phone. After a few minutes it starts drizzling, and only then does he think to check the time. Fuck, he's missed the bus again. He shoves his notebook hurriedly inside his bag, safe out of the rain, and races up the street, dodging raindrops. Only a few blocks. He can do this. Sure. Get a coffee. Write all night. He can.

Marcus reaches a corner and pauses, waiting for the light to change. The rain is coming down harder now. A car honks at him and he brushes wet hair away from his eyes to see Esca. The man jerks his head at Marcus, telling him to get a move on already. So Marcus runs around the car and climbs in the passenger side. He slams the door a little harder than necessary and sends a flurry of water everywhere.

“Fuck, I’m getting your seat all wet.” He shakes water from his hair. “I’m sorry.”

“It’ll dry.” Esca places a cigarette between his lips and lights it. “Why don’t you have a car?”

“Can’t afford it.” Marcus says, wringing out the hem of his shirt. It leaves a puddle on the seat beside him. He brushes it surreptitiously to the car floor.

Esca takes a drag on his cigarette and glances at him. “Is there anything you can afford?”

“I can afford a lot more than I used to.” Marcus says irritably, and then feels guilty. “Thanks to you.”

“Me?” Esca blows a smoke ring out the window into the rain. He looks as though he doesn’t have the slightest clue what Marcus is on about.

“You gave me the job.”

“You earned it.” Esca taps ash into the tray and sticks the cigarette back between his lips as the car moves forward slightly.

Marcus looks away out the window. “That’s right. I did.”

“Why do I get the feeling you don’t like particularly like that phrase?" Esca remarks lightly. "Or is it something else that has your panties in a twist?”

“Nothing at all.” Marcus rubs at his damp shirt.

“I find that hard to believe.”

“Why?”

“Don’t let this ruin your life, Marcus, but poker is not your game. Come. Tell me what happened.”

“Danny said you liked to watch.” Marcus doesn’t know where the words come from, or the flat emotionless voice that's heavy on his tongue. “That you had other dancers up in your office.”

“Why shouldn’t I have other dancers up in my office? It is my club after all.”

“So you make everyone jerk off in front of you?”

Esca simply looks at him steadily. “Perhaps.”

It shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t make his heart race. It’s probably a lie, but just the idea makes Marcus hot with jealousy and lust all at once. He thinks of what happened in Esca's office, of what he did, and he closes his eyes in shame.

“What else did you make them do?” He swears it’s like his dick got control of his tongue. His brain would never ask that.

“Why do you want to know? Are you curious or...” Esca eyes him, gaze traveling from damp hair plastered to Marcus’s skull, damp clothing clinging to his frame, all the way down to Marcus's erection, straining hotly against his damp thigh. "...merely hungry?"

“Both.” Marcus says truthfully.

“I don’t make my dancers do anything.” Esca says flatly. “I have never done so, and I never will.” He stubs the cigarette out, leaving the butt in the ashtray.

“So what do you do?”

“I assess them.” He looks at Marcus.

“For what?”

“Something...” Esca seems to have forgotten himself as he trails off. He rubs at his eyes almost tiredly with the back of his hand. And for the first time Marcus considers how young he is. He can't be more than a few years older than Marcus himself.

“What…” Marcus asks softly. “What do you want?”

“Your mouth on my cock.” Esca tells him, reaching for another cigarette. He lights it and looks at Marcus over the flare of the lighter, issuing the challenge.

For the first time, Marcus doesn't hesitate. He simply leans over. Esca’s already hard, and Marcus just presses his mouth to the front of his pants and sucks. It’s possible Esca might have cared about these pants, but if so, he doesn’t complain as Marcus’s mouth works at him through the material. He nuzzles at the outline of Esca's dick, laving the bulge until Esca’s fingers twist in his hair hard enough to hurt.

“Skin. Marcus. Mouth on skin. Now."

His voice is hoarse and Marcus can’t help the rush of satisfaction. He pulls the zipper down and dips his hand inside Esca’s pants to take him out, and there, oh perfect and pale and fucking gorgeous is Esca’s dick.

Marcus’s dick is in love. It wants nothing more than to be released so that it can rub against the beautiful beautiful British dick between Esca’s thighs.

But it’s Marcus’s mouth’s turn. His dick will have to wait.

He lowers his head again and starts slow. He tongues the slit at the head, until it's dripping pre-come down his chin. Marcus does this until he can’t hold back any longer and then he takes Esca inside. He teases him with his tongue, fucking Esca's with his mouth. Esca’s fingers are entangled in his damp hair, and his hips are rising up to meet Marcus's ready mouth. Esca smells like sweat and soap and rather like the ocean, which only serves to make Marcus more aroused. He wants to touch every inch of the man, from toes to forehead, licking his way across Esca’s skin.

But for now, as Esca comes down his throat with a wordless cry, fingers tight in Marcus’s hair…it’s enough. It’s good. Marcus swallows and sits up, brushing his thumb across his lips to catch the escaping drop. Esca’s eyes are dark and sated and anything could happen next.

“What do you want, Marcus?” Esca’s voice is soft again, like a dagger sliding home in the night and Marcus knows he should tread carefully here.

Sometimes though, Marcus enjoys being reckless.

“This.” He leans across the seat to kiss Esca. Esca’s lips are soft and warm against his own. There’s a murmur of surprise at first, and then Marcus presses a little harder and Esca’s lips part and they're kissing away the chill of the rain, and the taste of Esca mingles on their tongues. Marcus is drowning and he wants to go deeper. His hands move to cup Esca’s face.

Esca breaks the kiss and pushes him back. “Well. That was…” He looks a little surprised and wary, as though Marcus might still want something else, something more.

“You asked what I wanted.” Marcus says. It sounds childish when he says it.

At that, Esca laughs. Honest to motherfucking god, he laughs. And Marcus just stares, mouth open. It’s a good sound. He wishes he could hear Esca laugh all the time.

“Oh, Marcus...you.” Esca shakes his head. Briskly, he tucks himself away and zips up his pants. “Go upstairs. Take a hot shower. Finish your paper.”

“What?” Marcus hadn't even realized they were outside his apartment.

“Goodnight. Marcus.” Esca nods at the door. “Routine by Friday, remember.”

As if he could forget. Marcus gets out and waits until Esca drives away.

Chapter Text

Marcus makes a pot of coffee and settles down on his bed. He writes and rewrites, checks all his sources and double-checks them. He makes more coffee. He resists the urge to check his phone. It’s not like Esca’s going to leave him a message or anything. Still, he can hope, can’t he?

He has it finished by four in the morning. Sleeps for three hours. Gets up, grabs a coffee at the Starbucks on the corner and turns his paper in before he can think of anything else to edit.

Marcus goes home and throws his nicest shirt in the laundry along with everything else that’s been piling up around the apartment. He dozes during the cycle. Once it’s done, and he’s thrown it in the dryer, he flops on his bed and sleeps.

He dreams he’s in a long empty meadow, devoid of shelter and comfort. There’s only sky and grass beneath his feet. And in the distance, Esca standing far away from him, merely a blur. Marcus walks across the grass towards him. His leg is fine. He can’t help noticing it.

He looks down and suddenly…he’s not wearing anything. He’s completely naked in this field and he wonders if Esca is watching him now, at this very moment. He looks up, but the sun is too bright, he can’t see.

Marcus looks down again and his scar is spreading across his leg like a virus. His entire leg is diseased and he falls to his knees, gasping with the pain. When he looks up, he can’t see Esca anywhere and the sun is too bright upon his skin. He starts to burn and he can feel the glass splintering across his skin and the wheels screeching. The burnt rubber smell is sharp and he can barely breathe through it. Everything is shuddering and breaking and he wants to breathe and he can’t…

Marcus wakes, his chest heaving. He’s struggling for breath. The night is too dark, pressed too tight against his skin. All he can feel is the crash, the way the car shudders around him the coppery smell of blood. He shakes his head and pushes himself to his feet. Shower. He needs a shower.

Glass cracking and splintering across his face. Marcus flinches, turning away from the water. He can’t focus. Nothing steadies. It’s all fuzzy and he wishes there was someone he could call. Just to tell. Just to talk. Just to…

He’s shuddering all over. He can’t stand it. His legs can barely hold him. Marcus stumbles out of the shower, grasping blindly for a towel. He ties it around his waist and goes back to his room.

It’s not good enough. He needs…he needs to be near the site. He needs to find the Eagle. He can’t take this any more. He’s tired of waiting. He’s tired of being in this country. Marcus can’t breathe here.

Why can’t he just run away?

Slowly, he gets dressed. Nice shirt. Nice pants. Combs his hair. Puts on some cologne. It’s a nice restaurant. He has to look the part. Marcus can fake it when he needs to.

It’s just an effort. That’s all.

He catches the bus and pretends it’s all a dream.

It’s a pretty crappy dream.

* * *

His uncle is waiting for him at a table in the restaurant. Marcus tugs at his shirt collar. He knows he’s not dressed nearly nice enough; he can feel it in every waiter’s eyes as he walks past them.

“Ah, Marcus. I’m so glad you could join me.” His uncle waves him to the opposite seat. Marcus slides into it. His stomach is still queasy from his dream. The last thing he wants is food.

“I already ordered for you.” His uncle tells him smoothly.

It’s no big deal. Just go with it. An hour, an hour and a half, and it’s over. It’s not the end of the world. Just get through it.

“Thank you.” He takes a sip of water, hoping his stomach will settle.

“Your mother tells me you’re still pursuing your father’s project.”

Marcus shrugs slightly, reaching for a breadstick. “I am.” He knows his uncle knows this. Why bring it up at all? He has to know he can’t persuade Marcus to change his mind. It’s never worked before.

“Marcus…isn’t there something else you’d rather be doing with your life?” His uncle sounds concerned.

“No.” Marcus thought that was pretty obvious.

“You shouldn’t feel obligated to fulfill your father’s last job.” Aquila sat back as the waiter brought over a tray with their dishes. “It’s not your responsibility.”

“But it’s what I want.” Marcus says. He’s not sure why he even bothers. The man isn’t paying attention to him. He takes a sip of his wine and stares at the plate of carefully arranged pasta set before him.

“Marcus, Marcus, Marcus…” His uncle shakes his head. “You have no idea what you want. Now, I think you should be looking at a serious plan for the future. You need to start looking forward with your life, not backward. A constructive career, something like law.”

“Or politics.” Marcus counters. It’s like they think he’s twelve. He’s had this conversation over and over with his mother and his uncle. They’re never going to make him change his mind. They can’t. He takes another sip of wine, swallowing half the amount in his glass this time. His uncle is talking about something. This, Marcus thinks, is why I didn’t want to go to dinner. He finished his wine and motions for the waiter to refill his glass. It’s only then that he glances across the room and sees the party there at the corner table.

“Fuck,” Marcus coughs into his napkin.

“Marcus?” His uncle looks at him. “Are you all right?”

“Fine.” He reaches for a sip of water. “Absolutely fine.”

Still, when he looks across the room, Esca’s still sitting there with two other men, having a quiet business dinner from the look of it. Marcus chugs half his water and tries not to stare.

It doesn’t really work.

Esca meets his gaze the third time he glances over at the table. He raises his wineglass in a mock toast and drinks. Marcus just stares.

* * *

He needs to take a piss. He needs to throw up. He needs to storm across the room and demand to know why Esca is fucking stalking him. Except Marcus is fairly certain that he never mentioned the name of the restaurant, so it’s really just fucking cosmic luck. He knew the universe hated him. He just knew. He drains his wine and stares at the waiter until the man caves and pours more.

“Marcus.” His uncle looks at him closely. “Are you okay?”

“M’fine, totally fine.” Marcus assures him. He can’t look at Esca again. He just can’t. He stabs at his pasta in the hopes that it will distract him. It doesn’t work. Marcus’s stomach rolls at the thought of eating anything. He can’t face it. He pushes the plate away and reaches for his wine again. That settles his stomach slightly at least.

“Marcus.” His uncle dabs at his lips with his napkin and puts it to one side. “Your mother hopes you’ll listen to me.”

“Of course she does.” Marcus mutters.

“What?"

“She always takes your side.” Marcus’s hand clenches around his napkin. “Always. Even against her own husband.”

“And what good did it do her?” His uncle retorted. “Her husband died following his damn fool idealistic crusade, leaving her to raise her only son all on her own. Is it any wonder she wants you to be sensible? Can you fault her for that, Marcus? Truly?”

“No.” Marcus mutters. He can’t. That’s the worst of it. His father made his choices. His mother made hers, and Marcus has to make his. He can’t live any other way.

He drains his second glass of wine and gets to his feet. “Sorry, I have to use the restroom.” He makes his way there, without glancing at the table where Esca’s sitting. Marcus feels mildly pleased at this.

He splashes water on his face, letting the cold revive him. All he has to do is get through the conversation without stabbing anyone. Is it truly that difficult to explain why he wants to do what he wants? Apparently, yes. But only to someone like his uncle.

“You look a little…unsettled.”

Marcus glances up in the mirror. Esca’s there, watching him as he closes the door behind him. Marcus shrugs and douses his face with another handful of water. It’s too much and it runs down his neck, dampening his collar.

“Shit.”

“Marcus. What’s wrong?”

At that, a nervous, ridiculous, desperate sort of chuckle just bursts free from Marcus’s throat. “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” He hisses. “You have no fucking clue, do you? You just…” he breaks off, because it’s not Esca’s fault. And besides, Esca was the one who gave him the night off to begin with. It's really not his fault at all.

“I just what?” Esca inquires, not sounding the slightest bit unnerved by any of this. For some reason that just pisses Marcus off.

“You’re just a fucking tease.” Marcus tells him.

Esca blinks. He fucking blinks, like he doesn’t understand the words that came out of Marcus’s mouth. “Pardon?”

Marcus doesn’t even think. He simply moves forward, pressing the slighter man up against the bathroom wallpaper. It’s nice wallpaper, gold with a light green ivy filigree. Marcus could care less about the fucking wallpaper, except that it does actually look really nice with Esca’s very tastefully expensive suit pressed against it.

Chapter Text

“You’re a tease.” He repeats. “You like control. You like to give a little, and then back off. You’re all about setting the pace.” He nudges a knee in-between Esca’s legs, forcing them further apart.

“Is that right?” Esca says very quietly, and somewhere in Marcus's head there’s a very distant neon sign flashing 'DANGER' repeatedly, but he doesn’t care. Not at the moment. Instead, he lowers his mouth and kisses Esca flat on the mouth. His hands slip inside Esca’s coat, tracing the line of his waistcoat, down to his belt. Esca’s not moving beneath him, so Marcus lets his teeth graze along his lower lip and then he bites. Not very hard. Just to show that he can, that he will.

And somehow that works. Esca’s hands go up to grab at his hair, pulling Marcus’s mouth down to press harder against his own. He’s kissing Marcus back fiercely, all but devouring him as he moves his mouth to suck at the wet patch of skin at Marcus's throat. Marcus’s hands have wandered behind to cup his ass. Oh god, Esca’s ass. Marcus practically groans into Esca’s mouth at the feel of it. He slides his fingertips between Esca’s cheeks and wants

There’s a buzzing noise coming from somewhere. Marcus doesn’t pay it any mind, but Esca pushes him back abruptly.

“I have to take this call.”

“No, you don’t.” Marcus assures him. He’s fairly certain it’s not that important.

Esca quells him with a look. “Be quiet.” He reaches inside his jacket for his phone.

“But,” they can’t stop there. It’s ridiculous. Marcus leans in again.

Esca simply sidesteps him and moves over to stand by the sink. Marcus stares at him incredulously. And then he straightens his collar, runs his fingers through his hair and walks out.

* * *

Marcus slides into his chair and reaches for his wineglass again. He ignores his uncle’s pointed expression and drinks it down, wishing it was vodka. Or whiskey. Or anything else.

“Marcus,” his uncle starts once more. “You really should consider your mother’s feelings in this matter.”

“Of course.” Marcus mutters into his wine. He doesn’t give a shit about his mother’s feelings any more. Esca turned him down for a fucking phone call.

“This is the name of a contact I think will be of use to you. I’ve set up a lunch appointment for you on Friday.” His uncle pushes the business card across the table toward him. Marcus picks it up and shoves it in his pocket.

“Uncle, I have to go.” He gets up, pushing his seat back.

“You haven’t eaten a single bite.” His uncle looks mildly concerned about that.

“I can’t.” Marcus forces a smile. “Thank you for the meal.” He leaves before Esca comes out of the restroom.

Marcus walks past the valet parking, past all the fancy cars that cost more money than he‘ll ever make in his entire life, all the way down the end of the street to the bus stop. He spends half his life on buses, waiting for buses, hating buses and missing buses. He should just move to the country and have done with the cities.

The incredulity of what had happened in the bathroom was starting to wear off. Of course, Esca chose a phone call over him. Marcus is just one of his many strippers. Why on earth would Esca want anything to happen between them? Marcus feels tired all the way through to his bones.

He rides the bus home, lost in a daze of lethargy and annoyance. There’s an aimlessness to his actions as he makes a pot of coffee and leans against the kitchen counter while it percolates. Now that his paper’s done, there’s nothing for him to do. Nothing he’s supposed to be doing. There’s no point to life, and Marcus hates not having a point.

So he gets out his music and starts looking for songs for routines. At the moment Marcus has one sole desire in his ambition to do a successful solo routine, and that’s to make Esca come so hard in his pants, he never forgets it, or Marcus.

Eventually Marcus falls asleep on the living room floor. He’s easily lost in a dream. It’s a dream. Marcus knows it this time, but that doesn’t stop the dream from being utterly delicious all the same. In his dream, they’re back in the restaurant restroom and he has Esca balanced up on the sink with his legs spread wide so Marcus can just lift them up over his shoulders and thrust straight inside. Esca’s tight and hot around his dick and Marcus simply fucks into him harder while Esca‘s hands dig into his hips. Esca’s moaning louder and louder, they can hear him throughout the whole restaurant and Marcus just smirks down at him. Esca, Esca, Esca.

He wakes up before either of them comes.

Sometimes Marcus really hates his subconscious.

