Actions

Work Header

Finale of Promise

Work Text:

            It was warm, deliciously warm. Ral cracked an eyelid, enough to see a buttery yellow sunbeam spilling across his pillow and bathing the white band around his wrist. Afternoon, then. Late afternoon, probably. He’d slept for a long time, and no wonder. Every nerve in his body was aching; he felt wrung out and hollow and heavy. As he considered whether to get up or not, he felt a feather-light touch in his hair, and turned over to see that Tomik was awake and softly playing with it.

            “Mfmrgh,” Ral said coherently and buried his face in Tomik’s chest. “I hate my life,” he managed after another few minutes.

            “Are you sure? Because I know quite a lot of people who would be happy to help you with that,” Tomik smirked into his hair. Ral growled.

            “Stupid Orzhov. Could’ve been killed.”

            “You know you were in far more danger than I was, Ral, stop being so melodramatic.”

            “Just because the Eternals didn’t want to suck out your very essence doesn’t mean they couldn’t have stabbed you,” Ral sulked.

            Tomik just sighed. “We were both in danger, all right? And we’ve both survived. What’s got you so grumpy this morning, really?”

            Ral pulled himself carefully into a sitting position, squirmed around behind Tomik, and embraced him, setting his chin on the top of the other’s head. He hated this kind of emotional discussion, but there was too much swirling inside him to leave it like that. If he did, there would probably be a tornado in the apartment, and no one would let him live that down. “Beleren,” he mumbled finally.

            “Beleren the ex-Guildpact Beleren?”

            “Yeah.”

            “Dare I ask why?”

            Ral tightened his arms moodily across Tomik’s chest. “You, uh, remember when I told you I’d lost somebody? Before I met you?”

            Though he couldn’t see Tomik’s face, he could hear the slight tinge of incredulity that probably meant both eyebrows had climbed into his hair. “Ral Zarek, were you dating the incarnation of law and order on Ravnica?”

            “Maybe.” Ral nuzzled at Tomik’s hair. “And, yes, I am now aware that he is, in fact, not as dead as I was led to believe. I’ve known that for a while.” Lightning crackled and crawled lazily down Ral’s arm, jumping after a moment to the lightning rod they’d installed in one corner of the bedroom.

            “But seeing him again was difficult?”

            “I talked to him last night, and it was—” Ral paused. “Not terrible? He apologized, I kind of apologized, we hugged, now I feel weird.”

            Tomik leaned his head down and kissed Ral’s wrist, just above his cloth wristband. “So you hated him and now you don’t?”

            “No, I definitely still hate him,” Ral mumbled into Tomik’s hair. “Just more in the way where you kind of want to bang the object of your loathing rather than killing them.” Which was definitely, absolutely, positively hatred, and not any other kind of emotion.

            Air tickled Ral’s arm as Tomik laughed at him. “So like you hate me, then?”

            “Shut up,” Ral told him irritably. “I’ll show you how much I hate you.” He nibbled gently on Tomik’s ear and got a breathy moan in response, Tomik’s hips hitching up beneath the coverlet. Ral grinned and dropped a hand onto Tomik’s thigh. “Clearly, I hate you so very, very much…”

~

            Gideon, don’t! Gideon, no, please—Liliana, are you all right? Gideon—oh, Tanit, Gideon—no—

            Jace!

            Jace shivered into wakefulness with his head pillowed on something soft, and he curled into it instinctively. His face was wet, his breath racing in his lungs. “Jace,” Vraska said again, one hand tight in his hair. “You’re dreaming, you’re dreaming.”

            Somehow, he managed to suck in a lungful of air, clinging to her. “I failed,” he choked. “I failed you, I failed Ral, I failed Ravnica, and now Gideon—Gideon is—”

            “Shhh.” She pressed a gentle kiss into his forehead. “Jace, no. Jace.”

