The first thing I did was take a deep, long breath. It was deepest, longest, freshest breath I ever took.

That breath tasted good. It tasted sweet and airy fresh. Not, like, laundry soap fresh, but fruity clean fresh.

« Counting your blessings yet ? » Gregory asked me.

Stupid Gregory. Ruining my moment.

« I just got out of the fucking mental hospital, asstard, what do you think ? »

He shrugged nonchalantly, used to my profane bantering. « I dunno, you looked pretty blissful for a while there, I was just wondering what you were thinking. »

I leaned over real close so that each of my clean, free breaths bounced off his hairy chin. « You know what the best part of being out of there is ? »

« No. » he murmured patiently as we walked to his car. « Enlighten me. »

« Alright. I will. Here's a thought ; when you ask me what I'm thinking, I don't have to tell you shit. » I could almost laugh at the truth of it. How good it felt knowing that my mind was my own, not something to be pried open by clammy, detached, disinterested on-payroll hands. I scrabbled in the base of my jacket, fumbling for some old cigarettes. I lit it before he could protest and took a deep drag as I climbed into the passenger seat of his ugly rust-red sedan. « And when I suck on this cancer stick. You can't confiscate it. »

He said nothing, just turned the key in the ignition and put the sorry vehicule into gear.

As soon as I felt it vibrating with life, I rolled my window down and exhaled second-hand lung cancer into the air.

I don't lie to myself about the dangers of smoking. How can I when I haven't done it for five years ?

« So, what are you going to do ? »

« I'm gonna go to subway and have a sandwhich. And then I'm going to go shopping. »

« And then ? »

« I'll find a motel, and a notepad, and a pen, preferably black, and I'll draw pictures. And, sometime in between then and now, I'll have bought a sizeable bottle of bailey's irish cream, and a huge cup of plain starbucks coffee, and, mixing the two together, I will eventually down them both as the night progresses. What about you Gregory, how will you indulge in the mediocrities of life. Will you go home and feed your kids, watch the game on TV, then retire to bed so you can fuck the brains out of your trophy wife ? »

We were only ten minutes into the car ride before he was trying to rub the lines of irritation from between his eyes with his thumg and forefinger.

« Sorry. » I said. I was. He was ensuring that my first day out of lalaland went smoothly, and I was being an ass.

« It's fine. I knew you had it all wrong. I'm not feeding the kids, they're teenagers, they can cook their own food. And I don't watch the game, I watch the figure-skating championships with my wife, then I retire to bed so I can fuck her brains out. »

I couldn't help but laugh.

I felt strange and uncomfortable. I felt too clean. My jeans were mine, a little tight fitting, but comfortable. Well worn in. But my shoes were white. Beaten up and dying white, but white all the same. My shirt was an old and browny-grey white colour. Adorned with the Canadian flag and the catch-phrase 'Canada-eh !'. Just looking at it made me scowl.

I don't know why the hell my birth-country decided to commercialize the US's ignorant misconceptions concerning our speech patterns.

« I need new clothes. » I muttered dejectedly.

« And a haircut. »

« No. » the hospital had finallly allowed me to allow it to grow out. I wasn't about to deny myself that priviledge. « The hair stays. »

« Have you even seen it ? » Gregory asked me skeptically.

« Well, no, asshole, I hadn't gotten a good look in a mirror for a good long while. Thanks to the happycorps. » Not only that. But I didn't want to see myself. I hadn't seen myself for five years, and it awed me to think of how I might have grown between then and now.

Then, when my list of psychotic mental disorders filled a page… in columns and small text.

Reaching across the car, he flipped the visor down. And the tiny mirror revealed what I didn't want to see.

I looked older. Much older. And really really pale.I was already a pretty pale guy, with curly-wavy mahogany hair and clear blue eyes. But My hair looked dark as compared to my face. It looked strange and uninviting.

My lips looked really… pink. Yeah, that was the word. They were really pink.

And juicy. It was creepy. I guess maybe it had something to do with the over-hydration back in candyworld.

We pulled up outside a gas station, and I mooched a couple of bucks off of Gregory the moment we pulled to a stop.

« What for ? » he asked as he counted out the change.

« For something sugary and unhealthy. » I said. I flashed him a thankful grin as he poured the assorted quarters into my hand, and stepped out of the car.

The door tinkled when I came in. After five years, the sound was still frightfully obnoxious.

There was a kid at the slurpee machine. Doing his very best to pull the best out of each flavour. He started with the coke flavour, then moved on to grape crush, then sour apple, then blue mountain dew, back to grape crush, then orange crush, then sprite, then coke again.

Oh, wonderful. It seemed the nutcases didn't end with the mental hospital.

And here I was supposed to be free.

« Hey, could you hurry it up a little ? » I asked impatiently. « I got places to go. »

« I'm almost done. » he said. He capped the drink, picked out two blue spoony-straws from the rack, inserted them, whirled around, and froze.

