It was a miserable night.
It had been grey all day, but now it was cold and rainy and dark.
Billy should have arranged to meet Ollie at the club instead of the toy store. It would be a miserable walk from Playing For Keeps to the Hammer. Of course, the man was already there, beneath the awning, wearing a red rain coat, austere face made almost stark by the streetlights.
"Oliver. Good to see you, man. Could be a better night for it, though."
"Indeed. This weather isn't fit for man nor beast." The older man waved at him, smiled. "I'm sure this was your idea, of course."
He cackled and thumped Ollie on the back. "You might be right at that." He nodded at the door. "Come on, let's get out of the wet and find some fun stuff to torture your boy with."
Ollie smiled, looking happy. "You know how he loves to scream, hmm?"
"You guys got a cigarette to spare?"
Billy looked over at the ragged man with black dreadlocks and a gaunt face who just stared at him. Jesus, the man looked ... haunted.
This was no night to be out on the streets. "Wouldn't you rather a hot meal?" He surprised himself with the words, but once they were out, he didn't take them back.
"I can buy me one for a fiver, man, if you got one to spare..."
"Don't encourage him, Bill. They just use cash for drugs."
"Then I shall buy the meal myself, and I'll know that's where the money's gone." He peered into the man's eyes. "What do you say to that?"
They were so dark, nearly black, and desperate, fierce. Needy. "I could eat."
"Bill." Oliver looked at him. "You can't save them, my friend."
"Yeah, asshole. Fuck you. I don't need saving."
"Tsk. I'm not saving anyone. I'm hungry, he's hungry. We're going to eat. Where's the saving?" Billy patted Oliver's back. He knew his friend didn't understand this, but he'd had a hard life growing up and now he was well-to-do with too many blessings to count.
Oliver's eyes met his, worried. "You'll call me? After your meal?"
"I'll be fine, old friend." He was strong, stocky. This gaunt, starving man would not hurt him. Could not. "We'll do this another time. I'm sure you already have plenty of things to make Jack scream with until then." He gave Ollie a wink, hoping to ease his friend's worries.
Oliver nodded, and the kid stared at him, one eyebrow lifted. "Where to?"
"You like burgers and fries?" Dominico's was only a half block down and there wouldn't be too many raised eyebrows at his companion's dress.
"That's cool. You sure you don't have a smoke?"
"I'm sure. It's a nasty habit."