|Territory I: Devil's Melody
Author: Guede Mazaka
Whiplashing his one pistol across an attacker's nose, El flipped over the shotgun he held in his other hand and blew his opponent into a gravestone, then whirled to spray lead all over the idiot vampires who were trying to sneak up on him and Sands. Who was cheerfully whacking heads with his cane while singing something about popping weasels.
Air whooshed. Seth came rolling across the top of a jutting marker, then halted himself so he could fire at the huge vamp-rats scrambling toward him. "Someone please tell Sands that he's not the fucking musician here."
"Oh, go choke on your watery shit." Sands brushed past El's back as all three men dove down to avoid the exploding bodies. "If you hadn't gone trailing after that hooker, we'd be fucking holes in the walls. But no, you did go, right into a classic honey trap, and now we're stuck here-" shooting some particularly stubborn monsters, bullets searing past El's cheek "-playing vamp slayer. I feel like I'm trapped in some crappy Japanese import game, only without the shitty computerized soundtrack."
In addition to their griping, an increasingly loud voice was pounding at the insides of El's temples. Screaming and wailing and arguing till irritation raked long nails down his nerves. //Shut up//, he muttered, his own voice grating his eardrums raw.
"You're getting kinked-up sex till you can't even walk straight. What the hell do you need more for?" Sands punctuated each word with a shot, then clicked cartridges in-and-out while the vampires batted their arms at the rain of body parts. "Wasn't even a girl. I can smell the manure-excuse for cologne on you. You reek, scaly dick."
"Well, maybe I want to be able to walk straight once in a while." Something came snuffling up from behind, and both Seth and El absently kicked out. Flesh squished and squirted. "You motherfucking-" multiple bullets "-should show you. I just got these fucking clothes."
"Shut up," El said a little louder, hitting the side of his head with his hand whenever he got a free moment. Unfortunately, that only seemed to make things worse. It put a twist in his mind that wrung out blood.
Sands laughed as he snitched the larger guns from El's case, lying at their feet, and wiped out the next wave of onrushers. "Christ in love, now your masculinity decides to assert itself? Got news for you, Gecko: you ever come near my ass and you'll find out just how long a shotgun blast in the rectum takes to heal."
"Shut up!" Thunder rang through El's bones as his vision smeared, then flashed clear to show two men huddling at his feet-he'd stood up?-with nervous faces turned up toward him. And wary vampires that were hanging back, he discovered when he looked about. Retreating toward a glowing mist that somehow, he recognized for what it really was. //You can't win,// he snarled, coming forward to face it. //They aren't strong enough. They never were. You knew that, but you've forgotten.//
"El?" A tentative touch at the back of his knee, but El didn't have the time to explain things to Sands. He took another step, and then another, until the crackle of the greenish, red-edged whiteness tingled at his very edges.
//Not now. Not ever again.// Movement to his left. El flicked his arm straight and, not bothering to glance over, blew a hole through a leaping vampire's chest. Then braced himself against the moan that curled up about him. Two frail-fingered hands brushed it away, then skated around his waist so a lean body settled against his back. Breath puffed into the space between his shoulderblades. El turned his head slightly to press back into Sands' nuzzle, then cautiously regarded the mist. //So that's how many dead it takes to get your attention.//
"What the fuck is that…" Seth halted just short of El's elbow.
Fury crashed against the barriers of El's teeth, battering them till they rocked to the root and scored blood from his tongue, but he restrained himself. Only waited, sensing sparks strike in his belly and stream down his arm, pooling into his gun. //I could do more than this, if I wanted. I could carve your face till it matched a corpse's.//
"There's a question," Sands snickered, rubbing a cheek along the line of El's shoulder. "How about you get out of the game, ma'am? Boys will be boys, so it's best to let them work things out for themselves."
Grass crumpled and squelched as Seth leaned forward to catch El's eye. "Is that what I think it-okay, stupid question. But you'll want to ask for a guarantee. Or at least something to seal the deal."
Deliberate and slow, El cracked the strain out of his neck bones, then leveled his pistol at the haze, which darted back. //Don't. Call. Me. That. I repaid whatever debt I had to me by taking up the role you gave me and following it to the end. Now I want you to leave me alone.//
//I didn't ask for it to.// To be truthful, El wasn't sure if he could anymore. The chaos had melded so deeply into his blood, mingling with song and sex to the point that excising it might destroy the whole of him. He'd made it into his world. And-to go one beyond truth-now parts of him liked it, whereas the rest of him couldn't seem to care. //I want you out of it. I want to fight men. Not you.//
hateyou. finefinetrucewetruce. promisegift.
One hulking vampire, blue veins nearly bursting from its translucent skin, colored with paste and bleach, shuffled forth and laid a large bundle wrapped in what appeared to be a shroud on the ground, then warily backed off. Still eying everything suspiciously, El jerked his head in a curt nod and lowered his gun. Then immediately had to throw up his arms as the wind roared up in a blinding mass.
When all the air had died down again, the vampires and the mist were gone, leaving only that bundle behind. It wriggled. Seth and El stared, while Sands blinked rapidly as he curled around to El's front. "That-that's not looking too normal."
