Red Bird Roulette

 

 

(...and a blue star flares and fades...)

Stop. Rewind.

("Julia's gone. Let's end it all.")

Stop. Rewind. Further.

("The same blood flows through both of us, Spike. The blood of a ravaging beast.")

Much further. Rewind.

("Now both of you are talented men and could be great assets to this organization. You've both received preliminary details of the current operation. This meeting is to introduce you to your new partner. Spike Spiegel, Vicious. I think you'll work well together.")

That was their first meeting. Forward now.

("Vicious...we both know we'll never understand each other. But it's all right that way.")

There's Julia. Forward, maybe?

(A blonde in a pool hall, a dignified and gentle woman in the suit of a femme fatale. The man behind her is staring. She turns. One glance, and his grip slackens on the pool cue, and he will never be the same again...)

No, that's when she and Spike met. Rewind again.

Stop.

(...back to back, they are indestructible...)

That should do it.

Play.

 

 

[six]

 

The bird launched up from the windowsill with a guttural shriek, and Vicious followed it with an inscrutable gaze until it whirled out of sight above the roof of the hotel. Spike, balancing the only chair on the room on two legs, with his bare feet airing out on the little desk with the terminal and the ashtray and his gun, watched the wall through cat-slit eyes and listened to those wing-beats vanishing upwards.

"Damn critters," he mumbled around his cigarette. Although that heron-necked excuse for a blackbird did have its uses--it was a better sentinel than five underlings, wheeling about in the sky with a predator's awareness and dive-bombing back in through the window if there was danger.

"You smell," Vicious said, with no particular anger, and Spike wiggled his toes and arched his feet and blew out a mouthful of smoke.

That was how a night would begin, in a hotel room registered under Spencer Spielman and Victor Härdelin, two humble travelling businessmen going to a briefcase-carrying conference the next day, and occupied by Spike and Vicious, two elite gunmen-warriors of the Red Dragon going to kill a man and his family the next day. The syndicate took care of its own, after all; if it was a long journey, they'd always have a place to stay, if usually a cheap and unassuming one, and an alias. Spike, cig sticking to his lips, had set the flickering display on the door to Do Not Disturb as Vicious propped his katana carefully in the corner. That was how it was.

After a silent minute or two, Spike would stub out his cigarette and stretch leisurely and slide off his shirt as he did so, dropping it in a puddle on the floor. Vicious would undress meticulously: jacket hung squarely onto the sole coathanger, tie folded and set on the bedside table with the tie clip, shirt buttoned carefully onto one of the wire hangers, closet door closed and latched. Vicious, watching, naked to the waist, smelling of the faint, dull sweat of a day's travel, with his gray trousers still creased perfectly all the way up his legs. Watching Spike. It would be too easy to call Vicious a mere animal, a wild and savage beast; one must never underestimate the degree to which that beast was self-controlled, was a product of civilization.

Slowly, Spike took his feet off the desk, turned the chair and himself deftly, settled it back onto four legs. They watched each other.

"Tonight?" Spike asked.

"Of course," Vicious answered, in that low, hard-throated monotone. A smile tugged at Spike's face.

"Fight you for it," he said, and ran one hand through his hair, and shook himself as if in preparation.

"Of course."

That was how their night would begin. Two seconds later, Spike would be flying from the chair into a fighter's crouch, and Vicious would surge forward, and they would be tussling about the room, throwing and parrying light blows, each trying to pin the other. It could have been playful, but they did not smile; they eyed each other with ferocious urgency, with the same dedicated awareness they might give a blood enemy on a battlefield. It was all part of the game, after all. Neither one would ever just lie down and take it; it was simply not done. Spike won this night; soon he would have Vicious on hands and knees on the floor, and tug down those perfectly creased pants, and take him, hard and rough, and listen to him pant as his hair curtained his eyes. That was how it was.

 

 

[five]

 

It couldn't exactly be said that they cared for each other. No stories were told, no secrets shared, no thought given to anything resembling what a normal person might call a friendship.

"Are those scars?"

"You could say that."

"Hunh. What's the story?"

Vicious, running one finger the length of his sheathed sword, belittling the marks.

"Practice accident."

Silence.

"I don't believe you for a damn second."

"You aren't supposed to."

"Heh."

Then again, they were men who held no stock in pasts and souls and friendships. That was meaningless currency to them. Blood, violence, duty, dominance, destruction, thrills, the extremes, a thing well done. That was what they traded in. That and the peculiar, heartless game that was their intimacy.

