Angela had gone back to business-as-usual after a couple weeks of walking on the wild side. It’d hurt a little, but not so much that the increase in John’s own business hadn’t kept him distracted. If he’d known how much taking out Gabriel and Balthazar would fuck up the status quo, he would have…still done it, because God had those two gotten on his nerves, but he would’ve been more prepared. Stocked up on bottled water and garlic or something.
Speaking of, he’d woken up in an alley after one hell of a barfight—literally, since that jackass Abaddon had popped in for the last half—and his neck was hurting. Not that the rest of him wasn’t, but his neck was killing him in a way that said to pay the fuck attention. He grimaced and rubbed at it, then took his fingers away to note the blood on them. John sat up and propped his hand on his knee to stare at it better because his hangover was shaking up his vision like he’d picked up Hennessey’s DTs.
He took a look around. Lots of cindery clumps and big humps of crumpled shit that looked like leaves, only why the hell would it be autumn in downtown L. A.? It wouldn’t, obviously, so those were dried-up demon bits. They made the alley pretty shady, but stripes of light barred some of it. John sighed and stuck his hand in the nearest one.
It didn’t sizzle or flame, which was a bitch since he’d left his lighter at home. He grumpily got up and poked around in the ashes till he found a pack of cigarettes and a pair of sunglasses. So armed, he went out to face the day.
“Just like the day after senior prom,” he muttered.
* * *
Midnite opened the door, then shut it. He opened it again just before John tore the damn thing down and used it to stake Midnite’s long-suffering expression. Yeah, like Midnite really had it tough with his ready source of alcohol and drunken body-part donors.
“Again?” Midnite said.
John took off the sunglasses even though that meant he had to squint till he might as well have been blind. “No, not again. Last time I was depressed and drunk and I figured it wouldn’t count as suicide if someone else was doing the slicing. This time I was just drunk.”
“And that makes it better?” From the look on his face, Midnite was channeling his eighty-year-old grandmother from sweet home Alabama, right down to the fingers itching at his hip to deliver a spanking. “I’m busy right now. Come back tonight and I’ll have everything ready.”
“No can do, Midnite. This time’s weird, too. Notice the non-frying yet?” Actually, a closer look showed John that Midnite’s pupils were dilated and he was rippling his fingers restlessly on the doorframe. Fuck, he might actually be channeling some crotchety old ancestor.
And he smelled good. Normally John didn’t notice what Midnite smelled like because it was pretty much the same as himself, but today Midnite must’ve been up to something special, because he had a deliciously warm-salty aroma that just made John want to—
Hmm, they were inside. Also, John had shoved Midnite against the wall and Midnite had shoved a cross into John’s cheek, which was curiously less painful than it should have been. Well, it still hurt because the damn thing had little pointed ends, but once again, John’s flesh was failing to barbecue.
“Like I said,” John started, only he ended up interrupting himself because his mouth was right next to Midnite’s neck vein and he could hear the pulse in it. It sounded like a Chinese take-out deliveryman ringing the doorbell. He took a bite.
Midnite bucked, jabbed the cross deep into John’s cheek and then yanked John back when John stumbled away, cursing. From the way he kissed, he really should’ve been the one with the new pointed canines. Not that John cared, really, because goddamn it, he was suddenly really thirsty and Midnite was bleeding pretty nicely now so he could just lick. His fingers were tangled up in something and he’d basically shredded Midnite’s shirt before he figured out that that was what that was. “Shit. Well, you never would’ve gotten the blood out anyway.”
The voice that hissed in his ear kept sliding its pitch between Midnite’s baritone and one demanding woman. “Homme, you shut up and—damn it, John, you know where the pig’s blood is--baisez-moi comme un putain--”
John was too busy sucking up Midnite’s blood like said pig to really respond. He got back to the bite he’d made and latched onto it, probing the ripped flesh with his tongue while Midnite pushed at him and clawed madly at his back. Eventually the clawing won out and they groped each other to the floor, twisting so John could stay on Midnite’s throat and Midnite could rip down John’s pants. Whoever Midnite was channeling was in a hell of a hurry, which John didn’t entirely appreciate seeing as a zipper catching on anyone’s dick, no matter what they were, was damn painful. “Ow!”
“Ow? You bit my throat!” That was Midnite speaking. His head dropped back and his eyes rolled to the whites, and when he looked at John again, he was coyly dropping his eyelashes.
It looked creepy on him. “Don’t do that—Jesus! Watch it with my—oh. Oh, Jesus…”
Okay, so he—she—whatever knew what they were doing. It was rough going at first since they mostly seemed to be going with whatever leftover oil was on Midnite’s hands, but Midnite didn’t seem to care. He was arching like a cat and screaming broken French at John, which wasn’t exactly great for the mood, but if John shoved his head against Midnite’s neck he couldn’t hear it all that well. Plus he could finish lapping up all the blood, which was better than junkyard tequila or Halloween exorcisms for blowing his mind.
