It was Quatre’s birthday – Trowa’d been preparing a party for weeks, but somehow I’d forgotten it all, in amongst the dramas of my own life. Great friend I am, eh?
It had been just a week since I’d nearly left. Things had settled back well between the three of us, and I’d finally convinced myself that they genuinely didn’t despise me for my aberrant life over the last coupla years. I mean – I did myself, but that was another matter.
Q and Trowa had drunk champagne cocktails into the night, as it was the actual birthday day. I’d retired relatively early, but I hadn’t been able to sleep. Then there’d been a lot of merry sniggering and bouncing off walls as they’d made their way to bed. When the thumping of their bed against the wall had got too noisy, I’d got up from my own room, and gone to make a hot drink. I didn’t begrudge them a single second of their blissful, lust-filled love. I hope the rest of the block didn’t either, as a coupla Q’s yells had a fine resonance that could probably have carried miles.
No – I sat and watched some old movie, and smiled for the guys, and their easy, supportive friendship. Without which I would’ve been lost. When I finished the drink, and the movie buzzed out to a predictable climax, and I started to feel drowsy again… well, I couldn’t help myself; I slid a warm hand into my sleep shorts and fondled myself. To help me sleep, I told myself. But if I were honest, it was to soothe the vision of Heero Yuy that disturbed my every waking thought; it looked like it was affecting my sleep as well. I hadn’t seen him since I left his apartment, a week ago. Seven days. Seven nights…I shut my eyes, seeing him laid out in his bed beside me that morning; the naked, smouldering skin; the warm dips and peaks of his back and buttocks. The supple movement of his body as the muscles bunched and lifted him up, to lean over me. The wicked glint of the tiny stud in his ear. The moist sheen on his lips as they nipped at my mouth – the harsh knee between my thighs, pushing them apart. The smell of him; the smell of his cologne, his hair, his sweat, his flesh…
I started to pump myself a little harder. I ached from deep inside. I didn’t know an ache could be so fucking deep.
His vision smiled at me, eyes alight with desire for me. I could see his dark, soft hair – feel the skin drawn tightly over his hips as I gripped them to me. His voice murmured to me; his tongue licked seductively at my neck. I felt a twinge from the tooth marks in my shoulder, from our last time together.
I was panting; my hand flew up and down my cock. I had to relieve the agony…
I slid my other hand down under my ass – I probed quickly for my entrance. It blossomed open for me, and I slid a coupla fingers in. I teased at myself as I pumped – I wasn’t gonna last much longer. My hallucination was grinning at my abandonment – he was watching me playing with myself, racing towards climax, knowing he’d been responsible. Heero’s voice hissed crude words in my ear; Heero’s hands were guiding my hands; Heero’s cock was warm and thick, and oozing pre-cum on my thigh, and it was nudging at my hole, demanding to come in –
I came then, with a gulp and a quickly swallowed sob. My body arched up off the couch, and the cum pumped out of me and over my hand. My climax was so intense that the TV screen blurred in front of me, and tears leaked out of the corners of my eyes. My limbs shuddered – I sank back down on the cushions, and for several minutes, I couldn’t hear anything over the deafening hammering of my heart.
I was exhausted, and physically sated for the moment. I didn’t want to think about it any further. I mopped most of the mess off me with some of the cocktail napkins that were still scattered on the table. Then I just pulled one of the throws off the armchair over me, and slid into a few hours of oblivious sleep.
The next morning, Trowa sidled into the kitchen, looking a little flushed, his hair awry. He yawned a greeting to me, and then groaned a little.
“Hung over?” I grinned.
He ignored me pointedly, which confirmed it. “We’ve got a party planned at the Club Underground tonight,” he murmured. “I just wanted to check that you’d be OK with that. It’s Q’s favourite place at the moment.”
“Of course I’m OK,” I replied. My face was expressionless.
“I don’t know…” mused T, trying to read me. Many have tried in the past, and failed. He’s one of the more perceptive ones, I admit. “I know this thing you have with Heero Yuy – it seems rather volatile… I don’t want you to be embarrassed or uncomfortable there. But we want you with us – I want you to know that.”
