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26 January 2008 @ 02:49 am
Charlie and Nicci: Prostitution 101  
Who: Charlie Dickens and Nicci Ingres
Where: Around Lindonport
When: Recently

Nicci walks the boardwalk slowly, his hands in his pockets, picking through the people with his dark eyes. He can spot the hookers, and he can spot the johns. But it's a slow night. And Nicci doesn't look his best, anyway. His face is scratched from Jean. It makes him hate the other boy more. It's hard to pick up tricks when you look like you just clawed your way out of the gutter.

Charlie is leaning up against a lamp post, his hands tucked into the pockets of his snug dark jeans. He's cold. His coat had been stolen by a mean-looking drunk the night before, and so he's only wearing a close-fitting black button-down and a white and black scarf wrapped around his neck. He's shivering faintly. He'd probably be warmer if he walked around, but he's not sure that he's supposed to do that. He's not sure he's brave enough to. This way, if someone wants him, they can come to him instead of him having to sidle up to them. He licks his faintly-chapped lips, turning his head to look down the boardwalk.

Nicci notices him. The boy looks a little lost. Nicci doesn't see Max's tags around him, but the boy is looking for something. The same thing Nicci is. He comes closer to him. "Why aren't you wearing a coat?" he asks.

Charlie looks at the boy, straightening a little, moving his shoulders from the lamp post. He doesn't look like a... customer. Or whatever they're called. Charlie keeps his hands in his pockets. He shrugs one shoulder casually, trying to avoid looking at the scratches on the boy's face. "N-not cold." It's given away as a lie by the way he stutters faintly.

"Liar," Nicci says bluntly. It's freezing out, and they're right by the water. Besides, the boy is shivering. He's pretty, probably a hooker, and not wearing Max's tags. He must be new. A boy this pretty would be working for Max if he's been around. That, or he'd be like Nicci - on his own, but with the battle scars to show for it. More street-tough. It's not easy to leave Max. "Want a coat?"

Charlie licks his lips again. It's a nervous gesture. The cold seeps into the wet cracks of his lips, chapping them even more. He's shivering so badly he can barely think, but he's trying not to let it show. Shivering isn't sexy. He's supposed to be sexy. And now he's being offered a coat, and he knows he should be a little more wary, a little more cautious. But he's cold. And he has nothing left to lose. He has to start sometime. He nods. "Yes."

Nicci glances at Charlie's neck one more time, just to be sure he didn't miss those tags, and then nods for him to follow. He cuts through an alley, on his way to the GoodWill where a sweet old john works, who lets Nicci take what he wants for a few cents or a kiss. "You working tonight?" he asks, as a way of being sure that he's not wrong in his assumption that this boy is a whore.

This is going against everything Charlie was ever taught to do. Don't talk to strangers. Certainly don't follow strangers into alleyways. He doesn't know if this boy is a fellow in this business or if he's soliciting him. He can't decide. He seems too young and attractive to need to pay anyone to be with him, and he has a certain street-wise feel about him. Probably a fellow. Whoever he is, Charlie has a hopeful little surge of gratitude for him. He's taking him to get a coat. Charlie nods again, and then realizes that he's following Nicci and can't be seen. He clears his throat. "Trying to. I'm not..." He clears his throat softly again. "Yes."

"You're new," Nicci nods. He suspected as much. He cuts around behind a seafood restaurant, the garbage reeking of rotting fish, and they come out by the GoodWill. Nicci looks over at Charlie, slowing down to walk beside him. His dark eyes scan him. "How new?"

Charlie looks over at Nicci. His eyes graze over the scratches before he can stop himself. He meets his eyes. "It's my first night." His cheeks are flushed from the cold as much as they are from the admission.

"You're lucky I found you, then," Nicci tells him, reaching out to pull open the door of the GoodWill for him. "I'm Nicci. I've been out here a long time. I can help you."

Charlie steps into the GoodWill, grateful to be in out of the cold. He finally takes his hands out of his pockets-- delicate, long-fingered hands. "I'm Ch-Charlie." He smiles at Nicci-- a brief, pretty thing that shows the gap between his front teeth. He brushes his dark curls off of his forehead and looks around the shop before looking back at Nicci. "How long?"

