Chapter 5

Moonlit Ride

⚞⚿⚟

“The family is out of town for a few days, so we go slow and steady and take as much as we can,” Craig lectured the rest of the thieves as Kat drove them to their destination. “Kat will stay with the car, Hunter and I will be collecting the valuables. You, Ocher, will be carrying stuff between the house and the car. No improvisation, ok? Ocher, do you hear me?”

Ocher was looking out of the backseat window at the city drowned in dusk and street lights but turned his head to the other thief. “Y-yeah, alright.”

Two years in, and Craig still didn’t trust him with the delicate work. They used to let him into the houses sometimes, but during the last few heists he was just carrying things around. He knew that there were just four of them, and someone had to do it, but it still felt like a demotion. Normally he would have argued for a bit before giving up, but now he didn’t even try to. Friday night came way too quickly, and with all his thoughts glued to tomorrow’s dreaded first date with the city’s crime lord, he was so absent-minded that he was actually thankful nobody seemed to want to charge him with anything more important. 

He’d barely even made it on time for their scheduled burglary tonight, because he’d been so stressed that he forgot about it altogether. He had spent the few hours he had after work at the library again, flooded with stacks of newspapers in a desperate attempt to prepare for something no one could possibly ever prepare for. And still all he could think about now was just how little he knew about Hector Viteri. The amount of potential library visits he had skipped last week during his in-denial stage was staggering. He could have gone to the library four more times. Four. That was at least twelve extra hours of reading he could have done. Hours that could save his life. After that phone call yesterday he had been so nervous that in the morning he had almost spilled petrol on his trousers while tanking a customer’s car, and then during today’s visit at the library he had been so unfocused that he had to reread each paragraph a few times to even comprehend the words he was looking at. It felt like preparing for an exam a day before. Only this exam could kill him if he failed. In fact, he felt he had already failed it. He should have never made the Man move the lunch to later. The devoted fan that he claimed to be would have dropped everything to be there whenever the businessman mobster wished to see him. Yeah, he was already dead.

And as such, Ocher kind of wished he didn’t have to go burgle a house tonight. But they’d been arranging this for a while, and everyone was counting on him. He guessed there was a silver lining to this, though. Some real criminal action would help him get in character of the Man’s biggest fan and give him a chance to fight for his life. And the library was already closed anyway, although earlier today he had seriously considered stowing away for the night just to get some more reading in.

“Good.” Craig’s voice broke through the current of his racing thoughts. “The master bedroom is upstairs. The wife seems to be wearing different jewels everyday, so that’s where I want to start.” He rubbed his hands in anticipation.

“Are you completely sure they don’t have alarms or cameras?” Kat asked skeptically from behind the wheel.

“I’m sure. They’re not a business to have cameras.” Craig said, running a hand through his dirty blond hair. “As to the alarm, they’re new here, and they were meeting up with several security companies just before they left, but had not committed to any. That’s going to be their downfall.”

“Good job on picking this one, Craig.” Hunter, who was in the backseat with Ocher, patted their self-appointed but uncontested leader on the shoulder. “Sounds like the timing is just right.”

“It sure is. So you bozos better not botch this up.”

Hunter withdrew his hand and exchanged sheepish glances with Ocher. Craig’s professionalism in picking targets and organizing heists was only matched by his self-importance. They needed him much more than he needed them, and he made it clear on every possible occasion. Hunter could have made a case for himself, but he was too much of a pushover. Ocher meanwhile was well aware that Craig’s low esteem of his thievery skills wasn’t entirely unfair. Even though he’d been with the thieves for a couple of years, he was still just a geology dropout to them. And that was his own fault again. Maybe if he hadn’t corrected Craig’s knowledge of rocks and minerals that one time they burgled somebody with a collection of hematites and limonites and hadn’t tried to shine with the random fact that those were the main ingredients of certain ocher pigments, he wouldn’t have been labeled ‘Ocher’ ever since. He learnt to actually like that mocking nickname. It had a nice ring to it, and felt fitting somehow, but he knew Craig would never let him forget where it originally came from. Just a dropout geology student. Not a real thief. 