But that was okay, 'cuz I froze too.

So… maybe… not a kid ?

His hair was dark… really dark… almost black, and sort of curly and soft and shiny looking. Like a model. He was taller than me, guess I didn't notice when he was tilted over the machine and the cups and stuff. But he was definitely taller. Trainwreck grey eyes, full lips, but not as full as mine, a straight nose, a smattering of freckles across his tanned skin.

So he'd gotten the chance to go out in the sun. How nice for him.

« You done ? » I asked.

« Yeah. » he said, he pulled past me and made his way to the front, proudly pushing the cup to the front and reaching deep into his pocket to hand the man change.

Tight black jeans that were longer than his legs. Scuffy lime green converses… and an oversized eggplant purple turtleneck sweater. In the middle of august. Oh, the riot.

I advanced upon him, forgetting my slurpee for the moment.

Taking deep whiffs of his strange, ocean and redzone deodarant smell, I leaned over until my mouth was right behind his ear.

« Did you bribe the fashion police away ? »

« Fuck ! » he jumped at least eight feet into the air.

« Scared you, didn't I ? » I tried not to gloat.

« A bit. » he grumbled. He turned, and started, as though he was seeing me for the first time. Then he narrowed his eyes. « What do you want ? »

Okay, ouch. « I wanted to comment on your frightfully horrendous looking sweater. » I said. I was pretty confident in what I was saying, but I'd be more confident if he wasn't taller than me.

« If you must know, I enjoy this sweater. I relish this sweater. I heart it. » his eyes narrowed fractionally more. « You got a problem with that. »

« You need a new wardrobe. »

Suddenly his eyes widened in outrage. « I do not ! » he squeaked.

« Yes, you do. » I said without breaking stride. « Just look at you. You're a walking thrift store. »

He eyed me up and down. « If you must know, I enjoy thrift stores. And you look as though you ate sadi thrift store for breakfast. »

I opened my mouth to spit out a retort when I was forced to freeze. « Excuse me ? »

He threw me a smirk, eyed me up and down slowly, and then continued, « Yeah. Old, beaten up white sneakers, a slogan-smeared t-shirt, and a trenchcoat ? Maybe I should be the one giving you tips. »

He was right. Crap.

Unable to think of anything to say, I whirled around and returned to the slurpee machine, pumping out a load of grape crush into the largest cup I could find, and returning to the cashier, flushing furiously as the boy eyed me disdainfullly and and strode out the door.

Asshole.

Returning to the car I slunk in my seat next to Gregory, who shot me a look, but didn't comment.

« So, will you be needing my help to get a job ? »

« No. » I said. I took a long sip of my slurpee, trying to burn holes into the windshield in front of me with my eyes.

« Well, come by the house for dinner tonight. »

My head snapped around. « Serious ? »

« Sure. I'd like you to meet my family. I think it would be… interesting, to say the least. » he grinned again as he pushed the button of the radio to the local rock station.

We were in the car for about half an hour, just reaching the downtown area, when he asked me where I was headed.

« Just drop me off near fifth. » I murmured.

He raised an eyebrow again, but this time he did comment. « Fifth ? »

« Yeah, I got business to take care of. »

« You'll have a lot more to take care of if I find out you're messing around with the law during your probation. »

« How the fuck can the mental hospital put me on probation anywayus ? That's fucked. It's like jail. »

« If you were them would you let you wander around the grimier parts of downtown ? I've seen young boys around here husslin', and I don't want you to be one of them. »

« I don't do that stuff. That's for the druggies that need to make a profit for a substance that they're slave to. I have better ways to make my cash, and whichever way I choose is none of your fucking business. »

The car squealed to stop.

« Get out. »

« Fuck ! » I hissed, « fine. »

As I was about to slam the door, he leaned over and caught it, saying, « Don't forget about dinner tonight. Be there. »

« Whatever. »

I whirled around and stalked away. As his car whirled away, I came to the realization that I was on fifth.

I allowed myself a small grin. « Good. »

''''''''''

From the outside, the club looked… club-ish.

It was completely black, except for the doors, which were white, and there were no windows from that side.

Large, white, elaborate letters were splattered across the front like an Andy Pollock.

They read 'Tight Sweat'.

That was the name of the place.

I grinned to myself, and entered.

The club was dark, mainly quiet, for the beat of the music was slow and sensual and lazy, a beat for the daytime. A quiet grey day.

The owner, Kirkston, I knew.

We went back.

I scanned the area briefly before my eyes latched to his tall form, leaning against the bar in deep converstation with the bartender.

He looked older. Way older.

He had a freaking goatee, for christ's sake.

He sported the classic blonde haired blue-eyed look. But his hair was long-ish. Pulled back.

« Kirk. » I murmured.

He whirled around, eyes narrowed to annoyed slits.