“Thanks,” I said, and I meant it. “I’m fine with Heero. And anyway, he might not be there.” We smiled at each other, wryly. We both knew that was nonsense. I had told T that Heero ran the club, and he’d seemed less than surprised. He held a lot of secrets in his head, at the best of times. What he didn’t know, he usually guessed. I was grateful for whatever he shared with me.
We bustled quietly about the kitchen, fixing breakfast. Quatre hadn’t surfaced, and I knew T would take his breakfast to him in bed. Perks of a birthday, I guess! I hadn’t celebrated mine in any way for three years now.
“Did you find anything useful from the police library?”
I smiled, impressed despite myself. “You psychic, Trow? Or stalking me?”
He grinned. “Neither, and you know it. But I have a friend there, Anna. She told me a guy like you had been in, asking about stories on mob activity in the city over the last year. Well, what she actually said was that there was a guy with a long braid, and a cute ass, and eyes that made her want to take off several items of clothing –“
“She didn’t!” I gasped, bright red.
“- and I guessed she meant you! Then you dug out my visitor’s pass, that I appear to have lent you some time, and she knew we were friends.”
I was even redder, if possible. “Trow, look, I’m sorry, I was gonna put it back before you even noticed –“
He waved my sputtering away. “It doesn’t matter – I’d have helped you there if you’d asked. Just ask in future, OK?” I nodded, a little in awe of him. “And did you find anything?”
“Just more stories on the family connection you told me about. There were two branches of K’s family, but they fell out, and separated to run their own organisations. Mr K’s had the cherry pick of the police’s attention – he’s been active for years in all kinda rackets. Stayed just this side of prosecution. Only just. And that’s because any violence has been relatively modest… until now. There’s been a sudden increase in activity over the last few months.”
Again, the irony wasn’t lost on me. Christ, I’d run away from one organisation, and straight into the backyard of another. Maybe even closer than that. They say that fact is stranger than fiction…
“Any idea why?”
“Nah. Yeah. I dunno.” I tsked with frustration. “I just wonder if it’s connected with that guy Peck from my old gang, turning up here, apparently changing masters. Maybe he was working for someone here – someone who’s the other half of the family jigsaw. Someone who’s looking to bring both branches of the family under his control.”
“Something more ‘n that, T. Maybe the guy above the Controllers. Above the Pecks and the Shads of this world.”
Trowa was gazing at me. “Any clues on that?” He could see I wasn’t catching his eye.
“None,” I replied, steadily. I doubted he knew any more than I did – but he was even more capable than I was of putting two and two together and making a balance sheet. “Police are still investigating. That’s all they say. There’s not been enough going on here for them to have any definitive data on a ‘boss’ – we’re not in the same criminal league as Mr K, it seems, for which we should all be damn grateful, I guess. He’s a blood relative of K’s, that’s all they know. But no-one talks about him here – no-one knows a real name. In the reports, they just call him – Mr Y. It’s a sorta sick pun on Mr K, I guess – that’s cops for you; love their initials…”
“Y?” murmured Trowa. In his mouth, the single letter rolled almost into a name. And he damn well knew it did.
There was silence for a long time. Then there came a call from the bedroom down the hall – Q was getting hungry. For what, I could only guess, but hopefully the toast that T had in his hand would suffice for the moment. It effectively broke the tension in the kitchen, and Trowa smiled ruefully.
“Gotta feed the Crown Prince! Why don’t I introduce you later to a guy I know in Vice, see if he has anything else? We’re not out to the party until late tonight. Though he may want any information you find in return – you know that?”
“Yeah,” I agreed, eagerly. I wanted to be doing something – to be active. To blot out the confusion in my mind. “Thanks! You want me to bring the jam for that?”
The club was packed, even though it was only a Friday night. Q looked fantastic in black latex, as outrageous as befitted the star guest, and the whole place seemed to be filled with his friends and admirers. Takings were gonna be good tonight. I couldn’t help but think that Heero would be pleased.
