Copyright Osfer, November 2004

All rights reserved.

May only be distributed for free.

May not be altered in any way.

Contains material of an erotic and homosexual nature which may be illegal to read in your country, state, province or region.

The author takes no responsibility for transgressions on the part of the reader

Comments welcome at osfer.kesh@gmail.com.

Available on paperback in 2006

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~ Enjoy. ~

Chapter III -- As Told By Owen Zelazny

I zip my jacket up again and smooth back my hair. "Rear entrance to Ferrum's office. Might be a guard. Only exits are the double doors right opposite the elevator and the stairwell to the left. You really think this guy has something to do with Alice? You explained it to me and it made sense at the time, but I've kinda forgotten," I admit as I watch the numbers on the little LCD screen steadily rise.
"I told you. He tried to hook you at the Dive the same night Sharpish took Alice home, and then he was seen meeting with that ferret last night. He must know something and if he doesn't, well... There's no way we can take on Sharpish on our own. Even if I collect every favour I'm owed, and I doubt that more than half the guys who owe `em are goin' to stick to their honour, we still won't have the moxie to make Sharpish do anything he doesn't want to. That fucking ferret's got more people in his pockets than I've had suck my dick," the dog growls. It's times like this that I'm reminded that my friend, the big tough dobermann, is a pretty small dog in the scheme of Maranatha's crime circles. He makes his money dealing, and he's good at it, but he's never really developed much clout because he has these pesky morality issues. He won't sell teenagers anything harder than weak weed or maybe a few tabs of E and he won't sell anything at all to anybody he considers `too young'. It makes others see him as soft, but he usually doesn't care.
He does today. I know what he's thinking, as we watch those numbers creep toward sixteen. If he'd done the things he didn't want to, pushed the pills into the schools, made himself a reputation, got some following... If he'd done that, he'd have the clout to simply call up Sharpish and tell him to let Alice go, and maybe offer him something in trade. But he didn't, and he can't.
When the doors open I see two guards across the hallway, guarding the heavy oaken doors to Ferrum's guest offices. They're wearing the black, unmarked jumpsuits of Ferrum's personal security force, which is worrying. I crack a smile, preparing to bluff my way past but before I can even open my mouth Malloy shoulders past me and decks the guard on the left, a tiger, right in the face, following with a punch to his abdomen and as he grabs the tiger's head and bashes it against the doorframe he delivers a sharp mulekick to the other guard's stomach, knocking that jackal right against the other doorframe. The tiger slumps down and the jackal recovers quickly, pulling out his nightstick and taking a swing at Malloy, so I jump forward out of the elevator and block the nightstick with my arm. It hurts like hell and knocks me off balance but Malloy's right there, pulling the unconscious tiger's nightstick free from its scabbard and gives the jackal a good whack between the legs, finishing him off with another blow to the back of the head.
"Jesus, Mal," I whisper as I cradle my arm to my chest, shocked and impressed by Malloy's outburst of violence. He doesn't listen. He doesn't look up at me. He kneels by the fallen jackal, rolls him over onto his back and unclips the guard's holster, pulling out the sleek black gun. I feel that odd pain when your eyes go really wide but before I can stop him or say anything Malloy's already turned his back to me and runs up to the wooden doors, giving a sharp kick to the door-handles and letting out a loud roar as he kicks the doors in.
It's all I can do to scramble after him as he strides into the spacious, well-lit corner office. We're in the lounge area, passing comfortable leather sofas and a coffee-table strewn with, of all things, porn magazines of various descriptions, all featuring a buff, twinky blond puma on the cover in assorted states of S&M discomfort. At the far end is the window-wall, with left of that the broad, expansive desk and chair and computer and to the right a seat for a secretary, now empty, and the official entrance to his guest office.
"Right," says the dobermann loudly, marching forward with the gun pointed at the stallion silhouetted in front of the window-wall. "My name's Q. I. Malloy and I'm looking for my friend Aleš Vlcek, and you're going to fucking help me find him, or there's going to be unpleasantness."
The horse says nothing, but turns from his perch at the window and starts walking toward us. He's a hulking, black figure, the light from the windows blinding enough that he seems a perfect silhouette as he closes the distance toward us. I feel like I'm watching a movie, I'm so lost, like I'm not even here and this is all between the dog and the stallion.
"Did you hear me, dickhead?" Malloy yells, jabbing the guard's gun in the horse's direction. "I know you're in bed with that fucking ferret and I swear, if you've got anything to do with what they did to our Alice I'll pump you so full of lead--"
"Aluminum," the stallion replies calmly, coming to a halt right under one of the soft-focused spotlights, at which point I realise he's shirtless. That, plus the oddity of his reply, causes Malloy to stop in his tracks and think for a second. "Not lead, but aluminum. The gun you're holding is a fourth-generation prototype magnetic accelerator that fires non-volatile aluminum rounds. It's also equipped with a biometric sensor on the surface of the trigger and an integrated theta battery that will emit a disabling electrical shock when it's fired by unauthorised persons."
"Oh yeah?" asks Malloy, casting me a quick sideways look, hoping surely I'll come up with something. I'm drawing a blank and shrug my shoulders at him and he scowls, reaching behind him with his free hand and pulls a badass-looking chrome-plated gun from the waistband of his pants. "Well, I've got Lola here, too, and she does fire lead, so if you--"
The stallion shakes his head, with such scary calm. "Not today. The only clip manufactured for the gun you're holding extends six millimetres below the end of the grip and is black. There is obviously no ammunition in your weapon." The stallion's voice is deep and emotionless and those big, dark eyes glimmer with the intensity of this equine's intellect. He takes a step forward and Malloy and I instinctively step back, standing shoulder to shoulder. "I'm going to take a shower," he announces simply, walking around his desk. "I'll leave the door open. Have a seat, and tell me about your problem. Owen, are you on the clock?"
My heart's pounding in my throat as I hear the shuffling sounds of the guards outside the door waking up. The stallion nods to them and groggily they close the doors while he slides open the concealed partition behind his desk, stepping into what seems to be a cream-tiled bathroom. I just barely manage to croak an uncertain "no" in response to his question, hearing his hoofsteps echo tinnily around the room. Malloy and I exchange a glance, heave a deep sigh, and take a seat on the couch next to the desk.
