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The Coxcomb

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You know, the whole thing about destiny is kinda’ bullshit. Divine intervention? Fate? People like to spew that shit when good stuff happens, but what about the bad?

Was it fate when Lance dropped out of college? Was it destiny for his parents to give him the good ol’ boot out the door?

Nah, but Lance does what he can, you feel? There’s no need to dwell on the bad- he makes lemonade out of limes, or whatever.

Instead of idealistic concepts, Lance focuses on the one true thing in life. The one thing that matters. The only united entity that connects the world.

Money.

Lance needs some dough, okay? He be needin’ cash, like, yesterday. College was a no-go, the grocery store job was a double no, and he just wasn’t made to be a garbage man. Good cash, bad for the skin.

So that’s how he ended up here, sitting in a dark, red-wallpapered hallway, the crusty chair under his ass creaking with every shift. It smells like sex and bodybutter, which isn’t all too surprising. Music thumps from the floor below him, and sometimes the orange light above his head flickers.

He waits long enough to regret coming – he waits even longer cursing Hunk and the day he was born. It’s all because of him that he’s here.

My work is hiring! He says. They’re looking for dancers! He says.

The creaky door swings open with a shout, and Lance clenches his asscheeks out of fear -sitting up straight when Handlebar Man looks his way.

He smiles, gentlemanly, just like he’s dressed. “Ello’ there! Weren’t waitin’ long, were ya’?”

“Nope!” Lance lies, because he got here an hour ago.

“Wonderful! Allura is ready to see you.”

He stands off of Creaky McSqueaky and wobbles through one old hallway, into an even older looking room. The wallpaper looks like something out of his grandma’s kitchen, floral, and pale. There’s weird decorations on the walls, like an iron sculpture of a nose, and dried petunias.  

“Hello!” The bosslady smiles from behind her square desk, rising to shake his hand. “I’m Allura.”

“Lance.” He grins, “Nice to meet you.”

“And you.” She nods, “Please, sit.”

He does, and sighs when the chair doesn’t squeak. Allura sits as well; she’s a pretty thing, older, but the good kind of old. Mature, is the word Lance is looking for. Mature. She’s got that pretty British accent too.

“So,” she smiles, looking down at the paper on her desk, “I received your resume.”

“Yes.”

“I’m just going to cut to the chase here. Why do you want the job?”

“Well…” Lance begins, and flicks on the charm like he knows, “…when I was little I always thought when I grow up, I want to be a stripper-“

Allura’s smile falters, and she narrows her eyes, “Lance.”

“I need money.” Lance cuts off, seriously. “I thought this might be a good fit for me.”

“Hmm.” Allura scans the paper, “This isn’t an easy job.”

“I know.”

“You’re twenty-two?”

“Yes.”

“Young.”

“Y-yeah.”

“They like ‘em young, you know.” Mustache Man pipes, scaring the life out of Lance, because he forgot the damn bastard was there, standing by the door.

“I know.” Allura hums, “But we’ve had some good applicants.” She looks him in the eye, “Tell me. Why should I give you the job?”

“Well,” Lance throws his imaginary hair over his shoulder, “I am beautiful, after all. I thought I’d share this with the world.”  He gestures to himself, and raises a cocky eyebrow.

Allura’s face falls flat. A beat drops, before Allura crushes his resume in her strong, mature little palm and says, “Next.”

Lance jolts, “Wait, wait!” He stands, “P-please, I’m just kidding. I- I really need this job.”

“Then please take this seriously.” She snaps, those eyes scary as hell, “This isn’t a game. If you don’t make the club money, then you’re a waste of time.”

“I can dance.” Lance blurts out, “I-It was written there, uh, there-“ he gestures to the crumpled up resume, “-on the paper you crushed in your man hands.”

Allura ignores the insult, “What can you dance?”

“I took hip-hop and salsa for years. I used to go clubbing a lot too.”