It was nice to know that nonsense about undead pricks not working was all bullshit. At least one part of John was getting it on like usual.
* * *
“I think it was the guy that tried to bash in my head with a two-by-four. He’s the only one I remember biting back, and he bled a lot. Tasted weird.” John propped himself up against the wall and got himself a cigarette. When he tried to light it, he accidentally put it out because of all the blood on his hand. He flipped his fingers so blood splattered the floor, then tried again. This time it worked. “But I don’t know. I think he was having the garlic fries.”
Midnite slowly pulled himself up into a position across the hall from John. His hat had fallen off somewhere along the line and if he hadn’t looked so irritated, he would have looked strangely vulnerable without it. “John?”
“What? You didn’t lose that much blood. I mean, there’s not that much in me or on me compared to what you let out when you’re calling up one of the Guédés or Ti Malice.” Nicotine. God, it was good to have a hit of that after three weeks cold-turkey. So good that John had a lot of trouble remembering why he’d given it up in the first place…right, he’d been dying and destined for hell, only he’d saved his own ass at the last minute. Therefore he’d quit smoking after he’d made sure that he’d go to heaven if he kicked it? What the hell had he been thinking?
“John.” For a moment, it looked like Midnite was about to take a stake to John. Luckily, they hadn’t broken any furniture and he hated fucking up his own property if he didn’t absolutely have to. He finally shook his head and pulled himself to his feet. “You’ve been in this trade for how many years and you—”
Rolling his eyes, John got up himself. He checked out his shirt, then grimaced. It was too bad Midnite-plus-whoever hadn’t bothered to rip up that, because between the stains from last night and the fresh ones, he was probably going to have to burn the thing and sneak the ashes into a consecrated graveyard to keep them down. “I know, I know, don’t fucking bite because you never know what might get in your bloodstream. It was an accident! It wasn’t like I was trying to get myself turned vampiric again.”
“You should have been more careful nonetheless,” Midnite scolded. He kept one hand clamped tightly over his neck, even though John had already healed up the holes for him. “You know what preventative measures to take.”
“Yeah, but—God, you make it sound like I’ve got an STD.” John shuffled around till he’d found Midnite’s hat shoved behind a 15th-century urinal. Since he obviously needed to be more careful, he got out his ring of charms and used two of them to pinch it out.
Midnite snorted. His hips rolled stiffly as he walked, still having more than a touch of the feminine, which was a weird thing to see in a guy so in tune with his masculinity that he could scare away werewolves while wearing a pimp’s fedora. “Vampirism more or less is one when it comes to you.”
On second thought, John wasn’t going to give the other man a hand. If he could crack put-downs of that caliber, then he was fine no matter how straddled his walk looked. He probably didn’t even need the hat. “Hey. Hey. It wasn’t like you were turning me down, and you could’ve if you’d wanted to. Actually, you sounded like you had yourself a much-needed good time back there.”
“Congratulations. You’ve just made my great-grandmother very happy in ways that I did not wish to know about.” The sarcasm in Midnite’s voice was dry enough to wipe out an ocean and could’ve cut Vatican marble like it was butter. “If she ceases to pester me about attending to the family’s less spiritual needs, I may refrain from killing you.”
“I’m so touched, Midnite. I know it’s not everyone that gets to commit intergenerational incest with you.” If John had to take it, he could damn well give it back. He could also not have indigestion now, but apparently his stomach hadn’t been awake for the rundown of the new rules. It was a great time for his body to start taking cues from himself. “Um. Midnite?”
The other man leaned against the wall. The way he turned around to face John expressed enough volumes of contempt to keep Hell’s librarians busy cataloging for centuries, but the way blood was soaking into his shirt was somewhat more appealing, and John never had been one for ignoring the attractive.
“John? John.” A hand yanked up John by the hair; Midnite was staring down with something slightly different from exasperation in his eyes. It might have been worry. “Were you about to suck on my shirt?”
“Would you rather I sucked on something else? I’m…feeling really…really…huh…” John vaguely felt the thud of his knees hitting the floor. He felt more clearly the weave of Midnite’s shirt as it folded over Midnite’s belt-buckle, which wasn’t surprising seeing that he was rubbing his cheek hard against it. He sniffed, then shoved in his face and sniffed again at the tempting aroma.
Something smacked the side of his head, but not very hard. He smacked back and nearly got thrown backwards when Midnite grabbed for his hand.
“Cigarette,” Midnite hissed, making John drop it.
