Luci was scrubbing the floor in the salon, and it couldn’t be more tedious. Dolly ordered him to clean the spaces between the tiles with a toothbrush. Having to deal with Harlow twice at school since he’d confessed to Tooth was just another part of his misery. He wouldn’t say he was unhappy though. Everything had changed since he got together with Tooth, and when Luci came back home after school or work, he could shed all his troubles, cuddle up with Tooth, and fuck like nothing else mattered.
A loud clatter of high-heeled shoes was like a series of strikes to Luci’s back, soon followed by Dolly’s low voice, soaked in thick disappointment. “You’re still at it?”
When Luci looked up just enough to see the tips of her shoes, it was like being monitored by a jail warden.
“I’m almost done. I just have the rust on that last chair to go.” He looked up with his cheeks hot from all the effort he’d put into the scrubbing. He had to keep his hair in a bun not to let it get dirty.
It seemed like the kohl and slightly smudged black eyeshade around Dolly’s eyes were an expression of the contempt she had for him. “Not really. Did you forget about the staff bathroom? I hate that you can see the smudges on the walls, so I hope you polish the tiles properly, not like last time.”
Luci groaned. “Can’t I do it tomorrow? It’s not like the customers will see it.” Kneeling before her like this, he felt like a minion in front of the evil overlord. His knees hurt from crawling all over the hard tiles, and not in a good way like, say, after a rough fuck.
Dolly bit the side of her red lip and snorted. “Slacking already? Just like your mother, living off someone else for most of her life.”
Luci looked away to hide the hurt from his eyes. “I’m just saying.” He dipped the toothbrush in soapy water and continued the scrubbing with his teeth clenched tightly.
“No, you can’t. It’s the newbie’s job to do those things,” she said, slowly circling him like a cat still playing with its prey. The narrow tips of her shoes and their high arch visible from between the folds of her skirt made Luci feel like he was the captive of a witch who would eventually eat him for dinner. He was definitely not in Kansas anymore.
“Jeez, I’m doing it then. I’m an apprentice, not a slave,” he said through gritted teeth and only started scrubbing harder.
She walked away, muttering something that sounded suspiciously like “Same damn thing.”
It was past closing time, and he knew he’d be the last one to go, but when he noticed familiar voices, hope bloomed in his heart. Would he be saved?
His dad walked into the salon with Bell when Luci was almost done dealing with the rust on the chair. “Hey!” he said with a bright smile, but Priest avoided his gaze.
Bell gave him a curt nod. “‘sup, kiddo?”
“I’m just finishing work for today.” Luci said from the floor. “You going somewhere? Can I come?” Wherever they were going was bound to be better than another hour of scrubbing tiles.
Bell stopped midstride with his mouth open, and glanced at Priest. But Dolly emerged from the other room and caught her husband’s gaze.
“I don’t think it’ll be your thing,” said Dad eventually.
“Yeah, we’re gonna do some shooting with Priest,” Bell added and grabbed a set of keys from Dolly.
“But I could go. I can shoot. I like it.” Luci could only hope it didn’t sound like a puppy whimpering at their master’s foot. Being on his knees wasn’t helping.
Priest sighed loudly. “Yeah, I know, but you’re probably tired, right? It’s a guy thing… Lucky.”
“Who’s lucky?” called Dolly from the other room, obviously not having heard the whole conversation.
“Just Luci’s new nickname, mom. It’s gaining popularity,” Bell said with a wide smile.
So Tooth had actually done it. Luci felt his face heat up even though he knew Tooth would never tell Priest that the nickname came from Luci saying he was lucky to be full of spunk. He licked his lips, still stung by his dad not wanting to take him shooting. Since when was he not a ‘guy’. “Oh. Is it? Did Tooth tell you how it started?”
Priest sighed. “Yeah, he said he started calling you that because you were lucky we found you.” He cleared his throat and stepped closer, stiff as a tree trunk. “How’s work?”
“All right,” Luci said, not wanting to seem ungrateful nor talk badly of Priest’s wife. “I’m ploughing through school as well. Lisa let me help her with some clients last week. But I practice on Tooth.”
Bell blinked. “Come to think of it, he does look unusually well groomed recently.”
“Just don’t overdo it with his kindness. You can use some of the money you earned so far and buy a mannequin,” said Dolly, joining them in the main room.
