Tooth had had it with waiting. He couldn’t recognize Priest—the guy was one of the toughest, most decisive men he knew, but for some reason, in matters regarding Lucifer, he was showing none of that. This morning had been worst of all because Priest actually fled the kitchen without even muttering a ‘good morning’. It was ridiculous. It only reminded Tooth of his own dick of a dad, the last association he wanted to have with Priest.
The music was already playing in the lounge when Tooth rushed past the few guys moving things around and knocked on the door to the office.
“Come in!” Priest yelled from inside.
Tooth bit his lip and entered, swiftly closing the door behind himself.
“Easy job today, wasn’t it? I wonder if Suzy ever resurfaces,” said Priest. He sat with his feet on the desk and smoking a cigarette.
Tooth pushed his hands into the front pockets of his jeans and shrugged. He decided to start out more civil than he had originally intended now that Priest threw him that bone. “Yeah, it’s a few thousand back to us.”
“We even have guys from the Cleveland chapter over for the party.” He smiled as he exhaled the smoke.
“And your long lost son,” said Tooth, drilling his gaze into Priest’s forehead in hope the metaphorical trepanation could ring some sense into that brain.
The sneer on Priest’s face was a good indication of his attitude toward Lucifer. “I don’t know if it’s a good idea to have him out there at the party.”
“And that is why?” asked Tooth, parking his ass in the chair across the desk from Priest.
“You’ve seen what he looks like. The guys will eat him alive.” Priest absentmindedly looked out the window.
Tooth snorted, but on the inside, he had to stifle the anger bubbling up. “You brought him here. You promised to talk to him and help him, but so far you did neither. You had him help you get some drugs back, and that’s about that.”
Priest finally looked back at Tooth. “He knows where he stands.”
Tooth shrugged. “Does he?”
“Yeah, you told him, right? He’ll stay with you, go to school, get his own room when he cleans up his act.”
Tooth gritted his teeth and rested his right ankle on the knee of his other leg not to get up and yank Priest by the collar. “You’ve taken a neglected teenager who was forced into prostitution after his mother blew her brains out from the one place he knows. You have me babysit him, you keep him here by force, and you won’t even talk to him? Aren’t you his father?”
Priest finally shut up and chewed on those words for a long time before answering. “I don’t know what to say to him. He seems like this little brat who just does everything to annoy me. I’m afraid I’ll just smack him if he doesn’t behave next time.”
Tooth’s chest deflated as all air left his lungs. Priest might be a good father to his other two children, but even imagining Priest’s fat fists on someone as small as Lucifer had him cringing. “What gives you the right to slap him? You didn’t even raise him.”
Priest leaned over the desk with a groan. “But he’s here now. If he opens that dirty mouth of his when I’m nearby, I’ll have to do something.”
“Like what? You’re not exactly the ideal churchgoing and full-time working father of middle America yourself.”
Priest pursed his lips. “But he’s my son. The guys won’t respect him if he keeps doing that.”
“Doing what?” growled Tooth.
“Talking about his past, showing off about how much of a little boy-slut he is. It’s— just no.” Priest slammed the desk with his palm.
Tooth sneered. “Maybe he’d stop provoking everyone if you actually made him feel like he’s wanted for once.”
“Oh, so it’s my fault? We looked for him. You know that. He chose to disappear!”
“Yeah, it is your fault. Of course it is,” said Tooth, looking Priest straight in the eye. “I ran away from my dad as well. I know.”
“I didn’t do anything to him. He grew up like this on his own.” Priest’s frown got so deep his eyebrows almost met.
“That’s exactly why. A boy needs a father growing up, and you weren’t there. I know you weren’t because I was already with you back then. You screwed up so now you need to mend what you did, or didn’t do for that matter,” muttered Tooth.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake. Okay, okay, I’ll tell him what’s going to happen with him now. The only gay guy I’ve ever known was that hairdresser they had at the salon last year. What do I say to him?”
Tooth counted to ten and pulled on his beard. “How is being gay relevant? He could as well be an addict, or whatever. Just a lost kid, that’s what you should think of him. Show him that you want to get to know him, I don’t know, play fucking pool with him tomorrow, or something. If you’re his father, act like one,” growled Tooth, folding his arms across his chest.
“I’ll try something. It should shut up Bell as well I suppose.” Priest took a deep breath as if it were some tough ordeal he’d agreed to.