“Damn head won’t fit through the door after tonight,” growled Trowa, watching as his lover slapped palms and hugged friends, and accepted total adulation as his due. Quatre’s face shone with pleasure; his hair was almost white blond, especially against his outfit, and his tall, slim frame slipped across the dance floor like mercury unleashed. But Trowa’s complaint was indulgent. I had to admit, they seemed to have found the perfect balance in their relationship; Q was the extrovert, demanding one, whilst T was the calm, steady support.
I wondered where it all went wrong with me and Heero – sometimes it felt like we were two stags, fighting for the same territory. Too evenly matched, and both of us too arrogant in our own way, to allow the other much leeway.
No future for us, I thought. And not for the first time. I filed the thought away in the ‘Ignore-for-as-long-as-possible’ drawer of my mind.
Trowa was dragged off by Q to meet some new acquaintances, who all seemed to be sharing the same strip of yellow feathers as skirts – girls and boys alike, y’know – and I turned back to the bar, to try to hide myself before Q thought I needed to be that sociable as well. I thought I might develop an allergy to feathers…
Heero’s voice. Of course. It was a statement, in the low, sexy timbre that reverberated through my nerve endings. But enough of a statement to carry a conversation. He might ask where I’d been. Why I hadn’t been to the club. Why I hadn’t been to his apartment, ‘praps, though I’d never have ventured there without invitation. Christ, I’d learned that much about him!
I wasn’t gonna tell him I’d been meeting T’s friends in the police. And then I’d begun talking to guys on the street, calling on the language and demeanour that had been so familiar to me in my previous life. Trying to find out who was running this city – who was head of the ‘family’ here. Was there really a ‘Mr Y’? Who was he? And was he really connected with Mr K; and therefore with the old life that still haunted me?
Yeah, I was doing my own, modest investigation. I told myself; just to confirm things, y’know? ‘Praps to help Trow’s friend in Vice – make my contribution to law and order. But who was I kidding? Underlying it all, I had theories of my own that were seeping through my mind like rich red wine staining a white cloth. Irreparably.
I turned slowly, prepared for the physical impact of seeing Heero again.
Damn fool I am, as always!
I gazed into his face, and my mouth dried instantaneously. His eyes were wide, and surprisingly bright – he looked delighted to see me. His mouth was slightly parted – I could see the gleam of teeth in the swirling light show that surrounded the bar area. He wore the same gold shirt that I’d first seen him in; the stud in his ear tonight was a small jewel. His skin looked flushed and healthy. He exuded confidence and control, and sexuality. He shone out from everyone else - there was no other way to describe it.
One thing I was learning to admire about Heero was his disdain for small talk. He didn’t scorn such a banal welcome from me – he acted as if he expected it. There was the usual nod of his head, but tonight he also smiled a little, almost as if the pleasure was trying to bubble out of him, and he was reigning it back in. I felt an answering excitement. Things changed every time I saw him – my feelings developed in an alarming way.
‘Praps it was the same for him.
“It’s Quatre’s birthday –“ I stuttered. “We’re here to celebrate it.”
“I know.” He moved along the bar, partygoers scattering around him like they bounced – gently – off. I braced a hand against the top, not sure what I was trying to steel myself against. The jewel sparkled at his ear – his smile grew as he reached my side. “The manager has already arranged things with your friend, Mr Barton. We’ll make it a night to remember for the blond one.”
“It’s my job,” he said, dismissively. He didn’t seem to have any other questions, like I’d expected. He stared at my lips as I spoke. Involuntarily, my tongue slipped out and moistened them.
“I’ll get you a drink, Duo,” he said, and lifted an arm to call for one of the bar staff.
“Not for me,” I said, quickly. “I’m not drinking at the moment.” I didn’t add; since this morning, actually. I’d celebrated Q’s birthday at home last night with a coupla cocktails, and then I’d decided that was probably gonna be it for me. There were too many things I might slip back into; drink was not gonna be one of ‘em.
Heero raised an eyebrow. “Water, then?”
The barmaid reached for my glass, then caught sight of Heero beside me. She nearly dropped it. He waved at her, rather sharply, and she grimaced at me.
“Sorry, sir –“
“Get the water,” Heero said, very softly. His voice was like a blade. She scurried off.
