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This shit only happens to me.

Getting trapped in a Chicago hotel with a rampaging shadow whatsabeast from the nevernever that could devour the living flesh from your bones in less than five seconds was the sort of obnoxious thing that you get used to when it comes up once a week or so. At least I’d managed to evacuate the hotel before I’d warded the building until dawn would drive the thing back to the nevernever. Unfortunately, that meant warding myself in, too, and I’d been forced to magically barricade up in one of the sixtieth floor rooms for the duration.

“Are we secure, Dresden?”

. . . Which would have been fine, though inconvenient, if I’d been alone. As it was, Kincaid the Hellhound was standing sentry over me as I worked at warding the door, and John fucking Marcone was attempting to make a call on the other side of the room, as far from me as he could get.

“We should be good,” I said, pushing up off my knees. “Hope you guys didn’t have anywhere to be before dawn.”

“I did,” Marcone said, giving up on his cell phone with a sigh. “But I have learned from bitter experience, so I canceled it as soon as you walked in.”

“Fuck you, not my fault,” I snapped.

Marcone lifted an eyebrow at me, amused. God damn it. I’d been going off at him like fireworks for months, rain or shine, running battle with demons or quiet business meeting. Something about him was just . . . itching at me lately. More than usual, I mean.

It could always be worse: I could be stuck in here alone with Marcone. Thank God for Kincaid, he could at least buffer us from each other.

“Well, gentlemen, what shall we do to entertain ourselves?” Marcone asked.

I would have said we should pick different corners of the room and not talk until dawn, but Kincaid took the question seriously.

“The Bible,” he reported, checking in the bedside table. “Or cards. I’d prefer poker over a scripture circle.”

“Agreed,” Marcone said. “Harry?”

“Sure,” I said, sighing. “Why the hell not?”

We ended up on the king-sized bed, because the corner desk was too small for the three of us.

“Stakes?” Marcone asked as Kincaid shuffled. Of course he couldn’t just play to pass time; everything with him was about winning or losing.

“Not money,” I said, checking my pockets. “Unless you really want my parking quarters.”

“Clothes,” Kincaid said easily.

I was opening my mouth to register my objections to that when Marcone unexpectedly said, “Done. One piece per hand, winner’s choice.” And then I couldn’t back down, not with the two of them staring at me. Even though if this were just me and one of them, I’d have no problem telling him where to shove that idea. Hell’s bells.

“Fine,” I said.

“And your rings don’t count,” Marcone said swiftly. Damn! How’d he know I was just thinking about that?

I did okay for a few hands. Poker really isn’t my game – there are no twenty-sided dice involved – but I could hold my own. I lost my coat, but it was a bit warm in there, anyway.

It all started going funny-shaped when Marcone lost his jacket. He was wearing a white dress shirt under it; the jacket had concealed the broad stretch of his shoulders and a holstered handgun.

“Weapons don’t count either,” I said vindictively.

“As you like,” Marcone said, and unstrapped it right there.

I started losing more after that, I don’t know why. Luck is like that sometimes. My luck is like that often.

Kincaid was wearing the least of all of us. He had nothing on under his black sweater except a small arsenal and some unexpected ink.

“Nice,” I said, honestly admiring the knotwork circling his bicep. He leaned obligingly across the spread of cards to let me look closer, his hand on my shoulder for balance. There were tiny red characters hidden in the larger black design.

“Strength,” I said, touching one. “Endurance. Protection. What’s that one?”

He grinned. “Virility. You got ink, Dresden?”

I flashed him my teeth. “I’m pretty sure you only get to find that out if you win, and you ain’t winning right now,” I said.

“I can fix that.” And he could, damn it. We established rapidly that I had no ink above the waist, and I lost my boots and socks in succession. Kincaid lost his pants before I did, at least there was that. He was wearing black briefs; he looked like the centerfold in Mercenary Monthly. I lost my pants on the very next hand; I’m pretty sure I looked like a whole lot of skinny wizard in my Wolverine boxers.

Kincaid and I managed some concerted action against Marcone, then, though we only got him down to his pants and black socks before my number came up at last.

“And I’m out,” I said, slapping down my cards.

“Not yet,” Marcone said, tapping his winning three-of-a kind with a fingernail. “Take them off.”

I rolled my eyes. Stars and stones, he was such a stickler. I kicked my boxers off, because it was frankly less humiliating than arguing with him about it.

“. . . And leave them off,” Marcone added.

I looked up, stopping my reach for my shirt. Something had just shifted in the atmosphere, and suddenly it didn’t feel like it was me versus Marcone versus Kincaid, but Marcone and Kincaid over on that side of the bed, and me over here without a thing on except my jewelry.

“Yeah, Dresden,” Kincaid said. He was looking at me like – like – well, not like you look at another guy in the locker room, anyway. “Give us something nice to look at while we settle this.”

