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26 January 2008 @ 01:53 am
Cole and Nicci: Arrangement  
Who: Cole Porter and Nicci Ingres
Where: The Blue Rhino, an alley
When: Recently-ish

Back when Nicci lived with Max and the other boys, he was always Max's favorite. Always. The other boys hated him, vied for Max's attention, for the rewards that come along with be the favorite. But Nicci always came out on top. He made absolute sure of that. He doesn't allow any room for competition. It's part of surviving on the streets. Nicci is incredibly good at it. The other boys hated him, but they didn't dare cross him. No one stole from him, no one took his clothes or his clients. They knew they wouldn't get away with it. Nicci always comes out on top.

That's why he's here. Sitting at the bar in the Blue Rhino, sipping a glass of wine. He's scrappy and young-looking, but a bit of flirtation, and he gets whatever he wants. He always gets what he wants. He's watching Cole play piano with the eyes of a predator. Watching someone that's strayed into his territory. He's been following Cole. He knows where he lives, where he takes classes. Where he plays his piano. Nicci's ready to confront him, waiting for him to finish, to head out for the street. He won't be threatened by this over-polished golden-haired twink. He fully intends to put Cole in his place.

Cole's long fingers hit every key perfectly. His head is bowed slightly, the light shining off of his hair. He's in a button-down and tie, the shirt-sleeves rolled up, the tie tugged down a bit. It's a piano solo. Perfect. Smooth. He turns his face toward his microphone, eyeing the customers watching him with a soft little smirk. He raises his mouth to the mic to finish the song. He's got an addictive sort of voice. Somewhere between a crooner and a jazz singer-- beautiful, but with character. He finishes, fingers resting on the piano keys, letting the notes fade. He grins at the applause and takes his hands from the keyboard, turning fully to the mic. He nods, smiling that devastating smile, and waits for the applause to fade. "Thank you. Thank you." Someone whistles at him and he laughs. "Thank you especially. I hope you enjoyed my little set tonight. Go show your appreciation at the bar. The more drinks you buy, the more often they'll let me play. Enjoy the rest of your night and get home safely. I'll see you again soon." He stands and blows a kiss, bows a bit again and unrolls his sleeves, gathering his coat and slipping it on. He empties the tip jar and folds the money, slipping it in his pocket. Three people come up with flowers. He smiles at them and chats with them and lets two kiss him on the cheek before he sends them to the bar. He lets out a sigh. Tired. He's heading home. He heads for the doors.

Nicci slips off his stool, leaving an empty glass of wine. He follows Cole out. It's night now, though this part of the city is never dark - all street lights, cars, billboards, people. Nicci follows Cole closely. He's good at this. At watching, following. Being invisible. Unseen. Cole won't know he's there until he wants him to. He doesn't approach him until Cole passes a particularly dark alley, to the side of an Italian restaurant. Nicci knows this alley. He knows the men who own the restaurant. He won't be interrupted here. He comes up to Cole's side. Nicci is scrappy and thin, but he isn't weak. He's fast, surprisingly strong. He grabs Cole's sleeve, tugs him quickly and sharply, sending him into the darkened alley in one fast swoop. He shoves him, square in the chest, pushing him further into it. "You're messing with my johns," he informs Cole sharply. "I don't know where you're from, sweetheart, but in this town, no one takes my clients."

"Jesus Christ." Nicci scares Cole just about out of his skin. He drops one of the flowers-- a single white rose. It ends up in a muddy puddle on the ground. He looks at it tragically for a second and then back up at Nicci. He doesn't quite register what he's saying. He's just praying to god someone comes by before he gets knifed. "Beg your pardon?" He licks his lips nervously.

"You. You're messing with my fucking johns, bitch," Nicci says, and gets right in Cole's face, advancing on him. "Mr. Rhodes is mine. I think that's sort of universally accepted around here. Who the fuck do you think you are?"

Cole takes a step back. Johns. Mr. Rhodes. He searches his memory. Oh. The flowers, the candy. The watch. More flowers, more candy. There was a very nice wallet that comes to mind, but he can't remember if that was his or someone else's. Clarence Rhodes. A recent admirer. "I..." A pissed-off hooker. Fantastic. "I'm not..." He shakes his head and licks his lips. "I'm not a working boy." Not exactly.

