Warnings: naughty words, naughty thoughts, and naughty deeds, all in moderation.
Notes: Written because alice_montrose is inspiring even when she doesn't want to be. (Case in point: two of her plushies.)
/You realize doing this makes you a cat burglar,/ Arlis said, amusement coloring his tone even in thought-speak.
Surien’s lip curled under his black mask. /You’ve been saving that one, haven’t you?/ he shot back, annoyed Arlis had broken his concentration to make a stupid joke. He’d just caught the scent, too!
Arlis’s spitfire laughter sparked in and out of Surien’s head, and Surien choked down the automatic growl he’d be aiming at his best friend had they been at their apartment. The sound of a growling tiger would certainly wake up the Lymph family, and if they were guilty of trapping magical creatures like the one he was here for, then he didn’t want to cross them with Arlis so far away--especially dressed head-to-toe in black like the thief he currently was.
Annoying as the demon could be sometimes, it was good to have a friend with the power of hellfire on your side.
The faint scent of old magic drifted around the dark stone basement once again. Surien stilled, turned where it was strongest--the red smell of clay and saffron and tangy river fog--and padded quietly around leather couches and unused table leaves into the small wine cellar at the far edge of the large, unfinished room.
He found the source of the scent on the bottom left of a wine rack. The bottle he pulled out was unusual, if only because it looked empty and its label was almost entirely scratched off. /I found it,/ he told Arlis.
For a moment, his vision tinged with red--Arlis was looking through his eyes. Then his vision returned to normal. /Alright, let’s go home then,/ said his partner in crime. /I’ll start the car in four minutes./
Four minutes later, Surien was creeping across the manicured side lawn when his ears caught the softly running car over the wall...and inside it, Arlis cackling to himself as he sang, repeatedly, “Here, kitty kitty kitty!”
Surien’s eyes narrowed. He sprinted the last thirty yards to the side gate, vaulted over the iron bars, and landed neatly on the street. Even through the tinted windows, his eyes could see the demon’s jackass grin. “Took you long enough,” he said when Surien slid into the car.
Surien glared at him, but waited until they were out of the upscale neighborhood before pulling off his black mask and slugging Arlis in the shoulder in one smooth motion.
Arlis just laughed, too-wide mouth splitting his stupid demon face even in human form. “It was the “here, kitty” thing, wasn’t it? I thought it was a nice touch.”
“You’re lucky I didn’t use claws,” Surien snapped, re-tying his black hair so it no longer looked like he’d ripped a face mask off of it. “What happened to not cracking jokes while I’m in dangerous situations where I could possibly be caught and hauled off to jail?”
“Or trapped in a stuffed animal body again. Don’t forget that one.”
This time Surien did let out a growl.
“So touchy!” Arlis said, lightly knocking Surien in the shoulder with a red-and-black nailed hand. “Calm down, we got out safe with the thing, right? Now all’s we gotta do is take it home, sit on it until the Pound calls--”
“You are unbelievable!”
“--and then hand it over so they can free whatever’s in there.”
“The Pound? Really?” Surien huffed and glared out the window.
Arlis let him be, for which Surien was thankful. He knew his friend was trying to lighten the mood, as he always did when they went on such search-and-rescue missions. Still, Arlis had lived for centuries--young for a demon, but quite long for someone like Surien, who even with his tiger heritage, could only expect to live into the early hundreds. That Surien had lost three years of that life imprisoned in the body of a plushie was--was--indescribable. A waste, a theft nothing could fix, an undoing of all he’d managed to accomplish before he’d walked into that junk shop on a strange whim, and vanished.
What that mage had done to them all in that back room, luring them into his shop and locking them into bottles and plants and toys and knick-knacks until he had time to experiment on them was a nightmare. He’d sat with Arlis on a shelf and watched through glass blue eyes as pixies in the guise of Barbie dolls were sold to three-year-olds who didn’t know not to bang them on tables or leave them drowning in the bathtub. He’d seen the mage cut a werewolf’s ear off while he was a plushie, just to see whether the ear would grow back on the toy as well as the man.
But by far the worst thing had been watching in terror as the hand reach for him, and willing it to take anyone else--then seeing it pull Arlis off the shelf.
The mage gave Arlis a soul. Surien didn’t understand how it was possible to give a demon a soul, but when the screaming stopped and the crying began, the mage just laughed and left Arlis in the middle of the toy room, naked and sobbing in the center of a magic circle.
