|Territory II: Bed of Demons
Author: Guede Mazaka
Sands huffed and rattled his handcuffed wrists against the bedpost around which they were hooked. "El, I am perfectly capable of dressing myself. On really good days, I can even shave without cutting someone else's throat."
"We're going into the nicer part of town. If I let you dress yourself, we'll get thrown out, and then I'll have to shoot my way back in." Calluses grazed crisscrosses into Sands' skin as El fiddled with shirt buttons. "Which means you won't get your pibil."
This was so unfair. El was slowly doing up the front of Sands' shirt, then smoothing it down with hard palms. Lightly scoring nails over the sore spots on Sands' neck while fixing the collar, and Sands couldn't do a damn thing about it. Stupid nutcracking jinglebells.
"If you don't leave soon," drawled Seth's voice from the mattress, "I don't think Sands' pants will be fit for high society."
For a professional anal-retentive, Gecko sounded remarkably bored. Sands made a mental note to fix that later, then snapped back to attention when a sleeve brushed past his forehead. He snagged it and tugged, automatically tilting his open mouth to receive the body-warmed metal. Had to grin at El's little gasp-still happened every single time-as he rose up on his knees to let the muzzle slip, inch by inch, between his stretched lips. The corners of his mouth were just beginning to burn in that familiar strain when fingers drifted into his hair, loosely ruffling the strands. Sands sucked on the gun until he felt the insides of his cheeks sticking to the steel, then slid his tongue along its length, knowing El was tracking the changing bulge that movement made in Sands' cheek.
"A man who really loves his guns, huh." Chains clinked and leather creaked as Miguel shifted on the bed. "So you'll let him slobber all over them, but you still won't give me one."
The hand in Sands' hair coasted down the side of his face to gently tip up his head as the gun pulled away. //You like dying?// El asked, far more tolerant and amused than Sands was feeling at the moment. //Because Sands will tear you apart if you don't stop. And I don't know how long it'd take to heal from that.//
//Yes, well…// Miguel's voice grew louder as he scooted towards the footboard, making his manacles ring as he did. //I don't think you would allow that. For one thing, it would slow you down to carry me around.//
"Like we are right now?" Sands snarled, pushing himself back into El's knee so it fit into the curve of his neck. El bent down and flicked fingers over the handcuffs, and suddenly, Sands was free. He promptly took the opportunity to lean forward until Miguel's breath misted over his face. "Listen, darling boy. We might not be able to feel her in you, but that in no way means you're worth a bullet casing. Learn a little smoke and mirrors first-figure out where to aim, and then maybe we'll let you play."
"What the hell…you're crazy. You make no sense." The little scoffing noise that followed dearly invited a good whack with a crowbar, but El wrapped arms about Sands' waist before he could even twitch in response and lifted him out of the way. "Hey-wait. Don't-don't-"
"Just lie back and relax. It's a lot less complicated that way," Seth advised, tone still irritatingly full of ennui. Sands made his way over to the lizard's side of the mattress and flopped himself with deliberate force on top of the squeaking Gecko. "Damn it, Sands. You're crushing my leg."
"Relax, tat-pretty. It's a lot less painful that way." Very, very reluctantly, Sands settled down to wait while El reminded the new kid of a few things. "Hey. Wanna do commentary for the blind man?"
As soon as El got within six inches of Miguel, the other man abruptly slumped down on his belly, seeming to melt into the bedding. His eyes rolled slightly away from El, then came back to half-focus on the mariachi's mouth. His own mouth crept open, slow as dripping honey. "Don't do…"
El kept his lips together, moving them only as much as needed for speech. "Don't do what?"
"Don't-" Miguel's voice tightened, coiling in on itself like wire about a peg "-breathe."
Which made El laugh a little, the humor shivering itself over the insides of his lungs. He leaned forward, laying his palms on either side of Miguel's outstretched arms, and watched as the dark eyes dilated into resin-tinted clouds. Stop breathing? It might be possible, with the way he was now. But it couldn't be done. El had grown to like living too much, to like the flint sparking in a nest of tinder. "Why not?"
