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With A Helping Hand

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Kyo takes a peek at the crowd from the wings of the stage, it is crowded. It always is when it’s his solo night, so he doesn’t know why he doubts himself prior to the show. There’s a certain type of customer that comes to see him, different from when all the other guys are on the floor or when it’s someone else’s solo. Kyo should be flattered, having men that are so dedicated that they come for his solo night only, but it’s not. Die has loyal customers that love him for his beauty, Uruha for his body, Kyo on the other hand? They only come for one reason, which is remarkably less brag worthy compared to his coworkers. 

 

Kyo moves back from the curtain and makes his way back to the dressing room. Shinya the only one back there with him. The bartender is dressed more conservatively than Kyo ever could, but he’s working the floor tonight to take drink orders, so customers can keep their undivided attention on Kyo. The dancer doesn’t even look at him as Shinya passes by him, just making his way back to the makeup station he had used earlier. Not much had changed, but he blotted the shininess out of his base makeup with a translucent powder. Just something to keep his hands busy. Today of all days is when stage fright sets in. There’s a clock on the wall, reminded him constantly of his impending performance.

 

Today of all days is when Kyo especially regrets working in this field. Eventually, absentmindedly correcting the placement of his stockings becomes too little to keep his mind occupied, so Kyo returns to the side of the stage again, this time not trying to conceal himself. He’s sure a few of the gentleman seated diagonally from this part of the stage could see him, but he doesn’t care. His performance time is nearing by the minute anyway, so it doesn’t matter anymore, they’ll see him anyway. There’s hooks right along the wall he’s leaning against, and Kyo takes the feather boa hanging on one. It’s not his, but Kyo doesn’t care. The feathers are dyed black, which compliments his stockings and thong. The stolen garment completes his look. 

 

The ambient music the club usually plays slowly fades to the heavy bass and guitar riffs of Kyo’s set, and applause erupts from the crowd before he’s even set foot on stage. They’re all so excited to see him tonight, which contrasts the tight coil Kyo’s stomach is in. He wants nothing more than to get it over with. Kyo begins his walk on, clutching his lighter and a pack of cigarettes he brought from his dressing room in one hand, as his other hand is delicately placed out to his side, for balance in his heels than for aesthetics. The catwalk isn’t very long, but Kyo takes his time. The heels are new and not broken in, and at seven inches it’s a struggle. Those closest to stage reach out, fingertips barely touching his skin, but Kyo can feel them through his stockings anyway. Customers aren’t supposed to touch him, but Atsushi seems to turn a blind eye to it when Kyo complains about it. Feeling unwelcome hands on his body makes Kyo turned his gaze from the floor to the back of the club, desperately searching for Kaoru to save him. The manager has his back turned towards the stage, working the bar mixing drinks that the customers had ordered prior. It’s not used, so Kyo just continues his strut until he reaches the pole, finally.  It’s set in the middle, which is thankfully far enough that customers sitting down can’t touch him. Though, if they crowded up to the edge, customers certainly could. 

 

Kyo pressed his back up against the pole, the chill welcome against his warm skin. He idles for a moment, taking a cigarette out of the pack with his free hand, still holding both in his other hand. There’s a small glint inside that catches his eye, illuminated from the stage lights. He forgot that was in there. He places the stick between his lips before lighting it, taking a long draw before swooping down in one motion, placing the pack and lighter out of the way yet close enough he could reach for it again. Kyo reaches his left hand up above his head and onto the pole, leaning opposite of it. He begins yet another slow strut in a circle around it. Everyone’s eyes are on him.

 

Kyo does small spins on the pole, nothing too much. The first song is reaching its climax, when the bass guitar seems to have the center stage in the song, so powerful. The sound system of the club is excellent, so even through the material of his heels, Kyo can feel the bass throughout his body. He returns to his original place, facing the middle column of seating, where the men on the side have to crane a bit to see him. 

 

Kyo takes the cigarette between two fingers, removing it from his lips, before tapping off the ashes and turning it towards himself. Kyo took one last look at himself, trying to decide on a place. No one part of his body feels appropriate for this. He finally decides on a place, before smashing the lit part of the cigarette into his pectoral. It burns deliciously, and he struggles to breathe for a moment. The stage lights clouds his vision when he turns his head up, but he keeps his gaze upwards anyways. The crowd cheers for him, cheering on his pain. This is what they pay for, it’s what they want, it’s what they like. Kyo’s fingers drop the extinguished butt onto the floor, before rubbing the ash over the exposed parts of his flesh. His movements are jerky and directionless, and touching the exposed wound makes it somehow hurt worse, but he keeps doing it. Cheers still come his way, so he keeps going.

 

When Kyo finally returns his gaze to a normal level, the crowd is calm. That’s when he begins to actually dance, to kill time leading up to his next act. His customers love when he teasingly pulls down the seam of his thong until the point his cock would spring free if he let his hand slip. He won’t, but the tease drives them wild. All of the moves that come so close to exposing himself, yet he never does. The move customers like the most is when Kyo is on his leaves, imitating himself riding cock- and it’s Kyo’s least favorite. But it excites the customers, makes them throw more money onto the stage, makes them come back again. 

 

Eventually, Kyo tires of debasing himself for their amusement he returns to the pole. He uses his heel to move aside the crumpled bills, before he eventually find a pack of cigarettes he’s looking for. Kyo leans over again, giving the crowd one last glimpse of his backside. The pack is back in his hand, this time not for cigarettes. Kyo attempts to keep what he’s reaching for hidden from them, but anyone that had gone to his shows before knows what he’s doing. He’s careful to slide the razor blade out of the package, clutching it in his right hand. There’s only five left in the pack, so Kyo tosses the package into the crowd, where it’s quickly intercepted by an anonymous pair of hands near the back. 

