Neal's good at reading people. He always has been. Ten seconds after he meets Ben Ryan, he catches Ben's eyes as they flicker--down, up--over the length of Neal's body, just once. Neal can hardly suppress a smile. Ben's just given him an angle for this case on a silver platter.
This one might even be fun.
"You working something?" he asks, after glancing around the hall to see that they're alone.
Ben shakes his head. "Everybody always thinks an ex-con is working something."
"So you're not."
"I didn't say that."
Neal chuckles. "So this job you're not working--you need a wheelman for it?"
Ben looks at him, and there's the once-over again. He doesn't answer until they're at the door. "How do you feel about strip clubs?"
"Depends. Men or women?"
"Women." Ben pauses. "This time."
Neal shrugs and follows him down the street.
The strip club isn't crowded at this hour, but the girls are making a valiant effort. Neal almost regrets that his newly-developed cover keeps him from watching.
Ben doesn't mention wheelmen again. Instead, he orders them both beers and starts talking about his day job--a blue-collar worker doing white-collar crime. There's a Johnny Cash song in there somewhere.
"Not your thing, huh?"
Neal blinks. "Sorry?"
"You ain't looked at the girls once since we sat down."
"I--yes, I have, I--"
"Nah. You've been looking at me." Ben's grin is predatory.
Neal feigns embarrassment, looking down at the glossy surface of the table shyly. Ben reaches out and nudges the brim of Neal's cap, just a little.
"Hey. Come with me."
Neal downs the last of his beer and follows Ben across the club to a locked door. Ben barely looks around before reaching into his pocket for a lockpick. The lock clicks open in a few seconds--whatever else he is, Ben's good.
Neal plays on his cover, hanging back and looking around nervously. "Um, isn't this a private--"
"Don't worry. I know the owner." Ben catches Neal's wrist and tugs him forward into the room, kicking the door shut behind them. There's a curved white leather sofa and a pole in the middle of the room, but Neal only gets a glimpse of it before Ben pushes him up against the door and kisses him. His short beard is rough against Neal's face, and he wonders how he's going to explain the beard-burn to Peter.
Ben's just as aggressive as Neal expected him to be. He's also got six inches and maybe sixty pounds of muscle on Neal, and every hint of body language says that he's used to getting his way. Neal, on the other hand, is used to convincing other people that what he wants is actually what they want, so he's not really at a disadvantage.
Ben's hand slides down to cup Neal's ass, and Neal grins.
It's so nice when everyone is on the same page.
Ben yanks the t-shirt up over Neal's head and eyes the result. "Wheelman, huh?" he says skeptically. "You're built more like a cat burglar."
"You can't prove it," Neal says, sliding his hands beneath the hem of Ben's t-shirt to trace the hard muscle of his chest. Ben actually growls, grinding his hips against Neal's, and Neal arches his back. He wonders if Ben's cock is proportional to the rest of him.
Sure, he's got a job to do, but there's no law against enjoying it.
"So do you always fuck your wheelmen, or am I just special?" Neal asks.
Ben laughs and nips at the skin of Neal's jaw. "Not that special." He gives Neal's ass a squeeze, then steps back. "Couch?"
Neal nods. "Over the back?"
"I like how you think."
Neal crosses the room and nearly starts when he sees movement from the far end. The whole opposite wall is a mirror. He can guess why Ben chose this room.
"Narcissistic much?" he asks.
Ben shrugs. "It's not me I want to watch." He gives Neal's shoulder a push, gently. Neal takes the hint and bends over, bracing his hands on the back of the couch. He gives it a quick shake; it should hold them.
Ben slides his hands down Neal's sides, making him shiver in the chill of the room. His hands settle at Neal's hips, and he reaches around to unbutton Neal's jeans, rubbing just enough to make Neal's cock twitch in anticipation. Then he shoves the jeans down until the denim tangles around Neal's feet--at least there won't be any awkward questions about the anklet.
"Damn," Ben says. He trails one finger down the ridge of Neal's spine. "No scars, no prison tats--not a mark on you."
"I'm a careful man," Neal says.
"Sure you are."
He watches in the mirror as Ben reaches into his pocket and retrieves a small tube of lubricant.
Neal snorts. "You're like a kinky Boy Scout."
"Always prepared." Ben flips open the cap and steps closer. "Hold still." The lube on Ben's fingers is cold, and Neal lets out a not-quite-voluntary groan as he presses inside.
"You like that?" Ben asks, his breath warm on the back of Neal's neck.
Neal's only answer is to push back, driving Ben's fingers a little deeper. Ben chuckles, and it's probably the filthiest sound Neal has ever heard. "Guess you do, huh?" He slides his fingers in and out, twisting them until he finds the spot that makes Neal gasp.
"More?" he asks after a moment.
Ben pulls away, and Neal immediately regrets the loss. Behind him, there's the sound of a zipper. Neal raises his head to look in the mirror and grins.
Ben steps up to him, curling one hand around Neal's hip, and Neal hesitates.
"Hey, have you got a--"
Ben smacks his ass lightly. "Course. I ain't stupid--I don't know where you've been, after all."
"Upstate Super-max," Neal says, a little smugly.
"Jesus. Must be a goddamn prodigy." Neal hears the sound of tearing foil and he relaxes a little.