"Pity," the horse's voice booms as he turns on the water. "Could have used a blowjob. Now, your Czech friend. Did you know his surname means Little Wolf?"
Malloy slumps down on the couch, dropping the gun he took from the guard and holstering Lola down the back of his pants, giving me a pleading look as he tries to cover the trembling in his hands by burying his face in them. "Er, yeah -- I mean no," I stammer. "Alice is a buddy of ours. I got a call from him today, he said he was in trouble. And we figured out that he went with Sharpish a few nights ago, so we think he's got him."
"Sharpish. Ferret in a trench-coat, right? Curious nickname," the stud says, groaning as he steps under the spray. I peer at the door-opening of the bathroom and, in the polished cream tiles, I catch a glimmer of a reflection of Tiber's dark body. His hide is almost the same as Malloy's and his body is just as marble-hard, but obviously way bigger. I'm feeling some uncomfortable stirring in the crotch of my leathers and I'm having a hard time keeping my attention on the job.
"Yeah, that's the one." I can't take my eyes off the reflection in the tiles, man. I want to go in there and crawl on my hands and knees and beg for a mouthful, and the urge is really, really strong. "What was your business with him, mister Ferrum?"
The horse laughs, snorting water from his nostrils and from the sound of things he's lathering himself up with some fine, ambrosia-scented soap. "My business with your friend Sharpish was prematurely concluded. I had perceived an opportunity but was rather displeased with the methods that stinking ferret opted to employ. Methods which, in all likelihood, involve your friend. Now, obviously I'm not going to tell you what I did or didn't do because I'm not a fool. But you've been of god service to me, Owen, and your canine friend has some impressive gumption. More than my soon-to-be-fired guards, at any rate. My theory would be that your unfortunate Little Wolf has been selected to be a permanent host to the C-65 microbe cluster, also known as the Henderson cluster, after the Maranatha University doctorate student who discovered their properties. If you had Alice on the phone today he probably hasn't been infected with the microbes yet, which means that mister Sharpish is awaiting the arrival of the microbes' carrier."
I'm trying to figure out what all this means -- microbes and carriers and infection and all that -- but Malloy's much quicker, deciding that all that crap simply doesn't matter and strips the information down to the basics. "So if we find this carrier we'll have something Sharpish wants. Something he'll be willing to trade for. Who are we looking for?"
The water's turned off, now. Steam billows from the open bathroom door. I'm almost drooling with lust. My thighs are squeezed together because my dick hurts so much, trapped in that device, and the leather creaks as I rub my knees against each other, panting hard. "Your friend is very, very sharp, Owen. You'll have to introduce me properly, next time. The carrier will definitely be male, and in order to carry the microbes for as long as he has, he'll be young, virile, but very capable of restraining his libido."
The intercom on the desk buzzes and a soft, female voice says, "Mister Ferrum? The UEN delegates have just returned Grey. Shall I send his crate up to your office?"
"Gentlemen, I'm afraid it's time for you to leave," the stallion announces, clearly still preening himself in the bathroom. A hand juts out of the door's opening and points to the desk, at the pile of folders. I want to be on that desk, on my back, with that horse on top of me. Or Malloy, I think as I see him stand up. Either will do. "The green folder, third from the top, contains information on the properties of C-65. It is very, very confidential and I do sincerely hope you won't steal it. If you do, I'll be very disappointed. If you steal any other folder than the green one, I'll have you tracked down, tortured and killed. Good-bye now."
His tone is final, and the threat doesn't sound idle. Malloy's already at the desk and fishes out the folder indicated, tossing it at me. I open it and peek at the front page, scanning -- C-65 -- Henderson -- oh my god I need to suck a dick so bad... "Thanks, mister Ferrum, we're out of here," says Malloy and pushes my arm as he jogs over to the service doors. He opens them and walks right to the elevator, which opens as soon as he presses the button. I exit more sheepishly, folding my ears as I pass between the tiger with the black eye and the jackal with a little blood running down from his hairline, both of them looking at me as if they want to fry me with an electric spark like they're Tesla coils or something. "Owen, let's go!" Malloy yells, holding the elevator door open for me and I hurry inside, unzipping my jacket. I'm feeling really hot right now.
I keep leafing through the file, trying to find anything meaningful and take my mind off the fucking sexy dog standing next to me, my best damn friend in the whole damn world, who still refuses to this day to accept a discount when he fucks me, and he fucks me so well, and I really want him to fuck me right now.
He's got his cell-phone out, dialling a number. Looks at me. "You okay, mate? You look a little--Yeah, it's Malloy. You behind a computer now? I need to find out how many Hendersons there are at Maranatha U, doctorate students, and what all they do. Never you mind why. Because I say so! Jesus, Mark, just look it the fuck up and get back to me or I'll fucking pwn you, noob!" He flips his phone shut and exhales, grinning at me. "You gotta know how to talk to these people."
We exit the elevator and walk to his car. "So, we gonna assume that Sharpish has him, then? I mean, there's good odds that he does, but it's still possible that somebody else got him." I don't answer, lest I salivate too much. It's okay, though, you don't have to talk for Malloy to have a conversation with you. "Then again, if somebody else has him then we know fuck-all and we don't stand a chance of findin' him. You're right, we should gamble on Sharpish. First thing we ought to do is head over to Maranatha University, don'cha think? By the time we get there Mark'll have the info on the Hendersons and we can find out what all this is about. You sure you're all right? You're awful quiet." he asks as I get in the car and buckle up.
"I'm fine," I mutter. What I want to say is that I'd like him to take a little detour so I've got time to give him some head, but then we'd get into this thing about him not accepting freebies because he respects me too much and that I really, really want him to drop a load in me and he'd be doing me a favour. My hands are clammy, my breath is shallow. I don't know what's fucking wrong with me. I put the folder I'm reading into the glove compartment as we drive up the ramp and give the guard panther in the security booth a friendly wink when we exit.
During the drive, I read the folder. Now, I'd like to say that the words don't make sense to me. I'd like to say I'm so horny I can't focus. Truth is, I'm really, really horny but I could still understand what I was reading and I'm just too stupid to let it connect. So here's me admitting I'm a stupidhead, so you don't go ahead and draw that conclusion for yourself. I know I'm really stupid, but this is what's happening.