Well he was going to show Craig he was wrong. They had no idea, but he was the realest thief of them all. He’d had the guts to burgle the Man and somehow managed that while sleeping. Ha, suck it, Craig!

“We’re almost there,” Kat reported from behind the steering wheel.

“Great. Now. Guys, get your gloves on,” Craig ordered.

“Way ahead of you.” Hunter rolled his eyes.

“We tied our shoelaces too, in case you were going to remind us,” Ocher chimed in. Somehow he succeeded in transmuting his fear into a confidence boost. He suddenly felt like he was someone important.

“Oh haha, smart-guy. Keep those wits for the job,” Craig said without looking back at him.

The car stopped on the side of a little used road, beside a heavily overgrown hillside. A few meters up the hill, beyond a couple of thick trees, was a tall fence. The thieves pulled on makeshift masks, got out of the car and used a small portable ladder to make it over the fence. Then Kat passed it to them.

The three men hurriedly sneaked through the moonlit backyard and into the shadow of the porch. Wyatt and Craig crouched to the sides from Hunter, using their jackets to help conceal the light of Craig’s flashlight as the oldest thief worked on the lock.

Ocher couldn’t help but feel impressed by how skillfully Hunter worked with lock-picks. He’d brought a proper set of tools, owning which was in itself a crime. But it was a worthwhile risk. Hunter’s lock-picking tools and expertise allowed them to hit well-off suburban houses like this one, leaving sleeping neighbors undisturbed. They could spend hours inside, carefully looking around, finding the valuables and leaving with them without drawing any attention to themselves.

In a moment it was done, and the three of them went in. The place was furnished quite lavishly but sparingly. It seemed like items were already missing before they even came. But Ocher remembered Craig’s earlier briefing, and it made more sense — the house had been sold only recently and some of the stuff must have not been unpacked yet. It made things both easier and harder for them. They got some pre-packaged items, but couldn’t estimate the value. So the boxes were rather low on their list of priorities.

After a quick, curious glance inside, Ocher went back out and stayed at the door as told, watching for any signs of danger from Kat and listening for any noises from the neighboring lots. All was quiet, but he was feeling pretty jumpy. This whole thieving business was always stressful, but that was not it. It was his fake confidence starting to rapidly deflate. He wasn’t a real burglar or a good thief. Breaking into that mansion while asleep was not an achievement. He got caught. And no matter how he tried to bullshit himself, he was terrified of what tomorrow would bring. It was so damn hard to stop thinking about the Man, about his two Dobermans and that basement with rusty stains on the floor. He was about eighty percent sure that either this or the next ‘date’ with Hector Viteri was going to be his funeral, but he tried to stop thinking about it. This was a bad time. He couldn’t afford to let his guard down right now.

Hunter and Craig spread out with their flashlights and bags. A few minutes later, Craig returned, bringing him a sports bag filled with stolen goods.

“Go, pass this on to Kate, I’ll leave the door ajar. Hunter is working on a safe upstairs. Not sure if he’ll manage. I’ll sweep the rest of the first floor meanwhile.”

“Okay.” Ocher took the bag from him.

“And don’t dawdle in the yard.”

“I’m not five, you know.” Seriously, he knew he was still inexperienced, but he didn’t suck all that much. Craig could give him at least some credit. On the bright side though, the other thief’s snide remarks made Ocher forget about his grim future for another brief moment. 

He made eight trips between the house and the garden fence over the next couple of hours and was just coming back after having carried one of the mystery boxes when he heard a door open beyond the fence to his right. Then there came a sound of too many steps. And before he could process what was happening — loud barking. Ocher swore under his breath and rushed away from that side of the fence and towards the house. A light went on on the neighbor’s porch.

“What is it, boy?” An old man’s voice asked.

Ocher dove for the bushes.

The barking continued. It sounded like a big dog. Luckily the fence was tall enough to keep it out. A moment later a flashlight searched the yard. Ocher sighed with relief, as it passed the bushes he was hiding behind without pausing.

“What the heck?”