"You're blind," Seth pointed out, much to Sands' obvious disgust.
"No shit. Which should tell you something, since I definitely am seeing something." Palms skimmed up over sticky clothing and dirt-smeared skin to touch El's still throbbing temples. "Hey, Bojangles. What's with the weird face? The beans we had for dinner catching up?"
But El was too preoccupied to answer, full as his ears were with tales and secrets and questions. It'd all altered again-he'd heard some strangenesses before, but now it was like the dark was thrumming through him, laying new notes into his flesh and bone. Revealing things that he might have suspected, once during a nightmare, but at this moment were as real to him as the scar itching his hand.
Nails scored into his cheekbones, drawing him back to time. Sands, uncharacteristically fearful. "El?"
No gift that she'd given him. A bribe, and maybe an ambush. El was listening, though, and he was learning. "I think we should get the rope before he wakes up."
Fuck and hell and just-fuck. Seth didn't need to see El's expression in order to know that, yet again, some weird shit had gone down that was going to rearrange everything. And why the fuck was the mariachi already starting with the bondage crap? They hadn't even seen-
--flurry of snarling and tearing cloth, and the point became irrelevant as the heap on the ground unexpectedly reared up to smack into Sands' leg. With a startled yelp, he went down. Pretty much taking El with him.
"Who the fuck are you?" hissed a low, rich voice, which apparently came from a mass of dark brown curls. "Tell me or-"
"-I'll die, decompose and turn to worms. In your-" Sands snapped out a stiff kick that produced a gasp from the shroud, then wrenched his cane free and sprang onto the emerging man "-limpdick wet dreams."
There was a second bout of flailing and whacking, but this time pained shouts and groans were liberally tossed in. A lot like the last conjugal visit Seth had gotten in prison, before his wife had made a run for Canada with some rich arthritic sugar daddy. When El finally managed to stop smirking and intervene, Sands was sitting pretty on top of…
…well, pretty. Young and lean and looking damn good in spite of the bruises and general air of pissed-off. The dark curls tangled and stuck to a feral, handsome face, and while Sands' cane nestled right between two rows of ad-perfect teeth. Actually, seemed kind of familiar, though not all the features were right. "Hey. She gave us your second cousin, El," Seth remarked.
The prone man tried to choke something past the metal rod gagging him, but fell silent when El laid a gun next to his throat. Burning eyes darted between the three of them, the defiance within them gradually shading over with uncertainty. When El bent over for a closer examination, the man sharply flinched. Then wriggled when one of El's fingers traced down a cheek, though from this angle Seth couldn't tell whether it was toward the mariachi or away.
"So?" Sands asked, getting restless. El casually draped an arm around him and murmured into one ear. Apparently licked or nibbled or something like that, too, because Sands went all feline and the newcomer gurgled in what Seth figured was astonishment. "Really. Hey, Seth? You know what your stupid suggestion got us? Yet another gunslinging lunatic, goddamn it."
"And who are you to talk?" Seth put away his guns and knelt down behind the trapped man's head so he could make his own observations. Bizarre. He could sort of feel the fucker, just like he sensed cash or ammunition or whatever he needed to find. And Sands had sounded serious when he'd said he could see something. "You're an evil man-cat who's completely certifiable."
"Yeah, but I'm cute." Cue the smarmy smile. Which El fortunately kissed off Sands' face before Seth had to break its irritating curve. Beneath the other American, the man began to struggle again, making Sands break off the mouth-melding with a frustrated growl. "Look, you idiotic Lazarus knock-off, I haven't gotten screwed since lunch and I'm far, far past impatience. So listen. We're immortal. So are you, apparently. You're in Mexico, who just handed your leash to El-he's the big jangly one, the other one's Seth, who's really airheaded outside of bed. Now either get used to it, or I'll have a good old time blowing holes in your head till you comprende. Si?"
A garbled 'fuck you.' Seth sighed, not bothering to watch as Sands attempted a physical demonstration and El wrestled the crazy shit into the dirt. Continuing to show his utter lack of comprehension, the newcomer spat out the cane and heaved himself free. Promptly ran into Seth's elbow, and after that, El's hand, which clamped around the other man's neck and slammed the viciously swearing moron into the nearest tombstone. Repeated the motion until the other man went limp, and hell, wasn't the nostalgia just flooding back into Seth. He did have to admit that the present had stamina. Almost as bouncy as Sands, The Cat Who Thought He Was a Bastard.
Sands, who had crawled over to plop himself next to Seth. Who was currently cleaning off his cane while El explained the new rules of nature to the choking fourth man, whose expression was ricocheting from disbelieving to angry to helplessly attracted. Of course, that little realization just started the whole cycle up again. "I think he gets the whole El part of this now."
"Good for him." With a crisp snick, Sands' cane clicked out to its full length. He set it down and took out a cigarette, then waved the pack at Seth, who barely managed to snag one. "When we get back to the church, I can shove him in the confessional and explain the El-mine me-his part."