Nicci trails his fingers over a warm coat, dark gray wool, that only needs a button mended. His eyes go to Charlie, and he tucks his hand back in the pocket of his own coat. "I've been out on the streets my whole life, but I've been working - turning tricks - since I was twelve," Nicci says.

Charlie's looking at the coat as well. He looks back at Nicci at that, his eyes widening, mouth parting a little in surprise. He catches himself and adjusts his face, looking back at the coat, he checks the price on the tag hanging from the cuff. He can't imagine doing something like this at twelve. He's sixteen, and he's scared out of his mind. He doesn't have enough to buy the coat and to buy food the next day, so he lets the tag drop, looking around for something a little more worn-down. He moves on to a brown corduroy. He checks the tag. Still to expensive. "Do you get used to it?"

"Yeah, it's like... it's really easy, now," Nicci says. "But I remember how scary it was in the start." He does, very well. How scary Max was. How much it hurt. "Hey, stop looking at the tags. You can get it for free. I know the guy at the register. Just pick one. How old are you?"

Charlie looks at Nicci again, then back at the coats. "Really?" He moves back to the first one, the dark gray one that looks nice and warm. He pulls it off of the rack and holds it up to himself, looking down at it. He looks at Nicci with another smile. "I really am lucky that you found me." He folds the coat over his arm. "I'm... eighteen." It's pretty clear that he's not.

"You're not eighteen," Nicci laughs. When he smiles, he has dimples. It's a sweet, surprising smile. "You're a really bad liar, Charlie, we're going to have to work on that. I'm seventeen. You're not going to get in trouble with me for being underage. Do you need anything else? Shoes, socks, underwear?"

Charlie smiles again-- a wider smile that lasts a little longer. He blushes, looking down. He is a very bad liar. He shakes his head. "No, I have some things hidden. I hope." He looks at Nicci. "I mean... I hope they're still there, you know? And I'm sixteen. Almost." Less than a month. He's been counting it as sixteen.

"Some guys like that, some guys don't. You can usually tell. Sometimes they want you to be all young and innocent," Nicci says, skimming through the racks himself as they head towards the counter. "Sometimes, they want you to be quick and quiet, because they've got a wife at home, and any sign that they might get caught or be in even more trouble for being with you will have them running. So you have to watch it. Don't give your age away easily. They ask, give them a coy answer. Dance around it. Try not to give up any information if you can. It's better if you let them guess, let them make you who they want you to be. Everyone wants something different."

Charlie sets his coat down on the counter, looking at Nicci. "How do you know what they want? Do they tell you? Is it okay to ask? Or do you just have to figure it out all the time?"

"It really... depends," Nicci says, frowning slightly. "I'll... We'll talk about all that later. It's tricky." He'll take him somewhere, and they can practice. Nicci will point out the signs to watch for, the things Charlie should notice about certain men. He turns forward as a smiling man in his late fifties approaches them, limping slightly. He's sweet, and is always good to Nicci.

"Nicci, hi," he says, and Nicci leans up and over the counter to kiss him lightly.

"Hi, George," Nicci smiles. "George, this is my friend Charlie. He needs a coat," Nicci says, and George looks over at Charlie, smiling his cheerful and warm grin at him.

"Did you pick one out, Charlie?" he asks.

Charlie smiles at George. "This one, I th-think." He needs to fix that stutter. No one's going to pay for a stutter. "Please," he adds. He wonders if he should kiss George as well.

"That's a very nice one, good and warm," George says, nodding. "I'd like to give you that coat, Charlie."

"George is very sweet," Nicci says, smiling. He's flirtatious and coy. It's so easy for him, to smile sweetly at George, to say something in that slightly suggestive purr. "Isn't he, Charlie?"

Charlie's smile widens a bit. He's still looking at George. That gap in his teeth shows and a faint flush rises in his cheeks. It's quite a charming effect, and completely genuine. "Very sweet." His voice is soft. He leans across the counter and presses a soft kiss on the corner of George's mouth. "Thank you, George."

George looks pleased, laughing a bit and touching his wrinkled fingers to the place where Charlie kissed him. "Aw, shucks," he says. "Any time, Charlie."

"Thank you, George. I'll see you soon," Nicci says, still in that sweet and playful way, backing towards the doors and blowing George a kiss before he turns and heads out, assuming Charlie will follow with his coat.

