"This is a fool's errand," John Grey hissed to his companion.
Tom Byrd pushed his way through the throng of people crowding the packed Edinburgh streets. There was a palpable unease about the city, like they knew something was coming, even if they didn't know precisely what it was.
Grey followed behind, most everyone giving them a wide berth. They always did. At first glance, Tom looked like little more than an exceptionally attractive young man. Average height and slender, dark hair and fiery eyes, porcelain complexion, he was dressed head to toe in perfectly matched black, which only made his pale skin all the more striking. He carried himself with a casual grace, like a panther, all lithe muscles and I-can-eat-you-for-breakfast confidence. But he smiled, his youthful face always warm and expressive. To make eye contact with Tom Byrd was to feel absolutely certain he had a secret to tell you over expensive wine in a candlelit bedroom.
Captivated though the populace was, they parted like the Red Sea before Moses, their lizard brains sensing the danger.
But it wasn't Tom and Grey that had the city on edge. It was a stirring of a malicious something, like a hurricane, gathering power on the horizon and inching closer.
“Did you hear what I said?” Grey asked, quickening his step and drawing closer to Tom. “If any of the stories are at all true, he’ll kill me on the spot and torture you for your power until he gets bored of your screaming.”
“Do you always believe the stories you hear from the Wee Folk?” Tom smirked at him, arching one impeccable eyebrow. The expression sent an involuntary shudder through Grey, down his spine to his prick, tingling all the way.
“When it concerns how much the Sorcerer wants my head on a stick, yes.”
“I thought he wanted to grind your bones to make his bread?” Tom didn’t turn back to John, but he could hear the grin. Byrd was making fun of him.
“You said he was a giant. Make up your mind what you’re going to be paranoid about, John.” Tom paused long enough for Grey to come up next to him and reassured him with a squeeze of his arm. Even through Tom’s leather gloves and Grey’s long sleeve, the touch sent anticipatory fire through Grey’s blood. “We need his help. He’s the only being I know of with the power to influence the Wild Hunt. Besides, he’s a sorcerer, you’re a wizard, what’s the difference? You’re practically family.”
“Somehow I doubt he’ll see it that way.” Grey sidestepped to avoid a red-faced jogger, retreating to his usual place behind Tom and slightly to the left. Wizards and sorcerers were not the same thing, and Byrd knew it. The magic that a wizard wielded was different than what a sorcerer tapped into. Grey’s magic had rules, required incantations and tools to focus it, not to mention decades upon decades of training and practice to hone the skills and reflexes. Grey was good, one of the best, but he was no sorcerer.
Sorcerers wielded the raw power of the cosmos with little regard for silly things like intent and finesse. They didn’t need tools or incantations, and if their magic had rules, sorcerers didn’t make a habit of obeying them. Wizards followed a strict honor code; sorcerers were free agents, allowing their moral compass to swing like a weather vane. Fortunately, they were exceptionally rare, and this one, The Sorcerer, was thought to be the first, the father of them all. Except no one knew for sure because he killed everyone with a modicum of preternatural inclinations as soon as they darkened his doorway. Or so the lesser Fae claimed.
The Sorcerer was rumored to live in Carfax Close, in a building that had apparently burnt down and been rebuilt a dozen times over the centuries. Just about everything in this part of Edinburgh was old, and this little street was no different in that regard. The striking difference, however, was that this street was almost completely deserted, and what few people were on it, traveled in a hurry.
The hair on the back of Grey’s neck stood on end, and he gripped his staff tighter with his right hand, bringing a defensive invocation to mind, ready to loose. The Sorcerer—or something more sinister—definitely made this place its home. That sort of power has a kind of flavor that hangs on the air and no one ever really gets used to it. It’s that nameless, icky feeling that makes even the most vanilla mortal shiver and hurry past certain places. Houses where whole families have been horribly murdered, or cracks in the Veil where demons have crawled out and nested among the living. Witches and wizards who’ve tapped into the black arts and corrupted the natural energy around them. People can sense it. They may not have a clue what it is, but they get the heebie-jeebies and nope out of getting too close to those places.
As a wizard, Grey was particularly in tune with these subtle shifts in energy. This one was… strange, unlike anything he’d ever felt before. It was all the raw charge of a nuclear explosion waiting to pop off. Not precisely evil, but… grouchy. Rather like a giant grizzly bear growling at him. All his nerve endings felt charged, tingling and uncomfortable. He resisted the urge to walk closer to Tom.
The Sorcerer’s… lair? Sure, lair. The Sorcerer’s lair was a few doors down from a corner in Carfax Close, stone steps with an iron railing leading up to a door on the second story. Tom and Grey stopped at the bottom of the stairs, watching the door.
“Should we… should we knock?” Grey asked.
The weathered, red door swung open. There was no one in the doorway.
“Oh good, we’re expected.” Tom swatted Grey’s chest with the back of his hand and started up the stairs. “Come on then.”
“Right. Expected,” Grey said, deadpan. “Love an ambush on a Wednesday.”