            He pressed his hands to his eyes, trying to halt the flow of tears. “So tired,” he found himself murmuring. “So much. Why couldn’t I do it?”

            “Jace. Look at me.” He obeyed immediately, a small part of his brain noting with something like amusement how quick he was to look into a gorgon’s eyes. Vraska’s were yellow, kind, with a little film of tears collecting at the bottom. Her hair tendrils brushed gently across his face, wiping away his own tears. “We’re safe,” she said. “Ravnica’s safe. You’re safe. There were casualties, yes, but there are casualties in war. You did your best.”

            “What does it say about me that my best wasn’t good enough?” Jace returned bitterly before he could bite the words back.

            “That people aren’t perfect?” She pulled him into a rough hug. “Krokt, Jace, you should be angry at me. At least you were trying.”

            “No,” he said, nestling against her, reaching up a hand to stroke across her smooth, sleek tendrils. “I know what it’s like to be hurt and to lash out. I know. And,” looking up with a crooked smile, “I’m not much good at anger.”

            “You need to learn that,” Vraska told him fiercely. “I’ve seen you turn it all inward on yourself instead of going after the person who hurt you. Firsthand, in fact.”

            Jace heaved a soft, shuddering sigh. “Maybe,” he managed. “Yeah.”

            He looked around, fragments of the night before settling into his brain as he did so. He hadn’t slept well, his sleep disturbed by repeated shards of violent dreams, violent memories. But she’d been at his side, in Ral and Tomik’s bizarrely oversized bathtub, holding him through the night on heated tiles as he drowsed and woke and drowsed again. Someone else had done that for him, once. Jace winced again.

            “I should—tell you about Ral,” he muttered.

            “Ral?” Vraska asked, and he felt her shudder as well. “I—he doesn’t like me very much. For good reason. I’m surprised he didn’t throw me out onto the street last night.”

            He doesn’t like me very much. Right. Ral’s face the night before, pinching up in something like pain as he said Vraska’s name. History between the two of them as well. Jace groaned and put his face in his hands. “Ral and I were—um—we were involved,” he said between his fingers. “Up until the point I freaked out and ran away from my responsibilities, and then, of course, I didn’t have my memories, and—he thought I was dead, and—”

            “Krokt. What a mess.” Vraska sighed.

            “Are you angry?” Jace said softly before he could stop himself.

            She shook her head. “No. Yes. At myself, I suppose. But there’s more than enough guilt to go around right now. I don’t blame you for not knowing how to handle this situation. It’s like something out of a Rakdos tabloid.”

            “It’s not—I just thought you ought to know we had a history. I talked to him last night, and he was—very nice about it. Surprisingly nice about it. Much too forgiving about it.”

            Vraska kissed him. “Jace, we’re all alive. We just survived a war that I somehow did not cause us to lose by my own lack of self-control. That’s more important than anything else.”

            “Um,” said Jace. “I mean, when you put it that way…” He snuggled against her, then sighed and stretched. “I guess I should go see what the planeswalker and food situation is like. Are you hungry?”

            She blinked at him, and then smiled, running her tendrils through his hair. “Food sounds good, if you can find it.”

            Jace’s stomach rumbled in answer, and he groaned at stiff muscles as he pried himself out of the bathtub. “I shall forage and return, my Captain.”

            “Very good,” Vraska told him, amusement crinkling at the corners of her eyelids. “I await the fruits of your labor, Beleren.”

            Most of the planeswalkers were gone from the main room when Jace tiptoed out into it. The devil-like Innistradi planeswalker was still there, napping in a puddle of sunlight like a cat. Tomik’s pet gargoyle was snoozing beside him; the walker had one arm sprawled across its stony neck. Jace stepped around them carefully, checking the pantry for food, before it occurred to him that he should probably at least ask Ral if he minded.

