Tooth drove down the highway with his mind feeling like a tangle of worms that wanted to devour one another. Nothing stuck, nothing made sense, his body was alternating between hot and cold, and the dull ache in his gut became more prominent with each mile. It was like being hungover, only without the physical pain, because the drilling sensation was all in his mind, and so was the light nausea. What was he to do about Luci? He knew he shouldn’t think of him that way, but the only thing that really kept him from making a move the night before was the fact that Luci had been drunk, so in a way he should be grateful to Bell.
He needed to get rid of some steam fast. The last thing he wanted now was to look for someone new, so he just contacted a hookup from a few months ago. The guy was available, and on his way to the motel as well.
Tooth got the keys, messaged the guy the room number and slumped on the bed as soon as he went inside. Normally, he’d have electric charges building up beneath his skin in anticipation, he’d lay out all the things he brought with him, smell the leather, change, but today he hadn’t even taken any clothes to wear for the scene. The room that would usually feel like a dark, exciting place, a bit anonymous and dirty, now seemed lifeless. Tooth wasn’t sure what to think about it.
He was so out of it, that when his phone rang he could barely remember where he left his bag. When he grabbed it, Lucifer’s name on the screen made him pause. Two heartbeats later, he forced himself to press the green button. “Hi?”
“Hey… I… Where did you go? I thought we’d go shopping for Manson,” Lucifer asked, but in Tooth’s mind it was one big ‘why did you leave me?’.
Tooth’s eyes strayed to the big black dildo he’d placed on the nightstand and pictured the kitten in its place. Fuck. “Sorry, I thought we’d have to go in a few days because Priest said we have everything in the bag. We can go tomorrow?”
“Yeah, sure, I suppose.”
There were no questions, no good-bye. Just silence. Tooth swallowed, leaning forward to look at the gray carpet.
“Are you on club business?” Lucifer finally asked.
Tooth cleared his throat. “No, I have two people to meet.”
“T-two?” Luci uttered as if it came as a big surprise.
Tooth frowned. “Yeah, might as well do all the business at once so I don’t have to split my days into pieces.”
Luci gave a low laugh that sounded all but amused. “Yeah, I mean, why fuck one guy, when you can do two. Does it last you for two days that way?”
It was like getting a slap in the face. “What?”
“I doubt you’ve taken stuff from your box for a business meeting. Not trying to be in your business or whatever. What do I care? I’ll get a friend to drive me to the pet store. Thanks. Bye.” The annoyance wasn’t even hidden anymore. What a bitchfest.
Tooth stared at the wall in front of him, feeling icicles flood his bloodstream. “What friend? And I’m not fucking two guys!”
“Or two friends.”
Tooth gritted his teeth. What was this fit of jealousy? “What the fuck? Why are you behaving like that?”
“‘Cause it pisses me off! You go off to fuck two guys, and I can’t even get to suck your cock? Fuck that!”
This conversation shouldn’t be happening over the phone. Tooth dragged his hand down his face and looked at the dildo. Did he really want to stay? No. He was so not in the mood it almost made him nauseated.
“We’re gonna talk in an hour.”
“No we’re not. I’m going out,” said Lucifer and hung up like some drama queen.
Tooth got off the bed. He had no time for this bullshit. There was something he needed to do first, but once he got his hands on Lucifer, the brat was gonna be sorry for his behavior. How dare he look through Tooth’s things and judge him when Tooth had never once judged Lucifer? It made his head spin, and he knew he needed to get himself in check before he mounted the bike. He dropped the key to the surprised receptionist and rushed across the parking lot, talking to his contact at the police. Fortunately, the guy could meet him sooner than the hour they’d initially agreed to.
He was already approaching his bike when his hookup arrived, making him swear in his mind. The guy was an average looking twenty-something with a big smile. He got out of his car and already waved at Tooth.
It took several long strides to meet him. “Listen, I’m very sorry, but I have a family emergency,” said Tooth, knowing how stupid that sounded. But what was he supposed to say? ‘I decided I didn’t really want to meet up and then this teen who’s crushing on me got out of control?’
“Oh, man… I’m sorry. Anything I can help with?” asked the hookup, but Tooth assumed it was just politeness. All this guy ever wanted was nipple clamps, a big black dildo, and getting slapped in the face. And then to have a beer together. He was a nice guy.
Tooth shook his head. “No, but thanks. We’ll be in touch,” he lied, because there was just no way he’d call him for the next few months after this.
He rushed to his bike and hit the road as quickly as he could. It took twenty minutes to get to the secluded street he’d arranged to meet up with officer Snapp, but it was a huge relief to see him in front of the police car already. With no one in sight.
The guy was a buff Asian who smoked more cigarettes than Don. Or at least the same number. More importantly, he was more than happy to sell intel and was Tooth’s go-to guy.