Nicci scoffs, looking Cole over. His eyes are dark, wild and untamed. He's been on the street his whole life. He doesn't trust a word that Cole says. "Like fuck you're not. I know who you are. Go ahead and play coy with them, I'm not falling for it. You might not fuck them, but you work them over for everything they've got anyway."

Cole's tired-- worn out after the holiday party rush, the bundle of shows he's been doing. He needs a break. He needs to sleep. Maybe that's the reason that he says what he does. He lets out a slightly exasperated sound, taking another step back. "No. Not... But I'm not sleeping with them. They still need you for that." He means it to be consoling. it sounds arrogant as hell.

Nicci has a little bit of a temper problem to begin with. Cole's already on his bad side. That statement kind of escalates this confrontation significantly. He narrows his eyes, bends in a swift movement, drawing the knife tucked into his boot out and taking a step towards Cole. "Do they, now? Oh, so I guess it's okay to let them be fixated on you, and fuck me when they can't bear the mind-games you play with them anymore. You know, at least I'm up front. You get what you pay for. You... you're like paying for a mansion in Beverly Hills and getting a shack in Staten Island instead."

Fuck. Cole drops the rest of his flowers. He doesn't even look at them. He's just looking at the blade of the knife. "I didn't mean it... like that. I didn't mean... you're right." His eyes flick up to Nicci's. He nods, swallowing hard. He's going to die. He's going to die in a dirty alley, bleeding into a puddle of melting snow. Cut. He's going to die ugly. "What... what do you want me to tell him? I'll tell him I'm not interested. It might not stop him, but I'll... I'll tell him."

"Don't accept his gifts. Stay away from him. Rhodes is mine, Rhodes has been mine for ages now. I suppose you don't even bother checking these things out, do you? Finding out if some other boy is making his living off of the man you decide to swoop in and work over," Nicci says. He taps his bottom lip with the point of the knife idly. "You should really be more aware of these things, sweetheart. Especially when it comes to my johns. I don't share."

Cole didn't swoop in and start working him over. The first flowers had shown up without him even knowing who Rhodes was. He'd seen him at a party. He's barely been in contact with him. Rhodes is doing much of this on his own, actively seeking after Cole without Cole doing so much as winking at him. But he doesn't mention this to Nicci. He just nods.

"Then we shouldn't have any more problems," Nicci says, and flips the blade in his hand smoothly, moving to tuck it down into his boot again, though his eyes are still dangerous, and he's still ready to make a move if he has to. "And I should never hear your name come out of one of my client's mouths again. Is that understood? Stay away from my men, and I'll stay away from you."

Shit. Rhodes mentioned him? People are mentioning him to their whores? A little discretion seems to be in order. He nods again, silent. He looks completely compliant, completely scared straight. Maybe he is. Though probably not.

Nicci crosses his thin arms over his chest, his jaw set, eyes hard. He's not sure if he trusts Cole enough to just let him walk off. Not sure if he honestly believes that Cole will stay away from Rhodes, from his other clients. "How long have you been doing this?" he asks critically. "You really don't fuck them? That's what they say, the other boys. That you just work them over."

"A-almost a year." Cole clears his throat softly. "Maybe it's been a year." He can't think particularly well. "And... no. No, I don't sleep with them." He shakes his head. "Not with any... any of the older gentlemen. No."

"Gentlemen," Nicci repeats, and then laughs softly, rolling his eyes. "What the fuck are you? I mean, you're cute, but a lot of the boys working in this city are cute. They still need to fuck guys to get any money. What makes you so special?"

That... might be a trick question. Cole opens his mouth to answer it, and then lets it close. He shrugs slightly and shakes his head. He's well-mannered. He reads people well. He's charming, good with conversation, witty, intelligent. Excellent at parties. He doesn't have a reputation that brings people down for being seen with him, because he doesn't sleep around. But sometimes, even he wonders what it is. He's just good at playing games.

Nicci sniffs, wrinkling his nose and lifting his chin. He's a brat. He was never spoiled, he's simply a brat. "Who are you working over now?" he asks. "Besides Rhodes. Who you won't be working over anymore."