Then Ben's hands are on his hips, and his cock is hard and hot against Neal's skin. He closes his eyes as Ben pushes inside, careful and impatient at the same time. The burn of it makes Neal gasp, and Ben gives him a few seconds to adjust, practically humming with tension.
"You good?" he grits out.
"Oh, yeah," Neal says.
Ben pulls back and pushes home. It's good, but Neal can tell that Ben is tense, holding back--maybe worried he'll hurt Neal. Neal knows how to fix that. On the next thrust, he uses the back of the couch for leverage, pushing back roughly against Ben.
Ben grins and meets his eyes in the mirror. "That's how you want it, huh?"
Ben sets control aside and fucks him hard, holding Neal's hips to pull him back onto his cock at every thrust. Neal squirms until he finds the perfect angle, and he then lets Ben have his way with him.
It's fast and rough and exactly what Neal was hoping for. He'll do the job, he always does, but for now Ben's in control, and Neal's just fine with that.
"Damn. Look at you."
Neal looks up and sees his own reflection. His face his red, his hair falling into his eyes--he looks debauched. Ben is watching him hungrily, a faint sheen of sweat on his skin. Neal's had sex in front of mirrors before, but he's never watched himself getting fucked. It definitely adds to the experience.
He drops his head, trying to catch his breath. He's so hard it fucking hurts, and he wishes Ben would take a hint.
Just when he thinks he can't handle any more, Ben reaches around to wrap one work-callused hand around Neal's cock. He strokes in time with his thrusts, and Neal's hips stutter as he briefly loses the rhythm. It's not going to take much longer.
"Come on, Nicky," Ben says, his voice low and sharp. "Come for me, kid."
He twists his hand on the upstroke, and Neal shivers, coming fast and hard with a choked cry.
The room goes faintly hazy after that, and his legs start to tremble. Ben takes hold of his hips again, keeping Neal in place while his own thrusts turn rough and erratic, sending sparks of pain and pleasure through Neal's oversensitive skin. Ben's hands tighten as he comes, leaving bruises more damning than fingerprints.
He lets go of Neal's hips after a moment, and Neal slumps against the back of the couch, stretching kinked muscles. He's going to be sore later, and the thought of standing in FBI headquarters, still aching from Ben's cock, is almost as good as the sex itself.
When he's sure he can stand again, he buttons his jeans and goes looking for his shirt, which is lying in a heap beside the couch. The baseball cap is nowhere to be found. "Glad we had this talk," Neal says, still a little breathless.
"Here." Neal steps up close to Ben and plucks the cell phone out of Ben's front pocket. He quickly programs his number in, under Nicky. "Just in case you ever need me," he says, tossing it back with a wink. He doesn't let on that he's checked and memorized the contents of Ben's most recent text--a line of seemingly meaningless letters and numbers from a fellow ex-con.
"As a wheelman?"
Ben looks him over again, and he grins. "Yeah. Maybe I will."
Chapter 2: Coda
Neal stops at June's for a change of clothes and a shower. He swears he can smell Ben's aftershave, and he's not naive enough to think that Peter won't notice. He considers shaving, to give him an excuse for the beard-burn, but showing up at five o'clock without a five o'clock shadow would probably draw even more attention.
He makes it back to FBI headquarters at ten to five. Judging by the little lines around Peter's eyes, he'd expected Neal back a little sooner. "You okay?" Peter asks, trying to look irritated instead of worried.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
But Peter's not going to let him off that easily. "Your face is red. Did you run back here from the parole office?"
"Had to get out of that t-shirt before anybody here saw me. I've got a reputation to uphold."
Peter looks like he has something to say about Neal's reputation, so Neal grabs a legal pad and hastily scribbles out the message he'd found on Ben's phone. "Here," he says. "I think it's an order of some kind."
"Where did you get it?"
"Ben Ryan's phone. It was a text from this number." He writes the number below the message.
"How did you get hold of Ben Ryan's phone?"
Neal just grins. "I decline to answer that question on the grounds that I may incriminate myself."
Peter glares daggers at him. "Neal, illegal search and seizure could ruin the whole case and let Ryan off the hook--not to mention what it would do to the FBI's reputation and my career. Now tell me how you got hold of his phone."
"It wasn't illegal, I swear! I put my number in his phone, in case he needed a wheelman, and I happened to see his recent texts."
"Oh, so now you're a wheelman, huh?"
"I needed a niche. He's obviously got the...physical part under control, so I picked a different area. Transportation is important--a good getaway man can make all the difference."
"Who was your getaway man?"
"Woman," he says quietly, and the thought of Kate dims his mood for a moment.
"I'm sorry, Neal. I shouldn't have asked."
He shakes his head. "It's all right. What's our next move?"
"Sit down, and I'll call in Jones and Diana to figure it out."
Neal obediently drops into a chair. Various parts of his body protest the sudden movement, and he can feel his face growing warm. He tries to hide a smile before Peter can notice.
Peter always notices. "You look smug. What did you do?"
"I'm not smug!"
"Yes, you are. If you keep smiling like that, I'm going to start checking your tracking data against recent crimes."
Neal's smile widens. "Go ahead." If he checks the anklet, he's just going to see that Neal spent an hour in a high-class strip club. That alone would be enough to justify smugness--and to embarrass Peter into asking fewer questions next time. "Relax, Peter. I didn't do anything illegal this time."
"I decline to answer that question on the grounds that I may--"
Peter raises his hands in surrender. "You know what? Forget I asked."