It doesn't take me long to notice the guy tailing me. He's about as subtle as a flashing neon sign. I don't recognise him. Someone from a rival operation, maybe. A cop, or a private detective. Hell, with that determined look on his face, he could be some pickup boy's angry father tracking me down to give me what for. But whoever he is, he looks like he means business, and I don't seem to be able to shake him. Block after block, he's there in my rear mirror, sticking to me like a shadow.
So after I've wasted half the afternoon trying to lose the guy, I decide it's about time I led him somewhere nice and quiet instead. Somewhere I can have a friendly conversation with him, somewhere I can convey just how bad an idea it is to tail someone on the boss's payroll. I let him follow me right across town, all the way to the old warehouses down by the docks, and I make sure I'm slipping through the door of one of them just as he's rounding the corner. And then I get hold of my blackjack, keeping it in my pocket for now, and I wait.
The door opens after a couple of minutes, and I can see straight away that his hands are empty. So either he's the kind of idiot who follows a punk like me into an empty warehouse with no weapon, or he's making a point of going in nice and calm.
"Don't move," I say, getting between him and the door. "Keep your hands where I can see them, or I'll put a few new buttonholes in that nice jacket of yours."
"Alright." He sounds calm, steady and not in any kind of hurry. So I guess he's a professional, but whether he's police or just another hoodlum is still up in the air.
"Why are you following me?"
"I was hoping we could have a conversation."
"Oh yeah?" I take a step forward, jabbing the end of the blackjack into his back through my jacket. "And what's this conversation going to be about?"
"Look, kid, I know you're bluffing." He turns around slowly, and I can see in his eyes just how unafraid he is. "I know you don't carry a gun, it's not your style."
He looks calm alright, but tired. Like he's been following me for a few days, not hours. Now that I can see him up close, I reckon he's maybe ten or fifteen years older than me, maybe less once you take that fatigue out of the equation. A little taller than me, with enough muscle to him that I might not be able get the upper hand if I have to fight him off. Nice-looking, too, except for the earnest look in his eyes. That, I don't like.
"Not my style? How would you know what my style is?" I take the blackjack out of my pocket, letting him get a good look at it. He knows about me, more than you'd get out of an afternoon of tailing. He knows me, and he wants something, and I'm not going to be happy until I've gotten the whole story out of him.
"You know, if I'd been following any of your employer's other hoods, I'd be knocked out and swimming in the harbour by now. But you're different," he says, giving me a long, hot-eyed look, the kind I'd recognise anywhere. "Deep down, you’re a nice boy. If you didn't work for him…"
"But I do work for him." I hold his gaze and match it with a good, long stare of my own. I'm still toying with the blackjack, and I can see his eyes flitting down to the leather and back up again as I talk. "And if you want a nice boy, you're about five years too late."
"It's not too late. Not by a long shot." He puts his hands on my shoulders, not firmly enough to hold me in place, just enough to let me feel the strength in his hands. I don't know whether he's trying to recruit me, reform me, or seduce me, but it's interesting enough that I want to stick around and see where he's going with all this. So I let his hands stay where they are, and I look up at him, trying to figure out how much of that intense look of his is lust and how much is real concern.
"Look, buddy, I've got more than enough father figures as it is, and even if I wanted another you're on the wrong side of forty for that." I bring my free hand up to rest on his shirtfront, and I can feel the heat of his skin, almost like there's nothing between us but air. "So how about you just tell me what this is all about? You didn't tail me all afternoon for a quick dockside fumble."
I never get to hear his reply, because that's when the door opens behind me and things get a whole lot more complicated.
"Well, this is out of character." The guy in the doorway laughs, and I can see the other guy's eyes hardening and freezing over as he talks. "Stopping to get a piece of some cheap little punk while you're on duty? You've been working under me too long, Harper. My bad habits are rubbing off on you."
Harper gives a bitter little laugh, and takes his hands off my shoulders. "I thought it was just the docks that smelled rotten, but I should have known it was you, Garrett."
I glance behind me, and I can just make out the lines of the gun in the new guy's hand. So evidently he doesn't take chances the way his friend Harper does. I turn around, nice and slow, eager to get a look at him. Now he's definitely the right side of forty, tall and broad and greying at the temples, with a look in his eyes like a shark catching the scent of blood.
"That's DI Garrett, if you don't mind. If you want to play the upstanding officer, you can start by addressing me properly," he says, giving Harper a long, sneering smile. "Now why don't you go back to the station and get on with some work, eh? I'll wrap this up."
"Go on," Garrett cuts him off, sharp and hard. "Out."