            Bedroom, probably. Ral was a heavy sleeper and rarely woke easily before noon on his best days. This, Jace considered, was probably not one of his best days. He headed back along the small carpeted passage decorated with an—interesting—mix of Izzet gadgets and small, almost understated statues that probably belonged to the advokist. He knocked perfunctorily—that would not be enough to wake up Ral—opened the bedroom door, and promptly froze.

            Ral was not, in fact, asleep anymore. He wasn’t even in bed anymore, although Tomik was. Well, he was sitting on the bed. And he was naked. And Ral was kneeling between his legs, both hands on his thighs, and they were—

            “Sorry!” Jace squeaked, tried to back out and throw the door shut, but it just bounced back open with a far-too-loud noise. Ral sat back on his heels and gave Jace a very baleful glare, while Tomik went slowly red and just as slowly drew his sheets over his lap, as if he were trying to do it without it being noticeable.

            “What the fuck is so important you had to barge right in here without waiting for an answer?”

            “Uh,” said Jace. He could feel his own face going hot. “I just, um, I. I’ll go. I’m sorry.”

            “No, please, Beleren, I’m yearning to know what your explanation is.” His lips were swollen, his cheekbones flushed, and, oh no, no, no, this was not good. This was very not good. There was heat on Jace’s neck, too, and tightening in his belly. He tried very hard not to look at the slim advokist as well, whom he could still see an embarrassing amount of.

            “I—I just wanted to know if you would mind if we raided your pantry,” Jace managed, shifting from foot to foot.

            Ral gave him a very dead-eyed look. “Well, now that you’ve stopped me from having my breakfast,” he drawled. “I suppose we might as well help you look.”

            Jace made a soft little sound he hoped sounded apologetic and not aroused.

            Tomik made a strangled noise from the bed, and then started laughing softly. “Hand me my robe, would you?”

            It wasn’t until Jace had already grabbed the light robe with his telekinesis that he realized the request had been intended for Ral, but Tomik took it from the air with a bare moment of hesitation and threw it around his shoulders, giving Jace a slightly bemused nod. “Thank you, Guild—ah—Beleren.”

            “You’re welcome,” Jace mumbled, and then started looking for a place to hide.

~

            Ral Zarek was not in a good mood. He didn’t think most people would be in a good mood under the current circumstances of ex-boyfriend walking in on him during tryst with current boyfriend and getting that vague poleaxed look on his face that he used to when the two of them—

            ANYWAY. Tomik was getting dressed, which was a terrible shame, and Ral had grumpily stomped out into their main room and pointed Jace at whatever food they happened to have. “There’s some street vendors nearby as well, if you want piroshkis or knedliki,” he told Jace. “They’re pretty good.”

            “Ral, I really am—”

            “I don’t want to hear it,” Ral growled, and then immediately felt guilty at the kicked-puppy look on the ex-Guildpact’s face. He sighed. “I know you’re sorry, it’s okay, I’m just in a foul mood. It’s not the most awkward situation I’ve ever been in.” He considered this. “Probably.”

            After he had pointed Jace in the direction of food, Ral dragged himself into the kitchen and made coffee, dragged himself back into the main room and drank his coffee, and then started to drag himself back to the bedroom to see if Tomik had finished getting up. He made it about two steps and stopped, because—

            Jace and Vraska were halfway into the bathroom, and their tongues were halfway into each other’s faces. Also, Jace’s feet weren’t on the ground; his ankles were locked around Vraska’s waist, her hands swooping into his robes somewhere about the vague level of his thighs, and now Jace’s head was tipping back against the doorway with a thump, and he was moaning in a ragged tone of voice that reached right past Ral’s frontal cortex and grabbed at something in the base of his brain, and he was—

            —in a grubby Izzet lab, with a broken spring poking into one knee, and Jace writhing under him, saying his name over and over again in rapid, urgent, broken syllables—

            Vraskahnnn—I—

            “Oh, come on!” Ral growled at them, and Jace’s eyes snapped open, and he went a peculiarly adorable shade of mauve as he and Vraska hurriedly broke apart, and Jace nearly fell over.

