Luci’s jaw still ached after wearing the gag for so long, but the thing was actually strangely well fitted, and he’d gotten used to it. His hands still stung after yesterday. He wouldn’t complain about it though. Not to mention that having his arms wrapped around Tooth’s waist helped soothe any pain. Tooth made a most unusual guardian with his wild, dangerous look. No one would mess with him.
He wondered what he would be allowed to get because he didn’t have any money of his own, and no one talked to him about it. Best not to raise any questions too soon, maybe Tooth would lend him some.
They sped through downtown, but for the most part, Luci kept his eyes closed, savoring the firmness of Tooth’s back and the way the powerful machine worked between his thighs. It was only when they changed direction and slowed down almost entirely that he took a proper look around. They went off the highway and were now in the parking lot of a medical clinic. Nowhere near a mall.
He looked around, ungluing himself from Tooth. “Are we walking there or something?”
Tooth parked the bike and kicked the support into place before pulling off his helmet to reveal a mess of coarse hair that just wouldn’t fall into place easily. “We need to have you checked out.”
Luci backed off from the man he wanted to hug just seconds ago. “The fuck?”
Tooth got off the bike and looked at him with a slight frown. “Everyone needs to visit a doctor once in a while. What’s the big deal?”
“Why now?” Luci moaned and got off on the opposite side of the bike. The last thing he wanted was a fucking needle in him. “I’ll go when I feel like it.”
The staring contest lasted for much longer than necessary, and Luci eventually looked down at his bruised hands.
“Come on,” said Tooth.
“I’m not a dog that you just take for a check-up.” Luci gritted his teeth. To think that he was so excited to go shopping, only to be tricked into coming here.
“Did you use condoms with Milk?”
Luci pursed his lips and hugged himself. “It was just a blow job,” he muttered, watching Tooth’s motorcycle boots approach him over the asphalt.
“Blow jobs can leave you with some nasty stuff. And that guy is a manwhore.”
“I got tested, like, half a year ago. I don’t wanna.” Luci inched away, his anxiety levels going through the roof. The last thing he needed was to find out he had something nasty parasite that would eat him from the inside. He would just die. Literally, it would eat him, and he would die.
Tooth sighed and put his hand on Luci’s shoulder. “I could get one too if that makes you feel better.”
“Yeah, like that helps. You’re probably Mr. Safe and Proper.” Luci couldn’t get himself to look up into Tooth’s eyes. If there was anyone around, they were probably staring as well.
Tooth’s low sigh was something Luci was already recognizing as a pattern. “You need to learn caution when your partner’s HIV-positive.”
Luci blinked, unsure if he understood correctly. “What do you mean?” He finally forced himself to look up.
Tooth pulled on his beard gently. “I used to be with a HIV-positive girl.”
Lucifer swallowed and played with the zipper of his hoodie, unsure what to say. “Did she die?” he whispered, uselessly attempting to control his panic. When Tooth’s eyes darkened and his neck moved as he swallowed, it became clear the answer was yes. “I’m so sorry. That was such a stupid fucking question.” Luci put a hand over his face. He shouldn’t have asked, he should have kept his big mouth shut.
“That’s all right. It’s been some time.” Tooth cleared his throat but wouldn’t touch Luci again. “But she didn’t die from AIDS. It can be managed if it’s discovered early, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re here.”
Luci’s breathing was getting erratic despite his attempts at controlling it. “I probably have it. I’m so fucking unlucky. My case would probably be really bad, and after a horrible illness I would die. Sometimes I have these dreams that I have a parasite somewhere inside, like this hookworm, eating me from the inside. Maybe it’s my body telling me something’s wrong. Your subconscious can do that in your dreams.”
Tooth stared at him. “I don’t believe in a subconscious. You either know something or you don’t. Let’s just find out and stop worrying, huh?”
Luci took a step back. His whole being told him to run, but he had promised not to. “And you stayed with that girl even though she had it?” He already imagined how no one would ever want him if he were diseased.
Tooth stroked the seat of his bike, without looking at Luci. His shoulders hunched ever-so-slightly as he spoke, “Yeah. I was scared, but it didn’t matter in the end.”