The open door spat them out at the top of a loft that looked like a storefront from a hundred and fifty years ago. To their left, a catwalk crossing the open floor below led to a pair of closed doors, and straight ahead was a set of circular stairs leading below. The Sorcerer’s lair smelled of woodsmoke and the fiery tingle of industrial alcohol, all overlaid with the slightly bittersweet odor of machine oil. Between that and the sound of heavy iron machinery and gush of escaping heat, the place was a steampunk dystopian nightmare.
Okay, so Grey had to admit his own unease added the nightmare. He hadn’t felt any warding tug at his power; either they were in the wrong place—not a chance in hell—or the Sorcerer feared nothing. Super.
The door behind them shut hard, rattling both its frame and Grey’s nerves. He whirled and came face-to-chest with a very tall man. His arms were crossed over the broad chest, scowling down at Grey with eyes an otherworldly blue and slanted like a dragon, the reptilian pupils fathomless black.
Grey should have taken a giant step back and muttered some defensive incantation. All his instincts screamed at him to do just that, to put anything he could between himself—and Tom—and the Sorcerer. But every spell he’d ever known evaporated from his mind and his feet were rooted to the floor.
The Sorcerer was, frankly, beautiful. Tall, two meters at least. A wild mane of stag-red hair, exquisitely formed muscles barely contained by… a hoodie? A jaw sharp enough that it would cut Grey’s lips, a dark ink stain on his cheek. Worn jeans, ripped and stained with ink and motor oil and gods knew what else, over a beat-up pair of work boots. Dark circles under his strange eyes.
He was a mess.
Despite the brooding and scowling and general sense of impending doom about the place, the effect was so disarmingly human that Grey relaxed his grip on his staff.
“I apologize for intruding,” Grey said. “But I was hoping that—”
“I ken why ye’re here.” The Sorcerer’s dragon eyes cut to Tom and stayed there, leaving Grey feeling inexplicably cold. “Ye wish my help with something. Or ye seek a favor.”
Grey didn’t look back at Tom, but he could feel the subtle shift in the air that happened whenever Tom hunted. He rarely did anymore, not needing the extra sustenance, but it was different… probing. Like Tom was sniffing the Sorcerer to see if he might be tasty.
Now there was a thought…
Bad. A bad, dangerous thought. Focus, Grey.
“Aye, Grey, focus.” The Sorcerer’s eyes settled on Grey again and his mouth went dry.
“Pluck yer unguarded thoughts from yer hied? Aye.” The Sorcerer stood unnaturally still. Grey got the unsettling impression that he only breathed for Grey’s benefit. He was clearly ancient, powerful enough that just being near him made all the hairs on Grey’s body stand on end, like he was too near exposed power lines.
“Well, I suppose it’s pointless to beat around the bush, then.” Grey took a deep breath, that woodsmoke smell stronger now, rolling off the Sorcerer’s body and clothes, mingled with the pungent scent of ozone.
“What did ye unleash, wizard?”
Grey faltered, gave a nervous laugh. “I thought you could read my mind.” He was so hopelessly outclassed. Outgunned, out-trained, physically dwarfed by this being. Running off at the mouth was suicide but there was something in that ink-stained face that gave him pause and made him an idiot.
The Sorcerer scoffed, a wry grin tilting one corner of his full lips. “I just wish to hear ye speak it aloud. Admit yer folly. What did ye unleash?”
Grey swallowed hard, painful with his mouth still dry. Stars above, it was like being in the headmaster’s office for pulling dumb pranks on his teachers when he was a boy. It was that same knot in his stomach, the same rush of heat to his cheeks. He clenched his arse, quite without meaning to. “The… Wild Hunt. I angered the Unseelie Queen and she called up the Wild Hunt.”
Behind him, Tom inched closer, the intoxicatingly sweet scent of his venom overpowering the thunderstorm smell from the Sorcerer. It retreated before it could drag Grey under, but it calmed him, dripping a pleasant numbness down his spine.
The Sorcerer blinked and dropped his arms to his sides. “And what in the nine hells did ye do to the Queen of Air and Darkness herself?”
“Surely you know that the Unseelie will attack unprovoked—”
“Aye. But no’ wi’ the Wild Hunt. What did ye do? Try to overthrow her?”
“Not exactly…” This was stupid, foolish. The Sorcerer wouldn’t help. It’d just be ridicule and scolding and, if Grey was lucky, a quicker death than what the Wild Hunt had in store for him. Well. There was no use in lying, was there? The Sorcerer would know. “She had it in mind that I would make an amusing… consort. I disagreed. She was offended. Off with his head, you know the drill.”
The Sorcerer blew out a low whistle and shook his head, disbelieving. “Weel, I dinnae ken what ye did to get her attention, but she’s no’ such a bad lay. Ye could do worse.”
I could do better, too, Grey thought automatically. Oh, shit.
A predatory grin spread across the Sorcerer’s face and he looked Grey up and down, slowly, peeling away all the layers of Grey’s clothing in his mind. The Sorcerer licked his lips. “And what did ye wish for me to do about it?”
“You’re the only one who’s ever outsmarted the Unseelie Queen and lived to tell about it,” Tom said. “And the only being who can stand up to the Wild Hunt.”
“Of course I can,” The Sorcerer said, smirking. “They’re my children.” He winked at Grey. Or at least, he tried to. He was terrible at it and the effect was to turn—for just a moment—this cosmic terror into a goofy man with weird eyes and messy hair. “How do you think I ken what the Queen is like in bed?”