"What are we without the syndicate?"

They'd sit back to back, in nothing but their pants, before a dangerous hit, Spike smoking, Vicious brooding aloud.

"People with less money," Spike would grumble, cigarette still in mouth.

"People with no duty. Without the syndicate, we are but drifting bits of flesh in the ocean of the universe. And without standing in the syndicate, we are but lambs lined up for the slaughter. But here, now, we have the guidance we need. And we are predators."

Spike would say nothing. And, as if on a prearranged cue, Spike would put out his cig and Vicious would fall silent and they would both start loading up. They'd both carry two small automatics, syndicate issue, and they'd both load with a slithering click of a magazine and a hard whap with the heel of a hand. Then Spike would load his own personal favorite, his Jericho, and stick the spare ammunition in his pants pocket, then pull over something arm-length and high-powered, a rifle or a shotgun, and start putting cartridges in with deep, satisfying clicks. And Vicious would secure the two guns and then unsheath his katana, run his fingers down the blade, make precise and loving little motions with his whetstone until it shone and sang and every inch of its length could have parted a falling hair. If it was to be a particularly bloody day, they'd check grenades and settle them in coat pockets, and it was a sign of uncertainty--not fear, but uncertainty--if Spike strapped a throwing knife or two to the back of his belt. Then they'd both sling their coats on with a heavy whoosh and walk out, each death on two legs, to do their duty.

In battle, whether with others or between themselves, they were twin wildcats. Each moved with an instinctive understanding of the other. That had happened from the very first day they'd fought together, and they'd both recognized it for something extraordinary. It was as if both their hearts could beat together, both their minds work together, and somehow Vicious would always know when Spike was going to dive into an enemy foot-first, and Spike would always know when Vicious was going to whip out his sword and go tearing amongst the foe. In battle with others, both pairs of eyes, iron and rust, became equally cold, equally empty: the eyes of men that gave no value to death or killing. They were ruthless, brilliant, Mao Yenrai's two greatest protégés and the pride of the Red Dragon; they were magnificent.

In battle with each other, their eyes were not empty holes, and they moved with a little less cruelty. But they were still evenly matched beasts, and with a subliminal understanding. Otherwise their game could not have been as equal as it was, and one would have bridled, and it would have been over. Spike had the longer reach, perhaps--taller, slightly but enough, and with those great gangly legs--and he could flow in and out of Vicious' grip like water; but Vicious was just a little more ruthless, a little less playful, and more cunning as well, more devious, his edges honed by constant calculation of a sort Spike rarely indulged in. One time, Spike might falter aside under an unexpected strike from Vicious, and then Vicious would have just the hair of advantage he needed to clamp one arm around Spike's throat and reach around his narrow stomach with the other to unzip his pants. The next, it would be Vicious who was caught at a disadvantage, as Spike hooked one of those long legs over the back of his neck and bore him down and clutched a great handful of thick silvery hair as Vicious struggled against his thigh. And the next, and the next. Vicious, forced onto his belly and letting out one snarl of defeat as Spike held the nape of his neck with one long-fingered hand. Spike, struggling in great waves of his back as Vicious parted those mile-long legs with his knee. Once Vicious even snatched up a whippy length of plastic pipe, from whatever dingy corner of whatever dingy room they were staying in for the job, and fenced with it, and Spike fenced back with his palms as he never could have against a blade, but Vicious won when he laid two blows, leaving two great red welts on Spike's bare back, and Spike had fallen sprawled and open for a beating with a shiver of unadmitted hurt that left Vicious ready to fuck a hole in a log, only Spike was there, right there, to be flung onto his back and taken, with the sheets rubbing into those marks, and then Spike was laughing, because he knew he was alive.

 

 

[four]

 

"Turn over. I want to watch you."

Spike fascinated Vicious. Not the whole of Spike, perhaps, but his body, the way he moved, his expressions, the sounds he made. It was not a fascination Vicious would ever admit, perhaps not even to himself, but it drove the way he handled Spike during those nights. He would compare himself to him. Spike was guarded, yes, but artlessly; it was a series of barriers and mannerisms that seemed hammered into place by the world, not shaped with deliberate ruthlessness from the inside out. Vicious made himself; Spike merely survived, feeding off of cigarettes as if the smoke drove some dynamo within him, halfway between hit-man and feral cat, and that rough-edged, half-aware soul fascinated him. But the body, and the motions, and the sub-vocal noises were what he truly made a study of.

