A Dance for Two
Chapter 1 – First Familiarity
The deep red lights were low, and the smog created by a dozen lit cigarettes and cigars captured the essence of the colour within billions of dust particles. He could see past the curtains that hid him backstage that the crowd was relatively large tonight, most single tables filled with patrons waiting to see the show. It would be another long night hugging poles between his thighs. If he got lucky, maybe he'd get a few lap dances commissioned to spice things up.
Then again, Trafalgar Law hoped he wouldn't get called out. He didn't fancy grinding himself into the crotch of some smelly, older man.
A firm hand grasped his shoulder, but he didn't jump. He knew exactly who it was. "He wants us to do a double strip tease tonight. Says the crowd loved the last one we did together. You up for ripping all the clothes off of my sexy body?"
"You should ask Marco to dance with you tonight, Ace," he said, shrugging off the hand. He needed to get ready. Everyone else backstage was near naked or in some sort of provocative wear and he was still in his street clothes.
"Marco doesn't dance, remember? He just gets people drunk. That's his job."
"Lucky jerk," he mumbled. "If only Doflamingo gave me his job. I'm sure I could serve a few beers without conflict."
"That would be awesome," Ace agreed. "Nobody would touch my crotch if I was behind the bar all night. Sadly, the closest I can get to the area behind the counter is when I'm dancing on the shot table. And Marco hates that because I always end up kicking someone's drink over and getting him into trouble."
Law let out a little laugh that was more a mirthful snort than anything else. "Well, Mr. Narcoleptic, that reminds me of the time you fell asleep suddenly while doing a spin and landed smack dab in that fat guy's lap. Man, you should have seen the way his eyeballs bugged out of his skull. He thought he'd scored."
Ace shoved him, frowning. "I thought we agreed never to speak of that incident! I thought I was going to get raped!"
Their laughter was cut short as the costume coordinator, a man called Thatch, grabbed Law from behind and hoisted him over his shoulder.
"Where have you been? And you're not changed!"
"Put me down, right now."
"You go on in ten! TEN, I'm telling you! Opening act!"
Law could barely get a word in edge-wise as Thatch stripped him down to his black boxer-briefs. Then he did him up again, exchanging his sweater and jeans for a flowing, spotted, relatively monochrome robe of sorts.
"Japanese style kimonos today? Are you serious?" Law grumbled. Thatch grabbed a hold of his chin to steady him, and whipped out the dark eyeliner and eyeshadow. Law's signature makeup.
"Doflamingo wanted it, not me. Besides, you're adorable in this thing," Thatch said, fingering the sheer fabric that revealed more than it hid. Law just as exposed in it as he did wearing nothing but his boxer-briefs. "You want the little heart under your eye?"
"No. Too endearing."
"Well, too bad, because Doflamingo ordered that too," Thatch snapped, seeming a bit fed up as he penciled in a tiny, upside down heart under the far corner of Law's right eye. It reminded him of a split teardrop. "Said it goes with your stage name."
"Hate my stage name. It's too simple and idiotic."
"Least you don't have Ace's. With him it's more of a joke with his real name, ya?"
"Guess so. Not that I would argue with Doflamingo. This is a shit job, but it's the best paying job I've got right now. I can usually earn more here than working at the grocery store."
Thatch put the finishing touches on his costume. "Medical school, huh kid? You can do it. And when you get rich and famous, come find me and do surgery on my aching back, will ya?"
"Will do, old man," Law said, striding out of the backstage area to take his place behind the curtains. Looking above him, he could see a flashing timer right next to a clock. Everything in this place was timed down to the minute, and to screw up would mean to reschedule everything, not to mention the loss of your job. Doflamingo, crazy head honcho in pink, had no shortage of willing dancers. So Law rarely came late.
Today was an exception. Today he'd been evicted from his grubby flat and had been busy trying to move all of his meager belongings to his friend's place. Multiple friends, in all actuality. All crammed into one apartment. Bepo, Penguin, and Shachi. They hadn't been able to hold their own places and had tripled up, in hopes of being able to pay the rent. Now Law needed to join their joint lease on a home, which had once only been Bepo's, but now belonged to everyone.