“Do that.” Tooth swallowed, not sure whether he should tell Priest everything he thought, but he supposed it couldn’t harm his cause. “He seems like a nice kid when he doesn’t feel like he has to fight everyone.”
“Maybe I could give him a job at the bar, or taking calls at the service station, so he feels he has something to do. But I’ll talk to him, fine.”
Tooth let out some air and cleared his throat. “If he needs punishing, I’m the one to do it, yeah?”
Priest raised his bushy eyebrows. “Good cop, bad cop, huh?”
Tooth stroked the tip of his index finger over the nail on his thumb, thinking of his own father, who was now hopefully six feet under. “Don’t want him to hate you.”
Priest got up and held his hand out to Tooth. “Thanks, Tooth. I mean it.”
Tooth shook Priest’s hand. “He’ll come ‘round, you’ll see,” he said, getting up.
“Send him up to me before the party.”
“Will do. I know you can be a good father,” said Tooth as he went for the door. He didn’t wait for an answer, leaving Priest to his own thoughts, pretty happy with himself. There were some people in the yard, already drinking, but most of the guys were still preparing everything in the common rooms, from rolling in kegs of beer, to moving furniture.
“Hey, Tooth! Come give us a hand!” Milk yelled from afar where he was moving the pool table with Bell.
Tooth walked over and grabbed it on one of the sides, pulling the heavy thing up. “That went well today,” he said as they maneuvered the table to another corner.
“At least the boy proved some kind of useful,” Bell said and picked up the pool table on the other side.
Milk snorted as they lowered the table to the floor. “I bet the guys at Vanilla Lounge know how useful he can be.”
Tooth stared at him, squeezing his fingers on the edge of the table. He opened his mouth to speak, but Bell was the first to lose his shit.
“What did you fucking say about my brother?” His eyes were wide open, and he was already making his way to Milk, who began circling the table with his hands up.
“What the hell? Luci says it himself!”
Tooth smirked, deciding not to break this up until it was absolutely necessary. For once it wasn’t him who needed to lecture Milk for his foul comments.
Bell opened his mouth, showing clenched teeth and gums. He looked ready to breathe fire through his nose. “Then we teach him not to say it, you stupid fuck,” he growled and pushed at Milk’s chest.
“He’s gay, he’s gonna give head, so better get used to it!” Milk pushed Bell back despite being significantly smaller.
Bell growled. “He’s not.”
Tooth dragged his hands down his face.
Milk laughed unpleasantly and grinned. “You believe that? That guy is more cock-hungry than any of the girls coming tonight.”
And just like that, he got a fist in his face. It sent him tumbling to the floor, followed by Bell, who growled like a dying tiger.
For a moment, Milk’s eyes strayed to Tooth, who decided he wouldn’t move yet. Milk had brought this upon himself.
“I was just messin’!” Milk screamed, trying to push Bell off but was more focused on protecting his head.
“You should know when to stop messing around,” said Tooth, walking over to ultimately break the fight apart, but he was taking his time, watching every well-deserved blow.
Bell huffed over Milk, his muscles tense and stiff as he shook his victim. “I will set him straight, so stuff your fucking comments up your ass.”
Tooth could already see brother-bonding time would be a disaster, but this wasn’t the time to bring it up. “That’s enough, ladies,” he said, putting his hand on Bell’s shoulder.
Bell shrugged it off, but slowly got up.
“Am I interrupting something?” Tooth didn’t have to turn around. Not only did he know the voice, but the sound of jingling bangles always accompanying Dolly was a dead giveaway.
“Nah, just a misunderstanding over pool,” he said, slowly turning around to face Dolly, who looked even more like a witch now she was all made up for the party.
Bell shrugged. “Hi, mom.”
Milk got himself off the floor, groaning and holding on to his stomach. “Good evening, Dolly. Tooth? I’ll be going,” he muttered and was quickly dismissed with a gesture.
“I was just wondering, Milk. Tooth doesn’t have family, does he?” she asked before Milk could flee.
Tooth’s stomach clenched. Here it was. The sneaky interrogation. He laughed. “I’m right here, Dolly.”
Milk stood still looking unsure where to go.
Dolly put her hands on her hips. “I’m just asking out of confusion. You said to me you brought an informant yesterday, but Priest told me he’s your cousin. I’ll be doing the groceries. Have to know how many mouths there is to feed.”
Tooth sighed and scratched the back of his head to give himself a few more seconds to form a comprehensible answer. “He is my cousin, but he’s also an informant. It’s thanks to him that we got some stuff back. And if you want to feed him, I’m sure he’ll appreciate that. He’ll be staying here with me for some time until he stands on his own two feet.”