He considered himself to know Spike. He certainly knew his body by now: all the little scars, and the prickly black hair below his knees, and the way muscles shifted in his thighs, the way his ribs storied their way out of his painfully narrow waist, the knobs of his spine he could feel between his shoulder blades. The boniness of his wrists, the warm, hard expanses of his palms, the agility of his fingers--hands he knew from orgasm, fingers that had slid down to parts of him not even Julia would touch. How he tried to catch all his gasps in the back of his throat so they became little strangled noises, and the way the corners of his mouth turned a little down as he panted, and the way that unruly hair would fill his hands, halfway to being soft, not quite curling, seemingly more than should be able to sprout from a single human head. The way he moved, long and fluid and artlessly beautiful, evolved gawkiness, power and grace and savagery and confidence and irreverence and the extraneous flourishes of a man who had not yet learned to be still. The smell of him, mostly sweat and metal and smoke, but the warm human scent beneath all that. The tang of the skin at the hollow of his throat. How he took eerily long to become really aroused, as if he first needed to be roused from some distant dream.

How he looked beneath him, long legs rucked up and splayed, hands clutching the bedsheets so hard they shook, his whole body jerking with each deep thrust. Eyes watering and screwed tightly shut as if to avoid Vicious' scrutiny, mouth slightly open, chest shaking as he panted hard and tried not to gasp. Sweating, with half-curls of hair stuck all across his forehead, and flushed. Writhing.

Spike was not as deliberate a man, but he remembered certain things about Vicious. If they sat back to back, their shoulder blades would dig into each other. He could not feel Vicious' spine--he was as slender as Spike, perhaps, but there was more weight to him, he gained muscle less sparingly. Vicious had flatter nipples, more chest hair--pale stuff, but thick--more of a curve to his ass, smaller feet, higher arches. His ribs could not be seen. The muscles around the back of his neck stood out, forever tense, for Spike would arch his neck, and crack, and stretch, and strike martial poses with a lolling grandeur about the room, but Vicious was forever still. Vicious would perhaps arch his hips forward with a powerful and tortured clench of his back and give one long, low growl when he was horny enough. Vicious had hair that felt like great handfuls of unmown grass and was stiff even when wet and thick as a horse's mane, and that callus in the crook of his thumb, a swordsman's callus. Vicious writhed less, washed more often, was fast only with a sword in his hands because at all other times his slowness was deliberate.

And Spike had that long, clear, strangely expressive face. Vicious wore his like a mask, a mask that a child had slashed with a pencil beneath his eyes, and his hair was another mask over it.

 

 

[three]

 

Vicious never screamed. It was one of the unwritten rules of the Red Dragon: once you get above a certain level, once you have a certain degree of standing in the syndicate, you stop screaming. It is simply not done. Agony, terror, humiliation--they all must pass without a cry. It would have been impossible to know whether Vicious might have been a screamer once, but he was a man who had flayed away all vestiges of his past and childhood. Or perhaps he was one of those men who'd had no childhood, who'd had adulthood roughly forced upon him when he was far too young. People could speculate, but there was so little to be known that there was nothing to be gained, no place to start. He had no surname, no records, no past, nothing. It was as if Vicious had spontaneously formed from silver and steel and black feathers one night under a blood moon, a god of war stirred into being by the needs of millions, by syndicate cruelty and alleyway agony and Titan wars, with the blackbird efreet on his shoulder and the sword of the devil himself in his hands. There was nothing more to be known.

Not that much more was known about Spike. But Spike had not burned away everything. He still seemed human, even if only a little, back in those days. It could be imagined that he had a past, a childhood, that he had been born to mortal parents. That he had learned how to fight, and learned from another human, and not walked full-grown out of nowhere into battle. That he had learned how to kill, and once, years ago, there had been that first death, after which the others all came more easily. But Vicious, Vicious had carved out his heart and soul years ago, and had left them in some syndicate closet or army trench and gone about without them ever since.

Vicious never screamed. Not even when he was forced into surrender, taken roughly, not even when Spike retaliated for that scorching little beating with the pipe, not even when he came, or had an orgasm wrenched from him by deft, cool fingers. The world had been at him and done its worst, or so it might be guessed, and so had the war and the syndicates. Nothing Spike could do could stand against that. Over the years, Vicious had been shot, stabbed, beaten, burned, fucked, sucked, had seemingly every nerve in his body dragged through every extreme of sensation. But he would not scream.