Tooth stopped his bike and walked over, leaning his upper body on the roof of the police car. His muscles were stiff with worry, but as much as he needed to check in on yet another of Lucifer’s stupid plans, he wanted information. “Long time no see.”
“Exactly. I was beginning to think you were done with this wild-goose chase.” Snapp threw the cigarette butt to the ground and stomped it.
Tooth’s breath rasped. “Not in a million years. What do you have for me?” he asked.
“I’ve got copies of two cases. One’s a hooker found without an eye.” He showed Tooth a folder and raised his eyebrows. “It could just be violence, but it could be a lead. And the other is some real shit from two months ago. A girl’s body, still unidentified, had a missing liver and heart. A rare blood type, too.”
Bile rose in Tooth’s throat, and he walked around the car to join Snapp. With a discreet gesture, he pushed a bundle of cash into his hand. His whole body was getting hot. “Any leads?”
“We have DNA from who we suppose is the murderer of One-Eyed Betty. That’s what we call her.” He chuckled and hid the cash. “But there are no matches in our databases.”
Tooth spat on the ground. “What about the other one?” His fingers longed for the copied case files.
Snapp passed them to him as soon as Tooth held out his hand. “Not much. Just that it really fits with the other cases. Young, fit, rare blood type. She had a big debt to her ex-husband, but that’s about it.”
Tooth’s eyes snapped up. “Was he investigated?”
Snapp backed off by half a step. “Yeah, but if he’s involved, he’s not talking.”
Tooth bit his lip. “Is someone watching him now?”
“No, there’s not enough resources and not enough reason to have him watched.”
Well, there would be from now on.
Tooth sighed. “Is his data in the file then? I’ll have one of my men see what he’s up to.”
“All there.” Snapp nodded at him. “Should I keep an eye out if something new pops up?” The question was a formality. They’d had this arrangement for five years strong.
Tooth nodded and slowly made his way to the bike. This didn’t solve anything, but he would get one of the guys on the case. No lead would be left unexplored, even if the police lacked ‘resources’. “See you next time.”
Snapp waved at him and got back into his car. Now Tooth could carry on to his other problem. When Snapp disappeared behind the corner, Tooth already knew Lucifer wasn’t home. He had the right application on his smartphone to check on the boy whenever he needed, and so far it had proven useful. There was nothing like a hidden tracker.
But Lucifer wasn’t far away either, nor was he moving. The location was just down the road from the club, so God only knew what he was doing. Maybe just hiding somewhere to be a brat.
The case file copies were burning through his clothes where he’d stuffed them under his jacket, but this could wait. He didn’t want Lucifer meandering around without supervision when he was like that. At least the bike was a familiar presence between his legs, steady and responsive to his wishes.
Unwilling to alarm Lucifer, he left the bike at the compound and set out on foot.
But the farther he got down the street, the more he was sure that Lucifer was sitting in a car with someone. Was it the ‘friend’ he was talking about earlier? The vehicle was nothing fancy, a dark blue sedan, but Tooth didn’t recall anyone he knew owning a car like that. The two people inside seemed too busy to notice him, talking and gesticulating, so he just ran over there and opened the passenger's door with blood already boiling in his veins.
Lucifer frowned and looked at him with eyes as wide as the cat’s in his lap. Next to him, in the driver’s seat, was none other than Rick with that ugly broken-nosed mug of his.
“I’m busy,” Lucifer said with a pout and bit into a pink frosted donut.
Tooth’s eyes met Rick’s as he spoke, stiff, holding onto the open car door. “We’re going.”
“Luci, you don’t have to let him treat you like that. You’re no one’s slave. I can take you away if you want. Cat included,” Rick said in a calm tone and patted Lucifer’s shoulder.
Just seeing that made Tooth’s skin crawl. This Rick guy was making Tooth’s hands itch for dental forceps. “Lucifer. We need to talk.”
Lucifer looked up at him with that mean-spirited expression Tooth knew all too well. “Sure, I’m talking to Rick now. I’ll be back in a few hours.”
If it weren’t for the cat, Tooth would simply yank Lucifer by the shoulder and force him out of the vehicle, but instead, he relied on Lucifer not being stupid. “I asked you not to. Come home.”
“Why not?” Lucifer raised his eyebrows.
“Exactly. What’s your problem?” Rick growled.
Tooth narrowed his eyes, leaning down to Lucifer and stared at the other man without withholding any of his displeasure. “My chair’s empty,” he said, knowing Lucifer would understand.
Lucifer looked less than pleased, but he finally got the point and moved. “I don’t wanna cause trouble,” he said to Rick and got out of the car, holding the cat close.
Rick blinked and grabbed Lucifer’s hand. “Is he threatening you?”
