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Trust Me, Mine is Better

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It was the annual King of Babylon competition, and the winner was practically guaranteed, when Emmett started talking.

“Justin, sweetie, you know you’re one of my best friends, right? I mean, to me, you’re more like family really!”

Brian, lounging against the bar next to his partner, rolled his eyes. “There are remote tribes in outer Mongolia who know how you feel about Sunshine, you nelly bottom.” Brian’s tone was closer to absentminded than his trademark cutting, as he took in the club - pulsing, vibrant, and stuffed to legal capacity with the very hottest tricks in Pittsburgh.

Emmett ignored the man, worried attentiveness on Justin. The smiling blond just grinned. “Yes, Emmett, you’re one of my best friends, too.”

Letting out a gusty sigh of relief, the tall man sagged a bit. “Oh thank god!”

Now the entire group was looking at him, puzzled and entertained by their drama queen.

Taking in the attention, Emmett fidgeted, sipping his drink. He didn’t manage a full minute of resistance before he sighed, then admitted the problem. “I didn’t bet on you this year.”

Justin didn’t understand. On the other hand, the remainder of their friends wore varying expressions of surprise.

“Don’t get me wrong!” Emmett rambled on. “It’s tradition. I’ve put my money on you every year since that surprise, sexy first performance, honey. And it’s done well by me so far. I mean, with your impeccable bubble butt, of course it has.” A deep breath, and Emmett appeared slightly ashamed, but also determined. “But not this year. This year, I put my money on someone else.”

Intrigued, Ted leaned in to ask for more information.

Brian beat him to the punch, disdain heavy in his voice. “If you really think betting on some loser is any more likely to get you fucked, you’re delusional, Dorothy.”

Blinking, Emmett replied with offended, righteous dignity. “I’ll have you know, Mr. Get-My-Dick-In, that my bet has absolutely nothing to do with sex.”

Michael huffed, incredulous. “Since when?” he muttered.

With a chuckle, Brian added, “Keep saying it and I’m sure someone will believe it.”

That earned him a half-hearted punch in the arm from Justin.

“If you must know-” Emmett drew himself up to his full height. “-I have exactly one family member I don’t loathe. He’s the son of a cousin, and just got out of a miserable relationship. So I convinced him to take a vacation, spend a week or two here in the Pitts and have some fun. And then I tricked him into signing up for tonight’s competition.”

“So it’s a pity bet,” Ted attempted to clarify. This time, it was Blake slapping at his boyfriend in disapproval.

Then they all watched as an oddly confident (and maybe a tiny bit evil) smile spread itself across Emmett’s face. “Heavens, no, Teddy. I bet on him because the odds on an unknown out-of-towner are ludicrous, and I could use the cash.” He leaned over to lightly pat Justin’s shoulder. “Sorry, sweetie, but this year, you’re getting dethroned!”

Kurt was still appalled that he’d let Emmett talk him into this. It was so far outside his comfort zone, he could practically feel the stress-induced breakouts coming.

“Oh Gaga, this was such a bad idea,” he muttered, straightening his outfit for the umpteenth time. An odd choking sound from behind made him peer over his shoulder. He was unsurprised to find one of the tech crew had paused in his job to stare, unerringly, at Kurt’s well-clad ass.

He sighed. Kurt knew the outfit was impeccably tailored, but thus far the amount of blatant lust in the eyes of the majority of the men he’d passed on his way through the club was ridiculous. Did no one understand the enhancements of a good outfit in this sad town?

Still, he was here now. And Emmett, sweet, cheerful, loving, annoying Emmett, had bet actual money on Kurt. He knew his cousin, knew it had been a way to guarantee the younger man actually got up on the sticky stage and gave the performance of a lifetime. So he would knock their damned pants off.

Emmett had mentioned his friend Justin (described in quite a bit more detail than necessary) would be going on at some point. He had also somehow convinced the mistress of ceremonies, a statuesque drag queen called Sheba in enough sequins and feathers for three Carnivale costumes, to put Kurt on stage last.

Even had he not recognized “Sunshine” based on his cousin’s oddly guilty babbling, there was no way Kurt could have missed the introduction. “Gays and girls, please welcome to the stage, our King of seven years running. That delicious dish, the ass that won’t quit, the twink of our dreams - Justin Taylor!

The reaction was loud as the blond man hopped up on stage, smile wide and hips swiveling enticingly. Along with low-cut jeans and a tight, bright blue croptop, he was also wearing a large, oddly nice prop crown.

As the music started, it quickly became clear Justin knew how to work the crowd, tossing suggestive looks and teasing winks around with impunity. Though his focus stayed mostly on an arrogantly smirking and gorgeous man at the bar.

That, then, must be Brian.

The song was pop, with a heavy bass beat that had the club goers bopping along, and Kurt gave him points for playing to his audience. Emmett’s stories of Justin’s time as a go-go dancer were paid true, going by the way he worked the stripper pole, and bent over, waving his ass at the crowd. Still, this was amateur and unpolished, comparatively.

There were cheers, whistles and applause as Justin finished with a provocative pose, followed by a bow.