Ocher felt his heart stop. He glanced towards where the light now shone and saw the ladder they’d used, standing right in the spotlight.

The light withdrew quickly, and there was a loud thudding of steps on the neighbor’s deck. Ocher scrambled to his feet and dashed for the house. Craig almost hit him with the door. 

“What the fuck was that?” he hissed.

“The neighbor saw our ladder, he’s going to call the cops!” Ocher whispered in a panic.

“Shit! Why did you just leave it standing?!”

“You didn’t say I shouldn’t!”

“What do you mean I didn’t tell you? I told you, and you said alright, you said alright to bloody everything tonight! Oh for fuck’s sake!” Craig swore. “Go help Kat pack up, I’ll get Two Bits.” He turned and ran into the house.

Ocher ran across the yard. There was no longer a point in trying to keep quiet. The neighbor’s dog kept barking. He scaled the ladder, climbed over the fence and jumped down on the grass.

“Ocher? What’s going on there with the barking?” Kat glared up at him, patches of moonlight lighting her frowning face and the cardboard box she was pulling downhill across the grass.

He hurried to her and lifted the box, carrying it down towards the car. “There’s a dog and its owner saw the ladder. We gotta go.”

Kat swore and darted down to help him fit the box into the trunk. They were almost out of space. Moments later Craig and Hunter came running down the hill with the ladder, which took up the remaining room in the trunk. The thieves scrambled into the car and Kat drove off, before they even closed the doors.

For a minute, no one was talking. Masks and gloves were taken off and stuffed under the front seats. Ocher nervously dusted the bits of soil from his clothes. All of them listened for sirens. Minutes passed, they drove further and further away, unobstructed.

“Why didn’t you tell us there was going to be a dog, Craig?” Kat asked. “I thought you had the place figured out.”

“I had!” Craig snapped. “The neighbors weren’t supposed to have a dog. They didn’t have a dog last week!”

“I guess they have someone with a dog visiting,” Hunter theorized.

“Shut up, Two Bits! No one asked you!” Craig snapped again. “You wasted all the time on that safe. While you could have been helping me with searching for the jewelry box! And that idiot Ocher just left the ladder in plain sight!”

“Sorry! I’m really sorry, okay?” Ocher said, exasperated. “It won’t happen again!”

Craig glared at him. “You better fucking make sure it doesn’t.”

“I will… So what was in the safe?” Ocher asked, trying to change the topic.

“Guns,” Hunter said. “Lots of handguns.”

“And cocaine,” Craig added bitterly. “But I’m not getting into the drug trade, it’s too high profile…”

A silence fell.

“You know what…” Hunter said slowly. “I think I left the safe open.”

There was another quiet moment and then the entire car burst out laughing. 

“Oh my god, that’s rich! They’ll be more wanted than us when the cops come!”

“A safe full of guns and cocaine!”

“Good job, Two Bits!”

“I also found a golden Rolex on the bedside table,” Hunter said with a smile.

“This calls for a celebration, I say,” Craig laughed, all hostility forgotten. “Let’s drop the stuff off at my place, and go to the bar.”

The rest echoed in agreement, and so it was decided.

Once the car was safely parked in Craig’s garage, the lot of them tidied up and took the night bus to their favorite haunt, the Big Dipper. It was a cheap bar mostly frequented by students. Hunter was the only one of the four who had seen the more upscale place called the Constellation — or as Hunter pronounced it ‘Cancellation’ — that had occupied the same venue ten years ago. Many of the cosmic decorations remained, since the new owners went with the same theme. But they removed the dancefloor and packed the place with booths and tables so tightly it was often hard to walk through the room.

Craig knew the owner, so a booth could always be found or made available for him and his.

This night was no different. They got their booth and their drinks, and the first toast of the night went to a job well-done. The little band of thieves sat merry and triumphant, drinks in hand. Before they were done with the first round, Craig ordered another one.