And speak of the devil, there went El's head down to bite, and there was the gasping holy-shit expression on the present-thing. Man. "Then you're mopping up afterward. I'm fucking tired of scraping off brains from the walls, and fuck." Quickly finishing the cigarette, Seth raised his sleeve to check out the damage. "Why the hell do those bloodsuckers have to be so slimy?"
Before he could get an answer, a muffled thud caught both his and Sands' attention. Wide-eyed new kid being dropped by a stonefaced El, who prowled back to Sands and squatted down so he could bury his head in Sands' throat. But only for a moment. Much to Seth's surprise, the mariachi moved over and then teeth grazed up the tattooed side of Seth's neck, teasing out a moan. Blistering heat brushed over his skin in a low, rasping whisper. //Belongs to me.//
Christ, what had brought that on-never mind. All right, sometimes Seth was an idiot. But not right now.
Miguel was…confused. And furious. And for some reason, he wasn't doing a thing about it.
It might have to do with the fact that he was alive with a very clear memory of dying hundreds of miles from here. Or with the fact that his entire body wanted to collapse into one aching sore. Or even with the bite on his neck that was still stinging its way down through his unaccountably roiling blood.
Fine. Not so unaccountable. But that goddamn mariachi just smelled like…like…
…Mother of God. Miguel could smell it from here, ten feet away and huddled up to a grave marker. Heated and fragrant, it hooked itself into his nose and dragged him across the grass till he could push into one pocket of vaporous bliss, letting the aromas smooth into his skin.
One moment of dizzying ecstasy before a hard grip seized his already-hurting throat. "Ah-ai! Ow! What the hell-"
It was the blind American, the one with the lightning reflexes and the cloud of vanilla-mesquite insanity hanging over him. Shard-edged grin as he dug nails into Miguel's bruises. "Watch it, darling. Honor thy dead, and thy forerunners shall not rip out thy shriveled heart."
"You know, people paid me millions of dollars to kill marks like you." A cuff on the other side of Miguel's head rattled the sneer off his face. The other American-Seth-snorted as he tapped an admonishing finger against Miguel's brow. Then lightly smacked him when, aggravated beyond belief, he snapped at it. More hands locked him down between Seth and El, and his breath began to fray as an electric mouth worked its way over his nape, sucking around the clenching fingers. "I was-was-professional…"
"Sure you were. And so was I, back when it was CIA Agent Sands." The blind man rubbed up against Miguel, inadvertently massaging some of the bruising, as he snuggled into El's side. Panting and unable to stop his body from wriggling, Miguel made a snatch for the gun he could see peeking out from Seth's jacket. But the other man caught his wrists and wrenched them behind his back as his mouth was smashed into hard, cleverly nipping lips that pried open enough space to slip in an even more sly tongue that stroked the voice out of Miguel's mouth. Made damn sure he couldn't reply to the words grinning themselves into his throat. "But now it's just Sands, and you're just another deadwalker in the flat spaces. And not only that, you're late to the party, sugarbutt."
Seth moved on to join the other two pairs of lips scorching Miguel's neck, allowing him some small bits of air with which to form a reply. "Miguel, you bastard. Miguel Bain."
"Bane of who?" Sands laughed, sliding over to messily kiss El around Miguel's shoulder. "Villain, right? 'Cause maybe no bad men make it to the final curtain, but no good men make through the whorehouse afterparty."
"Sands, shut up." Seth stroked fingertips along the tendons of Miguel's wrists, petting down their straining bulges as if it were ruffled down. "Stupid fuck. Never makes sense for more than fifteen minutes."
A snarl, raging and brutal, unexpectedly vibrated down Miguel's spine, and cold washed over his back as El suddenly jerked away. //Fuck! Fuck. Still talking.//
"Well, you all seem to have much to discuss with each other, so why don't I leave you it," Miguel muttered, twisting in Seth's grip as they watched El get up and step back, violently shaking his head as Sands went after him. No good. The hands tightened till bones grated. "Ow. Hey. Hey! Look, all you've given me is a bunch of bullshit, and now you're-"
"Come on, come on," Seth was mumbling, weaving his head from side to side like a dowser. He stood them up and dragged them away from the other bickering pair. Miguel stabbed his ankles-damn it, he wasn't even clothed aside from this stupid sheet-into the dirt, then swiftly relaxed, but Seth merely used the slack to yank his wrists up higher so they grazed the bottoms of his shoulderblades. Biting might-molten lead poured into Miguel's knees, making them inexplicably collapse.
"What the hell did you do to me?" he hissed, struggling to stay on his feet. His chin caught on Seth's collarbone, then bumped over it and skidded downward. The movement wrenched his captured arms even more badly, twisting hurt all through him as if tiny winches were pulling at each of his muscles. //Why am I-why goddamn biting and smelling--//
Just under the bite on his neck, a clump of ice whirled itself into a miniature grenade. One last gasp, the drowned's final release of air and first taste of water, and then his nerves incinerated themselves. Lashed white and black fire through him, flensing flesh from bone and cracking ribs to suck out the sweet marrow.
