Tales From The Pear Tree

A Pink Dormouse Production

 

Another night down the pub, pretty much like any other. Dodgy deals going on left, right and centre; one of Big Ray’s boys playing pool against some dyke hustler; couple of working girls stopping off for a quick one before they went back out; and the usual crowd sitting at the bar.

"So what’s new?" Vila asked after spending the appropriate length of time staring at his pint."

"Not much," said the barman, "looks like Security have got too much on their plate to bother with the likes of you people right now."

"Likes of us people?" Tal, sitting further down the bar, did his best to look affronted. "I only come here for the company. Vila looked over at him.

"Yeah, yeah, so you’ve got a proper job in some lab an’ you don’t soil your hands wi’ real crime. Have I told you you look more like a girl every time I see you?" Tal had appeared about a month ago, slumming it as it were, and had been making a regular appearance ever since. Vila had strong suspicions as to the whys of the matter.

"Not since yesterday." Tal pouted. "Just because a bloke has long hair, you have to make an issue out of it. It’s not like I wear eyeliner, unlike some people I could mention." He glanced over to the table nearest to the pool table, adding yet another piece of evidence to Vila’s mental list.

"Look, if you’re that int’rested go an’ talk to him."

"Who says I’m interested?"

"Bloody transparent, you are. Settin’ yourself up for grief o’ course. It’s not a case of who he’s had; it’s who he hasn’t. Worse’n anyone, he is."

"Good thing I’m not interested then." Tal grinned. "Who’s up for a game of cards? I’m going to win my money back one of these days." The words ‘candy’ and ‘baby’ sprang to mind and it really was unfair to keep conning innocent Betas out of credits they could probably find much better uses for but Vila never let minor matters of conscience put him off.

"Go on, then. What’s your game?"

 

Over by the pool table ‘Some People’ had the horrible sinking feeling he was getting into an argument about politics.

"I mean, look at this lot," Del Grant said, "give them some education and a decent chance of bettering themselves and-"

"They’re a bunch of criminals and deviants," Avon pointed out, "do you really think they want to better themselves?"

"So why do you drink here if you have so little respect for them?"

"Who said there was anything wrong with being a criminal?" Avon sipped his brandy (anything less than 40% alcohol was unlikely to kill whatever lurked in the less than clean glasses). "Or a deviant for that matter."

"You know I didn’t mean... So what did you make of the new communicator I gave you?"

"Standard design, just a couple of new features. The schematics are on here," Avon put a data cube on the table, "along with the software to block the signal. I take it my fee will find its way to my bank account as usual."

"I still can’t understand why you refuse to work with us more officially, stop skulking around places like this. Are you listening to me?"

"Sorry, I thought I spotted someone. Excuse me."

 

Del sighed and contemplated his bottle of beer while Avon disappeared to talk to whatever pick-up, fence or dealer was next on his agenda. Normal Alphas had better things to do with their time than hang around seedy pubs that got raided by security on a weekly basis. But then Avon had never been normal in all the time Del had known him, and he did have a way with reverse engineering anything that happened to fall into his hands. Which was sometimes of use to the cells Del was in contact with so he put up with Avon’s insistence on meeting here, or in the previous place before it finally got burnt down. Not to mention Avon’s attention span once Del started talking about anything that he actually considered important.

 

As usual, Tal was losing heavily. And, as was becoming usual, Vila was starting to feel guilty about it. Not the usual turn of events, but then he was having trouble shaking the notion that Tal was just a mixed up kid who had wandered in one night and fallen head over heels in lust with someone that sooner or later would notice, then make a point of ripping the kid’s heart out and trampling on it. If Vila came in here for something other than cheap beer and the opportunity to fence whatever he happened to have acquired that week, he would have sorted Tal out by now.

"Listen, kid," he said, knowing would probably regret this later, "don’t suppose you know how to play pool?"

 

Del had gone. One day he would probably grow bored with the whole procedure and insist on choosing where they met. Of course it was perfectly possible to find anything Avon might want in the Alpha section but then he would have to deal with other people’s guilt trips the morning after. Or declarations of undying whatever, which was possibly worse. The possibility of blackmail never crossed his mind. Whatever Del might think, Avon did actually think about whom he took home with him. Or took elsewhere, not that Del would approve of some of his favoured locations.

Right now though he was concentrating on winning at pool against that thief he’d bought the prototype signal scrambler off last month. Not much he could actually do with it, as its range was too short to be of any interest to his contacts but figuring out how he would improve it was a diverting challenge when he had nothing to occupy himself with. His opponent’s companion was worth a second look too. Straight red hair almost to his waist; dressed all in black; and completely out of place in here. Avon mentally added the boy to his To Do list.

 

The alarm sounded far too early, or it seemed that way at least. Avon threw it at the wall and tried to get another hour of sleep before considering what he had to get done today. Hold on, he brought someone home last night. And now the other side of the bed was empty.

"Coffee?" Tal had pulled his hair back into a ponytail. Obviously he had found the shower room as well as the kitchen, judging by how wet his hair was.

"You realise how early it is?"

"I’ve got a job to go to, my supervisor won’t be happy if I’m late. Look I’ll leave you some coffee in the pot. See you tonight?"

"Well... why not?" Avon pulled a pillow over his head and tried to ignore the sounds of Tal looking for something to eat. He would go to the pub tonight, have words with Tal and then... well, he had had fun, no harm in a repeat performance once they had established where they stood with each other.

 

 

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