The conversation was cheery and nobody held any more grudges or remembered about impending dates with mob bosses. Kat told them about her recent trip to another state where local thieves had put up a ‘BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS’ sign to quickly locate places where people kept their wallets — because apparently nothing makes you check if your wallet is still in place quite like such a sign. They shared jokes and stories. Ocher, who sat beside Hunter on one side of the table, noticed the oldest thief was fidgeting more than usual. The reason for it was clear — he sat opposite to Kat. Hunter’s crush on Kat was old news, but so far he had failed miserably in winning her affections. Ocher’s sense of impending second-hand embarrassment was tingling. Here came another attempt.

“Eh… Kat, I eh…” Hunter mumbled like he was a teenager and not a man in his thirties. “I got you a little something.” He put a small velvety box on the table.

Craig frowned at the box. “It better not be from today’s stuff.”

“No, no, it’s not,” Hunter assured him quickly.

Kat looked highly unimpressed. She reluctantly opened the box and sighed. “Are these earrings stolen?”

“Uh…”

“Two Bits,” Kat said seriously, pushing the box back towards Hunter. “Do you know what happened to… what was her name… Tiffany?”

Hunter blinked in confusion.

“That hooker whom you paid with the previous pair of stolen earrings,” Kat clarified.

Hunter cringed, but shook his head slowly.

“Turns out the earrings belonged to the wife of one of her clients. And he had recognized them on her. She came here looking for you the other day. I think she had a brick in her purse.”

“Yikes.” Craig sipped his beer.

“Uh…” Hunter stiffened in his seat. “Well, uh, but you’re not a hooker, Kat, so I uh…”

“How smooth. Honestly, Two Bits, if it was anyone but you, I would have been deadly offended by now,” Kat said coolly. “But it is you. So out of pity I will pretend none of this ever happened.”

Hunter looked down at the little velvet box sadly. He closed it and hid it in the inner pocket of his jacket without a word.

“If I want new earrings,” Kat said, “I’ll obtain them myself.” 

“Hk-Awkward,” Craig coughed into his fist.

Ocher looked at Two Bits. He was an amazing thief, but he was probably the most miserable human being that Ocher had ever met. Despite his age and experience, the thin unkempt man failed to gain anyone’s respect. Ocher liked him. Everyone kind of did, because Hunter always went out of his way to try and be useful, but they all found him equally pathetic. That thought reminded Ocher of his fear that one day he would end up just like Hunter. Which in turn brought his mind back to the looming dread of tomorrow’s rendezvous.

Hunter finally lifted his eyes from the table, and noticing Ocher’s concerned look, nodded to him, probably to show appreciation for what he thought was sympathy. Ocher instantly felt guilty, so he gave a little nod back and smiled to Hunter reassuringly.

The uncomfortable silence finally dispersed after a waitress brought them another round of beers. Craig boasted about some ambitious scheme he was cooking up. It was all veiled, as they didn’t want to talk business in the open like that, but it didn’t stop him from hinting heavily what a big deal it was going to be. He did it every time, so the rest of the gang did not hold their breaths. 

When Craig was about done with his boasting, Hunter asked without much enthusiasm if the others were perhaps planning to play poker sometime soon. Kat and Craig all but grabbed him by the arms, assuring him they would love to and instantly started to make arrangements for the time and place. They invited Ocher too, but he didn’t want either to lose money or watch the other two dupe Hunter yet again. Kat and Craig knew that Two Bits never came out as the winner at cards and felt perfectly comfortable squeezing the money out of him regardless. Ocher couldn’t blame them. They were thieves after all, and anyway if not them, then it would be someone else doing that to Hunter. At least this way the money stayed, approximately, between ‘friends’. But Ocher still couldn’t make himself take advantage of Hunter so cruelly.

The prospect of easy cash lifted Kat’s mood, and soon she was telling jokes again. Those grew progressively more and more hilarious as they drank. After several beers Hunter was openly staring at the woman love-struck. Ocher was about to nudge him and whisper a few sensible words of just barely sober advice, when Kat suddenly perked up, rising in her seat.

“Oh, my boyfriend is here to pick me up. I’ll see you guys next week.”

“Hm, the mythical boyfriend you’ve been scaring Two Bits with for weeks,” Craig drawled. “Let’s see ‘im.”