“Chill,” I said to him. “No need for that. Just ‘cos you’re in charge doesn’t mean you have to be some kinda bully.”
He just gazed back. Staff matters were already far from his mind. “I missed you, Duo.”
“It’s only been a coupla days, Heero…” Seven! Seven! my body screamed at me.
The water came back, and he pulled up two stools so that we sat together at the bar. The music was loud, but we could hear each other talk. His knee pressed hard against mine, so that I’d be sure to know it wasn’t accidental. The shiver ran up through my body like there was a thread of electricity between us.
“I – spoke to my uncle about what you said,” he said, slowly. “I’m sure that he’s got nothing to do with gangs and the mob, and the like.” He made it sound like interspace travel. “He’s just got a couple of businesses, like this club. You must take my word for that, now.”
Like hell I would…and how could Heero be that naïve?
OK, so let’s face it, here - I was becoming more and more sure that his uncle was involved in something unpleasant. He had to be my prime suspect for the role of K’s estranged ‘relative’, didn’t he? He had probably set up his own organisation here; maybe rackets like K, as well. He hired thugs like Peck; he’d used them to beat me up for bothering his precious nephew. He probably owned far more than this club – if he was anything like K, he would own many businesses, and networks, and people. It was a world I’d been on the fringes of – I reckoned I could recognise the same in the neighbouring city.
“What’s his name, Heero?”
“Your uncle – is he a Yuy, like you?”
He stared at me. The lids hooded his eyes slightly. “Yes, of course he is. What are you going on about?”
A Mr Yuy – like Y.
I stared back. I’d thought I was so sharp; now I’d never felt duller. I didn’t know where the hell I was going with this.
Heero spoke, and it was as if he’d heard my thoughts aloud. “Step away from it, Duo. You came to see me, like I came to see you. That’s what matters. You want to leave?” His hand slid further up my thigh; squeezed none too gently.
Yes, of course I wanted to leave with him, go somewhere with him. I had eyes only for him.
“No, I don’t, for God’s sake! It’s Q’s night – I’m here as his guest. Maybe we can get together later…” Oh, how careless I thought I sounded! So laid back. Heero smiled, because of course he knew I was talking crap. He was looking at me like he was imagining me laid back, and I could feel things stirring restlessly in my jeans. I just gotta find a looser, more comfortable pair…
He slipped off his stool, and took my arm. “Come with me, then.”
“We won’t leave the building,” he hissed in my ear. He’d leaned forward to do so, and his breath tickled at my neck. As the words stopped, his tongue flickered out and lapped at the side of my mouth.
“It’s Q’s night,” I gasped, even as my lips opened and I took in his hot, questing tongue. “I oughtta be with him…”
“Just friends, you said,” Heero hissed. He put his hand to the back of my neck, and devoured me – he kissed like it was some kinda battle campaign, and he didn’t do defeat. I wondered – though my head wasn’t operating at full capacity at the moment – what the bar staff were gonna make of the boss snogging some guy in full view of the club. I guess Heero always did what he wanted – when he wanted. Just like he’d always told me. “He’ll understand. He has his mate to console him – I need mine …”
“Is that what I am?” I moaned.
“Is that what you want to be?” he mocked me, gently. Neither of us wanted to answer the question properly, I guess.
He was pushing me none too gently to the side of the bar, past the revellers. We were in shadow, but we were by no means hidden from view; dammit, we were right next to the entrance to the men’s room.
“Alley?” I hissed. The throbbing bass of the music was loud in the room – one of my last clear thoughts was that it was Q’s favourite for dancing. The clatter of plates and the clink of glasses was all around us. His leg was pressing between my thighs. I was thrusting back at him, and I could feel the rock-hard bulge in his pants. I wanted to feel it out of his pants…
“No. Can’t wait. Come with me,” he hissed in reply, and dragged me into the men’s room. I was protesting, even as he shooed the coupla guys out who were in there, and pulled us both into a stall. He locked the door behind us; he pressed me hard against the wall, various pipes sticking into my lower back. And the kissing went on.