Then Sheba swept back out and waved down the noise from the crowd. “Alright, my dears, our last hopeful of the night is not from these parts. In fact, he cheerfully told me his heart’s in New York City. Please welcome to the stage - Porcelain!

Kurt took his spot, felt the music start as much as he heard it, and stepped into the moment. Because if there was one thing he would never lose, it was the ability to put on a show.

The final performer appeared young, maybe early twenties, with a black trilby hat perched on top of russet hair in a high pompadour. He wore skintight, scarlet jeans with studs curving down along the side, tucked into knee-high, black, lace-up military boots, all of which set off a pair of long legs. A three-quarter sleeve dinner jacket, a shade darker than the pants, over a black dress shirt, and a matching narrow tie with a subtle chevron pattern of grey and white completed the look. The clothes fit like they had been sewn on.

He walked across the stage to turn his back to the audience, one hand on the hat, the other on a cocked hip. Then the music began. This song had been playing on the radio almost non-stop since it came out, so the majority of the crowd was already cheering before the voice even came in. Namely, his voice , because the guy was singing into a small, professional, taped-on head mic.

At the first line, he pulled off the hat and tossed it away across the stage, before spinning to face the audience. “We're all bored, we're all so tired of everything. We wait for trains that just aren't coming. We show off our different scarlet letters-” He pulled off his jacket, and the shirt underneath was sleeveless to better expose lithely muscular arms. Then he turned, revealing the large, bright red words embroidered across the back, LIKES BOYS, and sang over his shoulder, “Trust me, mine is better.”

Heading back to the front at a strut, the next few lines were sung with a smile that was sad, knowing. “We're so young, but we're on the road to ruin. We play dumb, but we know exactly what we're doing. We cry tears of mascara in the bathroom.” A shrug, “Honey, life is just a classroom.”

And then he started dancing. Really dancing. The moves were clearly choreographed, and he hit them with glee, a slide here, a stomp and jump and twist there. “Cause, baby, I could build a castle out of all the bricks they threw at me! And every day is like a battle, but every night with us is like a dream.

Baby, we're the new romantics. Come on, come along with me. Heart break is the national anthem.” He yanked off his tie and waved it overhead. “We sing it proudly!” Then, throwing the scrap of fabric aside, he finally aimed his body at the stripper pole, deftly spinning himself up onto it. “We are too busy dancing to get knocked off our feet. Baby, we're the new romantics.” Legs tight around the pole, he leaned over backward, hands free, to wink at the room. “The best people in life are free.”

Hopping back off the pole, he returned to the earlier prancing, swinging his hips like a runway model, moving closer to the edge of the stage, then further away again. “We're all here. The lights and noise are blinding. We hang back, it's all in the timing. It's poker, he can't see it in my face but I'm about to play my Ace.” He did exactly that, turning around to show off and shake the type of ass about which gay men dreamed.

We need love, but all we want is danger. We team up then switch sides like a record changer.” He reached up and began undoing the buttons on the shirt. “The rumors are terrible and cruel. But, honey, most of them are true.” Finally, he untucked it and tossed the sides away to frame his torso, the slender waist, defined pecs and abs, and long throat all displayed as he stretched dramatically. Then he launched himself back into the dancing as the singing returned.

Cause, baby, I could build a castle out of all the bricks they threw at me! And every day is like a battle, but every night with us is like a dream.

Baby, we're the new romantics. Come on, come along with me. Heart break is the national anthem. We sing it proudly!” This time, the description was joined by a jumping fist pump. “We are too busy dancing to get knocked off our feet. Baby, we're the new romantics. The best people in life are free.” He opened his arms to the crowd and spun in place, segueing from a quick little grapevine step, into a momentary waltz, and then back out again. “So come on, come along with me. The best people in life are free!

As the song slowed, he mimed the different lyrics, first reaching for the audience. “Please take my hand and -” Pushing his arms up over his head, he dropped his neck back, closed his eyes and ground against an invisible partner. “Please take me dancing and -” Dropping his hands to wrap around himself in a contained self-hug. “You leave me stranded-” With a wry smile and a raised brow, he added the next line. “They say it's romantic .”

Another spin, then he practically leapt at the forgotten pole, hoisting himself back up and proceeding to make it his bitch. “Cause, baby, I could build a castle out of all the bricks they threw at me! And every day is like a battle, but every night with us is like a dream.

Cause, baby, I could build a castle out of all the bricks they threw at me! And every day is like a battle, but every night with us is like a dream.

Baby, we're the new romantics. Come on, come along with me. Heart break is the national anthem. We sing it proudly! We are too busy dancing to get knocked off our feet. Baby, we're the new romantics. The best people in life are free.”

Twisting off the pole, he reclaimed his opening pose and the spotlights flicked off.

The screams and whistles were deafening, in the moments between the song’s end and when the lights came back up. It was clear who the crowd had picked as their ruler.

Sheba swayed back onstage and asked, voice a shade serious, “Where the hell have you been all my life, gorgeous?”

The man had already pulled back on the jacket and was picking up the tie. Smirking, he sauntered over to brush a kiss across the queen’s glitter-covered cheek. “In your dreams.”

Turning to stare at Emmett, the gang wore expressions that ranged from lustful to flabbergasted.

The tall man grinned, smug. “My cousin, boys.”