Harper gives me one last look, and does as he's told. And now me and this Garrett are alone in the warehouse, and that look in his eyes isn't getting any less predatory.
"Of course, you're not just any cheap little punk, are you?" He holsters his gun and advances on me, coming up close enough that I can smell the smoke on his suit. "You're a well-connected one, to say the least. And I'll bet he pays you well, that boss of yours, doesn't he?"
It shouldn't work on me, I should be immune to this by now, but it does and I'm not. I'm really not. I can feel my body reacting, even as I'm trying to clamp down on it. Still, I've had plenty of practice at playing it cool while my instincts are trying to get me killed, and I keep my expression neutral as I look up at him and shrug. "Don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't you?" He puts a hand on my shoulder, and it's a hell of a lot less gentle than his friend's was. "Alright, so you're just a nobody, just an anonymous bit of street trash, working on his own. Is that about right?"
I keep my eyes fixed on his, pushing back a little against his hand. "Yeah, that's right."
"Well then." Garrett's thumb rubs along my collarbone, firm and insistent. "How about earning a bit of money the old-fashioned way, while you're down here?"
I let my lips curl into a smile. "Wouldn't say no."
"I'll bet you wouldn't."
He gives me a little push, and I sink to my knees. I'd like to say it's a strategic decision, that I'm thinking long-term about the advantages of having a detective in my pocket, that I've got a plan to make sure this guy and his friend Harper never get anywhere near the boss's business, but we all know that'd be a lie. I'm kneeling there because the only thing that comes more naturally to me than getting myself into trouble is getting myself roughed up and fucked by men old enough to be my father.
"How much is this going to get me?" I pause, letting my fingers rest against his fly.
He takes his wallet out of his jacket, and throws a few notes down onto the ground next to me. "You're in luck, Daddy's just been paid."
I glance down at the money. He's not cheap, I'll give him that. So I carry on unfastening his trousers, and once I've got my fingers wrapped around his cock I give it a good, long squeeze. "Then I'll have to be a good boy for you, won't I?"
"Yeah, you couldn't be a good boy if you tried, could you?" He cups his hand around the back of my neck and pulls me forward, rubbing his cock against my face. "That's why you're on your knees, sucking cock for money you don't need."
I laugh, but he's right. It looks like he knows my habits as well as his friend Harper does, and he's got no qualms about using me. So I wrap my hands around the shaft of his cock and get to work, letting him feel my lips and tongue and fingers on every inch, sucking it like I can't get enough. And to be honest, I can't. I push myself down again and again, taking it as far as I can, just enough to make my eyes start to water before I come up for air. I chase the feeling of choking, just skirting the edge of pushing too far, hungry for the discomfort and the adrenaline, and he must realise this is more for my pleasure than his, because that hand moves up to grab my hair, and he holds me in position while he fucks my mouth, giving me just the first few inches each time.
What I want, what I need, is just out of reach, and I get an urge to let him feel my teeth, just to see if that'll needle him into letting me really have it. But there's still that gun in his holster, and I've got half my mind on what'll come next after this, so I keep still like a good boy and let him fuck my mouth however he pleases. I've still got one hand curled around his shaft, wet with my saliva now, and I let my fingers take over the work my lips really want to be doing, stroking him nice and firm every time he pushes forward. And he seems to like that, because it's not long after I start working my fingers that he pulls my head down, knocks my hand out of the way and drives his cock into my throat again, finally giving me the whole length of it. When he starts to come I barely taste it, not until he's pulling back to let the last few sprays coat my tongue and lips, and then I let a little of his come drip down along my chin, just enough that he can watch me lick it up.
And he does watch. Even once he's done, once he's zipped up and I've wiped my mouth dry, he keeps his gaze fixed on me. Only there's an odd look in his eyes now, odd enough that I wonder for a minute if he's going to pull that gun again. But instead he just yanks my head back my the hair, holding me in place with his hand a whole lot tighter than it needs to be.
"I'm going to give you a bit of advice," he says, smiling the kind of smile that doesn't reach his eyes. "That boss of yours, the one you don't know anything about. He's on the way out. A few months, a year maybe. You need to start thinking about whether you really want to go down with him."
"Yeah?" I pull away, trying to shrug off the hand in my hair. "What's the alternative?"
"Someone legitimate. Someone who can see to it that you don't end up keeping your boss company once he's behind bars." He lets go of my hair, shoves me down to the ground and walks off without waiting to hear my answer. But at the door he turns and throws me a smile, like he thinks he's just made me an irresistible offer. "I'll be in touch."
And then he's gone, and I'm alone on the floor of the warehouse, picking up the money and wondering how the hell I'm going to get out of this mess.