“Mmmph,” John protested. Midnite’s eyes rolled back in his head and he stopped pushing at John, which made things a hell of a lot easier. Good as John was, it still was hard to undo a fly one-handed if he was trying to burrow into Midnite’s femoral artery at the same time.
It momentarily occurred to him that he needed to get a grip on himself. He made a note of it and tossed it out of his head the moment coppery heat sluiced over his tongue.
* * *
“I think you’ve been drugged.” Midnite flopped up on his elbows long enough to say that, then fell back across the threshold. His head grazed the door, which swung back and then returned to tap at his skull.
John considered the idea while he licked off his fingers. The last time this had happened, he’d been pretty busy avoiding the sunlight and the urge to go all-black with his wardrobe, but he hadn’t been this hungry all the time. It hadn’t been indigestion earlier—it’d been starvation pangs. “You know, you might be right. I knew that guy tasted wrong, garlic fries or not.”
In response, Midnite kicked him in the head. It might have just been accidental because Midnite was crawling the rest of the way into the room at the same time, but something about the way Midnite was cursing ‘idiot white magi without any commonsense’ said otherwise. John threw Midnite’s hat after him and watched it bounce crazily off of Midnite’s knee before he collapsed back on the floor. He was hungry, but a little tired, too. His hangover still wasn’t quite gone.
“It’s probably not a good idea for me to leave,” John said, thinking aloud. The door banged shut about two inches from his head and it occurred to him that he might, however, get off the floor. He was spending way too much time in the horizontal position and he didn’t even appear to be getting any benefit out of it; Midnite had been too busy thrashing and moaning in multiple voices to have done much for John’s end. “God knows who I’d bite. I’m really hungry, by the way. You have any spare minions you don’t really like?”
The door opened and Midnite dropped something squirming and swearing and sweet-smelling on top of John. He slapped away a fist, then rolled over and got it pinned down while he did an assessment: two legs, two arms, nice prick, naked body, floppy dark wavy hair—“Balthazar?”
Balthazar went still. “John? You managed to end up in Hell anyway?”
“Snack on him. He heals faster,” Midnite muttered. His hat was back on his head, but a bit smushed and worn-looking, like his expression. The skin around his mouth and eyes was ashier than the smears of the genuine stuff on his fingertips. “And leave me alone till I figure out what is going on with you.”
“You—” John stared at Balthazar, then back at the…closing door. He stuck out a hand and forced it to stay open. “What did you do? Pull random demons out of your hat? He’s not exactly cute and fluffy.”
Midnite glowered. “You just drained a pint from me. If you expect better, then feel free to try yourself.”
The door slamming blew a gust of gritty, bitter-tasting dust in John’s face. He spat it out immediately because God knew what Midnite dropped on the floor around here—corpses, puppy tails, poisonous herbs…and it wasn’t like John needed his system fucked up even more. “Well, so much for the theory that a good fuck would loosen him up.”
“Johnny, am I to understand you’ve decided to join the undead? I thought you had better taste than that,” Balthazar said.
Considering he was naked and his neck vein was in plain view, he really should’ve kept his mouth shut. Not that John was going to bother correcting him. He shoved Balthazar down again and had a good long drink.
Halfway through, he remembered he was supposed to really, really loathe the very sight of Balthazar, but the bastard tasted so damned good that John figured one revenge was as good as another. It was better than Midnite’s blood, rich and tingling and hot. And John could let it go for a lot longer before Balthazar’s struggling got weak enough for John to have to stop. It wasn’t fear of drinking Balthazar’s death or anything trashy-romantic like that, but more practical: if Balthazar passed out, he was going to take longer to recover than if he was awake enough to feebly bare teeth at John.
“That’s not all that impressive now that I have those, too.” John yawned to show, then bent to lap up the trickles he’d let get away from him.
Balthazar moaned, twisted and shoved weakly at John’s chest. He was trying to get his neck away from John, but he didn’t really seem to get that turning his head that way just made it a hell of a lot easier. “Wait. Johnny—John—wait—I thought you wanted to kill me!”
“Yeah, well, same difference. You’re bloody and squirming in my hands either way.” A couple of drops had run down Balthazar’s chest and his wriggling made it smear all over him and John’s hands, so John had no choice but to slurp all that up. Sometime while John was sucking a soft clot off of Balthazar’s nipple, Balthazar gave up on maintaining their standing as nemeses and started to rub his prick against John’s thigh.
The door opened again. Midnite had gotten himself a little cleaned up, but he still hadn’t buttoned his shirt, and now he smelled of fresh chicken blood. John’s hands tightened on Balthazar, who whined and bit into John’s shoulder.
