One Good Copper


Written for the Discovered Out of Context challenge on the discoveredinalj livejournal community

"I told you to -- right then, you little shit, you need a good lesson!"

The blow sent Ray flying, the back of his head slamming into the filth-stained wall with stunning force. Dazed, he slid to his knees, his thoughts skittering aimlessly even as he groped desperately for his flick, his fingers slow and fumbling and reluctant to obey... Stupid. How could he have been so bloody stupid? The basics of the game. Always have an escape route, always keep control of the deal, and if the trick makes you nervous -- get out. And he hadn't, had he? Fuckin' thick, just like Mum said... but Christ, they needed the money...

Through the ringing in his head he realised that he'd somehow scrambled to his feet, and hastily he set his back to the battered, cracked tiles behind him. No way past the bastard in front of him, that was for sure - with a gasp of relief he felt his old knife slide cool and comforting into his hunting fingers even as the man's fists punched his body in a hard, efficient one-two that had him doubling over. Snarling, Ray sliced the knife out and up, the blade flashing white in the harsh neon light overhead, and with a bitten-off exclamation his assailant leaped back, just managing to avoid the boy's swift, desperate move.

"Why, you -" the man kept his eyes on the knife and smiled slowly, a meaningless expression which left his eyes as hard as the ice coating the roads outside. It was that same distant smile which had made Doyle so uneasy when the man had first approached him in the cinema. But he'd fought hard to get his patch inside the Jaycee and he had no intention of losing it to Mick, or Dash, or any of the other rent boys who'd just love to take it off him. So when the stranger had waved a great wad of notes at him -- almost more money than he'd ever seen in his life -- he'd fallen for it. He'd buried his doubts and gone with the big man in the classy clothes. Twenty quid for a blow job...? He should have known -- not even the posh tarts down the Hagley Road got that sort of money. Fuckin' thick, stupid --

"That won't do you any good, you know," said his assailant, a thread of cold amusement in the well-spoken voice as he nodded at the flick-knife pointing unwaveringly at his stomach. The boy was holding it in the thumb-and-two-finger grip of someone who knew what he was about, and the rage visible in his oddly slanting, fiery green eyes left the older man in no doubt that given the chance, the knife would be used.

"Oh, yeah? Why'n't yow troy it, then?" demanded Doyle, stress thickening his Brummie accent almost to incomprehensibility. His attacker's smile widened.

"Oh, I will, sonny, don't you worry. I'm going to have a little fun with you first, though..."

Moving slowly and carefully, keeping his eyes fixed on the shabby, scrawny youngster backed up against the toilet wall, the stranger removed his thick camelhair coat.

Ray watched him, breathing fast with fear and adrenaline, trying to guess what the bastard was planning, trying to concentrate through the pain in his head and the complaints from his sore ribs. Sweat trickled into his eyes and he shook his head angrily to get rid of it. His tangled, overlong curls fell across his face so he jerked his head again, trying to keep his eyes free, and his assailant laughed softly as he calmly brought his coat round and began to shake it out.

"That will teach you to be such a vain little thing," he said.

Vain? What was he -- Ray cursed silently, wanting to snarl his anger and hatred at his attacker in a stream of invective but knowing that it would be a waste of effort. Fucking arrogant prick thought he kept his hair long because he liked it this way -- probably couldn't imagine having to choose between a haircut and a meal...

"Yes, you're a showy little animal," the man continued idly, his eyes now apparently entirely on his overcoat. Ray tensed, ready to take a chance and leap to the attack, but before he could do more than shift forward onto the balls of his feet the coat flew out, spreading like great wings and descending on his head and shoulders in an unwieldy blanket.

Yelling against the smothering darkness Ray frantically tried to claw his way out of the heavy folds, but before he could win free his head was repeatedly slammed against the wall behind him until he was barely conscious. As soon as he went limp the hard, hurting grip eased, allowing him to slump to the floor where the coat was lifted off him.

Dazed and blinking in the hard whiteness of the neon lighting overhead the boy, unresisting, was hauled upright, then his hands were wrenched behind his back and securely tied. The rope was cruelly tight around his wrists and the pain bit deep, but still Ray floated, seeing without understanding, feeling without knowing...

Gradually the world began to ease back into focus and Ray felt himself reassemble until he was aware of his surroundings once more. He hadn't been out for long -- he was still breathing hard from the brief fight. He had been turned to face the wall and there was a hand pressing into his back just below his shoulder blades, holding him trapped and motionless. The smooth tiles felt icy and damp against the side of his face... Fear and anger swept through him as he realised what his captor planned for him and he began to struggle, jerking futilely against his bonds.

"Oh, good, you've woken up. It is necessary that all of you experience every sensation to the full, it's not nearly so enjoyable otherwise..."