Did I mention Kirk is grouchy ? Tall and sexy as hell, maybe. But irish. And with that Irish came a temper.

« Hi. » I murmured.

« I heard it. Don't waste my fucking time asshole and tell me what the hell you want. »

« Well…for starters, a job. »

I saw his eyes widen in shock, one eyebrow spearing upwards like an arrow.« Say what ? Listen, kid, you look like a great fuck, sure, but that doesn't guarantee you a job.»

« A job. A job that I wrote to you about during the last five months in the mental institute. »

That's when it dawned upon him. « K…Kane ? »

« That would be I. »

« H-Holy shit ! » he exclaimed. A wolfish smile flashed across his tan features. Then he scowled dangerously. « I can't believe I just said you looked like a good fuck. »

I flashed him a smirk in return, running my hands through my hair vainly, « well, some of us got it, and some of us don't. »

« Raine ! » he exclaimed, motioning to the bartender.

A tall, gorgeous japanese guy with blue hair glanced up from behind the counter wherre he was drying glasses.

« Raine, get me some scotch, hey ? And bring it to my office ! »

He clamped an arm down on my shoulder and steered me out of the main room, and we disappeared down a hallway in the back. Silently, he swung the door open and thrust me inside.

It looked easy and comfortable enough. It made avid use of the colours red, white, and black.

A large red spinning sofa chair was placed behind a black desk, a couch at the wall in front of it.

He motioned to the couch, and plopped down into his seat, lighting a cigarette and looking me over.

« So. »

« So. » I murmured as I lay back on the couch, legs crossed.

« Tell me your limits, your time span, accommodations you might prefer and I'll draw us up a contract. » he said.

« What do you mean my limits ? »

« I mean, just what are you willing to do for a customer, and for how much money ? » he asked, frowning faintly as he booted up the computer and almost immediately began typing figures up across the screen.

« I'll strip and I'll lap dance, anything else the poor little buggers will have to do themselves. » I said evenly.

I wasn't planning on anything like prostitution… I'd already been down that road.

« Fair enough. » Kirk murmured around his cigarette. « Just how long are you planning on being a stripper ? »

« Until I have enough dough to head out to New Zealand and track down my grandmother. »

« So, a year then. » Kirk estimated, fingers still clicking over the keyboard at the speed of light.

« Yeah. That sounds about right. »

He nodded in a delightfully businessmanny manner. « Now, we have several forms of accomodation available. All of which will be drawn out of your slary at minimal price. »

« Like what acommodations ? » I asked.

« Like bed and board, showering facilities and regular sustenance throughout the day. »

« I'll take it all. » I said without missing beat. It seemed almost too good to be true. I'd have my own bedroom… At work.

Kirk lifted a brow again, returning to his forwning state… but then, Kirk was always frowning.

He finally finished typing that out.

« Alright then, while that's finished printing, I'll take you down to the dorms and show you to your room. »

I shrugged in agreement and followed him further down the hall.

As we approached, I saw that there was a staircase leading down beneath the club.

The sight that greeted me as I reached the lower level was shocking.

Two men, both of them taller, stronger than I was, were wrapped completely around and inside of each other.

And really, I mean inside of each other.

On of them still had his clothes on, his jeans unzipped to allow what looked like a monstrously large acoutrement out of his jeans and straight into the anus of his lover, or partner, or fuck-buddy, or whatever the hell you wanted to call him.

All I could do was stand there, gaping, as one shoved the other into the wall with considerable force. Banging and thrusting silently while they panted like boars.

« Paul, Jacob, please move your fraternisation to the bedroom. » Kirk muttered dryly. We were in what I know saw was a little lounge with bean bag chairs, random poles, lavalamps, and a TV.

The lighting was warm, but not blinding.

And the walls were covered in random blindingly graphic pictures of cowboy who wore the crotchless/assless pants and nothing else, or very male, very gorgeous marilyn mansons, etc. etc..

The lounge opened onto another, small hallway. Lined with doors that had golden stars with names scraled across them on each door.

« You'll be getting your star in a little while, » Kirk reassured me before I could say a word.

He swung the door open.

And the room that greeted me made my day.

The walls were painted red, whereas the curtains and my bedsheets were black. I had a walk-in closet, a desk, and a bathroom. And a tiny little two-element stove.

« Awesomarific. » I gasped.

« Yeah. » Kirk muttered, he was still frowning.

He looked so gosh darn gorgeous. I thought, standing there, smoking away and frowning silently.

I felt like jumping him.

As if sensing my sudden and onorthodox thought, he made a quick exit, mumbling some shizz about letting me get settled in.

Heck, I wanted him to settle himself in me.

'''''''''''

(A/N) – Heck, I promised myself this would be a one-guy-one story, but then the strip club idea came in, and, as it were, there were just too many opening for an excuse to write both random crazy homo-sex and have a plot at the same time.