“Pf, what did you think, I was making that up just so Bits gets off my case?”

”That’s what we all thought…” Ocher muttered.

Kat rolled her eyes and shook her head. A moment later a menacing, butch guy with a clean-shaven scalp and a stubble-scattered chin stopped next to their table. He looked like an evil twin brother of Mr. Clean. Mr. Dirty seemed the kind of man you would like to avoid walking on the same side of the street with, especially at night. He would have fit right into a boxing ring or a dark alley, stabbing you in the gut and taking away all your belongings.

Craig, who normally needed to be pried off a comfy seat with a crowbar, nearly jumped out, letting Kat climb out from behind the table. He and the rest of the male thieves watched the newcomer with animalistic fear. This was definitely a guy who would break a man arm for so much as looking at his woman. Hunter’s face in particular grew comically long. 

Kat straightened her clothes and pecked her scary man on the lips, murmuring greetings and thanks. She tried to make some quick introductions, but the thieves couldn’t muster much of a response, and the ruffian boyfriend that Kat called ‘Rance’ didn’t seem inclined to socialize. He hugged Kat by the waist and led her out of the bar with people making space for them without prompting.

“Oh no… How am I supposed to compete with that…?” Hunter murmured miserably, hiding his face in his hands.

“Yeah, Bits, better forget her…” Craig said, shaken. He was still staring after Kat and her bulky companion.

“Either of that…” Hunter muttered in a drunken haze.

The other two thieves exchanged equally confused looks, not sure what to make of his words. Was Two Bits seeing double already?

“Well, I think I’ll be calling it a day as well.” Ocher said finally. He didn’t really want to go, because leaving meant he would be alone with his thoughts again. But he didn’t want to risk getting drunk either. He had to be both sharp-witted and presentable tomorrow.

Craig sighed. “Yeah, it’s not the same without Kat around. Plus if I drink any more, I think I’d need a cab, and ain’t nobody got money for that, hm?”

“I will die alone…” Hunter whined.

“And that’s enough for you too, Two Bits. More than enough.” Craig picked Hunter’s glass up and set it aside. “Ocher, you mind catching the night bus with our Romeo? You’re going in the same direction anyway, right?”

“Yeah, sure. Come on, Hunter.” Ocher kind of wished he could switch with Hunter and die alone, in some fifty years from now, instead of dying in a few weeks, after a short-lived and brutal unwanted relationship with a mob boss. But of course, he couldn’t tell Hunter any of that. Or well, he could, but then he likely wouldn’t even get those few weeks to live.

They made their way out of the Big Dipper way less effectively than Kat and her man had. Nobody made space for them, and Hunter’s drunken despaired state wasn’t helping with navigating towards the exit. Finally the night air hit them, and Ocher steered them into the street leading to a nearby park that was the shortest route to the bus stop they needed.

The cheerful Friday night mood of the people they passed on their way contrasted sharply with Hunter’s moans and sighs, as he wordlessly lamented his fruitless crush. Every now and then he would look up at Ocher, like he was going to say something, and then he would say nothing instead. Ocher felt grateful for that, because he had no idea how to comfort the other thief, and his mind was preoccupied with his own, much more urgent predicament. As they were walking through the park though, Ocher had a sudden revelation that brought him out in cold sweat. 

He looked around to make sure nobody was in the hearing range and asked, “Ah, say Hunter… that safe full of guns and drugs… could that have been someone from the Citizens?”

“What?” Hunter looked at him with a frown. It took him a moment to process the question and then his face grew somber. “Shit…” He stared ahead of himself in gut-wrenching silence. Then he shook his head. “No. No, it wasn’t one of the Citizens,” he said confidently.

“And why are you so sure?”

“Those people had moved from the East Coast just recently. The Citizens don’t operate there.”

“A-alright… phewh then.” Ocher was more than relieved.

“I know right? We already barely made it as it was, who’d need any of that crap?” Hunter shuddered.

Right. Who would? Framing someone from the Citizens was probably one of the worst things to do on a Friday night. Except maybe for framing someone from the Citizens on a Friday night, right before a date with their leader.