            “S-Sorry—we thought you were back in the bedroom,” Jace gulped.

            “Have you considered closing the fucking door?” Ral howled, probably louder than he intended, because Tomik opened the bedroom door and stuck his head out.

            “Ral?” he said questioningly.

            Ral groaned; Jace covered his face with his hands. “I’m sorry,” he said miserably. “I’ve, um, been having some problems with enclosed spaces recently.”

            Somewhere in the distance, thunder rumbled. Vraska shuffled awkwardly. Ral groaned again, then strode down the hallway to his boyfriend and shot over his shoulder, “Pinch his ass; he’s a squealer.”

            As he shut the bedroom door, he heard, “You’re not actually going to—” followed by a trademark Jace squeak.

~

            Vraska stared down at her cup of tea through a haze of exhaustion. It had been steaming when she had first poured it, and now it wasn’t anymore, because she hadn’t really had the energy to do anything other than stare at it as it gradually cooled. She wasn’t sure if she’d ever been this tired in her life before. Having time to actually sit and think about it just seemed to make her more tired.

            She sniffed at the cooling scent of herbs, letting it flow into her lungs. An old Golgari recipe, but something about it also reminded her of the smell of the jungle wafting out onto the ocean. She closed her eyes, breathing in deeply. Jace would be out of the shower soon enough, which sounded nice. She wanted to lick the back of his neck and maybe put her tentacles into his mouth. Yes, that sounded good. Although—there was obviously some unresolved awkwardness hanging around. At first, Vraska had thought it was just the fact that Ral was uncomfortable around her, but after the repeated looks Jace and Ral had been giving each other—she was beginning to think there was something she wasn’t aware of. Not that she was worried about Jace cheating on her; it was more she was worried that he was going to end up hurting himself again somehow.

            “Good afternoon,” said the first semi-cheerful voice she had heard all day, and she looked up to see Tomik Vrona, in a set of almost bizarrely pristine white robes. He was—apparently unconsciously—fingering the thin red cloth he always kept bound about his wrist.

            “Hi,” Vraska greeted him awkwardly, and he slid into a seat across from hers and leaned across the table, setting his chin in his hands.

            “I have a proposition for you,” the Orzhov advokist smiled, a smile that transformed his entire expression from something meek and mild into something Vraska would not have found out of place among her crew on Ixalan. She was almost surprised he hadn’t sprouted fangs. “There is a certain level of unresolved sexual tension in this household, and since I do not particularly want to be confined indoors when it inevitably spills over into a hurricane or results in some unfortunate mind-blanking, I think we should make a contract. The four of us.”

            Vraska eyed him up and down. “I owe you and Zarek a great deal,” she said after a moment. “And I think if we let them eyefuck each other any longer, they might go blind. So go on.”

            “A contract so no one can wriggle out of the awkwardness. Frankly, I think a bit of wild debauchery will be good for all of us anyway.”

            Looking down at her tea again, she saw that the leaves were starting to settle towards the bottom of the cup. A distraction sounded nice. Jace not continuously worrying also sounded nice. Hell, Jace wasn’t the only one who worried. She raised her eyes to meet Tomik’s and held out a hand. “I’m on board.”

~

            Of course, Tomik thought wearily, it was naturally the two who had spent the entire day causing sparks to crackle off one another—literally, in Ral’s case—who were the most stubborn about the whole thing.

            “Are you really sure about this?” Ral asked for what Tomik was pretty sure was actually the hundredth time as the four of them settled awkwardly onto Ral and Tomik’s deliciously soft bed.

            “Ral, I love you and want you to be happy. Besides, we both know who the jealous one in this relationship is.”

            “Hey, I’m not that j—”

            “I’m not the one who nearly electrocuted the guy who smiled at me in the coffee shop last week.”

            Pause. Beat. “Touché.”

