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His tooth is loose. Only slightly, but there’s a definite give just as he presses his tongue against it. Shadow tips his head back slightly, to get his mouth closer to the dim light of the bathroom mirror. A canine. In other words, damn noticeable if it decides to fall out. Well, only if he smiles. Shadow chuckles coldly.

‘What the fuck you laughing about in there, asshole?’

Sweeney’s voice is on the other side of the bathroom door. Shadow can imagine the way he’s stood, lurched over and his head pressed on the back of his hand, swaying slightly. There’s a rough, slow haziness to his speech that sounds like he’s drunk but Shadow already knows that it doesn’t really work like that for Sweeney.

‘Fuck you, you broke my tooth.’

A low snort, and he can hear the floor creak under shifting pressure.

‘Ah only a little, I’m sure. You got enough of ‘em.’

‘Fuck off.’

‘Lemme see.’

The door bangs open like it’s been kicked, and Sweeney looms in the frame, grinning wet and red. He wipes his mouth across the back of his hand, smearing blood over his beard, and lumbers forward. Shadow carries on washing his hands in the basin, ignoring him.

‘I said let me see, fucker.’

Sweeney is leaning against the sink, his back to the mirror and trying his best to get in Shadow’s face. It seemed blood had been a constant for Shadow ever since he’d left prison; the visceral sense of it just below the skin, always pounding. Now, the taste of it in his mouth, thick like tar, bitter like metal. The stain of it in the cracked white porcelain below him. But as Sweeney leaned in, it seemed to bloom new all over again. Fresher, brighter, more red. Almost sweet. The Irishman is grinning still, but Shadow maintains his view downwards. Undeterred, Sweeney inches closer along the sink, trying to push his hips in-between it and Shadow, forcing himself in to a space that isn’t really big enough for him. Shadow bristles, his lip curling slightly as the other man’s jeans slide across his hand as it grips the basin.

‘Come ‘ere’ he says, almost softly. Shadow can see the grin from the corner of his eye now, teeth stained crimson. Sweeney is looking down at his mouth, and a low laugh is building in the back of his throat. He eases himself in closer, forcing Shadow to let go of the sink. A hand rises, tentatively, and touches Shadow at the corner of his lip, and now Shadow has to respond. He snaps his head away, steps back, leaving Sweeney in his half-bent pose, his hand hanging in the air.

‘Seriously, you need to fuck off now. We’re done.’

He turns to go but Sweeney is suddenly quick, no longer the lumbering, groping, drunk from moments ago. Unfurled now to his full height, he dances easily in front of Shadow, blocking his path. He’s still grinning, wider and more violent than before, and when his hand reaches again for Shadow’s mouth there is no gentleness. Forceful fingers open him up, prying apart his jaw, running around the line of his teeth. They taste of salt and whisky and earthy metal. Shadow pushes him hard, right in his chest.

‘You’re a damned liar’ Sweeney laughs as he rights himself, wiping his hands across his thighs. ‘There ain’t none missing.’

Shadow wants to spit, but his mouth is suddenly dry as dust, and the taste doesn’t shift. He drags the back of his wrist across his bruised mouth.

‘I’m going to kill you, you fucking shit. Move.’

Sweeney does a mock bow and skips lightly to the side, gesturing back in to the bar. Shadow glowers at him once more before walking past. The place is near empty now, his footsteps echoing on the damp wooden floor and the occasional crunch of broken glass. He can hear Sweeney following behind, can still smell that blood. At the bar, half a bottle of whisky is perched perilously close to the edge and Shadow decides to save it, quickly, before the barmaid notices. He nestles it in the crook of his arm and carries on towards the door. He doesn’t know where he’s going but he needs fresh air, to get rid of that smell and that fucking taste. He takes a swig once he’s out in the parking lot, and lets the alcohol wash around his mouth for a moment before he swallows. It helps a little.

‘You didn’t win, you know.’

Sweeney is leaning against a car in the half light. The stains on his vest look black under the moon, and as he moves his hand up towards the sky, Shadow see the glint of gold flash in between his fingers. He turns to look at him properly, and takes another swig from his bottle. He shrugs.

‘Whatever man. I don’t fucking care. It’s done. I just want to go to sleep. You can keep your fucking secret.’