“Then tell me, Lance.” She folds her hands together, the angry lines on her forehead smoothing out, “Have you ever stripped?”


 

 He was like, four hundred percent sure he fucked up that interview. His damn mouth is it’s own entity entirely, Lance is sure.

Ah, but he gets a phone call from Allura’s Buffalo Bill henchman, and about shits his pants when he says he starts on Monday. Lance calls Hunk, screaming words that aren’t really words.

Blah blah blah, long story short, Lance ends up here on a Monday morning, standing on the street corner across from Denny’s, staring at the unlit sign.

The Paladin

Weird. A little too nineties, for Lance’s taste, but whatever. Dough is dough, moola is moola.

He’s been to strip clubs; he’s liked what he’s seen, so, here goes nothing.

The door pushes open with a creak – the club is bright and silent, chairs upside down on tables, the stage glistening under the skylight, poles being rubbed down by a worker. He closes the door behind him with a jingle, and breathes in the musty air. A bar sits to the far right, barstools up on the counter as well.

“Lance!”

He jolts, and looks to see Coran- Coran, is his name – walking his way with a chirpy smile, rolling his mustache between his fingers. 

“Glad to see you here on time!”

“No trust.” Lance jokes, and shakes his hand, “Thanks for the job, man.”

“Of course! We have the utmost amount of faith in you.”

Lance raises an eyebrow, and Coran laughs.

“Come, come. I’ll give you a quick tour.”


 

This place is actually a lot bigger than it seems. There’s an entire dance studio in the back, mats on the floor, dancers stretching, music playing softly. There’s some practice poles- a few girls swirl around them with ease.

“So, this is the studio,” Coran smiles. “Allura and I are the lead choreographers. As you know, this is an LGBT friendly club, so, we do female and male shows.”

Lance nods; at least his bi ass belongs.

“So, until you learn the choreography, you’ll be spending time here, before we’re confident enough to put you on stage.” Coran shifts in the doorway, “Watch these guys. Learn whatcha’ can. They’re quite talented.”

Lance looks to the room; they’re a snobby bunch, heads held high, bootyshorts and tanktops tighter than skin. There are certainly some pretty ones – he notices a strong lookin’ guy doing stretches on a yoga mat – multi colored hair, nice muscles. Daddy material-

“Hey, Coran.” A dancer stands, dusting off his yoga pants and running a hand through his long hair – the bro needs a haircut, for real. Ah, but Lance looks him over, head to toe, and decides he is pretty hot. He’s toned, but slender, all smooth skin and confident lines. He nods, “Is this the new meat?”

“You betcha’!”

“Hey.” Lance smiles, and sticks out his hand. “I’m Lance.”

The dancer eyes him, up and down, and crosses his arms, “He doesn’t look like much. This is the best you guys could find?”

Lance takes back his hand and snaps, “Hey, well, fuck you too buddy-“

“Now, now.” Coran laughs, “Keith, haven’t I told ya’ to never judge a book by its cover?”

“We needed someone strong Coran.” The Asshole Named Keith grits, “Someone to do the lifts with Shiro. This guy couldn’t lift a chair.”

Lance grinds his teeth – puffs out his chest and opens his mouth to argue – he hates snobby dickwads, and this guy is the dictionary definition of a pussyfart. Fuck his clear skin, fuck his nice hair-

“Yes, but he has dance experience. I thought he’d be a nice addition to the team. You trust Allura’s judgement, don’tcha’?”

Keith hesitates, rolling around his tongue in his mouth before shrugging. “I guess you’re right.” He turns to Lance and sticks out a hand, covered in a fingerless glove, “Sorry. I’m Keith.”

Lance swallows, his head reeling. He narrows his eyes and sputters, “What the hell? Are you bipolar?” He shakes his hand anyways.

“No.” Keith snaps, “I just want this club to do well. Don’t fuck up, alright?”

Lance pulls back his hand and glares.