I narrowed my eyes at them, increasingly uncertain and consequently pissed off. So I figured fine, I could take that crap and raise it. I crawled up to the head of the bed and arranged myself in a nest of pillows like I’d seen a starlet do in some movie once. I even tried the under-the-lashes look on them, because they were clearly asking for it.

Marcone and Kincaid looked at me, and then at each other. If either of them had been a wizard, they would have been soulgazing, they stared so long and hard.

“Change the stakes,” Marcone said softly. It wasn’t a question.

Kincaid nodded. “You’re on.”

They played silently, intensely. They’d stopped taking forfeits for every hand, and were clearly going for the full game. It didn’t take them long, but it was enough time for me to stop pretending innocence to myself, like I didn’t know what was going on here. What they were playing for. That they were playing for me. That whoever won would get to – that whoever won would win me. And that they both wanted to win, and I – stars and stones – I liked that.

It was a pretty big shock. I mean, Kincaid’s a good looking guy, if you like that sort of thing. But then there was Marcone, who . . . He activated something in me, just by walking into the room and being obnoxious. It was actually kind of a relief to realize the word for it was lust. Lust was supposed to be inexplicable and stupid, so that was okay. I mean, it wasn’t a great explanation. But it was an explanation.

Marcone paused the game halfway through to investigate the minibar. He was down to his pants; his bare feet were quiet on the plush carpet as he came back with a finger of scotch for each of us. He walked around to the head of the bed to give me mine, rather than just handing it across. He looked me over comprehensively while he did, blatant and unapologetic. I prickled everywhere his eyes touched me, and I caught myself running a restless hand up and down my thigh, up and down.

Marcone returned to the game like a man possessed. I watched the cards fall, my pulse ratcheting faster and faster as they dealt and traded and showed their hands.

Marcone won. Kincaid made him work for it, but we all three knew how it was going to be by the time we hit the last two hands. Marcone’s face didn’t change; he was as deadly fucking serious in victory as in everything else. He and Kincaid locked eyes when they laid their last cards down, and I honestly didn’t know what was passing between them.

I shifted a little restlessly, the tension in me coming to breaking point. I was either going to get up right now and put on my clothes, or –

“My apologies,” Marcone said, looking at me. “I’ve been neglecting my spoils.” He crawled up the bed until he was leaning over me, one hand on either side of my head. He made eye contact with me like it was a point, like the soulgaze he’d tricked me into had been a right of conquest. “Put your glass down,” he said quietly. “Or throw it in my face in the next three seconds. Two. One.”

I put my glass down.

And he was on me, I was on him, we were happening. I lost track of my hands, his hands: I just knew his tongue was in my mouth, his knee was sliding between mine, I was writhing up against him and making noises I’d never heard come out of my mouth before. Stars and stones, where had this even come from?

He overwhelmed me. Or we overwhelmed me, I don’t know. But even as I was shocked at the sudden ignition of this thing between us, I was completely aware of Kincaid. He was still sitting on the bed, one hand rubbing lazily at his bulge as he watched us practically tearing at each other. It should have made me uncomfortable – he was watching this -- but it didn’t. I just couldn’t stop . . . knowing that he was there.

Marcone’s little remaining clothing vanished. He spread my legs wide, his hands gripping high up on my thighs, and ground into me with a suggestive thrust, his meaning unmistakable. I bit at his mouth, a little frantic, wanting it so bad it was like being cut open.

He rolled, bringing me along so I was laying on top of him.

“Relax,” he said, and there was not a shadow of humor or mockery in his eyes. “We’ll take care of you.”

I was just thinking we? when Kincaid touched my shoulders. He pressed his mouth to the vertebrae at the top of my spine and ran his teeth down, biting a warning every few inches. I quivered under him, my muscles locking up. And then he spread me open and – stars and stones – he was licking me, without a shred of hesitation.

I just . . . I went to pieces, okay. Marcone wrapped both arms around me, which was good, because I felt like I was liquefying. The wet press of Kincaid’s tongue opening me up was a revelation.

“You like that,” Marcone said. He was watching my face, eyes dilated. I nodded – I’m not one for talking in bed, and right then I didn’t think I could. Marcone smiled like a shark. “You like getting tongue-fucked,” he said, relishing the words, and the way they hit me. I nodded again, whimpering quietly behind my teeth.

Kincaid gave me his fingers, and then his tongue again, and then both until I was practically crying with it. When he stopped he still held me open with both hands, and I shivered down to my toes as the air insinuated itself, cool where I was wet and vulnerable.

“Winner goes first,” Kincaid said. They rearranged me while my brain was still unraveling the implications of first. They put me on my hands and knees, a pillow under my elbows so I’d be comfortable, with Kincaid steadying my shoulders while Marcone . . . oh. Marcone was going to fuck me.