 Sweeney bites his lip and shakes his head, keeping his eyes’ squarely on Shadow. The grin has faded now, and the blood is drying in mottled patches on his skin. He flicks the coin up high, and catches it without even trying, without even looking.

‘Ah now don’t be like that. One more try? I’ll go easy on you this time.’

Despite his challenge, he doesn't sound enthusiastic. Shadow looks around the lot, and tries to remember where he parked his car. They all look the fucking same in the dark, and his body aches, aches so fucking much right now all he wants to do is lay down. The floor looks dry; if he needs to, he could just fall down here. He’s slept in worse places. When he turns again, Sweeney is closer. Without thinking, he pushes the bottle in to his hand; an attempt, maybe, to give it something else to do rather than try to inspect his mouth again. Sweeney eyes it momentarily before emptying nearly half down his throat. They stand quietly for a little, passing the bottle between them. The wind is picking up and Shadow feels himself start to shiver, despite the warmth of the whiskey settling in his belly.

‘He took your car’ says Sweeney, flatly. Shadow watches him warily, but he can tell his attention is elsewhere. His eyes are watching the darkening sky, the bottle limp in one red-stained hand and the coin moving seamlessly across the fingers of the other. When he leans back absently, they're close enough again to touch, but this time Shadow doesn’t bristle.

‘Left you his though’ Sweeney continues, and gestures to the car they’re leaning on. ‘There’s a bit o luck.’

Shadow turns to look, tries the handle and finds the door opens. He has no idea if Sweeney is telling the truth, but the seats looks big and soft and the inside is warm. He’s crawling inside before he can think. Sweeney remains leaning against the bonnet, still drinking.

‘Either fuck off or get in’ Shadow hears himself say. Sweeney bends down to look at him through the open door.

‘I ain’t bunking with you’ he says, but without any of the rancour from before. He doesn’t move.

‘Fine. Then fuck off.’

Shadow is spread out on his back across the rear seat. It’s cramped but it’s not uncomfortable. He’s used to being in small beds, and he wonders briefly if he’ll like sleeping in a normal sized one again. He’s about to shout at Sweeney to close the door when he feels a weight, and the car begin to shift. Mumbling his annoyance, he tries to sit but Sweeney is crawling up in to the backseat too, fumbling forward in the darkness. The car is big but nowhere near big enough for the two of them, and Sweeney swears quietly as he strains to shut the door behind him. Shadow can only lie there awkwardly as the other man tries and fails to make himself comfortable and ends up laying squarely on top of him.

‘Get off.’

His words are only a mumble, and he’s annoyed at how unconvincing he sounds. Sweeney’s head is resting on his collar bone, his face under his chin. The tangle of arms and legs below is ridiculous but oddly, not painful. Shadow has no idea how he’s managed to fold himself, but the only real annoyance is the weight of him. Sweeney is not a small man.

‘Get. Off.’

More insistent this time, and he’s proud of it. Still not good enough though, and he can tell that sleep and pain and alcohol will have him soon. Sweeney murmurs something and moves his head, readjusting himself against Shadow’s shoulder. Shadow can feel the skin of his bare arms, damp and hot against his own. The smell of his breath comes up to his face in slow, deep waves as the other man begins to settle in to sleep. Shadow moves his one free hand and pushes gently on Sweeney’s side. He can feel lean muscle under the thin vest.


There’s nothing in his voice now, no urgency, no grit. Sweeney moves, and Shadow can feel his mouth graze his throat. He mumbles in to Shadow’s skin, and it may have been ‘fuck off’ but all Shadow really knows is the heat that blooms suddenly across his neck and chest. His hand still on Sweeney’s side grips a little tighter, and Sweeney groans quietly. Slowly, almost carefully, he pushes he face deeper in to Shadow’s neck, burying himself against the exposed skin, and Shadow can feel the pressure of his mouth still, the threat of teeth. Almost without thinking, Shadow shifts, pushes his hips upward. He can feel Sweeney’s cock hard against his thigh, and in the half light, he feels him moan again as his mouth lingers in the hollow of his throat. There’s a low thud in his ears as his pulse begins to slow, or maybe it’s Sweeney’s. He can feel the haziness falling and in the darkness, he can’t be sure of where he is anymore. But in the last few moments of consciousness he feels Sweeney’s mouth gently open, feels the unmistakable sharpness of teeth press softly in to his flesh. And Shadow moans.