That filled Grey’s head with all manner of images. The Sorcerer and the Unseelie Queen, in the sweaty throes of passion while the cosmos was still cooling. What—beyond the Wild Hunt—might have come from that union? The Pyrenees Mountains, perhaps? An entire race of Sidhe warriors?
The Sorcerer smiled, smug, and an odd sensation sent all of Grey’s blood pouring south to his prick. Like a phantom caress on his cheek, almost tangible and all the more intimate that it wasn’t. Grey swallowed hard. "Um. Right. So you'll help us?"
For a long moment, the Sorcerer stared Grey down. It was an intense glare, hard and appraising. "No."
Grey's jaw dropped. He hadn't actually expected anything different before. But now that he'd seen the Sorcerer, terrifying though he was, there was a cool sense of detached honor about him. He had morals and lines he would and would not cross, they were just apparently dictated by his own evaluation of right and wrong, and damn anyone who disagreed. "No? Do you know what the Hunt will—"
The lights, old gas bulbs, flared bright enough that Grey saw spots. Then with one loud pop and a hail of shattered glass, all blew. The fading late evening sunset through the grungy shop windows was the only source of light, silhouetting the Sorcerer. Only his eyes gave him away, reflecting back all the sparse light in the room, glowing like amber slits in a faceless abyss.
“Dinnae presume to tell me what my own children will and willnae do.” The Sorcerer’s voice was a low rumble in Grey’s breastbone, like the heavy bass at a rock concert. “I ken them. I ken what they’re made of, of whom they were born. Their violence and rage, nurtured and encouraged in the Unseelie Court.” He stepped closer, he must have. One moment he was a few feet away, the next he was bent to John’s eye level, his breath warm on Grey’s cheek. “Dinnae speak to me of the nature of my own progeny. I ken them all too well, Wizard.” He spat the word wizard.
“We meant no disrespect,” Tom said. Grey hadn’t heard him step closer either, but he was close enough to touch. He’d removed his glove, his fingers cool against Grey’s bare wrist. Tom’s touch sent a shiver down his spine, but Grey suppressed it, squashed the urge to turn into the safety of his embrace.
“You know,” Grey said, deciding in that moment that it made little difference what he did or said. The Sorcerer would kill him or he wouldn’t. He’d help them, or he wouldn’t. Whatever decision he made would be his and his alone. “Don’t you? Why she wanted me.”
There was a long pause, then, “Aye. I ken why.” The Sorcerer drew himself back up to his full height but didn’t back away. Grey’s eyes were beginning to adjust to the low light. “Yer name is John William Bertram Armstrong Grey.”
He said Grey’s name so perfectly, he could feel the power in it, stroking his entire body and all the magic at his disposal. Grey swallowed hard.
“Ye’ve pierced the Veil twice. That makes ye special. Under the right circumstances, with the right… partner… ye could control forces of nature beyond yer wildest dreams." The Sorcerer bent again and whispered in Grey's ear. "She wants to make ye a weapon.” The Sorcerer’s breath was hot on Grey’s flesh. “She wants to make ye a weapon and lead ye around by the cock so ye’ll do her bidding. Does she no’?” It wasn’t a question he was meant to answer. The Sorcerer buried his nose in Grey’s hairline and inhaled deeply. His lips scraped over Grey’s ear. “I admit, I can see the appeal.”
Grey swallowed hard and licked his dry lips. “Then you see why I had to refuse.”
The Sorcerer scoffed. “Wizards. Wi’ yer pitiful human ideals. So misguided. So limiting. Ye mean well, I ken that, but ye spend yer whole life with one hand tied behind yer back.”
“The Wild Hunt will ravage the world until they capture me and drag me back to her," Grey said.
The scent of ozone grew suddenly more pronounced and the Sorcerer hissed, pressing the heel of his hand against his forehead. "Och, shite," he muttered, wincing. He exhaled sharply through his nose. Then, the episode evidently passed, the Sorcerer spoke again. "Nay, John Grey. It isnae you she truly wants, save to wield against me."
Grey blinked at the Sorcerer. "You mean… this whole time, it was what? Some lovers' quarrel?"
"Call it a custody battle," the Sorcerer said, which only served to confuse Grey more.
"Custody of… what, precisely? Or whom?" It was Tom who asked.
"They're a myth," Grey said, stupidly.
"Aye and so am I." The Sorcerer fixed his gaze on Tom. "And so are you."
"Fair point," Grey muttered. "So am I to understand that the Queen of Air and Darkness bore your children in the form of a murderous pack of powerful bog faeries and a pair of sorcerers so powerful and volatile they have to be kept—I assume, if the legend is true—on two different invisible islands in the North Sea. And that, furthermore, she is so hell bent on obtaining ‘custody’ of said sorcerers, that she has threatened to destroy all of Europe with aforementioned murderous bog faeries. Does that about sum it up?"
"In point of fact, the Twins are on the same island," the Sorcerer said. "When they're together they're fine. Separating them is the problem. They go a bit mad. It's the telepathy, ken. Hellfire and entrails, would ye pipe down in there!" The Sorcerer jammed his fingers against his eyelids and winced again.