Charlie pulls the tags from the cuff of the coat and stuffs them into his pocket. He slides the coat on. It's a little big, but it's certainly better than what he had. He follows Nicci, turning to wave to George before turning back, catching up to Nicci. He falls into step beside him.

Nicci plucks at the sleeve, grinning at Charlie. "It looks good," he says. His hand sinks down, and he takes Charlie's hand, weaves his fingers with Charlie's. "Where are you staying? Are you homeless?"

Charlie's fingers fit easily with his. He smiles at him. He has a friend. A few hours ago, he had been alone and freezing and scared to death, and now he has a friend. He slides his other hand into his pocket and nods. "For now. I'm hoping to be able to make enough to... at least get a hotel room some nights. On the really cold nights." He shrugs a bit. "If I ever get started."

"Well, I know all the good places to stay, until then," Nicci says. He looks around, and then starts heading in the direction of a bar off the boardwalk. Max's boys rarely come in there, but there's plenty of willing men. "Come on, we'll get you started. But Charlie, you have to promise me a couple things, okay? First, you have to promise me you'll stay away from Max. Max Perridone." Nicci draws his hand from Charlie's and stops. He lifts up his coat and sweater, peels down the waist of his too-tight jeans, showing Charlie the brand on his hip bone. M.P. "Believe me, Charlie, no matter what anyone tells you, don't go near him."

Charlie looks at the brand, his brow furrowing. He looks up at Nicci's face. Max Perridone. "He did that to you? Who is he? Is he... a... a customer?" His eyes go back to the brand, his own hand touching to his hip in sympathy.

Nicci drops the hem of his coat, reaching out for Charlie's hand again. "No. He's a pimp. He'll take all of your money, he'll beat you up, and send you off with bad men who will hurt you. He'll let men pay to hurt you. To slap you. To break you. Stay away from him, and stay away from his boys. You'll know them. Brand-name hookers. They wear tags, like dogs. That's all they are to him, property. Don't trust them, they'll do anything to win his favor. Anything. And bringing a new boy home to Max wins you a lot of favor."

Charlie winds his fingers with Nicci's, his brow still furrowed. Max Perridone, dog tags. Max Perridone. He memorizes the name. "Why do the boys go to him then? Why... why do they let him do that?" He sounds so terribly innocent, so naive.

"Because they're alone, and they're afraid. Because he'll give you someplace to sleep, and he'll get you jobs. Because he seems like he's not so bad at first, and by the time he starts knocking you around and stealing from you, he's got you hooked on something you can't afford and too afraid to even look out the window, forget run away," Nicci says. "And someone pretty like you, Charlie, he'll definitely want you if he hears about you. So you have to be careful, okay?"

He nods. Hooked on something. His mind dwells on that for a moment. That's something that he definitely doesn't want. He doesn't want to get started on drugs, pick up a habit that he can't stop. He gravitates a little closer to Nicci. "Thanks for warning me." Someone pretty like you. It's flattering and frightening at the same time. He looks at Nicci with a faint smile and squeezes his hand lightly before looking ahead at the bar they're about to walk into.

Nicci keeps hold of Charlie's hand, so he doesn't loose him. He takes Charlie towards the back, towards his favorite place to sit and watch, scope out the people in the bar and decide who will he easiest, who he can get the most from. He's going to teach Charlie how to tell. He'll teach Charlie to be more careful than he is, teach him not to get hurt. Not to steal from sleeping men. He slides into the booth in the corner with Charlie, close to him, the hand that they have twined together making their arms wind close, crossing over each other. It feels nice to be close to someone. To have an ally. For a stray, for a loner like Nicci, it's like oxygen. "The first thing you need to learn is how to read people. There's the obvious." He points to a man at the bar, sad-looking, as if someone just broke his heart. Not very handsome. He doesn't look like he'd wind up being violent, being mean. "Good john," he identifies the man as, and then points to another man - playing cards at a table, a burly thing with a cigar and a red face, who punches the table angrily and is sweating profusely. "Bad john. Clearly. Those two are easy. See if you can find one, a good john and a bad one."

