Tommy Lee leaves the party early and finds that everyone in Los Angeles is not as friendly as Nikki.
The rest of the party is spent in uncomfortable, awkward silence. I keep my costume head on to avoid questions, but inside, I can’t stop crying. The cloth is getting steamed up, and I’m sweating, but I don’t dare leave, not without Nikki. And right now, I have no idea where he is.
Eventually I walk over to a dusty couch and sit on it, tilting my head back and shutting my eyes. I can’t understand why Nikki hit me; I wasn’t flirting with Lizzy Grey, at least not consciously, and I didn’t mean to humiliate him. Then I think about how I interrupted him, and suddenly I remember it: the way his irises darkened, the clenching of his jaw.
Inside my costume, I start shaking again.
I don’t open my eyes again until almost half an hour later, when I hear footsteps approaching. I look up, half hoping to see Nikki, but instead I see Nigel Benjamin, lead singer of London.
“Hey,” he says to me. “Can I sit here? This party is fucking insane.”
I nod, moving slightly to give him room. He sits and rests his beer on his knee, shaking the sweaty curls from his eyes. For a while he doesn’t speak, but then he turns, a curious expression on his face.
“Hey… Lizzy told me Sixx’s boyfriend was here tonight in a Mighty Mouse suit… are you him?”
My throat closes up; my heart jerks. I don’t want to tell Nigel who I am; I barely even know him. I stand up, shaking so badly that I almost knock the beer off his knee. Nigel frowns.
“Are you all right?”
Dizzily, I stumble backwards, fear catching in my chest and blurring my vision. It’s way too hot in this suit. Nigel’s voice sounds to me from far off, but I don’t bother trying to understand him, I just keep going. Eventually I turn around and locate the door, and then I’m out, and damn if I don’t feel better than I have all evening. I take the head off; pitch it into a trashcan. The cool night air hits my bruise and makes it sting, but I ignore it and start walking. I tell myself I don’t need to wait for Nikki; I know my way back to Wilshire… I think.
I’m almost to Santa Monica Boulevard before I realize there’s something wrong. Heart pounding, I turn, but I don’t see anything, so I shake it off and keep going… and then they attack me, their knees in my back, heels digging into my ass. One of them has a knife, and I can feel it pressing hard against my throat, cold steel trying to pierce my flesh. The shaking’s started again, worse than before.
“Little boy,” one of them hisses into my ear, “where are you going all alone so late at night?”
“W-who are y-you?” I manage, and feel the knife cut into me. Fuck, it stings, and I can’t help it, I scream. The one closest to me starts laughing, his breath hot and smelling of tobacco. I can feel his cock, hard and denim-clad, pressing against my back.
“Oh, we’ve got a masochist,” he starts, and I don’t like how he says it, but before he can continue, I hear a much more familiar voice, one which chills me as much as it relieves me:
“Fuckin’ let him up, fags.”
Immediately I feel their bodies leave mine, though I don’t dare move. The guy who called me a masochist speaks again, his voice considerably less cruel.
“Nikki! I didn’t realize you knew him—”
“Of course I fuckin’ know him,” Nikki snarls. “Get up, Lee.”
I scramble to my feet, touching the hollow of my throat, drawing away the sticky heat of blood. Nikki’s eyes travel from my cheek to my neck, and suddenly he whirls on my attackers.
“You fucking cut him?!” he roars. “I’ll fucking kill you, you dog-faced faggots!” He’s blazing; I’ve never seen him so angry. He takes a step forward, and my attackers stumble backwards. I see the glint of the knife in one of their pockets, and I wonder briefly why they don’t use it.
Nikki gets right in their faces, that same deadly cold look in his eyes from earlier, when he hit me. “Touch him again; come anywhere near him again, and I promise, I will fucking kill you.”
They nod frantically, still backing up. One of them looks at me as they are leaving and says:
I don’t answer. My face is burning; I’m still shaking. Once they’re gone, Nikki turns to me.
“Lee,” he starts, but I can’t listen because my ears are ringing, my head spinning. I double up and retch into the bushes, making my cut throb. He kneels next to me and puts his hand between my shoulder blades, keeping me balanced as I throw up. When I’m done, I look over at him, still flushed, still ashamed.
“Nikki,” I say hoarsely, “I’m sorry…”
“Don’t fucking apologize, Lee,” he mutters. “Wasn’t your fault…” He slides his hand in mine; hauls me to my feet. “Let’s go home, kid,” he says, and we head back towards Wilshire.
“Who were those people?” I ask as we walk, leaning against him for support.
“Just some clients of mine… real fuckin’ assholes,” Nikki mutters. “Don’t… don’t ever go outside at night without me again, Lee. All right?” He’s staring straight ahead as usual, his voice raw and rough, but there’s something in his eyes, something like… fear? It occurs to me then that Nikki was scared for me, that he was afraid he might lose me. I squeeze his hand and skip a little, and he laughs shortly.
“All right, Nikki,” I say. “I won’t.”
“Good, kid,” he murmurs quietly, glancing over at me for a second before turning back to the road. “That’s good.”