Speaking of mad, Grey thought, carelessly.
The Sorcerer growled low in his throat and the gas lamp across the catwalk between the two closed doors started glowing. The bulb was intact again and it bathed him in a hellish, orange glow. Those dragon eyes flared red, inches away from Grey’s face. “What do ye ken of madness? Ye probably lie down most nights, in yer cozy bed, with naught but the sounds ye choose to hear. Maybe the nightmares of yer own past. Hmm? But no’ I, nay. I hear every thought anyone has ever had. I hear the auld ones singing in the mountains. I can hear the ghosts that howl on the moors. I hear my daughter crying in her tower in the North Sea when she cannae take the madness either. I can hear my son singing to her because all he hears is music, but his third eye is always open. Ye’ve lived what, half a century? I have existed for an age or more. I have seen gods rise and fall, kingdoms crumble to ash. All of it, always, it plagues me.”
The Sorcerer scrubbed his hands over his haggard face. When he looked up at Grey again, his hair was wild, eyes desperate, pleading. “Ye think I outsmarted the Unseelie Queen?” He scoffed. “Nay. I scorned her. I didnae wish to be her plaything any longer. I wanted to be a father to my bairns that she hadnae corrupted yet. I wanted to teach the Twins the auld ways. I wanted to take them into the wilds of the world and let them learn the way of things and make friends with the Wee Folk.
“But Claire wouldnae have it, nay. She cursed me to lose control of my telepathy. To this day I dinnae ken if she cursed my children too or if they were born that way. But I cannae approach the tower and they cannae leave without her finding out.” The Sorcerer covered his face with his hands again, voice muffled into his palms. "I havenae slept in almost four hundred years. Nor have I seen my bairns in at least that, maybe more." The Sorcerer's shoulders shook and his voice broke. Outside it began to rain.
Grey stared at the Sorcerer, truly a force of nature. All this raw power and energy. Willingness too to use it and the strength to control it. But he was absolutely cracking up, heading directly round the bend. It was truly terrifying to see the Sorcerer’s white-knuckle grip on his control slipping.
But also heartbreaking. The Sorcerer wasn't insane; he was in agony. “Perhaps…” Grey took a risk and laid his hand on the Sorcerer’s arm. The muscles there were firm and twitched under his touch. He thrummed with power, not just in the live-high-voltage-wire-on-steroids metaphysical sense, but the raw physicality of the man was startling. “Perhaps we can help each other. If you can help me escape the Wild Hunt, there may be something I can do to help you see your other children.”
The Sorcerer scoffed, an automatic, derisive sound. But then he met Grey’s eyes and held his gaze. Grey let him, allowed the Gaze to take hold and suck him in, drag him under like a maelstrom.
There were no words in any language that Grey knew to describe what he saw inside the Sorcerer’s mind. Cacophonous, howling wind. The bitter, fatal cold of Antarctica and the primordial fire of suns. Blinding light and hopeless, endless night. The crushing power of a black hole and the bizarre weightlessness of eternity. It was the agony of endless torture and yet the neverending ecstasy of orgasm.
When Grey was catapulted from the whirlwind, he stumbled, though he hadn’t taken a step. Tom caught him under the arms and set him back on his feet. “Easy, mate,” Tom murmured in Grey’s ear.
A tear ran the Sorcerer’s cheek. Grey didn’t know what anyone ever saw when they were sucked into a Gaze with him. He’d seen a lot of reactions before, but never someone who looked as spellbound and moved as the Sorcerer did.
“Aye,” the Sorcerer said around a thick tongue. He swallowed hard and nodded. “Aye, alright. We can help each other. I'll help ye wi' yer problem and ye'll help me wi' mine. Agreed?"
Grey really should ask for the fine print. But the Sorcerer was no Sidhe. He had felt it, known it with perfect understanding when he'd Gazed into the Sorcerer's heart. He was terrifying and unfathomable in his power, but he wanted only to be benevolent and kind, to have as little tangible impact on the world around him as possible.
The Gaze over, never to happen again, Grey met the Sorcerer’s eyes and got lost in their beautiful strangeness. At last, he nodded. "Agreed. If we are to be allies, though, what should I call you?"
"I have many names," the Sorcerer answered. "Seal our bargain with a kiss and I shall give you one."
Grey's mouth went dry. It wasn't an unheard of sign-on-the-dotted-line amongst the arcane, but it wasn't the usual default in Grey's experience either. But, as the Sorcerer had pointed out, his experience was comparatively limited. He nodded slowly, his sense of Tom behind him drawing in on himself, like a dimmer knob on a chandelier.
"Alright," Grey said.
The Sorcerer's palms were hot on Grey's cheeks, fingers sliding into his hair and sending sparks down his spine. His lips tasted of a peaty, Islay whisky, wet and were surrounded by a two-day stubble that scratched at Grey's chin. His tongue—which Grey had never experienced as part of a bargain seal—was a patient question against Grey's lips.
Grey's breath caught in his throat. Heart pounding, he parted his lips and let the Sorcerer in. Those strong fingers tightened in his hair and Grey curled his fists into the front of the Sorcerer’s hoodie, holding on lest he become a complete imbecile and let his knees buckle.