Someone held him up while he whined and writhed. Someone else smoothed a palm over his forehead, rich leather scent drifting into him along with sudden breath. Miguel watched the stars spin back into their places, the moon unsmear its borders and shape itself into a sallow, disappointed eye. //Holy Virgin.//
El moved into focus, a razor-edged face tucking itself beneath his chin. Sands hummed pleasantly as he almost seemed to stare into Miguel's eyes. "So, things all fixed now? He less of a carrot and more like an empty box?"
//Who's the stick and string, then?// the mariachi asked, as amused as Seth seemed annoyed. //And the prey?//
The man holding Miguel grumbled unintelligibly for a few seconds before his voice raised up on a crest of puzzled frustration. "Care to explain what the fuck?"
"That I would also like to know." As his legs seemed to be functioning again, Miguel unsteadily straightened himself out, only to have Seth let go and stalk off. To his disgust, he immediately fell back to the ground. "Damn it, what the hell is going on?"
Sands opened his mouth to answer, but a fed-up Seth actually beat him to it. "You want to know? We've told you at least twice," he snapped, the ire in his voice somewhat muffled by the tombstone behind which he was rummaging. He emerged with a handful of leather straps, which he tossed to El.
It being apparent where this was going, Miguel scooted back. Tried to, anyway. His joints froze up as soon as the mariachi merely looked at him, which was absolutely…yes, embarrassing. A musician with jingling pants, beating him without even trying. Him, number two in the world and almost, almost number one. And that hadn't been fair-that goddamn girl. Assassins were supposed to be solitary. Fight one on one. "Now, wait. Wait a minute."
"Oh, fuck you," Seth retorted, flicking a semiautomatic into his hand. "Watch carefully, asshole, because the next you see this happen, it'll be right before I tear the fucking place apart."
And then he shot himself through the temple.
Blood splattered over crimson-splotched grave markers. Miguel jerked and dropped his jaw open, but El and Sands didn't even bat an eye. In fact, Sands said something about over-dramatic bikerboy catamites, and El simply bound Miguel's wrists with the leather while the…shit, it was twitching…body distracted Miguel.
Groaning like an old man, Seth sat up and wiped at the bloodied side of his head. "Every fucking time. Like a sledgehammer to the brain."
"Dying or having a hangover?" Sands snarked, still molding himself to El's hip.
"You…you…" Straps were cutting into his flesh, numbing his wrists, and more were busily circling his ankles, but Miguel couldn't do anything except stare at the reviving man. Knowing resurrection was the only explanation for how he'd ended up here was one thing, but actually seeing proof was an entirely different caliber of bullet. Studying Rath hadn't taught him him a single thing that he couldn't have eventually thought of himself, but this…this he was having trouble just registering. When he was even aware enough to think logically. Something was…his mind was clouding over…and…
"Yeah, yeah. I died and came back, but don't you dare go fucking religious on me." Seth retrieved his gun and shuffled over to Miguel. "Get the picture now?"
Picture? What picture? Scent-acid sweet, etching into his face as he inhaled. Anise and cordite and tequila-soaked ashes, coming from all around him. //Death. That's what it is. Smells like death.//
A thumb curved under his chin, tipping it up into a bloody kiss. Then tilting his head around for two tongues to invade his mouth, spreading it wide open. Small wet lumps dripped onto his face and slid down the sides of his cheeks, but Miguel was a little more concerned with what havoc Sands and Seth were wrecking with his reflexes. Hell, he wanted to melt now. Just lean back and let it all play out. But-a softened particle of instinct managed to remind him of a few things. Enough to make him jolt back.
Which didn't do much except make it easier for El to haul him up and pass him over to Seth. "You asked for him," the mariachi shrugged, picking up a guitar case and gathering a purring Sands to his front. "You watch him."
Expression incredulous, Seth glared from Miguel's boneless slump to El's placid pacing away. "I damn well didn't. And what am I supposed to watch for?"
"For signs that she's still being a bitchy soccer mom trying to ride shotgun on our lives," Sands called back. "El's working on it, but it's not all set yet."
"Oh, great. That." So apparently the nonsense meant something to Seth, even if it only made Miguel's lightheaded brain feel like more ether had been pumped into its folds. The other man wrapped an arm around Miguel's waist and started wrestling them after the other pair. "You might as well just lie back and enjoy it," Seth muttered, his palm searing hot against Miguel's belly. "Especially since you've got no guns, no idea what we're actually capable of, and, well, Christ-no clothes either, besides this blanket-thing. Where the hell did that come from, anyway? People still use these?"
//What?// And the aromas were still assaulting Miguel's consciousness. He kept catching himself trying to burrow into Seth, or stretch out so he could immerse himself in the mind-bending scents wafting back from El. Good and soul-stealing and not a single hint of jasmine.
"Never mind." Seth grinned, shrewd and mocking, and patted the hair out of Miguel's face. "You got Sands on his back for a second there. That alone's worth all the shit you're going to cause."
So. Guns-check. Cane-check. Shower and non-gloppy clothes-check. One tied-up Miguel whacking Seth around the bathroom-check.