Not as much as his dick does though.

Chapter Text

By the time he goes into work Thursday night, Marcus has almost his entire routine mapped out. It’s the best thing he’s ever come up with, and the way he feels when he does it…Well, if Marcus is honest, it makes him instantly hard. The thought of doing it in front of Esca, for Esca…makes him even harder.

He tries not to use too many of the moves in his dancing tonight, but it’s difficult. He’s programmed the routine into his body, and he wants to do it...but it’s not time yet. Still, he’s definitely doing something right as he moves on the stage. He can feel it in every single muscle of his body as he gyrates. Not that it matters. Esca's not watching. Marcus pushes down the irrational surge of irrational and smiles at a pretty brunette in the front row.

“What’s got into you?” Cottia pokes him in the shoulder as they come offstage. “Did you get laid last night or something?”

Esca pressed against the wallpaper, mouth open and hungry under Marcus’s tongue. Marcus sighs. “No.”

“Well, whatever you’re doing, keep it up.” She goes off to grab some water and Marcus follows.

Big Timmy, one of the main room bounces, comes up to him. “You got a special request from Table 7. Says he’ll be waiting for you in the first VIP room.”

“Okay.” Marcus tries to remember who was at Table 7, but he can’t. The room was a blur of faces. Oh well. Money is money, and he always makes more in the VIP room. He wipes his face with a towel, takes a swig of water and heads out.

* * *

The man waiting in the VIP room is a slender, blonde man, in a nice suit and a tie that Marcus wants to lick his way down and bind his hands with and...he blinks. Fuck, he’s already lost. He really needs to get laid. Laid by somebody nice who doesn't play fucking games. That's what Marcus tells himself at any rate.

“Hey.” He closes the door behind him.

"Hey." The man nods. “You’re a good dancer.”

“Thanks.” Marcus smiles slightly. “Anything in particular you want?”

“I want to see you dance.” The man takes a sip of his drink, “And then…I’d like to see your dick, if that's all right.”

“Really?” Marcus feels a slow flush spreading across his cheeks, but he likes the thought of it, this guy wanting to see him. He’s so fucking horny; and Esca doesn’t want him. This stranger wants him enough to pay for it. Maybe there's something wrong with him, but Marcus doesn't really care at the moment.

“Really.“ Blonde guy just smiles at him and Marcus moves in close as he listens to the music.

He tilts his neck up and sways, just dancing. He knows he’s hot. He knows the guy likes him, and he knows he’s a good dancer. Marcus turns and shows the guy his ass at its finest as he goes into a crouch. When he straightens, he feels the blonde guy’s hands on his hips, and Marcus swivels to slide onto his lap. He moves easily against the guy’s crotch, teasing him. Blonde guy slides his hands down his hips, touching him slowly, like he half expects Marcus to tell him no at any moment.

Marcus grinds against him, wondering if Esca’s watching him through the mirrors tonight. Probably not. Why would he? He grinds a little harder and Blonde Guy moans a little.

Marcus looks down at him. He’d half forgotten the guy was even there. He can’t help noticing the dude is hard.

“Sorry.”

“Not a problem.” Marcus grins.

Blondie chuckles and he has a nice smile, and his dick is agreeable…Marcus thrusts slightly against him, sliding his hands down Blondie’s chest, and then, just like that, they’re kissing. It’s really fucking stupid, but oh god, Marcus wants to just lose himself here and now. He doesn’t want to think; he just wants to touch. Blondie’s kisses are eager and messy, and his fingers are cupping Marcus’s crotch hungrily.

He breaks off long enough to say, “Can I touch you?”

“Do it.” Marcus growls, and he practically comes then and there when the man takes him out, stroking down his length with ease. He moves his own hand down between them, to touch the outline of Blondie’s dick. “What about you?”

Blondie looks mildly surprised. “Do you want to?”

“Fuck yeah.” Marcus tells him, biting teasingly at his lower lip. He has Blondie out of his pants and boxers in no time, and then they’re just rubbing against each other, kissing as they do. Fuck, the friction feels so good. Marcus just wants to grind against this guy’s dick forever.

“Fuck, fuck.” Blondie groans as he sucks at Marcus’s neck and his dick spasms slightly between them and he comes, shooting over both of them. Marcus’s dick isn’t far behind.

“Shit, I’m sorry.” He says, leaning back to survey the damage. He’s got come on his thighs and stomach. Blondie has some on his shirt and trousers.

“It’s all right. That was…worth it.”

Marcus grins. “I’m glad you think so.” He eases off the guy and stands, cracking his neck slightly. “Here.” He grabs a couple wipes from the corner table and offers them to Blondie. They clean themselves up, and then Blondie looks at him self-consciously. He hesitates and then he leans in, kissing Marcus. Marcus kisses him back, and it’s nice. It feels nice, and for a moment he forgets about the money.

There’s a rap at the door and they pull back startled.

“Cunoval wants to see you upstairs immediately.”

“Fine.” Marcus says a little louder than necessary. Blondie raises his eyebrows and Marcus just shakes his head.

“You in trouble or something?”

“I have no idea.” Marcus checks his reflection for any remaining spots of come. He really doesn’t want to go upstairs, but Esca’s the boss.

“Here.” Blondie holds out a wad of bills. “Thank you.”

“Oh, it was my pleasure.” Marcus smiles. They kiss once more and then he leaves.

Chapter Text

He goes upstairs, not hurrying. For once, Marcus doesn't really give a shit what Esca wants. His body is nicely relaxed, and he wishes he could just go home and sleep. But he can't, so he stands in front of Esca's office door and knocks.

Marcus waits for the usual order to enter. It comes, finally. It doesn't escape his notice that Esca's voice is a tad more brusque than usual, but he pretends it doesn't matter. He's still riding the high from the guy in the VIP room, and his lips are tingling...

Esca is standing by his desk, arms folded, just waiting. His suit is crisp and neat and for a moment, Marcus forgets how utterly pissed he is at Esca, because that suit was meant to be pressed against a variety of things. Walls, carpets, Marcus's skin...

"What the fuck was that?"

He's brought back sharply to reality by the tightly controlled fury in Esca's voice. Marcus swallows nervously, and it occurs to him that he just might have made a mistake. He's not exactly sorry though.

"You said touching was allowed." Marcus can't help pointing this out. They told him it was okay; it wasn't like he was never going to take advantage of that. Someone like Esca can't possibly be that naive.

"I never said you were allowed to come," Esca says in a dangerously pleasant voice.

"That's not fucking fair."

Esca laughs at that, a sharp, bitter bark of a laugh. "Marcus, whoever said life was fair?"

"Screw you." Marcus says childishly. "I never would have if," He cuts himself off immediately. For one thing, it's partially untrue. He might have kissed the guy, he might have touched him back even if Esca hadn't shot him down in the bathroom.

Who the fuck are you trying to kid? Even his dick can see through him.

"What was that?"

"Nothing." Marcus says firmly, like it's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

"Don't lie to me, Marcus."

Well, fine. He meets Esca's gaze steadily. "I probably wouldn't have let it go that far if you hadn't...stopped....in the bathroom. The other night...you know." God, when did he become so fucking inarticulate? Is this a curse laid upon him by the gods?

There's a span of the briefest moment where Esca looks as though he has absolutely no idea what to make of Marcus. Marcus wants to take the words back, but it's too late now, so he waits.

Esca clears his throat, and reaches up to scratch the back of his neck. "So...you felt rejected, is that it?"

"Please," Marcus scoffs. "I'm not some teenage girl."

"Oh, believe me, I know." Esca says softly.

Marcus's mouth goes dry. Just the way Esca said that, it makes Marcus weak at the knees and he knows in that instant that he would still do anything for Esca, no matter what it was, despite everything that's happened between them. It's a humiliating thought, and he knows Esca can read it in his face.

"Kneel." Esca commands, and Marcus obeys, like he was born to. He sinks to his knees and waits, half wanting to look at Esca, half wanting to look away.

Esca comes over to him, taking his time. At last he's standing right in front of Marcus, simply looking down at him. "You still want this audition tomorrow night?" His hand is on Marcus's chin, raising Marcus's eyes to meet his own.

Marcus swallows, knowing Esca can feel the movement. "Yes."

Esca considers this, as he traces Marcus's jawline with his thumb. The touch is almost gentle, and Marcus wants nothing more than to lean into it. He's half convinced himself to do just that, when abruptly, the touch is gone.

"Stand up and take off your shorts."

This is it, Marcus's dick screams. Somehow it knows this is it, at long last. Marcus himself isn't so sure. He peels his shorts off and steps out of them, waiting to see what Esca will do next.

Esca's looking in his desk for something. "Go into the bathroom and clean yourself off."

Marcus's ears flush, but he obeys. He washes himself all over with a hot water and soap, scrubbing his dick clean of the blonde man's touch.

When he's done, his skin looks pink, but it's clean. He takes a moment to splash water on his face.

Stop wasting time, his dick orders. Go out there and get me some.

"Shut up," Marcus says wearily. But he goes.

Esca is waiting by the desk once more. His left hand is curled slightly, as though he's holding something.

Marcus walks over to him hesitantly. Esca simply looks at him for a moment, examining Marcus's body intently, before his eyes return to gaze at Marcus's face. Only then does he uncurl his fingers and reveal what he's holding in the center of his palm.

Marcus sucks in his breath tightly, but manages not to say anything that leaps to mind. It's a cock ring. It's a fucking cock ring.

"Not so happy now, are we?" He tells his dick silently, not without a touch of malice.

No, no, no, no, no, no. His dick is not happy about this.

Marcus waits.

Esca looks at the ring. "I'm going to put this on you. You are going to finish your shift. After that you will go home, and you will keep it on. It stays on until after your audition tomorrow night, which will be after your regular shift."

Shit. That means he has to do a whole fucking shift with the thing on. Marcus doesn't even try to tell himself that he's as much turned on as he is annoyed at the prospect.

"And then?" He dares ask, because this is Marcus, and no matter what you do to him, he's never completely cowed.

Esca's smile though, is enough to cow any man. It's razor-sharp, and just plain hazardous to Marcus's health. He holds up the ring, and Marcus widens his stance resolutely. He's not prepared for the way Esca's finger touch him. He just got off; this shouldn't matter. Yet he wants to arch into that hand like it's the first time anyone's ever touched his dick before. Esca's fingers move up the length of him. Then, his other hand is there as well, pushing the metal ring over Marcus's dick, until it's right at the base.

Marcus takes a deep deep breath. This is not going to be very pleasant.

I hate you," His dick says miserably. "I hate absolutely everything about you. You never get enough action. You always jerk off the same exact way, have done since you first discovered me...but I fucking hate that you've put me in PRISON.

'Man up,' Marcus tells his dick silently. If he can handle this, his dick fucking can. Esca still hasn't removed his hand, just watching him. Marcus stands there, wanting more of his hands, more of his body, more of everything. He wants Esca, all of Esca...

And Esca's smile then, as he gazes at Marcus with his ringed cock, and proud stance, is almost sweet.

Marcus realizes something then. Something that he really should have realized before. "You were watching, weren't you?" He had to be, otherwise how would Esca even have known about Marcus rubbing off against some client. Not to mention the kissing.

Esca's thumb moves to rub against the head of Marcus's dick. "Yes," He says simply.

"You could have stopped it." There are moments when Marcus really doesn't understand the man at all.

"I wanted to see what you would do." Esca teases the slit of his dick with his thumb. "I wasn't rejecting you in the bathroom, Marcus."

"Wha-a-aat?" Marcus barely gets the word out as Esca's hand engulfs the length of his shaft. Not stroking, simply holding him there.

"I said I had to take the call. Clearly it was important. I don't do things needlessly, Marcus, no matter what you might think. Also, there's a time and a place for everything." He takes his hand away, sticking his hands in his pockets.

"What does that mean?" Marcus asks, because he needs this to be spelled out for him if it's going where he certainly hopes it's going.

"It means," Esca looks up at him casually, "That when I fuck you, it'll be where I choose. When I choose...and how I choose." He takes a step closer so that he's barely an inch away from Marcus. "Which means that if I want you over my desk, I'll have you over my desk. If I want you spreading yourself for me in one of the VIP rooms, I'll take you there. And if I want to fuck you against the bar, I'll do it."

"Oh." Marcus says, because it's good to know these things and he now has a barrage of images invading his brain. None of which will help him to sleep tonight. He wonders if any of this is real or if Esca is still just fucking with him.

"Oh, and Marcus," Esca says, as though it's an afterthought. "I do fully intend to fuck you."

Chapter Text

“Ah.” Marcus says. “Fair enough. Shall I go then?” He's not sure he can pull off casual, but he's going to try.

Esca smiles at him almost playfully. “Like this?” He nods at Marcus's body.

Marcus swallows. “Can I have my shorts?”

“Of course.” Esca nods to where Marcus discarded them at his orders.

Marcus walks over to them, feeling Esca watching him, watching the way his cock looks. Marcus is full aware of how he looks. He pulls the shorts on and resists the urge to adjust himself. He turns and faces Esca.

“Not bad.” Esca murmurs. “Until tomorrow, Marcus.” He goes back to his desk.

Marcus only pauses once when his fingers are on the door. He looks back, but Esca's eyes are on his work, so Marcus goes.

He wants to know when.

* * *

He spends the rest of the night dancing lazy and slow. It's as though his body has been molded out of maple syrup and all it wants is another body to pour itself onto. Marcus imagines draping himself atop Esca, holding him against his body.

You fucker, his dick mutters and swells.

It's like that for the rest of the night. Marcus can't stop imagining it while he's dancing. Can't stop picturing Esca in various forms of undress and arousal. Esca naked before him, eyes hungry, mouth open and wet beneath his own. Esca on his knees for him. Marcus riding his dick. Esca fucking him. A blur of skin and hands and mouths and it's all Marcus can do not to sink to his knees and get off right there on stage in front of everyone. He's dying for it.

Somehow, though, he manages not to. He's sweating heavily by the time his shift is done. He's never been more glad to leave the club, which is saying something.

Marcus walks home. The chill of the night air takes the edge off his hard-on. When he gets home, he takes a cold shower. After that he cooks a frozen pizza, eats half of it, and then takes another shower.

It's torture, trying to get to sleep. All the images that tormented him earlier while dancing return to haunt him in vivid, colorful repetition. Marcus finally falls asleep, exhausted and half hard. He's no longer sure whether he wants to fuck Esca first or have Esca fuck him. Whose mouth on whose dick doesn't matter. At this point, Marcus just wants them to fuck.

* * *

In the morning Marcus works out, pretending that his dick doesn't exist. It doesn't really work, but he refuses to even think about how much he wants to jerk off. He showers. He checks his email repeatedly, but there's nothing from his professor. Nothing from Guern either. Nothing at all.

Marcus flops backward on the carpet with a heavy sigh. He stares at the ceiling listlessly, hand trailing across his stomach. There's a stain on the ceiling that reminds him of something, a wolf maybe. He can't decide.

He feels better, more relaxed and for a moment everything is all right. Only to look down and realize that he's taken hold of his dick and it's sliding willingly between his fingers, begging to be touched. Marcus groans and pushes himself to his feet. He needs something to distract himself...so he'll work on his routine. After all, he has to have it perfect for tonight.

Marcus puts on the song he's picked and goes through the routine move by move. It's smooth and sexy and he practically wants to fuck himself just feeling the way his body goes through the steps. The feel of the cock ring does nothing to help. It's a constant reminder of Esca, his hand in Marcus's life, his control. By the time Marcus has done the routine five times, his dick is leaking onto the carpet. Marcus's hands clench into his fists. He's stronger than this, god, he has to be. But all he wants, all he can think about...is Esca.

* * *

Marcus sinks onto the bed, reaching helplessly for his phone. He dials the club number before he allows himself to think. It rings three times before someone answers.

“Yes?” It's one of the bouncers.

“Can I?” Marcus clears his throat. “Can I talk to Es...Mr. Cunoval?”

“Who is this?”

“Marcus.”

“Hang on.”

There's a few moments and Marcus spreads his legs a little more and eyes his dick. He could hang up and Esca would never know. It'd be easy to do. He could just do it.

He doesn't hang up.

“Cunoval.” Esca's voice is brisk. Clearly he has better things to be doing with his time.

Marcus clears his throat again. “It's Marcus.”

“I am well aware of that, Marcus. What is it?”

“I can't,” his voice cracks and Marcus hates himself for it, “I just...” He takes a deep breath. “You want me to be able to dance for you tonight, right?”

There's a pause, and then Esca murmurs, “Yes.”

“Then, can I...Can I just...please...” If there's one thing Marcus's mom did right, she raised a polite son. Usually.

“What do you want, Marcus?”

Marcus is sweating. He should have known Esca would make him do this. “I want to get off.”

That, his dick remarks, is putting it mildly.

“How?” Esca asks.

At that Marcus can't help the snort of laughter that escapes him. “You know how.”

Esca chuckles. “Failing that, how?”

“I...want to touch myself. I need to touch myself.”

“How badly?” Esca sounds as though he's inquiring about the weather.

“I can't practice any more, even though I want to. My dick is just sticking straight out. I can't stop thinking.” He licks his lips and goes on, “I can't stop thinking about all the places...”

“Yes?”

“All the places I want you to fuck me.” Marcus manages. His dick surges in his shorts just at the words. Desk. VIP room. Bar. Car. Shower. Marcus's bed. Esca's apartment. Everywhere. Everywhere. Fucking everywhere.

“Where are you?”

“At home in my room.”

“Naked?”

“No.” Marcus blushes. How the fuck can Esca still make him blush?

“What are you wearing?”

“A pair of shorts. I was working on my routine.”

“Switch holding your phone to your other ear.”

Marcus obeys wordlessly.

“Now, put your right hand in your shorts. Just on top of your dick, no stroking yet.”

That act alone makes Marcus hiss. His palm feels so warm against his dick. His fingers itch to move, to stroke and pull. He waits, trying not to hold his breath.

“Now, very slowly, slide your thumb over the head.”

Marcus does, and bites back a moan.

“No, I want to hear you.” Esca tells him.