I mention the chapter titles to Malloy and such snippets as I can find. The microbes cluster together in certain hormone glands. They can be passed through semen, but oddly enough only through semen and not blood and when the microbes are passed, the entire colony migrates and the previous host retains none of their influence. And they only pass when they perceive that they're passing into another body. They can be kept from affecting a host by preventing erection, which would allow them to move into certain nerve clusters, which means that, for a time, they can be kept in a host who will be only minimally affected. The stupid document doesn't mention what the effects are until one of the very last pages. The C-65 microbe cluster causes a geometric increase of the host's sexual urges, which sounds like a lot of fun in itself, but it gets better!
An extra sheet tacked on at the back, hand-written and signed Brian B. Henderson, indicates that from an infected person's blood, and to a far greater degree their semen, several substances can be extracted that, properly treated, have phenomenal psychotropic and aphrodisiacal effects, far beyond the effects of the much cruder Rut. "Hey, our Henderson's called Brian and he's a hoofer," I inform Malloy.
If you're a good boy and you grew up in a safe neighbourhood you maybe don't know what I'm talking about, but Rut's a sex drug for herbivores, while predators and most omnivores are severely allergic to it. Heat's the drug they use. So if our Henderson only knows Rut, we know which side of the fence he's on.
I leaf through all the pages again, and notice all the facts again, and fail to connect them all again. Prevent erection. Increased libido. Sex drugs. And then, something I hadn't noticed before, but that libido-suppressants like paxadril have unpredictable neurological effects such as fucking amnesia. Are you getting this? Obviously, this is what Sharpish wants: to infect somebody good and helpless with this microbe, say, somebody like our sweet Alice, and milk him for the rest of his life to keep producing this C-65 stuff. Plus, more importantly, I should now realise that I am the fucking carrier, what with my dick-cage and my horniness and the fact that Sharpish sent a bunch of thugs to come fetch me.
But I don't notice any of this. What I do notice is a very familiar young lion sitting at a table behind the window of a diner just up ahead, looking unhappy, with a threesome of burly leopards in bomber jackets around him and I point at him and before I have a chance to shout who it is I saw and what I think Malloy should do he spins the wheel and dives through the traffic of the oncoming lane, guns the engine and sends the `vette flying up the curb and through the glass wall of the diner, cruising through the air like a missile. We crash through wooden tables and hit the ground hard, both of us getting the wind knocked out of us when we jolt forward in our seatbelts and the car spins madly as it screeches through the half-empty diner, knocking one of the leopards off his feet with the rear bumper before finally coming to rest in the very middle of the diner, with shocked families and a panicked Alice and furious owners and even more furious thugs glaring at us.
In a heartbeat, I slice through my seatbelt with my bare claws and shoulder my door open with such force that it comes off its battered hinges and clatters to the floor. Malloy's out the other side, stepping on the chest of the leopard he knocked down and hops over the hood of his car, kicking a second thug right in the face. Damn, he's hot...
"Alice!" I yell as Malloy rounds on the second thug, who clocks him right in the face. The lionboy, still dressed in his tight blue tank top and wide mesh short-sleeved shirt overtop and his pink-dyed hair and his tight latex pants, the same outfit he wore at the Dive three days ago -- he's so frightened he's still sitting at the table, an inch away from the smoking, rumbling grille of Malloy's car, so shocked he doesn't even flinch as Malloy's arm flies over his head to return the punch he just received. "Alice, come here!" He hears me and he sits up straight, and when his eyes lock on mine, the panic's gone, just gone, and he jumps over the table with that marvellous feline grace and runs over to me.
"Let's go!" yells Malloy, stepping back from the trio of thugs -- even the one we knocked down has gotten up, advancing toward us. I grab Aleš by the shoulders and pull him to me, feel him hug me around the waist, and look out the windows to the streets. I see more bomberjackets, and they could be just concerned citizens, or they could be with Sharpish. I place my hand between his shoulders and push, and the kid makes me proud. He lets go of me immediately and runs in the direction I push him, following me toward the double doors leading to the kitchen. The chef, a fat hog in one of those ridiculous chef's hats is just coming through and I shoulder him down onto the ground, muttering a half-hearted apology before I grab Alice by the hand and lead him on through the kitchen, pushing the junior cooks aside. "Your mother's a whore! Your mother's a whore!" I hear Malloy yelling, furniture overturning and then a triumphant laugh and he comes bursting through the doors, stepping on the hog's belly before he follows us at blinding speed.
With Malloy bringing up the rear I press on, holding Alice by the hand, feeling him grip me as hard as he can. I kick open the single door at the far end of the kitchen, ignoring the screams of outrage from the pig on the floor and the looks of bewilderment from the poor junior chefs and jump out into the alley beyond the door. I see sunlight in one direction and head toward it, toward the street and the safety of a crowd -- and then I hear rough voices and footsteps. "No! This way!" Malloy hisses and I stop in my tracks, catching Alice when he bumps into me. With a pat on the ass I shove him in the other direction and he grabs Malloy's outstretched hand, sprinting like a hare.
From the corner of my eye I see the chef sitting upright, getting knocked down again when a leopard in a bomberjacket bursts in and trips over him and before I know it I've ducked back into the kitchen, reaching out to either side to grab the racks of cutlery and crockery arrayed there and as I pull back out into the alley I pull them down as hard as I can, blocking the doorway with the crashing shelves. I turn and run down the alley, following the sight of Alice's golden tailtuft, forcing myself not to turn and look when I hear heavy footsteps coming up behind me -- fuck, I even hear a car pulling up!
Malloy and Alice have a good head-start, and Alice is being a good boy. He's not looking back, he just holds on to Malloy's hand and runs as fast as he can. Malloy lets go of his hand just long enough that he can jump up onto a dumpster, long forgotten and rusty with misuse. He lands on it with a loud, metallic bang and jumps up again to grab a fire escape ladder, which should extend down, but the springs creak and the rusty ladder only slides down half-way.
By this time, I've caught up and I grab Alice by the waist, who's looking down the alley and at whatever it is behind me with abject fear in his eyes. I hoist him up onto the dumpster and clamber after him, stumbling as I feel it roll away from the wall on its wheels. Holding Alice by the waist I lift him up and he grabs the lowest rung of the ladder with one hand, the other gets grabbed at the wrist by Malloy, who hoists him upward and Alice quickly starts climbing the fire escape. Malloy stays where he is, hanging off the lowest rung, his hand outstretched to help me up. I clap my hand around his wrist and he mine, then plant one boot against the brick wall and one against the edge of the dumpster and with a growl I kick off and push the dumpster away, hearing it thunder down the alley along with a startled cry and a crash.