Big cockteasing jangle-ass. Huh.
Sands ran over his grubby little mental list a few more times, but that checkmark just flat-out refused to come out and fluff the feathers. Stupid ass-dragging fifty-peso skank. And no, it didn't matter that he couldn't decide whether that referred to the checkmark or to the list item. He wanted to know where El was, and what that guitar prick's problem was. Christ, how bad could it be, compared to everything else they'd been through?
Better not start imagining. Sands winced and flopped over on the bed. Well, available evidence--hell, he was going to have to think logically again-pointed to the earlier events in the graveyard. Couldn't possibly be Miguel, though. Whatever Sands had seen in him had been fading by the time they'd gotten into the car. Besides, the kid was already halfway and a step past fixation station, and very eagerly running toward the train engine lights. One good fucking by whoever, and he was done. Splat on the tracks. Tracks. Oh, yeah, that millionaire recluse and his brother in the "car accident." Sands knew he'd heard of Bain before, and come to think of it, he'd flipped through the fuckmook's file during one boring all-nighter. Obsessive tendencies regarding one Robert Rath, top merc assassin and very recently retired; psychopathic anal-retentive when it came to carrying out contracts; Spanish Spanish. Funny how she'd gotten hold of him, then-Nikolay.
Former contender for the one-spot in hitman land, found dead years after his presumed assassination by Rafe. In the Caribbean, which Sands supposed wasn't too far off. Ballistics and bloodstains had hinted at four people, and around the same time, the CIA had lost track of Bain.
Touch to his shoulder, and-"Fuck! El, don't do that!"
"But you're cute," came the sardonic reply. Large palms flattened against his sides, tugging him onto a hard chest as El laid back on the mattress. "Especially when you're nervous."
"And you're nerve-fucking scary. Especially when you're pulling that silent hey-I'm-messing-with-reality twitchy act." Sands tried to stay stiff. He really did. But two fingers stroked the underside of his chin, and the traitorous body part drooped, which then made his spine unlock. Then El combed through Sands' hair and pressed warm lime-laced lips along his jawline, and Sands untensed in one languid stretch. Mewed once as a hand rubbed circles over the small of his back and nosed into El's throat. "What's with you, anyway? Who's 'still talking'?"
Big Bad Legend Man hesitated, then grunt-growled when Sands elbowed him. Like El was allowed to hide stuff now. "Not her."
"Well, obviously, you stalling piss-filled diaper. If it was, we'd be hip-deep in vampy juices." The hand in Sands' hair lightly cuffed him, then pulled him into a nicely fierce kiss. El took his lower lip between sharp teeth and chewed very gently before moving over to Sands' ear. "But…look, I want to know…what's…why you were muttering the whole way back…hey…"
Up-turned lips engraved themselves into the tender spot behind the ear as Sands moaned and rocked. And of course, that was when El decided to confess his sins and beg for more. //What I did back there-forcing her to leave us alone-I think that makes me…equal. So now I have-it's something like territory, but not quite. And it's odd to get used to.//
"Territory?" Oh, shit. Whispers of power and possession and high wind-swept mountains of hell, and it all just shot straight to Sands' groin. He slid his cheek along El's, angling down to suck on a winging collarbone as his hands started rolling up El's shirt, fabric fiber impressing his skin moments before hot satin muscles burned it smooth. "Really?" Sands breathed, letting his knees skid wide so he could straddle El's leg, grind his cock away to pure flame on it. "And Miguel, he's what? The treaty-gift between you and her?"
A low, wicked-tinged laugh ruffled his ear. //Somehow I knew you were going to like that.//
"Yeah." Zippers went down, nails raked restraining clothing off of Sands as he willingly returned the gesture. El rolled them over, mouth glued to Sands' nipple. Rasp, and Sands arched, whimpers bubbling up from deep in his stomach. "So what? As if you mind."
//About Bain--// tongue wormed itself over the peaking bit of flesh //--what are you planning?//
What was he planning? Since when he plan anything? He just arranged favorable circumstances, thank you, and he hadn't even been doing much of that for a while now. And yeah, hands cradling his hips, kneading each buttock as if it were dough. Which Sands might as well be, because shit--
--cock rubbing alongside his, hands leaving his ass to capture his floundering arms, and it'd taken El long enough. Too bad this whole take-back-from-her deal didn't include more subtlety for Super-Mariachi.
Almost as if reading Sands' thoughts, metal clicked around his wrists, fastening them to the headboard. Lips never breaking contact with Sands' body, El very, very slowly dragged himself down to wrench apart Sands' legs as far as they would go. Pain sparked in bucking hips, but was swiftly overwhelmed by wet heat burrowing itself into Sands. Then El, stupid fucking heroic dick, shifted back to nibble roughly all around. It felt like he was eating Sands' brain. Slurping it up wrinkle by wrinkle.