"Because…because then I can't. I can't, you bastard. I can't breathe." Blood spiced the air as Miguel gave a yank to the bindings holding his wrists to the footboard. His middle twisted away from El even as the other man's ends came curling toward, and his face twisted in sudden naked desperation before smoothing into anger. //I hate you.//
"Lying," Sands sang quietly, lolling over Seth to nuzzle briefly at El's cheek. He patted Miguel's shoulder in mock-comfort. "Still haven't found your own skin yet, so you keep trying to steal others' shells."
"He's taking what?" El asked carefully, examining Sands as the man slumped back into Seth's ribs. Sometimes Sands' words were nonsense, sometimes they were lucid, but El had found that they always bore interesting fruit. When properly decoded, and El had gotten rather good at that. Listening to Sands now was almost like listening to the cries and plaints of his guitar.
"Space, my fine freakass friend." Miguel turned to glare at Sands, but the effect was wasted on the other man. The words continued to come. "Poor thing's a thief of emptiness. He thinks the best way to improve oneself is to lift better men's hells from their wallets. Dipshit. You get dropped into the lap of two-hell, three, since even Seth kicks more ass-guys that could whack Robert Rath on their way to shit, and what do you do? Play cock of the filth."
"Shut the fuck up," Miguel hissed, doing his damnedest to whip around and strangle Sands. Who gleefully whooped and tumbled back while Seth hid his head in the sheets and El slammed Miguel back down. "Ow-goddamn it, why do you keep hur-oh. Oh, Christ."
Muscles seemed to liquefy in El's hands, and Miguel shuddered in one long, boneless ripple as he gazed blindly upward at the mariachi. He bit his lip so crimson welled up around white teeth and trickled down one side of his chin, then rocked slightly toward El as his nostrils flared. When El slid his hands from arms to throat, Miguel writhed lewdly against the mattress, hips jerking in a rhythm madder than his catching breath. Wiping the blood off the other man's chin with one thumb earned El another body-length ripple and a lunging gasp. Running his gauntlet over Miguel's lips and nose got him nails cutting into his bicep and a fierce moaning wrench.
"Damn." Looking extremely impressed, Seth crawled over for a closer view as Miguel limply collapsed back into the blankets, curls plastered to his sweat-slicked skin. "That's all it took?"
"See? Told you." Sands gave Seth a parting whap to the head as he clambered over two bodies to fit himself into El's side. "The fluffhead likes this; he always has. But he doesn't like that he likes it, so he tries to convince himself that he shouldn't like what he likes by pretending to like what other people that don't like this like."
"I understood that," El murmured bemusedly as he straightened Sands' clothing and did a quick weapons check. He snapped open Seth's cuffs and put them away before tossing Gecko his guns, then licked up Seth's neck before directing his footsteps toward the door. They were going to be late.
"So did I," came a low, dejected voice. Miguel met El's glance back with baleful resignation. "I'm stuck like this."
El shrugged, vaguely remembering the feeling of sympathy. //You're stuck if you think you're stuck. Sands says that you copied that man, Rath, so you could be better than him. Why that way? Copying only means that you become an imitation.//
//And you know a better way?// Incredulity raised both Miguel's eyebrows as he, with some difficulty, propped himself up on elbows.
//I know mine. I have no idea about yours.// A flash of irony made El smile. //I have no idea who you really are.//
The click as Seth cocked his gun cracked open the ensuing silence. "Well, see you two later. Try not to scare too many children with the humping, and bring me back some decent beer this time."
"And you have fun with Miggy-poo," Sands cooed back over El's shoulder. "Try not to shoot the A/C."
Yet another hot day, air sticking to clothes and skin and hair like glue. Thank God Seth got to stay put indoors for once. Without Sands, and without getting cramps from being chained up. Of course, that still left the sulking prettyboy that he was supposed to watch, but as catches went, it wasn't so bad. Even if Miguel was beginning to smell like stale sex, and God, but come drying inside pants had to be uncomfortable.
