The breeze felt good. Usually Perry would spend a few minutes enjoying the wind at his own leisure, but at the moment his attentions were diverted elsewhere.

Perry shook his head. "This is getting too scary, Harry. Leave town, go back to New York."

"Right, right," Harry agreed, rubbing his head. "I'll leave on Wednesday."

"No, tonight. "

"I can't leave tonight, I have an audition."

Perry sighed. He didn't want to crush the kid's dreams. "Skip it. You're not going to get the part."

Harry threw him a look. "That's encouraging. Look, I'll just do my audition-"


"- then I'll leave-"


"- at least look encouraging, Perry. This could be my big break-"

"HARRY!" Perry had to scream to finally shut the kid's mouth. "Colin Farrell wants too much money."

The kid frowned. "Okay, what does that-"

Geez, this kid was really dense. "It's just the way Hollywood is," Perry explained, wondering if this is how parents feel when they're telling their kids Santa Claus doesn't exist. "Fly in a new kid, works cheap. Big show, big parties, high profile hotel rooms, detective lessons, the works. The producers then scrape off a couple of million from Colin Farrell's paycheck. You're not going to get the part, Harry."

It was like getting kicked in the nuts, Perry thought as he saw Harry's face fall. It was the truth. Most actors take the rejection with great maturity, willing to step aside to allow a bigger, better actor to take their part. It didn't hurt any less, but they took it in stride.

Perry lowered his gaze, suddenly feeling guilty on how abrupt he broke the news. "I guess you feel like you want to take a swing at me now…"

That wasn't an invitation.

Perry gave out a cry as Harry's poor left hook struck him across the jaw, knocking his sunglasses off. Perry recovered quickly, dodged Harry's next swing. He grabbed the kid's flaying arms, twisted them and locked the smaller body against his.

Perry was pissed. Here he was, acting sympathetic to the kid's cause and the little prick had the nerve to actually hit him. Forgetting his guilt, Perry told about Santa Claus. "Don't bother calling Harmony again," he hissed. "She didn't sound too happy when I told her that you weren't a real detective, that you lied."

Perry released him and Harry stumbled forward. The look of betrayal overtook Harry's look of hurt. "You told her? But why…? I thought… I thought we were friends."

"We're not friends. There is no such thing as friends, here, Harry. There's only clients, bosses, customers-"

"I was in trouble," Harry shook his head, unbelieving. "I called, and you were there for me…"

Perry snapped his fingers in front of the kid's face. "I was protecting my client. Hello? Dabney? He pays me to protect him from corpses."

The kid closed his mouth, a disbelieving frown on his lips. He looked as if he wanted to argue but didn't know how. "Must be nice," he finally said. "to wash away the blood with gold."

Perry blinked wildly at him. "What the fuck does that mean?"

"It means-"

"Yeah, you know what? I really don't care," Perry replaced his glasses, sighed and said, "I'm not a nice guy, Harry. This is not a nice town. You don't belong here. Leave before something bad happens to you."

Harry suddenly took a threatening step forward, his fists curling at his side. "Are you threatening me?"

Perry resisted the urge to swap him across the head. "No, idiot, leave before the bad guys do something to you."


"Merry Christmas," Perry said, turning away. "Sorry I fucked you over."

"Fine! No problem," Harry said to his back. "Don't quit your gay job."

It took hours, many hours later for Perry's temper to calm. And even then there was a tremble of anger beneath his frame. It shouldn't have bothered him. None of it should've. He heard worse, he'd experienced worse. Hell, when he was in college, three guys from his dorm nearly beat him to death. Despite that, Perry graduated that same year while those three idiots dropped out.

So why the hell did this bothered him so much?

I thought we were friends.

They weren't. Perry didn't have friends. He had allies, he had contacts, he had clients. Friends were people you shared upmost trust with. Friends were people you hanged out with because they were fun and safe. Friends don't transport bodies together.

I was in trouble. I called and you were there for me.

This time, Perry did laugh out loud. He can't believe how easily Harry classified friendship. Exactly what did he expect? For Perry not to react when the words, "There's a dead body in front of me" was uttered to him? Of course he was going to help.

The kid needed to leave. This town was just too tainted for him. Anyone who was willing to save a moth from drowning did not deserve to be here.

Perry shook off his coat and flopped down onto his couch. He groaned as his weight sunk in, grateful for the coolness of the leather and the pillow against his back.

He was on the verge of sleep when his phone shrilled suddenly of I Will Survive. He didn't particularly care for the song, but it is what people expected of him and it was easier to philander to their stereotypes than answer pointless questions.

He didn't want to answer, but it could be a client. He leaned over just as the song ended. A two note beep announced he had voice mail. He flipped the phone open and listened to it.

Imagine his surprise when he heard Harry's very enthusiastic voice. "News flash. The girl Ames, is the little sister. I repeat, the little sister. That's where Harmony's two grand went. It's in your bank, you over-priced bastard! Are you getting this? Your case and my case…" He paused dramatically. "Are the same fuckin' case."

The message ended. Immediately Perry sprung to his feet, grabbed his jacket and all but ran for the door. "That stupid, son of a bitch!"