Tom coughed quietly behind him. He wasn't a jealous man, but this was probably a lot like dangling a steak in front of a hungry dog.
The Sorcerer pulled away slowly, both of them reluctant to stop the kiss. "Jamie," he said, breath cool over Grey's wet lips. "One of my names is Jamie and ye may use it as ye like."
"Jamie," Grey repeated, forming his mouth around the name, tasting it, feeling the way the Sorcerer himself had said it. "We have our accord then?"
"Aye, we do." Jamie sucked in a breath through his nose, an odd mixture of drawing himself back to the present and scenting the air like a predator. "I'll help ye wi' the Wild Hunt. But first…" his attention settled on Tom. "I want a taste of yer pet vampire's power."
"What?" Grey whirled around to face Tom who narrowed his eyes at the Sorcerer. "He's not my pet—"
"John," Tom snapped, cutting him off. Grey shut his mouth obediently. "You are asking what I think you're asking?"
Jamie nodded. "I ken what ye are. And what I'm offering. Such a taste is a two-way street, is it no'?"
Tom considered this. For Jamie to sample Tom's power may lend some of his to Tom.
Grey swallowed down the lump of jealousy in his throat. He wasn't necessarily Tom's only source of sustenance, but he was his primary one. Normally it didn't bother John when he fed on others, but that look in Jamie's eye… he didn't just want the hit of venom and to be a quick snack. But who was Grey jealous of? The Sorcerer? Or Tom?
"First of all, the boy is right. I am not his pet," Tom said, smiling. "He is mine."
Grey shivered. All their years together and Tom still called him a boy. In all fairness, Tom was three times as old as he was.
"Second…" Tom looked at Grey and a knowing smile made his dimples appear. A vampire should not have dimples, Grey thought, no matter that he fed on lust and sexual ecstasy rather than blood and death. "We're a package deal." He arched a questioning eyebrow at Grey, who nodded.
Yes, hells yes. Tom had refrained from feeding on Grey since the Unseelie Queen had called up the Wild Hunt. One of the benefits of being a wizard was that his magic made him harder to kill than a normal human, which meant that Tom could feed on him and not leave him as weak—or dead—as if he were a vanilla mortal. True enough, Tom's venom was habit forming, and frankly, so was Tom as a lover. Grey wouldn't go into withdrawals or anything, but… stars above, this exact scenario was the wettest dream Grey had ever had.
Jamie—such an innocuous name for a creature so powerful—mulled it over. First looking Tom up and down with frank appraisal, he turned his attention back to Grey and did the same to him. Could he see through Grey's clothes? Or maybe he'd found some memory in his head, looking at himself naked in front of a mirror…
A smile lit up Jamie’s face. "Deal.”
One of the doors across the catwalk led to a small bedroom. It was cozy, furnished with a generously sized bed against a wall, a simple writing desk that looked as old as Tom; a single, comfortable chair by a modest fireplace that sprang to roaring life when they entered the room. And books. Stacks upon stacks of books lined the bare walls, stood in piles throughout the room, under the chair and the side table. They covered the mantle over the fireplace, a few on the bed, on the floor next to the bed, everywhere. There were far too many to catalogue with a glance, but they covered an enormous range of genres. From trashy paperback erotica, to high fantasy, to science fiction classics, biographies, classical literature, drama, Shakespeare, early American authors, covering a dozen languages. Everything. All arranged with no apparent regard for the Dewey decimal system, most bearing the appearance of repeated use.
Grey made a low whistle. “You were being literal when you said you haven't slept in almost four hundred years. Weren’t you?” The door shut behind them, drowning out the steampunk dystopia sounds from the shop floor, leaving only the crackling fire and the rain outside.
Jamie nodded, clearing the books off the bed and adding them to a stack on the floor. “Aye, I was.” He cast a glance at Tom as he straightened again. “Dinna hold back, Vampire. I want ye to take yer fill. I’ve power enough to spare.”
The air shifted around them, the room growing hot and cold at the same time, and Tom closed the distance between himself and Jamie in slow steps. The hunt was on.
Tom sank his pale fingers into the back of Jamie’s ruddy curls. The Sorcerer’s eyes fluttered shut as he gasped, and Tom captured his lips in an open-mouthed kiss that left Grey reeling from across the room. The sticky sweet scent of his venom wafted to him, dancing down Grey’s spine and directly to his prick.
“Tom,” he said when he pulled away at last. “That’s the name I want you to say when you come.”
Jamie blinked down at him, eyes going glassy and dark. At last he nodded, breathless.
“John, come and help our friend undress,” Tom said. “And put that staff down, you’re not going to blow anything. Except maybe for Jamie.”
Grey leaned his staff against a tall stack of books. As he approached them, Tom circled around behind Jamie, tugged the neck of his hoodie aside with one finger, and licked a long stripe up the side of Jamie’s neck. The Sorcerer shivered and pressed back against Tom. Grey knew what that felt like. The pure sensuality of the maneuver alone was exciting enough, and Tom’s venom soaked into the skin in the wake of his pink tongue, heightening the pleasure of everything.