"I don't really keep a list." He does. It's ranked in order of favorites, and it's kept absolutely secret. "I'm sorry about Rhodes." He sounds tired, defeated. He just wants to go home and sleep. He's exhausted and he's been scared out of his mind and he can't handle this anymore.

"No you're not," Nicci says, lifting a brow at Cole, as if he's being ridiculous. "Don't lie to me, bitch." He glances out at the street, and then back to Cole. He looks thoughtful. He could use Cole, really. He keeps the other boys in line, but tries not to make enemies. Cole is like... a gateway, sort of. The baby step between the wealthy men in the city and the whores. He's had a few men who started off with Cole, and ended up with whores. It could be a convenient arrangement, if Nicci wants to manipulate it. He turns towards the street, waves Cole onwards. "Come on. I'll walk with you. I already know where you live, anyway."

That's rather disturbing. Cole swallows hard, trying to find a way to show the right amount of penitence while not looking completely overcome by fear. It's rather difficult to find something between the two. He has no idea what this boy wants. A moment ago he was pulling a knife on him, now he wants to walk him home. He needs to move. He needs a car. He needs a life that doesn't involve mean little whores having any reason to get angry with him. He licks his lips and walks hesitantly toward the opening of the alley. He glances a bit anxiously at Nicci, then looks dead ahead.

Nicci tucks his hands in the pockets of his oversized coat, worn-in gray wool. He strolls along beside Cole as if there's nothing wrong at all. "He wanted to call me your name while he fucked me," Nicci explains, after a long stretch of silence. "That's how I knew about you."

Cole's eyes widen a bit as he looks ahead. He glances at Nicci, then forward again. He looks at Nicci again after a moment. "But... you don't even look anything like me." He sounds a bit bewildered. He's not sure whether to be flattered or disgusted. Mostly he's just dumbfounded.

"I know," Nicci says, and then pauses again. "I look way better than you. But I guess beggars can't be choosers, and he wanted me to be you."

There's no way in hell Nicci looks better than him. He doesn't mention this. He's still remembering that knife. They walk in silence for a moment. Cole feels like he's about to crawl out of his skin. He wants to scream and shove Nicci into the non-existent traffic or punch him in the face or run like hell or just sit on the sidewalk and cry. And he wants a bath. And he wants to sleep. And Nicci's still there. He looks at him. "I can walk the rest of the way myself. Thank you." He says it very politely, praying that he goes away.

Nicci narrows his eyes, looking over at Cole, and then turns to walk backwards in front of him. "How about this. We could have... an arrangement. Clearly, you lead men on until they're at a point of insanity. And crazy men are big spenders."

Arrangement. Oh god. He's bargaining with the devil. "Alright," he says softly. His hands are freezing, but he's not sure if he's allowed to put them in his pockets. God, he just wants to cry.

"So you milk them for whatever you want. Clothes, fancy chocolate, whatever it is you do. And then... you tell me who they are. Where they hang around. And I happen to run into them, and... console them, after they've been stone-cold rejected by you, little miss prude," Nicci explains, as if Cole will surely agree.

Cole's brow furrows. There are several things he doesn't like about what Nicci's just said. First, the outright statement that Cole milks people dry for whatever he wants. It's not like he advertises for people. People just... offer. And then, the thought that he would cast them off to Nicci... that's a rather horrible thought. And... "I'm not a prude," he murmurs, brow furrowing even more. He glances away for a moment, then back at Nicci. "Can... can I consider?"

Nicci purses his lips, looking thoughtful, and then finally nods. "Alright, sleep on it, Porter. I'll find you in a few days and we'll discuss," Nicci says. He's about to turn away, but then he adds, "and stay the fuck away from Rhodes," before he turns and heads in the opposite direction, walking away from Cole.

Cole watches him go for a moment, then turns forward again and keeps walking toward his apartment. He will not sit down on the sidewalk and cry. He will not. But he feels anxious and jumpy and dirty and horrible and he doesn't want to be alone anymore. He slides his icy-cold hand into his pocket and draws out his cell phone. It's thin. A new model. A gift. He flips it open and scrolls down through his contacts, sniffling. He will not cry. He presses send and raises the phone to his ear, wrapping his other arm around himself.