“Christ, not here –“ I groaned. God, how sordid were things gonna get? Was this some kinda punishment, after I’d been allowed to enjoy the luxury of his apartment? My elbow cracked against the cold, tiled wall – one of my legs was bent awkwardly behind me, twisted in the confined space. But I couldn’t deny the agonising tension in my groin; the way my arms clung round his neck; the eagerness of my kissing in return.
His hand was at my jeans, unzipping me. “Hush, Duo. No noise, or the next guys in will hear us.” He tugged them down, and spun me round over the seat. “Bend over…” I put out my hands to support myself, and bent at the waist as best I could.
My jeans were snagging on my thighs. “I’ll take ‘em off –“
“No time,” he hissed. The denim sagged round my ankles, and his leg pushed between mine, spreading me at the knees. I heard his own zip open; felt the new heat at my cool ass. His fingers were fevered at my opening – I winced as he pushed two fingers in at once. He was damn desperate, it seemed…
“You prepared?” I gasped. Spontaneity was all well and good – but both of us had always been very aware of protection.
“You think my own restroom won’t have adequate facilities?” he hissed back. Then there was a gasp, like he swallowed a laugh. “Chocolate or banana?”
Jeez… “Chocolate,” I groaned. Damn novelty condom machines! I heard the quiet rip of the plastic wrapper, and the rustle of Heero preparing himself. My legs shook slightly – I felt my body begging for him.
“Gonna be fast, Duo,” he moaned to my neck. “Relax, I don’t want to hurt you –“
“Fuck me,” I hissed. “I’m relaxed, already -!”
He gripped my hips, and thrust in. I bit on my lip to hold back the groan, and I felt myself clench hard around the invasion. He let out a hiss of harsh breath, and began pumping into me. I was jerked backward and forward over the bowl, and all I could do was admire the sanitary view and wonder how I got through a single day without feeling this ecstasy and thrill…
He was right – it was gonna be fast. I felt him swelling within the minute, and his fingers dug into me so hard that I thought I’d have a new set of bruises to deal with. My own cock hung out in front of me, weeping forlornly, and begging for an attention it wasn’t going to get just yet. His strokes got slower, but fiercer – he was plunging up into me as if he wanted my head on a pike. My feet skidded on the lino floor; I gripped the walls as if I were hanging on a mountain cliff.
“Duo…” he whimpered. And then his cock shuddered inside me, and I imagined it bursting its hot, thick seed out of its tip and up into the depths of my ass. He clasped me round the waist as the dam broke inside him, wrenching my body away from the wall, and my back close up to his chest, and he thrust up again and again into me, even as he came. I reached behind me, grasping at his hips, and I ground myself back against him.
“Touch me –“ I hissed. But even as his hand came lazily to stroke my throbbing, neglected cock, I heard the creak of the door swinging open, and a coupla guys coming in for some quick relief. Like us! I thought, crazily. Heero’s hand paused for a second, then it restarted, more furiously than before. His legs were buckling a little, after his climax – he leaned back against the closed door for support; my body slumped back against him. His softening cock was still up inside me. I braced my arms against the walls either side, and lifted a foot on to the bowl. The angle was good – it took much of my weight from his chest, and allowed him to get his hand round my hips and take a good hold of my cock.
The guys outside were having a piss, and laughing about some girl who’d dumped one of their friends earlier. I didn’t know the voices – though they were probably a few of Q’s thousand friends. I didn’t want them to know Q’s flatmate was in the toilets, being fucked by the management, now did I?
I bit my lip, hard enough to draw blood – there was a scream escaping me, too damn close for me to control easily. Heero’s cock had slipped out of me, exhausted for the moment, but to my delighted horror, his long, sly finger had taken its place up my ass, probing at me as he pumped. My prostate was under attack, and he musta known I had trouble keeping quiet in those circumstances. Bastard! I thought, even as I bucked against him. The other guys’ voices were rising and falling – they’d opened the door and left, though others may have come in. I couldn’t hear too well. I couldn’t breathe too well! The door of the stall was creaking under our combined weight, and my fingers were grasping for desperate purchase on the tiles.