Jamie wasn't wearing a shirt under his hoodie. Grey dragged the zipper down, exposing all that beautiful skin. He had a dusting of fair, ginger hair on his chest, and John gave into the wild urge to nuzzle against him, to drag his lips through that chest hair. It was finer than Grey had expected. He pressed a kiss into the warm flesh, mouthing his way up to where Tom had licked Jamie. Maybe there would be a trace of venom still on his skin.
There was, just a hint of it. No more than when Tom suppressed as much as he could so that sometimes sex could just be for sex and not for food. Grey sucked on Jamie’s neck, shoving the open hoodie to the floor. Big hands settled on Grey’s waist, hot and powerful. They worked their way under the layers of his coat and yanked his shirt out of his waistband. Fingertips skimmed over his skin, dipped under his jeans, and squeezed his arse. Grey sucked in a deep breath through his nose.
Jamie didn’t wear anything under his jeans either, and they slid right to the floor when Grey unfastened the fly. The Sorcerer’s prick was hard, curving gently upward and mouth-wateringly perfect. Grey started to sink to his knees, but Tom’s slender arms came around him from behind, his grip like iron, arresting his descent.
“Not yet, my love,” Tom purred in his ear. He stripped off Grey’s coat and shirt, Jamie going to work on his belt but getting distracted and staring up at Grey. “Look how he wants you.” Tom’s breath was warm against his skin and made Grey shiver. “Do you see? It’s not just my kiss, John, that lust is real.” He let out a breathy sort of moan and pulled Grey hard against his chest. He was naked too. “I should be jealous, shouldn’t I? Because you want him as badly as he wants you.”
“Tom,” Grey gasped, stepping out of his shoes and jeans as Jamie dragged them down and off. “It’s not—”
“Shh,” Tom hissed. His tongue ran over the shell of Grey’s ear, sucking his earlobe into his mouth with a slurping sound that overshadowed the hardware of his belt jangling. “You don’t have to explain. I want him too.” He grabbed Grey by the chin and turned him into a rough kiss.
Tom’s venom hit Grey’s blood at full force. It started as tingling heat in his core, spreading outward through the rest of his body in a wave of intense arousal. It cooled to a slow and steady burn, a pleasant warmth and a disconnected, floaty sensation. His vision blurred like too much liquor without that uncomfortable, dizzy sensation. All the minor aches and pains that had faded into the background of Grey’s awareness disappeared completely.
Grey complied without hesitation when Tom steered him to the bed. He sat between Tom’s legs, leaning back against his bare chest while Tom stroked his hair and left a trail of wet, venomous kisses over his shoulders. It dragged him under, drowning Grey in a pleasant sea of want and desire, chasing away inhibitions and misgivings, leaving him safe in the harbor of Tom's care.
If the Sorcerer spoke, Grey couldn't hear him over the foggy sound of his own rushing blood and Tom’s breathy sweet nothings whispered into his ear. Jamie crawled naked onto the bed, up the length of Grey's body, the image of a self-assured cat. He dragged that beautiful hard prick over Grey's leg, and it cast off sparks between them.
Kissing Jamie was like kissing a stormcloud. His lips still tasted of whisky, moreso now than before. His hair smelled of ozone and coming rain, eons of raw power thrumming beneath the surface of his skin. It was a sweet kiss, at first. Gentle, testing the waters. Tom leaned over his shoulder and drew Jamie away from Grey, plunging tongue-first into a kiss full of so much venom that the smell was overwhelming.
Grey whimpered and pawed at Jamie’s arms, shoulders, chest, all the firm, muscular places that had tragically been kept hidden under his hoodie. Not satisfied to merely test the waters and be done with it, he wanted that mouth back. Grey traced a finger down the seam where Tom and Jamie’s lips met. Jamie turned his head and captured Grey’s finger in his mouth and sucked on it, hard, the sensation going directly to his prick, leaking lazily between them.
“Fucking hell,” Grey said, his voice hoarse and thick, tight in his throat. Then that hot mouth was on a nipple, teeth gently scraping the sensitive flesh and stealing his breath.
Tom wrapped his arms around Grey, his unearthly cool hands drawing gooseflesh from his heated skin. “You’re making me so strong, my love,” he whispered into Grey’s ear.
Without warning or preamble, Jamie stuck two of his fingers in Grey’s mouth, a question in his cloudy eyes as he looked up. His tongue flicked over Grey’s nipple.
“Do you want him to penetrate you?” Tom asked. One of his cold hands rested on the side of Grey’s neck, the place he always touched him when he wanted an honest answer. That was how this worked with three, when Tom fed, soaking their brains with venom. Tom may be a vampire who fed on sex, but he wasn't a sexual predator in the mortal sense of the word. He got off on consent about as much as Grey got off on blowjobs. So Tom kept a watchful eye on the festivities, made sure everyone had a choice.
In reply, Grey sucked on the fingers in his mouth and nodded. Then the fingers were gone. An enormous, strong hand pushed Grey’s legs apart, one of the fingers breaching him.
Grey gasped and the Sorcerer kissed him again while his mouth was still open. No more testing the water then. They dove in, wet, insistent tongues and gasping moans. Jamie rutted against Grey’s leg. Tom rolled his hips, his prick hard against Grey’s back, his pale legs tightening against his torso. He was drowning in the best possible sense of the word, Tom’s venom letting him down easy into the sea of euphoria.