“Alrighty.” Coran chuckles, and nudges Lance with his elbow, “Let’s get a move on, shall we?”


 

Lance grumbles through the rest of the tour – all he remembers is a break room, something about a rule book to read through, something else about this being one of the oldest buildings in town, and a wardrobe. Wait, what.

“What?” Lance blinks back, looking around the room full of empty vanities.

“I said that this is the makeup room! You’ll come here to get dressed up.” Coran winks.

“Right.”

“Are you against wearing dresses?”

“Nah. I wear skirts.”

“Perfect.” Coran grins, and continues walking, “We have themed shows sometimes. They’re a real hoot.”

“I’m sure.” Lance smiles back. “Do I get to wear a garter belt? I’ve always wanted one of those.”

“You’d be quite surprised.”

Yesss.” Lance draws out the S, and laughs when Coran smiles.

“That about ends the tour.” He gestures with a smile, “If you have time tonight, I do recommend you coming by.”

“Why’s that?”

“Just t' get a feel for the place. You know, watch our dancers work.”

Lance thinks of Keith, and cringes. Asshole. Shithead. Douche canoe-

“If you’re upset by Keith, please don’t be.” Coran reads his face, “That’s just how he is. He’s incredibly blunt, but a fine lad. Very talented, too. Especially friendly once you get to know 'em.”

Lance wants to huff- say no, he’s a big stupid doodoo head who thinks I’m too skinny – but instead he nods, and says, “Alright, Coran. I’ll come by.”

“Wonderful! Just be sure to-“

The front door chimes open, and a figure walks in, small, but with purpose. Their round glasses sculpt their face, wily short hair a mess. Coran cuts himself short and turns, with a smile.

The figure waves, “Hey, Coran.”

“Pidge! You’re here early today.”

The Small One Named Pidge shrugs, “I wanted to practice a few drinks. I came up with a new one called The Scrooge McDuck and I want Allura to try it.”

“Ah.” Coran blinks, “Well, I’m sure she’ll adore it.” He turns with a smile, “Lance, this is Pidge, our one of a kind bartender. They, them, if you will.”

Pidge extends their hand, “Hey.”

“Hi.” Lance shakes it, “I’m Lance.”

“I heard.” Pidge turns, “New dancer?”

“Correct!”

Pidge hums, and pulls back their hand, eyes scanning him over, “He doesn’t look like much.”

Lance sputters, “S-Seriously? Again with this?”

Coran laughs, “He danced for us. I think he’s a perfect fit.”

Pidge raises an eyebrow, but slumps to their bar with a shrug, “Alright. I trust Allura.”

Coran gasps, “But not me?”

“We’re getting there.”


 

Lance sniffs through like, half  his laundry basket before he finds something that smells okay-ish. Lance hates living like this; he’s not a slob, he’s just out of laundry detergent, and his spare cash is going towards groceries, bruh. 

The shirt is an old band-tee; he bites his cheek and decides to hack at it with some scissors, thinking maybe if he slices it up enough, he can call it a Forever21 distressed French tee.

It slides off his shoulders now, which is fine – it matches the holes in his skinny jeans. He throws over a bomberjacket and walks the half mile to the club,  huffing into his hands when a breeze blows.

He can hear the club music from a block away; it thumps on and on – he can see the line wrapping around the corner. He slides past them, right up to his big buddy at the door, arguing with a girl in a miniskirt, an arm around her girlfriend.

“Look, I can’t let you in without ID.”

“Come on! I promise I’m twenty one, I just left it at home.”  

“Sorry, you’ll have to leave-“ Hunk looks up and sees Lance. He grins, and leaves the other bouncer to argue, “Lance, my man.”

“Hey buddy.” Lance smiles, “Do I need to show my ID?”

“Nah, you’re on the VIP list bro. Come on in.” He lifts up the velvet rope, and the girl barks out a complaint. Lance clasps Hunk on the shoulder, and dips into the club.