 

Kyo leans his head back swinging his hips, feeling the music. He recognizes it from when he built the playlist, only two songs left, and the last was thankfully short, meant for his exit. Kyo returns his gaze to his body, before adjusting his grip on the blade. It’s hard to determine a place, but he goes for the usual spot. It’s been at least a month and a half since he put on a solo show, and the spot where he last cut was long since healed over. This time, he drags razor from the side of his rib across to the other side of his body. It hurts, he’s never cut himself in such a long way before, and he’s sure if he had been less careful he surely would’ve ended up going deeper than he thought. Though, this time it’s simply flesh wounds, nothing too deep. He keeps going below that one in his usual length which is nowhere as long as the first, in the expanse between the bottom of his pectoral and his tiger tattoo- so careful to avoid disgracing the artwork etched into his skin. He’s able to fit lots of thin lines in that space, as he moves to add more the previous ones bubble up with blood, before spilling over into each other. When he’s satisfied with it, he drops the razor somewhere on the stage. He should be more careful with it, but he’s taken aback by the bloody mess his stomach had become. 

 

The crowd watches intently as he dips a single finger it his own blood. Red has coated his entire stomach already, and his poor tiger has become covered as well. Kyo brings his coated finger to his lips, painting his blood onto his lips like lipstick. More bills fly onto the stage. Kyo reaches down again, this time with his whole hand palm side down, smearing the blood further. He covers the tiger entirely, and even brings the hand to begin teasing the audience with glimpses of his cock, which becomes stained with streaks of blood, too. The crowd loves it, they love seeing the physical manifestation of Kyo’s pain. He bleeds just for them.

 

The second to last song ends, and Kyo makes his exit. He blows kisses with his bloodied lips and hand. A forced smile and thank yous, and he’s finally back in the dressing room. Blood has dried, and it hurts. It hurts in a way that he didn’t feel when he was on stage. 

 

“I don’t understand why you continue to do that to yourself.” 

 

“I didn’t think you were working tonight.” Die is sitting on one of the counters, in civilian clothes. His orange hair is tied up in a loose bun, that's halfway falling out anyway. He slides off of the counter when Kyo enters the room. Kyo was more surprised to see him than Die was. 

 

“I’m not, Shinya just called me when you decided to mutilate yourself on stage.” His coworker gestures to the free seat on the side, which Kyo takes without protest. His feet finally get to rest after so long trapped in heels. Die digs in his bag for a moment, before pulling out a thermos and some towels. Kyo just leaves his arms back and allows his coworker to care for him. They were more than coworkers really, the club was so small and they had been working together for so long that Kyo and Die were more friends than anything. 

 

Die unscrews the cap of the thermos and steam rises out of it, before taking the smallest of the towels over the top and tipping the whole thing over, allowing the cloth to get wet. When it’s finally does, he sets to work on gently wiping away the dried blood on the non-injured parts of his stomach. The water is pleasantly warm, and it doesn’t take long before Kyo’s tiger is finally uncovered again. Shortly after, the rest of his stomach is clean too, only his diaphragm remains untouched. Die drops the stained towel into a plastic bag before reaching into his own bag again and retrieving a pair of latex hospital gloves, a bottle of rubbing alcohol, and a sandwich bag of cotton balls out of it. He sets it all up close to Kyo, before putting on the gloves and turning back towards the exhausted dancer, “Show me where.”

 

This isn’t the first time they’ve done this, so Kyo know’s what the curt sentence means. He takes a hand and first demonstrates the long line going from rib to rib, then circling the smaller ones below. Die nods, before turning back to the alcohol and cotton. The other man applies the disinfectant liberally to a single cotton ball, before gently applying it to the areas pointed out to him. Kyo lets out a hiss due to the sting of it.

 

“Fuck, don’t you know they make disinfectants that don’t sting like a motherfucker?” Kyo has his eyes clenched shut, but he can tell Die is smiling from how he speaks.

 

“Maybe one of these days after I use this, you’ll learn not to do this to yourself. Though I highly doubt you learn from pain.” There’s a small laugh at the end of his comment, but Die continues cleaning Kyo up. He’s right, he could easily avoid the pain- both the type he inflicts on himself and the pain coming from the disinfectant doing it’s job- but how is he any different from the disinfectant? He isn’t the same person he used to be, when he used to hurt himself due to his emotional problems. Now, he hurts himself as apart of his job, because it’s what his customers want. It’s his job, so he only gets to stop when his customers no longer enjoy his pain.

 

Kyo is lost in his thoughts when the last bandage is finally placed onto his skin, and Die pats it all down gently. Kyo gives him a small thanks, but his coworker is consumed with disinfecting everything and disposing of the tainted towels and cotton balls to really say much else. The weight of the situation settle into Kyo’s mind as he dresses himself back into civilian attire, careful about his fresh injuries. His shift is over, so he can go collect his earnings for the night and go home. He feels guilty, invading Die’s off time yet, why should he? He never asked for the other man to care for him but even then.. The customers are to blame for his injuries. Kyo collects a thick envelope from Kaoru at the front, with the house fees already deducted, but still thick nonetheless. Kaoru wishes him a good night, and Kyo just leaves without another word. He rushes to his car, trying so hard to push the thoughts from earlier out of his head. If he overthinks it all, suddenly the cutting no longer becomes apart of his job and Kyo will return to his younger years. Cutting because of his emotions. As long as he doesn’t think too hard about it, he’ll be fine. Hopefully.