Clumsily, but with great desperation, Malloy and I climb a ladder together that was meant for only one and just as we're about to reach the catwalk that leads to the fire ladders to the roof, I hear the rusty iron groan again and the ladder slips, first a little and then completely. I just manage to grab one rung of the solid half of the ladder when the lower half falls away, taking Malloy with it, and in blind reflex I reach out with my free hand to grab him. The ladder hits my knee pretty bad on its way down, but all I care about is that I get a good grip -- I've got him by the shirt, by the shoulder, and I can hear the fabric start to tear. Something metal clatters down on the concrete after the ladder slams down and my eyes lock on Malloy's when I hear his shirt tear again and in that moment, just before he makes the two-storey drop to the concrete pavement and the vicious thugs below, we both look up to see Alice, lying belly-down on the catwalk, reaching down with feline reflexes to grab the dobermann by the elbow, sinking his claws in deep enough to draw blood.
The kid's got remarkable strength when it comes to it and holds on to the dog long enough for me to grab his other arm and together we heave him up onto the ladder. He's the first to climb up onto the catwalk and helps Alice back on his feet, with me coming up behind as they head up the fire-escape stairs. It's a rickety, hazardous contraption but it holds out long enough for us to reach the roof, and when I look back down the alley, seeing one thug leaning against the wall next to the spot where the rolling dumpster came to rest, clutching his knee and all the others running away from the alley and down different directions of the street, I have to wonder: what the fuck are we going to do when we're on the roof?
Malloy seems to have a clear idea on where we should go, leading us across the gravely flat roof with its rotating ventilation scoops and air vents. My lungs are burning, but I honestly can't feel it, all I can feel is an urge to run and to protect this young lion, this Little Wolf., at any cost. It occurs to me, while I catch up and take Alice's other hand in mine, that I never once looked back to see if Malloy was okay and he never once looked back to check on me, when he was ahead. Both of us would gladly stay behind if it gave Alice a better chance and instinctively we know that about each other. If Malloy fell behind, I wouldn't stop for him, I'd keep leading Alice till he was safe and Malloy would do the same. Now that's friendship, people.
The jump to the next roof is a breeze and we don't even stop holding hands as the three of us sprint in perfect sync, kick off at the edge of the building and land on the brick ledge of the next. We jump down and cross this roof as well. "Do you know where you're going?" I ask Malloy, and Alice looks at the dog with some worry, as if the thought is only now striking him as well.
"Don't worry, lads," the dobermann says with that confident grin of his, his black eyes glimmering. "I've got us sorted." The next building's an easy jump as well, but Malloy pulls up short at the edge of the building and veers to the side, jogging over to the fire escape and lets go of Alice's hand to slide down the ladder, bracing his boots on the sidebars. There's no catwalks on this building, just one ladder straight down and he slides until he's about half way, on the second floor. "Here," he announces and braces his knee against the ladder, and pushes off. He turns in mid-air, planting his foot on the ledge of the windowsill on the opposing building, but the brick ledge falls away and he tumbles down, just barely catching the window-sill to keep himself from falling completely. Alice grips my shoulder hard, sucking in a breath in fright and heaves a relieved sigh when he sees Malloy clambering back up on to the ledge, fiddling with the window's latch until something snaps and he can slide the window up.
I go down the ladder next, giving Alice a squeeze on the shoulder when I sense his mild panic at being left alone on this building. I stop a little higher than where Malloy did, but my jump goes much better, my foot landing on the open window-frame and my body coming to rest against the wall. I give Malloy a nice, in-your-face grin.
"Show-off," he mutters and we both turn our attention back to the other building, where Alice is climbing down the ladder, looking down at the alley below with obvious vertigo. Shit, I should have remembered that about him. Still, nothing to be done, and this really is the safest way. "Come on, luv, jump across," Malloy whispers.
The poor kid's trembling as he clings to the rungs of the ladder and looks over his shoulder at us, and then down, and then up, and then at us again. "Alice, come on, it's okay. We won't let anything happen to you."
"I'm scared," he whispers. My ears droop, and so do Malloy's. He sounds so terribly helpless -- and I feel a fresh pang of rage at that fucking ferret Sharpish for taking the sweetest kid in all of Maranatha and putting him through this. "We're right here, luv. Nothing can happen to you," says Malloy and the calm certainty in his deep, masculine voice has even my tail wagging. Alice looks at us a moment longer, clearly resisting the urge to look down, takes a deep breath, and with a leonine mrowl he launches himself across the gap between the two buildings, eyes closed and arms outstretched.
In one smooth movement, Malloy and I each catch one of his arms and guide his momentum forward, pushing him in through the window and smoothly sliding in behind him. Malloy shuts the window and I push Alice into one corner of the kitchen we find ourselves in while I tiptoe toward the door. It occurs to me, now, that we're in somebody's house. "I don't hear anybody," I whisper.
"Course not," chuckles Malloy as he goes over to ruffle Alice's pink hair, a playful act he always does which always makes Alice growl in protest, and it garners him a giggle as well. The dog's gone to the sink, running water into a kettle. "This is my mate Collin's house. He fixes people up with fake ID's, mostly for teens. It's where you got yours, didn't ya, luv?" he says and hugs the lionboy around the shoulders, kissing his ruffled pink hair.
Alice giggles, though his voice still trembles a little and tries to push the dog away. "Yeah, he was nice. Really bad at poker, though. I cleaned him out after you left and I didn't even cheat!"
That's right. He's such a sweet boy, our Alice, that I often forget he's got a devious, scheming side to him too. There's no ounce of malice in our Alice, but he's quite the trickster and he's certainly no innocent. He's had close to a hundred different clients since he started hooking, which is ten times more than I'd had when I was a year older than him and he's mouthed off more than a few would-be bullies with some well-placed insults and a good piece of attitude. Another thing that's impressive is that he isn't even out of breath after this run, making me and Malloy feel like old men as we struggle not to pant too hard.