“And what? Buy a fake beard?” Luci moaned, making Bell laugh out loud and pat his head.
“You can grow out your own,” said Bell.
Dolly gave a dark chuckle. “He’d need to grow anything first.”
Luci pursed his lips. “I can’t help having fair hair.”
“Like your mom.” Priest’s lips curved into a slight smile.
The silence that followed made Luci want to crawl under the table and hide his ears. Bell walked up to him and pulled him up by the arm. “You know what? Let’s have a beer back at the club. You can finish it tomorrow.”
Relief was so overwhelming Luci released a long breath of air.
“Since when is he allowed to drink?” Dolly hissed.
Priest ran his fingers through his hair. “I’ll join you later.”
Luci couldn’t be quicker to grab his bag. Bell pushed him outside before he could even say his good-byes.
With his hand on top of Luci’s shoulder, Bell seemed aggravated like a cornered grizzly bear. “Fuck.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t think it would go that way.” Luci looked up at Bell. He had so many of Dolly’s features. Black hair, dark eyes, olive skin. When Dolly had mocked him for not being able to grow a beard, Luci hardly bit his tongue, wanting to say that at least he didn’t have to worry about an unwanted moustache. Unfortunately, he had to remember Dolly was doing him a favor in the first place.
“I know. Wish Mom would get over it. It’s been years, and your mother...” He sighed. “Yeah, why would she be jealous just because she sees you?”
“It’s not like I’m gonna seduce Priest.” Only now Luci remembered to pull his hair out of the bun.
Bell sighed, stopping close to the club door. He put his hands in his pockets and looked at the road, his expression souring by the minute. “Yeah.”
Luci followed his gaze, unsure what to do. “Did I say something wrong?”
Bell massaged the base of his nose. “Nah. I’m just pissed off. Mom won’t let go of the past, and Dad feels guilty so he won’t make a stand.”
Luci ran his fingers along the dirty door. “It would have been easier for him if he never found me.”
Bell folded his arms across his chest and sighed. “Don’t be stupid. I don’t need more people pissing me off.”
Luci laughed nervously and rubbed his cheeks. “You wanna see my new cat?”
Bell pulled him closer and walked straight into the clubhouse. “Is that the gray kitten Dad got from the rescue?”
“You’ve seen him?” Luci followed. “He’s so cute I can’t bear it. He crawls into Tooth’s beard in the morning and massages it like a pillow.”
Bell’s face broke into a wide smile. “And the thing’s still alive?”
“Yeah! I keep an eye on it.” Luci unzipped his hoodie as they walked up to the empty bar. “I make sure it doesn’t mess Tooth up too much. But at least I get to comb his beard later. Actually, I was meaning to ask… What’s Tooth’s real name?”
Bell squinted and stopped Luci by the arm. “Jason, why? Listen, don’t overdo it, yeah? The grooming, the beard, you wanna know his name. Things like that might make a guy uncomfortable.” He bit his lip and looked at the floor. “Everyone sees you like him.”
Luci swallowed, his stomach clenching with nerves. Was he really this obvious? He walked behind the bar to get them beers from the fridge. “I kinda… What are people saying?”
Bell leaned over the counter and looked at Luci with what seemed like genuine concern. “We were talking about it with the guys, and we’re kinda... worried, you know. Tooth will get pissed off with this gay... stuff eventually.” He swallowed and opened his hands. “I could cover for you so Dad doesn’t know if you wanna look for a hookup.”
Luci’s face was scorching with the heat of a thousand suns. “Oh. I… If I tell you a secret, would you promise me not to tell anyone? Even Tooth? Especially Tooth?” His heart was beating so hard it was about to pop out of his chest. Luci opened a beer to cool himself down before the confession.
Bell stepped back. “What did you do?”
Luci took a big gulp of beer. “You have to promise.”
“Promise. Now, out with it.”
“I had sex with Tooth,” he blurted out with his eyes wide and staring at his brother as he clutched his bottle.
Bell went so pale for a moment Luci was afraid he’d drop to the floor. “The fuck?” He started shaking his head. “No way...”
“I know. It was after your birthday. I got so drunk, and talked too much, and then we argued, and then it kinda… happened.” Luci’s voice trembled against his will. He flinched when Bell grabbed his arm, squeezing so hard it seemed to drain blood out of Luci’s hand.