“He’s staying with you?” Milk snorted but one look from Tooth made him rush away with a slight limp.
“I’d love to meet him soon. You’re like a son to Priest, so your cousin is family.” Dolly’s black lips gave him a smile.
Tooth nodded. “He’s gonna be at the party. You’ll notice him—skinny, blond, long hair.”
“I’ll be on the lookout,” she said and walked off with a tap to Tooth’s shoulder.
Bell sat on the pool table, blowing air over his knuckles.
“He deserved it,” said Tooth before going off toward his room. He could only hope there would be ways to tame Bell’s eagerness to turn Lucifer into a copy of himself.
Back in the room, Lucifer’s few possessions were neatly stacked on the shelves Tooth let him use, and the bed Lucifer had on the mattress was tidied up and covered with a comforter. He’d even made Tooth’s bed as well. Lucifer wasn’t anywhere to be seen, but a steady sound of hair brushing came from the bathroom. Tooth’s mouth tingled, and he let himself smile as he closed the door.
“Lucifer, I’m back. Thanks for making the bed.”
“There’s only so much I can do,” came from the bathroom. Lucifer’s shadow danced on the wall, all slim and taller than the boy himself.
Tooth slowly walked over to the bathroom and looked inside. “Getting yourself ready?”
“Yep, wanna look presentable even if all I get is slurs.” Lucifer shrugged and looked over his shoulder with those pretty blue eyes that didn’t belong on someone with such a dirty mouth.
Tooth cut his train of thought when it went somewhere even dirtier and smiled. “You’re gonna be fine. I’ll have someone at your side at all times. The guys just aren’t used to people who aren’t like them.”
“It’s a nice way to say ‘you’ll be watched’, huh?” His hair did look nicer now that he used a proper brush on it. When he turned around, Tooth stilled. Lucifer’s vest top had a palm tree print and ‘I love long, romantic walks on the beach. And anal.’
Tooth couldn’t stop staring as adrenaline rushed to his brain while vast amounts of blood sped to a different place altogether. “You can’t wear that.”
“Are you the fashion police now as well?” Lucifer frowned and crossed his arms on his chest. When tensed, they were slim, but not all that skinny after all. Tooth ignored them and focused on Lucifer’s face instead.
“No, but it won’t help you making friends down there. Wear something more neutral.”
“They all know I’m a fag, might as well be upfront about it.”
“You need to ease them in,” said Tooth, stepping closer. “I can help you choose another shirt.”
“I could ease you in.” Lucifer looked up at Tooth with a silly smile.
Were this any other situation, Lucifer would be on the bed within seconds. But things were as they were, and all Tooth could do was dismiss the crude advances. “I think I need to introduce some more rules because you can’t act like that. It’s not helping you here.”
“I didn’t ask to be here. This is me.” Lucifer spread his arms in a gesture of provocation. God, did Tooth have his work cut out.
“Look, I am not your enemy. Can you do what I ask you to and change your shirt?” he asked, combing his fingers through his hair.
Lucifer exhaled deeply, and for a moment Tooth didn’t know what he would do, but Lucifer finally pulled off his vest showing off the pink nipples that just begged to be pinched. He passed Tooth all too close when he went back to the bedroom. “So what other rules do I have, huh?”
“There was this ‘no provoking’ rule that you keep breaking,” said Tooth, following him back into the room.
“I’m hardly provoking you, am I? You already kicked me out of your bed.” Lucifer leaned over to a shelf and grabbed a T-shirt. Thank God, it turned out to have a band print.
“You know very well what you’re doing. And this is a good print, your dad likes that band,” he said, even though Priest would most likely be moderately interested at best.
The sincere smile it got Tooth made him kinda regret that what provoked it was a lie. “He does?”
Tooth forced himself to smile. “I think that’s the one. The Hangmen. Your dad actually asked me to bring you to his office so you two can chat. He’s just not very good at dealing with all this.”
“Haven’t you already told me everything?” Lucifer pushed his hands into his pockets.
Tooth sighed and, after a brief moment of hesitation, rustled the silky hair on Lucifer’s head. “I’m sure he didn’t want all this happening to you. Give him a chance.”
Lucifer cocked his head to the side. “These things don’t ‘happen’. I chose what I did.”
Tooth swallowed hard, unsure whether he should discuss this without Lucifer trusting him, so he nodded toward the door. “Let’s go to see him.”