Malloy's phone rings and makes us all jolt, gripping the nearest item or wall. I glare at him and he shrugs apologetically, picking up the phone as I open the door into the living room. He barks at the person on the phone -- Mark, it seems, with the info on MU's Hendersons. I can't describe the fury with which Malloy curses at him, and I have to giggle at the thought of the lengths Malloy will have to go to, to win Mark's co-operation again.
The room's a spare-looking place, not as Spartan as my pad but still nowhere near as lived-in as Malloy's. Malloy's apartment... A thought hits me and I turn around just in time for Malloy to flip the phone shut and both of us say "We should warn your neighbours," at the same time. It's a good thought. Sharpish had a lot of men guarding one teenaged lionboy, so he must have a lot more muscle than the last time I heard of him. And the obvious place for those men to start looking for us, when they realise they've lost our trail hopping from building to building and that we could be hiding out anywhere, is to check where we live. Malloy goes back into the kitchen as the kettle starts to whistle and I sit down in the couch next to the phone on the wall, picking the wireless receiver up and dialling the number for Butterfly.
I put the receiver to my ear, listening to the crackling sound of the ring tone and see Alice, standing in the doorway, looking a little lost and glancing back and forth between me and Malloy. I flash him a smile and beckon him over, patting my thigh and by the time my weasel landlord picks up with the phrase, "Kusch meer in toches!" I've got a leonine pretty-boy draped across my lap, his arms around me, his sleek, feline body pressed against mine. I wrap my arm around his waist and press my cheek against his, feeling his trembling ease merely from being close to me. I feel like a big, strong man, and it does feel really good.
"What the fuck?" I answer.
Butterfly laughs a musical laugh. "Oh, Owen, it's you! It's a Yiddish greeting a friend of mine taught me. I think I pronounced it right!"
"Dude, it's German for kiss my ass."
The line is silent for a while. Butterfly takes a deep breath and, trying hard not to let the bitter disappointment be too clear in his voice, he asks "What can I do for you?"
I shift Alice on my lap, raking my fingers through his short, pink-dyed hair, hugging his face to my neck. He strokes my jacket, sniffing the leather appreciatively and reaches in through the zipper to hug my tank-top-clad torso. "I'm in a bit of trouble, man, and until I get it sorted, it might mean that trouble spills over to you. Could you do me a huge favour -- get out of the house, and get Mrs A and Double Bill out as well? Doesn't matter where you go, just get away for a day or two, until you hear from me. If you need to get in touch with me, you can call Malloy's cell-phone, I wrote his number in your book."
"The way of peace knows many stops, Owen," Butterfly responds and I still to this day have no idea what he means.
"I know," I lie, which I know is a sin and bad for my karma but it'll just take too long if I ask him what he means right now. "Just, please, go and get Mrs A and the wake the cats up and get `em all someplace else, yeah? Don't worry about bringing your valuables, they're looking for me, not for anything to steal."
"I will, Owen, thank you for the warning. A chaleyre!" he says cheerfully and hangs up.
Malloy comes back in the room, carrying his phone between his teeth and in his hands a tray with a teapot, sugar-lumps, and three cups. Setting them down on the coffee-table in front of us, he spits his phone out and joins us on the couch. Immediately I lean toward him and the lionboy on my lap spills over onto Malloy, saying that he just called Anezka and she's already packing her truck to go stay with her Jiu Jitsu coach for a few days. "What's this, now?" Malloy asks, cradling Alice's head in his arms, toying with the lazy curls of his pink hair, stroking that beautiful muzzle.
I open my mouth to make some lewd remark, but Alice beats me to it. "I knew you'd come for me," he says and for a moment I think he's about to cry, but when I look down at him I realise I couldn't be farther from the truth. The teenaged lion splayed across our laps is completely calm now, completely content. He trusts us the way a little kid trusts Santa, the way a good priest trusts God even when the times are hard. It sounds weird and really dramatic, I know, but I feel honoured that he has this much faith in us.
Malloy catches my eye and glances over at the open door of the bedroom, and I nod. Alice has probably gone without sleep since that night at the Dive, so we'd best get him into bed while we figure out our next move. Malloy starts to pull off Alice's mesh shirt and tank top and I unbutton his latex pants, the boy splaying out comfortably, eyes closed, half-asleep already. "That ferret came up to me at the dive... said he had a job for me, he'd pay me two thousand bucks in cash and I wouldn't even have to let him fuck me... He said you'd be with me, so I thought it'd be okay, but he drove me to this place, this big warehouse, and he put me in a cage and then I didn't see him again, and nobody would tell me why they were doing it..."
My ears fold as I peel the boy's tight pants off him, stroking down the golden fur of his slender legs, shaking the pants out and draping them nicely over the arm-rest of the couch rather than just dropping them in a crumpled heap, because I know how much Alice loves those pants. Malloy's got him raising his arms and pulls his tank top and mesh shirt off while I rub the boy's belly, getting him to purr. Sleepily, he continues, as if dreaming. "I tried the tricks I heard you talking about, Owen, when you told stories about that time you were put in jail... I tried not to be scared and, you know, make friends with the guard. I blew a couple of them, but they wouldn't let me out, not even for a few minutes. But then one of them wanted me to suck him a second time, so I did, and I really did my best to make it good... and he passed out after he squirted. I stuck my arm out through the bars as far as I could and I got his cell phone and I tried to call Malloy, because he has a gun and he could come rescue me, and then I heard you pick up the phone and I knew it'd be all right."
I'm grinning like a fool now, and so's Malloy, both of us feeling like fucking heroes as we bundle the boy up in our arms and carry him toward the bedroom, Alice curled up in our arms, snuggling up against Malloy's chest. "Then that ferret came back, the one with the leather coat, and he said that the deal he wanted me for wasn't going to happen, and he was really angry about that and he hit me a few times. He said he wanted to make sure I was `good enough' so he put me in a van with those men and we drove to the city and he brought me to this diner and told me to sit still and be quiet and if I screamed or called for help, he'd hurt Nezzy. And then he went away to go pick up somebody, I don't remember his name and then you came in and... and you saved me."
He's barely audible, exhausted beyond the limits of his young years, but when we lay him down on the simple double bed in the room Alice's eyes snap open and he clutches at my jacket and Malloy's arm. "No, don't go... please?" he asks, blinking his eyes, trying to keep them open. "Stay with me?"
Now, I ask you.
How can you resist a question like that?