The tongue darted back in, wriggled about and touched upon a few spots that wiped out the black with streaks of violent color. And maybe made Sands scream like a banshee. Whatever. He was probably closer to that than…oh, Christ's spit, prodding. Finger slipping in along with the tongue as one of his legs hit the bed. "Fuck, El. Fuck." Sands attempted to remember the rest of the demand, but could only pick out the one word. "Fuck!"
"You're cute when you beg, too." Tone much too casual, considering El was also easing lips all over Sands' balls when he said it. A nail flicked at the head of Sands' cock, and now, he couldn't deny that that was a keen. Loud enough to prompt some muffled sarcasm from the bathroom. "So. Is this going to be like you and Seth?"
"Nice how you just skipped over the 'are we keeping him?' stage of decis-de-goddamn it. Oh…" Sweaty leanness melded to Sands from neck to thighs as El nudged a little further in, then halted. God. Damn. His. Something insulting. Okay, maybe El did have subtlety. "Please. Please, El, fucking…please. Am I pretty enough now?"
For an answer, El swallowed down Sands' tongue, wrung it limp and shoved it back into his parched mouth. Went in another inch, then leaned up to lick at Sands' rapidly-bruising hands, around the warming handcuffs. //You two were very annoying, back then. A lot of the time, I wanted to shove my guns in your mouths. And now it's a little better, but since she dropped Miguel on us…and I can only hold two guns at a time.//
"You did shove your bigass pistols in our mouths," Sands gasped. Pleaded, if he wanted to be frank, and whatever the fuck would get El moving-"All right, all right. I'll let Seth do all the smacking-around. Wimpy lizard-dick probably….could use…reassert manhood."
//Thanks//, El murmured in a dry tone that nevertheless managed to simmer into Sands' blood. Fingers clamped onto Sands' hips, and finally the taunting musical fuckass started to drive himself into Sands. Fast and raw and brutal, it raked Sands inside and out. Sandpaper calluses circling his cock, massaging and pulling in time with the hard thrusts. He writhed into it all and very happily didn't give a fuck as he cried out and hissed and at last lost his voice. And then El took up Sand's nerves in one crackling scoop and just threw them over edge so Sands' final scream had to dive in after them.
Coming down was almost as brutal in its gentleness: El hummed back at Sands' shattered breath as the mariachi petted the tremors from Sands' limbs. Undid one cuff, then took the chain off the bar and snapped it back onto Sands' shaking wrist. "Don't believe me?"
"No, I think you meant what you said." El gathered up Sands into a collapsing pile of limbs and sticky hair that kept getting into Sands' mouth, then curled around him. A finger brushed the locks out of his face. //But you forget, a lot of the time. Not what you promise me, I mean. What you are.//
As his throat was beginning to hurt, Sands poked at El.
Lips pressed briefly against the freshest bite on Sands' neck. //Mine.//
And Sands shivered and purred. Oh, yeah. Take that, blockhead cartels and bitchy national spirits and copycat homicidal dipshits. Mine mine mine.
Shaking the sting out of his hand, Seth rocked back on his heels and sourly regarded the man bound by the wrists to the exposed plumbing on the wall. Miguel smiled pleasantly and flipped just-washed curls out of his eyes. "You know, you can't keep me like this forever. Eventually, you'll have to untie me. And for some reason-" smartass cocked head "-I don't think you can leave me. I might come after you."
"Of course you would, you dumbass. You wouldn't be able to help it." Slime dried into clothing was the most disgusting feeling in the world, and it was getting worse by the minute. Oh, to hell with it. Seth tore off his jacket, which was so fucking stained it was stiff enough to stand on its own, and then yanked at his vest buttons. But they were glued on one side of the holes, and finally Seth had to cut them all off with a knife. Which just pissed him off even more. "Listen. You do not have the upper hand here. You are never going to have the upper hand. So stop grinning like that and act like a sensible human being."
Clearly not listening, Miguel smirked at Seth, then threw a deliberate glance at the knife being shaken at him. "Are you going to cut me, Mr. Gecko? Because if what you've been telling me is true, then it won't matter. I'll heal. And I'll remember, for the next time you think you have the superior position."
And then the leather whipped through the air as Bain suddenly showed that he'd worked loose of his ties. It might have worked, about a year back when Seth was still human. But honestly, since then he'd spent months living with a mariachi that was a walking copy of Revelations and, well, Sands. Practically rolling his eyes, Seth ducked and stabbed Miguel in the stomach, then, when the other man fell back, slashed his throat for good measure.
Blood all over the fucking bathtub. And him. Goddamn it, now he had to start all over-wait. What the fuck was he, a towelboy? Seth stripped off the rest of his clothes, then made a little pile of his weapons just outside the bathroom door, setting aside one knife. He levered Miguel's slumped corpse back into the tub, then turned on the shower and washed up while the other man sputtered back to life. Gave that stubborn fuck a good kick in the chin when his eyes opened, which put him out long enough for Seth to finish up. Good thing he'd stuck to short hair, unlike Sands and El. After a firefight, all the shit that got caught in their hair looked like a zombie's idea of mousse.