He hissed and clawed at Midnite when Midnite kicked him off. “You drag me out of Hell, toss me at a John that’s clearly lost his mind…now what?”
“Oh, like this isn’t fucking ecstatic about it,” John muttered, pulling his hand up Balthazar’s cock. Balthazar flopped back and John was about to indulge in the other hunger twisting his gut when Midnite tapped his shoulder. “What?”
“Get out of the hallway. I can’t concentrate with the noise you two are making,” Midnite snapped.
John squinted, but it looked like Midnite’s pupils were back to normal size. “Is this your virgin spinster aunt I’m talking to?”
Midnite slammed the door shut again. That routine was really getting old, but so was the on-the-floor bit and John…could actually do something about both, but the tongue Balthazar was shoving in his ear hinted that the second one might be more important. Also the color was coming back to Balthazar’s face, so that meant John could feed again soon.
“Right, out of the hall…” John absently moved his fingers between Balthazar’s legs as he looked around. Occasionally a flailing limb would get in the way, but that stopped after he bit Balthazar’s wrist out of the air and had a nice snack to help along his thinking.
He spotted the unlocked door to Midnite’s office just as Balthazar spasmed and yowled beneath him. The door behind him opened again. “What did I say?” Midnite demanded, looking decidedly frazzled.
“Sorry, Papa. I just twisted a little and he went off like a cork from a champagne bottle.” From the looks on their faces, neither Balthazar nor Midnite really appreciated the analogy. Sighing, John wrestled a limp Balthazar up and dragged him down the hall. “Okay, okay, I’m going. And I’d better be coming, you…God, how many elbows do you have?”
“Well, you can hardly expect me to wait if you’re going to dawdle—oh. Oh. Ow. John, don’t—wait—yes—no, wait—” Balthazar’s purring smirk of a voice rapidly disintegrated as John smashed him into the wall and sucked hard at the scabbed teeth-marks on his neck. One of them began to lift and John darted his tongue-tip beneath it; the hands that had been pushing him away suddenly clamped down on him. “No, you—in a moment--oh.”
“Can’t understand a word you’re saying,” John mumbled through half a mouthful of blood. “Hang on—”
Balthazar went completely wordless.
John grinned and nipped a fresh wound over Balthazar’s collarbone. His hangover was almost gone. “That’s better.”
* * *
“Mmm. You know, if your personality were even half as good as the taste of your blood, maybe you wouldn’t have gotten your ass kicked so badly. I mean, there’s definitely better things to do with it.” To illustrate his point, John gently pushed back inside Balthazar.
They slid a little over the desk, but by now they were sweaty enough for that to mostly stick them in place. Balthazar moaned and twitched a little, but otherwise let John do all the work. Typical demon.
Most of Balthazar’s throat was covered in scabs now, and as fun as it was to see Balthazar writhe and hiss when John pried one up, the little flakes of dried blood were annoying when they got caught in the teeth. John licked down one trail of blood that’d mixed with enough sweat to stay liquid, then sank his teeth into the muscle just beneath Balthazar’s left shoulderblade. That got him a hard jerk and a bit of hip-movement; he slid his hand beneath them and played around till he got enough of that to finally come, chewing hard at Balthazar’s back.
Slumping over a desk wasn’t that comfortable, so John pulled himself out and lazily rolled himself over to perch on the edge of the desk. He poked around with his foot on the floor, but that puddle turned out to be his pants and not his coat. Some more careful looking found that wadded up beneath Balthazar, who was attempting to curl up, hand clutching at his throat. John tried to get him off the coat, but he wouldn’t move. So John gave up and pulled.
Balthazar fell off. He cursed most impressively and immediately rolled over so his weight wasn’t—John snickered as he lit up. “Speaking of, how is your ass?”
“There is something seriously wrong with you,” Balthazar muttered. He scooted over to the wall and pushed at his hair, but it kept falling back in his face. It probably didn’t help that his hands were shaking like they were maracas. “Even succubi aren’t this…this…”
“Nope, they aren’t. I bet you’re wishing Midnite had pulled up Ellie. And you know, I should find this really disturbing, but somehow I’m not. This is just funny.” John blew a couple smoke rings at the wall above Balthazar’s head. He was feeling pretty satisfied, but already creeping up was that gnawing, itching double-want that was keeping him hopping like a poltergeist on speed.
He wished he could remember more of last night, but like most barfights, it’d been dark and messy so the arm choking from one side turned out to be attached to the guy on the other side. He wished Midnite would hurry up and figure out what was going on. He was staring at the bite-marks tracking chaotically up both sides of Balthazar’s throat and then he was staring at Balthazar’s nice, pale, untouched inner thighs.
