Pick Up the Pieces

A Spy vs. Spook Spin-Off

by Tinnean

Fifteen-year-old Theo Bascopolis longs for the man of his dreams. But his dreams are dashed when his conservative Greek father discovers Theo is gay and throws him out. Hopeless, he falls in with Fast Franky, a pimp who seduces Theo with the nickname “Sweetcheeks,” but abuses him and wants Theo to hustle. A bloody fight with Franky forces Sweetcheeks to run. Winding up in Washington, DC, he meets a group of rent boys who take care of each other. While he might not have the man of his dreams, Theo finally has a home and family of his own making.

When the boys take in mysterious tenant Mark Vincent, he seems a solid protector, until one of Sweetcheeks’s boys suffers a savage beating in his name. Vincent visits the boy in the hospital and introduces his equally enigmatic trainee, William Matheson. The instant attraction blindsides Sweetcheeks. In spite of knowing love isn’t for rent boys, Sweetcheeks hopes Matheson sees beyond the body he’s offered to so many. But Matheson has secrets of his own, and both will have to tear down their walls to find enduring love.

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Excerpt:

The door to 227 was locked, but the lock looked flimsy enough. I was going to throw myself at the door, sure the jamb would splinter, when the manager came panting up.

“Hold on, John Wayne. I’ve got the master key.” He unlocked the door.

The room was dark, but I remembered the smell of blood from years ago. I gagged and retched, swallowed, fumbled for the light switch by the door, and pressed it.

Pretty Boy was facedown on the bed, blood a fan of red on the pillow. “Paul.”

“Oh, fuck,” the manager whispered. “Oh, fuck!”

Somehow I was beside the bed. I placed my fingers against his throat, and my knees almost gave out in relief.

“He’s alive.”

“I’ll call 911.”

I left him telling the operator we needed an ambulance now while I rushed into the bathroom for a towel. There was so much blood.

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Part of Paul’s scalp was torn. Please, God, let that be what was causing the extensive bleeding. I pressed the towel to his head gently. Bruises were forming on his back and side, and froth bubbled on his lips. I made sure he could breathe, but I was afraid to turn him over.

“I’m gonna go down and wait for the paramedics, okay?”

I nodded, my throat clogged with tears. “Thanks.”

Don’t die, Paul. Please, God. Please don’t let him die.

And maybe for once God didn’t have his back turned. The paramedics got there sooner than I’d expected. In this part of town, why would they rush?

A man and a woman came in, wheeling a stretcher. “What happened?”

“I don’t know. I found him like this.” I backed away to give them room. “Is he gonna be okay?”

They took in the tube of ID Glide and the packets of condoms, and Paul, naked on the bed.

“Dunno. We’ll do what we can here, then transport him to GW Hospital. What drugs has he been taking?”

“None. We don’t do drugs.”

The woman’s look told me she didn’t believe me. She turned back to Paul and took his vital signs.

“Looks like he had the hell beat out of him.” The man started an IV. “You didn’t do this, I suppose?”

“Paul’s my friend.”

“It’s been known to happen. Quarrel over a boyfriend, maybe?”

Asshole. “No. We didn’t quarrel, and I didn’t do this to him.”

He shrugged. “We’ll take him to the emergency department.”

They eased him onto a backboard and got him on the stretcher. The skin over his ribs was red and angry-looking. “Paul…” I whispered.

“At least they won’t have to cut his clothes off him,” the woman said.

“I’m coming with you.” I gathered up Paul’s clothes.

“Here.” She handed me a plastic bag, then draped a sheet over Paul’s naked body.

“Thanks.” I barely had time to stuff the jeans, shirt, fanny pack, and sneakers into the bag before they were heading for the stairs.

The ride seemed to take forever. They wouldn’t let me stay in the back with Paul, so I sat beside the driver, tears spilling down my cheeks and dripping off my jaw.

Vincent. I gritted my teeth. This was Vincent’s fault.

**

At the hospital, Paul was wheeled into a bay. “You can’t go in with him. You’ll be in the way. There’s a waiting room through there. I imagine the police will want to talk to you about this.”

“Yeah. Thanks.” I watched until the doors shut behind Paul, then took out my cell phone.

Vincent’s number was in the small address book in Paul’s fanny pack. I punched in the numbers with short, hard jabs.

“Vincent.” He sounded bored. Goddamned motherfucker.

“Why, man? Why’d you do this? We trusted you!”

“Sweetcheeks? What’s wrong?”

“Oh, sure, like you don’t know. Fucking bastard! Fucking, cocksucking—”

“Sweetcheeks! What the fuck is going on?” He no longer sounded bored. His voice was hard, but I could hear the concern under it, and that jolted me out of my haze of pain and fury.

“You really don’t know? Vince, you didn’t send him to us? He told us.… Oh, God, Vince, it’s Pretty Boy! He’s hurt so bad... there was so much blood!”

“Who hurt him? Did he give you a name?”

“He said his name was Michael Shaw.” I laughed, and I wasn’t surprised at how bitter it sounded. “We didn’t believe him.”

“Fuck! Where are you?”

“The paramedics took us to GW. Vince, what if he doesn’t make it?” This wasn’t the first time that thought had crossed my mind.

“He’s going to make it. I’ll kill him if he doesn’t. Okay, listen to me, Sweetcheeks. George Washington Hospital has one of the best trauma centers in DC. Pretty Boy is going to be fine.”

“Can you—” I couldn’t do this alone. “I know you’re busy…”

“I’m on my way.” He hung up before I had a chance to thank him, to apologize for believing he would do something like betray the man who had helped him when he’d been in pain.

I hung up and dried my cheeks with the sleeve of my jacket. Now that I had some time to think about it, I knew Vincent would never do that, would never pimp for us. I was surprised at how relieved that thought made me feel.

I dialed another number. Spike needed to be here. I hoped he was still at home.

 

 

COLLAPSE

About the Author

Tinnean has been writing since the 3rd grade, where she was inspired to try her hand at epic poetry. Fortunately, that epic poem didn't survive the passage of time; however, her love of writing not only survived but thrived, and in high school she became a member of the magazine staff, where she contributed a number of stories.

 

 

While involved in fandom, she was nominated for both Rerun and Light My Fire Awards. Now she concentrates on her original characters and has been published by Nazca Plains, Dreamspinner, JMS Books, and Wilde City, as well as being self-published. Recent novels have received honorable mention in the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 Rainbow Awards, and two of the 2014 submissions were finalists.

 

A New Yorker at heart, she resides in SW Florida with her husband, two computers, and a Surface 3.


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