Didn’t They Amaze You?

A Nathan Barley/IT Crowd crossover fic. Richmond is employed by sugaRAPE to fix the office computer system. Dan Ashcroft has an article to write about Richmond’s favourite contemporary DarkWave band. Meanwhile, Dan and Jones have been bitch-fighting. Oh, what a to-do…

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Notes: Posted on BSH – December 2006.

Didn’t They Amaze You? by The Lizard

“Stupid lanky ponce,” Dan Ashcroft muttered under his breath, turning his gaze away from the skinny-hipped goblin who was on all fours, fiddling with computer cables. Dan glanced over at Sasha, the receptionist, and rolled his eyes. She flashed a smile back at him, understanding this gesture, knowing there would be barbed and bitter sentences forming in his mind, that he’d be clenching his jaw and struggling against the urge to spit it all out at the IT guy currently under his desk.

Dan decided it was probably a good time to step outside the sugaRAPE office for a smoke. It looked like his computer was not going to be fixed any time soon, and he certainly wasn’t prepared to wait around while a Gothic bean-pole crouched beneath his desk. It was definitely time for nicotine. He told Sasha he was going out for a while and slouched down the stair-case, hauled open the heavy metal door at the entrance and stepped outside on to Curtain Road. Screwing his face up against the light of the fading evening sunset, he shielded his eyes as he made his way towards Old Street. He decided to sit in the local square for a while and watch Idiotville. Finding a vacant concrete bench, he briefly glanced at the graffiti on it. A Banksy-style stencil of a rat with an i-Pod had been applied to the surface in black spray-paint. Barley’s shit stain, Ashcroft considered for a split second before sitting down heavily and farting against it.

He lit up a Marlboro Light and pushed back his hair from his face, taking in his surroundings. City workers and Hoxditch try-hards hurried homewards via Old Street tube station, or supped in local trendy bars. It was all the same uniformed individuality—business suits or astronaut-fucking-trousered twunts. It was exactly the same with Goths, Dan concluded. In his view, they were all humourless bloody morons in fucking Halloween make-up. Couldn’t they see the irony of it, their desire to be seen as misunderstood freaks, whilst dressing like a thousand other Tim-Burton-a-likes? Dan often wondered why were there so many Goths working in IT. In the past, when the computers had crashed, sugaRAPE had employed similarly pale-faced, black-eyed computer geeks. He supposed there probably weren’t that many careers for panda-faced, death-fixated Idiots with the social skills of a slug.

Suddenly, Dan’s mind decided it had had enough of his bitter tirade against Goths and threw real, visual memories at him. He anxiously chewed the tip of one finger as he mentally ducked another of Jones’ CDs, the sharp, plastic case spinning within an inch of his nose. Clattering against the wall of the living room. They had argued that morning, another in a series of bitch-fights that had been increasing in veracity over the last few days. The techno tart was getting to be such a fucking nag, just lately. Sex between them had suddenly stopped about ten days ago. The last time Dan had tried to initiate anything, Jones had shouldered him away and then clamped his DJ headphones on, cranking up the volume so loudly that Dan wondered if his head wasn’t made of egg boxes.

Finishing his cigarette and pushing these thoughts out of his mind, Dan checked his watch and decided to wander slowly back to the office. The Goth must have finished fiddling about by now and hopefully he could do some more work on his article. He’d been in full flow when his PC had frozen, cursing the screen and bringing his fist down on the keyboard in annoyance, causing Rufus to flinch and topple off his Space-hopper. Nobody had bothered to inform him that his computer might go down for a while. Mind you, why should he expect any of the office donkeys at sugaRAPE to tell him anything?

Dan reached the office and pressed the door buzzer, waiting for the usual retarded greeting of “Whhooooo’s thaaaaaat?” Curiously, the door catch was released immediately and Dan was able to enter without question. Dan found this a bit odd—he had his sarcastic response ready and everything. He shrugged this off as a fault with the door and made his way inside, shouldering the door open further and entering the dark passageway.