            Jace, at least, wasn’t raising objections every three seconds, although Tomik didn’t know him terribly well, and he had certainly shot a quiet look from Ral to Vraska at least three times by now.

            “Are you good?” Tomik asked Ral quietly.            

            “Of course,” Ral muttered, lightning flickering rapidly along his arm. Tomik looked at Vraska and Jace as well. Vraska nodded smoothly, with a surprising amount of majesty. Well, she had been the Golgari queen. Probably came with the territory, as it were.

            Yes, Jace said in all their heads. His eyes had been downcast, but he looked up and gave a shy and surprisingly handsome smile.

            “Excellent,” Tomik said. “I will, of course, require a verbal yes from everyone in order to instantiate the contract.” He held out a hand to Ral and one to Vraska. Ral took it with a growl; Vraska barely paused, stretching out her next hand to Jace. The ex-Guildpact hesitated for a brief moment, took a deep breath, and then slipped one hand into Vraska’s and one into Ral’s. He and Vraska shared a smile; he and Ral shared an almost startled look.

            “This is a short-term contract,” Tomik announced. He didn’t bother outlining the terms, which were presumably already evident to everyone in the room. “Does everyone agree?” Warm golden light sprang into existence around his hands and slid easily along the circle in response to the chorus of not-quite-in-sync yeses. He let a slightly pleasured sigh escape his lips at the tingling sensation of the contract’s instantiation. “Good. Then let’s begin.”

            Ral crossed his arms, glaring at Vraska. “Shouldn’t she at least be blindfolded?” he complained. Vraska looked down briefly, and Jace immediately sprang to her defense.

            “She’s not going to petrify you, Zarek!”

            “Oh, I’m ‘Zarek’ again now?”

            Vraska and Tomik blinked at each other in surprise as Jace and Ral crawled into the center of the bed and crossed their arms at each other. The tension between them was almost palpable.

            “Jace,” Vraska said awkwardly. “It’s all right. Ral has—reason to be distrustful.”

            “Damn right,” muttered Ral, hunching his shoulders up a little, and Jace’s eyes flickered from one to the other.

            “You did agree to the contract,” he pointed out, the tension in his limbs draining out a little.

            “Yeah, yeah,” Ral grumbled.

            “But if you’re so worried—” Jace sent a quick, questioning thought to Tomik, and the advokist nearly doubled over laughing.

~

            “Why am I blindfolded?” Ral complained as Tomik finished knotting the black silk over his eyes.

            “Well,” Jace said, with a shrug that he broadcast mentally so that Ral could see it as well. “You were the one who was worried.”

            “I hate you,” Ral said plaintively. “All of you. You’re all conspiring against me. Except Vraska, I suppose.”

            “See? More reason to trust her.” But despite the banter, Jace was still trembling a little. He had one hand tight in Vraska’s, but he couldn’t stop staring at the gentle fingers Tomik was running across Ral’s shoulders. Couldn’t stop staring at Ral.

            “You’re permitted,” Tomik said, catching his eye and giving him a soft smile.

            “Who’s permitted?” Ral demanded immediately. “What are they permitted? What are all of you doing?” It still took a gentle push from Vraska’s hand between Jace’s shoulder blades for him to close the distance between himself and Ral and start slowly kissing down his familiar chest. Good thing they’d already taken off their own clothes, because otherwise this would probably have taken another half hour to get anywhere.

            Ral moaned. “J-Jace,” he gulped. “Fuck. Tomik—which of you is where?”

            Wouldn’t you like to know, Jace sent mischievously, glancing up to see that Tomik was nibbling thoughtfully on Ral’s ear. Vraska chose that moment to press her lips onto the back of Jace’s neck and draw them slowly downwards. Jace twitched, one hand landing on Ral’s side, the other reaching backwards, flailing for Vraska’s hand. She took it briefly and then one of her hair tendrils began stroking the top of his head. A strangled noise fell out of Jace’s mouth onto Ral’s stomach.

