Chapter Four

Teal eyes surveyed the closet with pressing consideration, carefully deciding on his wardrobe. Fingering several silk shirts, he knew that these would not do, for too many buttons were intentionally 'missing.' He owned only a few pairs of pants and most were made of materials that did not know the term loose-fit. Sighing he found that in a drawer he did own a white t-shirt that would cover him, but he was sure that Kai didn't mean casual, when he had informed Brooklyn of a dress code. Then he remembered that there was one outfit that might be appropriate.

Striding from the closet he crossed the small room in two steps and reached under his bed for a box. The small apartment that surrounded him was not luxurious though it was warm, dry and secure. He would have preferred more but he kept his living grounds thin, so as to save his money. The kitchen, bedroom, bathroom arrangement was all he needed.

The box contained only a few documents, a portfolio, a few pamphlets and a bundle of formal material. Fingering the woven fabric softly he tried to recall the last time he had worn the suit.

"I'm sorry Mr. Brigde but there is just not a place for you at our Academy. After thorough history checks… well based on your family's background, your presence would be a threat to our reputation."The representative sat forward with his hands crossed politely, framed by his degree hung in a decorative glass case behind him.

Brooklyn threw his fists on the desk that saved the man across from him. Only a few moments ago a soft aqua eyed boy had sat across from the university councilor as they considered his future. Now an enraged reject glared holes in the man's eyes.

"I am not them," Brooklyn snarled, "that is why I'm here so I never have to grow up and be like the rest of my family!"

"I'm sorry…" the councilor stuttered, but Brooklyn wouldn't hear of an apology. Grabbing his personal records and applications from the desk he stormed from the room slamming the door behind him. A smirk licked his lips as the sound of breaking glass echoed in the halls behind him.

The memory clouded his thoughts until he realized he was clutching the dark colored suit so badly he had almost ripped through it. After that encounter with authority, Brooklyn had at last evaded his crime invested family and taken to the streets where he slowly had built his way to where he was now.

Sighing, he shook out the dark fabric and smoothed it out before him. He hated bending to anybody's will, but the way Kai had looked at him as he had left… Maybe he was tired or being a disappointment, or just tired of exposing his fair skin, for the prospect of dressing up in these refound threads gave him a little confidence.

He didn't actually want Kai too find someone else, he was quite pleased to be controlled by one of the highest regarded associates in the city and this pride he was not eager to throw away. Kai was everything Brooklyn wished to be; successful, determined and sure-of-himself, and for that Brooklyn could not afford to have another dream slip through his fingers. Besides maybe with his savings and Kai's power he would be accepted back into society.

The idea crossed his mind and then was crushed as soon as it occurred. "Accepted? … Me?" The red head laughed harshly to no one but his denied loneliness. "That is as good as Rei falling in love." He laughed again at the thought of the pathetic neko jin finding happiness.

Brooklyn hated Rei and Tyson, mostly because he hated himself, although he figured he could justify his actions so thus it was easier to hate the other two for being what he was. He was above them, above all prostitutes. He had made a name for himself at least, and also knew that he wouldn't be one forever, he had ambitions. A person without ambition was weak as far as he was concerned. Angrily, he realized his logic was going in circles this was inappropriate. Brooklyn was flawless and never made mistakes, so now was not the time to dwell.

His glare on the suit softened as he decided that he would follow dress code, if not for Kai than for himself.

--

Rei strummed his fingers nervously on the diner table, eyeing his long-since cold tea, mentally kicking himself again for not having brought any money. He prayed that Tyson wouldn't break their tradition. Ever since he could remember, whenever morning breeched their sorry lives, no matter what had happened the previous night, the two would always reconvene at this diner.

Now he waited at a small two person corner table as the waitress threw him yet another glare. He hadn't paid for the tea and knew there would be problems if he just left. Even if he was a regular who had a reputation for paying, the staff here 'knew his type' and already wanted to pretend he didn't exist.