“You could have told me sooner...”
“Why?” He glanced at Bell’s thick fingers on his arm.
Bell licked his lips, jaw trembling like a rabid dog’s. “Can’t believe this fucker’s using my own brother like that!”
“Huh? What? It’s not like that at all. This is an... um… happy secret.” Lucifer awkwardly patted Bell’s shoulder.
Bell’s nostrils flared as he leaned over Luci with his brows drawn tightly together. “No, it’s not. Dad didn’t take you in so that a straight dude gets off with you just because he can!”
Luci swallowed and leaned back, watching Bell with his heart in his throat. “He’s not straight,” he whispered. Maybe he shouldn’t have said anything in the first place?
Bell laughed, but the sound was so unpleasant, Luci wanted to already throw himself between Bell and Tooth. “And how do you know that? I’ve known Tooth for years!”
Luci couldn’t even wrap his head around Bell’s reasoning. “We had sex, Bell. I told you.”
“I had a guy suck me off once, doesn’t mean I’m gay,” hissed Bell. “I’m gonna fucking kill him!”
Luci couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “What the fuck?”
And just like in the stupidest sitcom, Tooth chose this moment to show up. “Lucky, have you seen Manson?”
Bell made a pirouette worthy of a drunk Kung Fu master and sent his fist straight into Tooth’s face, knocking him into the wall.
Luci screamed and grabbed Bell’s midsection to pull him back. “Oh, my God! What are you doing?”
Tooth rolled down the wall, only to grab Bell’s legs to bring him down.
“No! Bell! You promised! Stop it,” Luci yelled at him, but he couldn’t stop the two bulls who had already locked horns, ignoring his cries for attention as they rolled over the tiles.
“What the fuck is your problem?” rasped Tooth, squirming to immobilize his opponent, his face red, hair completely out of order.
“My problem is a straight guy using my brother for a cheap fuck!” Bell growled, and Luci could only hope no one would hear this. He couldn’t believe Bell of all people was defending his ‘honor’.
Tooth stopped moving, and his eyes darted at Luci. “What the hell?”
“Get off me, you faggot!” rasped Bell, fidgeting in Tooth’s arms.
Luci covered his face in shame. “Tooth, he promised!”
Tooth closed his eyes and gave a low grunt. “Can you shut up till we’re upstairs? Or do you want everyone to listen?” he asked Bell.
Bell finally stilled with his face dark and flushed. “We can talk upstairs,” he spat.
Tooth slowly pulled away, but from the way he tensed his muscles, it was clear he would be prepared for an attack this time. With his chest heaving he gestured to the door. “Go first, Luci.”
Luci clenched his fists so hard his nails bit into his skin. “I’m sorry,” he muttered, so ashamed, so disappointed with Bell. Then again, he knew his brother had good intentions. What a cock-up.
Tooth stretched his neck and gestured for Bell to go first. Bell spat on the floor. “I’m gonna break your nose, Tooth!”
Tooth shook his head and followed with his hands folded on his nape. Luci could only imagine what his boyfriend was thinking right now. Tooth probably wanted to break his nose.
Luci made his climb upstairs quick, not to prolong the awkwardness. It was nice that Bell was so protective, but he completely misunderstood the situation.
Even heading this funeral procession, Luci was ready to stop the burial, and as soon as the door closed, he moved to stand between the two giants who could easily squash him with their sheer weight.
Tooth tugged on his beard, pacing to the wall and back. “Luci, what did you tell him?”
“I just… I was so happy I wanted to share it with someone,” Luci moaned. “He promised not to tell.”
“Happy?” growled Bell, bristling up. He rushed toward Tooth and only Luci’s body stopped him from attacking again. “He’s using you. I won’t have it!”
Tooth brushed his hair back with a low growl. “Fuck.”
“He’s not using me!” Luci tried to push Bell back, but it was like shoving a rock. “I went after him.”
“So? He’s our fucking VP! He should know better than to go for it!”
“Bell,” muttered Tooth, standing by the wall with his hands folded on his nape.
Luci jumped right in. “Why would he not ‘go for it’? Is there something wrong with me?”
Tooth knocked his fist against the wall. “What did you tell him?”