Surien jolted from the memory to find them parked in their apartment complex, and Arlis looking concerned. Part of having a soul, for Arlis, had meant bearing the sudden weight of a conscience. While Surien thought it was perhaps the only reason they could actually be friends, he had no regrets that the mage died painfully for what he’d done to Arlis. To all of them.
“He’s dead. Let him stay that way.”
“I know.” Surien sighed. Arlis always knew when he was thinking about those three lost years. “It just... Sorry for snapping at you tonight. I know you were trying to help. Sort of.”
“Cat jokes are never helpful.”
A grin flashed across Arlis’s shadowed face. “Maybe not, but they do get you to the car faster.”
“To hurt you.”
“You’re so sexy when you show your claws. Rrrrawr!”
Arlis dodged the slap Surien aimed at his red-tipped bleach-blond head only because he was halfway out the door by the time he made the cat noise. Surien grabbed the bottle, locked the doors, and dashed after his roommate. Unlike the stupid demon, however, he wasn’t tramping up the stairs loud enough to wake the dead.
The following afternoon, Arlis came home with the location of another trapped magical being and a frown on his face. “Boss said to open the bottle,” he said, dropping their new assignment papers on the coffee table and slumping onto the cushy brown couch.
Surien looked up from over the pass-through in the kitchen and put down the sponge and pan he’d been scraping at. “Is that safe?”
Surien dried his hands on a dishcloth and pulled the bottle from the spice cabinet. In the living room, he sat gingerly beside his friend and pursed his lips. “You want to do the honors?”
“Nah. If it’s a genie, I don’t want that kind of responsibility.”
“It won’t be a genie,” Surien said, grinning as he unscrewed the bottle cap. “Genies come in lamps and stuff.”
“And I suppose we’re all blue, wise-cracking Robin Williams types, too?” said the man who suddenly appeared sitting on their coffee table. He wore all black, much of it tight and leather and full of buckles and stylishly off-kilter belts. His black hair spiked into his dark eyes. When he spoke, Surien could see the flash of a silver stud in his tongue to match the ones in his ears.
Thankfully, Arlis replied quickly; Surien’s mouth had gone dry. “Does he get wishes?” he asked.
The genie’s lazy grin hardened.
Surien wanted to kick his roommate, but if he did the genie would see.
“You get the first wish free. The second means you owe me a favor. Ask for a third wish at your peril.”
“That doesn’t sound like the rules I learned,” Arlis said.
“Good for you, those are my rules,” the genie snapped.
“What’s your name?” Surien cut in quickly.
“Lee. What are your wishes, Master?”
“My name’s Surien, and this is Arlis. It’s nice to meet you.” He held out his hand.
Arlis rolled his eyes when the genie didn’t take it. “Surien, he’s a prick. Let’s just give him to the Pound and be done with it.”
“They said to open the bottle--that means they want us to do the freeing.”
The genie perked up, though he quickly slouched again and pretended to look bored.
“Or maybe they thought you should get gaylaid,” Arlis said. “He’s hot--you should do him.”
Surien kicked Arlis hard in the shin.
Arlis took little notice. “So can the favor he does for you be sexual?” he asked the genie. “First one gets us some locations we need for work,” he dodged a cuff from Surien, “the second wish frees you and gets you both laid--ow!” He frowned at the blood on his fingers from the new scratch on his face--which quickly healed, leaving no trace of claw marks. He nodded to himself. “I like that. It’s good, right?”
“What are these locations you need for work?” the genie asked.
Arlis raised an eyebrow at Surien. “Can I continue?” he asked. Surien glared at him, but slumped into the couch and let him talk. “We work for an agency that locates and rescues magical beings from wrongful imprisonment and/or experimentation. You showed up on our list of assignments, so we picked you up last night.” He looked the genie up and down skeptically. “My guess is you weren’t born a genie.”
Lee’s fingers clinched for a moment around his upraised knee. Then, with a sigh, he swung his legs onto the floor and leaned toward them as if he’d made a decision. “I wasn’t born a genie, no. But while I have the powers of the universe at my disposal, I can make you a device or radar of some kind that will direct you to the location of any magical being who has been wrongfully imprisoned. It won’t break or die or anything--it’ll be pretty much everlasting.”
Surien sat up abruptly. “You’d do that?”
