The humidity weighed him down like a soft blanket, too used to the sweltering heat to be impaired by it, but aware of it in the way he savoured a brief breeze drifting in through the open window. The swift rush of relaxation reminds him of being in the cockpit, fingers twitching at take off as he watched the cities, deserts and people grow smaller beneath him.
Beneath his fingers now, though, ribs rise and fall slowly, tanned skin spanning under rough fingertips that trace a trail they are just as familiar with as the sky itself. He savours the quietness, the soft breathing and gentle hum of the AC, far too used to the unreliable ceiling fans of Ju árez that recycled the damp air.
Then, the quietness breaks as his fingertips finally rest over a warm chest, a soft sigh signifying that Miguel Ángel was finally awake.
His eyes are dreary with sleep, lacking in their usual sharp intensity. When they land on him and come in to focus, they crinkle ever-so-slightly, in the way that still sends Amado’s stomach into knots.
The duality of Miguel Ángel was never really something that Amado could fully get used to. The cold and calculated man who has the trunks of cars lined with plastic long before someone knows they’ve slighted him enough to end up in one, or the man who stares contentedly at him, like he’s doing now, with soft crinkled eyes and a lazy smile.
There had been a time their stares had been more furtive, stolen across meeting tables or in the shadows of the runway before he’d take off to wherever Miguel told him he should be. For a time, he’d assumed it was all in his head, the skittish glances Miguel cast in his direction when he thought Amado’s back was turned, or the slight hesitance in physical content.
He wasn’t a shy man, or necessarily an awkward one, but all of Miguel Ángel’s movements were calculated and measured, and until recently, Miguel hadn’t known where Amado had fit into these calculations.
“What are you thinking about?” Miguel’s voice is rough with sleep, raspier than usual in all of the right ways. The voice that followed his every waking and sleeping moment, snaking around him.
“You.” He says simply, fingertips going back to their journey across Miguel’s abdomen and chest, a comfortable motion, as Miguel was tucked under his arm, his back pressed against Amado’s chest.
Miguel looks over his shoulder, staring at Amado with burning curiosity. “What about me?”
Amado chuckles, always amused by one of Miguel’s biggest vices – curiosity.
“None of your business.”
Little did he know, it was Miguel’s curiosity and grand scheming that would get him into his most intriguing and intense situation so far.
Miguel’s rage is palpable, his arms going from folded to gesturing outwards the way he usually did when angry, changing between his compact indifference to his indiscriminate gestures of rage.
To Amado, after meeting Pacho Herrera, it comes as no surprise to him that the two don’t seemingly get along. Miguel had mentioned things in passing about Herrera, of course, but they were usually interspersed with Miguel’s grand plans for the future.
This time his rage is concentrated all in a lavish hotel cast in the red hues of sunset in Panama, the neutral territory in which they were meant to be congratulating each other about the future, rather than lamenting at the lack of trust between Miguel and yet another business associate.
Amado attempts to ignore the knot in his stomach, the feeling he’d had since Miguel had so callously stated he had no partners.
He tries to be rational even as thoughts of whispers said in the dead of night threaten to overwhelm him, the promises made in loud and quiet moments in raspy tones, the expectations weighted to them. Does he mean it? Is it for show? Part of the blessing and curse of Miguel Ángel was the questions he posed, enigmatic in his delivery and in his meaning.
The feeling in his gut also tells him it’s not just Miguel’s casual offhanded dismissal that has him uncomfortable and on edge, but a pair of deep brown eyes swimming with gold that flit to him after the statement, a silent acknowledgement of Miguel’s unknowing mistake. An acknowledgement of a gap between them that has the potential to grow.
When Miguel waves Amado from the room, for once, he doesn’t stand his ground under the ferocious stare of the smaller man, but sighs as he closes the door behind him.
Perhaps giving him some time to think would make him more rational. Or, it would simply enrage him more.
