Light Up the Dark

By: Suki Fleet

for m and elf

always





Light Up the Dark





Prologue


01 October 2010

With half a bottle of whiskey churning around in his stomach and whatever Viv had tipped into his hand from her little box of pills, Nicky was anyone’s.

“He’s taken nukes. Watch him,” he heard Viv say to Gary before she left for the night—click-clacking across the strip club and out into the night in her shiny red high heels.

Like either of them really cared about the well-being of some fucked-up dancer. All they really wanted were satisfied customers, not a decent rep for their dingy club.

Nicky was up on his tiny stage, dancing practically naked apart from his white feathery thong, and feeling so fucking out of it. If he closed his eyes to the leering—to the whole seedy club with its yellowed lighting and greasy furniture—and if he shut out everything but the hard trancy beat of the music, he could almost pretend he was eighteen again and out clubbing with the friends he’d long since lost touch with. If he was really lucky, he’d flashback even further to the draughty dance hall where he’d learned to plié and pirouette across the dusty wooden floor, finding a joy in movement that nothing else gave him.

The metal of the pole was cold beneath his sweaty finger-tips as he twisted and twirled, arching his body into elastic catlike stretches. Tilting so very close to the edge of the stage and teasingly withdrawing. The world swayed. A punter’s wandering hand reached out to fondle his bare arse. He slapped the hand away, knowing they wanted a feel of a little more than that.

Sometimes he wondered just how far they wanted his stage show to go. Did they want to touch him up on stage, lay him bare, fuck him in front of a horny audience? And if they did, would he let them? In his fantasies being watched turned him on. Being fucked by some random guy did not.

But he needed the money. Whiskey wasn’t free.

Had his final sliver of integrity been left backstage with his clothes? The thought turned his blood cold. When had wanting to be out of his head turned into this insatiable need to stay out of it? He didn’t know himself any more. He had nothing left to sell but his body. Onstage or off.

“I don’t think you’ve been taking me seriously…. You know I don’t like to be messed around, don’t you?” The voice was loud and commanding enough to cut through the bass throbbing from the speakers behind. Vowels crisp, with an edge sharp enough to cut yourself on. “Wait….”

Nicky sensed the voice’s owner moving closer to the edge of the stage. He’d always had a thing for posh accents. Keeping his eyes closed he backed off, picturing the voice belonging to one of those guys he fancied off the telly—Sherlock Holmes or…. His drugged-up brain failed to supply him with any other names. Sherlock it was. He slid lewdly down the pole. He was dancing for Sherlock Holmes. The thought made him laugh unexpectedly.

“What’s he taken?” Sherlock asked.

“Nothing. Probably just a bit drunk. It’s his first time dancing here. Sometimes they get nervous.” The nasally whine belonged to Gary, the club owner, and he was lying—though that wasn’t unusual. Nicky had danced here lots of times, for weeks now. Maybe Sherlock had a kink for newbies.

“Kill the music.” Sherlock sounded used to giving orders. Someone clicked their fingers and the music died. Letting go of the pole, Nicky swooped dramatically to the floor, his long hair fanning around him. He was a swan. A dying fucking swan.

Still lying on the floor, his head swimming, he cracked an eye open. A tall, broad-shouldered guy in a suit was talking quietly to Gary. Sherlock. They had their backs to him. The guy’s three-quarter-length wine-coloured coat was beautifully cut. Guys who liked to look good turned Nicky’s crank.

From his voice, he didn’t sound old enough to hit the daddy kink Nicky had not yet worked out of his system. But his strong-looking build was a plus. Nicky snorted. Even if Sherlock was about to buy his attention, Nicky had managed to come up with a positive feature. It wasn’t quite enough to give him the illusion he’d chosen this guy, but still, it was better than nothing and Nicky was… what was the word… a pragmatist? Yeah, he was definitely one of those.