Marcus does it again, and this time doesn't hold back. A drop of pre-come drips across his thumb, and he moans again. “I'm already close.”

“Put me on speaker.” Esca commands, and Marcus obeys. He places the phone on the bed beside him and waits.

“Get on your hands and knees.”

Marcus blushes even harder, but gets into position. He feels absurd, like he's on display. There's nobody there, but the voice of Esca issuing commands. Marcus wants this, but...

“How's your cock?”

Marcus glances at the member in question. “Straining for it.”

“Right. Reach down and take hold of yourself. Stroke yourself, Marcus. And while you do, Marcus, think it's me.”

“You?” Marcus's fingers close around his dick. It swells even more at the thought of Esca being here in his bedroom, Esca behind him, Esca's hand touching him.

“Yes. Me, reaching around to take hold of your cock while I ease against you.”

Marcus groans. He can see it so fucking clearly. He's pumping himself furiously, his dick fucking his fist as his knees tremble on the bed.

“I'm right behind you.” Esca murmurs. “When you come, right then, that's when I'm going to enter you.”

Marcus gasps and shoots over his hand, across the sheets. His hand keeps moving blindly, stroking every last drop out of his dick. His overly sensitive, painful dick that just wants to be left alone forever, far from the reaches of man.

When he's done, Marcus rolls onto his back and lies there. Everything within him aches, but it's not painful.

“I take it that went well.” Esca's voice is still there.

Marcus covers his face with his hands for a moment, before he can answer. “Yes.”

“Good. Take a nap. Shower. Work on your routine. I'll see you later, Marcus.” Esca hangs up.

“Right.” Marcus drops the phone on the pillow and goes back to staring at the ceiling in a state of vaguely humiliated bliss. Every last bit of him relaxes, though his dick is still sore. He spreads his legs and falls asleep.

Chapter Text

Marcus wakes dry mouthed and half hard a few hours later. He forces himself to shower before he goes through his routine again. It's sluggish and he hates everything. He fucking hates the cock ring by now. His dick hates him, so everything's even.

He goes out for coffee and a sandwich. It's the only thing he can manage to eat, even though he knows he should eat more.

After that Marcus goes over the routine until his limbs are trembling and his shirt is soaked in sweat. He takes another a shower and watches the water course down his body, down his legs, between his legs. He eyes the cock ring. Not long now.

* * *

For once Marcus manages to catch the bus and rides to the club, feet tapping impatiently against the floor all the while. Tonight he only has to dance once, and it'll only be for Esca. The thought is terrifying and arousing. Marcus wishes he had had more coffee. Maybe he get another one before he reaches the club. Maybe not. Maybe. Maybe not.

He's still debating the coffee issue when he gets to the bus stop. The club is just closing when he arrives. The bouncers all nod at him. Cottia stops him in the hallway as he heads to the dressing room.

“You'll do fine. Just relax.”

“Thanks.” Marcus appreciates it. He almost wishes the audition was with Cottia. He almost doesn't want to go out there alone.

He changes in the dressing room. Tonight's outfit selection consists of completely normal clothing. A black tank-top, and gray sweatpants. Under that, he's wearing a pair of booty shorts he bought himself on the most embarrassing shopping trip he's ever been on. Still, he thinks it'll be worth it when Esca sees them. Marcus goes barefoot. He likes dancing barefoot.

When Marcus finally leaves the dressing room and goes out to the main room, Esca's standing at the bar reminiscent of that first day. Marcus pauses for a moment, then straightens his shoulders and walks over to him. Esca has a drink in front of him. He looks up as Marcus approaches.

“Ready?”

Marcus nods. “So...”

“Get on with it.” Esca leans against the bar, nodding at the stage.

Marcus rolls his eyes, but goes behind the bar to put his music in. Unexpectedly, he feels strangely calm. Esca pulls himself up to sit on the bar. He's holding his drink, taking a long sip as he watches Marcus get up on the stage.

“Push play.” Marcus goes to the center of the stage. He’d picked the song very carefully. It was a number one over a decade ago, but Marcus likes it. He likes the feel of it when he moves, the rhythm of it. He especially likes it when he thinks of dancing in front of Esca. Esca leans over the bar to start the song, giving Marcus an excellent view of his ass. Marcus wets his lips and waits.

The song starts.

Marcus traces his nipples through the material, and bends himself into a crouch, leaning back, stroking his hand across his crotch before pushing himself up. Turning his back on Esca, Marcus sways, and half-turns, as he does.

The tank top goes at the end of the first chorus. Marcus drops to his knees and crawls, before sliding down to lay on his stomach, before pushing back up into a stance. He bounces lightly on the balls of his feet and half twirls as he removes his sweat-pants.

Esca has his drink half raised to his lips. He pauses halfway there when he sees Marcus's shorts.

They're black with the Union Jack right across his crotch, tight enough that the outline of the cock ring is practically waving hello. Marcus runs his fingertips over his cock and goes to his knees.

His thumbs graze his nipples teasingly as he bites his lip, bending all the way back so his head is touching the stage, before he pushes himself up onto all fours to go into a graceful back flip. He ends in the center of the stage, hands crossed in front of his crotch.

Esca’s still as stone as the song ends. He doesn’t say anything. Marcus waits and waits, and waits.

“That was.” Esca stops and clears his throat. “Very good, Marcus. Pick another song.”

“What? But I thought,” Marcus falters.

“You thought what?”

“I thought you’d like it.” Marcus says lamely. “Because, it’s British.” That’s stupid, but he can’t say the rest. Because it’s true. I find you gorgeous. And he would do anything for Esca, even if he doesn't want to admit it.

Esca’s expressions softens the tiniest bit. “I liked it, Marcus.”

“Then why,” Marcus really doesn't understand the man at all.

“Pick another song.” Here, Esca stays firm.

“Fine.” Marcus growls.

* * *

Marcus storms out of the club.

Okay, so he gets swiftly off the stage, mutters, “Thanks very much,” collects his gear and leaves. He's pissed, to say the least. It almost doesn't matter that Esca said he could do his routine tomorrow night. Tomorrow night happens to be Saturday night, the biggest night of the week, but it doesn't fucking mean anything because he has to change his fucking song. Why the fuck doesn't Esca like it? He must have liked it. Or was it too obvious? Maybe he thinks Marcus is pathetic.

Marcus goes home and grabs the bottle of tequila his roommate left on top of the fridge. He gets really fucking drunk. Drunk enough that he considers calling Esca and just demanding that they have sex already. Somehow, even drunk Marcus knows that will be a bad idea.

(Marcus's dick disagrees, but then he just wants Marcus's brain to get in trouble for once.)

At some point, he gets the cock ring off, because he can't fucking stand it touching him for another single second. He considers throwing it in the trash, but he can't forget the way Esca's fingers felt when he put it on. Marcus puts in his dresser drawer where he keeps his boxers, even though he knows that's definitely pathetic.

He jerks himself off in a drunken stupor, trying to think about anything but Esca.

It doesn't work.

Chapter Text

When Marcus wakes up the next morning, he feels like utter shit. He takes a lengthy shower and considers calling in dead. He has a feeling that won't work, so he takes some aspirin and tries to focus.

Eventually, he knows he has to pick a song, even if he can't actually believe Esca is making him pick another song. He worked fucking hard last night, but fine, whatever. He'll dance to another song. Marcus sulks about it, but he obeys. He picks the most obvious choice he can think of, and then he has to rearrange his routine because the new song is faster. He’s annoyed, and it shows in every move he makes that night onstage.

He doesn't see Esca before he goes out onstage. He doesn't look for him on the balcony as the song starts. He doesn't care about anything, but making every single person in the club want him.

Marcus flaunts his ass. His entire body is up for grabs as he does indeed take it off. His hard-on is clearly visible through his sweats. He palms himself, smirking at a blonde in the front row. Marcus milks it, going to his knees right there in front of the girl, grinning at her. He's getting cheered by the crowd and he gets back up, dancing, bending over and shaking his ass.

This is the sluttiest he's ever felt while dancing, and he doesn't fucking care. He strips all the way down to his underwear, and that's the moment, if Marcus is being honest with himself, that he wishes he could see Esca's face. Because he's not wearing the union jack shorts tonight, nope. He's wearing the other item he picked up while shopping. It's a thong, gold and black, that barely covers his genitals. The strip between his ass cheeks looks as though it could snap at any moment.

Marcus drops to his hands and feet, pushes himself back up, flips and ends to a roar of surprise. A dark-haired man shoves a hundred in his underwear and Marcus grins at him.

The crowd loves him at least. It almost doesn't matter if Esca didn't. Still, Marcus can't help glancing at the balcony from time to time throughout the rest of the evening. It's always empty, after his first dance. He strips again for the later shift.

Cottia tells him he's awesome. “You are one fucking good dancer, but you seem a little...”

She shrugs. “I can't figure it. Is everything okay?”

“Nothing to figure. I'm fine.” Marcus shrugs it off easily.

He doesn't know where this is going next, but he doesn't want to think about it right now.

He does a shot of vodka in the dressing room while trying to decide what to do next.

* * *

“Hey, sweet cheeks.” Danny comes into the room, smirking at him. “Cunoval wants you to wait for him.” He smirks wider, making a crude gesture with his hand. “Favorite, aren't you?”

“Maybe if you were better, you'd get to stay later too.” Marcus says. “Not my fault you're not as good as I am.”

Danny flushes angrily and swings at him. Marcus catches it easily and then they're wrestling on the floor. Only for a few seconds before the bouncers are on them. They pull Danny off easily, but it takes two of them to haul Marcus to his feet and hold him.

“Mr. Cunoval's going to want to speak to both of you.”

The bouncers make them wait in the lower office. Danny's pretending to be casual, but Marcus can see the sweat beading on his forehead. He must really be afraid of Esca.

You're afraid of him too, his dick decides to chime in.

'Not like this.' Marcus tells his dick. Cause, while he is afraid, it just wasn't like that. It's what Esca makes him want, how much he wants. When the only thing Marcus has ever cared about is the eagle, it's hard to make room for anything else...but there was Esca all the same.

Esca finally arrives, cool and sleek looking, making Marcus's dick twitch hungrily at the sight of him. It feels like a million years since since that phone call.

I fully intend to fuck you.

Esca looks at both of them. The kind of look that makes your balls shrivel up. From the look on Danny's face, his balls just did. Maybe Marcus's balls would have shriveled too, but his dick can't stop twitching long enough to let it happen. Maybe he should be more scared, but he's just not.

“I will not tolerate fighting in my my club. If this happens again, with either of you,” His gaze moves from Danny to Marcus, steel cold, “You will be fired. Understood?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Morrison, you're off tomorrow. Come back on Monday.” Danny started to open his mouth. “Monday or not at all. As for you,” he looks at Marcus. “I want to talk to you. Go wait by the bar.”

It's flat, bland even. No inclination of what he's going to say. Marcus goes to the bar. Danny flips him off as he leaves. Marcus ignores it, leaning against the bar.

* * *

The high from his routine is starting to wear off. He watches the bouncers clock out one by one until he's fairly certain it's just Esca and him alone in the club. Marcus's dick squeals softly at the thought. His balls are a tad more cautious with the optimism. Esca could still be gearing up for a harsh talking to. Marcus wouldn't put it past Esca to make him wait for it to make him even more antsy.

Quiet, deliberate footsteps approach. Marcus turns, straightening up. Esca comes toward him still cool and collected, though he's a little more casual now. His jacket's off now, slung over one arm. His suspenders, god – Marcus's eyes skim over them hungrily – watching the way they bounce against Esca's thighs as he approaches. The first two buttons on his shirt are undone. Marcus wants to lick all the way down the hollow of that powerful throat. He waits, anticipation and dick rising whether he likes it or not.

Esca stops, three feet away, just looking at him. “You care to explain?”

“He got mouthy. I reacted immaturely.”

Esca snorts. “Is that all?”

What the hell... “He implied you wanted me to stay so you could fuck me.”

Esca tilts his head to one side, considering this. “And?”

“I may have implied that if he were a better dancer, maybe you'd have wanted him to stay instead.”

Esca's lips twitch in spit of himself. There's the slightest possibility that he's amused.

“So,” Marcus takes a chance, and a step closer. “Was I wrong?”

“You were.” Esca replies casually. “There was never a chance I would want to fuck him.”

The words make Marcus's skin shiver with pleasure.

“You changed your routine.” Esca points out.

“Yeah,” Marcus doesn't really want to talk about that right now. He's still pissed.

“Why?” Now they're almost touching. Marcus can see the faint stubble gracing his jaw - the slight crease in his collar. He's close enough to smell the faint scent of soap and leather. Marcus knows what he looks like. He's sweaty and slightly bruised and flushed with adrenaline.

Still, Esca's not looking anywhere, but at him.

Chapter Text

They're so close and Marcus can't resist any longer. He simply leans down and kisses Esca right there in the middle of the empty club. Esca's lips part beneath his own, and then they're kissing so hungrily, pulling at each other's clothes, trying to get closer, trying to get more. It's all lips and teeth and pure heated lust and Marcus can't focus long enough to figure out what he wants. He just wants more and he wants it now. Esca's hands are pulling at his hair as Marcus's hands grasp his hips.

“Stage.” Esca tugs on Marcus's lower lip with his teeth. “Now.”

Marcus complies, lifting Esca and carrying him over to the stage. He's not entirely sure where he got the balls to just carry Esca like that, but he wants to do it and Esca didn't protests. Marcus sets Esca down on the edge, then jumps up after him. Esca catches his leg and they go rolling across the stage. Esca ends up on top, looking down at Marcus.

“You were fucking flirty onstage tonight.”

“Thought that was the point.” Marcus is entirely too conscious of the fact that Esca's pretty much just resting on top of him. Their groins are hot against each other. Marcus can feel Esca's hard on through his pants, fuck, he just wants...

“How come you didn't show me that thong when you auditioned?”

Marcus shrugs, which takes a little effort since Esca is on top of him. “Wasn't sure I'd wear it.” He'd never really intended to, even though he knew the crowd would love it. Esca's still just looking at him and all Marcus wants is for them to start touching each other, really touching each other.

“What made you change your mind?”

“I was pissed.” Marcs says honestly. He still is.

Esca looks puzzled for a second, and then his face clears. “Because I had you change the song?”

“No shit, Sherlock.” Marcus says sarcastically. Esca's eyes narrow slightly and Marcus goes very still indeed.

“Do you know why I told you to pick another song, Marcus?” Esca's voice is very, very soft.

“No.” Marcus doesn’t look at him.

Esca takes hold of his jaw, forcing Marcus to face him. “Because I want to be the only one you dance for to that song. I don't want you to use that song for anyone, but me. Do you understand?”

Marcus feels Esca's grip turn into a caress. He wants to laugh with relief and delight. “Thought you didn't like it.”

“Oh.” Esca smiles. “I liked it. Don't doubt that, Marcus.”

He kisses Marcus slow and sensuously. Marcus's dick goes from at ease to saluting immediately, from the touch of Esca's tongue alone. He rolls them so he has Esca underneath him. Marcus cradles the smaller man's jaw a moment before kissing him teasingly. Esca's legs wrap around his waist. His fingers caress their way through Marcus's hair. They kiss roughly, still grappling for more contact from each other.

Esca pulls off and looks up at Marcus. His eyes are dark and purposeful; his mouth swollen from Marcus's own. “I want you on all fours.” He bites at Marcus's lip. “Come on.”

Marcus is reluctant to give up complete control, but he remembers the phone call, the way it went... His knees go weak at the memory, and he rolls off Esca to position himself. Esca sits up beside him. He runs his hand along Marcus's hip, tugging his sweatpants down.

“What happened to the thong?” He inquires idly.

Marcus blushes. “I took it off.”

“Obviously.” Esca snorts. He pulls the sweatpants all the way off. Now Marcus is kneeling there in just his t-shirt with his erection jutting out between his legs. He keeps his head lowered.

Esca cups one of his cheeks and squeezes lightly. “You know what you looked like up there?”

Marcus is blushing all the way down to his ass. Esca's hand trails across his other cheek.

“Like you were trying to make me jealous,” Esca's forefinger traces the cleft of his cheeks, down to his hole. Marcus “Spread your legs wider.”

Marcus does, gasping a little as Esca inserts just the tip of his finger into him dry. It's just a small burn, but if it goes further... his knees tremble more as he wonders how long it'll be before he comes. Esca removes his finger and sits back on his legs. He reaches inside his pocket for something which turns out to be lube, naturally. Marcus hides a chuckle.

Esca moves behind him. Now Marcus can't see him at all. This bothers him more than he cares to admit. Mostly because he likes watching Esca in action, and also because he wants to keep an eye on what the man's doing. Esca's fingers slide around then to take hold of him. Marcus sighs helplessly as Esca strokes him. The other hand is between his cheeks, just teasing across his hole.

“What'd you do with the ring?”

“Saved it.” Marcus admits.

Esca says nothing in response, but cool lips are pressed to the base of Marcus's spine. Esca curls his fingers around Marcus's dick, letting the man fuck his hand. In any other situation, Marcus would be beyond embarrassed at the position he's in. But it feels so fucking good, he doesn't care, and he can't help remembering what Esca said.

“I'm right behind you. And when you come, that's when I'm going to enter you.”

Esca's fingers brush across his hole again, then, pressing inside. Slowly, agonizingly slow, Esca pushes his entire finger inside. He does this again and again, until he has Marcus moaning for more, even as he adds another finger. All the while he's kept stroking him with the same loose steady strokes. Marcus is sweating and desperate.

“Please.”

Esca adds a third and Marcus pushes back, wanting it. But at the same time time he needs Esca's hand to move faster. He rocks forward on his knees, pushing into Esca's fist.

“Eager, aren't we?”

“Don't tell me you're not.” Marcus retorts. The hand on his dick stops moving and he wants to scream in frustration. When will he learn to keep his damn mouth shut?

“You have no idea how long I've wanted to fuck you.” Esca murmurs, as he parts Marcus's cheeks.

Marcus is in no way prepared for the tongue that licks across his entrance. He moans, rocking forward on his knees again. Esca repeats the gesture, teasing Marcus until he's flat out begging.