"Fuckin' pervert! You sick cu-"

A piece of pale green silk slid over the boy's face and was stuffed unceremoniously into his mouth with another longer piece tied round his head to keep it in place. Green. Silk --

OhshitnohelpgetoutNOW!! Yelling, Ray went completely berserk, wrenching so hard at the rope around his wrists that the skin, drawn hunger-tight over the slender bones, tore open. The blood ran down his hands to drip from his clenched fingers as he fought mindlessly, possessed by pure, blind panic.

Watching the boy's futile struggles, his captor tutted reprovingly. "Oh, dear. Recognise me, do you? Well, don't get hysterical. It won't do you any good, you know."

A hand trailed caressingly down Ray's back and he froze, abruptly aware of the man standing close behind him, unable to repress a shudder of revulsion as warm breath caressed the back of his neck. Slowly, stubbornly, the boy fought his panic back under control. The hands continued to roam, the breathing behind him grew harsher, but Ray stayed silent and still, waiting, masking his feelings as every whore learned to do. On the surface -- all submissive attention, apparently cowed. Underneath -- just let an opportunity appear...


Ray's thoughts churned and skittered with all the terror he was refusing to acknowledge. It was no good panicking, and there was no help to be had round here -- not in the Silver Slipper cottages. He was in the hands of the Green Scarf Killer and well on the way to being the bastard's fifth victim, and if he was going to get away he'd have to do it on his own. The police never came down here unless they were raiding the place and there wouldn't be any raids tonight, because they wouldn't expect anyone to be out cruising tonight. It was too damn cold and there was a serial killer who targeted male prossies on the loose. Only an idiot -- or someone desperate -- would be out tonight... yeah, that was him, all right.

Ray knew that he qualified on both counts, but he still couldn't see that he'd had any choice. A quick blow job down the cottages was the quickest way he knew of to make a few bob in a hurry. Mum had blown all their coal money to get her fix -- in the coldest winter since 1947, for God's sake! - so he didn't have time to piss about. When she came down from her high she'd need warmth, quickly, and it was up to him to make sure she got it. Not only was she all he had, he'd promised Joe he'd look after her - Joe, who had been the nearest thing to a father he'd ever known...

Ray wondered vaguely whether just this once he should have trusted the police. That posh Inspector from Scotland Yard -- he'd been different, he hadn't looked at him or the other rent boys like they were scum, and he'd seemed really cut up when Alex had bought it. Not like the local plods who had no time for any of them and had barely bothered to investigate the other murders. Maybe he should have said something. That Inspector had bought him cuppas and bags of chips and even treated him to the special at the Kardomah once or twice, but Ray had kept quiet - he had no intention of turning copper's nark for a bit of snap and some friendly words! But now... if he'd told the Inspector how popular the Silver Slipper cottages were with queers, and how easy it was to escape unobserved from them when they were raided... Nah, the bloke was just another bastard policeman for all his nice ways -- had to be. Never, ever trust a plod --

Abruptly his thoughts refocused as he felt a hand slide down his jeans and clench in the thin, worn denim -- then pull. The sound of the material ripping apart was shockingly loud in the cold silence, and Ray jerked involuntarily as rough fingers rubbed across bare skin and down between his cheeks. His attacker laughed contemptuously and deep within the rent boy a fierce anger suddenly ignited, beginning to burn away the cold terror in his guts. He wasn't a nobody -- he was more than just a toy for this bastard to play with and break the way he'd broken the others -- Sam, Jacko, Alex... Oh no, Ray Doyle wasn't going to lie down and die like they had! Never happen --

The fingers stabbed into Ray and he was unable to stop a muffled whimper as they penetrated, hard and hurting. He'd lubed up before coming out just in case he had to offer a bit of rough trade to get the money he needed -- but this --! The sick bastard wanted to hurt him, wanted to make him squirm, and he was succeeding.

A last fierce stab had Ray pressing his hips against the wall in a futile attempt to escape and then the fingers pulled free... to be wiped slowly and lingeringly across his face. The boy winced but made himself stay still, feeling the hand settle on the back of his neck, waiting -

"Well, you little whore, you're well-prepared, aren't you?" came the hateful voice at his ear. It was no longer quite so controlled, its owner's breathing ragged with excitement, and through his pain Ray suddenly felt a spasm of hope. Let him lose control, please let him get excited and forget --

Yes! The hand pressing into his back suddenly shifted, the pressure on his spine easing, and without giving himself time to think Ray moved with all the speed and grace which had made him an automatic choice for the school football team before his fiery temper had made him just as automatic a reject. Throwing himself backwards, pushing off the wall with one foot to add momentum, he cannoned into the big man behind him with force enough to send them flying, the breath exploding from both sets of lungs as they hit the cracked but solid concrete floor.