Charlie hasn't been this close to someone in a long time. Someone who he actually wants to be close to-- not just some drunk who's warm and asks to sit next to him on his all-night subway rides. His thumb traces idly along Nicci's, eyeing the men he'd pointed out. He looks around trying to find two more... a good and a bad. He spots someone else sitting at the bar-- not a particularly handsome man, but he has a nice smile. The bartender says something to him and he laughs, then looks down at his drink. He's by himself, but he seems friendly. Charlie points toward him. "Good... john." So that's what they're called. He keeps looking-- spots a man sitting with the red-faced one playing cards. He doesn't look angry. He looks pretty calm, actually. He's kind of handsome, in a rough way-- shaggy hair and a full mouth. Tall. Charlie can tell, even though he's sitting down. He isn't sure if the fact that he's calm is a good thing or a dangerous thing. His eyes linger on him for a long time. His attention is jerked away by a man shouting at another man by the dart board. "Bad john."

"Right, good," Nicci says, nodding. It's a good start. "Those are the easy ones. Then there are little things you want to watch for." Nicci scans the room again. He spots a man, sitting at the bar, idly sipping a glass of beer. He's alone. He doesn't look dangerous, not really. Maybe even looks trustworthy, with his clear blue eyes. "Him. His pocket." Nicci can recognize the outline of a butterfly knife in the man's front pocket. No one carries a butterfly knife in their front pocket for kicks and giggles. "A knife. If they're armed, stay away from them. Do you have a knife?"

Charlie looks at the man's pocket. He never would have recognized that as a knife. He looks at Nicci. "A... a knife?" He shakes his head. "No, I don't have a knife. Should I? Do you?"

"Always. More than one." Nicci keeps one in each boot. Just in case. He reaches into one and pulls out the butterfly knife, all black with sharpened blade tucked inside the case - deadly sharp. He puts it in Charlie's hand. "But you need to be careful. Don't use it if you think they might turn it on you. And keep it in your shoe. Keep your money in your shoe too."

Charlie looks at the knife in his hand. He licks his lips and leans down, reaching under the table to tuck the knife into his boot. He pulls his jeans down over it again and straightens. "Thank you. I... I'd be so lost if you hadn't come around."

Nicci nods, grinning at Charlie. He's telling Charlie the things he wishes someone had told him, and it makes him feel better. Makes the bitterness over having learned all of this the hard way ease. "Some johns will let you stay the night. Some of them even want you to. Stay, if you can. And don't try to steal anything. You get caught, it's not worth it." He looks around, looking for someone who might be good for Charlie. He notices the same man that Charlie did before, playing cards, but now he's pulling in everyone else's cash and grinning, fanning himself with the money. "I've seen him around. He wins, he picks up a hooker. Do you want to go with him? You can have him." Nicci's never gone with him himself, but everyone else returned in one piece, so Charlie isn't likely to get hurt.

Charlie looks back at the table. He swallows hard. His first possible john. His first possible... anything. "He's really... tall." He looks at Nicci. "Do you think he's good? He's a good john? I couldn't decide." He looks back at the man. Tall. "I... how much am I supposed to charge?" He's panicking a little now.

Nicci looks at the man, and purses his lips. "With him... he'd want to be in charge. If it were me, I'd go over to him, plop down right on his lap, and kiss his cheek - close to his mouth, and congratulate him. And I'm sure he'll do the rest. And he is really tall. But that doesn't always mean they're huge. What's the biggest you've had?"

Charlie looks at Nicci. He could say something. Could make something up. But Nicci's already said that he's a really bad liar. So all he does is look at him. He bites his lower lip. Chews on it a bit. He's a virgin.
"No." Nicci's eyes widen a bit. "Oh, Charlie..." He shakes his head. It shouldn't be that way. Nicci's first time was with Max. It hurt - he still remembers how much. Max crushed him and hurt him. He bled. "Charlie, maybe this is a bad idea."

Charlie looks away from him. There are big tears starting to form along the lower edges of his big dark eyes. He swallows hard. "I can't think of any other options," he says softly. He looks back at Nicci and smiles. He leans toward him, kissing his cheek. "Find me again, okay?" He blinks, eyes shining, and then slides out of the booth, unwinding his fingers from Nicci's. He brushes his hair off of his forehead again and rubs the back of his neck, walking over to the table.

It breaks Nicci's heart, and he nearly stops him, but Charlie is right. Sometimes there are no other options. Nicci knows that very well. So he sighs and sits back and lets Charlie go to the man at the card table, who is grinning over his victory and counting out his money as the other men at the table scowl and watch.