I hissed as I came – it was the only sound I could trust not to be heard, and I needed to expend some breath. The climax raced up from my toes and down from my head, and I could feel the individual whorls of Heero’s fingers tighten around me as I let the cum flood out. My body jerked against him, my foot slipped off the bowl, and my arms collapsed. The ripples of ecstasy were still running through my body, as I fell out of Heero’s grip and sank to my knees, dripping carelessly all over the folds of denim around my ankles.
There was a thud as my limbs hit the cold floor – an echo throughout the room of my involuntary groan of completion. I waited for the outraged yells from outside.
All I heard was Heero’s low laughter.
The door of the stall opened behind me, and closed again. I sat there on the floor, panting, like some redundant puppet, strings all tangled. When my heart slowed to something less than supersonic speed, I’d get up and face the music…
Heero’s voice came from outside the stall. He was running a tap, and whistling. “You finished in there, Duo? We haven’t got all night! Everyone else has gone to toast the birthday boy – what a time for you to take a leak, eh? Your timing is impeccable!”
I gaped like a grounded goldfish.
“I’ll see you out there!” he called, turning off the tap. “You’ll be coming soon, now, won’t you?”
Another soft laugh. Of triumph – of self-satisfaction.
The outer door opened – I could hear the blast of music – and closed again.
I sighed, and began to clean myself up.
I didn’t see Heero when I staggered out of the mens room. All for the best, probably. My heart was still racing, and my legs felt ridiculously weak, as I joined Trowa for the toast, and another burst of aggressive music and frenzied dancing.
There was champagne on the table. “From the management,” explained T. He stared at me rather curiously. “He says all Q’s drinks are free for the night.”
“Heero Yuy,” said Trowa. Or rather, he mouthed it, because the beat was increasing, and Q had somehow wangled his way into the DJ box, and was choosing all his best – and loudest – favourites. “Have you seen him, Duo? He looked disappointed you weren’t here when he came over.”
“Gotta get some air,” I mouthed back. Seen him? I was still overstretched in life and limb from seeing him…
I grabbed a bottle of water, and made my way around the dance floor towards the back exit. I didn’t really want to go back into the foyer, or outside – there were still too many others around for me to have a quiet moment. I wanted to think some more about me – and Heero. I thought the alley would be a suitable – and fitting – place for that.
No-one stopped me. I pushed the door, hidden deep in the shadows, and I stepped out into the cool night air.
He was there.
Shad was there.
It was a hideous shock, and yet it was a relief as well. I was proved right – he was here, in the city! He had moved here – along with Peck. And God knows how many others. The door swung quietly shut behind me, the noise of the club cut off as if by sharp scissors.
We stared at each other. I looked carefully, to see if he went for a gun or a knife. But he just stood there. He was smoking, but the cigarette had barely burned down – he’d only been here for a while.
“Not so keen on the club then, boy? Noise too much for you?” His voice was harsh, but it was also a little wary. I knew where the catch to the door was – I could dart back in if I moved quickly.
But I didn’t think I could move at all at the moment – my legs seemed rooted to the spot. The memories of it all came flooding back. Sharp; painful; loud. An angry, sordid time. A cruel time. With this man at the hub of it all.
“Yeah… I remember you,” he said, slowly. He tilted his head a little, as if he were examining me. As if he were short-sighted. He didn’t wear those ludicrous shades like all the others did. “I saw you across the floor – saw you looking over here. Easy for me to slip outside first, to give you a proper welcome, eh?” He dropped the cigarette, and it fizzled out on the cold ground.
I was silent. I thought that was the wisest thing to do, but I also couldn’t think of a word to say. I swallowed hard, to loosen my throat.
“A courier, right?” he mused. Looked again at me, as if I were a specimen. Which I probably was, to him. Better he remembered me as a courier – a harmless, biddable messenger. “Called you the Rat, didn’t they?”
That stung. I hated nicknames at the best of times. Even for the kids who had no names that they could remember, we always made new ones up for them. My anger loosened my tongue. “Long time no see, Shad, thank fuck. They called me that ‘cos I ran fast –“
He laughed. “Nah - hair like a rat’s tail, kid – that’s why the name stuck. And, of course, because you were fucking devious – and smelled like a sewer…”
I flushed. Seems he remembered a little more of me than I thought.