Luci went silent. The last thing he’d expect of Tooth was hearing him admit that he was scared of something. A part of him wanted to ask about this mysterious girl, but then he thought of the tattoo on Tooth’s arm. A cross, a date, and the name ‘Tracy’.
“Can I call Rick? He’s been with me last time…”
Tooth shook his head and urged Luci on with a gentle tug on his shoulder. “Are you saying he’s better than me?” he asked with a small smile.
Luci let himself be led along to the dreadful place, but his heart wouldn’t stop thudding. “Well, you’re not gonna sit there and hold my hand,” he uttered, still remembering how horrible it was last time. But Rick was there for him and pulled him through.
“Why? Is that what you want?” asked Tooth, clearly interested.
The moment the doors to the clinic automatically opened for them, Luci wanted to throw up. The medical stench had him gagging. His whole body screamed to be out of here no matter how smiley and friendly the receptionist was. “I… I just don’t want to be alone,” he uttered, hugging himself.
“You’re not. It’s okay.” Tooth put his hand on Luci’s arm and pulled him closer to the counter. The corridors to both sides seemed endless, he could get lost in them and never get to leave.
Even as he registered, Luci felt like a lamb led to the slaughter. He probably had some horrible illness that only matured with time and would show up now. His dad would find out, and he’d be disgusted, put him in a separate room, just to keep him away from everyone.
When they walked toward the designated room, he hoped there would be a line, but there was no one there, and Tooth went straight for the door, giving it a vigorous knock. He entered as soon as someone answered from inside. Luci took a step back. It was all happening too fast, he wasn’t ready. When they went with Rick, he knew the visit was approaching a week in advance. Tooth just put him on the spot, and on top of that, they had barely arrived and were already walking in for the test. He took deep breaths and hid his hands in his sleeves. What if the doctor asked him about the bruises? What would he say then?
Tooth looked back and held the door for him. Inside a small office with white walls and furniture sat an elderly lady with the smile of a Care Bear. She waved at Luci, inviting him to come in. He’d rather have stayed at the clubhouse and not gone shopping at all. He should have known good things don’t happen to him and that this outing was one big trap.
Luci gave her a faint smile and walked in, hoping he wasn’t trembling. His knees sure felt as soft as marshmallows.
“So, gentlemen, who wants to go first?” asked the nurse with a brilliant smile, and just as Luci felt his head go lighter, Tooth hurried to sit down in the chair, which left Luci standing awkwardly in the middle of the room.
“It might be quicker with me,” said Tooth and gave Luci an encouraging smile.
At least it would give Luci a few more minutes to try to calm the fuck down. He sat on a treatment table by the wall.
The nurse had a vacutainer in hand, and the moment she started probing the inner side of Tooth’s elbow with her finger, Lucifer looked away, focusing on his hands, hidden deep in the sleeves of his hoodie. His whole body was screaming at him to run, but there was no way he could flee from Tooth. The guy would most likely chase him down with the needle still in.
“Is there a way to test without a blood sample?” Luci uttered and closed his eyes to fight the dizziness.
“I’m sorry, honey,” said the nurse, “Only blood tests are conclusive. Are you hemophobic?”
Luci rubbed his face feeling hot and cold all at the same time. “I don’t know. I just really don’t like blood.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that, honey. I’ll make it quick and painless. Lots of people don’t like blood tests.” She then explained to Tooth how to hold his hand, and the unstoppable sound of footsteps told Luci the chair was now ready for him. The nurse smiled at him again. “You know, in some places people believe blood is an indicator of character. It’s even used in matchmaking,” she said, clearly to distract him, but he went with it anyway.
“Mine’s 0 negative. It’s so rare no one would want a match with me.”
The nurse chuckled as she prepared the supplies. “If you weren’t hemophobic, I’d suggest you donate. It’s the rarest blood type.”
He swallowed and looked up at Tooth with the most pleading puppy eyes in the world. Right now he would much rather have the hookworm. With the way his insides were spasming, maybe he did.
Tooth gave him a weak smile, but showed him the chair nevertheless. The nurse put on a new pair of latex gloves after making sure he wasn’t allergic, and waited. It was as if this nightmare would only end if he submitted to the ordeal.
