A Job Like Any Other
And now, some Xander viewpoint! Poor, lonesome guy.
Review and recommend, folks! If not me, than at least one story that you read today. Writers are vain, vain creatures and wither and die if not occasionally watered with commentary and the like.-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-
Xander had made an appointment with a 'lady of the evening'. Even though he knew the profession had been given legitimacy and social acceptability here in this future that he was in now, he still felt vaguely like he'd done something wrong. It was somewhat mitigated by the fact that he wasn't really thinking of sex when he made the request, but it was still weird to someone of his (lower) middle class upbringing. Especially when he'd spent his later formative years around one or more strong, independent women who almost universally looked down on that particular profession. (The holdout on that was Faith - in her view, it was simply another service that one could provide, if they were so inclined; it was society that made it a bad, dirty, godless thing. Or in her words, "If it's what you wanna do and you don't have to do anyone you don't want to, more power to you!")
And yet, he couldn't stand going all this time without anyone he could talk to any longer. He was a very social person - being isolated like he was on New Melbourne was torture for him. Oh, he had co-workers that he palled around with from time to time, but he was unaccustomed to opening up to other men. And the women that chose this kind of work tended to be extra wary about strange men who felt chatty.
Also, who would believe him about being from five hundred-odd years in the past that was a helper in fighting vampires and other bump-in-the-night type creatures?
But then he'd heard about Companions. Initially, he'd scoffed. Swearing that he didn't need to 'pay for it'. But he was still curious about a group where the universe's oldest profession was elevated to a lofty social status the way Companions were. Since he'd long since discovered that the Cortex was like the internet ramped up to the nth degree, he went researching. From there, he discovered that Companions were something like courtesan, psychologist and bartender all rolled into one. For more than a few of your hard earned coins, you had a Companion for however long you booked them for, in every sense of the word. Not only would they lay with you, but they would talk with you, listen to you, and never breathe a word of it to another soul. (Unless you were a jerk to them, then you got blackballed from their customer list.)
Xander was intrigued. Seriously considering the notion of hiring a lady's 'services'. He could almost care less about the physical aspect, (almost - he was still a healthy young man, after all), but the idea of being able to unburden himself completely without the fear of coming off like a headcase at best, or hauled off to a room with padded sunlight or worse being the more extreme outcome. This, of course, warred with the notion that paying for someones company was intrinsically wrong.
He could practically hear Buffy's chastising voice in his head, that he shouldn't resort to a hooker. Or see Willow's disapproving expression when he considered this. Then again, Faith would probably cheer him on and remind him that he'd only get what he paid for. Dawn, he figured could go either way. Giles, of course, would polish his glasses and pretend to hear nothing. But that was the problem. None of them were around.
Carefully, without indicating why he was asking about it, he sounded out some of his coworkers at the processing plant about what they thought of the kind of work a Companion did. As one might expect, the opinions ran the gamut of acceptance. From abject religious prudes to people that, in another time and place, Xander could have pegged as a free-love hippie, he got every kind of response from 'dirtybadgodless people!' to 'such a glamorous profession' to 'it's a job like any other, except for the on-the-clock orgasms', (Xander had nearly snorted coffee through his nose when his own supervisor said that.) What surprised Xander, however, was the near universal acceptance of it, not counting the more fanatical opposition.
In the end, with much waffling, Xander put the request in. He knew from casual conversation with his co-workers, that acceptance on the part of a Companion was highly unlikely. By and large, they catered to the rich and shameless. So his surprise was total when he received just such a reply from one Inara Serra and brought back all of his hesitance to the surface.
And before he knew it, he found himself walking through the spaceport (dear leaping chrome-plated Jeebus, he was walking through a spaceport!) to the appointed dock. He was briefly taken aback when he saw the battered looking, but well maintained shuttle cooling its jets in the landing space. Somehow, he'd figured from all his research that a Companion would have a more opulent looking means of transit. It took Xander a few moments to work up the nerve to approach the shuttle. Tucking the package that he'd brought with him under his arm, he walked to the hatch of the shuttle and rapped gingerly on the door with his knuckles. (Which, ow, metal door.) Then he waited semi-patiently for the woman named Inara to answer.
He just hoped he didn't seem terribly skeevy to her.