The kiss ended far too soon, and Grey took in a big gulp of air, dizzy. One minute Jamie hovered over Grey's mouth, the next he swallowed around his prick, kiss- and venom-plump lips sinking directly to Grey’s root. Grey cried out and tried to thrust up into his mouth, but Jamie had added a second finger to his arse and the Sorcerer was much, much stronger than he was.
Jamie sucked Grey’s prick with the most amazing enthusiasm. He moaned as much as Grey did, rutting desperately against his leg. Grey plunged his hands into Jamie’s messy curls, tangling his fingers in his stag-red hair and petting him. Maybe it was the contrast of Tom's cold body behind him, but Grey thought Jamie felt warmer than a normal man, feverish without the sickly pallor.
“Oh, John,” Tom cooed. “You’re both so beautiful from this angle. Do you see how you make him fall apart? He wanted me for my power, but you…” Tom kissed Grey’s neck and in his sweaty hair. As usual when he fed, his body had begun to warm against Grey's back, a slow heat that started at his chest before gradually spreading to the rest of his body. “You, my dearest, he wants for the pleasure of having you. Isn’t that right, Sorcerer?”
Jamie looked up, locked eyes with Grey, and nodded desperately—an interesting sensation with Grey's cock in his mouth—curling his fingers inside of him and setting off fireworks behind his eyes. That naked hunger on his face was more intoxicating than Tom’s venom. Pulling off of Grey’s prick, he said, “Aye.” His fingers came out next, and Jamie took another, shivering kiss from first Tom, then Grey. “Aye, he’s right,” he said against Grey’s mouth. “Do ye ken how lovely ye are?”
Tom’s hands, far stronger than they should be for belonging to such a slender man, pushed Grey up into Jamie’s waiting arms, and slid out of the bed. Tom drifted to the edge of Grey’s vision, but not his consciousness. After years and years together, they were bonded, and Grey could always tell where Tom was.
Whatever Tom was doing occurred in the distance, while Jamie kissed him in the immediate vicinity. Grey wrapped his arms around the Sorcerer, fingers tightening in his hair, his oddly hot skin startling against John's body. He bucked up, jabbing his prick against Jamie’s hips. They both moaned.
It had been years since Grey had kissed anyone like this except for Tom. Sure, they'd had threesomes before. The occasional, attractive man or woman would catch their eye and be down for it. Tom fed carefully from them, small sips that could sustain him and only rendered his prey a little sleepy. They rarely kissed anyone else though. And Grey never, ever Gazed with those people in the course of their tryst.
Tom returned, knelt on the bed behind Jamie, and wrapped an arm around his middle, loose fist stroking the Sorcerer's cock.
Jamie groaned and bucked into Tom's hand, the head of his prick now slippery and prodding the cleft of Grey's arse. Tom kissed and nibbled Jamie's shoulder and neck, making him shudder, distracting him.
Grey stole another one of those deep, soul-piercing kisses from the Sorcerer’s mouth, reclaiming his attention. "I want you," Grey said, rubbing his arse against Jamie's prick.
Tom’s hands were pale against Jamie’s hips, fingertips gone white and digging in. “You’ll take good care of my boy, won’t you, Sorcerer?”
“Aye,” Jamie replied and sank slowly into Grey. They both gasped and groaned and clung to each other as Jamie started to move.
It was a little like being fucked by a comet, if a comet were hot rather than cold and in possession of a thick cock. Jamie’s body practically vibrated with all the raw power and energy it contained, held carefully in check—or skimmed off by Tom. “Jamie,” Grey whispered, just to feel his name on his own lips.
“I’ve got ye, John,” Jamie murmured back, kissing him again and rocking into him.
Tom hummed in ecstasy above them both. “And I’ve got you. Hold still a moment. That’s it.”
Jamie paused, Grey holding tight to his hot back and trying his damnedest not to thrust up and rock the boat. The Sorcerer let out a sigh so familiar that Grey grinned. He knew too well how good it felt to be taken by Tom from behind. For several pounding heartbeats, no one moved, just the sound of the rain against the roof, the hearth crackling, and their ragged breathing as they settled into each other.
Tom spoke first, gentle in Jamie’s ear. “Are you alright?”
“Aye,” Jamie answered, grinning down at Grey, letting him get gloriously lost in those dragon eyes.
Tom knew perfectly well that Grey was alright, but he answered anyway. “Yes.” He found Tom’s hand where it rested on Jamie’s hip and tangled their fingers together.
The rest of it was a mind-blowing blur, Tom fucking Jamie, Jamie fucking John, John surrendering to the decadent overload. When it was just Grey and Tom, Grey was usually on top. Tom liked to lie back and watch Grey go wild riding him, giving him more control even as Tom fed on him.
The Sorcerer could end Grey’s life with the snap of a finger and a nudge of will, but he wouldn’t. Grey had no idea why he wouldn’t, after the centuries of bodies piled up along the road of his long life, but he knew that Jamie wouldn’t. It was a thrilling razor’s edge to walk. All he could do was hold on tight and give into it.