Luci swallowed and looked back at Tooth. “I told him we had sex. In secret. I mean, I told him in secret, not that we had sex in secret. Though we did have it in secret I suppose…”
Tooth and Bell’s eyes met over Luci’s head, and the heat from their clash made Luci flinch.
“That’s not how it is,” growled Tooth, grasping Luci’s wrist.
“What’s it like then?” Bell clenched his fists as Luci stepped closer to Tooth.
Slowly, the strong, familiar hand slid around Luci’s body and pulled him close. “We’re an item, okay?” said Tooth in a quiet voice. Its rasp went straight to Luci’s muscles and made him melt against his lover. Fighting a smile was impossible.
Bell frowned and took a step back. “What?” was all he managed to choke out.
Tooth’s chest heaved against Luci, and he was pulled closer against those hard pecs, with a better view on the stunned expression on Bell’s face.
Tooth cleared his throat, resting his chin on top of Luci’s head. “I’m gay, all right? It’s not anyone’s business.”
Bell’s eyes were wide open. “I can’t believe this shit. I thought you just… I don’t know. Had some weird fetish, or that you were the kind of guy who waits for his princess or some shit. Fuck.”
Tooth squeezed his arms tighter around Luci. “It’s not anything weird, Bell, all right? I treat him right.”
“Priest doesn’t know, does he? He wouldn’t put Luci here otherwise,” Bell answered his own question, and his frown resembled Priest’s more than ever before.
“No one knows,” muttered Tooth, gently brushing Luci’s hair out of his face.
Bell swallowed, shaking his head. “Fuck... can’t believe no one noticed.”
“I’ve never had a proper guy before. I just wanted to share,” said Luci to Bell, but dared look up at Tooth. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s all right,” said Tooth, but his eyes also darted to Bell. With all expectations on him, Bell faced away from them with a low growl.
“What the hell... You want me to lie to Priest?”
Lucifer stroked the top of Tooth’s hand. “Why not? You promised.”
Bell raised his hands only to dramatically drop them. “It’s different if it’s under the club roof. Hooking up doesn’t count!”
“Really?” Tooth slid his hand down Luci’s side and grasped his hand. “You think he doesn’t need someone to take care of him?”
Luci squeezed Tooth’s big, hot hand with a smile. He loved what those hands could do to his body. He used to be too afraid to trust anyone, to be dependent on them. With Tooth everything was different. Luci could always count on him.
Bell ran his fingers through his messy hair. Luci could read his dilemmas right off his face. “He’s a kid, Tooth.”
“No, I’m not. I’m almost twenty!”
Tooth bit his lip. “Bell, you know he’s gonna be hooking up anyway. Come on, who do you think’s gonna keep him safe? I wouldn’t be going into it if I weren’t serious.”
“Wipe that stupid grin off your face!” Bell pointed at Luci with a groan. “I suppose it is better than some random fucker.”
Luci bit the inside of his cheek not to laugh.
Tooth sighed. “Come on, yeah. It is the real deal. Just ask yourself: would you have a problem with Astaroth dating me?”
“I suppose I’d rather she dated someone within the club. When she’s Lucifer’s age.” Bell took a deep breath and wrapped his arms on his chest. “You’re responsible. I guess.”
Tooth stepped closer, gently pulling Luci along. His shoulders were stiff as he approached Bell. “Look, Brother, I didn’t coerce him into it, and I’m not gonna hurt him.”
Luci couldn’t help the happiness tingling in his heart. “We just work really well together.”
Bell rubbed his forehead, looking as tense as a string. “Okay, okay… Just keep this shit away from Priest for now. And, Tooth, if he ever tells me you’re messing him around, you’re dead, you get that?”
“I’m not gonna. Trust me.” Tooth reached out his hand to Bell, who stared at it as if it were a snake ready to bite off his finger.
Eventually though, his tense shoulders slouched, and he shook Tooth’s hand.
Luci laughed. “This is some Jane Austen shit. Gentlemen arranging my betrothal.”
Tooth chuckled, turned him around, and pressed a soft kiss to Luci’s forehead. It was as if he tight strings of his muscles relaxed just enough for Tooth to let go.
“Jesus Christ, I can’t believe this is real,” moaned Bell from the side.
Luci smiled, holding on to Tooth’s forearms. “It’s very real.”