The genie gave him a sideways look. “You’d have to wish for it first.”
“But--” Surien looked helplessly between Arlis and Lee. “We need to free you though!”
“I can’t do it if I’m free--I lose most of my magic once the chains come off, so to speak.”
“So I have to choose between freeing you and the ability to locate other people who also need help. Why can’t I wish for the locator thing and have you wish for his freedom again?”
Arlis put his hands up immediately. “Demon with a conscience I didn’t ask for. Don’t even tempt me.”
Surien huffed and glared at Lee. “What kind of favor would you ask for?”
Lee grinned. “Second wish always comes before the favor I ask--them’s the rules.”
“Fine,” Surien said carefully. “I wish for you to make the radar we discussed--the everlasting radar that will give us the locations of all imprisoned magical beings...”
“I won’t screw you over,” Lee cut in. “I’ll even make it so I can modify it later if I need to--even without the genie magic.” The genie winked at Surien before turning his attention to the blue sparks that flowed into the air before him from his fingertips.
Surien blushed. Arlis snickered. Surien absently flicked him in the thigh.
“And done,” Lee said, handing over what looked like a small handheld computer. “Try it out.”
Arlis grabbed it before Surien could touch it and shot off the couch. He stood in front of the screen door and thumbed a few buttons, then laughed. “It registers you!” he crowed, glancing back at Lee.
“Not surprising,” Lee said, rubbing the back of his black spiky head.
“I’m gonna go take this to the Pound,” he said after another minute of fiddling around with it. “This is brilliant, Lee! Definitely worth dinner. Feed him, will you, Catboy?”
The door slammed behind Arlis quickly after--much too quickly for Surien to chuck a pillow at him, not that he would have given that he’d just cleaned these pillows...but it was a nice thought.
He sighed and turned his attention back to the genie. Who looked nervous. “Please promise you won’t screw me over with your favor, okay?”
“I wouldn’t do that to the guy who freed me. That’s not cool.”
Surien took a deep breath and put the bottle on the table. “I wish for you to be free.”
Nothing seemed to change. Lee just sighed long and low, seeming to deflate a little, and then popped his head back up and smiled. “May I?” He reached for the bottle. Surien motioned for him to go ahead. “I am so breaking this, if you don’t mind. Do you have a trash can--?”
“Oh--here.” Surien led Lee to the kitchen and hid a smile as the genie--ex-genie--smashed the bottle on the inside of the trashcan and then laughed and dropped the broken bottleneck in after it. “Uh, are you hungry?” he asked, realizing he should probably get lunch ready, and that perhaps the genie, like he and Arlis when they’d been released from plushie form, might be famished after years of not eating. He turned and opened the fridge. Cold food smells assaulted his nose when he first breathed in, as always, but it was full of food, and Lee had to like something in it. “We just got some fresh--”
“I’m not interested in that right now.” Lee pulled Surien out of the way of the fridge he closed with his free hand, and backed Surien into the counter.
Surien looked down at Lee and swallowed. “I guess we’ll have to, uh, get you used to personal space again?”
Lee grinned. “I like your space,” he said, and pulled Surien’s hips against his with hands that quickly wandered to cup Surien’s ass.
Surien startled, which only pressed him closer to Lee, and the bulge in his leather pants.
Lee’s grip on him tightened. His grin turned predatory. “I’d like to call in that favor now,” he said, pressing his lips to Surien’s neck and dragging them up to his ear.
Surien’s breath quickened and his head dipped to give Lee more access to his skin, even as his rational mind told him whatever the favor was would be a bad, bad idea.
“What’s going to happen is, starting now, we are going to fuck.” His fingers dug into Surien’s ass, lifting and parting and making Surien’s breath catch. “All. Afternoon.” His breath was hot in Surien’s ear, his tongue slick and teeth just hard enough when he bit down on the lobe. Surien’s hips stuttered forward of their own accord. “Then after that,” Lee continued, withdrawing to look Surien in the eyes, “You’re going to give me an honest chance to seduce you. Like, with dates and shit.” His grin was confident, but the tips of his ears had gone red. It bolstered Surien’s courage to know Lee was nervous too, at least a little bit.
So he nodded. “I can agree to that.” And then, because Lee’s resultant smile was too beautiful not to, Surien dug his fingers into Lee’s spiky black hair and pulled him into a kiss.