Tom bit down on the bend of Jamie’s shoulder, hard, with purpose, making Jamie hiss. His teeth were no sharper than a normal man’s, and he didn’t actually subsist on blood. But a bit of his venom, applied directly to an open wound, amplified the effect enough to completely incapacitate a mortal. He licked the narrow punctures in Jamie’s flesh, the sticky sweet smell of his venom overwhelming. Well, Jamie had said he wanted to experience Tom’s power.
Jamie’s eyes went totally black, swallowing up the narrow, reptilian pupils. Grey had never seen Tom feed on another immortal before, and the Sorcerer was no ordinary immortal. Just watching Tom fuck Jamie would have been sufficient to stock his spank bank for years to come. But to have Tom fucking Jamie into John while Jamie drowned in ecstasy… it was rather the pinnacle of sexual experience.
A hot wave of pleasure washed over Grey, knocking the breath from him in a gasp, leaving his arms and legs sweaty and tingly. Hells bells, he was close. Tom tightened his grip on his hand. Jamie clutched him close to his chest, panting and moaning in Grey’s ear, breathing his name over and over. Tom was doing most of the work at this point, fucking them in a wild rhythm that shook the bedframe.
The wave hit Grey again and swept him over the edge. Crushing Tom’s hand in his, Grey came with a shout. “Jamie—Tom, fuck!” his vision went white then red, digging his nails into Jamie's shoulder.
Jamie came too, burying his face against Grey’s throat, growling Tom’s name, just like Tom said he would. A deafening clap of thunder sounded overhead at the same time the Sorcerer shuddered and swore. Grey didn’t think it was a coincidence.
The fire in the hearth went out, plunging them into total darkness. Hovering over both of them, Tom’s eyes emanated an alien, pearly white glow. He came too with a wordless cry, finally going still, draped over Jamie’s back and gasping for breath. Jamie whimpered against the side of Grey’s neck, and John gave into the compulsion to stroke his sweat-drenched hair with one hand, soothing him.
At last, Tom hauled himself up. “Blessed fucking virgin sacrifices, you two.” He stretched his whole body like a glutted and contented cat. “I don’t think I’ve ever fed so much at one time in my life.” His body seemed to buzz audibly with borrowed power. Tom flexed his fingers, watching intently as sparks jumped between them, lighting up the dark for a moment.
Jamie slid out of Grey and rolled onto his side, his huge body curling up next to John. “Trunk,” he murmured. “Under the bed. The horn.” He laid his head on Grey’s shoulder with a sleepy groan and a sigh, long arms wrapped around him.
Grey combed his fingers through Jamie’s ruddy curls. He was fast asleep.
Eyes still casting that strange glow, Tom knelt next to the bed and laid his hand on Jamie’s relaxed forehead.
“He’s alright?” Grey whispered.
Tom nodded. “He’s fine. Poor thing. He should sleep for about a day or so, I’d think. Ought to do him some good.”
Grey hummed in agreement. “He said something about a trunk under the bed?”
“Hmm? Oh.” Tom stooped and felt around under the bed, the sound of his hand rustling about and shoving books across the floor muffled by the mattress. “Well, what do you know?” He sat back up. “Light the fire again, would you, my love?”
Focusing his will on the hearth—no easy feat in his post-coital fog—Grey summoned his command for fire and released it with a quiet, “Incendio.” The hearth came to crackling life, illuminating the room in a gentle glow again.
Tom fiddled with whatever he’d retrieved from under the bed—a trunk, presumably. Old hinges creaked as he opened the lid. Tom sat back on his bare heels and laughed. “Wow. Wow. No wonder the Unseelie Queen is pissed at him.”
“Why? What is it?” Grey whispered, wary of waking Jamie. He craned his neck to get a look but Jamie groaned in his sleep and held onto him tighter. His soft snores were contagious and Grey's entire body felt as if it were full of lead, threatening to drag him under as well.
“It’s the Huntress’ horn,” Tom said, an impressed sort of surprise dripping from his every word.
Grey blinked. “He has it? Just… under the bed?”
Tom grinned, triumphant. “Yeah. I’ve absorbed enough of his power that I think I can use it to scatter the Wild Hunt.” He held up a polished ram's horn for Grey to see.
It was deceptively simple. If he’d happened upon it, Grey would not likely connect it to the Wild Hunt, the Unseelie Queen, or Jamie for that matter. Amazing how mundane some powerful artifacts can be. He looked down at Jamie, his face relaxed and peaceful and his heart ached with an unhinged urge to protect this being who was far more powerful than Grey would ever be. “And he’s just giving it to us. I suppose he really wants to see his children.”
“Guess so.” Tom stood and started sorting through piles of discarded clothes. “We need to shower and change. I don’t know how long I’ll have enough of his power to use the horn. We should go after the Wild Hunt. Try to catch them in the open, away from cities and civilians, if we can. Can you wriggle out of the octo-cuddler’s clutches?”
Grey hated to risk disturbing Jamie, but Tom was right. It took some cautious wiggling and slithering, but he worked his way free, landing on the floor in a crouch. “We’ll come back to check on him.”
Tom gave Grey a kind smile and squeezed his arm. “Yes. You made a bargain, after all. And that kiss you sealed it with…” He whistled. “Yowza. There’d be consequences for breaking that oath, I think. Get dressed. We’ve got work to do.”