The Copper Horse: Fear – Chapter 1

July, 1907

“Somethin’ troublin’ ya?” A stranger looked at Reuben from above a dirty beer glass. He was a large fellow of maybe thirty years, dark eyed, with a pitch black beard. Good looking enough in the dark corner of the freehouse.

Reuben looked back at him, and he didn’t know yet which route to take with this man. He never talked much to the ones he slept with.

“Yeah, not enough gin!” He laughed, trying to look more dazed than he was, as if he’d already had a few deep ones somewhere else. It would make him look like an easier target for anyone interested.

Reuben swallowed and headed in the stranger’s general direction. He faked a stumble and spilled some of his precious gin, already trying to work out if he could afford another one.

“Ya seem keen to get merry fast.” The man moved over on the bench to give him space to sit.

“Night’s young. No reason to wait.” Reuben sat down beside him with a wide grin. He let his eyes glide over the stranger’s thighs up to his crotch. His imagination ran wild, picturing the treasure hidden under the thick fabric. Reuben’s new acquaintance was big enough to overpower him if he wanted to.

“Oi! Go fetch some four-leaf clovers, Paddy!” someone yelled from the side, and Reuben sighed with irritation. With his pale freckled skin and a mass of ginger hair, he was often mistaken for an Irishman, which made him a lot less of a catch. At least he was young, well-built thanks to kneading heavy dough in the bakery, and had all his teeth in place. To get his chances up, he gave himself a thorough shave and washed his only set of clothes before coming to the pub after work.

“Ya alone, Copper?” Small droplets of beer glistened on his companion’s beard in the sparse light.

“After all this gin, can’t even afford a bunter!” Reuben wasn’t nearly as drunk as he wished he were, but he didn’t care enough to fight off the nickname. At least it wasn’t ‘carrot-top’ or ‘Mick’. His conquests had taught him that giving signs of vulnerability could bring out the beast in the most unlikely of men.

“That’s tough.” The other man gave his glass a clink and his eyes kept glistening with interest. “Ya might find one somewhere that could give ya a free one.”

“A kind-hearted whore? That’s a new one!” Reuben eyed his companion’s beer, his mouth watering.

“Ya still thirsty?”

Reuben felt heat rising to his face at the familiar glint in the other man’s dark eyes. He could already imagine how it would feel to have his weight on top of himself.

“Like a well in a desert!” He patted the stranger’s thigh, letting his fingers linger for just that bit too long. Their eyes locked for a split second before Reuben’s companion broke the charm with a muffled cackle. He shook his head in what appeared to be disbelief at Reuben’s shameless flirting.

The Red Lion was known for attracting men looking to bed other men, but in this part of the city, the clientele consisted mostly of thugs, sailors and rakes. Of course, the pub was only known to the right (or ‘wrong,’ for that matter) kind of people. It wasn’t Soho with its pretty boys, expensive renters and gentlemen who could afford their company.

“Ah, ‘ave one on John.” He put coin on the table. “I ‘ad a good week.” He crooked his head toward Reuben and it was hard not to notice the way his nostrils flared. The man was smelling Reuben’s hair and it made his heart jump in excitement. So primal.

“Oh, yeah?” Reuben gestured at the barmaid to bring him a pint of beer. He’d already had two gins, bought with the money he’d managed to squeeze out of his tight-fisted asshole of a father.

“‘Ave I seen ya before?” John let his arm rest behind Reuben’s back.

A tingle of excitement instantly sent a shiver down his spine, but the thought of how twisted his pleasures were wouldn’t let him enjoy it in peace. He only allowed himself to come here when the need for touch was becoming as dense as the horrendous pies he made at the bakery.

“Nah, guess I’d have remembered.” As soon as the barmaid put a drink in front of him, he downed half of the pint in one go. Everything was better when blurred by beer. Even the shabby pub seemed passable with its noise, smoke and sweaty patrons.

“Why, am I so memorable?” John touched Reuben, as if by accident. The hardest part of his game was always luring men into thinking they would get some without actually saying so. That made them more aggressive and prone to attack when he refused them, claiming he misread the signs. It was like walking a tightrope.

“I suppose. The beard and that.”

That.” John slowly sipped his alcohol, his eyes roaming over Reuben none too discreetly.

“That,” Reuben murmured with a hint of a smile, his beer half finished. Sometimes, he imagined what it would be like to forget the game and give in to his desires, despite the afterburn of shame.