Rolling sideways off the prostrate body of his attacker the boy got his legs under him and scrambled unsteadily to his feet, trying to spit the cloth out of his mouth but unable to do so, the rough silk clinging infuriatingly to the inside of his cheeks and his fear-dry tongue. Leaving his attacker winded and gasping like a landed fish behind him he staggered towards the exit, his feet numb and slow with the cold and the pain of his ribs, his head, his arse, his wrists - he was going to make it, he was going to get away, he knew it --

But something hooked round his ankle and pulled, and Ray crashed helplessly down. His face smashed into the cracked porcelain of a urinal as he fell, his cheek exploding in agony so intense that for a moment sickness rose in his throat and his head began to swim before his natural bloody-mindedness reasserted itself.

Not now! Don't black out now! With a choked-off scream of pure rage Ray twisted, kicking out viciously in a desperate attempt to free himself from his attacker -

Who was no longer the controlled, arrogant and intimidating individual who had approached a rent boy in the Jaycee cinema earlier. Face red and distorted with fury and mouthing obscenities, the big man hauled Ray's struggling, kicking body back towards him, threw his larger, stronger self across his captive, and with a vicious snarl wound his hands around the boy's neck and began to squeeze, still hurling insults in a continuous stream of obscenity. Eyes bulging and desperately struggling for breath even as he wriggled and twisted and did anything and everything he could think of to break free, Ray felt the world begin to go dark...

Voices. More than one...

"Dirty, filthy little slut... you dare, you fucking -"

"What -- in here, sergeant!" Doyle knew that voice, with its poncy Southern accent -- he knew he did...Then it came again, "Quick -- oh no you don't -- get his other arm, sergeant! That's better. Now -- let -- GO!"

Suddenly the choking grasp was gone from his throat and the crushing weight was lifted from his chest, and then a hand cautiously slid beneath him to first free his wrists and then remove the silk gag. Bliss. Ray lay still, eyes closed, and simply breathed, feeling his head being lifted and something soft and warm placed beneath it to serve as a pillow. He let himself sink into the softness with a sigh and for a while concentrated on nothing but breathing through his bruised throat and hanging on to consciousness through the pain...

Above his head voices were shouting and there were sounds of a struggle. Still fighting to breathe and dizzy with the growing agony he was feeling anew in his face, Ray cautiously turned his head and opened his eyes - one with some difficulty - to watch disinterestedly as the Green Scarf Killer, yelling his hatred and struggling in the grip of two stalwart constables, was unceremoniously ushered out of the room under the satisfied gaze of the one policeman who Ray had almost considered trusting: DCI Gently of Scotland Yard.

The square-shouldered, gentle-faced man with the slightly battered features was crouching next to Ray. Seeing that the boy's eyes were open -- one uninjured, the other weeping blood and tears over a mess of bruised and broken flesh which covered what was clearly a thoroughly shattered cheekbone - he laid a careful hand on Ray's shoulder.

"Just relax, son. There's an ambulance coming."

Ray tried to scowl an objection and convulsed as the fire in his face suddenly exploded into a full-blown conflagration. With an exclamation Gently held the boy's shoulders until the fit had passed.

"Idiot boy. I told you, relax -- and for God's sake keep still or you'll do yourself another injury!"

Ray mumbled something through rapidly puffing lips which the older man had no difficulty in interpreting. "You may not want to go to hospital but that's where you are going - unless you want to die of blood poisoning at the very least. Will you, for once in your life, do as you're told? Has it struck you at all, Raymond Doyle, that if you'd let someone know where you were going we'd have picked up that lunatic with no trouble at all, and you'd have escaped with a whole skin? Instead of which we get an incoherent phone call from a passing tramp which we very nearly dismiss as a hoax! You're far luckier than you deserve, you stupid, reckless -"

It was too much. Exhausted, hurting, and too unused to affection to hear it underlying the sharpness of Gently's words, the boy was horrified to feel tears pricking at the corner of his uninjured eye. Desperately he turned his face away, trying to hide his humiliation, but Gently must have seen because his voice suddenly eased into open warmth.

"Ah, never mind, son. You're still young enough to think yourself invulnerable, aren't you? And it's never easy for lads like you to trust the police. Hardly surprising, all in all, but... always remember this, Ray." Gently's voice became serious, with a driving intensity which caught Ray's attention so that he looked up, his one good eye fixed on Gently's warm, blue-grey gaze.

"No matter how corrupt or uninterested the police seem to be, there is always one good copper. It may take you a while to find him, but never doubt that he's there, somewhere. Just remember, Ray. There's always one good copper..."

And then the ambulance men were there, and there was fuss and bother and the pinprick of a sedative, and Ray felt himself drift away with Gently's words echoing in his head. Always one good copper, he thought drowsily... If I could be a copper, I'd like to be one like DCI Gently...

And then the darkness took him.

-- THE END --

June 2008

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