“You promised you could keep his photo and name out of the papers,” Hardesty growled. His fist came down hard on the assistant district attorney’s desktop.

“I know, we tried. But this has dragged on for months. Mr. Drake isn’t a minor, you know. He may look like one, but he isn’t. We were doing this as a special favor to your unit. The accused have a right to face their accuser, you know. We just didn’t know there would be press at that exit of the court house.”

“You just didn’t know. You don’t know the trauma this young man has gone through. He was dragged into this.” Hardesty was improvising off in lala land now, and he knew it. The vice cop inside him told him that Toby walked into it all willingly. The number of times he had to cock Toby still--in the day and all through the night--screamed what Toby had willingly done for the cock.

But Toby was his Toby.

They’d been good for well over eight months now as the trial formed up. Freddie’s advice had been right on. If Hardesty kept his cock inside Toby through the night, Toby was just as normal for the rest of the time as he could be.

It was a losing battle, though, Hardesty realized. The siren song of the street kept working on Toby. Maybe the best Hardesty could do was to make it safer for Toby, to lift him to where, if he had to sell it, it wasn’t on the street.

The blond Mohawk was gone. Even the blond was gone. The eyebrow ring was gone. Hardesty had asked him to keep the nipple and navel rings, though, He liked to play with those himself.

Toby had admitted that he had done all of this punking up to himself just so that men on the street would notice him and want him.

“I don’t think you have any trouble with men wanting you,” Hardesty had answered. “What you need to do is regiment what you are willing to give them.”

Hardesty had been quite clear in not demanding monogamy of Toby, and although Toby seemed to have appreciated his suggestion that they might become monogamous with each other to the point of agreeing to the dispensing with condoms, he had only mentioned that the one time. And he was secretly relieved that Toby hadn’t wanted to carry through with that. Hardesty had no idea whether Toby was being fucked by other men when he wasn’t there. But he hadn’t stopped fucking other men himself. Hardesty couldn’t make the same pledge, not only because sex was a possible need in his job, but also because he occasionally had to have some variety himself. He had met with Freddie in the motel room four times in the eight months, for instance. Freddie amused him. Freddie fed his ego, and he gave Hardesty a great ride. He also initiated expert and inventive positions that were completely out of the realm of Toby’s experience.

Most of all, Hardesty wanted Toby to know that he could make his own decisions, that he wasn’t trapped by Hardesty in that regard.

The gecko tattoo was still there. Hardesty had said that Toby probably would have had a continuous orgasm and die of sex in the process of someone trying to eradicte it. Toby had laughed. And then Hardesty had touched the tattoo and rubbed it and Toby had wrapped his legs around Hardesty and ridden him down onto the bed and begged for the fuck.

So, the effect of the gecko was still there--and Hardesty used it occasionally, often when Toby showed signs of despondency, especially at the slow movement of the trial and all of the statements he had to give.

When Toby had shown up to the trial to testify in person, the press had waylaid him outside the courthouse and splashed his name and photo across the media.

Toby’s response was to withdraw into the house and refuse to see anyone but Hardesty. That’s when he had let his hair grow on the sides and he’d stopped coloring it.

Hardesty knew that this was not a good turn of events, but he was wholly unprepared for the evening he came home from work--and Toby was gone.

He’d taken practically nothing with him. But this was the Toby of old--the Todd who had escaped from adversity, had been willing to shut Hardesty out, to not think twice about what Hardesty wanted and needed in the relationship.

“Some relationship,” he muttered to himself on the third evening alone in the house. He wasn’t completely alone, though. He had a bottle of bourbon to comfort him.

It wasn’t long, though, before all of the liquor in the house had disappeared down his gullet. He was enough in control to realize at this point that liquor wasn’t the answer for anything.

He sought Freddie out at the club, and Freddie willingly accompanied him to the motel, where he babbled happily while Hardesty fucked the stuffing out of him.

After they were done, though, Freddie said, “You fucked with anger and panic this time. This time it is about Todd, isn’t it? That he’s gone again?”

“Toby. His name’s Toby. And, yes, he’s out there someplace.”

“Did he tell you he was leaving?”

“No, but he didn’t do that before either.”

“But that’s when he was Todd. As you said, now he’s Toby. What did he take with him?”

“Nothing.”

“Doesn’t that raise your suspicions?”

“It hasn’t until now.”