“That bein’ my ‘andsome looks?” He grinned, his breath becoming ragged, which confirmed Reuben was on to something.

Reuben downed his beer and looked away, but stayed in place, close to John’s arm. “You wish!” At this point in the night, it didn’t matter anymore if a man was exactly to his taste, as long as he wasn’t old or sickly. He would probably not get to look much at his face anyway.

“Ya really want to drown some troubles, eh?” John patted him on the thigh, his hand large and heavy.

Reuben looked up at him once more and nodded. “Why? Ya got some gin stashed at home?” He tried to give the man an easy excuse to leave the crowded freehouse. He scratched his head and blinked, noticing an insect in his beer. His stomach churned.

Fucking lice.

He tried to wash whenever it was possible, but living in that shithole of a district didn’t help. He wasn’t going to let that stop him tonight though.

John’s dark eyes narrowed, and his deep breath could be heard even through the noise in the freehouse. “I might.” He didn’t seem to care about lice.

“And I might just really feel like drinkin’ it!” Reuben got up with a cocky smile. As soon as he was on his feet, a sudden head rush made him dizzy and he stumbled over.

“Ohh, careful there!” John immediately offered his arm for support. “We might arrange that.”

“Quite a skillful fella’ you are.” Reuben clung to the other man. He was drunk. Just not that drunk.

“Just ‘ave a strong head for liquor.” John was slowly leading him between the tables toward the door.

Reuben smiled, feeling hard muscle under John’s clothing, and even though the man stank like he hadn’t washed for days, all Reuben could think of was the way his sweat would smell when he would be on him. John didn’t look ill, and that was good enough. Reuben could already imagine his cock deep inside, hips slapping against Reuben’s buttocks. His ragged old trousers shouldn’t be hard to push down.

“You a sailor or somethin’?” Reuben lifted his eyebrows and closed his jacket as they walked out into the street.

“Why?” John supported him with a steady arm as they walked the path of shallowest mud.

“Dunno. You got arms as if you worked on the London Walls.” Reuben pushed into his body under the pretense of losing balance. He wanted to feel more of the man’s strength before he became violent.

“Ya might be right. What’s ya name?” John’s large hand slid down Reuben’s body to cup the side of his buttock. So it isn’t ‘Copper’ anymore, huh?

“Reuben.” He gave John a nervous look. Each step brought them closer to the fog-bound bridge and the murky waters of the Thames. Their boots ruined the silence of the night with splashing sounds on the muddy excuse for a street.

“Suits a lad like ya,” grunted John, pressing closer to smell his hair.

The thick mist was like a protective curtain around them as it would most likely make their closeness appear less intimate to potential passersby. The street was almost empty though, most of the people keeping to pubs or more secluded alleys, but he still felt nervous at the thought of someone recognizing what their intent was. The only couple they passed was too caught up in a rough, drunken kiss to pay any attention. Reuben noticed that the man had already lifted the front of his companion’s skirts and was now groping her between the thighs.

“Whatcha doing?” Reuben laughed John’s gesture off despite the increasing tension in all of his muscles. His stomach knotted in excitement, fear and anxiety, all at once.

“Ya smell fresh.” John went off the road, slowly directing them down to the river.

It was a good quiet place for a quick grind. Reuben’s temples were already pulsing at the thought… and it wasn’t half-bad to hear a compliment. Even if it was meant to make him an easier shag.

He stumbled, but clung to John’s solid form and didn’t fall over. “Ya live far away?”

“Yeah,” breathed John as they drowned in the thick shadow under the bridge. The smell of water and urine hit them instantly, but Reuben didn’t mind one bit.

“Why don’t we start ‘ere?” murmured the other man. He probably didn’t want to tell a stranger where he lived. Reuben could respect that.

“You got some with you?” Reuben gave him a half-lidded, drunk look, his heart racing like a cockroach from the light. He could barely see John in the thick blackness around them.

“I might have somethin’ ya want.” John grabbed his buttock and squeezed it in his hand.

“Wha’?” Reuben moved away, and the adrenaline gave him an even stronger rush than the alcohol. He practically fell over as he hit something with one of his feet.

“What d’ya think?” John’s voice was hoarse and it couldn’t be more obvious why, when he grabbed Reuben’s hand in the dark and led it to his own crotch like it belonged there.

“Think you outta ya mind!” Reuben slid his sweaty palm away and just as he’d expected, John threw himself at him, yanking him up by the collar.

“Fuckin’ tease!”