When Dan reached the top of the stairs, the entire office appeared to be empty of staff. Dan muttered bitterly about how he was “the only one who ever did any fucking work around here,” as he returned to his desk and sat heavily in his chair, stabbing at the spacebar on the computer keyboard.

“Jesus twatting Christ!” Dan yelled as a white bony hand emerged from between his legs and curled around the edge of his desk. Dan leapt out of his seat and pressed his back against a filing cabinet as the Goth crawled out from beneath his work-station and drew himself up to standing position, pulling a look of genuine concern: “I’ve startled you. Sorry.” His voice was reminiscent of Neil of The Young Ones via public school. The Goth’s accent immediately caused Dan’s hackles to rise. He knew this tone of voice only too well—the Public School Posh Boy Mafia. Dan sneered slightly and slumped in a nearby chair.

Half an hour later, Dan was still waiting. Ten minutes. TEN COCKING MINUTES the Posh Goth had told him it would take to put his PC right. He sat at a nearby desk and clicked a biro pen distractedly in one hand, partly through irritation, partly to stop himself glazing over with the boredom of waiting. What the hell was the prick up to? He watched the Posh Goth’s spindly form glide about the office, leaving the stench of patchouli oil in his wake, tapping at his laptop with slender pale hands, pushing back his lanky, ebony hair from his ghostly face: a pained expression, or was it puzzlement? Did this twit actually know what he was doing?

Dan decided he was bored enough by now to start asking the Posh Goth questions. It might prove entertaining, or at least give him the satisfaction of proving his theory about the Public School Posh Boy Mafia—that they’re an elite bunch of wankers who haven’t had to do a hard day’s graft in their lives.

The Posh Goth crouched beneath Dan’s desk again and squinted at the lights on the base unit, muttering: “Is that meant to flash? I’m not sure if it is.” Dan rolled his eyes, sighed, and asked in a voice pertaining to vague interest: “So… what’s your name?” He felt regret as soon as the question left his mouth. Posh Goth flinched, his shoulders lifting. He extracted himself from below the desk and stood bolt upright, spinning round to face him, as if he had forgotten Dan was there, his hands raised like a startled meerkat. Dan frowned. Posh Goth relaxed a little when he realised he was being spoken to, lowering his hands and smiling in a sinister fashion, extending an arm towards Dan in a way that made him feel slightly uncomfortable: “Oh, sorry. It’s Richmond.”

Dan gazed at Richmond’s hand for a moment before shaking it. Richmond’s skin felt soft. He noticed the delicate lace around the cuff of Richmond’s shirt, and that each of his fingernails were well-manicured. Richmond was precisely the kind of poncey name he’d expected a public school twit to have. He cleared his throat, swallowing back the rising bile of resentment. A fucking privileged velvet-clad Nosferatu with a computer programming certificate.

Keep asking questions, Ashcroft. Entertain yourself. Staying at the office for a bit longer and talking to this Rimmell-covered twat was marginally better than going back to the damp squat and picking up again on the blazing row he’d had earlier. Jones’ vicious words echoed loudly around his head: Fuck off, you sad, old, washed-up, alcoholic tramp!

Dan shook his head slightly as if to clear the verbal abuse from his mind and continued: “Do you like your job?” Richmond appeared to enjoy this line of questioning: “Well, I can work at night. That’s when I like to work. There aren’t so many people about then. I often work nights, perhaps that’s why you haven’t seen me.” Dan looked mildly puzzled: “So, how long have you been coming in here?” “Four nights, so far,” Richmond confirmed, and then ducked down under another desk nearby, pulling out cables and looking at them as if for the first time.