The three men had agreed to accept Law immediately, of course; he was their best friend and longtime pack leader. Still, Law couldn't wait to be able to earn enough money to get out of the slums.
He saw Ace take his place on the far side of the stage and flash him a pearly white grin and a thumbs up. Based on what Ace had been slated to wear, black stripes inlayed on a golden fabric, Law guessed they were supposed to mimic wildcats. He believed he was the snow leopard to Ace's Bengal tiger.
That fucking Doflamingo. Always animals.
He risked one more peek through the dark curtain, taking in the audience on the other side of the stage. Packed full. It would be a bloody miracle if nobody tried to buy his lap dance tonight.
Who was he kidding? He needed the money.
The announcer started jabbering, taking the stage to do the introduction. Both Law and Ace faced away from the audience, waiting for the audible cue that would raise the curtain.
"Here's Heart and Spade!"
Law groaned at his stage name as the curtain rose and tilted his head back. The music began to play, a slow, sensual tune that did nothing but irritate him. While Ace might've loved this scene, it just wasn't for him.
Nevertheless, he spun around with Ace, and took in the silver poles in front of him, beckoning him forward with enticing glints in the red light. So he went, swinging his hips ever so subtly, and threading his hands through his dark hair. The music gyrated, and he did his best to move to the rolling waves of the bass until he reached his designated pole. Out of the corner of his eye he watched Ace reach his too, more or less at the same time.
He grabbed the pole with one hand and leaned back, the billowing sleeve of his garb fluttering away to expose a bit more skin. He could easily bow his back to touch his head to the ground, whilst never lifting either of his legs. But he knew Ace was not so flexible, and they were supposed to be dancing together in acceptable harmony. Only he hadn't had time in the past few hours to learn this particular dance with Ace, and thus was making his moves up as he went.
Ace knew he was free flying. Which is why he moved extra slowly tonight, sending out signals to Law. A flick of his left foot. Law translated it as: bring your leg up and wrap it around the pole.
He got that right, and they hung there in symmetrical positions. Law craned his head back so he could see Ace, but he must have missed the signal under all that fabric because Ace was already making their next move. Climb.
He leapt up a few feet, nimble as could be. He knew this move. Slide down the pole with a slight turn, keeping shoulders and arms tense enough to support his weight. One leg outstretched, one bent. Grip the cold, unrelenting pole between his thighs.
Running through the move, Law barely glimpsed how Ace had fared. Ace was notorious for screwing up the moves that required him to turn his body at sharp angles. He was just too muscular to have the sort of grace required to pull it off. Not that it mattered anyway; Ace's charisma always pegged him at the top of the list of dancers coveted by the audience. He danced with a seductive grin and oozed confidence. He had a bizarre willpower that dominated the hearts and heads of all others.
Doflamingo would never fire him. Law on the other hand…
He ranked only moderately high at the end of the day. He had to nail the moves with nothing less than perfect execution. No unsightly bumbling movements were allowed to mar the face of the club.
So when Ace did a front hook open followed by a teasing flick of the wrist that Law didn't see coming, he knew he ran the risk of seeing the boot applied to his rear end.
Quickly he sent a signal to Ace, a quick nod of his head as they both moved into a spin around the pole, matching the decrescendo of the music. Ace quirked his eyebrow and flashed him a nervous half smile. He had anticipated that it would probably come to this.
They left their poles and strode up to one in the middle that was even closer to the first few people in the audience, each placing a hand on it.
Law grunted. Best to just let Ace improvise their choreography. He did a better job at it, at any rate.
They thrust their pelvises towards the pole, and Law made sure to get into a bit more of a swivel with his hips, as that could be his saving grace for the night. Sure enough, after a few thrusts that occasionally bumped his knee against Ace's, he heard the hoots and whistles that he knew were meant for him, not Ace.
Finally, he'd got them going.
Ace knew it too, and soon Law felt his hands wandering over to take hold of some of the loose fabric bunched around his shoulders, pulling it back. A few yanks and Ace had his garb off of him and had thrown it into the crowd on top of a few men that literally jumped for it.
This was a bad choice for stripping clothes. Only one layer meant the excitement would wear off in seconds. Law was already mostly naked and couldn't throw anything else into the crowd. He really hated Doflamingo for his idiocy.