            “Okay, that—that was definitely Jace,” Ral said breathlessly, putting a hand on top of his head. Jace wanted to taste him and taste Vraska and maybe also Tomik, all at the same time. He wanted—

            Ral’s thighs were trembling beneath his hands, and the dry scent of ozone in the air was growing stronger. “Fuck,” Ral said succinctly. “Tomik, I—I need—”

            “I’ve got you, love.” Before Jace could offer to do one of his old quick mind spells, that strange golden light was rising again. Tomik held Ral’s hands in his, and golden runes swirled down Ral’s arms and across his body. The ozone smell diminished a little, although sparks burst over Jace’s hands.

            “Jace, c’mon.” Before Jace could feel odd or out of place, Ral’s hand was tugging at his hair. “Please.” It was so rare to see Ral begging, and Jace really wanted to, and—yeah, okay, there was still a little weirdness here, but why bother with that now?—so he leaned forward and sucked Ral’s cock clumsily into his mouth. Ral gave a desperate, high noise, his hand tightening in Jace’s hair. Jace tasted salt, lathed his tongue across the head; Vraska’s teeth scraped across the back of his neck, and he moaned around Ral, and Ral was moaning too, and—oh Krokt—Jace was thrusting weakly against the bed. This was so much, so much after everything, but it was safe here. It was—

            Taxed and exhausted, Jace didn’t have as much control over his mental powers as he usually did, and he was abruptly reaching out with them, finding his—finding the storm contained and bound within golden ropes, his captain behind him, fiercely protective but afraid of her own feelings, and the blinding gold of the Orzhov sun, weaving around all of them, keeping them tight together. Sorry, Jace managed as he started to pull back, and the three minds around him told him, Don’t be stupid, Jace, with varying levels of profanity, and all of them welcomed him in.

            “Hang on—” Ral panted as Jace opened his throat and took him deeper. “I’m gonna come in two seconds if you—”

            “Don’t worry, I promise you’ll get it back up,” Vraska told him with a chuckle, her fingers sliding along Jace’s thigh.

            “Fucking—what—” Ral managed, and they all felt the green magic that rose around Vraska. Jace moaned at the impression of it twining around his erection, sliding into his limbs, and he heard Tomik’s voice give a breathy exclamation. “Sure,” Ral panted. “Fucking Golgari. Why not.”

            Vraska’s hand joined Ral’s on Jace’s head, and the two of them started to move him up and down, carefully at first, then faster as Jace made it clear he had exactly zero objections to the state of affairs. You know I like it when you fuck my mouth, he told Ral and got a surge of lust in return as well as a dry, And he’s not the only one from Tomik. You have good taste, Jace told Tomik.

            Thank you, Tomik responded.

            A blast of mental lightning made him wince. WILL YOU TWO STOP THAT, IT’S INCREDIBLY DISTRACTING.           

            And here I thought you didn’t want to come too fast, Tomik answered immediately. Jace was starting to get a little too distracted himself to keep up the banter, with the slick slide of Ral’s cock inside his mouth and the tugging bursts of exquisite pain from his hair as Ral and Vraska moved him up and down. Vraska’s tendrils played over his throat, and Jace shuddered as her hand slipped between his legs. He was suddenly close as well, his blood thrumming in his ears, could just barely feel the way Tomik’s fingers were working inside Ral, like a faint echo of a physical sensation.

            “Oh, fuck,” Ral said heartfeltly and came right down Jace’s throat, his hand tightening in Jace’s hair and against Vraska’s. She held both of them steady as Ral twitched and cursed and Jace tried very hard not to hump the bed as he swallowed.