I'm not sure how exactly it happened or when, but somewhere along the way Malloy and I stripped. I can't tell if there was sex, really. I have a couple of memories, of snuggling up really close, hugging Malloy while squeezing Alice between us and our movements might have been sex, but then again, maybe just the joy of touching was all we were after. I remember being awake with Malloy -- he had his pants on, I remember that, so it must have been pretty early on, and we were stroking the sleeping lionboy between us and discussing our next move.
It looked like it'd be hard, whatever the case. We needed more information than we had; we wouldn't be able to make any kind of move until we knew what was what. We could talk to McIlwain, he's one of the bigger, more civil bosses in this part of town, but if Sharpish turned out to be working for him, we'd be screwed tighter than a Christmas tree light-bulb. An easier gamble would be to simply pull up stake and move, get Alice to another city.
I'm actually thinking about that right now, lying in this stranger's bed with my best friend and the young lion that, I realise, I've come to see as a little brother -- heh, a Little Wolf after all -- curled in each other's arms. I think of coming home to this sight after a night of whoring, putting my hard-earned cash in the rent-jar along with whatever Alice earned that night and what Malloy stole, and slipping into bed with these two males, trying not to wake them... It'd be a hard life, to begin with. We'd have to lay low stay someplace shitty and work hard, but discretely.
And it'd be wonderful, really. Malloy and I would be sharing a place right now if we hadn't grown apart so long and now, neither of us can really suggest it because we're each so self-sufficient that the only reason we'd move in was for each other's company, which is like saying we were going to be boyfriends and really, neither of us wants that. I think he's so sexy and I love sucking him off and I know he'd hire me for a whole night, every night, if his wallet and his ego would let him... But that's just sex. And our friendship is just friendship. To think that's romance would ruin both.
But we're totally united in our love for Alice. Not romance, either, but love, you know, the kind that hurts. Nezzy, too, if she was in trouble. Family. Well, almost. You're not supposed to have sex with family, I'm told, although you'd be surprised how often I'm hired to be the filling in a father-son sandwich.
I smile, and I think back to that night in Malloy's apartment, a memory that's been coming to me in fits and starts lately. We'd just stripped, Malloy'd put some money on the dressing-table, our usual pre-fuck ritual. I'd never cum when we fucked, which was just perfect. I gave pleasure and he got pleasure, so we each got our favourite thing in the world. This time, though... I was kissing his balls while he made himself comfortable on the bed, flicking my tongue over them and lazily stroking that fine black dogdick of his, took it deep in my mouth, once, to wet it... Then I crawled on top of him and straddled his waist but his dick missed its mark and just settled between my buns and neither of us reached back to put it where it belonged.
And we just talked. We talked about how old we were getting and how sentimental. When we were kids we'd gone out with the goal of becoming bad boys, doing what shouldn't be done and being damn good at it. I'd hopped on every adult's dick who could afford me and Malloy learned the art of making people want things they really shouldn't want -- and then selling it to them. We were good at it, and we still are and neither of us has any regrets about what we've done.
But we do wonder about the future. Neither of us can see ourselves doing anything different or better five years down the line. Malloy can't expand his operation because the competition is so deeply entrenched, Maranatha's long been carved up into well-defined and generally respected territories. And me, well, I service my regulars and a couple of strangers at the Dive every now and again and that's as exotic as my sex-life gets.
We talked about moving, that night, and whether we should tell anybody. It was playful dreaming, really, but behind our jesting grins we were... feeling each other out, seeing how we each felt. It was impossible. We were both too hesitant to expose ourselves, we were too busy trying to hear the other out to say what we thought on the topic. I don't even know myself what I thought that night, if I thought it'd be a good idea to tell Alice or Anezka and invite them to come with us and find some house to live in like some mockery of a family. Maybe I thought it'd be better not to do that. Now, I think of how wonderful it would be to have my best friend and my Little Wolf in my bed each night.
It'd be too risky, though. Wherever we go, sooner or later Sharpish or somebody else will find us and we'd have to run again, and I don't want that for Alice. That's why I'm lying awake. Outside, the sun's just gone down, so we've been sleeping or fucking for a few hours. God, I feel just like I did that night, you remember, way at the beginning of the story. Sitting in that chair in my apartment, which is by now totally deserted, without even the ruckus of the two punker cats' music and the infernal snoring of Pickles, Mrs Ackerby's dog and Butterfly's chanting. It feels like that night was a premonition of this night, a teaser of what was to come.
Then, I dreamt of burning the apartment and walking away. Now, I dream of running away with these two wonderful males. I didn't give in to the dream that night, and I'm not going to tonight, either. But that night I went out and went to the Dive. I did what I always did. Tonight, I'm going to do something different.
I get out of bed with a great deal of reluctance and pull my clothes on. Leather pants, boots, tank top, leather jacket, I've told you that before. I'm about to do something really foolish, really, really stupid -- not even the heroic kind of stupid, just stupid stupid -- and I want to make sure you know I look good while I'm doing it. My hair, blond and shoulder-length, falls neatly backwards, a few long strands slipping down in front of my ears like bangs and the tint of the black leather is a perfect offset to the light grey of my fur. I'm a good-looking fool.
I remind myself of that when an hour later, after a brisk night-time walk, I walk into the Cavendish Bistro, a favourite haunt of my favourite ferret, and find him sitting at a table with a well-groomed fox in a suit that could rival Tiber Ferrum's. "Hello, Sharpish. I hear you were looking for me?"
Sharpish doesn't even look up from the steak he's cutting, while the fox continues to ignore the salad in front of him and fixes me with an appraising look. Only now do I recognise him -- he has one of those generic, easy-to-forget faces, but those eyes stay with you. It's Harcourt Ezekiel McIlwain. Which means I'm in trouble, and that I really, really shoulda stood in bed. "You got some stones, Owen my lad," says Sharpish Where Malloy's English accent is sexy as all fuck, this ferret, though he doesn't sound much different, makes me want to clean my ears with every word I hear from his lips. "How'd you know I'd be here?"
Stay cool, Owen. I stand at the table, thumbs hooked in my pockets, trying to look as if I don't notice the large burly males standing up from their tables and moving into position behind me. "I didn't. I tried some other places first."
"Came lookin' for me, did you? My word, you'd almost think I had something that belonged to you," the ferret jokes, chewing on his steak. He's wearing that fucking coat of his, a trench-coat made of the thick leather they used in the first world war, the kind that could protect a man from shrapnel or even, if he was really lucky, a stray bullet. I bet if he took it off and set it down it would stand upright, the leather's so tough. "Of course, we both know it's the other way around... don't we."
Now he looks at me. Those grey eyes, with pupils so tiny they might as well not be there at all. That faint, threatening grin. He may be a slinky ferret, but there's a fire and a determination behind his eyes that can make anyone worried who meets him. No wonder he has so little trouble ensuring the loyalty of men easily three times his size. They fear him, and rightly so, because with that kind of intensity burning in his eyes, he could easily do anything.
"Alice isn't to be touched. I'm here to take his place," I say, and I'm pretty impressed with myself. I'm putting on a very good show. Now if only my knees would stop relaxing and firm up so I don't feel like I'm on the verge of falling down.
"Ah, it's like I told you, mister McIlwain," Sharpish says, putting another piece of steak in his mouth as he turns to his dining-partner. "It seems young Owen here got his paws on the C-65 documents." Shit. I'd forgotten I'd left them in Malloy's car. It is at this point that realisation hits me and I figure out that I'm probably carrying those C-65 microbes and that that's why I've been feeling so incorrigibly horny these last few hours and that Sharpish was intending to use Alice as a host to these microbes so he could harvest the drugs from the boy's fluids and make a fortune. All of this comes to me in a split second and with every fresh realisation, the certainty that I shouldn't have come grows and grows.
"Listen," I say and lean my hands on the table. A dozen hands reach into a dozen bomber jackets for, no doubt, a dozen nine-millimetres, but I level my eyes with the ferret's. "You need someone to get infected with these bugs, right? Well, I've got `em anyway. So what do you say you take that stupid cage off my dick and take me as your fucking milking-host, huh?"
"Stones indeed," says Sharpish, chewing his steak. "Normally I'd object to being told what to do. Today... No, I still object. See, you're no good as a host. You're too old, for starters and you've had the microbes in you so long they've probably colonised in some other organ for the time being and the drugs we'd harvest from you would be all weird, and that'd be really disappointing to mister McIlwain. I promised him a good, pure product. And mister Henderson, he did the whole science thing for me. We had to hurt him a little, dope him up a little more, but he got it down. Said the best host would be a feline, preferably pre-adolescent, but sexually active. And how many other guys like that do you know, beside Alice? No, I think you can make up for the trouble you've caused me. Boys, take him away. Have some fun with him, that's what he's for -- just don't mess him up too badly."
It all sounds pretty comical, you gotta admit. Bad guy, sitting in a restaurant, saying "take him away, boys," it's just soooo fucking cliché. Still, I can't say as I totally see the humour of it when beefy hands wrap around my stylishly leather-clad biceps and squeeze real, real hard and I understand that I Meade a big, big mistake.