“Bell, you happy now? Can’t find the cat,” sighed Tooth, never stopping to hold Luci close.
“No! What do you mean? Where’s Manson? Who let him out?” Luci looked around, alarmed.
Bell shook his head. “I suppose I’m okay with this now. Kinda. I’ll leave you to look for your gay foster cat.”
Tooth let out a low sigh and touched the bruise already forming around his eye. “He just wasn’t there when I came back. I don’t think he’s in the room.”
“Lucifer? Something happens, you come to me, yeah?” Bell said on his way out, pointing to Luci.
“Yeah, yeah,” Luci groaned, squeezing Tooth’s hand.
“He’d do that anyway, right? A smart boy.” Tooth rustled Luci’s hair and gave Bell a flat glare. It was obvious he wanted him out.
As soon as Bell finally shut the door, Luci gave Tooth his best puppy eyes. “I’m so sorry, Tooth. He promised to keep a secret.”
Tooth gave him a slight frown but relaxed against the wall. “It would have been better if we spoke about this first.”
“I had a bad day, and it just came out. I didn’t think he’d flip out like that.” Luci walked up to Tooth and gave him a kiss.
Tooth huffed. “Yeah, I just think I need some frozen steak on my eye once we find Manson. So, where did you leave him?”
“I left him in the room. I can’t imagine where he could have gone.” Luci sighed and got down to his knees to look under the bed. “It’s kinda funny how Bell changed, right?”
“He hasn’t. He just likes you.” Tooth pulled out a pouch of Manson’s favorite food and started rustling to lure the kitten, but it was no use.
“But you don’t hate me, right?” Luci looked up at him and laughed. “‘Cause you know that if you dump me, my brother will kill you?”
“Yeah, I’m stuck with you now,” snorted Tooth, looking behind and under all the furniture, including the fridge.
“Don’t worry. I’ll apologize with the BJ of your life.” Luci wiggled his eyebrows.
Tooth smiled at him from across the room. “Can they get any better?”
“Maybe I should get my tongue split and see what happens?”
Tooth blinked, almost dropping the pouch. The look of sheer horror on his face was hilarious. “Er... maybe not?”
A knock on the door was followed by a yell. “Hey, Luci, you in?” Astaroth asked through the door.
“Come in!” yelled Luci and sat on the bed. “I was just telling Tooth I’m considering splitting my tongue.”
Astaroth nodded and wrapped her arms on her chest. “Oh yeah, I’m planning to do that when I’m eighteen.”
Tooth remained strategically silent and just waved at her.
Astaroth sighed. “Where’s Manson?”
“We don’t know. We can’t find him,” Luci said from the bed.
Astaroth blinked, instantly roused. “I think I’ve seen him outside. I thought I’d ask just in case...”
Tooth joined her by the door within seconds. “Where?
Luci got to his feet. “Where? It’s dangerous for him. Fuck. He’s a tiny thing.”
Astaroth was already on her way to the door. “By the trash outside. “
“Who let him out?” growled Tooth, already running for the staircase.
“It’s only been me and Mom around the club today. All the guys are out.”
Luci followed everyone with his head pulsing with anger. He was sure the fucking witch did it.
Tooth’s broad shouldered figure was so stiff he looked like an extra-large scarecrow as he thudded down the stairs, calling out for the cat even before they burst through the door. It was already getting dark, and with Manson being so tiny, he could have even sneaked out of the compound.
Luci followed, calling out the cat’s name as soon as they got out into the yard. “Beast could have trampled him if he got there.”
Tooth wasn’t listening to him and dove between the trash cans and loose black bags. He started moving them around with the resolve of an Olympic swimmer.
“Tooth, wait!” Luci grabbed Tooth’s arm and they both stilled in silence until a meek meowing sounded from somewhere in the trash.
“There,” shouted Astaroth, rushing between the bags, high heels, fishnet tights, and all. They followed, closing in on the poor thing from three sides.
Manson’s big eyes stared back at them in panic, but as much as the cat tried to back away, it could only go into Tooth’s firm grip.
“Got him!” The shout of triumph was accompanied by a low jump with the cat safe in Tooth’s hands which made Manson look only tinier.
Luci sighed with relief and ran up to Tooth to give the kitten some comfort. He’d kiss Tooth, but he couldn’t with Astaroth around.
