"Pour me a glass, will you, gorgeous?" Ezekiel whispered to the boy on his lap. Todd was eighteen now, but still slight like he had always been. Ever since the day four years ago when Ezekiel had offered him a room and a job, Todd's place had been with the older man. He was Zeke's favourite, and always received better treatment than the other boys Ezekiel managed. He had moved out of Zeke's room a year ago, but still never turned Ezekiel down if he was wanted. He felt he owed the man something – including his body.
"Sure…" Todd murmured, leaning forward over the table to grasp a mug of beer and fill Ezekiel's glass. He caught snatches of the other rent boys' conversations. There were ten of them arranged around the bar's table, all gathering in the late night for a break from work – and to pay Ezekiel what he was due for directing business to them. There was a reason they were called 'Ezekiel's whores'.
Todd handed the mug to Ezekiel before leaning back, legs spread wantonly, into his embrace. Ezekiel nipped at the back of Todd's neck. "Come back to my place tonight?"
Todd grinned a little. "I'd love to," he purred finally. He enjoyed the attention, and Zeke just wanting his body was enough. After becoming a rent boy he had stopped looking for anything more.
"Good," Ezekiel replied. "You're a good little rent boy, Todd."
The younger man smiled happily, basking in the praise.
"How much did you get today, Todd?" the voice of another rent boy asked from across the table.
Todd looked up at him and smiled. He liked Ben. "More then enough," he replied with a smile at his friend.
Ben grinned back, and joked, "I shouldn't even ask, Todd. You're everyone's favourite. You'll always earn enough, with your looks."
Todd blushed, still surprised by the comment he should have been so used to. "Thanks…" he leaned further back into Zeke's lap.
Ezekiel's voice was low and full of warning. "Ben…"
The subordinate rent boy nodded and after an apologetic nod at Todd turned away. Todd was hurt by it, as usual, but didn't say anything and only decided to apologize to Ben later. Ben had often tried to be nice to him. Zeke never allowed it. Out of work, Todd was his – along with several other men and various one-night stands: but Todd was always his favourite.
Gradually Todd dozed off in Ezekiel's possessive embrace. He was always more tired than the others: not only did he get more work, but also at only eighteen he was the youngest. Every now and again he coughed on some smoke, but he never opened his eyes. Zeke would make sure he was awake when he needed to be.
"He's grown, hasn't he?" were the words which woke Todd up. He knew Zeke was talking about him, and kept his eyes closed to pretend to still be asleep. He couldn't help but be inquisitive about what was being said.
"It's been a few years, Ezekiel," an unfamiliar voice replied. Todd had a feeling that he should know it from l0ong ago. It was a grown man's, and sounded as if it were being tightly controlled. "He's grown a lot, yes."
Ezekiel's hand stroked Todd's dark hair possessively, twisting in his curls, assuming him to still be asleep. "And he's so beautiful… I'm glad you came back, Gabriel. I owe you my thanks. Todd's been greatly… appreciated by many men, and all thanks to you." Ezekiel's voice was full of some meaning Todd didn't understand, but apparently it struck a nerve in the stronger, because his reply was a growl.
"How dare you…"
Ezekiel's laugh shook the mock-sleeping Todd. "Calm down, Gabe. It's only a bit of fun. Todd enjoys it. He's a natural at selling his body. And you do deserve thanks – you did it all…"
"And it was the worst mistake I ever made!" the man replied in a feirce mutter as if working to keep his voice down. "You can't keep him working, Ezekiel. You can't keep on using him like this."
Ezekiel's voice became harder, his arm about Todd more warning and possessive. "Gabriel, you can't stop me. You pointed him out. You left. Fair deal. Little Todd's a rent boy now. I don't' see why you came back."
"Because I gained a conscience and realized I couldn't just sell a boy to you, even in return for my freedom!" the stranger urged in return, confusing Todd even more. He just couldn't remember…
"Don't push me, Gabriel," Ezekiel warned. "It's been three years. Don't come back and ruin it now. Go away and forget about Todd. He's happy, well paid, and I look after him well."
"I wonder why," the stranger snarled. "Couldn't have anything to do with his body, could it?"
Ezekiel paused a while before saying softly, "you know how I work, Gabriel. He offers himself willingly because he knows he's in my debt. And really – could you turn him down?"
The man muttered something before saying, only just over the rowdiness of the crowded public house, "how long have you been keeping him, Zeke? When did you break him? How long before you sent him out to work did you have him in your bed?"
Ezekiel gripped Todd's form tighter, and the boy concentrated on keeping his breathing slow as a sleeper's. "He was fifteen, Gabriel, old enough – and he lived with me for a year before that without being touched."
"And when did he begin to work? When did he move out of your bed and into a hundred other men's, get pressed against countless walls in dark alleys, get down on his knees in the dark?"
"A year later. When he was sixteen. A year and a half after you left."
"You kept him longer than me," the stranger, Gabriel, observed.
"I take care of him for you, Gabriel," Ezekiel replied evenly. "I truly do. Todd gets only the best clients – the kinder ones – and we all watch out for him."
"But you still let him sell his body and his soul!"
"Don't you understand?" Ezekiel sneered. "Your darling little Thomas is all grown up. he may be four years younger than you, but he's still old enough to enjoy what he does."
There was silence for a while before the man spoke again. "I can't let him stay, Ezekiel. I came back because I realized I wouldn't let anyone – let alone a boy I knew as a child – do this. So tell me – what do I have to pay to get him out?"
Ezekiel sighed and kissed the back of Todd's neck softly. "Sorry, mate. This little rent boy's mine now and he's coming home with me. I'd be obliged if you'd keep your hands off him."
Todd decided this was a good time to 'wake up', and so with a murmur and a stretch he slowly opened his eyes.
And saw Gabriel. Todd remembered him vaguely: a family friend who disappeared just after Todd met Zeke. But what was all this about Gabe 'selling' him? The man was looking at him intensely. Todd blushed.
"We're leaving, sweetling," Zeke said quickly, kissing Todd's neck again. "I just had a lovely chat with an old friend but now he's leaving and you can come back to my room…"
Todd was about to nod and get up when Gabriel said firmly, "stay were you are, Thomas. You're not leaving yet."
"Oh, but we are, Gabriel," Ezekiel said sweetly, getting up and holding the young rent boy close to him. "And anyway – there's no Thomas here, only Todd. And he's coming back with me."
Ezekiel walked out before the man could reply, and Todd followed after him reluctantly, unwilling to take his eyes off Gabriel who looked so sad.