Balthazar went even whiter and backed into the wall. He slapped his knees together and covered his neck with his hand. “Johnny, wait. I’m a demon, not a portable blood bank.”
John put out his cigarette and eased himself off the desk to squat in front of Balthazar. He reached out and was blackly amused to see Balthazar flinch away from his hand. But humor wasn’t going to get his stomach full, so he put that hand down to support himself and leaned forward. “Oh, come on. Tell me this isn’t better than Hell.”
“I’m tired,” Balthazar hissed.
The laugh that came from John’s throat sounded strangely deep. It had a kind of thrum to it, like the rumble of a passing train that only could be heard through the feet. He coughed, then tried to pull it up while he was speaking. “Are you really? What’s the matter, finally find someone you can’t keep up with? Aw, your pride must hurt so badly…”
Balthazar’s eyes alternated between furious and dilated lust. He started to lean forward, then pushed away the hand John put on his thigh. “If we’re going to be that clichéd, then I have a headache.”
“Yeah?” John rested his hand between Balthazar’s legs and pushed forward fast so Balthazar couldn’t keep him from getting at the neck. Balthazar’s nails were digging deep into John’s arms, but they’d frozen the moment John’s mouth had touched the rows of scabs. A light lick, and Balthazar was drawing in a sharp breath. A longer, harder one that traced each tooth-mark individually, and Balthazar’s hands were sliding down John’s arms. “A really, really bad one?”
“Very bad,” Balthazar breathlessly said. His prick leaped when John’s wrist brushed it, and when John pushed him over to nibble at the thigh artery, he was already whimpering.
“Aw. Too bad I don’t give a shit.” The last word came out somewhat gurgly since John had bitten down a little harder than he’d meant to. Well, nothing to do but to drink even faster.
* * *
Midnite looked at John, then slowly turned his gaze to the demon who’d frantically scuttled behind his legs. Balthazar had grabbed John’s shirt along the way and hastily thrown it on; between how it bunched up around him to show all the scabbing bite-marks and the huge, wild eyes, he looked a lot like a spooked kitten. “Make him stop,” he hissed.
It wasn’t like Midnite hadn’t seen John naked before, but Midnite got weird about propriety. Plus he didn’t seem too happy about what John had done to his desk—not that those stains looked any different from the other stains on it—so John indulged the other man and slid on his pants. “You’d really think he’d be happy. Blood, pain, sex…it’s like the demon’s dream smoothie mix.”
“I cannot work my legs because your prick refuses to take a break, and I think I’m permanently lightheaded now. My neck and my thighs are killing me. Sensible people have limits.” With every word, Balthazar flexed his fingers around Midnite’s knee. “Midnite, in the name of all the business we ever conducted together…”
“It wouldn’t be business if it didn’t cease to have meaning after the transaction was completed,” Midnite said. He shook his leg. When Balthazar refused to let go of it, Midnite took a step to the side so he could brace himself on a chair and shook harder. Balthazar dropped back and Midnite turned to John with the look of impending dire news on his face.
John put up a hand. “Wait.” He got out a cigarette. Now that he’d taken them up again, he might as well do it seriously. “Okay, now.”
If looks could kill, Midnite would have been the assassin’s assassin. “You didn’t bite a vampire, John. You bit Abaddon.”
“Oh. Right, he was there. I guess that—wait, wouldn’t Lilith or Lamia be more in line with vampirism?” And while they were on the subject, John was starting to get a bit hungry again. He kept smoking, but slowly got off the desk and into a squatting position. “Come on, Balthazar. It’s not like you aren’t enjoying yourself.”
Balthazar crawled behind Midnite again so only his head peeked out. “What? You trying to fuck me to death? It’s very creative, Johnny, and I never would have seen it coming from you, but enough’s enough. I’m not an idiot.”
“They would be if you were actually a vampire. You’re not. The bloodsucking is the only trait you share in common,” Midnite said. He sidestepped, only to have Balthazar shuffle with him. The quirk of his mouth didn’t know in which direction to curve.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but the bloodsucking trait is what, the defining characteristic of a vampire? And tell the truth, Balthazar—you like it. You want me to fuck you till you can’t take it and then keep fucking you.” John took a last drag, then got down on his hands and knees. He slowly crawled forward while he spoke, keeping his eyes locked with a visibly torn Balthazar. “You want me to take you apart and keep your pieces where I’m the only one that can get to them. You want it and you’re going to come here so I can do it.”
He’d gotten within a foot of Midnite when he stopped. That partially broke Balthazar’s mesmerized air and he started to push back, but stopped when John started speaking again.
“Come on, pet. That’s why you went to Mammon, wasn’t it? Because Lucifer was too busy to do it right and I wasn’t in the mood. But I am now, and you’re going to come here. Here,” John whispered, crooking his finger. “C’mere.”