He rid Ace of his clothes next, running his hands all over that tanned skin, showing the men in the audience that paid a heaping sum to see them preform what they couldn't have for free. Ace did the same for him, only he was sure Ace spent more time highlighting his more charming features, like his long legs and the way his back arched gently. Trying to sell him.
Ace was always so helpful. Law didn't even mind it when he lifted him off the ground and tossed him into the air, only to catch him again. Usually he hated that move and would beat Ace for attempting it without warning. But, again, he was desperate. He needed the money a few lap dances would earn him. Badly. Ace knew that.
"To show them how light and adorable you are," Ace whispered as he sat Law's thighs down on his shoulders. "Bigger men love it."
"I'm never adorable," Law whispered back as the music climbed to new heights. They were almost out of time. The music would come to a halt soon and they'd have to skip along to the backstage area.
"Just trying to sell you."
"Gonna flip you," Ace whispered suddenly, hoisting Law from his shoulders as he moved into a crouch. Hurriedly, Law grabbed a hold of the silver pole and felt the pressure on his lower stomach as Ace pushed him up and tossed him vertically. When he reached the point where gravity wished to suck him down to the hard ground, he stiffened his upper body and held the pole, suspending all movement. The blood rushed to his head and buzzed in his ears, but he managed to spread his legs out horizontally, hearing the excited murmurs of the crowd.
If that didn't get him a dance, he didn't know what would. Ace was a genius at times, he could admit that.
The music stopped and Ace pulled him from the pole after holding his own finishing move, which involved a cheeky grin and wide spread thighs that invited spectators to attempt to reach out and touch. A cheer went up, which was more than Law could have hoped for after such a disastrous performance.
Doflamingo was going to chop both of his nuts off for this.
The announcer's voice crackled over the sound system as they exited the stage, grabbing their clothes. Ace had to ask for his back from the audience. People had abandoned Law's from where Ace had tossed it.
A bad sign.
"That was Heart and Spade, people. Coming up we have Diamond and his good friend and dominatrix, the lovely Queen of Clubs. Get ready for a little bit of our house style burlesque!"
No, thought Law, Clubs has got to be the worst stage name ever.
They slipped behind the curtain and Ace immediately bounded over to Thatch, who was taking down names from several slips of paper onto his master copy. That copy would, in turn, get turned into the club owner.
"Anyone make a request of me? How 'bout Lawsie?"
Law moved forward warily, waiting any moment for Doflamingo to appear out of nowhere in that furry pink shawl of his. So far, there was no sign of him. Perhaps, if he was insanely lucky tonight, the man had missed his show.
And pigs would fly straight out of his asshole.
"Fifteen people have requested you, Ace," Thatch said, finishing with a long whistle. So you get to pick and choose, I guess. If I were you, I'd go for the guy at table fourteen and the one at seven right away. Tuxedos and fancy cars, or so I heard our valet driver say earlier."
Ace laughed merrily. He always got the good ones that sweated money out of every pore on their body. Enough to tip handsomely, anyway.
"And our dark-eyed raccoon?" Ace asked, taking a hold of Law's arm and pulling him in to look at Thatch's records.
"Uh…two," Thatch said softly. "Just two."
Law furrowed his brow. He was so dead. Well, perhaps not so much dead as homeless. He couldn't freeload on Bepo and his friends forever.
And he certainly couldn't make it to medical school on pennies alone.
A young man, a collector of requests that was stationed in the audience during the performances, walked in and thrust a few more request papers into Thatch's hands. For a moment, Law was hopeful. Then Thatch gave him a sad shake of his head, and tossed the papers to the side under Ace's name.
Law watched Diamond, whose real name was Jozu, and the dominatrix, Izou, as they took the stage. They were a comical act, and Law could bet that Izou would get more offers for his company than he did. He was an old favourite, after all. Jozu, on the other hand, rarely got any offers, but that was okay considering he mostly served as a bartender and only did the gig for kicks and a few extra bucks on the side.
Plus, Law secretly knew, he loved being Izou's toy.
He turned away and caught sight of a familiar blob of faux pink feathers moving about the dressing room backstage. It was still a few paces off, but moving quickly through the racks of sparkly, skimpy clothing. Law hadn't been seen just yet.