Screaming from the bedroom. Guess El had settled whatever had been chewing at his balls all through the return drive. Thank Mary and Jesus, because a withdrawn El made for a snippy-relatively speaking-Sands, and between that insanely catty shit's mouth and Miguel's, Seth was seriously considering just giving up on being the voice of reason. "You all fucked back to health now?"
An even louder wail. It was probably a very, very good thing they were staying in an abandoned church. Monastery. Seth had never been good with architecture, aside from the practical applications of it to bank-robbing and gunfights and suicide-charges.
Miguel woke up again just as Seth was stepping out of the shower. "See? Yeah, you heal, but it still hurts like fuck. And fine, you're hotshot assassin boy. But that's what, all rifles and sharpshooting? When's the last time you got in a fistfight?"
"Honey, I'm going to dry myself off, and then I'm going to rip your heart out," Miguel growled, unsteadily crawling out of the tub.
"Sure you are." There was currently only one clean towel, and Seth was wrapping it around his waist. He rubbed his head off, then retrieved his knife and eyed the man kneeling on the floor. "Right after you figure out how to walk without using your feet."
Baleful look, and oh, Seth was so scared. Miguel sat back and wrenched at the straps around his ankles. Failing to get them loose on the first try, he clawed at them with increasingly wilder movements, then threw up his hands with a frustrated snarl. Sulked. "All right. Come here and cut these."
"Now you're ordering me?" Seth asked incredulously, amazed by the sheer blindness of this guy's bravado. "Hell, no. I'll just stand here and watch you squirm while those things dry."
Miguel smiled, laughing a little, but this time, there was a nervous edge to his amusement. Fear was starting to creep into the corners of his eyes, and about time he realized he was in unknown lands. Christ. Seth was fairly sure he'd caught on faster than this. "You know, once I saw a man tortured to death with wet leather strips. They tied them around his neck, just loose enough for him to breathe, you see, but when the strips dried…"
The other man trailed off and huddled up, an unexpected air of vulnerability settling over him. But Seth kept his distance. Half the time, Sands didn't look like much more than a skinny little slice of tourist cheese, but irritating or not, he was perfectly capable of taking out an entire city block if the puerco pibil was especially shitty or good. If El wasn't around to fuck him senseless first.
An eye peeked out through hair that was slowly springing back into wirespring curls. Miguel sighed, then laid his head back against the side of the tub. "Not going to work?"
"Try again, genius." But this was getting boring. Seth took a wary step forward, and then another. Crouched down on the third so he couldn't be knocked off balance, knife held ready at his side. When Miguel didn't react, Seth raised one hand and let it hover over one of the other man's knees. Still could feel a little, but not so much. The weird sense had definitely faded after El had done his whole claim routine, which argued for her trying yet again to screw them over. Jesus Christ, didn't anyone learn from their mistakes down here? "That's odd."
"What is?" Seth jerked his head up to find Miguel appearing to be genuinely interested. And still behaving, thank God. "El was talking to someone that wasn't in the car, all the way back here."
"It's kind of hard to explain if you aren't sensing it yet." Seth idly watched himself twirl the knife, flipping over his fingers and then spinning it in a blurry halo of silver. "He hears stuff, I think. Sands can play psychic when he's not being bouncy-horny or spastic-bloodthirsty, and I can find things."
Miguel hmm'd thoughtfully, pupils unfocusing. Or…Seth recalled all that sniffing at the cemetery, and the apparent effect it'd had on the other man, though it didn't seem to work all the time. But there was really only one way to find out for sure, and-hell. Both Sands and El were rubbing off on him.
Fuck it all. Seth stopped playing with the knife and laid its blade against Miguel's knee. He got a slight hitch of breath, though the other man's eyes didn't change. So he slid the blade down the leg, cutting through drops of water, and sliced through the bonds. Still not much of a reaction. Then again, if it was smell-tossing the knife away, he leaned in till their noses nearly touched and deliberately blew air into Miguel's face.
Eyes widened, went fuzzy, and lips parted to reveal a tonguetip as the other man inhaled. Then exhaled a whimper. And suddenly Miguel was going limp against the tub, staring blankly as Seth snagged a length of leather and retied the other man's hands before him. "What the hell…"
"Wrong question." They'd explained and explained, and if the kid didn't get it yet, he was just going to have to learn by experience. Part of which Seth supposed he should attend to, given that El had told him to watch Miguel. Besides, he was damned if he wasn't getting some kind of compensation for putting up with all the struggling and chatty bullshit. "You really should be asking whether or not you can deal."
Note to self: fresh from the shower, Miguel tasted like Turkish coffee, strong and sweet. Seth sucked down the sharp jawline, then licked over the swallowing throat. Pressed in to feel the erratic vibrations before he dragged his tongue over the teeth-shaped scabs. That got him a soft cry, and legs abruptly falling apart to let him scoot closer in. Miguel's hands scrabbled at Seth's chest, scratching him with the wrist-ties, then grabbed his throat. "You bastard," hissed into his ear.