From his vantage point below the desk, Richmond stole glances at Ashcroft, taking in the breadth of his shoulders as he leant back in the chair, the size of his hands as he anxiously played with items on the desk. Gothic men were too effeminate; you didn’t get real manly men around the Darkwave clubs. This big guy was rough around the edges, a proper Northern brute. Face hidden beneath the table, Richmond smiled to himself and momentarily considered the physical sensation of feeling this big, gruff man inside him…

Dan exhaled loudly, interrupting Richmond’s fantasy. As if attempting to cover a guilty secret, Richmond talked, unprompted, about his previous job; something about being “one of the industries top guys” at a company in the City. Richmond explained that he was demoted to a lower role within the company after some kind of misunderstanding, but Dan had already zoned out at this point and didn’t catch exactly what that was. Richmond’s dull nasal drone had caused his mind to wander. Maybe he’d risk going back to HoJ after all? Jones might have gone out.

Dan snapped back to reality, interrupting Richmond’s life story: “Is this going to take much longer?” Richmond stopped talking and looked at Dan, almost offended. He thought he was connecting with this tall, gruff man. Dan Ashcroft intrigued and attracted him. He seemed so full of anger and negativity… all that frustration, just waiting for release… “Oh, er, n-not yet, I’m afraid,” he stammered, “I… I need to run a full system scan before—”

Dan tutted and stood up sharply from his chair, snatching up his cigarettes from the desk, then stormed down the stairs and out of the building, heading home. The damp squat and Jones pissy attitude suddenly seemed a very attractive alternative to being bored to death.

Once alone, Richmond wandered over to the window and wiped a small patch of condensation away, watching Dan’s broad shoulders as he made his way along the street, the way his mop of hair swung from side to side… Oh, Ashcroft… The computer system scan finished with a beep that broke Richmond from his momentary daydream. He returned to Dan’s PC, tapping the keys and rebooting the system. The computer powered up again and Richmond set about rescuing the last document Dan was working on. As the article popped back onscreen, Richmond read the first few lines and grinned widely.

It was raining lightly by the time Dan left the House of Jones. Stepping off the pavement along Old Street, he hailed a vacant black taxi cab. As he gave the driver the destination and leaned back in the seat, he stared blankly at the passing scenery, lost in his own mental turmoil. He wondered if he needed his head examined. Just what the hell was Jones’ problem? Shouting and screaming at one another was really wearing him down. He was losing sleep through worry and wasn’t thinking straight anymore.

There could be no other explanation as to why he’d agreed to allow Richmond to go with him to this gig. It was true that Dan had absolutely no idea about the DarkWave scene, and he suspected this was partly why Jonatton had taken such pleasure in giving him the assignment, but he wasn’t averse to writing about things he didn’t know about or give a flying fuck for. After all, he worked for sugaRAPE; it came with the territory.

Once Richmond had discovered Dan was writing an article about his favourite band, Cradle of Filth, there was no stopping his pestering and begging Dan to help him with it. Reluctantly, Dan had listened to Richmond as he animatedly described how the band’s music had come into his life and helped him through some bad times, and how he considered Cradle of Filth to be one of the best contemporary Darkwave bands around today. “I’ll never forget the first time I heard them,” he droned, “It changed my life, blew my mind.” Richmond virtually pleaded on bended knees to accompany Dan to the gig he was due to review tonight. Dan thought it was quite pathetic and a bit creepy, the way Richmond ran his fingers along his shoulders as he passed behind his desk, how his hands danced around and briefly held his upper arms, squeezing them lightly, pleading with him through blackened, doe-eyes. He finally relented after Richmond verbally bludgeoned and grasped at various parts of him for the third day in a row. He already had Jones on his back; he didn’t need this ghost-faced gimp on it too.

Dan had been given a CD of the latest Cradle of Filth album, but he hadn’t bothered listening to it. He’d glanced at the cover and decided that he’d never seen a bigger bunch of berks in his life. They were bound to be just about the worst thing he’d heard since Turd Flu Manifesto.

The taxi pulled up outside Angel tube station. Dan paid the driver and pushed open the door of the taxi, stepping out on to the pavement, feeling like he had a lump of concrete on his chest. Wearily, he turned the corner of Torrens Street and tried to reassure himself that everything would be fine. After all, there would be a free tab at the bar.