“Fuck me, just fuck me. Please. We've waited so long. Fuck me, come on. Esca, please.”

Esca reaches around to run his nails over Marcus's dick. Marcus hisses, biting his lip to keep from pleading any more. Esca's hand tightens around him, sliding up and down his shaft, making Marcus moan even more. He's right on the verge, he can feel it.

“Please, Esca, please,” and just as he starts to come, Esca thrusts into him. Just as he said he would. Marcus is arching back into his dick as Esca fucks him. Each thrust makes him come a little more, until he's shooting helplessly all over the stage. And Esca just keeps going. His fingers are digging into Marcus's hips as he slams into him. Just when Marcus doesn't think he can take any more, Esca pulls out, only to sink his teeth into Marcus's neck as he thrusts back inside. Marcus shouts with the pain and the pleasure and the whole fucking sensation of it all as Esca comes buried inside him.

His knees give out soon after and he collapses there on the stage, with Esca on top of him, still inside him.

Chapter Text

There's a beat of silence in the deserted club. Marcus can hear his own breath, feel Esca's against his back, warm and there. He closes his eyes and lets his body relax.

Esca stretches out atop Marcus. “You're quite comfortable, you know.”

“Thanks.” Marcus yawns slightly. Esca's still inside, though Marcus can feel him softening. He's reluctant to move. He doesn't want this to be over. He doesn't know what happens next.

Esca finally rolls off Marcus to lie on his back on the stage. Marcus rests his chin on his arms, just looking at him. They lie there next to each other in silence for a while. Marcus can't stop himself from gazing at Esca's profile. After all the waiting, all the tension between them, he can't believe it just happened.

Esca glances at him sidewise. “Stop looking so surprised.”

“It's hard not to.” Marcus says honestly. He wants to roll over on top of Esca just to touch him again. Feel his body under Marcus's. He wonders how Esca would take that.

“Just do it already.” Esca murmurs.

“What?”

“Whatever you're thinking about.” Esca rests his arm behind his head. He waits.

So Marcus does. He rolls over atop Esca, feeling himself harden as their skin touches once more. Esca's cock, warm and still between his thighs. The faint hair on his belly, trailing down to his crotch. Marcus rests there, careful not to put all his weight on Esca. Esca simply looks amused. So Marcus does what he wants to do next, leaning down to capture his mouth.

He will never get tired of kissing Esca. It's a revelation every time. The press of his lips, the way they feel soft and yet firm. His tongue, wicked and playful, under Marcus's own. His teeth...Marcus shudders as Esca traps his lower lip with his teeth, biting it gently, taunting him.

“Can I fuck you?” Marcus asks. He hadn't realized it was possible for Esa's eyes to get even darker with lust.

“Here?”

“Yeah.” Marcus shifts slightly, his cock rubbing against Esca's belly.

“No.” Esca says at last.

Marcus's heart sinks and his dick isn't that far behind. He nods and starts to move when there's a hand on his wrist, and a finger on his chin, drawing him to look down.

“I didn't say you couldn't, period.” Esca points out.

“Then...where?” Marcus just needs to know.

“Come on,” Esca wiggles out from under him easily enough. “I'm taking you home with me.”

* * *

Esca's apartment turns out to be a penthouse in a very nice side of town. Just riding up in the elevator makes Marcus uncomfortable. He's wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt for pete's sake. He glances nervously at Esca who's checking his phone.

“Something bothering you, Marcus?” He asks without looking up.

“Nope.” Marcus keeps his misgivings to himself.

The elevator dings and they get out. Esca leads the way down the hall. It's not ostentatious, just very, very nice, and extremely tastefully decorated. Marcus feels like a mistake. A quick glance at Esca's furniture tells Marcus his sofa costs more than what Marcus makes in a year.

“Drink?” Esca offers.

“Sure.” Maybe this will help.

Esca gets two beers from the fridge, opens them and hands one to Marcus.

“Now,” Esca takes a sip of beer. “If you were to fuck me anywhere in this apartment, where would you do it?”

Marcus pauses with his bottle almost to his lips. “Uh well...” He'd like to fuck Esca over the expensive sofa just for the hell of it. “I haven't seen the rest of the apartment yet.”

“Good answer. Come on then,” Esca shows him down the hall. “Bathroom,” He waves at the open door. “And the bedroom. You already saw the kitchen and living room. So...” Esca's waiting to see what Marcus will choose.

Marcus looks at the bed. It's wide, and looks comfortable, covered with a sky blue comforter. It'd be perfect, but he wants something Esca will remember.

“Bathroom,” Marcus says at last.

“Really.”

“Yeah,” Marcus is sure of this.

“Well, all right then.” Esca takes another sip of beer, still waiting. It takes Marcus a minute, like it always does, but then he sets his beer down and goes over to Esca. Taking Esca's beer from his hand he sets it aside and kisses him messily, there in the hall. Esca kisses him back, trying to dominate his mouth. Marcus pulls at his shirt, ripping it.

“Pants,” He murmurs, but he's too impatient to wait for Esca, so he pulls them down himself. Esca pushes his own briefs down, and suddenly Marcus is wearing too much clothing. So he strips it off and kisses Esca backwards into the bathroom. The shower is perfect for what he has in mind. He breaks free from Esca's mouth long enough to turn the water on.

“Come on.”

“Are you sure you won't lose your footing?”

“Esca.” Marcus says, and Esca steps into the shower, grinning at him. The spray hits them both, warm and tingling. Marcus sucks at Esca's nipples as his fingers glide down over Esca's ass. He squeezes Esca's cheeks gently, parting them.

“There, over there,” Esca motions to the counter.

Marcus sticks his arm out of the shower and grabs the bottle of lubricant that's standing there. Slicking his fingers he returns to where he was. Only now he's got a forefinger inside Esca, and Esca's moaning softly but really truly moaning. Marcus's dick is doing a little song and dance number as it listens the sounds coming from Esca's mouth. Marcus edges another finger in, biting at Esca's nipple as he does, flicking his tongue over the nub. Esca's fucking himself on Marcus's fingers groaning as Marcus continues toying with his nipple.

“Now,” he says breathlessly, “Now, Marcus.”

Marcus pulls his fingers out, lines up his cock between Esca's perfect thighs, and thrusts straight in. Oh god. Esca's hands are grabbing at him. “More, more.”

Marcus does his best, fucking him hard against the shower wall. His dick pushes deeper and deeper inside of Esca until he's fucking buried in his ass. Esca wraps his legs around Marcus's waist.

Marcus keeps kissing him, wanting more and more. He wraps a hand around Esca's dick and strokes it in loose downward strokes. He fists it until Esca comes, shooting over his fingers.

“Now, Marcus,” Esca licks at his throat. “Now.”

Only then does Marcus let himself come, shooting inside Esca for until he's boneless and panting, until the last shudder of his orgasm has left him. The world turns to silence except for their breathing and the water falling over them. Marcus can't believe he just did that, that he's standing there in the shower, with his dick inside Esca.

The water keeps running over them, as they just stand there, until finally, Esca says, “You better let me down.”

“Right.” Marcus does so gingerly, letting his dick slide out of Esca nice and easy. A trickle of come runs down Esca's thigh and Marcus just watches it open-mouthed as it's washed away in the shower.

“Come on,” Esca grabs towels for them both. They dry off, and fall into Esca's large bed, naked and sated. Marcus falls asleep with Esca lying next to him. His last thought before he drifts off is,

'I could get used to this.'

You and me both, says his dick.

Chapter Text

Marcus wakes first. He crawls out from under the cozy comforter and the warm, naked sleeping heap that is Esca. Marcus pauses, just looking at the sleeping man. Only Esca's head is sticking out from the comforter. He looks ridiculously young and peaceful in his sleep. Marcus wants to watch him forever, but he feels like a stalker so he grabs his phone and goes out to the living room, still naked. He needs a drink of water and some space to process everything that's happened. Esca's kitchen is easy to navigate. Marcus guesses right with the first cupboard and is rewarded with a row of glistening glasses. He takes one and fills it with water from the tap. As he drinks he notices his phone blinking on the counter, telling him he has a new message.

“Marcus, it's Guern. We have some exciting new developments. I'll call you later and tell you more. But mostly I want to know, how soon can you get your ass out here?”

Marcus's heart skips a beat. They could be close to finding it...or it could be another false trail. Either way, he needs to get to England. He has enough money for a plane ticket, but not enough for the funds for participation in the dig. There has to be something he can do.

“You're up early.” Esca's leaning against the kitchen island, watching him.

“Yeah, I was thinking.” Marcus is still holding his phone like it may be a lie. What if's true? What if Guen's found it? All the possibilities make him dizzy.

Esca just eyes him, and then shrugs. “I've got a business meeting in an hour. I need to shower.” He heads down the hall.

“Right.” Marcus nods. “I'll just let myself out, then?” And walk all the way back to my apartment. Great.

“Or,” Esca sticks his head around the door, “You could join me in the shower.”

No contest, murmurs Marcus's dick.

Marcus grins and follows him.

He doesn't make it back to his own apartment till much, much later.

* * *

Sunday night at the club is slow compared to Saturday. Marcus strips, keeping one eye on the balcony. Once again Esca stays in his office, supposedly occupied with business. This time Marcus believes that. He doesn't automatically assume Esca's keeping an eye on him even if he's apparently busy. Marcus dances slowly, taking his time, wondering if he's supposed to go up there once his shift is done or...

It's the last dance of the evening when Esca finally appears on the balcony. He leans on the railing, watching the stage, fingers locked together. Marcus has just finished taking his shirt off. For a second he wavers, and then the tosses it gracefully into the air. It almost flutters to the floor, but Esca reaches out a hand and snags it. He looks at it for a moment, and nods to Marcus.

Marcus grins.

* * *

Esca watches him through the rest of the dance. By the time Marcus is down to his shorts, he's hard, thinking about what could happen next. Will Esca want to take him home again? Or they could fuck on the stage again...that would be good. He thinks about how they fucked right here, practically where he's dancing and his cock swells a little bit more.

Fuck, it was right there, so fucking good. Marcus's dick wants to relive the memory in perfect 3D memory here and now.

'Stop thinking about it,' Marcus tells himself fiercely. 'It's okay. It happened once. It'll happen again. Won't it?' He shoots a worried look up at the balcony just in time to see Esca's back as he disappears back inside his office. Marcus swallows his disappointment as the song ends and the audience applauds. He smiles in a strained fashion and escapes backstage.

Jo-Jo is having a cup of coffee in the hallway when Marcus brushes past him, heading for the dressing rooms. “Cunoval wants to see you.”

“Of course he does.” Marcus sighs. “I'll be right up.” He goes into the dressing room and starts getting changed.

To his surprise, Jo-Jo follows him. “Something wrong, kid?”

“Nothing.” Marcus pulls his t-shirt over his head. “It's just...one day he seems to be fine with what I'm doing.” A flash of Esca in the shower, wet skin and eager eyes dances before him. 'Now, Marcus, now.' Marcus shakes his head. “And then he acts like it's nothing at all to him. I just don't know...” I don't know what to believe.

Jo-Jo takes a sip of coffee. “You ever see any one else head up to his office?”

“No.” Marcus pulls his jeans on over his shorts.

“Is he ever out there on the balcony when anyone else is doing a solo?”

“No.” That doesn't mean anything. Esca practically told him he watches anything, anyone at all when he wants to. If he hasn't been out there, he hasn't wanted to.

“You're the first person I've seen Mr. Cunoval take an interest in all the time I've been working for him. So be patient, Marcus. He doesn't show affection easily, but it's there if you look for it.”

Marcus pauses in putting on his shoes to stare dumbfounded at the bouncer who's just standing there and giving him life advice over his coffee. “You think he's interested in me?” Despite everything that's happened in the past twenty-four hours, he doesn't want to admit how much he hopes...

Jo-Jo chuckles at that. “Marcus, grow up.” He tosses his empty coffee cup at the trashcan. “And get up there before he comes looking for you."

"Right." Marcus finishes tying his shoe and heads for the door. "Uh, Jo-Jo? Thanks."

"Any time." Jo-Jo heads for another cup of coffee.

 * * *

Marcus knocks at the door calmly. 'This time,' he promises himself, 'He'd be calm. He'd be in control. Well, maybe not in-control control...but, oh whatever. He'll manage.

“Come in, Marcus.”

At that, Marcus smiles and pushes the door open. Esca has the phone on speaker again as he changes his shirt. Marcus stops there, with the door open. He's changing his shirt. Marcus has seen Esca naked. He's fucked him, been fucked by him, and has seen Esca sleep beside him. This, though, this simple act of normalcy is beyond breathtaking. The fluid motion as Esca pulls his arms through the sleeves. His bare chest, curtained by the shirt, as Esca fastens his cufflinks. Marcus closes the door softly and leans upon it, just watching. Esca raises an eyebrow as he finishes with one cuff and starts working on the other.

He's so beautiful. Marcus wants to go to his knees and nuzzle his face in the soft hair under Esca's navel. He wants to lick from upward from there to Esca's chest, tracing his tongue over those delicate nipples until Esca...

“Marcus.” Esca's tone implies it's not the first time he's said Marcus's name and maybe Marcus should start paying attention.

Marcus blinks. “Sorry.” He forces himself to look up at Esca's face.

Esca's fingers pause on the buttons of his shirt. “Something in particular you're thinking of, Marcus?”

Marcus swallows and then, “It'd be easier if I just showed you.”

Esca smiles at that. “Come on then.”

Chapter Text

Marcus moves forward. For once he's allowed to do what he wants. So he does. He goes to his knees right in front of Esca, pressing his face to the man's stomach. Esca inhales softly, as Marcus kisses his belly, circling around his navel, down along the hem of his trousers.

It doesn't take Marcus long to notice Esca's hard. He presses another kiss to Esca's hip, through the material.

“Marcus.”

He looks up. Esca's eyes are fixed on him. Marcus stands automatically and Esca's hands go to the front of his trousers. He unfastens them, pushing them down around Marcus's thighs. Marcus swallows as Esca surveys his own erection pressing against the front of his briefs. One slim finger reaches out to stroke along the curve of his dick, before tugging the briefs down to join the trousers. Marcus's dick bobs free.

“Over the desk.”

Esca's desk is bare save for a lamp and a laptop. Marcus leans over the middle, hands resting on the edge. His dick's doing its best to rub against the wood beneath it. He looks over his shoulder to see what Esca's doing.

Esca who's undoing his own trousers and reaching for his own cock. He nods at Marcus. “Drawer to your right. Open it.”

Marcus does, aware this time Esca's giving him permission to touch his desk. (He hasn't forgotten about the gun, can't help wondering if it's still in the other drawer.) He finds a bottle of lube, and half turns to hand it back to Esca, who sets it on the desk. Marcus returns to his former position without being told. Maybe he's learning, or maybe he just wants to see what will happen. He's not sure.

A slicked finger slides between his cheeks, making Marcus shiver.

“I said I'd have you over my desk.” Esca murmurs, pushing his finger inside Marcus in one smooth gesture. Marcus spreads his legs wider, fighting the urge to squeeze back against that finger that's stroking inside him. He remembers the way this room looked when he first came up here in those little shorts. It feels like a million years ago. He looks out the window to the windows in the buildings below this one, wondering vaguely, without any real concern or embarrassment whether anyone is looking out their window and watching him about to get fucked over Esca's desk. He almost wants to wave, just on the off chance...

Esca's finger brushes over his prostate and Marcus moans appreciatively. Esca's already removing his finger, and lining his cock up, thrusting inside Marcus. His hands are holding Marcus's hips steady as he moves deeper.

“What were you you thinking about earlier?”

Esca's question breaks through his meandering thoughts. Marcus tries to think back. “When?”

“This morning. When I came into the kitchen.” Esca's thrusting steadily, slowly, taking his time.

Marcus doesn't want to think about that right now. He wants to focus on being fucked by Esca, but now that he has thought about it, it all comes back. The excitement, the development, everything.

“They've made progress on the dig.” He focuses on gripping the side of the desk, on the way his dick is still rubbing hopefully against the wood, on the way Esca's trousers grind against his bare legs as Esca moves inside him.

“Are you thinking of going?”

Marcus resists the urge to stare over his shoulder, trying not to act surprised. Had he told Esca his intentions, or had the man just guessed? He can't remember now.

“When I can afford it, yes.”

Esca speeds up a little, fingers digging harder into Marcus's skin as though trying to hold him in place, which is unnecessary because Marcus isn't moving away.

Esca comes with a groan, gripping Marcus fiercely until he knows he'll have bruises tomorrow, probably even tonight. When Esca slides out of him, Marcus waits for a second before turning around. His dick stands out, waiting for permission, instructions, anything. He wants to stroke himself off, but Esca's just looking at him as he cleans himself off and does up his trousers.

Marcus waits.

Esca simply kneels in front of him, taking his dick in hand. He strokes Marcus once before he lowers his mouth to taste the head. Marcus closes his eyes as the man's tongue licks over the head before taking it in past those lips to rest on there on the center of that marvelous tongue. His dick wants to thrust inside, so fucking eager, but somehow Marcus holds on to the desk, trying not to thrust into that glorious mouth. Esca takes him deeper as his hands skillfully go from cupping Marcus's balls to thumbing along the thick vein on the underside of Marcus's dick.

“Esca,” Marcus manages brokenly. “Oh god.”

Esca lets his teeth graze along him ever so faintly and suddenly Marcus is coming with a shout, holding on to the desk for dear life as Esca takes it all in, swallowing his load down so goddamn smoothly. Marcus is limp by the time Esca finally pulls off and stands, raising his thumb to slide over his own lips.

For a moment, he looks...Marcus isn't sure how to interpret it....not tired, not bored, but rather faraway like Esca's mind is halfway to somewhere else.

Esca kisses him, a mere brush across the lips. “Go home, Marcus. I'll see you tomorrow night.”

“Right.” Marcus cleans himself off in a daze, does up his pants, and heads out. All the while bitching silently at himself for just obeying. Why isn't Esca asking him to go home with him again? Or even just telling him? Should Marcus have asked him back to his apartment? The idea's laughable. Marcus's apartment is a dump. There's no way he's letting Esca see it.