            After a moment, he pulled back. Ral was gasping, and Tomik was kissing the side of his face and down his neck, gentle and thorough. “Jace,” Ral said hoarsely. “C’mon.” He reached out a trembling hand and waved it vaguely in Jace’s direction; after a moment of hesitation, Jace leaned forward again and let Ral tug him up against his chest and then into a deep kiss. Electricity crackled between them, not too strong, but strong enough to make Jace twitch and moan. Tomik’s lips pressed against the side of his mouth, and then Vraska’s joined on the other side. Jace slung an arm around both of them and let the storm crackle through them along with the mental connection.

            “Mother of storms,” Ral said heavily. “That was intense.”

            “I’m not surprised, after the buildup,” Tomik said dryly.

            “Huh?” Ral replied intelligently.

            “You two have been wanting to climb each other since you ran into each other during the battle.”

            “Hey, just because we used to be—doesn’t mean—”

            “Ral,” Jace interrupted softly. “Ral, no, he’s kind of right.” Before he could spend much thought on worrying about what that meant, though, Vraska’s hands were sliding smoothly along his thighs, and her hair was tickling the back of his neck.

            “My turn now, though,” she breathed in his ear, and Jace made a whimpering noise, his cock twitching between his legs. Vraska turned him slowly on the bed, then kissed him deeply, her breasts pressing against his chest. Her hair twined slowly through his, and Jace moaned. A moment later he was being pushed against Ral’s back, as Tomik made a throaty noise and mounted his ceraunomancer; Vraska did the same to Jace a moment later.

            “Oh, Krokt,” Jace said softly as she sank down. His hand crept behind him and clutched Ral’s, crackling with painful electricity. “Vraskamph—” She kissed him again, and Jace shut his eyes, tasting sea-salt and freedom. He could almost believe they were back on Ixalan together, safe, moving together in the semidarkness of Vraska’s captain’s cabin—not a thing that had ever happened, but with the mental connection in place, Jace knew they’d both daydreamed about it.

            But still—he wouldn’t trade this. The golden light of the afternoon Ravnican sun streamed in through the curtains, tracing lazy bright lines of incandescence along her shimmering scales as Ral made soft noises and bumped at Jace’s shoulder-blades behind them. One of Jace’s hands fell onto Vraska’s back, then lower, and squeezed; she arched an eyebrow at him and then rode him harder, and Jace’s breath seized up in his lungs. “Ahhh—Vraska—please—” Behind him, Ral was muttering a steady string of obscenities interspersed with Tomik’s name and a lot of colorful ways to describe advokists. Jace grinned into Vraska’s mouth because same old Ral.

            As he thrust into her, he kept getting distracted by the thought of those gentle tendrils that were ceaselessly stroking his hair being—not quite so gentle—and it was only when Vraska paused, hummed something throaty and bit his ear murmuring, “That can be arranged,” that he realized he’d thought that—loudly. Or at least loudly enough to be audible through the intimate connection he’d set up between the four of them.

            “Hngkh,” Jace said out loud, and two of Vraska’s tendrils prodded roughly at his mouth. He opened it, let them make their way in, lathed his tongue across them. Vraska rolled her hips against his as several more of her tendrils wrapped around his throat, constricting, cutting off his airflow. His head fell back against Ral’s shoulder, and his ears roared, like he was drowning—but drowning in Vraska’s slick heat, in the tingling current connecting his hand with Ral’s, in the gasping moans Tomik made as he came undone as well. Jace was being swept away into the darkness behind his eyes, heat and wet and oh—

            —he gasped in a heaving breath as the tentacles relaxed again, and it sent trembling relief spreading through his limbs. Vraska’s smile waved through the receding darkness, her yellow eyes bright, and then it blurred again as his supply of air stuttered out, but he could still see it through the dimness, and all he wanted was—

            Hold me. Please, please—

            Ral’s large hand, rough in his; Vraska’s legs squeezing his thighs, as the darkness rose again, the inverse-reverse of the flood that had torn him open and left him stinging with the pain of his past. The past didn’t hurt anymore, because it had brought him here.