⚞ ¥ ⚟

The markings on the asphalt melted into a white serpent as the two bikers raced each other through the slowly emptying highway and back towards New Coalport. Friday nights were the Pharaohs’ favourite time. It was when all five of them were able to finally break away from their weekly routines and come together unconcerned about heading back to work in the morning. 

And they had done so tonight as well. They had ridden through the city streets, and then they hung out at Sam’s place, because Nana Riley was always delighted to have them over. But now the club meet-up was up, and it was just the two of them. Yen sped up to cut ahead of Nakhti and laughing gave the other biker the bird — finally his new bike could go faster than the club leader’s.

Nakhti laughed and with the roar of his Suzuki GSX 1100 L — a motorcycle that had been almost new when Nakhti first came to town — he rushed past Yen again. Neither of them was pushing their bikes to the limit. They were exceeding the allowed speed but not nearly as much as they could. All in all, the Pharaohs were a ridiculously lawful club, and sometimes Yen felt like he was the one proper rebel of the group. Especially around Sam, whose main pastimes aside from biking were reading books and dungeon mastering Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. 

Despite being a childhood friend of such a huge nerd as Sam, Nakhti was a dark horse. He wasn’t a proper rebel though, rather than that, he was a guy with secrets. Some secrets, like Nakhti’s stash of drugs, Yen had managed to snoop out and was let in on, while the goody-two-shoes Sam still had no idea. But some others Nakhti wouldn’t share, and Yen had no business prying them out. If he couldn’t snort them or buy stuff with them, they were no good to him. But he enjoyed hanging around Nakhti, because there was always that element of mystery and danger to him that Yen found exciting and respectable. All in all, the guy made a very proper leader for their band of weirdos.

Nakhti

Feeling a sudden urge to impress him, Yen tried to pull off a wheelie. He managed to keep it going for a few seconds, before landing back down on two wheels, not quite as elegantly as he had hoped.

Before he managed to try that again, Nakhti shouted to him over the roar of their engines, “Just don’t! I’m not gonna scrape you off the road!”

Yen rolled his eyes, but complied. He had mastered the stunt on his previous bike, but he was still getting used to the new one. Nakhti was right on a different level too — it was dangerous to be roadkill in this city, because if Nakhti didn’t scrape him off the road, then he knew a certain priest who would do that. And then probably pack him into many neat packages and cash in on distributing parts of him to shady recipients. Yen hadn’t seen Blaise peddle any human remains so far, but it’s not like he was great at identifying those. Maybe some of those bones actually were human. That would take the whole thing onto a new level of questionable. After a moment’s consideration, Yen decided to forget about his second job and focus on Nakhti instead. The other night had been Daddy night, this one was boyfriend night.

They slowed down when they entered the city limits and then progressively decreased the speed even further, as they neared the street Nakhti lived on. The neighborhood was already asleep, and Nakhti had to somehow coexist with these neighbors, so they tried not to give them even more reasons to hate the gay biker that rented a house in their area.

Nakhti opened the garage, and they rolled their bikes into it. They entered the house through the garage and headed for the kitchen, where Nakhti grabbed two beers from the fridge. The driving for the night was done, so it was time for some booze at last. Before, at Sam’s, it was just sodas. Yen still thought they were too damn lawful for bikers, but he guessed at least that mostly kept them out of trouble with the cops, while all other clubs and gangs were constantly at odds with them. Yen caught the beer Nakhti threw at him and cracked the can open, taking a sip.

Nakhti’s house oozed Ancient Egyptian vibes just like Sam’s room, but not in the serious and geeky way. Sure, there were some posters with Egyptian art and symbols in the corridors and sculptures standing in the corners of rooms. And there was also a bit of stuff on the shelves and even a little shrine and some other shit like that, but somehow it was all more matter-of-fact here than at Sam’s. Nakhti didn’t care if Yen knocked over a god or two or leaned against a poster. And he actually owned a scarab-shaped ashtray, and a pyramid bottle-opener, something that Sam would probably think was blasphemy and had to be destroyed with fire. And that more relaxed attitude made Nakhti’s Egyptian angle seem way cooler.