“The poor baby!” She gently petted the top of the kitten’s head with her index finger. “It’s shivering. How could it have gotten out on its own?”
“I don’t know. I’m sure I closed the door and everything, jeez.” Luci took a deep breath, feeling guilty as fuck.
But when Tooth moved his hands, presented the kitten to him, and the little thing crawled into his palms, it all went away, replaced by a sweet warmth spreading all over his chest.
“Maybe he slipped between your legs,” muttered Asty.
Luci put Manson inside his hoodie and looked down at the eyes peeking up at him. “There won’t be any more running away.”
“That’s right. You tell him,” chuckled Tooth with a little nudge to Luci’s side.
Luci groaned as they made their way back. “Thanks Asty!” he yelled to his sister, who walked over to her goat with a wave of her hand.
Tooth sighed and put his arm around Luci’s shoulders as soon as they went inside the building. “What counts is that he’s back, but you need to be more careful.”
“I don’t know when he could have gone out.” Luci shook his head and hugged the kitten through the fabric of the hoodie. “What if something happened to him?”
“It didn’t.” Tooth kissed the top of Luci’s head as they strode upstairs at a lazy pace.
Luci smiled up at him. He was still getting tingles in his stomach from being close to Tooth. “I was impressed with your trash-diving skills.”
Tooth’s mouth quirked. “A boy had to eat some time ago.”
Luci nudged Tooth’s bicep with his nose, the hours of scrubbing tiles long forgotten. “I hope you didn’t eat cats.”
“Nah, I wouldn’t do that. No fear, Manson,” said Tooth, nudging the kitten’s chin as they went into their room.
Luci sat on the bed. “How was your day? I was thinking of cleaning your bike before I went to work, but you were out with it.”
Tooth scratched his head. “I was out looking for someone, but it seems to be a dead end,” he muttered and slowly lowered himself to the mattress.
“How come?” Luci held out a hand to Tooth.
They were both petting Manson when Tooth finally spoke, “I’m searching for the people who killed Tracy. I was meeting an informant on the day when we... you know, hooked up.”
“Oh. You’re still actively looking?” Luci tried to make up his mind about what to think about that.
Tooth bit his lip. “Yeah. There’s two more victims with a similar pattern. Frankie Harris, found without a liver and heart, and Betty Wong. They’re calling her One-Eyed Betty, so you can imagine what she’s missing.”
Lucifer frowned. “And who were you looking for today? I know a Frankie Harris. Just, you know, it’s a common last name.”
“One-Eyed Betty’s husband...” muttered Tooth, but his eyes focused on Luci’s face. “Who’s the Frankie Harris you know?”
“You won’t be happy to hear it. She’s Rick’s sister.”
A low growl escaped Tooth’s throat. “What do you know about her? When’s the last time you’ve seen her?”
“A few months ago. I’ve only seen her once. But if you’re gonna go to the Vanilla, I wanna go, too. I wanna say ‘hi’ to people.” And make sure you don’t kill Rick.
Tooth bit his lip, staring at the wall. “Could you... ask him about her? Maybe tell him you wanna meet her again?”
“Yeah, sure.” Luci stroked Tooth’s tense bicep. The last thing he wanted was for Tooth to dwell on all this after so many years.
Tooth’s nose brushed over Luci’s ear, inhaling his scent. “Thanks. That will help me a lot.”
Luci pulled Manson out of his hoodie and let the kitten go free on the floor. “You know I’d do anything to help out.” He turned around and wrapped his arms over Tooth’s neck.
“He has food, doesn’t he?” whispered Tooth, already pushing Luci to the mattress.
“Yeah, he does.” Luci’s breath quickened, as he anticipated his lover’s weight on top. They’d been having a fuckfest since they got together, and he wasn’t anything close to bored with it. He wanted that beard tickling him as they kissed, and those strong hands spreading his legs. He wanted Tooth’s beautiful cock push between his thighs, or to have it in his mouth, and he now knew he was also totally up for anal sex as well. His need for Tooth’s body didn’t have any unnecessary boundaries.
Tooth tipped Luci’s head back, and his lips were there, along with the bush of a beard, already setting Luci’s skin ablaze. Nothing could better help him unwind after work at the salon.