"Fuck. What tables have I got?"
"Five and forty-two," Thatch answered, eyes darting to the approaching pink fluff. "Get going; we'll distract him."
Law took off, not needing to be told twice. He wanted to buy a little time before his inevitable confrontation with the magenta fiend. Just enough time for Doflamingo to calm down and put away the machete. He would stretch out these two lap dances for as long as possible.
He went down a side corridor that exited into the audience. Table five was near the front, and he located it easily. Even though he wanted to curl into someone's lap and hide out as quickly as possible, he forced himself to slow down as he made his way between the tables. A few hands reached out to pull at the elastic waist of his boxer-briefs, stuff bills into him and grope his front or slap at his ass. Some of the squeezes were firm enough that they hurt, but he bore it. He couldn't afford not to.
He hated these people, but he would be lying if he said he didn't somewhat enjoy the attention. Besides, on occasion he'd look through his garments and find twenties. But that was rare. Most of the bills were cheap, crumpled ones.
The man at table five was creeping dangerously close to being past his middle years, but Law gave it his absolute best dancing for him despite the turn-off, and earned the flat rate with a tiny tip. The most the man asked for was a few fingers to be placed along his cheek, and seemed to have a bit of a butt fetish with the way his palms kneaded Law's ass. He managed to draw it out for a half hour, but after that the man sent him on his way with a kind word and a wet kiss on his cheek that he really wasn't supposed to give him. But Law couldn't exactly tattle to Doflamingo about one kiss.
He wiped the slobber off and proceeded to the back of the room. He hated going near the back. It was well known amongst the dancers that the ones who never tipped nor shaved their beards sat back there. They were the observer types that didn't bother to get too close to the action, as the seats up front cost more. They were the ones that came for the alcohol before the men.
Law received a few pats and rough smacks as he fought his way to the back, grabbing a few dollar bills and bland compliments on the way. People liked him, but they didn't love him. He could see Ace commanding the attention of an entire area of tables across the room, despite the fact that the best act of the night was going on right then and there.
Law wasn't jealous of the man, but he was jealous of the money he made.
Empty tables surrounded table forty-two, and one man nearby was dead drunk. He couldn't see the person's face who'd requested him, as they had turned away from the show. He took a deep breath and went over to the man, tapping him lightly on his shoulder.
"You requested me?"
The man spun on him with piercing eyes that held his gaze. Instantly, Law went rigid. He experienced the innate urge to make a run for his life. "Yeah, you're Heart. The flexible one."
He forced himself to nod and remain where he was. There was no way in hell this man was scarier than Doflamingo. "That's me. Thirty bucks for a private dance. You cool with that?"
The man nodded absently and motioned for him to come closer, turning his body to expose his lap. He wore dark slacks and an equally dark suit, and his hair looked fiery under the red lights. Upon closer inspection, Law found that it was indeed red hair that he was staring at, slicked back from his broad forehead.
He seated himself with a flirty wiggle in the man's lap, something Ace had taught him and swore by. He then tried to judge the man's reaction. He seemed stiff, and his eyes cold and hard. A tough customer.
Law leaned in, wrapping his arms around his client's thick shoulders, and whispered in his ear, "So, what would you like today, sir?"
"Show me what you can do."
Law pursed his lips. Not a single suggestion. Free reign to do as he pleased.
He chuckled lowly and began to spiral his hips, inching closer to the man's crotch with each rotation. While he did this, he worked his hands into the man's shoulders, pushing him back against his chair as he worked the muscle underneath his palms. Another trick Ace had taught him.
He stared at the man without shame. Now that his eyes were adjusting to the strange lighting conditions at this particular table, he could see the man he was seated on was fairly good looking, in a rugged sort of way. A powerful jawline and his fierce eyes were his greatest assets, but Law couldn't help but also admire his stocky neck and the way his prominent cheekbones caught the light from the nearby lamp. He couldn't see the details of this man's face, but it was enough to excite curiosity.
With a bit of surprise, he found himself wanting to kiss the man. That was rare. Usually his customers were ugly, older man, just like the one at table five. This one, though, was certainly only a few years older than he and handsome enough to catch his attention.