And uh, woah. The quiet, soft, serene club from this morning is all gone. The bar is lit up in lights, Pidge grinning and twirling drinks. The stage blasts music, two girls on poles slippery and soft, swirling around and rolling their hips. The DJ sits up in his booth, one hand on his headphone, the other flicking switches as the music bobs.

Lance gets jostled by a few passerbys, so he does his best to squeeze to an open table. The room is half full, but for a few seats in the back. Lance squishes in – winces when he trips over someone’s foot, and settles down with a huff.

The lights change with the music – a cute waitress comes by with a plate. Cute, strong looking girl.

“Hello!” She smiles, “I’m Shay, and I’ll be serving you tonight. Would you like a drink to start off with?”

Lance looks up and blinks – he wants to say fuuuuck yes, but he’s got maybe six pennies and a paperclip in his pocket, so he shakes his head no. She slips away with a polite nod, and Lance looks back to the stage.

The girls are beautiful – Lance ogles their soft legs and perky boobs, but metaphorically stabs himself with a needle, and tells himself to focus.

Lance is a funny guy. He makes jokes. But he, uh, really needs this job.

He watches the girls – watches them in how they move, deep dips, wide hip swirls, strong arms to lift them up on the pole. He studies their legs as they hold onto the pole- damn that’s some serious strength. Lance might need a gym membership, as much as he hates to admit it.

Ah, but he has his own abilities. That’s what he tells himself- his own trump card, from all the years and years of dancing. From the people he slept with in college. From standing in front of his bathroom mirror and singing Britney Spears like he was born to. He can summon some sex appeal – fuck the haters, yo.

Don’t get discouraged, Lance. Breathing is a two-part system, in, and out.

Eventually the DJ comes on mic, the music lowering. The girls begin to stand up and walk off stage. He says with a chirp, “Thanks, ladies. Beautiful job, you did.”  They wave to the audience, pulling dollar bills out of their bras and smiling. The DJ continues, “Give ‘em a hand, will you? Yeeeah, gorgeous.” The stage dims, “Now, for your favorite husky lion.”

The crowd cheers, and grows; Lance sits up in his seat with interest.

Who wants a dance from the Purple Paladin?”

The audience roars, hands shooting up, from men and women alike. People wave dollar bills, other call and scream.

Okay, cool. So, the place is full of regulars.

Someone~ told me a lady out there has a birthday, yeah?”

There’s more screaming- a spotlight singles out a girl, covering her face in her hands as her friends laugh and squeal.

Come on up, darling.”

The ‘paladin’ steps out, a chair in arm; Lance recognizes him as the super-hot dancer stretching on the mat this morning. Except, uh, Lance notices a prosthetic arm, smooth, and metal, moving like a human arm would. Lance definitely didn’t catch that this morning, holy shit. He looks like a superhero, or like something out of a wet dream, goddamn.

He’s in low sweatpants and a tank, smiling a little too warmly to be in this kind of work. The girl is ushered up on stage, wiggling and squirming, flushing but smiling.

The DJ laughs, “It’s alright, sweetheart. Shiro will go slow.

The crowd laughs and hollers, but Lance focuses on the name.

Shiro.

The girl takes a seat, face red, hands braced on either side of the chair.

Alright! Now you know the rule – no touching!”

The lights dim, the music turns up. Shiro folds his hands behind his back and smiles.

Lance prepares himself for like, a tidal wave of secondhand embarrassment. This guy does not look like a stripper – yeah, he’s hot as fuck, but he just looks so…kind. Sweet. Like he'd hold the door open for you at the grocery store. A real Steve Rodgers lookin’ fucker.

Except, he eyes the girl in the chair, gives her a soft smile, and rolls his body in a way that should be one hundred percent illegal.

Lance’s mouth falls open, and his eyes swell wide.