It's just as well, now he can go home and look over his money and see if there's any possibility he can get over there more quickly.

The thought crosses his mind that he could ask his uncle for the money, promising he'd come back to study law or politics or whatever, as soon as the dig was done. But even if he could do that, even if his uncle was stupid enough to fall for it, Marcus is against lying, even to get what he wants the most.

He misses England, even though he's only been there once when young. Everything in him is being drawn back there. He wonders as he waits for the bus, if Esca misses it, or if he was happy to get away. For all that he's obsessed over Esca in the past two weeks, Marcus really doesn't know him at all.

Except Esca keeps a gun in his desk drawer. He likes boning his strippers occasionally. Marcus knows that he dislikes giving up control, and that he just might like Marcus.

Was that enough to start anything? Marcus shakes his head. Dumb question. He knows he's already started. Whatever it is between them, it started the moment he walked into the club that hot afternoon.

Chapter Text

So he goes home. Stops at the mailbox in the lobby, grabs his mail and carries it upstairs. After Esca's apartment, his place looks like even more of a shithole than usual. Marcus gets a beer from the fridge and goes into his room. He goes through his mail without any real interest. It's all bills, except...an envelope from the university. His heart does a little flip-flop as he rips it open. If this is the scholarship he applied for, if he got it then all his problems are over.

Marcus has to read the page twice before it sinks in. Even then it doesn't feel real. Phrases jump out at him. Good work. But at this time we can't support your request. Good luck in your future endeavors.

So that's it. No help from the university. Now there's only his own funds to get him over there. He definitely has enough for a flight. Guern could probably put him up until he figures something out. He just needs to get there over there.

Switching on the light, Marcus digs out the box he keeps in his closet behind his duffel bag. He opens it and stops dead. It's empty. His money is gone. Every last bill. Paulo. Fucking Paulo. Marcus takes a gulp of beer and grimaces. He's going to break that fucker's neck. Whipping out his phone he dials Paulo's number.

Yo, I'm not here right now, but if you're hot, leave me a message.

“You asshole!” Marcus hisses into the phone. “You better have my money when I see you, or I'm going to rip your fucking throat out.”

He drains the beer before going in search of more booze. There's half a bottle of Jack in the cupboard. It's Paulo's, but at this point Marcus doesn't really care. He drinks and plots how he's going to kill his roommate.

Mostly he tries not to panic. If Guern is as close to finding the Eagles as he sounded, then...then...Marcus really fucking needs that money. He has to be there for that. He has to. It's his only hope for getting out of L.A. and making his dream happen. He doesn't think about Esca right now, he can't. Esca's not in his plan.

Marcus is full on drunk by the time Paulo finally shows up. From the way he slinks in, he doesn't have Marcus's money. When Paulo sees the look in Marcus's eyes, he starts babbling about paying him back as soon as possible.

“You better, you asshole!” Marcus slams him up against the wall.

Paulo punches back and the next thing Marcus knows, they're rolling across the floor, punching and kicking at each other. For once Marcus just lets himself go. He hasn't been in a real fight for so long. It feels good to get the anger out. Paulo's nowhere near his size, but he's strong to hold his own.

At last Marcus's rage abates slightly, and Paulo manages to elbow him in the ribs and crawl away. “You fucking psycho.”

“Bite me.” Marcus croaks. He just lies there on his back, staring at the ceiling. He's bleeding from his nose and mouth, he can feel it running down his face, but he doesn't move.

His body's going to hurt tomorrow. But that's nothing new. Everything hurts now. Marcus curls into a ball and buries his face in his arms.

* * *

When he wakes up, he feels worse. His body aches and there's dried blood crusted on his face and neck. The apartment is dark and empty. Paulo's clearly split.

Marcus drags himself to his feet and into the bathroom. He gets undressed as painlessly as possible, which is harder than it should be. Once he's naked, he forces himself into the shower. The hot water lasts half as long as he wants. It's lukewarm by the time Marcus feels human enough to step out. Drying himself off slowly, he pulls on a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie and climbs into bed.

Everything in his life is shit. He wishes he never had to wake up again. Marcus rolls over and buries his face in his pillow. Maybe tomorrow will be better, but he doesn't have much hope of that. As it is, he's going to be stuck being a stripper longer than he ever planned.

Chapter Text

“Yo, hold up there a moment, sweet cheeks.” Jo-Jo stops him before Marcus even gets to the changing room. “What the fuck happened to you, son?”

“I had a minor altercation.” Marcus mumbles, keeping his face down. He knows he looks like shit.

“No shit.” Jo-Jo sighs heavily. “Go get yourself changed. Good luck. You're gonna need it.”

“Thanks.” Marcus ducks into the changing room.

“Marcus, shit, are you okay?” Cottia flies over to him, her eyes wide with concern.

“I'm fine. Just bruised.” That's an understatement, but it's all he can do for now.

“Jesus.” She shakes her head, and then looks at him speculatively. “We could make this work, you know?”

“What?”

“Here. Get changed, and then I'll fix you up.”

She does his makeup, emphasizing his bruises, making his bruises look like a work of art, like he's been having rough sex all night long, but he liked it and he might even be up for round two with the right partner.

“You know, you're just gonna have to work it.” Cottia pushes him out there.

Marcus just shakes his head as he hears the opening strains of 'I Like It Rough.' He flips Cottia off before he starts dancing.

He can feel Esca's eyes on him halfway through the routine. When he dares to look up, Marcus is in no way prepared for the way Esca's staring at him, knuckles tight around the railing. Marcus tosses his trousers aside and goes to his knees, turning his head so that the light falls across his face. He can hear the murmurs in the crowd. Half the people are repelled, half the audience is aroused. He just can't tell which side Esca's on.

* * *

He's barely done changing before Jo-Jo sticks his head around the door. “Guess who wants you upstairs.”

Marcus nods. He glances in the mirror, but doesn't stop to clean himself up.

One knock on the office.

“In.”

Marcus steels himself and enters. He's not even sure why he's nervous this time, except...except for the way Esca looked at him while he was dancing.

“Close the door.” Esca's just sitting there at his desk, watching him.

Marcus closes the door, and takes a step forward....before pausing. Esca's eyes are dark and entirely focused on him. “So...”

“So...” Marcus clears his throat.

“Care to tell me what happened to you?”

“Got into a fight with my roommate.” Marcus scratches nervously at the back of his neck.

“Really?” Esca leans back in his chair. “And you just happen to look like you've gone six rounds in a fuck-fest?”

“Oh. no. That was Cottia. She thought it'd work for the show.”

Esca looks at him blankly, and then, to Marcus's surprise, he just throws his head back and laughs. The sound is welcoming and arousing. Marcus folds his arms across his chest, and enjoys it.

“She would.” Esca gets to his feet, still chuckling. “She would.” Moving around to stand in front of the desk, he just looks at Marcus and shakes his head.

“Watching you like that...” Esca's voice is low. It takes Marcus a moment to get why.

“You liked it.”

“Yes.” Esca says simply.

“Even when you thought I'd been beat up.”

“Yes.” Esca doesn't deny it.

“Even when you thought I'd been beat up while fucking around.” Marcus is blunt.

“Yes.” There's a touch of defiance in Esca's voice, like he doesn't expect Marcus to understand, but there's also a note of defensiveness that takes Marcus aback.

He takes a step forward toward Esca and then another, until he's standing right in front of him. Still, he doesn't speak.

Esca reaches up and traces his thumb along Marcus's jawline. “You look...” His hand slips around to cup the back of Marcus's neck, dragging him down for a messy, hungry kiss. Esca's grinding up against him as his mouth plunders Marcus's.

“I want to fuck you.” Esca growls, biting at Marcus's lips.

Somehow, Marcus manages to pull himself back. “Then do it.” He's panting. Desperate for it. Desperate for Esca. He wants to forget about yesterday and his future, and this, Esca's body pressed heatedly against his own, seems the best possible way of doing it. He grabs Esca's hand and places it between his legs. “Fuck me, Esca. Fuck me.”

Esca strokes him, forcing Marcus to arch into his grasp. “Oh, I'll fuck you alright.”

Chapter Text

His hand cups Marcus forcefully. “Hands and knees, on the floor.” Marcus leans in for another kiss, but Esca turns his head and all he gets is air. “You heard what I said.”

Grumbling, Marcus obeys. He's already bruised and sore from the fight, and tired from tonight's shift. The adrenaline is wearing off. Still, he waits, eying Esca over his shoulder as he undoes his trousers.

Esca walks around in front of him, touching his hand to Marcus's head. He presses down on the back of Marcus's neck until he gives and lowers his head to look at the carpet. Only then does Esca stalk around behind him. He pulls Marcus's pants down slowly, over his thighs, then his shorts.

Marcus tenses as Esca lays a cool palm to one of his cheeks, then without warning, brings it down flat and hard against his ass.

“Ow.”

Esca ignores him and does it again. Marcus winces as the barrage of blows continues. He can't think what he's done to deserve this, since Esca obviously enjoys the results of the fight he had. Still, he can't bring himself to ask. Instead he keeps his head down and just takes it silently.

Esca's is warm now against his skin, the heat spreading across Marcus's body until he's aching again, and doesn't care that he's exhausted. He just wants.

“Esca.”

Esca's hand stills, then snakes through his cheeks and touches him, pressing one fingertip against Marcus's hole. He strokes him there until Marcus's knees are trembling, pressed tight against the carpet and all he wants in the entire world is for Esca to just fuck him already.

“Esca, please.”

Apparently that works because Esca's finger stills, and then he shifts position, and Marcus waits, not daring to breathe, until he can feel the head of Esca's dick pushing against him, and he surrenders.

Esca's hands move to his hips, holding him as he enters Marcus. The burn of it makes Marcus yelp and then they're moving together there on the carpet of Esca's office. Esca's hands hold Marcus and Marcus moves under them, thrusting back against Esca until he can't take any more, and spills helplessly. Esca just keeps going. Marcus will have his fingerprints on his skin tomorrow, and he doesn't care.

When Esca finally comes, he grabs Marcus by the hair, pulling him up on his knees as he sinks his teeth into Marcus's neck. Marcus groans as Esca turns his head to kiss him, his mouth, sharp and salty and utterly possessive.

 

Afterwards they sprawl on the floor, sated.

“Tell me about the Eagle.”

The words are so soft at first Marcus thinks he's imagined them. But when he turns his head, Esca looks at him, and waits.

“I told you before.” Marcus closes his eyes. He had wanted to forget, and now Esca is just bringing it up, casual as can be.

Esca just waits. He lets the silence do his work. Marcus sits up, clasping his hands around over his knees. Esca places an arm behind his head and doesn't move. Marcus could go. The implication is obvious. Instead, he sighs softly and speaks.

“My father was an archeologist. It was the only thing that mattered to him. My mother never understood it. All those relics of the past. She thought he just wanted to bury himself in them and forget about the present. Maybe he did...”

“Anyway...I spent the best few years of my life with him on his digs in Scotland. I was just a kid, but I'd help with whatever he'd let me. He'd tell me stories about the history of the area, what he was hoping to find. But the story I loved the best was the story about the lost Eagle of the Ninth. It was what he was always hoped to find, proving a long-ago legend true...”

Esca's hand is at the small of his back, tracing light circles with his fingertips. It's almost comforting. Marcus takes a deep breath and continues.

“When I was twelve, we were driving back to our house from the dig. It was raining...the road wasn't very good, and he hit a rock, and the car overturned.”

If he closes his eyes he could see it all so clearly. Marcus keeps his eyes open. His throat is dry, but he keeps going grimly.

“By the time they found us, he was dead. My leg was pretty badly damaged. I spent the next year in the recovery unit in the hospital. Supposedly it's a miracle I can even walk, let alone dance.” He huffs a short laugh at the thought of what his mother, fuck, what his uncle would say if they could see him dancing.

“Anyway,” he shifts awkwardly and Esca's fingers fall away. “That's it. When I got out of the hospital we moved to California to live with my uncle. Neither of them think I should pursue this.” He sighs, rubbing his hands over his face tiredly.

“So that's what you've really earning money for, not school?”

“A friend of my father's has kept on with the dig. They finally found some artifacts that prove the legion was in the area they're currently searching. It's the first real sign in years, and here I am...”

Esca's hand returns as he sits up. It travels over his back until it reaches Marcus's neck, caressing him, holding him. He leans back into the touch instinctively. Esca doesn't speak. He just strokes Marcus's neck and lets him sit there, until he finally has the strength to stand.

Chapter Text

They go back to Esca's apartment for the night. Esca orders Chinese and they eat out of the cartons, standing up in the kitchen, before going to bed.

Esca falls asleep almost immediately, but Marcus can't settle down. He slips out of the bedroom quietly and goes down the hall. He wanders around the apartment, staring out the windows and wondering what is happening to his life. He doesn't know any more. Paulo's not going to pay him back. Deep down he knows this. There's nothing he can do.

He could keep stripping, and hopefully do enough VIP room appointments that he'd manage to save enough again, but how long would that take? He leans his head against the cool glass of the window.

At last he turns his attention to the room around him. Esca's apartment is comfortable, but devoid of anything personal. Chairs, desk, couch, stereo, TV, paintings, potted palms...that was it. Not that Marcus's place is any better. It's a shithole with no personality. He doesn't really have a home. The only place he's been happy is in Scotland.

At last Marcus flops down on the couch and stares at the ceiling until he finally drifts off.

* * *

In the morning he's woken by the sound of Esca talking on the phone in the kitchen. His voice is too low to hear what he's saying. Marcus just turns over and lets himself listen to the murmur. He doesn't want to wake up and deal with the day.

Esca hangs up. He glances at Marcus, and then grabs a pen and a piece of paper. He scribbles a note and leaves it on the coffee table. Dimly, Marcus hears the door open and close. Then he's left alone in blessed, peaceful silence.

When he wakes at noon he reads the note. Food in the fridge. Eat something. See you at the club tonight. E.

Marcus showers before finally going to look in the fridge. There's fruit and half a gourmet pizza. Marcus eats two peaches and three pieces of pizza. He also finishes off Esca's milk.

When he's done, he goes home to his own apartment. He doesn't want to be there.

* * *

He goes to the club early and practices backstage. Cottia watches him with amusement.

“Save it for the stage.”

“Why?” Marcus does a little shimmy and she swats him with her t-shirt.

* * *

After his shift is done, Marcus waits by Esca's office door without being summoned. Esca gives a look when he comes out, but says nothing.

“Come on then.”

Esca drives them back to his apartment where he pours them both large glasses of red wine to drink while he cooks the pasta.

Marcus has finally discovered the one personal item, at least he assumes it's personal. It's a print of a street in London, startling real in its detail, hanging in a corner of the living room. He stares at it while he finishes his wine.

“Do you miss it?”

It takes Esca a moment to realize what he's asking, and even then he stays silent until, finally... “Yes.” He takes his plate and silverware over to the sink to rinse them.

“You never want to go back?” Marcus doesn't understand why anyone would move to L.A. when they could be in London.

“I can't go back.” Esca bites out fiercely, glaring at Marcus over his shoulder.

Marcus looks at him in surprise. “Why,”

Esca's already turned away. “Talk about something else or be quiet.”

Marcus stares down at his plate, shoulders hunched. He'd thought they were past moments like this. Esca making him feel ridiculous. Esca's moved over to his desk, he's not paying any attention. Marcus sighs every softly to himself. Maybe he should go back to his place.

He doesn't want to.

At last he goes over to Esca's stereo system and looks over his music. Esca has a varied collection and it takes Marcus a little while to find something. At last he does, and puts the CD in.

“What're you doing?” Esca asks without looking over at him.

“You don't want me to talk.” Marcus hits play.

He starts swaying slowly, rolling his shoulders, stretching his body until he can't help it any more and just dances. There in the middle of Esca's living room. He doesn't care that Esca's leaning back in his chair now, watching him. Marcus turns to face him, simply dancing. It's loose and easy and comfortable.

Esca's got his legs spread wide, hands on each arm of his chair as he watches silently. Marcus makes his way over to him and drops to his knees between Esca's spread legs. He crawls up over Esca, straddling him, bending all the way back so his crotch is rubbing against Esca's, while his head's nearly on the floor, before pulling himself back up.

“You are fucking flexible.” Esca murmurs.

Marcus smirks, arching against him. Esca's hands slide into his back pockets, pulling at his ass. They grind against each other, breath coming faster and faster, as Esca sucks hungrily at the curve of Marcus's neck. Marcus's heart is pounding in his chest. His dick is so hard from the friction, and then he's coming in his pants, like some fucking kid, and Esca's just leaning back in his chair, grinning up at him.

“Fucker.” Marcus says. Esca's still hard.

Marcus slides off him and presses his mouth to Esca's crotch. Esca stiffens, his hands holding tightly onto the arms of his chair. Marcus licks across the dampened material. He can taste a hint of pre-come, and he licks harder, nuzzling at Esca's cock.

“Marcus.”

Marcus carefully licks along the outline of Esca's cock, the sucks gently at the head. Esca utters a sharp, pained, growl and comes. Marcus sits back and watches the stain spread across the front of Esca's trousers. He knows he looks pleased and he doesn't give a shit.

“You.” Esca just shakes his head and pushed Marcus back, standing up. Slowly, he unbuttons his shirt, dropping it on the floor. His ruined trousers go next, and then his shorts until he's naked. Marcus just sits there, watching.

“Your turn.” Esca says.

Marcus gets to his feet and reaches for his shirt. He pulls it over his head and lets it fall. His hands fumble with his jeans, because Esca's just standing there, naked. So fucking gorgeous, it makes Marcus's heart stop.

He pushes his jeans down and steps out of them, then kicks his boxers off.

Esca looks up at him, raising a hand to trace a bruise on Marcus's chest. “What was the fight about?”

“My roommate...” Marcus winces at the memory. “He stole my savings.” Every last cent. His dreams are much pretty over. He'll never get that money back from Paulo. He doesn't want to talk about this, doesn't want to even think about it. Instead he leans down and kisses Esca before he can anything else. His hand cups the back of Esca's neck, pulling him closer.