 

 

[two]

 

Then there was the night that Spike, fast creature that he was, managed to get one end of a pair of handcuffs around Vicious' wrist and the other around the bedstead before Vicious could do anything about it. After that it was all downhill--with one wrist cuffed, against a man who was his match in such tussles, Vicious was all but helpless. Other wrist secured, pants tugged off, the one ankle, the other. He did not even bother to ask where Spike had found and hidden four pairs of handcuffs, and two outsized enough to hold ankles. He'd have his ways.

It was, even given what they'd done before, a bold move on Spike's part. Vicious was not used to being helpless. Spike was being a rash bastard. Vicious told him all this, in a voice more a growl than words. Spike, sloping about in half-buttoned shirt and half-mast tie and boxers and nothing else, shrugged, ignored him, found his lighter, then straddled Vicious for an agonizingly silent and contemplative smoke. Slowly, Vicious subsided, letting his indignation seep back to his core, deep and silent and unfathomable. Spike, breathing curls of gray-white, brushed Vicious' hair away to bare his face and ran a thumb down the narrow scars that creased their ways out from his eyes.

"Must've been one hell of a practice accident," Spike murmured. Vicious said nothing; there was nothing for him to say.

Spike, angular face lit in planes in the dim light, rust-red eyes contemplative and without any particular malice, that absurdly fluffy hair curling around his head. Spike, grinding out his cigarette on a bare knobbly knee without flinching. Spike, bearing down for a kiss with a mouth rank with smoke. Vicious had long given up on struggling. Handcuffs can damage the tendon sheaths on the inside of the wrists if they are fasted too tightly or if their captive struggles too much--not dangerous damage, for Spike had not cuffed him painfully, but perhaps enough to be aggravating. Vicious knew this. Vicious knew that infinite control over every tendon and muscle of his hand was necessary for wielding his sword, and the song of that blade was closer to his heart than his very life. Vicious also knew that he would gain nothing from struggling, so he did not do it. Infinite reserve, infinite control.

But Vicious also had to admit that he knew nothing of what Spike might be planning, or even thinking. Not that he would necessarily consider this a bad thing; he respected reserve, even in others. But at the moment this reserve sat disturbingly close to own his person. He had thought that Spike might burn him, had thought that from the moment he'd lit up to the moment he'd put out that little heat. But Spike had barely even touched him.

He understood what that could mean only when Spike slid off his tie and shrugged off his shirt and sat there narrow-waisted and silent, with four identical little keys jangling on a string around his neck, then set one hand high up on Vicious' thigh--just resting there, not moving, not touching--and slid the other into his own boxers.

Turn over. I want to watch you.

Vicious had to curse, once, one short sharp word of rage. Vicious had to inwardly swear his revenge for this--for somehow, though all these games could have been absurd, could have been conducted with actual playfulness, they never were, certainly not with Vicious involved, and after this it would not be an option to make Spike equally helpless some unannounced night, no more than it was an option to kill his enemies, or to fight for his advancement within the Red Dragon. And Vicious had to respect Spike for this. Such a subtle, knowing, reserved cruelty; it was such a strange thing, coming from him. Vicious would simply have to be all the more cruel when his time came.

Spike, on the brink, flushed just a little, suspended in the perfect and accustomed pleasure that could only be given by his own hand. Spike, almost transparent, almost transcending the opaque bundle of secrets he usually was, that every man in the syndicate had to be. Vicious knew he would never see this again. Spike, coming, an even quieter thing this way, signified by mere gasps, with his eyes half-closed, his head falling back and his back arching just a little. Spike, bracing himself against Vicious' thigh with his free hand, long fingers digging into his flesh. Displaying himself, as if he somehow knew of Vicious' fascination. Spike, looking over Vicious, his eyes narrow and satisfied cat-slits. Vicious, ferociously and helplessly aroused, as hard as he could ever remember being, on the verge of snarling and spitting with frustration--but not screaming, never screaming. Spike, smiling, an expression sharp and savage and entirely borrowed from Vicious' face. Spike, raking his nails lightly down Vicious' chest, but never, never moving his other hand any closer to where Vicious so desperately wanted it to be. Spike, waiting. It would be a long time before he would deign to touch him, and it would be a long time before Vicious would even think of begging.

 

 

[roulette]

 

Spike might have screamed once, but Vicious forestalled it.