I broke out in goose bumps all over, and I felt my spine slide into a curve. I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to stop and go lock myself in the bathroom. Marcone made a quiet sound behind me, running a warm hand down my back. “Easy,” he said, and I heard him slicking up his dick with something. And then he was there, a blunt, unrelenting pressure, and I stopped breathing for a small eternity. It hurt, and it was scary, and it was fucking amazing.

He said “fuck,” once, rough and low when he was deep in me for the first time. He sounded as wrecked as I felt, and I fleetingly wished I could see that. But then he was moving, he was fucking me slow and steady and thorough, and I didn’t care anymore.

“That good, Dresden?” Kincaid asked into my ear. “You like his dick in you?”

I nodded again, but that wasn’t enough for Kincaid.

“Try again,” he said. “He can’t hear you.”

“I like it,” I rasped. It was the closest I came that night to noticing what was happening. I mean I knew what was happening, obviously, I was there. I was so there, so rooted in my body that I wasn’t thinking. There was barely a flicker of surprise in me as I kept talking, only a moment of the startled observer inside going wait . . . what? But it didn’t matter, and words were coming out of me as easy as – well. As easy as Marcone was getting into my pants. “I – I love it.” Above me, Marcone made a noise like I’d punched him.

“C’mere,” Kincaid said, drawing my head up by my hair. “Open your mouth for me.”

Whoa, that was new. But I did it, and he slid the slick head of his dick back and forth over my lower lip. I licked it, wanting, and he growled something I couldn’t catch and fed it to me slowly, centimeter by centimeter until I choked. Then he backed all the way off and started the whole thing over again.

I closed my eyes for a long time, just letting it all roll through me. I’d never felt so out of control in my life, but also still so calm. Marcone fucked me harder, his hands gripped me bruisingly by the hips. His dick slid easily in me, an obscene stretch. I rocked back into him, wishing he’d go faster, spread me open with his hands and grind deep.

I came, untouched, with Marcone pounding into me and Kincaid holding the back of my neck, fucking my mouth in easy pushes. Stars and stones, I didn’t even know I could do that.

Kincaid pulled back to let me breathe. I was still shaking and moaning when Marcone thrust deep into me, leaned over, and bit down at the back of my neck like a fucking jungle cat, like he thought he’d have to hold me still while he came in me. As if I was going anywhere.

I dropped onto my face when he let me go, and then straight onto my stomach when he eased out of me.

“Your turn, I believe,” I heard him say.

Oh, right, I thought dimly, first. Hell’s fucking bells, but I wasn’t sure I would survive this.

Kincaid was rougher than Marcone had been. He rolled me onto my back and folded my legs up so he could get deep into me.

“I’m going to make you come again,” he said, pushing in.

I laughed. “Good luck with that,” I said shakily.

He didn’t need it. Or maybe I was just that easy and had never known it. He went at me relentlessly, mercilessly until I got it up again, and then he jerked me off so roughly there were actual tears in my eyes when I gave it up for him. Marcone held me down through it all, his hands warm on my shoulders and his eyes hot all over me.

I flopped out, boneless, when Kincaid was done. There wasn’t a knot of tension anywhere in me, not in my muscles, not in my magic. Empty night.

I felt movement over me. I didn’t open my eyes, but I knew those were Marcone’s hands sliding down my chest. “Spread your legs for me,” he said softly.

I did, turning my head and rubbing my cheek against the silky coverlet just to feel the sensation buzz through me, amplified in the echo of all that pleasure.

“Why?” I asked dreamily, then gasped in surprise when he eased two fingers into me, where I was open and wet and faintly aching.

“I’m not done with you,” he said.

I remember everything we did that night, but it’s in bits and pieces, incoherent. They made me feel things I never had before. I’d always thought slut was a bad word, but I was one for them that night, and it didn’t feel bad. It felt amazing and free and safe all at the same time.

It was like they opened up something in my head. I kept imagining things to do, things I hadn’t even known I’d ever heard of or wanted. But there I was, spreading my legs for two men, so what else could I do? Could I have them both at once? Was that even possible?

I shivered hard at the thought, terrified and turned on. Marcone was pressed up close behind me on our sides, rocking gently into me. He made a questioning sound into my neck.

“S’okay,” I said. “Just . . . just don’t stop.”

He didn’t stop.

And sometime late in the night, when we were all exhausted past reason but still sluggishly moving together, I realized some things. How much this was about me, for one – how this was all about me. How Marcone might be holding my wrists locked behind my back, but I was the one in charge here. I didn’t get how that could be true, it didn’t make sense.

But if it was true . . .

If it was true, I could make sure this never happened again. Or . . . I could make sure that it did.

Knowing that let me settle down at last, pressed stickily between them under a single sheet. Marcone spread his palm over my back, rubbing small circles while Kincaid snuffled into the crook of my arm, already zonked.

Stars, I was going to sleep good tonight. And tomorrow . . . if I had the guts . . . and I was pretty sure I had the guts. We would see who the real winner was.