Esca's chest is against his, Esca's hands are on Marcus's hips, holding him and Marcus just keeps kissing, taking everything Esca's got and more, he needs more, he's fucking drowning. He wants so much, and he knows he'll never get it, but this right here, this with Esca is all he has. And it's only for right now. Marcus isn't an idiot, but he's willing to take right now for all it's got.

Marcus breaks the kiss, reaching down to lift Esca up. He half expects a fight, but Esca goes with it, wrapping his legs around Marcus's hips as Marcus carries him over to the wall.

Marcus just holds him there for a moment, pressed against the wall. His breath is shallow. He wants...what does he want? Then Esca leans in to lick carefully across his right nipple, before biting it.

Fuck.” Marcus roars.

Esca ignores this as he takes hold of Marcus's cock, positioning himself over it. “Come on, Marcus.”

Marcus responds by thrusting inside him. Esca's legs tighten around Marcus as they fuck, muscles straining. Marcus is sweating, fingers digging into Esca's ass. He feels like he's never going to come, and they'll just fuck forever until he collapses. Then Esca bites his other nipple and Marcus comes with a shout, gasping as he sinks to his knees, Esca still wrapped around him.

Marcus is bruised inside and out. He can't take anything more tonight. Esca slides off him, somehow still able to stand. He rests a hand on Marcus's neck. “Come on, Marcus.”

And Marcus goes, pushing himself up. He follows Esca to the bedroom where they fall asleep, stretched out in Esca's bed, limbs tangled together.

Chapter Text

Marcus is in the middle of his routine when he happens to catch a glimpse of a group of men at a corner table. One of them is staring at him in shock. Marcus freezes for a second, and then just keeps going. He should have known this would happen eventually. If there's one thing politicians like it, it's strippers.

When he's done, he gets dressed and goes out the back to get some food. Unsurprisingly, his uncle's driver is waiting for him. Marcus slides into the back seat and waits.

His uncle's furious. “Is this how you're earning your money? Whoring yourself out? For god's sake, Marcus.”

“It's not like that!” Marcus protests. “It's a perfectly legitimate job.”

“The job I got you was a perfectly legitimate job. This is degrading and humiliating, Marcus. Get your things. You're coming home with me, now.”

“No, I'm not.”

“What?”

“You heard me.”

His uncle just stares at him. “Marcus, how could you do this? Without thinking of your mother, or myself? Do you realize what this would do to her if it got out?”

“It's nothing to do with either of you.”

“It's everything to do with us. My nephew parading around on stage, taking his clothes off. It's bad enough that you've always wanted to waste your life grubbing around in the dirt as though it could bring your father back, but this...I hadn't thought you could do worse, Marcus.”

“Don't talk to me about my father.” Marcus shouts. His uncle has no right. He wasn't there. He doesn't know what it's like.

His leg twinges at the memory and he starts to open the door to get out.

“You think this is a real job.” His uncle says quietly. “The man who was watching you...up on the balcony.”

Fuck, his uncle didn't miss a thing.

“He's the manager, I assume. You think he's missing out on turning out more profit? He'll pimp you out as soon as it's worth it to him.”

“You don't know him.” Marcus gets out of the car.

“You keep on like this, Marcus, and,”

“It’s my life.” Marcus shouts back at him.

“And you’re throwing it away.” His uncle almost looks regretful for a moment. “Do you think your father would want that?”

“I’m doing what I want.”

“Are you so sure, Marcus? Or are you wasting your life, trying to carry on in a dead man’s footsteps.”

“Fuck off.” Marcus heads for the bus stop.

* * *

Inexplicably, he wants to see Esca. Just to see him, touch him, Esca isn't here. He's got better things to do with his time than hold Marcus when he's having an emotional breakdown. And yet, what if he doesn't? It doesn't hurt to try, Marcus thinks. So he calls.

“Cunoval.”

“Can I see you later?” Marcus sounds desperate, even to his own ears.

“What's the matter, Marcus?”

“Nothing.”

“We both know I don't like it when you lie to me.”

Marcus closes his eyes. “It's just...I'd like to see you later. If it's okay. If it's not, then.” He's one second away from hanging up the phone. Calling Esca was a mistake.

“It's okay, Marcus. Come to my apartment in about an hour.”

“Right.” He hangs up. His hands are shaking.

He gets a cup of coffee and walks around, trying not to think until it's finally time to catch a bus to Esca's.

Esca doesn't try to make him talk about it. He tells Marcus to take a shower, and fixes him a hot drink that soothes his raw throat. After that he gets Marcus into bed and lies beside him, one arm around Marcus's torso.

Marcus falls asleep, grateful for the silence.

Chapter Text

Marcus wakes up first. It's early. Esca's still got his face buried in his pillow. Marcus gets out of bed quietly and finds his clothes. He gets dressed and hesitates before leaving a note. See you later – M.

He walks until he finds a bus stop and goes back to his apartment shower and change. He still can't believe his uncle showed up at the club. How long will it be before his mother calls? Or will his uncle merely hold it over his head and try to blackmail Marcus into working for him once again? Marcus has to conclude that probably wouldn't happen since his uncle found out he'd been stripping. Nobody in his uncle's circles would want to hire him with that potential scandal hanging over his head.

So all he has to focus on now is what to do next.

Marcus leans against the shower wall. If only he knew what that was. What the hell is he supposed to do now?

* * *

Marcus is busy dancing when they walk in. It's a bunch of men he's never seen before in nice suits. The leader is a tall man with dark hair and a regal sort of presence. The hair on the back of Marcus's neck prickles as the man glances up at the stage, looking straight at him before following the group on to their table. The song ends and Marcus goes off stage.

“Do you know those guys?” He asks Cottia, eying the group from backstage.

“Never seen them before. Why?”

“No reason.” Marcus knows something is up. He just doesn't know what.

They do their last routine of the night, and that should be it. Instead Esca descends from his office and joins the group at the corner table. JoJo comes backstage and tells Cottia, Marcus, and three other dancers to wait. The club closes and the customers leave, all except the group in the corner.

“All right,” JoJo nods at them. The dancers go out. Esca's leaning against the wall, talking to the dark haired man, while the rest of the group drinks. He's smoking, cigarette held lightly between his fingers. Marcus wonders what it would be like to kiss him then, letting the smoke curl around their tongues.

“Do you know what's going on?” He asks Cottia in an undertone.

“VIP guests.” She whispers back. “Esca has them every once in a while. They usually want a private dance or two.”

The dancers line up in front of the table, waiting. Esca glances at Marcus then away.

The tall dark man walks over to examine them. “I said I wanted the best.”

“And I thought you wanted to discuss business, Lithian.” Esca takes a drag on his cigarette.

“I don't understand why we can't discuss business and be entertained at the same time.” Lithian stops in front of Marcus. “What the fuck happened to this one?” He cups Marcus's jaw, studying the bruise on his cheek.

“He got into a fight.” Esca says shortly.

“And you put up with that shit?” Lithian sounds surprised. He releases Marcus and turns to the others. “You four, please, entertain my colleagues.” Then he looks back at Marcus. “You, come with us.”

Marcus follows Esca and him down the hall to the largest VIP room. Esca closes the door behind them. Lithian stretches out on the couch comfortably. “Take your clothes off.”

Marcus glances at Esca before pulling his t-shirt over his head and slipping out of his jeans.

One of the waiters brings them drinks and Marcus waits uncomfortably. He's not sure what he's supposing to be doing. Esca's not saying anything at all.

Lithian looks at him. “I brought you here to dance, so get the fuck on with it.” He turns his attention back to Esca.

Marcus starts moving, but slowly. He doesn't know why he's here, and he senses that Esca's not pleased about it, and he can barely hear the music, but he takes a deep breath and lets that fall away. He moves closer to Lithian when the man beckons him over and slides onto his lap, grinding against him. Esca drinks his whiskey and watches, his eyes dark and unreadable.

“You should come back to London, man.” Lithian tells Esca without looking away from Marcus's crotch as it moves against him. “This town, this club, it’s nothing for you.”

“You seem to be enjoying it well enough.” Esca points out, his eyes also on Marcus.

“True.” Lithian rubs his thumb over the bulge of Marcus’s crotch. “Damn, he’s got a mouthful on him.” He gives a gentle squeeze and Marcus arches up against him automatically. “Seriously though. When are you going to just suck it up and come back?”

“Is that what they sent you to find out?” Esca leans back in his chair, fingers clenched around his glass.

“Essentially.” Lithian grins. One of his hands is on Marcus's ass. “Turn around.”

This last part is directed at Marcus who obliges and starts grinding his ass against Lithian's crotch. He can see Esca's eyes in the mirror, and he starts moving slower, taking his time. Lithian's hand slides over his thigh.

“Come on, Esca. It's been four years.”

“Don't you think that speaks for itself?”

“This is your last chance.” Lithian's tightens on Marcus, and then he pushes him off. “Not bad.” Marcus stands to one side as he gets to his feet. “I'd like to see him again tomorrow night.”

“Oh, you're coming back then?” Esca raises an eyebrow.

“Of course.” Lithian grins. “For your answer.” He nods at Esca and walks out.

Esca takes a deep breath, before exhaling sharply. “Get your clothes on.” He stalks out.

Marcus gets dressed hurriedly before following. The other dancers are already backstage, getting ready to leave. Marcus hesitates, not sure whether he's supposed to go with them, or wait for Esca or what.

“Mr. Cunoval said you were to go on home.” JoJo leans over the bar.

“Great. Thanks.” Marcus goes backstage for his stuff.

He's missed the bus, so he walks, scuffing his shoes along the sidewalk. He can't help it, he's curious to know about Esca's past. It's occurred to Marcus, obviously, that Esca could afford to fly back to England just like that. There's nothing stopping him from getting there, except whatever it is that he wouldn't tell Marcus.

Paulo's out, fortunately. Marcus examines his face in the mirror. The bruising's gone down a little bit, but he still looks rough. No wonder Lithian was surprised.

He's too tired to shower so he strips naked before crawling on top of his mattress. The guy acted like he had known Esca for years. Marcus lies there, wondering what Esca was like when he was younger. He can half picture it, a gawky, oddly-graceful kid, with ears that stuck out a little bit, and freckles...

* * *

It takes Marcus a little bit to realize the knocking at the door is real and not something from the neighbor's television. He drags himself upright, pulls on his discarded boxers and goes to answer the door.

“You took your time.” Esca squints up at him.

“What're you doing here?” Marcus gapes at him.

“Are you going to let me in or what?”

“Sorry.” Marcus holds the door open wider and Esca brushes past him. It's surreal to see him standing there in his apartment.

Esca looks around. “You live in a shithole.” He comments.

“Tell me something I don't know.” Marcus opens the fridge to get them each a beer.

“I wanted to fuck you right in front of him.” Esca says clearly.

Marcus jerks his head up to look at him. “What?”

“I wanted to fuck you.” Esca enunciates each word slowly and carefully. “Right there. In front of him.” His breath is a little short, like he's forcing the words out past the tight barrier he's always kept up.

“Why didn't you?” Marcus asks.

At that, Esca sighs and rubs at his eyes. He leans on the counter, back against his elbows. “Because I have to do business with him, and I don't need him interfering with my personal life.”

“Am I part of your business, or your personal life?” Marcus hands a beer to Esca.

“Frustratingly, you seem be both.” Esca takes a sip.

Marcus considers that while he drinks his beer. Esca looks around before going into the bedroom. Marcus follows.

Esca takes it in before glancing at Marcus. He goes over to the dresser where there's one picture of Marcus and his father stuck to the mirror. Marcus takes a long drink of beer as Esca leans in to look at it.

“Would you believe me,” Esca asks softly, spinning to face Marcus. “If I told you I was the sole legitimate member of my family?”

“What?” Marcus doesn't know what to make of this.

“It's true.” Esca nods to himself, long and slow, and it occurs to Marcus that he's had a few drinks before he came over. He's just drunk enough to slightly loosen up. “My father was...not someone you'd ever hear of. Unless you're involved in the criminal underworld of London.” He eyes Marcus warily, waiting to see what he'll make of this.

“So...he's in the mafia?”

Esca chokes with laughter. “Yeah. Sure. Something like that.” He shakes his head. “Let's just say, none of it's legal.”

“Is that why you left?” Marcus asks cautiously.

Esca waves his hand casually. “I have brothers. They can deal with it. I just wanted to do something else.”

“And a strip-club is what you came up with?”

Esca shrugs. “I like to watch people dance. It's profitable and it allows me enough time to pursue other...pursuits.” He comes over to Marcus, stepping into his space.

Marcus wants to ask what those other pursuits are, but Esca pushes him back against the wall for a kiss. “Come on.” Esca's hand is warm on his hip, tugging at his shorts. Marcus lets him, kicking them off.

Esca kisses his way down Marcus's chest, his lips warm and possessive. He sinks to his knees and continues, kissing along the curve of Marcus's hip and down his thigh. Then, abruptly, he stops, and looks up at Marcus, his eyes filled with quiet, unbearable anger.

“He's dead. My father, and my mother. They were shot by one of his rivals.”

“I'm sorry.” Marcus kneels beside him. “Esca, I'm so sorry.”

“My brothers want to carry on with their war, but what's the point?” Esca shakes his head. He leans in, leaning his forehead against Marcus's chest. “What's the fucking point?”

“There doesn't have to be one.” Marcus lets Esca rest against him, as he awkwardly strokes his back. “It's a terrible thing, and it happened. You have every right to be angry.”

Esca looks up at him, as though he's not quite seeing him. “You...you just,” He shakes his head, and then he reaches up and kisses Marcus's mouth, “Come to bed.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Now.” Esca pulls at his collar.

Chapter Text

Esca leans into Marcus, pressing his lips to the hollow of Marcus’s throat, “Come on, Marcus.”

Marcus gets his shirt off and then Esca’s pushing him into the bedroom, until they end up on Marcus’s shitty mattress, kicking their shoes off. Esca’s mouth is on his stomach, sharp, needy kisses that feel like Esca’s trying to pull him inside out. Esca gets down to his jeans and works them open, pulling them down Marcus’s legs. He rubs his knuckles against the bulge in Marcus’s boxers.

He looks up at Marcus silently, pulling his own shirt off. Marcus just lies there wordlessly as Esca lowers his head, sucking at his cock through his boxers. Marcus’s head hits the mattress. He groans as Esca sucks harder, the friction between the material and Esca’s mouth is going to make him come.

“Esca.”

“Shhh.” Esca mumbles against his dick, and fuck, if Marcus doesn’t just love that. He lies still as Esca pulls his boxers down, letting his dick spring out against his belly, hard and practically begging. Esca licks around the whole of it, teasing at Marcus’s balls until he mumbles, “Esca,” and Esca just laughs before swallowing him down.

Marcus’s vision blurs. Distantly he’s aware of Esca’s hand stroking his leg, almost like he’s a kitten or something. Marcus wants to tell Esca that he’s not a kitten, but he’s lost all ability to speak. Esca’s draining him. He moans, bucking up into Esca’s mouth.

Esca pulls off. “No, no, you’re not allowed to come yet.”

“You prick.”

Esca laughs again, straddling Marcus, rubbing his crotch against Marcus’s straining dick. “Come on and fuck me, Marcus.”

Marcus can barely think, but his dick definitely wants that. Esca rubs against him and Marcus gasps .

The slap that Esca gives him shocks him out of his fog. “What the fuck, Esca?”

“Fuck me.” Esca demands, his flat on Marcus’s chest as he stares down into his eyes. “I want you to fuck me, Marcus.”

His cheek stings. Marcus stares up at Esca. He can hear his own heartbeat, thudding in his chest, Esca’s soft, quick breaths.

Marcus rolls them in one quick motion, trapping Esca under him. “I’ll fuck you.”

“Do it.”

“Shut up and I will.” Marcus growls, kicking his pants off all the way.

For once Esca does what he says. He watches Marcus as Marcus pulls Esca’s trousers and briefs off. At first Marcus just takes his time, enjoying the feel of having Esca naked underneath him. “You feel amazing.” He runs his hand down Esca’s thigh. Esca’s built like a runner, muscled and lithe. Marcus wants to sink his teeth into Esca’s hip and leave a mark. So he does.

Esca’s sharp indrawn breath makes Marcus panting. Esca’s panting, cock hard against his belly, as he leans back on his elbows. Marcus places his hand on his belly, rubbing it in light circles before leaning in to kiss Esca lightly on the lips. Esca grabs hold of him, grinding their crotches against each other and Marcus finally gives in.

“Wait here.”

“No.” Esca’s hand closes on his wrist.

“I need to get the lube.”

Esca just shakes his head. Instead he puts two fingers against Marcus’s lips, and Marcus parts his lips, letting Esca’s fingers slide over his tongue.

Then Esca leans back on the mattress, spreading his legs and easing his fingers coated with Marcus’s saliva inside himself. Marcus just kneels there between Esca’s thighs, watching open-mouthed. He’s never seen anything so hot as Esca working himself open. Working himself open for Marcus. So Marcus can fuck him.

Esca looks up at him with half-lidded eyes, two fingers still inside his ass. “You ready.”

“Fuck, yes,” Marcus breathes.

Esca pulls his fingers out and flops back on the mattress. “All yours.”

Marcus pushes in nice and slow out of habit, but then, just this this once he can’t wait any longer.

“Shit.” Esca bites his lip.

Marcus pulls him up, balancing Esca on his thighs as he fucks him. Esca kisses him like there’s no tomorrow, there’s only now and Marcus’s dick and mouth, that’s all that matters. Marcus can go along with this line of thinking. He fucks him steadily, one hand on the small of Esca’s back keeping him balanced.

“You’re fucking magic, you know that.” Esca whispers, licking along Marcus’s ear. “How did I ever find you?”

“I walked into your strip club.” Marcus says honestly, and he can feel the laugher bubbling out of Esca’s chest, running all the way down to his dick.

“So you did.” Esca leans back, gazing at Marcus affectionately. “That was a good day.”