Not that it seemed to bother the other man very much. Miguel hadn't moved since El and Sands had walked out to bring their crazy married couple act uptown. "Hey. You want a towel, or something?"
"Hmm?" Like a marionette, Miguel stiffly turned towards Seth. He pointedly held up his restrained wrists as far as the tether would allow. "And how would I use it?"
Piqued, Seth finished stowing his guns in various places about himself and the bed, then laid back on the mattress with his head at the foot and feet up on the lumpy pillows. "Well, I was going to offer a hand, but if you're still going to be a jackass, then you can go fuck a shotgun."
"I'm being a jackass? I thought I was being very nice. Considering all-" snarling "-this shit."
Dramatic waving of limbs to emphasize helplessness. Seth rolled his eyes and reached down to dig around under the bed. He came up with some bubblegum packets, a newspaper, and a handful of unmatched spurs. Sands, up to his weird packrat habits again. "Stop breaking out of all our manacles, and then maybe we'll let you go piss by yourself," Seth absently retorted as he discarded the rest of the junk for the newspaper.
Halfway through the front page's report on the latest cartel turf war, Miguel started to twitch. Three lines in to the bullfighting casualty list, he grumbled wordlessly and futilely tried to shake the hair out of his face as his legs bent and unbent. And a mere four words into the political gossip, he gave in. "Seth?"
"Is there a clean towel?" Miguel's voice was certainly jeering enough, but his eyes shied away from Seth's own.
Seth flicked over the page and began to skim through the world news. "I believe there is, actually. And I could get it for you, but that would mean I'd have to put down my paper, get off the bed and limp over to the bathroom. In other words, completely disrupt my pleasant life for the convenience of a goddamn stuck-up assassin."
"You do that for El. You let him fuck you till you can't even walk straight," Miguel accused, restlessly tossing in the rumpled sheets. He drifted closer to Seth, sneaking inside the newspaper shield. "But you don't strike me as that kind of man."
"I'm not. The usual anything doesn't apply to El. Or Sands, that meowing lunatic." With a last wistful glance at the unread sports pages, Seth closed the newspaper and dropped it onto the floor. He grinned when the snappish whap of its landing made Miguel flinch. Really oversensitive, wasn't the dandelion head. His own damn fault for not cooperating; unlike most things, this mariachi-kink really did get less overwhelming after a while. No less deep in Seth's bones, but that he could happily live with. "Just what are you trying to do here? Get me to fuck you?"
"No!" Miguel hastily shoved back, then bounced forward when his tether wouldn't go along with it. He glowered at Seth's smile and made a rude gesture as he crumpled into a little heap. "I just…want to know what's going on, damn it. But nothing-and I mean nothing-makes sense."
"That's kind of a given around here." Seth popped out one pistol and idly began polishing it with his cuff. "You know, El once told me he used to not smoke and drink, so his voice would stay good. And then he found out that music wasn't going to be his only career, so he figured why the hell not and started up. Of course, now he can do pretty much whatever he wants and heal from it, so even though he won't quit, smoking is pointless."
A foot half-heartedly kicked at Seth's knee. "So is your little speech. What the hell does it matter to me whether he sucks on cigarettes? I wasn't here when he didn't."
"Exactly." Amazing. Seth actually understood something better than the other person in the room. That definitely deserved a fucking celebration, so he put away the gun and got off the bed-was stupidly proud of himself when he didn't wince at the twinge in his ass-to duck into the bathroom for a wet towel and a bottle of tequila from the melting ice in the tub. When he came back, Miguel was staring fixedly at him, gaze seeming to plunge straight through Seth. Uncannily like El whenever the mariachi was having a supernatural-sense moment.
Miguel's eyes dropped to the rag in Seth's hand, then slid sideways to look at the guitar case sitting on top of a nearby dresser. "What do you mean by "exactly"?"
