They sat together for a while in a strangely comfortable silence, but when Tooth started shivering in earnest, it was time for a hot shower and some of his favorite coffee. Luci declared he wanted to stay with Beast for a while, so Tooth left him alone in the courtyard, with Dolly and Priest’s shouting still resonating throughout the compound. As sad as Luci was about all this, if there was an argument, it meant Father wanted to keep him around, which made him feel slightly warm inside. Beast kept teasing him through the fence so Luci eventually gave up and entered the pen, stroking the goat’s coarse fur.
“What? You’re hungry? I can’t believe Astaroth wouldn’t feed you,” he babytalked to the animal. “So cute, you’re so cute.” Luci smiled and rubbed Beast’s ear.
“I know, Blitz is usually the one to do it.” Astaroth’s voice went straight into the core of Luci’s brain, making him freeze in place. Didn’t she leave?
He laughed nervously and pulled away from Beast. “Hey, sorry, I mean…” What was he to even say. Would Asty hate him now?
But she just looked at him like a curious puppy, and step by step, she joined him in the pen. There was a strange silence, neither of them knowing what to say, but it was more awkward than malicious.
“So, you’re my brother?” she asked in the end, taking hold of Beast’s horn.
“Y-yeah. I look nothing like Bell, do I?” He looked into her dark eyes, trying to think of sensible things to say.
Asty swallowed hard, and her lips twitched. “Yeah, Bell told me your mom was blonde. He looks totally like Dad.”
“And has your mom’s complexion. You’re pale like me.” Luci smiled and put his hand against Asty’s.
She chuckled and slowly, very slowly raised her hands. They hovered close to Luci’s neck, and with each moment it became more and more like an embrace. “I knew Dad had another kid. He just wouldn’t tell us about you because of Mom,” she whispered with her eyes closed.
“I never knew about you. I didn’t even know about Bell. Priest, I mean Dad... he never talked to me much.” Luci took the plunge and hugged Astaroth with a sigh. He was becoming a part of something. Sure, maybe it was a highly dysfunctional family soaked in criminal activity, but it was family.
Her arms tightened around him in a gesture of acceptance. “God, that’s so stupid. You’re so cute, who wouldn’t want a brother like you?”
Luci laughed out loud. That was a new one. “Bell didn’t. I’m not cute. Beast is.”
Astaroth pulled back and gave Luci’s chest a playful nudge. “Okay, I agree, he’s cuter. He’s even cuter than me.”
“I don’t think dad is thrilled with a gay son. Bet he wanted another son like Bell. One that could prospect and shit.” Luci sighed and went back to petting the goat.
Astaroth rolled her eyes. “Oh, come on. Who cares about his opinion? And for your information, he complains about Bell all the time.”
“Does he?” That made Luci grin. He was all ears for this kind of gossip.
Astaroth pushed Beast’s head away when the goat tried to munch on the hem of her dress. “Yeah. He doesn’t like him fucking every girl in sight, and he thinks Bell’s too fat.”
Luci started laughing so hard he couldn’t speak for a good minute. “Oh, my God! That’s so mean. Sure, he’s not a lean, mean machine like Tooth, but he’s tall and buff, I’d do him if it wasn’t extremely creepy to say because he’s my brother.”
Astaroth covered her face. “Oh, my God, you didn’t just say that.”
“Oh, yes I did!” He winked at her. It was fun to have a girlfriend he didn’t have to tiptoe around.
“Anyway, what’s going on between you and Mr. Lean Mean Machine?” asked Asty with an innocent bat of her eyelashes.
Lucifer straightened up with his ears on fire. “Huh? What?” Oh God, he knew exactly ‘what’.
Astaroth gave him an even wider smile, her eyes drilling holes in his brain.
“It’s like… it’s nothing.” Luci looked down to Beasts cuddly fur. With each heartbeat he was getting more self-conscious. “I mean… does it show?”
Asty nodded. “Uh-huh. You’re following him like a puppy.”
“It’s not like anything’s gonna happen.” He laughed nervously, still remembering how close their lips had been, how hot Tooth’s arms were around him.
Asty shrugged. “Maybe you need something to distract you, huh?”
“Yeah, like a cock.” Luci looked up at her with a frown. “Was that too dirty?” He wasn’t sure if this was how he should talk to a sister.
Astaroth shook her head. “I can second that, though I don’t think we could share one. I was thinking maybe something like work? You keep your hair in such amazing shape.”
“At the salon? I actually kept wanting to ask you to put in a good word for me. I wanted to do barbering and stuff. I’ve been looking stuff up online, but Tooth hasn’t yet let me touch his hair, so I’m stuck. But after today, I doubt Dolly will let me step foot in her salon.”
Asty sighed. “Yeah, Mom’s super stubborn, but I can talk her into pretty much anything. Can’t make any promises, but it seems doable with a bit of persuasion.”
“That would be really amazing. I could do a course over summer, maybe. Dad keeps moaning about me going back to school, but I managed to push it till September. Is he not pushing ‘his little ray of darkness’ back to high school?” Luci snorted.
Astaroth shrugged and slowly made her way out of the pen. “Nah, he knows I’m a passionate beautician.”
“We would be a dream team for weddings if your mom didn’t hate me.”
They spent some time cleaning Beast’s pen and shed, and it was an opportunity to talk freely about the things Luci was ready to share with Astaroth. It was so good to have someone who accepted him unconditionally, just because they were related. He was sad to see her go, but at the same time, her enthusiasm for the idea of getting him a job at the salon made him hopeful for the future. He didn’t want to be a nuisance to Dolly, but maybe she could tolerate him eventually? At the end of the day, it really was irrational to hate him just because of something his mom did.