“Will you hold my hand?” he whispered to Tooth despite the embarrassment the request caused him. Fainting would be a lot worse.
Instead of answering, Tooth walked up to him and reached out the hand he wasn’t folding at the elbow. Luci took a deep breath and let their fingers entwine before getting up. His legs were marshmallow before, but now he was approaching the fire, and falling to his knees was becoming an all too real option. At least he knew Tooth would try to catch him.
The nurse gave him an approving smile. “Can you uncover your left arm?”
Lucifer swallowed and sat in the chair. He had to let go of Tooth’s hand to pull his arm out of the sleeve, but as soon as he showed it to the nurse, his cold fingers were back in Tooth’s warm embrace.
“Use your other hand, honey,” said the nurse, and Tooth immediately obliged, taking hold of Luci’s right hand, leaving the other to be handled.
“What do you want to buy at the mall?” asked Tooth.
Luci looked up at him with his heart pulsing in his throat, even more so when the rubber cord was tightened above his elbow and the nurse told him to squeeze his hand into a fist. “I don’t know if I wanna go anymore.”
Tooth blinked. “Why not? You kept talking about how little you now have.”
“You tricked me into coming here,” he said with his temples pulsing. He didn’t even care anymore that the nurse was listening.
Tooth’s hand squeezed his own, but its warmth wasn’t enough to compensate for the cold disinfectant the nurse applied to his elbow.
“Come on, we just stopped by on the way there.”
Luci looked into Tooth’s eyes, trying to focus on the dark green irises instead of the blood that was to be taken out of his arm. “I wanted this Macadamia Oil moisturizing mask for my hair…”
Tooth’s expressionless face told Luci that he had no idea what the mask was, but he nodded anyway. “That’s fine. What else?”
“A new towel.” Luci squeezed Tooth’s hand in a steel grip when the needle went under his skin, and he made it his job not to look away from Tooth’s eyes. Not to even blink. “A T-shirt, if I find any that aren’t shit.”
Tooth smirked. “Define ‘not shit’.”
“I don’t want stupid colors. Or sequins. I really don’t like stuff that sparkles.”
Tooth’s laugh rumbled in his chest like a trapped fly. “We just need to go to the men’s section then.”
“There’s shit T-shirts in the men’s section. I don’t like these really plastic looking prints. I don’t like when the print extends over the sleeves. I hate these pseudo-cute prints, like fucking ducks or whatever. I mean, really, who wears that?”
The last word changed into a high-pitched moan when the needle went out of his vein, and the nurse pressed a ball of cotton against the cut, telling Luci to hold his arm bent at the elbow for the next five minutes.
Tooth grinned and patted Luci’s shoulder. “How about some chocolate before we head off?”
Luci missed Tooth’s hand as soon as it left his grip. He took a deep breath. All he now needed to do was not look at the elbow as he stood up. “You really think I’m ten or something?” He looked at the nurse. “I’m sorry for being such a pain in the ass.”
“That’s all right, it’s part of my job,” she said, and there it was, a whole vial of blood taken straight from Luci’s vein. He felt dizzy, so he turned around and quickly put his face against Tooth’s shoulder. Right away, Tooth’s thick, heavy arm pulled him close.
“You okay? Are you fainting?” asked Tooth, but all Luci could sense now was the rich scent of leather.
The chair moved over the floor, and Luci could feel the nurse’s hands on him. “Do you want to lie down?”
Luci took a few deep breaths. “No, I’ll be fine, I just don’t want to look at it.”
The nurse sighed. “I think chocolate isn’t such a bad idea. It will raise your glucose levels. There’s a café at the end of the corridor if you go to the right.”
Tooth’s chest rose, and then Luci was pulled closer, to rest his head against the muscle hidden beneath Tooth’s shirt. Luci didn’t hesitate to hug him back, he was too exhausted to fight it. Thanks to Tooth he had gotten through it without Rick and without fainting as well. Blood always made him think of the day he became alone in the world. As useless as his mom tended to be, she used to be there, and on good days, they would talk, and act as if life wasn’t a downward spiral.
“I want a milkshake,” he muttered into the strong chest.