“Really?” Marcus can’t help being skeptical. He reminds himself that Esca’s drunk right now. In the morning he’s not going to remember any of this. Well, hopefully he’ll remember some of it. But hearing him say it still matters. Even if it’s only for tonight.

“Yeah,” Esca kisses him slow and easy this time, clenching tight around Marcus’s dick.

Marcus can feel his balls tighten, and he wraps a loose fist around Esca’s cock, jerking him off as Esca fucks his dick.

Esca murmurs something indistinct when he comes, straining through Marcus’s fingers. Marcus can’t make out the words and he’s not about to ask Esca what he said as he smothers his own cry of FuckEscafuckfuckfuck, in Esca’s bare skin. Just once he wishes he could preserve this moment, right here, for a day, a week, forever. Just once, if he could hold on to the peace that comes with fucking.

Instead he pulls out of Esca, letting him down on the mattress before he collapses.

Esca lies there beside him, breathing hard. Then his hand snakes over Marcus’s hipbone.

“I mean it.” He leans his head against Marcus’s shoulder, yawning slightly.

“Oh.” Marcus says drowsily. “Good.” He’s too tired to ask Esca what he means, doesn’t really think twice about it. Instead he closes his eyes and lets the rhythm of Esca’s heartbeat soothe him to sleep.

Chapter Text

In the morning Esca rolls over and scowls at him. “Did I get drunk and talk about my family?”

“Just a bit.” Marcus sets a glass of water down by him on the floor.

“Well, now you know.” Esca rolls over to face the wall.

He looks younger and smaller, there in Marcus's bed. Marcus simply climbs in under the sheet and slips an arm around Esca. Esca takes a breath and settles back against him.

They lie like that together on the mattress in Marcus's run-down apartment as the morning passes.

Eventually Marcus gets up to make coffee. Esca lies there a little while longer until the scent of the coffee finally lures him from the blankets.

Esca follows Marcus back to the kitchen, cradling his coffee cup. “You're not going to ask more questions?”

Marcus looks over his shoulder at him. Esca's braced against the counter, clutching his coffee as though Marcus is going to do something. He can't think what Esca's worried about.

“Do you want to tell me more?”

“Not particularly.”

“Then don't.” Marcus goes over to the fridge. Orange juice. That's it. He sighs and takes it out.

“It's that simple with you?”

Marcus shrugs. “You know about my family.”

“Yeah, but,”

Marcus pours them both a glass of orange juice. Esca shakes his head when he offers it to him.

“Your family doesn't regularly bribe the police to stay out of their business enterprises.”

“Not that I know of, no,” Marcus agrees. “but my uncle is in politics, so you never know.”

“Politics?”

“Yeah. Actually he wanted me to work for him this summer.”

“And instead you got a job at a strip club.” Esca takes a sip of coffee. “He must be thrilled.”

“That's one word for it.” Marcus swallows down his orange juice and starts on Esca's.

“I'm getting dressed.” Esca sets his coffee down. “You need a proper breakfast.”

“Yes, sir.” Marcus retorts.

Esca eyes him for a minute before turning to get his clothes. When he's dressed he seems a little more himself, though somehow less guarded. Well, just a bit, Marcus reasons. Esca is always guarded to a certain extent.

Esca takes him to a smoky little pub that Marcus has never been to before, and orders them both full English breakfasts. Marcus devours it all, ravenous after that long long night. He even eats the mushrooms, which he eyed dubiously at first.

* * *

“Be careful around Lithian tonight.” Esca says when they're driving to the club.

“Okay...”

“I mean it. He's worked with my family for a long time. He's used to getting what he wants. He's one of my oldest business associates. Do exactly what he says. Do not open that mouth of yours unless he tells you to. And even then, think twice.”

“So he must be related to you.” Marcus jokes.

Esca eyes him. “You think I'm like that?”

“You had me jerk myself off in your office in front of you. Yeah, I think you're used to getting what you want.”

“Yeah.” Esca leans back in his seat. “And you like being told what to do.”

“Only sometimes.” Marcus tells him. Only by you.

Esca pulls into the parking lot and switches off the car, just looking at Marcus. “Is that right?” he murmurs, but he’s smiling. “Why don’t you kiss me then?”

“Why don’t you make me?” Marcus tells him.

Esca leans over, invading his space. “I could make you do so many things, Marcus.” His eyes are boring into Marcus’s, promising so much with just those few words.

Marcus licks his lips, before lowering his mouth to Esca’s, lips parting in invitation. Esca has his hand around the back of his neck, drawing him in. Marcus is achingly hard, Esca’s mouth alone can do that to him. The way it melds seamlessly with Marcus, stealing his breath and his thoughts, until he’s nothing more than this helpless, begging man. Even if he’s only begging wordlessly this time.

Esca’s nails dig into his skin and Marcus groans, letting Esca’s tongue work its magic on him.

When Esca finally pulls back, he looks as reckless and wanting as Marcus knows he looks. There’s a faint tear on his lower lip and Marcus gazes at it, knowing his teeth were there.

Esca clears his throat. “We’d better go.”

Chapter Text

It’s a slow night at first. As the evening wears on, Marcus starts thinking that maybe Esca was exaggerating. Maybe Lithian has no intention of returning.

He really should have known better.

Lithian strolls in around ten o’clock. He leaves his entourage at a table and wanders closer to the stage to watch Marcus and Cottia dance. There’s a little smile playing at the corner of his mouth that makes Marcus nervous.

When the song ends, he starts to head off stage, but Lithian beckons to him, heading to a VIP room. Marcus looks around, but Esca’s not on the balcony. For once Jo-Jo’s occupied with another table of customers.

He takes a deep breath and follows Lithian.

Lithian sits back, arms stretched along the back of the seat. “Come here.”

Marcus approaches him, stopping just a step away from him. Where the fuck is Esca?

Lithian reaches out to cup him through his shorts. “Been working here long?”

“Yeah.” What the fuck is he supposed to do? Just stand here while the man gropes him?

Lithian tugs lightly on his dick and Marcus follows unwillingly, straddling him. The man just keeps stroking him.

“You like working for Esca?”

“It’s all right.” Marcus tries to keep his voice casual.

Lithian chuckles. “I’ll bet.” He leaves Marcus’s dick, to cup his ass, settling him more firmly on his lap. “Go on. Dance for me.”

There’s a challenge here somewhere. Marcus just can’t decide what Lithian is trying to prove. He leans forward, just enough that the man could start to think he’s about to kiss him, then pulls back, grinding easily against Lithian’s crotch. He arches up, bending backward, and then straightens up as Lithian slips his hand into his shorts. The guy’s got his hand on his dick.

Marcus swallows, opens his mouth, to say something. He has no idea what, but he has to say something. Anything will do at this point.

“I see you started without me.” Esca's standing in the doorway.

Lithian’s hand squeezes Marcus’s cock once, and then he removes it.

“Just a little aperitif.” He grins. “Keep going.”

Marcus starts grinding automatically, but it’s pure autopilot. He’s watching Esca in the mirror.

Esca leans against the door, arms folded on his chest. “Say what you came here to say, Lithian.”

“I miss you.” Lithian says. There’s a sadness to the words that make Marcus almost believe him. “It’s not the same without you, man.“

“I’m sure my brothers can manage.”

Marcus stills for a second, eyes on Esca. His voice is strangely blank. Esca’s watching Lithian, but his eyes meet Marcus’s abruptly. The look there is dangerous and wild, and lost. Marcus is gone in those eyes, miles away from anything happening in the room. There’s only Esca and him.

I’m fucking in love with him. I should go to him. I should go to him and tell him everything is going to be all right. And Esca will laugh a little, and tell me that’s ridiculous. And then I’ll kiss him.

Lithian’s hand tightens on his ass, drawing him back to the world. Marcus blinks, unsure of himself. Fuck, I didn’t say any of that aloud, did I?

“You should come home, Esca. England needs you.”

“Does it?” Esca murmurs.

Lithian's hand slides over Marcus's ass again. “How much to fuck him?” His finger slides between the crease of Marcus's cheeks. Marcus's face burns and he wonders what he'll do if Esca says 'yes.' If he gives him to this man like nothing more than a slave.

“He's not available.”

“Esca.” Lithian purrs. “This is me. Come on.” His hands ease over Marcus's ass, pulling down his shorts to reveal the cleft of his ass. “I remember how much you like to watch.”

Esca does like that. Marcus knows all too well. And he's half afraid to meet the man's eyes in the mirror, but he does anyway. Esca just looks back at him. Marcus wonders if he knows how much Marcus doesn't want this, and if it matters at all.

His uncle's words return to haunt him. “He'll pimp you out as soon as it's worth it to him.”

“I think our business is done.”

“Esca,” Lithian squeezes Marcus playfully. “Think about it.”

Esca pinches the bridge of his nose, then “Give me a minute.” He jerks his head at Marcus and goes out the door.

Marcus follows him.

Chapter Text

Esca leads Marcus back to his office.

Marcus’s hands are shaking. He can’t tell if it’s rage or nerves, or what.

“Here.” Esca pours him a drink and hands it to him.

Marcus gulps it down, letting the burn hit his throat. He takes a deep breath. “Do you want him to fuck me?” In that moment in the VIP room he's realized he has no idea what Esca truly wants. It's beyond him.

“It would solve all your problems, wouldn't it?” Esca says in turn.

“What?” He drops the glass and it rolls away from him the carpet.

Esca ignores it. "You could go to England." He shrugs.

“That's,” Marcus can't say he hasn't thought of that, because he has, but it wasn't the first thing he thought of when Lithian first made proposed the idea.

“I don't know what you want from me.” Marcus says finally. He doesn't. He wants Esca to say no, to refuse to hand him over to a fucking gangster. And there's a part of him that wants to accept, to take the money and disappear.

Esca's just looking at him, then nods. “Wait here.”

He opens the door to find Lihian's waiting in the hall. Esca shuts the door behind him quickly. Marcus leans against it. He can hear them if he listens hard enough.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Lithian sounds amused.

“He's not for sale.”

“It's cause you're fucking him, isn't it? I can always tell, Esca. Even in the old days...the boys you used to run with.”

“It's a bit different now.”

“Sure. You've got a pet dancer. Bet you love to watch him dancing on that stage for you. Not so different from your father after all, are you?”

There's a painfully empty silence and Marcus can barely breathe. His chest is so tight with worry. What if Esca... Against his better judgment, he pulls the door open and steps out into the hallway. Esca and Lithian are just standing there gazing at each other.

“Are you all right?” Marcus asks, his eyes on Esca.

“Now that's sweet.” Lithian laughs.

“I told you to wait in my office.” Esca bites out without looking at Marcus.

“Yeah, but.”

“Now.”

Marcus retreats. It's possible he just made a huge mistake.

“Have a good trip back, Lithian.”

“You can still change your mind, you know.”

“No.” It’s all Esca says, but there’s a finality it that makes Lithian back off.

At last Esca walks back into the office and closes the door behind him. “If you ever disregard an order I give you in public again, I will personally make you regret it, understood?”

“Yes.” Marcus shoves his hands in his pockets.

“Why?” Esca starts, then shakes his head. “Just leave, Marcus.”

“What,”

“GO.” Esca roars and Marcus gives him a long, hard look before he does exactly that.

Marcus goes home. If he had accepted Lithian's offer, he'd be on his way across the ocean now. He can't tell if he regrets this or not. There's a strange weightless sensation inside his chest. He doesn't know what he can do any more to keep going. He's so tired of trying to work everything out and now? Now he has no idea what to do next.

* * *

The next morning he's heading to the library when it happens. One minute he's about to cross the street, the next he's shoved into the backseat of a car with tinted windows.

“Hey.”

“Shut up.” It's one of the men who came into the club with Lithian that first night. Marcus shuts up. Partly because the man told him to, and partly because the guy has a gun trained on him.

They drive another block before the other guy in the front seat throws a black silk hood at Marcus. “Put that on.”

Marcus does.

They drive several more blocks or so. It’s hard to tell, Marcus can’t keep track of his surroundings. Then they're pulling him out of the car and up some stairs. One of them shoves him into a chair and ties his hands behind his back.

Then there's only silence and waiting. Marcus sits and sweats.

Chapter Text

By the time they remove the hood it's almost a relief to see Lithian.

Lithian studies him. “I could kill you,” he muses. “That might do the trick. Cut you up in little pieces and send the choice bits, cock and balls, back to Cunoval.”

OH MY GOD, Marcus's cock cringes at the thought. If that happens I am never speaking to you again.

Lithian sighs. “But really, it's been a long day, and I want him to realize it's a good idea to comes back to England, not get into one of his moods.” He cocks his head to one side. “Have you ever seen him in one of his moods?”

Marcus shrugs, which isn't easy to do with your hands tied.

“Oh, you'd know it if you had.” Lithian takes out a pack of cigarettes. “Esca's one of the most brutal little fuckers I've ever seen. When he wants to be.” He lights it and looks down at Marcus. “On a scale of one to ten, how important do you think you are to him?”

“Umm...” Marcus hasn't thought really thought it in those terms before. Is he important to Esca? Maybe? It's not like he doesn't value himself. He just doesn't know how Esca really feels. “Six maybe.” he says at last. He'd like to think he rates at least a six. In reality, he's probably not even on the scale, no matter what JoJo says.

“Really.” Lithian nods to himself. “Interesting.” He gives the nod to one of his men who moves in to punch Marcus hard in the face. He feels his neck jerk back, blood spilling from his mouth.

“I might have thought eight.” Lithian says conversationally. “It's been a while since he got so...attached.”

The next blow is to the gut, then one to the side of the head. Marcus sees stars and after that he loses track of the order of the violence. There are only fists and pain and a distant ringing in his ears.

When they finally cut him loose he tries to stand, only to collapse to the floor.

Everything hurts. He feels dizzy and sick and he's bleeding all over the place. His ribs ache.

“Dump him outside the club.” Lithian flicks ash at the crumpled figure below him. “If that doesn't work, fuck knows what will.” He crouches down beside Marcus, yanking his head back by his hair. “If this doesn’t work, we’ll have to get serious, and you don’t want that, do you?”

”No,” Marcus manages from between split lips.

* * *

They leave Marcus in a heap by the back door. It feels like an eternity before JoJo comes out for a smoke break.

“Holy shit.” He scoops Marcus up, which proves just exactly how strong the bouncer is (Marcus is not a small man) and carries him to the dressing room.

“What happened to him?”

“Go get Mr. Cunoval.”

Marcus sees shapes and blurs moving around. Dimly he knows Cottia is telling him everything is going to be okay and that if she finds the fucker who did this, they are going to pay. Marcus fades in and out during her threats.

“Get an ambulance here, now.” Esca's voice is sharp amongst the haze.

* * *

They get him to the hospital. Marcus is unconscious by the time they arrive.

It's three days before he's lucid enough to see anyone.

When he wakes Esca is there, drinking coffee out of a paper cup and staring out the window.

“Didn't think you were the bedside type.” Marcus murmurs. Everything aches and his throat is dry.

“I need to know what the message was.” Esca says.

“I thought I was the message.” Marcus says confused.

“What?”

“They said...if this wouldn't bring you back, they'd have to get serious.”

Esca nods to himself. “That all?”

Marcus says yes. Esca doesn't need to know that he thinks his level of affection is at a six.

“Right.”

He has two sprained ribs, but nothing is broken, surprisingly.

Esca stays silent, and there are questions Marcus wants to ask, but he’s so tired. It’s easier just to drift off to sleep so he does.

Chapter Text

Esca’s still there the next time Marcus wakes. He lies there for a moment, watching Esca sip his coffee in silence. Marcus can’t help wondering why the man is still there. Surely he has better things to do rather than just sit around and watch Marcus sleep. Like finding the assholes who did this to him maybe?

At last Esca turns and sees him. “Ah, you’re awake.”

“Barely.” Marcus’s mouth is dry. He aches all over, but he tries to sit up.

“Hey,” Esca lays a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t try to move.”

Marcus obeys reluctantly. His muscles relax and the strain in his chest eases. He leans back against the pillow, gazing up at Esca. “You stuck around.”

Esca nods, then shrugs. “I came and went. You were unconscious for some time.” His hand travels up to stroke along Marcus’s temple.

Marcus closes his eyes. Esca’s fingers are so gentle. He’d like to freeze this moment and make it last. Marcus knows it won’t last, so he focuses on enjoying it while it’s still happening.

Esca’s fingers pause, and Marcus opens his eyes.

“What,” Marcus starts, and Esca’s fingers brush across his lips.

“Shhh.” He glances over his shoulder at the door, and then makes up his mind.

“What are you doing?” Marcus whispers as Esca removes his coat and hangs it over the visitor’s chair.

“You’ll see soon enough.” Esca tells him. He climbs over the railing on the hospital bed and settles between Marcus’s legs. “Lie still.”

Marcus takes a deep breath and winces.

“I said lie still.” Esca says sharply. Marcus presses back against the pillow as Esca pulls the sheet covering his lower half up. He tugs the hospital robe up to Marcus's thighs next and there waits Marcus’s cock.

Esca smiles at it. Very carefully, so as not to put any weight on Marcus’s torso, he leans down and takes him in his mouth.

“Sweet, fuck,” Marcus mutters. What if someone comes in? He almost doesn’t care. Esca’s head bobs up and down sensuously. He’s working quickly and Marcus’s cock surges eagerly in his mouth. Christ, his hips want to buck up into Esca’s mouth, but his body is hurts too much. Lying there with Esca bending over him is all he can manage. Esca’s fingers stroke over his thigh and Marcus sighs softly as he comes.

Esca sits back on his knees, gazing down at Marcus. “I’m sorry you got mixed up in this.”

Marcus blinks, unsure of what to make of Esca’s apology.

Esca swings off the bed and straightens up. “They should leave you alone after this.” He’s looking out the window now, far away from Marcus.

“Oh.” Marcus thinks about this. “Good?”

Esca straightens his tie then reaches for his coat. “They’ll be releasing you in a day or two. Don’t strain your ribs.”

“Yes, sir,” Marcus mutters sarcastically. He’s not going to fucking strain his ribs. His ribs hurt too much for him to strain them. He’s going to leave his ribs the fuck alone.