"I mean, it's fucking pointless. All of it," Seth replied matter-of-factly as he sat down by Miguel's side and unzipped the other man's pants before any more protests could leak out. Ew. No wonder Sands preferred to lick it up before it dried. Hell, with the summers down here, no wonder Seth liked showers so much now. "There are certain things in life that are given, and some that can't be explained by any-fucking-thing. And Mexico's the lovely hell where those two categories coincide."
Sarcastic chuckles from the other man as Seth used the towel to scratch and swipe off the gunk from Miguel's groin. It refused to come off of the pants fabric, so Seth ended up just yanking off the trousers. Which made Miguel hiss in surprise and a pinch of fear. "Hey! You-you know something? I don't know what you were like before, but right now, you're a lot like Sands. You even sound like him."
"That's because when it comes to this kind of discussion, he's actually worth paying attention to. And because you're just that fucking annoying," Seth snapped back, pitching the soiled rag back into the bathroom doorway. "Look, you prick, get over it. Hell, I didn't take this long."
"You didn't magically-" Miguel derisively twiddled his fingers "-appear in a completely different country, either. Or take a few weeks to revive. Or turn into some stupid toy for two-spiritual forces."
"Spiritual forces?" Seth sputtered, unable to hold back his laughter.
Miguel kicked again. "I don't know! What the fuck am I supposed to call them?"
"Why the hell should you call them anything?" Seth smacked his hands down over Miguel's ankles, feeling the bones grind beneath the skin. "They're just there. Believe me, it hurts the head a lot fucking less if you try not to think about it too much."
Miguel opened his mouth, clearly about to blast some more vitriol at Seth, but something flickered through his eyes and he hesitated. Fell back with a pained grunt.
It would have been very nice if breathing didn't come attached to smell. And if Miguel's dick hadn't gotten itself wired to his nose. This entire situation was just…embarrassing.
And frustrating. Goddamn it, but he had been good. Really good. Good enough to send after the world's greatest living assassin, and if he'd failed, then it'd been because of-
--hell. Fuck it, while he was at it. Resurrected, tossed into Mexico and now somehow at the mercy of three men who were running circles around his anger. Miguel had failed. Nothing else to it, and no way he could deny it. Not without losing touch with reality, and he didn't feel like turning into Sands. Except for the part about getting to be near El-and fuck, fuck, fuck. Did that bastard have to smell that good?
For that matter, did Seth? Why only two out of the three?
Then again, Miguel tried to picture Sands in any position besides crawling all over El, and he drew repeated blanks. So maybe it had something to do with the attitude of both sides. And maybe that said something about Miguel that he very much didn't want to consider. On the other hand, he also was tired of being stuffed into the back, and he was nearly ready to do anything that would get him back into the game.
"So…" broke in Seth, "You said you understood all that shit Sands babbled before they left?"
"Yes." Miguel slitted his eyes as he considered the other man, who appeared to be undisturbed by his lack of any clothes beneath his waist. But he seriously doubted that that composure was really as solid as it seemed. Even Rath had had his spark points, and Seth certainly wasn't in the same category as him.
"I sort of got it, but I'm not sure." Seth produced a bottle of tequila and flipped off the top with a nail. When he swallowed, the motion made his neck tattoos flicker, almost as if they were real flames. "You've got some kind of inferiority complex, so you idolized some hardass to get better? And now you compare everything to this fucker?"
"It's not-" Complete disbelief met Miguel's half-formed protest, and he dropped back into a deep grouch. //Eat your own balls and go to hell.//
Cool liquid sloshed over Miguel's nose, making him start with a yelp. "Actually, I know Spanish now," Seth remarked as he raised the bottle for another gulp. "And that was not nice. I think my feelings are hurt."
"Tell me you don't compare other people to El," Miguel snarled, swiping the alcohol off his face as best he could. Which wasn't very well, given the ridiculous amount of leather and chains they'd wound around his wrists. In the heat, the tequila quickly evaporated. It left ice behind that chilled down to his marrow, a sensation that blended oddly-and languorously-with the creep of slow-burning fumes into his mind. He bit his lip till the cuts reopened and blood stung his tongue, hoping to shock himself back to consciousness.