In retaliation, he seized the other man's balls and rolled them once between his fingers before squeezing. Spasming, Miguel released his throat, then lolled backwards. Soft thud as head hit porcelain. "Yes, I am," Seth agreed as he sank his own mark into the other man's neck, just below El's. He pulled off to check Miguel's eyes, which were a rich glazed dark like a new-varnished guitar. "Come to think of it, now I'm a fucking bastard, too. Goddamn Sands."
Lips tentatively nipped off the blood staining Seth's mouth, then trailed along his throat to peck at his shoulder. "You all smell…oh, God."
Beneath him, Miguel twitched as Seth probed up and back. Stroked a nail over the delicate skin behind the ball sac, then caressed higher till the tip of his finger slid in. In return, teeth grazed once down his chest, then struck deep above one nipple. They hit a nerve that shocked all through Seth, making him moan. "Okay, you see? If you'd just shut up and paid attention, we could have gotten to this part soon-"
"Now you're talking too much," Miguel hissed as he dragged Seth down into a mash of lips that ripped open his lip and scoured out his mouth. Fucking God. Where the hell was the-right. Seth temporarily took one hand away to get shampoo, then returned it to its place snuggling up Miguel's ass. He stabbed up with one finger, earning himself an abrupt slackening and an openmouthed mewl, of which Seth took full advantage. Wriggled about inside, sussing out the best spots, then added two more. Promptly had to smash down on the other man as Miguel nearly concussed him with thrashing arms. //Mother of God, more…//
Still not very polite, but they could work on that. Seth crooked his fingers, knuckling over a few of the spots and watched with some satisfaction as Miguel's eyes rolled back into his head. He leaned over and took a few more tastes, discovering that the sugar-honey shaded to ginger as he went further down.
Lazy footsteps swung themselves into the room behind Seth. "Busy working out your childhood traumas, I hear," Sands said.
"Fuck off," Miguel breathed, writhing on Seth's fingers. Hell. Now that move Seth didn't think he'd seen before. So he whuffed up Miguel's side and did the finger-twist again, just to check. No, definitely a new one. And that was also a lovely helpless whimper.
Chuckling as El plopped a wilted Sands by Seth, then helped shift Miguel so he could get in from behind. "Next time a CIA Agent shows up looking for Sands, I'll hand him over to you three and go for a drink," the mariachi murmured sardonically, a beat before he and Seth tangled tongues over Miguel's trembling shoulder.
"You're so generous," Sands snorted, briefly draping onto Seth's side to lick at the tattoos. Miguel's eyes sparked as they noted the stagger in Seth's breath, and then he slumped forward to swirl a tongue over every tendril that flamed itself down Seth's arm, as far down as he could go. Handcuffs clinked-Sands crawling over to El, Seth thought. He was kind of preoccupied at the moment, what with having fire licked all over his skin, and oops. Fingers slipped out.
But then Miguel jolted against him, El rising up from behind like a leaping wolf, and that was neatly seen to. Seth concentrated on the mouth working itself back up his arm, laying down new brands over the old, and the shaking fingers that were tearing the towel from his waist, wrapping around his cock without prompting. Finally getting it, Miguel was. Even if every few seconds he seized up in a fit and a frayed-edge groan.
Seth let his head tilt back so he stared at the ceiling. Cracking, spiderwebbed fractures throughout it. A lot like what was happening inside him, incidentally, and fuck, that thumb-sweep over the head of his cock was like rubbing a piece of lightning over him. Vision almost gone, he bucked up into the rippling grip and wrung himself empty.
After that, Seth just couldn't hold himself upright, so he said to hell with that too and tumbled over backwards. Didn't hurt quite as much as it should have, but then again, his bones were all pretty much liquefied. Now above him, Miguel's face contorted in straining pleasure that threatened to burst the skin from the fine bone. A high-pitched shout did explode out, ricocheting about the room to the rhythm of El's snarling. And then Miguel froze for a long airless moment.
Warm wet stickiness squirting over Seth's belly, but unlike the vamp-juice of before, this kind of gunk he didn't mind so much. Miguel slowly collapsed onto Seth's thighs, barely avoiding the pools of come as he did.
Two minutes later and neither Miguel nor Seth were making any move toward El. In consequence, Sands was a very happy psycho-mewler. Yes, he mewled, because El was slumping over sideways and bringing Sands with him and slinging an arm over Sands' waist so the attached hand could caress his hip.
"I can't feel Miguel anymore," Seth murmured in a languid, not-really caring voice.
"Nice of you to mention that you could feel him in the first place. But I can't see him, either. Figure it was the allegiance change." Sands nuzzled into El's jaw, flicking his tongue along the line of it. "You have any more questions, or can we sleep now?"
"We're on the floor," Miguel objected. "My back already is hurt-"
El reached over Sands and pushed down on something. Miguel's head, from the muffled yelp. Onto Seth's undoubtedly soiled stomach, from the licking noises and the choked swears.
"That," gasped Gecko, "Is not why your fucking back hurts. And if you can actually walk, then feel free to make for the bed."
Irritated silence. And then: "Am I still allowed to kill people?"
God, Miguel had a lot to learn. This time, Sands figured all three of them shoved down Bain's head.