If Rei had had a watch, he would have checked it well over a hundred times by the time Tyson jogged into the restaurant, ignoring the side glances he received from staff and customers alike.

"Rei Rei!" He exclaimed brightly as he sat down, but the impatient neko jin just crossed his arms and pretended to ignore him. "Awww, come on Rei kitten don't be like this." A bright smile followed a quick order to the waitress who had wandered over.

"Tyson." Rei begun in a down-to-business tone.

"Harsh…" The navy haired boy retaliated to Rei's painful tone. "What did I do?"

"You've been keeping secrets, I don't care why but…" Amber eyes looked away, distancing themselves from the world. "I just thought we were in this together."

"We are!" Tyson paused, looking thoughtfully at his companion knowingly. He knew Rei was referring to his other job, but he wasn't ready to tell him the truth. "Yesterday… at the café, I was only finishing off a job from the night before…" Tyson hated lying to Rei. "My client thought it would be interesting to see me in uniform, said it turned him on and…" the lie was easy to create, so Tyson continued. "He paid me in advance and that's how I had the money yesterday morning."

Amber eyed returned from their thoughts and bore in to Tyson. "You better not be lying to me." Rei warned, a brief malicious tone creeping into his words. "And you better be buying me breakfast," he added to clear the tension in the air.

"Of course Rei Rei! I wouldn't let my kitty starve!" Tyson laughed and playfully ruffled Rei's hair across the table. "How's the moneybags treating you?"

"Mmmm Tala?" Rei asked, almost dazing out, then desperate to hide a blush, "he's fine… bought me some more presentable clothes for tonight's dinner."

Tyson shook his head, "damn them and thinking that they are so great that we don't look good enough for them."

"Yea…" Rei agreed half-heartedly, but for some reason Tala's warm body next to his kept coming to mind. And then there was the way he had woke Rei up… With gentle finger trails along his cheeks and neck, and his lips so close that Rei had felt his bangs flutter in his breath and… A shiver enticed the blush from his cheeks, but thankfully food had come and Tyson hadn't noticed.

"So. This Miguel guy seemed nice enough…" Rei asked awkwardly.

"He's pretty great." The other boy agreed stuffing his mouth full of toast. "Tips well too."

"What's his café called?"

"Liberté Café. It's awesome, Miguel roasts all his own coffee, and prepares most of the food though some bakeries help supply him. And the wages are really good and the customers all like it; no one ever complains. And…" Tyson caught himself and looked at Rei flushed with enthusiasm that he realized he hadn't caught in time. But by looking up Tyson had realized the blush on Rei's cheeks and now both boys new that they were hiding something from one another.

"Oh." Rei replied.

"Yea." Tyson agreed.

"Here." Said the waitress glaring at the tense pair. "And don't short change me again."

--

"Try to enjoy yourself tonight Rei." Tala told him, as he knotted his tie around his neck. Rei only nodded as he tried with yet another failed attempt to do up the buttons of his shirt with shaky fingers.

Amber eyes looked up as Tala approached. Rei gasped as he gave the business man a look over and his heart skipped a beat. Tala looked stunning from his sparkling blue eyes, to his powder blue dress shirt and dark pinstriped suit that curved in just the right places to emphasize his lean body.

Noticing Rei's lingering eyes the blue eyed man smiled and cocked his head to the side pretending to pose. "Do I look alright?" He asked the neko jin who could only nod with his mouth still agape. Tala laughed and nodded before moving closer to the younger man and helping him with the buttons.

"You okay?" He asked Rei carefully, not wanting to pry.

"Yea…" He responded having finally been lifted from the spell Tala held over him. With the other man this close to him Rei wondered how he couldn't be blushing, but the conversation he had with Tyson was still fresh in his mind. He couldn't let Tala get to him. He had to remember the night before. Tala was just like any other sex-driven human. He was only out for one thing.