“And something else,” grinned Shad. He was enjoying humiliating me. “I remember, now - Peck said you’d be a fine piece of ass if you could cut the smart remarks; that your mouth was too damn sharp.”
“Didn’t say that when he wanted it round his cock –“ I spat out, despising myself for slipping back into the smart, gutter talk of that time.
Shad laughed again. Looked down to my crotch, and back up again. He’d never tended to go for the boys, but I guess he found it fascinating if others did. “Yeah - he said you gave good head!”
One extremely small part of me was flattered – the other parts wanted to puke. “Surprised he could tell, a prick that small…” I hissed.
He laughed again, loudly, like he enjoyed my wit. “Not a courier for long, were you, Rat? As I remember, you ran the kids. And then you ran…”
“And you’re bothered?” I snapped. “Like you wanted to repo my boots? That’s all I ever had that was mine!”
“Why’d you run, Rat?”
“Pension scheme wasn’t good enough,” I mumbled. “Why’d you care?”
“You belonged to us, you little shit,” he hissed. It was the first evidence that I’d rattled him. “No-one runs out on us. Not if they’ve got a job to do. Damn kids went wild after you went – lost a coupla good earners. Run to the cops, did ya?”
And then I realised what he was there for. To find out if I was a danger to him – if I’d reported on them all. If I’d turned Honest Citizen. Christ, I’d wanted to! I know Wufei would’ve wanted me to. To make my salvation complete. But I couldn’t – I was scared, I guess. Scared of how it would affect me personally. Couldn’t face the questions; the contempt from people who’d see me as nothing better than the others. I just kept my head down, and hid.
Or rather, I had until now.
Time to turn the tables a little.
“So what about you, Shad? And Peck? Looks like you ran, too. Ran to a different master, here. I thought you were Mr K’s dog. Who do you belong to now?”
He started towards me, and it took all my guts to stand still. He was angry at the hatred in my voice – at the disgust.
“I go where the money is, Rat. Where the power is. And I take my team with me. Mr K’s on the way out, y’know. We had – a disagreement… So there’s gonna be a new way, and it’s gonna be run from here. And I’m gonna be the guy in charge. You know that’s how it works, don’t ya?”
“So this is where the power is? Whose power, Shad? Who’s in charge here?”
He stared at me, and for a minute, his eyes narrowed. “What d’you know about it, Rat?”
I ignored his question. “Baz was on your team, wasn’t he? Is he still with you?”
“Mind your own fucking business!”
That meant he was. And probably doing the same ‘job’ that he’d started, on that hideous night, on that hell of a sidewalk. Or the job that he’d been turned to. Poor fucker – I always said he wasn’t bright enough to feed himself. He’d just do what he was told, however shocking – Christ, he’d welcome the direction!
“Did you send him to kill Wufei? Wufei Chang?” Shad’s face was blank. “The counsellor…”
There was a flicker on Shad’s face that was ugly to behold. “Can’t remember the name, Rat. But it’s likely, don’t ya think? I got no time for guys who are in the way. Who threaten me and mine. There’ve been a few of ‘em had to go….”
I thought I might vomit. I remembered how I heard he’d snapped a kid’s neck once – I knew the boy. A thin, whining little thing, who apparently had OD’d on some stuff that Shad himself had been carrying. Shad gave it to him, to get him through a ‘group’ appointment that he’d set up for him - but it had taken the kid over the edge, and Shad had no patience with that. One snap, and that was the end of him. Of the annoyance.
One snap… one knife… one wound.
“So what did you do to Peck?”
“Peck?” Shad looked disgusted, like something had tasted bad in his mouth. “The guy was a moron. It was a simple enough task – seeing to you. Stupid cretin couldn’t initiate a dump in a cesspit. He managed to get himself recognised, yeah?”
“I – “
“Shut it, Rat,” he snapped, though quite amiably. “He came bleating back that he knew you. That he thought you might have recognised him. He left you still able to walk and talk, and came grovelling back to me. So – I thought I might come and have a look at you myself.”
Despite my bravado, I shivered. “So he had to go as well? Did you kill him?”