Let's fast forward a while. I know you're after juicy details of my various sexcapades, but really, if I give you a, shall we say, blow by blow (and I do mean both kinds of blow) then I'll easily fill more pages than I already have. A couple of highlights:
* Passing out from strangulation, because a limping leopard likes to squeeze my throat while he's humping me, pumping that barbed feline cock between my legs -- the fucker even kisses me!
* A very creative otter who, it turns out, likes electricity play and spends half an hour taking apart a power outlet (during which time I desperately try to suck off a mule, despite how rancid their cum always tastes, because my ass really, really needs a rest.
* Then the otter takes a turn and wires me up, putting me under a mild current that has me spasming and gasping for breath while he whoops and hollers as he fucks me.
* Another bout of unconsciousness from asphyxiation when another of the leopards, who seems to have a similar breath-control kink, plugs his dick down my throat for a full minute after I swallow his load. His buddies hold my hands as I thrash about, trying to get some air and the only reason I don't bite his fucking dick off is because I've got these pesky instincts to take care of any dick I've got in my mouth. Price you pay for being a pro.
* Belly-down, on the floor of the warehouse they brought me to. A guard dog, an actual fourfooter is brought over to have a turn and he has a real, real good time on me. Truth is, of all the sex I've been subjected to in the last few hours, this is the most enjoyable. The dog's honest, at least. All he cares about is getting off, he doesn't care about making me miserable or taking revenge because I rolled a dumpster onto him and dislocated his knee.