Balthazar tilted his head, eyes wide and unfocused. He put out one shaking hand, then his other hand, and that got him close enough for John to grab. The moment John did, Balthazar snapped out of it, but by then it was too late. John twisted up Balthazar’s arms against his chest and sucked at the tender skin behind Balthazar’s ear. “Good kitty.”
Which Balthazar pretty much proved by snarling and trying to claw at John even as he was going limp from the nuzzling.
“John,” Midnite coughed. “See? Abaddon.”
Not for a moment. It took some concentration, especially since Balthazar’s ass was rubbing pretty vigorously against John’s prick, and a couple of the scabs on Balthazar’s throat had cracked so the rich smell of blood was filling John’s—
“Ow!” John recoiled from Midnite’s slap and nearly lost his grip on Balthazar. Anger surged in him—
A couple seconds later, he blinked. Then he blinked again. “Fine. You’re right. And I really, really want to fuck you right now. And him.”
Midnite yanked at the hand John was using to choke him and elbowed a similarly-struggling Balthazar till he wasn’t blocking Midnite’s mouth. “John, you have the blood of a Prince of Hell in you. First we have to deal with that.”
“Kind of makes you regret that you tossed Balthazar at me, doesn’t it? Because damn, have I been sucking him dry.” As John spoke, he found himself leaning closer and closer to them. He couldn’t help but take a long whiff, though he knew he really needed to let go and let Midnite work on…well, God knew if it was fixable but it had to be modifiable, at least. “Shit. I’m not sure if you’re getting up from this floor.”
“I need to,” Midnite patiently said. “I need to or I will be forced to call up my deeply conservative, deeply Catholic great-great-grandmother on my father’s side to lecture you on the Bible.”
“And she still ended up a loa?” It was a petty detail, but either John concentrated on that or on how Balthazar’s lip was a lovely red swell, nice and juicy-looking. “Balthazar, would you stop fucking wiggling? It’s not helping.”
Midnite shrugged and pulled at John’s hand again. He got it to ease off a bit before the muscles clamped John’s fingers in place. “She was the black sheep of the family. John. Let go of me and you can have Balthazar.”
“What?” Balthazar yelped. He finally held still so he could stare furiously at Midnite.
“I don’t think we can use your desk anymore,” John said. He had persuaded himself to lean marginally towards Balthazar. It helped that Balthazar was less dressed. “Right. You’re going to have to toss in something else here. Throw me a bone, would you?”
Instead Midnite sighed and twisted around to fuck the hell out of Balthazar’s mouth. Balthazar made a muffled protest, groaned, and let Midnite roll him up so Midnite could shove him into a fascinated John, who was happy to take him. A couple minutes later, Midnite was out the door and Balthazar was screaming into the carpet. So much for ‘enough’s enough.’ So much for staying off the floor, for that matter. Oh, well. Resolutions and John had never been on great terms anyway.
* * *
John held up Balthazar’s head by the jaw, then let go. It dropped like a lead shot back onto John’s thigh, where Balthazar whispered a whine and curled tight around John’s knee. “I should probably feed him or something, shouldn’t I?”
“‘Probably’ was about two hours ago,” Midnite replied, coming up to them. He looked over Balthazar, then poked at Balthazar’s thigh like he would a roasted chicken. Nodded like a street-corner wiseman, from which he wasn’t too far removed. “Open up a vein.”
“You know, it’s a wonder you never get blamed for any suicides.” But John put his wrist to his mouth and bit down anyway. Balthazar was looking more like a paper version of himself, and what they were about to do wasn’t going to get rid of John’s need for a good sex-and-blood snack. No point in losing a ready supply of that.
Besides, Balthazar was almost cute when he was bitten up and shuddering and willing to do anything to keep John from screwing him for the next few hours.
He had his head tucked down so far that John wasted a good half-cup of blood trying to pry it up, but once Balthazar had gotten a whiff, he was onto John’s wrist like it was crack and he was a ghetto-newborn. It hurt enough to set John’s teeth on edge, but the delicate way Balthazar probed at the ripped edges of John’s flesh with his tongue helped a bit. He whined when John finally tugged the arm away from him, then actually crawled up John to messily smear the blood between their mouths.
It was okay, but Balthazar’s was better. A good thing, since John didn’t want to end up eating himself. That just would’ve been too much of a proverb-come-to-life, even for him.
Balthazar jerked and caught his lip on John’s teeth so he tore it, and then John was getting pretty spaced out on sucking at that. He didn’t notice how Balthazar was still jerking and twitching around until Midnite hissed at him. “John! Hold him still. No, put him down on the table.”