"Would you like a kiss?" he murmured, voice gravelly with desire.
The man jumped a little, and his strong arms encircled Law's lower back. "You do that sort of thing?"
Not often, Law thought. It's against the rules. But I seem to be breaking rules tonight.
"I do," Law conceded, leaning forward to plant a kiss on the tip of the man's slightly crooked nose. After that went well, he moved down to the man's cheek, then trailed his lips down to the corner of the man's mouth.
By then he felt a rough hand in his hair, and found the man grasping his head to keep him in place so he could kiss his lips brutally. The unbridled lust set Law off. He hadn't been kissed by anyone like this in a long time. The last customer he'd even been remotely interested in had shown up months ago. And that man hadn't tipped, despite Law's best efforts, and had left a sour taste in the dancer's mouth.
The kisses grew hungrier, and eventually the man invited himself into Law's mouth, tongue exploring him and tasting his last meal. Which hadn't been much in Bepo's apartment. Plain rice, and barely enough to be substantial.
He knew he was loosing weight. Fast.
But the man he rocked against, pressing their chests together and exchanging hot saliva didn't seem to notice how bony he really was. A half-hour of groping and kissing flew by, then another ten minutes. He could feel the growing bulge in the man's slacks, and it mirrored his own. He knew it was time to pull out, to stop before he violated any of the club's stricter rules and guaranteed his firing.
Then again, Ace was fucking that cop that kept tabs on the actions of the club. So maybe he wouldn't get into too much trouble from the authorities that checked up on their behaviour every once and a while if he could get Ace to act as a distraction…
No, he needed to stop.
He pulled back with a light groan as the man's fingers gripped his waist, rubbing up and down his skin. "Time. Can't violate the rules, as you must know."
Much to his surprise, the man didn't scoff or even frown. He let out a deep chuckle that Law felt the vibrations of, passing into his own chest. "Guess not." He checked his watch, a bulky silver thing that was either a fake imitation of a Rolex or the real thing. Law didn't know enough about watches to tell. "What do I owe you again for going over the half hour?"
An extra ten. But Law was feeling ambitious. And broke. "An extra twenty with the original thirty."
He got up off the warm lap, instantly feeling the awkwardness of his erection. It tented his boxer-briefs, and he made a mental note to run straight to the bathroom backstage to clean up before he was made fun of by any of the other more in control dancers.
He watched the man dig out his wallet, a leather thing that seemed quite heavy. But he couldn't see its contents from this position. He did, however, see that more than a few bills came out for him. The man thumbed through the money, then handed it over.
"This good enough for you, Heart?"
Law flipped through the bills, surprised at getting well over double his price for a tip. Five twenties and…were those real?
"Hey, I don't take counterfeit," Law snapped, holding the three bills stuck to the bottom of the pile up to the light of the lamp nearby. He saw a shine on their corners that indicated their authenticity, and his heart sank. They were real. He should have made a break for it when he had the chance and the man didn't notice how grossly he'd overpaid him.
"They're real, trust me," the man affirmed, flashing a wide, almost malicious grin. Law's skin prickled. Hundred dollar bills were nothing to toss around freely.
"You realize you gave me more than–"
"Yeah. You working here tomorrow?"
Law blinked. Nobody had ever asked him this. Shown this much interest. "Yeah, I dance here six days a week. I don't do Sundays, though."
The man nodded, his eyes roving Law's body. "I'll see you tomorrow night then. I'd like it if you danced for me again. Regularly, in fact."
At that price, Law would never refuse. "Okay," he muttered weakly, stuffing the bills carefully into the front of his garments so they wouldn't be lost to the crowd. The man stroked his tanned hip one final time before withdrawing, leaning back into his chair to watch Law strut away.
As he made his way backstage, he felt the burn of the money in his boxer-briefs, and only hoped Doflamingo would find it in his shriveled up heart to keep him around for a little bit longer, just so he could milk his new customer for all he was worth.
A.N.: I'm back! I'll be updating this story simultaneously with 'Encounters', which is a completely different sort of story and helps keep my brain in order. This one will be a very strict 'M' and will contain explicit scenes, so that's all the warning I'm going to give. Enjoy. And please review! It helps me gauge whether a story is a failure or not!