“Here.” Esca reaches in his pocket and takes out a scrap of paper. He holds it out to Marcus. “That's the name of a dance troupe in England. I've told them a bit about you. They want to see you for an audition.”

Marcus just stares at him. “What?”

“The troupe's not starting officially till later in the season, but this’ll get you over there. Do the audition or not.” Esca shrugs. “It'll get you on the other side of the pond at least.”

At last it dawns on Marcus. He takes the scrap of paper. “You didn't have to...”

Esca's already pulled his hand away. “I wanted to.”

“Thanks.” Marcus stares at the scrap. Esca knows how much this means to him. He can’t believe he’s holding this chance in his hands, even as his heart whispers, but it means you have to leave him.

“Well, I'm off,” Esca stands.

Marcus blinks up at him. “That's it? Can't I...?” He doesn't know what he's going to ask, but this sounds like goodbye and it can't possibly be goodbye because he can't just say goodbye to Esca. Not like this. If he says goodbye, it's over.

“You're fired, Marcus.” Esca tells him flatly. “I don't want to see you back at the club.” He leaves before Marcus can think of anything to say in reply.

Marcus lies there in the hospital bed, gutted with rage and disappointment and most of all, stupid, pointless grief. Finally he’s got what he’s always wanted, and it makes him ache worse than ever.

* * *

Marcus considers long and hard before deciding to take Esca's offer. He doesn't have to take it just because the guy shoved it in his face. His pride doesn't want to take it. On the other hand, it's a ticket to where he wants to go, and after this he doesn’t have to have anything more to do with Esca.

He almost got killed because of Esca. If that's not worth a ticket to England, Marcus doesn't know what is. He books his flight.

* * *

Marcus goes to get his stuff from the club. It’s just sitting there in his locker, waiting for him. He packs it into his duffel bag and heads for the door. Jo-Jo shakes his hand before pulling him into a bear-hug.

“You take care of yourself now.”

“Sure.” Marcus manages to smile at him. He says goodbye to a few of the other dancers, and covertly flips Danny off when he sees him lurking in the corner.

He almost misses Esca altogether and then he catches sight of him coming down the stairs, hands in his coat pockets, cigarette dangling out of his mouth.

Esca stops on the last step. “Thought I told you I didn't want to see you back here.”

Marcus flinches at the tone. “Had to get my stuff.”

Esca takes a drag on his cigarette. “Take it and go.”

Something about that just drives Marcus crazy. “That's it? Just like that.”

“What?” Esca looks at him, startled.

“I get beat up by your criminal friends and that's it? I'm fired and you don't want to see me any more just like that?” He can't fucking believe this. After everything, this is it?

“Yeah.” Esca says softly. “Just like that.”

“Fuck you.” Marcus starts toward the exit and this time Esca says nothing at all.

* * *

Before he goes he pays two last visits.

His uncle is surprised to see him when he opens the door.

“Marcus,”

“I wasn’t sure you’d want to see me,” Marcus starts, but he doesn’t get further than that. Uncle Aquila takes him by the arm, leading him into the house.

“I just wanted to say goodbye.” Marcus looks his uncle straight in the eye. “I’m going to work on the dig.” He doesn’t care what his uncle thinks, but he wanted to let him know that he was going before he left. Marcus has already called his mother. She cried for fifteen minutes solid before reminding him to pack extra socks. Marcus doesn’t own extra socks, but he keeps that tidbit to himself.

Uncle Aquila sighs but nods. “I can’t say I’m surprised. Disappointed a little, but not surprised.”

Marcus opens his mouth, but his uncle goes on before he can say anything.

“I've always wanted what's best for you Marcus.” His uncle folds his hands in his lap.

“Maybe I haven't shown that exactly how I should, but it's true. I care very deeply for you.” He gazes past Marcus, murmuring. “You remind me so much of your father.”

Marcus is speechless.

Uncle Aquila stands. “Promise me you won't lose contact with your mother, or me.” He offers his hand and Marcus takes it. For the first time he feels as though they truly do belong to the same family. If he can, he'd like to hold on to that feeling.

* * *

At Cottia's apartment Marcus has to duck items being thrown at him until Cottia calms down.

“He fired me!” He says from behind his raised arms. “It's not like it was my decision.”

“You idiot! What the fuck does that matter!” Cottia drops the plastic cup she was about to lob at him and sighs. “It's just...I'm going to miss you. That place isn't as much fun without you.”

“I know.” Marcus hugs her, wishing things were different.

“You'll be careful, right.” Cottia hugs him fiercely. "Promise me?" All she knows about his past is that Marcus lived in the UK briefly before and that that was where his accident took place.

“I swear.” Marcus murmurs, kissing her hair.

“You better.” She smiles up at him. “Call me when you land, okay?”

“I will.”

* * *

His flight leaves early in the morning from LAX. As the plane prepares to take off, Marcus gazes out the window. He’s dreamed of this entire life but he can’t believe it’s truly happening. Thanks to Esca.

He sighs, and makes a resolution. Who cares if it’s not the new year. From now on, he’s not going to think of Esca. It’s the only way he can go on.

The plane lifts off and Marcus leaves LA and everything there behind him.

Chapter Text

Four months later:

Marcus wipes the sweat out of his eyes. The sun’s too bright. He needs a break. Brushing the dirt from his knees, he straightens up, glancing down the hill.

There’s a figure standing there at the bottom, looking up at him.

Marcus squints at him, assuming it’s one of the assistants coming back for something they’d left at the site when they quit for the day. For a moment he can’t see clearly because of the sun, and then when he can focus, suddenly he can’t breathe.

In his Savile Row suit, Esca should have been absurdly out of place in the middle of an archaeological dig, yet he looks as comfortable and self-assured as ever as he walks up the hill towards Marcus.

Marcus starts walking automatically. They meet halfway with the wind pulling at their clothes.

“Hello Marcus,” Esca says almost shyly.

“Esca,” Marcus says dumbly, then, “Hello.” There are other words to say, but right now he can’t think of them. Esca here, the sun is definitely playing with his mind. He’s been out here too long.

“How’s the dig going?” Esca asks at last, looking around him with interest.

“Well,” Marcus smiles in spite of himself. “It’s going well.” He wants to tell Esca so much. The last four months have been incredible. First though, he wants to know why Esca is here.

So he asks. “Why are you here?” The sun is heating his cheeks. Just seeing Esca again makes Marcus warm all over.

“I had some business in London.” Esca glances at him. “You don’t read the papers much, do you?”

Marcus shook his head. “I’ve been pretty busy.”

There’s an awkward silence. This is when he should tell Esca to go, to get out of his life. Marcus hesitates and then, “Can I show you something?”

Esca nods. “By all means.”

“Come on then.” Marcus leads him down the track to where he has his car parked. There’s a duffel bag sitting there. Esca picks it up and swings into the backseat.

Marcus eyes it. “How’d you get here anyway?”

“Taxi.”

That’s clearly not the whole story, but Marcus leaves it there for now.

They drive back to the bed and breakfast where Marcus has been staying for the last few months. Esca stays silent during the whole ride. He doesn’t seem tense though, which is what puzzles Marcus. Instead Esca appears strangely relaxed, almost as though he’s on holiday. The notion is crazy. Esca doesn’t do holidays, and if he did, he wouldn’t come to Scotland for it.

*  *  *

Marcus unlocks the door to his room and holds it open. “Gimme a second.”

Esca sets his duffel down, looking around the room.

There’s a chest at the foot of Marcus’s bed. He takes the key out of his desk drawer and kneels in front of the chest, feeling Esca’s eyes on the back of his neck as he does.

“We haven’t declared it yet.” Marcus slips the key in the keyhole, “We wanted to be sure, get it authenticated. Now that's done, we’ll be revealing it this weekend. Then it will get taken to the museum, which is where it should be. But I wanted to show it to you first.”

The eagle looks beautiful in the fading afternoon sunlight as he holds it out.

Esca touches it gently, studying it with admiring eyes. “You found it.” He reaches out to clasp Marcus’s arm warmly. “Your father would be proud of you.”

Guern said pretty much the same thing when they found but, but Marcus hadn’t had the same reaction when he said it. Esca saying it just makes Marcus want to kiss him.

“Do it,” Apparently Esca can still read his mind. “Just do it, Marcus.”

So Marcus does. He curves an arm around Esca’s hip, drawing him in as he lowers his lips to tentatively to Esca’s. The hesitation lasts for about a second. Marcus tightens his grip, the eagle crushed between them as he devours Esca's mouth.

“Ow.” Esca pulls back. “Can we set that aside somewhere if we’re going to,” his eyes are playful as he glances at the bed.

Marcus can’t believe this shit. Esca simply assumes they’re gonna bang. “Just like that.” He takes a step back, his fingers tightening around the eagle.

“What?”

“You show up here after four months, just stroll in like you fucking own Scotland too and expect…” Marcus shakes his head. Carefully he sets the eagle back in the chest, his fingers stroking over the wings and then he locks it away, returning the key to the desk drawer.

He faces Esca. “I probably never would have gotten here if it wasn’t for you…so, thank you.” He has to say that at least once because it’s true. He owes Esca that at least. But now it’s done, he’s said it. Esca can turn around and fly straight back to L.A. now.

Esca just nods. “But you’re still angry at me.”

“Well, yeah…” Marcus says honestly. “I am.”

“Marcus, why do you think that I sent you away from L.A.?”

“What?” Why is Esca doing this? Why now? Marcus is getting over him, really getting over him, and now Esca wants to dredge it all up again. “Because I was in your way. Because you were done with me.”

Now just Esca just looks exasperated. “Is that really what you think? I figured it would be something dumb, but nothing as stupid as that.”

“So you’re saying it wasn’t that.” Marcus is trying not to get angry all over again. He’s not doing a terribly good job.

“Marcus, they took you, beat you up, and threatened to kill you before dumping you on my club’s doorstep.” Esca says all of this very quietly. “I sent you away to keep you safe.” His eyes are somehow darker, somehow even more intense than Marcus remembers them being.How is that possible? “Do you think I would have ever let you go otherwise?”

There’s a distant roaring in Marcus’s ears, like the ocean threatening to overwhelm him with each crash of the waves, drowning him. “Say it again.”

Esca looks amused. He steps in closer, gazing up at Marcus. “I want you. I don’t want to go.”

Marcus hesitates.

“Just kiss me again already.”  Esca says impatiently so Marcus obeys. His hands clasping Esca’s face, drawing him up to meet up Marcus's mouth.

Esca’s hands wrap themselves in Marcus’s shirt, pulling him even closer.

“I’ve missed you so much,” Marcus murmurs.

Esca draws off, pushing him back towards the bed. “You think I haven’t missed you? Every day, every night.” He halts, an odd expression crossing his face.

“What?” Marcus says nervously. Now that Escas has told him why he senthim away, he’s not sure he wants to know what could make Esca look like that.

Esca’s hands are on his chest, pushing him down to sit on the bed. “Marcus if I told you I had almost killed Lithian, what would you say?”

“I’d say…” Marcus hesitates. “You’re not gonna get into trouble for that, are you?”

Now Esca really looks amused. “That’s what you’re concerned about? Not me?” He kneels in front of Marcus, leaning in, eyes bright with intention.

“You.” Marcus wants to kiss him again, kiss away that notion, but this feels like a moment to pay attention, so he tries. “What do you mean?” There are other questions he could ask, but in this moment he doesn’t have to ask anything else. He doesn’t care what Esca’s done.

“You’re not scared of me,” Esca whispers, resting his arms on Marcus’s thighs, studying him.

“I’m scared of how much I love you.” Marcus blurts out, feeling himself blush all over.

Esca presses a kiss to his thigh. “You,” he climbs up on Marcus’s lap, straddling him. “Are the strangest, rarest man I have ever met.” He brushes the hair back from Marcus’s face. “And just so we’re clear on this and you don’t wake up later in the middle of night wondering what’s going to happen next or if I meant anything back, I do too.”

Marcus leans in, his mouth an inch from Esca’s. “You do what?”

Esca laughs. “I love you too.” He kisses Marcus, then pushes him flat on the bed, snaking his way down Marcus’s thighs. He has Marcus’s pants open in record time, slipping Marcus’s dick in his mouth.

Marcus just lies there. He’s pretty sure he’s died of heat stroke on the hill and this is what heaven is. There’s dirt on his palms, and he needs a shower, but this is definitely heaven. Heaven is having Esca here, having Esca say all that, and the simple implication that should Marcus fall asleep, Esca will still be there when he wakes up.

“Yes,” Marcus’s dick agrees wholeheartedly. “This is heaven.”

*  *  *

Amazingly enough, Marcus does fall asleep. He wakes up some time later, in a darkened room, feeling strangely comfortable.

Esca’s sitting at a laptop at the desk. He looks up when he sees Marcus is awake and turns to him.

“Why didn’t you wake me up?” Marcus sits up. His shoes are off, set neatly by the door. Esca must have taken them off while he was asleep. As for himself, Esca’s removed his coat, and rolled his sleeves up past his elbows. Marcus wants to lick his way up Esca’s forearms. He’s missed the taste of Esca on his tongue.

“You looked like you could use the sleep.” Esca stands, stretching. “Do you know where to order a decent takeaway around here because I’m starved.”

“That, I do know.” Marcus reaches for his phone.

*  *  *

He orders the food, watching as Esca shuts his laptop.

Marcus thinks back. “What did you say about the papers?”

“Oh…I was here to settle my father’s business.” Esca studies his hands. “I turned evidence. It was messy.”

“How messy?”

“I still have enemies.” Esca says matter-of-factly. “People who would be more than happy to kill me.” He glances at Marcus across the room. “I should lay low for a while, somewhere where they won’t think to look.”

“Like an archeological dig in Scotland?” Marcus can’t stop smiling.

“Yeah, something like that.” Esca smiles too.

Marcus moves to kiss him, but there’s a knock at the door. This is the fastest the food’s ever been delivered in the four months that he’s been here. Marcus over tips the delivery boy (who’s really his landlady’s son) in his haste to make him go away. By this time tomorrow everyone will know he has a bloke in a fancy suit in his room.

Marcus doesn’t really care.

 *  *  *

They eat. As hungry as Marcus is, he doesn’t really care what is he’s putting in his mouth.

From the look of it, Esca doesn’t care either.

Finally they abandon the food on the table.

*  *  *

Esca tugs at Marcus’s shirt, pulling it over his head. “Off.” He discards his shoes and shoes quickly as Marcus drops his shirt to the floor.

“I should shower.” Marcus unzips his jeans, showing them down and kicking them off. He still smells like the dig.

Esca shakes his head. “You smell like the earth and the sun.” He presses an open-mouthed kiss to Marcus’s chest. “I like it.” He pushes Marcus up against the wall, groping at his boxers as he kisses first Marcus’s right nipple and then his left.  Marcus shivers under the onslaught of his mouth.

“Stay there.” Esca steps back, unbuttoning his own shirt quickly with agile fingers.He tosses it over the chair, and then adds his trousers and underwear.

Marcus is distracted by the sight, his own arousal prominent through his boxers.

“Take them off.” Esca nods at him. He wraps a hand around his cock, stroking himself slowly.

Slowly, Marcus obeys, sliding his boxes lazily down his thighs, letting his dick out. He drops his boxers on the floor, pulls his socks off.

Silently he walks across the floor to Esca. Marcus kneels in front of him to kiss Esca’s thigh. Esca’s hand stills upon his cock, just holding himself. Marcus works his way up one thigh, across Esca’s belly.

“Marcus.”

Marcus lowers his head, kissing the tip of Esca’s cock. The act leaves a drop of pre-come on his lips and he looks up at Esca, a world of happiness in his eyes.

Esca combs his fingers through Marcus’s hair, tugging him up to his feet.Marcus kisses his neck, grinding against Esca, maneuvering him back to the bed.

“On your back.” Esca goes over to his bag and digs around until he comes up with some lube.

Marcus stretches out upon the bed, as Esca settles between his thighs. His fingers are slick as he pushes them inside Marcus. His eyes are intent, focused on Marcus’s face as he stretches him.

Marcus groans, arching up against those fingers. “Come on, now.” He doesn’t want to wait any longer.

“Eager.” Esca comments.

“It’s been a while.” Marcus complains.

“I know.” Esca pulls his fingers out and leans down, brushing a kiss over Marcus’s belly. “Spread your legs.”

Marcus does, wrapping a hand around his dick as he does. He’s allowed three strokes before Esca’s hand closes on his wrist, pulling it away and pinning it to the sheets. “Not just yet.”

He slides into Marcus slowly, causing him to whimper in frustration. Every deliberate inch makes Marcus want to beg him to speed up. Instead he bites his lip and waits, sweating it out until Esca finally pauses, gazing down at him.

“How’s that feel?” Esca rocks his hips, grinning at him and Marcus does moan then, arching into his cock.

“Like, god,” Marcus can’t even speak, his breath hitches as Esca thrusts slowly into him.

Esca’s watching his face as he moves over Marcus, like he’s memorizing every aspect of Marcus’s expression.

“You’ve seen me before.” Marcus murmurs without thinking.

“Yeah, but this,” Esca smiles. “This is new.”

Marcus isn’t sure if he means here, or the way things are now, or them being together in Scotland. What’s more he doesn’t care. There’s plenty of time later for explanations. Right now, he’s got Esca inside him and that’s all that matters.

Marcus rolls them over, sinking even further down upon Esca’s dick until there’s absolutely no more to take. Esca’s fingers dig into his ass, pulling him even closer.

 “Come for me, Marcus.” Esca demands, sliding his fist up Marcus’s shaft, jerking him off. “Come on.”

Marcus does, clenching around Esca tightly, holding him there inside him until Esca comes too.

They collapse in a sweaty heap on Marcus’s bed, arms tangled around each other. Esca kisses the freckles across Marcus’s shoulders and closes his eyes. Marcus can hear Esca’s heartbeat and he knows he’s smiling like an idiot, but he’s happy.

Yes, he’s found the eagle, but more importantly, more preciously, here, with Esca, he’s found his way home.