Shiro rolls his body once, twice, fingers smoothing down his chest. He twists his hands in the bottom of his shirt before sliding it up off his chest and hoooooo booooy- you could grind meat on those abs, my dude.

The shirt gets tossed, and the crowd cheers. The girl squirms with a smile.

Shiro rolls forwards, sweatpants so, so low on those hips, as he ruts down, and grips the chair behind the girl’s back. He lowers himself, both prosthetic and human hands locking together as he gyrates his hips.

This guy’s body is earth and water, strong and firm but melting hot and fluid. He makes it look so manly – like he could breathe Axe bodyspray out of his nose like a dragon.

His right hand, the human one, pulls back toward his own stomach. His fingers dip down, down, toward his hips, thumb hooking into his sweatpants before pulling back. His body still swirls with the music, thighs wide across her hips. He pulls back with a grin, stands up confidently; he slips his fingers down the sides of his sweatpants. The fabric teases, pulling with the concept of coming off, but not yet. His hands pull back up, and high above his head, still rolling with the beat.

Lance suddenly feels so small. The world drops around him, swirls and numbs and just becomes him. This Shiro guy. Lance assumes that’s what a job well done is- making your audience feel nothing but you.

Wow, oh wow, is he beautiful.

Shiro slips back up to her, braces a knee between her thighs, and lifts himself up, those abs now inches from her nose. The girl gasps, twisting with the work of staying still. Fuckin’ hell, Lance can’t blame her. He’s got a half- chub just from watching the guy.

Then, oh then, Shiro rolls his hips in a way that can almost be described has dry humping, and the audience hollers. Money flies from all directions, sliding across the cool, shiny stage.

The entire time Shiro’s face is calm, a resting smile in place. Lance suddenly believes in fate, destiny, whatever the hell got him in this seat, watching this guy.

Shiro is very, very good at what he does.

When he slides off her lap once more, and slips his hands down his pants, Lance literally holds his breath. Shiro rolls his sweats down halfway, purple and black spandex shorts underneath – cheers and money, cash and screaming – he pulls it back up, then down again, before pushing the sweatpants to the top of his thighs, and straddling her once more.

His prosthetic arm moves so fluidly, the cool metal a beautiful contrast against his skin. He’s got a few scars on his back, where sweat slicks down softly.

When the pants come off, Lance sees god. Or Shiro’s thighs, which are comparatively the same thing, because they are surreal. Defined and strong, leading up to a perfect ass covered by spandex. Damn, what the hell is fueling that ass?

Money rains, and Shiro grinds into her lap, and Lance has never been so jealous in his life.

It ends all too soon, the lights rising, Shiro bowing and pressing a polite kiss against the girl’s cheek, before slipping back behind the stage.

Lance has whiplash. Or like, blue balls? Hell, Lance doesn’t even know. Holy shit.

“Enjoying the show?”

Lance jumps a little – he looks up and sees Allura, smiling smugly. She takes a seat next to him, crossing her coy little arms.

“Um.” Lance chokes.

“Thought so.” Allura grins, “Shiro is one of our best.”

“Do I get a cool stripper name?”

“If you prove yourself, you'll become a lion." Allura mumbles, "Not sure what color." 

Lance has no idea what the fuck that means, so he looks back to the stage, where girls come back to dance.

“So, what’s the plan for me?” Lance asks, “Lap dances? Poles?”

“You’ll see.” Allura smiles. “Group performances first. You have to work up to single shows.”

Lance shrugs, “Fair enough.”

“Although…” Allura eyes him, “I have a few ideas.”

“Huh?”

“Nothing.” She turns back, and begins to stand, “Enjoy the show while you can. It’s all hard work from here.” She pats his shoulder, “Keith is up next. Prepare yourself.”

Lance sputters, “Prepare myself? For that stuck up dickface?”

Allura smirks, and gives him another pat, “You’ll see.”

She slips away, gone to the crowd, just as the lights simmer red.