After Tala had helped Rei's with his button and tie he led him over to the mirror to admire him self. "You look really good Rei." Tala exclaimed surprised by how well the youth could clean up. Rei wore black pants and a white dress shirt, the two had decided simple was better, and a deep red tie. They had gone to a hair salon so that Rei's long hair no longer hung shabbily in his eyes, which had perked up his entire complexion, and he wore it, still long, in a neat pony tail. Smiling at his reflection and then to Tala he toyed with the tip of his tie and muffled a quick thank you.

"Now my love," Tala smiled falling into the act they had planned, "may I escort you to our limo?"

"Really! A limo!" Rei exclaimed joyously. Out of all the clients he had none had ever let him ride in a limo before.

"Why of course! Only the best for my beloved." Blue eyes smiled again, perhaps taking the act a little too passionately.

Taking the arm that Tala extended to him Rei followed him out of the apartment and down to their awaiting vehicle.

The ride was pleasant as Tala pointed out some of the sights that Rei had never before had the chance to see, and told him about all the stuck up snobs that would probably be attending the dinner.

As interested as Rei was in Tala's one-sided conversation, looking out his window he couldn't help but notice what really lined the streets. Maybe it wasn't the 'history' that Tala spoke of contentedly, but to Rei it was the reality. So many lost souls awaited only a lonely night upon the streets. They passed by those older and younger then Rei but all with the common goal. To seduce someone into exchanging pleasure for money. Rei wondered for the first time in his life, whom was really was getting the better half of the deal.

Rei tried not to be depressed by at all, he was here for Tala, and he wasn't being paid to drag his life into the success the business man portrayed.

"Rei," Tala called to his companion softly, "we're here." Shaken from his thoughts Rei realized the play was about to begin and it was time to get into character.

"Alright." Amber eyes forced and succeeded to flash Tala his best smile before he followed the man into the crowd surrounding the restaurant. They must have been of high value because Tala easily led him through a long line of people and right through the front doors only to have the host smile at him respectfully.

"Wow, it pays to be rich," Rei smiled. "No line ups."

"Not with me, I get right to it." Tala replied playfully, leading Rei to an executive table in the back.

"That's not what I've experienced," The neko jin toyed back.

Tala shot him a look before their presence was announced and he took up Rei's hand in his and begun long introductions. Rei smiled patiently as Tala shook everyone's hand and presented Rei who also shook their hands and smiled politely, though by the end he was pleased to sit down. Once seated their was nothing left for the neko jin to do other then smile and watch as several of Tala's coworkers made small talk and wait for the other guests to arrive.

Every once and a while Tala would lean over Rei's ear and whisper nothings to him, such as the latest rumors about the woman across from them or the affairs of the man at the far end. Rei didn't really care, Tala knew this, but any excuse to bring his lips close to Rei's skin made it worth their own small talk.

Tala was mid way through a conversation with Rei over 'sporks' when a brief cough behind them called the crowd's attention to three men.
Kai and Brooklyn, Rei knew but scorned the sight of his teal eyed rival. But the third man he didn't recognize.

"Bryan Balcov." Tala whispered to Rei trying his best not to delight in the blush that his breath ensured on Rei's cheeks.

Bryan's eyes searched the table recognizing or unfazed by most of the guests before his eyes fell on Rei. Smirking at the youth he turned his gaze to Tala.

"Hello Tala," Bryan spoke smoothly thought the cold edge in his voice caused Rei to involuntarily shiver. "It has been a while. I see you have a… friend?" He asked gesturing to the disgruntled neko jin. Though his words portrayed that he was interested in hearing more about Rei, his tone suggested that he already knew.

Tala fought off a glare and instead forced a smile, "yes, this is Rei. My boyfriend." He told his boss sounding prouder than he had thought he would be.

"How nice for you." Came the reply and then the man took his seat at the head if the table.