Dan burst out of the entrance of the club, reeling along the moist, cobbled pavement, the bitter night air striking him like a cricket bat about the head. The whole night had been a catalogue of disaster. Dan had consumed a large amount of free alcohol partly in an attempt to form a sound-proof cushion against the deafening black metal. The walls of the club dripped with the sweaty stench of cider and hormone-fuelled teenagers with their ‘Jesus is a Cunt’ t-shirts, stupid, bloody cat’s eye contact lenses, piercings from every orifice, fangs from a joke shop, and their faces covered in their mother’s mascara….it was all just more uniformed individuality! The band sounded like a giant wasp having a temper tantrum. Their alleged “songs,” which from the few rapidly garbled (or was it gargled?) words Dan could make out, seemed primarily to be about Satan, death and sodomy. The entire teeth-rattling shambles was a laughable pantomime of dry ice, mock executions and screaming. Cradle of Filth? Crock of Shit, more like it. He’d seen and heard all he needed to and was leaving right now.

All the while during this aural assault, Jones darts of hate continued to needle him: sad, old, washed-up, alcoholic tramp… the booze had helped him achieve a pleasing state of numbness and apathy, but then The Rage came out from hiding and tweaked his brain matter to attention again, almost spitting the words back in his face…. sad, old, washed-up, alcoholic tramp… sad, old, washed-up, alcoholic tramp…

Richmond emerged from the club and trotted after him, like a puppy whippet. He ran alongside Dan, his black pointed boots clicking along the cobbles, pinching at his jacket with his bony fingers. “Stop, Dan! What’s the matter? What happened? Didn’t they amaze you?”

Dan shook away Richmond’s hand, increasing his stride along the pavement and glancing over his shoulder at the passing traffic, searching for a vacant taxi cab. Typical, every fucker has a fare tonight! Richmond persisted in his attempts to make the large man stop and face him. Dan’s inebriated mind span at a thousand miles an hour, clouding his ability to think straight: Jones face twisted in anger, flour-faced teenagers huddled together, giggling and laughing at him, Richmond’s small hands gently fingering his collar, Richmond’s arms coiling slowly about his waist…

Suddenly, Dan gritted his teeth and shoved Richmond into a dark alleyway between two derelict buildings, pushing him back against the wet brickwork. Slightly winded, Richmond eyes widened; his fantasy about a big, rough man overpowering him coming unexpectedly to life. He acted quickly, grasping Dan’s head, his long fingers threading through his tousled hair, bringing their mouths forcefully together, grinding his hips into Dan’s already swelling crotch. Dan’s mouth tasted of beer and nicotine.

“Touch me, Dan, please?” Richmond whispered, moaning into Dan’s ear. Dan lowered his gaze and drunkenly grinned at him, unfastening Richmond’s flies and clumsily slid a large hand inside his trousers. Richmond gasped and curled to Dan’s touch, burying his face in Dan’s chest. Dan sneered in a mixture of control and sexual arousal. The pathetic little twerp was begging for it.

Dan’s actions were driven by the swooning ache in his cock. He needed to fuck, to physically vent the anger that had built up inside him. In one swift movement, he wrenched Richmond’s body round to face away from him, ripping away his velvet jacket and forcing down his trousers further. Exposed from the waist down, Richmond’s white thighs almost glowed in the darkness. He obediently leant forward against some twisted, rusting wire fencing at the end of the alleyway, shivering with anticipation against the night air. Dan gave a low chuckle and pressed himself against Richmond’s back, snarling into his ear, “You all think you’re so fucking unique, don’t you?” Richmond trembled as he heard Dan unfasten his jeans and shake them down around his knees, the metallic sound of his belt buckle hitting the concrete. Dan pushed himself up against Richmond again, brushing his large hands around the Goth’s skinny hips, exploring his nakedness. Richmond groaned, his own dick swelling, as Dan’s thick fingers slid between his legs, caressing his balls. His own slender digits hooked tightly about the fencing as Dan swept aside his long black hair, slurring into the base of his neck: “You’re nothing but a bunch of conformist, privileged wankers!”