“What are you doing?” Balthazar snarled as soon as John got off his mouth. He tried to lunge past John so it took both John and Midnite to wrestle him to the table.
They got him on his belly and John got up front to lean his weight on Balthazar’s wrists while Midnite straddled Balthazar’s waist, facing John. Midnite retrieved his needles and pots of ink, and went back to work.
“Wait, I know this one. I have to give consent to this one, and you actually think—” Balthazar started.
John rolled his eyes, bent down and sucked hard on that cut across Balthazar’s lower lip. Once Balthazar was nice and limp, John explained. “Look, between you and me, we can shave off enough spare bits to send a ‘soul’ back to Hell. That means I don’t have to fuck and drink blood constantly, and you don’t have to go back. Now tell me you’d rather get screwed over there than here.”
Balthazar stared hard at John. He started to purse his lips, but winced halfway through it so a drop of blood beaded up. It was perfectly spherical and glistening and red like fruit.
After a minute, Midnite smacked John on the shoulder. “Don’t drain him now. If he passes out, we have to wait till tomorrow before we can start again.”
“Okay, okay,” John muttered, leaning back. “God, you’re such a wet rag sometimes. He’s not that fragile. Right, Balthazar?”
Glazed eyes looked blankly up at John.
John sighed. “Never mind.”
* * *
“Like I can help it when he’s got blood trickling all over the place. It’s running over the tattoos, and hey, maybe my licking it up is keeping the inks from getting into each other.”
“Or maybe you’re in the process of drinking up the spell and it’ll turn your guts inside-out so I will have a new stain to use to attract customers. This is where the great John Constantine made himself explode.”
“…that could also be a possibility. I see you’ve rediscovered your sense of humor.”
“Stop licking at him. Now.”
“But not your sense of fun. Fuck, I need a cigarette.”
* * *
“You already have tattoos on your back and forearms, and your legs are mostly too scarred. Either it’s here, your hands or your buttocks.”
“Fine, do it there. But—Jesus, Midnite! Don’t grab my ankles like that! It…it tickles, all right?”
Clinking of needle against glass jars. Occasional hiss through gritted teeth.
“Oh, look who’s up. Let’s look at Midnite’s work, shall we…oh, still sensitive? So if I did this--”
“John! Do you have any idea what these inks cost?”
“Calm down, would you? I’m just getting Balthazar settled…see, he’s settling down again. Aw, isn’t he cute. Almost like you can scratch his neck like this and he wouldn’t try to bite off your hand. Like he just did, you goddamn son of a bitch—okay, that’s a little better. That’s a lot better.”
“…he’s scenting the magic. Don’t let him—damn it, Balthazar. You’re a demon, you should know better than to try to lick that…John? His eyes shouldn’t still be this hazy.”
“Wow. Fucking him senseless really is possible.”
“Wonderful. Now neither of you has a brain, and you’re linked. All right, don’t draw blood from each other and let me try.”
* * *
John absently petted Balthazar’s shoulder and smoked while he watched Midnite come to the same conclusion three times. The third round, he pushed Balthazar off his lap onto the table and stood up. Balthazar stirred a little, so John pulled Balthazar’s arm out from under him and drained just enough to make Balthazar quiet and dazedly blissful again.
“If you don’t finish the spell, it’ll come back on you as well as us,” he told Midnite.
“Do not try to tell me about the consequences of my own workings,” the other man snapped back. His nerves were raw enough for him to be rubbing at his temples even though John was still in the room. “Especially when this is all your fault. You can’t even get intoxicated without finding ways to unnecessarily complicate it.”
Now that was a little unfair. “Excuse me? I was getting drunk because the balance is still fucked and I’m seriously overworked trying to still save this goddamn world I’ve already saved once, and what happens when I come to your place to relax? You won’t sell me a drink. You fucking kicked me out.”
Midnite started to retort, then cut himself off and leaned against the table. He pinched the bridge of his nose. “You almost died less than a month ago. Pardon me if I was attempting to avoid seeing a repetition of that.”
John opened his mouth, then closed it. He took a step back to collect his thoughts and put his hand down on the edge of the table. A second later, he looked down to see Balthazar sluggishly stealing a drag from his cigarette. “Hey.”
Even near-comatose, Balthazar couldn’t stop being an underhanded bastard. As irritating as it was, John had to smile as he leaned over to suck the drag back out of Balthazar’s mouth. It was also kind of admirable, in a black-humored, teeth-gritting way that came close to matching mirrors for the induced-discomfort factor.
“You know, if you did this, you’d have a lot more say on keeping me from fucking up. Or what you consider fucking up and I consider experimental,” John quietly said. “You ever let anyone else screw you when you’re sharing your head with spirits?”