Kai followed with Brooklyn in tow, but not before a victorious side glance was offered. Kai's mahogany glare reflected the mouthed words 'good luck' as he sat right on Bryan's left hand side.

If Tala was unnerved, only Rei noticed a small amount of pain shimmering in his otherwise beautiful azure eyes. Watching Tala carefully Rei was shocked to realize that he was a little hurt by Tala's pain and before he had realized what he had done, he slipped his hand under the table and reassuringly squeezed Tala's thigh.

"Let's get down to business." Bryan exclaimed suddenly as he called waiters to the table to pour glasses of wine.

Tala still caught up by Rei's gesture was the last to respond to toast that Bryan proclaimed to their business before everyone drank and business began.

"As all of you know. I will be overseeing the company over the next few weeks, for I must appoint a representative now that out enterprise has expanded so far. It will be a tough decision since you are all," he hesitated then continued dryly, "such hard workers." This earned him a few awkward nods and smiled. "Thus I am proposing a challenge."

Kai nodded along with the speech as if he already knew premeditatedly what their boss was announcing, but a challenge, Tala wondered, this seemed an odd way to promote.

"It is rather simple." Bryan continued, sipping his red wine periodically, "I am tired of the ambitions of the little men, and I notice, far too often, too many little men out their think they can start their own business. I've been informed that a small café such as this has just opened, and since I thought it best to nip it in the bud, you're job is to buy it." Bryan paused for stern affect. "Liberté Café. How quaint. So much for it's freedom."

Rei took note that Bryan was a man of little words after his point was made, but that was not his main concern.

"That's Miguel's restaurant," It had just hit Tala as he tried to place where he had heard the name before. "Damn it."

Rei was forlornly letting the news sink in when he felt a swift kick to his leg from under the table. Brooklyn who sat only across the table and one seat down easily had Rei's attention. 'Follow me,' he mouthed then glared as if to continue with 'or else'. Rei bowed his head dejectedly but another kick to his swelling leg and he excused himself to Tala from the table.

The red head did the same a few moments later before meeting up with Rei in the lobby.

"What are you doing with Tala." The red head snarled.

"Why is it your business?"

"Because they are my circuit." Brooklyn glared backing Rei into the wall.

"I'm just helping him out." Rei tried to defend himself.

"Is that what you call it?" The offender laughed viciously before making sure Rei was pressed into the wall. "Neither you nor I got to where we are today by 'helping' people."

"Don't compare myself to you." Rei glared back, though not quite as intimidating as Brooklyn whose eyes seemed to glaze over in rage.

"I told Kai." Teal eyes laughed away the pain, "You won't keep up this charade for long. Sorry Rei but whores just don't make good pets, they're dirty and soon rich masters get bored of them after they have been run through their tricks."

"It is not like that." Rei glared again, feeling a burning rage inside himself as well.

"Then what is it like. You don't mean to tell me he hasn't used your 'services' yet?"

Rei couldn't hide the truth as he looked away. "No… He doesn't seem like that."

This comment made Brooklyn laugh harder. "Not like that? Oh poor little Rei Rei. You'll see, I notice his longing searching eyes, and his ginger fingers that feel the need to glide over you." As he said this his own hand worked its way along Rei's body causing the neko jin to flush angrily.

"You can't make those claims."

"He probably has already thought of it."

"That's…" Rei tried to begin but then remembered the night before sadly. Maybe Tala was just like that, just better at hiding it then others. He had tried to take advantage of Rei, but also he had been the one to stop it.

"Not true?" Brooklyn asked, a sadistic gleam in his stemy eyes. Then dropping his touch above Rei's belt he grabbed the youth's chin and raised golden eyes to his own. "It is Rei. He does think that way. For he has taken me and I him, with plans to do it again." Laughter followed Rei's widened pained eyes. "I've had him Rei, he's nothing special, not any different then all the others."

Success burned through Brooklyn's body as he relished in the retreating back of his rival.