When it comes to The Federation attempting to expand successfully, Amado can’t understand Miguel’s rage towards Pacho Herrera. The man was honest, blunt, and gave Miguel good advice that he often didn’t heed. Though his delivery danced between mockery and pure intensity, he was never needlessly smug. But Amado knows Miguel better than he knows himself, knowing that deep down the man couldn’t stand the thought of finding an intellectual equal, or worse, someone who was several steps ahead of him.
Staring into the eyes of Pacho Herrera, Amado can see in a personal sense why someone may feel apprehensive. His intensity is unwavering, eyes always laser-sharp and hyper-aware, bemusement evident in his every move. It’s funny to Amado, the rumours that surround the man that come with an assumption he’s weak.
He’s not sure who he’d put his money on between Miguel Ángel and Pacho Herrera, and maybe the thought frightens him a little.
Unsure which direction he’s going in until he can feel the night-time breeze in the air, he walks onto an open balcony, sitting to watch the last specs of the orange glow of the sun disappear in the distance, casting the sky in darkness.
Fumbling in his pockets, he brings a cigarette to his lips, lighting it and savouring the first drag for as long as he can before exhaling, leaning against the railing and staring at the sky with a longing he felt in his soul. Things had seemed so much easier when all he’d had to do was get in a plane and go where he was told.
But he’d always been quite a people-pleaser since he was young, not because he wanted to be liked but purely because he didn’t harbour the same aggression that most of the male population carried with them. When anger burned their insides out, Amado was content to let anger wash over and around him, within fingertips reach but not consumed by it.
It hadn’t served him terribly, to be content with making other people’s lives easier, as it tended to make his own simpler. He was, at his core, a simple man. He wasn’t laden with the complexities of men like Miguel and Pacho, saying one thing and meaning another, feeling several emotions so intensely it was hard to separate them.
No. He was a steady weight, the anchor rather than the ship.
He’s startled from his reverie by near-silent footsteps, too casual to be Miguel, especially considering the rage he was carrying around with him as of late.
“Amado Carrillo Fuentes.”
His voice has the same lilt it did back in the meeting, the hint of amusement and playfulness, his voice like the steady waves on the shores of a beach. It was enough to lull Amado into a false sense of security alarmingly fast.
“For a man who’s just scored seventy-tons worth of shipment, you do look quite sombre,” Pacho’s voice is delicate, “need a drink?”
Amado turns to look at him properly, drinking in the darkness of his eyelashes as they flutter above sharp eyes, the soft curve of his jaw, tanned skin exposed under a barely buttoned silk shirt. The gaze he gets in return almost looks sinful, and even being accustomed to Miguel’s silent fury, he chooses to look away.
“Why not?” He replies, focusing on the steadiness of inhaling and exhaling from his cigarette as Pacho moves around the room alarmingly quietly in the background, the clink of glasses echoing in the open space.
Whatever the room was made for, Amado isn’t sure, but he’s also not sure it’s made for two narcos stumbling across each other in the middle of the night, though he doesn’t doubt for a second that it’s no coincidence whenever Pacho Herrera is involved.
Instead of the glass of whiskey he was expecting, he’s presented with a tall glass lined with mint leaves, wet with the condensation of the ice cubes, the soft fragrance of a mojito loosening Amado’s shoulders.
“Why not take advantage of a fully-stocked bar?” Pacho looks bemused as Amado takes the glass, eyes ever watchful as Amado takes a hesitant sip before having a couple of swigs. He swears he can see the way Pacho’s eyes land on his neck as he drinks and it makes the air seem warmer than it is, suddenly thankful for the abundance of ice in the glass.
“I don’t doubt you’ll manage the seventy tons.” Pacho’s voice is airy as he sips at his own drink, and maybe Amado eyes up his neck this time, drifting to his collarbone and then his exposed chest. His fingertips twitch.
“I appreciate your confidence in me.” Amado’s tone is laden with sarcasm but has the trademark accompaniment of an amused stare.
Pacho takes a long sip of his drink, placing it beside him on a table, staring Amado dead in the eyes.
“What else would you appreciate, Amado Carrillo Fuentes?”