“Most people consider that a warning to stay away, and the ones that don’t tend to ask, which you tend to forget about,” Midnite retorted. His words didn’t have all that much bite, and he was already turning towards the needles.
He handed them to John, then turned around to unbutton his shirt. A good thing, because John was having the damnedest time hiding his snickers. Midnite could surgically quarter a corpse in less than an hour, serve angels and demons at the same bar with a straight face and bitch at John while John was fucking Balthazar in the hall, but he couldn’t undress while facing John. At least, not if they weren’t so into the sex that they were barely noticing clothes in the first place.
“How steady is your hand?” Midnite asked, turning back around.
John made a face at him. “I should be asking you that. I’m not sure my feet look right.”
Midnite barely resisted rolling his eyes and climbed on the table, then pushed Balthazar to the side. “Don’t get distracted by the blood.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” John muttered. He leaned over Midnite as the other man laid down, then stood up. His fucking hand was shaking.
After a moment’s thought, he bent back over so he was resting most of his weight on Balthazar. It worked nearly till the end, when Balthazar started waking up and moving around, making indignant little noises. But by then, sheer irritation kept John’s hand steady.
“Okay, done. Does it work now?” John asked. He put the needles and ink away while Midnite mumbled to himself.
Something tugged at the center of John’s chest, then ripped so he fell forward to clutch at the table edge. At the same time, Balthazar convulsed so he slammed into John’s chest, and then he snag-walked with his nails up John to sink his teeth deep into John’s shoulder.
“It worked,” Midnite said.
“No, really?” John snarled, pulling Balthazar off. He slapped a hand over his shoulder, then stared at the blood. This scenario seemed oddly familiar. Except for the part where he was standing and not on the floor.
Balthazar scrambled back a few inches. “Johnny, I’m still sore…and you’re not half-possessed by Abaddon now. You don’t need it. Johnny? John?”
John grinned. “Here, kitty.”
For a second, Balthazar was very still. Then he had lunged at John, only John had calmly side-stepped so Balthazar took both him and Midnite down, and then it was the floor again, but fuck it. Balthazar’s ass in Midnite’s hands, Midnite’s tongue in John’s mouth. John’s hands making Balthazar squirm and whine, tongue making him whimper when it traced the fresh raw tattoos, and Midnite ducking down to nip at the work John’s teeth had left all over the insides of Balthazar’s thighs. Midnite’s blood splashed over Balthazar’s mouth, John’s blood dribbling over Balthazar’s back while Midnite pressed his prick up against John’s thigh without even having to channel anyone. It was nice to fuck him once without seeing a whole crowd in his eyes.
It was the floor, but what the hell. It worked.
* * *
John woke up slowly, then wished he’d put that off even longer. His mouth didn’t just taste cottony, but rancid as well, and his back and hips and oddly enough, the tops of his feet really hurt. He wasn’t sure if he recognized the ceiling at which he was staring.
He lifted up his leg to check out his foot, then tilted his head. The tattoos didn’t go away. And come to think of it, he was feeling a little hungry, and something smelled really…he rolled over. Stared.
“Please not now,” Balthazar said, blearily looking at John from the shredded midst of what might’ve been John’s clothes last night. “Two hours. Two. One if you find me something decent to eat and drop me in a shower.”
John rolled back over and stared up at Midnite. Midnite was dressed impeccably, as far as that word applied to his style, but he had really nasty bite-marks all over his throat, and some more were peeking out of his sleeves. Come to think of it, he looked a bit anemic. “Are you going to get off my floor now? I have a meeting soon in here and I need to clean it.”
“Hang on.” After flopping his hand around, John found a cigarette. Midnite lit it for him, and he nodded his thanks while thinking. The nicotine more or less pulled things together after two drags. “So I got shit-faced the night before last night.”
“You—do you mean you actually don’t remember what hap—” Balthazar started, enraged.
He shut up because John was nibbling gently on his lower lip, teasing the half-healed cut there. After a moment, he started mumbling pleas and running his hands over John’s thighs.
“No, I remember. Just took a minute, because hell, that was one bender for the books.” John pulled Balthazar over, then reached up.
Midnite sighed and gave them a hand up. “You are being entirely too calm about this.”
“Well, I’m a sanguine kind of guy. If I wasn’t, I’d be crazy. So I’ll get Balthazar here cleaned up and come back tonight?” John cheerfully asked.
“If I refused, you’d go out and find yourself a were-demon, wouldn’t you?” Midnite muttered.
John smiled. Probably a bit too much, because Midnite shot him a sharp look. But he was pretty damn satisfied, after all. It wasn’t every day he got to get what he wanted without getting a pounding headache into the bargain.