"Not really. I told you, not possible. Like apples and fucking dancing bananas…hey, what's with-oh." Seth glanced from bottle to Miguel, a fascinated expression spreading over his face. He lifted the tequila toward Miguel, who just could not move. Could only watch, skin around eyes stretching back and tendons turning to brittle sticks. "This too?"
The glass rim, shining round with wetness, edged nearer and angled itself to pour into Miguel's mouth. Amber liquid lipped up the sides to form a trembling crest, just barely resisting gravity's inevitable pull. "But I…I don't…"
"Yeah? That you talking, or someone else?" Too. Fucking. Smug. Seth cocked his head and regarded the tipping balance in his hand. "Sorry. But I can only take so much babysitting duty."
And then it came flooding down, splashing out his lips and spilling into his shirt. Peeling off layers of himself, forcing his head back and twisting his arms to allow the change. Cold-so cold-but then concentrated heat stroking up his neck. Swirling over his Adam's apple, then slipping about to tease the edge of his jaw. "Ah, God…"
"You were really excited about this shit the first time," Seth murmured into the tender spot behind Miguel's ear. He flicked his tongue along the cartilage curve, then followed up with nibbles that shot nails into Miguel's brain. "Didn't seem to mind that much."
"Back then…then…I didn't know…where I was going to go." Miguel squirmed when he felt a hand rumple into his shirt, but instead of moving away, he ended up ripping off all the buttons. More tequila sloshed onto his chest and trickled its way down his stomach to be soaked into Seth's jacket, which was brushing repeatedly over him as the other man pinned him with body weight. A few icy drops still made it to between his legs, pulling a gasp out of his seared throat. "At the fucking bottom of the pile."
A sigh whuffed across his face, nearly making Miguel pass out as waves of fever sluiced through him. "Oops. Hey-" soft slap to the cheek "-wake up, jackass. You know that bottom of this is way above everyone else, right?"
That needed thinking. And Miguel couldn't. "What?"
"Never mind." Seth raised up long enough to strip off his clothes and shoes, then resumed sucking the alcohol from Miguel's shivering skin. He worked his way from shoulder to shoulder, nipple to nipple, jabbing sparks deep into the muscle as he went. Kept splashing tequila as he went down, getting Miguel drunk on the vapors.
"Strong," muttered Miguel's mouth while his brain drowned in sensory ecstasy.
Seth stopped, frustratingly close. "What, the tequila? Yeah. Kind of weird, as the guy was selling it real cheap."
"Because it's laced. Fucking-why did you stop?" Fire wrapped coils around Miguel's bones so he wriggled and furiously jerked at his bound wrists. When that didn't do anything, he tried lifting up his hips to push against Seth's mouth. But hands slammed him back down, pressing the bottle into one of his thighs so the cool started to numb that side. "What? The tequila-it's been cut with cheap shit to make it go farther. And had drugs added, so you don't notice. Now fucking-"
"Fucking what?" Seth rubbed his nose teasingly along the side of Miguel's cock, then lapped the alcohol off of it before pulling back. "Great. Your little smell-talent has some uses. And I guess we process shit a lot faster now, so fuck that."
It hadn't worked before, but Miguel was getting very desperate. He whipped himself free of the restraining hold and lashed out a foot. Which Seth caught and brought to his lips so he could score teeth along the turns of the ankle. It was as if someone had raked over the insides of Miguel with silk. He hissed, clutching at his chains till the links gouged into his palms, and finally let the word grit out. "More."
Wet warmth licked around his toes, then dragged up the inner part of his leg to flicker down behind his balls. The last of the tequila was shaken out over his stomach, little drops sent flying every which way as he groaned and shook, and then Seth set the bottle down somewhere. Without moving from between Miguel's legs, which fell apart as far as they could go. "Not good enough," came the mock-cautioning reply. "Next time, I don't want to spend a fucking hour talking you through your goddamn mental issues."