It was time for revenge, after all--Spike had been awaiting it, perhaps anticipating it, ever since he'd cuffed Vicious to the bed. But he had not expected it to begin with a noose dropped round his neck. It slid snug, and then a hair tighter, and he gasped, and by then his hand had already fallen by instinct to his gun.

"It's me." Vicious' voice, hot against his ear. The rope against his throat forced his head back. "Want to play?"

Spike laughed against the noose.

"This is way beyond playing."

"Depends on what the game is." Vicious plucked the cigarette from Spike's mouth, crushed it under his own heel, and then yanked Spike to his feet and kicked aside the chair he'd been sitting in. "Strip."

If this had been a real attack, if this had been anyone but Vicious, Spike would have had his escape. There were avenues--he could think of a dozen ways to do it. But it was Vicious, and something deep in Spike's belly was beginning to wind up like a spring, so he slid off the Red Dragon overcoat he'd been lounging in--he owned so little clothing, all told--and untied the drawstring of his baggy pants and let them slither down his legs, and then he was naked. The moment he was still, Vicious moved, knocked him back off his feet, tossed him bodily to the bed. The rope spun out from his hand; the noose caught for a moment, and Spike strangled until Vicious moved closer, letting him have the slack. It was a fast-sliding knot, and soon loosened enough for him to breathe, and he clawed at the rope, feeling the burn, knowing his skin was already reddening beneath it. But then Vicious pulled another length of rope from his pocket--reminding Spike of himself, plucking pairs of handcuffs from his own pockets three weeks before as Vicious thrashed beneath him--and pounced, and lashed Spike's wrists together.

"Having your revenge?" Spike whispered. Vicious cuffed him across the jaw--rather lightly, really--and then dragged his hands up to the hollow steel bars of the headboard to tie off the rope. Spike tugged at it experimentally, then arched his shoulders and settled his head between his elbows when it didn't give. His hair crawled in tufts and tendrils over his own bare skin.

"Yes." Vicious wound the other end of the choke-leash around his hand, a swift, menacing gesture. "Roll over."

Just a little surprised, feeling just a little more vulnerable, Spike rolled with a forceful twist of his long body. Not particularly surprised, though, when Vicious tied his ankles, each to their own corner so that his legs were forced apart. But surprised again when Vicious urged his head up with the noose so as to blindfold him. He almost shivered, and said nothing. Cool, callused fingers traced mockingly down the length of his spine, settled between his legs. He tensed, released with a little gasp, let Vicious drive two fingers deep within him, lay spread-legged and loose-limbed in his bonds as Vicious began slowly twisting his hand, as if carving out space for his cock.

Instinctively, Spike understood. Vicious was just taking the edge off--in control, now, and so indulging that pure sexual drive almost as incomprehensibly boundless as his ambition. It would not take long. This was simple; whatever else Vicious was up to was probably not. And so Spike let Vicious force his hips up, until the cords dug into his ankles and his body shook, and plunge into him with the grate of cloth where skin should be because Vicious hadn't even taken off his pants, just opened them. It was awkward, hurried, left something wanting uncurling deep within Spike. Unseeing, he intertwined his long fingers, lacking anything else to clutch at as Vicious pounded him mercilessly, and he gasped short and hard and caught up in the back of his throat, and then Vicious was coming with a long low growl, triumphant, and he spidered his hand between Spike's shoulder blades and shoved him back flat on his stomach the moment he was free of him.

And then Vicious got up from the bed, and his footsteps crossed the room, and the door to the bathroom opened and closed, and Spike was alone.

For a moment, he was very still, taking in Vicious' move with utter bewilderment. Time passed, and Vicious did not return, and Spike shivered from the arousal he could not touch, and began to move.

There was give, a startling amount of give. Vicious had been careful enough with his wrists, had placed the knot where his fingers couldn't reach. But he could squirm his way up and reach the headboard, or perhaps even find the knot at his wrists with his teeth. Vicious had upped the stakes, after all; perhaps he should up his resistance. But before he got halfway to managing it, the door opened again, and there were footsteps, and something set down with a clunk on the table. And then that slight hiccup in the world's noises as a katana clicked an inch out of its sheath, then the slither of metal against wood and the eerie ringing as it left it entirely. Impossible to spend time with Vicious and not know that noise. So his sword had been in the bathroom. Planning, planning.