“Did you follow my advice? Did you keep him fucked--and keep him filled through the night?”

“Yes.”

“And you think with what you’re packing, and with those muscles, and that face, you can’t keep him that way?”

Hardesty didn’t answer.

“What was it you used to say when you were looking for him before? That you gotta do something.”

“That we gotta keep trying.”

“Yes, right. You don’t know what’s happened to him. So, why did you stop ‘keep trying’? You don’t want him anymore? Cause, if you don’t, baby, you can have me--any time you want me. Of course you can have that anyway.”

That hit home. The next day Hardesty began to put his detective skills to work. He hit pay dirt in the first hour.

“That young boy you have living with you?” the nosy neighbor across the street asked, her prejudices streaming down her sleeve. “Yeah I saw him leave a few nights ago. A big, black man took him down the walk and put him in a truck and off they went. You know, this is a nice neighborhood; you shouldn’t--”

“Took him, Mrs. Nolan? You used the word ‘took’.”

“Yeah, well, the way the black guy had him by the arm and was dragging him down the walk, I don’t think he was all that happy about going. My Dennis said it was probably Child Services, and I’ll tell you--”

“Thank you, Mrs. Nolan,” he said as he turned and briskly walked off.

* * * *

“A subpoena? For the records of a male strip club?”

“You still need Toby Drake for his trial testimony, don’t you?” Hardesty asked.

“Yes, we’ve got a summons out for him. We have the transcripts, but the actual live testimony pins the case down better.”

“Well, before all this happened, I tried to get a look at the employee records of that club. Toby had just started working there. The club manager indicated he knew about Toby’s background. I have reason to believe he’s been kidnapped--and not for anything related to this case. So, if you want him back, get me a subpoena to look at the strip club’s employee records.”

“We can do that,” the assistant DA said. “We do need him back.”

“And check out a Thane Moore, black, drives a truck and lives on a farm. And maybe some woman with the last name Drake. I think Toby might have been taken back home.”

“I thought you said you thought Toby Drake had been kidnapped.”

“If I’m right, he has been. By his mother’s boyfriend.”

“His mother’s boyfriend?”

“Yeah, the guy who abused him sexually to begin with. The guy who caused Toby to get into all of that trouble.”

“Oh. Right away then.”

* * * *

The three police cruisers rolled up to the Virginia farm shortly after dawn, with sirens and lights off.

Hardesty was the first one out of the squad cars. He intercepted a big brute of a black man who answered “Yes?” when Hardesty spoke the name “Thane Moore,” and Hardesty decked him without warning. He left the man, on the ground, rubbing his jaw with two shotgun-armed deputies standing beside him.

When Moore went down on the ground, a basket hit the ground beside him. Somebody’s breakfast had been inside and spilled out on the ground.

As the other deputies swarmed around the yard and into the house to see who else they might find, Hardesty stood and scoped out what was in line with the direction that Moore had been walking in. Not the barn, but a large shed near the barn.

Toby was huddled in a fetal position inside a cage in the shed.

“You came for me, Jim,” he whimpered, as Hardesty looked around and found heavy-duty wire cutters.

“Of course I did,” Hardesty said, trying not to cry. “My nights have been too cold. My cock missed its sheath.”

And then, having cut through the cage wire enough to help Toby, wearing only jeans, out of the cage, “You didn’t walk out on me this time.”

“No, I wouldn’t do that. My nights are too cold too.”

“How did he know?”

“He was a member of the club. And he’d been following the case closely, worried about when or if they’d catch up with him. He saw me on the videos. He just didn’t have time to do anything about it before the bottom dropped out on that business. He knew about the club I’d worked at, saw me on the TV coverage at the court house, and paid the club manager to tell him I was with you.”

“I’ll have something to talk to that club manager about,” Hardesty said. “Got any shoes around here?”

“No.”

“I’ll carry you to the car.”

“They’ll see.”

“I don’t give a shit what anyone sees. Did Thane fuck you after bringing you here?”

“Yes. A couple of times.”

“But not through the night?”

“No.”

“Good. We’ll add that to the charges, though. Taking you home now.”

“Home. That sounds so good.”

“Just one regret.”

“What?”

“Thane dropped your breakfast on the ground when he fell.”

“That’s OK. Thane’s breakfasts weren’t worth shit.”

- Fini -

 

Habu

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