Reuben wasn’t a small man, so he was surprised at the ease with which John picked him up. “You offered gin, not your cock!” He tried to push him away without much force.

“Stop fuckin’ around, ya drunk slut!” Before Reuben could produce an answer, John slammed him hard against the pillar.

“Not that drunk!” Reuben stumbled away, more confused and hurt than he had expected. His head was spinning so bad that he felt like he was on a carousel. John turned him around, spooning against his body and grinding his hard cock into Reuben’s backside. It felt both like a tool of punishment and guilty pleasure.

“I saw ya want it, coward!”

“Piss off!” Reuben’s whole body was shaking. He wanted this hot meat inside. His cheek was crammed into the cold stone and his ragged breath left a bit of mist on the rocks. He craved the feeling of fullness that came with another man’s weight on top of him, but he would never beg for it. Even if he wanted to.

“No fuckin’ way! Ya thought ya get what ya want if ya tease me?!” The man hauled Reuben’s trousers down.

“One bloody beer!” He struggled, only to be pushed into the wall with more force. The gin and beer mixed together in his stomach, and despite the excitement, the alcohol was making him ill. John didn’t seem like the type to be shrugged off easily though, and that sheer thought made his hole pulsate with hunger.

“Ya won’t back off on me now,” John growled, one of his thick palms closing over Reuben’s mouth. It was sweaty and Reuben could feel sticky residue on it, but he didn’t care, breathing through the salty fingers as his lust doubled. With his trousers around his ankles, Reuben had his buttocks exposed, and oh, was he ready to have a prick between them! The faint, drunken struggle he gave John was a sorry excuse for a fight.

Reuben’s body arched in alarm as a spit-slicked cock head traced his sensitive buttocks. It was hard and hot as hellfire. For a blink of an eye, Reuben thought that it was exactly where he was going with the life he was leading. Straight to hell.

He mumbled, trying to melt into the wall. He wanted it but didn’t at the same time. Fear and shame crept up his back, numbed only by the gin. The first, forceful thrust sent him crawling up the pillar, and he let out a short scream into the thick hand on his mouth. John’s prick was far from large, but didn’t hurt him any less with virtually no lubrication. His hole was on fire, as if he was being torn inside. John’s breath echoed in Reuben’s ears as he took what he had come here for.

Reuben was elated at first, but the burning ache of penetration and too much alcohol kept him from fully enjoying his dirty pleasure. On top of that, John’s moves were erratic, quick and forceful. At least the hand pressed to Reuben’s lips kept him from being too loud and, no matter how deviant it was, being taken by a man made up for the pain and shame. He muffled a cry of delight as the other man came, pushing his seed even deeper into Reuben’s body. Come. Yet another thing he would never confess he loved.

He closed his eyes, whimpering like a beaten dog. There was a built-up pressure inside of him, but his cock had gone soft at some point and only twitched now and then.

John pressed into him for a moment, trying to catch his breath, but finally pulled away, his softening prick slipping out of Reuben’s slicked hole with a smack.

Before Reuben could do anything, the other man shoved him onto the ground, his knees and hands hitting the mud. Reuben quickly pulled up his trousers, stuck in the mud, distracted by the come between his buttocks. He didn’t dare to look up at John. His whole aching body went rigid when he felt the other man scooting down behind him, one large hand tightening around his neck, as the other searched Reuben’s trouser pockets.

“No!” He tried to gather some strength and grabbed the persistent hand, but John slammed him into the mud, yanking all the remaining coins out of Reuben’s pocket. The man bobbed his head down and spat on his cheek.

“Fucker!” he growled at him, punctuating the word with a kick to Reuben’s aching backside.

“Sodomite!” said Reuben in return, as he lay in the mud, folded into a ball of pain. That must have brought John to a boiling point, and he attacked him with even more force. Hard, merciless blows fell to Reuben’s stomach, legs and even his face, which he so desperately tried to protect.

“What did ya say, ya come-rag?” he growled, pacing around him.

Reuben shrank on the inside at those words. They squelched even the slightest remainder of excitement he’d felt before. He coughed up some blood before managing a weak “Fuck you.”

He was roughly pulled up by his collar. “I fucked ya,” breathed John before shoving him back into the puddle with a splash.

Reuben was limp with pain and fell over into the mud, sliding further down the bank and into the river. All of a sudden, the water was all around. Cold, thick and dirty. He choked, all arousal that had been there—gone. Only dark water, swallowing him whole, just like the lust that possessed him and had brought him here.

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