There was a hiss of steel through air, and Spike actually flinched, and the ropes parted with so little protest that it took him several seconds to realize that he was unharmed and his ankles were free.

"Roll over," Vicious commanded quietly. With a struggle and twist, Spike rolled again, and then froze as he felt metal touch his face. Not even the blunt side, but the blade, sharp as Callisto's winds, caressing his cheek. Vicious did not need to tell him to be still as he slid the tip slowly under the blindfold. Even Spike, all told, had a few basic instincts of self-preservation. Stillness; then, with a terribly subtle flick of Vicious' wrist, the cloth parted with a soft hiss and fell. Light flared and sheeted, and then he saw Vicious' face and a smile as sharp as his sword. A muscle in his forearm twitched as he slid that angle tip back down Spike's face, underneath his chin, forcing his head back and baring his throat in a long arch, the pale skin scored across the middle by the noose and reddened by pinch and rope-burn.

"Beautiful."

It was something Vicious would whisper rarely, increasingly rarely over the years, and usually after a particularly well-executed hit. Spike had heard Vicious use that word to refer to five suited bodies sprawled in a delicately complex circle, each sliced deep with that famous katana from one blinding, whirling stroke. He had never before heard it used to refer to himself.

Vicious rested the naked blade on Spike's body, cold steel across his chest, then tied his ankles to the bedposts again, spread again. He did not change the rope, merely used the shortened ends from where he'd sliced. There was no more give. He'd had to tug it all out of Spike just to close the knots. Spike lay stretched tight as a mooring line, exquisitely uncomfortable; he struggled just a little in long waves up and down his body, then gave up, relaxed with a breath into the ropes, fell into them like water. He could only watch Vicious smile.

"Not bad," Spike admitted, with a reckless little smile of his own. "But if that was my tie, you'll pay."

"Heh." One soft laugh. Then Vicious reached to the table and picked up what he'd set down on his way back from the bathroom. Rust-red eyes tracked it with fierce uncertainty. "I may surprise you yet, Spike," Vicious murmured, as he settled the gun in his hand, then pointed it at his captive. "Open your mouth."

That surprised him. A sharp breath rushed into his straining chest. Vicious lowered the weapon, resting the barrel across his lips, so close that his breath clouded it. Spike felt that he'd never been closer to a gun in his life.

"You're an original, aren't you?" Spike whispered.

Then Vicious gave a nigh-murderous yank on the noose, and Spike choked and gasped for breath, and Vicious slid the gun home between his teeth with a smile like Spike had never seen. The rope loosened again, and Spike choked again, this time from that stifling weight of metal in his mouth, and he struggled to adjust himself, breathing hard through his nose, unable to speak--and he watched Vicious, and Vicious watched him, and smiled. No give here either, not from steel, angular against his tongue, rudely forcing his jaw open. He could barely move, could barely breathe, for a long moment could hear only the blood pounding in his ears.

It was his own gun. He knew it too well not to recognize it, even from the wrong end. He knew the shape of it, the smell of it, though not the taste, not until now. Vicious had gone out of the room to...what? Empty it? Make Spike think he had emptied it? Make Spike think he was deceiving him? He couldn't possibly know. Maybe from the weight of it, if Vicious let go, but he didn't--he twitched his wrist, forcing the barrel even deeper into Spike's mouth, and then held it there with terrible steadiness, even as he slid the other hand down Spike's taut body. Down to cup his balls, tweak them, run two fingers around the base of his cock. That was when Spike knew he would lose himself to this. That was when Spike might have screamed, except he couldn't, not around that cold and terrible weight.

That was when Spike closed his eyes, as tightly as if he were still blindfolded, so that he would not have to look at Vicious, and he kept them closed until he heard the grinding click of the safety coming off. They flew open at that, and he stared at Vicious, stunned, not trembling.

"I know whether this is loaded," Vicious said quietly. The weight of his cold, restrained ferocity bore down on Spike. He could die. Vicious could kill him. A bullet fired now would shatter the top of his spine, or maybe tear through the stem of his brain and straight out his skull--no ricochet, not at this range. A quick death, if messy. Not that he cared. But the opportunity was there, heavy in his mouth, more intimate and ominous than any battle. "You don't." Spike's cock twitched in his hand, and Vicious' smile began to show teeth. Spike closed his eyes again, and sweat ran between them, and Vicious could have sworn he was almost afraid.

Vicious pulled the trigger.

The gun clicked empty.

Spike came.

 

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