            Jace thrust up once more, gasping as the constriction relaxed again, and this time everything fell away into a wash of white.

            When he fell back into existence, he was on his back on the bed with Vraska curled up at his side, kissing his cheek, and Tomik was half on top of him with Ral behind him, Ral’s palm still pressed against Jace’s. The connection had faded a little, but not entirely, so Jace could feel the echo of Ral fucking Tomik, and it sent little shivers through him, helped along by the breathy, desperate noises Tomik was making. At Jace’s side, Vraska made a soft, petulant little noise.

            “Sorry!” Jace exclaimed as soon as he realized the problem and slipped a hand between her legs. “Is that enough, or do you need—”

            “Fine,” panted Vraska, grinding down onto his fingers. Jace rubbed her slick, warm mound gently; he didn’t really have to do much before she was clenching around his hand with a hissed oath. They all felt it—Ral’s fingers dug into Jace’s hand as he climaxed for a second time immediately after, spending himself inside of Tomik. The advokist, pale face ruddy with lust and exertion, gave Jace a rather desperate look from his glazed eyes, and Jace took pity on him: reaching out, he gave Tomik’s erection a few light, skillful tugs in a manner he pulled directly from Ral’s mind, and Tomik gave a wordless gasp and came across his hand.

            It was actually Tomik who flopped down first, then rolled sideways to give Ral a place between him and Jace; Vraska followed. Then Ral, who was still on his hands and knees, bent forward enough to kiss Jace on the mouth before lying down himself with a groan. For several minutes, they just lay together in a sweaty sated heap. Then Jace rolled tiredly up on one elbow and tugged Vraska up as well.

            “My Captain,” he said, kissing her deeply. Then he turned to Ral. “My storm.” He kissed Ral’s forehead lightly and then his mouth. “And, um…” turning to Tomik.

            Tomik smirked at him. “My ex-Guildpact,” he said, taking Jace’s hand and kissing the palm. Jace ducked his head in embarrassment, but somehow the remark didn’t sting as he’d have expected. He’d already been grateful to Tomik for taking care of Ral, but he was already starting to understand what the Izzet mage saw in his Orzhov advokist.

            Vraska tugged at his shoulder, and Jace realized he’d been staring into Tomik’s eyes, while the other man smiled lazily back. “Hmuh?” Jace said.

            “We should consider what we’re going to do for food.”

            “True,” Tomik agreed, settling back down, after giving Jace a slow wink. “There’s a delightful little street vendor a few blocks down.”

            “Will they really be selling today?” Jace asked doubtfully.

            “Oh, believe me, Bohumila wouldn’t pass up a chance to make a profit. Besides, this area was only half-destroyed. I’ll send Ral out in a little while.”

            “Why me?” Ral whined, pulling the black silk blindfold off his eyes and dropping it onto the bed between them.

            “Because, love, you’re the most restless of any of us,” Tomik told him. “The walk will do you good. Take Vraska if you need to. You two have some history to work out anyway. I’ll stay here and get to know Jace better.”

            Jace half-expected Vraska to object, but she nodded, absentmindedly petting Jace’s hair. “Not a bad idea. After some rest.”

            “Fine,” Ral grumbled. Then he buried his face in Jace’s shoulder. “I hate all of you.”

            “Yes, dear,” Tomik told him, settling down beside him. Vraska kissed the top of Jace’s ear, and then pillowed his head on her shoulder. Jace felt a warmth ebb a little and watched a set of swirling golden runes appear on all of them and then fade. The contract had worn out.

            “I’ll renew it whenever you like,” Tomik murmured sleepily; apparently the mental bond was still in place.

            “Thank you,” Jace said after a moment, meaning quite a bit more than just the contract.

            “You’re welcome,” Tomik told him, and Vraska kissed him again. Ral just wriggled petulantly again. As he settled back against the pillows, for the first time since he’d regained his memories, Jace felt—comfortable.