Yen had never seen him openly excited or gushing over anything. Unlike Sam, who was misleadingly quiet with anyone but Yen and then once in a blue moon when the planets aligned, suddenly opened up to a fellow nerd to wax lyrical over something for hours and hours and hours. No, Nakhti never did that. Instead he was always the same amount of gloomy and sarcastic about everything, and that made the man much more classy. Nakhti knew and liked his Egyptian stuff — Yen heard him annihilate people verbally with Ancient Egypt facts a few times — but he didn’t flaunt it or annoyingly preach it or correct Yen ten times per minute. The only time he was nerdy about it, was when he talked to Sam, but that was fine. Other than that Nakhti could keep his Egypt facts in his pants and didn’t go mixing those into their private time. Yen really appreciated that about the man, along with plenty of other things.

Nakhti leaned against the sink, smirked at him and opened his beer as well. His eyes were still lined the Egyptian way. His hair was a glorious mess, but holding up rather well considering the rush of the night air. His shirt betrayed the shape of his sculpted pecs and abs, but most of his front was still obstructed by his leather jacket. Yen pictured what was under all the clothes and grinned appreciatively. Nakhti returned the expression. And then he went and ruined the mood. 

“So, I couldn’t help but notice you’ve been a scarce good lately, only I don’t know where the demand is coming from.” Before he dropped it all to work in a wrecking yard and run a motorcycle club, Nakhti had worked and studied finance or economy or something like that. And sometimes he still liked to fall back on that. “Would you kindly tell me where you spend your nights these days, when you’re not with me or Samut?”

Yen arched an eyebrow. “What is this, the Spanish Inquisition? I never questioned how you can afford this house on a junkyard worker’s salary. A little reciprocation of that trust would be nice.”

Nakhti withheld his accusatory gaze with his usual calm. “I told you how. I invest.” He arched an eyebrow back at Yen, and nodded at him, clearly awaiting a reply to his query.

“Yeah, well, I’ve never seen you go to the financial district, but okay, sure.” Yen sipped his beer. “I have a second job too. There’s this silver fox that peddles miracle cures or some shit to the mentally unsound. I’m his delivery boy.”

“Mhm, I see.” Nakhti drank his beer and kept watching him. 

Yen knew it wasn’t about him sleeping around. Nakhti was not the jealous type. Somewhat possessive, yes, but he was open-minded too. He knew that look meant Nakhti would continue speaking, so they just eyed each other skeptically. 

“So that’s how you got your new bike then? From that salary?”

“Yep. Why? Do you moonlight as a tax inspector now? Is that how you really afford this house?”

Nakhti set his beer aside and walked over to him. “Well, you could say so, as I am about to inspect the place where you’ve been seen storing some potentially illegal earnings,” he said with a dark kind of smirk and followed Yen’s body down to his crotch.

Yen set his own beer aside, unable to hold back an amused half-smile. “Aha, and how would you know about that?”

“Oh, the same way the revenue agency always finds out.” Nakhti said, sounding all serious and still giving Yen’s crotch a suspicious, analytic look. “It was an anonymous tip by a concerned third party.”

“Right. Thanks, Uncle Sam.”

“Sorry about that, Yen, but our mutual friend grew very concerned by the dollar bill rolls in your pants, and so I promised him I’d talk to you. Personally, I don’t care if you’re working for miracle sellers or Catholic priests, but I just hope you’re not converting to a non-Ancient Egyptian religion.”

“If you’re asking if I’m getting a dude on a cross tattooed on my ass then no, I’m still in for the scarab,” Yen reassured him.

Nakhti sighed. Something told Yen that he would have preferred if Yen was planning to get an Egypt related tattoo anywhere except on the butt, but Nakhti didn’t bring up the topic. “Good enough by me.” He said instead, “And now that that’s out of the way…”

“… You’re going to take me for another kind of moonlit ride.”

“Precisely.” Nakhti bowed down and kissed him.