“Never touched him,” grinned Shad. His face had never been handsome, but with the feral grin that spread over it, he looked like something out of a horror movie. It was pure pleasure, for something quite foul. “He was shit; he was no fucking good to me. Hadn’t been as a pimp; wasn’t much better in protection.”
“Who then -? You used Baz again, did you? You bastard –“
He just laughed.
“Why did you send Peck to ‘see to me’, Shad? Who cares about me? I’m just a guy who hangs around the club…”
“You’re bothering the boss,” hissed Shad. “I don’t allow that.”
Which boss? I thought. Heero, the boss of the club? Or maybe Mr Y. Because he didn’t like his nephew shagging an ex-pimp! For God’s sake, who cared who Heero was shagging?
“Who’s the guy in charge, then?” I asked. There was a hint of desperation in my voice. Some life had come back to my frozen limbs; I was inching back towards the door. But there were so many things I still didn’t know for sure; I needed some confirmation. Trowa’s cop friend in Vice had been desperate for my nuggets of information – but I hugged them to me for now. I needed to hear Shad say it - for my own satisfaction. “Who’s Mr Y, Shad?”
The smirk on his face was slow and deep, and that was when I knew I’d blown it.
“You know fucking nothing, do ya, Rat? I knew it! Guess you’ve got fuck all to go to the cops with.” He stared at me, sizing me up. I saw him spread his feet – balancing his weight so that he was ready for action. “It’s just a weird coincidence – you turning up here, hanging about with the boss. Hah - I’ve got no time for you! You wanna make a run for it, with that speedy little rat’s ass you’re so proud of? I’ll enjoy the chase…”
“So what’s the score with you, Shad – some kinda coup?” I persisted. Just another coupla feet, and I could reach the catch if I threw myself back… “Have you thrown in your stinking lot with the new guy here – gonna take over the whole state? Get rid of the others in your way; sweep out the old management, bring in the new. Set your pathetic, psychotic little killer loose, with a long enough chain, and let him run where he’s told to…”
A strange expression passed Shad’s face. “Yeah – that’d do just fine for me. It’s worked for me so far; I got no issues with it.” But he looked wary again. ‘Praps things weren’t all going his way. ‘Praps he didn’t have the power yet that he thought he was entitled to. Christ, I hoped not! The more obstacles on Shad’s path to world dominance, the better.
“But perhaps that includes you too, Rat, eh? A guy in my way…”
Things were decidedly colder out here now.
I decided to go for it. I leapt back, wrenching at the catch, ready to leap through the door and into the warm, suffocating safety of the club.
Nothing moved. I fell heavily against the door, and it never shifted an inch. The breath was knocked out of me, and I sank to my knees on the cold pavement, my shoulder wrenched painfully.
I could hear Shad laughing behind me. “Got new security arrangements now, boy. All private doors locked from the inside at all times – well, almost all times!”
I wheezed, painfully. I tried to wriggle up to my knees.
“You gonna kill me, Shad?” I hissed. I was numb with agony and a hell of a lot of fear. Though the only thing that flashed across my mind was how disappointed Q would be if I spoilt his birthday party by ending up dead in an alley…
“Not just now, Rat.”
He grinned at my expression. “Surprised, eh? But I don’t need any further trouble here. I got more important things to do. And I was right when I told the boss you’re no fucking danger at the moment – you know squat. And you won’t be blabbing to the cops, will ya? Not unless you want some of y’own history dragged outta the files…”
He walked over; stood towering over me. He nudged at me with his boot – just trying out the feel of it, I guess. Then he reached over and tapped three times on the door. It opened a little, from the inside. The music blared out.
“Get the fuck out of here, Rat. And stay out of our business. You talk like some kinda gangster movie – but things are professional nowadays, don’t ya know? This boss ‘s got standards, and strategies, and proper business advisors.” He leant down, and his spit dribbled on to my cheek. “So I’m gonna advise this business my way, y’see. And no snivelling little rent-boy is gonna bother me. Got it?”
One last kick, and I nodded that I’d got it. He stepped over me, and on into the club.
“Who’s Mr Y!” I could hear him laughing about it, all the way in.
Things were really cold out here tonight.