There was no more screaming when he walked back to the clubhouse, ready for a chat with Priest. Luci had done a lot of thinking about what Tooth told him, and there had to be something that could be done. Whatever it was, Luci wanted, needed, to be a part of it.
The clubhouse wasn’t too busy, with most of the brothers working in the adjacent repair shop during the day. Luci knew Suzy was in one of the guest rooms, but he didn’t want to knock on every door and instead went straight to the office, where he expected to find Dad. He could smell heavy cigarette smoke even before he knocked.
When Priest yelled for him to come in, Luci had to take a deep breath. He could imagine that after the argument with Dolly, the last thing Priest wanted to see was him. Fortunately, Don was inside to be a buffer if needed.
The club treasurer was as laid-back as old men could be, usually sipping whisky, and with cigarettes so prevalent in his image, it almost seemed they were additional fingers. He greeted Luci with a friendly smoke ring in the air. “I heard you were a source of controversy today. Priest here’s wetting his pants.”
Priest threw a bunch of documents at Don, but the old man brushed off the rain of paper with a low laugh. “Dolly has you under her thinnest stiletto. If I listened to my wife, I wouldn’t even be here.”
“Why? Did she tell you to go kill yourself?” Luci tried with a smirk, and Don laughed, which turned into a cough.
“Good! The boy’s got a mouth on him.”
Priest shrugged. “No, his wife just hates the club. She’d bar Ghost from coming over as well if she could.”
Don made a vigorous circle with his hand. “And that’s what I’m saying. You can’t have your woman dictate your life like that. What the fuck’s wrong with taking care of your kid anyway?”
“Speaking of which…” Luci smiled slightly and entwined his fingers. “I was kinda thinking, and Astaroth was saying it as well, but I’d probably need your support… I wanted to apprentice at the salon, but I don’t know how that will work out with the Dolly thing.”
Priest turned around, grabbing his own head. “Oh, for the love of God! How could that possibly work?”
Luci nervously cracked his knuckles. “Well, I wanted to do men’s hairdressing and a barbering course. They don’t have that in her salon. I’d be useful.”
Priest groaned and fell into his chair. “Right now, I’m wondering if I’ll find my things in the garbage when I return home. I could consider it if they’re still in the house, even if in the guest room,” he said grimly.
Luci looked down at his shoes. “I’m sorry. It’s all my fault. Rick’s my friend, and he said my name. I-I better go. This was a stupid idea.”
“No no no, come back!” Priest walked out from behind the desk and stood in front of Luci, stuffing his hands down his pockets. “That’s not how I meant it. It wasn’t your fault.”
“Told ya! It was bound to happen,” added Don from behind his ancient computer.
“Shut it,” growled Priest without much conviction.
Luci looked up at his dad with some hope. “‘Cause it’s not like I think it’s gonna happen today. But maybe in a week or two she’d let me be around. Maybe when she’s not there? I heard the assistant manager is really nice.”
Priest sighed and slowly put his hand on Luci’s shoulder. “Yeah, she’s a sweetheart. But Dolly’s hard like a... well, very hard,” he muttered. “Women are difficult to understand, but Dolly is in her own category, believe me.”
“Is it because of her magic? Tooth told me she curses people. I kinda don’t believe that, but I still wouldn’t want her to curse me.”
Priest scowled. “She does, but who believes that shit? If her powers were real, I’d be incapacitated by diarrhea every time we argue. Don’t worry about it. She’s just stubborn, but I won’t send you away just because she’s telling me to.”
Luci chuckled, pulling on his fingers. “And about Suzy…”
Priest sighed. “What about her?|
“Her kidney was taken. I talked to Tooth, and he really wants to find out who did it. And me too. So if there’s anything we can do, I want to help.” He straightened up hoping Priest would take him seriously.
Priest’s eyes narrowed, and he folded his thick arms across his chest. “What do you have in mind?”
“Anything really. Maybe the fact that I’m not part of the club could be helpful. I could get in somewhere you guys wouldn’t be welcome. Whatever’s needed,” he said in one exhale.
Priest looked at him, and behind his back, Don showed Luci a thumbs-up. The guy really was like a grandfather Lucifer never had.
“Well, okay. I will think about it,” said Priest in the end.
Luci nodded. “Thanks. So… yeah, keep me in mind,” he finished awkwardly, already heading for the door. It was stressful, but he really wanted to make the point.
He was wondering whether Tooth wanted company now, but on the other hand, he was covered in dry sweat and probably smelled like a gym changing room, so he quickly ran up the stairs. He was on the landing between the floors when he heard the quiet sound of a door closing. It was Bell, who looked at the door he’d just shut and moved toward Luci.
“Is Suzy in there?” Luci asked, stopping midstep.
Bell took a large gulp of air and spread his arms. “Yeah. She fell asleep. Ghost confirmed she has a fresh scar in the right place. He’s with her, just in case.”
“You think we’ll find out who did it?” Luci whispered, walking up closer. He didn’t even want to imagine the horror of what she’d been through. She was lucky to be alive.
Bell gave him a small smile and patted Luci’s shoulder. “Let’s hope so. She’ll stay here for a few days.”
“Who’s gonna take care of her? You?” Luci raised his eyebrows. This wouldn’t end well for Suzy. He already knew the look on Bell’s face, the one he had whenever he found a girl hot. And kidney or not, Suzy was hot.
“All of us,” said Bell.
“Is there something she can’t eat? I have to go research this stuff.” Luci shook his head and waved at Bell before walking off. This place was getting too messed up.