Neither did Miguel. Because he really, really liked this. He-he fucking did. And he was admitting it. Oddly enough, his world didn't end like he'd always figured.
It did, however, scream itself to bits when tongue and fingers-slicked with God knows what and who the fuck cared-applied themselves to the task of dismantling Miguel's spine and puddling it around his pelvis. Things curled and scratched and dipped inside him to mishmash whatever was left of his reason. It hadn't been functioning too well, anyway. "Please, more. Please…I won't try to leave. Or kill you, or-please!"
Someone else's breath jolted. "Goddamn. That sounded-fucking hell. No wonder El always looks so pleased with himself."
"Seth…" Miguel rasped, digging up enough energy to bump his knees pointedly against the other man's head. Message received, Seth hauled himself up and switched fingers for cock. Miguel's vision briefly shorted out. And then it blinked white again when the first ragged puff of sweat-laden breath hit him. //Fuck. Oh, fuck. Harder. Harder, goddamn-God. Damn.//
"You're welcome," Seth muttered ironically, but then Miguel wrestled up to sink teeth into the tattooed arm, and the other man's words went to gibberish. He chewed till copper dripped into his mouth, faintly tinged with lime and cordite, then sucked for as long as he could. Eventually, the strained position was too hard to hold and he had to flop back, just in time for Seth to crush fingers into his waist and drive into him.
The first thrust stripped layers from his mind, and the second etched spinning patterns into the backs of his eyelids. And then they all whirled into one storming mass that made damn sure Miguel, already at fever-pitch, didn't last much longer.
He knew he screamed going up. He might have screamed coming down, too, but he was too busy being disintegrated and remolded to pay attention.
"Aww…aren't they cute?"
El looked at the man tucked under his arm. "You can't see them, can you?"
"Hey, I don't have to. A fetus could tell what's going on." Sands ducked the shoe Seth chucked at him, then snuggled into El's throat. "Come on. Am I wrong?"
"I promise not to be annoying and stupid," interrupted Miguel's weary voice. He raised a head of tangled, frizzed-out curls to display several fresh bites on his neck and a thoroughly ruined shirt. "So can you untie me now?"
The man appeared to be sincere, if tired. And…El cocked his head, listening to the whispers…Miguel wasn't chiming quite the same melody as in the morning. Now it was much more in tune with the rest of them, and less stressed. "All right."
He paused a moment to pry Sands away from his pocket, then found a knife and key and undid the bindings on Miguel's wrists. As they slipped away, the other man winced and rubbed at the raw spots where the scabs had ripped off. "Thank you."
"Hey, he's polite now?" Without losing contact with El, Sands leaned over and poked around till he found a bruise. Grinned and raked teeth over it when Miguel tried to shove him away. "Seth, this makes me almost like you."
"You know, for something to be an insult, the other person has to actually give a shit." By way of an elbow at Sands, Seth crawled over to El and knelt up for a deep, violent kiss that ended in El tracing one painted flame with his teeth. A third head nudged in to sniff at the inside of El's wrist. He turned his hand round to comb roughly through Miguel's hair, which provoked a brief, shy nuzzle at his palm.
Then Sands pushed up to plaster himself against El's chest and side. "So, jangle-ass. You remember why we came back early?"
Seth twitched, eyes momentarily clouding in thought. "Oh, right. Wait! That's-you're not supposed to be back for three hours! What blew up?"
"Nothing blew up, you empty pistolfuck," Sands retorted. "El just pissed off the army again."
"I pissed off the army?" El asked, scoring nails along Sands' ribs.
The other man shuddered once and buried his head in El's shoulder. "Okay, fine. We did. But they're just such annoying little fuckwits…"
"You got the Mexican army chasing us," Miguel said slowly. Thoughtfully. "Which general? Because I actually took contracts on a few, but then the political situation changed and they were canceled before I could get in town to kill them."
Very cooperative now. El made a note to corner Seth in the next reasonably private place they came across. "Would you need anything?"
"Well…" Miguel made little considering bobs with his head, then grinned up. "A rifle would be nice."