“No, I’m threatening you. Stay away from him,” hissed Tooth.
“I’ll deal with it, Rick, it’s fine,” muttered Lucifer, and his hand finally slid out of Rick’s undoubtedly sweaty palm. “Don’t worry, sweetie,” he added to his cat when the thing started meowing.
“No, it’s not fine!” growled Rick and left the car with a loud slam of the door. But before he could reach Lucifer, Tooth stood between them with his hand on the knife he was wearing underneath the jacket.
“Don’t you fucking dare!” Lucifer pulled on his arm with one hand, as the fucker in front of Tooth pushed him back.
“What kind of man are you, pushing a kid around?” Rick yelled.
This assumption awoke a monster in Tooth’s chest. He lashed out at Rick and punched his face so hard the guy fell over.
“Fuck you, you fucker!” Rick cursed from the ground, and Tooth hoped that broken nose of his just got another fracture.
“Tooth! Stop! Do you need to go to the hospital?” Lucifer whined to Rick.
Tooth put his arm around Lucifer, feeling much better now that the boy was there. He pulled him toward the compound, ignoring the guy swearing at him from the asphalt.
“Rick, I’ll call you, yeah?” Lucifer said over his shoulder, but at least didn’t oppose to being led.
Tooth squeezed his hand around Lucifer’s arm and looked, of all things, at the clearly confused kitten. “What the fuck are you thinking?”
“What’s your problem? You can go meet friends, and I can’t?” He wouldn’t even look up at Tooth.
“He’s not your friend. Why would an adult straight guy who worked with you at a strip joint meet up with you? He’s fishy.” Tooth shook his head, leading Lucifer across the street.
“Oh, so I’m not worth his friendship?” Lucifer pouted in that nasty way that made Tooth want to spank the attitude out of him.
“No, I think he’s a creep,” growled Tooth, pulling him toward the compound. “And what the hell are you thinking taking this tiny kitten out?”
“I just wanted to show it to Rick. You’re hurting me!” Lucifer tried to pull away from the grip on his arm.
“How did you know he was there, huh?” hissed Tooth in answer.
Lucifer stared up. “I called him over.”
“How did you do that?” asked Tooth. The office was always closed when Don and Priest weren’t there, and that was the only place where a landline could be accessed in the compound. Or did Lucifer call Rick from the salon?
Lucifer pulled out a little cell phone and waved it at Tooth. “You’re not the only one with secrets.”
White rage blinded Tooth for a moment, but he grabbed the phone and smashed it against the compound wall. The broken pieces of metal and plastic slid down to the pavement. He didn’t know what to say. What a betrayal of trust.
Lucifer screamed, but at least he had his priorities right with holding onto the frightened kitten first. “I had photos on there, you dick!”
“And you broke the rules,” hissed Tooth, seizing Lucifer by his hot nape and pulling him straight for the door.
“How did you even come back so fast, huh? Two guys?” Lucifer whistled, but whimpered when Tooth tightened his grip.
“Shut up,” growled Tooth, pulling Lucifer down the hall, toward the lounge where they could hear voices. He would humiliate Lucifer if it was necessary.
Lucifer put the kitten inside of his hoodie and for once, followed the order. The moment Bell saw them, he laughed from far away. It seemed he’d never left since yesterday’s party.
“What did he do this time?” he yelled from the sofa.
Tooth exhaled through his nose, feeling like a cornered bull. “Contacted people he shouldn’t. I’ll deal with it,” he said, ignoring two other members on his way to the staircase.
“You’re pulling on my hair!” Lucifer complained, but didn’t struggle as Tooth pushed him up the stairs.
“You deserve it, you little traitor,” growled Tooth, eager to deal with it his way. He couldn’t remember the last time he was so angry.
“How am I to ever meet anyone, huh?” Lucifer slapped Tooth’s hand and tried to wiggle out of the grip.
“Why, did you want to sleep with this bulldog?” Tooth kicked the door open and pushed Lucifer in, staring at his slim silhouette in the background of the room, painted golden by the rays of sun coming through the blinds. The boy was no angel despite the halo light created around his blond hair.
“Maybe. What do you care? I wanted to suck his big, juicy dick. So there,” hissed Lucifer and backed off further.
Tooth put his hands on the doorframe, keeping himself from acting in anger. He listened to his own breathing as he stared at Lucifer. “Put the cat down.”
Lucifer followed at least this order and put the cat in the bathroom, closing the door, so the kitten wouldn’t get in the way. “You know what else? I wanted to have him fuck me, because I’m sick of being celibate. Fucking sleeping in your bed like we’re twelve-year-old girls,” he raised his voice and clenched his fists.
Tooth swallowed hard. So that’s what it was? Did Lucifer proposition him only because he was horny? It stung more than it should.
Tooth locked the door.