I can't remember half of the other things they did to me. I'm sitting here now, in my cage, the one that smells so strongly of Alice and fear, and the memories are hazy. All of them fucked me, all f them, even the ones that claimed to be straight when they expressed their disgust at `bonin' a faggit'. My joints ache, there's scratches on my face, my lower lip's got a split in it and so does my eyebrow, just above what I'm sure is a hell of a shiner. One of my teeth feels loose, I can faintly taste blood in my mouth, black bruises throb on my abdomen and chest and arms and legs and I'm cold and naked and I want a blanket, just something so I can be warm enough to get some sleep.
And you know what the worst part is?
I loved it. Everything they did to me. When they used me as a punching-bag, pushing me around, hitting me hard and when I tried to defend myself, even harder. I'd like to say that what I felt was pride, at the fact that I was taking the fate of sweet Alice, that he'd be spared this because I was taking it for him... But the truth is, the worst ache of all, the one keeping me awake is down there, in that fucking metal thing between my thighs. My balls throb as if they'd been kicked but, miraculously, they never aimed their punches down there. Didn't so much as squeeze.
I want more. That's why I'm awake. Not because it's cold, but because I don't have a dick In me. I'm fucking sweating, licking my lips, like a junkie in withdrawal. I tried not to plead, and I managed it, which sucks because by the time I gave up and started to bang on the bars and beg for a cock to suck the guards were all too tired and they weren't horny any more. Which fucking sucked. I even tried to lure over the dog, but there was no way he could mount me, with me trapped in a cage just barely large enough for me to sit up in and how can you explain to a dog that you want his dick in your mouth and it'll feel really good for him?
I'm lying on my side, curled up in a ball, shivering, hugging my knees to my chest. I need something to do, somebody to service, to feel someone orgasming in me and for that brief moment, when their seed's flowing into me, to feel this ache disappear, just for a second, like when the leopards took turns double-teaming me. I know what I should be thinking of -- I want Malloy to come drive his car through the doors of the warehouse and take on all the guards at once and fight them off and come get me... But he left behind his beloved `vette at the diner, so focused on saving Alice that he completely forgot about it.
But when I think of Malloy, all I can think of is `Highway 68', which is our little term for when I unbuckle my seat belt and give him a blowjob while he's driving and he pays me afterward. That's why it's called 68 -- I suck him and he owes me one. You know the joke. All I can think of is that hard man between my thighs, his warm semen in my mouth and the way his face scrunches up when he shoots his load.
All in all, I'm in a pretty bad state, when something weird happens. The side door of the warehouse opens and in walks a fox, stately despite his diminutive stature, dressed in a fine suit. It's McIlwain, and an overpowering sense of calm emanates from him. He's so poised, so reserved and it makes the guards and me aware of what wretched creatures we are. At a mere nod, the guards slink away and he's alone in the warehouse. Alone with me. I hear the hum of the fluorescent lights.
"Owen," the fox says in that soft, concerned but wholly controlled tone that strikes equal measures of admiration, comfort, superiority and worry into the hearts of all who hear him, "We've known each other for a while, haven't we." I sort of wheeze at him, although I intend to reply in the affirmative. He sorta gets the drift. "You and Malloy, you came here... six years ago? Both of you so full of ambition. It was a delight to tutor you both."
He smiles and I must admit, I feel a little sentimental as well. McIlwain wasn't as fine a gentleman then as he is now, he was about as high in the ranks back then as Sharpish I these days. He was my first pimp, rewarded me when I did good, punished me when I was difficult... Hooked me up with challenging clients to help me expand my horizons. You're probably gonna think that he manipulated or brainwashed me, but really, I'm grateful to him. He helped me past my inhibitions and taught me to embrace the joy of servicing others, and he wasn't selfish either. When I told him I wanted to go independent, he said `sure', had me work for him for another three months (although he worked me pretty hard, to make the most of me, I guess), told me which clubs I wasn't allowed to work in, gave me some extra cash and waved good-bye. I wasn't expecting anything less at the time, but really, if you look at the kind of scumbag pimps there are these days... They'd have wrung my neck as soon as let me leave their service. So I guess McIlwain was pretty good to me and Malloy, as far as that sort of thing goes. Which is why I'm kind of worried at the sadness in his voice right now.
"But you caused far too much trouble, and that's something I can't readily forgive. When we acquired the C-65 microbes we needed to transfer it so we could convince... the other interested party, that the microbes were gone and that we didn't have them. I sent Sharpish to get you and all you had to do was play host to the microbes for three days without ejaculating -- hence the clamp on your penis. It rather suits you, I must say," he jokes and I try to laugh, but the sound comes out like a raspy bark. McIlwain's face darkens and my eyes go wide. Here it comes. "It's just as well, since it won't be coming off you. I know Sharpish' methods are a little... unseemly, but you ruined a perfectly good business opportunity. And that stunt you pulled with Malloy, as they say, `busting' that little lion out of custody... That simply won't do, Owen. It's unprofessional."
McIlwain's standing by the bars by now. He pulls something small and metal from his pocket, a PDA of some sort. He withdraws the stylus and taps a few buttons. The device beeps and the little screen glows blue, and so does the glass panel on my sheath-cage. And then there's a sharp pain in my groin and a deep sense of relief, and then warmth, and then more pain as my dick strains to get hard and the last words I hear are McIlwain's, "I'm afraid you'll have to make up for it, Owen," before a haze of lust overtakes me that's so powerful that it shatters whatever now passes for consciousness.
And with that and a whole shitload of horny, good ol' Owen's gone.

To be continued.

Available on paperback in 2006

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