A Dog Eat Dog World (Prologue)

Rating – PG-13

– Bodies have been showing up in San Francisco Bay, all beaten then dumped. Chief Ironside thinks that they're link to an underground fighting ring. Mark and Eve go undercover to prove him right, but it's Ed that ends up in trouble.

A/N – With thanks to Tann and Realmlife for taking a look at the rough copy. I owe you both some fishes :) Also thanks to julieo and Ingrid for your reviews. Glad to see there are actually Ironside fans out there!


A Dog Eat Dog World


It was nearly closing time and the bar was as almost empty as it had been all day.

The place smelt of beer and stale smoke, the aroma had seeped into the carpet and the walls, the tables were sticky and the yellowing varnish was starting to come off at the corners.

Today, apart from the dishevelled barman and the incurable drunks, there were three men who had a small booth at the back to themselves. The three met twice a week, just in case. When the time came, they knew they would have to move fast.

Sitting hunched forward over the table, Peter Paxton watched the other two in silence for a moment. At fifty two, he was the oldest by a long margin, with a rounded face and dark hair that contrasted with his lean, muscular figure.

He was the one in charge. The other two were only there because Paxton needed them, he wouldn't have chosen them as drinking companions otherwise. It wasn't just the generation gap, and it wasn't just about social status either.

Archie sat staring at the walls as if they weren't there. He was placid. He was quiet – For the moment, anyway. But even Paxton, a man of many years experience in the San Francisco underworld, was slightly afraid of him. There was no telling what he might do next.

And then there was Mikey. There was a different problem with Mikey. And as much as Paxton hoped, that was never going to change.

'Look, Mikey,' said Paxton in hushed tones. 'Just take it easy. So it won't go down this week. That's ok. We'll just wait.'

'Just wait? It's this waiting that the trouble. I don't like it.'

'Just keep your cool,' Paxton said. 'Don't blow it now. We've just gotta wait, that's all.'

'I don't like it,' insisted Mikey. 'The longer we leave it the more chance we have of gettin' caught.'

'No. This ain't the same as the others. We've gotta be careful with this one. We stick to the plan.'

'I don't see why we can't just grab one off the street. The place is crawlin' with 'em. Just grab one and get it over with!'

'No. We've gotta do this properly. We've gotta be careful. We stick to the plan. No exceptions.'

'It's too dangerous, just hoping someone will fall into our trap. We're gonna get caught!'

Paxton scowled at the young man. How many times had they had this conversation over the past three months? How many more times did he have to calm the boy down?

Mikey scowled at Paxton, his blue eyes hard with resentment. Yes, it was the resentment that was going to get him into trouble sooner or later. When that happened… well, Paxton would have to make very sure Mikey didn't talk.

Annoyed, Paxton glanced at Archie who was still staring through the wall, oblivious to the conversation. No matter how necessary he was at the moment, he would eventually outlive his usefulness too. But hopefully not before he had made Paxton a great deal of money.

'We're not going to get caught – Not if we stick to the plan,' said Paxton. 'We've just gotta get one from the right kinda place. This ain't like the others. We've gotta be very careful. We can't leave the cops any clues.'


'But nothing, Mikey,' he said. 'You know the deal, you know what we've all got to lose if this goes wrong. So keep your cool. We shouldn't have to wait too much longer, and then it will be the easiest hundred thousand we ever made!'