So playful and suggestive, yet he still stares at Amado with lingering curiosity, effortless in his delivery. Amado can feel the dangerous hunger building inside him, the tension of the past few weeks as stifling as the summer heat, only made worse by the way Pacho smiles as if he knows.
“You tell me.” Is all he can manage, not daring to break eye contact.
“How tame,” Pacho moves forward, standing so close to Amado he can smell his aftershave, a perfect mix of sweet and spicy, as dangerous a combination as the man’s intelligence and allure, “am I meant to just improvise?”
“I’m not going to assume that I, or anyone else, can tell you what to do.”
Pacho laughs delightedly at the statement, a boyish laugh that makes him look younger, sweet, almost.
His fingers ghost along the expanse of Amado’s neck, creeping across his jaw, “It depends on the situation, I suppose.”
When his fingers move towards Amado’s back until he can feel Pacho’s hand cupping the back of his neck, Pacho’s voice breathes against his shoulder when he leans in, “or the man.”
He can tell Pacho is grinning when his breath hitches, the same way he can tell he’s utterly fucked.
It’s worlds apart from the rougher stubble he’s used to having against his neck, or the hair that is pristinely styled. No, Pacho is softer, more malleable, deliberate. Thoughts of the rough tones of another man’s Spanish against his shoulder dissipate along with his patience, fingers curling in the silk of Pacho’s shirt.
Like the gentleman he is, Pacho obliges, dragging his mouth up Amado’s neck and across his jaw until he finally reaches his mouth, coaxing Amado into utter bliss and relaxation in a matter of seconds. One hand holds Amado’s lower back whilst the other cups his jaw gently, moving him deeper into the kiss and his web.
When Pacho finally moves away from the kiss, maybe Amado is close to whining a little, if not for the hand moving towards his hip to trace delicate circles, sliding under his shirt to move the sensation across skin.
It’s almost intoxicating, the closeness, Pacho’s gentle nuzzle against his neck full of an intimacy Amado didn’t know he’d been craving, the caresses that leave him both satisfied and wanting more.
The first time he’d kissed Miguel sober, there had been an undoubtable awkwardness about the entire affair.
The cold steel of the warehouse wall against his back makes him shudder a little, but nowhere near as much as the glaring intensity of Miguel’s stare does, the door closing behind someone Amado didn’t care to register in his peripheral vision.
It’s the first time they’ve been alone in weeks, maybe even a month, and Amado feels as though his thoughts are spinning so fast, he’s dizzy. They’d shared plenty of glances over the weeks, fleeting and secretive.
This is something else entirely. Unlike the drunken kiss they’d had months ago, tasting of whiskey and longing, this one is hesitant.
When Miguel leans into him after covering the distance between them at his usual alarming speed, Amado is uncertain where his hands should go, so he settles for holding Miguel by his waist. Ever the follower rather than the leader, Amado is content to mirror Miguel’s pace as they figure each other out, breathless and unable to think adequately.
He can’t tell what Miguel’s eyes are conveying in the moment, though he does notice the way Miguel’s fingers trace across the crucifix lying across Amado’s chest, much reminiscent of the one he also wears.
Then his eyes flit towards the door, and all around them, and the illusion is shattered.
Pacho’s eyes stare only at him, though, as though Amado’s entire soul is laid bare before him. It’s frightening and thrilling at the same time. Yet, he can feel the same hesitance creeping in himself that has followed him and Miguel around even in the later stages of their complex relationship.
Neither of them was monogamous and neither had ever verbally expressed anything, unless hurried whispers in rare moments of passion counted.
There was always something that made Amado feel a little like Miguel’s secret, like the curiosity. It’s not as if he wasn’t curious as well, but there was a lingering thought in his head in this very moment that left Amado wondering if he was merely another puzzle of Miguel Ángel’s, or a genuine partner in any sense of the word.
I don’t have partners.
No, Miguel Ángel did not have partners.
But that didn’t mean that Amado Carrillo Fuentes couldn’t.