Dan grabbed Richmond’s wrists and held them tightly, drunkenly shoving him with the full weight of his body, forcing Richmond’s face into the wire, and then wrenched his head back. Richmond made no attempt to struggle, emitting a sound that was a mixture of pleasure and pain. Oh god, how he’d fantasized about being fucked hard by a rough brute like Dan. He wanted to feel Dan inside him. His cock twitched as he closed his eyes and welcomed the heavy-handed treatment he hoped would come.

Briefly spitting into his palm and pumping his own cock with his fist, Dan then guided himself into Richmond, pushing forward with a grunt. Ashcroft, alcohol and erections didn’t mix very well. Richmond groaned loudly and spread his legs to accommodate him. He felt the Dan’s ball sack gently nudge his buttocks as he repeatedly and forcefully thrust inside, breathing heavily into his back. Leaning further forward and gripping the fence until his knuckles turned beyond white, Dan’s fingers pushed into his hips, the force of their coupling lifting him off his heels and on to the toes of his boots. Richmond felt his knees weaken and his mind reel. This was it, this was what he wanted… He clenched in revenge and grinned through dark lips, moving in rhythm with Dan, riding the waves of pleasure that coursed up and down his body.

When Dan eventually reached orgasm, he threw back his head and emitted a strangled cry into the night air, calling out a man’s name… not his name. Richmond frowned in confusion but remained bent over. Dan quickly jerked his cock free, removing his other hand from the base of Richmond’s neck, where he had held and forced him further forward during the final thrusts. Dan straightened his own clothing, zipping up his flies and gasped for breath, mouth hanging slightly open, aware of the perspiration now covering his back and forehead. He wiped his face with the palms of both of his hands, leant back against the brick wall of the alley, and reached into his coat pocket for his cigarettes. As he cupped his hands and lit a cigarette, he noticed that he was shaking. Guilt and dehydration rapidly spread through him, from the toes of his scruffy trainers to the crown of his unruly mop of hair.

Richmond squatted gingerly, his thighs goose-pimpling against the cold, retrieved his trousers from the ground and pulled them up, fastening them. He turned to face Dan, speaking in a small voice: “Who’s Jones?”

Dan sniffed and drew again on the cigarette, staring at the ground, shuffling from one foot to the other. He paused and then said, matter-of-factly: “The person I should be apologising to, right now.” Richmond felt his stomach lurch. “Oh,” he replied, “I see.” He smoothed down his jacket and slid his hands into his pockets, aware of the increasing chill. He stammered, trying to ease the tension that had clearly formed between the two men: “W-well, I hope w-we might be able to do this again… s-sometime…”

“No,” Dan said, definitively, cutting him dead. “This was a mistake. I’m sorry.” Tossing his cigarette stub to the ground, the orange glow slowly faded as he pushed past Richmond and left the alleyway, walking briskly homeward, not turning back. He would use the long walk to sober up, determined to head straight back and talk to Jones. He pulled his coat tighter and shrugged off his gothic dalliance, blaming it on a mixture of beer and brief derangement brought on by black metal and dry ice. Jones must never find out about this.

Richmond waited for a few moments. He could still taste Dan’s saliva, the throbbing sensation inside his anus a sharp reminder of their rough sex act; soon to be a rapidly fading memory of the night he lived out his fantasy. But to what end?

As he emerged from the alley, the black clouds of gothic doom descended and he entertained dark thoughts: “There’s absolutely no point to anything. I try to look on the bright side. Sometimes you just think, what would actually change if I just killed myself?” The slight, velvet-clad, shy, pale-faced man continued muttering as he disappeared into the shadows of the night.

The next day, an overly-cheerful lady from the IT job agency telephoned Richmond. In her saccharine tone, she told him that his services would no longer be required at sugaRAPE. She added, with fake optimism, that London was a big city, and that there would soon be plenty of other contracts coming his way… but unfortunately she couldn’t guarantee he’d be working alongside any big, gruff men.

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